Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sunday Apple Pickin’

I know that I’m behind on posting about the places we went while Shawn’s parents were here, but I just haven’t sorted through all the pictures yet.  More on that later.

Anyway, we had a pretty great weekend.  Friday afternoon the kids and I met some friends at the park and Saturday night I went to a girls night out birthday dinner party for one of my friends.  The food was fantastic and I was the only American there, so some of the jokes and references were lost on me. But someone did ask me about the differences between Virginia and West Virginia, so there’s that.

On Sunday we went to Steinsel, which is a village North of Luxembourg City.  For the last three years, we’ve gone to the Fête aux Pommes, the apple festival. 

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Last year, Finn was only 6 months old, so he just observed.  This year, he thought we were there just to play with bulldozers.

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We weighed our bag of apples, ate grilled sausages and Shawn bought some Viz, which is a fermented apple cider.  (You can read more about my observations of the Viz making process here.)
Then we called it a day.

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And what a great day it was.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vianden and Cologne

So, like I mentioned before, Shawn’s parents were here in Luxembourg with us, and we did some relaxing, some traveling, and the kids had a great time with their grandparents.

The first place we took them was Vianden, because, well, we take all our visitors to Vianden.
I just don’t feel right about sending anyone back to America without seeing it.

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We also took them to The Chocolate House for treats.
I definitely wouldn’t feel right about sending anyone back to America without going to The Chocolate House for chocospoons.

After a few days of rest and recovering from the jet lag, we packed our overnight bags, hired (because in Europe, you don’t rent, you hire) a van and drove to Cologne, Germany.  I’ve never been to Cologne before and it sort of reminded me of Trier, except the big attraction is Der Kölner Dom, instead of Porta Nigra.

They call it the Mount Everest of cathedrals and I learned that it’s Germany’s most visited tourist site.
See why?

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It was cold and rainy the first day we were there, but the rest of our visit was beautiful.

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We hopped on (and off) the Hop On Hop Off bus all over the city and went to the Schokoladenmuseum, the Chocolate Museum.  I’ll admit, at first I was a little bored but then we got to the part where you get to see actual chocolate being mixed and poured and I was all THIS IS JUST LIKE WILLY WONKA.

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I never imagined that I’d be posting pictures of industrial machines on the blog, but it was kind of mesmerizing to watch all the gooey chocolate get poured into molds, stamped, wrapped and dropped into boxes.
It smelled amazing.
Then we got samples.
I know I’ve admitted before that European chocolate isn’t my favorite, but it is growing on me.

Finley slept in his stroller through nearly the entire thing but woke up when we got back on the Hop On Hop Off bus.  He was all smiles.  He has no idea what he just missed.

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Shawn had to take a work phone call so while he was on, the rest of us found a beautiful park to take a walk.  This was the best big sister/little brother picture I got.  I’m thinking of using it as our Christmas card photo this year.

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We finished the day with dinner at Hofbräu Früh, which, I’ve been told by a Cologne native, is the place you must eat when visiting.

We had a family style platter of sausages, potatoes prepared all kinds of ways and some type of noodles that were covered in butter and cheese. 
Oh, and those big warm pretzels.
And beer.
It was all so very delicious.
And healthy.  I kid.

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We said auf weidersehen, tschüs and bis später to Cologne and returned to Luxembourg, where we hung out at home for a few days, unpacked our bags, did some laundry and packed our bags again.

Then we headed off for our next adventure.
To Be Continued…

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

18 Months

Finley is 18 months old!

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He’s weighing in at 24 pounds and has 13 teeth, with one more that is about to pop through any minute now.  He sleeps from about 7:30pm until 7:30am and takes one afternoon nap. 

Finn’s saying lots of words and making animal sounds.  My favorite is when I put his shoes on him and he says, “There.”  He also gives the sweetest, slobbery kisses ever.
He loves playing with cars, trucks, trains and anything that has wheels.  He’s obsessed, obsessed with motorcycles and could look at, point at and make vrooom noises all day.  He also loves to be outside and is happiest if there’s water, dirt or rocks to play in.  He gets really excited about dogs, cats and bicycles, which he calls, “ikes.” 

Finn loves to eat and eats just about anything.  He wants to use a fork and spoon by himself and is getting better at it, but meal times are really messy.

He doesn’t like diaper changes and being told no.  Getting him into his clothes is still a circus act because he wiggles and tries to run away.  He does, however, love getting his socks and shoes on.  He’ll bring his socks and shoes to us, sit down and hold his little feet up.

Finley loves Hannah and she can always get him to laugh.  If he cries, she hugs him and says, “Oh, honey.”  She’s such a great big sister.

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He’s on the go all day long!  One day, at the bottom of the stairs, he pulled the baby gate out of the wall and had gotten to the third step before I realized what was going on.  I put him back on the floor and while I was fixing the baby gate he went into the kitchen, poured the dog’s water bowl out and was rolling in the water. 

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But it’s hard to get upset by his shenanigans, because look at that smile and wrinkled up nose.
It does me in every single time.

Happy 18 months, Finn!
You are so loved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The First Day of School. And Grandparents!

Monday was Hannah’s first day of school.  She’s in Year 2, which is the equivalent of first grade in the US.

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Finley was happy to help her carry her new lunch box.

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These pictures remind me of how badly our grass (and Finn’s hair) need cut.

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Shawn took the morning off work to go with us, just as he does every year.

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Now that they’re safely on their way home, I can mention that Shawn’s parent have been here with us for the last three weeks and also got to come to school for the first day.

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This morning, on the third day of school, they walked Hannah to her classroom and said their goodbyes in the hallway.  Then I drove them back to our house, picked up their luggage and headed to the airport.

After school, Hannah wanted all the details of their flights.  I told her that they flew from Luxembourg to Amsterdam, were currently on their way to Atlanta and would then catch the last flight to Akron.

“Oh, that sounds simple,” she said.
I reminded her what a long day of travel it is.

”Well, they won’t be hauling kids around, so it should be really easy for them.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Monday, September 8, 2014

So Many Selfies, So Little Time

While we were in Ohio a few weeks ago Hannah, Finn and I got to visit one of my college friends and her family in their new home. 

Our little girls got along great.

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And our second babies were born within six weeks of each other. 

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We had a lot of outtakes…

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…before we finally got a good picture of all four kids.

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Then the selfies started.

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I die at the cuteness of these two.

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Do you see that candle sitting there on the mantle?  The one with folks ice skating?  We were trying our best to get it in the picture.
Don’t ask…

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Everybody now.

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I also got to see some of my other friends while we were home, and I have no idea why, but we didn’t take any pictures. (Selfies, or otherwise.)

Boo.

And to my friends that I didn’t get to see while I was home, I’m sorry to have missed you.  I wish I could have coffee or lunch or dinner with everyone.  Truly.
I treasure all of you.

And speaking of coffee, I have never been a coffee drinker, except NOW I AM.  While I was home, my sister got me started and I’ve had a delicious cup of iced coffee nearly everyday since.  I even ordered one here in Europe and the barista looked at me like I was crazy and asked why would anyone want to drink cold coffee because coffee is made to drink hot. 

“So, you don’t get many orders for iced coffee, then?”

”Only from Americans.”

Right.

Anyway, we’ve been back in Lux for three weeks and in those three weeks, we’ve been to Cologne, Rome, and Brugge.  And today was Hannah’s first day back at school, in Year 2, which is the US equivalent of first grade.  But more on these things later.

For now, here’s to selfies and friendship.
And iced coffee.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scenes From Ohio

Last Wednesday, we got up early(ish) and went to Southern(ish) Ohio.
There’s a place called The Wilds, where you hop onboard an open air vehicle and go on a safari-like trip through a wildlife preserve.

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Cousins waiting to go on safari

We got up close and personal with all kinds of animals.

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This one was my favorite.

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The birds loved Hannah…

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...and my shoes.

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The next day we woke up early and headed out to the lake for some boating with my mom, Shawn’s parents, aunt and uncle and the cousins.  It was the most perfect day – warm, sunny and we practically had the lake to ourselves.

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The captain.

Along with the boat, we rented a jet ski.  Shawn’s uncle spent most of the day taking the kids for rides.

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We tubed.

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Do you know who that is out there?  It’s my mom.  Oh, yes.  It is.
She also went on the jet ski.
Who knew she was so adventurous?!

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Finn had a great time, but he was so happy to get that bulky life jacket off at the end of the day.

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So, what else have we been doing while we’re home?
Well, my sister came to town.

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We got facials and manicures and took flowers to my dad’s grave.

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And Finn got his hair trimmed.

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We spent lots of time with cousins…

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…and tried to get everyone to pose for some pictures.  But sometimes you just gotta take whatever you can get.  (I hope these kids recreate this one in 20 years.)

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Shawn was here in Ohio for just one week – he had to go back to Lux for work, but the kids and I stayed for a bit longer.  We’ve been spending time with family and friends and enjoying some of our favorite foods and places that we miss when we’re in Luxembourg. 
Although, I haven’t been to Target yet.
Oh, the shame.

Later this week, we’ll be heading back across the pond.
That’s one overnight flight and two layovers with two kids.
Or, as I like to call it – a personal test of endurance.

So I’ll see you on the other side…if I pass.