Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Finley

Monday night, we tucked a one year old into bed for the last time.

Because yesterday Finley turned two!

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I can’t believe it’s already been two years since this guy was born.  He was the sweetest, easiest baby, and he’s growing into a silly, funny, energetic, rough and tumble toddler.

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Finley loves Hannah, who he calls “Nah-Nah.”  Everyday when he wakes up from his nap, he starts saying her name because he knows it’s time to go pick her up from school.  He squeals and giggles when he sees her coming out of school and he loves for her to sit and play with him.

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There’s not much that Finley won’t eat.  He’s such a good eater and almost always points at his plate and demands more at every meal.  He’s really good with a fork and spoon and prefers a regular cup to a sippy cup. 

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He loves to wear shoes and point to body parts and name them.  His vocabulary is building and he’s saying quite a few French words and phrases and I’ve even heard him say a few things in German.  If we ask him, “Tu veux manger?” which means do you want to eat? he always answers, “Oui.”

At his two year doctor appointment, I said something to him in French and the doctor said, “Oh, you should really only speak to him in your language.”
Touché.

Finley also loves cars, trucks, trains, buses, airplanes and anything with wheels.  He gets excited when we drive past a construction site and could watch bulldozers all day. 

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This is pretty typical for us – one kid looking sweetly at the camera, the other being goofy.

This is the face Finley makes when you tell him something he doesn’t like. 
He doesn’t like to be told no and can be difficult to strap into his car seat and stroller.  He wants to walk everywhere.

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We had a simple little birthday celebration at home, just the four of us.  We ate dinner, cupcakes, and, because Finn’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, I made these rainbow fruit parfaits:

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(Feel free to pin this very difficult dish to your Pinterest boards.)

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Happy 2nd birthday, Finley!
We love you so much!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Skiing the Alps

Well, we’re back in Luxembourg, fresh from the slopes of the Alps in beautiful Les Gets, France.
This was our second time there and it was just as beautiful as I remembered.
(You can read about last year’s trip HERE.)

We set off on a Friday as soon as Shawn got home from work, stopped at a hotel for the night and then met up with our friends the next day.

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After we got settled in our chalet, we headed out for some sled riding and playing in the snow.

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I had been a little concerned about Les Gets, because in the days before we left, they got an enormous amount of snow and were under an avalanche warning of some sort. 

The next morning, we picked up our gear and got ready to ski.  Finley wanted to get on skis so badly, but he is still a bit too young.  Next year, buddy.

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These sweet girls are such good friends.  We’re so lucky to know them and their parents.

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As most kids do on a ski holiday in Europe, Hannah went to ski school every afternoon.  When we picked her up after the first class, I asked her about her instructor and she told me his name was UNO.  On the second day, when he introduced himself to me, I learned that his name was actually BRUNO. 
Close, I guess.

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Here’s some of our group, with the girls acting silly.

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I learned that the slope, or piste gradings aren’t the same in the US as in Europe and by the middle of the week, the girls were ready for some red runs, which means that the piste is intermediate/advanced.

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I, however, being the slowest and most cautious skier in my family and in our group of friends (there’s always one in the bunch) spent the first two days on the more gentle sloping pistes.
Hannah: Mom, were you skiing on the greens today?
Me: Yea, but just for a little while. 
Hannah: Wasn’t that embarrassing?
Maybe a little bit.

On the third day, I got in a bit over my head, on some pistes that were a bit too much for me and I fell.  A lot.  And then I had myself a little pity party and I may have said something to Shawn like I’m horrible at skiing, my French is awful and I shouldn’t have come on this vacation.  

Going on a ski holiday in France is a great way to remind yourself of just how bad you are a skiing and French.
The next morning, I was telling my friends about my meltdown and they smiled, nodded and one of them said, “Yes, of course.  That was just your ski tantrum.  Everyone has one at some point during a ski holiday.”
A ski tantrum?  I didn’t know this was a thing, but it gave me just what I needed to pull myself up by my boot straps (literally) and carry on.

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Shawn never had a ski tantrum, but he did take a day off to rest his knees because he’s not exactly supposed to be skiing.  You see, he’s had SIX knee surgeries so let’s not tell his doctor about this trip, ok?

Remember when I said that although I may not be a good skier, I am good at après-ski?  Well, here I am, doing what I do best on the slopes.  Everyday, we relaxed on deck chairs in the snow, eating, snacking and enjoying the sun, blue sky and mountain air while the kids played. 

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One morning, Hannah and I snuck off by ourselves for a hot chocolate.  We don’t get a lot of time for just the two of us, so this was long overdue.  I told her we could talk about anything she wanted.
”Mom, when you were my age, did you make excuses?”
”Oh, probably.  Why?”
”What kind of excuses did you make?”
(I wasn’t sure how to answer that one.)

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Ready to head outside.

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They spent nearly every evening snuggled under a blanket in pajamas.

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Here’s one of our whole group, at one of the restaurants in Les Gets.

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After a fantastic week, we headed out early on Saturday morning to return to Luxembourg.  We packed the car the night before and if I’m being honest, were a bit smug about making it down the mountain with no traffic.

And then we ran into this:

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We sat in this mess for a nearly FIVE HOURS.  That’s 300 minutes.  With two kids in the backseat. 
Luckily, we had water and snacks in the car and Finley fell asleep for a while.  Hannah watched a few movies on the ipad and I got to crack open a book I started but hadn’t made much progress in.  Lots of people got out of their cars and kids were building snowmen along the side of the road.  No one was moving anywhere.

Me: I’d like to know who’s in charge here.
Shawn: This is France.  No one’s in charge.

In France’s defense, however, a man wearing a fluorescent vest and a backpack did come through and ask if we were okay.

And then Shawn said, “Ya know what could make this situation worse?  If we had a cat in our car.”

Oh, you mean like this car next to us?

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We made it home around midnight, which was 16 hours after we set off.
But, what a time we had!
We skied, we relaxed, we caught up with friends.
We had raclette, tartiflette, and panaché.
We talked about everything from the future of the Euro to cats to CNN.

We made it home in one piece, with no broken bones.
And no avalanches.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On The Slopes

As I mentioned in the last post, we’re going on a ski holiday in February.
If there’s one thing that Europeans like to do in the winter it’s ski.
There’s an indoor ski slope in Amneville, France that boasts “la plus longue piste de ski indoor du monde,” the longest indoor ski track in the world.  So on Sunday after two hours of gathering up all our gear and loading the car, we headed there with some of our friends for a practice.

These two make great ski partners.

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Finley is still a bit too young to ski (I think they have to be 2 to start?) but he loved playing in the snow and sledding down the slope reserved for little ones.  Shawn and I alternated skiing with Hannah and playing with him.

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Here’s Hannah and her friend as they reached the bottom of the big slope.

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Future Olympians: Team USA and Team Great Britain.

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A family that skis together…

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It’s no secret that I’m not a great skier.
But do you wanna know what I am good at?
Après-ski.
That’s all the social stuff that happens after the skiing, like sitting around the fire, drinking wine and laughing with friends.
In fact, when we go on our ski holiday next month, I may volunteer to be our group’s après-ski instructor.

(The first lesson is free.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Holiday Wrap Up

So I know we’re already in the middle of January, but I still have some holiday stuff to get posted here on the blog. 
I’m terribly behind, I know.
But I have an excuse.
Jet lag.

So here we go. 

The weekend we arrived in Ohio, Santa visited.
This was as close as Finn would get.

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Hannah, however, wasn’t shy.

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Cousins!  I love this little family tradition we have and I’m so glad we were home in time for it.

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My sister arrived later on that evening and we got down to business.  And by that, I mean she blew out my hair and we ate chicken noodle soup in our pajamas.  Who needs a flatiron when Traci brings the dry bar to Christmas?

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The cousins on Christmas Eve.

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We had ourselves a very merry little Christmas.

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There’s a new restaurant in our hometown that nearly everyone from my hometown that’s on my Facebook feed has been checking in at and posting about.  Shawn and I went on a double date with our friends and I had the sautéed shrimp, which was delicious, and a desert that should be illegal in all 50 states.  We shared a couple bottles of wine and some laughs and decided to take a picture before we left.
This is when things got weird.
Just after this picture was taken, two girls who’d clearly had a bit too much to drink jumped into our picture.  And then one of them grabbed my left boob.
Nothing says “suburban, white, American girl” more than Ugg boots, a top knot, drunk photo bombing and grabbing a complete stranger’s left boob.

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Just before the groping.  I had no idea what was about to happen.

Our New Year’s Eve was simple and quiet, with an early dinner, snacks and deserts and a game of Cards Against Humanity.  At one point, Shawn was reduced to a giggling puddle of tears.

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The following weekend we flew back to Luxembourg on the overnight flight that will forever be known as THE WORST NIGHT OF SLEEP I’VE EVER HAD.  I realize that calling it the worst night of sleep leads one to believe that sleep was actually had, but really I didn’t sleep one wink.  But we made it back and except for some turbulence and one box (that we checked with our luggage) opening up and spilling onto the baggage claim conveyor, it was pretty uneventful.
We took the next day and a half to recover and unpack and then it was back to normal routines.
I finally took all of our Christmas decorations down, but they are piled up on the dining room table at the moment.  I am hoping to get them boxed up and back into the attic on Saturday.  Or before Valentine’s Day.  Whichever.
I did add a few bits to the photo gallery wall in the foyer this week.

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Shawn: Did you use a level?
Me: Ah hahahahaha!  Girl, nah.
(I’m more of the eyeball it and hope for the best type.)

So that’s about all that’s going on around here.  We’ve only got a few weeks until our next adventure – skiing the Alps!

Happy New Year and Bonne Année, friends.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

For The Holidays…

A funny thing about Luxembourg:
When you’re an expat here, you spend a great deal of your vacation time traveling back to your home country.  And then when you’ve moved back to your home country, you spend a great deal of your vacation time traveling back to Luxembourg.

Last weekend, our good friends who recently moved back to the UK were in Luxembourg for a visit. 
We’ve missed them!

Sunday after church, we all went out for lunch.

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I have no idea what these two were talking about, but clearly it was VERY SERIOUS.

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The girls were so, so happy to be together again.

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After lunch, we headed into the Christmas Market.  This is our fourth Christmas season in Luxembourg and there’s just something that’s so magical about it.  See?

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The kids ice skated in the center of town and after, the moms warmed up with some vin chaud blanc, hot white wine.  You even get to keep the Christmas mugs.

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We said goodbye for now and they headed back to the UK.  We’ll see them again soon as we have a ski holiday planned with them for February. 

In other Christmas news, Hannah played Mrs. Claus in her school’s Christmas show. 
She nailed her role!  Next stop: Broadway.

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And yesterday, we drove to Brussels, flew across the ocean to Chicago and then took another short flight to Akron.  All in all, it was 18 hours of travel and layover time and Shawn and I were wiped out.  These long haul flights with a 21 month old are no joke. 

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Hannah got an A+ for her behavior, and Finn got…not an A+.  Don’t let that upside-down Roman Gladiator reading fool you.  He pretty much wiggled and climbed like a monkey and caused a ruckus for six hours, slept for 2 and then was as charming and sweet as can be for the last hour. 
I know what he was thinking:  If I sit still and giggle and wave at other passengers, they’ll forget about how much of a handful I was at the beginning. 
It kind of worked.

So here we are in Ohio, recovering from the jet lag.  My sister is coming in from California tomorrow and I can’t wait for our shenanigans.  Hannah has spent all day today with her cousins and she’s as happy as can be.  Finn played all morning with the train around my mom’s Christmas tree and has been outside with Shawn in the freezing cold kicking around a ball.  He’s in heaven. 
I’m planted on my mom’s couch, watching cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.

Here’s to the start of a wonderful two weeks with family and friends!