Monday, August 3, 2015

The Family That Hikes Together...

Saturday afternoon we drove less than one hour north to the Mullerthal Region, which is also known as Luxembourg's Little Switzerland.


The day was warm and the trails were just begging to be hiked.


Finley didn't last long in the backpack.  Instead, he preferred to run and climb alongside Hannah, giving his all to keep step with her.


We crawled through crevices that were barely shoulder width.


We sat on a bridge and contemplated life...


It was all we could do to keep this little guy out of the water.  Streams, sticks, rocks and dirt are his favorite.





And catching up on some things I don't want to forget:

A group of friends gathered to celebrate a 37th birthday, and I don't know what I loved more, the crafty-crafty piñata-like number 37 or the fact that I am the same age as the birthday girl.  It truly is a great age.


It could've been the Crémant, or maybe the fact that we are both smack-dab in the middle of raising toddler boys, but we found this incredibly funny, even if we were the only ones that seemed to be entertained.


Hannah finished the school year with awards and applause and we couldn't be more proud of her.  


Friends that we made while they were living in Luxembourg and have since returned to the UK came for a visit.  For an entire morning and afternoon lunch, Hannah had her dear friend all to herself.


This summer and last have been full of goodbyes.  When you're an expat, you find friends and tend to bond quickly and deeply and become like family.   You figure things out together, celebrate and commiserate with one another.  You do life together.  And then, suddenly, friends announce that they are moving - moving on to other expat assignments or returning to their home country.  And as regular and natural as the expat ebb and flow, well, it's still shocking and it stings.

As we are likely in the homestretch of our time as expats in Luxembourg, I've felt an overwhelming desire, a sense of duty, really to capture as much as I can of this place and what have become our favorite spots.


Sunday evening,  Hannah and I went to dinner, just the two of us.  We had hamburgers, fries and shared a dame blanche, an ice cream sundae.  We walked along Le Rives de Clausen, a hip and trendy section of the city.


"Hey, Mom," she asked, "Have you ever had a heart attack?"

"No."
I could barely contain my laughter for her child-like understanding of how unlikely and serious it would be for me to have had a heart attack.

"Ok, well, then can you start paying me my allowance in American money and euros?"

"Well, I guess, but what's that have to do with a heart attack?"

"Oh, it doesn't.  I just think it's a good idea for me to have some money saved up in both countries."






Monday, July 6, 2015

Baby, You’re A Firework!

Our 4th of July was a little bit more low key than I would’ve liked, thanks to some salmonella poisoning that took Shawn down for no less than a week.  He and I spent all day Thursday at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, but that’s another story for another day.

I decided that I would still take the kids to the 4th of July party hosted by the American Women’s Club of Luxembourg, and when I told Hannah that we were going, she told me she didn’t want to go.

”Why? We had fun last year and it’s America’s birthday.  We should celebrate!”

She narrowed her eyes, “Because I’m British.”

Ok. 
Right. 
Clearly all of my efforts at teaching my kids about heritage, American traditions and instilling a sense of patriotism have been very effective.

IMG_5580

Oh, well.
Happy Birthday anyways, America!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Americans For AC

We're in a heat wave over here, you guys.
It's been in the 30s for about a week, which is the mid to high 90s for all my Fahrenheit speaking friends.



In fact, the Luxembourg Ministry of Health put us on Red Alert late last week.



Now listen, I know that doesn't seem all that bad for July, but when you live in a country that has ZERO air conditioning (even in hospitals) well, it doesn't take long for the heat to get to you.

One of my American friends (who is sadly moving back to the US very soon) posted on Facebook a picture of a portable air conditioning unit in their living room.

Then another American friend did the same.

And I knew it was time to come clean and admit, that we, too have a portable air conditioning unit.


Shawn installed it in our bedroom, and when I say "installed" I mean that he plopped the unit onto the floor and CUT A HOLE IN THE HOUSE for the accordion vent.  He explained to me that the vent will exhaust the hot air and I was all uh huh, uh huh cool air.
It's not the arctic blast that we're accustomed to in America, but it will do until Luxembourg returns to its more usual temperatures.

This afternoon I was piddling around in the city while Hannah was at a play date and Shawn and Finn were napping at home.  I popped into Subway to get some water and I almost had to sit down because of the shock of cold air that hit me.

So, to all my Luxembourg friends:
The Subway in the centre, across from Librairie Francaise has air conditioning.
Now, the tourist/man capri/B.O. situation getting from Kneudler to Rue Beck is NOT GOOD.
But, hey.
This is Europe and we're in a heatwave.

We'll take what we can get.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kid Stuff

I've been keeping myself really busy with family, activities and doing a bit of writing over at City Savvy Luxembourg.  I'm still working out at the gym regularly, eating (mostly) clean and healthy and I feel great.  I have pep and energy and if you're feeling sluggish and tired, I highly recommend making some changes in diet and activity.  I feel like I'm 21.

Hannah, my mom and I spent a few great days in London and then met up with my sister in the English countryside.  I've got some great stories and photos to share soon.

In the meantime, this.  This photo is probably my favorite ever of my kids.  I have a friend here in Luxembourg who does amazing things behind the lens and she captured this completely unplanned and unstaged.


Hannah's just about finished with this school year, and she's done so well.  We're beyond proud of her.    Last week, we were doing some shopping in Trier, Germany and we overheard some people speaking English.
"Hey, Mom?  Those people over there sound American.  We better go talk to them.  It's our job, ya know."
Identifying accents and making friends.  She's such an expat kid.

I so love my days with Finley.
He's wild and active and wears me flat out most of the time.


But deep down, I think he's a man of leisure.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dear French People, I’m Sorry for Butchering Your Beautiful Language

Last week, a light on the dashboard of my car lit up and made a demanding ding-ding sound at me when I started it up.  I got out the manual and found that I was low on coolant, so today I went to an auto shop to pick some up. 
I was a little nervous going in because the last time I was there to have a bulb replaced in the taillight, I ended up crying twice, all in the same visit.
First because the man working there was incredibly rude and it was just so frustrating.  Then another man stepped in and was ever so helpful and nice to me and my kids and it made me cry all over again.

So today I went in, guns blazing and ready to get a jug (or the European equivalent) of coolant.
Nothing was going to stop me.

Except I didn’t know the French word for “coolant.”

So I did what I often do when I don’t know a French word and said the word in English, with a French accent.  (Now listen, a lot of the time this is a good strategy and it works.)

Just as the word escaped my mouth, I realized that coolant said in a French accent sounds almost exactly like the French word for tights.
Yes, tights.
I corrected myself the best I could and pulled it together enough to come up with “liquide de froid,” cold liquid, which is what I should have said in the first place.  The man chuckled a bit and told me to pull my car around and he would put the liquide in my car for me.

In other, unrelated news, I’m going to be writing over at City Savvy, an online lifestyle magazine for English speakers in Luxembourg.  You can check out my gallery of springtime photos around Luxembourg and follow us on Instagram (City_Savvy_Lux) where I’ll be posting more pictures of this beautiful city.

11295921_400670693459934_5419356026171694045_n

I’m so excited about this – I’ll be starting with some bits about traveling Europe via RV and the theatre scene in Luxembourg, and if you know me, you know that I love both travel and theatre.

The best part of all is that I’ll be doing this all in English.
So there’s no chance of me butchering the French language.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother’s Day 2015

We overflowed the coffee machine at a rest stop, Finley ate a smashed dandelion in a parking lot and for about six minutes, Shawn and I were in a panic because we thought our car had been stolen.

That’s how the weekend started, and if you know us, it’s a pretty typical way for us to begin a road trip.

Saturday morning, we loaded up the kids and the car and drove to the Netherlands.  I’ve been wanting to go in the spring for as long as we’ve lived here, but each year something has gotten in the way.

We saw the famous cube houses.
And bikes.
Lots and lots of bikes.
Did you know that there are more bikes in the Netherlands than actual people?

IMG_4883

Sunday morning we got moving slowly and I sipped coffee as my kids ran around the hotel room, jumped on the bed and watched boats out the window.  It was Mother’s Day and I couldn’t help but think that I love these two with a fierceness I never knew until I became a mom.  

IMG_4893

After our leisurely morning, we drove to Keukenhof Gardens, which is in the bollenstreek, or bulb growers region.

The Dutch are serious about their tulips.

IMG_5008

IMG_5005

IMG_5006

And also, clogs.

IMG_5007

IMG_5009

Motherhood is exhausting, scary, messy and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the house with cereal smashed in the bottom of my purse, a 2 year old wearing his t-shirt with one arm through the neck hole (like a toga, because he insisted) and both kids eating candy before 9AM, because this was the only way we were all going to make it to school on time and in one piece.

I hope that my kids won’t remember a childhood with a mom who was frazzled and anxious and they’ll forget all the hurry ups and straighten ups and remember their mom laughed a lot, had patience, taught them well and showed them the world.

A mom who saw the humor in being photo bombed by a goat…

IMG_5001

And willingly stood in the enormous, touristy wooden clogs in front of a windmill in Holland just for her kids’ amusement.

IMG_4989a

I’ve been a mom for a little over seven years, and frankly, I feel like I’m an all-over-the-place-mess. 

I’ve birthed a baby in America and one in a foreign country.
I’ve celebrated healthy deliveries and I’ve grieved a miscarriage. 
I’ve breastfed and bottle fed, worn my babies close to my heart and pushed them in strollers.
I’ve been a stay at home mom and I’ve worked full time and part time.
I’ve judged other moms and have been judged by others.

I’m trying my best everyday to teach my children to be gentle – one with his little hands, and one with her words.  Every night when I fall into bed, I pray Lord, protect them.  And please cover up the mistakes I made with them today.

We stayed in Keukenhof longer than planned and returned home pretty late Sunday night.  All of us were exhausted and Hannah hadn’t finished her homework yet, so I declared that we’d all sleep in and take her to school late the next day.  In the flurry of events the next morning, which included window washers showing up first thing (that I had forgotten about) I asked Hannah if she could pack her own lunch, so that we weren’t too too late.  When we got to school, I peeked in her lunchbox to find nearly a pound of salami, a yogurt cup and two peppermint lifesaver candies. 

Clearly, I don’t have any part of this gig figured out.

IMG_4981

But despite all the mess and chaos, they’re mine and I’m theirs.
I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Oh, dear.

IMG_4644

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated around here. 
But I’ll be back.  Promise.

I’ve got lots of catching up to do.
And lots of exciting stuff coming up…