Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ohio Childhood, Luxembourg Childhood

January 16 in Luxembourg:
Hey, Mommy?  Where'd you learn to build a snowman like that?

Ohio, my dear.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Back From America

We spent a lovely two weeks in America, celebrating Christmas and ringing in the new year with family and friends.

From this year's family Christmas card

I hadn't been home in an entire year and I have to say that it felt very, very odd.  In fact, I felt like a bit of a foreigner in my own hometown.

I marveled at all the big cars; I'd forgotten how spacious roads and parking spaces are.
I was honked at multiple times for sitting at a red light, waiting for it to turn green before turning right.
I had a few moments of overwhelm when faced with the sheer volume of choice at the grocery store.
And then I tried to bag my own groceries.
On more than one occasion, I slipped in a French word or phrase like when the nurse at the doctor's office told me to have a nice day; I automatically responded with √† vous aussi.

These things are purely habit now, a function of being away so long, I suppose.

An Ohio sunset

Our time in Luxembourg is quickly coming to an end, and we will soon return to the US, so Shawn and I spent a great deal of time getting things ready for our return.

Look out America!  We're coming back!

We took a tour of Hannah's new school, got her registered, tied up some loose ends with our house and a number of other boring details involved in a move.

When it was time to return to Luxembourg Shawn had to stay for work so Christine, one of our dear family friends came back with me and the kids.

It's hard to believe that she was the flower girl in our wedding when she was just about Hannah's age.

We didn't do a whole lot while she was here.
Because, you know, JET LAG.
If you know me in real life or you've been reading here for a while, well, you know how I feel about jet lag.  It swallows you whole and then spits you out into the sleeping pattern of a university student.  Except that you can't carry on with this pattern because it's just not practical to sleep from 4 am until 1 pm.
But we did get to show her some of the beauty of Luxembourg.

And of course, we never send any visitor back home without a trip to The Chocolate House.

Thank you, Christine, for corralling my kids through the airports with me, playing with them, helping Hannah with her homework and introducing me to my new favorite fruit: the pitaya.

We love you and will see you soon!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Catching Up: December

We always seem to have a lot going on, and I haven't been great about keeping the blog current.   Shawn's travel schedule has been ridiculously heavy since September, and by the time the kids are in bed and I get us sorted out for the next day,  I don't always feel like sitting down to recount it all.

At the beginning of the month, my mother in law sent me some beautiful Christmas fabric (thank you!) so I dusted off my sewing machine and made some pajamas.  This was the best picture I could get.  Finley loved his pajamas, but as for the picture, well, he wasn't feeling it.

While Shawn was in the US, I decided that we may as well carry on with the holiday season and instead of waiting on him to return to Luxembourg, the kids and I (for the first time since we've lived here) went and got a REAL, LIVE tree.  (We usually put up a fake one.)


I carried the tree from the tree lot to my car, loaded it into the car, carried it from the garage up the stairs to the living room and leveled it in the tree stand by myself.  If I'm being perfectly honest, I felt a little like Superwoman.  Hannah and I strung the lights on and both kids helped with the ornaments.

As this is our last Christmas in this house (that we love so much!) I wanted to get some pictures of how lovely it is with all the decorations.

Again this year, the American Women's Club of Luxembourg hosted its annual Christmas party and Hannah was asked to be an elf.  Unlike the 4th of July, she was quite happy to set aside her British roots and join the Americans.

Finley had a performance of his own at his creche.  I couldn't stop smiling about how sweet he is, blowing us kisses in the Santa hat that he made.  He truly brings so much happiness to our little family.

On the third Sunday of Advent, the kids sang in church. 
There's nothing sweeter than those little voices!

We have an Elf on the Shelf.
Her name is Rosie.
I promised myself that I wouldn't become one of those moms who spend the entire month of December scouring Pinterest for elf ideas and posting nothing but elf photos on Facebook.  But we sure did have some fun with Rosie this year.  Here are two of the kids' favorites:

For the month of December, I sort of took over City Savvy Luxembourg's Instagram account, posting a countdown to Christmas.  The kids and I spent many afternoons and evenings walking around the city, taking photos of just how beautiful it is at Christmas.  Here are some of my favorites:

Gromperekichelcher: a Luxembourgish tradition.

The final mug in my collection of Luxembourg Christmas Market mugs.

The view from the top.

On the 20th of December, we boarded our plane and flew from Luxembourg to Paris to Detroit to Cleveland.  Everything went smoothly, and as much as I usually dread long haul flights with a toddler, we actually enjoyed our day of travel.

Seasoned travelers
When we arrived in America, Hannah and I made our way off of the plane a bit faster than Shawn and Finley, who lagged behind.

Hannah took in a big breath, puffed up her chest, smiled and looked from side to side, as if she was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon.

"I just love the smell of America, don't you, Mom?"

Well, yes.

Perhaps if we were at the beach, with waves crashing and the salty air blowing through our hair.
Or in the Appalachians, breathing in the cool, crisp, mountain air.
Not in the international arrival terminal of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

But no matter; we were in America and I hadn't been there in an entire year.
It felt good to be home.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving: Feasting Far From Home

It's hard to believe that this was our fifth Thanksgiving in Luxembourg.  It's a strange feeling, this day, to be in a place where people go about business as usual, while everyone back home is warm and cozy, celebrating my favorite American holiday.

I brushed Hannah's hair and managed Finley's wriggly feet into his little shoes and Shawn kissed each of us goodbye.  He headed off for work and I took Hannah to school.

The other American moms wished one another a Happy Thanksgiving and I received a few texts from some British friends wishing us the same.  I smiled at their remembering, and also at the irony.

I often toggle between leaning into life abroad and twinges of guilt for choosing this childhood for our kids - away from family and the traditions that are so much a part of who I am.  And then I snapped back into the now and reminded myself that what we've got here is a gift.  Such a gift.

Earlier in the week, Finley at I shopped for a turkey and all the ingredients to make a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.  Over the years I've learned to be industrious and resourceful, because making a Thanksgiving dinner in a country that doesn't have Thanksgiving isn't always easy.

As I placed our groceries on the conveyor, the cashier begins gushing over Finley, telling him how cute he is and commenting on his ginger hair.  He smiled at her, gave one of his big belly laughs and said, "My mommy fell down!"

I didn't fall down.
Not on this day, not on the day before, nor at any time in the recallable past, so I laughed to myself and made a mental note to write this down.
The cashier doesn't question or seem concerned; she either doesn't understand toddler talk or English.  Probably a little of both.

On Thursday morning, I stuffed, trussed and roasted the turkey in our tiny European oven.

Shawn left work early to pick Hannah up from school, a surprise that pretty much made her entire year.

Our perfectly imperfect Thanksgiving dinner

The Boxemännercher: we brought a bit of Luxembourg tradition to our American Thanksgiving

After the dishes were cleared, we had our first fire of the season.
"I'm gonna miss this fireplace when we move back to the US,"  Shawn told me when the kids were in bed and all that was left were embers.
Me, too.

On Saturday we celebrated again with some of our American and Canadian friends.
Hannah reminded me at the last minute to bring the Thanksgiving photo props.
They were a big hit two years ago.

Two-and-a-half Canadians and a little American

American: So, how is Thanksgiving different in Canada than in the States?
Canadian: Oh, it's pretty much the same.  Except we don't care as much.

Our fifth (and final) Thanksgiving in Luxembourg is in the books and it was wonderful.
It's almost time for our next big adventure: Christmas in America.
I haven't been home for an entire year, and I simply cannot wait.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

8 and 4

Today is Hannah's 8th birthday.
It also happens to be the 4 year anniversary of the day we boarded a plane, crossed the Atlantic and began our life in Luxembourg.

Today, my little girl has lived exactly half of her life in America and half in Europe.  In the expat world, we call that a "third culture kid."

We started her birthday weekend with brunch at one of our new favorite places.

Superman joined us, too.

Next we headed to Germany for an afternoon of sugar and overstimulation in the form of lights, sirens and indoor, inflatable climbing structures.

Oh, and friends.  So many good friends.

We sang "Happy Birthday" and Hannah blew out the flame on the "8" candle, but not before pausing to make a wish.  Her friends then erupted into a verse that went like this:

"What's your boyfriend's first name?  What's your boyfriend's first name?  What's your boyfriend's first naaaaaaaammmmeee?  What's your boyfriend's first name?"

"I don't have a boyfriend!" she shouted and nine little girls collapsed into a fit of giggles.
It may have been my favorite part of the entire day.

Our guests and their parents ate cupcakes from Kathy's Cupcakery.  If you're in Luxembourg and haven't tried Kathy's Saturday brunch or cupcakes, well, you are sorely missing out.

We celebrated big over the weekend because on Monday, Shawn left for the US for the next two weeks.  His travel schedule has been so heavy lately; two weeks in Luxembourg, two weeks in the US, two weeks in Luxembourg.  This transatlantic back and forth started in September and will continue, as far as we know, until Christmas.

Last night we drove to the service station at the Lux/Germany border to get Dunkin' Donuts to take to Hannah's class today.
Because AMERICA.
And since we won't all be together as a family on the day of her actual birthday, she requested a special dinner at El Campanero in the centre ville, which is exactly what I picked for my birthday dinner just a few weeks ago.

Like mother, like daughter.
What can I say? Mexican food is our love language.

Photo Credit: Biz Brent Photography

Happy, happy birthday to our sweet, giggly, smart and adventurous girl.
You are so precious to us.
Here's to many, many more.