Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

I’ve mentioned before that Halloween isn’t a huge deal in Luxembourg, but the American Women’s Club hosts a Trick-or-Treat event for kids and we had so much fun last year, that we knew we had to go again this year.

I had thought it would be really fun for Hannah to be a bee keeper and Finn a bee, but Hannah wasn’t down with that idea.  There’s a new TKMaxx near us (that’s not a typo – it’s called TKMaxx and it’s just like TJMaxx, only smaller) and we happen to come across the perfect costume.

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And then we found this one for Finn.

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Finn didn’t really want to carry his trick-or-treat bag.  After the first house, he just wanted to carry the little package of candy around.

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My favorite part of his costume:

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We found a cute little pumpkin patch a few villages away from ours and picked up some pumpkins for the front porch.  After Finn had gone to bed one night, we let Hannah stay up late to carve hers.

This is how it turned out.

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I did the template, Shawn did the carving, but the idea?  That was all Hannah’s.
Because BARBIE. 
It’s her love language.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

7: Celebrating Hannah

Today our sweet, imaginative, funny, all-American girl turns 7.

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We celebrated last week by spending the afternoon at Jardin des Papillons, (The Butterfly Garden) per Hannah’s request.

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It was nothing fancy, really.
Just some homemade cupcakes…

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…a few friends and some sparkly antennae headbands.

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The kids got a tour of the indoor garden with René, who taught them about the life cycle of a butterfly.

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We saw some really beautiful things.

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It was hot and humid in there, just like a tropical oasis.
But these kids didn’t seem to mind.

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Finn was there, too, and he loved the butterflies.
(But not as much as the cupcakes.)

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All the schools are on the half term holiday this week, so today we had lunch at Hannah’s favorite restaurant in Luxembourg: Vapiano’s.  She ordered her favorite: Caesar salad and a piece of chocolate cake.  Although I have no idea why she loves the cake so much.  It’s the kind that’s made with 85% cocoa and isn’t sweet at all.  But she loves it.

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Happy Birthday to our sweet girl. 
She makes us laugh and she makes us so proud.

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I should also mention that today officially marks three years that we’ve been living in Luxembourg.  And even after three years, my French is embarrassing and I still have moments in which I’m overwhelmed with homesickness.
But I love it here.
And I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Friday, October 24, 2014

When In Rome…

Ok.
So, back to the places we went while Shawn’s parents were here.
After we got back from Cologne, we hung out in Luxembourg for a few days and then packed our bags again and headed off to The Eternal City.

Barbie came with us, too.  She even wore her fluffy blue skirt.

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Once we collected our luggage, we took a taxi to our hotel, got settled in and then went out in search of lunch. 

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Doesn’t Hannah look absolutely thrilled to be in Rome?  By this point, we were all starving.

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This cheered her right up.  So good.

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Ya know, it always amazes me when I see women walking around big cities in this manner of footwear.  I made a similar mistake once in Vegas.  In my defense, I was in my early 20’s but, oh, did I learn my lesson.  NEVER AGAIN.  It was also hot as blazes in Rome that day and I just cannot imagine being sweltering and walking around in high heels.  No thank you. 

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Anyway, shoes and temperatures aside, here are some of the things we did and saw.

Il Colosseo.
This was my second time in Rome and I was shocked to learn that it only took the Romans eight years to build this thing.  That’s right.  EIGHT YEARS.  They were some mighty efficient folks, those Romans.

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Clearly my kids were interested in everything but my camera.

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Shawn explained to Hannah how there were trap doors in the floor that the gladiators used. 

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The inside of The Coliseum is full of holes like this because during troubled times the Romans dug out the metal pins to make tools.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess.

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The Arch of Constantine.
Way back in ye olden days, there was a fountain in front of the arch, but Constantine had it removed because apparently it got in the way of his grand entrance through the center of the arch. 
What a creep.

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Shawn took the kids back to the hotel to play for a while, have lunch and take a rest while his parents and I pressed on and toured The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus.  

I’d been telling Hannah all about the Trevi Fountain and showing her pictures of it online.  We made specific plans to toss in a coin over our shoulders, which is just what you do at the Trevi Fountain.  Well, when we arrived, this is what we found. 
The entire thing was under renovation.

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All was not lost, because we found the best gelato place just across the street.  I think we ate gelato twice a day while we were in Rome.

We got a family photo on Via dei Fori Imperiali, the street that leads from The Coliseum to the Piazza Venezia.  Way back, this area was full of ancient ruins, but in the 1920’s and 30’s Mussolini swept through and had a road built, demolishing ancient and Renaissance structures.  What a creep.

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We walked past the ruins of Torre Argentina where Hannah found her favorite thing: cats.

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And Finn found his favorite thing near the Pantheon: water.

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It took us a few shots to get everyone to look at the camera.
Besides Finn doing a backbend trying to get into the fountain, my favorite part of this picture is the chick in the white dress having a leisurely conversation on her mobile.

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This is the best we could do.

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Later on, we found ourselves at The Vatican.  Okay, that’s not necessarily true because one doesn’t just find themselves at The Vatican and The Sistine Chapel.  The truth is that we walked for ages, knowing that we really only had time to quickly make our way through the different museums to The Sistine Chapel to see the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo. 

I had shown Hannah pictures of what we were about to see and told her about the time that Shawn and I went to The Sistine Chapel before she was born and how I had broken the rules and taken a picture.

How cheeky of me. 

“Mom?  Are we almost to the Sixteenth Chapel?” she asked.
Let it be known that this may possibly be one of my favorite things she has ever said.

Of course, there are no pictures (Or talking. Or breathing, for that matter) inside the Sixteenth Chapel, so here we are at the entrance to the Vatican Museum.

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Hannah: Hey, Mom?  We should take a picture of this one cuz it looks like Finn.

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Our final stop was St. Peter’s Basilica and by this time the wind was blowing and it was starting to rain.  Let it also be known that this is my least favorite weather condition for flying because TURBULANCE. 
Anyway, we had just time for a few quick pictures outside because the line to get inside was quite long and we had a flight to catch.

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This is what most pictures of both kids look like these days.  We get them both settled and then Finn takes off running.  I can’t wait to show this picture to them when they’re grown.

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And that’s pretty much it for Rome.  There’s so much more to see and do, but with two kids in tow, we’re lucky we saw all that we did.  We caught our flight home, unpacked, did a few loads of laundry, packed our bags again and headed off to our third adventure with Shawn’s parents.

To Be Continued…

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 FĂȘte 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.