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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August

It’s the first week of August, and that means that most of Luxembourg has closed up shop and everyone’s either on holiday or has headed to their country of origin.

That’s what we’ve done.

We left Luxembourg what feels like 30 hours ago, flew to Amsterdam and then on to Detroit, where I’m writing from Gate A59 as we’re waiting on our final connection to home sweet home.

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So far our travels have been smooth, so here’s to hoping that the rest is, too because I’m so tired I can barely stand up.  I suppose that going out with my girls the night before a transatlantic trip wasn’t the best idea, but I wouldn’t have missed it.  I’m so sad that two of these ladies are moving away this summer and I had to say au revoir to them just before we left. 

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We sipped Crémant and laughed until we cried.  I can’t say enough about these girls.  They’re simply the best.

And speaking of Crémant, I promised a few friends back home that I’d be bringing them a bottle, but when it came down to it, I just couldn’t make it happen.  Because on top of all the other stuff you have to pack in your carry-on luggage for two kids, the thought of wheeling my bag through security, onto the plane and then stowing it in the overhead compartment in the same manner one would handle a crate of eggs didn’t sound like much fun.  Neither did opening my bag to find four bottles of busted Crémant.  So, if I promised you a bottle, I won’t show up empty handed.  I’ll swing by Giant Eagle to pick us up something REAL FANCY.

In the few weeks between school letting out and our trip to America, we did a lot of swimming and hanging out at the pools with out friends.  Luxembourg has beautiful swimming pools, and despite the fact that we live in the home of the Speedo, it’s always a good time.
Oh, and here’s Hannah receiving her swimming award at the end of the school year.

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During the summer months, the Grand Ducal Palace opens its doors for folks to take a guided tour of the place.  This is something we’ve never done before (not sure why) so Hannah and I booked tickets.  There were no cameras allowed on the tour, but let me tell you that the inside is spectacular!  Just like you’d imagine the inside of a palace to be.  Even though Luxembourg’s royal family doesn’t actually live in the Grand Ducal Palace, there are royal living quarters but they weren’t of the tour so I was kinda disappointed about that.  Not that I’d be snooping around in closets and cabinets, but I was curious. 
Oh, and also – I should have known, but the palace is not air conditioned.  I don’t know why I was expecting air conditioning because no one in Europe has air conditioning.  I felt kind of sorry for all the royal family who have to sit around in fancy, stuffy clothes because that palace is hot as blazes in the summer.

Well, we’ve got big plans for our time in the US.  Hannah’s going to Vacation Bible School this week at a local church.  Last week I told her that I signed her up.

”Oh, ok.  What language will it be in?” she asked.
She’s such an expat kid.

We’re also going to be doing some swimming, boating, spending time with family and friends and whatnot and whathaveyou.

And by whatnot and whathaveyou, I mean enjoying the air conditioning.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The North Sea: We Liked It So Much We Went Back

And this time we took friends!

Last week after school let out, it seemed like a fine time to head to the beach.  So we packed up our car (and Shawn’s sleek, shiny car top carrier) and headed back to the Belgian coast with our British friends.  These folks have become like family to us since we’ve lived in Luxembourg.

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The Americans

We stayed in a cute little cottage in De Hann, Belgium and spent our days at the North Sea.

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We had a very serious bocce ball tournament.
In French, they call it boules, which I think is funny because that’s the same word they use for scoops of ice cream.

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The weather was perfect for kite flying.

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And Hannah wore her daddy’s shirt when the evening air became chilly.

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We ate dinner out, and grilled enough meat for six families on an itty, bitty disposable grill.

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When it rained, we simply put panchos on the girls and continued our walk along the shore.

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These two shared a room with bunk beds and spent hours working on their rainbow loom bracelets and necklaces, which they called “Scooby Doo’s,” and continually cheered, “We’re knitting for England!” and “We’re knitting for America!” and my favorite, “We’re knitting to save the world!”

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For our last day, we crossed the border into Holland and rode bikes. 
Shawn and Hannah did this:

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I rode with Finn on the back of my bike.  The lady at the bike rental place warned us that kids always cry when you put a helmet on them.  Finley, however, loved it.  He didn’t want to take it off.

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As much as he loved the helmet, he apparently thought the rest of the bike ride was a snooze fest.

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We stopped for lunch at a little café on the beach where the kids could play in the sand before and after we ate.

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Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Luxembourg. 
But one last thing: a group shot of the Brits and the Americans.

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Because we were riding for England! Riding for America!
We were RIDING TO SAVE THE WORLD.