Saturday, October 29, 2011

We Made It!

Hannah and I arrived in Luxembourg today. 
Our travels went a little like this:
4 suitcases totaling nearly 200 pounds checked.
1 child car seat checked.
1 carry on bag containing a dozen My Little Ponies and an easy access change of clothes.
Just in case.

Cleveland to Newark to Brussels to Luxembourg.
A shout out from the pilot to the birthday girl.
A fellow passenger whose cough sounded like a dog barking.
And another who rocked out with his Mac audio editor software for seven hours straight.
Compliments from the crew on a well behaved little girl.
(She is a great traveler.)
A tearful, joyful reunion when Shawn picked us up at the airport.

We had one small car sickness incident thanks to winding roads and rolling hills.
Good thing for the easy access change of clothes.

And finally, after five weeks of being apart, our little family is back together again.


So we celebrated at a local Subway.
We ordered our sandwiches in centimeters instead of inches.
We paid in Euros instead of Dollars.
And listened to disco music in French while we ate.

We spent our first night together in Europe at a hotel. 
That’s because my husband is so thoughtful and wanted me to relax.
He thought I wouldn’t be able to in the sea of boxes and disorganization at our house.
He’s right.
But we’ll tackle that tomorrow.
For tonight, I’m just relieved to be here.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Dear Hannah,

If someone would have told me that in four years
you would grow from this little squishy baby…


Into this beauty of a little girl…


I wouldn’t have believed them.

Happy 4th Birthday, sweet girl!
Today, we are boarding a plane to our new home in Europe.
Here’s to the start of a fantastic adventure!

We love you more than you know.

Friday, October 21, 2011


This week we shopped for Hannah’s Halloween costume.  
We won’t be here for Halloween, so we went to an early trick-or-treat.
I asked her what she wanted to be.
”Maybe you can sew me a horse costume.”
Possibly.  If my sewing machine weren’t on a boat to Europe.
(Yes, I know that their outlets and voltage are different than ours.
Or maybe it’s amps.  Whatever.  My husband got me some do-dads that will let me plug it in and use it without it bursting into flames.)

Anyways, we did find a horse costume.

But the princess costume won out.  Probably because it lights up.


When I was a kid, my grandparents had cement poured in their driveway.
My sister and I stamped our hands into it while it was still wet.
Hannah got to do the same this week.


We spent some time waiting at the car dealership.
Waiting and waiting. 
I can’t think of anything more boring.
But at least they had this cool kid area.
So only one of us was bored.


We have this little cat.  But it’s kind of like we don’t have a cat because she hides 99% of the time.  Most of my friends don’t believe that we have a cat because they’ve never seen her.

Well, she got lost.
She was gone for almost a month.  That’s a long time for a cat who’s never been outside.
I put flyers in mailboxes and got call after call from neighbors who claimed to have seen her.
I searched and searched the woods near our house, but came up with nothing.
One neighbor suggested I set a humane trap.  He even loaned me one.
Well, I caught a cat.
But it wasn’t mine.
Then I caught a turtle.  And then a possum.
I’ll spare you the details of that. 
I called every animal shelter and vet office in the area.
Two of them said they had a black and white cat brought in recently.
She wasn’t there.
I feared having to tell Hannah that her kitty was gone.  She would have been heartbroken.
All the while, my husband is in Europe.
He was totally entertained by my updates on Operation Bring Kitty Home.  (So was his boss.)
After another few days of cat chasing drama (and some creepiness from a neighbor) I finally found the cat.
She was practically in my backyard.  Like 50 feet away.  It figures.
My aunt helped me lure her out from under my next door neighbor’s shed.
You’ve never seen two grown women cheer and jump up and down over a cat like we did.
I hope no one saw us. 


So, welcome home kitty. 
It was a long month.
For you and me.
But mostly me.

life rearranged

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

11 Years

I’ve been married 11 years (and like 5 weeks.)
But I forgot to blog about it on our actual anniversary.
Probably because we were getting ready to move.
And my husband was the best man in a friend’s wedding that same weekend.

I’ve seen a bunch of blog posts recently in which the writers share a list of the things they’ve learned in marriage. 

Their lists are beautiful and their life lessons even more so.

Me, however? 
I’d probably be more qualified to make a list of things not to say to your husband in order to have a successful marriage. 

Lucky for me, my husband loves unconditionally and is quick to forgive.
And that’s just the start of his great qualities.

So, happy (belated) 11th anniversary to my sweet husband.


Click here to read about how we met.
(You’ll also get to see a picture of old school me.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Pie

I mentioned that Hannah and I are staying with my parents until we leave for Europe.
We turned their kitchen into a little apple pie bakery.
There was a lot of peeling, slicing and mixing up in here.
And some tasting.  Lots of tasting.
Yummy, sweet and tangy apples, fresh from the orchard
Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the process.
But I did capture the finished product.


My favorite apples to use in pies are McIntosh and Jonathan. 
They are a good mix of sweet and tart and don’t get mushy when baked.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes.
You’ll need:

2 pie crusts
8 cups of apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk

1. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. (I used lime juice because I forgot to buy lemon juice.  It worked just fine.)
2.  Mix sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add apples and toss to coat well.
3.  Line your pie dish with crust.  Full disclosure: I use store bought.  (I’m impressed with folks who make theirs from scratch.  But not impressed enough to do it myself.) 
4.  Fill crust lined pie dish with apples and dot with butter.
5.  Place second pie crust on top and pinch the edges together.  Cut slits in the top to vent.
6.  Mix egg and milk and brush onto crust.  This will make it golden and flaky! 
7.  Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce to 350 for 45 minutes.

Share with your family. 
Surprise a friend. 
But don’t admit your crust is store bought. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pregnancy and Infant Loss: My Story

Today is October 15.
It’s a day that is near to my heart.
Today is the day we recognize pregnancy and infant loss. 

I usually don’t share personal stuff like this, and I wasn’t sure that I ever would.
But I had some beautiful inspiration from some pretty amazing women who’ve been through the same thing I have.
And until four months ago, I was blissfully unaware.
But now I know.

So here goes.

I had no reason to believe that I’d ever be telling a story like this.  My first pregnancy came very easily and was smooth and uneventful.  Textbook, if you will.  Our daughter was born healthy and beautiful, four days before her due date.

Fast forward to Spring, 2011.  I suspected that I was pregnant and two home pregnancy tests and a blood test at the doctor’s office confirmed it.  I scheduled my first ultrasound for a few weeks later.

On the morning of the ultrasound, I was about 9 1/2 weeks along. My husband had something at work come up that he had to take care of.
”Don’t worry.  I'll take a video on my phone and ask for lots of print outs.  Besides, we’ve done this before and there will be much more to see at the 20 week ultrasound,” I told him.

I arrived at the appointment and hopped onto the table.  The technician got started and then said, “This is taking a little longer because I don’t think you’re as far along as we thought.”  I crooked my head to see the screen and she turned it so that I could see.
”There it is.  There’s your baby.”

Then the technician’s forehead wrinkled a bit and she studied the screen.  “That’s the baby’s chest and I’m looking for a little flutter, the heartbeat.”  Another few seconds passed.
”I’m going to have to get the doctor.  Just relax here for a minute.”

I knew.  They only go get the doctor if something is wrong.

She grabbed a few printouts from the ultrasound machine and left.   Minutes later, she returned with my doctor.  Normally I would be comforted to see him – Shawn and I both love and trust him - but he gave me a weak smile and took over the ultrasound.

”Have you had any bleeding or cramping?”
I hadn’t.  Until this moment, I had no reason to believe anything was wrong.  As far as I was concerned, my pregnancy had been progressing just as it should.

After another minute, he took my hand, helped me to sit up and said, “I’m so sorry.  There’s no heartbeat, no movement and your baby is measuring smaller than it should for how far along you are.  The most important thing for you to know is that this is not your fault and was not caused by something you did or did not do.”
I just starred at him, not knowing what to say, so I whispered, “thank you.”

At that moment, I became a member of a club which I never wanted to join: moms who’ve lost their babies far too soon.  

”Take what time you need, call your husband and the nurse will walk you to my office.  I’ll meet you there to talk about what will happen next.”

I called Shawn and through sobs, I managed to get out, “Ilostthebaby.  No. Heartbeat.”  
“I’m on my way,” he said and I heard the familiar sounds of the hustle and bustle of the airport in the background.

Our gentle breeze of pending parenthood had just become a hurricane.

The kind nurse ushered me down the hall to the doctor’s office, hugged me and told me how sorry she was.  Again, I managed a meek, “thank you” in between sobs.  She left me to wait for the doctor.   

The doctor returned and in his gentle, yet matter-of-fact way explained my options to me.  We decided to not make any decisions at that moment. Shawn and I thought the best thing at that time was to just be still and wait.  We scheduled a D&C for a week later, but hoped that during that time, my body would do what it needed to do.

I had no idea how difficult it would be to live those nine days, knowing that there was a baby inside me that I would never get to hold.

Early in the morning on the day of the scheduled D&C, my body began to let go of the pregnancy.  It was unrelenting, painful and traumatic.  Just as painful as labor, to be honest.  
Shawn took a quilt off of the bed in our guest room and wrapped it around me on the bathroom floor, trying to hold my shivers still.

Then he drove us to the hospital where we met my doctor.  I would still need the D&C.
The procedure was quick and I woke up feeling better than I thought I would.  The sweet nurse who had started my IV and walked me to the OR told me that she also had a miscarriage.  It was 26 years ago and she still thinks about it.  I read somewhere that once you see that second pink line on a pregnancy test, you set a place at your table for your baby.  So true.

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”                      Ecclesiastes 11:5 

So, now it’s been four months and my heart is healing.
The sting isn’t so harsh.
There are days that I don’t even think about it.
But there are reminders.
At a wedding a few weeks ago, as I helped my husband into his tux,
I thought, “I should be wearing a maternity dress to this wedding.”


I don’t know why this happened to us, or what God has planned for our family. 
Will we try again?
Maybe.  I don’t know.
Hannah may be the only child we are given to raise on this earth.
I am completely honest when I say that I am fine with that.
Because if I only have one, I’m so glad it’s her.


So I snuggle a little closer, giggle a little longer and hug her a little tighter.
Because God is good. 
Even when it hurts.
And I know He’s holding my other baby until I can.

Friday, October 14, 2011


This week has been crazy busy. 
There's a lot to do when moving one's family and household to another country.
Along with the need-to-be-done things, we found a little time for some fun.
At the apple orchard, Hannah tracked down and cornered a cat.
Was I surprised?
Not at all.
This kid makes friends with animals everywhere we go.
At our 4 year well child check-up.
(Yes, we're a few weeks early.)
I still think the little paper gowns are adorbs.
She's right on track developmentally and still tall and thin.
So thankful for a healthy girl!
Hannah went to her very first football game this week.
All the players were about 4 feet tall.
So cute.
I pointed out the cheerleaders to her.
"Would you like to do that someday?"
"No, I think I just want to be a muskateer."
Speaking of football, we live 10 minutes from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
People come from all over the country to see it.
I've never been there.
But I did take a picture of my kid in one of their cut-outs at a local mall.
Does that count?
Look out, Jim Brown.
I think she's ready for the Dawg Pound.

life rearranged

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Picking


We’ve had some beautiful fall weather the last few days.
So Hannah and I headed out to pick apples at a local orchard.
She kept calling it the “apple factory.”


She wanted to wear her Birthday Girl ribbon,
even though her birthday isn’t for two weeks.


So we decided to start the celebration early.


And I tried out my birthday present for the first time.
Hello, new camera.
I can’t wait to capture memories with you.

DSC_0135 apples5




Saturday, October 8, 2011

Skype, LOL and the Fashion Critic

We recently introduced my parents to Skype.
With my sister 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, and my little family about to move across the ocean, it only seemed right.

(My sister and I don’t Skype because we text.  Like non-stop. All the live long day.)

But my parents don’t text. 
They do email.  And Facebook.  But no text.

And now?
Now they know how to Skype.
We’ve reached a threshold of technological learning, my friends.

In fact, my mom recently announced to her Facebook friends,  “I just Skyped with my daughter in LA with no issues.  I totally got this.” 

Then she added an “LOL” for good measure. 

Since Hannah and I are hanging out at my parents’ house until we leave for Europe, we got to get in on the Skype action with my sister in LA.

For the record, we had no issues.
I totally got this.


The conversation went a little like this:

Hannah: Aunt Traci, where are you?
Aunt Traci: I’m in California.
Hannah: Aunt Traci, I like your dress.
Aunt Traci: Thanks, Twinks!
Hannah: But it’s not much coverage.

And I don’t think that we’ve ever LOL’d harder.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sleep Talking

I’ve joked before that if Hannah is awake, she’s probably talking.
Well, I recently learned that if she’s asleep, she probably talking, too. 
You see, I’ve been bunking with her in my sister’s old room for the last two weeks.

(Shawn’s already in Europe so we’re staying with my parents.)

(It takes quite some time to ship the contents of one’s household across the ocean.)

(And there’s no need for us to rush over there to stay in a hotel while he’s at work during the day.)

Anyways.  The sleep talking.
This must be a new thing because I’ve never heard her do it before.
The first night, at about 3AM, I heard her say, “Mommy. Mommy?”
“What, honey?”
Nothing.  Sound asleep.

The second night, it was a bunch of incomprehensible ramblings followed by,
“Thank you, your Majesty.”

A few nights later?
“No, Mommy.  I don’t want my hair brushed.”

At this point, I actually got up and got a piece of paper to write this stuff down.

My favorite, however, was just last night. 
”I’m not very good at French.”

That’s okay, sweetie, because neither are your parents.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I’d Like 1, But 4 Would Be Okay, Too

Shawn sent me a text that made me giggle.
Totally worth recording for memory’s sake.

Sunday afternoon, he went through a McDonald’s drive thru, armed with his Google translator, to order a large Coke, or “Coca,” as the French say.

“Je voudrais une grande Coca, s'il vous plaĆ®t.”
I’d like one large Coke, please. 

Over the speaker, a woman recited a string of crackly French. 
Totally proud of himself and his new confidence in the French language, he assumed she was telling him his total and to pull around to the next window. 

So he did what I totally would have done and replied with the two French words that we have down pat.

“Oui. Merci.”
Yes. Thank you.

Here’s what he ended up with.
That’s four grande Cocas.
We’re not exactly sure where he went wrong, but it probably had something to do with the, “Oui. Merci.”
And the new confidence in the French language.
And the assuming.


Let’s file this under:
Things We’ll Laugh About When We Become Adept at Living in a Foreign Country.