Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hey Girl. This is Funny.

A friend recently hipped me to a new website.
Handmade Ryan Gosling.
(You know, Ryan Gosling the actor.)
Go there.
It’s fall down funny stuff.
If you like sewing and crafts, that is.

Submitted by Alex

Submitted by Marianne

Submitted by @mylifeasprose

This one’s my favorite. 
Did you know that my first job out of college was at JoAnn Fabrics Corporate Office?
That makes it even funnier to me.

By @theowlandthebee

Don’t tell anyone, but I totally checked to see if JoAnn’s really has an app.
They do.
I’m going to install it as soon as I get my laughter under control over here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some More Christmas

We’re still here in the US and had a fantastic Christmas with our families.
You can see pictures of our past Christmases here.

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Aunt Traci arrived in town late Christmas Eve and was here to surprise Hannah on Christmas morning.  I’m pretty sure this was the best gift anyone could have given her. 
These two have barely left each other’s side. 
We’ve been cracking up because Hannah has taken to speaking on behalf of Aunt Traci.
”No thanks, me and Aunt Traci aren’t hungry.”
”Me and Aunt Traci just want to play ponies and paint my nails today.”

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We spent some time with Shawn’s family at his grandpa’s house. 
If you love antiques and artifacts from practically every time period in US history, well, grandpa’s basement is the place to go.

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Last Christmas, we had to unexpectedly miss all the family festivities because Hannah got sick.  This year, we traveled 4,000 miles from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean to be with the people we love most.  Who would have thought?

This next picture makes me smile. 
Because, really.
Jammies, cousins and the juke box in Great Grandpa’s basement.

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If that doesn’t make for some mighty fine Christmas memories, I don’t know what does.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Building and Constructing

Hannah and I spent the better part of a day building and constructing.
First up: a gingerbread house.
I iced, she candied.

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We left the gingerbread house out on the kitchen counter, front and center, so that Shawn would see it as soon as he got to my parents’ house late Thursday night.

”The decorations look great, but it might not be structurally, umm, sound.”
Oh, you mean those gaping holes between the house and roof?
Maybe we could fill them in with icing.
I guess it’s a good thing I don’t build houses for a living.
An engineer I am not.

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This little girl didn’t seem to mind.

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When Santa paid us a little visit last Sunday, he brought Hannah her very first set of Legos. 
I might not be able to build a gingerbread house with structural integrity.
But Legos? 
Don’t worry, Hannah.
Mama’s got this one.

We started out building a little pink car.

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Then a tiny cottage, complete with an opening and closing door and window.

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Then we got really ambitious. 

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No gaping holes here.
I’m not sure who had more fun - Hannah or me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays

Hannah and I arrived in the US safe and sound last week.  Shawn had to stay in Lux for work, but we decided to come early to have an extra week at home.
It was a long day of travel.
We flew from Luxembourg to Geneva to Newark to Cleveland.
That’s over 11 hours in flight.
And 4 hours of layovers.
Hannah rocked, as usual.  The girl was born to travel.
Our flight out of Luxembourg was slightly delayed, which made things a little sketchy when we arrived in Geneva.  We landed at 8:22 AM and our next flight left for the US at 9 AM.
That left 38 minutes to get off the plane and to the next one.
We made it.
Barely.
We sprinted to the gate.  They were paging us in thick German accents over the PA system. 
We ran as fast as we could, Hannah wearing her little backpack, me with my carry on bag and purse and both of us in bulky winter coats.
I’ve never prayed so hard while running through an airport in my life.
As soon as we boarded, they closed the door behind us.
The plane was moving towards the runway before we were settled in our seats.
9 hours and 12 minutes later, we were Stateside.
We exited the plane, collected our luggage, went through customs, got our luggage searched at customs, rechecked our luggage, went through security and made it to our gate in plenty of time.
Then we hopped on a flight to Cleveland where my parents picked us up.
I was never so glad to get to their house.  Between all the running, collecting and moving luggage around the airport and the on and off of coats and shoes and trips through security, well, this mama needed a shower.

Hannah was excited to see that my mom had transformed their living room into a Christmas Wonderland.
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Later that evening after Hannah went to bed, I sat down on the couch to watch some good old American HGTV.  They were playing a marathon of Celebrity Homes: Holiday Decorating from the Stars and we were just about to see Kathy Lee’s holiday entertaining ideas.  I’m not sure if it was the jet lag or the fact that I’d been awake for the last 21 hours, but I missed it completely and woke up at 1 AM.  
That’s 7 AM in Luxembourg, so I was pretty much wide awake and ready to start the day. 
Fortunately, I was able to go back to sleep and doze on and off until about 6:30 AM.
Darn jet lag.
On Sunday, Santa made a surprise little visit and brought Hannah her very first set of Legos.
(She accepted his gift and said thank you but didn’t want to sit on his lap.  She watched from afar with Papa.)
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Monday, we headed to a Christmas festival.
There was a lot to do.
But let’s be honest, we were only there for the horses.
(Live or otherwise.)
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Shawn will be arriving here in the US later today.
We are so excited to see him and get our very first home leave started.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coming To America!

Tomorrow morning we’re getting on an airplane headed for this great place:

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It’s where they serve ice in drinks at restaurants.
And give you free refills without even asking.
It’s where they will deliver a pizza to your house.

It’s the place where options abound and good customer service is easily had. 

It’s where stores and gas stations are open past 6PM and on Sundays. 

The land of the free?  Absolutely. 
But it’s also the land of convenience.

It’s where the roads are wide enough for two cars to pass without tearing each other’s side mirrors off. (This happened to us, btw.)
It’s where the houses have refrigerators large enough to hold groceries for a month.
And you can buy milk by the gallon.
It’s where the mailman will pick up and deliver mail right from your house. 

But the best part about going to ‘Merica?

It’s where our favorite people are.
The ones we love most.
And we can’t wait to see them.

I’ll probably be taking a little break from the blog for the next week or so.
Because ye old laptop has an appointment with the Geek Squad as soon as we get home. These European outlets have zapped the energy from her battery, methinks.

But most importantly, I plan on spending as much time with family as I can and focusing on the real meaning of this season.

Oh, yea.  Before I go…
I’m guest posting HERE with an easy little homemade gift idea.
Check it out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This Little Girl

We’ve been here in Luxembourg just over six weeks now.
When Hannah is older, I want her to know these things:

You hopped on the plane and flew here as if you’ve done it a million times. 
You adjusted to a six hour time change that left me dragging for days. 
You eat new foods to which you’re not accustomed. 
You go places you’ve never been.
Where they speak languages you’ve never heard.

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Twice when we have been at the grocery store you’ve repeated something you heard someone say in French.  Then you covered your mouth and collapsed into a heap of giggles, as if you said something you weren’t supposed to. 

You helped us unpack boxes. 

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And played quietly in your room while we tended to the things that temporarily took our attention away from you. 

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You’ve jumped right in to playing with other kids even though you have no idea what they’re saying.  On this particular day, you played with two other little girls for almost an hour.  When I asked you what their names were you shrugged your shoulders and said, “I don’t know.  They speak French.”

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You sit quietly and patiently in the car while we concentrate on unfamiliar streets, signs and signals.  And while we regain our bearings when we (often) get lost.

This is not to say that everything has been perfect or even ideal.
Because it hasn’t.
Not even close.
This expat thing is the biggest, most difficult thing we’ve ever done.
We have not been without challenges and intense moments. 

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In the last six weeks, nearly every single thing that we know as normal became foreign and unknown. 

But you, little girl, press on as if it all makes sense. 
And we are so proud of you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Handprint Crafts

I’ve mentioned before that I love crafts that involve kiddo handprints.
It’s so much fun to look back and see how they’ve grown.

Last Mother’s Day, we made THIS.

Today, Hannah and I got the paints out again and made some Christmas art.
I wish I could say that I came up with all of these ideas myself.
The truth is that I’ve been pinning them on Pinterest for months now.

All you need is construction paper, paint, a few brushes and stickers.
Oh, and some little hands and feet, of course.
We started out by painting hers green.

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Then we stamped them onto a piece of construction paper and made a Christmas tree.

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I painted a trunk and she added stickers and details.

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Next we painted her foot brown and I added the details to make baby Jesus in the manger.

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Then we got silly. 
Both of our fingerprints make this string of lights.
I kept thinking about that line from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:
”The little lights aren’t twinkling.”
”I know that, Art, and thanks for noticing.”
That movie never gets old.

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And finally, Rudy and two of his buddies.
Hannah’s precious thumbprints with my poor attempts at reindeer faces.

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What a fun way to spend a cold morning.
We added four new decorations to our Christmas stash.
Our paintings aren’t perfect, but the memories we created sure come close.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Insta-Friday

Here’s a little peek into our week through the eye of my cell phone.

Hannah and I went to a local mall to drop some of Shawn’s suits off at the dry cleaners.
While we were there, she rode a carousel and pretended to be an elf.
 
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(She was a little too short to take full advantage of the elf cut-out.)

We had a bit of a hard time at the dry cleaners.
In my best French (which is laughable, by the way) I asked the woman at the counter if she spoke English.
She looked me square in the eye, wrinkled her forehead and said, “Nooooo!  Fran├žais!”
Fortunately another customer stepped in and asked if she could help translate for me.  She was Portuguese and spoke many languages, including perfect English. 
You could barely detect an accent. 
I wanted to put her in my purse and take her with me everywhere for the next three years.

Another part of the expat process is that we are required to get a physical and a chest     
x-ray by a physician referred to us by my husband’s company.  (Hannah doesn’t have to do this.  She’s too young.)
Well, my appointment was this week. 
The physical turned out to be the doctor asking me a bunch of questions about my medical history that I could have answered over the phone.
Then he asked me for my height and weight.
I had to answer him in pounds, feet and inches.
Because I have no idea how many kilograms and centimeters I am. 
Other than getting out my phone and going to my metric system app, I am just not prepared to do math on the spot like that. 

Anyways, on the way home Hannah and I spotted a castle so we got off the motorway at the next exit and drove through a little town until we found it.
There was a fence so we couldn’t get close.
I guess they were doing some restoration/construction on the inside.
Hannah suggested it was so that Belle and Mrs. Potts couldn’t escape.

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This is Lucky.  If you’ve ever been to our house, you’ve probably met him.

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He’s Hannah’s absolute, hands-down favorite toy.  
She plays with him every single day.
She brushes his tail and mane and puts ribbons and necklaces on him.
She feeds and waters him daily.
She makes sure that he gets plenty of rest before his races.
(He always wins first place.) 

Today I came downstairs to find Hannah wearing a Santa hat and Lucky wearing a pair of Hannah’s underwear, and one of her socks on each hoof.

What will I do for entertainment when she starts school in January?

 

I’m linked up with Jeannette over at Life Rearranged.

life rearranged 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hannah’s Room & A Little Christmas Cheer

If you ask Hannah about her favorite thing at our new house, she’ll tell you that it’s her room.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve been collecting inexpensive little things to make her room comfortable and something that will grow with her.
It’s hard to believe that she will be 7 when we return to the US!

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The deets:
Kid bed and mattress: Hand-me-down from a friend
Comforter, duvet and pillow: IKEA 
Curtains: IKEA
Wall art: Target, on clearance 
Rugs: Wal-Mart
Bow holder: made by me
Tissue pom-poms: recycled from her 3rd birthday party

Houses in Europe are build differently than in the US.
This has taken some getting used to. 
There are no closets, so we have armoires and wardrobes.
There is also no carpeting.  I’ve not seen or heard of a house here that has carpet.
Every room in our house has ceramic tile.
Which makes for chilly mornings.
So we have rugs.  Lots and lots of rugs.

One of the things I wanted to do was create a little reading nook.  When I was a kid, I loved to read and Hannah is no different.  I found the purple chair at a little furniture store here in Luxembourg and we’ve already gotten our money’s worth.  It’s like a bean bag chair, but much sturdier.  It’s hard to see, but there’s a basket of favorite books next to the chair.  Many days, “nap time” turns out to be “quiet reading time.”

(And yes, I shipped all six of those tissue paper pom-poms across the ocean. I wish you could have seen the look on the mover’s face when he opened the box containing them.  He didn’t speak English, but he didn’t have to say a thing.  Really, lady?  You brought these things with you? Yes.  I did.)

You probably noticed Hannah's Christmas tree on the little desk.
It was in her room last year.
This year, she decorated it completely by herself.

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There’s her favorite – a cowgirl boot.

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But wait a minute - what’s that ornament?
Oh, that’s just a little plastic dog from the basket of bathtub toys, of course.

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And look.  There’s Ariel. 
But she lost her seashell top and her tail, so she’s covering up with a scrap of fabric left over from this project.

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And this one makes my mama heart all warm and melty.  It’s a little foil star that she made in Sunday school last week.  She told us all about how the wise men followed a star like this to Bethlehem.

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We also put up our little trees in the living room.
We’ll be home for Christmas, so we didn’t want to put up a big tree here, but we didn’t want to not have one, either.  I brought these three pencil trees from home, along with a few special ornaments.

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In just over a week, we will be leaving for the US to celebrate the holidays with those that we love most.  We can’t wait!