Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tinkerbelle Halloween Costume

We won’t get to do official Trick-or-Treating here in Luxembourg, but yesterday at Hannah’s school was Halloween dress up.

Earlier in the week I asked her what she wanted to be.
”A horse.  No. Tinkerbelle.  Yea, Tinkerbelle.”

I had recently seen a Tinkerbelle (La Fée Clochette, as the French say)costume at a local toy store.

”Maxi Toys has a Tink costume that comes with a wand and wings and everything,” I told her.

”No.  I don’t want to wear that one.  I want you to sew me a Tink costume.”
I couldn’t say no because I do love handmade things and apparently store bought was unacceptable to her.

Here’s what I came up with:


It was simple, really.  I used a knit fabric that doesn’t fray so that I didn’t have to sew any hems. 
There’s a little fabric shop in Luxembourg and unfortunately the only green they had was this shade.  I asked the woman if there was anything lighter.

”Je voudrais ce tissu en un vert…”
I’d like this fabric in a (pause because I don’t know the word for lighter) green…
”Comme ça,” (like this) and I point to a lighter shade of a different green fabric.

”Ah, plus claire?”
”Oui!  Plus claire!”  There’s the word I was looking for.

Between my limited French and the women’s limited English, we were able to communicate with lots of hand gestures, a measuring tape and a picture of Tinkerbelle on my phone.  I left the store with everything I needed for my little Fée Clochette.

I started out by using Hannah’s bathing suite as a pattern for the top and added some ruffle sleeves.


Then I made the skirt by cutting double the length of her waist measurement and creating encasing for the elastic around the top.  I cut triangles out of the bottom and added a layer of tulle underneath.


Next I made wings by bending wire coat hangers and covering them with a pair of cheap white tights.  Shawn helped me by cutting off the hook part of the hanger and twisting them together.  I covered the piece where they meet with fabric and added straps so they can be worn kind of like a backpack.


Next was the best part.  Hannah and I used some old glitter nail polish that I had in my makeup bag to add sparkle to the wings.


Now all Tink needed was some shoes.  These were really simple to make.  I cut ovals out of fabric and sewed elastic around the edges so that they would gather snugly at the ankle.  Ya know those covers that doctors wear over their shoes with scrubs?  Exactly like that.
Then I added a little puffy ball to the front.


And some dabs of super glue to the bottom for a no-slip grip.


As a final touch, I braided some green ribbon through her hair.



She loved wearing her Tink costume to school and when I picked her up, her hair was disheveled, her wings were on crooked and the tulle from the skirt was bunched up in the back.

”Hey Mom, my teacher liked my costume and I said that my mom will make all new costumes for the dress up corner in our class.”

Great, I’ll be right on that.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shots from My Cell Phone: The Luxembourg Royal Wedding

Alright, I’m giving myself 20 minutes to tell you about the big Royal wedding in Luxembourg.
So…last Saturday was the big Royal wedding in Luxembourg.
It was probably one of the best things we’ve seen and done since we’ve lived here.
Hannah and I talked all week about going into the city center to stand with the crowds and try to catch a glimpse of a real life princess. 

And at the last minute, Shawn decided to go with us.
It may have had something to do with the fact that Hannah was beyond excited and insisted on dressing like a princess herself.  Sweet girl, I think she thought that she had actually been invited to the wedding.
Here we are before the festivities started, when the crowd was still sparse and we could actually move about.


We watched the ceremony on a screen set up in one of the plazas and then walked over to The Grand Ducal Palace, just in time to see the guards marching by.


Then we waited and waited. 
Shawn carried Hannah on his shoulders so she could see above the crowds.


And then, the most unexpected thing happened.
A reporter from a national news station pointed at me and asked if it was my little girl’s idea to get dressed up for the big occasion.  I told her it was.
Then she asked me if I’d be interested in joining her in the front of the palace for some questions and a prime view of the Royal couple and guests.

Um, sure. 

Certainly she didn’t realize that I’m just a thirty-something mom from the Midwest United States and that the Luxembourgish people probably have no interest in seeing me on their televisions.

I looked at Shawn.  He didn’t even have to say a word.
You go ahead.  I’m staying right here.  Away from the camera.

Hannah and I made our way to the front of the crowd and got to see dignitaries, kings, and queens from all over the world pull up in sleek black cars, maneuver this way and that to get out of the car without disturbing their fancy hats and fascinators. 
(Because it wouldn’t be a Royal wedding without fancy hats and fascinators.)
You can see the best ones here.

Just before the wedding couple arrived, the news reporter asked me some questions.
In English, of course.  And then she translated it into Luxembourgish for the camera.

Here’s a still shot of the live television coverage because I wasn’t able to make a short clip of the actual interview.
(And the video available online is almost 3 hours long.)


(And I’m not crazy about the way my voice sounds on film.)
(And I didn’t realize that my scarf had gotten all wonky and appears to be choking me.)

The moment everyone was waiting for had arrived.
The Crown Prince of Luxembourg and the Countess of Belgium made their grand public appearance on the balcony of the palace.

The crowd went wild with excitement, cheering and waving their Luxembourgish flags.
And then the newlyweds went back into the palace and the crowd dispersed into the streets and plazas to eat sausages and drink beer and hot wine.
Because it wouldn’t be a European celebration without sausage, beer and hot wine.

Ok, my 20 minutes are just about up and I’m ready for bed.
And I’ve got to put the finishing touches on Hannah’s Halloween costume.

What a great experience this was.  Probably something we’ll never have another chance to see again.  
But if we do? 
We’ll be wearing fascinators.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Daddy Daughter Date: Pay No Attention to the Footwear

Every Saturday, Shawn and Hannah spend the morning together, just the two of them. 
I love that they have this special time.

The weekend before last, they quietly slipped out of the house before I even woke up.

Apparently, two things happen when I’m not around:
They eat cotton candy before 10 a.m.
And wear striped socks with sandals.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Insta-Friday and Some Deets on the Lux Royal Wedding

Randoms from my cell phone.  Here we go.

These two.  Hanging out on a floor model couch at IKEA.  No, we aren’t in the market for a new couch – I just thought that Swedish meatballs from the restaurant sounded good.


“Hey, Mom!  Do I look like Aunt Traci in this fancy dress?”
Actually, yes.

Not many people realize that Luxembourg is a Monarchy and has a Royal Family.
They may not be as famous or entertaining (read: scandalous) like some Royals, but I still think it’s kind of cool to live in a country with a Royal family.
Well, wedding fever has struck because tomorrow the son of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the Countess of Belgium are getting hitched. 
It’s a pretty big deal here in the Grand Duchy.


I was out and about the city center today and saw some of the preparations.
Lots of flowers, flags, limos, and monograms.  Oh, I love the monograms!
Nice touch, Guillaume.


There were also lots of interviews, cameras and security detail.  As best as I could tell, this was a chef being interviewed for a news channel.


Tomorrow morning, Hannah and I are headed out bright and early to some of the public festivities.  I’m hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of the royal couple and take in some local culture.  Hannah’s just hoping that they ride in a horse drawn carriage. 

Oh, and if you need any Luxembourg Royal Wedding postcards, dinner plates, key chains, or commemorative chocolates, let me know. 
I’m your girl.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

London and the Festival of Contaminated Apples

I know I’ve said this before, but one of the things that Shawn and I committed to when we decided to take his company’s offer to live abroad was to travel.

So a few weeks ago we loaded up Shawn’s shiny new car top luggage rack and went to London.  I think that for Americans, the UK is the closest feeling to home that you can find in Europe.  (That’s just my opinion.  But, hello!  Chipotle!)

We left Luxembourg and drove about 4 hours through Belgium to the costal town of Calais, France.  We stayed at a hotel for the night and the next morning drove our car to the Euro Tunnel, or the “Chunnel.” 

We showed our passports and were queued up in a manner of detail and organization of which I have never experienced in Europe.

Then Shawn drove us onto the train and after a few safety instructions we were traveling underwater, through the English Channel, in the comfort of our own car.  Complete with his shiny new car top luggage rack.



Hanging out in the backseat.
Underneath the English Channel.

35 minutes later,  we were exited onto the streets of the UK.  People ask us all the time about driving in Europe.  In Luxembourg, we drive on the right hand side of the road – just like in the US.  This was our first time driving UK Style – on the left.  Shawn was a champ as he maneuvered his first British round about and got us to the train station safely.


Stay to the left.

From there, we boarded our train and an hour later we were in London.
Shawn’s been here many times, I’ve been twice, but this was Hannah’s first time.


As our train rolled into the station, and we passed The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Hannah pointed them out to me.
”But Mom, Big Ben isn’t the name of the clock.  It’s the name of the bell that’s inside the tower.”  Impressive, kid.

She loved the red “phone boxes.”


And riding in the little pod on The London Eye.



Besides the accent, (and Big Ben knowledge) one of the things that Hannah has picked up at school are some British sounding phrases and sayings.  One of them is “bits and bobs,” and she refers to many things as “bits.”   I thought this was slang, perhaps, but look what we found – OJ without pulp, or, no bits. 





Half way through the trip, we had sort of an unimaginable situation that left the three of us shaken.   I guess that sometimes life forces you to deal with people who have a bigger temper than capacity for sensibility and class.
It was exhausting and unsettling and all I wanted to do was just be with these two:


So the three (or four!) of us pressed on and had a grand time in this grand city.



We took Hannah to The West End to see her very first live stage production – The Lion King. 
Girlfriend LOVED it.  She was intrigued by the set, the costumes and the orchestra pit.  When I was in college, I worked backstage in the costume shop of the school’s theater.  That’s where my love of musical theater started, and also where I learned much of what I know about sewing.  Oh, how excited it makes me that the theater interest was sparked in my little girl.



Before our long weekend was over, we took a walk through the park to Buckingham Palace.  Hannah’s seen her fair share of European palaces and castles but she was particularly excited about this one because we told her that the Queen actually lives here for part of the year.



And then we showed her a postcard with her picture.
”Wait. That’s the Queen?  Where’s her gown? And her high heels?”
(Sorry, your Majesty.)
So I showed her a postcard of Will and Kate on their wedding day, in the horse drawn carriage.  And all was right with her world again.

We headed ‘round back the palace and saw all the horse drawn carriages, grabbed lunch and headed back to Luxembourg just the way we came.

So here we are.  Fall’s changing leaves and cool temps are here and I’m loving it.  Fall is my favorite time of year and our neighborhood is well wooded and particularly scenic right now.

As I may have mentioned before, there are no shortages of festivals in Luxembourg, so last weekend we went to the Fêtes aux Pommes, Apple Festival in a nearby town.

There were apples ‘o plenty, as one would expect, along with beer, hot wine and sausage.
Because it wouldn’t be a European festival without beer, hot wine and sausage.
I didn’t take my camera with me, but I wish I had.  Instead, I’ll just describe what I saw and you can imagine your own pictures in your mind.
Here goes:

They make Viz, which I learned is the Luxembourgish word for an apple juice/cider by pressing the apples in these huge, old school machines that crank manually and collect the liquid into buckets similar to what Shawn uses to wash our cars.  From there, they filter the juice through what appeared to be a man’s t-shirt.  Or maybe it was a piece of burlap.  I’m not quite sure.  Then the man operating the old school crank machine wrung out the filter/t-shirt/burlap with his bare hands and returned it to the machine for the next batch.  The pressed, filtered-by-a-t-shirt-or-maybe-it-was-a-piece-of-burlap-juice was then poured into bottles, sealed with a cork and ready to be sold.

And of course my husband bought one. 
Having worked for eight years for a company that makes hand sanitizers, I’m probably more sensitive than most about germs, bacteria, sanitization and such.  
“Aren’t you a little worried about contamination?”

”Eh.  I was planning to heat it up and make hot toddies.  That’ll kill any bacteria.”

Pas pour moi, merci.
None for me, thanks.

I’ll take the pasteurized, bottled OJ with no bits.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Weekly Bump: 18

This morning as I was walking Hannah into school, one of the other moms pointed at my belly and said, “You’ve got a proper bump!”

Here’s my proper bump, at 18 weeks.


The Baby: He or she is about 5.5  inches long, the size of a bell pepper.  Baby can flex muscles and his or her gender specific bits are definitely recognizable.
Maternity clothes: Not yet.  I’m still in all my normal clothes, but jeans are getting tight so it won’t be long until I get out the maternity clothes.  They’re all washed, folded and ready to go!
Movement: Lots and lots of movement!  I’ve been feeling flutters for a few weeks now, but have felt lots of kicks and jabs in the last three or four days.  It’s my favorite part and what I missed most about being pregnant after Hannah was born.
Sleep: I’m still sleeping well at night. 
Food Cravings: Still none, although I really like salty things like olives.  Sweets just do not sound good at all.  I had a few days last week where my appetite was zilch, but it seems to be back.
Symptoms: Nothing major, really! I’ve been feeling pretty good!  I do get out of breath easily (so embarrassing) and by the time I’m getting Hannah to bed around 7:30 I am ready to just lay on the couch.   I’ve also been having a lot of strange and really vivid dreams.  Last night, for the first time ever, I actually dreamed in French.  Weird.
Gender: We don’t know! Shawn is leaning towards finding out, but I’m still on Team Green!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15

Today is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day.

1 in 4 women have had or will have a miscarriage at some point in her life.
I’m one of them.
You can read my story here.

It’s been over a year, but our lost baby will always be a part of our family.
Since I’m now on the other side of miscarriage, I thought I’d share some ways to help a friend through a loss. Most of these are based on things that happened to me in the days and weeks after my own.

Call, text, email. Even if it feels like you’re intruding. If she doesn’t want to talk, she won’t answer…just simply leave a message. I promise she’ll appreciate it.
Take a meal over.
Send a card.  I saved every single one of the cards and emails I received.
If she has other children, take them to the park or outside to play so that she can rest.
Clean her house, do a load or two of laundry, iron her husband’s work shirts. In the days following my miscarriage and D&C, I could barely get off the couch, let alone do anything productive for my family.

Do nothing. I know it’s awkward and sometimes people just don’t know what to say, but from the perspective of the parents facing the loss, it hurts to not hear from a family member or friend.
Say things like, “It wasn’t meant to be,” or “These things happen for a reason.” These are neither helpful nor what she needs to hear. I remember telling Shawn that if I heard one more person say these things to me, I was going to lose my mind.
Say, “You’ll get pregnant again,” or “You’ll have other children.” Quite honestly, in that moment, the mom isn't thinking about future pregnancies - she only cares about the one she just lost.
Don’t try to offer answers, reasons, or solutions because really, there are none. Just listen. Sit quietly, pray for your friend, hug her.

In the last year, I've been able to use what happened to us to help other women who've been in the same place I was.  I'm heartbroken and cry for them when I hear their stories.

If you know me or read my blog, you know that I am pregnant again. 
But I won't lie - it doesn't replace the baby we lost or lessen his or her memory.
God knows the story He has for our family.
And it's going to be a pretty good one.

If you have lost a baby, please know that I am thinking of and praying for you on this day.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Weekly Bump: 16 and 17

Wednesday marked 17 weeks.  This pregnancy is flying by.
Here’s what I looked like last week.


And here’s what I look like today at 17 weeks and 2 days.  It was cold and rainy in Lux, so you get me in yoga pants and a t-shirt.  I have it on good authority (from a friend with lotsa, lotsa baby experience) that comfy pregnant ladies grow cute kids.  Let’s go with that, shall we?  And also, I think I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday, so I’ve been taking it real easy.


(When I compare these two pictures, it looks like I’m bigger at 16 weeks.  It’s either the yoga pants or the angle, because I am definitely not smaller this week.)

The Baby: He or she is about 5 inches long and weighs about 5 ounces.  I’ve read that the baby can hear now, so Hannah’s been talking to him or her a lot lately. 
Maternity clothes:  Not yet, although I did buy a bella band this week.  The other day, I ate lunch and went to pick Hannah up at school and when I sat down in the car, I had to unbutton my jeans. 
Movement:  Lots and lots of flutters, especially when I lay down at night.  I’ve also felt three or four distinct “thumps” on the left side.
Sleep: I’m sleeping well and night and still on my stomach.  I’ve always been a stomach sleeper, but it is starting to get uncomfortable so it’s not going to last much longer, I’m afraid.
Food Cravings: None, although I still am not down with anything sweet lately.  Olives and anything salty tastes really good to me and I have become a little obsessed with this hummus from a grocery store called Delhaize.  I didn’t really have cravings with Hannah, but I did eat a lot Mexican food.  But I’ve ALWAYS loved Mexican food, so I don’t think that counts.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for my weight gain) Luxembourg just doesn’t have the good Mexican food that we have in America.  (I realize how ridiculous that sounds.)
Symptoms: Nothing major, really!  I get out of breath easily (so embarrassing) and by the time I’m getting Hannah to bed around 7:30 I am ready to just lay on the couch.  Other than that (and the pulled back muscle, which is not related to pregnancy) I am generally feeling good.
Gender: We don’t know!  But I have a suspicion that it’s a boy this time…

Friday, October 5, 2012


It’s been a while since I posted pics from my phone so here’s the last few weeks from the eye of my celly.

Pregnant and jet-lagged.  This is how we spent the first few days back in the Lux: in pajamas watching movies in bed.  And sleeping.  Lots and lots of sleeping.


The Schueberfouer Festival comes to Luxembourg at the end of summer.


This is where we decided that Hannah probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car until she’s 30 and operate a real motorcycle until…never.

Exploring the underground passages and fortresses at the Bock Casemates. 


Someday when we have long returned to the US, and I think of France, I will think of Rodemack and our little day trips to this cute town.


We also took a trip to London, which is a whole post of its own.  Coming soon.




Pirates and Princess Day at school.  This little princess wore wellies with horses on them with her gown.  Of course she did.  And then at dinner that night, she insisted that I announce her and say, “Your royal feast is served, your majesty.” 


It was a daddy’s-off-work-ice-cream-after-school kind of day.


These two crack me up.  Watching a movie in bed while drinking the milk (juice?) from a coconut through a straw.  A few minutes later, I heard some awful racket in the garage and then the two of them returned to their movie with the coconut cracked open and they ate the inside, fleshy part.  (Is that even what the inside of a coconut is called?)


Oh hey.  See you in March.


And finally, a view of the baby from the top of the head.  Look at that wee little hand.  I think he or she is waving hello to us.


Or already doing razzle-dazzle-jazz-hands.


Ok, that’s it for my cell phone. 
Today I woke up with the second trimester THIS IS GREAT I LOVE BEING PREGNANT burst of energy.  With Hannah, I was feeling great at 12 weeks, so it took a bit longer this time.  
But I’ll take it.  

Happy Friday!