Monday, November 26, 2012

5 Years and 1 Year

About a month ago, our family hit two big milestones.
Hannah turned 5 and the same day marked one year that we’ve been living in Luxembourg.

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Oh, hey.  I’m five.

Because we were on holiday on the actual day of her birthday and then Shawn was traveling for work, we had to wait until this weekend for her party.
It was a simple, small party.
Just the way we like it.

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Two things that you won’t find in Luxembourg stores - graham crackers and Hershey’s chocolate – were sent to us by Shawn’s mom, along with a bag of big, fluffy marshmallows.
The only thing Hannah wanted to do was make American s’mores for her friends.

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I spent the day after Thanksgiving hunting down all the stuff to make American cupcakes and frosting.  Success!

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Hannah waited patiently for her guests to arrive…

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Shawn built a bonfire and we taught our British friends how to make s’mores.
Can you believe they’d never had them before?!

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I am so, so grateful for this group of friends.
(My heart hurts a little when I think about when the time will come for us to move on to other expat assignments or return home.)

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The kids played until they were knackered (that means really tired) and the adults chatted around the campfire until late.

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The American s’mores and cupcakes were a hit.
Can I tell you a secret? 
I don’t really like European chocolate. 
I know, I know. 
But it’s too dark and rich and has too much cocoa for me.
I’ll take a light, sweet Hershey’s any day.

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                                              It was a very happy birthday!

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In marking our one year anniversary as Luxembourg expats, I thought I’d show you a couple of things that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned (or shown you) that have taken me a while to get used to over here.  This is not meant to complain about Luxembourg, or Europe in general, and I hope that it does not come across as if I think that how things are done in the US is better.
It’s not that at all.  Because listen, if I were hung up on these things, well, I’d be a pretty miserable expat. 
And I’m quite happy here.

After one year of living abroad, I can honestly say that I think all three of us are well adjusted, and besides family and friends (of course…because we miss them terribly) there are just a few things that I look forward to reclaiming when we return to the US. 

1. My vacuum cleaner. This is the only kind that I’ve ever seen over here.  Oh, it gets my floors clean and works very well, but between the power cord, the hose and the main part of the unit that looks like a robot, I pretty much trip over and fumble around like a buffoon every time I use it. It gets the job done, but deep down, there’s a Hoover-Upright-shaped hole in my heart.

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2.  Large refrigerators and milk sold by the gallon.   Refrigerators in Europe are generally small because Europeans shop so frequently.  It took me a long time to get used to this, but now, without sounding dramatic, it’s just a part of who I am.  (I grocery shop every other day or every two days.)

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Have I ever told you about how milk is sold here?  It only comes in liter cartons, which can take some getting used to when you’re accustomed to buying by the gallon.  And my people - they drink a lot of milk.  The only metric system conversion that I seem to have a handle on is the liter to gallon.  Oh, I know that one well.  It takes 3.78 liters to equal one gallon.  Which means that some weeks I buy more than 12 of these.  But 12 of them won’t fit into that little refrigerator without taking up too much space for other essentials, so I’m constantly taking inventory and rearranging to make sure we have enough milk on hand.  It’s a game of strategy, really. 

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The last year has probably been one of the best experiences of my life.  We’ve been so blessed with finding a great church, making friends and sending Hannah to a school with which we are happy.  We’ve gotten to travel, learn about and live amongst other cultures and languages.  We’ve had a lot of challenges, but mostly a lot of fun along the way.
And now, as our second baby will have Luxembourg as the country of birth on his or her birth certificate, we will always have a special tie to this place.

I asked Shawn what are some of the things that he misses the most from home.  Without hesitation or contemplation, his answer was simple:  Chipotle.
Then he paused a minute and said, “Customer service.  Sometimes I just really miss good customer service.”

Then all of God’s people said, “Amen.” 
(Please don’t get me started on that one.)

3 comments:

  1. Congrats on the milestones! We just crossed our 6 month mark, and I cited my upright vacuum as something I still miss as well! I think it's hard to argue that an upright vacuum isn't vastly easier to use. Still, I'll take a cheap ol' Ritter Sport over Hershey's any day ;)

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  2. Congrats! The birthday party looks great. When I look back it's hard to believe that we have been expats for nearly 5 years. It passes by way too fast. I also have an upright shaped hole in my heart.

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  3. Your chocolate comment made me crack up, I missed European chocolate so much in the US... that said, S'mores are amazing! I tried them first when I came to the US, it was really exciting :-) I have a book with a recipe for marshmallows and graham crackers, I may try it :-) But I'll put dark chocolate ;-)
    Congrats on Hannah's birthday and your first year over here :-)

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