Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If We Couldn’t Laugh We Would All Go Insane

Hey Shawn -

Remember that day I accidentally put the dry-clean-only pants to your good suit in the washing machine? And then not realizing my mistake I put them in the dryer and the hem fell out, the waistband frayed and they shrunk beyond recognition?

And then my car slid backwards down the driveway and got stuck in the snow? 

And then you left for a business trip in Frankfurt and realized you had Hannah’s car seat in your car after you’d already driven for two hours?



Yesterday sure was fun, wasn’t it?

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Tale of Two Dogs

Or, perhaps A Tail of Two Dogs?

When we decided to move to Luxembourg, one of the big questions was what we would do with our dogs? 

We have two.
Louie, our Old English Sheepdog.
(Sometimes he likes to wear Shawn’s shirts.)

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And Jay.
He’s our mutt.
(But don’t tell him that.)

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We went back and forth between bringing and leaving them.
In the end, we decided to bring them.

We have some really great friends and family members that took care of them for a few months until we went home to the US for Christmas.
Our plan was to bring them back with us after the holidays.

Did you know that the USDA has to be involved when you bring a pet overseas?
Well, they do.

We’ve gotten to know them and their checklists very well.

We had all the paperwork and boxes checked.
Or so we thought.

Just 8 days before our return to Luxembourg, we found out there was one more requirement which then required a 21 day window before the animals were allowed to travel.

So we returned from Christmas without them.

Last Friday, however, we were all reunited.
One of the airlines (thankfully not the one that lost our luggage twice on one trip) allows you to ship pets in the cargo area of the plane.
It’s like you’re checking a piece of luggage (in the form of a dog crate) but not actually getting on the plane yourself.
So Shawn’s parents, BLESS THEIR HEARTS, loaded both of our dogs up and put them on an airplane to Luxembourg.
Shawn picked them up at the airport Friday afternoon and met another expat doing the exact same thing as us, which was funny because we haven’t met a lot of expats that have brought pets along.

I’ll be really, really honest here. 
I was kind of enjoying being pet free.
Shawn and I got Louie when we were first married, so there really hasn’t been a time when we didn’t have a dog.
Our dogs can be loud.
Their paws make wet, muddy messes on my kitchen floor.
And sometimes they embarrass us.
(Have I ever told you that Louie was voted class clown in his obedience training class? Or that once when Shawn was out of town Jay bolted out the back door and carried a pair of my undies to the next door neighbors?) 
 
But we love them anyways.
They make these two people happy.

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016And that makes me happy.
So, welcome to Luxembourg, boys.
We’re all glad you’re here.
Really, really glad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Typical Day

I get asked a lot about what a typical day living abroad is like,
so I pieced together some snippets of our daily activities.
This probably won’t be very exciting to read, but someday it will be fun for us to look back on what our life was like as newly arrived expats.

Here we go.

I get up, get dressed, and wake Hannah up.
I finish getting ready and help her get dressed (otherwise she might go to school with her shirt on backwards and mismatched socks.) I make breakfast while she makes her bed.  After she eats, she brushes her teeth and I fix her hair.
Then we get our boots, coats and hats on and head out to school.  Shawn usually leaves for work just before we do.

Her school is only a few miles from our house, but we drive towards Luxembourg City and traffic heading that way can be heavy in the mornings.  We stream our favorite radio stations from the US through my phone, so we listen to familiar music while we drive. 

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(Busy morning at the roundabout)

Traffic and parking are ridiculous, so like many other parents, I park in a nearby neighborhood and we walk to the school. 
Hannah puts her coat, hat, book bag and lunchbox in her cubby, changes out of her boots and we say goodbye. 

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We recently got a gym membership so a few days a week I’ve been going there after I drop Hannah off. 
On this particular day, I went to a spinning class at the gym.
Or, “shhpinnink” as they say here. 
I was told that the instructor speaks English.  
But she didn’t. 
She was very sweet to me, and serious about her shhpinnink. 
We said bonjour and figured out quickly that we did not speak the same language.  She began communicating with me in a series of made up hand gestures to tell me what was coming next.

I think I’m picking up on French more than I realize because I understood quite a bit.
(Even without the instructor’s hand gestures.)
Perhaps I should give myself more credit?

After working out, I shower and run to the grocery store to pick up what I need for that night’s dinner.  Grocery shopping is a different experience in Europe than in the US because it’s not so much a chore, but an activity. Most people shop daily or every other day. Because food doesn’t contain preservatives as in the US, things don’t last as long.  Also, refrigerators are small, so there’s not a lot of room to store enough for more than a few days.  It’s not uncommon for Europeans to slowly browse their way through, stop to chat and then have coffee or tea at the cafĂ© at the front of the store.
I’m not sure I will ever find grocery shopping to be leisurely.

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(This is just a small section of the varieties of cheese.  It can be overwhelming.)

Then I head home, put groceries away and maybe do a quick run through the house and straighten up.  This is when I also have my quiet time and read. 

Noon is probably my favorite time of day.  I head back to Hannah’s school and wait in the lobby for the teacher to bring her class out.  Sometimes if I am early, I check email, Facebook and catch up on a few blogs from my phone.  When Hannah sees me, she runs through the doors and throws her arms around me.  She’s become friends with a sweet little girl in her class and everyday we walk out with her and her mom.

As we drive home, we talk about school.  Some days she is busting at the seams to tell me about her day and I get the lowdown on what they worked on, who sat next to whom at snack time, and who did what on the playground.  Other days, I have to ask questions and piece things together.

When we get home, we have lunch and read some books or play with something that Hannah chooses. 
Then it’s nap time. 
School really wears her out.
Girlfriend can barely keep her eyes open.

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For the next hour and a half, I race around the house to get stuff done – laundry, emptying and loading the dishwasher, cleaning and administrative things. 
Because washing machines and dishwashers are so much smaller here than in the US, I feel like I am running them constantly.  
Who am I kidding? I am running them constantly. 
Because they are freakishly small.  It’s like they belong in a doll house or something.

I usually have a million administrative things to do, and it always takes me about four times as long as it would at home in the US.  This is partly due to the language barrier and partly because things just work differently here. 
And I don’t have it all figured out yet.

On this particular day, I needed to call our internet provider because our service hasn’t been great lately.  The call went like this:

Automatic answer: To continue in English, press 3.
Me: (Presses 3 and waits on hold.)
Customer Service Rep: Bonjour.  Puis-je vous aider?
(Hello.  May I help you?)
Me: Bonjour.  Parles-vous Anglais?
(Hello.  Do you speak English?)
Customer Service Rep: (In English) No, I only speak French.
Me: Um, ok, I pressed the button for English.
Customer Service Rep: I know.  I’m sorry.  My colleague who speaks English is with another customer.  What is your name, account number and phone number?  I will have him call you back.
Me: Can you help me?
Customer Service Rep: No, I don’t speak English. 

Well.

That was quite a bit of English for someone who DOESN’T SPEAK ENGLISH.
It took another three days of similar phone calls to get anywhere. 
But this is the way things go here –  we’re getting used to it.

When Hannah wakes up, she has a snack and this is when she does a chore like helping me put clean clothes away. Then we do some sort of activity like painting or Play-Doh or maybe watching a video.  If it’s decent outside (read: not raining or thick fog) we might go out to play.  On this particular day, she wanted to use scraps of fabric to make leashes for her stuffed dogs. 

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Next we start dinner – helping in the kitchen is another of Hannah’s chores and this is probably her favorite.  It’s lunchtime back at home in the US, so this is when we usually Skype with our family. 

Most nights we eat as soon as Shawn walks in the door, but there are times when he works late hours and I save a plate for him.  After dinner, we clean up and pack Hannah’s snack for school the next day.

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The rest of the evening is spent playing, maybe watching a My Little Pony video, putting toys away and then bath time.  After her bath, Shawn and I read to Hannah, say prayers with her and tuck her in.

Then Shawn and I will usually watch TV, hang out, and get things ready for the next day.  This is when he fills me in on what’s going on at his work.  I’ll also check Facebook and update my blog.  I am usually in bed between 10:30 and 11.

On Friday night we always eat out.  We have two or three places that we really like that are kid friendly and fairly quick.  Like grocery shopping, going out to dinner is an event for Europeans and sometimes it can take 3 hours or more.  That doesn’t sound all that fun with a 4 year old in tow, so we stick to the places that are a little more like what we’re used to.

Saturdays are family days.  We usually take some sort or road trip or find something fun to do in Luxembourg.  Last weekend, we went to an indoor water park/swimming pool, or “swimming bath,” as they say here.  When we arrived, the sign said that “swimming costumes” were required.  Shawn panicked for a minute when he remembered that many European pools will allow men to wear only Speedos.  True story. 

So he sent me in to check it out. 
I asked the woman at the front desk if there was a requirement for a specific kind of bathing suit for men. 
She laughed.
”Tell your hoozbaand zat he can wear zee American style swimming costume in zee pool.”
Whew.

On Sunday mornings we go to church.  We’ve found two churches that we like here in Luxembourg, and honestly, we’ve been alternating between the two because we can’t really decide which one to stick with.  Hannah gave her vote, but it’s based solely on the snack that they serve in the kids’ Sunday School class. 

I stay busy from the time I get up until my head hits the pillow at night.
I love staying home, taking care of our house and my little family.
Living in a foreign country can be hard, but I wouldn’t trade this time and experience for anything.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, bless your heart. 
I hope I didn’t bore you.
As for me?
I’m going to bed. 
Because I’m going to a shhpinnink class in the morning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Insta-Friday

Just popping in to share some random and silly moments captured this week on my cell phone.

While driving to Germany, we passed a big field of windmills.

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There was no wind so they were standing perfectly still. 
”Ya know, if the wind was blowing and those things were moving,” Shawn said, “in this weekend alone, they could generate enough electricity to lower the price of petrochemicals by next Friday.”

Well, I know something about windmills too.
Miss Illinois is afraid of them. 

So there. 

I’m sure he’s sorry he didn’t watch the 2012 Miss America Pageant with me. 
(Although he did DVR it for me on a cable box at his parents’ house in the US, streamed it to my laptop via a Slingbox and then used a little USB transmitter do-dah thingy to display it on our TV here in Luxembourg.)

We drove up this tiny, narrow street. 
And yes, we had to go through that tunnel up ahead.  
It was about 2 inches wider than our car.
It’s amazing that neither side mirror got torn off.

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There’s a Subway near our house and we go there every Sunday after church.
Some of the lunch meats have an odd quality about them, but for the most part it’s close to what you’d get in the US.
Except they still have the Sub Club Card and stamps.
Remember those?

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The other day I was driving Hannah to school and a warning light came on in my car.
It said I had 53 kilometers until the gas tank would be empty.
I have no idea how far that is because as I’ve mentioned a time or twelve, I’m not so big on the metric system.

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So after I dropped her off, I went to fill up.
In Lux, gas is called “petrol” and you buy it by the liter.
(Again, with the metric system.)
Notice that I’m wearing a plastic glove. 
Yes, they give you gloves for pumping petrol.
That’s because it’s all diesel fuel and the pumps sometimes leak and drip and you do not want to wear that stuff around on your hands all day. 

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Hannah calls these “Sunday School crackers.”
I got them at a little shop that sells American products that you can’t get in grocery stores.
Sometimes a girl’s just gotta have some comfort food from home.
(And in case you’re wondering, that’s what our electrical outlets and light switches look like over here.)

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Hannah has library day at school on Wednesdays.  Each week, they get to pick one book to bring home.  Last week she picked a book about a cat named Toffee who gets into lots of trouble.  This week she picked a book about a cat named Toffee who makes a new friend.  Apparently, Toffee has sequels.  And apparently, she’s British.  Or Canadian.

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Finally – one for the grandparents.
May she always be this excited and enthusiastic about leaving for school in the mornings.
Amen and amen.

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

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Light on Words, Heavy on Photos

You guys.
Oh, you guys.

Thank you so much for all the emails, ecards and text messages.
They were all so sweet and much needed.

Please know that we are fine.  I promise.
I hope that my last post didn’t worry you.
We are just experiencing the normal emotions that expats experience. 
But, we are determined not to let a little homesickness stop us from having fun.

We came to travel, and travel we will.

On Saturday, we took a little road trip to Saarburg, Germany.  
Shawn worked a lot of hours last week so it was nice to have an entire day for just us.
Plus it was a great place to practice with the new camera. 
I even ventured out of automatic and into (gulp) manual mode a little.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Melatonin And (A Wee Bit Of) Melancholy

Oh, the jet lag. 
What a sneaky little fellow it is.
Annoying.
Shawn’s lucky - he can go days and days with little sleep and still function decently.  
He can also fall asleep just about anywhere and anytime. 
I have very specific requirements for my sleep and the jet lag really isn’t on the list.
We’ve been back for a week and yesterday was the first day I have felt rested.

Before we left the US, I bought some Melatonin.  Several people told me that it gets you through the jet lag because it makes you tired when you’re supposed to be tired, which is only half of my problem with the jet lag. 
(The other half is eating – the jet lag makes me hungry at ALL THE WRONG TIMES.) 

Anyways, our first night back in Luxembourg, I took a Melatonin around 10PM. 
I asked Shawn if he wanted one, too.

”Eh, I don’t need it.  I’m pretty tired right now and jet lag doesn’t usually hit me until a day or two later,” he said.

”I think you should try it.  Just in case you wake up and can’t go back to sleep.   A six hour time difference is a lot.  I just took one.  All the cool kids are doing it.”

There’s nothing like using adolescent-style peer pressure tactics to get your husband to take an herbal sleep aid.  
 
After an entire week of waking up from 2AM until 5AM, on Thursday night I fell asleep at 10 and woke up at 6. 
I felt like a new woman. 


So, Shawn and I have both been feeling homesick.
Like reeeeallly homesick. 
It’s totally normal and expected.
We’ve read that knowing that this is normal is the sign of a well adjusted expat.
We’ll see.  We don’t feel well adjusted right now. For the last week, we’ve talked more than once about buying one way tickets to the US.
Back in October, I went to a “spouses of expats” seminar and the instructor gave me this graph:

cultural adjustment

He told me that the culture shock stage occurs around the three month mark, which is right where we are.  I’m sure it doesn’t help that we returned home to the US for Christmas so soon after our arrival here.  We fell so easily back into what was comfortable.  And now, returning to a place that is only slightly familiar, knowing just how different it is to visit than to live here, well, it’s been hard.

But.

Please don’t think that things have been all bad. 

On Monday, when I dropped Hannah off at school, I went to the grocery store, loaded up on what we needed and headed to the check out line. 
Do you see that?  That little sign means that the cashier speaks English.

grocery

Not only that, but she was brand new at her job and a little slow on the scanning and punching.  She kept telling me she was sorry.  I told her it was no big deal.  I’ve lived here less than 3 months.  She was so kind and friendly to me – this doesn’t happen often.  Believe me, I was as happy to be patient with her as I was to have a stranger be patient with me.

This doesn’t seem like much – but for me, on this day, I needed it.  Totally made my day.  Funny how an experience like this can change one’s perspective.

Also, Hannah is doing fantastic in school.  Her teacher sent a note home at the end of her first week saying that she is adjusting very well, plays nicely with the other kids, listens well and is confident.  And that makes this mama’s heart so, so happy. 
(Especially the part about being confident.) 

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To our family and friends back home -
Call, text, email us.
Send pictures.  Send videos.

We love hearing from you.
Familiar voices and faces would be medicine to these homesick hearts.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Separated by the Same Language

Yesterday was Hannah’s third day at the British International School here in Luxembourg.
I’ve mentioned that her teacher is British, as are many of the students.

Late last week the teacher sent out an email saying that the Early Years students (that’s the US equivalent to preschool) would be using articles of clothing to work on matching, sorting, counting and learning about differences.

I dropped her off at 8:30 and picked her back up at noon.
From there, we headed home for lunch, read some books and got ready for nap time.  I pulled out a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeved t-shirt and asked her if she wanted to change out of her school clothes and into something more comfortable.

”No, I want to keep this jumper on,” she said.
”You want to keep what on?” I asked.
”This.  I just want to wear this jumper,” she said.
“What jumper?” I asked her.


Then I got it.  
Remember Bridget Jones?
And the scene where Mark Darcy tells Bridget what he thinks of her?

“I realize that when I met you at the turkey curry buffet that I was unforgivably rude...and wearing a reindeer jumper...that my mother had given me the day before.”

This is the reindeer “jumper” that he wore to the turkey curry buffet.

turkey-curry-buffet
And this is the “jumper” that Hannah wore to school yesterday.

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To us, not so much a jumper as a sweater.
Thank goodness for pop culture references.
I guess I’m going to be needing them.
Who’d have thought that she’d pick up on an American English/British English difference so quickly?
There’s bound to be dozens more, I guess.

P.S. Hannah, you make me laugh.

Love,
Your Mum

Monday, January 9, 2012

The First Day

preschool2

We hit a big milestone today.
Hannah is officially a student.
Today she started preschool at an International school in Luxembourg.
When we moved here last fall, we decided to wait until after the holidays for her to start school because it seemed like a lot all at once. 
Looking back, I think she would have been just fiiiiiine.
Parenting sure is a new game once school is involved, isn’t it?

She was so excited. 
Shawn went to work late this morning so that he could go with us for the drop off. 

preschool
Here she is outside her classroom, in front of her cubby. 

010 When I picked her up, her teacher told me that she interacted very nicely with the other kids.
Have I mentioned that her teacher is British? 
And that I could listen to her talk ALL DAY LONG? 
Well, I could. 
She calls the children “dah-ling” and describes things as “delightful.”
And she has a journal de classe system in which she writes a detailed summary of what happened that day for parents.  It’s a scrapbook in the making, really.

Music is part of the curriculum on Mondays and I asked Hannah how it went.
”I got to play the triangle and I absolutely enjoyed it,” she said.
(She was 4 when I dropped her off.  How was she 28 when I picked her up?)

And guess what?  She already got her first homework assignment. 

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It was a successful first day.
So we celebrated with tacos for dinner and a special dessert after.
Hip hip for our little school girl.
Toy Story popsicles all around.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

We Are Back

We’re back in Luxembourg after a wonderful visit home to the US.
We really had a great Christmas.

Our day of travel was pretty uneventful, although it was a strange feeling when the airline attendant confirmed our destination.
”I don’t see a return flight.  When will you be returning?”
This is our return flight.
”Oh, I see. You live in Luxembourg.”

Our travel and layover time totaled fourteen hours.
The big flight over the ocean occurs overnight but Shawn and I didn’t sleep much.
You see, a few hours in, the plane reaches daylight and not all of the passengers kept their window shades closed. Hannah didn’t seem to mind.  She fell asleep soon after departure and didn’t wake up until we were landing.

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AND! AND! All of our luggage was there!
As you can see, there was a lot of it.

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It was kind of a hassle to haul all of it around, but totally worth it because we brought back stuff that we can’t get here or won’t buy it because it’s cheaper in the US.
Plus, Shawn does all the heavy lifting.
I’m mostly in charge of carry on items, snacks and potty breaks.  I’ll take that.

It was obvious that our bags had been rummaged through at Customs. I’m certain that one would expect this when one’s suitcase contains, you know, components to build an electric dog fence and a remote controlled helicopter.  I’m looking at you, Shawn.  :-)

So, here we are.
We’ve been doing a little unpacking and settling back in.
Today we spent most of the afternoon in pajamas hunkered down in the living room watching movies. 

We have a very exciting week ahead.
Hannah starts preschool tomorrow!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Girlfriends and Goals

I have a really great group of girlfriends.  
They’re cool chicks. 
And I got to spend New Year’s Eve morning with them.

bwfam[1] 
We’ve been friends for like a hundred years.
Various combinations of these girls have been roommates at one point or another.
We’ve been together for graduations, showers, vacations, weddings, new babies, funerals and a whole lot in between. 
We’ve celebrated good times and prayed for each other through bad times.
You’ll be shocked to know that we’ve also camped together.
In tents.
Oh, yes sir, we did.
But don’t get me started on the white water rafting trip of 2002. 
It’s too traumatic.
(Just know that it is never a good idea for a group of girls, with, how should I say it?  LIMITED UPPER BODY STRENGTH to insist on putting the guys in a separate raft and take on wild rapids armed with nothing more than standard issue helmets and paddles, a rafting guide with little respect for the water, and a tube of Lip Smackers.)

They’re the kind of girls that even if we don’t talk or see each other for a while, it’s pretty easy to just pick right back up where we left off.
I am so glad we made this little get together happen. 

(Pretend that there’s a clever transition here because I couldn’t think of anything.)

After I recapped our 2011, I started thinking about the things that I want to do or change in 2012. 

Our house in Luxembourg is comfortable, but it doesn’t quite feel like home yet.
I want to make it feel like home.
I want to do everything I can for my family.   I want to be gentler, kinder, more patient wife and mom. When I became a full time stay at home mom last summer, they became my full time job. I’ve only got one shot at this and I want to make it count.

I want to use this blog to keep a very real account of our time as expats in Europe.  We are in a situation that not many people have experienced or have a point of reference for.  Very few understand exactly what it’s like.  I want to keep a record for our family to look back on someday.  (And hopefully laugh.)

As for my phone – I need to shut ‘er down more often and just listen to the quiet.  I need to eliminate noise and nonsense from Facebook and Twitter and find more quiet from reading actual books.

Shawn’s company offers French classes to spouses.  With Hannah starting preschool, well, the opportunity and timing couldn’t be better.  I’m not talking about becoming fluent, of course, but I want to learn the basics and build a vocabulary that consists of more than my current four sentences.   

And exercise.  I want to exercise more.  (Mama’s been slacking.)

What about you?  What are your goals and resolutions for 2012?

Oh, BTDubbs, Creative Mamma has a free, super cute printable 2012 calendar.
Go check it out.  Print it. 
It will look great in your kitchen.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011: The Year in Review

2011 was a big year for our family.
It was one of change.
It brought situations that required me to be brave in ways I’ve never been.
And pray about things I’d never even imagined.
2011 started pretty normal, but the second half felt like some crazy ride that wasn’t ever going to stop.

Here we go.

January
It was cold in Ohio!  So we bundled up and played in the snow a lot.

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I made Hannah a super kid cape
She loved it.

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February
Shawn spent a lot of this month traveling for work.
He went to Russia, Prague and Germany.
Hannah started swimming lessons.

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I made this cute bag and matching flower.

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March
Oh what fun we had in March!
We flew to San Antonio with Shawn while he was there for work.
We spent a day at a dude ranch in Bandero, Texas, the Cowboy Capital of the World.
Or, as we call it, “Hannah’s Dream Come True.” 

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I got to meet up with Julie, a blog friend turned real life friend.

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I did a lot of crafting this month. 
I made a belt for Hannah and some cards from leftover fabric scraps.
And I worked with another blogger at A Little Knick Knack to put together a series of sewing tutorials for beginners.

April
We celebrated Shawn’s birthday and Easter.
I was in love with Hannah’s dress and shoes.

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Shawn’s company asked him to do a three year international assignment in Luxembourg.
We considered it, thought about it and prayed about it. 
We didn’t tell anyone other than our parents.


May
We celebrated Mother’s Day.
My obsession with kids crafts involving handprints began when we made these:

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One of my favorite projects was this faux necklace shirt:

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At the end of May, we began sharing our news that we had decided to accept Shawn’s company’s offer to move to Luxembourg.  We received excitement and support from most, but a slightly negative reaction from some.  I won’t lie – this was disappointing.

June
We celebrated Father’s Day.
Hannah wore the sweetest dress ever.

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But June was a rough month.
Just four days before Father’s Day, we found out that I had miscarried our second baby.
A few months later, I got up the nerve to write about it on the blog.
Since then, I have received dozens of emails from women offering support and sharing their own stories of loss.

July
I began to heal.
We celebrated July 4th with gusto, knowing it would be our last one in America for a few years.

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I turned in my resignation at my job and became a full time stay at home mom
Plans for our move to Europe began to fall into place.

August
Hannah went to Vacation Bible School and I (jokingly) became Administrative Assistant to my husband as we started to prepare for our big move.
Hannah had some firsts:
First Passport, horseback riding lesson and visit to the dentist.

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dentist

Aunt Traci visited from California.

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Shawn’s company sent us to Luxembourg for a house hunting trip.
While we were there we found a house, registered Hannah for school, set up our bank account and got a tiny glimpse of just how greatly our lives were about to change.

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September
We celebrated my birthday and 11 years of marriage.
We said goodbye to Shawn’s grandma and had to have a difficult conversation with Hannah about death, heaven and eternity.  She understood far beyond what we ever would have imagined.
”Did Jesus take her to heaven on a horse?”
”Do you think Great Grandma found our baby when she got to heaven?”
“What kind of dinners does God serve in heaven?”
Oh, that little girl.

The movers packed up the contents of our house and loaded them onto an oversea container.
But not before we refinished and reupholstered our dining room furniture.
Shawn left for Luxembourg at the end of the month and Hannah and I stayed in the US for a few weeks.

October
I got our house ready to be rented out, sold our cars and took care of a million other details.
We spent a morning at the apple orchard and I tried out my new camera.
(I have a lot to learn.)

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Shawn had his first funny situation as a foreigner, while I spend the better part of the month searching for our lost cat.
Hannah was shocked to find out that costumes can be purchased at stores and not just made by moms.  She went trick or treating and turned 4.

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On her birthday, Hannah and I flew to meet Shawn at our new home in Luxembourg.
(With a lot of luggage.)

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November
Oh, let the foreign fun begin.
We basically spent the month of November embarrassing ourselves and learning how to do daily tasks in a foreign country.
I developed a strong dislike for the metric system.
Aunt Traci visited us for Thanksgiving and for the first time ever she and I made the entire meal ourselves.  Then we took a train ride to Paris and acted silly.

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December
Christmas was in full swing in Luxembourg and we enjoyed every minute of it.
We visited Hannah’s school for a meet and greet day.
I continued my obsession with kiddo hand and footprint crafts.

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We returned home to the US to celebrate Christmas with our families. 
We saw Santa twice and on the second visit, Hannah hopped right into his sleigh with him. 

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Later this week, we’ll be saying goodbye to our family and friends and heading back to Luxembourg.
Hannah will be starting preschool when we return.
So, welcome 2012.
Let’s see what ya got.