Friday, March 30, 2012

Insta-Friday

Well, hello there.
Ready for a little peek into our week via my cell?

Here we go.

It was open market time in the city center of Luxembourg.
That means lots of pretty fresh flowers, fruits and veggies.

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One of my favorite stands at the open market is the fresh pasta. 
I was actually able to place my order in French.  I know!
But you buy it by the gram and if you remember, I’m not so good with the metric system so I second guessed myself and hesitated. 
My telltale American accent gave me away, and the man knew exactly what I was trying to figure out. He smiled and said, “Cinq cents grammes.  You want one pound?“
Right.  Five hundred grams.  One pound. 
I’ll get it eventually.

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Speaking of French, here’s my devoirs de français, French homework.
My goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to study or do homework.
It makes me giggle because when my teacher speaks English (which isn’t very often because the entire class is in French) he calls it “homeworks.”

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We’ve had some beautiful days here lately, perfect for bubbles at the playground.

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When my husband travels, he is the master of packing a suitcase about an hour before he leaves the house. 
Me? I like to pack little by little over the course of a few days or even a week.
We’re going to the US for Easter and Spring Break and I’ve been slowly filling this laundry basket with things that must go into my suitcase. 

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Want to know one of my little travel secrets?
I use Space Bags.
Yes, sir, I do.
I know that the commercials are super cheesy but they totally work.
You put your clothes in the bag, turn on the vacuum and voila!
Your stuff takes up about half the space in your suitcase.

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So that was a bit of our week.
Next week we’ll be home with our families and we can’t wait!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sounds Like “Mess”

Last Saturday we took a day trip to Metz, France.
Like most French words, Metz doesn’t sound like it’s spelled.
It’s pronounced “Mess.”

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It was a beautiful day, perfect for playing at the fountain.

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And doing some window shopping.

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Look what we saw in one of the little shops.  
That there’s a Cleveland Cavaliers hat.
I put my French classes to good use and told the shop owner that our hometown is near Cleveland.  I’m sure my pronunciation was horrendous and I may have used the wrong word for “near” but he understood and told me to take a picture. 
(My French teacher has told me more than once that they think it’s cute when Americans say something incorrectly in French.  I’m gonna go with that.)

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We wandered around the city some more…

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Until we made our way to Saint Étienne de Metz.

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The center of the cathedral is over 130 feet high.

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And the stained glass?  Breathtaking.
The pictures don’t do it justice.

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Hannah was probably like another old building?
I’m thinking that before we leave Europe, she will have seen enough cathedrals and castles to last her lifetime.  I guess this is what happens when you have us for parents. 

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That’s just what we like to do – drive to a city or little town to get lost and explore.

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On Sunday, we did more of the same.
After church we changed our duds and hit the road.
This time we stayed in Luxembourg for a picnic in the town of Echternach.

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Echternach is the oldest town in Luxembourg.

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We did some rock climbing.

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And picnicked on the bag that turns into a blanket.
It’s a bag.  It’s a blanket.  It’s genius.

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Hannah is standing in Luxembourg, but just across the river is Germany.

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Yep, it was a good weekend.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Hypothetical Situation

Let’s suppose for a minute that it’s a really warm evening in Luxembourg and your husband is working late, so you and your daughter decide to eat dinner outside.

Let’s say that you have one of those doors that locks automatically when closed and that your four year old just pulled it closed.  And your cell phone is in the house.  For visual effect, let’s say that you are wearing Cleveland Browns sweat pants.

Now let’s say - purely hypothetical, of course - that you schlepp your child (who happens to not be wearing shoes) next door and your kind neighbor helps you try to reach your husband.  But you have no luck so you call the landlord and he says that he doesn’t have a spare key to your house but gives you the phone number to a locksmith who happens to live down the street.  

Let’s say that you call the locksmith and a woman answers the phone and tells you in broken English that she is not interested and hangs up on you.  It this situation, it would be a very good thing to have a nice, multi-lingual next door neighbor who not only invites you in, but makes chocolate milk for your daughter and announces that she is going to drive to the locksmith’s house.

Let’s say that your neighbor returns in ten minutes to say that the woman who answered the phone sends her apologies for hanging up on you and that the locksmith is on his way. Oh, and that she is going to stay with you when he arrives because you’ll need her to translate, but mostly because when she got to his house, she noticed that he smelled a bit like alcohol.  Fantastic.

Now let’s say that more than an hour has passed and your husband still hasn’t called you back because it’s likely he hasn’t received your message due to shifty cell phone service.  So the locksmith arrives at your house and gets his tools out of his car.  He might then rifle through a bag of drill bits, hold his power drill high up above his head, rev it up and exclaim something in German. 

Before you let him take the power drill to your back door (and charge you to do so) let’s say that you happen to peek in the window and see that your husband has arrived home. 

He has just saved the day.
And a lot of money.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Insta-Friday

Our house is situated very close to the Luxembourg Airport.
So close, in fact, that we see this quite often:

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We’ve always lived close to airports, so we’re used to it. 

The rule here is no flights landing or taking off between 11PM and 6AM.
The Luxembourgish people, they like their quiet.

If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll like this little story.  Even if you’re not a nerd, you’ll probably still like this little story.  It’s funny.  (In a passive resistance kind of way.)

When the Germans invaded Luxembourg in WWII, the Luxembourgish people were like, “Um, yea.  Since you guys are here and you’re going to build an airport, let us show you the perfect spot…”
And the Germans were like, “YES! Let’s build an airport!  Right here in this spot!”
Then the Luxembourgish people were like, “Tee-hee, giggle-giggle, snicker-snicker.” 
A few months later the Germans were like, “Dude, you guys didn’t tell us that this is the dampest, foggiest spot in all of Luxembourg.  None of our airplanes can take off or land.  What gives?”

(It sort of reminds me of the time in college when one of our friends had almost convinced another friend that she should wear a fanny pack.
”No, it doesn’t look dorky at all.  You should wear it.  You can totally pull it off…”)

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Luxembourg has a marathon and half marathon coming up in May.  
I wish I could be in half marathon shape by then.

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This one makes my mama heart all proud and smiley.
Hannah got an award at school last week for using good manners.
Don’t you love it when parenting efforts pay off?

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We had a couple of really warm days, which called for lunch outside on the patio.
With horse boots and a white unicorn, of course.

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This is a typical traffic jam in our neighborhood.

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I’ve noticed that Hannah’s hair bows have been disappearing so I picked up some new clips at H&M this week.
Me: What happened to all your bows?
Hannah: Um, I gave some away.
Me: You gave them away? 
Hannah: Yea, the girls in my class really like the ones you make, so I gave some to them.
How can I be upset at that?

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An update on THE QUILT:
I measured, cut, sorted, matched and started sewing the blocks together.
Quilting sure requires a lot of math, yo.
And the possible fabric combinations?  Endless.
I hope I’m doing my girl Stephanie proud.

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There you have it. 
That’s a little peek into our week via pics from my cell phone.

I’m linked up with Life Rearranged.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Good Day at La Poste

I have a friend named Stephanie.
We went to school together from elementary through high school.
Then we each went away to college, got married, had babies, blah blah blah and met back up on Facebook a few years ago.

A lot of our conversations are about sewing and quilting.
You see, Stephanie and her mom make some stunning quilts.
Me? I’ve never made an actual quilt.
I started one about 8 years ago, but I was in over my head and never finished it.
Then I made what could loosely be called a quilt a few years ago. 
But it is more of a blanket than a quilt.
I had mentioned to Stephanie that if we lived closer, I would have her teach me to make a quilt.

Well, she didn’t forget about that and this week sent me the best present.
I mean, like, the best present evah.

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This here is all the fixins to make my very own quilt.
A for real quilt, not a pretend one like I made a few years ago.

She included all the fabric, detailed instructions and even a spool of thread.
My job is to put the quilt top together, mail it back to her and she will piece all the layers together and do the fancy work on her very fancy machine.
I mean, really.  I’d be telling a lie if I said that I didn’t cry a little when I opened the box.

And then I cried a little more when I read her note, because besides being a quilting maven, girlfriend is funny.  She even included a Ryan Gosling bit and you all know how funny I think Ryan Gosling is, right?

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I did have some trouble actually receiving the package because of a little snafu with Customs.  I got a letter saying that my package was being held and that I needed to provide specific documentation within a fortnight (yes, it actually said fortnight) or else it would be returned to the sender.

Apparently, one mom sending fabric to another is suspicious activity. 

Luckily a local Luxembourgish guy at Shawn’s work helped me sort it all out.
Then they tried to deliver the package to our house and no one was home to claim and sign for it.  So the next day I was able to pick it up at la poste, the post office.  I may have squealed when the woman handed the box to me.  And I think I skipped down the steps on the way back to my car.

So, thank you, Stephanie.
You are beyond sweet and generous and thoughtful.
You made my day, my week, maybe even my year.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a quilt to make.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Because I Don’t Have Much To Write About

We had a lazy weekend.
I felt like I was coming down with a cold, so it was much needed.
And since I don’t really have anything to write about I’ll show you some pictures from my cell phone. 
I know, I usually do this on Friday. 
Just go with it.

I love this picture for two reasons.  One, I think that Hannah’s hair in a braid looks so cute and two, her teacher told me last week that she has good hand washing habits.
If you know me in real life, I’m sure you know how happy that makes me. 

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Speaking of Hannah’s hair, I think it’s super cute when her daddy blow dries it.

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Last week at church, the kids sang during the service. 
They did fantastic.  I was so proud of them.
That’s Hannah on the far right in the polka dots. 

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Saturday we went to a birthday party for a little girl in Hannah’s class at school.
It was at one of those indoor playgrounds places with all the slides and obstacles and ball pits.  You know, the kind of place kids dream of?
I have a love/hate relationship with those places.  I love them because they really are fun and a great place to let kids run wild, but why is it always like 127 degrees in there? 

Shawn and I hung out with the other parents while the kids played. 
We were the only Americans. 

Me: I love meeting all these people from all over the world.  I’m glad that we’re getting to be friends with so many other expats.  It’s really fun to hang out with foreigners.

Shawn: We are the foreigners.


Um, right.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reduce. Reuse. Make It Into a Little Bed.

Unless you count this framed photo collage that I started but haven’t finished in our foyer, I haven’t really done anything crafty or creative since we’ve been in Luxembourg.

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(Ignore the radiator.  Houses in Europe don’t have central heating – each room’s temperature is controlled individually by radiators, making for decorative and furniture arranging challenges.)

Anyways, I haven’t done any sewing, either.
When we got here four months ago, Shawn hooked my sewing machine up to a transformer-something-or-other so that it would work with a European electrical outlet.
There it is under the desk.
Not as obtrusive as the radiator, but still not very pretty, is it?

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Then I realized that I was missing a piece to my sewing machine.
It must have gotten lost in the move.

I got online and ordered another – it was less than $6.  Score.
But it was on backorder and wouldn’t be shipped for eight weeks.
Oh, and the company I ordered it from is in the US but told me they can’t ship internationally. 
Even when I offered to pay for it.  Boo.
 
I had it delivered to my parents’ house and they sent it to me.
Thanks, guys!

So, where was I?  Oh, yes.  The crafting.
Today we finished the strawberries that came in this sturdy, wooden box.
It was too nice to throw away or even put in the recycle bin.

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So I gave it a good wash, a coat of black spray paint and gathered up some scrap batting and fabric.

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I made some little sheets, a tiny pillow and cozy comforter.

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And we put it all together to make a bed fit for a horse.

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Or a purple bunny.

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Or a duck and a purple bunny.
(Scandalous!)

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Up next: something pretty to cover that clunky, metal transformer box.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I’ve Joined an Abbey

In the last two months, I’ve gotten to be friends with a couple of other moms that I met at Hannah’s school.  They are a great group of girls, the kind that I could totally become good friends with.

Anyways, they’d been talking about a TV show.

Have you heard of Downton Abbey?
Even though I hadn’t watched it, I was just eh about it.

Actually, I thought it was called Downtown Abbey and that it was about nuns living in the city. 

Then I started seeing stuff about it on Facebook and other blogs.
So last Saturday I pulled it up on ye old Netflix and watched the first episode.
(It was not about nuns living in an abbey in the city.)
And then I watched the second episode.
After Hannah went to bed that night, I watched two more episodes.

I simply cannot get enough of Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley with her sideways glances and snarky one-liners.

Shawn watched with me, although he is pretending not to like it.
(But I think he likes it almost as much as I do.)

By the middle of the week, I’d worked my way through the first season and upon further research I found that you can visit the castle where the show is filmed.
And get this - it’s only a seven hour drive from Luxembourg.

So I sent a text to Shawn to tell him.
His response?
If m’ladyship wants…
(That won’t mean anything to you if you haven’t watched the show.)

Because season 2 isn’t on Netflix, I searched the web and found it HERE.

Then I learned that season 2 episodes are only available for viewing online until March 6.
I knew it was time to get down to business.
I was on a deadline.
And I met it.
 
Now, what will I do until season 3 starts?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Swiss Miss

The third and final stop on our little holiday was Geneva, Switzerland.
This was the second time Shawn and I’ve been to Switzerland and once again, we were not disappointed.

Neither was this little girl.

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I think that the Swiss are a dee-lightful people.
They were kind and friendly and eager to speak to me in English upon figuring out that I’m American, which is basically as soon as I open my mouth.  I’m sure they’d rather speak English than listen to me louse up the beautiful French language.

One thing that I didn’t know (or remember) was that Switzerland doesn’t use the standard European electrical outlets.  They call it a “Type J Swiss,” I later learned.  

So in the hotel the night before, I was all This outlet is different so I don’t think I’m gonna be able to charge the camera battery.
And then Shawn was all Oh,  I have a Type J Swiss extension cord and adaptor in my bag. 
And I was all Wha? What in the world?  How did you…?  Where did you…? 

This is just one of the reasons I love traveling with my husband. 
The guy is always prepared.

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The next morning we headed to Lake Geneva. 
Beautiful area, it is.
Oh, and remember when I said that Shawn and I are convinced that no matter where in the world you are, there’s a Michael Bolton or Phil Collins song playing on the radio?
Yep, Phil Collins lives on this very lake. 
We simply can’t avoid either of them. 

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We didn’t have a lot of time because we had a five hour drive home and didn’t want to get in late.  So we stopped for one final family picture with a fully charged camera, thanks to Shawn and his Type J Swiss cord.

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We’re back in Luxembourg and our normal routine.
Shawn’s back at work and Hannah went back to school. 

And next week?  Next week I’m starting French classes.
(It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in school.)

So, here’s to a successful first European holiday.
And many more to come.