Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Weekend

On Saturday, it was beautiful and sunny in Luxembourg, so we headed into the city center to see what was going on. It was hoppin’.

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There’s a famous landmark that we hadn’t visited yet – GĂ«lle Fra, which means “Golden Lady” in Luxembourgish.  It’s a remembrance for Luxembourgers who fought with the Allies in WW1.  During WW2, the Germans dismantled the monument, but it was later restored.

(source)

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Next we stopped by the Grand Ducal Palace and Hannah got to see a royal guard.
This was as close as she’d get.
(I don’t blame her.  Those guys mean business.)

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From there, we wandered around a bit more.

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And ate fresh, homemade pasta for dinner.

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Sunday was another unseasonably warm day, so we took advantage of it.
After church, we ate lunch, took little naps and then went to a trail on the edge of a river in a cute little town called Hamm. (Pronounced Hahm.)
We walked and Hannah rode her scooter.
Louie even came along. 
Do you see that bearded collie in the background?
She totally had her eye on him.
But he pretended not to notice.

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I think it’s because he’s smitten with someone else.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Florida and What Happened on the Way Back to Lux

I hadn’t really planned on taking a break from the blog, but between the jet lag and getting settled back in to Luxembourg, we’ve been busy.  
 
As I had mentioned, we were home in the US for two weeks and Shawn’s parents’ annual trip to Florida overlapped our visit, so we kind of invited ourselves to join them for a few days.  (But I think they enjoyed having us along.)
So our travels went like this: Luxembourg to Ohio to Florida to Ohio to Luxembourg.

Before we left for the sunshine state, I had a gift card for a pedicure that I needed to use. Hannah caught wind of what I was doing and wanted to come with me.
Isn’t it funny how when you’re a mom and you get a gift card, you usually spend it on your kiddos?

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I usually take forever to pick a color of polish.
And then I change my mind a few times and bring six bottles to the chair with me and ask the technician’s opinion and text my sister before I finally decide.
Hannah pointed to a deep purple with confidence and didn’t look back.
Girlfriend knows what she likes.

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Normally, I wouldn’t go for the flower accent, but the sweet gal painting Hannah’s toes put them on her and Hannah really wanted me to get one, too.

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While we were sitting in our chairs, another customer asked me where we were from.
I told her that I actually grew up in this very town. 
”Oh,” she said, “because your daughter sounds kind of, um, British.”
Yes.  I know she does.  But I can explain.

BTW, British girl loved the pedi.  Loved it.

So, anyway, besides Disney and the beach, we did some other fun stuff in Florida.
Shawn and his dad went fishing out on the lake.
They caught five of these and brought them back to show us before releasing them.

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Shawn’s mom, Hannah and I hung out at Downtown Disney for the afternoon.

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Look who we saw, made out of a million Legos.

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We also went to a theatrical horse show where they serve dinner.
You know what I’m talking about?
One of those places where you eat your dinner in a dark barn-like arena with strobe lights and subwoofers and horses jumping through fire hoops?
The overpriced tickets and mediocre food were worth it because of how much Hannah enjoyed it.

And then for the finale, a Texas cowgirl rode out into the arena while they played “Proud To Be an American.”  And, well, I may have gotten a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
Living abroad has given me a whole new love for my country.
I heart America.  I really do.

After five days in Florida, we headed back to Ohio for a few days before returning to Luxembourg.  Because of Shawn’s work schedule, he had to leave before us, so Hannah and I traveled to Lux by ourselves.  This is the third time we’ve traveled to ‘n fro Europe without him, so it’s not new.

When we landed in Luxembourg, I had been awake for 23 hours.
I was then responsible for getting 90 pounds of luggage and 34 pounds of child out of the airport.
This was after we’d already been through Customs, security (at two separate airports) and had an unplanned four hour layover in Amsterdam where we had played with, read and done just about every single thing I could think of to keep us busy.  By this time, Hannah had taken to either draping her body across mine like a wet noodle or running circles around the gate area. 

I placed our suitcases onto a cart and we proceeded up the incline.  It’s kind of like an escalator, but without stairs.  Now, normally when you roll your cart onto the incline, the magnets in the wheels are activated and your cart locks into place and you coast right on up to the airport exit.

Well.

The magnets in the wheels of my cart did not activate and the cart began rolling backwards towards me.  I held on as long as I could before it just got too heavy and the entire thing shifted ever so gently to the right and toppled over, dumping all of our suitcases and spilling the contents of my purse.  It was like the world was moving in slow motion.
And the incline just kept on going, our stuff moving further from my reach with each passing second.

Really, the only thing I could do was laugh because it was kind of funny.
And embarrassing.  Oh, so embarrassing. 
(You know you would have laughed if you’d have been there.)

I managed to pick up the really important stuff – our passports, my wallet and cell phone and got Hannah off safely.  Luckily, two strangers helped me gather everything up and I regrouped at the top of the incline. 

And then we got into a taxi with the world’s crankiest driver.  Like, ever.

When we got to our house, 18 hours after leaving my parents’ house in Ohio, THIS MAMA WAS TIRED. 

The last 23 sleepless hours were catching up with me.
Along with the goodbyes, traveling 4,000 miles, the layovers, the on and off of coats and shoes and gathering everything back up at security, the line at Customs, the six hour time change, toppled luggage and the meanie taxi driver.

Have you ever been so tired that you actually felt nauseous?
Because that’s how I felt.  
My patience was running thin and I was getting snappy.
Quite frankly, I had had just about enough of myself.

A time out was in order.
And by time out, I mean that Hannah and I both crawled into my bed and slept for four hours.

And when we woke up?
Hannah popped out of bed, asked me how to say “bracelet” in French and set up her Lego’s as if we’d just been lounging around the house all day.

Kids are so darn resilient.
And forgiving. 
Praise the Lord for that.

So here we are.
We’ve been back in Luxembourg for a week and a half.
Shawn and Hannah were over the jet lag by about the fourth day.
It took me seven days to get with it.
The homesickness wasn’t nearly as bad as it was when we returned after Christmas.
Hannah has settled back into school and Shawn back at work. 

We’ve got some exciting things that we’re all three looking forward to in the next few weeks…

We had planned on doing some things around the house today, but it was 77 degrees and sunny. 
(That’s 25 degrees for all my Celsius-speaking friends. Yea, I had to look it up because I still don’t have the Fahrenheit/Celsius thing down.) 
Anyway, we ditched the chores and headed out to the city center of Luxembourg to hang with the locals.
And the tourists.

What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beach Day

After our day at Disney, some relaxation was in order.
So we headed East to Cocoa Beach for the afternoon.
It was warm and sunny and perfect.

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This little girl loves the sand and waves as much as her parents do.

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It’s too bad we don’t make it to the ocean nearly enough.

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I think she makes a cute beach bum.

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And she does a pretty good Baywatch impression, too.

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It may go down in the books as one of my favorite days.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hello Disney

Hello grandparents that go to Florida every spring and happily obliged when we invited ourselves along.

Hello after dinner ice cream.

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Hello Minnie Mouse shirt that cost me less than $3 to make.
Hello 1st Visit pin.

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Hello Magic Kingdom.

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Hello future roller coaster enthusiast.

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Hello It’s A Small World.
Or, as Hannah calls it, “The Little World.”

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Hello new freckles.
The Florida sun sure brought you out.

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Hello Woody and Jesse.
We looked all over for you.
Thanks for making our day.

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Hello Magic Carpet Ride.

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Hello utterly-exhausted-I-can’t-stay-awake-one-more-minute girl.

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Goodbye Disney.
We’ll be back.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter

We hadn’t planned on coming home to the US again so soon.
When we returned to Luxembourg after Christmas, Shawn and I were homesick.
Hannah?  She was fine.
But us?  The grown ups? Well, we were kinda pathetic.
In a moment of homesick weakness, Shawn proclaimed, “That’s it.  We’re going home for Easter,” and booked our flights.

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I’m glad he did.
Easter is a really special holiday to us and our families do it up big.
So big, in fact, that we rent a hall for our celebration because it would be a very tight squeeze to try to fit everyone in one of our homes.  Anyone and everyone is invited. 
Yesterday’s count?  Probably over 100 people.
I’m glad we didn’t miss it.
 
Hannah’s basket contained a pink sun hat to match her bathing suit.
That clever bunny. 
She was concerned that he wouldn’t know she was in ‘Merica. 
No need to worry, little lady.  We made sure he knew.

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Oh, and he also brought her lots of chocolate, which I plan to eat this week while she naps.  Don’t tell her that.

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Aunt Traci came to town.
She was here for about 52 hours and then she had to warp West back to Cali.
It was the first time in years that my sister’s been able to make it home at Easter.
Hannah was in heaven to have her best girl with her.

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After Easter lunch, we do a big egg hunt for the kids.
This was the best picture I got.
It was windy and girlfriend was too busy to stop for my camera.
I was proud of her for thinking to leave some eggs for the younger kids.
She even tossed a couple their way.

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We also got lots of cousin time. 
Hannah adores her cousins.
How could she not?  They’re all rock stars.

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There’s a big playground and park at the hall where we have our Easter celebration.
But our kids would rather play on this old military cannon contraption that is on display at the entrance.

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I know two other moms who are probably scrubbing grease and grass stains out of their kids’ clothing today.

Totally worth it, though.

I hope you had a great Easter!

He is not here; He has risen, as He said He would do.”
                                                        Matthew 28:6

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Standard English

Remember when Madonna started talking with a British accent?
And all of America kinda looked at each other, scratched their heads and said, “But I thought she was from Michigan?”

I’m going to fill you in on what’s been going on around here:
Our daughter has a British accent. 
Oh, yes.  She does.

After this incident, we knew it was only a matter of time, really.  
One day she told me that we needed to get into the “queue” at the grocery store.
And the next thing I knew, she was wearing “knickers” and “trousers” and we were parking our car in the “gare-idge” and she was calling Shawn “a nice chap.” 

At the airport this week, she was totally mistaken for a little English girl.
The people waiting at the gate with us were probably thinking, “how does that English girl have parents that seem so… so… American?”

I secretly love it.  It makes me smile every single time.
And now that we’re here in the US for a visit, it’s making the grandparents smile, too.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been taking videos of the Britishisms.
Some are captured in real life, others I’ve had to ask for a repeat performance so that I can document it on camera.

Here goes:

Cheerio!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hello, USA

Well, we made it!
Luxembourg to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam to Detroit.
Detroit to Akron.
And a short drive to our little hometown.

Travels were smooth sailing.
No delays, cancellations or lost luggage.
Holla.
Once again, Hannah traveled like a pro.
She did a lot of this on the airplane(s):

And a lot of this while waiting around the airport(s):
    ("Hey, Woody! We're in America!")

We arrived home and were greeted with hugs and fanfare from family.
We felt like celebrities in our tiny hometown airport.

And now, after 18 hours of travel and layovers and a six hour time change, this mama is tired.
Goodnight!