Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Fairy Garden

Hannah and I have been working on a little project.
We turned a regular old plant box into a…

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I found the galvanized metal plant box at a local discount store for a few dollars and brought it home and transferred two little plants that I already had.
Let me back up.
It didn’t exactly go that way.
You see, I also needed to buy potting soil and everything in the gardening section was in German/Luxembourgish (I can’t always tell the difference) and I thought I was buying potting soil.  When I got home and opened the bag, it turned out to be plant fertilizer.
Oops. 
I’ve found that when you don’t speak the language, it’s usually safe to go with the picture on the packaging.  I guess this isn’t the case in the lawn and garden department.
But I got it right on the second try.

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The little house was given to Hannah by my mom.  It’s really a dog house for a tiny dog but is also the perfect size for a fairy so we painted it green and glued on some leaves and moss.  Then we made a “welcome” sign out of two little sticks from our backyard.
We debated making our sign in English or French and settled on English. 
“I think fairies probably speak English better than they speak French.  Kind of like us,” Hannah told me.

At the time we started, Hannah didn’t actually have any fairy dolls, so we added Cinderella’s fairy godmother, mouse and birds.
We found tiny drink umbrellas at the dollar store and used a pink jingle bell for the doorbell.

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I made some itty-bitty bunting with scrap fabric, twine from Shawn’s toolbox and two sticks.

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And then!  A package arrived from the US!
Shawn’s mom and dad sent two fairies for the fairy garden.
(Thank you!)

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Hannah was at school when I picked the package up from the post office, so I placed Tink and Fawn in the garden for her to find when she got home. 

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She asked if the fairies had shown up on their own and I almost didn’t have the heart to tell her, but I couldn’t let the grandparents not get the credit, right? 

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1 planter box, 2 little plants, 2 fairies, lots of accessories and a bit of imagination = hours of fun for a little girl and her mama.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Odds and Ends and Bits and Bobs

1. Happy Memorial Day in the US!  And a big thank you to the men and women who have served and are serving our country.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love America.  Living abroad has really given me a new appreciation for my country.

2.  We had guests at our house!  I hadn’t mentioned it on the blog, but now that they’ve made it stateside safe and sound, I’ll be posting about my aunt and uncle visiting us in Luxembourg.  I have so many pictures to sort through, so it’s taking me a while to get it all together.

5. On Sunday our little town hosted a Celtic/Scottish festival.
There were bagpipes:

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And Celtic warrior demonstrations and reenactments, which was loud and barbaric, if you ask me.  But whatever.
Shawn: Do you think that the Celts really wore plaid flannel pajama pants to battle?

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There was also a Scottish band that had an amazing repertoire of songs that included a lot of good old American classics, but I didn’t take a picture of them.
Let’s just say that from where we were sitting we had a bad angle on the lead singer’s kilt. Enough said.

They also had lots of crafts for the kids.

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Hannah ran into a little girl from her class at school and we ended up spending the entire afternoon with her family. 

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The girls were happy just playing in the dirt.
And do you see that stick they are playing with?
They thought it was the greatest toy ever.
What is it with kids and sticks?

3.  This weekend was also a holiday weekend in Europe.  Shawn was off work today and Hannah is off school for the remainder of the week for the half term break.  We spent the day in a little town called Remich, which is right on the Moselle River and borders Germany.  I received a request from a family member to start including maps in my posts when we visit other places.  So, here it is:

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We live just outside Luxembourg City, so Remich is about a 15 minute drive.  We went with the same family we met up with at the Celtic fest.  Shawn and I brought Hannah’s wagon so we could pull the girls around.  
It became obvious that Europeans have never seen a wagon because we attracted so much attention.  Everywhere we went people stopped and pointed and asked where we found that kind of a buggy.  Because you can pull your children!  And your picnic!  At the same time! Someone even asked Shawn if he made it himself.

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(Hey, Red Rider! Call me. I have a marketing idea for you.)

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Oh, and guess what’s in the wagon with them?
Yep, the stick from the day before.
They guarded it with their lives.
You’ve never heard four adults repeat, “please be careful with that stick,” more times than on that day.

4.  Friday evening when Hannah was in the bathtub, I noticed that the water wasn’t getting as warm as it usually does.  Then no warm water was coming out of the faucet at all.  It was ice cold.  So Shawn called the landlord and he said he’d stop over.  He brought a repairman with him who looked at the water heater and said, “Dees ees bad.”
Turns out there’s a part that needs replaced, but because this is a holiday weekend, we have to wait until Wednesday to get it.  In the meantime, we’ve been heating water up on the stove to bathe.

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Me: This is how the pioneers took baths back in ye olden days.  Although I guess there weren’t really pioneers in Europe, so this is how they took baths in medieval times.
Shawn: Except they didn’t have faucets and electric stoves.
Me: Smarty pants.

6. Today marks 7 months that we’ve been living in Luxembourg! 

7.  Like I mentioned, Hannah is off school this week for the half term break.  The weather is supposed to be warm, so we have a few fun things planned to do here in Luxembourg, but no big trips or anything.  She and I have been working on some crafts so I may post those later this week.  I intend to spend the entire week with Hannah doing the things that she enjoys.  She’s recently turned 4 1/2 and I just feel like time is a tickin’.  I mean, she’s practically a teenager.  And before I know it our time in Luxembourg will be up and I really want to make the most of it while we’re here.  Plus, we dragged her on a lot of tours when we went to Paris a few weeks ago, so I kind of owe her some fun activities of her choice. 

8.  Oh, and speaking of kids and sticks, THIS made me laugh out loud.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hello and Goodbye

So here’s the thing about being an expat:
You’re always saying goodbye to someone.

Oh, I knew I’d be saying goodbye to family and friends when we made the big move and again each time we returned to Luxembourg from a visit home.

But I guess I hadn’t really thought about all the goodbyes we’d be saying to the folks that we’d meet along the way.  We expats are a transient breed, and in Luxembourg, where we make up more than 30% of the population, I’m learning that our ebb and flow is quite regular.

Last week I got an email from Hannah’s school saying that one of her teachers was leaving the school to return to Ireland because of her husband’s job.  (School here in Europe is on a slightly different schedule than in the US where kids are just about done for the year.  We still have some weeks left.)

Anyway, I felt a little sick about it.
You see, Hannah adores Mrs. B.
Mrs. B. is kind and gentle, yet no-nonsense and she really, really loves the kids. 
Plus, she’s from Ireland so she has the most beautiful accent.
(And she calls the hallway a corridor.)
(And she always laughs when Hannah calls it a cordial.)

I didn’t say anything to Hannah about the email over the weekend.
When we got to school on Monday, Mrs. B. said that she would be talking to the kids so on Tuesday evening I danced around it and asked unspecific, non-leading questions to see what Hannah knew and how she was feeling about it. 

”Mrs. B. is going back to the country she’s from but we’re not going to be sad about it,” she told me.

”What country is she from?”

”Africa.”

Africa. Ireland. We’ll work on geography later. 

Later on she told Shawn, “Mrs. B. is going back to…Mom, what country is she from?”

”She’s from Ireland.”

”Mrs. B. is going back to The Island, Dad.”  


We’re all going to miss Mrs. B.  She sat with Hannah at snack time when she didn’t know any other kids, was always happy to run back to the classroom to fetch her forgotten library book, and made sure she changed into dry socks when coming in from rainy days on the playground.

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Mrs. B. – Thank you, thank you, thank you for making school something that Hannah loves. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spring

Spring is officially here in Luxembourg.
And with that, tourist season has begun.
(I’ve never actually lived in a place that has a tourist season.)

There are a few things we’ll likely be seeing more around town.
Double-decker sightseeing tour busses:

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And European men wearing capri pants.  Man capris, as Shawn calls them. 
Some cargo style, but mostly white or beige linen.

I didn’t take any pictures to show you.

I know.
And you’re welcome.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Mother’s Day Like None Other

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Four and a half years ago, this little girl made me a mama.
I love being her mom.  I really, really love it.

It’s the best job ever.
But being a mom is hard work.
And so, to my mom and Shawn’s mom:
Thank you for everything you’ve done and do for us.
We love and miss you!

Since Paris is just a short train ride from Luxembourg, that’s where we spent Mother’s Day weekend.  And guess what?  I didn’t use my camera once.  It was nice to have one less thing to lug around and I didn’t feel like I had to take pictures of every single thing.
 
So, without further ado, here’s our weekend in Paris through the eye of my cell phone.

On the high speed train with hubs and Miss Wiggle Worm. 
I think this was the only time she sat still during the entire ride.
She shimmied and wiggled all the way from Lux to Paris.

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We stayed in a teeny-tiny hotel room that was smaller than my college dorm room. 
It turned out to be a fine little place, but I was a little concerned when I read on the hotel’s website that one of the amenities in each room was A TOILET.   
And it was beautiful night, perfect for opening the windows and feeling the Parisian breeze. 

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The magnificent Notre Dame.
Did you know that this historical site draws more visitors per year than the Eiffel Tower?

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And the West Rose Window.  Stunning.

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My two loves in Paris.

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Directly behind me, on the other side of this bridge is a chain link fence with hundreds of padlocks attached.  It is custom for couples in love to buy a padlock, engrave their initials on it, place the padlock onto the fence, kiss the key and throw it into the river, sealing their love forever. 

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Watching boats go by on the Seine.

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Montmartre:
Home of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the Moulin Rouge and known for other seedy activities.  It’s also the place where artists such as Dali, Renoir, Monet, Picasso and van Gogh lived and worked.  If you pay attention, you can find little pieces of art history all over, in the most inconspicuous of places.  Like this one, a tiny mosaic on the side of a random building.

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Oh, you know.  Just eating a banana.  On the steps of the Paris Opera House.

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Shawn and I have this little game we play where we do or say something and then ask the other, “Does this make me look/sound European?”

Shawn: Do I look French with my sweater like this?
Me: Uh, your relaxed fit jeans and Adidas kind of give you away.
Shawn: Is that picture going on the blog?
Me: You betcha.

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A typical Parisian breakfast: croissants and orange juice.

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You guys go on ahead and check out the Arc de Triumph.
I’mma-jus’ stay here and take a little nap.

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Shawn wearing my scarf for another round of “Does This Make Me Look European?”
If he had only lost the backpack, he may have been on to something.
Shawn: That one’s definitely going on the blog, isn’t it?
Me: Pretty much.
Shawn: Will you tell everyone that I didn’t really wear your scarf?
(He didn’t really wear my scarf.)

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My sweet little family, a sunny day, and one of my favorite cities…

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Best Mother’s Day ever.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Every Child is an Artist

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
                                                                                              -Pablo Picasso

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Artist: Hannah, age 4
Title: Mama, With a Flower
Date: May 2012
Media: Watercolor on cardstock

Currently on display at her school’s annual art exhibit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bangs

After this post, I got a few emails.
Yes, Hannah got bangs.
Or “fringe,” as the Europeans say.
My mom cut them for her just hours before we got on the plane to return to Lux.

I think she looks so grown up.

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And a little like me at her age.

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Don’t ya think?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Insta-Friday, I Mean Monday

Hi-ya.
I usually post cell phone pics on Friday, but the entire weekend got away from me.
I’m reaching back into the archives of my cell phone and pulling out a few pictures that I haven’t yet posted.

Here we go.

While we were home in the US, my mom, sister and I drove through my college campus and right past my old dorm.  So, so many memories here.

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We also visited my grandma (and took her red tulips) while we were home.
She’s on Facebook.  Yes, sir.  She is.

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Hannah and I are officially Junior TSA Officers and we have badges to prove it.
As much as we have flown in the last six months, we probably could qualify.
Not really, but we do have connections there.

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This pic was taken on March 2.

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And this one on May 2.
Luxembourg is pretty no matter what season it is.

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Shawn’s birthday was this week and guess what I got him?
A juicer. 
In our almost 12 years of marriage, I can’t remember a time when he cared about any kind of small kitchen appliance, so I knew he was serious when he started talking about it.
We’ve been having all kinds of combinations of fresh fruit and veggie juice every morning. 
Today was carrot, celery, bok choy, apple and a few strawberries.

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The downside?  Cleaning this thing is a chore.
It reminds me of when Hannah was a baby and I was nursing and spent every evening cleaning pump parts.  Ugh.

We had a pretty low key weekend that included a trip to IKEA, a vet appointment for Louie, church, Subway for lunch and chicken and corn on the cob on the grill for dinner.
(Oh, and Louie’s just fine.)

What did you do this weekend?