Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home Bound

I didn’t think we’d be taking Finley to the US so soon, but those helpful folks at the US Embassy and our town’s local administrative office were able to get him a temporary passport and the documentation to return with us to Luxembourg.  (It’s tricky because we are US citizens but have Luxembourg residency.) 

You’re probably thinking I was being sarcastic by describing a government office as helpful, but I wasn’t.  The consulate we met with knew her stuff and got us all the necessary paperwork within a few hours, after we described our situation to her.

Hazzah-hazzah to the US Embassy in Luxembourg.  You served these US citizens well.

And speaking of getting a baby a passport, getting a photo of the baby to go in the passport that meets all the standards and regulations is just as easy as you might imagine.  Now I’m being sarcastic.

But we did it and Finley is proud to say he’s now the holder his very own US Passport.

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I’m not afraid to tell you that I am as nervous as all get out about taking such a long flight with a 9 week old baby.  I was so hesitant to book the tickets – Shawn left the decision up to me but he really wanted us to all go together and honestly, at a time like this, we need to be together. 
And I’m so excited for Hannah to get to spend time with her family in the US and for everyone to meet Finley.  We didn’t think we’d be coming home until Christmas, so seeing every now is a bright spot in the reason we’re going home.

I’m probably going to leave my laptop here so I don’t know how much I’ll be online or posting while we’re in the US.  It’s one less thing I’ll have to schlep in my luggage. 

So if you’re at the airport in Brussels, Montreal or Cleveland, you’ll spot us easily. We’ll be the family with a five year old either straggling behind or running full speed ahead; we’ll be lugging an infant, a stroller, carry on bags and a breast pump. 

I apologize in advance to those in line behind us.

Monday, May 20, 2013

On Grief

Today was rainy, cold and gloomy in Luxembourg.
These conditions outside, reflections of the state of our hearts right now.

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Shawn and I have had two deaths in our families in the last four days.

On Thursday, my mom’s sister’s husband died.  I was a junior bridesmaid in their wedding back when I was too old to be a flower girl, but not old enough to take on the duties of a bridesmaid.
You may remember reading about their visit to Luxembourg last spring.  I can’t believe that my mom and her sister both became widows within four months of each other.  I’m so sad for my aunt, who lost her best friend.

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And for Hannah, who lost her special great-uncle that she called, “My Jerry.”  She’s always had a special place in her heart for her Jerry.

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Yesterday morning, while Shawn was loading my mom’s suitcases into the car to take her to the airport to return to America, we got a call that his grandpa had died.

I don’t even know where to start on this one.  If you know us in real life or you’ve ever spent any amount of time with our family, well, then you know just how special this man was.

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He was a gentle soul who loved his cars and his motorcycles, but more than anything, he fiercely loved the Lord and his family.  Especially the little ones.  Oh, he adored those grandkids and great grandkids.  Shawn would tell you that much of who he is – is because of his grandpa.

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It’s all very shocking, overwhelming and I’m not sure where the grief for one ends and starts for the next.  It’s all sort of messy and glommed together.

We’re heartbroken, unsettled and just plain…sad.  Two loved ones, both of their obituaries in the newspaper on the same day; their funerals in the same week. 

All of this, on top of losing my dad less than four months ago.

Shawn is definitely coming home this week, but we’re not sure about the rest of us because there are a few reasons it may not be possible (or sensible) to make a trip that far with a two month old.

In the meantime, we’re trying to keep things as normal as possible, supporting our family across the ocean via phone calls and text messages until we can all (hopefully) be together in person. 

The French have a way of expressing the missing or longing for someone: tu me manques. 
It means you are missing from me.
I think that sums up how most of our family is feeling right now – three people are missing from us.

I feel like so much of my blog lately has been the journaling of extreme highs tempered with extreme lows.  I guess that’s the season that we’re in right now.
We’re not promised a life without pain or sorrow, but the Lord does promise us this:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

and

“…crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

And so, during this time, as we wade yet again through sorrow, we know full well that joy will come again.

Until then, prayers for my family?

Friday, May 17, 2013

2 Months

Finley is two months old today. 
I feel like I came home from the hospital, blinked my eyes and here we are already.

I’m really loving having a baby in the house. 
Especially this baby.  He’s so sweet and easy going.

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Our next doctor appointment is in another two weeks, so we’ll find out how much he’s grown.  I would guess that he’s around 13 pounds, maybe more.  As you can see, he doesn’t miss any meals.

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Speaking of meals, we’re breastfeeding exclusively and have settled into somewhat of a routine.  He’s been eating every three hours during the day and every two and a half(ish) hours in the evening.  He kind of cracks me up when he eats because he slurps and grunts and then burps ridiculously loud.  He’s such a boy.

As far as sleeping, he’s still – fingers crossed – going to sleep around 9PM, waking once around 4AM to eat and then going back to sleep until around 7:30.  Sometimes at the 4AM feeding, he will nurse for about 3 minutes and then fall back asleep, so I suspect that he may drop this feeding soon.   He’s still sleeping in his little bassinet in our room and has taken a few naps in the crib in his room.  Shawn was just asking me when we’ll move him into his own room but I’m in no rush.

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Finley’s been giving us lots and lots of smiles, coos and even a few out loud giggles.  He loves to lay on the floor and “talk” to us.  He especially loves to watch Hannah.  She can always get him to smile.

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His smile melts my heart!  It’s hard to catch a picture of him smiling because as soon as I get my camera out, he gets all serious and stares at it.

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He loves to be in his swing, his bouncy seat and worn in the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder.  We alternate these throughout the day, depending on where we are and what we’re doing. 

(And apparently, he doesn’t mind being posed in a laundry basket while he’s sleeping either.
He’ll thank me someday.  Maybe.)

We’re on the go a lot, but Finley and I spend some days just hanging out at home while Hannah’s at school.  Shawn’s been in Poland most of this week so today while we waited for him to get home we went into Luxembourg city to one of our favorite spots – The Chocolate House, which is directly across from the Grand Ducal Palace. 

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And just like that, two months have flown by. 
I can’t wait to see how he continues to grow and show us his personality.
We love this little guy so much! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother’s Day

We had a quiet day, celebrating my mom, Shawn’s mom and my grandma (from afar). 
I’ve been so blessed by my two little people.

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Here’s a look at past Mother’s Days:

2008

Mothers Day 08

2009

Mothers Day 09

2010

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In between these two pictures, this happened.  
Now that I am completely on the other side, I’ve gained perspective and am able to see how it stretched my mom-heart capacity in love and appreciation of my beautiful, healthy little girl.   

2011

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2012
Not long after this photo was taken, we learned that we were expecting again.

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And eight weeks ago today, exactly fourteen months (to the day) of the due date of the baby we lost, we welcomed a little boy to the world and I became a mama again.

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We are blessed beyond measure.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Faire Le Pont and Other Randoms

Thursday was a holiday in Europe, so pretty much the entire country of Luxembourg closed up shop for the day.  It doesn’t seem all that worthwhile to have a Thursday off, go to work for one day and then have a weekend, so on Friday, a lot of people do what the French call faire le pont, which means to make a bridge between the holiday and the weekend.

And that’s exactly what Shawn’s doing today.

But let me back up a minute.  Yesterday, Shawn and Hannah took a little day trip to Paris.
That’s the beauty of where we live – it’s just a short train ride away.  It seemed like an awful lot of work to take a 7 week old baby, so I stayed home with Finley.

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I didn’t even realize that we were both wearing stripes until I posted this picture.  He looks kind of concerned about it.

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Unfortunately, Hannah’s school doesn’t like students to faire le pont, so she had to go today.
Shawn came along with us and there’s not much that’s more exciting to her than having her daddy come to her school.  

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After dropping Hannah off, Shawn and I had quiche, pastries and hot chocolate at a little café while Finley slept.

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Then we headed into the city center to drop off/check on/fill out some paperwork pertaining to Finn’s birth.  Having a baby in a foreign country?  The registrations, forms, paperwork and whatnots and whathaveyous are endless.  ENDLESS, I TELL YOU.

But it was a lovely day, and the paperwork went faster than we anticipated.

And while we continue to faire le pont today, I’ll leave you with some tidbits of what else we’ve been up to this week.

Last Sunday was beautiful so we spent the afternoon along the Mosel.  We’re standing in Luxembourg and just across the river is Germany.  Finley rode along in his Over the Shoulder Baby Holder and loved it.

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Hannah’s been practicing her “high frequency” reading words.  In a princess dress, of course.
“Mom, today we’re going to work on digraphs.  You know, when two letters get smooshed together to make a sound, like shhh…”

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My sister sent Hannah a Topsy Turvy – one of those As Seen On TV things that grows tomato plants upside down.  I’m the only one in this house who will eat tomatoes, but she didn’t really send it for the sake of growing produce in our backyard.  No, she sent it so that we could hear Hannah say
“tah-mah-toe” in her British accent. 

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This was the scene in our neighborhood on Tuesday.  As we were leaving Hannah’s school in the afternoon, a big rain storm came through and by the time I got both kids in the car and the stroller into the trunk, or the boot, as they call it here, my jeans and shoes were soaked completely through.  A few minutes later, the hail started and left our street and front porch covered in pellets of ice.

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Did you know that in Europe they call bathing suits swimming costumes? It cracks me up.  When I came across this I almost bought it because, I mean, Finley was born in Europe, so it’s probably totally appropriate for him to wear baby Speedo, right?  But then I just couldn’t do it.  I went with the American style board shorts instead.  Which is also the kind of swimming costume his dad will be wearing this summer.  No Speedos for these Americans, thank you.

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Shawn: Hey I left my ear buds in the pocket of those jeans I wore on Saturday.  Will you get them out before you throw them in the wash?

Oh, you mean the jeans that I put in the wash TWENTY MINUTES AGO?
And those ear buds?  Those right there?

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I love that Shawn and I send each other little texts and emails throughout the day, but it looks like he’s started to delegate this.  Thanks, Siri.  You sure know how to make a girl feel special.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Baby In A Mug

Sometimes an internet fad is simply too good not to follow.
Have you heard of Baby In A Mug?  Or Baby Mugging?
It’s simple, really.
All you need is a mug.  And a baby.
I just happen to have both.

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I made that mug in a pottery class in college.
(Holla liberal arts education.)

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So I felt obliged to give a shout out to Shawn’s alma mater as well. 
(He neither made a mug, nor took a pottery class in college.)
(For the record.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

9 Miscellaneous Things

1. We’ve had some beautiful days here in Luxembourg, perfect for long walks and scooter riding. 

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2. The little mister at 5 weeks.  He’s seriously such a sweet baby, easy going and totally chill.
He nurses about every 3 hours during the day and every 2 hours in the evening. 
And I know that NO ONE IS GOING TO BELIEVE ME and I’m probably going to ruin it by writing it, but this babe has been sleeping the sleep of angels since we’ve been home from the hospital.  For the first few weeks, I was setting my alarm to wake up during the night to feed him.  I mentioned this to his doctor at his one month check up and she said, “You don’t need to do this.  Let him sleep.  He’s not going to forget to let you know when he’s hungry.”
For the last few weeks, he’s been falling asleep around 9:30 and usually waking just one time, around 4:00AM for a feeding and then going back to sleep until around 7:00.  But the last two nights, he has skipped the 4:00AM feeding and slept right until morning.  I told Shawn that because of the things I went through during the pregnancy –  ridiculous all day sickness during the first trimester and then losing my dad when I was 33 weeks – that the Lord knew exactly what our family needed and blessed us with a calm and good sleeping baby. 
He has really been our joy after sorrow. 

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3.  Speaking of sleeping, this little girl loves to get all tucked in with her spotty dog.

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Some people say that she looks a lot like my sister, Traci.  Or, No Blog Traci, as I call her.
(The girl seriously needs a blog.  She’s got stories people would pay to read about.)
Top: Traci at age 5.
Bottom: Hannah at age 5. 
We have some strong genes in my family, don’t ya think?IMG_2125

3. Last week we took Finley on his first trip into France, to a little town called Rodemack.  It’s an old medieval town and I could look at the buildings all day long.

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I mean, how cute are the aqua shutters and front door?
Love.

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4.  We also took Finley on his first trip to Belgium.
Okay, it was just to Ikea, but whatever.
I wore him in the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder and he seemed to like it.

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5. So we also did some babywearing at Hannah’s ballet class.
(That’s Hannah standing in front of the teacher.)
Finley slept through the entire class.   
Clearly he doesn’t appreciate the arts.

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6.  One of the things that I’ve never quite felt completely comfortable with is driving in Europe, even after living here for 1 1/2 years.  But I realized that I must be adapting and getting over it because outside of Hannah’s school this week I parked my car just like a European – half on the street and half up on the sidewalk.  And I had no qualms about it. 

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7. Navy and green were the order of the day for this big sister and little brother in their unplanned and coordinating, but not matchy-matchy outfits.
(Yes, it’s a sweater vest.  On a baby.  I die at the cuteness.)

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8.  Saturday nights sure are different than they used to be.
I love Finley’s little foot sticking up out of his bathtub.
Have I mentioned how much I love his baby feet?
(In fact, he’s hanging out next to me right now and I just took off his socks to look at them.)

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9. Finley is 6 weeks old and where has the time gone?  This week I packed up my maternity clothes for good and put them in a box to be donated or passed along to whichever of my friends should happen to need them next. (Anyone? Anyone?)  And then I started to feel a tiny bit sad that yes, this is the last baby for us but I reminded myself of something I heard on The Simple Mom podcast.  No matter how many babies you have, there’s always a last one and at some point you will feel that twinge in your heart that this is the last baby – if you have two or twenty babies.  So I’m really focusing on soaking up as much as I can of my kiddos right now.  I don’t want to miss Hannah reading her “high frequency words” in her British accent or any of Finley’s smiles and coos.  There’s really something about a baby smiling at his mama, isn’t there?
These are the things that I’ll hold in my heart for a long time.