Thursday, June 27, 2013

Au Revoir, Luxembourg. Howdy, Texas.

I’ve said this before -
One of the things that becomes part of your “normal” as an expat is saying goodbye.

Tonight Hannah and I said goodbye to a friend that we adore. 
Sarah (or “my grown up friend,” as Hannah calls her) and I knew each other in Ohio, before either of us lived in Luxembourg and we actually worked at the same company for a time.

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When we first arrived in Lux, she was the only person I knew.
She taught me how to grocery shop and how to fill my car up with gas, or petrol, as they call it here.
(Those sound like simple things, but believe you me, when you’re new in a foreign country, it’s harder than you think.)

Sarah’s always been my go-to girl for babysitting, answering silly questions and the occasional discussion of things we find ridiculous in this little country whose motto is “we wish to remain what we are.”
There may also possibly be a series of text messages in which we make fun of the MAN CAPRI PANT and add to our ongoing list of everyday objects that Europeans use to scrape the snow and ice from their cars.  (It’s fascinating, really.  And probably worth a blog post of its own.)

Sarah and I both lost our dads and welcomed baby boys to our families while living in Luxembourg.
A few months ahead of me, she filled me in on everything I’d need to know about being pregnant and delivering a baby in Luxembourg.

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Finley and Charlie: two all American boys, born in Luxembourg

Tomorrow Sarah, her husband and their sweet boy are trading their bonjours for howdys when they move home to ‘Merica, this time to the great state of Texas.

Luxembourg won’t be the same without them.
We’re going to miss them so much.

Oh, and also? Sarah makes the best enchilada I’ve ever tasted.
She’s gonna have no problem fitting in in Texas.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just Because…

Hannah’s never really been much into dolls, but she sure does love her animals.

”Hey Mom, let’s make a sling for me to carry my baby in, too.”

Her baby just happens to be a lamb.
And her sling happens to be made out of the hospital blanket the nurse wrapped her in when she was born.

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This little guy brings so much joy to our family.
Nothing tops his gummy smile and giggles.
And his outfit is exactly something Shawn would wear.
(I never imagined I’d be ironing button downs for an infant.)

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And also - I’m sure you’ve heard that Google Reader is saying adios, au revoir, arrivederci in just a few short days.  So if you follow me via Reader, you may want to pop over to Bloglovin’ and set up an account.  You can import all your fave blogs from Reader into Bloglovin’ really easily.  Or, if you fancy a cool app for your ipad or iphone, they have one of those, too.  If readers aren’t your thing and you want to get Twinkle Toes updates via email, just enter your address under “Follow Me Via Email” on the right hand column of the blog.

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4117437/?claim=avf5sfwg5nb">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pool Shark

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Yesterday was unusually hot in Luxembourg.
My car said 32 C, which is almost 90 F.
(And I’ve mentioned before that air conditioning is nearly unheard of here.)
After we dropped Hannah off at school, Finley and I met up with some friends at the outdoor pool in Remich, which is a cute little town on the boarder of Germany.

Finley loved hangin’ poolside.
He was a big hit with the ladies, what with his new swimming costume and all.

And now I’m off to get something accomplished around here.
Because I’ve been faffing about Luxembourg all week and dinner isn’t going to cook itself.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Three Months

Finley is three months old today!

Last week at his doctor appointment, he weighed 14 pounds and 5 ounces.
(For comparison, Hannah weighed 14 pounds at seven months!)
He’s the sweetest baby – so happy and relaxed.
It’s easy to take him places, which is a good thing because we’re on the go a lot.

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The good sleeping has continued!  Finley’s been going to bed around 8:30 and sleeping until about 7:30 each morning.  About three nights a week he wakes up around 4AM to eat and then goes back to sleep.  We are so, so thankful for a good sleeping baby!  He takes a nice nap after we take Hannah to school, but naps during the rest of the day are a little sporatic and can vary.  But he sleeps so well at night and is happy during the day so I don’t think we’ll worry about that for a while.

We’re still exclusively breastfeeding and have settled into a nice routine of eating every 3 hours during the day and every 2.5 to 3 hours in the late afternoon and evening.  He eats 7 or 8 times a day. 

Finley is mesmerized with his big sister.  He watches and listens to her and she can always get him to smile. 

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He’s just full of smiles and giggles. 

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He loves to watch the mobile in his crib and has discovered his hands and will hold them in front of his face, stare at them and then chew on them.   There’s a mirror above his swing and he’s also pretty fond of staring at himself. 

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Finley’s eyes are still blue and haven’t really changed much so maybe they’ll stay this color?  At birth, his hair was a reddish blonde but now it’s turning more red.  People comment all the time that his Scottish name definitely fits his coloring.

Finn traveled for the first time last month and he did great.  We had a two hour car trip to Brussels, an overnight stay at a hotel and then an 8 hour flight to the US.  I think that both of our kids were born to be expats. 

It’s funny - for the longest time, I was certain that we were a one child family and I couldn’t imagine having anyone but Hannah.  Now, I can barely remember what our family was like without a little brother.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father’s Day

Today we celebrate dads.
And I get to be married to one of the best!

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(Shawn and Hannah at Santa Monica Beach, 2009)

He’s gentle, funny, playful, loves his family and is one of the smartest guys I know.

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I know I’ve posted this picture before, but it’s one of my recent faves because it really captures who Shawn is as a dad.  Even though he has a demanding job that requires him to travel and work long days, he still makes time to be there with us for the day to day stuff.

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Today we had brunch at one of our favorite restaurants in Luxembourg, went for a walk on the river, and relaxed at home. 

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Hannah wore her Lil Boo Blue Daddy’s Girl dress for the third year in a row.  We’ve certainly gotten some mileage out of that one, haven’t we?

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Happy Father’s Day, Shawn.
We love you!

And I have to mention, as this is the first Father’s Day since my own dad died, how much I love and miss him.  How I wish he was here to see these sweet grandchildren. 

See past Father’s Day posts here and here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Literacy and Babywearing

This post is going to be a quick one.  Shawn was traveling for work last week and was in Berlin this week and I have found myself completely sucked in and absorbed by Scandal on Netflix and Hulu.
(The first season is on Netflix and the second on Hulu.)

I’m about nine episodes in to season 2 and it is so good.  So good.
It’s my new Downton Abbey, I think.  Except it makes me want to turn on C-SPAN and get really informed.  And one of the characters totally reminds me of my college roommate, who also happens to be a lawyer, although she could never be involved in a scandal because she’s America’s sweetheart.
(You know who you are.)

Anyway, on to the updates:

I am so, so proud of this girl.  Yesterday she came home from school with an award for her accomplishments in Literacy. (That’s British for Readin’ n’ Writin’.) 
So we celebrated with an ice lolly.  (That’s British for popsicle.)

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I’ve mentioned and posted pictures of Finley in the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder, but last week I saw another mom at Hannah’s school wearing her baby in a wrap style of baby carrier and I started to get interested so I did some very empirical and methodical research, mind you, at the school yard and on Pinterest and then bought one.  It’s called the Tricot-Slen, which I think is the European equivalent of the Moby Wrap.  It’s about 35 feet (I’m being dramatic) of stretchy fabric and it’s taken me some practice and watching instructional videos on YouTube to get it right.  And I still don’t have it right.

This is my first attempt.  I’m fully aware that it looks like I simply took the sheets off the bed and wrapped them around the two of us, but I had to include this picture because THOSE LITTLE FEET.  Look at his little feet hanging out the bottom.  I die.

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I sent the picture to Shawn and he asked if I had also purchased a flowing skirt and Birkenstocks.
Anyway, I used the Tricot-Slen later that day when I picked Hannah up from school and one of the French moms pointed out that I was doing some things wrong and could I let her help me. 

She took Finn out and started turning, wrapping and draping me much like she was measuring and fitting me for a very fancy formal dress.  But when she got us all situated it was the most comfortable thing ever.

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I haven’t been able to recreate her technique but we’re working on it.
That’s code for I’m Gonna Need That French Babywearing Mama To Come To My House And Wrap Me and Finley Up Everyday.

Ok.  That’s it for tonight.  I’m off to watch the next episode of Scandal before Shawn gets home.
But before I go, here’s one for the grandparents.
Both kids before bed tonight - Hannah was pleased to look at the camera and smile.

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But Finley?  He’s found his hands and I guess they’re more interesting than his mama.
Ok.  That’s it for tonight and I mean it this time.
Goodnight, friends.

Monday, June 3, 2013

There And Back

We’re back in Luxembourg safe and sound and a little weary from all the travel.
We were home in the US only a week, the circumstances not ideal.

We left Wednesday evening and drove to Brussels, stayed in a hotel and caught our flight early the next morning.  It was Finley’s first time at a hotel and clearly he didn’t mind sleeping in a strange place.  Sweet boy didn’t wake up once.  And also?  I think it’s time to move to the next size of pajamas.

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The flight was smooth and uneventful to begin with.  Hannah is an old pro, so she did her thing – watched a few movies, took a nap, and played with the toys in her carry on bag.  She’s an easy kid to travel with.

This was Finley’s first flight.  And he did AMAZING.  He was either sleeping or doing this the entire time:

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Yes, he traveled all day in the getting-too-small-pajamas that he slept in the night before.  It’s so much easier than messing around with a onsie, pants and socks, especially during inflight diaper changes.

Oh, and he totally flirted with a group of college girls who were on their way home from a missions trip in Africa.  I’m gonna have to keep my eye on him.

Remember how I said that things went smoothly to begin with?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the travel we’ve done is that when one little seemingly inconsequential thing goes wrong or is delayed, things just tend to spiral out of control.

Maybe it’s just us.  It’s probably just us.

The pilot was making the descent into Newark (I realize that in my last post I said we were flying into Montreal, but we changed at the last minute.) and it felt like it was taking a really long time.  Then the plane started to ascend back up into the sky.  Turns out there was a storm over Newark and we couldn’t land, but also didn’t have enough fuel to continue circling until the storm passed.

We were being rerouted to an army base in New York and were told we would stay on the ground for about an hour.  After the storm passed we took off again to fly about 3 minutes back to Newark.

Me: We’re gonna miss our connection to Cleveland.
Shawn: Nah, we’ll be fine.  We’ll have plenty of time.

Well.  We didn’t have plenty of time.

By the time we got to Newark, went through Customs and Security, we missed our connection to Cleveland.  Shawn waited in line to get us booked onto another flight while Hannah, Finley and I found a spot to hang out.  Hannah made a friend – a little girl wearing a sari and henna tattoos.

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I asked her if she spoke English and she clearly didn’t.
So Hannah asked, “Oh, do you speak Hindu?”
I seriously have no idea how she knows this stuff.

Shawn came back and said that the only flight to Cleveland was in a few hours and we could only get on stand-by.  After waiting around, we didn’t get on the flight because it filled up before our number was called.  It was now 8:00PM in Newark and his grandpa’s funeral was at noon the next day.

So we did the only thing we could think of: we rented a car and drove our little family of four through Jersey and across the great state of Pennsylvania. 

Because if we are nothing, we are determined.
And I did not fly all the way across the ocean to not make it to the funeral.

We drove all night, switching off every couple of hours.  Luckily, both kids slept the entire time in the backseat.
And by backseat, I mean the second row seats of the MINI VAN that we drove.  It was all they had. 
(Secretly, I think I want a mini van now.)

We pulled our rented mini van into my mom’s driveway at 5:00AM on Friday morning, without luggage and made it to the funeral before noon.  Thanks to a rude airline employee (don’t get me started) and an unfulfilled promise to deliver our luggage to our final destination, the airline gave us money to buy the things we needed until the luggage arrived.  And you better believe I high tailed it to Target as soon as their red and white doors opened.
(Also a special thanks to my awesome-and-thinks-of-everything-friend for bringing over SEVEN dresses for me to try on and pick one to wear to the funeral.)

The funeral was touching and beautiful, and just like at my dad’s, Shawn spoke and made everyone laugh and cry.  Then he and his uncle made everyone cry again when they each rode in the funeral procession to the cemetery on his grandpa’s Harley, Shawn wearing his grandpa’s riding jacket. 

Since we were home in Ohio, my sister flew in from California for the weekend. 
We took flowers and balloons to my dad’s grave.

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On Memorial Day we went to a parade in our hometown.
You know you’re in small town Mid-West America when the main attraction of the parade is the mayor being chauffeured in a horse-drawn carriage. 

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My Grandma (and the rest of our family) got to meet Finley for the first time.

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It made all of the driving across Pennsylvania and lost luggage and rude airline employees worth it.

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We got to spend time with family and a few friends, which was much needed.
We returned to Luxembourg yesterday and all went well except for one missing suitcase.
I have no idea how four suitcases can be checked in at the exact same time, going to the exact same destination and one of them ends up in a different city all together.
I barely slept on the plane, so I’m BONE TIRED now, but keeping myself busy with unpacking and such to stay awake.  It’s now 8:50AM in Luxembourg, which is 2:50AM in Ohio and my body feels like it’s 2:50 in the morning but I’m making myself stay awake because if I go to sleep now THE JET LAG WILL WIN. 
Oh, it will.
It always does.

I’m letting Hannah sleep and taking her to school late today because she doesn’t have as much problem with the jet lag as I do.  And Finley?  He stayed up a bit late last night but slept all night and woke up all smiles just a little while ago.  Shawn’s at work, so I guess we’re pretty much back to business as usual around here.
Leaving our family and returning to Luxembourg was hard, but our house here feels like home.
And it feels good to be home.