Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On The Good Way

We stopped at la poste and had lunch on our way home from Hannah’s doctor appointment yesterday. 

It’s so good to see her bounce with energy, hear her talk non stop and eat normally now that she’s feeling better.

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Across the street from our little town’s post office, there’s a blue moose with the year 2007 carved out.  I have no idea what the significance of the moose or the 2007 is, but since it’s the year Hannah was born we thought a picture was a good idea. 

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We had a bit of a rough patch (read: stomach pain and vomiting due to her recent illness) at the tail end of last week, resulting in an order from the doctor for an ultrasound of her abdomen.  I’m not going to write about the experience because the only detail I care to remember was how brave and calm Hannah was, yet I don’t mind telling you that it was the most anxiety ridden, terrifying forty minutes I’ve lived as a mom.  I’ve always felt heartache for moms of kids with serious illnesses…and now I know just a tiny bit of their worry and burden.  I wish every mom could be na├»ve to that feeling.

Oh, and Shawn was in Romania for the whole of last week.
Single moms, I tip my hat to you. 

The results of the ultrasound turned out to be exactly as expected, given Hannah’s illness and she’s going to be fine.  At yesterday’s appointment, the doctor was pleased with how well she’s doing.
”We are on zee goot way,” she told me.
(And there’s no reason to think that we won’t be able to go on our vacation in a few weeks.  Earlier on, there was some concern.)

After last Friday’s ultrasound, we received a notice that packages from the US were waiting for us at the post office – one from my mom and one from Shawn’s mom.  The timing couldn’t have been better. 

These two were pretty excited.

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In timing that only God could orchestrate, a dear friend who’s become like family to us happened to drive by as we were leaving the post office.  She pulled over, got out of her car, hugged me and listened to the entire story.

(We may have also gotten honked at for partially blocking the road.  And a comment may have been made comparing us to a bunch of Italians.)

(No offense to Italians.  But apparently they’re known for pulling over and blocking the road?)

We spent the majority of the weekend at home, Shawn resting from his travels, and Hannah continuing to recover.  We spent a lot of time playing in Hannah’s room.

Sorry, Finn Man.  When you’re the little brother, sometimes you have to wear a tiara to the tea party.

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Or if your big sister’s feeling generous, you get to be the cowboy.

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Speaking of Finn, last week while Shawn was gone, I moved him into his own room. 
I think he loves it.  He was running out of room in his little bassinet next to our bed and now when we put him to bed in his crib, he stretches his whole body out.  He hasn’t woken up once during the night since he’s been in there.  And he also started rolling onto his side.  I don’t think it’ll be long before he rolls all the way over.

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Thank you to all our friends and family who’ve been praying for Hannah. 
We still have one more doctor appointment this week and two next week and I’m hoping that we’ll be released to return to activities as tolerated and normal.

Because now that WE ARE ON ZEE GOOT WAY, there’s no telling what we’ll get into.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On The Mend…

As I mentioned here, we had a little bit of a scare from Hannah last week.  But she’s on the mend and we’re so happy with her doctor who has been thorough, helpful and will continue to see her every other day for the next few weeks.

Last Tuesday, when she came home with the rash, I immediately called the doctor because I knew it was something that needed to be looked at.  And I was glad that I did.  The doctor wanted a urine sample from Hannah right then and a blood test the following morning.  She handed me the little cup and sent us into the WC.  (That means Water Closet.  That’s what they call restrooms here.)

Hannah tried her best, bless her heart, but just couldn’t produce a sample.  So the doctor sent us home with the cup and told me it would be easier to get a sample at home and to take it to the hospital with us in the morning when we go for the blood test. 

The next morning, we arrived at the hospital at 8AM.  This is where I’ll tell you how brave and grown up Hannah was.  She got right up on the table, laid down and let the nurse draw her blood.  She was a little confused at the term “draw your blood,” though.  We got it straightened out and assured her that no one would be drawing anything with her blood.  (Also, if anyone’s keeping count, this is the second time since living in Luxembourg that I’ve driven around town with a urine sample in my purse.)

The doctor called me a few hours later and said the blood work was normal and wanted to see us again Thursday morning.  So Thursday morning we arrived back at the dr. office, water bottle in hand, because there would be another urine sample required.  And yet again, no luck. 

So we sat in the waiting room, Hannah guzzling water and me coaxing her along.
We went back to the WC, where there’s only one toilet and tried again.  I left the stall door open because Finley was in his stroller and it wouldn’t fit in there with us.

A pregnant lady came into the bathroom and struck up a conversation with me.
”Cest un garcon?” Is it a boy?
”Oui.”
“Combien de mois?” How many months?
“Quatorze.” Fourteen.
Wait that’s not right…
”Quatre.” Four.
Then she asked me something that I didn’t recognize so I asked her to say it again, slower.
When I told her that I don’t know that word, she grabbed her right breast, shook it in my general direction and pointed at Finn. 

”Oui,” I answered.  Apparently that’s the universally recognized sign for are you breast feeding?

And then I realized that she either didn’t speak English or she didn’t detect my American accent.  (That last part was a joke because even Americans can detect my American accent.)  It dawned on me that she was about six months pregnant and there was only one stall in the Water Closet.  I told Hannah that this lady needed the toilet more than we did.

So we waited in front of the sink where I turned the cold water on and ran Hannah’s hands under it, hoping that would help things along. 

When the French speaking pregnant woman was finished, we went back into the stall.
”I think I’m ready to give it a go,” Hannah told me. 
A minute later the French speaking pregnant woman returned to the Water Closet, only this time she had a little boy with her.

She told me he was her second son and she was due with her third in three months.  My head was whipping back and forth between Hannah, who I was desperately trying to get to go in the little cup and the French speaking pregnant woman, and my mind was getting cluttered because PLEASE JUST GO IN THE LITTLE CUP and I can’t translate all this French.
Then she and the little boy poked their heads into Finley’s stroller and she stated telling him to look at the baby, and isn’t the baby little and we’re having a baby like this soon and you have to be gentle with the baby.
This is the part where I nearly needed a nerve pill because it’s about 140 degrees and THERE’S NO AIR CONDITIONING IN LUXEMBOURG and the French speaking pregnant woman and her toddler have started touching Finley’s face.  Did I mention that I’m also squatting next to a toilet, holding a tiny cup under a five year old trying to get a sample? 

And why do people think it’s okay to touch babies’ faces?
Please, don’t touch other people’s baby’s faces.

I told Hannah that we’d go back to the waiting room and drink some more water.  Just about this time Finley started to get hungry because OF COURSE.  Now listen.  I’m not good at public breast feeding.  I’m just not.  Not even in Europe where it’s no big deal.
So I took him out of the stroller and got us situated so that I could discretely nurse him.  I sort of hid behind the stroller and put a blanket over my shoulder but I have no idea why because remember, 140 DEGREES and we were the only ones in the waiting room.  Hannah was next to me sipping away on her water and we were in business. 

Except.

Here comes French speaking pregnant lady. 
She sits down right next to me and starts tickling Finn’s feet. Tickling his feet.  While I’m feeding him!

And then. 

French speaking pregnant lady LIFTS THE BLANKET OFF OF HIS HEAD AND STARTS RUBBING HIS CHEEK.
WHILE I’M NURSING HIM. 
”Coucou! Coucou!” she keeps saying. (This is kind of like an informal greeting that you might say to a child.)

If I nearly needed a nerve pill a few minutes ago, I most certainly needed one now.

The dr. finally called her in and Finley finished eating, but no luck on the sample so we left.  The dr. said that since it was the last day of school, Hannah could go for a few hours but no running, no horseplay and she had to sit still and quiet.

Wouldn’t you know that on the way to school she had to go to the bathroom so bad we barely made it?  But I got the sample, put it in a plastic bag, washed my hands and put it in my purse.  (This makes the third time since I’ve lived in Luxembourg that I’ve carried a urine sample in my purse.)

We had an appointment Friday evening and another on Monday.  Things are still looking the same, slight improvements and no worry of kidney damage.  I will tell you, however, that at one point during the weekend Hannah had a bloody nose while simultaneously vomiting.  This was just after Finley spit up down the front of my shirt.  Motherhood is so glamorous.  

Anyway, Monday after our dr. appointment we rushed home because Hannah and I were on Royal Baby Watch.

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We tuned in to a live stream outside of the hospital, waiting for news that the baby had been born.
Pretty much all day it was security guards standing around looking bored, but every once in a while, the camera would pan out and then zoom in dramatically and we’d get excited thinking that someone was about to burst through the doors with the royal announcement.

When they finally made the announcement later that evening, Hannah was long asleep so I watched the coverage by myself.   I got a little nostalgic because just four months ago, Shawn and I brought our baby boy home from the hospital, although I assure you I didn’t look as stunning as Kate and the only adoring fan I had waiting for me was a five year old little girl.  I can’t wait to hear what they name him.

Anyway, it’s now Wednesday afternoon and we’re just about to leave for another doctor appointment.
Oh, and guess what I have in my purse?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

School’s Out for the Summer!

Back home, kids are almost to the end of their summer break.  But here in The Lux, we’re just getting started.  I’ve mentioned that our school calendar is a bit different – our summer holiday is the end of July through the end of September.  
Thursday was Hannah’s last day in Reception, which is similar to Pre-K in the US.  In the fall she’ll start Year 1, which is similar(ish) to Kindergarten.
Here she is on her last day:

Last day of school

It’s possible that this right here is the 1983 version of me.  I mean, I’m certain I had those same leggings and neon pink unicorn shirt tied on the side.  (Except I would’ve been singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun instead of Call Me Maybe.)

And for comparison, here she is back in September on her first day of school.first dayof school 
The shoes she wore no longer fit and we’ve repurposed that frock into a long shirt.

We’ve had some tough times as a family this year – losing our dog, the deaths of three family members and having a new baby.  Of course the new baby was a joyous time, but a change and shift in dynamics nonetheless.  Hannah’s handled all of these things and adapted better than some adults would.
We’re so proud of her.

Oh, and also this:

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It makes my heart smile. 
(And apparently all has been forgiven and forgotten regarding the “faffing about the loo” incident earlier this year.)

Hannah gave us some cause for concern earlier this week when she came home with an odd rash on her legs.  I knew it was more than an allergic reaction or heat rash so I called the doctor.  She was 90% sure she knew what it was but needed to rule some other things out so she sent us to Children’s Hospital for some testing.  For four days in a row, we were either in the doctor’s office or at the hospital being tested or evaluating new or changing symptoms.

The doctor was right about her initial suspicion and Hannah’s been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that affects primarily children in the 2-11 age range.  It’s okay – it’s not curable, per se, but it’s manageable and the symptoms can be treated.

When she has a flare up, which is what’s happened this week, she’ll get a rash on the lower half of her body, and a day or two later, her joints will swell (last night her ankles and knees looked bruised and were the size of small apples) and become tender and she can have stomach pains.  The main concern is kidney damage and her pediatrician is keeping a close eye on that.  So close, in fact, that she’s given me test strips and taught me what all those colors mean and how to test her urine for the things that would alert us that there’s something wrong.   See?  I feel like a nurse.  Or a Chemist.  Somebody get me a lab coat.

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She also wants to see Hannah every two days until all her symptoms have gone and will continue to monitor her for the next six months.  I just tested her this morning and it appears that she’s still in the middle of a flare up, but the values are lower than yesterday, so she may be over the hump.  Although it’s hard to say because with this particular disorder, symptoms come and go randomly during a flare up.  It’s possible that this is the only time she’ll ever have an issue with this disorder, but it’s also possible that it can return.  But at least we know what we’re dealing with and can begin treating the symptoms as soon as they appear and keep a close eye on her kidneys.  

The doctor put an urgent stamp on the tests at the hospital so we had results back within a few hours, but the wait was still unnerving.  When your kid’s sick and you don’t know what’s wrong, well, nothing else in the world matters.
We’re so, so thankful and relieved that it ended up being something we can easily manage. 

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And before I go, so that I don’t forget, a few quotes from this week.

We recently got new neighbors and they obviously don’t know that mowing your grass on a Sunday is a big NO-NO in Luxembourg because they were MOWING THEIR GRASS ON A SUNDAY.  (This is an even bigger offense than doing your trash wrong.)

“Dad, he’s mowing the grass on Sunday.  Do you think someone’s going to ring the police?”
It tickles me to no end when she says such British things.

“Mom, you don’t look much like a mom.  You look like a teenager.”
Bless her.

“Hey Mommy, someday when I’m a bride I’m going to shine.”
Yes you are, sweet girl.  Yes you are.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Four Months

Finley is four months old!

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He’s such a happy, calm and easy going guy. 
One of my friends said he looks like he’s going to St. Tropez in this outfit. 

The stats from today’s doctor appointment:
weight: 16 pounds 1 ounce
length: 24 3/4 inches

When he got his vaccinations this morning, he didn’t cry.  He simply looked at the doctor like Whatthehecklady?  He’s a brute.

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He’s still sleeping great, although about two weeks ago he woke up twice during the night to eat…for three nights in a row.  I was worried that our full nights of sleep had come to a screeching halt, but clearly the favor of the Lord has shone down upon us and after those three nights he went back to his normal nighttime sleeping hours of 8PM until 7-7:30AM.  Halleluiah and amen.
(He still wakes for an occasional 4AM feeding, maybe twice a week.)

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Some of Finley’s favorite activities include staring at and chewing on his hands, reaching for toys and chewing on them, cooing and talking to us, sitting in the Bumbo, being worn in the baby wrap, being outside and going for walks.  Oh, and eating.  He loves to eat.

Feedings are going well and we’re still exclusively breastfeeding.  He cracks me up because as soon as he gets onto the Boppy he starts smacking his lips and opens his mouth like he’s about to take a bite of a double cheeseburger.  He’s a quick eater and has started getting distracted during feedings so sometimes I have to cover him up.
I know there are pros and cons and opinions on both sides about when to start cereal/baby purees, but we’ve decided to hold off for now.  (I waited until 6 months to start Hannah on solids.) We’re on a nice little schedule and he’s growing well.   

So, happy four months to our sweet boy, Finley…Finn…The Finster…The Finn Man. 
Did you know that some people call him Chubs?

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I have no idea why.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eight Things

Hey-ho.
Just a bit of what’s been happening around here…

1.  Almost 13 years ago, a little girl named Christine was the flower girl in my wedding.  Two weeks ago, she got married.  And my sister Traci was the maid of honor. 
I think we’ve come full circle.  

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We weren’t able to be there for the special day, but we did get to wish them a big congrats in real time and were able to see pictures throughout the ceremony and reception thanks to all the friends and family that posted on Instagram under their hash tag.

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To make the day even sweeter, they drove away in my dad’s vintage Corvette.
He’d be so proud if he was here to see this. 
(I can practically hear him saying, “Don’t scratch my ‘Vette.”)

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They also put this special bit in their programs.
(Since she was a toddler, Christine always called my dad ‘Trace Daddy.’)

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2. Child labor.  Kidding.  Hannah loves for me to give her special jobs around the house and she loves it even more that she can earn a few Euros per week doing them.   

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Laundry day with two very helpful assistants.

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3.  When important pieces of mail arrive, Shawn almost always asks me to translate them from French to English for him, whether by Google Translate or from what I know myself.  (I actually understand quite a bit when reading or listening.  But speaking French?  I’m not so great at that.)
Anyway, it always makes me laugh when we get something in the mail that has already been translated to English.  This is a flyer for a local football (that’s soccer to Americans) camp in our town.  My favorite parts?
Defeat is digested.
Bring with yourself hunger and good mood.
Some things just don’t translate well, do they?

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4.  After school one day last week, I did something I’ve never done before:  I took both kids by myself on the bus into the city.  It was a bit tricky to lift the stroller onto (and then off) of the bus, pay the fare and get us all through the little turnstyle thing without bumping into other people, but once we were situated we had a good time.
Hannah always loves riding the bus, but Finn wasn’t all that impressed by his first ride. 

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5.  YAY! Look what arrived on Saturday morning from Amazon.  Our beach parasol, or le grand parapluie rouge, as we’ve been calling it. 
The countdown to our vacation has begun.  Never mind the bad luck we may have brought on ourselves for opening le grand parapluie rouge indoors.

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6.  I told myself after writing about our day at the pool that I wasn’t going to talk about Speedos on the blog any more, but when it’s summertime in Europe and you’re from the land of Lengthy Full Coverage Board Shorts, it’s hard not to notice and discuss them a great deal with other people who are also from lands of Lengthy Full Coverage Board Shorts.  Just this morning, a blog reader (and new mom!) who lives here in Luxembourg sent me an email asking if I’d seen the article in the local newspaper about Speedos.  The title of the article?  Are you ready for this?  Der Wonderbra Des Mannes.  I just can’t.

7.  We’re in the final week of school here and so ready to begin our summer break.   At the end of school last year, I saw a great idea on Pinterest – each year, have your child’s teacher write a note and sign the inside of Oh, The Places You’ll Go and give it to them at their high school graduation.  I wasn’t able to find the book in Luxembourg, so I ordered it from Amazon.  I’ve got two signatures – last year’s teacher and this year’s.  What a gift this will be for Hannah when she graduates.  I plan to do the same for Finley when he starts school.

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8.  And just because I love how happy he wakes up every morning…

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Scenes From Our Weekend

I hope you had a fantastic 4th of July.
We sure did.  In fact, we kept right on celebrating the whole weekend through.
Friday night we went to a barbeque at the US Marine House here in Luxembourg.  The American Women’s Club (of which I am a member) hosted a party in honor of America’s birthday.
We ate REAL American food and Hannah played with the other kids.  I didn’t take one picture at the event, sadly.  Mostly because I was busy with ALL THE AMERICAN FOOD.  But since we were wearing sort of coordinating outfits and I’ve wanted a photo on our front porch for ages, we took one before we left.

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On Saturday we had a little party/barbeque at our house with some of our friends and their kids.  I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I really try to do is make a big deal about holidays and traditions that we miss because we live abroad.  The 4th of July and Thanksgiving obviously aren’t celebrated here and these holidays are special to me and I don’t ever want my kids to not fully appreciate or understand them simply because of where we live.  So we invited some friends, threw some steaks and chicken on the grill and laughed that Shawn, Hannah, Finley and I were the only Americans at our 4th of July party. 

I mean, just because they’re British doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate the 4th of July with us.
Even if it was July 6th.

On Sunday, the weather was spectacular so we got into our swimming costumes and headed to one of the local outdoor pools.

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We brought our own lifeguard with us.

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Even though he went to sleep on the job.

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As we parked the car, Shawn had a moment of slight panic as he often does before we go to a pool that we’ve not yet been.  It stems from his (totally legitimate) fear of THE SPEEDO.  Many (or most?) public pools in Europe don’t allow board style shorts for men.  At the entrance there are signs showing the type of swimming costumes that are acceptable, mainly THE SPEEDO and its cousin, the spandex biking short.  Fortunately when we walked in we saw a few men wearing his style of swim trunks and we knew we were in business.

During the winter term this year, Hannah’s class took swimming lessons during the school day.  Also, at the end of my pregnancy and the first few weeks after Finley’s birth, Shawn and Hannah spent a lot of time at the indoor pools.  If there’s nothing else to do in Luxembourg, there are plenty of pools, and most of them are really lovely.  Anyway, I hadn’t realized how much her swimming has improved in the last few months until I saw her in the pool yesterday.  She’s quite capable in the water.

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I had to do massive amounts of cropping of my pictures, and I can’t even bring myself to post most of them because SPEEDO.  They just kept creeping into the background of my pictures. 

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We met up with some friends who couldn’t make it to the party Saturday and the girls swam, splashed and ate a ton of watermelon.  This is one of Hannah’s best friends in Luxembourg.  Shawn and I have become good friends with her parents as well.

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We made it home around dinner time, took showers and I think Hannah was asleep before I even turned her light out. 

We’re down to the last nine days of school before the summer break and Shawn and I spent some time last night planning our vacation.  We’ve got some reservations made and are finishing up the details. 

We’re about to give the Griswalds a run for their money.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July

From our All American Girl and our US Citizen Born Abroad…

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Happy Birthday, America!

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This morning we celebrated ‘Merica by dressing in our stars and stripes.
Since schools here in Luxembourg are on a different schedule than in the US, summer break doesn’t begin for two more weeks.
So Hannah wore her American flag shirt to school today.
She goes to the British school.  LOL at the irony.
When we arrived, she asked me how old ‘Merica is.  Embarrassingly, I had to get my phone out to do the calculation.
(She’s 237 years old, if you wanted to know.)

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Then she told her teacher, “Today is America’s birthday, and tomorrow is America’s barbeque.”
She’s kind of right because tomorrow we’ll go to a party hosted by the American Women’s Club of Luxembourg at The US Marine House.

As for Finn, well, it’s his first 4th of July and just this week he appropriately received his real US Passport and Certificate of Birth Abroad.  He’s official.
We’re pretty excited about it.

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I think he is, too.