Sunday, December 21, 2014

For The Holidays…

A funny thing about Luxembourg:
When you’re an expat here, you spend a great deal of your vacation time traveling back to your home country.  And then when you’ve moved back to your home country, you spend a great deal of your vacation time traveling back to Luxembourg.

Last weekend, our good friends who recently moved back to the UK were in Luxembourg for a visit. 
We’ve missed them!

Sunday after church, we all went out for lunch.

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I have no idea what these two were talking about, but clearly it was VERY SERIOUS.

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The girls were so, so happy to be together again.

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After lunch, we headed into the Christmas Market.  This is our fourth Christmas season in Luxembourg and there’s just something that’s so magical about it.  See?

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The kids ice skated in the center of town and after, the moms warmed up with some vin chaud blanc, hot white wine.  You even get to keep the Christmas mugs.

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We said goodbye for now and they headed back to the UK.  We’ll see them again soon as we have a ski holiday planned with them for February. 

In other Christmas news, Hannah played Mrs. Claus in her school’s Christmas show. 
She nailed her role!  Next stop: Broadway.

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And yesterday, we drove to Brussels, flew across the ocean to Chicago and then took another short flight to Akron.  All in all, it was 18 hours of travel and layover time and Shawn and I were wiped out.  These long haul flights with a 21 month old are no joke. 

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Hannah got an A+ for her behavior, and Finn got…not an A+.  Don’t let that upside-down Roman Gladiator reading fool you.  He pretty much wiggled and climbed like a monkey and caused a ruckus for six hours, slept for 2 and then was as charming and sweet as can be for the last hour. 
I know what he was thinking:  If I sit still and giggle and wave at other passengers, they’ll forget about how much of a handful I was at the beginning. 
It kind of worked.

So here we are in Ohio, recovering from the jet lag.  My sister is coming in from California tomorrow and I can’t wait for our shenanigans.  Hannah has spent all day today with her cousins and she’s as happy as can be.  Finn played all morning with the train around my mom’s Christmas tree and has been outside with Shawn in the freezing cold kicking around a ball.  He’s in heaven. 
I’m planted on my mom’s couch, watching cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.

Here’s to the start of a wonderful two weeks with family and friends!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Turkey, A Santa and Hunting Season

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we had a quiet little dinner at home, just the four of us.  We’d been invited to have Thanksgiving with some of our American friends and had planned to go, but Shawn had been traveling and we had a stomach bug in our house earlier that week, so we decided to stay home.
I was going to get a ham, but at the last minute I found a turkey, which isn’t always easy to come by in Luxembourg unless it’s closer to Christmas. 

On Saturday morning I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things while Shawn stayed home with the kids to get the turkey started. 

My husband is quite competent in the kitchen, but this was not a pre-brined, easy open Butterball turkey we were dealing with here, with the giblets and innards all packaged up neatly and a little button that pops up when done.
No sir, this was pretty much just a (mostly) de-feathered turkey with floppy legs wrapped up in some plastic.
We’ve never had a turkey like this.
But still, I had full confidence in Shawn.

When I returned, the bird was roasting away, rotisserie style on the grill in the garage.
I asked Shawn what he stuffed the turkey with.

“Six sausages, a pound of bacon and an onion,” he said.
It was a vegetarian’s dream, I tell ya.

The turkey came out to perfection and we had a nice little dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams and some other traditional fixins.

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Last week, the kids and I went to a Christmas party hosted by the American Women’s Club of Luxembourg and we’d really been looking forward to it because The American Women had asked Hannah to dress as an elf and be a special Santa helper.

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She was happy to oblige.

Our Santa picture turned out just as I had thought (and hoped) it would.

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It sounds awful, but I really do love a crying Santa photo.  My parents have at least six Santa photos from the late 70’s/early 80’s in which either my sister or I (or both of us) were crying.  We love looking at those pictures and laughing about them every year.

But what he lacks in love for Santa, Finley certainly makes up for in cuteness.  I think he’s trying to stay off the naughty list.

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So this here is a common sight this time of year in our little village.  Men in fluorescent orange camo (is that what it’s called?) stand at the edge of the woods with their guns.  They send their dogs in to sniff out and chase wild pigs.  As the pigs come charging out of the woods, the men in fluorescent orange camo shoot them dead.   I’ve never actually seen one of the wild pigs, but I’ve heard them make their grunt/squeal/oink sound and it’s terrifying.  Shawn’s seen one and he said they are just as ugly as they sound.  It’s all too gross and violent for me.

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But I can’t cast too much judgment, I guess.
Because if someone didn’t shoot pigs, what would Shawn use to stuff our Thanksgiving turkey?