Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Ascension Day

One of the many reasons we decided to come to Luxembourg was that it gave K a few more days off to enjoy time with the family. In total he's got close to 8 weeks of combined holiday/vacation days to take each year. We're still not sure how we will use all that time, but we're sure we will find a way!

One of our first opportunities to use a holiday was Ascension day. The holiday fell on a Wednesday so it felt really odd for K to have a break in the middle of the work week, but hey, it's time off...

Our newly found Luxembourg friends invited us to celebrate like the locals do and have a barbecue with them. It really felt like Labor day to us. Anyways, we had a great time trying to speak with everyone, unfortunately our French still isn't all there, but hand gestures obviously go a long way. Plus it helps that our friend speaks six languages! Yeah you should hear him in church with all the different members.

Our friend cooking the traditional meats for a barbecue here, sausages, red and white ones. They also cooked some really good marinated pork chops. The barbecue was amazing. One thing that we really like about living here is that there are parks EVERYWHERE! So of course there was a park right next to the place where we were barbecuing. The kids definitely had a great time.

We still haven't got our shipment from the USA although it's supposed to be coming this week, cross our fingers! As such, the kids are dying for every chance they get to play with new toys. Someone brought some little bikes and both A & L jumped all over them, and dominated them until we finally made them get off...

Once we were all full, we went on a walk around the forest we were in. There was a close by farm that the city runs and you are able to just walk through and look at all the animals and equipment. The kids loved playing hide and go seek, and just looking at everything on the farm.

Cute way that they had all their gates decorated.

Miss A, with our friend just checking things out.

Mr. L was in heaven on the tractor. He said, "I need to go drive some corn dad!"

Miss H, just took it all in very slowly.

Another fun thing that we've discovered here is that any fruit on public property is up for grabs. There are huge apple trees next to our house, apple sauce anyone? But on the farm there were these wild strawberry plants that of course we all had to stop and enjoy!

By the end of the barbecue, park, and farm we were all tired and hot. It was 95 degrees outside! Miss H was letting us know in her own way that she was ready to go :)

It was a great way to spend the our first Ascension day! We are really surprised how easily accustomed to living here we are becoming. Of course, we miss home, but we're starting to feel comfortable and very happy here.

Happy Ascension day everyone!

-K & E

Location:Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Second Day in Paris

Well it took awhile to get this post up, but we wanted to conclude on what we did on our second day in Paris. We woke up and were excited to tackle yet again such an awesome city. We had a great breakfast at the hotel, it was like an American buffet, pancakes, waffles, eggs, MAPLE SYRUP! Lots of good stuff :)

Once we all had full stomachs we headed out and decided that while we wanted to check out the Louvre we weren't sure if we wanted to risk Mr. L coloring on the Mona Lisa. So we just walked around the outside of the museum and did find the pyramid that was made so famous in The Davinci Code movie.

Pretty decent family picture minus the random girl in the back. She totally looks likes she's resting her head on K's shoulder. Well, Paris is the city of love ;)

After seeing the Louvre, we decided we would walk around the Seine River for awhile. We had heard about a certain bridge where couples go to make a romantic pledge of life-long commitment to each other. We found the bridge and as you can see there were a lot of couples committing.

Each lock is a different couple and there were tens of thousands.

It was a really touristy thing to do, but we figured why not do it so we went and found the guy who must make a killing selling locks and bought on from him.

Once you put your lock on the fence you throw away the keys into the river, so that you seal your love forever. Or at least for 2 months because that's about how often they clear off the fence :)

In the end it was something fun to do, K insisted on keeping one of the keys as a souvenir, so I guess we're only partially committed.

Ms. A really liked the river and it was a pretty nice view. Lots of artists painting the scenes from the bridge.

After that the kids really just wanted to ride the double decker bus for awhile, so we drove around Paris looking at all the sites and just had a really nice time being together. We got off the bus on the opposite side of the Eiffel tower and saw it from a different perspective than the day before. Both of us agreed and so did the kids that the Eiffel tower was the coolest part of the trip.

By this time it was time to go back to the hotel check out and head home. What an awesome experience one that we soon won't forget, and one that the kids can't seem to stop talking about.

Location:Paris, France

Friday, August 10, 2012

Paris - Day 1!!!

What a great-and long-first day we had here in Paris! Prepare for picture overload!

We set our alarm for 5:00 this morning, but neither of us actually woke up to the alarm. We're kind of out of practice. It's been a long summer and K was out of the office for over six weeks. Other than Sundays, we haven't used an alarm for a long time. Anyway, when we actually woke up at a little after 6:00, we got moving fast and were on the road by 7:00. On the way we hit up a cute little French bakery for some croissants and bread for breakfast. I've never been much of a fan of croissants, unless it's got chicken salad in it, but I've got to admit, they're growing on me. And I'm learning that, when in Rome (or France....or Luxembourg), do as the Romans (or Frenchmen....or Luxembourgers....)

Anyway, our mini road trip was great. The French highways provided entertainment for us. There were these painted three dimensional shapes for miles along the sides of the road. The kids kept their eyes peeled looking for more shapes- and learned the names of a few three dimensional shapes along the way too. As cool as we thought they were too, we just hope the 22€ toll we had to pay to drive on that highway was not in place to finance the outdoor art project! Seriously, we both about had a heart attack when we saw how steep the toll was.

On the way we listened to the 2012 Primary theme songs sung in French. Our Primary President gave me a cd last week at church because she said Miss A seemed uncomfortable singing in English in Primary when most of the other kids sing in French. Miss A admitted it was true, so we're working on helping her learn. When that got old, we jammed out to the "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" soundtrack. I found an old cd in the car that hadn't been listened to for ages. Some fresh material is a good thing. The trip from our house to the hotel in Paris took about three hours.

After checking into the hotel and dropping our bags, we headed out to check out the city. K has been reading Frommer's Paris 2013 guide in preparation for our quick trip and has been giving me daily tips over the last week or so. One of the things he told me several times is that Paris is not safe like sweet little Lux. There are pickpockets everywhere. Don't carry a purse and keep your things close by. I took his advice seriously and locked my purse in the safe at the hotel before we left. We headed out to the subway station and waited in a huge line to buy tickets. While we were waiting, all of a sudden we heard a big commotion behind us. We turned around and saw a guy grabbing another guy's backpack and another guy punching the backpack grabbing guy. Then a whole bunch of guys took off running trying to catch the thieves. And everyone waiting in the ticket line suddenly turned their backpacks around to the front and held on to their bags a little tighter. And we pulled our kids a little closer.... Crazy thing is, a few minutes later, two of the guys came back with one of the wallets that had been stolen. Turns out two of the guys were undercover police officers. Pickpockets picked the wrong guys to mess with today!

After we made it on the train, we rode to our first stop-the Eiffel Tower, of course. Miss A has been asking for months to see it and was not disappointed! We were all a but disappointed though that the elevator tickets to ride to the top are sold out online for the next few months and the physical line to buy tickets there was so long it would have taken a few months to get through, so we'll just have to try again for our next visit. Did you know in 2013 they're opening an ice skating rink on the first level? Maybe we'll try back then.

Here is Miss A's first reaction to the tower- she's trying to be the tower, of course!

Have you seen Despicable Me? Our kids watched it recently, and at the beginning there's a part where tourists are visiting the pyramids. The guy says, "Take a picture. I'm holding the pyramid in my hands.". Well, Miss A thinks it's funny and wanted to get a picture holding the Eiffel Tower. It's not perfect, but it's our attempt :)

Being goofy and having fun!

After checking out the tower, we jumped on one of those double decker sightseeing buses. This was way cool, except that the top deck didn't have any open seats for the first 30 minutes of our ride, which was a major tragedy for the 2 and 5-year-old in our party.

Thankfully, some seats opened up eventually. We even got a whole row all to ourselves. Totally worth the wait! We saw all kinds of cool things, but I can't really tell you what any of them are because I was too busy trying to keep Miss H from jumping out of the bus to get to wear the headphones. I think K wore them for a few minutes. Maybe he can fill in the holes for me....

Here's the evidence. She seriously was trying to climb out. I don't think she has that depth perception thing down yet.

Isn't this funny? The Parisians want a beach so they put a strip of sand down the side of the river Seine and call it the seaside. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.....

After an hour or so of looking at Paris, Mr. L was tuckered out. Being the champ that he is, he decided to make lemonade out of life's lemons and take a Parisian nap...

But it didn't last for long, and seeing how Paris is sooo romantic, Miss H woke Mr. L up with a sweet little kiss. It makes a mama's heart happy to see sibling love. Of course what you don't see is her trying to poke his eyes after the cute kiss.....

We got off the bus at the Arc de Triomph. You have to walk through a tunnel that goes under the ground to get out to the middle. Then, if you want to go to the top, you have to climb hundreds of stairs all the way up there. have little kids and a stroller in tow. Then, the very nice ticket taker escorts you to the elevator and tells you to wait for the attendant. How great is that? We probably wouldn't have all made it otherwise.

The view from the top is pretty impressive!

Remember how we were warned about the pickpockets? On top of the Arc, I wasn't watching the stroller very well, so I took my wallet out and was just holding it. Miss H is ticked here because I won't let her play with it, so cooperating for a picture is totally our of the question.

Miss H had her own triumph while on top, so I had the rare privilege of changing a diaper on top of the Arc. How many people do you think can say they've done that??? I'm telling myself it's a relatively small number ;)

After the Arc, we needed some chill time so we headed back to the hotel for a little R&R before dinner.

Miss H didn't quite make it all the way back before she crashed.

With our batteries recharged, it was dinner time! We ate at Framboise Creperie.

We all tried new things, but found it was all pretty tasty! Even picky Miss H liked the crepes (funny though because yesterday I made crepes for breakfast filled with Nutella and banana and she wouldn't touch those!).

We took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel after dinner. And stopped for ice cream, of course.

And when we got tired of walking we jumped back on the subway. Mr. L told us tonight that one of his favorite things about today was riding on the train with the rainbow seats. It's true, they really are rainbow-see?

And now it's bedtime. One day down in a crazy big city with three little guys in tow. We had a blast! Tomorrow's a new adventure!

Location:Paris, France