Sunday, January 31, 2010

The last few days

We have had snow, more snow and even more snow.  There's not a whole lot on the ground, but it's been falling gently for the last few days.  Today, though, we did get a little break and actually saw the sun for a bit.

I haven't let the snow stop me from walking in the forest.  It's too beautiful to miss, even if it is freezing cold:

You can tell by all the footprints that I wasn't the only one enjoying the beauty of the forest.  I kept being passed by joggers and dogwalkers.

The kids couldn't wait to build a snowman:

Kate rolling out the base of the snowman.

The finished product.  Note it took up most of the snow from the backyard!

Not to worry:  The next day, the yard was covered in snow again.

And our snowman had a nice dusting of snow, obscuring his features.  Tomorrow the kids plan to make him a couple of friends.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow pictures

It's snowing today, it snowed yesterday and the day before that.  It's supposed to snow tomorrow and the day after.  And the day after.  And the day after.  Sigh.  It's pretty but makes driving a little (more) harrowing.

Here are a few pictures of the snow:

From our front window:

View of back yard:
On our back deck:
On the drive to school:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From Jennifer

Today I lost my battle with Luxembourg customs over my printer.  For some reason, the moving company wouldn't ship any electronics, even those that were dual voltage.  I don't know why, as other people who have moved here recently were able to bring their electronics.  I thought this was ridiculous, since I had a perfectly good printer / scanner / copier with a built-in voltage transformer.  I put it in with our pile of stuff, thinking they'd pack it, which they did.  But then two days later we got a call that they couldn't send it.  So, I thought I'd mail it to myself, which I did, paying almost $60 in postage! (Kind of ridiculous, I know, since the printer's a few years old and isn't worth that much but it's the principle of the matter!) I packed it carefully, boxed it up and sent it.  I vowed that if it didn't get through I'd drive to Germany or Belgium or France to buy a new one but I'd NEVER buy one in Luxembourg.  Dumb customs rules.

Well, I got a notice in our mailbox yesterday that my printer was waiting at the post office for me.  I drove over there this morning and picked it up.  On the way out, I noticed that the box was really beat up and it rattled ominously.  Not a good sign.  I opened it up, undid all the layers of padding and, sure enough, there was my beloved printer, smashed to pieces.  I can't imagine how that happened since it was still all bubble-wrapped and padded the way the movers packed it.  Those post office people must have been playing hockey with it or something.

So, then my dilemma:  Kate's teacher needs pictures of her for class tomorrow, which means I need a printer now.  Do I go to the nearest store and buy a printer here in Luxembourg or do I hold firm to my principles and drive to another country (all of 15 minutes) to buy another printer?  I'm still too intimidated by driving a stick-shift and navigating in the snow that I drove three minutes to the nearest store and bought a printer.  I like it.  It's better than the old one (has Wi-Fi!) but I'm extremely annoyed that I caved and bought one here.  Sure, I could probably pursue reimbursement through the USPS but really, is it worth it?  Probably not...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From Will:

Today in school I got to do a super fun project.  I'm building a car out of wood!  I got to use a saw to cut things and I was really fast at it.  It wasn't an electric saw, though.  That wouldn't be safe for kids.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

House pictures -- finally!

Here are some pictures of the house.  While packing, I foolishly grabbed the wrong USB cable and so haven't been able to download all the photos from my real camera (just my iPhone).  Finally, yesterday I went to a camera store and had all the pictures put on a disc.  So, here they are, starting from the bottom of the house to the top.  The layout of the house from bottom to top is:

  • basement (no pics of that yet); 
  • main level (kitchen, LR, DR); 
  • bedroom floor with two large rooms and 1 small; 
  • bedroom floor (same as one below); 
  • attic:

Living room (with rental furniture):

Dining room:


Foyer with one of the three scary staircases!

View looking up at all the stairs.  Not the best picture but if you look closely you can see the "tunnel" between all the stairs.

The kids sleeping in what will probably be a guest room or office.  This is on the second floor, next to our room (which I don't have a picture of yet):

One of the smaller rooms.  This one is on the third floor and will either be a guest room or an office.  The one exactly like it on the second floor will be our "dressing room."  Since none of the rooms have closets, we're going to need a whole roomful of wardrobes!

Kate's room, 3rd floor, already conveniently painted the same shade of purple as her room in CA.  I wanted the kids on the same floor as us, the "dressing room" is really too small to use as a bedroom, plus it only has one plug.  So they'll have to be on the 3rd floor.  I'll feel better about the kids being on a different level once we put a carpet runner on the stairs!

Will's future room, also 3rd floor:

Kids' bathroom on the 3rd floor.  You can imagine how thrilled they are to have their very own jet tub!
Top floor, attic, which will probably be a playroom / extra guest room:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

From Jennifer

A very low-key day today. One good thing about nothing being open on Sunday is that it forces you to take a day to relax and spend time with family. And do laundry, lots of laundry! But we did manage to squeeze in a long, leisurely walk in the forest that's right behind our house. There are plenty of wide, easy walking trails that even a three-year-old can manage, and there were also many interesting sticks to pick up, leaves to gather, and animal tracks to examine. The kids loved it!

It started snowing tonight and, as would be expected, the kids are thrilled. They were practically dancing with delight watching the snowflakes fall and insisted on going outside to catch snowflakes on their tongues. I hope there's enough on the ground for them to play with tomorrow or they will be very disappointed.

From Will:

I want to stay in Luxembourg for 10 years now, not three, because of the snow but also other things too!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

From Jennifer

Highlights from the past few days:

• Today was our big expedition to Ikea. We bought out half the store and now have lights, bathroom rugs and millions of other essential items. The nearest Ikea is in Belgium, a whopping 15 minutes away. The kids thought it was crazy that we went to a whole other country in 15 minutes! Well, it should have been 15 minutes but, naturally, we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in a picturesque little town with cobblestone streets, Roman ruins, and some interesting WWII stuff (American tanks) in the main square. Someday when we have more time, we'll have to go back and check it out--if we can find it again!

• The kids are still tired and grumpy, but we slept in till 10 a.m. today, so I hope that will help.

• I actually drove all by myself to Cactus (the nearby "hypermarket") to stock up for the next few days since pretty much nothing is open on Sunday. I've never been to a store like this; it's amazing! They have EVERYTHING!!! You can buy light fixtures, telephones, garbage cans, clothes, groceries -- just about anything you need in one place. I don't think stores like this exist in the U.S., or if they do, I've never seen one. Maybe a Super Walmart? Anyway, driving is getting easier though it's still a little scary. I only stalled once on the way there, which is pretty good considering there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way back, so lots of starting and stopping.

• I went for my first walk in the forest yesterday. It was spectacular. I didn't take pictures but will soon.

• We don't have cable or satellite TV yet and watching stuff I don't understand is getting pretty old. There are channels in French, German, Luxembourgish and Portugese, but only one in English -- CNN, which is just too depressing to watch all the time.

• It is COLD here! It was around -1.5 degrees C here and they're predicting snow for tomorrow. The kids, of course, are thrilled by that. We're planning on staying home, relaxing, maybe playing in the snow a little rather than running around like crazy as we have been for the past few days. We don't have much choice, of course, since nothing is open on Sunday.

Here are the kids eating Belgian waffles in Belgium:

Friday, January 22, 2010

From Will:

I like Luxembourg because of the snow. There was some snow in the backyard when we got here, and that was fun, but there's no snow now. My teacher's name is Mrs. Turner and my other teacher is Mrs. Kearey. Their handwriting is different (cursive) and it's really hard. One kid knew how to do it the right way; he was so good at it. I was super bad. We did get to watch a movie in school today, though. It was pretty good.

From Kate:

I went to school two times now. My teacher's name is Mrs. Ledger, and she's very nice. My favorite part of school is snack. I want to dress up but I haven't yet. At recess, I had to wear black snow pants. I don't like them because they don't look like Sleeping Beauty.

Update from Jennifer

We made it here -- finally -- with just one major medical emergency en route (not ours, fortunately), which forced our plane to fly several hours off course then divert to Scotland for fuel and medical assistance. That, plus a four-hour wait in Frankfurt for a new connecting flight, made for one heck of a long day, pushing our arrival time to evening instead of early afternoon. So we arrived in the dark and haven't gotten to see much yet. But I can't complain too much. We're here, we still love the house, and the kids were fantastic on the whole dreadfully long trip. They didn't sleep much on the way (though Will slept through the entire Scotland diversion and is infuriated at having missed a whole new country!) Kate slept about two hours on the plane, then fell asleep all over the place afterwards. The kids were extremely excited last night, declared the house "great" and went to bed with only a minimum of parental threats and no drugs. Yes, I brought the Benadryl just in case but haven't had to use it -- yet.

Our relocation assistant, Virginie, picked up us and all our luggage* at the airport last night. We followed her home in our new temporary rental car (till we decide what we want), and showed us around the house -- important things like how to operate the heat, turn on the lights, etc. Speaking of lights, it's fairly dim around here because in Luxembourg, people take the light fixtures when they leave. So we need to ask Virginie where we buy light fixtures and how we get them installed! The car was, of course, a stickshift, which terrifies me. Also must remember to ask Virginie for a safe place to practice till I get the hang of it again. Even Roger was a little rusty, so the ride home was filled with bumps and stalls, which the kids loved. Will kept asking, "Where are the bumps? I don't see them!" and Kate declared that this car wasn't very good at driving itself. I can only imagine what they're going to say when Mom drives.

Today, Virginie is helping us set up our internet connection and then will take us to the local "Commune" (neighborhood city hall, I guess) to register. That sounds vaguely menacing but we're assured it's no big deal as long as we have all the correct paperwork. Cross your fingers that we do.

Here are a few pictures:

On the way to the airport. Kate, as you can see, was overjoyed to be on our way.

January 19, 2010

With all our luggage!

*I'm feeling pretty smug about my packing skills. The reason? Believe it or not, NO excess baggage fees! We were allowed five bags (two for Roger because of his miles, plus one for the rest of each of us, plus a car seat bag which held Will's seat and as much else as we could stuff in it!), but each bag had to weigh 50 lbs. or less. There were three I was worried about, but they came in at 45 lbs., 49.5 and 53. I quickly removed a few things from the overweight one, got it down to 51 and the nice United check-in lady let it slide. Whew!!

Kate eating pretzels in Scotland:

Will sleeping through Scotland:

Kate sleeping all over the place toward the end of our trip:

I will post more pictures of the house later today after I dig out my real camera!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I can't wait to go to Luxembourg!  But staying in the hotel has been nice because it's super good.  They have Corn Flakes for breakfast and my other favorite part is the hot tub.  Luxembourg is going to be fun and snowy and Sleeping Beauty lives there, I think.  Or there are castles anyway.  I'm going to dress up like Sleeping Beauty at my new school every day.


To all my friends, please write me letters or postcards.  If you send me something, I will write you back.  If you want my address, please email my mom:

(It's 98 cents to send a letter there.  You can just drop it in the mailbox if you have correct postage on.)

From Will:

I want to stay for three years now in Luxembourg, not just two.  I hope there's a lot of snow.  Mom says there's not snow all the time, but I think she's wrong.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Moving to Luxembourg


I am not sure about how I feel about moving to Luxembourg.

Things I am excited about:
  • snow!
  • taking European trains to the beach
  • going to the Tin Tin museum in Belgium.  There will be a Tin Tin movie coming out in 2011, I think.
  • really good hot chocolate in Belgium.  There's also good hot chocolate in Luxembourg.  They give you a big chocolate spoon and you stir it into a cup of hot milk.
  • having a house with five stories.  I am so excited about that!  (I also want to have my own office but Mom says she's not sure if that's going to happen.)
  • having swimming lessons at my new school
Things I am not excited about:
  • I will miss my class and I want to do swimming with them in the United States
  • I will miss Brendan and Isabella and Sassa and all my friends and my cousins and family in the USA
  • I'm going to miss my Uncles and all my grown-up friends too
  • Missing Mrs. Neilson and all my teachers and friends at North Shoreview
I think that's it.