Friday, August 1, 2014

The Comedy of New Expat Life

Wow, I forgot how humbling it can be to navigate a foreign country. It certainly keeps us laughing! Here are some of the funny things that have happened, most of them just in the first three days alone:
  • On the flight over, the kids nailed me with pee, poop and barf. We took an eight-hour flight with a newly potty-trained 3-year-old and cleaned up unspeakable things in the miniature airplane restroom (he unloaded before the lid was up). After 20 minutes of desperation, I opened the door to 15 people waiting in line, which I then had to slide past with a 6.5-month pregnant belly. 
  • Both jet-lagged boys passed out at the dinner table that night. John was literally mid chew, so as I carried him back to the hotel in a TOTAL downpour (while Rob carried Charlie), he drooled chewed chicken all over my shoulder. When he woke up, he literally just finished chewing and swallowed his bite like nothing had happened.
  • I ordered my kids potatoes instead of apple juice when the waiter asked what they wanted to drink (pomme de terre v. jus de pomme). 
  • During our hotel stay before our home lease started, I explained what a bidet is to the kids. Can you just hear the uncontrollable fit of giggles ("bum washer!!!") 
  • I signed official government paperwork as the mayor of Strassen (they had reprint it and start over).....
  • We casually popped into the hotel restaurant with the three kids and promptly realized we were sitting in a five-star establishment in what was once one of the Top 50 hotels in the world. The kids nibbled on truffles, rabbit, lobster, and foie gras. John blew out the candle on our table (as well as several others), and blew bubbles in his Fanta. We caught Madeline seconds before she started licking butter off her plate. And Charlie was practically catatonic with jet lag, asking the same question (Can I have my Legos?) about eight times. Rob and I had a laughing fit behind our menus. But they hung in there, and it was delightful to watch them experience truly sophisticated food, with their squeaky little "Merci, Madame" every time the waitress gave them a new napkin.
  • We went down to city hall to get established in our "commune," which is sort of how they say suburb here. We needed parking stickers for the car, but the Parking Sticker guy was on vacation for the month of August. We needed special garbage cans and sacs to take out the trash, but the Garbage Can guy was on vacation too. We tried to register our car, but can't do that until we have residency permits, which requires TB shots, chest x-rays, fingerprinting and a physical (which, of course, were all conducted in different bureaucratic offices around Luxembourg City). A month later, we're still waiting on some of those checklist items!
  • John's passport was misprinted -- his June 9th birthday showed up as June 4. Even though we have since received his updated passport, we had to submit the incorrect one when we were applying for Visas in June. So that created an interesting little "spice of life" in a grumpy bureaucrat's office as we applied for our street parking permits...
  • I was handed the waste schedule in Strassen for recycling, garbage and green clippings. This is serious stuff. It's written all in Luxembourgish, and looks some something that was created for NASA. We were told if we mess up, the collectors will give us a giant red sticker and all the neighbors will think we're losers (paraphrasing). So far, we've passed!
  • We were so happy to learn that we'll be able to retain a US address, so that all mail and magazines will be forwarded to us monthly! But I felt sort of funny when I realized that all our mail will be opened and read by our new best friend, Sylvia, in case there's action required. Crazy, huh? Well...welcome to the family, Sylvia! 

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