Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween in Lux

There's a very cute attempt to observe Halloween here. The big stores all sell about three costumes -- vampire, pumpkin, witch -- take your pick. It's pretty hard to find candy in bulk to pass out. And no one really knows what the actual date is, so we got a pair of kids at the door every night leading up to the 31st (we raided the pantry and handed out random biscuits).

The International School had its first-ever Halloween festival in the middle of October before everyone went on Fall Break. The highlight was dangling donuts and fortune telling. Madeline will become a dancer and a scientist; Charlie preferred not to ask the friendly dad/fortune teller a question and cashed in his ticket for a piece of candy instead. John was so darn cute that his photo made the ISL newsletter. 
Fortune telling!
We also went Trick-or-Treating in Bertrange with the American Women's Club. They did a great job of organizing some houses in a nearby neighborhood to pass out candy -- about every tenth house had a balloon on their mailbox, which indicated they were participating.

And finally, on the 31st, we celebrated with our friend's, Meredith and Peter, at their house.

Grammy carried candy corn across the ocean for us!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

An Adventure in the German Countryside...

During Madeline and Charlie's fall break, Rob took a day off work and we all drove to to the German countryside, just over the river-border from Luxembourg's Remich, to spend the morning with Charlie's kindergarten teacher, Kerry Hones, who owns two ponies, Hazel and Finn. We had no idea what a special outing it would be! We loaded up our bulk carrots and apples, and pulled into the small farm, greeted first by all the neighbor's geese and ducks.
Kerry literally didn't give us an address....just told us to cross the river and look for the stone water towers. It turns out she and her husband, Mr. Watson, have been restoring their home, which was once a WWII bunker with the bullet holes to prove it, in the hope that it may one day be a bed & breakfast. They, by the way, are the quintessential English couple -- with the names Mrs. Hones and Mr. Watson, they sound like they belong in a Sherlock Holmes novel. Not to mention, she kept offering us tea. They also might be the most altruistic people I have ever met.
In April, they rescued two feral Exmoor ponies, an endangered breed, which were used to graze public pastures in Holland until their herd grew too big and they were headed for slaughter. So while the ponies were gentle, they haven't been around people, and we were very careful not to spook them.
Kerry and her husband, Chris, patiently taught Madeline, Charlie and John how to feed the ponies fresh apples and carrots from buckets, deliver hay to the ponies' crates in wheelbarrows, and fill the water troughs. Afterwards, Kerry brought their two rescued guinea pigs, Poppy and Honey, out for the kids to hold. We heard about their five adopted cats, each of which has its own rescue story. Then, as if the morning couldn't get any more fun, a nearly-silent electric train slipped past us, only 25 feet from our seats and blew the boys' minds. We said our good byes, thanking them profusely, and telling them honestly that the outing was the highlight of our Fall Break.
Afterwards, just for kicks, we drove to France since it was only 10 minutes away, then back to Germany for a delicious wiener schnitzel lunch, and across the river again into Luxembourg. It was so picturesque, I was snapping shots of vineyards from a gas station parking lot. Plus it's kind of awesome to say you've been in three countries before lunch.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Visiting Daddy at Work!

As another fun Fall Break activity, we all visited Rob at Luxembourg's Caterpillar Financial office one morning! It was great to see his work space and meet his wonderful co-workers. The kids behaved beatifully. Within minutes, they had drawn colorful pictures on the office whiteboard, and the boys had the Caterpillar model dump trucks and wheel loaders in the gravel surrounding a potted plant...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hot Chocolate with a View of the Palace

The kids' Fall Break from school landed the exact week before my scheduled c-section date, so while the rest of Luxembourg City left on holiday, we stayed close to home and have been enjoying relaxed adventures every day.

One morning, we took Grammy, who arrived a few days earlier, to visit the Grand Ducal Palace, where the Duke and Duchess reside, right smack in the middle of Luxembourg City's pedestrian City Center. Charlie was enamoured with the guards who march back and forth all day long.
The Grand Ducal Palace
Watching the guard
It was a chilly, windy morning, so we popped into The Chocolate House across the street for a very special hot chocolate (they have hundreds of flavors to choose from) and a hot lunch of Gazpacho, quiche, smoked salmon and beet salad.

Hundreds of chocolate flavors on wooden spoons to stir in hot milk
Afterwards, we stopped in a charming toy boutique in Centre Ville so each of the kids could pick a gift out for the new baby. We showed Sandie the Place d'Armes and Place Guillaume -- large squares where farmer's markets,  flea markets and special performances are held. Thankfully, a lucky pigeon survived a surprise attack by John, but not without losing a few feathers. Then we piled back into the car for a lovely rest back home.
Visiting a sweet toy boutique in Centre Ville
Running in Place Guillaume