Thursday, April 30, 2015

Charlie's Sports Pants

According to Charlie, there are only two types of clothes in this world: Sports Pants and Handsome Clothes. When you're a 6-year-old boy, Handsome Clothes are rotten. They have zippers and buttons; they're itchy and not nearly soft enough. Sports clothes, on the other hand, are the bomb. Charlie has two pairs of sports pants, and he wears them every day.

I bought each of the kids a pair of $5 polyester pants at Target as a quick cover up to dart between the pool and the car during winter swimming lessons in Wisconsin. Charlie was disappointed when his got too small; thankfully, he grew right into Madeline's pair, which were the exact same color and style, but two sizes larger. He alternates between those pants and the Puma tracksuit that was a hand-me-down from a neighbor. He puts them on almost every single day, despite the giant hole in the knee that's getting bigger and bigger. This morning, when he came downstairs dressed for school, he was wearing his sports pants (of course). I asked where he found them, knowing they were dirty and I hadn't seen them come through the wash yet. He answered proudly that they were under his bed. How resourceful! I often wonder what his teachers think....but then I realize they probably understand the mind of a 6-year-old boy pretty well.

Charlie loves these pants so much that when we went to Paris, we didn't even realize until the end of our second night that his suitcase was still sitting in Luxembourg. He sleeps in his underwear and wears the same clothes everyday. Puma pants four days in a row!!! A dream come true.

I have a dresser and closet full of beautiful clothes for the little guy. Chinos in three colors, multiple pairs of khakis, blue jeans and cords -- he has twice what he needs because I bought ahead in the States to prepare for the high European prices. I've tried to come up with sports pant-alternatives -- cute sweats from JCrew, fleece pants from Zara. Nope. They sit untouched unless it's an absolute emergency.

When I was a little girl, I had two dresses that I would alternate. I called them my little twirling dresses -- one was yellow and one was purple. They were my favorites and I wore them almost every day. Now I understand what that must have been like for my mom. No doubt she had a drawer full of other darling outfits that I shunned during that phase.....

And that's just what it is. A phase. I'm trying to see the humor in it, praise my boy for getting dressed all by himself, and wait patiently for the day that he wears something other than polyester!
Note the Puma pants....
...and the Target warm up pants. His wardrobe is complete!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

An Epic Date at Lea Linster

Last night Rob and I went on an epic date to Lea Linster, a Michelin Star-rated restaurant in Lux. It was as much a "European experience" as exploring a new city. Four-and-a-half hours of beautiful food, wine and service; an all-white dining room overlooking acres of green rolling meadows. (I love that the Michelin guide advised "dogs are not allowed" and that some wine selections cost more than our first cars). Then Lea came to our table at 11:15pm and charmed our socks off (what a flirt!). Rob's parents are AMAZING for holding down the fort back at home!!

The meal itself was absolutely beautiful. I had my translator under the table; sometimes, we didn't even know what we were eating....only that it was divine. It started with an amuse-bouche, then moved on to carrot soup, sole, lobster, lamb, creme brûlée, Lea's signature madeleines, petit fours (bite-size passion fruit tarts, tropical square marshmallows, nougat and almond biscuit). We thought the meal was over, and couldn't imagine it being any more perfect. Then our server came out with a pistachio macaron (my absolutely favorite!) with fromage blanc that almost made me cry. The sommelier, a cool young guy, came over with a lovely dessert wine and told us it was his gift. Lea asked her staff to package up some madeleines "with love" (I promise, that's what she said!) and they walked us to the door. I felt like I was leaving family -- for a moment, I considering hugging and Euro-air-kissing.

Luxembourg is a foodie-city. With 13 Michelin-starred restaurants, it has the most stars per capita of any city in the world. And Lea Linster is a celebrity chef over here in Europe -- she has a giant media presence in Germany. What an amazing experience!

We watched the sun set from our table
The sommelier helped us choose a nice red from the Loire Valley

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Vlachs Visit and Nicki Gets Engaged!

We had a lovely visit with the Vlachs for two weeks during the kids' spring break!
Sandie and Tom arrived first, then later that day, Nicki and Mike came to Lux on the train from Paris newly engaged!!!! So the trip started off with a bang and the pop of champagne!
Nicki and Mike met up with Ning and my dad in Paris to celebrate!
Madeline wanted to see Nicki's beautiful engagement ring!
We had a little engagement shoot behind the house.
Tom, Nicki and Mike met Elizabeth for the first fun!
"Nice to meet you, Aunt Nicki!"
We packed a lot of fun into those days, mixing sight-seeing with relaxing at home. One day, we went to Luxembourg's Bock Casemates, a 17 km system of tunnels carved into the rock that is part of Luxembourg's fortified castle, which dates back to 963. We also visited the American Military Cemetery, where General Patton is buried, as well as the Pirate playground, Centre Ville, the palace, and Vianden Castle. We also had some fun lunches in town with Rob, and one beautiful evening, we had a picnic dinner at Merl Parc and fed the ducks. Back at home, the kids were delighted to have Mr. Mike help them build robots, Grandpa to play baseball, and Grammy to tie dye! Everyone came bearing gifts, and the kids were in heaven with all their new activities! And the greatest gift of all was the epic date that Tom and Sandie sent us on!
The casemates
The kids loved showing grandpa their rooms
Bitsy says, "Hey, I remember you! You're my grandma!"
Mr. Mike rode the train with the kids!

Grammy painted another apple to represent Bitsy!
Lunch at the Chocolate House, across from the Palace
Mmmm. We found a gourmet burger joint!
Pirate playground
Vianden Castle, a point of pride for Luxembourg
Feeding the ducks. Spring at last!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Disneyland Paris!

We had the absolute most incredible visit to Disneyland Paris with Poppa and Ning to cap off our Castle Vacation -- it was even better than I ever could have imagined! We planned for months, and had a surprise scavenger hunt to the tell the kids we were going. It was amazing to witness the magic through their eyes. Plus, Sleeping Beauty's Castle was the perfect chateau to end our Loire Valley visit!
Mainstreet USA -- we went to Paris to go to America!
The teacups....a classic!
We met up with Poppa and Ning the night before -- we zipped into Marne-la-Valleé from Versailles, and my dad and Ning flew in from Madeira Island, having just finished their transatlantic cruise as they prepare for the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain).
My dad and Ning held Bitsy a lot while we took the big kids on rides!
The next morning, we drove to Disneyland and began our adventure bright and early! Our hotel allowed us to enter the park two hours before its official opening time, which we took full advantage of all three days! Those were truly the golden hours. We practically walked onto rides -- the teacups, Peter Pan, Pinochio, Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours... When the park gates opened, there was a crowd surge -- people literally ran to rides we had just enjoyed.
The boys loved watching the car attraction below....

Peter Pan was one of our very favorites!!

It's a Small World
John's favorite was this Buzz Lightyear flying ride

One special afternoon, Madeline, Ning, Bitsy and I had lunch with the princesses at Auberge de Cendrillon (Cinderella's Inn)! Madeline lit up and was so poised as she chatted with Ariel, Cinderella (and two of her mice!), Prince Charming and Snow White (who also held Bitsy -- Ning said it was like she's been blessed by the Pope). But I think Ning and I were the most taken -- we teared up every time the breathtaking pricesses came to our table!

Madeline asked if the princesses were from the UK!
Afterwards, Ning treated Madeline to "Princess for a Day" -- she picked out a sparking Elsa costume, then had a make up and hair session with a photoshoot! While we were doing that, the boys -- Poppa, Rob, Charlie and John -- had a pirate lunch and picked out a fun toy from the Disney souvenir shop. Then back to the hotel for hours of swimming.

We all loved it so much we can't wait to go back! We were so happy Poppa adn Ning could come back to Lux with us to spend a few days resting and preparing for their big walk.

Princess for a Day!
We wrote my cell phone number on the kids' arms in permanent marker in case we got separated