Friday, September 30, 2011

Chez Nous

Pardon my absenteeism. We have spent the last week plus without "weefee", as they say here, and so posting any news has been basically impossible. Last Tuesday, to our great delight, we moved from our temporary housing to our rental house. The house is quite different from our Seattle house, a renovated 1930's row house, bumped out in back to add twice the space in ultra-modern terms.

    Main floor, looking toward front door with back to yard.

    from kitchen doors that look out onto dining area and living room to back yard. Black orb is fireplace, 
    reminiscent of The Mod Squad?

    Entry and stairs standing in living room looking through glass doors.

It is beautiful, with a long garden in back that butts up to a very nice park, complete with restaurant and all weather ping-pong tables, zip lines and trampolines during summertime. It was a nice boost to move in, but there is much yet to do here to finish things up, not including wifi installation. The painters were here daily until just yesterday, the tiles in the basement bathroom were finished today, the chimney makers put their final stamp on fireplace construction, the floor people were here yesterday making repairs on the polyurethane coated concrete floors, and the terrace builders just finished reconstructing the three terraces on Friday after concluding they were not sturdy enough. Thankfully that was concluded before we spent to much time out there!

    Kitchen, white and stainless with original chandelier, looking out to street.

My favorite thing about the house is the kitchen, although that is perhaps because I spend so much time in it. Nonetheless, it is beautiful and functional, drawers open and close without squeaks and sawdust shavings, there is ample storage and good lighting. Fun to test drive a completely different beast. The other favorite part might be the skyscraper type windows that face our garden and slide wide open. It feels like a tree house, especially now with our beautiful weather.

    Kitchen shot of stove top, oven and fridge.

    The unfinished yard.

    Our big sliding glass windows.

Our landlords are native "Luxembourgers" who live nearby (in a house that is incredible as well!) and who bought and refurbed this house as a kind of dream house. It is too nice to be a rental and certainly too nice for us! The kids, of course, would not agree with my last statement and are reveling in the fact that there is a bathroom for every room and a sauna in the basement. They can walk to school and the park is at their fingertips, literally. Oliver seems happy too and we are happy to have him back with us. Nico has the ultimate bachelor pad, complete with Garfield Bulldog purple bathroom, and he has a plan to make it as man-cavish as possible.

    Nico's loft and sky light

    Nico's loft looking toward street side of house.

    Nico's lower room, view of stairs and loft above.

    Nico's bathroom, note purple tiles.

Gabriel has the coziest room on the first floor with the master bedroom and with a little balcony looking over our street. Carmela has by default scored what is basically a second master bedroom with a bathtub to die for. She has the tree house views and is loving getting organized and imagining how it will all be arranged once our big shipment arrives. Taylor Swift and friends are already prominently adhered to her bedroom wall. Oh joy!

    Gabriel's room with bath.

    Gabriel's balcony doors.

    Master bedroom wardrobe room.

    Master looking back toward entry, right door is wardrobe door, left is bath.

    Master bath with dual sinks.

    Carmela's wardrobe on 2nd floor.

    Tree house view from Carmela's room.

    Carmela's bathroom.

    Note the nice long sinks.

    Bathtub to die for!

    Standing on the balcony in Carmela's room looking down onto yard, park is beyond to the left.

    Her big sliding glass doors are great to leave open at night to get the full tree house effect.

    All the hardwoods are original and have clear finish showing off the old beauties.

    Lastly, the ceilings throughout.
    This is how I would have finished the concrete floors, or something like this without the lights of
    course, but I love having the ceilings like this and they add that nice industrial chic I love so much.

I realize now I failed to photograph the basement which includes the usual suspects, laundry room, storage and then yet another bathroom and open area for television, couch, etc. Oh yeah, and the sauna. Pictures of all that, the soon-to-be landscaped yard and the insides of my kitchen drawers (Jorrit says this is a must for all my "lady friends" (he said that not me!)).

Hope this gives you some sense of things here and it is proof we have plenty of room for visitors!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Walking Sans My Homie

One of the things I knew I would miss being gone from daily life in Seattle were my morning walks. For ten years plus, Katarina and I have walked, rain or shine, five days a week, one of two four mile routes from either my house or hers. I miss our walks and my homie. 

I thought of her as I walked Jorrit into work today, because it was a walk she would have liked. A little bit of everything in a small European town, on a sunny morning to boot. A straight shot from our house, in ten minutes we walked past a big beautiful public park, past the post office and through the center of town. The deeper into the center we walked, the older everything became. Small and crooked stone buildings are occupied by bars, restaurants and shops. We crossed a bridge that took us to the other side of the vast ravine that splits Luxembourg and then curled down into yet another quaint corner. Through a courtyard, to the very end is where the super mod building that houses Jorrit's office is located.


A very different view than I enjoy walking in Seattle. There is some water, not like the lake, but there was also blue sky and warm sunshine today. I had a definite, "wow, can't believe I'm here" kind of feeling and that inspires me. Much yet to explore in Lux and beyond, this walk was just a lick of the lollipop. I'll warm up the trails Katarina, you bring your shoes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Un, Deux, Trois -- Sautez

 Sunny and crisp this morning. Finding a groove of some temporary sort. Day 2 at school and I began a Googlicious day. Many searches -- tennis clubs, bikes for sale, vide grenier, cars, conversion charts, yoga, and more. Endless emails coordinating appliance information, move in date, rental furniture arrival and French lessons (yes, written in French!). Fun and exhausting but ending with good news, we claim our key on Sunday afternoon, rental furnishings arrive Monday and we move in on Tuesday! We will all be happy to have some permanence.

After school, with the sun still shining and crazy amounts of ducks in the Parc Merl quacking, the kids and I made a visit to the basketball hoops, swings and zip line. Good fresh air after a somewhat stressful day for the students. Nico is quickly realizing some serious catch up is in order. We studied French for over an hour, testing my verb conjugation abilities, and he is determined make some tracks. Gabriel was spouting German and French phrases all afternoon, I think he might be recreating the German language but I truly wouldn't know any different. He ended his evening with an hour listening to Rosetta Stone French and had no idea what he was repeating over and over and over, but was very content in the end. Life in grade 5 is still easy although her first friend here, Charlotte, will be moving to Seattle in January and starting school at Forest Ridge. (Anyone know grade 5-ers at FR?) Good thing there are other new friends here. She came home with paint in her hair and a smile on her face.

Jorrit now faces the reality of working very hard as opposed to working out very hard. A walk to work and then home by the same means at 8:30 p.m. allowed him to decompress. It was a good day, he met lots of great new colleagues and is ready to go. Always fun for us all to learn about a new part of the business, just hope he makes it home most nights for dinner to share his tales.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Honeymoon

Angela & Jorrit
7 September 1991

Twenty years ago last week the honeymoon began, and here we go again. I guess this move to Lux might be honeymoon part deux, let's just hope it lasts as long as the first one!

Truth be told, I'm shy on pictures for this blog and pictures make stories fun. But this picture is symbolic. It is not only a remembrance of a very special day, it also marks the beginning of our long time dream of moving abroad. We have toyed with other opportunities offered up, Prague, Slough, and for one reason or another refused. When Lux became a reality, our hearts said yes, our heads said no. We struggled most with the age of the boys and how they might (not) cope with being pulled from their American teenage lives and thrust into Euro-chic-capri-pant-wearing, cigarette-smoking, foreign-language-speaking Luxembourgish lives. How would that work? After much careful thought we decided make the leap and thus another "honeymoon" has begun. 

This honeymoon starts at a new at school and in a community where people of all sorts are awaiting your arrival and rolling out the red carpet. It helps you get going and makes you feel quite special. Today, first day at ISL, Carmela was greeted by her Texan teacher Mrs. Kipe, assigned two buddies (one from Idaho and the other of American parents born in England, lived in Lux and moving to Seattle in 4 months), and had her first French class. Nico said everyone asked him eagerly about playing soccer and basketball and was overwhelmed by his French 2 class, not ever having studied French at all and sitting through an entire class spoken only in French. His honeymoon might already be over. Gabriel made two friends and is embracing French whole-heartedly but a little more nervous about studying German.

And speaking of the Germans (love them!), Jorrit and I went to Germany today. I spotted no sign of my strongest fashion memory of Germany from 24 years ago, socks with sandals, but did enjoy a car buying trip into the quaint town of Trier. We drove curling our way along the Moselle River, through vineyards, rolling hills and waterski schools (I know, strange mix but that part really intrigued Jorrit). All very picturesque and vacation-like. We just looked at cars, Jorrit used a wee bit of German and we made our way back to Lux all in about an two hours time. Easy.


So, part deux commences. How long it will last is anyone's guess, or if it will ever truly begin. Jorrit goes to work tomorrow, day one at the office. I will make sure the kids get off in time to walk and not be late. Not so different from home.

Settling In

A quick pic sur la route. Notice the neon sign for brocante market.

We arrived on a Friday night and by Monday morning seemed no more adjusted to the time than when we first landed. Saturday and Sunday were spent figuring out a few basics, grocery store, swimming pool, a visit to the center of town. We spent some time in the park and watched and then listened as thunder and lightning filled the Sunday skies, trying not to think about the sunny hot weather we left at home.

No sleep the night before our Monday visit to the kids' new school where they were greeted by the director of admissions, tested, interviewed and given a tour of their respective buildings. Smaller than Garfield for sure and closer quarters than originally thought. Friendly staff and students, the PE coach spotted Nico from a far and quickly grilled him with questions of who he was and what sports he plays. A good intro for sure. All eyes, middle school and 5th graders, were checking our family out during the tour, looking for the new kid for their grade. A very welcoming place where the school kids just don't look so different from home.

Signing up for after school activities, joining clubs and language classes are still to happen. Figuring out cell phones, home phones, internet, television and all the other parts of our life left behind is adequately challenging in French and normally time consuming, although here we have lots of good help from those who have conquered before us.

A quick trip to the post office settled much of this for us, I think the more challenging part was the driving to get there. Jorrit is quickly confident about where he is going and how he can get there. I feel like I am continually driving on one way streets and today had a good laugh as I drove with the kids to buy athletic gear for school and came upon my best friend on the highways and byways of Europe -- the roundabout. Very handy inventions for people like me who are directionally challenged and new to the area. It is all about buying time. Encountering the roundabout and just riding it around and around allows you and your navigator to really decide where it is you need or want to go. Nico and Gabriel are thankfully great navigators so the roundabout may be less frequently ridden but it may also be time to get the TomTom or GPS system in the car.

We sit in our hotel room that serves as our temporary housing, living out of our suitcases and looking forward to unpacking and truly getting comfortable. Moving is hard. It takes time and a really good attitude. There have been moments, even in 5 days time, when I fear the path we have chosen and then moments where I feel so incredibly jubilant about it. To see our kids embracing this adventure and being open in so many ways is inspirational and fills us with pride. This is not to say there won't be bumps along the way, those are sure to come, but it seems we are off to a good start.