Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our Emerging St. Nicolas Day Traditions

As this is our third holiday season in Luxembourg, we're finally beginning to get the hang of St. Nicolas Day, the 6th of December.  Primary school children have the day off school, following a couple weeks of songs, crafts and talk of "Kleeschen," so it will still be a special day for our kids for a few more years.

(I'll link back to our first St. Nicolas Day here.)

this year, the kids made their own goody-receptacles in art class, in lieu of actual shoes or slippers 

this year the 6th fell on a Saturday, which was handy for getting our tree together at the local park

Pete carried it home from the park.  And thus broke my tradition of bringing it home on the bus!
and the tree was trimmed
So that's about it for our St. Nick Day traditions, I think: 1) get chocolate, 2) get tree, 3) decorate tree.   Easy enough.

Now for a couple of bonus items:

1) James singing a song he learned at school.  

Rough translation according to the kids:

The Kleeschen brings us apples, nuts and pears because we like them all so much
The Housécker (Black Peter) brings us sticks and roots (although we learned later that it's basically sticks, sticks, and more sticks!), for a long time he's brought nothing good!
(That verse repeats)
The Black One never gets us because we are as behaved as the angels.  He can keep his sticks!

2) A photo from last year in James' class, when St. Nick and Black Peter visited.  Apparently some kids got sticks in front everyone for damaging school property.  So, yes, it's serious business.

By the way, I didn't take this photo; it was given to all the parents on a CD of pictures from the year. 
I'm guessing this wouldn't fly in an American school.  Lawsuit, anyone?!?

Well, we take your Elf on the Shelf and raise you The Black One!

Ah, cultural differences are the spice of life. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Luxembourg Christmas Market 2014

from the ferris wheel
I'll probably jinx myself by saying it, but I intend to catch up on a few December posts over the next few days.  

The Luxembourg Christmas Market wound down a couple of days ago, after running every day since November 22nd.  We were able show our visitors from the US around back in November.  

There are two main areas of the Lux market, with a few other small sections scattered around town.  We spent most of our time this year at one of the main markets on Place de la Constitution, next to the Golden Lady monument, which commemorates Luxembourgers who perished in the First World War.  Most of the photos below are from that area.

My mom

What sunshine!
Uncle Jon
riding the ferris wheel
first time trying the trampolines
Golden Lady
trying some flips
a Christmas brass band
a non-scheduled act
hot wine and hot chocolate, with a side of Spätzle
Juice this time.  Christmas markets are all about eating and drinking.
hey, it's the whole family
For our introduction to the Christmas Market phenomenon, see here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Esch-sur-Sûre Again

My mom and I made a quick day-trip back to Esch-sur-Sûre the other day.  You may remember it from our mini-Luxembourg-castle-tour of Summer 2013.
It's just a tiny ruin on a couple of hills in a picturesque little village.  You can see there are two parts: a round part on the left and a rectangle part on the right.  These are highly technical terms you needn't trouble yourself with.

Back on that late summer day, this was the very last castle we visited, so we didn't take much time there.  This year, we scaled that puppy!  Round part first!
up the first side of the hill

looking down from the round part onto the village and the rectangle part

looking behind us onto this statue
then back down, and up through the town to the rectangle part (when the sun came out, and it got less mystical but still lovely)

looking back at the round part
flying the Lux flag
I still really like this one upon second viewing.  So peaceful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brothers in Belgium

Pete's younger brother, Jon, is touring in Kina Grannis' band.  He invited Pete to come play trombone on a couple of songs when they played a show in Antwerp on Tuesday night.

It's about 2.5 hours away
So Pete took a half-day from work, my mom watched the kids, and we drove up to Antwerp for the evening.  We found the venue and the band, and then took a brief walk around the immediate area before the sun set.
some sort of botanical garden across from venue

Antwerp feels very Dutch.  Confession: we kind of thought it was actually Dutch before this.  But it's Belgian.
sun's almost gone
Jon is sort of the musical director for this tour and put much of the band and crew together (hence his authority to work in his brother from Luxembourg on trombone for one night - which would otherwise be kinda weird, I'd say.)
going over his part
dinner with the band
a little city-walking in the dark
National Bank Van Belgie
Show time!
Jon on keys/bass/Macbook-geeky-music-running-stuff-I-don't-understand
Pete and Jon were trying to remember the times they played shows together over the years. The answer was almost none; they are four years apart, so were never in really in the same school or band.

Except, ya know, in Antwerp.

To be filed under "life is weird" for sure!

Here's a clip (you may need to click through to the blog if you're reading this in email).

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fall Photo Catch-Up

I'm here on the last day of October to do a quick catch-up on the last month and a half since school started.  In a nutshell: my mom has been here, gone, and here again, James celebrated his 7th birthday, and my aunt (my mom's youngest sister) and uncle from London visited.
the fall sun shone on the palace for our visitors 
As I mentioned in my last post, my mom arrived on the first day of school.  Having just retired in August, she planned to stay in a mixture of Luxembourg, France and the UK until the beginning of December.
after completing the first week of school
lots of walking around enjoying the sun when it appeared
the front of Lux's Notre Dame Cathedral - don't think I've ever posted that before?
I took her to Remich, a Luxembourg vineyard town on the border with Germany.  We tried to take a boat tour on the Moselle, but there weren't enough people to join us so they cancelled the trip.

we had a nice walk around the hilly town instead
Luxembourgish vineyards
We also took her to actual Germany - Trier, just across the border.

And then she was off to meet one of her sisters from the UK at a walking retreat in southern France, and then to spend a few weeks there on her own.

seeing her off on the overnight train
While she was gone, we attended our first Luxembourg church retreat in Germany.

family games - they had crackers thrown at them to see how many stuck
"the tipsy waiter" game
Then back home, we celebrated James' birthday with his best friends.

My mom decided to come back to Luxembourg a little earlier than planned (we don't blame her, it's lonely in rural France by yourself!!).  This worked out great because she was here when her sister and husband came for their first visit to Luxembourg.  

We spent the weekend walking around Luxembourg city.  Those who have visited us before will recognize our well-worn route!

But we did manage to go to a spot Pete's never been - the fancy Luxembourg retirement home in the city.

not too shabby, eh?
And we're back to where we started - the sunny palace.  

And, we're officially caught up.  Bring on November!