Sunday, November 19, 2017

Month 1
Today is our 1 Month-Aversary in Luxembourg!
Let me be clear, this is not a countdown. I am just super lame at keeping people informed and updated so I figure if I commit to myself (and to other people--let’s be honest, I keep my promises to other people better than I do to myself) to do an entry once a month that is a good start. And this is my journal--so you are getting all my life philosophies too. Skip if needed.
Where to begin. Except that I am fairly certain every day that I am insane. I am learning so much about myself and my deep dislike of “CHANGE”. Even something as silly as new towels--who knew? I like my old towels and the way they fit in my old house and how I had it all figured out--and now I don’t. Not like I had it all figured out really, but I had my whole future planned and, for better or worse, I felt like I knew what was coming. I think that’s what it all boils down to; the unknown. I can’t even watch a show without always asking, “what happens next?” And my husband has to patiently remind me to “keep watching.” I might even go as far as beginning a series and then (embarrassing but true), forego watching it and stalk the episode synopses so I can learn the ending. Is this just the product of today’s world? No more patience and a need to see the end before I even start something? Either way, I am learning about all my fears and stubbornness. Yay!
Besides that, we are having a great time! Brandon loves it here and the kids are enjoying the adventure. There are definitely days when they miss Ohio, America, our old house, our old school and church but they are rolling with it. I am the one having a daily tantrum. I have decided that I need to just take one day at a time and that is enough. If not, I will be paralyzed by the many things we need to accomplish to thrive here--and that is impossible. So I will revel in each day and be better about it.  
Week 1--Travel over to Luxembourg went well. Airlines and their staff were wonderful and went beyond to help us have a successful trip. We left Ohio at 6:30pm on the 18th and arrived in Luxembourg at 1pm on the 19th. It is 6 hours ahead of Ohio so we lost those hours in the night flight. Flew from Cleveland to Detroit 6:30-7. Detroit to Amsterdam 8:30pm - 9pm (where we lost all our hours). Lastly, Amsterdam to Luxembourg 12-1ishpm. By the time we made it to Luxembourg I was a tired, cranky woman. The kids had been amazing though. Little sleep was had by Lois at the end there so she was pretty done.
Brandon met us after we got our luggage. The luggage part was hard, BUT *Travel tip-if you are moving foreign, stuff your bags and pay extra luggage to bring all the spices, sprinkles and all that little stuff that takes years to stock up on. It is worth it-I kick myself every time I have to go back to the store for some spice they may not have*
We drove HOME! It was surreal. First reaction--these streets are tiny. We will never survive. This can’t be our new home…. (no hours of sleep, in my defense).
I got a nap once we got home while the kids ran around the house.
 Then my old baby-sitter -super amazing and best ever! - brought us dinner and towels. Not to mention that she had already brought a ton of bedding for the kids (our air shipment was super late so it was a HUGE blessing). The chili was delicious and so sweet of her. She knew I needed a steadying force. I still don’t know how to thank her enough.
 Next day we 1. Registered for our commune residency and ended up signing Megan up for school. I had my first french conversation and that was confidence building. 2. Drove to the city to have a dr. appointment that would allow us to stay in the country and get into school. Also went to have an X-ray and TB test. Our funds had been pulled from our new bank account so there was a quick appointment to the bank to figure that out too--because we had NO MONEY. Anything that hasn’t had at least one hiccup has been a huge surprise. We have just learned to expect delays--that is helping lower my expectations.
  Church was a whirlwind. We are currently meeting in a hotel while a new building is being built. They have been in this hotel for two years now! They have translation at church. We are part of a French stake but due to the international nature of our ward, we translate between French and English. Many people speak other languages than those as their native tongue so, quite diverse. I got to see a couple of people I knew growing up at church that first Sunday. A member that is my sister’s age is now the Stake President--that is fun! In some ways it is like going home--a good amount of kids I knew are still here and serving in the church. It is pretty cool. There are a lot of Americans here for jobs so I have had so much quick and understanding help. And Luxembourg itself is such a great mix of people---most people are not from here. So there is a great sense of understanding and welcoming from most people I have met.
Back to church: Megan attended Primary. She is now going to school and in Primary already! I feel a little like my little girl is slipping away from me and growing up too fast! But she also is so excited for it…
Sunny day outside!
  Monday--First day of school. Everyone was really nice and I feel very encouraged. I was hoping we were moving to an area that had lots of expats in the school but it seems that is not the case. That being said, the teachers are great and it looks promising. I do feel that I need to assure them that the kids are happy because they seem worried about it. My kids are quieter and less demonstrative ..Hmm, where’s that from.. So I don’t think the teachers feel very confident. *Side note: Most kids are in creche or some kind of care outside of their home from a very early age. So they are used to being away from home. One of Megan’s teachers has mentioned to me that she feels kids are missing out on learning some things in their home because they have been “institutionalized” so young. It made me really appreciate the chance I have to be home with the kids.*
Day 3 at the new school. Because I was too frantic and worried to remember the first two days. This is Megan and Mark's building. Seth is in a different one.

  Drop off and pick up are fine but hard because, unlike American school, they go to school from 8-12 every day. Then Monday, Wednesday and Friday they go back to school from 2-4. Not bad on paper, but going back and forth so much gets … schedule restricting.. With Lois napping it has been interesting to get out to shop and do some things I need to because my window of time is so small. Still figuring that out. Most parents put their kids in the Check system--which keeps their kids between school and they feed them lunch. Then, if they need more help, they have the Maison Relais--another afterschool care system run through the state. All of this is subsidized so most kids seem to be in the Check system and the Maison Relais. Bummer. But living here is expensive so I can understand that most families have both parents working.
 Air shipment was late and when it finally didn’t have very good stuff in it. I don’t know what I would do differently because we couldn’t have packed more--it just was stuff that Tracey had provided so we didn’t need it. But next time; pack seasonal clothes appropriately. We were without winter jackets until our sea shipment came. So silly of me!
 Brandon started work the same day the kids started school. It was a quick turnaround to start school but they had vacation the next week and I didn’t want them to be out of school any more. It helped me get a feel for what we are up to here anyway. Brandon likes work and it is a cool group of people. He takes the bus into work every day and, unless the bus is late or traffic is bad, he has a pretty quick commute. That being said, the traffic is horrible between 8-10 and 4-7 here so, can’t be avoided. He is just happy he is not the one driving. And the buses are very nice.
 School note; they swim here. And they have an Air tramp in the basement that they play on every week or so. And they have field trips to the forest. It is pretty cool. They also need SO MANY SUPPLIES! And so many bags for them. Sigh…
Well earned treat to celebrate our first week at a new school. Yes, there was chocolate involved. Lois was supposed to share but..she didn't.
 The ward had a trunk or treat our first week and it was COLD but good.
Meanwhile--we had to buy a new car and that was a beast. We also have been going all over the country to buy used furniture. And to buy other things we need. Constantly!

Week 2 - Vacation! I can’t remember what we did. Honestly. I think it was Halloween our first week here and Tracey invited us to a Halloween party, which was awesome! We had plenty of trick or treating so I feel like the kids satisfied their Halloween needs.
Oh, and it was my birthday. Brandon made me a great cake. And he had candles but hadn’t found matches so we couldn’t light anything (electric stove, bleh).
my cake
 Brandon had All Saints day off and...we can’t remember what we did.
Friday Brandon took off early and we headed to Ikea in Belgium; just across the border. It was so much fun! Due to my indecisive nature, we didn’t buy anything, which turned out to be a bad idea because when we went a week later with decisions made; they were out of stock… oh well

Saturday we got COUCHES, in France. Got lost in the area but oh, it was beautiful! Tried to hit up a castle but they were closed until April. Still, we saw it through the fence and the kids thought that was pretty cool.

That Sunday we hit up my old town in Bridel. Saw my old house, the school and church. Went for a walk in the woods. Got lost in the woods. Then, in our car, my phone died (because I took too many videos and pictures) and we had to make our way back on our own. WE DID!

Week 3 - Back to school and lots of it. Seth is coming up on his German really well and keeps putting German words into his sentences. He also still tries to spell things to us. A sentence will go like this… “Mom, C-A-N ich H-A-V-E eine C-A-N-D-Y bitte?” oh boy.
Megan is still figuring out school. I am getting less patient with her coy, ‘I am shy’ act. Those poor teachers! I hope she doesn’t act like that all day. Mark has made a couple friends playing soccer and we have met a couple of parents and have plans for playdates. I am encouraged in that sense.
The Church friends we are making have been fabulous! The boys are thrilled to meet some kids who speak English and they really enjoy church. Primary is in English and French so I know they are still getting some good Gospel reenforcing too.
Guess what! Our dryer broke! Brandon fixed it! Proud moment! And so excited to have a dryer back. Not a fan of the line drying AT ALL!

Week 4 - Our sea shipment arrived! I spent two full days with people in and out of the house, unloading and etc. It was marvelous! But a little hard on Lois. She had nowhere to sleep for two days! The movers were wonderful and get this---their manager used to help move people from Avery Dennison. Right around when my family lived in Lux! So, small world! She may have moved our family so many years ago.
Kids were eager to get everything unpacked

Look at all that cardboard!
She was also really supportive of our decision to put the kids in local school. (As mentioned before, I have days where I question all my decisions--one of the biggest is school). Our landlady is also a former school teacher and she thinks the kids will be fine. I know I just need PATIENCE. It will take time.
Brandon's great grandma made this. So happy we can put it in our new home! 
 Once everything arrived and the movers put together all our items (they were pretty great--they even moved a bed that was already here but on the wrong level. Nice guys)--we have boxes upon boxes! I am taking my time unloading them because, well, I am in no hurry yet. I know everything is here and we found all the essential stuff right away so, no hurry. BUT, I have to find the Christmas decorations because, it is officially Christmas season!!! Yay!

Today was our THIRD PRIMARY program this year! September 24 in Wooster. October 15 in Kirtland, and today, in Luxembourg. Hilarious--my kids have really done the rounds this year. But it was a beautiful program and strictly kid directed in their talks. I was very impressed! I feel spoiled that I have had so many Primary program sacramet meetings--they are my favorite!

Yesterday was our first day going into the city for FUN. We are a little early for the Christmas Market but they were setting it up. Brandon drove us to his work where we parked and then hit up a bakery and grabbed the bus to the center of town. There we saw them setting up and went to the Cathedral. It is stunning! And a kind lady told me they were having a marionette show later. So, we picked up the boys from a party they were at and went right back for it. It was so cool. I loved being able to share these things with the kids. Then Brandon ditched us (Lois was sleeping in the car and traffic was horrendous and gas is. expensive) We took the bus back. The kids loved it. I think I will try to take public transportation more often. It is hard to do when shopping but there is no reason to take a car to the city anymore. So, we’ll see!
Megan and I in the Center. I feel like I've seen
this same statue before. The city Center is full of construction and with the Christmas market it is different but...pretty sure I've been there before. 
Outside the Cathedral. Kids took a picture inside but it was by a confessional and that was weird. BEAUTIFUL

Brandon just reminded me that banking and any financial stuff is a beast here. It is so secure that it is almost inaccessible. We are still waiting on internet too. :)

We haven’t gotten to do any big trips but I think we are enjoying getting to know our area and new life here. I am glad we have been able to settle in. We are invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving and I am so grateful for the fellowship we have received. One of our neighbors has been so helpful and friendly -- I am so thankful for smiling faces! I hope I can be a welcoming friend to all those I meet. I am thankful for the constant knowledge that, despite the change and the loss of our old life (which I mourn and miss daily), my Heavenly Father has a plan for me that is greater than my own. And He is here for me, in my every hour. His love knows no borders, has no location restrictions, or language barriers. I am relearning that.

PS, Auchan rules.
PPS If you read to the end of this--you are a true friend. Or my writing is just that good. I think it’s the first because I just threw up everything I could remember. Sorry, rough read! And SO many pictures. But our internet is still down so this has been a beast to put together. Bear with, I will do a picture dump soon.
happy 1 Month!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ye Shall Go to the Ohio

On September 8, 2004 the final episode of the Drew Carey Show was aired and we were reminded for the final time, "Cleveland Rocks". For the next 9 years, Cleveland celebrated one winning season from the Browns, one postseason appearance from the Indians, and the rise and fall of King James. 

Enter Eller Family

Browns are still losing, the Indians lost the wildcard game, and the Cavs are awaiting their new savior. While we may not have reignited the Cleveland fire, we are excited to be here. 2013 was a big year for us. We spent the first half of the year finishing school and finding a job. We landed a good job with the JM Smucker Company. We live about 20 minutes from work in Wooster, where Rubbermaid used to be (although not the official city motto, it seems to stir a lot of emotion). We feel like real adults here. We now have a minivan and a hybrid sedan, I started listening to NPR in the mornings, and are being parented by our toddler. I also dedicated 2 graves and spoke at a funeral while Laura chaperoned at Youth Dances. Seth is also feeling like more of an adult with his red tricycle, Hulk underwear and showers without shampoo. He oft threatens punishment when we don't obey him and seems to always know what is best for Mark. Mark knows all he needs in life is "Dandy" (candy) and his blanket. With Mark in Nursery and Seth in Sunbeams, we no longer have any excuses to skip Sunday School. 
We feel this increase in spiritual feast is enough to justify ending our 18 month cable fast in time for the Smucker Sponsored Winter Olympics and the Politically Plagued World Cup. The only thing better than watching the Winter Olympics is watching all inspirational movies about the winter games. That's right, 32 days of Cool Runnings, Miracle, and D2 Mighty Ducks. 

Laura here: Instead of trying to up Brandon with words, I am doing pictures. I will caption each one and describe our life through them. Hope you're interested in a bunch of pictures, 'cuz here we go! (Which I figure you are because you troubled yourself to see our blog)

July 4th in Orrville, the city where Smucker is headquartered. A great parade, great people, and we got "Dandy." We even got a religious hardback book. Kids sure make you popular at a parade! Brandon also kept yelling, "Candy"--I have three children. 

We thought we would celebrate July 4th by wearing our BYU colors, True Blue!

I found Seth nursing this baby doll at Grandma Packer's house shortly after moving to Ohio. Weird, but funny. We love going to Grandma and Grandpa's house so much, even though Seth thinks they live too far away. He told me we should move closer. 

Mark loves the swings! That was his favorite thing at the playground this year.

Happy on the swings, but then. Oops, and I was taking pictures. He was fine.

In our new house. Seth was talking on the phone one day. He told me to go away because it was a very important phone call. It must have been because I have about 20 shots of this. 

Kirtland Temple with Eller family! Brandon was still at work and the boys took a nap at nearby Grandma Packer's house. It was SO wonderful to have everybody come to visit. The boys and I were very lonely when they left.

Mark and I at the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York. We had to leave because he was screaming. Meanwhile, everybody else found the other exit. We took a lot of pictures while waiting...

Nature! We have found many little frogs and birds and bugs around the house. We even had a bird's nest for a while by the front door. One day I went to check on it and the baby birds flew/fell out. I tried to get them all back in but every time I put one in, another would "fly" out. I felt horrible. I will now leave nature alone.

Seth and his buddy Hallie being super heroes. (Notice the Spiderman shirt--he wears it a lot so it is in multiple pictures. I have to fight to get him into something different every day.)

Brandon and I at an Indians game. They actually won it in 11 innings, but we were long gone by then (work night). We had suite seats from the company and really enjoyed ourselves. Felt like real adults. 

Seth and his hero. But he wouldn't talk to him or smile for the picture. He was a very nice Spiderman. This picture was at Octoberfest that Wooster holds every year. It is an amazing community with great events. Seth got to do everything he wanted to without too much hassle. I'm loving the accessibility of being involved here. They even have free concerts in the summer in the square downtown. It's not too crowded for us to go and we really enjoy them. 


We had some friends stay over during Conference Weekend and it was so much fun. Seth got to try on Christian's helmet. Then he got some crazy rash. Thanks a lot Christian!

Once our awesome people left, the crazies came (October, week 2). Yes, the Bokish family arrived. We fed and housed them and got this lousy picture to prove it. They really liked my parents, but I don't know if we'll ever see them again. One thing's for sure, we definitely had an exciting time with them! (more to come on that)
If you are considering coming to visit us, please talk with the Bokishes. They can vouch for how gracious of hosts we are (hopefully).

Family pictures (October, week 3)!! Our wonderful friend took these for us on a bleak looking Saturday in October. We were very blessed that it did not rain and our kids held up in the sad weather. It made for some beautiful fall pictures though. And we got a couple of smiles...

Mark was still pretty solemn when these were taken, so it was a miracle to catch this great shot of his sweet smile! 

Couldn't get this one to stay still or serious enough, so this will have to do.

Football season (Fall 2013)!  These wonderful girls came with me to watch our friend play in the Marching Band for her high school. It was Johanna's birthday too! 
We had a blast and we didn't lose any fingers or toes to the cold either! Love these Young Women! 

Our group huddling up together. Marching Band rules!

Halloween, 2013. Seth wanted to be Ninja Turtle or Spiderman. Since there are four ninja turtles I thought that would be fun. We had a blast making these costumes and they're sturdy enough that they can last for some serious ninja fights as well. If you don't know which one each of us are, call us up and Seth will tell you.

One of the wonderful miracles of moving back to Ohio is the people. These people are incredible! And I keep running into people I know! One of my BYU roommates, Carrie, lived in the Akron Stake. I didn't realize when I moved here that I was moving into the same stake. Then I saw her mom in church within two months of moving to the Wooster ward. There she was, sitting on the foyer couch. And we've seen each other many times since. It has been wonderful to catch up with them and hear all about Carrie and her siblings. I have met up with a former Stake Young Women's leader in similar circumstances. The Lord knows where we are and I am grateful for the wonderful boosts these connections have given me. We also have a friend that we met in Raleigh whose father is our Stake President. Wonderful blessings and people! I am thankful for the faithful lives the saints lead that reach out to so many, including myself.

True Blue as we are, we couldn't miss the BYU vs. Notre Dame game (November 23). It was only four hours away! We got some great tickets and went with my Dad and a friend from NC State. We had a blast! A friend in Wooster ward was at the game too and gave us a lengthy tour of campus. People were very friendly and (to be totally honest) it was my first tailgating experience. (I was always too busy to go early to a game. I rarely, if ever, saw the kick off.) 
We enjoyed the Grotto and Cathedral on campus; a very neat experience.

Us at the game. I don't think I have ever been so cold.

Thanksgiving weekend we spent with my aunt in New York. I didn't get a single decent picture, sorry. But we had a great time with them! And a day later, I had my high school reunion (November 30). It was really great to see friends again, many of whom I hadn't seen since high school. What a great bunch!

Christmas! Our first Christmas on our own. Seth really got into Santa and here is the plate we left for him. He and the reindeer ate EVERYTHING. We got to pick traditions and timing and it all worked out very nicely. We had pizza for dinner, a talent show, thought of gifts to give Jesus this year and called it a night. Oh, and Santa's elves left a note that said we could open one present early before bed. Seth stayed up for a bit after; luckily Santa didn't come for a while.

We took a lot of videos Christmas morning and no pictures! Here is our evening with friends and missionaries. We did dinner and then had a nativity! It was really fun and helped focus the day back onto Christ. All in all, a wonderful and enjoyable Christmas. 

Seth and his pizza mess on Christmas Eve

Mark and his cuteness (edited for content)

We loved our time in Raleigh and miss our friends there very much. We feel very blessed to be here in Wooster and love the smaller community. We are surrounded by farms and beautiful country. Our house is by the College of Wooster (we always seem to be by some great school wherever we live) and the houses in our neighborhood are their own tourist attraction. 
Brandon is enjoying his job and is learning a great deal. Smucker is a great company and treats its employees so well; we really appreciate finding this company. 
We have made some great friends through church and in the community. We had a Cafe Rio night and Christmas Party recently and enjoy the space this house gives us to have people in our home. 
On to my major plug...we hope you will feel the call to come to Kirtland and visit! If you have never been here, now is the time. Or, come again. We are happy to host, house and feed anyone who makes the trip. It is a wonderful place, a sacred place, an important place. Don't miss it! 

This is the big news for the end of the year.

In case the last picture didn't clarify, there will be another set of shoes coming to join us. June 2014. The boys are very excited. We are too.
We found out the weekend that the Bokish family was in town. Quite a memorable experience and hopefully we didn't scare them away. We were grateful they were here though.

We love this picture we took in our neighborhood! And it is a fitting picture to end on. Eller family out! 
PS, much love and best wishes in the New Year

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We're pretty sure that Seth and Mark are from the same blueprint. Seth is loud, Mark is loud. Seth likes technology, Mark likes technology. Seth won't sleep, Mark doesn't either. Seth had halo hair and now Mark has it too. These boys are two peas in a pod. And they look pretty similar. So, here's the test. We're posting some pics. of each boy. Feel free to try to guess who is who. I have some hints:
1. Mark is balder than Seth was
2. Mark is taller
3. Seth was fatter
Try to guess which is which!

4. This won't help you, but Mark is louder than Seth was at the same age. Probably because Seth had no competition. Mark HAS to be loud to get any attention. (I guess I could post a video...but that would be too obvious because Seth is in every video with mind.)

If this was too easy for you, sorry. I am lazy and it's hard to get all the pictures together that look similar. So, just believe me. Or come visit. Then you can see for yourself. We are enjoying our beautiful, snow free fall and look forward to Thanksgiving with family. Life