Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We're being stalked...

by the people who bought our house. After I said NO they couldn't come if they wanted to guarantee that we would be out Friday (and that she wouldn't have one flat side to her head - no, I didn't really say that part) we got a phone call on my mobile that had unfortunately run out of battery from them. Too bad I don't have voicemail (not really).

Then this afternoon as I was rushing out with recycling (okay, and to buy one thing I forgot at the Villeroy & Boch factory outlet) I see her. With her parents. Walking up and down the road in front of our house. Creepy.

I quickly called Marc and told him not to answer the doorbell if it rang. So he turned up his iPod real loud.

Lovely dinner at Puccinella's tonight. We're going to miss Carpaccio...

Monday, July 30, 2007

And in other news

I just got a text message from the guy who bought our house.

The guy who will be getting the keys Friday afternoon - like as in 4 days from now.

We have let them come in the house 5 times now since they made the offer. For a total of close to 8 hours. I even babysat their child (sick I find out after)for over an hour once while they took measurements.

Her father (who is a contractor and lives near Brussels) spent almost 2 hours here one day.

The text message reads (in French - so probably prettier than I am going to translate it for you)

"HI Tracy - I hope all is well. Aurelie's parents are going to be in Luxembourg tomorrow and we would like to come by to get an idea of the work to be done. Could you spare us 20 minutes?"


Because the last time they were here I had an Ally McBeal moment. She was knocking on the walls (again) trying to figure out(again) how much could come down (I think she should go live out in nature where there are no walls since she obviously has such a problem with them).

She turns to me and says "Do you know?" (again. She's asked me this every time she's been in the house)

And I got up and said, "Not sure. Let's knock on the wall and see." and used HER HEAD to find out where is sounded hollow.

No not really, that was my Ally McBeal moment. What I actually said was "no, sorry, no idea."

But if she comes in here tomorrow, in the middle of our move chaos and asks me, I WILL USE HER HEAD.

Best they don't come - wouldn't you agree?

I am taking 10 minutes off

and having a latte (decaf with soy milk - does that count?) to try and ensure my head doesn't explode today.

I think that maybe I should just give up sleep completely until the move is done. Take yesterday. I had to get up at 4:30 am to drive my mum and the cat to Brussels (215 km there and then 215 back for those of you not used to the drive). At 3:18 I was still awake with my persistent "Canadian" cough wondering how I would cope with the drive. Then I must have passed out because at 4:42 my mum woke me up and off we went.

The cat is now safely in Montreal in my mother's bathroom awaiting her next move to the kitty spa on Thursday. She dutifully protested the entire drive to Brussels "a haute voix", but it was okay, I couldn't really hear her since it was pouring rain. POURING. She then proceeded to bite me as I tried to put the tranquilizers down her throat so she could have a nice zen flight home, but luckily a nice Belgian woman ahead of us in line said she could get them down her if I held the cat and sure enough - down they went and I swear the rotten little thing smiled at the woman to thank her. It's like my kids - they're so good for other people.

Drove home with some LOUD music, picked up a few groceries and spent the rest of the day getting what seemed to be huge amounts of things done (though looking at the house today I am not so sure) Got some stuff out, recycling organized, clothes washed - all this on 90 minutes sleep.

Of course, I got 1/2 way through my evening Kir Royal (I usually drink SO little this is a weird thing for me, but I hate to throw away the bottle of creme de Framboise, may have to leave it with Jitka) and had to be put to bed at 8:30. Where I apparently slept like a starfish and snored (I have sinus problems - not my fault!)and when Julia woke up screeching at 4 am was surprised to find Marc was sleeping in the guest room.

So - this morning, after a good 10.5 hours sleep I have been trying to get stuff done. Blood test, electrical thingamabobs for the lights we're selling, tried another used car dealer for the car that won't sell - and I feel a MESS.

So warning - the rest of this post might get messy because I feel pretty messy right now.

Stu set me off - he cried when I left him at daycare (I can't pack with him home, he wants to play attactiks all day). I feel so bad for him - I know this move is tearing him up and that he wants to stay in Luxembourg, but we can't. And I am spending so much time talking to him and understanding and loving him that I am scared we won't make it out of here. So I end up getting teary-eyed at the door of the daycare (nice! - can we blame that on low blood sugar since I couldn't eat before the blood test?). Bad start. A friend (who works at the blood clinic - so someone else to say goodbye to, something I am not getting better at) is dropping off a book about moving this aft which will hopefully help.

It's not just the impact of putting all our stuff in boxes and moving home to Canada. It's that we are LEAVING Luxembourg - a place that I love and dislike all at the same time. A place that has become home. I've been here going on 8 years. My kids were born here. I don't know how to say goodbye, and of course, me being of the BIG EMOTION variety of girl I am just not talking about it much and pretending that I am happy with this and that it's all just organizational stress etc.

Except to Marc who gets me in tears on the phone regularly with the question "Are we SURE we are doing the right thing?" He has the patience of a SAINT. He's given up an amazing job to go home with me. How he stays married to me is beyond me sometimes.

So let me say for the record that there are a million reasons I am glad to go home. And it seemed (at the time) like such a smart and obvious thing to do. So logical (I like logical). But now that it's almost time to go I feel like I can't go and... and... and... I think I have to stop writing or that little tiny grip on keeping it together is going to let go.

And I don't have time for that right now because I have movers coming in less than 48 hours and there is some kind of bomb that has gone in my house.

To work woman!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

No time

I am writing to say that I have no time to blog. I have SO much to blog about at the moment (hopefully most of it will remain in my mind - there's some interesting stuff) but I HAVE NO TIME, dang it.

Today I participated in a multi-family garage sale (Made almost EUR100! Woohoo!) then spent the afternoon going through stuff to take to the mega recycling centre and going to the recycling centre (btw - you can seriously get picked up there if you go alone with big heavy stuff... scary)

Tomorrow morning I am driving my mother to Brussels at 5 am with the cat (my poor mother) and then I have two days to finish making some sense of our belongings for the movers who arrive Wednesday (and hopefully not go over our "allowed" amount!)

And pack for two separate vacations - Sweden and Greece (am now regretting getting rid of some of Stu's 34 pairs of undies for those of you who know about that) - the logistics of clothes for 3+ weeks is a little overwhelming (Marc's doing his own - good man!)

Oh - and there's this little thing in Ottawa called our HOME RENO that we are trying to get settled. I won't even touch that one at the moment or my head MAY actually explode.

Please don't tell me I sound stressed... I am way past stressed, can't remember what it was like and am now just running on Warp 9.7 and the reactor core is going to explode (or whatever it is that happens on Star Trek the Next Generation).

Really though I'm ok. I promise. I am starting to think I am am adrenaline junkie.

Either that or it must be the Kir Royal I have every night before dinner (it's all Jitka's fault ;-P )

Probably talk to you in September!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

and please

feel free to comment. It makes my whole day. Well, that and my new love of Gu Chocolate mini-puds.

But I like comments. Makes me feel like someone reads me... (or should I worry about the plans to lock me away?)

But I do have one thing to complain about...

Please tell me if this is normal or not...

The people who are buying our house are driving me CRAZY.

They came for the first visit and were here 45 minutes. No biggie. I helped hold their 14 month old so they could look around - that's just the way I am.

They called and asked to come back the next night with an architect - again, we said yes. Marc and I took turns playing with their child while they spent 90 minutes (at dinner time, the only time the architect is free) going through the house.

Then they ask to come back with her dad and her uncle who are contractors. They will be here at 10 am. They show up at 5 to 11 (without their child luckily). I explain that I have to leave at 11:30 to get Stu at school. Apologies, they will be gone by then. I leave to get Stu at 11:30 and they are still here. I come back and try and entertain my children (instead of making them lunch because they are in the kitchen STILL) until 12:30. In the meantime they have knocked on every wall, looked behind every door, gone in every room, pulled out closets... all this before they have their mortgage confirmation. I am not sure they didn't check the contents of our drawers (though she's made it obvious now that we've signed the offer that the house decoration is substandard)

I say no more visits. But of course I only say it to myself (stupid me).

The next week they want to come with a flooring specialist (by the way they pleaded Poor to get the price down and we now find out they are dropping a ton of money into it, but that's just our stupidity, please don't tell me I am naive, I am well aware). It should take 15 minutes, 20 max. The flooring guy shows up before them and I end up showing him around for 10 minutes (he drove 120km and was on time, they drove 12km and were late). Sure enough he's gone after 15 minutes... and then they ask "Would you mind if we take some measurements for 5 minutes?" (what the #(*$&%^ were you doing last week for an hour and a half???)

So I say fine. But this time they have the kid with them. He's about to do a header down the stairs so Julia and I start to play with him (as they are ignoring him and measuring things like the distance between the windows in the TV room - it's about 15 cm - what are they thinking of putting there). Anyhow, as I am running on here let's cut to the chase - after AN HOUR of me playing with their kid I say I have to go out and run errands and get Stu. And they thank me for looking after their son because - GET THIS - HE HAS A FEVER AND COULDN"T GO TO DAYCARE SO THEY HAD TO BRING HIM WITH THEM.

Might have been nice to tell me that before he gave my daughter his GERMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I mention that the notary has not received the required docs from them they brush me off. When I ask about the bank approval I am dismissed (at this point they still have not been approved, but are traipsing though my house)

Last week they emailed wanting the plans for the house (what for? You've measured every single wall) and if we didn't have them (the house is 55 years old) they need the contact information of the people who owned it before us as they must surely have them. Excuse me???

I write back a few days later apologizing for the late reply but that my daughter had surgery (adenoids) at very short notice and we were busy, and I said we don't have them and did ask the previous owner (no need to give them her name!) and she didn't have them (I left out that she laughed).

At this point I think - okay, we just need to get through the signing. All we need to do is get through the signing and these people will go away. Or rather we will, to a different continent.

Tuesday (yesterday)- get a call. Can they come by with a contractor Thursday morning. I admit it - I lied and said I had to drive to Brussels to get my mother (that was actually today that I had to do that). When can they come then. I say - politely - that I am on my way to the follow-up for my daughter's surgery and that I don't have my calendar on hand but that I have to check because we are very booked up with appointments before we move and I will have to send an email.

This evening I get this email from the wife (I have been dealing mostly with the husband):

"Hi Tracy and Marc!

We don't want to appear to pushy, but would you mind telling us when we could see the house once again with the entrepreneurs? It shouldn't last more than 30 min. If we do it to late, we would need to postpone our entrance in the house :-(

Thanks in advance!"

I can't even write her back because I will use words that are not to be used in polite company (most of them beginning with the letter F) I can't get over her gall - I am planning an overseas move, having surgery for my child, not to mention my own reno in Canada. And they have no plans to move into this house until November! Yet if I don't get back to her in less than 24 hours (when they took weeks to get the docs to the notary!) she follows-up...?

I don't know - is this normal? When we bought the house we had two companies come in at the same time for 15 minutes each to give us quotes on work to be done. I felt so bad disturbing the previous owners and thanked them profusely.

RUDE. These people are RUDE. And I am going to be RUDE back and not answer. So there. Nahnahnahnah (not very grown up, I know.)

I want to go home. I want to go now.

The post I should have written yesterday

So - if you read the post I wrote yesterday, the one where I was having a whine, please try and forget it because it was just me being neurotic about this whole move thing and I am going to remove it as soon as I finish typing this one.

We had a a GREAT weekend. GREAT! There haven't been a whole lot of times in the last few months when I have been able to write that, but it was a great weekend (do you think maybe it was great? Can I use the word Great again?)

Saturday morning Marc had some buddies come by and they took away a LOT of stuff to the recycling centre - look!! I have an attic again!! WOW! And a Basement! And the best thing is - they took it all for us - Marc helped load, but there was no "Oh but this is from...". It's just GONE and someone else is benefitting from it. We owe them a HUGE thanks, which I think was paid mostly in beer (go figure, first hot, non-rainy day in 6 weeks). But still THANK YOU!

Then, as this was wrapping up and we were odering pizza my friend Catherine and her husband and kids showed up from Germany to stay overnight. We had a great afternoon walking through town, FINALLY got me into the casemates (let's not discuss the wrong turns where there were no lights... near closing time...) and came home to barbecue. (But not until after I snagged a pink Longchamp leather belt in the last day of the sales 2 minutes before the store closed - but that's my personal great ;-p)

One of the best things was how Stu took to her boys who are 11 and 9. They got on like a house on fire and were so good at playing with him (let's face it, Mum sucks at playing Attacticks). They are such lovely polite boys that Julia was going around saying "They are such nice boys Mummy!"

Of course that was when she wasn't pouting and saying "They only do boy things!" - someone felt a little left out, though I think it was made up to her when Cath took her upstairs to read her stories, look at her magic wand and let her put on her princess dress.

Just when Stu thought his day could NOT get any better his dad announced that they could watch STAR WARS (this is a new thing for him) and between me and Cath talking inside and Marc and Neil talking outside - well they saw the whole thing and it was MIDNIGHT (WOW for a 5 year old, oh lord for a 37 year old) and then all the boys SLEPT IN STU'S ROOM. SO COOL (it was like he was talking in caps locks all weekend - the hero worship was just wonderful to watch)

Sunday we headed to the Castle at Vianden which is one of my favorites and that I hadn't thought I'd get to again before leaving Lux. It was a beautiful day and we had great company. It was hard to part ways.

I only regret that Catherine & Co only arrived a few months ago and this was the first time we managed to hang out - and now we are leaving. So we'll have to plan some European vacations in their neck of the woods (or somewhere else?? Needs a planning session ;-p)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Sometimes when you make a decision as big as the one we've made to move back to Canada, you are plagued with doubts (okay, even for some of the not so big decisions, but hey, it's me).

It's hard to leave somewhere we've been this long, and I've been worrying a lot about whether or not it's the right thing for the kids. We talk about moving home and yet this is the only home they've ever known.

And I am sure if you could open Stuart's chest you would see a little Luxembourgish flag on his heart, not a Canadian one. He's devastated by the move.

I will spare you the questions I've asked myself (and my poor saint of a husband - no sarcasm).

Last week our babysitter, a very mature young woman at 17, said "well they'll be Canadians and have a sense of belonging." She knows this from first hand experience, having moved to Brunei at the age of 8, living there for 8 years and moving to Luxembourg 2 years ago. She says she and her brother might have British passports but they don't really feel like they are from anywhere.

Hmmmm. This is definitely something in favour of a move.

Then the other night we were out (OUT!! US!!) at an engagement party for a good friend. Most of the people were English or Irish and everyone was speaking English. One of the fiance's colleagues was French and when we headed to a pub after dinner I spoke French to him. After he crawled back on to his seat ("Quoi? On parle Francais tout d'un coup?") I asked him a bit about himself.

He is, he tells me, "Franco-Allemand" (French-German). But it turns out he was born in Luxembourg. But he does not speak a word of Luxembourgish (though speaking French and German it is pretty much impossible not to speak some Burgish. It would hardly be like learning Chinese). And he has no intention of learning Luxembourgish.

It is, he says, NOT a language. It is a "dialect"... you hear the disdain dripping from his voice.

I will not berate this poor young man more than need be - though I would love to point out that he is entering competitions in France to become a civil servant and can't get in... whereas if he took a few months to learn Luxembourgish he would surely be able to land one here - in the country he has spent his entire life, with the exception of university - residing in.

I am not denying my own love-hate relationship with this country. But I can't get over the gall of someone growing up here and coming back to work here yet being so disdainful of his country of residence that he won't even acknowledge the official language of the country.

I don't want to judge (though I realize I am). But it just made me think that I want more for my kids than this. Being more Canadian than Luxembourgish, more Luxembourgish than Canadian - and somewhere in the middle not really fitting anywhere. I have seen it too many times here.

This afternoon in the car we taught the kids the words to Oh Canada. In English. In French. And of course the most famous version of all - the Hockey version, part French, part English.

Putting Stu to bed tonight he wanted to practice more. He's got a good little memory for song lyrics (we're still singing "Mama keukemol...den himmel as roodt" a song about Kleeschien - St Nick - in JULY!).

"Do you want to practice the French or English version?" I ask.

"Mo-oo-om!" (you know the "come on woman are you kidding me?" Mom) "NO! the HOCKEY version!!"

That's my boy! We'll turn him into a Canuck yet!