Monday, December 31, 2007

Winter's Delight ...

Statement as of 11:04 AM EST on December 31, 2007

... Prepare for round number two of winter's Delight...

The National Weather Service in gray has issued a Winter Storm Watch... which is in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for 6 or more inches of snowfall.

We only have had 30 inches of snow this season, so I guess we need some more. What made this warning notable for me was the way it was talking about round number two of winter's Delight... Did the guys at the Weather Service have one glass of champagne too many?

Meanwhile, we are making oliebollen and decorating gingerbread houses.

And sleeping ^^

Friday, December 28, 2007


Today, I was working at my computer, and heard this blood-curdling Erik scream from the living room. In my mind I saw him cutting off his hands, or break his leg, or something else worrisome.

That is, until I heard Tara 'Erik! Shut up!' and the reply 'We are just seeing how loud we can get!'

Turns out they were playing with the olpc laptop and watching what their voice looked like on a graph the laptop showed them.

That is good, I did not particularly WANT to go to the emergency room today :p

I Found a Floor!

Today is 'digging out from christmas chaos' day. I started with the kitchen, and made the table usable again. Then I started on the living room, which looked like someone exploded a toy store and a candy store in there. Or at the least, a candy wrapper store. This all generously supplemented by crushed cheerios and half eaten apples.

Don't you wish you lived at my house? I didn't either, so I decided to find the floor.

Did I mention I don't like cleaning? Just checking. Neither do my kids, so they were not very thrilled to have to help anyway. I felt that I could as well share the misery, it IS the holiday season after all.

The good news is that I did eventually found the living room floor AND vacuumed it. It almost looks good now. At least if you ignore all the clutter magnets around it. Some day, I'll deal with all the stacks of mail. Some day... Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why We Took Down the Christmas Tree Today

'What star?'
'Maybe I can find it if I go up a bit more.'

'Nope! It never has been there! No idea what you are talking about.'

'Anyway, thank you for a wonderful playground full of toys.'

Painting, Painting, Painting.

The room is shaping up nicely. Tara and my friend spent a LOT of time painting it.

Every time my friend visits, they work on it. Gotta love friends like that.(: Today they visited a paint store to get some colors to spruce up details. In a snow storm. Uphill both ways. Barefoot!

I expect the little ones will be able to move in soon. This is a picture of today, made by Kate, using her new camera.

I have told Tara that my room needs painting too, she started drooling when she heard it ^^

One Laptop Per Child Cat

One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.

The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege.

Since November 12th, OLPC has been offering a limited-time Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During Give One Get One, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. Thanks to a growing interest in the program, we have extended Give One Get One through the end of the year. You may also donate laptops via our Simply Give and Give Many options. Through the increasing public interest in OLPC, we hope to give many more children the opportunity to grow, explore, learn and express themselves.

We got our OLPC laptop a few days ago, and especially Tara has been having tons of fun using it. I don't even know half of the things she does on it, but I know she has been making songs and pictures, and lots of other stuff. I'll have to ask her, but she is painting the little kids room, so I am not going to interrupt her.

How My Parents Never Had Sex

This came up in a recent conversation and I had to laugh about my naive teenage self.

When I was a young teenager, I started doing some calculating about my parents marriage date and the birth date of my oldest brother. Somehow, I kept coming up with only six months between the two. But I knew I must have made a calculation error, since my parents never would have had sex before they were married. Heck, being my parents, they were not supposed to have sex at all.

I convinced myself very easily that in reality there must have been 18 months between the wedding and the first birth. I am blonde you know. Math is not my strongest subject. Or actually it is, which is even more scary.

Later I found out it was six months and not because my brother was premature...

I guess that explains why my mom wasn't marrying in white, but I still love this one wedding picture I have of them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

All I Want For Christmas


Erik managed to lose his front tooth on Christmas Day. How perfect is that? The tooth fairy brought him $2 to celebrate. Which he immediately blew on junk food from vending machine today, when we went swimming ^^


Trying to figure out all my trips outside of the States sure did bring back some memories. I was digging through old email to find all the exact dates, and found the email I wrote when I came back from visiting my father for the very last time.

I decided to add it to my blog archives, since I have been working on them on and off anyway, to help the kids see more of a complete family history. Re-reading my post was bitter sweet.

The good news is that I filled out the darned form, even if it took me way more time than I want to admit. Today, I will make a copy and send it out together with the $675 they ask for.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I Hate Filling Out Forms

Just for the record, unlike every other person on this planet, I really hate filling out forms.

It would be so easy to say to eff it and go do something useless. Why do I have to be grown up about this?

I WILL get this form filled out, even if my head will explode! I have to try to figure out every single trip I took outside of the US since 1999. That is eight years of trips! How can I have both seven kids and a memory????

At least I could remember all my children, that should count for something, right?

Do You See What I See?

Holly Hippodays!

Santa came last night and brought many , many presents.

The kids had fun opening them all and were very satisfied with their loot.

Now they all are off, playing, and the house is quiet. Maybe I should bribe them with toys every day!

I will try to get some work on my naturalization form done. If I can remember where I hid the package of black pens, that is.

Happy Christmas to all who celebrate!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Uphill Both Ways!

Tonight, kids were waiting for Santa. Tara was playing a game on Nintendo DS, Harvest Moon. She was complaining about some gardening problem in the game.
Tim remarked 'You know, in my days, when I played Harvest Moon, we had to cut the weeds ourselves.'
Cees one-upped him 'In MY games, we had to play as blades of grass! And we'd be eaten by cows!'
Tara said 'Well, in MY games, we had to play as oxygen! And people would keep breathing us!'

Cees 'Well, in MY days! We didn't even get to use a console. We had to sit on the couch with a broken tv screen and a controller, and were told to have fun.'
Tim 'You got to use a controller???'
Cees 'Well, I say controller, it was a stick.'
Tim 'Well, in my days, we had to cut off one of our own hands and use that as a controller!'
Cees 'Well, when I was REALLY young, we would be put into an empty room, and told we wouldn't get out until we'd beaten level EIGHT! And then they would forget about us, and let us starve in there!'
Jane 'Well, in my days, they would put us into an empty room, and wouldn't even let us THINK!'

Cees 'Right, well, we had to get up at ten o'clock in the morning, half an hour before we went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, go down to the mine, pay the manager for the priviledge of working there, come home and my parents would kick us out on the streets.'
Kate 'You had a room? We lived at the bottom of a lake!'

And you tell the kids of today that, and they won't believe you!
All 'No, they won't!'

293 Calories

This week, I have been really enjoying my health club membership. Last Tuesday, I started by swimming fifty laps. On Friday, Cees and I got an introduction to their cardiovascular room, and the Nautilus room. We both discovered that we still have a long way to go on our quest for fitness. I spent 20 minutes on the elliptical (for the first time ever!) and burned 200 calories according to its computer. I think I will count in Joules instead. They are metric AND it sounds better to tell people that I burned 838 Joules. Even if they wouldn't recognize a Joule if it bit them in the behind.

After the elliptical, I got an introduction to the nautilus room. The nautilus room is a room full of equipment to 'give your body a full workout' which translates to 'where you can find muscles you have never used before and aren't that interested in using anyway, since you suck at their application.' It has a circuit set up, and the intro showed me how to adjust the machines and how much weight / repetitions. Let me give you a tip. When the trainer asks 'how is your arm strength?' say 'Low!' so they don't put you up with a weight that you can't even move. Even the low ones were embarrassingly hard.

On other days, I did more swimming with the kids, or by myself. Today, Cees and I did another workout, so my muscles are complaining again! Once, I accidentally set the machine to 60 lbs instead of 40 lbs, which shows the general level of my intelligence.

Anyway today, I burned 93 calories on the stationary bike, which got me a bit over four miles. Seems way too low for such a far distance to bike. I did something called a 'random hill program'. It was interesting. Not sure whether my legs liked it.

This will be good workout for the winter. I think I still prefer hiking for the summer though.

The Candy Cane

A few days ago, early at night, the door bell rang. Many of my kids went to the door to see who was there, and I heard 'Hello! We are from the local church and want to wish you happy holidays and give you a little present.' They handed a christian dvd, and one candy cane to the kids. The kids politely said thank you and replied to all the questions about homeschooling they had. The church people told them how wonderful they were and how blessed to be homeschooled, and left.

The kids stared at the offerings, and said in unison 'They gave us ONE candy cane'. There were at least five kids opening the door, so it's not like they couldn't know there were more kids in the house.

I have to admit that the candy cane was accompanied by the story of the religious significance of the candy cane, which Kate recited back to me the next day when she was holding a red and white hair elastic. It was not a very big candy cane though. As in super small.

Eventually the kids decided that Cees and Tim should share this candy cane, since they hadn't had one at homeschool club in the morning. Sylvia got a tiny piece of it too. This was after a long discussion about people sometimes meaning well, but not totally getting it.

Jane told me that she liked it better when they stopped by last year, and gave all the kids hot chocolate instead of this one candy cane.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Christmas!

Pen Vortex

Yes, I am still working on my naturalization.

Yesterday, I got passport pictures made. Late at night, after one of those very full days, and driving home through a snow storm, I decided 'OK, let me start filling out the form.' Well, I sat down after spending thirty minutes walking through my house, looking EVERYWHERE, saying to myself. 'How come that every pen always immediately disappears after it enters our house?' The only explanation seems to be a local pen vortex. It sucks tape too, amazing how tape and pens keep disappearing. Socks too, for that matter.

I FINALLY found a pen, grabbed my forms, realized I could change my name if I want and hovered the pen over the forms. Till I see a dire warning "black ink only" I looked at my pen. What colour do you think it is? If you guess anything but black, you win!

By now it was long past midnight, so I decided to leave this till tomorrow and buy black pens and store them in my safe. Far away from the pen vortex. I hope. That is, till the kids discover them.

Current status: made pics, made copy of green card, printed forms, and own black ink OUTSIDE of the vortex. Now I just need to sit down and fill in the form. But HOW am I going to prove that I am of good moral character??? And should I change my name and what should I change it into? So many possibilities.

But at least, I am making progress!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Girls Rock!

Earlier this year, Tara and Jane moved out of their room and into a different room. This frees up their old room for the three little ones. Apart from the fact that it desperately needed sprucing up first. Which I solved by closing the door and ignoring it, hoping it would go away. It didn't ^^

Luckily I have a good friend who visited with a few cans of paints, and started painting the room. Tara and Jane were so interested in that, that they jumped in and joined the painting crew.

They are doing a great job, this is going to be an awesome room.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

E Pluribum, Unum

As you all know, (or not), I am a Dutch citizen. We moved to the States when I was 28 years old. I had a working visa, but a few years later, we got a green card. This means we can live here, but I cannot vote, so you can't blame me for Bush! It also means that I sometimes get into trouble when I get stopped by the border patrol.

Maybe one or two years ago, I said to myself 'It is time to naturalize'. I researched it, printed out the forms, looked at them, and got sooooooo overwhelmed. I put them in a drawer, and said 'I'll do them tomorrow.'

Tomorrow finally has arrived, and today I will get started on the process! Wish me luck! And hold me accountable, so I don't do the tomorrow thing again ^^ I am the queen of procrastination after all.

Quote of the Day

Sylvia, sitting next to me, and watching me yawn.
She ponders for a few seconds and tells me 'Mama! You seem very tired, maybe you should go to bed!'

I didn't tell her, but I still feel like sleep is such a waste of time! I just replied 'Maybe I should', but stayed awake anyway.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Cooking Fun

A few days ago, we had a craving for steamed rolls. We cut up some leeks, made bread dough, and went for it!

We mixed the leeks into the bread, to make it fast and simple.

A few hours later, we had freshly steamed rolls. There is something very satisfying about steamed buns, it is different texture than normal, oven baked bread. I like it.

Three guesses as to whether any of the boys touched those rolls.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

French Fries

Where my girls make sushi and Welsh rarebits, my boys are more meat and potatoes people. Last night, Cees proved that by making French fries for all the kids.

Somehow this was way more popular than other dishes this week.

Yes, it IS nice to have kids old enough to cook, even if they cook junk food ^^.

And ketchup IS a vegetable, right?

Quote of the Day

Sylvia, at the end of a long, drippy trail, in a happy voice 'Mama? Gravity helped me pee on the floor!'

Curse you, Newton!

Fifty Laps!

About a month ago, we decided that maybe we should join our local health club again. I looked into fees and programs and seemed that it would be pretty affordable for me and the kids. We were hoping maybe they would have a great December deal, but somehow they never offered one. So last night, I piled all the kids in the van, and drove up to the health club.

Hmmmm, that parking lot looks kind of empty.
Hmmmm, that building looks kinds of dark.
Hmmmm, this time of the day there really should be PEOPLE here.

All the kids got out, and a car drove by 'Hi! I am afraid that we are closed.'
Me 'Oh, too bad.'
'A town water main broke, and we don't have any water. Sorry about that.'

Oh well. I guess that's one of those things we can't argue with. So much for finally joining. My head light was still out too, which I had forgotten about till I drove out of the driveway in the dark. On Saturday, Tara and I had gotten a new bulb and said 'How hard can it be to change a head light?' I can report that Cees, Tara, and I now know exactly how hard it can be to change one on our van!

Today we tried again, and finally were able to join. Turns out that I can add all seven kids for a total of $29 for the YEAR. Not a bad deal at all!

Tonight, I got to get out to swim for the first time. I decided I should try to go for my ordinary 50 laps, never mind it is at least three years ago that I actually did swim that much. Happy to tell y'all that I still can do fifty laps quite easily. My biggest problem was the stupid goggles which I never got to work the way I wanted to. They were either hurting or leaking. It took me 38 minutes to swim the 50 laps, which is not a particularly good time, but I can work on improving that. For now I was happy to swim them at all.

After my laps, I spent a few minutes in the whirl pool to relax and then entered the sauna. There were two women talking in some weird Scandinavian language, maybe Danish. It was enjoyable to listen to them and try to make sense of them, while relaxing and soaking up the heat.

Tomorrow, I'll take the five youngest swimming. The older boys are more interested in cardiovascular workout and weights and will start later in the week.

I am happy we finally joined again. Now I just need to find the discipline to get myself back into shape.

Oh, and before we joined today, I got my head light fixed. One less thing to worry about!

Welsh Rarebits

Tara had been browsing our Moosewood cookbooks, and found a recipe for Welsh rarebits. I had no idea what the heck they were, but it sounded interesting, and not very hard to make. I did look up some of the origin, and wikipedia says:

The first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, but the origin of the term is uncertain.[1] One theory is that 'Welsh rabbit' is an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales the poor man's meat was cheese. Another theory is that the name was an intentional slur on the Welsh, since the dish contains no meat and so was considered inferior. Another theory is that because the word Welsh was at the time used by the English to describe anything inferior or anything foreign, the name alludes to the dish's Continental European origin.

Tara steamed some broccoli, cut some apples, toasted bread, and made cheese sauce. The kids were very excited that the sauce had BEER as one of the ingredients. We also added cayenne pepper and mustard. It was quite easy.

We assembled the ingredients and poured the cheese sauce.

Everyone who tried it, did enjoy it. Of course, there were some kids who were horrified with the idea of broccoli touching their lips, so they stayed far away from this meal.

Fun to try something like this. We will definitely eat this again.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


While we were making our vegan sushi, other members of the family preferred to put on their snow clothes and disappear outdoors.

I mean, just imagine the horror if they accidentally had eaten some vegetables!

Sledding fun


And making snow caves

I am glad they are enjoying themselves in the snow, because it looks like it's going to go on till tomorrow morning. Lucky us...