Sunday, March 30, 2008

Introducing: Snow!

Yes, another one.

And no, we didn't buy them, they just show up to volunteer their services around the house. The kids love watching them. Yes, through the windows, don't worry. They all have distinctive patterns of white and black, so naming them was very natural. And which kid wouldn't love saying 'We have pet skunks!'?

There was much excitement when this one showed up and they were 'Hmmm, I think this is not Riceball!' Tara ran to the computer to check pictures and came back 'It is not Riceball, this one has more white!!! It's a NEW one!' Such joy!

They are very adorable, mostly because of the safety added by the glass between us ^^

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Citizenship Saga Episode VI: Almost Done

Yesterday was the day of my citizenship interview and exam. I woke up to a white world, which was quite surprising. Last time I checked, it was spring. The weather didn't care, it still dumped four inches of snow on us.

My first reaction was annoyance. How did the weather gods dare to make it snow on this very special day? This soon was replaced by the realization that this would make for way better stories later. Sitting at the fire, with grandkids all around me, smoking my pipe (wait, skip the pipe), I can tell them 'You kids don't know how easy you have it. When I got naturalized, I woke up to a major snow storm. We had to drive to Manchester with a blizzard blowing around us. Uphill both ways! Barefoot! You kids did it the easy way by being born Americans!' They will look up at me with big eyes, in admiration for their courageous grandmother. (Yes, I am a dreamer and story teller, so what? ^^)

On the way down, I practiced for the exam by running my American friend through all the questions they could ask me. She knew most of them, although she drew a blank on some names, and she didn't even know how many voting members there are in the house of representatives. Neither had she any clue about which amendments deal with voting rights. It was fun to go through them by quizzing her. I felt confident that I knew all the answers by now, and it was good review for me.

We decided to combine the trip down to Manchester with some geocaching. Would be silly to make the trip and not find some caches, right? We ended up finding four and a half caches, which wasn't bad. I hadn't done any geocaching for almost two months, so it was long overdue. The snow interfered with caching, but it was nice to be out and about.

After some caching, we made it to the INS building, where we arrived with plenty of time to spare. I decided to go in five minutes early, which was calculated to show my good moral character, by being in time, but not too early. Too early would have shown me to be an over-achiever, right? The letter had said it could be two hours, so my friend was all set for a long wait in the car.

I went in, where the security guard commented on my cheerfulness. I wondered how I could NOT be cheerful when I finally made it to this interview, something I had been looking forward to for a long time. I chatted with him for a few minutes, went into the waiting room, and got called in almost immediately.

Got sworn in, and we sat down to answer all the questions. She wanted to know things like my birth date, and social security number, and double checked my address information. Asked some questions about the organizations I belong to (La Leche League and the American Go Association were on my list) and about my travel outside of the United States.

She wanted to know whether I was a communist, whether I had ever persecuted anyone because of race, and more moral and political questions like that.

Time for the citizenship questions. She only asked a few of them, and they all were easy ones. 'How many senators are there in the US senate? What is the most important right granted to a US citizen?' One or two more, the funny thing is that I don't remember specifics. I was almost in a trance like state, strong focus and presence, and very composed. It was nice to be able to find that calmness and composure.

She showed me a sentence I had to read out loud, and she dictated another one which I had to write down. This proved that I am able to read and write in English. Barely any time had passed and she told me that I passed the exam. Wow! I did it! This doesn't mean that I am a citizen now, it means that she recommended me for approval on my application for naturalization. Good enough for me.

I should get letter within four months to invite me to a ceremony to be sworn in, and after that ceremony, I will be a full fledged US citizen.

Amazing! I did it!

We celebrated by doing some more caches, and my friend bought me dinner. Mexican dinner ^^ Life is good!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Love Thursday

Love is building family traditions, because traditions give a sense of continuity and belonging. One of our family traditions is around Easter. We always dye eggs, and have an egg hunt. Sometimes we do it outdoors, sometimes we do it indoors (read: too much snow!)

This year, I had been feeling particularly unprepared, but we managed to get our Easter prep shopping done about eight hours before Easter started. Not bad , eh? Procrastination is a fine art.

I would like to tell that we used all natural dyes, boiling our own, organically grown beets into stunning colours. But the reality is that we got whatever cheap egg dye packages we could find at Kmart, since sometimes practicality ranks higher than idealism.

Egg dying was fun, even without beet dye. Hmmm, maybe especially without beet dye, since I am not sure whether my kids would have appreciated it as much as I would.

Happy Love Thursday from our family to yours!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Naturalization Part V: Invitation for Citizenship Exam

Did I mention that I got my invitation for the citizenship exam in February? I got kind of distracted by life, so I know I didn't blog about the letter, but I did get it.

My exam is March 28. Yes, that is in two days. Should I start panicking? No, I didn't think so. I went through the flash cards and the book, and think I am mostly prepared, just some finishing touches. I can do this!

I think the ceremony will be a few weeks after I pass the exam. This whole process went so much faster than I expected. Started early January, might be done in a few weeks (April I hope). Maybe naturalization in New England is faster than in other parts of the country? I am happy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Sylvia was climbing all over the back of the couch, looking like she could easily hurt herself. Tim came in, worried about her, and tried to gently coach her down by making her realize the precariousness of her situation. 'Sylvia! Is gravity on or off?'
Sylvia, looks at him, wondering why males are so clueless 'I turned it off!'

Tim, not giving up easily 'If gravity is off, why aren't you flying?'
Sylvia, starting to get annoyed at him 'Because I am NOT Super Sylvia To-The-Rescue!'
Tim '...'

Monday, March 24, 2008

Introducing: Riceball!

Any one can spell s-k-u-n-k b-a-b-i-e-s?

Introducing: Oreo!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

First Robin!

Yesterday, while driving home from Easter shopping (yes, why? Every one does their Easter shopping the day before Easter, right?), I took a backroad. I was happily ignoring my girls fighting in the back seat, talking to Cees, when suddenly, I realized what I saw next to the road. It wasn't roadkill. It wasn't a groundhog. It wasn't a deer. It was... (drum roll) a ROBIN!

This means spring is here. (Pauses to look out of the window at her very snowy yard). Well, kind of. Maybe it just means it will be here soon ^^

Happy spring!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Firewood Bliss

Since we started using the fire place this winter, we were in dire need of wood. A call to a local firewood place, resulted in a dump truck dumping half a cord of hard wood on our driveway.

Now what?

We stacked and we stacked and we stacked.

Everyone pitched in, and helped as much as they could.

The stack got bigger and bigger.

Cees tried to carry ten logs at a time. It took some tries, but eventually, he tasted victory!

It was not easy, but he did it!

The outdoors pile got smaller and smaller.

The indoors stack got bigger and bigger.

And we ended up with a wonderful stack of firewood, for many cozy nights around the fireplace!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Don't Give Up!

Sylvia, sitting at the table 'Mama, I am hungry!'
Me 'Many people have found that eating helps them to get less hungry. What would you like to eat?'
Sylvia 'I can't say, you have to tell me!'
Me 'Hmmm, let me think about this. Maybe a banana?'
Sylvia 'No!'
Me 'What about a piece of bread?'
Sylvia 'No!'
Me 'Maybe Cheese! Elephants! Cashews!
Sylvia 'No! No! No!'
Me 'I know! You want a rice ball!'
Sylvia 'NO!!!'
Me, ready to finish the discussion 'Please give me some kind of hint?'
Sylvia 'It is delicious!'
Me, wondering what would be delicious on Sylvia's menu today 'I figured it out! It's an apple!'
Sylvia 'Nope!'
Me 'OK, I give up!'
Sylvia 'Sorry, you can't give up, I put this on 'Don't give up!' mode!
Me '...'

Eventually, I figured out that she wanted a piece of chocolate. The 'Don't give up' mode really cracked me up ^^ Not a bad motto to live by.

The Gift Of Time

Today, was one of those running-around days, many appointments, many commitments. I knew the first appointment out of the house was at 9:45am, and I had to do many things around the house before I left. Like shoveling the driveway after the last snow / ice storm. Happy spring equinox to you too!

I shoveled, and I did my things, and kept an eye on the clock. I double checked my calendar, and lo and behold, my first appointment wasn't till 10:45am! A whole free hour! The bliss! The joy! The happiness ^^

I had a WHOLE extra hour in my day! Instead of mindless web surfing, I actually got some go studying done. It was so nice to get this unexpected gift of time. It was perfect! Well, maybe it was perfect till Tiger decided to jump into the cup of tea which was positioned next to my goban ^^

Love Thursday

Love is making a cake for your mother's birthday.

Love is attempting to bake an angelfood cake for the very first time ever.

Love is not getting discouraged when the construction of the pan, together with the nature of the angelfood cake batter adds up to batter all over the kitchen chairs and floor.

Love is just laughing when the kittens try to lick up all the batter.

Love is making a backup cake instead, shaping it into the shape of a heart, to replace the angelfood cake that wasn't.

Thank you, Tara! That was an awesome cake!

Happy Love Thursday!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Doll

Tara has been sewing a lot, one of her projects was this doll for Sylvia. She made two sets of clothes for it so far. Sylvia has been thrilled with her new doll.

It is fun to see her make so many projects, including matching skirts for all four of our girls. She is getting good at sewing!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Walk

Bear with me while I catch up from weeks and weeks of not posting. This actually happened ten days ago, although the neighborhood pretty much looks the same right now, with the snow layer a bit more condensed.

One day, after a long and cold winter, the sun actually was shining in such a way that you could feel it when you went outside. For a while, we were looking at it, confused about what this could be, and then the word entered our brains. Sun! Why, yes! It's the sun! Welcome back , Sun! We have waited too long for you!

We put on our boots, found our jackets, and went out for a spring walk.

What do you mean, most people don't throw snow balls during their spring walks??? This IS New England, you know.

Erik got snow in his boot, so did what anyone would do. He took it off.

Trying to hit the tree with snow balls.

But the best part was wading in the puddles. With snow boots!

Which inevitably means that the inside of the snow boots gets really wet and uncomfortable. They are snow boots after all, not rain boots. Kate was not amused. Me? I was just happy that spring is here. And I got a good reminder about how darned long it takes to dry very wet snow boots.

Life is good!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hi There!

'I have no idea what you are talking about! I tried to catch the perp, but he ran away! I didn't do it! Really!'

And yes, we still do exist, even if you wouldn't be able to tell from my postings, or actually lack thereof. I am busy putting my life together, and part of that was installing wireless in our house. Finally! Naturally, it took me a few days to figure out how to get this computer hooked up to it, but thanks to friends and my brilliance, I managed to do so.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Good activity on a snowy Saturday night.

Those balls can be quite heavy. But Sylvia was up to the challenge. She is a very able 3-years old.

Everyone had fun.

Both at bowling and at the other entertainment.

Better make sure to have lots of quarters when going there. It's amazing how fast they evaporate once the kids start playing.

And yes, driving home, we ended up in the middle of yet another snow storm, this has been a very snowy winter! Can it be spring already? Please?

Luckily, we had lots of high quality prizes to play with at home. Those quarters sure were well spent :p