Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love is...

Love is spending three days (not continuously, but on and off) filling out forms, so that one's sons can get their naturalization certificates. Did I mention how I hate filling out forms? Will be interesting to see how long it will take to get those processed. Since my naturalization went so fast, I am hoping this will go fast too. I mailed them today.



Love also is having a friend who is willing to delay her workout to help one with filling out said forms. Thank you, flyingfisher!

Happy Love Thursday!

Our Totem

Look who showed up in our backyard?



We had seen signs (yes, deer poop) before, but this was the first time ever we saw one 'in person' in the yard.



Not the best pictures, but I just had to share. Life is good!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wet Summer

It has rained almost every day in July so far. Many big storms too, my basement started leaking again, which is annoying (not in a bad way, but just annoying). Some day I'll have to actually get it fixed I guess.



  • Today: A chance of thunderstorms. May be severe with large hail and damaging winds;
  • Monday: Chance of T-storms;
  • Tuesday: Mostly sunny;
  • Wednesday: Chance of showers;
  • Thursday: Chance of rain;
  • Friday: Chance of precipitation;
  • Saturday: Chance of showers;

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Violin Lessons

A long, long time ago, I used to play the violin. I played in a bunch of orchestras, visited foreign countries, and had a great time at it. Then life happened, and I didn't really play any more.



Fast forward many years, and Dawn and Jane decided they want violin lessons. Today, we observed a lesson. Tomorrow, I will talk to the teacher and then we can sign them up. Lessons are taught using the suzuki method, will be fun!

Bonus points if you can find me on this old old picture.

The Ocean

After the ceremony, we decided that we were so close to Maine, we really should visit there. None of us ever had been in Maine yet, do this was a fun first thing to do as new Americans.



We spent some time just enjoying the ocean, followed by finding a cache at a light house, and swimming in the ocean! It was frigging COLD. As in cold, cold, cold! I found out that one should not float in the ocean in such a way that the waves enter one's nostrils and mouth when they break on said person. Just saying.



Since the Portsmouth fireworks had been canceled, and we all really enjoy watching fireworks, we did some asking around about the closest town which would have fireworks. This means we drove a bit more North, and watched fireworks in Kennebunk, Maine, right at the beach and the ocean. Very special!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sisters

Quote of the Day

Erik 'Mama! I accidentally lied on my silly putty!'

Summer!



A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.
--James Dent




"People take pictures of the Summer, just in case someone thought they had missed it, and to prove that it really existed."

-- Ray Davies



"Summer afternoon - Summer afternoon... the two most beautiful words in the English language."

-- Henry James



"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."

-- John Lubbock



"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
-- William Shakespeare



When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say We are going to have a summer shower.

--John A. Macdonald

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Humans 101



































Copy righted by Jane

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Portsmouth Geocaching

Guess what I did after my ceremony? Yes, that's right, I went geocaching! Quite a surprise, isn't it?



The closest cache was here at the harbour. Could I find it now that I was American? Could I? Would have been the perfect log, wouldn't it? 'Just naturalized, first find as an American, TFTC'.



But no! I could NOT find it. So my first geocaching as an American was getting a DNF. Great! I am sure the cache must have been muggled, right? Can't have been my lousy geocaching skills.



Luckily, I ended up finding a cache in Maine, close to this light house, so I celebrated my citizenship by finding my first ever Maine cache. Who cares about those stupid New Hampshire caches anyway??? ^^

Monday, July 14, 2008

Important Discovery of the Day

Names changed to protect the innocent.



Michael 'By the way, do you know drills work MUCH better when set to forwards? It took like 5 minutes to drill through the wood backwards!'
Me 'Oh, that is an important discovery'
Michael 'It only took 15 seconds once I changed the drill to forwards.'
Me, wondering about his sanity, but brought up to be nice to people 'Thanks for sharing!'
Michael 'Well, it was not exactly my fault! You know what they did???? They labeled the buttons R and L. I saw R and picked L because R = reverse. Later, I realized that they obviously meant Right handed, but really, what does that mean? which way do I look to determine it's right handed? downwards or upwards?'

With friends like that, who needs reality tv???

Naturalization Ceremony

The ceremony. The moment it really happened. The date I had been waiting for. Quite impatiently too. The culmination of all the forms, all the money, all the hardships, all the hoop-jumping. The ceremony!



We were ordered to report to the Strawberry Banke Museum at 9:30am. I didn't trust us being in time there during the holiday traffic, so we spent the night in a hotel in Portsmouth. The boys enjoyed the complimentary breakfast, especially the sugar bomb cereals.



We got there nicely in time, found the bath rooms, as not to have to pee during the ceremony, and politely declined the large free coffee for that same reason. I was wondering about the sanity of offering people lots of coffee and then require them to sit for a few hours. I did take the free bottled water though, felt I needed to get good value for my naturalization money ^^



We sat and we sat and we sat and we waited. I spent my time chatting with the people around me, and making fun of the program which had a list of home countries, but forgot to mention countries like Belgium, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. Although there was another copy circulating which did include those countries, but was black and white instead of red and blue letters. No idea why they did it that way. It felt like a small logistical mess up, but they did all the big things right, so we didn't care.



At 11am, the ceremony started. We watched the presentation of the colors. We got speeches about the awesomeness of it all. We took the Oath of Allegiance, giving up our old citizenships. That part for me was the most important of the ceremony. Not Dutch anymore, but American. It still feels weird. Giving up a citizenship was a new experience for me. My identity always was tied into the 'I am Dutch' and now am adjusting to 'I am American' Happily so, but it still is a big change.



We got congratulated by President George W. Bush (on a recording) and we got a personal letter from Bush to welcome us to American citizenship. Just like all the other 15,000 people who got naturalized on July 4th of 2008. I felt very special ^^. We listened to the national anthem, and to 'Proud to be an American' and waved our flags. We listened to them telling us about America the best and the most powerful. There were television cameras and radio reporters. I was so happy I wasn't sitting in the first row, I don't think I would have done a good job of replying to 'What does this day mean to you?' if they had shoved a television camera into my face.



It was quite interesting. They did a great job of organizing it and making it very American. We even all ended up with the correct citizenship certificate, which took some logistical juggling on their part, I was impressed. During the ceremony, all 194 of us, from 57 different countries, became Americans. Of course, my friend had to point out that most likely I was the only one who went to the ceremony with her GPS, ready to go geocaching right after ^^. Just look at the picture. Please also notice the big American flag and bracelet, both made by Kate.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Six Flags

My friends took four of my kids to Six Flags.



They had a great day!



And I had the day off. What an amazing feeling that was!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Love is Red, White, and Blue!

Yes, I know you must be tired of those colours by now, especially since the Dutch flag was red, white, and blue too, so what is the big deal anyway?

I am just blown away by how much support I have gotten from my children and my friends during my naturalization saga. It was a way bigger event than I expected it to be because all of you who were there with me. Both in spirit and in person. I love it!



Kate made me a red, white, and blue necklace and bracelet and a flag. I took all three to the ceremony. I even waved Kate's flag in addition to the 'Made in China' one we got, when we were gently encouraged to all wave our flags. Tara's flag was a bit big to carry with me ^^

My first American Love Thursday! Happy Love Thursday to all of you!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Phone Call of the Day

Trrrrring! I am at my friend Susan's house and the phone rings.
Susan 'Hi, who is there?... Oh hi Sylvia! ... Yes, your mom is here, do you want to talk to her?'
Me 'Hi Sylvia, what can I do for you?'
Sylvia 'Tiger just puked!'
'Oh no! That is not good. I am glad you have many able people around you to help you clean up.'
'I want you to clean it up!'
'Well, I am at Susan's house right now, and can't really do it from here.'
She wasn't ready to hear excuses like that 'I want you to come home and clean it up and then you can go back to your Susan's house.'
'I don't think I am quite ready to do that, why don't you ask Tara to help you clean it up?'
'No!!!! You should clean up your OWN kitty puke, you know!'



Eventually could convince her that it was ok to have my friend help her clean it up.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jane's Garden

Jane made her very own garden on our deck.



Hard to keep any plants alive in it though because the water drains too well. Still, it looks pretty cool. And I always wanted lots of dirt on my deck ^^

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rock The Vote!

Today, I went to city hall and registered to vote. After I did that, I walked over to our post office and got my passport application in. My very own US Passport! Wow!

Tara made this paper flag at our local art gallery, I was impressed by the size of it. Now that I am American, it IS all about size, right?



  • Fourteen years ago, I entered this country with just two kids, and a H1B visa;
  • Ten years ago, I entered again, with 4.5 kids this time, and a H4 visa, as the spouse of a H1B visa holder;
  • Nine years ago, I entered with a brand new and shiny green card after getting lucky in the diversity lottery; I also had a brand new baby, named Kate;
  • When Kate turned five, I knew I was going to apply for naturalization soon. I had six kids and was pregnant with Sylvia.
  • Life happened, and it wasn't till December that I actually started the process.
  • January 2008, the application arrived at the USCIS office.
  • Today: I am official and registered to vote, and will have my passport soon. What a ride it has been!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Red White Blue II

On Thursday, I picked up Tara from her origami class and she had her last lunch with her Dutch mother. We went to an Irish pub of all places, and had red/white/blue chips and a stunning black bean dip for appetizer.



Brought the leftovers home for my family and friend to enjoy, and to show off the fact that we had red/white/blue chips ^^. Sylvia sure did love them.

Learning Korean

Let's backtrack a few weeks, when I found this t-shirt in the thrift store. Hmmmm, I did recognize that the language was Korean, but I have to admit that I had no idea how to read it. Not to mention that I did wonder how this t-shirt would show up in a thrift store in New England, in the middle of nowhere.



So I bought it anyway to ask my Korean go teacher about it. He translated it for me, and said 'Have you ever thought about learning Korean?' Well, yes, I had, but I was starting on Chinese first, which frankly is not going so well with too much life going on.

He told me about the Korean characters being very easy and totally phonetic. He told me about King Sejong who allegedly designed the alphabet in 1446, so that every Korean could learn to read and write easily. He was quite successful and nowadays, Korea has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

He stated that I should be able teach myself how to read the characters in a few hours. Frankly, I knew he must be overestimating me, because I had seen Korean script, and it looked quite overwhelming to me. No way I could learn that in a few hours!

I set out to prove him wrong. I mean, I had been studying Chinese, I knew what a steep learning curve there is for the Asian languages. Of course, I wouldn't be able do it.

Watch me finding this web site and starting on it. Hmmmm, this isn't too bad. I got more and more interested and lo and behold, at the end of the afternoon I was able to sound out any Korean text (as long as they use hangul, that is).

No, I don't know the meanings yet, but at least I can read Hangul phonetically now. It's a start, right?

Of course, once I learned to read, I wanted to understand too, and I am studying vocabulary and grammar now. In my spare time, yes. It is quite enjoyable. I have learned important phrases like 'Hello', 'Thank you', 'Good move', 'Stupid move', and 'You got lucky this time!'

And the best thing, Jane saw me study and got interested and taught herself how to read Korean too! She knows some basic phrases and I am just amazed how easily she picked it up! Very impressive. I love it.

Funny how a thrift store find can lead one to Korean studies.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Patriotic Cookie

My friend made me this cookie, yes, it is giant!



I took it home, made some pictures, collected all the kids, and the cookie was gone within twenty minutes!



I had some strawberries and blueberries, unlike most of the kids who preferred just strawberries on their portion. Aren't we lucky that the flag has more stripes than stars!



She made me a lovely card too, but I just realized that I didn't make any pictures of it yet. It had a lot of blue and red letters.

I feel very blessed having so many good friends around. What a wonderful way to celebrate my new citizenship!

This Might or Might Not Have Happened in a Universe Near You

Teen Creature: 'Did you go shopping today?'
Maternal Creature: 'Yes, I did.'
Teen Creature: 'Did you get tortellini?'
Maternal Creature, falling back to the ways of mothers everywhere: 'No, I didn't. Was it on the list?', knowing full well that whether it was or not, the absence of tortellini is going to be blamed on her for sure. Also knowing full well that it was indeed not on the list, but trying to help said teen creature find solution for maternal creature not getting the correct groceries.



Teen Creature, exasperated 'No! But I was going to PUT it on! We ran out yesterday!' fully believing that the maternal creature should have read the teen's mind and anticipated teen's desperate need for tortellini. It is amazing how dense those maternal creatures can be!

Red, White, and Blue

From my sister and my friend, red, white and blue flowers!



And red, white, and blue food!



Which I ended up eating for breakfast on my last full day as a Dutch person. Sharing some with my American daughter, while three of my other American kids had swimming lessons.



This was Sylvia's very last breakfast with her Dutch mother. A momentous occasion for sure.