Sunday, September 30, 2012

Walking in the Rain


Ah, the advantages of having a dog... Kicking kids and dog out in the rain to go on a nice hike, giving me the house almost to myself for a little while.


Today has been cleaning up day, the frustrating type of cleaning where you start with tons of clutter, clean up some but you STILL have tons of clutter after the pickup. Oh well, at least I KNOW that there has been progress.

But everyone is back now and it's time to go get some more boxes out of storage. Since we really want more clutter...
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Thursday, September 27, 2012


The joys of living in a swing state. We actually had the opportunity to go see Obama in real life.


We parked at a nearby airport where there were many many school buses to transport us to the Strawberry Banke Museum. What made this opportunity even more exciting to me personally is that this is the exact place where I got naturalized four years ago. I got naturalized a few months before my first presidential election and I voted for Obama. Now I was back here to see Obama.


There were long lines to get into the museum. Once we were inside we got a better idea of the crowd. I think there were about 7,000 people there.


The first speaker was Jeanne Shaheen. She is the first woman in U.S. history to be elected as both a Governor and U.S. Senator. In addition she was the first woman to be elected Governor of New Hampshire, in the late nineties. I had never actually heard/seen her in person either, so it was quite interesting.


Kate made most of the pictures. Here she got a shot of the secret service? guys on the roof of a trailer at the other side of the field. So happy to have a good zoom on the camera, otherwise would have been much harder to get any kind of useful picture.


Joe Biden was up next. He definitely got fired up.


Followed by John Lynch, our current NH governor.


And then, the moment we all had been waiting for: Obama!!!


He had a great speech and it was interesting to see the crowd's reactions to his words. I am so happy that Kate and I got the opportunity to see him speak. It surely beat a day in middle school for her.


My favorite quote of his speech was about the republicans "That's because all they've got to offer is same prescriptions that they've had for the last 30 years: tax cuts, tax cuts, gut some regulations—oh, and more tax cuts. Tax cuts when times are good. Tax cuts when times are bad. Tax cuts to help you lose a few extra pounds. Tax cuts to improve your love life."

When I moved to the US I was so happy that taxes were much lower here than back in the Netherlands. It took a while for me to realize that the current US tax code adds to the growing wealth inequality in the US. And I feel it is ridiculous that most millionaires pay relatively a lot less taxes than their employess. Now I realize that something is seriously wrong with the way taxes have been implemented here in the States.

And even if Obama hasn't been perfect in addressing those issues, I totally do not believe Romney's plan is an improvement.


We saw many men in black.


At some point we got tired of standing in the middle of thousands of people so took a break to sit down on the grass and relax.


When the speech was over we all left the museum and waited for the buses to get us back to the parking lot. Remember all those school buses which got us there? Well, they had totally disappeared in to thin air

So we waited.
And waited.
And waited.

For two and a half hours before some buses finally showed up.

Oh well, we met interesting people but it still was a long wait!


One person actually called a taxi and I think 20 people ended up piling into that taxi. It was quite humorous.

The campaign people actually got us chairs and water, so it wasn't too inconvenient of a wait,but I was still totally happy when we finally made it into a school bus. Where I tripled up with two other women on a bench made for two just to squeeze in as many people as we could.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Family Photos

My mother's visit was a great excuse to take some family pictures.


Just to show what our family usually looks like, adding two candid shots.


My mother is back in The Netherlands now. She had a good trip and has recovered from her jet lag. I hope she will be back soon for another visit!


I try to speak as much Dutch as I can with the kids, but it is soooooooooooo easy to slip into English. And Sylvia still gets a Dutch head ache when I speak Dutch. Kate just does not understand Dutch when she is tired and cranky. Oh well, I'll keep trying.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Apple Picking with Oma

We went apple picking with oma in one of our local orchards. The weather was beautiful, the fall air was clear, and the apples were perfect. Well, apart from the ones that weren't, but most of them were.

Oma with Three Grandkids

Erik managed to get himself out on a limb, picked a bunch of apples, put them in his t-shirt (he left his bag at the start of the limb) and then discovered that he couldn't climb back with a t-shirt full of apples...

I discovered that I left my SD card for the camera at home... Luckily the camera has an internal memory, but that only fits a few pictures. Still better than nothing.

Brady was amazed that this whole orchard was full of balls to play with. They had nice colors too! One time I threw a wormy apple and he was like 'A ball a ball, I'll chase it!!!!!' He almost pulled oma off her feet. Oops...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Meal Times with Oma

My mother lives on her own, so she is used to quiet meal times. She often has people over, including for meals, but she still is very much used to eating by herself or with only a few people.


Things are a bit different at our house. Our dinners tend to include five to ten people, sometimes more, so that was a tiny bit of an adjustment for oma. The dinner conversation is not always quiet and civilized and the table manners sometimes have room for improvement.


This was our dessert after apple picking. Kate and oma had worked together to make an apple pie. It didn't take long for it to evaporate.


Oma told us about her youth, when she lived in a house without electricity and had to sleep in the attic with her nine siblings. They all slept two to a bed, apart from her brother, who got a bed all to himself.


When there was a thunder storm, the attic wasn't deemed safe, so they all had to come downstairs, and sit in the living room, against the wall, until the thunder storm was over. Oma said that she would be sooo tired and sleep sitting up, but they weren't allowed to go back upstairs.


When oma's sisters turned teens, they would have to go to work. No high school for them, they would be hired as a domestic helper somewhere and work quite hard and not make much money.


My mom was one of the lucky ones who got to go to high school, most likely because she was the second youngest. The youngest two children got to go to high school, and one of her older sisters did too. The older sister who went to high school was a very good student and that was why she got an exception from the work requirement.


Anyway, it was wonderful to listen to oma's stories during meal times, but I bet oma is going to enjoy being home and have somewhat quieter meals. Less dishes too.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bonus Piano

In July, we visited quite some pianos but we never made it over to this one. The girls were so happy to see it when we took oma to Quechee Gorge and both of them had to play it.


It must have been a magical piano since it turned them into cows!!! Can't have anything to do with the Cabot cheese place right there, for sure...


My mom can't visit very long this time, but I am so totally enjoying every moment with her. I am thrilled she was able to make it over for a few days.
Tomorrow she'll leave us again.


Life is good!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Tales from Oma's Childhood

Yesterday we went for come cheese tasting in Vermont and came eye to eye with a moose and two babies. These were very well behaved moose (meese?!) and they allowed us to take some pictures with them.


After posing with the moose we were off to the nearby...


Quechee Gorge! Here oma and the grand children are looking out over the gorge, our 'Little Grand Canyon' in Vermont.


It is so nice to have oma around and hear stories about her youth. They would go swimming every morning, walking to the swimming pool (which was just river water redirected from the river) so they could learn to swim. They would have to walk there really early in the morning before school even started and after swimming they would walk to school.

Of course, boys and girls couldn't swim together, so first the boys would swim (6am to 6:30am) and then the girls were allowed to swim. Oma's brother Niek wasn't much of a fan of swimming. He would skip the whole water part, just wetting his swimming pants under the faucet to pretend that he had been swimming after all.

Not that she actually got lessons, she said that she mostly remembers hanging from the side, since her feet couldn't reach the bottom yet, not even in the shallow part of the pool.

Later on she actually got lessons.

When she was able to swim, a new pool opened in town. This was an posh pool that their family wouldn't have been able to afford, apart from them having special deals for families. She said the only reason they could swim there was that they had so many kids, so their family pass was affordable to them.
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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Dutch Visitors!!!!!

My visitors from the Netherlands arrived! So happy!!!!!
They include my mother (Yay!) and one of my favorite cousins from the Netherlands, Monique.

My mother had nine siblings, so in the Netherlands we had a big extended network of aunts, uncles and uncountable cousins. Some of them I saw sometimes, but Monique lived almost in our backyard (a five minutes walk if you walked slowly) so I saw her all the time.

We played together, we would go places together, we would do so many things together. Some of them good, some of them maybe not perfect.

We were accused of shop lifting together (No, we didn't actually DO it, they just didn't trust those three little suspicious looking girls) and we had to prove to the store's security guy that we did not shop lift by emptying our pockets.

Well, let's just say that my pockets kind of were (and still are) a one way dead-end street. So many items make it in, but nothing ever made it out. So while Monique and our other friend emptied their pockets in about three seconds flat, I kept finding more and more items in my pocket. In addition to that I continued to locate more and more pockets.

There were papers, there were old candy wrappers, there were interesting stones, there were paper clips, there were batteries, there were way more things than ever fitted in my hands or any one's hands. I guess after a while the guy was convinced that either we didn't shop lift, or that he didn't really want to deal with a whacko like me who could fit the volume of a horse in trinkets and gadgets and whatevernots in her pockets.


Monique had an older brother and every night they used to play soccer in their hallway. Not a huge soccer ball, they used a smaller ball, but still it was cool that they were allowed to play soccer in the house at all. Although after enough soccer nights there weren't any pictures left to be hit/broken by the ball, so I bet that helped.

But the biggest thing ever, that I am still traumatized about was that Monique had a swing INSIDE her house! An indoors swing!!!! In her bed room door! She could swing whenever she wanted. She could swing day and night, in rain and snow and hail and even when we had the car-less Sundays and couldn't go anywhere. And poor me? I soooooooooo desperately wanted a swing like that in my house. I thought it was terribly unfair that I didn't! Like I said, I am still traumatized by it!

Sure, she let me use her swing, but I wanted my OWN! And people wonder why I am so messed up!


One time Monique and I were teenagers and we went to a daytrip to an amusement park (the Efteling for the Dutch among us). We made mistakes in our train choice and somehow ended up somewhere totally different on the way back home, it would take at least two more hours, and knew we would be in trouble for coming home late.

Luckily we had the brilliant idea that instead of both calling our own mom to tell them, we could call each other's mother. So Monique called my mom and I called Monique's mom and both mothers totally didn't want to yell at us because we weren't their own daughter. Such a wonderful plan!

That was back in the days that we couldn't just whip out our cell phones and call or text home. We actually had to locate a pay phone, hunt for quarters ("Madam, could you by any chance change a dollar into four quarters?") and life was so much harder and it was uphill both ways.

Apart from there not being many hills in the Netherlands but that is beside the point!

Anyway, I am thrilled to have them over and we have had a good time talking about those old memories.
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Blast from the Past


Bonus points for the first one who correctly identifies these two ^^
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Tuesday, September 04, 2012


Trying out the fireworks settings on my camera.
This was in Chester, Vermont, pretty good fireworks.
Chester is one of my favorite towns, with many awesome memories attached to it.
  • Hiding a geocache with my sister behind their Public Tomb
  • A picnic at the cemetery after an awesome go study weekend.
  • Admiring the cool trees at said cemetery and soaking up the calmness and peace.
  • Many stops at the Moon Dog Cafe.
  • My kids playing at the school playground and having a fun time

Now I have a fun fireworks memory to add to my mental list.


I even got to find a geocache before I went to the fireworks because I found my GPS again! No, it wasn't in the house somewhere stashed away in the Great House Selling Quest of 2011 and 2012.

Instead it was...


In my car... Under the driver's seat... I will never be convinced again that my car is not a worm hole in time and space!
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