28 February 2010

Blogging Beauty

There are several perks to blogging, I have learned over the past fourteen months. It's good for my soul, for one. Writing about my experiences, both good and bad, is liberating. It enables me to let go of things. Once I have written them up, they no longer weigh me down.

It's also a wonderful way to keep far away family and friends in the loop. Relating little tidbits of my life makes me seem less far away, I hope. Posting pictures of Lola as she grows up and telling funny stories is a way for me to involve my family and friends in Holland when they cannot be a part of our daily lives.

And then, of course, there are the comments visitors to Northwoods Adventures leave. I get so excited when people leave me a comment. I try to be a good little blogger and do the same for other bloggers. We all like to know that people read, and appreciate, what we have to say.

Last, but most certainly not least, there are the give-a-ways. Every now and then I enter a give-a-way hosted by a blogger. Last week for instance, I entered Cheri's at Its So Very Cheri. She hosts awesome give-a-ways. And what do you know? I won! This weekend I received my package in the mail. It was a handmade facial mask, a Dead Sea mud pack, from Sweet Creek Herbs. Absolutely delicious. My skin hasn't been this smooth in a while. Just what it needed.

Thank you Cheri and Kathleen, you made my day!

20 February 2010

Take That, Tiger!

Tiger Woods's public apology really has people talking around these parts. Some think he's sincere, some don't. They're very passionate about the subject. Personally, I don't care. It is none of my business. It is nobody's business in fact, but Tiger's and his wife. They should be left alone to work out their issues. Or not. It's their choice, and I don't need to hear or read about it.

But this morning, when I checked my email and found the CNN AM Fix in my inbox, I noticed the Dutch have beaten out Tiger Woods for the Top Story. Ha! Just barely, though, and only because the US has an interest in the matter. Unlike Tiger, the Dutch cabinet has decided not to work out its issues. I wonder if the citizens of Holland get a public apology, too?

17 February 2010

Making Do

I had a little break down this weekend. It came over me quite unexpectedly while I was reorganizing our bedroom. The piles of clothes and miscellaneous clutter had been getting to me and I decided they needed to go. Right now. As I was putting stuff away, folding clothes, and doing laundry, I looked around and realized I wasn't happy with the result. It was nicely organized but it still looked like crap. I do not like the plastic stackable bins that hold my clothes, I do not like the shelf Ryan brought in from the garage for me, and I hate the fact that I do not have a place to store my bead and craft supplies. One where I can easily access them and Lola cannot get into them without supervision.

I laid down on our bed and took in the room. I am usually good at making the most of small spaces but this time it wasn't working for me. Because this is not my house. I can't take a hammer and nails and hang up a shelf, high enough to thwart a toddler. I cannot bring in my own furniture because there is no room for it. As I was lying there, not having a place of my own weighed heavily on me. It's not just this house, it's every house I have lived in since I moved to the US.

When we moved into Snug Harbor, our 700 square feet quaint cottage was filled to the brim. Ryan's things mostly, and what little I had brought with me from Holland. It was far too small to accommodate all our stuff. The furniture was too big. Nothing matched. It felt cramped. We fixed the house up on the outside, but the inside never received the love it needed. Before we were able to tackle that project, we were forced to move again, and found ourselves living in even smaller quarters. And surrounded by bins, dozens of bins, stacked to the ceiling.

I am so sick of not having a nice, comfortable house of my own. One that Ryan and I shape together. Where the furniture matches, where everything has its own place. Where Lola can play. Where I can craft. Where Ryan can make music. Where we can live. I want it more than anything. It breaks my heart that it seems further away than ever.

Please don't get me wrong. I truly appreciate my parents-in-law taking us in. They have a beautiful house, on the lake, surrounded by nature. I love having a fully functioning kitchen at my disposal, not one but three bathrooms, a hot tub, a fireplace operated by remote control, a dishwasher, and a washing machine. For homeless people, we are pretty well off. But it's not ours. Once again we are making do. We have been making do for so long.

It will be a while longer before we can make our dreams of having a home of our own a reality. And we'll make that work. We are fine, really. It just gets to me every now and then. So I throw myself a little pity party, my husband consoles me, and we get back on track. We make do. We're getting pretty good at it.

13 February 2010

Dutch Word Of The Day

Not many people at the casino realize I am Dutch. My colleagues all want to know how to pronounce my name, and where it comes from, but they mostly think I am an American with Dutch ancestors. Recently one my staff returned from maternity leave. During one of our meetings, my nationality came up and she was genuinely surprised to learn I am the resident alien, Dutch born and raised. I was asked to prove it on the spot by speaking to her in Dutch. She was very impressed by my skills and expressed the desire to learn Dutch. And just like that, the idea of the Dutch Word of the Day was born.

Every day when I come in, I write a Dutch word on the dry erase board with the translation and instructions on pronunciation beneath it. We have a lot of fun with it, especially when I throw in some g’s, forcing them to "hock a loogie" as someone so eloquently put it. Today’s word is gok automaat (slot machine) in honor of the big slot tournament promotion we are currently running on Saturdays. Next week, I am teaching them the days of the week.

Our little inside joke has started to take on a life of its own, however. Throughout the casino people are talking about the Dutch Word of the Day. They come to our office to see what the day's word is, they discuss it in the break rooms, and for the first time I am asked questions about windmills, tulips, and wooden shoes.

Now, if I could only get them to stop confusing Dutch with Danish. A Danish is something you eat. Easy, no?

03 February 2010

Girls Night In

Lola seems to have caught a case of the Terrible Twos lately. Trying times. Everything is a struggle; going potty, getting dressed, going to bed. Especially going to bed. The sweet little girl that climbed cheerfully up the ladder every night at bedtime, was content with reading a book and snuggling with mommy is gone. She climbs out of bed at least half a dozen times, she cries (sometimes screams) for a good thirty minutes most nights, and has become a master at stalling.

She goes exploring every day and empties out every cabinet or drawer she can get into. She refuses to sit in a shopping cart but insists on walking (read: running - toddlers don't walk), and yesterday she managed to sit down and poop on the floor. Trying times indeed. The only thing still going well is brushing her teeth. The girl loves to brush.

But tonight was different. Ryan was at school and it was just the two of us. We watched a little Scooby Doo together and chatted about her day. When it was time to start dinner, she brought a little stool into the kitchen, offering her assistance. She stirred the bacon and rolled out the dough with a rolling pin. While I finished preparing the savory leak pie that was on the menu tonight, she played with the dough scraps, baking a pie of her own and whipping up a batch of cookies as well. Good times.

At bedtime she protested only a little. Once upstairs she insisted on reading me the story of Spot. Afterwards she invited me to spend the night with her and her 30,000 stuffed animals but didn't seem to mind when I respectfully declined. She then proceeded to lovingly arrange her babies around her, laid down and went to sleep. Good times, indeed.

I love watching Lola care for her babies. She is normally your fairly clumsy toddler that likes to roughhouse. But when it comes to her babies, she is incredibly gentle. One baby in particular is treated in the most delicate way, a tiny leopard-like creature with a long tail and a human face. It is a little Anne Geddes doll and Lola adores it. She cradles it in her arms, softly petting it. I melt every time she does that. (On a side note: am I the only one who wonders what Anne Geddes was thinking that one Halloween when she was carving pumpkins? "Hmmm..., instead of the usual candle, why don't I stuff a baby in there?")

Lola will turn three in April and that will be the end of the Terrible Twos, it says in the manual. But I have already been warned by folks in the know. Apparently there is also the Terrible Threes. The good times are going to get even better...