09 December 2009

Snow! And Lots Of It!


We woke up this morning to a foot of snow. Winter has arrived, full-fledged. Tomorrow the low temperatures will drop even further. (They already have in Washington, everyone - including Ryan - is dealing with frozen pipes or hoses, it seems.)

Getting to work was a bit of a challenge, me being a Wisconsin newbie and a wimp about driving in the snow. But I made it, and in one piece. I felt really bad about being late on my third day, but when I realized hardly anyone (guests included) had come in, I felt much better. So good in fact, that I left again three hours later. I prefer a little daylight with my icy roads.

I came home to a nice and clean driveway. Clearly some serious snow shoveling had taken place in my absence.

08 December 2009

Wisconsin Winter Wonderland

It was a lovely drive to work yesterday. The frost on the bare branches made the trees look eerie and fragile. The thin layer of snow on the frozen lakes glistened in the sun. The Northwoods of Wisconsin are so very different from the evergreen forests of Washington but beautiful in their own right. I hummed Winter Wonderland all the way to work.

We're expecting snow over the next two days. And lots of it!

Tis The Season

Nothing cheers me up like Christmas music. When Ryan and I started packing up the barn, he asked me what music I wanted to listen to. I answered: "Happy music." He gave me the Partridge Family. He could not have made a better choice.

I should state I am not a fan of the Partridge Family, in fact I do not remember ever watching the show. I do, however, own their Christmas album. I have had it since 1972. It is my all time favorite Christmas album and the first one I play when my self imposed rules allow me to indulge in the sounds of the season, early December.

I am aware how this might make me look but I don't care. Think of me what you will. A Partridge Family Christmas Card makes me smile. Every time. Nobody says it like David Cassidy...


(Thank you Marja, for uploading this video to YouTube.)

Happy Holidays everyone, especially my blogging SITSta's! May 2010 bring good tidings to us all.

07 December 2009

Gainfully Employed

It was sunny and crisp this morning, when I got in my father-in-law's car to go to work. It took two tries to actually make it into the car, as pencil skirts and pick-up trucks do not match very well. A quick stop at the Tribal Offices to pick up the coveted gaming license, and I was off. I took the long way round today. I probably will quite often this winter because it is the busier and therefore better plowed road to work.

Today was my first day as Marketing Manager of the Potawatomi Carter Casino and Hotel, PCCH for short. It was only half a day and consisted of the grand tour, shaking many hands, a crash course in spotting money launderers, and filling out an enormous stack of paperwork. My colleagues were friendly and welcoming, and I really enjoyed myself. Tomorrow I'll sit down with the Marketing Director, meet my staff, and fill out more paperwork.

The best part? [Big Fat Grin] The preferential parking for managers!

05 December 2009

Home Alone

Lola and I are home alone, watching Home Alone. It is never too early to instill a love of all things Christmas, I say. But perhaps two and a half is a tad young for a full appreciation of the adventures of Kevin McCallister. I don't think Lola completely understands the story.

Until Kevin asked Santa to please bring back his mommy for Christmas. When I asked Lola if she too wants her mommy for Christmas, she answered: "Yes", and then changed her mind.

"No. I want my papa for Christmas."

04 December 2009

Small Town Charm

Every Christmas movie set in a small town I have ever seen, and that's quite a few, features the ceremonial lighting of the town's Christmas Tree. The town folk gather in the town square, they drink hot chocolate, and sing Christmas carols. It always made me feel warm and fuzzy inside and wanting to live in a small town myself.

And now I do.

Sure enough, Crandon has a tree lighting ceremony of its own. It was tonight, and it was freezing cold. The main event was preceded by a flashlight parade to Dr. Perry's house, caroling along the way. Lola, bundled up to withstand minus fifty degrees, marched cheerfully along, swinging her flashlight and singing Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs. And I, still emotionally wrecked, followed her smiling and blubbering while mouthing the words, too choked up to actually sing. Happy tears.

Dr. Perry's house is something you must see for yourself. Every holiday season she turns her house and her property into an enchanted forest filled with Christmas Joy. There is nothing tacky about it, it is unbelievably beautiful. People come from near and far to see it. Lola was mesmerized.



Afterwards we town folk gathered together for hot chocolate, cookies and a little heart to heart with Jolly Old Saint Nicolas. Miss Lola was delighted with the candy cane from Mrs. Claus, and ever so softly told Santa she would like Elmo for Christmas. She's a believer, just like her mom.


Lola is asleep now, nestled all snug in her bed. I have no doubt visions of sugar plums dance in her head.

And it is snowing outside.

02 December 2009

Fresh Start

Hello and welcome to Northwoods Adventures! Your primary source for all things N. & Van H. Visit often and read all about how Hanneke fares with the high rollers, how Lola develops a Wisconsin accent, how Ryan teaches his wife and child to ride a snow mobile (yes mom, I will be careful!).

Because Olympic Adventures has its own web address of the same name, I purchased a new web address with the more generic name www.thedutchgirlsadventures.net to publish our new adventures. 'Cuz you never know, we might end up in Texas some day. (I copied the content of Olympic Adventures into this blog for the sake of continuity and convenience.)

So just this once, change those bookmarks, renew your email subscriptions, and hit the 'Follow This Blog' button one more time.

Thank you!

30 November 2009

Tough Girl

We're here. Here is Crandon WI, population 1961. Make that 1964. Lola, Sandman, and I flew into Wisconsin last Friday. Ryan will follow in a little bit with a U Haul truck full of furniture and clothes. Lots of clothes. After a busy week of packing boxes and suitcases, visits from friends, and selling more antiques, I kissed my husband good bye, and left Washington for good. My Olympic Adventure has come to an end.

I have mixed feelings about Washington. When Ryan and I were driving back to Olympia after celebrating Thanksgiving with friends in Seattle, we were telling each other our happy Washington memories. There are so many. It is the place where I fell in love, became a wife and a mother, where I watched a bald eagle fishing not thirty feet away, where I camped in the rainforest, where I built a home.

Washington is also the place where I learned first hand about the harsher side of America. Where not one employer would give an experienced communications expert a chance. Where most companies cannot be bothered to reply to an application, or have the decency to tell you they hired someone else after interviewing you. Where no work means no health insurance. Where it is every woman for herself.

But that is not all I learned. I found out I am as tough as they come. I am resilient. I can rough it. I can start a fire from scratch. I can operate an excavator. I can go a year, or longer even, without buying clothes. I can give birth without pain medication. (As I write this, I remember how giving birth the old fashioned way empowered me. If I can handle that kind of pain, I told myself at the time, I can handle anything. And I have.)

I know from experience that over time the bad memories will fade and the good ones will remain. So will the life lessons of my Olympic Adventure. I will apply them to my new adventure. Whatever it is, I can handle it. Bring it on! Forged titanium indeed.

26 November 2009

Stellar Solace

Today's horoscope for Scorpios:

The links in your chain are straining under the weight of their load, but they will hold. You are forged titanium. You are built solid, from the ground up. No shortcuts, no alloys.

It may be a generic horoscope in today's paper, but I'll take it.

19 November 2009

Clearance Sale

There is a big empty spot in our kitchen where our beautiful antique cooking stove used to be. It was picked up last night by its new owners. For the remainder of our Olympic Adventure we will have to make do with a microwave, a pizza oven, a rice cooker, and one measly hot plate if we wish to eat.

The big Clearance Sale has begun. The weather does not allow for a yard sale, we do not have a garage, and there is not enough room in the barn for a barn sale. We are making do with Craig's List instead. So far we have been quite successful. In addition to the stove, we have sold our jetted claw foot bathtub and our riding lawn mower.


It saddens us to see everything go. Selling our stuff off makes leaving Washington and suspending this dream very real. The stove especially since it was the first item we stored inside our home and used on a daily basis. It fit the barn perfectly and literally leaves a void. But we tell ourselves everything is replaceable and there will be other cool stoves and bathtubs. And we can take our dream with us to Wisconsin and wherever else we will go.

We find solace in the fact that our things are going to good homes. The tub is on a barge right now, sailing to Alaska, to warm a lovely couple that knows all about roughing it. The lawnmower has been purchased by a church and is doing God's work. And the stove now lives in a converted granary to be cooked on by another European immigrant. Very cool. I know it is silly but it really matters to us. Ryan and I are such dorks.

17 November 2009

Tough Love

My child is a thumb sucker. A passionate thumb sucker. She does not discriminate between the left and right thumb, they both taste equally delicious. In an attempt to prevent future orthodontist bills, I tried introducing her to a pacifier when she was a baby, but when she discovered her thumbs on her own, I abandoned my efforts. She loves it, it soothes her, and frankly speaking, it looks very cute.

Her thumb sucking is impeding her dental development, though. Her front teeth have not completely come down, and she cannot properly pronounce the 'L' and the 'Th'. The time has come to take her thumbs away from her. For a while now, we have been pulling her thumb out of her mouth whenever we catch her. It works for a few minutes, and then one thumb or the other goes right back in.

Harsher measures are in order. Cutting her thumbs off is obviously not an option. Instead, we have resorted to a nasty tasting nail polish-like solution. Tonight was the first night she could not suck her thumb to help her fall sleep. She did not like it, to put it mildly. She cried and screamed my name for what seemed like a very long time. My poor baby.

I remember so clearly how awful it was when I had to stop sucking my thumb. My sister and I quit together, cold turkey. Of course we were much older than Lola. I was ten years old, and had an impressive overbite. The first night was horrible. To help us fall asleep, my mother laid down between the two of us, holding my right thumb and my sister's left thumb in her hands. Not one of us slept very well that night, least of all my mom.

Lola fell asleep after about half an hour. That's not so bad. I think this is much harder on me than it is on her. It is a good thing she has two parents because I am not very good at tough love. I have some growing up to do, too.

12 November 2009

Virtual Friends & Idols

Did you catch the new slide show of favorite posts over on the left side of Olympic Adventures? I would love to be able to say I made that, but no, I do not possess the necessary skills. Yet. Someday I want to learn all about programming HTML, Flash, etcetera. I think it would be a valuable addition to my resume and I know I would highly enjoy doing it.

No, I won the slide show! My new virtual BFF Cheri hosted a give-a-way on her blog Its So Very Cheri. She had quite a few gifts to hand out and I won the slide show made by Jane of Frugal Fine Living. Jane makes a mean autumn pork roast, too, by the way! Thank you both very much, ladies.

It's a funny thing, the business of blogging. I really enjoy blog hopping when I have the time, and finding inspiration for crafts, decorations, and recipes. Or life in general. You leave a comment here and there, and before you know it, you've made a new friend.

I highly admire the women that have turned their blogs into businesses. Not by simply adding Google Ads to their blog, but by being creative. Like The Crock Pot Lady for instance, who decided to use her slow cooker every day for a year and blog about it. Hers was the first blog I started following. She has just published a cookbook! Or Tip Junkie, who wants us all to buy from 'Mom-preneurs' this holiday season. (I am going to ask Santa for the slow cooker cook book I think, doing just that.)



Someday I hope to do something similar. I have no idea how or what at the moment, but there's something brewing in the back of my mind. With life becoming a little less stressful soon, it will be fun to play around with and develop ideas. I'll keep you posted!

11 November 2009

Emotional Wreck

That's me. Ever since I was offered the job in Wisconsin, my emotions have been all over the place. I am driving my husband, my child, but mostly myself absolutely nuts! Very uncharacteristic of me. Perhaps the past years of bad luck and financial woes are finally catching up with me, now that they're about to end.

I want to be happy and joyful about being offered this job but I just worry too much. It keeps me up at night. I am afraid I will not be granted a gaming license, a necessity for working in a casino. It also makes me sad to walk away from so much potential, the property we put our hearts, souls, and savings into. Not to mention there is so much to do before we move. And almost no time to do it.

But we're finally taking a step forward. A small step maybe, but in the right direction. And I am truly appreciative of the opportunity we have been given here. I am very much looking forward to living in Wisconsin.









I just need to have faith that this is where we are meant to be right now, and hand my worries over. The universe will take care of the rest.

Including the FCP Gaming Commission. Hmmm...

03 November 2009

A Midwest Adventure

I was in Wisconsin the past few days, visiting with my in-laws, and interviewing for the position of marketing manager with a casino in the Northwoods. My interview went well, after a bit of a rough start. Rather than opening with the standard "So Johanna, tell us a little bit about yourself..." the first question posed to me was: "Please tell us about one of our promotions and what you would do to improve it?" It felt like I was taking a test I hadn't studied for. "Eh..."

The next question was also a good one: "Tell us about your past experience in gaming." I have none. Things improved after that, fortunately, and I left with a good feeling. I had made a portfolio of marketing materials I have made for my previous employers and it was very well received. I am absolutely convinced they like me as a person, but more importantly, they must like as a marketeer as well. I really hope so, I want to move to Wisconsin. I want to live within driving distance of family and friends, and make a fresh start. It will be a major transition with some very serious consequences, but I am so ready to take that step.

On Friday, the day of my birthday, my parents-in-law and I drove south again. We took the scenic route along the river, through the woods and the rolling hills of America's Dairyland. I have this fantasy of one day living in an old farmhouse on a couple of acres in the middle of nowhere. My dream was almost tangible as we were making our way down state. At one point we saw a young couple parked by the side of the road. They had removed the back seats from their car and simply sat there, looking out over the river.

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." - Elizabeth Lawrence

I celebrated my birthday and Halloween with my brother and sister-in-law. The afternoon was spent carving pumpkins. It was fun watching my nieces work on their creations. E. meticulously carving an intricate design she had downloaded off the internet. M. confidently drawing a face on her pumpkin in one go and carving it out. And L. insisting on scooping out all the goop and seeds herself.

They live in a neighborhood with plenty of children. Every year at Halloween three streets are blocked off to all traffic and one street is converted into a Haunted Street with a haunted house and more spookiness. Huddled around a fire pit in the driveway we watched hundreds of creatures great and small walk by. At one point one of the neighbors remarked he had already handed out 1700 pieces of candy. And he needed more! Since this was Wisconsin, plenty of parents accompanying their kids sported a beer. Something you would NOT see in Washington. A Starbucks coffee maybe, but alcohol? Never!

As I was watching the little ones trot by, I really missed Ryan and Lola. Her first official trick or treating, and I wasn't there. That is the only thing I did not like about my trip: having to celebrate my birthday and Halloween without them. Next year it will be different! I think I'll go as a witch...
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