24 January 2010

Big Girls Don't Cry

After being caught making a huge mess earlier today, Lola was put in a time out. She is usually very compliant about her punishment. But this time she took off the minute we turned our backs, inviting the following reprimand:

"Now sit down and stay there. And don't pout. Take your time out like a real woman."

And so she did.

21 January 2010

Improv Skills

What to do when you find yourself in need of a band aid and there are none to be found?

14 January 2010

Don't Panic, Ask Google

"What happened to my money?" Lola asked me as she walked into the kitchen tonight.

"I don't know," I answered her, "where did you put it?"

"In my mouth."

...

"Lola, please come here. Did you put money in your mouth? And did you swallow it?"

"Yes."

"Did you really do that, Lola? And is it now in your tummy?"

"It was in my mouth. And now it's gone." She opened her mouth as wide as she could to prove it.

Great. Now what? Should I panic? Bad idea. Then what? She seemed absolutely fine. No crying, no aches or pains. No drooling, no discoloration, nothing. No need to panic. Yet.

I told her to come with me to the living room where I grabbed my wallet and looked for a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter. "Can you tell me which one you put in your mouth?"

She pointed to the quarter. Argh! "That one. No, that one," she added, pointing at the dime. Better, but I wasn't sure what to believe. And I still didn't know what to do. My CPR training did not cover this.

Being a twentyfirst century mother, I turned to Google. I typed in what to do when your child swallows a coin and hit return. It came back with 52,400 hits. I was relieved to find out I was not alone on this one. And after reading a few results I felt much better. The consensus seemed to be to wait for the coin to pass. And perhaps speed up the process with Fiber One bars. Not having any at hand, I gave her a handful of prunes.

To make sure I am not a horrible mother by not rushing her to the Emergency Room, I called her pediatrician in Washington since the doctor's office in Crandon was already closed. The nurse told me what signs to look for that warrant a trip to the hospital: high fever, vomiting, severe belly aches to name a few. So far she appears unaffected.

So now all we have to do is wait and very closely examine anything that comes out the other end. It's a good thing potty training has not yet been completed. Ryan will be thrilled. She is sleeping with me tonight, just so I can keep an eye on her.

And as if all this wasn't trying enough, while I was talking to the nurse, Lola got into the band aid supply and stuck them on her legs. All but one. I should use that remaining band aid and tape her mouth shut. Tempting, very tempting...

11 January 2010

A Public Apology

Dear Fellow Northwoods Drivers,

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all of you for my driving. Not that my driving is bad, it's just that I'm slow. Driving in the snow is not my forte. Being a Wisconsin newbie, I have little experience with it. Add to that the minimal profile on my tires, and general fear of accidents, and you end up with the driving style of a little old lady. Like the winter weather, it will not last. I promise. In the meantime, please be patient with me as I am working on my ice truckin' skills. This morning, when the road was covered in ice and snow, I was doing at least 40 mph. At times I even made it up to 45 mph! That is a definite improvement over my first week on the road when my speedometer never made it past 35 mph.

I do, however, have a favor to ask of some of you. Please, please, pretty please, stop tailgating. There is plenty of room to go around me, so go ahead and use it. Riding my butt will NOT make me go faster. It will only result in my blood pressure and yours going up, and no-one is going to benefit from that. And if you feel that you must drive as close to me as you possibly can, at least be kind enough to lower your brights. Really, blinding me will not make me speed up either. It is as ineffective as it is dangerous, not to mention extremely annoying.

Thanks so much for your consideration. Safe travels!

Hanneke N.

P.s. I realize it must be confusing for you because my husband drives our car too, and his driving style varies greatly from mine. He is convinced the emergency brake is a bona fide winter tool for one. Sorry.

09 January 2010

Blessed Or Cursed?

Ryan and I were deliberating the other day whether we were blessed or cursed. He thinks we’re cursed, I don’t. It’s not that I am in denial about our current hardships – as much as I would like to be – I just tend to look at things in a more positive way; the ol’ half full/half empty glass debate. I am convinced having a positive mindset will help me accomplish my goals. The Power of Positive Thinking works for me. At the very least, it brings me peace.

I believe we mostly brought our present trials and tribulations on ourselves by bad habits and a few questionable decisions. Add in some bad luck and a failing economy and before you know it, you’re living the American Nightmare. But I clearly see our many blessings and believe we are slowly working our way back up again. I realize it’s probably easier for me to say that; I leave the house every day to go to a fun, albeit increasingly demanding job. Ryan is stuck at home for the moment with no place to go, and no way to get there.

Our lack of transportation is what started this conversation. We are a one car family at the moment, and the Northwoods are a harsh place to be without a car. I had been using my father-in-law’s pick-up truck, leaving Ryan our car. About two weeks ago, the truck suddenly overheated. It’s been in the shop awaiting repair, but every couple of days they give us a call to tell us it’s not what they thought it was, it’s worse. First it was the water pump, and then it wasn’t. It was a broken bolt that could only be reached by removing just about everything under the hood. The latest is the engine needs rebuilding as a result of said bolt rattling around.

As if that isn’t bad enough, our own car needs new tires – suitable for Wisconsin winters – and new windshield wipers. And a new antenna, too. And the fuse for the back lights and parking lights keeps blowing for no apparent reason. An oil change probably wouldn’t hurt either. The muffler fell off a while back, making our otherwise inconspicuous Nissan sound like a rally car. Then the 'Check Engine' light came on. Finally on Thursday, the remainder of the exhaust started dragging over the pavement, forcing us to get the whole thing fixed right then and there. Bye bye to this week’s paycheck.

Yes, this is bad luck. Not to mention lousy timing. But that doesn’t mean we’re cursed. I refuse to believe the Powers That Be look down on us and say: "What? They have running water again? And plumbing? And they no longer have to run outside in the middle of the night to get wood? That’s not right. We need more suffering. Let’s take away their muffler."

It’s not bad Karma either. It’s bad maintenance. Due to lack of finances. Due to... I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with Ryan about one thing. When will this end? While I do not view this as a curse, it is a far cry from a blessing. Enough already!

And just in case I'm wrong and we are cursed, does anyone know of a tried and true method for curse reversal?

08 January 2010

Cute And Funny

"I'm cute," Lola informed me last night when we were getting ready for bed. She gave me her best fake smile; her mouth wide open, her teeth clenched, and a twinkle in her eye. Very much like this one. I couldn't help but laugh.

"I'm funny, too," she added.

How could I possibly argue with that?

02 January 2010

Heeere's Johnny!

Image credit: www.imdb.com
We're alone. My parents-in-law left early yesterday morning for Arizona. For the next four months it is just the three of us up here in the isolated and snowy Northwoods. If Ryan starts building a maze in the backyard, Lola and I are out of here. (I am starting to wonder if I should be concerned about the two sledding runs he built?) I hid the axes and chainsaws just in case.

01 January 2010

Happy 2010!

Happy New Year from the Northwoods! May 2010 be a happy, healthy, and prosperous year for all of us. I love the anticipation and excitement that comes with a new beginning.

For the second year in a row I did not have it together enough to send out Christmas cards. I had wonderful ideas for handmade cards but alas, my address book was in North Dakota when the time came.

I considered sending out New Year's cards instead, but who am I kidding? That is not going to happen either. If it did, I would imagine they'd look something like this...

23 December 2009

Ode To Mickey

When we were little, my sister and I each had an ornament of our own that adorned our family's Christmas tree. My sister had a beautiful pink cat. My ornament was a mouse and I called it Mickey. It was not really Mickey Mouse. It looks nothing like Mickey Mouse, in fact. Or a mouse for that matter. As I am writing this, I am starting to wonder if it even is a mouse. I think so.

The ornaments came from my grandfather's store. He normally sold household appliances but every year, after celebrating Saint Nicholas' Eve, he would cover up his storefront windows with paper and spend all night building the most elaborate display of Christmas ornaments, to be reveiled on December 6. He was famous for it, well beyond the neighborhood my mom and her family lived in. I do not know if I ever saw his window displays. If I did, I was too young to remember. My mother has a few pictures but the colors are faded and they do not do my grandfather's creations justice.

I treasure my ornament. Because of its age, and because of its heritage. It always gets a special spot in the tree. And while I would love to have a themed tree from time to time, because of Mickey I never have.

For the second year in a row Mickey is missing from the tree, however. Last year we had just moved into the barn and there really wasn't any room for a tree. Instead I temporarily brought one of our Alberta Spruces inside, pot and all. We decorated it with a homemade cranberries and popcorn garland.

This year I do not have a tree of my own. That's okay. My parents-in-law's tree is beautiful and decorated exclusively with handmade ornaments. Some are very old ornaments made by my father-in-law's sisters. Some were made by my husband and his siblings when they were children. And one was made by Lola and me. Last weekend we created a reindeer from twigs found in the yard (inspired by Jane from Fine Frugal Living). Maybe we can name him Mickey, instead of the obvious Rudolph.


Next year the real Mickey will be back, prominently gracing my tree. I promise!

11 December 2009

Adventures Of A Dutch Girl

Born and raised in The Netherlands, I left windmills, wooden shoes, and tulips behind in 2006 to follow my heart to the United States. It led me to Olympia, located at the tip of Puget Sound in the beautiful state of Washington, and the 24th wettest city in the nation. My Olympic Adventure has been my greatest adventure yet. I moved halfway across the globe after a two-week courtship, married the love of my life and became the mother of Lola, the most enchanting girl I have ever met.

It hasn’t been all moonlight and roses. My pursuit of the American Dream didn’t quite work out the way I had imagined. Surprisingly, potential American employers were not all that impressed by my Dutch employers and experience, and it did not rain as many job offers as I had hoped. Not one, to be exact. And when Ryan ended up without a job, and the economy went to pieces, stress levels in our household went up a bit.

This did not keep us from stubbornly proceeding with our plans to build a home. We built a small but very charming barn in our backyard. Unfortunately we ran out of money before it was done. That did not stop us either. We simply rented out the house, and moved into the barn, finished or not. We had no windows, no stairs, no bathroom, and no running water. We didn’t mind roughing it, because we were convinced our persistence would pay off and one of us, if not both, would find a proper job and all would be well. And in the meantime, we were building character.

Interesting decisions and not very wise ones, in hindsight. We were not rewarded for our perseverance. Although we did find work locally, it was not enough to turn my Olympic Adventure into a success story. Because both of us have family there, we expanded our job search to include Wisconsin. Within two months I found a job as a marketing manager, and things are looking good for Ryan as well. In the Northwoods no less, where marketing and sales jobs are few and far between. I think the universe is telling us something.

Having been a city girl all my life, I cherished the rural feel of Olympia’s Westside. I loved pretending to live the country life, with city benefits. It was just us on forty acres of land. One acre was ours, the rest was a nature reserve. The nearest supermarket was a mere five minutes away, and good lattes were readily available. In the Northwoods I have to pretend no more, it really is the country. No yoga classes, no bead stores, no fancy bakeries. My Northwoods Adventure might just surpass all my other adventures.

All this drama does have an upside; it makes for good blog copy. (It would have been great copy if I hadn’t edited myself. Not everything needs to be on the world wide web for all eternity, after all. I have to save something for the book.) Because let’s face it, Happily Ever After is just plain boring.

I want to be boring now. At least for a little while.

Back to The Dutch Girl's Adventures

10 December 2009

In Other News

Crandon newcomer Lola N. (2) has made the front page of the Forest Republican, Forest County's local newspaper, within eight days of her arrival. She was photographed last Saturday admiring Dr. Perry's annual Christmas lights display in the company of her mother and grandparents.

Miss N. declined to comment when asked for a response to her front page appearance. She was, however, prepared to admit she really liked the pretty lights.

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!
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