28 October 2010

Friendly Witch Of The North

Fillet of a fenny snake
In the cauldron boil and bake
Eye of newt and toe of frog
Wool of bat and tongue of dog
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing
For a charm of powerful trouble
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble

(William Shakespeare)

24 October 2010

Single For A Weekend

I had to work all weekend and my husband and daughter did not feel like hanging around and waiting for me to come home. They packed a bag and headed south to Ryan's home town. They will be back tomorrow. It's very quiet without them around but at the same time it gives me time to get a few things done.

So what did I do? Not too much to be honest. Yesterday I crashed with Sandman on my lap as soon as I got home. I woke up in the middle of the night, hot and uncomfortable with the seams of my jeans pushing into my legs. After addressing my discomfort, I lay awake till the wee hours of the morning.

This evening I am a little more productive. I have purchased and hung new curtains. The black-out, energy saving kind. Looks rather nice. I have just started a load of laundry and as soon as I am done blogging, I am going to clear this table to work on the second part of Lola's Halloween costume.

And like the good little Wisconsinite that I have become, I have the TV tuned to Sunday Night Football. Go Pack, Go!

Single life is so exciting, isn't it?

23 October 2010

Daily Commute

Aside from numerous school buses, I have never seen an actual bus in the Northwoods. Considering you will not find a single traffic light in the whole of Forest County, the complete lack of public transportation does not surprise me. Back in my Dutch days, I always commuted to work by way of public transportation. The tram, the train, and the bus, I made use of them all. I did it for twelve years, and then I bought a car.

Cozy bus stop in Madison WI
There are pros and cons to public transportation. In Holland it will take you just about anywhere, something I really liked. However, I disliked the waiting, the drafty and sometimes foul smelling bus stops (especially in the winter), and traveling on a tight schedule. I loved having the opportunity to drink coffee and apply your make-up on the way to work, taking in a quick nap, and reading while you travel. My reading hours have dropped dramatically since I transferred to a car.

After moving to Rhinelander, my commute to work increased to an hour, as opposed to the twenty five minutes it used to be. It took me a few weeks but I am okay with it now. For a while I avoided County Road W because every time I passed my parents-in-law's house, the realization would hit me that I could be home right now. Instead I had forty more minutes to go. I quickly got over that one, because the alternative route is so boring. For the time being, until the snow comes, I have returned to taking the back roads. However, at night I prefer to stick to the highway to lessen my chances of running into wild life.

Last night, as I was driving home by the light of the beautiful full moon, I caught myself developing a renewed appreciation for public transportation. If only to catch up on my reading.

22 October 2010

Decorating For All Hallows Eve

We have a very large albeit not very beautiful fireplace in our new living room. It is surrounded by an enormous mantelpiece. When I spotted it the first time we walked into the living room, my mind immediately went into overdrive thinking about the upcoming holidays and how I could have fun decorating.

Alas, that turned out not to be the case. This family does not not have a normal TV like normal people. No, we watch TV projected on our white wall. The wall right above the fireplace. This means my mantel decorations cannot exceed three inches. Bummer.

So, instead of arranging bats, ghosts, and crows on the mantel, I spookified the entryway. Enter at your own risk.

My first attempt at taxidermy

Black birds and skulls are a must have

A mouse motel inspired by Martha

Lola's and my spooky ghosts

18 October 2010

The First Of The First Day Of School

Lola started school today. It's not really school, it's daycare at the Y in Rhinelander but the setting is very school-like. So we call it school. She was very excited about it. Armed with a brand new pink backpack and a polka dot sleeping bag for naps, she set off for her new school this morning. She hopes to make lots of friends. So do we. It would be wonderful to have friends in the neighborhood.

Ryan brought her to daycare and he will also pick her up. Up until now, Lola's daycare was in Wabeno, about five minutes from where I work. I very much appreciate sharing drop off and pick up duties with him. And as an added bonus, a day off during the week is now a day I can have all to myself if I so desire.

It was very quiet in the car though, this morning. Lola is going through a serious "Are we there yet?" phase and wants me to play baby all the time. To clarify: I have to be the baby, she is the mom. It's okay that I am a baby that knows how to drive a car, as long as I cry like one... It's funny and tiresome at the same time. I made up the rule that I only cry from Monico to Crandon on the way down, and from Monico to Rhinelander on the way back, resulting in a lot of "Are we in Monico yet?" On the positive side, she knows the name of every town between Rhinelander and Wabeno.

I missed her chatter this morning but not the crying. But just this once, for old time's sake, I cried a little when I reached Monico.

15 October 2010

A Letter To Santa Claus

Out of the blue Lola asked what Elisabeth wanted for Christmas at dinner the other night. I told her I had no idea, we would have to ask her. I then posed the same question to Lola: "What would you like for Christmas?"

"A purple suitcase," she answered, most decidedly. Purple is her favorite color, although she just informed me that blue and pink are her favorite colors too, in addition to purple.

"Is there anything else you would like?"

"No, just a purple suitcase."

A purple suitcase it is then. I suggested she write Santa Claus a letter to inform him of her wish. She agreed that would be a good idea. I grabbed a pen and some paper and we set off to write the letter together. Since she cannot write, I proposed she'd dictate and I would transcribe.

We need to work on her small talk skills a little because all she could come up with was "Dear Santa, I would like a purple suitcase for Christmas. Love, Lola." Then again, during the busiest time of the year, I am sure Jolly Old Saint Nicholas appreciates someone who is to the point and knows what she wants.

14 October 2010

I Break For Thieves

When I went to pick up Lola from daycare yesterday, I decided to take the residential route through town, rather than the main street. At some point I saw a small creature crossing the street about a block ahead. I couldn't really tell what it was but it was the size of a skunk. I slowed down carefully to avoid setting it off.

It turned out not to be a skunk, but a gray squirrel struggling with a great big indian corn, husks and all, in its mouth. It appeared to have stolen someone's fall decor. Nothing is safe from these itty bitty creatures. They don't stop at bird feeders anymore, they'll raid your porch if they get the chance. Wicked little thieves!

I must admit though, he looked really cute...

05 October 2010

My Girl

Lola was singing funny made up songs in the car this morning. One went like this: "My mom is the best mom, my mom is the best mom..."

I really liked that song, needless to say. Being the modern day mother that I am, I bragged about it on Facebook, to the amusement of several of my friends.

When I checked my Facebook page a few hours later, I saw that silly little line again and a rush of gratitude came over me, simply because I am able to say I am a mom. And the best mom at that.

I was 41 years old when Lola was born. To be honest, I did not think I would ever be a mother. And I was okay with that. I knew there would always be a small regret that I would never experience being pregnant or knowing first hand what it is like to love a child of your own, to see yourself in your offspring, to raise a little person. But it did not consume me. I believed it just wasn't meant to be.

But it was meant to be and thanks to Lola, and Ryan, I am able to brag that my child thinks I am the best mom there is.

Thank you Lolalief, you are the best daughter in the whole wide world!

27 September 2010

Autumn Colors

My drive to work grows more colorful and beautiful every day. I am trying to instill an appreciation for nature's glory in Lola but haven't been very successful so far. Perhaps my readers are more receptive...

Fiery Red
Nature's Quilt

22 September 2010

Pearly Whites

Lola was introduced to the dentist and the hygienist earlier this morning. For the first time in her life, she climbed into the big dentist's chair and opened her mouth for a counting of her teeth, a check for cavities, a professional brushing, a flossing, and a fluoride treatment.

She was cool as a cucumber throughout her check up. I think she actually enjoyed it. Her teeth were all there and she has no cavities to report. Surprisingly, neither do I. Unlike Lola however, I did not get my picture taken and added to the "No Cavities!!" wall.

Afterward she received a little baggy with a toothbrush, Sponge Bob toothpaste ("The same as Elisabeth!"), children's mouthwash, dental floss, and stickers. I was given a baggy too, but no stickers for me.

In the car on the way back Lola admired every item in her baggy. At some point she asked me: "Mom, how do I put the string back?" I looked in the rear view mirror and there was Lola, completely covered in dental floss. I am going to have to show her the ropes tonight.

21 September 2010

Satellite Tunes

I once heard Sting say in an interview one's high school and college years are the formative years for musical memories. After that era, the connection between songs and life events dwindles. I find that to be true. Play me a tune from the eighties and I can tell you exactly where I was, what I was doing, and with whom. Songs from the seventies and the nineties do not have the same effect and as for present day music, I am hopelessly out of date.

Our new car, Big Blue, came with free satellite radio. Despite having been musically formed in the eighties, I prefer listening to the 70's on 7, alternated with E-Street Radio, the Bruce Springsteen channel. Lola generally approves, although on occasion she'll tell me to turn a particular song off because she doesn't like it. Her favorite song at the moment is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. She asks for it every day.

The Nissan's antenna is broken and radio reception is limited. Having satellite radio is such a treat. It makes my commute that much more enjoyable. And every now and then a Dutch song will come along. Most of the time it's a Golden Earring song, but I have also heard Mouth & McNeal and yesterday, Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. It usually takes a second or two to register but without fail, it makes my day, whether I used to like the song or not.

20 September 2010

Big Blue

Now that we're on our own again, we need a second car. We were still using my father-in-law's pick-up truck, but at some point he started hinting he wanted it back. Ryan relentlessly sought after the bargain of the year and found a brand new 2009 Chevrolet Aveo online. After a few phone calls back and forth, we drove down to Indiana (bargains are never found close to home) to pick it up.

She is called Big Blue. Lola calls her "my little blue car" and a friend of ours speaks of the "go kart." We are very pleased with our purchase. She has a puny little engine that doesn't compare to Vicky's V8 (Vicky was our previous automobile back in our Olympia days) but she comes at a fraction of the cost and is equipped with free OnStar and satellite radio. And the mileage is awesome.

Of course we both want to drive her. We have agreed that whoever makes the most miles in one week gets to drive Big Blue the following week. So far, I have been the lucky one. How I love the smell of a new car...

19 September 2010

A Magic Flute

Friday was my day off and the plan was to tackle Lola's bedroom. It was total and utter chaos in there. When we moved into this house, we just dumped all of her clothes and toys in her room. She did not have any furniture and has been sleeping on an air mattress for the past couple of weeks.

My brother and sister-in-law donated to the cause and brought up a dresser, a bookcase, a bed, a play kitchen, a kids washing machine, a table with two chairs, and an artist's easel over Labor Day weekend. Everything was shoved into Lola's room. You could barely walk in there.

Trying to sort out clothes and toys with a toddler around is no easy feat. I turned to my trusted friends at Nick Jr and turned on the TV for her. At some point we were watching Toot and Puddle, I think, and in it a friendly older gentleman carved a flute out of a bamboo shoot. Naturally Lola wanted a flute too, and I made the mistake of telling her I had one, a wooden flute, and that she could play with it.

From that moment on, all she wanted was that wooden flute which at some point turned into a magic flute. I looked for it but it wasn't where I thought it would be, meaning it could be anywhere. And there are still alot of bins and boxes to unpack. I told her she would have to be patient. Ha!

Later that afternoon, we ran a few errands and stopped in at the Goodwill. And what catches my eye when I walk in the door? A bin full of bamboo flutes for $0.99 a piece. Perfect. I casually grabbed one and tried to keep Lola from seeing it. She didn't have a clue what a flute looked like and she never caught on to what I was carrying in my hand.

When we got home, she asked me: "Now can we find my magic flute?"

"Yes," I was finally able to tell her. I grabbed the flute out of the bag, hid it behind my back and walked upstairs to my craft room. I pretended to find it in the closet and handed it to Lola. She was delighted. They're so gullible at this age. Then I made mistake number two: I showed her how to use it.

But at least I got her room done.

18 September 2010

World Wide Namesakes

Hanneke was a very popular girl's name in Holland in the sixties and seventies. In elementary school, I was one of three in my class alone. Nowadays, you don't hear it much and if you do, chances are the woman is my age. My maiden name is a lot less common. It's not so unique that every Van H. you meet is related to me, but you really don't encounter it very often. I was sure, however, that my particular combination was one of a kind. Until I learned otherwise via the Dutch version of classmates.com.

After I moved to the US, I stopped using my maiden name, except for official purposes, because my married name is so much easier to pronounce. Once again I was convinced my name was unique. With such a typical Dutch first name, how could it not be? Again, I was mistaken. This time it was Google that taught me there is another Hanneke N., a professional mediator somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

The funny thing is, I have been in contact with both namesakes this past year. The first time was accidental. I had received a strange, legal looking email at my email address designated for possible spam. At first I thought it was junk, but that didn't seem quite right. When I got to the end of the message, I noticed the sender was from Colorado and I put two and two together. I responded, letting the sender know there was more than one Hanneke N. and she had the wrong one. A couple of days later I received an email from the other Hanneke N. Like me, she is an immigrant though she moved here as a toddler, and we discovered we were both born in the same town.

My Dutch namesake contacted me directly just days later. She had found my blog online and we emailed briefly back and forth. Isn't it amazing, and amusing, how quickly the anonymous world wide web can become personal?

17 September 2010

Little Girls

There is a sweet little girl in Lola's daycare that's physically very advanced for her age. She's four but she could easily pass for a seven year old. Her mom is young, single, and very much into dancing. Consequently her daughter knows some moves that are not exactly appropriate for her age. She loves showing them off to the other little girls. When Connie catches her, she always intervenes but it appears some of it may have rubbed off.

The other day Lola and I were in the bathroom. She has asked me for a wipe to clean her bed, she's very helpful when it comes to cleaning, and I was reaching for one to give to her.

"So mom," she said in an almost seductive voice, "what do you think of me?"

I turned around. "Um..., huh?"

"What do you think of my body?", she added. One hip pushed out, hand on her other hip.


Where did this come from? I am so not ready for this, and I don't want Lola to be either. She's three! I told her I thought she was beautiful and sent her on her way with a baby wipe. She wiggled her butt at me and took off.

Little girls, I tell ya, they grow up so fast. Too fast, if you ask me. I don't think this is an issue with little boys. Right?