14 July 2011

Getting Started

Before we move into our new house next weekend, we thought we would take advantage of its empty state and do a little remodeling. Painting mostly. We thought about refinishing the floors and fixing up the attic in addition to painting but the contractor we talked to flaked on us. That's fine really. There is still more than enough to do.

The 'before' shots
Ryan has graciously allowed me to paint the kitchen cabinets. He is a bit of a wood snob, and doesn't believe in adding artificial color to wood. But in this case, I can do what I want. While I have been taking down thirty three cabinet doors and eleven drawers, taking off sixty six pieces of hardware, and cleaning everything, he has ripped out the charming drop ceiling and fluorescent light fixtures. We are taking out the carpet, too.

I am looking forward to showing you the 'after' pictures.

29 June 2011

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The house is ours! As of 9 o'clock this morning, Ryan and I are the proud owners of a sweet little Victorian home. The purchasing process took a little longer than expected due to competitive offers and leaky pipes.

This morning things went smooth, except for one thing: the length of my name. My name is so long, it does not fit on any of the official documents. I have been reduced to the fine print. Somewhere in an addendum to the offer to purchase it says that I too am a buyer.

At the closing however, my name was nowhere to be found. Supposedly they are going to type it in later, under my signature. Oh well, at least I have the keys...

27 June 2011

Chip Or Dale?

Look who we found hanging out in the garage, chewing on insulation, and helping himself to the All You Can Eat Bird Seed Buffet.

25 June 2011

Nothing Lost, Nothing Gained

A couple of weeks ago I went on a diet for the first time in my life. Summer is upon us which means shorts, tank tops, and bikinis are part of my wardrobe once again. Several ladies at the casino were talking about a very effective diet, based on a chemical reaction brought on by what you eat. They swear by it. And truth be told, you can tell they are losing weight.

My mother-in-law and I decided to join in on the fun. And I even took it one step further; I quit smoking at the same time. If I was going to mess with my metabolism, I might as well do it right. Those first three days were hard. Very hard. Not so much the not smoking, although I did have a hard time focusing after 2 PM, but the hunger... All I could think about was food. No doubt fueled by the fact I was no longer suppressing my appetite with nicotine.

I did not lose the promised ten pounds that first week, or any week thereafter for that matter, but I did lose some. More importantly, I did not gain any. Had it not been for my diet, I would have snacked non-stop those first few days after quitting smoking. I still diet three days a week and lose about six pounds, most of which I eat back on again during the four days I can eat what I want. I don't think this particular diet is really for me.

To be honest, I am not the dieting kind. I just need to watch my portions, make sure I eat more veggies, and get moving. Lack of exercise is my main problem. I guess we're breaking out the Richard Simmons records tomorrow morning...

19 June 2011

Nature Updates

The thousands of trilliums alongside the road have made room for the lupines. Beautiful, bountiful, blue lupines. There are wild columbine growing in the woods around us and every time I go to cut some chives, I have to fend off the bumble bees.

Lola has been catching and kissing frogs. Repeatedly. So far, no prince.

The water in the lake is six inches higher than it was last year. What a difference that makes. We have even put in the dock. Not off our side, the water is still too shallow for that, but a little bit further out. At least we can enjoy the pontoon boat this summer.

Ryan has decided to single-handedly populate the lake with turtles. Every time he sees one crossing the road, he stops and brings it home. Lola is tickled. Not sure about the turtles.

My one strawberry plant is looking good. Last year, a deer ate our strawberries, all but one. This year we have moved it to the fenced garden. Fingers crossed.

Speaking of deer, they are everywhere. They stand in the middle of the road, chatting with each other, oblivious of oncoming traffic. You have to come to a full stop almost and honk your horn to get them to move.

Lola has scolded me twice now for doing just that. She thinks I should stop the car, get out, and politely say Excuse me to the deer. Or chipmunk. Or whatever animal is sitting in the middle of the road.

Ryan has passed Lola in bear sightings. So far, he has seen eight bears. All mothers with cub(s). We're jealous.

And just this morning, as I was having breakfast, I saw the two Great Horned Owls that live in the neighbor's woods fly by. So very impressive!

18 June 2011

06 June 2011

Toddler Talk V

Lola: "Can I take a bath? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease."
Me: "No honey, you already took a bath this morning."
Lola: "But I did three push ups!"

Lola: "I love you. You are the best mom in the whole world! You can make computers, you can make houses, you can maaaaaake............ snacks."
Me: "Um..., thanks!"

Lola, wearing new purple and pink swim goggles: "When I wear my swim goggles, are my cousins gonna think I look silly?"

Lola: "Mama, you know what? You are my favorite girl."

Lola: "Mama. When it's spring time day, the green ones... that talk..., what are they called again?"
Me: "Um..., frogs? Leprechauns?"
Lola: "Yes, leprechauns! They make the snow go away."

Lola: "Let's play I am the mom and you are the honey."

Lola: "My hand hurts."
Me: "What's wrong with it?"
Lola: "It hurts when I go like this." [Pushes her fingers backwards towards her wrist.]
Me: "Well, don't do that then."
Lola: "I am having a rough day."

Nativity set = Activity set
Co-workers = Work friends

04 June 2011

Winners Of Strange Contests

I just read on the Dutch news that the greater Eindhoven region has been awarded the Intelligent Community of the Year 2011 prize by the Intelligent Community Forum. For those of you who have never heard of Eindhoven; it is a large city in the south of Holland, and home to Philips headquarters, of television and light bulb fame.

I did not know this particular competition existed before I read that interesting bit of news. I do know people like to compete for the strangest titles and awards. Even in our family.

The other day when we were out and about looking for a place to live, we wandered around on a property and emerged covered in ticks. After the tick count was complete, Ryan came out the winner. I must have pulled fifteen ticks off him that afternoon, and at least ten off Lola. Strangely enough not a single one was found on me.

When it comes to bear sightings, we are all in agreement that Lola has seen more black bears these last two years than anyone else.

But where moving is concerned, I am the absolute winner. When we move into this cute little Victorian home later this month, it will be the twenty fifth time in my life that I have moved house. TWENTY FIVE MOVES. That's a little more than once every other year.

For the next five years, I am not going anywhere. Wild horses cannot drag me.

26 May 2011

Looking Out The Kitchen Window

This hummingbird and her spouse visit us daily

25 May 2011

Queen For A Day

"Don't be shy, just say hi," was my four year old daughter's advice as I sat behind my computer this morning staring at a blank screen. I came up with the post title eight months ago when I finally felt my blog had enough substance to submit it for consideration as the featured blog over at The SITS Girls. But the rest of my introductory post has remained empty to this day.


I am truly thrilled to be the featured blogger today at The Secret to Success is Support, the wonderful circle of support made for and by bloggers. When I first moved from The Netherlands to the United States, I wanted to let the folks back home know how things were going. I started with a letter, added some photo's, played around with the lay-out and before I knew it, I had a newsletter; Olympic Adventures, since we were living in Olympia WA back then. I sent out two newsletters and then I had a child.

Fast forward two and a half years and out of my New Year's resolution of doing better at keeping in touch with people, Olympic Adventures - The Blog was born, nowadays know as Northwoods Adventures. It is a place where I record the goings on, big and small, of my family. Our good and bad fortune, the funny things my daughter does and says, the occasional crafty endeavor, and whatever else is on my mind. I enjoy blogging tremendously because it is therapy, a journal, a scrapbook, and a family history all rolled into one.

On special today are three posts I have selected for you. First - the cliff notes of my life so far, second - funny stuff my child says, and third - what an unbelievable adventure the outdoors can be. Thank you for visiting my corner of the Northwoods. I hope to pop into your neighborhood for a return visit very soon!

The Adventures of a Dutch Girl
Toddler Talk
Trespassers will be shot

24 May 2011

Life And Death

"Mama, do you remember opa J.?" Lola asked me softly last night when we were snuggling before bedtime. "Yes I do," I answered her. "He’s sick," she told me, "and he is never ever going to get better. I really miss him."

She was talking about my uncle, my dad’s younger brother who lives in south east Wisconsin. When he retired, he and my aunt bought a catamaran in the Caribbean where they spend their winters sailing from island to island. Last March, while visiting a street festival in the lovely Santa Lucia, J. ate a fishy looking fish and promptly got sick. Food poisoning was everyone’s first thought. Except the vomiting and diarrhea wouldn’t stop.

After dropping forty five pounds, several visits to local ER’s, and an overnight hospital stay, they decided to fly back a little early and see a doctor here. The doctor suggested a cat-scan to look for a possible obstruction in J.’s colon, something they did indeed find. They also found something else; advanced pancreatic cancer. There is no cure for that. And just like that, everything changed.

I took a few days off last week and drove south for a visit. My aunt, uncle, and my cousins have been my second family since I was seventeen. It was a good visit. It was a little shocking to see J. minus forty five pounds. The 4,000 calorie diet he is currently on hasn’t done him much good yet. (It worked great for us though, especially the rhubarb crumble pie and the blueberry cheesecake.) And aside from the fact that we talked a lot about cancer and death, it was very much like old times.

J. started chemotherapy last Wednesday. When I called on Friday to see how he was holding up, I was told things were going okay for the most part. But Ryan spoke to my cousin last night and found out J. had spent the weekend in the hospital, very sick from the chemo. For the next eight days, he can recover, then he goes back for round two. Every other week a round of chemo, for the next eight weeks.

I don’t know why Lola thought of J. all of a sudden. The conversation from last night was a carbon copy of the conversation she and I had a few weeks ago, when J. was first diagnosed and she wanted to know why I was crying. She has been talking a lot about death lately, brought on by a dead deer she saw alongside the road. There is a lot going on in that little blond head of hers. And it won’t be very long that I will no longer have all the answers.

23 May 2011

Religious Education

Don't laugh, but I have started to work on my big Christmas project for the year. Last year I made an advent calender in the shape of a Christmas tree. I did not want to fill it with gifts or candy, I wanted to make it about the meaning of Christmas. The plan was to make a twenty four piece nativity set. However, after submitting my plan to a reality check, I went for little ornaments instead, and store bought at that.

So this year I am making a nativity set. Little wooden figurines and needle felted animals. I have needle felted once before, many years ago, under the careful guidance of my sister, needle felter extraordinaire. This time I am on my own. I went online and found a step-by-step tutorial on how to needle felt a sheep. I started two weeks ago. Let's just say it's a good thing the first of December is still more than six months away. My sheep does not resemble a sheep in the slightest.

I mentioned my project to a co-worker in the break room the other day. I don't know if she misunderstood me or has very little faith in my needle felting skills, but she walked in last week with a gift for me. She was at a garage sale where she found a nativity set and bought it for me. I was touched by her thoughtfulness.

When I went to pick up Lola that day, she asked me if I had a surprise for her. I told her I did, as a matter of fact, and showed her the nativity set. Ryan and I are not very church going and Lola's knowledge of religion is basically non-existent. I introduced all the characters of the nativity set to her and then tried to put it away to buckle her in her car seat.

"But mama," she cried, "I want to play with Jesus!"

05 May 2011

A Long Time Coming

About two years ago, when we were still living out west, a local cable company installed underground cable all around the lake here in Crandon, a very costly endeavor. Yet not a single attempt was made to sign any of the residents up for services. No phone calls, no direct mail, nothing. Ryan did a little research and sent the General Manager of the company a friendly letter, expressing his surprise at the absence of a sales force, and enclosing his resume.

About a year and a half ago, after I had already moved to Crandon to start my job here, Ryan checked his email one last time before he disconnected his computer to pack it up in the moving truck he was about to drive to Wisconsin. In his inbox was a reply to his letter from the General Manager, stating he would like to meet with Ryan as soon as he got settled in.

About fourteen months ago, the three of us drove to the UP for Ryan’s interview. It was a most memorable trip. A somewhat nervous interview candidate dressed in his very best suit. A muffler dragging over the road announcing the candidate’s arrival from miles away. A frantic wife lying on her belly in the middle of County Road C trying to forcefully remove the muffler. The candidate and his wife arguing about whether or not the muffler could simply be yanked off (it couldn’t).

Unlike the drive up, the meeting itself was a success. Unfortunately all that was offered to Ryan at the time was to work as an independent contractor. After careful consideration, Ryan decided that this was not the right opportunity and he politely turned it down. It was met with understanding and without any hard feelings. From time to time the General Manager would even contact Ryan to see what he was up to.

About four weeks ago, the General Manager approached Ryan again and asked him if he would like to talk about the position of Business Development Manager. Of course he would.

He started on Monday.