Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

We celebrated earlier at Disney. First time for my son and me and something we really enjoyed.
In some ways it reminds me of our Sint Maarten on the 11th of Nov. but there are a lot of differences also.
It was fun to watch complete families being dressed up, special when the costumes seemed to fit so well. Like in case of the big family I had a chance to study for some time. Mom was dressed up as the wicked stepmother from Snow white, the kids were all dressed up as various fairytale figures and Dad was dressed as one of the dwarfs.
After watching the interaction between Mom and Dad, I felt pity for Dad. It was clear that the mother had picked out his costume.
But best was the group of people that was walking through the Magic Kingdom dressed as ghosts. They had made their costumes themselves and it was so wonderfully done.
Anyway, for those who go out to night, have fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I am very interested in ready Petra's impressions of the US from her trip over here. Since knowing Petra and having some wonderful conversations with her and visiting the NL only once, I am still learning and gaining an understanding of some of the ways we are the same and different as a society.
I see similarities in many ways but also see some differences both pro and con in both countries. What impressed me most about my visit to The Netherlands was the emphasis put on the social welfare of their citizens and the overall infrastructure of the country. I don't think there is any question that the health and wellbeing of citizens in the NL is given much more attention than it is here. Also the infrastructure of roads, train and bus services as well as basic utilities seemed first rate. Here, you can go to different parts of the US and find big differences from one another. Some parts of this country would be similar but many other parts of this big country would seem like those basic services are lacking and so far behind what you have there.

Now from conversations with Petra and friends over there I understand that these great services do not come without a cost. The overall tax rates there are so much higher than here and knowing americans and paying taxes, asking them to pay anything close to the rate over there would be a huge battle. I have always felt that way too but after seeing how things work there, I am not so sure anymore. We are a nation of extreme wealth and poverty. Is it asking too much for those who are comfortable here to give more in taxes if it is used to help everyone?

The comment that you received Petra on your post is probably very accurate. While you are right, many retired age people here want to continue to be productive and work, the woman who was cleaning bathrooms at that age must feel that she must to continue getting the services she needs for her and her family. Most likely health insurance. That is indeed sad.

Where I see a difference and advantage here, and I may be completely wrong, but from my conversations I have this feeling at least as of now. This truely is a land of opportunity for all. Is everyone given those opportunities without a lot of effort? No, but I have seen personally hundreds if not thousands of cases of people here without the background or education or growing up in the right family or part of the country that have become extremely successful in business or the arts or an occupation or calling that in other parts of the world may be shut out to them because they don't meet the requirements. I guess it is because all of us here have come from somewhere else and in the beginning relied on each other equally to get by. That spirit still is very strong here. I am oversimplifying things I know but wanted to comment on Petra's posts on impressions. I hope you will share more. I really enjoy getting to know not only you and your country but getting to know myself better.

First impressions: part two

Something that confused me at first was the fact that you are never sure that the price tag on an item is what you eventually have to pay.
From buying clothes to going out for dinner, you always pay more than is written down.
What is even worse is that you are expected to know up front how much extra you have to spend.
Sigh, I never liked math at school and even worse, I hate surprises when it comes to money.
Don't see the reasons behind all of this either, I mean, the Netherlands are smaller than most States and we can figure out what is to be payed on tax, so it is on the price tag.
Now, I won't dare touch the tip situation. If employees had to depend on those over here, they wouldn't have enough money to get food on the table.
But I understand that in the US you need it as part of your income.

Something that shocked me was the amount of old people still at work.
Worst was the lady at the airport that was cleaning the bathroom. She must have been well into her 70's.
And I have seen it more than once. Some people may have taken certain jobs because they can't sit still, but cleaning bathrooms isn't a job you do for the sheer fun of it.
And it makes me sad that it may be needed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

First impressions

It is already a week ago that we came back from Florida.
The little bit of color we got in our faces is already fading, wish the same would go for the kilo's I gained over there. Unfortunately I will have to work really hard for those.
Yesterday Jack showed the pictures he made and I loved them, special the ones he made of my son. If I try to make his picture he runs off, but he was to busy keeping an eye on the where abouts of my camera that Jack could make them un noticed at times.
He caught a few huge smiles.

I think it time to tell about my first impressions of the US.
Not that it is fair when the first visit is to Disney world, but keeping that in mind, here we go.
First of all I was warned, through many websites and personal experiences from people I know that it was very, very important to make sure that our visa waivers were filled exactly right. The people at customs should be taken seriously.
Got to hear horror stories from people being kept apart and questioned for hours, missing next flights.

Well, I made some mistakes filling in the visa waiver, so in the end, mine was a messy piece of paper. Arriving at the airport we had to split up in groups, which was done by a lady in uniform who made her lack in height forgotten through her loud voice and stern look on her face.
So when it was our turn to approach the counter, I was already a bit nervous wondering what kind of questions we would get.
When the person behind the counter finally looked up from my messy piece of paper he asked if it was the first time I filled in a visa waiver. To which I only could say yes.
The man turned out to be friendly enough, asking a few questions and than he noticed my neck less. Much to my surprise he asked what kind of dog it was, so I told him it was a Spanish greyhound. Before I knew we were talking greyhounds, LOL.
Kind of fits to the way Jack and I met.

Off course there is the occasional rude person but overall I found people to be very polite and helpful, much more than over here.

Next time more, but for now a picture that shows we actually were in Disney world.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Let's Go Back.

Brrrrr.....Hard to believe that last week we were walking around in shorts and sweating. I know Petra went home to real fall weather and that's what I have been having here also this week. I had to turn the heat on the past couple of nights. The weather here has been highs of 13/14 c and lows of anywhere from 1 to 5 c at night over the next few days. On top of that it has been gray and rainy for several days now. Talk about putting you in that dreary winter mood? Eeeks.
Well we have plans for the winter months also so I guess it's good to start getting accustomed to this weather now. I hope we have at least one more decent day soon so I can mow my grass one last time and put the mower away until next year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some pictures?

Hmm, lets see if we have a few decent ones...
Old Key West Resort at night
Old Key West Resort

Colorful Epcot after dark

MGM studio's, the Indiana Jones Show
Indiana Jones

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

must be jetlag

but I can't sleep.
During our vacation Jack bought a few cd's for me.
Lonestar is my favorite, special this number:

Yup, we are back alright.

And there is a good reason for posting the video clip earlier today.
Before going I was afraid I might never get "It is a small world" out of my mind but the music we heard best part of the day was the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean.
And I have to say, that one is better to digest.

Besides that, we had a wonderful time. It took my son some time to acclimatize, a lot of new things happened for him, but after that he had fun taking Jack into rollercoasters and other wild stuff. At a certain point I had to let them go, my fear of heights is a bit worse than theirs.

Rightnow I am still busy to get vacation stuff out of the way, laundry and all the little things I don't want to throw out yet because it reminds me of such good times.
Still can't believe that Jack and I as adults went around Trick or Treating.

He's a pirate

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Back to the Real World Now.

Our holiday together has come to an end. Speaking for myself, it was a wonderful adventure. I imagine it will take all of us a few days to recover from being on the go from early in the morning until late at night every day. We certainly didn't sit in our room and look at the walls all day, LOL. I hope the first experience of being in the states was a positive one for Petra. It's just too bad that it involves such a long travel time to get here and back.

I hope Petra will share some of the great pictures that she took but I will show this one of the Old Key West resort where we stayed. It was nice and comfortable and was a welcomed place to come home to every night to rest our tired feet.

The journey we are taking now has another adventure completed. I hope Petra is willing to have many, many more in the future. Thank you Petra for making the long trip over to experience a piece of the US.

Only a few more weeks and I will be in the Netherlands again. I can't wait.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vacation is Here.

This will be my last post for the next week or so. In just a little over one day I will be heading to the airport. Petra will already be in the air. If we are both on time then I should arrive at Orlando about 1/2 hour before they do. Timing should work out great. Then the adventure begins.
There are things that I wanted to get done here at the house but I am worn out. I just want to get going and be the US tour guide for the next week. LOL
I am sure we will have plenty of things to blog about when we return. Bye for now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Yep, Too Late

I have been very busy the last few days getting everything that I thought needed to be done around here. Well it is at the point now that whatever doesn't get done just won't be done. As Petra says, as long as the dogs are being taken care of and we have our tickets and passports etc., then let's have fun and relax.
One thing we both found out is that no matter what you have planned, life doesn't stop and there have been many things for both of us that have popped up that we would have wished didn't at this time.

But now is the time to enjoy this chance to be together again and be kids and soak up every experience. I am so excited that you would think that I was 10 years old, not _____. LOL

Petra, just a few more days and I will be welcoming you to the US. I'm ready.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Time to relax

Took it this morning.
I know Jack is stressing out on everything he still has to do and I know I have my lists also.
But as far as I am concerned, if the animals are taken care off, if we got our passports, tickets and are on time for out flight...
Than it is ok with me.
The doghair will still be here when I come back.
I do what I can in between other things, but some kind of flu bug is preventing me from doing to much.
So I better try to relax I think.

I did this morning when I saw the sun trying to break the fog.
Results can be seen on Flickr.
What can be more reaxing than a walk, soaking in a perfect fall morning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Soooo little time, so much to do

My overall feeling today.
Today is the third and we leave the 13th.

Ok, edited this since it sounded so negative.
I am working down my list and am getting things done and arranged.
Just have to fit in a meeting over the weekend and work on a presentation for school for my son...