Sunday, December 14, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus

Yes we have been busy. Not just work but getting ready for Petra's trip this next Sunday. I can't wait.
Besides cleaning the house so I don't look like a total slob, I have been busy decorating. After spending the past few Christmas Holidays alone, I really got back into the spirit last year when I spent it with Petra and her son in the Netherlands. This year Petra will be here and I am really getting into it again.

I spent over 3 hours yesterday running around just picking up small things to help the decorating. Candles, holly branches, poinsettias, stockings etc. and I know I will think of a lot more I should get. Petra told me to decorate and then we will add the things that are ours once she is here. I am trying my best but I sure could use her touch on things.

I did find what I thought was a nice tree and put it up yesterday morning so the biggest part is done. What is so great about this is that we both love this time of year and enjoy making it special and creating our own Holiday memories.

Happy Holidays to everyone who reads our blog.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We're still around

just very busy, but ready for an up date any time now

at the market

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I did sign it!

Jack received the envelope and after he stopped laughing over that horrible picture, he could check the papers and off course saw that I did sign.

Oh well, when the journey continues similar things will happen again ;-)

In the meantime I have to tell you about this little gadget that jack brought over his last visit that I love now.
It is called the Magic jack and it allows me to call through my computer.
It isn't like those other internet services, but with this little gadget in your pocket, you can call the US and Canada from every pc all over the world for just 20 dollars a year.
Right now it is connected to my pc all the time meaning I can call all the time if I wanted to.
Now, I have my own, US phone number, local to the area Jack lives.
Meaning that people could call me also from that area without knowing they are connected with Europe.
Which was quite funny when it rang this week (yes, it rings like an old fashioned phone) and I, expecting to hear Jack on the other side, said hi in a rather intimate way.
The poor lady on the other side only wanted someone of the Jones family.
Guess I need to keep that in mind from now on.

But this thing is great, Jack has one also that he can take on travels when he goes abroad and keep in contact with the office if needed.
Also now I can call whenever I want without fearing huge phone bills since I am not restricted to calling his Magic Jack. When Jack would call my number from the office or from home, he would pay for a local call.
LOL, not sure if I am still making sense here.

It is a great little gadget which allows me to call some friends in the US and Canada also.
And by the time I move to the US, this little gadget will go to my parents so they don't need to worry about making expensive phone calls.

it has a neat light in it also

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You know how it is...

you're in the car, on your way to an important meeting, or on your way to the airport to take the plane for a vacation and you are about an hour from home and you suddenly realize, you forgot to turn off the coffee machine...

What do you do, go back, probably to find out you did turn it off, or do you drive on, worrying the rest of your day if the house will be burned down when you get back.

I had that moment yesterday, I went over and over the papers that I sent Jack and yesterday I suddenly started thinking I forgot to sign my letter of intent.
The more I think about it, the more I know I forgot. Silly off course.
And even if I forgot, Jack is still waiting for several papers, so if I forgot there is plenty of time to get a new, signed one to him.

My only dilemma now is, do I send him a new one now, or do I wait until he got it and check if I signed.

If this is how it is going to be the next months, I am going to be a basket case very soon.
Or am I already?
Who knows, maybe I should return to my therapy from this moment.
In Cape May we found this shop, filled to the rim with embroidery patterns.
I couldn't help but get a little piece to see if I still like it. And I still love cross stitching. The finished piece will be a small addition to our Christmas decorations and in the mean time it takes my mind of all the things that I can think of that can go wrong.

Grrrr, had to edit my yours and you're's
LOL, know that is wrong but it sounds funny.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm done

With my part of the paperwork that is.
Yesterday I brought my envelope to the post office, hoping that everything is filled out all right and Jack won't get a heart attack over the picture that I had to add.
But first off all I have to thank Fleur for translating some papers for me.
Fleur, you are wonderful and fast. Thank you!

All in all, this part was relatively easy for me, although I had to ask my parents their birth date and place. Which is kind of embarrassing, realizing that you aren't entirely sure about that part of your parents past. My Mom was sweet about it though.
After reading everything carefully, everything was pretty clear.
And finding that Fleur could do the translation of some of my Dutch papers made it even better.
Worst was the picture that had to be taken, it had to be US size...
And I had to take out all my earrings. Which, for the people who know me is more than just the two most people have, add the little ring in my nose to it, than you can imagine that I felt naked without it.
After some research on the net it became clear that I wouldn't have to go through too much trouble to find the right photographer. There is one in Groningen that does US size visa pictures. I was back home in 3 hours where I spent 45 minutes to get those earrings back in.

Anyway, I am done for now, my stuff is on its way to the US where Jack will add it to all the paperwork he has to get together. That is, if he still wants that after seeing the terrible picture, lol.

I wish they would allow you to smile on those.
No wonder those immigration people look like they are in a bad mood, I would be if I had to look at those depressing pictures all day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's for real now

After seeing Jack, whether it is here or there, I am aways in a daze for about a week after. Not feeling like I want to do anything and on the other side a huge feeling of frustration.

This time it is different, this time we got what we wanted.
The main reason for Jack coming over was meeting with my son's Dad. We didn't want to start the K1 visa procedure without knowing for sure if my son would come with me.
And now we know, my son can come with me.

This all means that we are making real plans now, no more 'what if's'.
The day after the meeting we went out with my parents and told them our future plans. They didn't seem to be shocked at all, think they saw it coming.
But even though we talked a lot about our plans that night, it still didn't seem real to me yet.
Not until the day before Jack left and we went through the website that tells us the steps we have to take now.
Together we found out what paperwork to get together to get started.
Jack has to file for I129F Petition for Alien Fiance so we can get the K1 visa.

When we started reading up on this it sounded really complicated but now that we are looking at it closely, it isn't too bad. Just a lot of paperwork.
The whole process can be found here

At this moment we are both gathering paperwork and filled in a form about our background, 4 times.
For me it is still very easy, my work comes when I have to prepare for my interview at the embassy in a few months, Jack has to do most work now.
He has to get proof together of us meeting, having a relationship, get proof together that he can sponsor us and a lot more.

While gathering my papers it started to get through to me, we are actually doing it now!
Our goal is to get our papers over at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the 1st of December.

We'll try to keep everyone up-dated through our blog so you can travel with us on our way to the US and our life together.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Y'All Come Back Again Now, Y'Hear?

When you visit the Southern states here in the US, you may hear that phrase inviting you to come back again and take in the unique southern way of life. I think we are fortunate in that we have several very distinct regions in the US that are all so very different from each other and worth experiencing. I hope to take Petra and her son on a tour of the US over the next few years to see it all

But I also have a desire to see as much of the world as possible on this journey and having just come back from another visit to your wonderful country, I realized again the differences and why every american, if possible, should travel the world and see things with open eyes and a willingness to absorb the great history and cultures on this planet. With that being said, I would encourage people from around the world to come and visit us also and do so in the same way, with open eyes and a willingness to appreciate what makes America unique.

A few thoughts keep coming back to me after every visit to the Netherlands. They are not earth shattering ideas or rooted in political views but just some basic lifestyle things that make me feel comfortable every time I am there.

First, I love being in a country that is flat enough and small enough that people actually use bicycles to get around if they choose to. I have to say that one of the first things I look forward to is renting the bicycle and going about daily life knowing that I don't have to jump in the car to get everything done. Here, the great distances, and in my case, the hilly terrain makes using the bike very difficult. Also the bus and train service in the NL is terrific. I hope we realize that over the next generation in the US that we need to develop these services where possible. Again the great distances here are a little more challenging.

I love that on a nice day the Dutch take advantage by going on nice walks. On this walk I saw entire families, dogs and all, out enjoying nature. Good luck getting your kids here to get excited when you tell the, "let's go on a walk as a family."

Museums and lots of them. They say that there are more museums in the NL per population than any other country. I believe it and they are all interesting. In my opinion, we would be so far better off if a family outing involved visiting a museum instead of going to the mall and McDonalds for something to do.

You would have to be brain dead not to appreciate the beauty of a typical European street that might look like this. Being a relatively new country, we don't see stuff like this. Yes, we have our own charming places and we have been getting much better at preserving them but come on....I could walk up and down streets like this for hours and enjoy the fact that every other shop isn't a fast food joint. LOL

Town squares or plaza's. I love them. A great place to people watch and get a sense of community when large crowds gather and meet. When the towns and cities of the US were built, the square was used in many places but over time, most have gone. The space gobbled up by new office buildings or shops. What a shame.

I could go on and on but wanted to share a few things that seem to keep coming back to me every time I visit. I guess my idea here is that we are all different in good ways and there is so much to appreciate on both continents if you keep your eyes open and not go with preconceived ideas about a people or a country. I am really lucky that I have reason now to experience all of this. Thanks for anoter great time Petra.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I learned a new word yesterday

and it is a good one!

When I talked to Jack last night he said he was getting 'antsy'.
It made me laugh and right away I had a feeling on what it would mean.
Couldn't find it in my dictionary and didn't expect to. But Jack gave me a good idea on what it meant by showing this picture Photobucket

I think it very much describes how we both feel right now.
In a few hours Jack will board the plane that will bring him here.
It won't be until tomorrow morning until he will be here, in the meantime, I will run around like a headless chicken.
Feeling antsy and nervous.
Oh well, it makes for a clean house if nothing else.

I like the word, but I love that tomorrow around this time Jack and I will be together again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

almost 200

amazing, the next post on this blog will be # 200.
When we started this blog we thought we would be together soon, but than reality hit.
Life doesn't happen as fast as we want it to happen.
In a way, that is good, we get more time to look forward to things.
And as my Mom used to say, the struggle makes you stronger.
And it does, even though we want things to go much faster, Jack and I still feel strong about why we started this journey.

It is only a week now before Jack will be here for the meeting with my sons father.
An important meeting, but I am quite confident about the outcome.
Still, it is exciting.

Something that is changing for me is the fact I am getting aware of us going to move to another country.
In the next months I hope to tell more about what that means, but right now I keep my mind occupied with stuff that isn't too important, but special to me.

Jack and I are planning our first time alone. And we both are hoping to spend x-mas together at Cape May. A place that got pretty special to me really fast.
But for some really weird reason, I have music on my mind today, music that is Dutch and I would like to share with Jack this vacation, x-mas music if you want, but I also have the feeling I need to have music close to me, music that reminds me of home.
For now I have found Anouk, Together alone and her newest, Who is your momma.
I have several Blof cd's and ordered the platinum cd.
But I need more suggestions.
Today I realized I won't hear Anouk, Blof or Marco Borsato on the radio there, I need to bring them with me.
But I need suggestions, help!!!

as an example...

Friday, October 17, 2008

need to rant a little

this has nothing to do with Jack or our plans, but everything with the animals that brought us together.
Most of you know that I foster.
Most of you also know that the group I volunteer for does focus on the Spanish galgo's.
Being involved with greyhounds also means I know about the US part of the story and the Irish horror.

But living in the northern part of my little country also means that I am the contact for that part of the country if it comes to greyhounds.
And for Dutch standards, that is the worst part of the country for any dog, let alone a greyhound.
I really don't feel like going into it right now, I will one day.
But let me just tell you about the sweet girl that I have here right now.

She comes from a known greyhound breeder. Her owner bought her and it turned out she was ill. Something easily prevented by giving the common vaccinations. But hey, that costs money which you don't want to spend when a dog isn't racing yet.
Than, the new owner got sick, bit of a problem since the dog was meant for the track and he can't take her there now.
So she was never meant to be a pet. The wife didn't approve of having a dog inside the house. The dog was not gentle enough with the kids.
After a while, the dog, not even 1 1/2 years old didn't get walks or other ways to get rid of the energy that comes with dogs that age.
And since the owner lost his job, he wasn't contributing to the family anymore...
So, the dog needs to go, she is too hyper and not wanted as a pet.
Fortunately they get in contact with GINN
I told them to, please, bring the dog a.s.a.p.
Now she is here.
Purebred, good line.
Too skinny.
Too nervous
Ate whatever her owners ate.
Full of worms.
Lived in a kennel outside for months.

When I try to pet her, stroke her, I can feel her tremble, when I get out of sight, she panics, her tail does overtime when I return after having stepped out for 5 seconds.
After 2 days she gets that she can do her business outside.
That a cuddle is the best thing in the world...

Tomorrow she will leave.
To make sure that no more un-wanted greyhounds will enter this world, she will be spayed.
She will also get vaccinated, de-wormed and checked on other things by the vet.
She'll be operated on because the owner left her here with nipples that are inflamed which, from the looks of it, isn't from the last few days.

She will be taken care off.
She will find a good home and be happy.

She is one of the most beautiful, sweet, affectionate dogs I have had here over the years.
I just don't get it.
If even we treat animals like this, how dare we say something about other countries?
We always seem to know how others should do it,still we fail in treating animals the right way ourselves.

It is crazy, look at her picture, can you believe it?
Someone kept away the basic care for her, kept away love, medical care and decent food.

When I touch her, oh so soft fur, I can feel her tremble...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teenagers are weird.

The conversation I had with my, almost 14 year old son this morning.
Son: There is a soccer game this Friday, sounds like fun.
Me: Nice, want to play?
Son: Yes, but...
Me: But what?
Son: It is on Friday, outside school hours...
Me: Is that a problem? I mean, if it is fun.
Son: Anyway, I should have handed in the form today, so I am too late.
Me: Well, if you can find the teacher, you still can.
Son: Mumble, mumble, grumble, grumble
Me: What is the problem, if it is too late and you don't want to get back alone, I can get on the bike and pick you up?
Son: That is not the problem.
Me: Than what is?
Son: It costs 5 euro to participate.
Me: So? I don't have it in my purse, but if you want to pay for it yourself, I'll give you the money back.
Son: Grumble, grumble, grumble....

Which was pretty much the end of the conversation. Why he even brought it up is beyond me.
I know he would like to go, but only brings up reasons not to go.
Can't force him to go, but some days I wish he was still the 8 year old that I could tell: You are going and you will enjoy it.

Imagine taking a kid this age shopping for clothes when he doesn't feel like it.
Jack and I experienced it. Sooooooooooo frustrating, having him drag his feet behind you and face that would kill if it was as effective as he meant it to be at that moment. Nothing is nice, having him try on something is like you ask him to go into a torture chamber and the new clothes are things we specially searched for to cause him the most agonizing pains. (btw, he wears those clothes with pride now, casually mentioning that they come from the US)
Those are the moments I wonder why Jack even bothers putting up with someone with a teenager.
He lived through it before and you would think he is warned an never do it again.

Guess it means you can survive a teenager.
But sometimes...Arghhhhhhhhhhh

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A gorgeous day in the Netherlands

Today was one of those , not so common, beautiful days we can have in fall.
Sunny, dry, no wind, perfect for a walk in the woods.
The leafs are starting to color, not as bright as in Pennsylvania, but still, it was one of those days to go out and take a long walk with the dogs. So I put both my girls in the Doggyride behind my bike and we were off.
Turned out I wasn't the only one thinking that way, a lot of people walking their dogs and a lot of families with kids running around. It was very busy, but actually that was exactly what I was hoping for.

Cara, my new girl behaved great, she can be overly exited when meeting other dogs so this was good training for her, also having kids running around with big sticks and having fun was very good. She still has to get used to some things.
At some point I did something I usually don't do, near the little pond there are some benches and people let their dogs get into the water to swim.
When we arrived there, a sweet, young hunting dog came up inviting Paquita and Cara to play.
Since I had my pocket full of treats and Paquita was very interested in playing I let her go. Boy, did they have fun.
Paquita loves to show that she is half sighthound and very fast. The other dog loved going into the water and challenging Paquita to do the same. He was out of luck, that girl will not go into the water.
Later when called she came back as asked. Good girl!
During all this we had quite the audience which is always funny.
A lot of people were commenting on her being a racing dog which always makes me smile, since she is half border collie and half galgo, a hunting dog.
But as usual someone came up wanting to know more, which gave me the chance to talk about the rescue I volunteer for Greyhounds in Nood Nederland

When Jack is here, in 16 days, I hope the weather will be just as great so we can take the dogs out for this very same walk again. The good thing about doing these walks with Jack is that he doesn't mind talking to people about the dogs, since he knows how it is, having 2 rescue's himself.
Remembering the evening walks in Cape May, those were twice as much fun with people wanting to meet the dogs.
We even got a really nice picture of us because of an accidental meeting with a musician/photographer while walking them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Never Easy

It seems that the last two or three trips there have been outside issues that have popped up that potentially could have delayed our plans. Fortunately they didn't but here we are again and unless the world goes bankrupt, which is beginning to look possible, I will be getting on the plane in 23 days to visit Petra. It is a very important trip since we hope it will open up the door to actually start filling out papers and making this journey reach one of our biggest goals, being together.

When I booked the flight I did not realize that I will be missing two events over here that I always participate in. First is Halloween, LOL, which I understand is a much bigger deal over here than in most of Europe. No worries. I am bringing along three pumpkin carving kits and patterns so we can spend one evening creating our own works of art. It will be fun to just have an evening together playing with pumpkins and laughing.
The second thing I will miss which is more serious is our presidential elections. When I realized that, I immediately applied at the election office for an absentee ballot so I can cast my vote in this very important election. It seems like the past 8 years of George Bush has felt like 100 years and I want to make sure my vote is counted so I can help change the course of leadership over here. It is no secret that my vote is going to Obama since the republicans of Bush and McClain have done their best to destroy this country both at home and with our relations around the world. I feel Bush has been the worst president in the history of this country and my vote is not going to someone who seems dangerously close to him in policy. And as far as McCains VP choice of Palin? Wait a sec while I get back up off of the floor from laughing so hard. Only trouble is, if it weren't so scarey, it would be hilarious. Anyway, I will be anxiously watching CNN from the Netherlands to see the results on November 4.
Let's hope the world doesn't fall apart in the meantime so I can be there.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another sleepless night

and so I am sitting here, trying to think of something to write.
Again it looks like from the two of us, I will have to do the blogging for a while since Jack is over his head covered in work ( Is that a saying in English?)
Did I say jokingly that we would get together if world economy didn't collapse?
Well, maybe I should keep my mouth shut, looks like they are trying a bit too hard to make my words come true.

It is keeping Jack too busy at this moment and I am hoping everything settles down enough for him to feel comfortable coming over. But saying that sounds silly and selfish.
Learning a bit from Jack how the whole money business works (please note that I am saying 'a bit' here, I am not claiming to actually know anything)it is getting scary to watch the developments in the last few weeks.
I find myself sitting for the tv, watching CNN and wishing some people would get their heads out of their butts and start working together on a solution.
The longer this whole thing lasts, the more people will find out it affects us all, not just the people in their suits and big cars that have too much money.

Anyway, it is keeping Jack tied up with his work right now and I am not really sure what to do. Go ahead and get ready for his visit, or keep my excitement under control until I know for sure it goes on.

What I do know is that I have to make sure I get rid of my sore throat. Right now there is some kind of flu or cold going around and I got it this weekend. It is at the point now that we can't even talk over the phone, he wouldn't understand me because my voice is taking a vacation.
That flu also explains my sleepless nights at the moment.

One 'good' thing about it though was that I did get to see a part of the McCain - Obama debate while it was life on tv, so no explanations from all kind of reporters and experts yet but a chance to form my own opinion. Interesting to see how different US politics are from the Dutch way.
I am surprised that Jack and I am actually talking about politics this much. Having him explain how it all works over there makes me think about our system here and teaching me a lot about there.
But I have to say I am sometimes puzzled also.
Especially by how long US citizens can hold on to saying they belong to one party, but will vote for another. I really fail to see the need to be registered as being one or the other if in the end it doesn't say much about the way you vote.
But I guess this is where Americans fall for the trap we call "hokjesgeest". The oh so very Dutch need to put people in little boxes and put a mark on them.

Anyway, I am learning a lot, but mostly that I am not too fond about the 2 party system the US has. Looking at the election thing from over here it looks like one of those shows like Idols.

But I also will admit that I may be awake for the debate between Biden and Palin, just because...

Did I make any sense?
Probably not, but it made me sleepy enough to try to get some sleep.
I'll leave you with a picture I made today.
I bought 2 Hydrangea's for my living room to make it look nice for Jacks visit.
Only later I realized that I will have to hide all sharp objects to make sure Jack doesn't cut them short like he does with the ones in his garden every year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another step forward

Since sleep seems to be a little problem at the moment, I just as well can up-date you guys about the newest step we are preparing for our journey.
Today Jack let me know he had booked a flight to Amsterdam for the end of next month.
So, when the world economy decides not to collapse, he will be over for a meeting that we will be having with my sons Dad to talk things through and get some questions answered.
Besides this, to us very important, meeting I am also very happy that Jack can come over again, even if it is for just a few days.
Being apart now after having spent so much time together is harder than I thought it would be.
I know, that sounds like it is a surprise to me, but I figured with a lot going on we would both be busy and keeping a clear mind on that this situation is going to end one day.
Well, I am reading into the visa stuff and I am glad Jack can get us some help on that, because my daily life English is not nearly enough to understand the language they use for those formal papers.
If you ask me what papers, vaccinations and health certificates a dog needs to move to the US, or how to find out what type of crate you need to use to fly to the US.
No problem, I can figure all that out without blinking an eye.
But when it comes to stuff that is named K 1 for which you have to file USCIS Form I-129F and two sentences later they start talking about aliens and conditional permanent residence status and a lot more abracadabra, I get lost.
I guess that once started all this it will at some point make sense to me, but right now I only have a general feel for the procedure.

One thing is clear to me though, it is easier to bring dogs to the US, than people.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Living in a fairytale

Nope, don't mean that I am living with my head in the clouds, unaware of what is going on in the world. LOL, sometimes I wish.
But summer nights in Pennsylvania have a little extra that makes it look like you are living in a fairytale world.
When the sun is going down, the lightning bugs wake up and transform the garden in to something so beautiful. At first you see a few little lights rising up from the ground between the trees. But before you know it they are everywhere you look, little glowing lights rising up from the grass.
During our first trips abroad with my parents we saw them in Germany. Also in those days they seemed so amazing, we would take extra walks at night to find them.
To see them this close and in such amounts was wonderful and added something special to every night, so much that I missed them when we were in Cape May.
That and the sound of the cicadas...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What's for Dinner?

If it comes to food I am not that adventurous. And until recent seafood was a big no no.
But after I started living alone I decided to see if I could get used to a few things and found out that the deep fried stuff isn't so bad.
Even introduced Jack to Kibbeling and he is hooked now.
For me it got so bad that I allow myself a 'gebakken visje' once a month.
This is deep fried fish made very tasty with a special seasoning.

So Jack thought I might be ready to try a few things in Cape May, because it is a fishing harbor after all.
Now, eating seafood was mostly a no because of the taste, but I have to admit, it can't be that much fun to eat something that is looking back at you.
And when Jack came up with pictures like this one, I had more than my share of doubts.

But we agreed, I would at least give it a try.
Little did I know that the way it worked, Calamari would be the first thing to try.
All deep fried, but still...
It didn't taste that bad and I could eat the rings again, but those tentacles, brrrrr.
After that it was the Kibbeling look a like, but that was kind of tasteless.
Jack also made me try something called clam strips. They tasted good also, but I am not sure I want to know what it exactly is.

Guess I will never be a real seafood eater if I look at my Moms face when I say I had fish and she tells me it doesn't count because it was deep fried.
Oh well, who knows, Jack threatened to get us lobster next time, does that count?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The way 'home' smells...

after weeks of rain, the weather is looking not to bad for a change.
That means my laundry can hang outside to dry and I can even wear capri's.
Today I grabbed a t-shirt with it that I had taken with me on the last trip.
And as soon as I pulled it over my head I was back. It smelled different than my other clothes, it smelled like sunshine and even a faint smell of the chlorine that makes the water taste so awful there.
I also smelled the detergent Jack buys at the Giant.

So today I am back for a little.
Remembering the look on Jacks face when I wanted a line to dry my clothes outside.
No one does that over there except for the Amish who have the most ingenious clothe lines. The search for 'knijpers' clothe pins, was interesting. I bet they have them over there, but all we found were some really old fashioned wooden pins.
I really should have taken a picture of those.
On the line, we had to compromise, I really wanted it out, in the wind, Jack wanted it out of sight. It ended up in the back of the yard, between the trees, enough shade but also in the wind and hardly visible from the road.
We Dutch may not hang our dirty laundry outside to dry, the Americans don't hang any laundry outside.
Still, they miss out on a really good experience, like getting into a bed with freshly washed and wind dried sheets at night.

Or like me today, wearing a shirt that smells like Pennsylvanian summer wind.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ride' em Cowboy

Well maybe we didn't ride them like real cowboys but one thing we did toward the end of the vacation was go to Gettysburg and take a trail ride through a part of the battlefield.

We all were looking forward to doing this and at the end of the day I think we could all say that it was a great time.

The weather was almost perfect. A little hot but a nice breeze and the sky was just amazing. I think the horses were a little bigger than we thought they would be but I'm sure they have made this ride so many times that they could do it in their sleep. None the less, I think maybe Petra and her son were a little bit nervous to start.

It was great. We had a full hour out in the National Park and by the end of the ride I think Petra and her son were comfortable enough that we will definietly ride again.

The only unexpected thing that happened was that as we were returning to the stables we had to ride a short distance along a busy road and Petra's horse decided to stop the whole line of us behind her so he could take a big pee that seemed to last for hours. I'm sure the tourists driving by found that amusing. LOL

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A journey about to start

When we chose this title we hoped we had picked the right one.
And after traveling back and forth several times last year, we could say we are way beyond the starting part.

But there are other meanings hiding behind it, one of them was that we hoped to start the journey towards a life together.
The last few months we have been looking into how to make that happen and yesterday we took a big step into the journey of getting together for the rest of our lives.
What we did up to now was finding out what papers we needed.
Until now all we needed was a passport and permission for my son to leave the country for a short period of time.

Now we want to start a journey that asks for a lot more...

The most important step I took last night, sharing our plans with my sons father.
Asking him to think about everything and than hopefully give us permission for my son to live with us.

For Jack and me it is another start in our journey together.
And from now on we hope to keep you up to date with how far we are into this journey.

Feels like I should add a picture.
How about a beautiful memory from our last trip?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Being A Beach Bum

I have always loved going to the beach. It is the one place that as soon as I get my feet wet, feel the sand under my toes and hear the constant pounding of the waves, I can forget what is going on in the rest of the world and relax into those thoughts and dreams that slow life down and let you really enjoy the moment.

I was anxiously hoping that Petra would like it and when I realized that she not only liked it but loved it then I was thrilled. I think we will continue to make a trip to Cape May every year to get our time to just be beach bums and curl up in a beach chair and read a few good books, take long walks on the beach with the dogs and watch the sun set over the water marking the end of another great day in paradise.

Cape May is my favorite spot for many reasons, one important one being that it is relatively close to where I live. It is historic and the town is very scenic. I have found as Petra said, a great dog friendly house that I rent so being without the pups is not a question. And, what you have there that you don't at most shore locations are beaches on both the east, (Atlantic) side and on the west, (Delaware Bay) side where every night you are treated to a quiet walk and beautiful sunsets.

What I hope though is that besides making a trip to Cape May every year we can see some of the other wonderful beaches we have here on the east coast of the US. While many of the popular spots are over-run with hotels and attractions built right on the shoreline and in my opinion, terribly ugly and commercial, we still have great isolated strethes of beach that are worth exploring. I hope I can show Petra and her son the rugged coast of Maine, the big strethes of remote sand dunes on Cape Cod and the interesting wild horses and ponies that have occupied Assateague Island for 350 years now. Lot's to see and I can't wait to show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting our feet wet...

It was a vacation, within our vacation.
During the four weeks we visited Jack, he had to work most of the time. Not something that we had planned, but since he had just started in the new office it had to be that way. Even for the week in Cape May, he brought his laptop and called in every day.
And than he found that his laptop wasn't working.
Best thing that could have happened. Now he was forced to relax.

For my son and me, it was our first beach vacation and for me it turned out to be one of my best vacations ever.
The house Jack rents every year is great, the dogs can come, have a yard to run in. It has a large deck that has enough shade most of the day. And in the garage you can find all you need for a nice day on the beach.

Cape May in it self is a beautiful place.
Filled with Victorian houses it has a really cozy atmosphere and Jack and I spent hours just walking around, looking at the beautiful houses and their gardens.
And after the hottest part of the day passed, the beach it was.
Bringing books to read and games to play.
Than back to the house for a nice meal, some drinks and than back to the beach with the dogs for a walk while enjoying a gorgeous sunset.

Does it sound like I loved it?
Yup, you're right. Had the time of my life.I mean, I got to see dolphins play so close, it felt I could touch them.

Bet Jack can say one or two things about it also.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


For some reason the planes leaving for the US always seem to have a departure time between 11AM and noon.
In itself that is great, means we arrive around 3PM local time.
With usually 2 hours driving time to get home, we have little problems with traffic around the cities where we arrive.
The difficulties are at this side of the pond.
Having to be at the airport 3 hours earlier, it means that it is always a gamble if we can catch the first train from Groningen to A'dam.
Getting at the train station by bus is impossible that early, first train leaves at 5 AM. So this time we ordered a cab to pick us up to bring us to the train. Hoping the train would be on time, since we had only 10 minutes after arrival before we had to check in.
The cab was on time, actually, it was 15 minutes early. Turned out he had picked up another couple for the station and we could share costs.
But than it turned out to be a nerve wrecking train ride.
Something I fear for every time happened. The train had a small problem in Zwolle, so we got stuck there for several minutes. Not too bad, but it meant that the rest of the trip we were stuck behind a train that stopped at every station instead of being able to do only a few as planned.
We were more than 30 minutes late at the airport.

At that moment I learned a good lesson.
It is great if you can be there 3 hours early, but if not, don't panic.
This time we already knew our seats before, so that wasn't a problem either.
We got in line, checked in, got in line again for customs and than could almost straight go to our gate and hardly had to wait.

The flight was fast and easy. Flying into Philadelphia means you get to see a beautiful part of New Jersey and we could already see the beaches that we would visit a few days later
This time Immigration had no difficult questions besides the standard look of disbelief when I say that the tall boy next to me is my son.
And thanks to our former experience we knew to look for our bags next to the belt instead of on the belt.

What surprises me almost every time when arriving in the US, the airports don't seem busy. No long lines and I always wonder where all those people go that get off the plane.
It also meant that walking out we had absolutely no trouble locating Jack who was waiting for us.
But maybe that was also to blame on the orange cap he was wearing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Time to start talking

If you would ask me right now what I miss the most now that I am back in Europe, it would be the climate and everything that comes with it.
And before you ask, that comes after Jack off course!!! No question about that.

From what we have experienced these two visits, I love it. From what Jack tells me, we have been there in the two most extreme months, temperature wise. And both I could handle fine. Temperatures far above 30 degrees Celsius weren't a huge problem because of the air conditioning in the house and outside it maybe humid some days, but not half as bad as we get here usually.
And yes, it does rain there. But not like here, it rains and the sun returns, it gets nice and warm again and it is like someone up there just decided to water the plants.

We're back here for 1,5 weeks now and I miss the warmth of the sun. From the moment we came from the plane we had rain every day. My backyard looks like a swimming pool and the snails are having a ball with the few flowers that didn't drown yet.
The birch in the back is heavy because of all the water on the leafs.

Have to be honest though, it isn't always like this, we do have nice after summers and sometimes we get a real nice summer also. But our climate is a lot wetter and the chance on a spoiled summer is eminent in our little country.

So yes, I miss the climate, the fact that the weather is much more stable, summer is summer, it is warm or hot, you have thunderstorms and after the rain, it dries up again.

Sigh, that is how I like it.
Wearing shorts and flip flops for months.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our Little Friend Says Hello Petra.

One way that it felt so comfortable and like home was that almost every evening we sat outside either on the front porch or the back deck. We would talk or sit and read, have a drink, and stay there sometimes until well past nightfall. It was so relaxing.

Our neighbor gave Petra a Hummingbird feeder that we put up on the front porch and it wasn't long before we had visitors. Our little friends miss you Petra.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Is it possible?

To come 'home' to a place that is thousands of miles away from the place you are born?
Because if that is so, than that would explain my feeling of being homesick. I can't describe it any other way. That knot in my stomach isn't because of a jetlag, which by the way is very much there also.

I guess what I want to say is that I felt so very much at home those 4 weeks with Jack.
Never an awkward moment with Jack, not that I am surprised about that. I don't think we had them ever again after the first time we met.
But this time I got a better feel on how life in the US is, got a bit of a taste and I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised. Of course there are differences and things to get used to being an European. But different doesn't always mean bad.

What surprised me the most was how easy it was to get used to the heat, because 'HOT' it was. I don't think we got more than 4 days under 30 degrees Celsius. But after taking it slow for the first few days it wasn't really a problem. And as Jack mentioned, even the beach agreed with me. Even better, I never expected too love it this much. We did have to keep an eye on my son, who did get a sunburn even though we covered him in sun lotion. But after avoiding the hottest times, he was doing fine also.

Now we are back here and I miss being there.
Guess what, it rained when the plane hit the runway in Amsterdam and it is about 10 degrees colder here.
I did bring a lot of memories back with me, hope they will be enough to keep us and you busy until the next meeting.

For now I just wanted to explain why I didn't write anything yet, because I didn't want it to be over.

Yes, I am homesick alright!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What A Month!

Our month together has ended and all I can say is that it was probably the best month of my life. I will let Petra post about her impressions of being here. I think I speak for both of us though when I say that we felt like it was so natural and right to be together. We did a lot of things but most importantly we were just being together as partners and it was great.

The one thing I must say though is that up until the time Petra arrived she was telling me how white her skin was and the trip to the beach at Cape May would probably turn her into a red beet but if we would have stayed just a few days longer at the shore, she would have looked like she lived there all of her life. I can tell that the beach agrees with her and the tan she got in just one week would make many jealous. LOL

I think we will have many trips to the beach in the future.

It's only been one day but I miss you so very much Petra.

Monday, July 14, 2008

sure, why not...

but what a day to start procrastinating.
Right now I am sitting behind the pc, not doing a thing but typing, listening to music and sing along.
Should be packing, deciding how many undies we'll bring.
But instead I want to cuddle with my dogs, take a nap and read a little.

My son looks at me like I am totally out of my mind, normally I am freaking out by this time.
Not this time and I kinda like it.
But maybe it is about time to find our bathing suits and shorts.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Arghhhhhhhhhhhh, socks!

Can someone tell me why I have to buy my son new socks for every trip?
This is going to be our third trip in less than a year and I just checked his socks.
At least 4 pairs have disappeared since last visit.

What does he do with them?
Only thing I can think of is he is leaving them at his Dad's place.
But his feet are still smaller, so they would find that out sooner or later.

Sigh, other people have just one sock missing, he has complete pairs missing.
These trips are getting expensive mainly because of the amount of socks I am buying.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Am Still Part of This Couple.

Petra has been posting for both of us the past few weeks but I wanted to let everyone who looks here know that I am still alive and still Petra's partner. Actually, I have enjoyed reading Petra's posts and think maybe she should be the only one writing things. They are more interesting than mine. LOL I wish I could have attended the Celtic Festival. It looked like great fun. I think the young people here have a term for what is under the kilts, although I don't even think they know what a kilt is, but not wearing anything underneath is "going commando".

The reason I have been absent is because I have changed companies and it has been a very busy and at times, stressful past several weeks but things are looking good right now and even better, we will be together in just 4 days. WHOOPEEEEEE!

I hope we can post jointly during our month together here and show some of the things we have been doing. One thing you won't see a picture of is our greeting at the airport. That will be private and special. You understand.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

a few more pictures from the Celtic Midsummer Festival

While I am counting down the days, a few more pics from the Festival.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bagpipes and kilts

I know, I promised Jack, but when the chance presented itself, I couldn't look away.
Not that it helped much, I still don't know what they wear under their kilts.
But one of these days...

Yesterday I had a great day, with many thanks to my sister who didn't mind that I had to bring two dogs. The two of us went to the Celtic Midsummer Festival in Nieuweschans.
We both like the atmosphere that comes with these events that relates so much to the books we love.
Much to my shame I have to admit that I missed that we have a really good group of musicians over here that play old Dutch, Celtic and Irish folk music.
Even worse is that the rest of the Netherlands already knows and I don't.
But I 'm working on it, promise.
Just to make sure you will know them, here is: Rapalje!!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Making lists

and already we are down to 10 days left.
And it is starting to show around the house. There are lists everywhere.
A list to make sure I don't end up with to many groceries in my fridge that will have to stay in there for 4 weeks. A list to make sure we have all the clothes we need, one for the paperwork like passports and permissions that we need to bring. Another one for the dogs and to make sure I go by the vet before. The list for the last food items for the rabbit and a bag of dogfood.
A list to make sure I buy the last items like toothpaste and shampoo.
Not that after writing the lists I will ever look at them, for me it is making them that makes me remember the things we need.

This trip feels different from the other ones because we will spend so much more time together. It also leaves my house empty longer and the feeling that everything should be taken care of is more urgent than other times.
Can't leave too much in the fridge because it will be able to walk by the time we get back...

Monday, June 30, 2008

And than there were...15

finally it feels like it is going fast now.
Must be because the little princess is keeping me busy.
School for my son has ended and he is spending this week with his Dad. And it was time for school to end. The poor kid was so tired, they had so many activities. He couldn't keep up without getting into a bad mood anymore. Next week he will be home and we can start preparing for our trip.
Not that he will like it, it will mean buying shorts and footwear. That will be one spoiled day. But at least we won't have to go to the city for it, we have a wonderful camping shop here that sells great footwear for the summer and I have already found some that he will have to get. He just won't like them, since it isn't like his normal pair of sneakers. Nothing harder than to get a young boy out of his normal clothes.

Last week his Dad signed the permission for him to go again. He never makes a point of it, but it keeps being a pain to have to ask and be grateful every time to take your own kid with you to where you want.
But not doing it is no option, if immigration is asking for the permission and you can't show, you are lucky if you are only sent back.
And the risk of them asking is getting bigger every time.
He is officially taller than I am now and is really becoming his own person. And he doesn't look like me or his Dad anymore.

The little princess is doing fine, she is very playful, which Paquita likes a lot.
And also she is housebroken now, which is hardly ever a problem with these dogs, they just have to get the picture.
A small problem is going to be the fact that she developed separation anxiety pretty fast. We have to work on that the next two weeks.
For the rest she is sweet and loving to cuddle already.

Oh, and we are going to get summer temperatures this week, around 30 degrees, how is that for preparation?

Friday, June 27, 2008


I have had greyhounds and galgo's for close to nine years now but I never had heard the Greyhound Scream of Death. Maybe because I tend to adopt or foster the older dogs, I don't really know. But this morning I heard it.
And yes, it makes your blood go cold in your veins and your toes curl.
All it took was for my little princess to slip away on the kitchen floor and hit her paw against the fridge.
Man, you wake up fast when a dog screams like that, I really expected for her leg to be broken.

Thinking back, I should have made a picture, she was sitting down, on her tail, paw up and screaming her little head off.

The moment I saw that, little warning bells went off in my head, so I stroked her head until she was quiet, asked her if she was ok and walked away deciding to see what happens.
By this time I hardly could keep back my laughing knowing I had heard the GSoD for the first time, but probably not the last.

I know, she hurt herself, but the moment I realized that she screamed too loud, I decided to walk away after she stopped screaming and wait and see if she would walk on it. The first meters she put her paw down very carefully, had it up while standing.
But soon she was back on all four.
Unless she saw me looking, than the paw went up.

I think my little princess is a dramaqueen

Thursday, June 26, 2008

and this is why...

I needed a new dog:

Paquita is happy again.