Tuesday, December 21, 2010

               Jack and Petra

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

The worst: not knowing what you want to get your spouse since he buys whatever he wants or needs.
Second worst : a son who doesn't have a wish list.
But, I am happy to say I was done shopping last week. Last Thursday I asked Jack to drop me off at the mall near Carlisle, it has Kohls, Michaels, Target, Petsmart, Pier 1 and several other shops and I figured I could get my shopping done in 2 to 3 hours.  As it turned out, I only needed an hour.
But since Jack would pick me up to get my sons present and the stuff we wanted to get at Pier one and Target for our neighbors, I was forced to snoop around at Michaels, a wonderful place that has every thing that you can imagine for creative people and after that get one of the seasonal Latte's at Starbucks.
It is funny, I would never ever order a normal coffee there, but I love their specials. Just shouldn't do it too often.

We also decided to go to the neighborhood Christmas party this time. Jack never went in the past, but I was asked a few times if we would be there and we thought it might be fun and a good way to meet some of our neighbors. Since a few months I go to the gym with 2 neighbors and we meet several others there, so I had a head start. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Santa would be there for the kids, there was a band and a buffet. Somehow I ended up taking the pictures of all the kids on Santa's lap and after they had some margarita's', a few of the ladies on Santa's lap.
The funny thing is, you will always find a Dutch connection. That night I talked to one of my neighbors who just had found out that his family moved to the US around 1600. He was very curious to hear more about the Netherlands and I didn't mind filling him in on some details.
All in all it was a real fun evening and I will surely sign us up for next year.
Now, close your eyes, since I will be posting a picture with Santa and my gym buddies.

Sunday we took it easy, had to, Jack suddenly had a bad cold and we opted to stay in for the day.
My son went over to one of the neighbors to play X-box and we had a lazy day.
But I was really surprised when we did our 6 PM walk with the dogs. A big group of kids was going from door to door, caroling.
It was great to hear and see. I really thought it was something of the past, but clearly not.
I really hope they will keep up these traditions.

Anyway, I am almost ready for Christmas, just one more package that I hope will arrive tomorrow.
That will be the last of what I need for our late X-mas celebration.
But besides that, I have to pack our bags for me and my son so we can travel to the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Right now it looks ok, but I am watching the weather over there. It is beginning to look a lot like a white Christmas over there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I must have not gotten that note

The one that says that there is a spending limit on pets.
It's something I have heard quite a lot lately, people with a sick animal that had to go to the vet and then decide, only one more time and the animal is over the spending limit, it won't be taken to the vet anymore and will die or will be re homed.
It was probably on the same note that said, once you have kids, the pets are no longer your replacement kids but 'just' pets that need less care than before.
The same note that makes pets expendable after a certain age.

I am still caught in the assumption that pets are a lifetime responsibility and that there is no need to choose either kids or animals, that they can actually grow up together with respect for each others being.
And I must be crazy probably, but I think no living being should be denied the right care when sick or old.
I don't think pets are  easy exchangeable when they no longer fit your life style or gets old or even just annoying to you, I actually think, and yes I am probably insane, that every animal has it's own character, that it feels pain and experiences love when given, just like kids .
And while my kid will be always # 1, I feel my pets need the same amount of care and love.

I am glad I didn't get that note.

So there, I said it.
You can call me crazy now, I'll be proud of it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

En morgen is het 1 december

Yep, voor de verandering weer eens een Hollands blogje. Om in de spirit te komen zeg maar.
En ook omdat ik 2 glazen wijn op heb en het Nederlands me dan nog steeds gemakkelijker af gaat dan het Engels.

Over 23 dagen zet ik voor het eerst sinds meer dan een jaar weer voet op Nederlandse bodem en natuurlijk zorgt dat voor stof tot nadenken.
In hoe verre ben ik al veramerikaanst, gaat mijn familie me betrappen op een aantal Engelse woordjes en zal ik me daar door onsterfelijk belachelijk  maken? Kan ik iedereen en alles zien in die korte tijd.
Maar vooral, zal ik niet teleurgesteld zijn? Dat is namelijk mijn grootste angst, dat ik het niet meer leuk in Nederland zal vinden.

Waarom ik dat denk vraag je?
Easy, ik heb het hier prima naar mijn zin. Zo goed dat ik me af vraag of ik het in NL niet naar mijn zin had. Eerlijk gezegd zit ik nog steeds te wachten op de nadelen van deze oversteek. Maar tot nu toe heb ik nergens spijt van. Mijn zoon doet het geweldig hier, ik heb het naar mijn zin. Moet alleen nu en dan mijn echtgenoot even laten weten dat ik toch echt wel voor mezelf kan zorgen als Nederlandse en dat ik zeer capabel ben om mensen aan te spreken, de telefoon op te pakken en voor mezelf of zo nodig voor mijn zoon op te komen.
Tja, dat zijn van die dingen die even de kop op steken.

Natuurlijk zie ik er naar uit mijn familie weer te zien, zeker na de schrik die mijn Moeder ons bezorgt heeft. Wil hen beide heel graag weer even zien, voelen, horen, aanraken.
LOL, ben zelfs al een lijstje aan het maken van dingen die mee terug moeten.
Van die gekke dingen, zoals zoetjes, die heb ik hier nog niet gevonden en natuurlijk drop, salmiak, dat soort dingen.

Ja, ik verheug me op kerst in Nederland, met mijn ouders, mijn zusters, zwagers en kinderen.
Maar mijn echtgenoot blijft hier, met onze 4 honden en de kerstboom en de open haard.
Mijn zoon gaat mee, maar verblijft bij zijn vader.

ik zou zo blij moeten zijn dat ik de mogelijkheid heb om dit te doen.
Maar is het zo gek dat ik veel liever mijn eigen gezinnetje bij elkaar heb, bij onze eigen boom, met onze eigen open haard en kadootjes om te openen op kerst ochtend?
Samen, met elkaar, mensen en honden?

Nee toch?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our fridge is taken hostage by a giant turkey

There is a huge bag of cornbread stuffing blocking the opening of one of my kitchen closets and I was told that we absolutely have to have pumpkin pie for dessert.

Thursday it's Thanks Giving and I am not cooking. Phew….
Totally going to stay away from the kitchen, as far as possible. Jack can handle the beast and everything that comes with it.
I'll just eat it. Not too much, mind you, don't need to gain more than I already did.
This is a dangerous time of the year, Turkey day is the start of an eating fest that doesn't end before the next year has started.
I had kind of hoped that with losing our Sinterklaas celebration, we would skip some of the eating, but we got TG instead.
Just hope we can hit the gym 3 times a week as we do now, but with the kids having so much time off, I fear the worst.

The holidays also mean that one project has come to a short stop.
Remember the auction I put together? It was a success, in a few hours we raised over 800 dollars that will be donated. It also lead to something else. One of the ladies that encouraged me to do this came with a new initiative. A small group of artists that will jump in when there is an animal emergency. Goal is to organize fast actions/auctions to give some financial first aid.
Seems that I am supposed to be one of those 'artists'
Am curious to see if and how this works out. Might be very interesting and inspiring.
Btw, if you are a creative mind and want to join us, let me know. We are spread all over the US and Canada.

Did you know that I am still very pleasantly surprised when I find out that one of my pictures is somewhere featured? (With me ok-ing it off course)
Yesterday I heard that this picture will be todays picture on Planet Earth Daily Photo
Took this picture last Saturday. We went to the outlets in Gettysburg. ( my favorite place, Eddy Bauer, had a sale and my son needed jeans, again….) And after that we thought we might try to see if we could get a parking spot in town. It was the weekend they remember reading the Gettysburg Address and have a parade. We were in luck, we found a great spot to see the parade.
Thousands of people, volunteers, dressed up in the costumes of the Civil War. Groups representing certain divisions of the armies that were fighting in that time. All replica's that could have been made in that time, so well done.
While I really enjoy seeing the re-enactors, I have to say that I am not always so happy with how serious people take this.
Making a little boy salute all those thousands of volunteers since the little kid was dressed up as a little soldier also does make me cringe a bit.
But to each his own I guess. I didn't grow up with the admiration people here have for people who fight wars.
But the parade was fun to watch and we are certainly planning to visit the reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg next year.

See you next time, I'll tell you about the new hobby I started with Paquita and why I am thinking of adopting another pup.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Is the auction at The Little White Monster and Friends !!!

Please let everyone know, there are some great items to be had, also for non greyhound lovers.
If you are in Europe, you can also bid. To save on shipping I can bring items over to the Netherlands in December and mail it from there!
So let the distance not with hold you from bidding!

Help us help the victims of the cruelty case on the Ebro racetrack in Florida and support the group that tries to rehome all the greyhounds from this track that will no longer race.
GPA EC needs our help, so all greyhounds will find a loving home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A good start of the day ended up being a great week

Remember my last post in which I told you about winning a camera?
Last Sunday we picked it up, it's cute and I am having fun playing with it.
It is also pretty light, which makes it easier to bring with me on hikes. And yes, you guessed it, I am keeping it.

But some more things happened last week.
First of all it was the end of my sons first marking period at highschool and he got his grades.
All A's!!! I am so proud of him. Hard to believe he has been here for only a year eh? But then, his PSSA results in 8th grade were all in the advanced range.
Very proud Mom here as you probably will understand.

And on Friday I started my first Free Style classes with Paquita which was fun.
It is an introduction class of 4 weeks to doggy dancing and I am amazed about how much she still picks up at age 8. But I always knew she is a smart dog.
The group exists of 10 dogs, but only 8 showed up. I was surprised to find out that most dogs didn't respond friendly to other dogs. Which was something I had hoped for. Paquita loves interacting with other dogs. But no such luck.
It was funny to see how diverse the group was, from a big standard poodle and a pittbull to a yorkie and a bulldog.
At the end of the lesson we got our homework. We have to practice our spins, twirls and weaves.

And than the biggest surprise of the week, Jack decided that I will go home for a few days in December together with my son. It is a shame Jack can't come with us, but he has to work and will take care of all 4 dogs.
When he told me I was hesitant, didn't want to be away for X-mas, but we will be back for New Year. So a tree will be set up before we go and I can have a lot of fun decorating.

As you see, a great week.
Hope the rest of the year will be as positive.

As for this week, I hope it ends really well but it started with a horrible cruelty case at the Ebro racetrack for greyhounds.
I am working on an auction to raise money for the surviving Ebro greyhounds and I got some great donations from Greyhounds in Nood Nederland and May Schnabelreiter from www.halsbanden.com.
Both donated a handmade, leather martingale collar specially made for this auction. Also, Melissa from M.Paige Portraits donates a custom drawn pet portrait and a print of one of her drawings.
And there will be prints and other nice stuff.
The auction is this Sunday, it's just one day from 9 AM to 11 PM eastern time.
So you better be fast.
All information and teasers can be fond the next couple of days on Auction at The Little White Monster and Friends
Check it out.
I am thrilled to do it and hope it will be a success, but I need you guys to bid!

If you want to know more about the reason of this auction, check out these newspaper articles.
But be aware, the story is hard and horrible.

Cruelty case at Ebro racetrack

Trainer arrested after at least 20 greyhounds are found dead

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My day couldn't have started better

Usually when I open my mailbox and find a message that says "Congratulations",  I hit the Spam button without opening it.
Not this time, this message came from PennCamera and I had entered one of my pictures in a photo contest.
It was a pet photo contest and since most of my pictures are pet related, I thought I would give it a try.
Not with much hope, since you had to get people to vote and I don't know that many people.
And besides, I never win anyway…

Not this time, my picture of Cara won first prize!

A brand new Olympus EP-L1 camera. Who would have thought that? Now to figure out what the closest shop is. They don't have one close to here so we'll have to figure out what the closest one is and plan a trip.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And suddenly it is November

The transition from summer to fall goes so fast here. One moment I am spending a few days in late September on the beach of Cape May with a friend, wearing flipflops, shorts and a cap and a week later it is suddenly fall.
I am not complaining though, fall is gorgeous here, beautiful colors, blue skies and comfortable temperatures. That is, until the last few days, it is getting colder now, fast.
With fall comes pumpkin pie, pumpkin carving, Halloween and the smell of cinnamon at the entrance of every shop that sells seasonal stuff.
While living in the Netherlands, I loved that smell, but it is so overwhelming here, it irritates my nose and throat within a week after the stuff appeared. Yuck.
One of the fun things of the last week was our pumpkin carving party. With a few neighbors we get together and start carving. It makes for a fun display at Halloween and we get a lot of comments on how great the garden looks.
Yesterday we had 193 kids trick or treating, even more than last year. We barely had enough candy.
I think Halloween is one of my favorite holidays here. It reminds me a bit of Sint Maarten in the Netherlands, but in this case, its ok as a grown up to dress up also. Which I am having a lot of fun with.

Have to go now, need to work all the extra food from this weekend off.
I'll leave you guys with some pictures from the last 3 weeks.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heading for the airport

in a few hours to pick up a visitor.
A good friend and fellow sighthound lover is coming over for a two week visit.
It will be fun showing her around, doing DC, Cape May, Gettysburg and all the other nice places we can visit here.
In a way I still feel like a tourist when we get in the car and drive around, so it should be no problem to find nice spots and sights to see.

Just wish it wouldn't rain today.
I mean, we needed the rain, bad! But why today?
Yesterday would have been perfect also?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A little list of things that I never had, had heard, done or had seen in the Netherlands

  • 4 pair of shorts and still wondering if I should get another pair 
  • (has to do with the first one) haven't worn jeans since May
  • followed by tanned legs!
  • ground hogs

  • bald eagles
  • squirrels racing through my garden
  • flash flooding
  • tornado warnings
  • more than one snowstorm in a winter
  • bear sightings in the neighborhood
  • having a campfire on a cool fall evening
  • turkey at Thanksgiving
  • dressing up at halloween
  • two lunch dates in a week
  • going out for breakfast
  • humming birds 

  • above ground wires everywhere
  • which leads to totally mutilated trees to prevent power outages
  • personalized license plates

  • a starting business
  • always having your groceries bagged at the store
  • a garden bigger than the house
  • motor bikers not wearing a helmet
  • so many people texting, calling and driving at once
  • a church on every other corner
  • with huge billboards on the roadside
  • being called 'hun' or 'sweety'  by waitresses
  • restaurants that don't have a liquor license
  • separate shops for beer/soda's and wine/liquor
  • cheese on my french fries
  • free refills for soda
and many many more.
Life is different here and I do like it, can you tell?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today it is a year ago...

While it was still dark in the early morning that my parents arrived to wave us goodbye.
When the taxi arrived we loaded up everything that wasn't on it's way already, a few suitcases, a few bags and two nervous dogs. 
A few last hugs and we were on our way to the airport and our new home in the US.

It is hard to believe it really has been a year already.
So many things happened and time has flown by and I think we are doing fine.
To start of with the easy ones, the dogs are doing great together and Cara is even flourishing thanks to the men in this household. She loves to boss them around.
My son did well in school last year, when asked he will tell you that he liked how friendly everyone in school is and even though he had English lessens for one year in the Netherlands, his grades get better and better. It is just too bad he isn't really into the sport culture over here sine they would have liked for him to start football.  
A few days ago he started highschool and that is another adjustment for him, but I am sure he'll be fine.
The one thing he doesn't like here are the vaccinations that are mandatory for schoolkids here. The last year he had a total of 5 vaccinations and at least one more to go in the near future.
He is the only one who got to go back for a few weeks. He spent 7 weeks with family and his dad.

If all goes as planned, we hope to visit the Netherlands this winter, but it isn't sure yet.
Have to say, besides visiting family I don't really feel the need yet to go back.
I think I kinda like it here. I certainly don't miss the days of rain, getting wet on the bike going to work or having to struggle with the wind 2 times a day while on the bike since the wind always seemed to change.
Off course there are things I miss but there is also a lot that I got back for it.
LOL, I was never before this tanned, even with staying inside at the air conditioning for whole days this summer. And I am certainly not complaining about wearing only shorts for 4 months now. 

In general, I love it here.
Love how friendly and encouraging people are here. Love the hills in Pennsylvania and when we get into the car I still feel like I am on vacation. Too busy to look around to keep up a conversation.
I love the weather even though it can be extremely hot or cold here. 
We live in a nice neighborhood with friendly people and we are working on the house to make it 'our' home. 

Jack and I are doing great, we found that we love doing a lot of the same stuff and we are doing them.
We love going out, walk and see things, wether it is nature or going to museums, we enjoy doing them.
Slowly we are finding new things for our house and find we like what the other picks.

The biggest chance for me was going back to be a stay at home mom. For now it works out because it gives me time to work on my photography and it looks like it may evolve into a real job for me.

And I think that if you ask Jack, the biggest chance for him as having a family again, living together in the house.
Meaning that he has a wife that nags at times and a teenager that can be a handfull. But I have the feeling that he secretly likes that.

He'd better since I am not going anywhere, I am staying.

ps, I'll pick up blogging over the next days. 
Had a bit of a blogblock I think, but can think of so many things I would like to write about, I think I am good for a bit.

                                                                  Jack walking our Spanish girls in Cape May this summer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hup Holland!!!!

We'll see you Sunday!!!


Extreme HeatHi 39°RealFeel® 42°

So glad we have air conditioning over here!!!
My poor plants outside.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Biting my nails here...

and I don't even like soccer.
But here I am, listening to Dutch radio and watching the game on tv.
Blaming it on the possibility that there is a part of me that might be slightly homesick?

Right now it is 1-0 for Oranje…

Anyway, when it gets too exiting, I walk out.
I love walking out here because there is so much I can check on in our garden.
Can pinch out flowers of the hanging baskets, or the day lilies.
Check if I need to water anything. And I do, the heat is finally becoming too much for our new planted garden. And not just our garden, when walking the dogs I can see most lawns turn slightly brown.
One thing that is growing really well is a little plant that my son brought home from school.

One of the other kids didn't want it and my son knows that I will always give it a shot.
Not that it helps, I manage to kill most plants. But this time it seems to do well.
We had no clue what it was until a few days ago.
They are cucumbers!

So we are growing our first vegetables ever.
And they grow so fast that I swear, every time the game gets to exiting and I walk out, those little cucumbers grew again!

So maybe it isn't such a bad idea to have a small vegetable garden next year?

A minute after I finished this blog entry the Dutch scored again.
2-0  :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mag ik even?

Voor de verandering eens een Nederlands blogje.
Voornamelijk omdat ik er zin in heb maar ook omdat manlief mijn gezeur dan niet hoeft te lezen.
Want, zoals Dixiechick en Cisca beide al meer dan eens benoemden, we houden ervan om nu en dan eens te zeuren.
En dat doen ze hier niet. Hier doen ze aan oplossingen en aanpakken.

Maar nu heb ik zin om even lekker te zeuren, over iets onzinnigs, iets dat ik heel goed kan oplossen, maar gewoon omdat het soms zo lekker is.
Het zit namelijk zo, het eten is hier 'te' lekker.
Ook laat Jack me kennismaken met dingen die ik me nooit kon veroorloven of niet kende.
Dat niet alleen, maar de porties zijn ook nog eens enorm.
Als ik per ongeluk laat vallen dat ik wellicht zin in een ijsje heb, dan staan we 5 minuten later bij Brusters Icecream . Niet voor een ijsje waar de chocolade hagelsslag overheen gevlogen is, maar voor een waarvoor ik beide handen nodig heb om het vast te houden en waarin flinke brokken chocola zitten.
Of halverwege de week word me gevraagd of ik geen zin heb om dat thaise restaurant uit te proberen, of zullen we naar BJ's gaan. Of hij komt thuis met een stel steaks waar je U tegen zegt en die gaan dan op de grill.
Zucht, de helft van de tijd hoef ik zelf geen boodschappen te doen en wordt er voor me gekookt.
Steak, met een baked potato en mais… of met blauwe kaas gevulde kipfilet en als dessert cookiedough icecream.

Ik denk dat jullie wel ongeveer zien waar dit heengaat.
Mijn weegschaal ziet het ook, toen ik eindelijk de moed verzameld had en er op ging staan.
Lekker eten en daarbij niet meer dagelijks op de fiets is funest.
Per maand kwam ik meer dan een kilo aan. Denk dat jullie dat optel sommetje zelf wel kunnen doen. En natuurlijk kreeg ik problemen met mijn kleding, niets past meer.
Maar ja, ook daarover kon ik niet zeuren, we gingen gewoon naar de outlets, die zijn vlakbij….zei hij.

Toch heb ik moeten besluiten om de rem er op te gooien en inmiddels is er 5,5 kilo af.
Maar lastig is het wel, behalve dat ik nu oplet wat ik eet, moet ik vooral opletten wat ik zeg.
Want voor ik het weet ligt de koelkast weer vol met lekkernijen waarvan hij denkt dat ik er zin in had.
En dat is zo verleidelijk.

Want het is allemaal veel te lekker.
Echt waar!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It really is Summer now

And that means school ended on Wednesday.
I haven't been talking much about my son on this blog since I don't really feel comfortable with talking about your kids on the internet. Too many weird people around.
But I really have to let you know now that I am a very proud Mom.
In the last few years my son had to go through some really big changes and non of them were really his choice. The last one was moving with me to the US, starting school here and adjusting to life here.
A moment ago I looked at his grades. In September he started in the 8th grade, which is the last year of middle school, and you can see his grades go up over the year.
The most surprised I am by his high B for Social Studies. Which is American history and not something he had in the Netherlands.
But best of all is seeing his English grade go up from a D to a B.
Oh and I certainly shouldn't forget the big fat A's for pre-algebra, science, art, music, gym and the last 2 gradings in reading.

Next year he will be starting High school and I think he will do fine. He seems to like the way school is set up here and if you ask him, kids are more friendly. The only bad part of school is the busses he says.
Used as he was to go on the bike, he really doesn't like the bus. And if it weren't for the 15 (highway) I would let him go, but even with the traffic lights is is just too dangerous.

Anyway, I just wanted to brag a bit about my 15 year old son.
I am really liking the young man he is turning into and I am already curious to see what the next 4 years will bring.

This week I had to say goodbye to him. Right now he is in the Netherlands, visiting his father and family for the summer. He made this long flight on his own. We had done this flight several times together and I knew he is better at finding the gates and luggage than his Mom. Also, he didn't have to wait the long wait before boarding on his own, Jack got a gate pass and waited with him. But I guess I am being a typical Mom and really didn't want to let him go on his own.

It is a good thing he has 4 years of high school to go to, close to home.
Because his Mom needs the time to get used to the idea that he will spread his wings and leave the nest.

Btw, sorry for just blurting all this out, had to get it out there and didn't really worry about how it came out.

Monday, May 31, 2010

We are getting there...

There was a good reason for the break in blogging.
We are very busy with a few things and most important, our garden.
We've been cutting, pulling, digging, planting, mulching, getting sore backs, splinters in our fingers and blisters.
And we are not done yet, but we are getting there.
The front and the sides are almost done and for the back we found, after a lot of research from Jacks side the exact stuff we want for our fence in the back. It was hard, because we wanted something like you see a lot in the Netherlands and couldn't find it over here. But it looks like it is coming in fashion on the west coast, so we will be able to order what we need.

Garden centers are different in the US, they don't have the variety I am so used to and a lot of the stuff looks old fashioned to me. Also plants are more expensive than I am used to.
But, we found a local place that has a lot of plants and shrubs that are, when it is the season for it, are very affordable.

Guess I'd better show pictures than words :-)

Today we added a hammock which is in the shaded area. Only, it is way too hot to use it. Actually, right now it is way to hot to be outside at all. Which is why I am behind the pc at 2 in the afternoon.  We have had some real ho weather for a few days now and I have been watering everything like a madman.

Something else that keeps me busy is working towards my own pet photography business. Am using every opportunity I can find to practice and also talk to people. It helps that our neighbor got a new dog that I walked a few times, that they also have cats, like another neighbor and they are all willing to help me out by letting me take pictures. I know, we have 4 dogs, but I think you could compare them with the pillows on your couch, 90 percent of the time there isn't much movement. Also, I had my own business cards printed and yesterday we went to the Harrisburg Art Fest and looked at how people had set up their booths, what was offered and I got to talk with a photographer that had made this same step just a few years ago with her wildlife photography. She offered her help if I had any questions which I gladly accepted. 
It is all very interesting and exiting. It won't be really working until I get my drivers license, but also that will be done soon.

The thing that really surprises me is how much help and support I am getting from a lot of people. It is so different from my experiences in the past in the Netherlands. It gives me a lot of confidence to start another adventure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blame it on the greyhounds!

If you think about it, an awful lot of things happening in my life can be blamed on our (Spanish) greyhounds. 
Jack and I wouldn't have met if it weren't for them.
It helped my self confidence and social skills, working in a rescue organization for these dogs.
Have a lot of friends thanks to them.
It did wonders for my language skills having to contact greyhound rescues all over the world.
I'll even blame them for giving me the courage to move to the US to them, since I knew they would be a constant factor in our life.
They also are the 'always' available models for my photography, which made me a better photographer and that gives me the courage to start my own business.

We have more dogs in this house than people. That means that a huge part of our lives evolves around them. Hard to avoid, since they are pretty big and have more space on the couch than we have.
And going away for a full day is hard, try to find someone who can walk 4 big dogs and who you can trust to not let them off leash when they go crazy over a rabbit or squirrel.
We'll have to get a bigger car because of them, got laminate flooring in the house because of them and just spent an fortune on vet bills for regular vet work for all 4 (and we're not done yet).
We're also looking into getting a fence around the backyard so they can run off their energy. Which means we will probably have to say goodbye to the grass that is still there. They also have their own room in the house, with their own couches, which is baby gated off from the rest of the house. They can still see and hear us, but it is safe when the front door is open.
With four big dogs, you also have to pick up a lot of poop. And sometimes they have accidents in the house. You have to walk them 4 times a day. They eat a lot of food. Chicken necks look really yuckie!
And I don't like the smell of canned fish when I divide the portions over the kibble.
And lets not start about doghair, I'll find one in our food occasionally. And we never have clean windows, it is dogsn'art' all over.

But I wouldn't want to miss them!
I love how Johnny now brings his pillow upstairs every morning to wake me up and show how happy he is. How Tex decided that I give perfect scritches and stand with me for a long time pushing his nose under my arm. How Cara gets more and more playful and outgoing, she makes us laugh. And how Paquita is still her sweet, gentle self and wins over so many neighbors that love on her.
I love how they all get along so perfectly and after nine months it is like they lived together all their lives.

Now, wouldn't a whippet look great with them?

Sunday, May 9, 2010


just watched the news.
Just a few miles away from us, they saw a young black bear in town?

We are given guidelines:
Don't feed the bear
Take birdfeeders down
Make sure no trash is outside

And here I was, thinking Jack joked when he said they had spotted a bear not long ago in the area we went for a hike...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

GIG (Going Insane over Greyhounds?)

That is my version, officially it is Greyhounds in Gettysburg.
A yearly event that takes place the last weekend of April.
Last year I was here for a visit and we went to Gettysburg for a day. But I have to admit that I was too shy to talk to people that time, worried about my accent. And…it felt weird going without dogs.

This year, my accent wasn't a problem, because we were bringing Cara , aka the Little White Monster and Paquita. And I knew they would get all attention.
The Little White Monster visiting GIG didn't go unnoticed thanks to the members of Greytalk.
And it turned out to be two great days, talking to other greyhound owners, meeting with several people who we only had met on line up to now.  Some of them we had talked to for years through this board.
The girls got a lot of attention and off course new collars. It is unknown to me to have so much greyhound stuff to choose from, 40 vendors!!! So now I have 2 new Fast Jack shirts next to the hooded sweatshirt that once belonged to Jack, the girls have new collars from Around the Hounds. We found the perfect little greyhound for our x-mas tree at ClayGreys (you'll have to google it and I promise it is worth it)
And a greyhound shaped cookie cutter, so every visitor of the GINN reunion can buy greyhound shaped cookies once I sent it off to Lucia.
But the best part was the hounds, so many greyhounds in all forms and shapes. But also, Spanish Galgo's.
Besides my girls, there were , as far as I know 8 other Spanish rescue's. Some from the same shelter as my girls come from. This also meant I slipped back into giving advice and tips on these special hounds.
Which, I have to admit felt pretty good.

We had such a good time, next year we'll rent a hotel room in Gettysburg so we won't miss out on the fun at night.
Anyway, time for pics.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Feeling quite fancy now

Cause I went out, for breakfast.
And I had 2 blueberry pancakes with syrup.

Which probably means I will have to repeat my 11 mile bikeride from yesterday. But it may have to wait until tomorrow, since a certain part of my anatomy is still sore from yesterdays ride.
You know, in itself 11 miles isn't that much, I used to do those on a daily base in the Netherlands.
But  I had 8 bikeless months and they have hills here.
And I finally understand why you would have so many gears, because you need them here.
Will take me while to get used to the uphill rides, they are hard, but than, I can use the work out.

Cause over here, they go out for lunch or breakfast.
And that is fun, certainly if a neighbor who you say hi to when she walks by suddenly asks you if you want to join them. Them being a group of ladies from the neighborhood.
I don't recall being invited like that in the Netherlands, ever.  Or being invited to go shopping by someone you just met.  And maybe it is just this neighborhood, but I am still surprised about how friendly everyone is here. It is not that people aren't friendly in the Netherlands, but people here seem more open and easier with contacting a new person in the neighborhood.
So, I went out for breakfast with 4 other ladies.

And now I am feeling quite fancy, since we didn't even think about doing that in the Netherlands.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What I really missed here

was my bike. All my life I used it to get anywhere I had or wanted to be. Not only riding because I had to, also on my semi-race bike just for fun.
I did it for so long, around 100 km per week, that my body actually needs it to keep it's weight.
Guess what happens when that suddenly is gone and instead all these new foods that you have to taste show up?
Right, almost a US pound a month, that is what happens.
And that has to end, rather sooner than later. Better get a bike now than have to buy more clothes another size bigger than I had to do last week.

So today, all three of us got in the car to Shippensburg. There is this barn filled with bikes, a young Mennonite sells and repairs them. It reminded me of those small town bike shops in the Netherlands, you hardly can walk between the rows of bikes and you wonder how on earth they can get out the one you are interested in.
But he managed without getting that dreaded chain reaction in which the whole row falls over.

There is a difference in the types of bikes here compared to the many choices you have in the Netherlands, you roughly have 3 choices, the mountain bike, the race bike or the one in between. Not many citybikes like we know, the ones you use to haul a weeks supply of groceries from the centre of town to your home.
And to be honest, I wouldn't want to try it, too many hills and highways here for that.
And, when you are lucky, the bike comes with a bell, or a lock, or lights, or a little rack to carry your bag.
Bikes are bare here, very naked from what I am used to.
Very used to the safety rules in the Netherlands I couldn't help but wonder if you are actually allowed  on the road on these bikes.
But yes, you are. Because first of all, you certainly don't want to ride anywhere near dark. No one will listen to that bell anyway and since you just ride your bike for fun here, why would you need a rack on your bike.
As for the lock, they rather steal cars here. Or very expensive bikes.
And these aren't, not for Dutch standards. They are actually amazingly cheap for Dutch standards and are good quality bikes.

We could take my sons bike home right away, Jacks had to be assembled and mine does get a little rack.
Just for old times sake, so I can peddle up to the Giant if I feel the need to go for a few groceries.
For the rest, I'll have to start mapping out some routes and get back into biking, but this time, also up hill...

Yes, he is wearing a cowboy hat while riding his bike. Guess that shows how well adjusted he already is ;-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

About spring and the hard part of living on the other side of the ocean

Lets just start with the hard part. One of the things that you never ever can imagine before you make the big step of moving to another country is that at some point you really want to be with your family on the other side.
Last week and now is one of those times for me.
Thursday my Mom was admitted to hospital to have surgery. We knew it was coming and we talked it through, if needed, I could be there one the first plane. But we would do that in case of emergency. My parents promised not to hesitate but let me know if and when.

Even though things looked good at first, it didn't go great and she ended up being operated twice within 12 hours.
Because of the time difference I only heard about it the next day and it looked much better after that. My sisters could visit and I get reports from one of my sisters twice a day.
Yesterday turned out to be another bad day, but again I heard the next day.
I know they are keeping a really good eye on her. My Dad is there and the rest of the family visits when they can.
But it doesn't feel right not to be able to give her a hug and tell her that she really needs to get better now.
Sending a card just isn't the same…

What I can do is take pictures for her of how Spring is in Pennsylvania knowing that she will enjoy them.
It feels good to know that both my parents were here and will recognize the things I took pictures of.
The quality won't be as good as normal since my Nikon broke down and is MIA now for almost two weeks.
Anyway, Spring hit hard here, really hard, like 30 degrees celsius hard for several days in a row. Which means that we have been wearing shorts now for almost two weeks.
Actually, my legs have more color already than they have in the Netherlands in July.

Spring here is pink and white.
A few yellow spots maybe from the daffodils, but mainly pink from the Redbud trees, the crabapples and cherryblossom trees, the white is from the appletrees and another tree that seems to be in every other garden here.
Also spring marks the beginning of fishing season.
Last weekend Jack took me to Boiling Springs to see how crazy that can be. They put out trout in the little lake there and that first Sunday tons of little boats are on it, packed like pickled herring in a jar. On the sides people stand so close together that I am surprised no one gets hurt by hooks, fishing lines or fish pulled out the water so fast they go flying.

Anyway, I'll post some of the pics here, hope you enjoy them also.

There will be a blog entry later today.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just spent...

15 minutes searching for our waste container.
Yeah, found it, 3 houses down the block.

We have had a few days with some wind, nothing really extreme, had to peddle my bike into worse in the Netherlands, but….

Strong winds aren't an every day thing here, wind in general, isn't an everyday event here.
Thus, nothing here is built or made to be up against a bit of wind.
And as you guessed, neither are our waste containers.
First of all, ours don't have a lid, which means that the empty plastic bottles and all paperwork that you dare putting in the recycling container get blown out just as fast as you threw it in there.
I am guessing that on windy days, it is better for the environment not to recycle, since he neighborhood looks like a dumpster when it is windy.
Don't really have that problem with the other container. Everything is in bags and unless you make a mess yourself, it shouldn't be blown all over the place, even with out a lid on it.
With that one the problem comes later, when it is empty and without any weight to hold it down.
Than the container catches wind and goes on a trip around the neighborhood.

Am still waiting for the day we get new traffic signs here.
Careful, crossing waste containers.

Bit melancholic today

Friday, March 26, 2010

I love green...

in all kinds of ways, but right now, green cards are my favorite.
Today, after a lot of worry from my side, my sons green card arrived also.
It is hard to explain how relieved I am, but the people who went through the whole visa route or are still busy, they do understand.
No more worries for a year and 9 months, than we start the whole thing again.
Yep, that is right, we have to do it again.

Oh, and that green card, it isn't green.
Want to see mine?

Isn't the picture horrible?
Not that I care, those have to be ugly, it fits to the one I have on my passport.

Yesterday we enjoyed another type of green.
The weather was very nice and with colder weather coming, Jack asked if I felt like going for a hike at Pinchot State Park.
It is one of my favorite places over here. Yesterday we tried another trail and found out pretty fast that it was too wet to do an actual hike, still, the temps were great and we enjoyed the budding trees. At some point we saw 3 Kingfishers chasing each other. Not close enough for a picture, but we know where one of them nests now, so we may go back. After that we walked around at the beach a bit and enjoyed all those busy birds. Was amazed to see so many Northern Flickrs, we have one in our garden that I really would like to get on a picture, but they are really shy.
This might have been our last walk, hike, for a few days, the weather changed today and it is cold now.

A down point to this great weather is that a lot of trees are in bloom, way more than I am used to in the Netherlands. But it has a big effect on two members of our family.
Jack has started sneezing and getting trouble for about a week now, but also Cara, our Little White Monster is having problems.
This did confirm that her red, itchy eyes are the result of environmental allergies.
She is getting eyedrops twice a day now to make her eyes less itchy and red.

Monday is my last photography class, I will miss it, it was fun to do and I can't wait until I have my drivers license. Than I can do the follow up class on lighting.
Sunday we will be painting eggs at our neighbors. (Is Easter that close?)
And we have a vet appointment set up for Tex the week after. He is the oldest of the two boys and is in need of a dental and a good look at his joints. I have the feeling he is in pain when getting up. Not good when you are a 12 year old greyhound.

Anyway, that is it for now.
Not much to tell besides every day stuff besides that we will be looking in to plane tickets for my son.

Thats it, see you all later.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who's dunnit?

I used to think Chipmunks, squirrels and bunnies were cute…

Monday, March 22, 2010

Things done

since my last blog:

  • Visited the Antique Auto Museum at Hersey
  • We went to see  Paula Poundstone in York 
  • Enjoyed the gorgeous weather we are having, like over 20 degrees Celsius 
  • Got a tan
  • Took several nice walks
  • Went out to lunch a few times
  • Practiced Photography
  • Went to class and enjoyed it very much
  • Got a new window in the car
  • More golf practice for my son
  • Took long walks
  • Sowed sunflowers and Columbines to plant in the garden later
  • Planted perennials in front of the house
  • Thought through our plans for fencing in the backyard (hopefully up next month)
  • Made a long, long what to do list
  • Bought curtains for my sons bedroom but haven't hanged them yet
  • Went to get my social security number which I could pick up today, but have class tonight
  • Had to get new t-shirts because thanks to, amongst other things, the lunches, my waistline is gone. Waistline? What waistline? Did I ever have a waistline?
  • Decided that selling my pictures might be a good idea
  • Than decided that that last thing is very scary, who would buy them?
  • Am still liking my not so new anymore Dyson
and lots more…….
    Also, for the people who follow it. 
    Last week my Green Card arrived, so from now on I am official a resident of the US.
    But…no word on my sons application yet.
    We got a RFE (request for more evidence) thanks to a slip up I made on one of his papers.
    When writing the date on something, I always have to think twice, since here it is the month first, than the day. I must have missed once….
    In spite of writing it the right way several other times and the fact there was a copy of his passport with all these papers, they wanted a new birth certificate and a translation.
    They must have received those last Friday, so for now we have everything crossed in hope they will send him his card very soon.


    Received an e-mail, minutes ago,  from the  USCIS that my sons card production was ordered!!!

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    With much happiness

    I present to you our newest addition to our household.
    You may remember this blog entry
    Well, this week there came an end to my agony with the arrival of this sweety:
    And believe me, she is what her name says, an Animal.
    She gets anything that is in her way and doesn't need to be lifted onto every carpet but hops on and proceeds her way like it is nothing.
    She will go any way you want her to go, rounds corners like a pro and is able to dive under the couch.
    She doesn't flip over and tries to bite my ankles but keeps herself upright like a real lady.

    And she is even pretty to look at.

    Yep, she is a stayer. We officially adopted her.

    There is one down side to it...
    I have absolutely no excuse anymore for doghair flying all over the place.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    This is it: "Dog Blog"

    Okay, as promised finally a proper introduction of the four legged members of our family.

    Some of you may know that Jack and I met through Greytalk
    Both of us joined several years ago, we both had greyhounds and it is a good way to get some info about the breed, the background of these dogs and for me it was a way to get the word out about the galgo's in Spain. The board has members from all over the world, but most members are American people.
    Anyway, you all know how this contact developed.

    So now we have 4 dogs together.
    Johhny and Tex, both greyhound males and belonged to Jack. Paquita, the lurcher and Cara the galgo, both  females, belonged to me.
    And from the first introduction on in September they get along really well.
    Johnny thought he had to show that he actually was ' the guy'  in the house, but he found out really fast that Cara wasn't impressed by that type of behavior. And since than they all sleep in the same room, on the same couch if there is space, though Paquita prefers her own dogbed.

    Tex is the eldest. He is about 12 years old and an ex-racer. He is a very sweet, gentle dog that loves to have his butt scratched and his ears rubbed. He will make the most funny faces when you do that. He spent a long time at the track and it looks like that left its marks on his back.
    He is the only one who has trouble with our pergo floor, he slips now and than, which makes him scared.
    It took me quite a while to get decent pictures of him, he doesn't like the camera and looks away.
    For the rest, I have the feeling that he rules the roost.  But in a quiet, not in your face way.
    He also has the softest fur I have ever seen on a greyhound.
    For the rest, there isn't much to say about him, he is as I said sweet, quiet and handsome. One of those dogs that is easy and great to have around.

    Johnny is the biggest one of them all, matter of fact is, he is huge, meaning tall. He always is on the skinny side. He is one of those dogs that have a hard time keeping their weight.  He is about 10 years old now and one of those, in your face dogs. Actually, he is a bit spoiled by Jack. If you would ask Johnny, we are here to serve him. Add his size to that and you understand that with him it is important to let him know that we are in charge, not him. He is also very funny and very happy every time you come home.
    He will let you know by running into you, pillow in his mouth and tossing it in the air, pouncing on it and running around.
    He also is a former racer, but wasn't adopted out right away, he ended up as a coyote dog. (used to hunt coyotes) This isn't without danger for the dogs and he when he finally ended up for adoption, he was covered in scars. He was Jack's first greyhound and it turned out he had huge separation anxiety. Which is why Jack adopted Tex.  Johnny is the type of dog that you can tell tons of things about because he isn't the brightest bulb. But he also is very cute and sweet and it is hard not to give into him if he wants something.

    Paquita is a galgo border collie mix (lurcher) which I found at the Scooby shelter in Spain almost 8 years ago when I was there as a volunteer for Greyhounds in Nood Nederland. She was only a few weeks old at the time and she grew up with my son who she bonded with.
    She is one of the sweetest and softest dogs I know if it comes to character. She is also very sensitive and will react to whatever mood there is in the house. She puts herself in lowest place in the group and is comfortable with it. She also loves her people, and the people she meets and the dogs she meets.
    She is also too smart. I took her to three courses and she loved learning the tricks, but don't let her off leash. She will have a great time, will come when called, until the moment her galgo button gets pushed.
    Banana's start growing out of her ears in an instant and she takes off.
    So she rarely gets let off leash.  In a way that is okay, since the others can't be off leash at all. But in the rare occasion  she can be let off leash at a save place, you see how much she adores playing and running around with other dogs. Anyway, even though she now is the oldest of my own dogs, she will always be my baby.

    And last, but certainly not least, we have Cara, aka the Little White Monster. She also comes from the Scoobyshelter in Spain, adopted through Greyhounds in Nood Nederland and I am not really sure what her age is now. I had asked for a steady, quiet, grown up dog to accompany Paquita after my two old dogs past away. What I got was a bit different.
    She was not even a year old and a lot more scared than she looked at first. She had lived in a group of males since she was a puppy and decided she didn't want to bond with any female dog.  She more or less ignores Paquita, but is very happy to have the two big males around now. From the first moment on she choose Johnny to wrap around her paw. They are funny to see together. Where Johnny lies, she lies and usually with her head on his butt. Most of her fears are slowly going, she decided within two weeks after moving here that Jack was ok and will lie on his lap if she feels like it.  This after being scared to death of him every time Jack came over to the Netherlands, he couldn't even pet her. She also is our wild child, she races through the house and has a huge prey drive. Which is fun with all the rabbits and squirrels here. She still has quite the bit of separation anxiety, but is getting better these days.

    Sooo, that is a bit about all of them.
    Off course I could tell a lot more about them all but this is it for today.
    But if it weren't for these guys, Jack and I would have never ended up in this adventure together.
    And that makes them a huge part of our lives.
    Love them all.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Not a dog blog

    Sorry for the ones who had been hoping for one, but I hope you will forgive me another ' normal' blog entry.
    Can give you a teaser though…..
    How about this:

    Do hope this will get you guys going for a few more days.

    Anyway, the reason for a normal blog is the fun evening we had last night.
    The highschool my son is going to next year had organized a basketball game to raise money for the girls basketball team.  For this they had invited the Harlem Wizards over. They are a show team and they did a pretty good job.
    Originally this would have taken place on Friday, but because of the weather it was moved to Saturday.
    Which was the reason we hadn't gotten tickets yet, so we had to get in line.
    A long, long line. And as we all know, there is no fun in waiting.
    At least, that is how I always felt in the Netherlands. Sometimes here it looks more like an opportunity to meet people. As happened again last night.
    The nice thing about the schools here is the amount of things they organize make it easy to meet people from your own neighborhood. And that was what happened last night again. It was fun to get acquainted
    with  a few more neighbors and it made waiting a lot easier.

    The game was fun, the Wizards put up a great show and involved the audience. They played games with the small kids and some times it got funny enough to laugh out loud, even for a 15 year old.

    After the show we still had to eat. Before we left I had cut up a lot of stuff and gotten things ready, so it was pretty easy. Normally I wouldn't mention dinner, but for the people that know me, they know I don't like fish or any type of seafood. But because we all could loose a few pounds (ugh, ugh) we decided to try to eat healthy. And that includes fish.
    Sooo, yesterday we had cut up vegetables with Talapia on top. The whole things goes into the oven for about 20 minutes. The trick is: Cajun seasoning. 
    This makes fish ok to eat even for me.

    For today we hadn't planned much, but Jack mentioned that we could do a Barnes and Noble visit.
    Which is always fine with me. But this time we wanted my son with us. He has started reading and had ended his last book, the Road. He does have a few Dutch books left, but wanted English books because to him reading in English is more fun.
    I am not totally sure if this has to do with the fact he is dyslectic, but fact is that he finds reading in English a lot easier.
    So, off to B&N. It was hard to find something to interest my son, he just started and doesn't like the vampire stuff, Harry Potter or the reality books. But after talking it through a bit we found a Tom Clancy and Dan Brown book he wants to try.

    Next to B&N is another favorite of mine. Pier One Imports, they remind me of Xenos, but a lot more expensive. This time I found a nice oil lamp, something I had wanted to get for quite some time now.
    I have to say, it is quite funny to hear your son say: Jack, make her buy it, she likes it but never gets it.

    So, now it is Sunday evening, I am typing away here, Jack is making taco's, son is playing games and the hockey game between Canada and the US is on.
    Jack is for the US, I want Canada to win. 

    And Canada wins!!!

    One last thing, yesterday, before the highschool event it was the first time I witnessed the standing up for the national anthem. Something that hadn't happened yet to me. Remember, I am a stay at home mom right now. My son gets that every morning.
    I have to say, it was strange to experience it. We live here.
    Exactly 6 months now, but it isn't home totally….yet.
    I was rooting for Mark instead of Shani.

    But it was funny to see take Jack his cap off, it is one of the rare moments he will.

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    It can stop now, thank you very much...

    Don't need more snow, we have had plenty.
    And certainly no snowstorm with high winds.

    Yep, that is right, we are having #3. Not a lot of snow this time, but high winds that are howling around the house and resulting in weird noises coming from the roof and windows.
    Son is having another snow day because they can't get all kids save at school 'cause of the drifting snow. So this is day # 3 that he will have to make up for during vacation time.

    Guess the only one not being phased by the storm of today is this little guy.
    No matter how much the feeder swings in the wind, every time he falls off, he jumps right back on.

    But for me, it can stop now, had enough and will never ask for a real winter again, promise!
    It is time for other things, like for example our green card.
    We did have some , probably, good news, our case was transferred to California. This means we may get our green card without having to do an interview.

    Also have the feeling that if they needed more information or are missing paperwork, we would have had a request for it by now.
    But, you never know, it is the USCIS we are dealing with.

    And something else that I am really excited about. Monday is the start of photography class.  I am doing this with a neighbor and it will be 9 weeks in which I hope to learn the technical basics of using the camera. It also means meeting new people and getting out which will be fun.

    Now you know also why it has been pretty quiet on this blog. Being stuck at the house does make me , not depressed, but somehow it feels like I am glued  to my chair and it is hard to get myself moving.
    It also makes it hard for me to sit down and write here. But with things to look forward to I am ready to write again.

    Part of the excitement we did have recently, wasn't fun. The new dishwasher started leaking and water ruined our new pergo floor. It took several phonecalls, a visit to Lowes and people coming to the house before we had the floor replaced and payed for by the installer. But it finally got done last Saturday.

    And than yesterday… highschool parent orientation meeting.
    Yup, Dear Son is going to highschool after the summer. And by the time I finally get what they were talking about last night, I'll let you know. Diving into a new schoolsystem is confusing.
    But also exiting. Specially since DS is doing so well. Until now his grades are great and he seems to pick up the language pretty fast. At least well enough to start highschool at academic level.
    Proud Mom here!

    Next time will probably a dog blog, think it is time to give the four legged side of our family a decent introduction.