Saturday, March 31, 2007

Groningers United

Although I live in a city where 19.7% of its residents can claim some Dutch ancestry, and I know my sisters all believe everyone up here is Dutch, it is actually uncommon nowadays to run into an actual Dutch speaking person. Friday morning, Maria and I were at Meijer doing the weekly grocery shopping and more specifically, we were engaged in a discussion near the cheesecakes about whether she would like one for her birthday cake since she is a cheesecake lover. As we were considering this possibility, an older 80-ish lady joined in and she had a beautiful accent just like Oma. I wanted her to keep talking so I could listen for awhile, so I asked her where she was from in the Netherlands. Just as I suspected, she was from Groningen (What is going on? Can I really recognize dialects now?!). I was so excited that I said "Me too!" and then I amended that to say, I mean my Dad is. She told me she was from Veendam and as she talked, she came at last to the sadness of leaving her family behind and how her children didn't have the extended family, etc. I told her I could relate. I think this is why the pictures of when the ship was sailing off seem so sad. On the back, they are titled simply "Leaving."

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I told her about the TV program Dad is going to be on, and she wrote down his name and the date and the TV station so she could tell her brother in Groningen to watch.
We talked for so long there in the refrigerator aisle at Meijer until at last she confessed she had someone waiting for her in the car. I kind of had the feeling she wanted to take me home with her, but alas, that was not to be. At least for a few moments there in front of the cheesecakes, she was transported home. I guess I was, too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Flash Back Friday 12

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Maria, 14 years ago today

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Maria & Bridget are starting off the day's festivities with a noon picnic. Their Spring break started today.

Happy Birthday also to Aunt Andrea who so graciously shared her birthday with Maria. (She had it first.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm Addicted to Blue

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The other day at work, someone said to me, "I've got to stop buying so much black and brown." You see, it is Spring now, and she was looking in her closet for something "springy" to wear and saw only brown and black. My confession to you is that I am addicted to blue. If you look in my closet, it looks like I shop exclusively at the Blue Clues store. I try to expand my horizons with other colors, but they never feel right. Of my last 4 purchases (I ran in to a really good winter clearance), 3 of the things were blue! (One was red and I really stand out in that one) I can't stop! Do you have a color addiction too or is it just me?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Aches & Pains

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I guess Spring brings more than just blossoms and new life. Edward & Bridget started track season a couple of weeks ago. Edward runs all year around, so he never complains; Bridget, however, after running in about 1000 degree temperatures yesterday was almost ready to quit. I had a small taste of this last night when John & I decided to go on a 4 mile walk to the library & back which was in addition to my usual 2 mile walk. It had cooled off to about 800 degrees, but nevertheless, I came home feeling not only achy but benout, too. Don't worry, I'll survive.

I discovered Bridget's water bottle in the freezer in true-Bridgie-style.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

She's Growing Up!

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Maria is always happy to see her mother show up at the high school to pick her up with the camera in hand. She is growing up, but I will tell you that she can sidewalk chalk with the best of them. She's going to be 15 on Friday!
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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Creative Process

When I run out of red, I use blue.
- Pablo Picasso

I was sitting in the blue chair after my walk this afternoon when I saw a reflection of a nude in the fireplace. Then I realized it was just my bare legs - I'm not used to seeing myself in shorts!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Pastor Henry spoke (again) about prayer today. You can read here what I wrote about it on the church blog. It was a busy, warm day here - Edward & Maria's Youth group met here tonight. And now, the sun is setting. Yay!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Pie

I'm having a day like you have when you burn the roof of your mouth and nothing seems quite right. Why, you may ask? Because I burned the roof of my mouth and I think it was on the Shepherd's Pie I made last night.

Yesterday, I was having a relaxing afternoon at home cleaning and I was also excited about a recipe I was going to try. So excited was I that when John called to suggest alternate supper plans, I said, Well, I'm kind of excited about what I'm planning to make. I read an article the night before in the paper about a local chef who prepared this Shepherd's Pie for a contest, and thinking back to my dream-like childhood and happy memories of one time when my mom made it, I decided it was a good thing to make. In the midst of its preparation, Mom called and when I told her about it, she suggested I make a nice photograph of the shepherd's pie. So in fact, I did get the one pretty blue & white dish I own out of the china cabinet and put it on the counter in advance of the beautiful supper.

As I enjoyed the rhythms of preparing this meal, peeling the actual potatoes, browning the ground beef, I listened to gregorian chant. I mashed the potaotoes, added 2 kinds of cheese and sour cream. It had to be in the oven for an hour during which I sipped a tiny bit of Chardonnay. It was going to be a good supper. John came home earlier than usual from work, and the Pie at that point was warming in the oven and working up a good deep heat that could easily burn the roof of one's mouth. We immediately sat down to partake of the comfort food with the golden baked crust on the top. Heavy and dry are words I would use to describe the supposed comfort food. It burnt my mouth, but I was still game. It had good flavour, but it needed salt.

After all was said and done, I was puzzled that we only ate about a third of the Pie. Then I caught John about 7 minutes after supper eating a scoop of peanut butter out of the cupboard. I guess I won't be making Shepherd's Pie again.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Several weeks ago, a group of us from church got together to plan a meditation area to put in our church on Good Friday. We talked about a theme and different things do/read/look at. We wanted to make it multi-sensory, so I thought, how about something like gregorian chant playing softly in the background? I hadn't listened to it much since college, so I did some research, and read about Chant I by the the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos. These monks are actually praying when they record, so it sounds very true. Another thing I love about it is that it is so calming like a bright blue sky, and you can listen to it without feeling distracted. I have been playing it before the supper hour when the kids are doing their homework, and I think they like it.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Weaver

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Bridget had so much fun making this - who doesn't love to weave? She doesn't want it to be a potholder though because it will get dirty. She's leaning toward a "room decoration."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Has Sprung!

Today is the first day of Spring. It's sunny but cold here.

But we have this to look forward to:

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And time remembered is grief forgotten
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover,
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
-Algernon Swinburne (English poet)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bike Riding in the Netherlands

Late Saturday afternoon, Mom & Dad came up from Celeryville so we could scan over 40 pictures and send them to the person in the Netherlands who is producing a TV program about the family's immigration to the US. They are very interested in them because so few people had cameras back then. These pictures make me kind of sad for some reason, but I'm glad they are on my external hard drive now! :)

This is a good one that shows Oma riding her bike with Dad when he was a baby.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

So, I'm the Mom of a Ranatra Fusca

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day with the OM tournament and Mom & Dad breezing into town for about 24 hours (more on that later). But in the midst of things, I managed to do a quick post on the tournament. I didn't go much in to the reason why they won the Ranatra Fusca which actually is a classification of water insects. The history of the name of the award has something to do with the team who solved the problem of floating across a pond with a water insect-like contraption, thus exhibiting extreme or unusual creativity.

Maria's team won the award for their props. For instance, the backdrop that Maria is standing in front of in the picture below was made out of food!

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Around the World in 8 Minutes

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Maria's Odyssey of the Mind team competed today at the regional tournament. OM is a creative problem solving competition where teams are encouraged to come up with solutions by thinking out of the box. The majority of this team has been together since 2nd grade and they work well together.

At the awards ceremony, they found out they got 1st place and are going on to the state competition in April! John & I left after they got their medals since Mom & Dad were coming. Then, after we left, they were awarded the most coveted prize in all of Odyssey of the Mind, the Ranatra Fusca, for extreme creativity! The dress Maria has on is the one she made out of a sheet which she dyed yellow.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Digital Natives

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Maria, 1993, playing the Froggy game

My friend Annette went to a conference last week in NYC where they talked about "digital natives." These are people who are age 25 or younger, and if you have any of these in your home, you know who they are talking about.

Here are a few stupid little things I have thought of lately that highlight the difference between the digital natives and the rest of us:

-When Maria was about 5 and saw her first deck of cards, she realized you could play solitaire outside of the computer.
-When I see old episodes of Seinfeld, I think of how much easier their lives would have been with cell phones.
-Oh, and perhaps strangest of all, my kids love the story of how I saved up my money(for a long time) when I was in high school to buy a calculator that could do trig functions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yesterday's Phenomenon

We had over a foot of snow on the ground and it hit almost 70 degrees F! It was also my friend and adopted sister Lori's 40th birthday. We celebrated by going out for lunch and then going hot tubbing. Although it was so warm out and we grew warmer in the 105 degree water, we could seek relief by sitting in the snow. On my afternoon walk, the melted snow was rushing down the street like a cold mountain stream and I felt like I was in a different country. Yes, the changing seasons are a miracle.

After supper, I went to a surprise party for Lori, so I basically partied all day because my friend finally reached 40. At this party, she played us a phone message of her 70-something year-old parents on the phone discussing whether or not she is indeed 40 this year or still 39. Fun times.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Middle Schoolers

Last week, I received a call from Bridget's school and they asked if I could fill in as a substitute teacher Friday afternoon for some 8th grade classes. A few years ago, I did it frequently, but since I started working in the mornings, I haven't.

My memories of subbing are these: "Yay, we have Mrs. S today!!!" I used to love it, but Friday afternoon was a different story. They wouldn't shut up. I'm shorter than they are. I was out of the swing of things. I finally got some attention by saying, "My name is Mrs. S., and I do give out yellow cards." This didn't last long when they realized I could never write all their names down. I hate being a grouch, but I suppose somebody has to do it sometimes.

On the bright side, My middle schooler did some posing for me.
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Monday, March 12, 2007


I am suffering from daylight savings time lag today. I yawned all the way to work!!! It's really bad this year since it happens 3 weeks earlier than usual. I know: If that is all I have to suffer from, I must have it pretty good.

So, since I have to make up for this hour that evaporated, I am going to post ""stupid" kitty pix today:

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Leo pawing at goldfish in a baggy

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Great Expectation

John, I mean Clark Griswald, is on his way to Washington DC this afternoon for a conference, so we are on our own for a few days. The girls and I headed down to our church for an afternoon baby shower. This dear girl, Katya, was so excited when she told us she was about 1 week pregnant, so this baby seems like a long time coming. She is from Bolivia originally, and so she doesn't have her family around. She does have her husband's family though and duh, her church family.

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She knows it's a girl.

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Maria & Bridget enjoyed the games at the first baby shower they had ever been to.... We felt 20 brown paper bags of baby stuff and had to guess what was in them. After awhile, everything felt either like a rubber bouncy thing or a baby washcloth. None of them turned out to be either of these.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Birds of New Hampshire

Uncle Alan has been able to do some birding in New Hampshire where he lives. This makes me wish we had a bird feeder.

Cardinal, the Ohio State Bird

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Penguin - I think the National Audubon Society would be so impressed with this bird spotting.

All photos by Uncle Alan

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sunny Day


We had a blue sky here today. I took this picture of Maria when she dressed up one day for Homecoming week - it was "career day" and she dressed as a super model?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Snow Desert

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When I was out taking my walk yesterday, I noticed the sun falling on the snow piled up at the edge of the road in such a breathtakingly beautiful way. The shadows are light blue! I attempted to go out in the backyard to take more photos, but the snow was literally knee deep, and I didn't last long.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Stuck in the Everlasting Winter

I have been thinking that Michigan has perhaps detached itself from the rest of the continental United States and is now floating somewhere perilously close to the Artic Circle or at the very least, near Greenland's icy mountains. I suppose if this did happen, it would be all over the news though. We are still dealing with slippery roads, snowblowers, big piles of snow and cold. It occurred to me today that it might not seem quite so unbearable if I didn't insist on marching around stubbornly in a light windbreaker just because it is March.

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This is our actual sidewalk on Sunday, March 4.

Someone in church yesterday thanked God for the changing seasons because they always show us something new. This is true. I think from now on, I will think of the changing seasons as the miracle that they are, and I can't wait for Spring.

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Remembering Oma

My sister Marianna reminded me that our dear Oma died 4 years ago today. I wrote about her in a post last year on what would have been her 90th birthday, but since we could never say enough about her, here's another one! We used to love to go visit her down in Florida where she would go to Publix every day to make sure we had enough mint chip ice cream or cheetos or donut holes or whatever.
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Oma & I on the trip where she reminded John that I was only 1/2 Dutch, 1988. You can tell she loved me anyway. She was always after me to gain weight - but look! I am gigantic compared to her!

The church with the leaning tower in Bedum of the Netherlands where Oma used to run by as as a little girl because she thought it was going to fall over on her.

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The cute little tile-roofed house in Bedum where she lived.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cross Cultural Discipline

Yesterday, I was off doing one of my favorite team sports: grocery shopping. I say "team" because I always try to be as cooperative as I can in the store by reaching things for short old ladies and pointing out where things are to old men. And also, you know how you pass someone in an aisle, and then you past them in the next, and suddenly, it feels as if you are shopping together! Anyway, I came upon the cereal aisle and was deep in concentration with the brain of a math major-turned-mother, calculating the ounces and cents versus the health benefits and what each kids likes and so on. There are probably hundreds of boxes of cereal at Meijer and to make it even more complicated, there is stuff on the other side of the aisle which I need to look at. Suddenly I overheard a hispanic woman say in a stearn tone, "Uno, Dos, Tres," to her little boy running up the aisle and I chuckled at how this expression or method of discipline must cross cultural boundaries. But somehow I can't picture Oma B. saying, "Een, Twee, Drie..."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pancake Maker

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John showed Bridget how to make pancakes the other night. Since they are both lefties, it worked out well.