It’s been a while since my last blog. Like many of you I’m caught up in more important and less important activities that take up time and distract my attention from many things as usual.
We’ve been in the States for 4 months now. The feeling of being on a long vacation is still present regularly. I’m not sure it will go away soon. It is quite interesting to catch myself being curious, enthusiast and discovering new things that I haven’t seen or experienced in another country before. I am curious and on the look out for new things all the time. You know, things that you usually take for granted when you’ve lived in one country or city for a while. I see new stuff everywhere and my iPhone camera clicks pictures tireless.
What have I been up to lately?
Considering the dating of the last post I have to go back all the way to Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Halloween was a real treat for my toddler. Of course we went all the way and I made which tutu’s for both of us to wear. She learned quickly from the older kids that we went trick or treating with that she had to hold up her pumpkin to get candy in it. That afternoon before going trick or treating we were at a neighborhood fair where I carved my very first pumpkin ever, star-shaped eyes and all. As we live now in a neighborhood where there are lots of students, there weren’t any kids that walked our neighborhood for candy. Pity as we had tons of candy ready to be handed out. Next year we’ll be living in a different neighborhood and we’ll have for sure lots of kids trick or treating.
Halloween passed, Thanksgiving came. And of course I went all the way with this Thanksgiving celebration too. Thanksgiving also has a special meaning to us as it is the day that my husband and I met on for the first time in Amsterdam some years ago. This year being in the States I went along in the shopping frenzy for a turkey and the search for Thanksgiving dinner recipes. I loved cooking and garnishing the turkey. The stuffing, which was supposed to be a 5 star by others rated recipe didn’t satisfy my taste. I took a note to make my stuffing next year. Nonetheless, as I’ve spent two days in the kitchen also making my stock for the gravy, I was quite pleased with the result and being at a real Thanksgiving table with my sister’s in law family.
There is another big happening that goes hand in hand with Thanksgiving – Black Friday! All the shops all over America have huge sales at set times during that day. Everyone seems caught in the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and I understand now why. The discounts are massive. I went along with my friends to do some shopping, with a set budget in my mind and a few things that I knew I wanted to buy as Christmas presents. We were pretty organized. We had one of us stand in a set spot in the shop we went to, to watch the full carts as the rest of us were on a mission through the store to fill up carts with stuff and more stuff. I did almost all the Christmas shopping on that day. Proud to say I had 2 carts full and stayed right under budget. Got some pretty good deals so it’s a winner for me I have to say, next year I’m doing it again. To give you an idea about the discounts, I got a mountain bike for my husband, a big trampoline for our friends kids, two fancy ping-pong tables one for my husband and one for our friend, an Xbox, 5 games for the Xbox, 4 big toys for my toddler including a hugging Elmo which she loves, a floor heavy safe for my husband, a telescope for our friends kid, a Sonicare toothbrush, a fancy electric razor for the husband, some nice 700 thread count bedding and some small things like socks and scarfs – all of that for under 1000 dollars! You do the math! Yes, it was very cheap compared to what you would normally spent for all this stuff. It was worth it!
The waiting for Christmas started with that. And the next event on the list was getting a Christmas tree. We went up the mountain to a christmas tree park where you can cut down your own christmas tree for ten bucks. It is not about the quality of the tree as it is about the feeling of doing that. I was excited like a little kid. Driving up the mountain was a treat by itself, beautiful views of snowy peaks and cruising on the enthusiastic energy of everyone that went along. We had our toddler on a sled, that was an exercise by itself to drag the sled through fresh snow in the woods. We cut down the tree, brought it home and decorated it. Fun, fun, fun! The tree did look a little frail and had almost no branches in the back. Also it felt down ant the top broke.Not to mention that the needles were falling out way too quick despite the sugar-water that the bottom of the trunk was sank in. Don’t tell anyone, we went out and bought another fuller version after a couple of days. Haha.
Christmas was a blast at our friends house. Their tradition of dancing around the tree for the kids is famous. Of course the adults joined in as well. You know, imagine listening to Christmas songs like Holy Night, holding hands with everyone circling the tree and just moving along and singing beautifully along or not. My toddler daughter loved it, she was the sweetest funniest thing ever as she was with us in the circle around the tree, she held her eyes shut tight like she was really really experiencing the music and dancing around the tree from deep down her heart.
Needless to say there were tons of presents for everyone. Still in pajamas, with a warm cup of coffee after a savory breakfast, everyone got to open their presents on Christmas morning. Such a joy. And oh my I was personally impressed by the presents the kids got. iPhones, iPods, tablets were among them! The savings for an entire year went into the presents. I got a pair of nice stud earrings from my hubby, wearing them daily now.
And then came the New Year! 2014! Wow! Amazing how fast time went by. We chose for a quiet New Years Evening. And for a change we ordered food! Yes I know, I cook a lot but even I want to be treated once in a while. We barley made it to midnight. The biggest New Year’s happening in the States is watching the ball drop on Times Square in New York on television. We counted to ten, kissed, said Happy New Year and went to bed being content about the year that passed and the promises the new year was holding.
Immigration physical exam
The husband went to The Netherlands a couple of days after the New Year. Initially we all were going. Plans changed as we decided to move forward with filing papers for a green card. That changed my situation to not being allowed to travel in the mean time. Considering we’ve been waiting for an update on my immigration application since July we figured we would get advice from an immigration attorney. Having done that we outsourced the work of filing the remaining papers. I’m awaiting approval or denial now which should be with us in about a month from now. Much faster than if we would have done the entire process ourselves. I had to go through a few unpleasant situations paired with this process, for example I got 9 vaccines shots on the same day, including a flu vaccine that was mandatory. I don’t agree with that but it seems you are not given a choice, you have to take it. Another very unpleasant thing was also linked to the required physical immigration exam. They test you for tuberculosis with a skin test on your inner lower arm. Mine came out positive. Note to everyone who lacks information on those tests that it is not a very accurate test. The outcome can be positive for a various number of reasons, one being if you’ve been vaccinated for tuberculosis before, which I’m not sure I did or did not but possible that I have been. Following the positive skin test I had to have a chest x-ray which came back negative. Despite this, the doctor felt I should take medication as a prevention, in case I had the virus in my body. The medication in this case is quite invasive with tons of serious side effects and very heavy on your liver. On top of it, it is a long process, it requires you take the medication for months. And it is expensive, hundreds of dollars. I was quite upset at the advice to take the medicine as a prevention. It seems to me unnecessary considering they can not conclude that there is a need for it for certain. I am not a big fan of medication without a clear reason, let alone of such an invasive type of medication. I did get the first batch of medication but it’s still on the kitchen counter as I’m more certain I don’t want to take it after reading what it is about. You can not eat certain foods for example when you take it – bananas and avocados being on the list. Not taking them as I don’t agree that I need them.
One month home alone
Going back to the beginning of the year, the husband went to the Netherlands, for work, alone. Me and my toddler stayed behind, looking at an entire month of being by ourselves but with help and support from our friends that live right around the corner. Now that the month passed, looking back on the time me and my daughter spent by ourselves, I’m pretty proud of how it all turned out very well. We’ve enjoyed a lot of time together, went places, had visitors over, did some arts and crafting, made new friends. It was a well spent month and although it is a bit tougher to take care of a toddler without the husband being around like I was used to, I managed it easily and with tons of fun.
And here we are, present time – beginning of February – another celebration is coming up: Valentine’s Day! Lovers day! The day of love! Anything you want to call it is fine with me as long as love is included. Valentine’s Day is another big day in the States, very commercial I admit, but the meaning of the day is quite sweet.
On that note I will end this very long post. Love! Love for yourself, for your husband, your children, your family, friends, colleagues, the world. Love is beautiful and should be celebrated daily. So it’s worth it to have a reminder day in the year to make us stand still for a moment and think about love, celebrate love.
Wishing you all a loving day and a loving year!