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Ellen In Amerika!

Almost summer! 29 May 2012


Posted by Ellen | Posted in My life in the USA | Posted on 29-05-2012

Wow! It has been almost two months since I wrote my previous update! Sorry for that. Appearently I still have not the real writer’s bug back. A lot happened the last two months, so that could not be the case.

Some sad things happened, some real nice things happened.

On May 18, my mother in law died. She had COPD and was very sick at the end. We are very sad but also in a way relieved that she rests in peace now. She was loved by all her children, grandchildren and friends.

On April 25, it was my last day at the Hospital. I’ve worked there for 2 years with so much pleasure. I feel sad I am not a part of that team anymore. I still have lots of contacts with some of my ex co-workers, so that is pretty neat.

For the school district I had two interviews. One was for a promotional position at another school site and the other was for staying on the eligibility list. Being on this list is crucial for promotions and transfers. The interviews were difficult, I thought I messed up big time! But the good news is: I got the promotion and I am #1 rank on that list. :-) Yeah!!! It does mean that I have to leave my current school, which makes me sad because I love my colleagues there and I will miss the children very much. The new school is a bit further from home, but that is okay. I know the kids there, and they are awesome!

On May 11, my oldest brother and his wife were 40 years married. They gave a party in their new house and I was very sad we could not be there. The pictures showed us they had a wonderful evening.

This weekend was Memorial weekend in the USA. On Saturday, Dan dropped me off at the Mall. I still had a Mother’s Day giftcard for JCPenney, and I spent about 3 hours in that huge department store! I got some great sales. I am still very, very Dutch, lol.  On Sunday we went to downtown Ventura and strolled on Mainstreet. They have such diverse shops there. It was beautiful weather and we each had a nice ice cream cone from Ben & Jerry’s.

On Monday (Memorial Day), Dan and I went to the beach and we both enjoyed the big waves and on top of that we got a nice tan :-)

Three more weeks to go, and then it will be Summer vacation for the school. First we will have a sweet sixteen party. The daughter of a colleague is turning 16 years old, and her parents will give a huge party. About 400 guests will attend. I already bought myself a dress, that is new, because I never wear dresses.

On June 23, my youngest sister and her husband are celebrating their 25th anniversary. I was looking into tickets to see if we could go there and surprise my sis, but unfortunately, they are so expensive and Dan had to fly to Kansas City last weekend. In July the three of us have to go there again and in the Fall my sons and their girlfriends will come over to see us. We will be with Lot and Hans there in our hearts.

In July, a nephew will graduate from the Marine boot camp, and we will go to San Diego to attend that festivity as well. We will stay over for a night and we will go to Sea World and San Diego Old town. The following week we will fly to Kansas City to have a celebration in memory of Dan’s mom.

So lots to do these coming months! I will give you an update how all went.

Have a great summer!!

holidays myspace comments

Avalon, Catalina Island, 7 April 2012


Posted by Ellen | Posted in My life in the USA | Posted on 08-04-2012

Monday, 2 April 2012

After my appointment at the Dutch Consulate in LA for a renewal of my Dutch passport, we drove to Long Beach harbor. Because we were pretty early there, we had plenty of time to have a nice lunch at a local restaurant. After we had checked our tickets at the harbor, the waiting for boarding began. We had a good time though. The atmosphere in the waiting line was already in a vacation spirit. Because of the rough weather the day before, lots of boats were canceled so our boat was packed. But luckily, we were one of the first passengers to go on the boat, so we had great seats: outside, at the back of the boat in the sun. The wind was pretty chilly but with warm jackets with hoodies, everything was perfect. After 75 minutes, the boat arrived in Avalon. It was truly amazing. It felt directly as vacation. The harbor, the beach the boulevard, everything was so nice. A short walk brought us to our hotel at the boulevard. Our room was simple but good for the 2 nights we would be there. After we put our luggage there, we went outside to take it all in. We walked around for about an hour and then settled down at a nice open restaurant for a early dinner. We ordered a glass of champagne to toast on Avalon and life! The food was good and as a dessert, we ordered a daiquiri mango cocktail, it was vacation! Because we were pretty full, we went for a evening walk and discovered that the city of Avalon is not very large, but very picturesque. Our first day at Avalon was wonderful.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The second day started with a nice breakfast at a local restaurant. It is good we do not do that every day :-) . We headed to the ticket booth for the 2 1/2 hour skyline bus tour around the mountains of Avalon. The tour would start at 11.45 AM so we had enough time to relax at the boulevard etc. Back at the bus stop, there were a lot more people to take the same tour. The bus driver was a very funny lady. She had lots of lame jokes and tons of information about the island and its history. For instance, the population of the island is about 3000. Cars were limited except for commercial use. One golf cart per family was permitted and the waiting list for a full size car is 12 years! It was a funny sight to see moms picking up their children from school with their golf cart. The tour bus was an original from 1952 and the driver had a hard time with steering now and then. It was very much worth the money we took this tour. Back at the meeting point we bought a large ice-cream and walked further to the casino and another beach. At a bar at the beach Dan treated me to a Long Island tea. A very strong cocktail, which made me a bit tipsy :-) Lucky for me (and Dan), I did not act silly and the buzzed feeling went quickly away. We walked back to the hotel to relax a bit and then it was time to find a restaurant where we wanted to have dinner. Again, the food was very good. All the activities of the days had made us tired and we went to bed early.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Our last day so we decided to pack it full with lots of things we wanted to do. First we went to a local grocery store and bought some yogurt with muesli for breakfast. In the hotel was orange juice and coffee so we were all set. We wanted to go on the submarine. We bought the tickets at the pier and walked over to a bike shop to see what they had for bikes to rent. Back at the pier the submarine was already there. It was much more fun than I thought it would be. Again, lots of information the tour guide gave us. Back at the pier, we went to the bike store and we rented some electric bikes. This is actually against our “beliefs” but the roads in the mountains are so steep, it was not possible for us to drive around on normal bikes within the amount of time we had left. They were more expensive than normal bikes, but man, how much needed they were. I loved it. We went up hill and you just peddle like a normal bike, but an electric motor helps you go forward. I loved it and told Dan I want one for back home!!! We then realized that to do sightseeing  this way is much more fun than by tour bus. It is exercising and you can stop anywhere you want to enjoy the view and take pictures. We biked through the mountains around Avalon and through Avalon. After 2 hours we had to go back to the bike shop. Then it was time to pick up our luggage at the hotel and go to the dock to catch the boat. The boat was late! We had to wait for more than an hour. It was sad to go back on the boat and say good by to Avalon. We know one thing for sure, we will come back and do more of the other activities that you can do on this little island.

Avalon, you stole our heart!

Here a slide show of a selection of the pictures we took at Catalina Island. Enjoy!

Eggs and tulips myspace comments
Happy Easter myspace comments

I botched the job big time! 28 March 2012


Posted by Ellen | Posted in My life in the USA | Posted on 29-03-2012

Tags: , , , , , ,

Okay, I know, a weird title, but honestly I did!  How else can I describe my silly thinking, or better phrased: “ What WAS I thinking????????”  As I wrote in my previous post, we renovated our master-bathroom and it looks great. Yesterday I came with a luminous idea to spray the door knobs of the bathroom door in oil rubbed steel. So I bought the spray, and because I could not get the door-knobs off the door, I taped all around the knobs with tape and newspapers so the white paint of the door would not get stained. But the oil rubbed spray-paint was so fluid that it went through the tape and paper. When I removed the tape and paper, there were all dark paint spots and drips around the knobs. I screamed! What had I done? I tried to clean it right away with water and soap, but it did not come off. After some more rubbing, the paint of the door itself came off a bit so I stopped. The only thing I now can think of to solve this, is sand the door and repaint it on both sides. I am so upset with myself. The door knobs look beautiful though, as if I bought them new.

Something else happened this week which made me pretty sad. Because of re-organizing the staff of the hospital where I work,  (the senses are very low for a long time now) all the Per Diem employees and one part-timer of my department are being laid off. Union decision. That includes me as well. April 25 will be my last day there. We all are upset, sad and surprised. Of course I am lucky I have my permanent part-time job as a teacher’s assistant, and my job for Ruysdael Design, but I like my job at the hospital. I have nice colleagues there and the extra pay-stubs were always very welcome. We will see how this will develop.

Work at school went fine. Today all kids were very loud and bad listeners. A simple direction as “go to your desk” was suddenly a mystery for most kids. They probably are ready for next week spring break. As most teachers are too :-)

Only two days more school and then 1 1/2 week spring break! I cannot wait to go to Catalina Island. Before we hop on the boat, I have an appointment at the Dutch Consulate in Los Angeles. I have to renew my passport. Online I already filled in the forms that are required and all the other stuff that is needed for a new passport is packed in a folder, so I am all set!

Have a great weekend, and maybe I will write again from Catalina Island!
I am ready for the weekend myspace comments


Latest news from my neck of the woods, 25 March 2012


Posted by Ellen | Posted in My life in the USA | Posted on 26-03-2012

Ha, finally. Some inspiration again to write. It has been an awful long time ago since I wrote on this blog. Doing other things has been the main reason but also not being in the “mood” to write was an issue. But now, while it is pouring outside badly, I feel I want to write again. I got some nice comments on this blog from an American blogger who lived in the Netherlands and now moved to Australia. While I was reading her blog a Touch of Dutch,  I felt I want to be a blogger again. We will see how long that will last, lol.

Anyway, things are fine here. Let’s see what happen the last 4 months…Oh, I broke my index finger in early December ’11 and that stupid thing did not want to heal properly.  I had to wear a splint for more than 3 months. The injury  happened at work, therefore  I was covered for all the medical bills, which is a nice part, but the inconvenience was actually worse than I expected.  But now, after 3 1/2 months the finger is “healed”. There are quite some scar tissues on the fingerprint part of the finger and the finger is 1/2 centimeter longer than the other index finger.

Then of course Christmas and New Year’s came by. We did not do that much because I had to work all holidays at the hospital. We still had our Christmas Eve and dinner with our presents and our New Year hike but not at the exact dates we are supposed to have them. My birthday was very nice. I got tons of phone calls and gifts from my family and friends in the Netherlands and here in the States. Dan and I gave ourselves a big screen smart TV for Christmas and my birthday but still he spoiled me with extra gifts anyway. He is the best!

We also did some work in and around our house. We had the house exterior painted in a nice cream color with off white doors and trims. The house looks as if it is new! The painters did a great job and they cleaned everything afterwards.

The master bathroom has been remodeled and we are very pleased with the result.

Last week we finished it the way we want to have it look. I had an idea of some kind of oil rubbed steel decoration on the green wall of our bathroom. I just had a picture of it in my head so I could not show it to Dan what I meant. I first went to the Thrift store to see if they had something like that. But nothing came even close to it (I did manage to purchase two nice handbags and some belts I liked for a few bucks though :-) ) That evening, Dan and I went to Ross, and there I saw exactly what I want! So amazing! And only for 12.99 Dollars!

Some other member of our family, Jackson our black Bombay cat, is now a year with us and is such a joy to have. He is acting like a dog though. He listens to commands (really!) and he asks for way too much attention. But we are gladly giving that to him.

Dan still works very hard in his free time for our business Ruysdael Design and it is nice to see it is getting more and more successful. I still work for the school district with the special needs kids and on call for  the hospital. I still bike to almost everywhere I want to go, so not much changed in that area.

We both like to watch the political  programs and we are following the debates of the GOP Presidential candidates closely. It is a mad house here in this country, I can tell you that. How ugly people can become, is incredible.  We also watched the series The Walking Dead. Initially, we did not want to watch this series with zombies etc. But my stepson was pushing us and also my teacher, who is a die-hard fan of this series, we finally gave in and watched the series at first at Netflix and later in real time. How much can you change what you like! We now cannot wait till season 4, which will start this coming fall. :-)

This weekend, we’ve been To Tommy’s restaurant. It is a chili burger fast food chain and even my son Niels has been there once when he was visiting us. I was not eager to go there, but yesterday we “surprised” Ryan to go there after we picked him up at a friend’s house. I have to say, it was a good burger with loads of chili on it. But for me, it was a one time thing. Too much for me.

Tonight I made Mexican food for dinner. Burritos with fried beans, homemade salsa, Mexican rice, guacamole,  sour cream and cheddar cheese. It was again pretty much but it was all homemade, so I know it was “healthy” food! The men love it and that is always the nicest compliment!

Next weekend I have to work both days and then the following week, we will go for a few days to Avalon on Catalina Island, I’ve heard it is a very lovely place and the Island must be a great place to do some hiking. I am looking so much forward to that!

I am going to stop now, I hope you all will let me know how you are doing  :-)

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