It feels like endless weeks of holidays around here. Being Americans that live in The Netherlands we end up celebrating some of their holidays and some of ours. And occasionally they overlapse. Sinterklaas celebrations last from the middle of November until the 5th of December... and Santa Claus celebrations last from Thanksgiving until the New Year. In years past we toned down the Sinterklaas stuff, some years she only put out her shoe once and we didn't bother with "pakjes avond" (present night) on the 5th. But now that our kid is in a Dutch elementary school we didn't have a choice but to join in the 3 week celebration. Every night she would place her shoe at the door with a drawing (and sometimes a song) for Sinterklass & his Zwarte Pieten, and when she checked the next morning their would either be something yummy to eat or a present. This takes more effort than you think, trying to fill a shoe for 3 weeks and keep the budget down considering our big holiday is still to come. I managed though, picking up little toys on sale and even reusing things. Yes, I did, I reused things she forgot she had, like unopened packages of stickers, strawberry milk mix, and even fruit we had in the kitchen. (Keep in mind she's 4 yrs old.) There were also a couple close calls, come on, it's hard to remember to fill the shoe every night, luckily we never let her down. And her reaction when she found a burlap bag of presents by the door on "pakjes avond" was priceless. But because the holiday carries into Christmas celebrations, we've had to put off the Christmas tree and Elf on the Shelf until this weekend. We really enjoy the Elf on the Shelf, this will be our 3rd year! So last night I happily read my daughter the book, and this morning she awoke around 6:30AM (as usual) ready to find the elf. Oh no, I forgot to put the elf out! Day 1 and off to a bad start! My saving grace is that my daughter doesn't get out of bed in the morning unless given permission... I darted to where the elf was in the cabinet, yanked it out of the box, and in the dark found a shelf in the living room to place it on. Whew! After 3 weeks of remembering a shoe every night, we now have to remember to move the elf, what have we gotten ourselves in to, ha-ha! One thing I do love about these holidays is being able to play the "if-you're-naughty-you-get-nothing" card, it's great! Our kid is pretty good for the most part, but I still love using the card when she tries to be difficult. We've decided to tone down Christmas this year though, we want our daughter to appreciate what she gets (plus there were plenty of Sinterklaas presents). This year she gets 1 big present from Santa, and of course presents from the family. It's kind of hard to explain the flow of deliveries arriving at house, so we told her that families also exchange presents, plus Santa Claus brings stuff to the kids. How long will we be able to keep up this charade? When I grew up my parents were too religious to allow me to believe in Santa Claus, but now that I'm a parent I'm doing things different. Do your little ones believe in Santa Claus?
We all have pet peeves, and one of mine is overpaying... the amount doesn't matter, €1-€100, it all drives me crazy. Being frugal can be good and bad, in this case bad... why, I just can't let go. What brought this all up, €3... yeah, you're reading it right, I overpaid by €3 and it's going to nag at me for days. People like me will hold on to receipt for a year, just in case (my junk drawer at home is embarrassing). So how could this have happened? It has to do with an online order that I happened to mail back 30 minutes before finding the item on sale somewhere else. You're probably thinking, you can easily send back an online order, what's the big deal. Well, I ordered two toys for Christmas, then it turned out that my niece actually wanted something else more. No problem, I kept the game and sent the art studio back (original invoice & box included). Next stop after the post office, I happen to see the game for €3 cheaper. Now what, all I have at home is a scanned copy of the invoice... seriously, what am I am going to do, buy a box, waste the gas to return to the post office, in the mean time using up the €3 I am trying save. No, I'm not. Instead I'm going to grumble about it. I'm going to kick myself in the butt for trying to be efficient and get the toy off my hands immediately. I'm going to let it fester, tell myself I could do even better watching out for sales. Wow, I'm just a little crazy. Inevitably, it all evens out though. The other day to save a few euros, I returned a pair of footed stockings for my daughter because I found them cheaper and 2 for 1 at another store. So I guess I should be happy I caught the last sale to make up for missing this one. Any of you have silly pet peeves that will make you go out of your way for something? Oh yeah, and the game that I'm complaining I overpaid for, I still originally bought on sale. And in my husbands words, cuckoo!
The virtual book tour from Fire & Ice is rolling around again... not sure if it will be a weekly post in the future but as of yet I just keep finding books that interest me and hopefully you too! Finally a western romance popped up on the list of possible books I could host!!! I was so excited to see it in the list, I signed up right away.
Drum roll please...
The Cowboy's Bride
Like the last book from the tour, I can't get much out of the blurb & excerpt, but it still interests me. If the main character is so great & romantic and they've known each other since childhood, what's standing in their way?
Not so long ago, after fish tailing around a curve in my car, I decided maybe it wasn't bad to finally take the skid training course offered by my old driving school, Leeuw. The course was included in my package but at the time I didn't dare take the course, I didn't feel I had enough experience in a stick shift to willingly put myself in that situation. After getting my license I mostly drove my husbands automatic and still didn't feel ready. But now I've been in my own stick shift since the summer and like I said, I've had a couple scares and knew it was time to follow-up on the course. It was great! It was fun, it was informative, and I recommend skid / safety training to everyone! The class was a mixture of enthusiastic teenage boys and older adults out for a day of fun & learning (think I was the only in my 30's). I was shaking in the beginning, a combination of cold & nervousness/excitement but luckily that quickly went away! It started out pretty basic, braking at 30kph & 60kph to see the difference in just how far you slide before the car comes to a complete stop. When riding someones tail in traffic because you're late it's easy to forget just how long it actually takes a car to stop, it was a great reminder. (Another reason to take the course.) Then we moved on to braking on a wet road, you obviously slide even further, surprisingly farther. Each time the tasks grew more complicated. We worked together, 2-4 people in a car, I luckily had an 18yr old boy with me who listened well and was able to explain things to me just in case I didn't understand what they were asking of me in Dutch. I could have used my own car, but I didn't want to risk damaging it, plus it was only €15 to borrow one from the school. It took a while to get the feel of a different stick shift, but it eventually worked out. After soaking the track and letting us practice braking, we moved on to avoiding obstacles. There were two places the teacher could shoot up a wall of water and your job was to drive around the wall. It was a lot of fun, and for the most part everyone in the class did their best to avoid the wall, only on occasion did someone plow through the middle of it. It's amazing how much noise the ABS makes, not mention how bad the car shakes! And the last 45 minutes of the class was learning how to keep you car from spinning in a circle, when it skids out on a wet road. This was awesome, but only because it was on a safe track, not out on a busy road. The first time around the instructor took everyone out and showed off, spinning us around... then it was our turn! Obviously the point was not to spin, but everyone did. The driver controlled the wheel and pedals & the passenger controlled the hand brake. I'm sure the kid I was with would have liked me to have been better at the brake, but I did my best. We each had about 6 chances to get it right, and shockingly enough by the last time I was able to keep the car from spinning. We each earned a certificate (supposedly some insurance companies even give you discounts for this), and had a fun 3.5 hr course testing our reaction times & skills. I did have to be careful driving home though, I felt like a stunt driver ready for a movie, but then all I had to do was remind myself just how serious driving is and the dangers that always surround us. As usual I snapped some pics, but during the best stuff we were in the cars, should have thought to pull my camera out in the passenger seat when the wall of water shot up in front if us, oh well!
Again, with some of the words I could narrow down the meaning but don't think I could just throw them in a sentence without actually looking up the definition. I love using this challenge as a reminder that we should always keep learning, refreshing, & stimulating our minds.
How did you do with this round of vocabulary words?
Even though I started the book tour off with a great sci-fi book, it was actually the following inspirational women's fiction novel that truly made me want to jump feet first into the Fire & Ice Book Tours.
Loud drum roll for...
The blurb provided to me about the book didn't offer a lot of detail, but it did stir my curiosity. The book seems so real, it could happen to anyone. How strong is a friendship? How strong can someone be faced with life changing challenges again and again? Beyond the emotional scars, what are the physical scars the main character has endured?
The blurb did exactly what it was supposed to, make me ask questions and want to read it to get answers! I hope you all hop over to Danica's Book Corner to read the blurb yourself. And of course the author, D.L. Johnson, has provided Fire & Ice with an excerpt of the book, Beautiful Scars. Don't miss out!