Category Archives: Personal Posts

A Look Back At 2016

It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the end of 2016. How did this happen?

As far as my house projects go, 2016 was a productive year. I accomplished quite a bit, considering I only had my two hands to get it all done.
DIY Kitchen Table top

In May, I built a new kitchen table top. We simply needed a larger table, and instead of getting rid of the small table, I built a larger top.

Garage door hardware

That same month, I also upgraded my garage door with just $10. It was an easy, quick, and inexpensive way to spruce up my home’s curb appeal.

dog friendly patio

The deck was another story. My goal was to make the deck pet-friendly, which meant to basically rebuild the entire railing.

diy deck railing

This project was labor-intensive and long, but I finished just in time for summer. Below is a picture of the deck when I bought the house.

diy deck makeover

quick bathroom refresh

My small bathroom refresh happened in August. I painted the walls, bought new accessories, and added a board and batten.

DIY board and batten

guest room storage

In October, I took on the guest room. I added new furniture, rug, storage, and accessories.

diy art shelf

I also built this art ledge and made the macrame wall hanging.

DIY macrame wall art

diy garage floor paintThis project began on Labor Day… and boy, did I labor. The garage got a total makeover, and at times, the task seemed overwhelming. I painted the floor and added lots of DIY  wall storage and shelves.

DIY garage wall storage

diy garage storage

I really don’t have much to complain about. The year 2016 was good to me and my family. We were healthy, we always had food on the table, the kids did incredibly well in school (college), I became a mother-in-law and a Citizen of the United States, and I voted for the first time in my life.

Thank you so much for following along on my journey. I’m so thankful for your encouragement and support, and hope you’ll continue with me on this journey in the new year.

I wish each of you a wonderful ending to 2016, and I’ll see you in 2017!

I’m Finally An American Citizen

U.S. Citizenship

 

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US Citizenship

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US Citizenship

I did it! I’m finally an American citizen.

I came to this country when I was only 19 years old. Just a kid who couldn’t wait to get out of her small town in Germany. I had big dreams and hopes. I wanted to see the world, meet new people, explore fascinating cultures.

I did all that and more. I’ve lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. I went to college, worked, paid taxes, got married (and divorced), and it was here that I gave birth to three incredible American children.

Here I am, twenty-seven years later (oh my!), an American citizen.

For years, I was “only” a permanent resident. I was satisfied with this status. As I got older, the need to “belong” had grown stronger. I no longer felt connected to my home country, but I also wasn’t truly  a part of this country. So I applied, studied for the test, passed my interview and took the oath. Now,  for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to vote.

I was very emotional during the ceremony which I shared with 60 other men and women  from 29 different countries.

My ceremony occurred roughly  five weeks after my interview. The day before my ceremony, my daughter, her husband and our friend surprised me by driving all the way from Chicago to Nashville.  When they showed up I had tears in my eyes. I was so touched by their love and support.  I love them so much and consider myself blessed for having them in my life.

You see, my plan was to attend the ceremony alone (my younger son was in school) and then go about my day as usual. Thanks to my wonderful people, the day turned into a celebration I will never forget.

The ceremony, which took place at the Federal Court House, was a very special event.  As anticipated, the court house had no parking. We parked at a nearby lot. Inside the court house we waited for about 15 minutes before I and 60 other men and women were directed to the courtroom. At this time, friends and family had to wait in the hall way.

They asked each one of us whether we’ve taken any trips outside the U.S. since we had our immigration interview. They also asked if we’ve had any traffic or criminal matters. This was also the moment when we turned in our Green Cards and signed the Certificate of Naturalization. Then, they assigned us to our seats and we were asked not to leave the room anymore. This process took over 1.5 hours.

Next, they brought in family members and friends. You can take photos inside the courtroom – even with a professional camera. However, texting, calling or taking videos is not allowed. 

Now the ceremony was ready to start. A federal judge presided over it, and his  staff helped him arrange things in the courtroom. We said the Pledge of Allegiance. We also went around and introduced ourselves and stated the country we were from. This was probably my favorite part of the ceremony.  I was able to see people from all over the world. I wish I could’ve learned their stories. It was a very exciting moment for all of us.

The person introducing each of us to the judge did a fine job of pronouncing our names as best she could. The judge talked for about five minutes. One thing he said I will always remember: “Today is your personal Independence Day.”

He then administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Everyone raised their right hand as we were sworn in to be citizens. After that, we waited in line for our citizenship certificate, which is a very important original document. I don’t want to ever lose that. The actual ceremony lasted about 45 minutes.

The first thing I did after I became an American citizen was register to vote.

This country has been my home for pretty much my entire adult life. America has nurtured me and I’m proud to call myself a fellow American. Thank you.

A Stress-Free Courthouse Wedding

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Last week, my oldest daughter, Melody, and her now husband, Jamie, said “I do”. The couple married at the Justice of the Peace in Chicago. The ceremony was intimate, inexpensive ($60 instead of a traditional ceremony which is close to $30,000) and stress-free.

They didn’t have to please or impress anyone. They didn’t have to worry about enough seating, wedding favors, plates, flowers, table cards, etc. Melody and Jamie were in and out of the courthouse in 20 minutes and were free to do whatever they wanted. They hired a hobby photographer who followed them around Chicago and shot over 400 photos for just $25. Melody looked beautiful in an inexpensive, simple white dress, while Jamie looked dashing in his light-colored suit.

Instead of fancy flowers and decorations, the focus on love took center stage at this ceremony.

After the ceremony the couple went to a nice restaurant and enjoyed a delicious meal. At a traditional wedding, you’d pay an average of $30 per plate. They also spent the first night as a newlywed couple in a great hotel overlooking Lake Michigan.

Two days after their courthouse wedding, the couple came down to Nashville. Melody’s sister, Christy, and I surprised them with a homemade red velvet cake.weddingChristy also made these cute “NEWLYWED” bracelets.weddingI have to admit, not seeing my first-born get married was hard for me, at first. When your kids are small you have this vision of a beautiful wedding day. Not being able to hear her say “I do” made me sad and I felt cheated out of a celebration, but I’ve realized that at this time in their lives a courthouse wedding made perfect sense. And I respect that they did this on their own terms. After my daughter graduates law school (if she isn’t completely buried in student loan debt ) they might renew their vows in front of family and close friends. It’s on their terms, on their time line…

I know their courthouse wedding will  bring them just as much happiness as the traditional $50K weddings. Because at the end of the day it’s not about that one day… it’s about everything that comes after it.

Congrats, Melody & Jamie! I wish you an amazing and happy life filled with laughter, love and joy.