Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter break

Today winter break begins, 2 weeks off for the girls and 3 weeks vacation for Michael. We've been looking forward to this! Unfortunately I'm starting off the break with being sick, I came down with a cold earlier this week and it has gotten worse and worse. I'm hanging in there with Alka seltzer cold and hopefully I'll be feeling better very soon.

Our Christmas shopping is almost done, in fact we were almost finished the week after Thanksgiving. We've done almost all our shopping online this year and it's been so easy. Most places offer free shipping so it really hasn't been more expensive.

As always it's a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit here in Texas but we're doing our best. We got a tree about a week and half ago and all the decorations are up. The kids love to drive around the neighborhood at night, looking at all the lights and decorations

The kids love the flying Santa and reindeer's, Rudolph up front.

Inflatable Santa in an airplane.

Our tree.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Going to spelling competition!

A couple of weeks ago Lily tried out to be on the school's spelling team to participate in this years UIL (University Interscholastic League) academic competiton in our school district. Our school is competing in the following areas: Music memory, Ready writing, Spelling, Maps-graphs and charts, and Number sense. Anyone in 3rd,4th or 5th grade could try out for the spelling team. Some of the other teams were only open to 4th and 5th. Three people from each grade level would be accepted on the team, so the whole Spelling team would be made up of a total of 9 children. Last week they announced the teams at Friday assembly and Lily made the team! They are meeting before school every Monday morning at 7:15 for practice, until Competition February the 16th. This Monday was the first meeting where they were supposed to get the materials and rules etc but because I had my Oath ceremony Lily could not go. She had a private meeting with the coach (also the librarian) later in the day and she was told that she in fact had scored the highest out of all of 3rd and 4th grade on the try out! 5th grade got different words and will also take a different test, supposed to be a little harder.

The competition will be a written test taking approximately 45 minutes and participants will be scored both individually and as a team. 3rd and 4th grade have a list of 600 words to practice and 80% of the words on the test will come from this list. The rest will come from different sources and can not be practiced.

So from now on we have daily spelling practice at home although it seems that most of the 600 words on the list will be easy for her. We're so proud!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Proud to be an American!

On Monday December 12th I had my Naturalization Oath Ceremony and became an American Citizen!

I have been eligible to apply for citizenship for years but kept putting it off, fearing the paperwork and long process. This past August I finally decided it was time. The process went surprisingly smooth and I passed my interview on November 17th and was asked to come take the oath of allegiance on December 12th. This happened to be in the middle of a tour for Michael so he wasn't able to be there and because the appointment time was at 8:30am I had to arrange for childcare and leave by 6:45am.

We were 61 people from 23 different countries being sworn in that morning (they do oath ceremonies twice a day every day so you can imagine how many people are being naturalized). The ceremony was not that long but very nice. It included a speech from the Naturalization Officer, a recorded video speech from President Obama, a music video tribute to America, everyone singing the National Anthem and us taking the oath of allegiance. They also announced all the different countries represented among the applicants one by one in alphabetical order. As our country was called we stood up to be recognized. I was the only one from Sweden and most other countires were only represented by one or two people as well. There was probably 10 people from Mexico, not surprisingly.
Parts of the ceremony was quite emotional and as I was looking around the room at the other applicants I realized that for some of them becoming an American citizen is a major life changing moment.

Before the Oath ceremony I made a new friend in the waiting room, a very nice woman from Sudan. She had won the green card lottery and moved here 5 years ago and since then she has not seen her family at all because they have not been allowed to visit her in the US. For her becoming an American citizen means she can apply for visa's for her family members to come visit. It also means she will be able to visit her siblings in Europe. She once received a 30 day visa to visit her sister in the UK (her sister is a British citizen) but it took them 2 years before they granted it. Makes me realize how fortunate Swedish citizens are and by the way I'm allowed to keep my Swedish citizenship and be a dual citizen.
The Sudanese woman was the one taking the pictures of me above.

In the coming week I'm off to register to vote and to apply for my American passport!

This is the song they played at the Ceremony. Not the same video however, I could not find the version we watched.