Just reading the news and came across this announcement...average hours (NOT EVEN DAYS!) of sunshine??? Oh wow, no wonder I need the sun now!!! I'm in shock that it is so little...but it helps make me understand why I get down in the winter.

February of 2006 the gloomiest ever
2 March 2006
BRUSSELS — The February of 2006 has officially entered the record books as Belgium's gloomiest February ever.
Meteorological institute RMI said on Thursday the sun shone for just 29 hours and 55 minutes in February.
RMI also said last month's exceptionally low amount of sunshine occurs just once every 100 years. Normally, 73 hours of sun is recorded in February.
This year's February was the gloomiest ever, beating the previous record set in 1966 when 35 hours of sunshine were recorded.
A higher amount of rain and snow than average was also recorded last month.
February of 2006 was also colder than normal — something which could be said for the entire 2005-06 winter.
Average temperatures this winter were 2.5 degrees Celsius compared with the long-term average of 3.1 degrees.
The colder than normal winter weather is noteworthy given the last few winters have been very mild.

Koninginnedag aka Queen's Birthday Celebration

Today in Holland is the celebration of the Queen's birthday. The Queen of Holland is Queen Beatrix, pictured here. Nederland is a small country, but the many millions of Netherland citizens certainly find cause for celebration. Decked out in their Orange clothing, boas, hats, hair...anything orange they can find, they drink to the Queen's health and fortune, sing, dance, celebrate! They are a very festive folk, and having the day off from work causes that much more cause for celebration...

Why orange? Well, here's a little something I found talking about Holland...a great history lesson picked from here http://www.friesian.com/ross/orange.htm It's all in English and gives a great, quick overview of Nederland and how it has come to be. I suggest you click on the link and give it a go...learning something new never hurt anyone.

And so, now it's time to go celebrate. Celebrate this little country that, though I no longer live within it's borders, hope to be a citizen of in the coming year. And that my husband and children are full-fledged passport holders of...the place in Europe that I first called my home. That in itself is cause for celebration! Lang zal ze leve!!! Hiep, Hiep, Hoera!!!



I've been busy picking away at my closets today...a little bit of that spring cleaning never hurt anyone right? Well, it might not hurt, but it sure does bite. The more I pull out of the closets, the more mess everywhere...and what to do with it all? Well, how could I possibly throw out that old torn sheet? The fabic must be worth, what, like 20 cents?! Or tossing all the kids' old outgrown clothes in a pile...nope, they don't have closets overflowing with stuff they can wear now, nope not my boys...I must hold onto that tshirt that's just a tiny bit too small...maybe they'll have to use it when I am...what...sick in the hospital for 2 months and can't do the laundry???! And paperwork, well, I can't even begin to go there...Erwin and I cleaned ALL our paperwork up 2 weeks ago and believe it or not it's once again overtaking every flat surface of our home. What is my fear of donating stuff to a good home, or god forbid, throwing it away? And what's worse, yes, believe it or not, my husband is as bad as me...if not worse. He always stores it in the attic for that one day we might need a rusty old pipe that isn't the size of our piping...or the chair that's only cracked on one leg. However, at least his mess is contained in the attic...though our very sizeable attic gets tinier by the day! And I won't talk about my kids....Kaeden can tell you every piece of paper he owns and if one should be missing, oh dear....oh dear. Jari is much better than the rest of us, but he is so proud of all his drawings and let me explain: he goes through, oh, something like 200 sheets of paper a week!!!! Where do you think they all end up? Nope, not in the recycling because he searches there now that he knows I conveniently "store" some of his artwork there. Hmmm. Back to the closets and forcing myself to move on to more organized pastures. Out with the old and in with the new...oeps, NO NEW....then it'll just begin all over again!!!



I love to hear my husband heartily laugh. The sound of his laughter really does my heart good, but he's not the type of person that readily laughs...last night he did and here is the reason why:

Jari was drawing pictures and then asked me to show him how to draw a skwakkel! I was looking at what he had already drawn and asked if he wanted me to draw a snowman as he had a head with a hat on it. No, that's not what he wanted? A pilgrim maybe? NO! A skwakkel!!! He goes on to draw stick hands and tell me that it's the skwakkel that has arms like this. My head is totally focussed on snowman...Jari's obviously not as he started getting more vocal and louder, angrily repeating over and over "Skwakkel, Skwakkel, Skwakkel!" I turned to my husband who was smiling on the couch...do you have any idea what he wants? He walks over to look at the drawing. Hmmm, maybe a Quaker?! :-) I then ask Jari if he wants a squirrel...sounds similar even though I don't know where he's going with the stick hands. No, no squirrel! Suddenly Erwin says "A scarecrow!" Yeah! Jari is impressed and relieved that someone finally knows what he wants to draw. Erwin walks away with his shoulders shaking in laughter repeating Skwakkel over and over again. He tells me that's a story I need to put in jari's baby book! I turn Jari's beginning drawing into a full fledged "Skwakkel" with straw around his arms and legs and stand him on a stick with a bird sitting on his shoulder. Jari starts again and creates his own "Skwakkel" with the precision that is his trademark. After that, he decided that my idea about drawing a squirrel is also a good one and he draws his squirrel. I am impressed with my son's drawing abilities. At age 4, he's got a great start. And with his ability to make his Papa laugh, I'd say he's got more than one talent to "draw" upon.


My "SUN" did shine!

I got my sun...in the form of my son! It was such a nice afternoon and the sun actually did peek out from behind the clouds now and again. I feel very energized at the moment. Kaeden and I left for town after Jari was picked up for a play-date with his friend. Kaeden needed to get his banking business taken care of so we went to Fortis first. He got his gym bag and gift certificate which was exciting enough, but his pride and joy came in the form of his transparent green bank card! Sharing that moment with him and watching his eyes twinkle with delight was all I needed to feel like life is worth living. We spent the afternoon shopping for a few new clothes Kaed needed and then sat at a cafe having a drink. Kaeden was very quiet and in his own world the entire time we were at the cafe and all attempts at conversation failed so I just sat back and enjoyed people watching...that's when a couple kids from Kaeden's bus decided to sit with us and talk. Now, this is where I have mixed emotions. All I can say is that I am glad Erwin and I are Kaeden's parents and that Kaeden is my son. He may have his moments and his autism may cause a lot of downtimes in our lives, but he's a good kid and I hope that as he enters puberty and matures, that the value system we have set forth kicks in. These two boys that sat with us most obviously do not have the home life that Kaeden does. They are both also developmentally handicapped and I know that plays a part in how they act, yet there was more to it and I felt a bit sorry that they were running wild in the streets without some supervision. One boy threw paper on the sidewalk and I called him over and told him that's not what we do with paper and asked him to please pick it up and put it in the trash. He did. The other boy was telling me a story about how he has been accused by another of doing drugs and raping a girl and that Kaeden needs to keep away from him. My thought was that I hope Kaeden keeps away from all of them. Unfortunately, Kaeden has very poor judgement in the friends department, and considers anyone that gives him any form of attention a friend, even when it is someone he meets on the street. As I said, I can only pray that what we have taught him, through our own actions and words, he has taken to heart and stored somewhere in the back of his mind. And though I may not be a perfect role-model, I hope that I have provided him with direction in his life and he has learned what it means to be a good person.

Anyway, the day was a success. As we walked home from town, he started joking about all the HUGE houses we were passing and how when he grows up he's going to have one of those. When I asked him if he thought he could keep it clean he told me with a huge smile on his face "That's why I'm going to have a wife." When I told him to look around his own home now and see what a wife does he told me I needed to make a schedule for cleaning it up so that on Wednesdays and Fridays I needed to make it really clean. When I told him today was Wednesday, he told me we better start running home so I could get my chores done...hahaha...all this with this mischievous grin on his face. Sometimes he is so darn "normal" and those are the times I am truly free and filled with a great sense of peace. My son amazes me and I am so proud of him. To live in this world while he has to make so many adjustments to fit in and be accepted, while fixing his brain to work like ours instead of how he naturally is, I don't know anyone with more courage or strength than him. He is someone to look up to, to strive to be like, and yet, I hope that he feels the same about me...he is my son, indeed my sun!

Where did the SUN go?

Yesterday I was SO happy. There was nothing that could get me down. I woke up to the sun shining and it's warm arms stretching out to give me a big morning kiss. I spent the day outside, letting the extra energy sink into my veins and give me the push to go, go, go. I took a bike ride, went to the dentist (and even there kept smiling as I forked out 85 euro...argh...and was told to come back next week for some unknown dark patch on my x-rays) and when I picked Jari up from school brought the ball with me so we could go to the park and play...which we did. I love hearing his giggles as we play soccer. Every little laugh just pushes me to run a bit further, chase a bit faster, go mama go! The sun felt almost hot as we played, but it was good, that first warm day of the year. But then this morning I woke and my soul felt as grey as the sky that welcomed me. Why tease me for one little day with all that goodness? Why give me such hope if "tomorrow" is going to be cold and rainy and dreary? The kids wanted to wear shorts and no jacket after the beautiful yesterday, and explaining to them that today just wasn't up to par was a chore in itself. I need the sun. It really does bring me happiness. After a cold, harsh winter I am ready for blooming flowers and that fresh mowed grass smell. I am ready for days spent outside playing and evenings that stay light, drinking a beer under the porch with my husband after the kids are tucked in bed for the night...even tho they don't want to go cuz it's still "lacht" as my son puts it so eloquently. That glimpse of yesterday gave me hope for the coming days...I just wish it wasn't just a tickle and was the full-blown goodness I crave.



Well, I used to consider myself a creative person. But in the past 5 years my creative self has changed. Maybe learning and living Dutch took its place. That's a theory a few of my friends and I have. That we are so busy concentrating on adjusting to this new culture that our mind can't focus on the person we used to be. In any case, less and less frequently my papers and scissors and glue and all my little treasures come out from hiding. I used to live amid all the mess and every day do some creative activity. My son grew up surrounded by art supplies. And my house was always a mess. That's another theory...with a family, the kitchen table can't always be covered in half-finished works of art! Anyway, this weekend oma had a birthday. I got out all my supplies for the kids to make her something crafty and they did. Jari loves art. He's also very good at it, a trait I like to think comes partly from me. Since I was his age my favorite birthday gift was paper and pens wrapped up in shiny tin foil that I would also keep to use in one of my projects. I still ask for art supplies on those specail holidays with the hope that I will use them. I still love those creative moments I have. But I'm not the same. In the place of my art came a husband, my son and our home. Which is more important? Naturally I choos my family. However, more and more I long to have pieces of the old me back. I want to once again be more outgoing and self assured. I want to feel independent and energetic. I want to be creative! As I didn't clean up the kitchen table and the mess was overflowing onto the groundstill on Sunday morning, I decided to sit down and try to make oma a birthday card. I opened up the paints and got a fresh sheet of paper. I felt those old tinkles in the back of my head as I started washing color onto a page. I didn't have a real plan, as I never do when I start creating, but suddenly my work was underway and a bouquet of flowers started to emerge. I was using an example, but what was coming through made me feel proud. I sat for a good hour just creating this one little bouquet of hydrangeas to look like the notecards we gave her as a gift. And when I was done, I held it up for my kids to see and they said "That looks just like oma's card!" I knew my little creative session was a success. Oma would receive a handmade card and I had fulfilled a longing within myself. I think I will make it a point to bring out my supplies more often, not for the kids, but for me. While I am in creative mode I feel strong and self assured and free and proud. I can conquer the world in the form of one little "work of art". I am creative!