A Father's Dream

I watched as my son and his father walked together towards the soccer clubhouse this afternoon. A tall man and a little guy, each fulfilling a purpose for the other. As I watched Erwin walk I could imagine the dreams circling his mind...our little Jari was growing up, he could teach him all the tricks of the trade in the driveway next to our house, what would I have been if..., would he be the next JARI, would he manage to get that left foot trained? The first meeting for soccer sign-up was today. When I mentioned it to Erwin a few days ago, I told him I wanted him to take Jari. He made it home at 5:00 in the nick of time. Erwin loves soccer. He loved to play it as a kid, he loves to watch it as an adult. And he wonders what would have been if only he had stuck it out...he was, I take it, relatively good. He thinks he could have made it further in the sport. I felt a tiny bit of anticipation as I watched them walk together. This little boy fulfilling his father's dream at the ripe age of four. What will Jari be? Will he love the sport as his papa does? Will he spend hours kicking soccer balls against a wall? Will he live for new cleats and shin guards? An official Jersey his favorite birthday gift? All I know is that whatever it is that Jari does, whatever he becomes, whoever he turns out to be, he will be his Papa's dream come true. I saw that in the blink of an eye as I watched my husband and my son heading towards the soccer fields; that little guy that we created proud to have his papa by his side, that Papa seeing his "zoontje" in an all new light (the light of the stadium? Maybe....).


Where oh where do the days go? It seems that I open my eyes in the morning, stirring in my bed and suddenly dinner time is upon me, kids home from school, husband home from work, time for me to fulfill my duties as mama and wife. But the rest of the day? I don't know what I do with my life. I have a very hard time being alone with me. I can't organize my time or my life, I can't get motivated, and once that 4 oçlock bell rings I suddenly realize the day is almost over and I have not accomplished a single thing. It is not a good feeling, day in and day out sitting waiting for something to happen to give me something to talk about, to feel as if I am important, to be me. The me I am now is not a positive thing. I do a few little tasks around the house, I watch a little tv, I do a bit on the computer, I buy groceries, pick Jari up at the scheduled hours, never challenging myself, not even a desire to challenge myself. I am not depressed, I have been that route and this is not depression, but I am lost. Who am I? What am I here on earth to do? How can I create a life as me that I can be happy with? It's as if I while away the day doing nothing...walking through a clouded blur that is my life. Maybe I need to make lists. Maybe I need to summon up some pride. Maybe I need to have more respect for who I am. I don't really know, but the days just pass me by far too quickly and I wonder just where I will be when tomorrow once again comes...


The Yellow Belt

Congratulations to Kaeden! He's made his mama proud yet again. Last night he did his exams to move from white to yellow belt in Judo. He passed!!! I was there watching and when he was finished he searched for me through the crowd and met my eyes with the biggest, happiest smile I have ever seen. His eyes were just twinkling. After his class he just kept reaching his hands up in that Rocky fashion and syaing "Yes"! It was a great moment, done completely on his own, no help from mama and papa. My son has found his passion and I am so proud of him!



When you think of Germany what passes through your mind? Maybe you think of the black forest or World War 2, Hitler and nazi concentration camps. Maybe you think of The Rhine river or of cologne named after the city in which it was created. Maybe you think of potato salad or bratwurst. When I think of Germany, I think of the past two days with my husband, a getaway weekend basking in each other's company, tired legs and feet after long walks through the city, people watching and a beer on the terrace, the river Rhine a beautiful backdrop to the Cologne Cathedral, old town with tilted houses and a wine festival in Cologne, old town with tilted houses and a bike festival in Dusseldorf, wood burning bratwurst stands, a flea market flowing along the boardwalk on the Rhine. Germany, just an hour from my home, a perfect change of pace, change of culture, change of language...a new experience.

Germany is an interesting place to visit. Only an hour to the border, it gives me the feeling of being in another completely different land...I can't speak the language, I don't know the rules of etiquette, the food is similar in a different sort of way, the beer flowing before noon. I love, love, love going to places where everything turns you topsy turvey and you feel so foreign. It gives me a chance to look back on my life and see how far I have come. In six years time I am a new person. I can speak two languages, I know the importance of coffee tables and birthday circles, I realize that wearing my tennis shoes will make people look my way, as will bright colored clothes. Oops....time to get Jari, I'll finish this later....



Today we took Jari to the ear specialist for his follow-up appointment. Things have not improved. His hearing is nowhere near what it should be, as we already knew just experiencing everyday life with him. So, today we scheduled his surgery. I am a ball of nerves. Though it is a pretty minor surgery, he'll still be put under and that is what scares me. How will he react to the anesthesia? Will he come out of it all okay? I am hopeful that his hearing problems will be corrected, and what a relief that will be. But still, the thought of the surgery scares me. Luckily I have already experienced it with Kaeden and know somewhat what to expect. And I am so happy that he'll be able to hear the birds singing, hear the doorbell ring, hear the cars passing by the house, hear me tell him I love him. Now, if you don't speak loudly and he's not focussed on you, he doesn't hear. We have tested him by whispering "Do you want some candy?" and he has no response. That hits me as hard as the thought of my baby going under. Anyway, we're scheduled for June 6, hopefully able to change it as Erwin can't get off that day and I need him by my side. He is much less emotional about these things than I am...still, he should be there. We need to have it done before we fly to America as the doctor was concerned about the pain he could experience on a flight with his ears as they are. So, hopefully no complications, hopefully all will go smoothly, and hopefully, my baby will soon be able to once again hear and enjoy life to the fullest.


A Day In The Life

What an afternoon I had planned with the boys. Just before the bus was due to come, I told them I was taking them bowling after we stopped off in town to do some banking and get some prescriptions from the pharmacy. They were overtly excited...first riding on the bus which they just love and then bowling...wow, mom sure is in a good mood! Unfortunately, it didn't take long and that feeling was put to rest. Some days, I just don't know what to do. Some days my heart sinks down to my toes. Some days I really hate being a mom. Some days I loathe autism.

We went to the bank to pick up Kaeden's new bank card. He was very happy as he signed his newfound signature on the back of the card. Then he goes on to ask the lady if he can deposit his money. Suddenly bells go off in my head...money? Okay, he should have 4 euro, but he spent that at teh grocery store getting me something a couple days ago. He really shouldn't have any money. When I ask him how much he is planning to deposit he says "26 euro 60 cents." Oh no! My heart sunk. We're back to square one, or even lower if that's possible. I excused us from the bank and sat him down on a bench asking where the money came from. "I found it." No way, no way do I believe that for a second. Come on Kaed, out with it. "Well, here's the 5 euro I got from your purse. But the rest I found." Where'd you find it? "On the table." Kaeden, if you find money on the table, that doesn't make it yours. But there wasn't that much money on the table, so where'd you get it? "Some came out of the drawer in my room. Some I found at school on the ground. " Now, if this kid really found/received as much money as he does, he'd never have to work a day in his life. Tears started streaming down my face. His brain really doesn't work...he does not understand the concept of stealing. And no matter how often we go through this scenario, it never sinks in. I feel defeated. But it doesn't end there.

I try to call Erwin to get his opinion on what to do. I really want to go bowling, and Jari shouldn't have to suffer because of this, but at the same time my heart is no longer in it and I know I can't reward Kaeden with a day out for stealing. Erwin doesn't answer. So, I decide to head to the store to pick up some Oreo's. I saw them in the flyer this morning and they are not produced here, so I thought an AMerican treat would be nice and at a good price. As I loked for the Oreo's Jari asked to pick some bulk candy. I told him that he could, but that Kaeden may not since he had stolen money. Kaeden grabbed a bag I had in my hand and ripped it open, flinging everything onto the floor and began to scream...I knew we were headed for a meltdown. As I tried to capture Kaeden to get him outside where his tantrum would be less noticeable, he ran from me, cursing and screaming. I let him go (which is really the best thing to do in these cases...he self calms faster than if you approach him), and quickly helped Jari so we could head to checkout. People watched Kaeden running wild through the store. It was obvious to them that something was wrong with my child. At least at that moment it was obvious and I wasn't being judged on my parenting as is normally the case. As we passed the Oreo's I aslo grabbed a couple boxes and Kaeden noticed. As quick as his tantrum had started, it was over. I felt relief as he calmly said "These are from America, huh mom? Can we have some when we get home?" I felt relief, so mcuh relief, as my son returned to the sweet, darling little boy everyone loves. Nobody would even have a clue it was the same child from only minutes before. I think the people in the store were in total shock, including the mom of a boy in Kaed's judo class. At the same time, I was devoid of emotion. I wanted to be Kaeden, running away and screaming, letting out all my hatred for autism, for taking my child and keeping him from being a normal little boy. I took the kids hands and we started walking towards home. Kaeden kept talking about how his brain is weird and doesn't work good and he needs to go to the hospital to find out what is wrong with him. Not what a mama wants to hear from her child. He's so confused. I wish I could explain.

So much for our special afternoon together. As we walked home, a huge rainstorm blew down on us. We were drenched and nearly blown away. I didn't notice, as my mind and spirit feel just as beaten down.

Sneak Peek

Erwin and I started our life together not as a couple, but as a family. We never had the opportunity to be just the two of us. Because of that, we treasure all the time we have with just us. We love those moments when oma and opa or gramma and grampa offer to take the boys overnight and we can relax in each other's company. As much as we love our boys and enjoy our time with them as a family, those special moments together really recharge our batteries, give us a chance to remember what it was that drew us together in the first place, share time doing what we love to do together when we don't have to account for children who will be bored, or make sure there are children's activities available, or bring a backpack filled with toy cars and coloring books and extra drinks and snacks. It is so peaceful when it's just him and I. Sometimes we get those moments when we hire in our babysitter, just a few hours away to break the rhythm of daily life. This week, our babysitter came and Erwin and I had absolutely no plan! It was actually kinda funny as Erwin and the sitter arrived home simultaneously. Erwin says "So, what's the plan?" I had none. So, we let the sitter take the boys off to Judo and the playground while we hounded the internet for something to do. We started life together with the help of the internet and it serves in our daily life for everything. We couldn't live without it...nor would we want to. Anyway, we checked out the movies that were playing. Noticing there was a Sneak Preview, I asked if Er had ever attended one. He hadn't and neither had I so we decided to head to Weert for dinner and a movie. An evening with mystery, not knowing what what on our agenda, just as we didn't at the moment the sitter arrived. An eveing with that excitement of what is to come. As we headed to eat with not quite enough time, we realized the restaurant I sometimes get away to with my friend Lisa was closed...darn, they have really wonderfully taste-tempting food. But okay, plenty of other cafes to choose from. As we walked along looking at the menu boards, we realized that McDonals'd would have to be our choice! We just couldn't let an evening go without including the kids somehow...hahaha. We went on in and ordered...no kids meals as is our usual, and we had the entire restaurant virtually to ourselves...we had an hour til the film began and we ate and talked and read the paper and it was really very nice. As the time pushed on, I was getting more and more excited. A sneak peek...something I know lots about as I try to uncover what my gifts are before the holiday. This makes Erwin so annoyed. He now makes sure I don't touch the packages by placing a little object to let him know if I have touched, like a screw set in a certain position, or a piece of paper laid on top of the box that I didn't notice, but he notices is missing...that sort of thing. I just love the excitement of those little sneak peeks...what will it be? Is it something fun or useful or beautiful? I was having those same thoughts waiting for the movie to begin. Was it a drama or a comedy, action or horror? Would it be something both Erwin and I would enjoy? As the lights dimmed I grabbed Erwin's hand and giggled...exciting? I asked him and though he wasn't quite so over the moon as I, he too was awaiting that moment when we would know. Just as the movie started, I turned to him and jokingly said "Üh Oh, it's a ladie's movie." Unfortunately, I was kinda right! But it was also a bit fun, a different sort of film, a British movie. It was a bit slow in some parts but it was okay. We both laughed a few times and both felt sorry for one character. We both decided it wasn't a film we would have normally paid to see, but it was not bad for not knowing. It was like a gift you finally open after waiting and waiting, and it's not exactly what you had hoped for, but think, hey, this is kinda interesting...and it sorta grows on you after time. The title of the film was never revealed. After we returned home, paid the sitter, and were told our boys were little angels, Erwin immediately booted up the computer (I told you it's a member of our family!), clicked on Internet Explorer, and looked up Luce and Rachel. There it was, staring us in the face, our special surprise... Imagine Me and You....

Imagine Me and You and you and me...as we watched the trailer the meaning was a bit deeper. I don't have to imagine it anymore. I have my husband, by my side, day in, day out. I enjoy being with him, sharing time with him, getting through the ups and downs life throws our way. I don't have to imagine it, but I can live it. Those butterflies that overtake your system at the beginning of a relationship turn into the deep love for your partner as time wears on. Like Rachel and Luce with obstacles to overcome to be allowed to love, so had Erwin and I. ...the only one for me is you and you for me, so happy together....For all my life.


Staying Home

Jari is not legally required to attend school until he is 6 years old. The majority of kids start at 2. So did Jari, parttime. But today, he slept in late and I decided to let him be. Besides needing his cutey rest, I needed his presence today...and he's done me wonders of good. How is it possible that such a tiny little person can create such an amazingly deep love? This little person with blue eyes and straight blonde hair, pasty white skin and pronounced almost always red ears, teeth with a gap and soft pink lips...how did I make something so beautiful and how does he instinctively know when mama needs his extra special care? He is an amazing being and I am so proud that he is mine. Today, he gave me a picture he made me last night. A great big picture of mama with a big smile and outstretched arms, I assume for a great big hug. He wanted it hung on the bathroom door. He then asked me to make a Jari for him...which I did in my non-professional drawing sense and he was thrilled...especially with the pyjamas that look just like his. Those little tiny details that he takes notice of, that make that difference in his life, that make him feel special. He is special and I am glad that I am able to bring him contentment. He then wanted to make a castle. He's very good at castles, as both Erwin and I have instilled this love of ours into both of our children. When we visit a castle, all four of us are completely in our element. My favorite are the ruins where you can concoct your own images of the past, decorate it to your liking, see the life that was in the manner you prefer. For my boys, this means fighting...there are always canons and watch towers and guards and soldiers. For me, I see the women baking with stone ovens and firepits with kettles of steaming soup. Erwin is more historical and practical, thinking back to that period in time, what was happening in the world then, where this particular castle fit into that picture, where the water was to aid in protection. Each of us walks through the castle feeling a certain excitement and fulfillment, recognizing that we are experiencing history as we touch stone walls from hundreds of years before. It's really a very touching experience. And a family one. We are working our way through a book with all the castles in the Benelux listed...and hoping to visit each at some point in our lives.

But, now I am rambling, you can see how my mind is working today, no order, no completion, no...well, you get the idea. I'm just not flowing, my veins filled with chaos and uncertainty and confrontation. As grounded as Jari has helped me to be, I still have a long way to go today. I'm not carefree today. I'm not at peace. But as I see this little boy sitting on the couch watching one of his favorite shows, Big Cook, Little Cook, and sniffing with a tiny bit of a runny nose, a stamp on his forehead, I realize that I need to return to me. Because my son loves his mommy. When I went to bed last night, he was already snuggled in next to Papa. As I pulled the covers around me, he sleepily whispered "Mama?" and wrapped am arm around my neck. That is how I woke this morning, with my son's breath on my face, keeping me warm, his toes pushed between my legs. I'm glad he's here with me today. As much as he needs his mommy, I need my little boy. I'm glad he's staying home.


I'm feeling lonely. Some days are like that. It takes but one moment in time to change everything from good to evil, and today I had the misfortune of that moment. Eight hours later, I still feel sad and lonely. This experiece has hit me hard. I want to go to bed, but my body is still shaking and sleep just won't come. I'd rather leave my body, leave my mind, let someone else take care of all these unexposed emotions, all this pain. Maybe I am overreacting, but right now it doesn't feel that way. Right now I just feel uncomfortable in my own body, in my own home, in my own family. I ran away tonight, took off for some alone time in the woods, to think and see beauty, try to get my mind on something else and come to grip with what had happened. I thought I had it licked when I came home bearing a carload of firewood and freshly washed car, but once I entered my home, my private and safe domain, I felt again exposed to sadness, felt as if I wanted to shrivel up and never be seen again. Maybe I should go back to the woods, let the darkness envelop me, take comfort in the fact that my spirit feels just as dark, just as still. If only I could close my eyes and dream, dream of beautiful butterflies coming to carry me away to a colorful rainbow land where there are only good fairies and non-judgemental people who give, give, give, and never take, letting me fly on a bluebird's wing to the top of the mountain to look down and feel at peace, dropping me on a fluffy white cloud to close my eyes and dream, dream of my reality, the good one, the one of my everyday and not that evil moment in time...that evil moment that crushes and burns and leaves me feeling lonely.



I have turned green. No, not green with envy (what do I have to be envious of when I live such a full life?). Yes to recycling! Living in Europe has made me a more wordly citizen with reason to believe that recycling is an important duty of every person in the world. Maybe the benefits of recycling aren't something I will directly see, but what about my children and grandchildren? In raising them, I want the best for them, and that includes recycling and teaching them the importance of it as well. Europe makes it easy to recycle. It is also required and you can get fined if you don't take part. I remember the first month we moved to Belgium and I went to the city hall to buy my garbage bags and recycling bags. I was astonished at the price we had to pay for one garbage bag (about $1.60)...recycling bags are much cheaper...incentive to recycle. They are also clear so that you can't "cheat". The first time I set out my recycling bag for collection, it was still there after they had collected with a giant RED sticker, stating that I had committed fraud by enclosing a non-recyclable object in the bag. It has been a learning process. However, a worthy one. Our garbage is collected twice in the month, as is our recycled goods (plastic, cans, foil, juice boxes, etc.). We also have a monthly glass and paper collection. In a two week period I usually have two bags of garbage...for a family of four. I am proud of that fact. Yet, I see many families with just one bag on the street. And our neighbor, a bachelor man, usually only collects one bag in the month (but he does have lots of glass with his alcohol bottles overflowing...hahahah)...amazing what you learn about people from their garbage!

In America, I did recycle. I recycled our cans and when I thought to, the paper. The rest I didn't know what to do with. I am happy to hear that more and more communities are implementing a recycling program. It is key in saving our world. What Is Recycling? Recycling is collecting, processing, and reusing materials that would otherwise be thrown away. We can make new recycled paper products from recycled paper instead of wood pulp; new aluminum cans from recycled aluminum cans; new glass bottles from recycled glass bottles; and new metal products like car parts from tin cans (taken fromhttp://www.phila.gov/streets/recycling.html).

Recycling is not difficult. With just a little time and organization getting set up, it is simple. The above picture shows the recycling closet in our home (no, it's not pretty, but it does help keep the land, water, and air pretty). It takes a bit of space, but those few feet in your home save thousands in the land where garbage is dumped. Luckily, ours is collected and we just set it on the street at the scheduled time. I admit that makes it more "user-friendly". Still, how hard is it to put the empty cereal box in a recyclable box than in the trash? How hard is it to throw away a milk jug in the recycled garbage than in the regular? How hard is it to dump the potato peels in the compost rather than the trash? It isn't! And when you think about the land you save by doing so, every person should be proud to recycle. This is our world, the place we live, and we need to take care of it!

As I return to America for our summer vacation, I hope that I don't regress. I like being green! I think that I am doing my part in making the world a healthier, more beautiful place to live. And I hope that if you don't already recycle, that I have made you green...green with envy that you too aren't doing your part...and that your envy turns to just "being green".


What Does Friendship Mean?

When I was a little kid, friends easily came and went. I may have had it a bit more difficult than other kids as we moved often and each time I started a new school new friendships had to be formed. And I was a pretty shy little kid. Still, friends were easy to come by; someone to play with after school and in the weekend, someone whom enjoyed the same things as you. As I grew a bit older and went on to junior high and high school, friendships formed much slower. The group of kids I had come to know as my friends all had different backgrounds than me. My parents had made the decision to move yet again, for the last time during those formative years, to give my brothers and I more of a chance; living in a larger town where sports and activities were offered and enveloped, not needing to ride a schoolbus 3 hours each day, starting the business venture that became a part of our family, just a community with more windows of opportunity. It was hard for me, leaving the friends I had come to treasure and had grown close to in those two previous years attending the two-room schoolhouse in the woods. But with the decision made, we headed to Laramie. I began junior high there and immediately became involved in school sports and different clubs. I was a part of different groups, never fitting into or cliquing myself with one particular group. That was always the case with me as I moved through high school. As many "friends" as I had, none were the friendships that have continued on into adulthood. I was never the jock or the nerd or the skater or the smartie...yet I had friends within each circle. It was a difficult time in my life as I longed for more concrete friendships, and when I finally found that special niche, my good friend moved away, and I was once again alone. From that experience I have learned to be a more accepting person, and am proud to this day that I accept all persons regardless of outside appearances. Moving into adulthood, I have involved myself with many different types of people. Each has served a purpose in my life, and many were people that I would consider wonderfully terrific friends. For that time and place in my life. Today, I feel lucky to have three or four friends that mean the world to me, that share in all of my life's happenings, that don't feel ashamed to call on me for support, that know I will love them without condition, that know I treasure their friendship. These are the people that will be with me forever, in heart and soul, always staying connected whether it be a weekely chat on the phone, a monthly visit for coffee, or three years between hearing from each other...that friendship remains and always stays firmly planted, regardless of marriage or childbirth, losses or gains. These are my true friends.

One of these friends and I were discussing friendship last night. We talked about how there are so many different types of friends and how each is just as meaningful within your life. There are friends of the moment, friends of the day, friends of the occasion, friends of the place...and then there are friends for life. To those people I wish to say Thank you...thank you for letting me be me and accepting me for who I am, for supporting me in my times of need, for sharing with me your grief and happiness, for loving me. Thank you for being my friend. Yes, you! You know who you are...



Today is not a good day. I am disappointed in myself and every little thing is irriatating me immensely. I am a person that handles a great deal and takes it in stride, until, click, one thing sends me over the edge. My temperature rises and I have to let off that steam and I do so by screaming and yelling and throwing things. Last night this happened and I said some things and reacted to my husband in a very unfair way. I didn't like how he treated a situation, but he didn't throw a temper tantrum like I did, and now I look at myself with pity. Where do I store all this built up frustration? How can I learn to be angry, which is okay, without hurting the people around me? How do I let my feelings out without having to feel rotten about how I have treated someone I love? How can I say I'm sorry when I am so embarrassed about my actions? How do I teach my children how to live right when I don't do it myself?

All these questions are pulling me into a slump today. I feel totally on edge and I'm very disappointed in me. I hate the fact that I react so strongly, and most often against the people that really have nothing to do with it. Yes, last night is an example of a situation I could have easily discussed my thougths, but with all the little things leading up to that moment, I just exploded. Erwin is used to this about me, and I don't think that is fair. He shouldn't have to live life waiting for the next fire to break out. He shouldn't have to worry about those hurtful words and terrifying glances and know he's the fire hose that turns those flames into ash. Even as I think he should be more considerate in certain situations, I don't believe he deserves to be treated so degradingly by the person that treasures him most in this world. And my children do not deserve to be fearful of mama, even if my flood of anger isn't directly towards them.

Last night Jari told me that I wasn't allowed to say those words. That that is not allowed in our house. And I couldn't go to him and explain because their was no explanation. He was more worried about the words I used than the way I reacted to the situation. That is sad. He should have been afraid, yet he wasn't. Has it become so natural for him to see an outbreak from his mama? How do I have the right to send him to time out for screaming and yelling when Ido the very same thing? How can I take this precious gift I have been given and forego my job as his role-model? I can only say that how I acted was not okay.

So, for today, I will try to make myself calm and free of the burdens once again, able to turn myself around and once again be a fun-loving mama and wife. And in doing so, I hope to never allow that monster to return. Because that is what I am in that moment in time, a great big monster that creeps out from under the bed only there to terrorize. And instead of being that monster, I'd rather be the gentle momma that sings songs to my children, promising to keep them safe, promising them that there are no monsters under the bed, and they have no reason to be afraid.



I was trying to remember the first time I rode a bike. And I can't. I can't remember what my bike looked like or where I lived, but I do know that at some point I learned to balance myself enough to get moving. Well, the past week Jari and I have been working on his bike riding! And he CAN do it...but he's so scared! So today, I got out a new biking helmet I bought him and told him with that he wouldn't get hurt if he fell. We went to the school where we practice and he took off and went...a whole 20 yards before he realized I wasn't holding on! We managed to go about 20 lengths before he'd had enough (and me...my back and legs were killing me from bending over!) and asked if we could try it tomorrow again. But, my baby can ride a bike! It's so exciting! And I can bet you one thing, I won't be forgetting when he first rode, what his bike looked like, or where he lived! It's etched in his mama's heart, there to remain! Yeah, Jari, GO GO GO!


Shedding Tears

I received a post through my autism parenting group which shared a link to a video. So many things in the video hit home and the tears couldn't stop flowing. I hope you will take a minute to look at this video. It may give you a bit of a glimpse into the life of autism that you don't see on the outside. The thing that hit me hardest was what happens when I am gone? Will my son ever marry and have children? What does Jari think of having an autistic brother? How do we manage all the extra costs? How much does our marriage suffer because of the time and attention and energy that Kaeden takes? My son is autistic. It isn't something that I can take away and change as much as I wish I could for him. I don't mind going through the heartbreak day in and day out of my life to make his life be okay. But for him, how I wish I could take it all away and bring him normalcy. When people see Kaeden or even spend a bit of time with him, they won't recognize him as autisitc. I think in living with autism that is the hardest part. People often comment that he seems fine or he's doing okay or he doesn't seem autistic, yet he is and in making those statements they are taking away a part of him. They are taking away this child's work in which he strives so hard to live in our world. They aren't accepting him for who he is and also making me question myself...am I overreacting, am I expecting too much, am I seeing things that aren't there? After those initial hours, it is noticeable that something is "different" about my son, but in those first moments as he strives to fit in and be seen as normal, people may not notice his quirks. They see his contagious smile and hear his heartwarming laugh, they watch him play and run about and speak in full sentences, they see him give hugs and just be a kid...and in one moment it can all be gone as something upsets him, something nobody, including myself can understand, and this happy, free child is gone, taken into his world of autism, where anger and aggressiveness and fear replace the child that was only moments before. They don't see the moments that I try to give him a hug and he shrugs it away or the moments that he asks me to not touch him cuz he doesn't like the way it feels. They don't see him as he stims on money and no matter what we do to try and get him off-topic, the only thing that will keep him calm is counting change and running it through his fingers and discussing how much he has until he is literally quivering. They don't notice the wet pants when the atmosphere brings too much stimulation and his mind can't concentrate enough to recognize he needs to use the bathroom. They dn't see that this is a child of 11 years as he plays and acts more like a child of 5 or 6. My child is autistic. Please let me accept that without placing doubts within my soul. I worry about enough without needing that doubt hovering over me as well. Please let Kaeden be himself, be proud of who he is rather than pretending he's someone he is not. Autism sucks, plain and simple. But it is a part of our lives, a part that we do our best to work through and overcome the challenges. We have therapiists and doctors and home trainers and autism society and special babysitting services and special education classes and...we have all of their opinions and that plays enough havok on our brains. We worry enough. We love him deeply. We hope that he will succeed and grow into a well-adjusted man. I think this video will be good for people to see, to get a glimpse of life with autism. I hope that in my post and the video you will come to understand that what we need is support, plain and simple. Tears don't do the trick, no matter how many tears I shed. Here's the link. Please watch...and understand!


The Boss

I notice that often when people don't know how to react in a situation, they laugh. I find this happen with myself as well. Laughter is a bit of an ice breaker between people that do not know each other. It is very universal and in certain situations says "Hey, I know what you're going through and it's okay. Maybe later you'll see the funny side of the situation too." Today was a day where I had a whole section of a store laughing...or rather, Jari did...

The boys and I went shopping today. It's not something Jari really enjoys and when he's done, he's done. Unfortunately, I wasn't done as I needed to get some quotes on some new curtains. My son does not seem to understand that even though it is nighttime the sun is still shining...and he refuses to go to sleep until it is dark out. So, Erwin and I made the decision to buy some special curtains for his room which block out the light in hopes of getting him to sleep. Well, there was a wait at the curtain counter and we were number three. As the boys ran through all the bolts of material I was getting more and more impatient. Kaeden needed his ritalin and it was very easy to tell at that point. So, after catching them both, I gave them a place to sit on the floor and wait. It went okay fro about two minutes until they started squuezing under all the shelving and pulling off threads that were hanging from the fabric. I had of course separated them, but in their army crawls along the floor, they managed to once again come together in brotherly love. My threats weren't working (as they normally don't...why do I even bother) and I really needed to get this done. I separated them time and time again, and the other customers were watching the entire process. Well, you know how you get those sorta sympathetic smiles, some dirty looks, some comments about how they've been there too...but I was getting mad (in that way that embarrasment makes you)! I knew that I should leave as customer number one was still not finished after a 30 minute wait and we still had two ahead of us. And normally I would have picked them up and walked out...but I had the car today and the store we planned to buy the curtains is a half hour drive from us with no public transport...and I normally do not have the car...so I put on my brave face and waited...UNTIL...

Jari started screaming at the top of his lungs because Kaeden grabbed a piece of his string. Not a normal scream, but deafening...and everyone turned to look. As I placed him back in his spot a bit more forcefully, he says "You are not the boss over me. I'm my own boss." I amswered, "Yes I am the boss. I'm the mommy and you need to listen to me." People quit looking our way but obviously had their ears tuned into the conversation once they saw mama was in "control". Then Jari gives me the eye, yes, that eye that says are you ready to fight and pipes up in his scream "No, YOU are not my boss. PAPA IS!!! He's the boss over our whole house and you too!" The laughter that exploded from all the customers in the store was quite ear shattering in itself...not to mention maddening. They were all giving me smiles and as I smiled back I grabbed the boys and said "TIME TO GO!" I heard the conversations discussing my very loud son as we headed out the door. You know who the boss really is? Yep, JARI! Because he got exactly what he wanted when we left the store...oh boy, where's the nearest parenting class???? Sign me up, PLEASE!!! And don't forget a bit of that laughter as you put my name next to the X...


Best Friends

Tonight has been one of cherished moments for me. Kaeden has given me so many reasons to understand what love is and how important mothering is. Tonight after he brushed his teeth and was getting ready for bed, I called him down to take his pill. As I'm getting his milk to take his pill, he says "I really shouldn't have milk, cuz I just brushed my teeth, huh mom?" I gave him the appropriate answer that no, really he shouldn't have anything after brushing his teeth cuz he'll get "Hamerbeestjes" but that a tiny bit to help him swallow his pill would be okay. He takes his pill and then says "You know who my best friend in the whole world is mom?" I look at him filled with hope and love and want him so badly to say me at that moment in time. He grants my wish as he pulls my face to his and whispers "You." With a tiny peck on the cheek he is gone as quick as a bunny. I feel a bit shaken with all this goodness surging through my veins as I go to tuck him in. We complete our nightly ritual searching the store ads for goodies for a party and then add up all the costs. It's his big pleasure in life, money and numbers and math, and this "game" we play brings him such satisfaction. After turning out the lights we snuggle close and I begin to sing...he stops me as he aks "Do you know who I love the most in the whole world?" I answer with certainty "me". He says "Well, who else do I love the very, very most?" I go through the list of our family members and he answers no each time. I wonder what his little mind is thinking as he states calmly and without pause "Jesus" and continues on to say "But then after Jesus I love you the very very best mama." It brought tears to my eyes. It gave me a security and presence of faith I have never known. My son is a wonderful child of God, and yet at the same time all mine. And he is just beautiful. As I begin to sing Jesus Loves Me, a few tears stream down my cheeks. I know that Jesus Loves Me and I know that because He has given me this child to love and learn from. Tonight has definitely been one of cherished moments. You, Kaeden Riley, are also my best friend & I love you more than all the stars in the sky.



I am a bird person. I love watching them, hearing them sing, seeing babies nesting, feeding them. I can sit for hours in our yard and just watch them come for food and get braver as they come to know I am there to help them along. I would love to take some bird-watching classes, but just haven't taken the step to sign up for one yet. As much as I love birds, I know very little about the different species and types, and learning those things would make me a happier and more rounded person (do I need to be more round? hahaha). Their colors are so vibrant and how they fly just amazes me. I have watched videos about how birds take flight and it's just really beautiful. I love nature, and birds are such a big part of that.

Anyway, last year there were baby falcons born in a town nearby here, high in a tower. There were cameras placed to watch their progress, and this year they have returned to raise their four new babies. You can watch them live and I think that is just wonderful. Technology has really given us so many opportunities to learn and understand. I'd like to share the link so you can see for yourself why birds intrigue me. See those babies being fed by their mother, growing, and then learning to fly. The link is of course in Dutch, but you can still see the live-camera without needing to read any Dutch. So have a peek...they are adorable! And if you double-click on the live-picture itself, you'll have a full screen image. Ricght now they are all curled up together sleeping, their tiny feathers rustling in the wind. Just beautiful!




Today I got a surprise in the mail. It was a book about autism titled The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It's a book I have been wanting since hearing so many parents of autistic kids give it a thumbs up. Since I didn't find it at the bookfair I went to a few weeks back, I put it on my wishlist with hopes of getting it for my birthday...but now I don't have to wait. A friend of mine had it sent to my home and made me cry with a very sweet message stating what a good mom I am. Some days you just need to hear that as it's so easy to judge yourself as a parent and look at all the wrongs you do...and much harder to see the positives. I do my best and sometimes it isn't good enough, but hearing others tell you they see you doing well means the world. Amanda, thanks so much for the special surprise and for bringing me face-to-face again with the reality of what friendship means. I have friends, they bring me smiles and laughter, they give me support and hope, and they teach me what it means to be a friend. I hope that I can give back just a little of what I get from my friends. I hope that when my friends think about the people they are happy to have in their lives I count as one of them. I hope that I am a good friend...because my good friends have taught me what that means. Thanks!



"Do you fancy going on your hike?"

Fancy...now that is British English if I ever heard it. Funny, my husband and I were discussing his upcoming weekend hike with friends when I asked if he was excited about it...ha...excited?! Now, I may use the word excited a bit loosely, but I consider it looking forward to something...he considers it being REALLY thrilled about something. So, he says "You should say: Do you fancy going?" I about fell out of my seat laughing. Fancy...that means something really rich and extravagant...not "excited about"! I told him if he said that in America people would look at him really funny. He said they would think him upper-class and well spoken. HAHAHA...just one of those little language issues that frequently arise in our life as a bilingual family.

And to further the language issue, when I was out with friends last night, one asked me what "fenny" was...I had no idea...she says "Well, it's English." I finally got that she meant FANNY! Those little differences in pronunciation really do make all the difference in the world (literally). We had a good laugh, and what is better therapy for the soul than that?


Back in the day, aka my life in America, I was quite a good traveler. I could find my way around easily and had a great sense of direction. Even if I managed to get myself lost, it was short-lived before I was enroute and on-route once again. I didn't have a map in the car, nor were there maps of the towns posted at each new town you came upon. And travel is a passion of mine and I did it frequently, loading the car up with snacks and drinks and just taking off for the day...wherever it would lead me. And I always felt secure that I would come home again safe and sound...

Now jump forward to Europe...my today. I have NO sense of direction. I can be lost within minutes whether I am in the car or walking. I have no real judgement when other towns or cities are listed because I don't know if they are North, East, South, or West. I don't know which highways connect and where they lead. And because there are so many little villages between the bigger cities, I can easily visit 20 towns to make it to my larger destination. I get lost unbelievably easily. This is something that really irks me as I feel less secure about my travels and taking off for a little trip means making sure the maps are available in the car and having my cell phone charged and handy. I have become an expert map reader...hahaha...don't tell my husband I said that, he may tend to disagree...

Yesterday, we were going out to dinner with friends in a town about 45 minutes from here. We go there on occasion but it's not a normal town we visit. Anyway, Erwin knew where we needed to be and off we went...and then we got stopped. Roadblocks the entire city through due to soem Spring festival they were having. We drove all around the city and finally parked a bit outside planning to walk to the restaurant. Off we all headed...and I was planning to go the exact opposite route my husband took. He is an excellent map reader and does pretty okay in the European Sense of Direction quiz that I always manage to fail. Anyway, beacuse the city was all blocked off, we did get lost. We were in the middle and every 20 meters stopped to look at the city map. Well, we finally walked in the wrong direction and asked a lady on the street where we needed to be. We finally found our way. But it was a bit irritating how senseless I am when it comes to finding places. In Europe towns are not built on a grid system, but go around and twist and turn and many are built aroiund water canals. I am always lost.

If you manage to make a European vacation, DO NOT ask me which way to go. You will surely end up on a trip to the Land of Lost in a country where English is not the first (nor second) language. And that can make for some very discomforting moments....yet, lots of exciting adventures. Who needs a rollercoater ride when you've got Europe at your doorstep?!


What A Lousy Friend

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR SHARON, HAPPY BIRTHDAY O YOOOOUUUUUU!!!! And believe it or not, I didn't tell her yesterday, which was the day of my good friend Sharon's birthday. I made her a birthday card, the kids made her a surprise, I thought about her all day, but just kept thinking TODAY was her birthday, as we're going out to dinner tonight to celebrate. So, when Sharon called me at 9pm last night even then I didn't wish her a Happy Birthday :-( I feel really rotten right now...I hope, Sharon, that you know I love ya and I really was thinking about you yesterday. I'll SING extra loud to make up for it tonight...I PROMISE! Forgive me??? Please....


Sleeping In

What is it about the concept of sleeping in that kids don't understand? It's Saturday morning and we have no plans that need to be immediately executed bright and early this morning. I was in a deep sleep (finally, after a terrible night) when Jari, who always wakes up with us in the morning, meaning he comes in usually between 12 and 2 every night, starts jabbing me in the shoulder. "Mama, het is lacht." (It's light outside) Yeah, but we can go back to sleep for a little bit. COme snuggle with mama for 10 mins. He comes and restlessly wiggles around for about 2 minutes. "Maar ik moet poepen." (But I have to go poop). Aw, gee, then go. I'll come when you are done. He heads downstairs and once again I have enough peace to fall back asleep when I hear from the bathroom, which is downstairs, "Mama, ik ben KLaaaaaAAAAr." (Mom, I'm done) I pull myself up, put on some sweats and manage to make my way down to wipe his little butt. Might as well pee while I'm here, I guess morning is here. As I walk into the kitchen, Kaeden comes at me with "Sorry mom." Sorry? What for? "I stole two puddings and put a WHOLE bunch of whipped cream on it." Kaeden, we don't steal. You need to come ask. And that's not what we have for breakfast...but you already know that. So, go clean up the mess (yes, this in the livingroom in front of cartoons...who knowswhat time he was up...always early on weekends and gotta pry him out of bed to be on time for teh bus during the week). and then 15 minutes in your room. He does what I say without one single shout or cuss word or anything...wow...maybe it is a good day after all?! As I am debating going back to snuggle with my husband for another 30 minutes Jari starts singing "Eeenie meenie mutton, twee pond grutton (or whatever that song says, I never did figure it out yet even tho I hear it 50 times/day), twee pond kaas, eenie meenie mutton is de baas....and here he doesn't stop, oh no....maar de baas die is niet thuis, hij ligt in het ziekenhuis." And know what? It doesn't matter which cerreal his finger is pointed on, he still chooses which he wants which defeats the entire purpose of the song/game. But who cares. Anyway, it's "lacht" and I'm wide awake. There will be no more little Zzzzzz's coming my way this morning. Maybe on Mother's Day...oops, Erwin is off on a hike with his friends that weekend...not even on Mother's Day. But sleeping in is not a little kid concept!!! Therefore, also not a mama one! Happy Saturday!



Oh boy. What a story I managed to create this afternoon. Yep, I was cleaning up our lunch dishes and decided to lick the spoon with the chocolate pasta (Nutella sort stuff). No point in washing it and wasting it, he? Anyway, there was pasta left on a coffee-sized spoon and I stuck it in my mouth, tasting the sweetness, really sucking on the spoon to get it all off. And guess what? When I tried to pull it out, it was stuck to the top of my mouth, latched behind my teeth! HAHAHA The size of the spoon was just the perfect fit to the top of my mouth. And stuck it was. The combination of the suction and the placement behind my teeth, well, I coulda made it on Discovery tv. After attempting to get it undone (and becoming a bit nervous when it wouldn't budge), I finally pried it loose using a second spoon. Can you imagine? Spooning it in has a new meaning to me...and taught me yet again why I shouldn't be "Spooning" it in! Maybe this will teach me the lesson? :-)

A Bit About ME

I always enjoy doing these little "quizzes" as I learn a lot about myself in answering, but also about my friends when I get their answers. So, just copy and paste...and I'll know a bit more about you soon. And now, a lil bit about me...

1. If you could build a second house, where would it be? Probably on the land we got as a wedding gift from my parents in Laramie, Wyoming
2. What's your favorite article of clothing? A 15 year old corduroy jacket/shirt that's too grubby to wear out
3. What was the last cd that you bought?Grease for my mom for Mother's Day...Shhhhh :-)
4. What time do you wake up in the morning? The alarm rings at 6:25...we usually snooze it twice :-)
5. What is your favorite kitchen appliance? I like all of them but use the waterkoker the most
6. If you could play any instrument, what would it be? I'd love to learn to play the guitar...but I have no musical sense
7: Favorite color? green
8. Which do you prefer, sports car or SUV?SUV
9. Do you believe in an afterlife? Yes, without 100% certainty
10.Favorite Children's book ?Too hard, too many great kids books, but I really liked Beverly Cleary when I was a kid
11. What is your favorite season? Summer, though spring comes a very very close second
12. If you could have one super power, what would it be? A magician to make people thinner
13. If you have a tattoo, what is it ? a little peace sign on my ankle
14. Can you juggle? When I was younger I could and probably could again if I practiced a bit
15. Name one person from your past that you could go back and talk to? I would really love to talk to Mechelle, find out how she is and where we went wrong in our friendship
16. What's your favorite day? Saturday
17. What's in the trunk of your car/truck? It's a bit of a mess at the moment. There's a soccer ball, a case of water, some umbrellas, a bag with all kindsa car stuff in, a tool kit, and a hat I think
18. Which do you prefer, sushi or beef? I've actually never had sushi...but also never wanted to try it, so definitely Beef
19. From the people that you will email this too, will most likely respond ?I really hate this question...who cares?
20.Who did you receive this from ? Found it off another Blog
21.What is your favorite flower ? I always said the azalea, but I really love the hortensia (hydrangea) too
22.Your favorite meal ? Enchiladas
23. When is your birthday? July 23
24. Do you watch Oprah? If I happen to think about it, I may catch the first half before I pick Jari up from school
25. Do you watch Survivor? Nope
26. Do you watch Big Brother?Nope
27. What is your favorite Reality TV show?Well, I dunno...dunno why tv is all reality tv nowadays...that being said, I am having a Temptation Island addiction at the moment.
28. What is one thing that people would be very surprised to know about you? That I have had a story published in a book
29. What is the one thing you would like to accomplish before you die? To organize all the boxes of pictures
30. If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything? Yes, there are things about my life that I am not proud of and I think have had a very negative impact on me. However, I am generally happy with the me of today and without the experiences I've had, I wouldn't be me...so it's a bit double-sided!



Sometimes I feel so cheated. I know it's not fair to feel like this, but I can't help myself. I am having a down day today regardless of the sunshine and blooming flowers. I am so tired I can't sleep and I just want the pain in my head to end. Why does my baby have to have autism? I want to have a big huge pity party, for me. But what's so selfish is that it isn't me living day in and out as an autistic person in the "normal" person's world, but my son...and his disability matters less to him than it does to me. Some days I just want to scream and shout and cry and suck all of that unknown world of his into my own body so that he can have one day of freedom. It would be so wonderful to have the chance to just for one day know what it was like to be him, living in his mind. I think if I had that chance I would be a more patient and accepting mom. But I can never have that chance and instead I live in dread of each new day...my entire life is consumed by autism....I eat, drink, breathe, think, drive, walk, sleep it. I focus on nothing else...how can I when Kaed's autism affects everyone around me so much? When I don't know what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong and how it's making my son feel and what i should be doing differently and when I should touch him and when I should leave him be? When I don't know if my child will ever be able to live in this world on his own, if what i as his parent am preparing him for is even necessary. My mind is ready to blow. And what's even worse about it all is that I can still live a normal life, yet inside I am so shaken up and confused and hurting. I can still smile and laugh and talk and go about the normal daily routine. I can even feel good, laughing with friends and and creating a healthy balanced meal. I live autism so deeply that it's almost non-existent, except for that piece of me that just can't do it any more...that piece of me that hurts too deeply, that cries too many tears, that eats to swallow the pain. And that piece of me never leaves, even as I live this perfect existence. How can I accept what is? How can I just for one minute in my life know that things will be okay? I am so selfish. As I sit here my son is playing on the playground after lunch, probably laughing with the kids he's playing with, probably playing a prank that may get him into trouble, probably pretending to be a Winx character, maybe for the chance to leave his own self for just a little while. But he's probably happy, as I generally think that Kaeden is. Why can't I be happy too? Why do I let autism eat away at me like it does so that my mind isn't available to do and be more of what I would like? And how can I feel so darn pitiful when I can hold my son and feel his arms wrap around me in a hug and taste his sweet kisses and hear his freeing laughter...how can I be so selfish...as my girlfriend mourns the death of her baby I am the one feeling cheated, wondering what I did wrong to have this happen to me, to my perfect child. Who do I think I am that I have the right to mourn this child when I have him here in my life? Yet I do...I mourn what he could have been and what he has to go through to make strides and achieve. I mourn my own loss of mothering a normal kid, one that I don't worry every minute of every day whether he will make it in this great big world. I am mourning right alongside my friend, yet I am selfish as she is strong. As I mourn the loss of her baby and what so unfairly was taken from her (believe me I do sche deeply for her), I also mourn the loss of who my son may have been...and I am not celebrating who he is and what he has achieved even as he stands beside me. I am not honoring him as he deserves to be honored. I really need a reality check today...one that will help me to claim back that piece of my brain that has been lost to autism...yes, today I am suffering.



CHOC. FUDGE BROWNIE!You scored 81% SWEET, 77% CHUNKY, and 70% UNIQUE!
chocolate ice Cream with fudge browniesVery sweet, very wild, and very fun! People flock to this ice cream flavor, just as they flock to you. You love being surrounded by friends and getting crazy together! You could probably stand to calm down a little, but the kind of freedom you feel is inspiring. You really care about the people in your life and party hard, but are open to new ideas and experiences.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 61% on SWEET

You scored higher than 83% on CHUNKY

You scored higher than 55% on UNIQUE

If you liked my test, send it to your friends!
The Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Flavor Test http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=338886042745332086


Here I am today looking back on my yesterday and realizing that I have a pretty darn good life. When I think about my family and the life we lead, it comes close to what I always dreamed that my life would look like. That is as close to perfection as you can get...reaching your dreams. I won't say that eevrything is perfect as we are all human and each of us has our own problems and those all come into play in the complete family picture...and yet, when I think of us as a family unit, I am, without doubt, proud. And happy.

I won't go into every minute detail of our day, but it was a typical day in getting everyone ready for school without the alarm going off...and having a first thing in the morning meeting with Kaeden's school. Clambering downstairs yelling out demands of get dressed, brush your teeth, where's your backpack, whatcha want for breakfast, while throwing together lunches and managing a 2 minute shower, we made it out the door on time. Erwin was there to support me during the meeting and having taken the day off we had time just for the two of us which is a rare treat and reminds me every time it happens just why I love this man so very much, why I chose him to be my partner in life, and why life feels so right when I am with him. Without the issue of the kids to judge, just the two of us together, we are a perfect couple. And that alone makes me feel on top of the world. I am lucky.

With the kids again home after school, we planted flowers and played in the yard, and then had the first BBQ of the season. There were no fights and no yelling, no negativity and no tears, just the four of us, doing what families every day across the world do...living life. We were all at peace, with our home and our family, where we fit in and what expectations we needed to meet, nothing special, just living life. No big trip to the playground or zoo, no judo or swimming to rush off to, no visitors to entertain, just the four of us on a relaxed and peaceful day at home. As I prepared the side dishes to go with the BBQed chicken, I was singing standing at the sink. Kaeden came in and I asked him to set the table...there was no whining, no reason why he couldn't...he simply took the plates and off he went. Jari came and said he wanted to help too...he took the glasses outside and placed them on the table Erwin had already washed. We were a true family, working together and helping each other and meeting the needs of all of us. We didn't need anything more than each other to come so close to perfection.

As I tucked the kids in last night and sang them their favorite lullabies, I was a mama filled with so much love. And a bit later, sitting out in the cooling night air with my husband, discussing our garden and a bit later retiring to the couch inside with a DVD, nothing could have made me feel better...nothing. This is my life, my reality, and it truly is a dream come true.


American Ways

Okay, I am an American...and I have an American mentality according to my husband. Surprise! Surprise! Here is the scenario: Our oil burner which heats our home was recently cleaned and fixed...recently being in the past month. Well, it worked great for about 2 weeks, but the past couple weeks has been making some really loud and scary sounds when it's turned on. So, my American mind says "Call the repairman and have him FIX what he did wrong." I just find it too coincidental that something new could be wrong when two weeks ago it was given a clean bill of "health". Erwin says that's my American mindset...not that the burner could be 25 years old and something more gone wrong, but that the repairman failed to fix it properly. So, to please my husand I pulled it apart myself this morning; cleaned the connectors, pulled all the fuses out and stuck them in again, pretended I knew what I was doing to get the burner back to a prime working state. Amazingly enough, the noise is gone :-) At least at this moment in time it's running smooth and humming. And in place of the burner, I am running in a state of confusion. Do I have an American mindset and is that wrong? Am I someone that puts the blame on someone else too soon? What do I need to do to FIX my own thought process? Sincerely, I believe that I am a very open person and not quick to put the blame on someone else unless they have earned it. Yet, I did want our burner fixed properly, the first thought popping in my head that something was done wrong. I also firmly believe that after paying someone to fix our burner it should be running well, and that really, I shouldn't have had to mess with the wiring and connectors. However, I was quick to judge, yet solved the problem on my own very simply and quickly without needing to retrieve Mr. Reapirman and tell him he did something wrong. This is two-sided to me and I fall on each side. Maybe I do have an "American mentality" but I wonder if that is the wrong way to think. I really like the customer service that is offered in American in comaprison to here. The belief that "the customer is always right" is one I lived my entire life, especially as my parents are business owners and we dealt with customers every day of our lives. I like the fact that when I am unhappy with a service that I am compensated for it. In the areas I have lived in Europe, that is NOT the mindset. Here, it's more a matter of "Well, that's too bad." Erwin is right. I do have an American mindset...America was my home for 30 years. And in the scenario with our burner, maybe I was too quick to judge. However, I still like the American way of thinking. If I order my steak rare and it comes well-done I want a replacement. Here, you'll be lucky to get what an American even considers a steak...haha...and that my friends, is definitely an American vantage point! Wrong or not...