1.You are in the Witness Protection Program and must invent a new first, last, and middle name. What is it?June Marie Holland
2.You are in a threesome with two famous people, alive or dead.King Arthur and Mother Theresa
3.You are in charge of naming your new band. What's the name of the band? Push
4. You are going to get a free tattoo. What would it be?A lion
5. You are being forced to listen to one song over and over, ad infinitum, as a form of torture. What song is it?Belfast Child
6. You are leaving your state/province. What state do you move to?Northern California
7. You are leaving your country, where would you move?Do I have to do that again???
8. You get to choose one book as the best ever written. What book do you choose?Probably haven't read it yet
9. You get to choose one movie as the best ever made. What movie do you choose?I'm not a big movie buff, so I can't really say
10. You get to spend one day each as a bird, an insect, and a mammal. What bird would you be? What insect? What mammal?A crane, a dragonfly and an elephant
11. You must relive one year of your life. Which would you like to relive?1994...and I would be a much stronger woman and not let myself be abused by a man...but if it's cuz I'd love to relive it again for fun, I'd say 1999, when I first met Erwin and fell in love and it was all still simple
12. Which year(s) would you least like to relive?2004...don't want to go through that depression ever again
13. You have a time machine that will take you backwards anywhere from 1800 to the present. What decade do you most want to visit?Ooh, 1800 then, I'd love to see what it was like then (but I wouldn't want to be the woman taking care of it all with no electricity...)
14. You must choose to go skydiving or very-deep-sea diving.Deep sea diving...the thrill would be greater with skydiving, but I'm scared of heights and have always wanted to go diving anyway
15. You get to return to the past (using that handy dandy time machine we were talking about before) and have a sexual encounter with a rock star who is no longer alive. Who do you pick?hahaha, first person that came to mind was Kurt Cobain...and since I don't care, I'll stick with it
16. You get to be a contestant on any game show, airing today or in the past. What show do you want to be on?Let's Make A Deal
17. You are given $1 million dollars but you must give it all to one charity. What charity do you choose?I'd create an autism charity I can fully trust to use the funding wisely for research and cure
18. You must ban one word from the dictionary and all usage, to be no longer uttered or written. What word do you ban?well, I grabbed my dictionary, opened it up and pointed and the word was "gloat"
19. You can have 100 million dollars tax-free but if you take it, you'll die at the age of fifty. Do you take it?Ha, then I only have 15 years yet to live and I'm looking forward to a retirement future traveling with my husband...and then the grandkids of course...
20. There is no number 20.



Integrating into scociety. Hmmm, what does that mean to me? I thought I had it licked when I attended all the classes to learn to speak Dutch, the culture classes I was required to attend learning about the government, geography, schooling, customs, etc in Holland. I passed all the tests with flying colors and was proud of my accomplishments, even if I realized the goverment definition of integrated didn't exactly make me a person integrated into society. All the cultural differences are just too great and will take a lifetime to come to terms with. However, I could live here and happy, be understood and understand in terms of language and the reasons behind their ways of thinking and working. Good. Integrated...or not?

Pop, we move off to Belgium. Another new country, with new challenges and customs, another language. I'm once again lost. Since moving to Belgium, I feel less integrated. I haven't taken the steps to become a full member of our community, I have no concept of how things work, the language continues to baffel me when the people speak in their native dialect, which is natural to them rather than the true Dutch. I've realized how much I don't understand in simple things, like making playdates with Jari's friends. I asked a mom if her son could come play one day on a Friday afternoon. "Friday?" she asked with shock. Normally Wednesday is play day as kids have afternoons off. She agreed to let her son come on Friday, but it was very uncomfortable for me when I realized the mistake I had made. And then there is the sharing custom...if your child goes to another's home, you are expected to reciprocate the following time. Okay, this I can get. However, when Jari is invited to 3 different kids in 3 weeks, then how can I reciprocate before getting those weird looks from the moms wondering why I haven't asked their child to come play...throw in a couple birthday parties in the mix and my schedule is really oof whack. And this is just one small example. In Holland, playdates were made at teh school and the kids came home with you diretly following lessons, whatever the day. Here, it is a definite weekly schedule. I'm getting used to it.

I signed myself up to join the women's club in our village next year. I want to be more a part, speak to people by name when I see them on the street rather then giving my usual smile and nod of the head. I want to be able to have a conversation with teh moms as we wait for our children at school rather than always talking about "the weather" if I get into the conversation at all. I want to be invited to have coffee at someone's home after dropping the kids off rather than returning to my own empty nest. I want to fit in, darn it all! So, I joined this club and I hope it will bring me a bit of constructive time for myself doing activities I enjoy, such as the cooking classes, flower arranging, and trips to different museums. I'm looking forward to it, though I admit I am also scared. I wish I could at least understand the Limburg dialect so I wouldn't have to say "Sorry?" everytime someone started speaking to me. And in groups, my level of understanding is even lower. All the different conversations taking place make your mind go a bit crazy and it's difficult to focus on one conversation. Add to that a bit of music or other background noise and your brain really takes a beating. I'm usually exhausted after a group function, unless I have just tuned it all out and turned into a loner during the party.

Anyway, Jari's teacher asked me to join the village choir a couple days ago. Doesn't matter that I can't sing worth a darn, it will help me better integrate and have a few friends she told me. It meets weekly and it's more a social gathering I take it, though they do give a few concerts every eyar. So, should I go? I do want to be integrated to this village society and I would like my own personal friendships...however, choir??? That's something I haven't given a thought to sicne I dropped out of junior high choir in 8th grade....hmmm...tune for thought, I suppose.


Wedding Customs

A wedding...a celebration of the love between a man and woman (or other, if you are gay or lesbian) , a promise for a future together...and people are invited to this celebration to share with us in our commitment of love. Well, Erwin has been invited to a wedding of his colleague at work. This has happened in the past as well and it's just something I don't understand. Erwin was invited, I was not. Okay, so I don't know the couple, have never met them or even seen them as the guy is new in Erwin's office. And I can understand inviting colleagues to the celebration if you so choose. What I can't understand is not inviting their partner. If this is a celebration of love and marraige, shouldn't I be able to attend with MY husband, my partner and my love? Why should he go off to a celebration of marraige without his wife? Really, I don't care about going to this wedding. I hope Erwin has a good time, a chance to get out and socialize on a personal level with his colleagues...but the philosophy behind this just seems irrational to me. I realize it saves money by not inviting everyone and their "dog", but then why invite the colleagues either? What's another $100 when it comes to wedding costs? This is a very personal celebration...why is it expected to invite people from work. In most cases, colleagues are work friends, not personal friends. Still, it is the custom here. As is the different forms of invitations. It takes an entire class to understand invitations to things here. There are the wedding invites, the reception invites, and the party invites...which you get is your level of closeness with the couple. As colleagues, you are generally only invited to the party. This is also a case with funerals. I am always confused by where I am suppsoed to be and when when we receive an invitation in the mail.

I just think it is interesting, this difference between my home and my home. Although it doesn't much matter to me, I wish I could understand the concept behind this wedding experience. I just don't get it...



Well, Jari's surgery is over. He did great and claims he can hear lots better. I hope this is true. It's very hard for a mama to go through an operation with her child. As much as you know it will offer them a better life, it is so difficult allowing your child to be put under and know what consequences *could* come from this. As I held Jari while we waited for his pre-medicine "juice" to start working, tears streamed down my face. My baby was like a drunken soldier, claiming to have wings with which he could fly and fingers which could jump. He resisted the need to relax and tried sitting and speaking with no positive results. As I gave him a last kiss at the doors of the opeartion room and returned to his own empty little hospital room with a beautifully painted ceiling, I tried to hold back the sobs that wanted to escape...I just wanted my baby in my arms. After an hour my wait was over and I had a drowsy but fixed Jari in my arms...where he slept for another 2 hours. I didn't want to put him down, but finally my arms gave out and I left him to sleep in his bed and I just watched him, so happy to have him in my life. I also thought back so many times to my early years with Kaeden...the daily trips to docs and hospitals, the code blue and such a panicking fear that raced through my body, the many IV's and breathing treatments, the days and nights waking up in a hospital room while my son laid in his bed, surrounded by plastic tents which gave him the oxygen he needed to breathe...reading stories and playing games inside his healthy bubble with him. With Jari, this was a one-time deal, no less scary, but with more hope of success, no fear that we may need to return again tomorrow. With Kaeden, we lived in the hospital for weeks at a time and knew that the next visit wouldn't be far away...when would his breathing become labored and when would we go to a doctor that requested immediate assistance from an ambulance to get him there in time to save his life? As many times as I went through his attacks with him, I could never judge myself when the situation was life-threatening...or rather, I was embarrassed that I'd bring him to the hospital only to be sent away with rolling eyes from the hospital staff over the worried single mama on state medical assistance using up their precious tax dollars. That was my place then, but as I have matured as a mother and realized what precious gifts my children are, I no longer worry about what anyone else thinks...I do what feels right, for myself and my child. I take them to appointments when I think it is needed regardless whether the doctor feels my need is justified. I am a mama and I am the very best judge of my children's health. I may not know all those medical terms, I may not know exactly where to feel for an inflamed intestine or see fluid behind my child's ear, but I know the signs...I know that a tummy ache comes from stress or obstruction, I know that if I whisper my son won't hear me, I know the look of gloomy eyes and the red cheeks of a fever even behind a smile. I know my children.

This experience with Jari has been good all around. My son had a tummy ache for 5 hours yesterday but afterwards he was back to his normal, active, vibrant self. He was playing in the sand box and playing chase with his big brother. He is a picture of good health, as is my once sickly little Riley boy. My daily worries and struggles have changed, but I am no longer timid and afraid of pitied glances. My children are my world, and they deserve health and happiness...and darnit all, that's what they'll get if this mama bear has anything to say about it all.


No diversity

I was just looking again at Jari's school picture and realize we live in a society with zero racial diversity. In his school I believe that there are 2 families with a race other than caucasian. There is a mother and little girl new to the school who are black and another family with a mother from the Antilles with a bit darker skin. We have no muslims, no Native Americans, no asians...no other races than middle-class white...and very little diversity. As I looked at the picture, I was astounded at what a white world my children are being brought up in. Okay, they are all cute kids and many of them bring smiles to my face on a daily basis...but how can I teach my children about the diverse world with such a tiny viewpoint living in our white, farming community? I could use some help on this front....


My girlfriend called me last night. I haven't talked to her in awhile as we're both busy moms...well, she gave me the news that she's expecting a baby in August...her 4th! I am so happy for her, her husband and their 3 kids. They are a wonderful family and one of those friends of a lifetime I talked about earlier. She talked about how much company they are having this summer and I jokingly told her she's lucky we're not coming too...hahaha. Really, I wish we could see her, but one trip to America can only fit in so many friends, so much family. And still be a vacation, if you know what I mean....

Anyway, I was thinking about babies. Normally, when I see a new baby, or hear about a new one to come, I am thinking about myself and "maybe just one more." Well, I am officially over my baby fever. When Gianna told me she was due, all I felt was relief that it wasn't me. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE babies, I love children, but my two keep me "entertained" enough. I have just enough patience for the two of them, just enough love, just enough of mama to go around for my two little guys. I'm sure I could stretch myself further if another were to come along, but I don't need another child. I am content with the family I have been blessed with. I always dreamed of having a little girl, but God has realized my ability of mothering boys and given me my handful, and I am so happy with that. Besides the fact that my husband absolutely without a doubt wants no more children...that helps solidify my own feeling.

So, I resign myself to being the mother that I am and loving the babies of all my friends instead. And I will do it from this point forth with no more jealously, no more need, no more desire. I have given enough to the world, and that's putting it mildly! hahaha Good luck, Gianna, with your diapers and wipes, cute tiny clothes, strollers and car seats. And I know that you will be happy to be blessed once again with one of God's most precious gifts. And thank you for making me realize that I have all that I need, right here in my home and my heart!!!


Mentos and Diet Coke

So, has anyone heard about this new rage in America? I think it's hilarious. Erwin can't wait to start creating his own messes!!! We were totally amazed at how many videos there are online showing these explosions. Anyway, have a peek. As I told my husband, this is definitely a healthier high than huffing...


Time for Shorts

It is hot. I've got all the windows and curtains closed to try and keep the house cooled off, but it's still seeping through. It's 36 degrees (97 F) today and inside 27 (80), reading from our weather monitor, it's plain ole hot. And as much as I love the sun, it's really not very nice outside (or inside) today. I think the hardest was that it came upon us so suddenly...weeks on end of below normal temps and then, boom, a heatwave. Anyway, I got out my shorts. Yep, time to encounter that dreaded F word...FAT!

I have a weight problem...have most of my life and it really is no fun. Putting on a pair of shorts is for most people a sign of fun and sun, but for fat people it comes with a bit of dread. Yep, people can actually see your cellulite, see all that heavy flesh, see that you're fat. As if they can't in winter clothing...yeah right. But still, for me, putting on shorts gives people more opportunity to notice the extra skin, notice that I am fat. Once those shorts cover your big bum, they no longer look at that nice woman hiding under the cover of her clothes, they don't see the pretty eyes or stunning smile, rather the skin...and white it is after hiding under that bulky winter protection. It's easy to say "Get motivated. Lose some weight. Quit eating so much." But the reality of those words is really much more complicated. If the dread of being in public isn't enough to change our eating patterns and lifestyle, to give us the motivation to lsoe weight, nothing will. It is no fun.

Summer means heading to the amusement parks and going on thrilling rides. For fat people, it means shaking in fear that you will fit in the seat, that the bar will close and leave you room to breathe. Summer means travel and vacation. To fat people it means the added worry of whether the airline will allow you on the plane without purchasing a second seat, or the embarrassment of needing a seat belt extender. And forget about trying to lower that table... Summer means swimming at the local pool. For fat people that dare to be seen in a swimsuit it means lowering your level of enjoyment and watching as people glance your way, noticing the skin hanging out of the suit, looking at you in either disgust or pity. Summer means sitting on a terrace with a thirst-quenching beer. For fat people it means wondering if you will fit in the chair, if it will hold your weight, if you can sit "just so" and squeeze in without too much hassle. Summer means fun! But for fat people, summer comes with an added bonus of ridicule.

I don't enjoy being fat. But once you're here, it's very hard to change. I'd love to be healthy and feel energetic and free to be me, but my weight stops me from that intense enjoyment. I want to change, but where do I get that motivation, that willpower, that utter need. I want my husband to walk with me in pride, my children to proudly proclaim THAT is my mama...luckily me husband and children are accepting of me for the woman that I am. They love me through the extra layers of my skin. They know I am giving and loving and good. They would still like to see me healthier, thinner, with more to offer in terms of running in the park, playing soccer without being out of breath, able to keep up with them, and not be embarrassed when we enter the gates of the amusement park. I am lucky they love me as I am, because I certainly don't love myself as I should.

So, as I don those shorts on this hot summer day, I hope that I also don a new love for myself. A love great enough to take care of me, to allow myself to enjoy life and be the outgoing woman I am without hiding in shame. To pull on not only that pair of shorts, but a motivation deep inside...to be the best that I can be...to be HOT!


America's Cheering Section


UPDATE: 7:50pm- America has disappointed me :-( Biggest defeat to date in the WK. 0-3 It was somewhat what I expected (not quite so big a loss tho) but not what I had hoped. It wasn't without this American cheering section tho...On to game 2...

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. There is so much to do before we leave for America this summer. I've got 3 weeks to get everything together...all the paperwork, cleaning, organizing, packing, etc. Since we'll be gone from home a full 2 months it just feels really unsure. Erwin will still be home, but I won't be...and I'm the one that usually takes care of all the household stuff. Before we leave I have arranged appointments with Kaed's pediatrician, his orthodontist, his caseworker. For Jari we have surgery scheduled next week. The boys both have end of year school parties the following 2 weekends and we've scheduled a day out with oma, opa, and Ilse as a summer treat before we take off. Jari has a birthday party to attend this week, the soccer coach will be visiting us in the next days, and I have prescriptions and medical passports to get organized, as well as all the paperwork for registering Kaeden's handicap. And then there's just all the regular stuff, including the World Cup. I am not a list maker even though in this case it would be helpful. Lists just make me crazy. Erwin knows how I am, starting one job and becoming distracted by another and so it goes throughout the day. When I fill a bucket of water to scrub the floors, by the time I am done cleaning the mirrors, putting away the laundry and dishes, thawing the meat for dinner, and toting toys upstairs, the water is already cold. That's just how I operate. I am disorganized and that's what makes me, me! A woman of disorganized chaos in my own "organized" fashion....HA!

Tonight America plays in the World Cup. Yesterday I was so excited about Nederland's game. I'm looking forward to watching America, but with less enthusiasm than I had with Holland. I haven't made a cake or decorated, though I will don my American t-shirt in support of my home land. I think it has somethign to do with the fact that America has little to no chance of going far in this tournament. Maybe a bit pessimistic, and if we win tonight I'll be more up to the challenge of the following games. Hmmm, patriotic I'm not in this instance and I feel guilty about it. Strange, but I do. I feel like I should be entering with optimism, but my spirit plays a different tune...and makes me question my American self. Hmph...

Well, as you can see, even my thoughts are disorganized right now. I have too much circling through this little brain of mine and not enough room to hold it all. Plus, I can't help but worry about missing my husband for 5 weeks...that's a long time to be gone from someone you're used to seeing everyday. But, we've done it befroe and will do it again.

So, time to go get something done. Got to cheer for Australia this afternoon in the game against Japan. Promised my Aussie mate I'd give her team a lil help...

Disorganized organization...that's where I'm at today...


Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in Belgium. Papa had a sleep in and we surprised him with a yummy breakfast and gifts hidden all over the garden. His sons did a great job reading and reciting their poems and he received their handmade school treasures with many smiles. I think he fared quite well. But maybe the biggest gift for this Nederlandse Papa is the upcoming soccer game this afternoon...it is Nederland's first game in the World Championships and I can assure you the blood is pumping throughout our house...as is the orange in the form of flags, banners, lamps, t-shirts and painted faces. I even made an orange cheesecake turned into a soccer ball as a special surprise for Papa. We are READY! I can't tell you how high the excitement is here today. It is a passion flowing through our veins, a love of our country and our sport, a tradition passed down to our children. I say we, becuase I, too, am totally psyched about this tournament. I couldn't wait for the first game on Friday, but today the hours are just barely ticking by as we wait for 3pm to arrive. It's almost here!!! As Erwin hangs the last lamp and I repaint the boys faces with soccer balls and Nederlandse vlaggen, all I can hear repeating itself in my head is HUP HOLLAND HUP!!! I sure hope they win. They are in a tough bracket, but with our support, surely they will take the lead. And what a super gift for Papa to cheer about on this Father's Day!!! Happy Father's Day Papa...we already know the best man is the winner...

UPDATE: 5pm: GEWONNEN!!!!! We Won! 0-1 against Serbia...we're all feeling pretty happy with the Orange!


My Baby Brother

I got a call from my baby brother last night. He may be a man of 28 with his own home, a wife, and baby number one on the way, but he's still my baby brother...and always will be. It was so good talking to him. It's been a few months since we've been able to make contact and it felt so good hearing his voice and hearing all that's happening in his life. He sounds excited about the baby on the way (but not as excited as I am...hahaha) and we talked lots of baby talk. I just couldn't leave the topic alone. I am so thrilled for him and his wife. I can't imagine anyone I think will be a better father. He's very easy going and laid back and has many hobbies. He's sensible to a fault and very secure. He's just a great guy. So, I asked my baby brother if he ever talks to his son. There was a moment of stunned silence as he wondered if I had gone nuts...could my sister possibly ask me that, he was wondering. And yes, she was! I wanted to hear about that sensitive male side that craved a chance to let his son know him. I wanted to hear that already his darling little boy knew how much his daddy loves him. I wasn't disappointed. As I proceeded to tell him about Erwin talking to Jari through the walls of my tummy, he finally admitted that he has talked to the baby, but "not had any real conversations", with a little laugh! It was one of those moments in time when I was reminded of my brother, what a private person he is, how he would never tell a secret, how he's someone you could trust without a moment of worry. I'm so glad I have someone like him in my life. He keeps me centered in that way only a brother like him can. I'm glad I had the chance to be his horse and rear up with him smiling and laughing when he was 2. I'm glad I had the chance to cheer him on through baseball game after baseball game summer after summer. I'm glad I had the chance to attend his marriage ceremony and make a speech filled with meaningful words. I'm glad I had the chance to visit his first home and take a tour of his treasured land. I'm glad I had a chance to be his sister. My baby brother, I am so proud of you. You can't begin to imagine all the good you have brought into my life...and how much more there is yet to come, especially with the birth of your firstborn child, your son. I love you, Chez.


Personality Test

I was surprised at how accurate this test was for me and would like to read the whole thing...not willing to spend the extra dough to do so, however...anyway, here's my results and the link if you want to have a go....

Tera, your Personality Summary
Key Areas of your Personality
Your personality stands out from the average person's particularly in the areas of:
Your High Curiosity Level
Your High Emotional Reactivity Level
Your High Multi-tasking Ability
Your High Need for Variety
Your High Empathy/ Sensitivity Level

Subset of your Personality Measurement:
Social Need- ~45%
Openness- ~55%
Approval Need- ~53%
Ability to Focus- ~25%
Emotionality- ~85%
Reliance on Intuition- ~82%
Tolerance for Change- ~80%
Your personality is made up of a unique pattern of traits. These traits impact the way you think, feel, and behave on an everyday basis.
Your Interaction Style:
You scored 45 in the area of extroversion/ introversion, which means that your energy is directed primarily inward, rather than outward. Your mixed score in this trait creates an interesting and alluring combination of traits: You are social yet also very reflective and introspective. You like to be around people, but too much interaction drains your energy. You need to retreat every once in a while in order to recharge your batteries. Keep these needs in mind when choosing the ideal work situation for you, otherwise you won't feel happy.
Social patterns: You are left-brained when it comes to recognizing emotions in other people. When you look at a person's face you focus on what you see on the right. This is a unique way of viewing the world. You are likely to be sensitive to 'micro-expressions' - the tiny movements of the muscles in the face that occur, for example, when someone is telling a lie. Hearing preferences are an interesting exception to this left-right crossover. For example, if two people were talking behind a closed door and you needed to put your ear on the door to hear, you would tend to use your left ear instead of your right.


What is it about speed that gives me such a rush? Knowing that it gives me such a rush, why can't I push myself to go faster, have more energy, get more accomplished, live life filled with that adrenaline pulsing through my body...speed, the sound of speed, the thrill of speed, the exhaustion that comes when all is still and the pumping blood begins to slow...

This weekend we went to the races. Race cars with motors so loud you hear the crashing with each beat of your heart. It fills you with this total free and energetic keenness and with the pumping of your blood you reach out for that euphoria, giving into the temptation of zooming velocity. These tiny little one-man cars with an affinity for an out-of-control existence. So totally controlled in an uncontrollable manner, sometimes slipping a little, yet pulling together in the split of an instance, back on track and into the spirit of the race. It's a bit like life in breakneck speed. The energy pulls you in, carries you through the start and then with each round that tense anticipation of the straight run and then those risky curves thrown in to keep you sharp. It's really amazing. I love speed. It's an arousing stimulation that I could do with more of in my life.

I got a speeding ticket awhile back. But I wasn't going fast enough to give me that breath-altering thrill...darn, if I was going to get a fine I should have made it worthwhile...let that breeze cut into my face, the shaking of the steering wheel rouse my rebellious spirit, screaming whooshes of air passing through my ears...maybe it's time to head back to the German highways, let myself go, and become a racer with a real trophy and champagne (that would be my lifted spirit) rather than a 50 euro hole in my pocket.



I am contemplating my trip to America this summer. I am so excited to be heading "home", yet at the same time have so many reservations. What does America mean to me? What role does America have in my life? How can I be patriotic to two countries, two cultures, two languages, two homes? How can I portray the importance of America to my children? How can I pass on American traditions in just a short visit to this country in which we hold citizenship?

America , land of the free, home of the brave. That sounds so beautiful. I wish I could believe that the values of our America today were the same as when those words were formed. As much as I hate to admit it, I don't feel that America is living up to its standards. Living in Europe, I have become much more patriotic to my home country. I never realized how influential and great my land was until I moved away and had the chance to experience new lands. And I love many, many things about America, but I am also saddened at how many things I see wrong. Of course, this is true for every place, pros and cons have to be weighed, and an informed viewpoint made. America is a powerful nation. There are few places you can go that haven't experienced America in some form, on some level, whether it be in an instance of war, the famed Hollywood, Bill Clinton or George Bush (okay, there are good things that people notice as well...I'm being a bit unfair :-). I guess I see America as a bit of a Supermodel. Looking at her from afar, she looks like perfection. She offers so much space and many different climates, the mixing pot of people from all nations, opportunity to voice your opinion and live freely. Yet upon closer inspection, you see the flaws in the perfect make-up and perfect clothing, and there is naturally a bit of cellulite hidden under that perfect outlook. How are Americans able to live in a middle-class society? The powers keep raising the stakes, and the morals are sinking as the ladder is being climbed. In order to fall into that middle-class, you must work, and work hard. Your vacation days are few and your evenings late. Your insurance covers the bare minimums if you have insurance at all. Children can't play outside without fear of being kidnapped, raped, or murdered. Teen pregnancy and divorce are an everyday occurrence and considered the norm. Public education is deteriorating and homeschooling becoming more widely accepted. These are a few of those flaws that I notice much more clearly now that I take a closer look.

Still, I love America. I celebrate her birthday in big fashion every year. I teach my children the special dates and talk with them about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. My children make pictures of the American flag and have heard what the starts and stripes mean (whether they someday remember is yet to be seen). They have visited much of the US and seen the Statue of Liberty. We made a special trip to Ground Zero to instill in them that American spirit. They have visited Lincoln Memorial. They know that America goes from sea to shining sea. They sing with me the Star Spangled Banner and recognize Uncle Sam. And they can find America on a map or globe. I feel that I am doing my job to create well-informed American citizens. I feel that they will someday make their own judgements about what a great land America is and be able to recognize that all supermodels have flaws, and that these flaws can be overcome, but that perfection is a rarity. I am also glad they have dual-citizenship with the options available from two different worlds. The flaws of one nation are not always held within the boundaries of another.

I am proud to be American. And I would never give up my American citizenship to claim the citizenship of another country. That would be revoking my spirit, taking away a piece of myself, the values and morals which have helped shape and form the woman that I am. However, I am willing to become a dual-citizen and take on the love of another nation, learn to bend a bit and accept the differences, claim the positives and hope to make changes in the negatives. I plan to become a Nederlander within the coming year. Yes, there is so much that I love about Holland. Yes, there is so much that I love about America. I'm so happy that I will soon once again set foot on "home"ground....and then be able to come "home" once again. After all, home is where the heart is, and my heart lives among two (or is that three) lands...