What's Up In Belgium?

Talk about a busy life...that has been ours the past few weeks. It has been really good, though, and I have crashed each night into a deep, contented sleep. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Erwin's birthday last week. It was the nicest Thanksgiving we have had since moving to Europe. I really enjoyed the evening, and even all the work that goes into such a diverse meal...I wouldn't want it any other way. Once every year I can make up my menu and prepare a feast for my family, all the while remembering all that I have to be thankful for. And with each hour that I cooked, those reasons came into my mind, reminding me why...my family, my friends, my home, my garden, food on the table, financial security, love, health, happiness. Even through all the downs we have in our lives, the good far outweighs the bad, and I have no reason to complain, only reason to cherish what I have been blessed with.

I think of Kaeden having autism, and how much that plays a part in our lives...I am not happy he has autism or that we ahve to deal with it on a daily basis...however, it has taught me so much...and it has proved to be a trial in my relationship with Erwin...but we are still together, still in love, still working toward the goal of raising a successful family...and it makes all those good moments we share as a family that much better.

Kaeden is a person I deeply admire for his outlook on life, what he goes through on a daily basis to fit into this world. He makes my eyes light up each time he succeeds at something new or progresses further than I imagined he could. He is tough, but he is also grand.

I think of Jari, the child that looks at you with his big blue eyes, the little one that has a second sense about when I am feeling sad, and does all in his power to relieve me of that burden. He is a caring little boy and brings me more laughter than anyone else in the world...he is energetic, stubborn, and sweet, all mixed into one. He is the gift that Erwin and I can together be most proud.

I think of my family at home, my mom and dad who work so hard and always have to provide us with the best life possible. The taught me the value of nature, and how that can bring such a sense of peace to your inner spirit. Still, being out in nature is the time I enjoy the very most of all we do.

My brothers...Travis and Trevor. Though I am going through a difficult time with Travis, I am thankful that I have the good times to remember and remind me that he has a good heart and we have shared a lot together. Trevor is my baby brother, and I still see him as such, the little guy I helped to care for s he grew. Now with his own wife and child, he gives me even more reason to be thankful. He is someone of whom I am very proud.

My in-laws...they are such wonderful people. The care for me and my family and show it on a daily basis. They are here for us wheneevr we need them, they help us out in every way possible. They also make it easier for me when I am missing home, giving me that sense of family that I miss from my own...they have become my own. When oma read the prayer opa had written for Thanksgiving day, I felt a deep bond with my father-in-law. He truly understands me, and knows how hard it sometimes is for me being away from my home, but also understands that here I also have much to treasure. I couldn't make it here without their support.

Ilse, my sister-in-law, a woman busy with her own life, yet always making changes in her schedule to suit us. We seem to understand each other and are willing to try to gain a closeness in our relationship. She is wonderful with Jari and I appreciate the positive efforts she has made to have a better relationship with Kaeden. She has a good heart.

For my friends here in Europe, who share their joys and sorrows with me, who trust me to be their friend, who share the ups and downs of making a new country their home, who are from here and try to understand me and my cultures and traditions...I am thankful for each of you.

For friends far away who stand by my side even as I walk on different soil and wake to a different clock, a day doesn't go by that I don't think of you and cherish the times we have shared, the memories we have made together.

And for all the other important people in my life, thanks to all of you for all you give me in my life...I have many people who add so much to my life.

Erwin's birthday was nice as he stayed home from work and we had the morning together just the two of us. We prepared our home for Thanksgiving, and I made him croissants for breakfast. He received all our gifts with a smile,a nd blew out his candles on oma's appeltaart. He had a surprise visit from Zwarte Pieten which really added a lot to our evening. They did a magnificent job with the kids and our boys were entranced by them. And we all sang Happy Birthday numerous times...he had to know he was special.

Yesterday I spent the day out with the KAV women's group. We left early in the morning to attend a breakfast at the movie theater, followed by a private viewing of The Devil Wears Prada...what a great film! I just loved it! After, I spent the day shopping with a lady from the group...picked up a few last minute gifts and just enjoyed spending the day in a new city with time to just be a woman. It was fun to be out and about with a native, learning more and more about Belgium culture as I fired away question after question. And also fun answering all of her questions about my home-land, extending those answers to include fun stories that came into my mind. Erwin came home from work early to be ehre for the boys and when I arrived home we had Pizza and Movie Family Night, watching a Sinterklaas movie to elevate the excitement already flowing through our home about his arrival this weekend.

This afternoon we make our way to Papa's office where Sint will make his yearly visit...Jari has already 10 times assured me that he's going to get a BIG present from Sinterklaas tonight! He is so excited!!!! He also keeps telling me that he doesn't have to set his shoe tonight cuz he'll already have gotten his BIG present and Sinterklaas won't come twice in one day...hehehe I'm planning to take my long-haired boy for a cut before we go...wish me luck...he does not want to go to the barber!

Tomorrow I am taking my friend Sharon grocery shopping and we're planning to also have a look around the city since it's late night shopping there. Then Saturday we have soccer and scouts before we head to oma and opa's, where the boys will be entertained while Erwin adn I attend a party with all his friends. It's a lot of fun and I'll surely come home with a bag full of presents! Sunday marks the BIG day, when Sinterklaas makes his yearly visit. But before his arrival we'll attend another party of our friend who has graduated and celebrates his birthday all in one. It should be a nice way to spend the afternoon out of oma and opa's hair.

So, busy, yes....thrilling, yes...and I feel good....now, if I could just get some of my poems written...oooooffff!!! Yes, poems in Dutch to represent memories of a person and how their gift relates to them. It's so much fun to share, but I need some inspiration! I'll let you know how it goes.....

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