Uncle Jack Update

Well, I got this message yesterday and it made me cry. How can you prepare for saying goodbye to someone you love, someone who has always been a part of your life, someone special and meaningful in your life? I can't even begin to explain how I'm feeling right now. It's just something close to suffocation.

Yesterday was a very, very difficult day. We (myself, Lisa, Jacque and Sami) saw the two oncologists and got grim news. The prognisis is not good. The real worry right now is no longer the esophageal cancer but the new cancer in his spinal fluid. Dr. Nichols will do another spinal tap this morning, take fluid for testing and inject more of the strong chemo drug. He will also do it again on Friday. The resulting tests will tell them if the drug is doing anything to stop the multiplication of the cancer cells. If it is, then they will look at implanting a port beneath the skull to enable them to inject the drug directly into the fluid surrounding his brain which in turn will be circulated down his low back to the rest of the cancer cells that have clustered there. If, by the end of the week there is no improvement, or increased activity then the goal will change completely to one of quality of life. Then it could be weeks or short months. Pray hard for the new drug to work. As I have always said, of course any decision on how to proceed will be Jack's and Jack's alone. I will give him your love and that will give him strength

Well, as I update this message, I finished reading my email. Here's a second email from my äunt"...and it released a bit of that suffocation, if even a deep concern remains pounding in the deepest rercesses of my brain (and heart). Cancer is not something tha't will just pack up and go away when it becomes a guest overstaying their welcome...no, no...not cancer...please keep my Uncle Jack in your prayers.

FINALLY some good news! I talked briefly with Dr. Nicols late this afternoon and he said that the sample of spinal fluid that he took out this morning showed zero cancer cells!!! Wonderful, wonderful! He's pleased with the length of time that the chemo drug he injects has stayed in the spinal fluid so will wait until Monday to do another tap. Jack was groggy most of the day as they'd given him quite a bit of pain medication during and after the procedure. He still had his radiation though, and then around 6:30 I roused him enough so that he could eat his dinner. He really perked up the rest of the evening, I think in part due to the encouraging results of the fluid test. I'll keep all of you informed as to how he's doing and when I get more information. Keep those prayers and positive thoughts coming!

How can the relief not overpower the reality of cancer? I think I'll head to the church and double up my prayers. Stay strong Uncle Jack! I love you!!!


The Holiday

Saturday night was a spur of the moment surprise for me. We were heading to Helmond and I decided to call up my girlfriend Lisa to see if she was up for dinner and a movie...she was! We met in front of the theatre and walked around looking for something yummy to catch our eye...just enough time for a quick bite and chat before the film started. The Holiday is a movie I have been wanting to see for a good while now, and I was not disappointed. It kept me in stitches throughout the entire film, along with the few tears that escaped down my cheeks. It was very well done, and the 135 minute time slot was not even noticeable. I wouldn't have wanted to take a break to pee or get a drink, because I would have missed something wonderful! The entire movie was that good. If you are into romantic comedies, this is the film for you. And having the evening out to share life's little realities with a good friend made it that much more spectacular. How is it that with a girlfriend sitting across from youa t the dinner table there's not a moment of quiet comfort? The comfort comes in those "Yeah, I know what you mean!", "I've been there too!", "That is really funny!", and "It feels so good to have you as my friend!". Every possible topic of conversation is covered with simplicity and understanding, and there's just not enough time to cover everything on our minds. It felt really good.

Thanks for a great evening Lis! The movie was TOP, but sharing it with you, well, tipper than TOP!


My Uncle Jack

My mom called this evening to tell me that my Uncle Jack is in the hospital. He's been fighting cancer and is having a setback...doesn't sound great to me. I feel a bit empty, wishing there was something I could do, wanting to visit him and make sure he knows that I care...but I can't. It's times like this that I wish I lived closer and could be on the next flight there, just so that I could give him a great big hug and give him my support. I hate to call with all that's going on and other visitors, and mail just takes too long to get there. My goofy, always able to make anyone laugh and smile, smart and insightful uncle, I love you. I'm praying for you, for Kathi, for Jacque and Lisa, for Sami, Alex, and Iris. I hope you'll be feeling better soon, that the pain is left behind and replaced with the man that loves to hunt, care for his cows, and treasures the friendships with his dogs. I'm there with you, in heart...I hope you know how much you mean to me.


I just had to share another Jari funny. Gosh, that kid can make me laugh. This morning we were sitting eating breakfast. He was having Honey Cheerios and asked me to listen close. I listened...I heard the crunch! He was thrilled I knew what he meant. Then I started making up a Jari Cheerio Crunch Song..."Crunch, crunch, crunch, cereal in Jari's mouth, yummy for his breakfast, but not for his lunch. Crunch Crunch Crunch the bees buzzing on his tongue, Jari can crunch and his breakfasts almost done..." or something along those lines. He was just giggling away at my little creation and asked me to sing it agian and again...but once I forgot the Jari part and he sternly advised that I add in his name to the song. When I was done singing, and his bowl was empty, he looked at me with a very serious expression on his adorable face. He asked "Mama, did you learn to sing that song at church??"

I couldn't help but smile from inside and out!



Yep, here you see what my 12 year old just made for HIS lunch today...can we say "eating us out of house and home?" Unbelievable how much food that kid can pack away...and even funnier? He's watching Teletubbies on TV...yep, he's got free reign of the TV and that's his choice...isn't TWELVE an amazing age?


I was tagged by my friend Amanda. Check her out here...

A- Available or single? Not available, not single...just married to the best guy around
B- Best Friend? I have a few good friends and want to keep it that way so I won't name a "best"
C- Cake or Pie? Oma's Apple Pie
D- Drink of Choice? Cappuccino...yum!
E- Essential Item? Kaeden's ritalin...don't leave home without it!
F- Favorite Color?Green...with yellow a close second
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Worms with the sour stuff on them
H- Hometown? Larmie, Wyoming, USA
I- Indulgence? A bubble bath with candles and a good book
J- January or February? January...my eldest son's birthday
K- Kids and names? 2 boys, Kaeden Riley & Jari Wilhelmus Theodorus
L- Life is incomplete without? Love
M- Marriage Date? August 9, 2003
N- Number of Siblings? 2 younger brothers, Travis and Trevor
O- Oranges or apples? Mandarin oranges...they peel easier :-)
P- Phobias/Fears? My kids dying is the biggie
Q- Favorite Quote? "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter, don't mind." Dr. Seuss
R- Reason to Smile? I got two cards in the mail today
S- Season? Summer, the sun gives me energy
T- Tag three people! I'm not much of a tagger...but I'll try it once... http://smalltownrambling.blogspot.com/
U- Unknown fact about me? I sleep the whole night with my electric blanket on high!
V- Vegetable you hate? I don't think I hate any...but sprouts are not my fave.
W- Worst habit? Biting my nails
X- X-rays you’ve had? Most recently on my ears as my hearing is going and we don't know why...but also on my knee, my ankle...hmmm...I've had a few but can't remember it all
Y- Your favorite food? Enchiladas
Z - Zodiac? I am on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, born on July 23rd (just like my girlfriend Amanda). I am more of a Leo tho! :-)

Just A Few Ramblings

Today is swim day at Jari's school. I'm a mom helper and always enjoy these days as I feel a connection to kids which was my career goal in life. But, life doesn't always work out as we expect so I treasure these moments I have being a part of a classroom once again.

Saturday Erwin adn I had a work party to attend, but we also took the time to spend some time just the two of us going out to dinner. We do not have enough "us" moments, and it felt so good just sharing an evening with my husband. It seems that every time we do go out, we do so with a group of friends, or to a party, or with the family. I also enjoy those times very much, but I realized that we really need to make more time to savor each other.

I used my dishwasher for the first time last night! We got it free from a second-hand advertisement and weren't sure it would even work, but everythign came out sparkly clean! Yippee! Opa did a LOT of work installing the plumbing and electric so we could use it, and I appreciate him so much. Sometimes I feel like we take advantage of opa...he is so handy and can fix/make/create almost anything and in our old house, there is always something to be done. I hope he knows he is a true star in my book! It will be wonderful to have the dishwasher when I've got piles of washing up to do.

We are finally getting a taste of winter! I am really happy about this. It may sound crazy to some, but I like having seasons, and was excited when we finally got a real frost and there was a bit of ice in the fields. Now I can complain about the cold...hahaha I just hope we get one little snowfall..I want to make snow angels and snowmen and have a snowball fight and then come in and warm up with a hot chocolate with melty marshmallows!

Tomorrow we have our appointment with Kaeden's school to discuss another option for him. Something called semi-internaat which is basically after school activities and vacation care. I've been very interested in this since I first heard about it and we finally got government approved for it this year. There is a waiting list, but I'm hoping we come to the top before summer vacation and Kaeden can take part in all their fun activities. I really don't know what to expect, but at least we're finally getting a chance to see what exactly it is, what is offered (I think he also gets hot lunch at school), and what the costs are. We'll also ask a bit about internaat which is the live-in option at the school. They already informed me we need to talk to another department about that, but they'll give us as much info as they can.

I am getting so excited about my trip in March. My grandparents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and I get to be there! I wish my family could also go, but that wasn't a possibility so Erwin is taking off work and watching the kids while I gallavant across the ocean! There are so few people these days that make it to 60 years and I am so proud of my grandparents for getting through so much in their life together. They are an inspiration to me.

We are also researching possibilities for summer vacation. I mentioned Sweden to Erwin (I really want to go there one day, and meet my dad's family that is there as well) but he's leaning towards Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany...and I admit wholeheartedly that my favorite vacation place to date is Czech Republic....and I think teh most beautiful place I have ever been is Austria. I want my parents to join us there, but with their workloads in the summer that's nearly impossible. I think Erwin is a bit a creature of habit, where I am a bit more adventurous. We both love to travel and see new places though, and we do plenty of it. That's the place all our savings is depleted...but what is better than learning about new cultures, experiencing new lands,people, and languages, sharing happy family times, and then coming back home refreshed with a whole 'nother world that remains a piece of you forever. Can't wait for August!

I heard on the news the other night that Hilary Clinton may be in the running for the next US president. This didn't surprise me, but made me really think. I wonder if the world is ready for a woman president. Being a woman, I know this makes no sense. However, women are so much more emotionally involved than men...I don't know if this is a good thing or bad when it comes to running a country. Erwin said that there's no way she'll be voted in. But when I said "I bet there are a lot of women that would vote for her" he thought twice about it. Maybe what the world needs is a bit more emotional feeling and not so much "manly" war talk...what do you think?

I have started Kaeden's daily program at home again, and for now it is working...our mornings have been 80% easier. He needs lists to keep (get) himself organized, and so I write out his list with precision each day. When I gave him his first list, he told me I had to write out the numbers instead of making a simple 2, that he needed it to be posted (glued down) on the table and laminated (I assured him I was not ruining my table, but that we would find a place for his list), and then he began using it. I think it's so odd that if I tell him to brush his teeth and wash his face, it's too many commands at once, but if I give him a list with 10 (oops, ten) tasks on it he is able to handle it. But whatever, as long as he's successful I don't care what it takes.

Last night when I tucked Jari in bed he shared his views on autism. It was really very mind-boggling how profoundly he thinks for a child of 5. Kaeden was making a lot of noise in his room, singing along with his CD-player. Jari said "I can't sleep when Kaeden is making so much noise." I told him that wasn't very nice, but Kaeden has trouble listening sometimes. He said "Yeah, that's cuz he has autism." Then I asked him what autism means? Jari said "All I know is that autism makes Kaeden be very angry. That's why I don't like autism." So, we discussed autism a little bit more, why it wasn;t fun, things Kaeden does, why we should be happy we don't have it, etc. And then Jari says "Now I don't want to talk about it anymore cuz Kaeden is my grote broer (big brother) and he is lief (sweet)." And when I kissed Jari goodnight, I assured him that he is also very lief. But wow, wow, wow...my tiny little boy, you amaze mama!

So, it's time to head for the bus. Bubbye...


Hellish Week

This has been a week from hell...it almost feels as if I have been living it in a kind of dream, a kind of out of body experience. I can't even begin to describe how miserable I feel today, how miserable I've felt the entrie week. As I rode my bike to take Jari to school this morning, all the branches and garbage from the storm yesterday were littering the street and sidewalks and I realized that my life is just like all that litter. My life is not regulated at all, but comes blowing in and then settles wherever it gets stuck. I wonder if it'll ever be cleaned up? As a mom from Jari's class smiled at me and waved from her car, I had to plaster a fake smile on my face and pretend I was happily beginning my day...what she didn't know was all the negative energy coursing through my body, filling me with dread. I feel like I can't do it anymore, like there's nothing positive coming from my days...they just all run together and eventually a year is complete...and what have I accomplished in that time? I really need to get a bit more out of life. I can't give anything to the people I love when I have nothing to give. It's straining my mothering, my marriage, and my friendships. I'm just depleted. I feel like if I wasn't here tomorrow that nobody would even notice. This is not teh life I had dreamed for myself, let alone my husband and my children. I've got to take some steps to try to make it better, but how do I begin when all I want to do is disappear? I have no energy, no motivation, no smile that comes from within. I can't wait til this week is over. I hope with the new week a bit of happiness can also fill my soul.


What Sad Means To An Autie

Yesterday Erwin and I had a discussion when we woke up. I shed a few tears as we discussed Kaeden and the best means of parenting him. It's always a difficult discussion as we have differing opinions about what we feel is best, though I do believe we both want what is best for him. I know that we both care and that is the importnat thing.

Anyway, as I came downstairs to make breakfast Kaeden looked at my face and knew I had been crying. He was concerned and asked me why I was sad. Before I could respond he asked "Did Gramma die?"

I couldn't help but chuckle...if my mom died I would be in a much much deeper state of sadness. His innocence and misunderstanding of feeling truly struck me. As I laughed, a tiny piece of my heart also collapsed. As much as this child understood I wasn't competely happy, how in the world could he possibly think my mom had died? It was one of those mixed good/bad feelings that I couldn't shake for the rest of the day.

Those are the little things about autism. Nothing is just simple.



We just finished dinner. I asked Jari if he wanted some applesauce. He said YUM yes! Then, he proceeded to ask if I had any more of the strawberry applesauce. I told him that was all gone. He said "Where do you buy that, then?" And I told him I usually get it at C1000 (a store in Holland). He says " Well, next time you go to C1000 can you get me some more? I think that is SO YUMMY! And, I don't think you can get it at the Spar (our tiny local grocery)." Hahaha...he made me chuckle!


I am so cold. Last night I was literally shivering even tho it was 23 C inside...my body just never seems to warm completely up. I grabbed a balnkie, laid on the couch, and fell asleep...Erwin did the same, but without the blankie! We woke up about 2:30 and went to bed where I found my lil guy snuggled under our covers...how'd he get in there without me hearing him?

It was a bad night. I was not in the happiest of spirits by the time the kids fell asleep. When i picked Jari up from soccer practice I realized he was really tired...he was whining about everything, sobbing in tears during dinner, and just being a really tired kid. I also knew Kaeden had Judo til 8 and that'd mean another late night for the kids. So, I decided to forego Judo and get them to bed early so I could help Erwin and then go to my cooking class. BUT, I didn't anticipate the problems my decision would cause....but problems is what I was dealt. After telling Kaed we weren't going to Judo tonight, he ran as fast as he could and got his Judo uniform on. This after he refused to eat quickly so I could take him. I explained again that we weren't going, and then all hell broke loose. Chairs knocked over, things thrown whizzing past my head, the table found a new position in the kitchen, and my son was doing his bear growl which is a definite sign that he is angry and can't express himself. I won't even go into details about the rest, but it was an extremely trying night. And by the time I weighted Kaeden down by laying on him in his bed and pressing the sides of his head together to help him relax, I was exhausted, my body felt battered, my spirit felt shattered...and I had no desire more to attend my cooking class...all I wanted to do was climb under my warm blankets and fall asleep.

I was grateful Erwin took charge of leaving the room and getting Jari away from the situation for two reasons. One, Erwin cannot handle Kaeden when he's in a tantrum and his anger just makes it worse and two I don't like Jari to ahve to see it cuz it scares him. However, I couldn't help being a bit upset with Erwin...he just can't let things go and doesn't anticipate when he needs to leave Kaeden be, give him a chance to "shake it off", not allow his anger to escalate Kaeden's rage as well. And as his raging tantrum was coming on stronger and with more force, Erwin didn't know enough to step back and forget his bad behavior...he had to keep pressing and doing what I call "making it worse".

This is a huge debate inside my mind. I do not know what is the best means of handling this situation. I understand Erwin's need to let Kaeden know he is not acting okay, I understand his need to discipline him for his bad behavior. But, I also know that if he is acting terrible and I can see a rage is coming on, I know that if I give just a little, it will not be a terrifying experience for all of us. So, I tend to let it go while Erwin can't. Both of us have reasons for our actions, both of us understand why we react as we do, neither of us want an explosion...but neither of us handles the situation correctly. I don't know what is correct. I don't know what is right. All I know is I want peace in my home, among the members of my family. And in our home, peace doesn't come on a daily basis.

I feel sad about this situation. Autism is once again a demon and makes my child into a demon as well...my loving, giving little boy with his fast smile and twinlking eyes is stripped away and replaced by a growling, foaming at the mouth animal with the strength that true adrenaline brings. And with each raging episode we live through, my soul is stripped of happiness and replaced by days of sadness and fear, worry and despair...so, that's where I'm at right now. It's not a fun palce to be.



Do you ever feel like your life just sucks and you wish you could change everything about it? I do, once in awhile I forget all about all the good stuff in my life and just wish I could be living in someone else's shoes. But today, I got a strong wake up call that reminded me to be thankful for all I do have...

As I was getting dressed this morning I looked out the window into the yard across the way. I saw the same ole trees, the piles of dirt from teh new housing project, an orange tarp blowing in the wind, the driveway newly created with a little path of rocks...and I saw a home...

In this home lived a man and a woman just 3 days ago. Today, in this home lives a widowed man. As I got tears in my eyes, I realized that life is precious. Saturday this man will bury his wife. Saturday this man will cry for the loss of his future with the partner of his life. Saturday this man will lay his wife of many years to rest among the flowers and headstones in the church cemetary. And after Saturday, life will go on...but not "as normal".

Saturday I will sing at a funeral mass. Saturday I will cry for the loss of a friend's wife. Saturday I will serve coffee and sandwiches to grieving members of his and her family. And after Saturday, life will go on...but not as normal...I will grieve with this man as I reach out to give him a hug at our next choir practice, I will look out my bedroom window just beyond the fence and remember a woman I have never met, a woman whom suffered in life from a sickly disease, a woman that I hear once had a beautiful singing voice, a woman I have seen carried away on two occasions by the ambulance, a woman that no longer reigns on this earth. And I will be changed, remembering through her death that I have so much goodness in my life. I won't say that I'll never "forget" all the good I have, but at least for today, I am feeling blessed. Blessed to have a loving husband, blessed to have two beautiful, active boys, blessed to have parents and grandparents still with me on this earth, blessed to ahve the friendships that help get me through many situations...I am blessed.

As the rain washes away the tears I let fall today, I hope that the sun will bring some sense of peace to the man on the other side of my fence. May you find peace in your solitary life...and to her, may you rest in peace.


Nothing and Everything

I don't know what to say here. I'm feeling a bit let down by my writing "talent" and as much as I have something new to say every day, I haven't been able to put anything into words. So, where have my words gone? Where has my passion for expression disappeared to? I don't know...so I'll just give a little update about life here.

First, Kaeden and Jari started back to school today. I felt kinda lost wandering around the house all alone today, without playing or creating or cleaning up little boy messes....or yelling! Actually, we had a very uneventful vacation and the boys were excellent...really, unbelievably good. I can only recount one time I really got angry about anything...they spent literally hours in the tents they created in our hallway upstairs, always using every blanket in the house, their mattresses, all the chairs...and always adding a comfy pillow for mama to be included in their parties. Each day we'd look at the clock and just before bedtime we'd pull it all apart so that papa wouldn't see the disasters that our fun left behind...or not all of it anyway! I think most Papa's disagree with teh extent of play mama's allow...at least that's how it is on our front...I like and live freedom of expression. Papa wonders how in the world we can create such a huge mess. I agree, they've got to learn to clean it up too. Anyway, they slept in their tent one night, and were completely overjoyed. And they had a blast doing nothing more than playing at home with nowhere we had to be...

Kaeden is turning TWELVE this week! It's his golden birthday and I'm in a bit of a state about it all. 12 just seems like such a turning point in a kid's life, and I feel a bit sad, a bit excited, a bit overwhelmed by it all. I want this to be a special birthday for him, one he'll always remember...12 on the 12th...what could be a better occasion? So, I've arranged a small bowling party for him and we'll be setting up his new bedroom for him to come home to after his party at school. And I gotta decide what to do about the cake??? Happy Birthday dear son...I sure do love you more with each passing year...

Erwin set up some new spaces for me to organize all my crafting supplies. But I am not a person that excels with organizational skills. Especially in a crafting sense. I threw out about 100 non-working markers today and tried to throw away a bunch of other stuff, but darn it all, someday we might just need it! You know, to glue on some project or someting! I look at my little messy corner and understand his desire to have it all cleaned up...but how? Good question! I made a dent in it, hon...albeit a tiny one! Thanks for the cubbies...all the feathers and pom-poms and buttons haev found a new home!

To date, I am very proud of myself! My goal for 2007 is to gain control of my laundry...and since Jan 1 rolled around I am happy to report that each night before bed every fresh washed item of clothing has found it's way to the closets! No more searching through piles or laundry baskets or the kids asking me where their socks or undies are while I yell back "Just look on mama's bed!" I still haven't gotten around to ironing Erwin's work shirts...but it's onthe agenda for THIS week! Or else, I may have to cash in on that coupon my firend gave me for Christmas...I got 2 hours of free ironing coming my way! HAHA!

My wok lessons start Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it. I like the taste of stir-fry, but whenever I attempt it, all my veggies end up a mushy mess...still tasty, but I went that fresh crispness...you know! Something that snaps when it enters your taste buds! Yum! I hope they don't do all seafood stuff...that'd really disappoint me...but I am lookign forward to it. Now I just gotta get a wok for home to share my new knowledge.

I called about another class that starts nextw eek as well...Explore your other self. Hmmm, quite a title, so I called the lady giving the class and she's going to email me the details. It sounds interesting to me...maybe I could find the person I used to be that I sometimes miss since I've lived in Europe. Maybe I can figure out how to motivate myself to lose some weight or take up crafting again, or start something new like dihital scrapbooking which fascinates me. Or maybe it's total BS, as Erwin's look told me when I suggested to him I wanted to take the class....hahaha, it was quite funny! Anyway, I made the first effort, a call, which is what turns me off from doing 100 things I'd liek to do because it's harder to express yourself in a foreign language on the phone where you can't use body langauge or facial expression to help get your point across...We'll see...

We took the boys for a walk through the woods yesterday...and got stopped by police control on the way there. I didn't bring our passports cuz I didn't feel like carrying them with me all over through the woods...as I explained this to the cop, he just said "You realize you are leaving the country and it's obligatory." Well, they let us continue on our journey anyway with no fine and we had a great time walking through the woods, feeding the animals, enjoying the warm winter. I hate having my passport be so important. Geez, when in America half the people (or more) don't even own one. Here, you can't leave home without it. Just one of the little things...

Well, Kaeden is at Judo and Jari in the tub and Erwin should be here any minute to pick Jari up and take him to pick Kaeden up so I can go to choir. I sure have a great, giving husband. But I like to think that he's the way he is cuz I am also a great, giving wife. Dunno his take on the matter, but I think ti takes lots of give/give to make a relationship work. And ours is definitely working. There isn't another man I'd rather be sharing my life with. Now, if he'd just let me get that puppy or kitty I am so craving... :-)

Cheers, Happy 2007, and may it be a prosperous, healthy, wonderful year for all of us!


Giving People

I talked to my mom a few days ago. She wished me a happy new year and then announced that my cousin is now living with them. This perked my interest...how'd that all come about?

Anyway, to make a long story short, my cousin has been going through a difficult few years. She has made many poor decisions which led her to a life of drugs (or so we assume) and ultimately led to her losing custody of her children...and she didn't seem to care as her lifestyle held no room for their innocence; she had nothing to give as a mother. As much as this is unbelievable to me, how a mother could abandon her children, and my respect for her as a person dwindled to nothing, I try not to judge people. I try, but I often fail. But, in situations such as this, my parents don't fail. I feel so grateful to report that once my cousin was homeless, just coming out of jail after a domestic dispute with her current partner, as well as possession of a controlled substance, they took her in, with no expectations, other than she do her best...whatever that means to her.

My parents have been in this situation before...an employee of theirs turned to drugs and they nursed her through a downfall and the coming days of rehabilitation. They provided her with the basic needs of love, acceptance, shelter, food, care...that's what they gave...and in return, they have found in her a true friend, someone that cares about them and cherishes them for giving her back her life. She was a success story, and is now married to a great guy, living in her own home with a good job and looking to have children in the coming year. They gave love, and in return that's the same that they got.

My initial reaction to my mom telling me of her new situation was "Oh my gosh, what happened? Are you up to this?" And immediately I started questioning whether they had made any rules, given her an ultimatum, told her to keep drugs out of their home. Mom calmly replied "No, we want her to feel like she has a place to come if she needs us. We're going to be here for her and see where it leads us." I felt a bit ashamed as my mind sent all these negative messages through to my heart...how could they be so giving to a person that has done so much wrong? How could they trust her? How could they give her the love she needs when she doesn't give it back? How would they react when she failed at becoming the person they hope that she will?

I've really thought long and hard the past few days about this situation...not only the situation, but also my reaction to it. The only conclusion I have come to is that I am so blessed to have such giving people as my parents. People that don't need to take in order to give. People that are accepting, people that choose to give in the most negative of situations. I have remembered many times I have seen my parents do this, not so much in this manner, but other little ways...bringing gas to a customer who ran out, staying open late so bus passengers wouldn't have to wait in the cold, giving a homeless man waiting for a bus a meal, helping someone out of a snowbank in which they are stuck. And to me, they give all that I need, all that I have the courage to ask for...but in return, all they expect is that I be the best that I can be. I have failed in many ways, yet they continue to give, proving their commitment to me, their trust that I will do what is right, their acceptance of the person I have become.

Thank you so much for being the people that you are, my dear mom and dad. Thank you for being giving, loving, and caring, not only to me, but all those that need it. Thank you for making this world a little bit better, just one person at a time. I wish you luck with your new endeavor, I hope that it becomes another success story. But if not, I've become convinced that the love you show will not go unnoticed, and in whatever simple way, you have given more than most. I am so happy to call you my parents. Thanks for believing in the gift of love. And making me see that giving is "doing the right thing".


Happy New Year!

It's January 1, 2007...wow, another year and 2006 already lost to life adventures! Well, maybe not so lost, but here we head into 2007...what will come? What will be? The weather is grey and rainy, I hope it's no indication of the year to come...but as much as weather can influence your moods, you are ultimately responsible for what happens in your life, whether you are happy, what accomplishments you make, what successes you can enjoy. You have the control...nobody can do it for you!

Last night we headed to Helmond to pick up Jari from his weekend with oma opa and Ilse. But, we had another mission as well...to ring in the New Year Helmond style...and ring it in we did! When we arrived I got lots of snuggles from my lil guy and that put a right ole smile on Mama's face! We took Kaeden to McD's for a little mama/papa time before picking up the rest of our litter, and he was so sweet and loveable...just happy which penetrated his adorable face. We got to Helmond watching a few fireworks light up the sky...but nothing spectacular. But once we entered oma and opa's house, the New Years spirit started to rise. Erwin got out all his fireworks and started setting all the fuses just right so he could set them off with ease. The kids got tucked in until further notice (that being about 11:40!) and we talked and it was pure gezellig (cozy)! We had some interesting conversations about sex, drugs, and alcohol...and opa presented me with a huge wine glass and a bottle of wine...oh boy...and so the story begins!

I got pretty toasted last night...it's the first time I have ever let myself go in front of my in-laws, but I felt so free and with that wine and champagne flowing through my blood, there was no stopping me...I smiled and laughed and joked and really had an enjoyable evening. It was really a lot of fun!

Once the champagne popped at midnight and we all shared our Best Wishes with each other, we headed outside to experience the light and sound show...it's so amazing, the fireworks here on New Year's...there's really nothing like it and my adrenaline always just rushes. We set off plenty of our own and Jari was very cautious while Kaeden was just pure excited! It is always fun to see all the neighbors come together, giving hands and wishes for the new year.

This morning, after waking up late, the boys presented their News years Surprises to us...super cool! They both give a little presentation with a poem and something neat they have made at school. Jari was a cook and cooked us up a Happy New year while Kaeden had made a scroll with rhyming words from the grammar he is learning and gave us a kiss on our nose...my boys make me so happy!

Happy New Year one and all...I hope yours is starting out as nice as mine...with love and wishes for a great 2007 from those that you love ...how could it get any better?