Life is a celebration. A celebration of life. And within that celebration are moments to treasure, each and every day. Moments that shouldn’t pass us by without giving into the goodness that fills our senses. Some of these moments come to me in the form of something silly one of children says, other times it comes as I watch the birds flutter among tree branches. Sometimes it comes as I lie in bed with my son hearing him recount stories of his day, or read a bedtime story with my animated voice and see the expressions on my little ones face, knowing I have brought life to this story, just in the tone I use. Sometimes it comes as I lie snuggled into the chest of my husband late at night, feeling his fingers flutter over my skin, giving me peace and relaxation before my slumber. Sometimes it comes when I awaken to sun in a blue morning sky, and sometimes it comes as I walk through a simple but warm spring rain. Sometimes that moment of celebration comes when I have cleaned up my house and feel good as I walk through the rooms, no crumbs settled upon the kitchen floor. Sometimes it comes when the telephone rings with an unexpected hello greeting me at the other end of the line. And sometimes from a visit from the mailman or a neighbor stopping me on the street to say hello. These are not any of them memorable occasions, simple every day happenings that should be celebrated. This is life, this is living. And life and living, well, with that comes moments that make you see, yes, life is good. For in any of those simple pleasures, every worry can be stripped from your mind, every touch of sadness erased, every angry thought dissipated, and life is good. Life is a celebration, a celebration of life.

From Childhood to Pain

A little something I wrote today to try to help me through this process that my life has become. And to remember the good days when life was just a bit simpler and more grand...in such a pure and simplistic form as living in the woods as a child truly was. May tomorrow bring just a bit more peace to my heart...

From Childhood to Pain

Remembering back...to days long past
Three children growing, 2 boys and a lass.
Learning from nature, playing with sticks
Better than any Top 10 toy picks.

Sitting around the fire
Marshmallows our after-dinner desire
Faces smudged from the outside world
All pent up energy unfurled.

Those memories stick with me
A part of who I’m meant to be
The girl I once was, the woman I now am
An innocence such of a springtime lamb.

For I am a child of the great outdoors
That place where the bald eagle soars
Where squirrels and chipmunks share their home
Where the deer and buffalo roam.

Tasting cool water from a mountain spring
Playing on a tire swing
The mosquitos buzzing around my head
Our precious Bambi bottle-fed.

Family was imbedded in my heart
As if we were the finest work of art
Thinking these people belong to me
Knowing that it would forever be.

But childhood fantasies are put to rest
As we realize we’re an unwanted guest.
Those memorable days long since past
Family no longer so steadfast.

But my heart does not betray me
As I try and try again to see
The reason for this insanity
Does it stem from christianity?

Questions go unanswered as we part our ways
And I remember once again back to my childhood days
I learned and loved in daddy’s woods
Never to be replaced by all the worldly goods.

And so I’ll continue to sit and wonder
My head now filled with this thunder
As I try to come to terms with sadness
And try to understand the madness.

But it hurts.
Oh, the pain it exerts
A knife stabbing deep time and time again
Will I ever again be okay from within?



Playing games is something I love to do with the boys. And they always happily trudge upstairs to our overflowing game cupboard and bring down something to entertain us. I usually allow them free reign of what they want to play, and it frequently comes down to three or four daily choices. Jari's favorite is Dinosaur Monopoly. He loves hearing about where the dinos come from and repeating their difficult to pronounce names. It's a fun game.

Anyway, we were playing Dino Monopoly and Jari won yet another dinosaur. As he repested the name with some difficulty and the fact that this dino came from Wyoming, where gramma and grampa live, he suddenly had his own insight. "Mama, did you know that grampa shot all the dinosaurs and so there are no more?" Hmmm, well, the dinos were all dead before grampa was born. "No, grampa likes to hunt and he shot them all and that's why there are no more." So, all the dinos are extinct cuz grampa shot them all? Do you think he likes to eat dinosaur meat? "Hahahaha, that would taste funny. I could cook a spike like a french fry!" Yum, yum YUM! "No, grampa just likes to eat deer meat. He can shoot all the 'deers' now cuz he already got all the dino's."

I thought this was pretty funny. He sincerely believes that because many of the dinosaurs lived in Wyoming, that grampa was the cause for their demise. As many times as I have explained extinction to him, he thinks grampa is the dinosaur hero. And who am I to extinguish his dinosaur/grampa-grandson fantasies?


Back From America

It's never easy to say goodbye. But it sure is good to get hugs from my kiddos and a kiss from my husband and be reminded that I am again home. Home...my heart pulls in two different directions and that was evident as I celebrated a family party in America with my own family missing from the equation, thousands of miles away. Will it ever get easier or continue to tug at my heart with each little reminder of the distance? Will I ever feel secure in the knowledge that I made this decision, this move, and tore myself away from all that is familiar? I can't answer that. I only know that I am styuck between two worlds with my heart reaching in both directions. And as much as it pains to say goodbye, til next time, saying hello is just as strong an emotion in the opposite direction.

The trip was without doubt, wonderful. I was able to visit with each and every relative on my mom's side of the family, as well as relatives from England whom I haven't seen in a number of years. And all of my grampa's family was also present and I was filled with smiles as they all asked about my life in Europe, as I relayed little stories about my family and my life over the ocean. It is as if I live an adventure to all of them, and try to live up to those expectations through my stories of our travels and the events with which I am able to take part. I know I am lucky. I experience many things that many Americans only dream of experiencing. I know I am blessed, for I have the love of a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. Yet, my heartstrings tug and that is one adventure I wish I never had to explore.

My grandparents looked radiant on their special day. My gramma in her tiara and grampa in a brand new white shirt, both faces filled with love and smiles, all their children once again under the same roof, remembering back to the beginnings of this Hesprich family. I couln't help but shed a few tears as my uncle delivered a speech reminding us how good it feels to be home, our childhood a part of the person we have become, our parents guiding us to be the people we have turned out to be. The old farmstead replica added a sense of comfort as we all enjoyed stories about swimming in the pig troughs, hanging chairs from trees for some privacy, accidentally baking baby pigs as gramma tried to keep alive on the warm fire. It really brought me a sense of security seeing how far this family has come, still together after all these years, generations together in one place.

My parents took me on a little trip to Wayne, Wisconsin. I had never before heard of Wayne, but when they discovered the little house on the corner of the main street with a bar next door, I could hear the giggles and see the laughter in their faces as we "broke in" an open back door and I heard stories from their youth...as well as saw the special place where their love created little me some 36 years ago. I have a picture that I will hold forever sacred as they pointed to the place that housed their bed on the floor, the place that my life began, the place that they remember their own beginning. In that delapidated old house that looked as if it were ready to be torn down, life once again came alive as I heard of the parties they hosted, the scary upstairs that noone would enter, and the car rides to and from Wayne to Mayville so my parents could spend time together. It made me feel totally happy, to finally see this place from where I had come.

My gramma's birthday was celebrated the first day of my trip. We all headed to the senior center where my aunt gave her senior aerobics class to all the residents and we were nourished with good home cooking of corned beef and cabbage for St. Paddy's Day. It really was fun to see the exchange between my grandparents and the other residents. In their old age, they still have a place to call home, friends to share time with. As a closure to the day we all headed to a taco dinner at the local pub and then onto the casino. I came out of there with a $100 win and we all left pretty content after an evening gambling, something I rarely do as it seems such a waste of money. But it was a great time and I did have a blast, and so did my gramma which was most important of all.

I managed to go shopping one day and though the stores in the area were minimal I happily loaded my cart with a few goodies from "home" and a few treats for my guys back home. Amazing how bringing goodies from America reconnects something within me. As I presented some cereal and pop tarts and chewing gum and marshmallows to the kids, they knew this was special, this American treasure, and they reacted with the OOOhs and OOOha's that gave my heart a pitter-patter. This was my way of sharing their American heritage with them, when they couldn't be present to see it first hand. And they were grateful and accepting and we all had fun.

My little nephew brought me so many smiles as his hugs captured me in love. He is so inquisitive and wants to figure everything out and it was just so darn cute. As we ate his little toothless mouth opened and closed knowing this was something he also wanted to enjoy. He's just such a happy baby and I couldn't have gotten greater pleasure then holding him, playing with him, showing him the ducks and boat on a picture that he never tired of seeing. Seeing him for the first time since he was a newborn gave me a happiness beyond what can be described in words. It was pure sweetness and i loved every second of him.

My grandparents exchanged rings at their 60th anniversary party and as they held hands, wrinkly and old, and told each other they would marry all over again, I couldn't help but feel grateful. They looked so beautiful together on this special day. They gave me hope for what my own future could hold.

On my last day in America, I traveled with my parents to look at a machine my dad is interested in buying. I always love going on little jaunts with my parents because they always hold a sense of adventure and you just never quite know what you are in for. Well, we were infor an adventure for certain as we lost our way on the back-roads and had barely enough time to catch our flights. With my dad, you just know that getting on the plane, on-time, is invariably a question of maybe. He loves stress, and everyone else around him better also know how to handle it. We made it to the airport with a scant hour to return the car and catch our planes, and as we caught the bus back to the terminal and parted ways, the emotional good-bye was replaced with relief that we ahd made it. And we did. A few little tears escaped down my cheeks as I waved at them through the windows of the bus and then hurried on through security to catch my own flight home.

And then, 28 hours later, I was home. My boys greeted me at the train station with stories and smiles and their eyes gave me peace that all had gone just fine while I was away. And home, well, there's just nothing better than home, wherever that may be on any particular day in time.


Saying Goodbye

Yesterday at 10:15am just as I returned home from my trip to America, I received that dreaded call. My Uncle Jack is gone, leaving us here on earth to grieve for the man we all loved. I am only grateful that he no longer has to endure the pain. He was such an energetic and lively man, hunting a great joy as seen in the decoration covering his home. His animals were his treasures, each dog his best friend, all his cows a source of many laughs. He never failed to put a smile on my face with his own grumpy old man rendition. I will dearly miss him. I am sorry for my dad and wish I could be there to support him during this time. My dad loved his brother, deeply and simply. I am sorry for his family. Uncle Jack, thank you for all you have given to each of us through the years. The memories I have shared with you will remain forever a part of who I am. I love you, still.


Over and Out

Tomorrow at 4:30 am we're heading out the driveway...She's Coming To America, She's Coming to America...Today!!!!! Today! Today! Sweet Land of Liberty, TODAY! And so the song goes. I'm looking forward to the trip, less to missing my little ones and my husband. Thanks Er, for letting this be possible for me. I hope all goes well while mama is gone. I'll be thinking about you guys and bring you all back a treat! See you Monday!

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO and many more,
Mama and Vrouwtje ;-)


Donker Betekent Dat Het Eng Is

aka The Dark Means That It's Scary

I picked Jari up from school this afternoon. We were biking to town to get some groceries and he started telling me all about babies and dreams. The theme in his class this week is babies and he's quite intrigued by it all. He tells me that babies don't know anything. I told him babies know when they are hungry and that's why they cry. He said, "Yeah, and they know that when it's dark out, that it's scary. That's why babies have little dreams and big boys have big dreams and I'm a big boy and that's why I have big dreams about bears and stuff." I asked if HE thought it was scary when it's dark out. I heard him sigh from his bike seat behind me and respond sarcastically with "Well, what do YOU think???!!!" I held in my laugh as I told him that dark doesn't mean scary, cuz there are nice things like the moon and stars that we can see if it's dark. I don't think he was convinced as he finished our conversation. "Yeah, and I can jump in bed between mama and papa and then it's not scary any more."

And to think I had no real idea how scared he is of the dark...hmmmm...


Leaving on a Jet Plane

and I know when I'll be back again. But as the time draws nearer, I'm getting more nervous about going. I am excited about seeing my family and sharing in the anniversary celebration of my grandparents. I'm happy I get to take part and be there for my gramma's birthday, to help decorate the hall, and even do a little shopping to bring back my favorite American goodies. I'm glad my parents will be arriving at the same time as me and we'll have a few hours to just talk and share companionship before greeting all the other visitors. I'm glad I'll have the chance to hold my little nephew and see his smiles and listen to him gurgle his sweet baby music. I'm blessed to have all of this to look forward to.

Yet, another side of me is worried. I know that my husband can handle the household for a few days, but never in his life has he been alone with my two guys for the amount of time he will on this vacation. I know how difficult Kaeden can be and I also know how difficult Erwin finds it to accept Kaeden's disabiding nature. I trust my husband, but when he knows I am concerned and makes jokes about how he's going to handle things while I'm gone, I feel like turning in my ticket and my chance at sharing in all the above happiness. Maybe he just doesn't get how real my concerns are to me. Maybe he thinks I'm a bit possessed by worries that may never happen. Maybe he thinks he can shape up our problems spending 5 days in mama's shoes. But whatever he thinks, all I hope is that I come back home and return to 3 happy guys that made it through with no real grief. I just wish I could expect peace. But as much as I like to dream and fantasize, reality is only one little step away...and peace is something that is lacking in our little family. I am nervous.

I am going to continue to hope that my distance will bring great things and let Erwin and Jari and Kaeden bond further...have that guy thing going on and have a bunch of fun without mama around. I am going to hope that Kaeden's tantrums stay at bay long enough to let Erwin see the wonderful young man that I do. I am going to hope that Kaeden and Jari play like the best of friends they sometimes are, and that their brotherly love/hate relationship leaves itself for another rainy week. I'm going to hope that Erwin is the loving, capable father I know him to be, and can tuck my boys in bed each night with a kiss and a meaningful "I love you."

So, these nerves of mine are churning double time as I count down the days to Wednesday. They are churning in excitement and worries, and both are making me feel a bit displaced. There are two sides to every story, and I as experience this within the confines of my own body, I hope that I can remember that in the relationship between all my guys as well. It's going to be okay, and we're all going to have another new experience to add to our book of life.


My Gramma

It's been nearly 8 years now. Eight years since I heard her laughter or saw her smile, watched as her thumbs twirl around her folded hands. Eight years since I combed her beautiful white hair, still shiny and full, or grabbed her walker to help her to the bathroom. Eight years since the card games have stopped and eight years since liver and onions have entered my mind as a full course meal. It's been nearly eight years since I last had my gramma alive with me here on earth. And lately, there isn't a day that passes that I don't see her face in my mind, hear her talking to me about OJ, or wish that I could go to her appartment for a visit. I miss my gramma.

It's so strange to me that after all this time I'm suddenly encountered with this need again. I mean, of course I have missed her through the years, of course I have thought about her, but to this degree has long since passed. Or has it? She was someone that was always in my life. From the time I can remember she was often with us, and lived with us for many years of my childhood. She wasn't one of those gramma's that came to stay for a few days, but was always there when I came home from school, most likely not baking cookies, but surely with a True Love romance magazine to pass into my hands once she'd read it. True Love, that is something that will always remind me of my gramma, for more reasons than one. Yes, that was her magazine of choice and as a teenager she turned me onto those flighty romance stories with a vengeance. But true love was also what I felt for her. Even in those most difficult of times having to share a home with my gramma, there was never a time that I didn't want her around. She was my friend and I loved being there to help her with tasks she could no longer do herself as her health started to regress. She was always so thankful when I brought her a warm cup of milk before bedtime and often rewarded me with a little candy treat from her private stash. Her extreme opinions about the OJ Simpson trial stick with me like it was yesterday, knowing that no matter what the hour I would find gramma in her electric chair covered with a blanket and holding a stuffed animal, the Simpson trial on TV. There were many an evening we would sit together at the kitchen table with a deck of cards between us but never finish the game as she began telling me stories of her life, and there was nearly never a story that didn't end with little tears flowing down her face as she relived the story of losing her son.

I feel so lucky that I had my gramma in my life. I feel even more lucky that she was also someone that had such great impotance in my son, Kaeden's, life. He remembers her and speaks of her often, though he was a mere four years as he held her hand on her death bed in the hospital. He speaks often of the little empty medicine bottles she would fill with coins for him and present to him on our visits, or about the Halloween day she acted so utterly shocked when he showed up as a little dragon on her doorstep trick-or-treating. She played a huge part in our lives, and I hope that in those days we gave to her as much as she gave to us in terms of love and support.

As we made an emergency trip to Laramie knowing that it would be the last time I held her wrinkly hands and kissed her soft cheek, I had a moment to tell her goodbye, as she lay nearly comotose in her hospital bed. I say nearly, for as I whispered in her ear that I wasn't ready to tell her goodbye, she let me know yet again that she loved me as her hand squeezed mine in a tight embrace. I left the hospital that night with tears flowing from my eyes, knowing that it would be the last chance to see her alive. And it was.

We loaded her coffin into the back of my truck to take her on her last journey home, to lay her to rest next to her husband in Idaho. We spent the trip stopping and reminiscing on the way, playing in the creek and feeling the security of having my gramma with us on that last journey. Though her body was dead, her spirit was most definitely not, and though it was odd driving some 12 hours with her coffin sheltered in the camper-top, it was also comforting and a feeling of security having her with us. We all felt it. And as much as it was a time of grieving, it was also a time of peace.

I miss my gramma. I wish she were here today to see the woman I have become, to meet my husband and my son, to help me through my difficult moments with Kaeden. Yet, she never leaves my heart, and is always present with her quiet wisdom. She is a woman I will never forget, and be thankful that I had the wonderful times I did with her. I love you dear gramma. And it's most definitely True Love.


Bikes and Europe

I was thinking today about my move to Europe and what that has meant to me. After having a very heartfelt talk with my girlfriend yesterday about the changes we've made in our lives just to manage in this part of the world, I keep having glimpses of the hysterical situations I have found myself in. Not always hysterical as in hahahaha, but looking back I can see the funny side. Still, moving here has been hard. Really hard. And it continues to be difficult as the years pass me by. It's so easy to slip into hermit mode and forget about the outside world where you can't be yourself, and don't really even know who that is anymore. Moving to a new country and trying to accept the cultural changes you must accept as part of your life, without having the history to support it and understand it, can quite literally make you crazy. This morning, I had one of those moments. Yeah, the crazy ones.

My son's bike has a flat tire. I fixed it once, my husband fixed it once, and yet, it's still (well, was) flat. This morning I got out all the bike repair supplies to fix the thing for once and for all. I took off the wheel, pushed the 'wheel taker offer' in and ran it around the rim, pulled out the tube and found the hole after airing it up and spitting on it to see the bubbles. Yep, that's what I did. And then, I started laughing. These huge, goofy laughs that made it hard to breathe. I was remembering back to the conversation I had yesterday with my friend, and then even further back to 7 years ago when I had not a clue even HOW to fix a flat bike tire...yet here I was, spitting on a tube to find the hole and ready with sandpaper, glue, and rubber to fix it. After my laughter subsided, I did fix that bike tire...I aired it up good, put it all back together, and know what? It is still fixed, ready to take out on the road and ride!!!

Why did this hit me as so funny? Well, it's just one more thing I have learned since moving to Europe. It was one of the first things my husband taught me to do when I moved here and got my first bike in years; it was my only mode of transportation and if I got stuck someplace, I'd be able to get back home. I can't tell you how many times I have fixed a tire in the 6 1/2 years Europe has been my home. But, it's been enough to know that fixing a bike tire is a tool I need to have, and one which I have conquered. I can do it! I have proof that I have excelled...just ask my son who is excited to have his bike ready for a ride later this afternoon.

I won't tell you right now about the time all the groceries fell off the special made little crate that fit on the back of my bike and broke in pieces and I still managed to make it home with the groceries. I won't talk about the time we moved from the center of town to the "suburbs" and did 75% of the move per bike, nor will I talk about the time my shoelace got caught in the chain or the time my pants leg wrapped around the pedal, nor the time my husband and I carried home a roll of linoleum for our downstairs floor each grasping an end trying to ride in unison, my son behind me on his special bike seat. I won't talk about it right now, because I am laughing far too hard. It's been quite a journey, and my bike has been a big part of my experiences here in Europe. Seeing that I can only manage about 40km/day on a really strong day, I'd say I've still got a ways to go, and I'm sure there will be much, much more to overcome in that time. Yes, overcome! I'm going to make it, and make it proudly!


The Tooth Fairy has landed

Pure magic. Last night Jari hid his tooth buried in the folds of his Superman pillow. It was secure in one of mama's ring boxes and after the trauma of losing his first tooth subsided, he was excited to see what the tooth fairy might bring. When he awoke this morning (papa woke him cuz he wanted to share in his excitement before he left for work), he came downstairs with his box and exclaimed "Het engeltje (The little angel) took my tooth and left me money!!!" He got a euro which he happily stuffed into his Kabouter Plop piggy bank so he could bring it to the real bank to deposit into his savings. His total Plop savings is up to 16,20 and he was quite impressed with that amount.

I can't quit looking at his mouth. Those little pink lips that once suckled at my breast, toothless and sweet, now contain a new hole where baby teeth will be replaced by "big people" teeth. Where oh where does the time go? As he walks around the house catching a ball singing "The tooth fairy came! The tooth fairy came!" with a refrain of "Look how high I can throw this mom", my heart flutters. I miss my sweet little baby, but wow, what a great kid he's turning out to be. His laughter brightens my world, his playful manner makes me jiggle in dance, his tight hugs envelop me in love...I wonder what will come once his big people teeth fill his mouth?


Jari Smarts

We were putting our stickers on our reward charts last night. And I was rewarded with a huge, hearty laugh that came from deep in my belly and flowed out into the world. Just how did that happen?

Mama: Jari, did you clean up your room today?

Jari: It is clean.

Mama: Then you can put a sticker here (pointing to the appropriate circle)

Jari: (Taking sticker and looking at me with a smile) If I NEVER play in my room, I'll NEVER have to clean it and I'll ALWAYS get a sticker!!!


Papa: (watching and listening from the background) Or you COULD just play with your toys and then CLEAN THEM UP when you're done... (Isn't he just imaginative??!!! ha!)