We were busy this weekend. It was a really great family weekend and we had a really good time as a family. The fighting was at bay and there were lots of games and playing that gave me hope that our family was okay. I was relaxed and calm and had fun being a mom. Erwin and I joked with each other and I had fun being a wife. And the interactions between all of us were just what the doctor ordered to make me feel a bit more secure with this life I lead. It was the weekend I needed to give me that recharge and strength to go on.

I picked my son up and carried him during one of our jaunts this weekend. He pulled my face to his and asked for nose kisses, cheek kisses, and chin kisses. I obliged. As we walked, he stroked my hair, time and time again. As I set him back down after making our way through the crowds he gave me a last kiss and whispered in my ear: I love you, mama...before he was gone, running to explore the world.

As I tucked my son into bed, he asked me to please lay with him. As I snuggled tight against the warmth of his body, he looked at me with his hazel-y eyes and told me: Mom, I have a secret to tell you. Do you know how much I love you? No, I answered. How much? Well, you have to guess. More than all the stars in the sky? Nope. More than this much (stretching my arms wide)? Nope. Hmmm, more than, more than I love you? Nope. Cuz you love me the very best and you're my best friend and I love you a million, 3 trillion, miljaard, hundred thousand euros! And I love Papa that much too, cuz he's the best Papa in the world and you're the best mama I ever had. And with a big kiss he turned to spoon into my body again and demand that I rub his hair. I obliged.

My boys, though sometimes demonic, still possess a sweetness that brings me to my knees. And it's for moments like these that I go on, holding out for their love, for their giving, caring, wholesomeness, and hope beyond hope that I am giving them what they need to nurture their sweetness. For they nurture mine, as was apparent in this wonderful family weekend.


Tera Needs

Here's something I found on a pretty fun blog over at http://blogs.chron.com/mamadrama/ Thought I'd try it and here's what I got. Just do a Google search for ("Your name" needs ) and see what it is you're needing in your life. Kinda fun for a Friday morning! :-)


needs donations from the public. No amount is too small, and all currencies are welcome.
needs donations to support women
needs to get out
Needs You!
a few good volunteers!
more women
needs to visually shut down
needs a creative push

And on Alta Vista I need:
to go below target weight we had set.
to connect, not only to a large number
to get out
to get on stage
to have the power


When Things Go Wrong

as they sometimes will, and the road you battle seems all uphill...

Yeah, don't quit. Sometimes being a parent I feel like such a failure and just want to quit. But I can't. I carried these children in my womb, I gave them life, and I now have to raise them to adulthood. But it sure ain't easy. At this point in time, I wan't to quit. I am so sick of the constant fighting, the whining, the meanstreaks, being disrespected, and called names I wouldn't consider letting pass my lips. I just feel like I'm doing it all wrong, and my kids are turning out to be nasty little hooligans. I just feel helpless and hopeless and don't know what to do. I really can't stand my kids lately. I never expected to have such mean brats...and that's exactly what they are.

So, how do I turn them around? How do I begin setting them up to be good citizens? How can I teach them right from wrong? When Kaeden was a baby, I refused to spank. I still don't like it and think it sends a wrong message, and I don't like what it does to my kdis, how they back away in fear from me. But sometimes, it makes an impact and it's the only time they look at me with as someone to be looked up to. How can I get that same result without using spanking as the medium?

Jari has always been a stubborn, but great kid. Lately, he is the meanest, snottiest little brat that lives on the planet. Sometimes I feel sorry for him, as I know he's elarning a lot from his big brother, and sometimes I worry that living with autism is wreaking havok on his little brain....I know it does on his body. But at the same time, that's the way it is darn it all, you have to live with this and you have to get beyond it. Don't treat me in the exact manner you yourself hate to be treated. At five years old, you treat me as I would expect (hmm, this sounds terrible) a teenager to rebel against his parents. I'm so sick of fighting with him.

Kaeden and his nasty mouth has gotten the best of me. I can't believe some of the words he uses that I just accept as normal. How many 12-year-olds are there in the world that would get away with calling their mother a fat whore? Or a big bitch...something along the lines of "Fuck you, you big bitch. You are such a fat whore." as he runs to his room, for something like, oh, being asked to pick up his wet towel and put it in the bathroom. And his strength scares me. I am fearful that he is going to really hurt someone sometime...and I would never forgive myself if that happened to be his little brother, whom is on the receiving end of the majority of his brute force.

Erwin and I are constantly at odds over parenting, but neither of us is doing the right thing. Both of us knows what we're doing is not working, but we just don't know how to change it. We don't know how to deal with the crisis that is part of life everyday in our home. We don't know how to parent an autistic child and his little brother that copies his every move. And I get so angry at Erwin when he stoops to their level, treating them as he is being treated, disrespectfully and flat out mean. Yet, why shouldn't he? Why should he be thrown all that brattiness his way and be expected to react any differently? I just don't know. And that's such a huge problem.

At the moment, I am hating being a parent. I wish I had never signed on to this life-long contract. But I did. When I chose to give these children life, I chose to do my very best to rear them to become men, men that are happy, healthy, and secure. But they forgot to give me the manual when I signed on that dotted line, and still there's no turning back. I am stuck being their mom, and I only hope that there comes a day again soon when their kisses, laughter, and funny comments can make me see that I made a good choice, and put their bratty, mean, snotty ways into the background of my life. I'm not sure how much more I can take before I flip out.



This afternoon, Kaeden put on the video of our wedding. As I ironed my husband's shirts, I looked back at the memorable day that set us out on our married life. It was such a beautiful wedding, such a beautiful day, and it was as close to perfection as we could have gotten. I watched as the emotions ran high when it was my turn to say my vows, as tears fell down my cheeks. I watched as my baby played in the sand and then cried for milk the entire ceremony. I watched as my son released butterflies into the sky, and one wouldn't leave his hand. I watched as Jari went running behind the rocks and my mom went to collect him. I watched as my dad wiped tears from his eyes as Daddy's girl was sung by my godmother and good friend. I watched as my grandparents sat next to each other on some blocks of wood, and as my brothers and their families sat scattered among the rocks. I watched as my father-in-law sang Ave Maria, and as my mother-in-law wiped at her eyes with a handkerchief pulled from her bra. I watched as my sister-in-law handed over our rings to my husband...the wrong ones! I watched all of this, and remembered...remembered all the reasons I chose to marry my wonderful husband. In the daily chore of life, those special things about that person you love, your mate in life, is forgotten or set aside, but when you sit and think about who you chose to be your partner in life, all that wonder comes flowing through your veins again, as powerful and mind-boggling as that first kiss you shared.

I am so happy I married my husband. He supports me, he loves me, he gives, and he loves my children more than any other man I know could have. He is my ideal man. And as I watched those visions of our marriage day, I am happy that in the ups and downs we've experienced since that day, my love for him has never faltered, but grown more and become stronger. Mr. and Mrs. Erwin ......, voor altijd...en een dag! Ik hou van jou! ;-)



After weeks of trying to reach the consulate in Antwerpen, Erwin finally got through...and now the date is set! June 13 we head on over to turn me into a Dutchie!!! I am feeling extremely nervous about all of this, now that the time is finally here. All my paperwork is in order, but what kind of test is he going to give me? Will my Dutch be good enough to pass as a citizen? Am I going to have to sing the national Wilhelmus anthem? Am I going to have to know all about the Dutch goverment and royal family? Will I understand his Dutch well enough to understand his questions? My stomach is fluttering with butterflies at the prospect of handing over 400 euro with my integrity on the line.

I am so excited at the prospect of becoming a dual-citizen. Being able to keep my American passport as well as have my Dutch one will give me a great peace of mind. I will have all the rights as a Dutch citizen, since I will be a Dutch citizen! Doesn't that sound terrific? I think it does. And if anything should happen to my husband, I will have the security of knowing I am welcome in Europe...anyplace in Europe will be mine for the taking. I will be able to collect a pension, I will be able to vote, I will be able to cross borders as a European without waiting in the non-EU line!! My home will be completely mine without needing to pay higher taxes. I will be completely integrated into this life I have created for myself here in Europe. It's exciting stuff, I tell ya!

So, off to read some more news and get myself conditioned for any questions that might come my way. I just hope that I am able to pass with flying colors...God knows I've had to do plenty of flying these past 7 years!!! Now comes the real test...none of that 24 hour flight stuff...this is a life-long flight, and one I fully expect to conquer. Wish me luck...I'm gonna need it!


First Communion

Sunday was Mother's Day. It was a very special Mother's Day as it was also the day Kaeden celebrated his first communion. And he was in a complete state of happiness the entire day, his eyes were shining and I enjoyed just watching him rejoice in his special day.

We went to his school after all of us dressing in our Sunday best. We dropped Kaeden off with his teacher and then headed to the gym where the ceremony was to be held. We were met by his godparents and oma and opa, who sat further back while we took our reserved parent seats...the perfect place to see our son receive the body of Christ, the perfect place to watch him climb on stage and sing his song, the perfect place to watch him dance along with the other children.

The theme of his communion was the most beautiful fish in the sea. This sea of little children, this sea of varied hadicaps brought tears to my eyes as I watched. All these little people God put here on earth, with some purpose in mind, and as I sat and looked around me, I was overtaken by emotion. In the gym were 500 onlookers for 22 children...each of those people has been positively enhanced by the handicap of the child they love, and as we all laughed together at the funny things the children said, we all clapped when they finished their part, we all prayed together, giving thanks to the Lord for his blessing of these little people in our lives. I saw parents crying as their child received the body of Christ, and some, like me, got a bit giggly with emotion even as tears created a glaze over my eyes. It was special, and I am glad I was able to take that peace home with me. And that understanding. An understanding of the importance of special children, and those that love our special children.

We came home to celebrate. kaeden poured his glass of kiddie wine, lit the candles on his cake, and waited patiently for us to sing to him. He opened his gifts and was extremely happy with each that he received. He didn't dare hope for a better day than what he had, because it truly was perfect...a small affair, with special people and fun gifts, a smorgasbord of delicious food, and sunshine that spettered down from between the rain clouds. God was with us.

Mother's Day. The gift I received in seeing that complete happiness flowing from my son was more wonderful than any other gift I could have received. I did get a terracotta lamp handpainted by my boys and husband, a plastic bag holder handpainted by Jari, and a whole bunch of yummy chocolates handmade by Kaeden. I see a theme here...handmade, handpainted...my favorite gifts of all. Mother's Day. A day to celebrate me, but where would I be if it weren't for the goodness of the Lord putting my special little boys in my life, my heart, and my home? I think that in the end, God gave me the very best gift of all. And for that, I give Him thanks.


Kaeden and Friends

Today I had another one of those autistic mom moments that sort of break your heart. As I dropped Jari off at a friend's house to play, and stayed for an hour drinking coffee and talking, Kaeden joined in the fun with the other 5 little boys in the house. Kaeden doesn't have friends, but considers anyone he plays with at whateevr moment his best friend. As I finished my coffee and got my coat on to leave, I called Kaeden away to come with me. He left without any problem, but was very sulky when we got home. I asked him what the trouble was, and with tears in his eyes, he told me he just wanted to play with the other kids. He wondered why he couldn't stay and play with his "best friends" and why he could never have friends come to play here. I told him that he couldn't just stay if he wasn't invited, and wished for once he would also be invited along. But the fact of the matter is that the kids Jari play with have big brothers, but they are all still much younger than Kaeden in years, if not in mental age. And they are not his true friends, as much as he considers them so from the moments he plays with them during soccer practices and games. And as much as I would love to see my house bursting at the seams with preteen boys, Kaeden just doesn't have friends, and today that simple fact was hurting both of our hearts. I told him he could always invite one of his "friends" from his bus to come home with him, and that I'd even write the mother a note asking to call me to set up a playdate. But the truth is, that if someone invited Kaeden to come home with them, I wouldn't let him go without knowing anything about the family or at least meeting the parents when I dropped him off. The situation he's in just doesn't lend to having friends, neither mentally nor physically, and I hurt for him. I'm scared that as he gets older, these little things are just going to keep getting more noticeable. It's just one of those things about autism.

Caught in the Act

This morning I got caught! I was doing something that I really shouldn't have been, but hey, it's my house and usually I am alone IN my house...but not this morning. My son caught me red-handed...and admonished me for doing what I always tell them not to do. Oops! What was I doing, you're wondering? Well, of course I was drinking out of the carton...fresh juice poured directly onto my thirsty tongue without dirtying a glass in the process!

I didn't even think twice as I grabbed the carton from the fridge and started to drink. It's not something I normally do unless there is just a dribble left, but seemed fitting today, for whatever reason. And when Jari came into the kitchen, he pointed his finger at me and said with his stern voice "Hey, you can't do that. It's not nice to drink from the container. And if you tell me I can't do that, then you can't do that either." I lowered my eyes and my head in that cowering position as you do when your father is cussing you out. I quickly replaced the juice and told Jari he's right, I shouldn't be doing that. And then I thought nothing more of it, until....

This afternoon I walked in the kitchen. Jari had just returned from playing with a friend and we were heading out to soccer practice. And my eyes popped out of my head as I watched him slug down his yogurt drink straight from the container. Ï pointed my finger at him and said "Hey, you can't do that." As he continued drinking the last little sip, he pulled the bottle from his mouth and said "There, it's all gone!" Seems there are a few of us not listening in this household...and also learning from their, uhm, mom!!! OOps!


Cookies For Dinner

My son's eyes were twinkling. His voice was a high-pitched shrill as he asked "Do we REALLY get cookies for dinner?" As I set the table with little plates and a glass of milk, the smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the air, I was happy with my decision to have cookeis for dinner. Who would have thought? So, after a very late lunch and not too hungry family, my boys were thrilled with their wonderful surprise. They sat down to have dinner without the usual fight of "What is that?" "Yuck!" "I'm not eating that!" and ate their dinner up without a single question or whine. Cookies for dinner, indeed. And sparkling eyes proved it was a once in a lifetime treat!!!


De Splinter

Yesterday was Labor Day in Belgium. The kids were home and I didn't feel like doing nothing, so we took Papa to work and headed off for a day of fun. I did a little research online and discovered a park not far from Erwin's work, called De Splinter. That's where we went, and boy, am I glad we did. It was a treasure of a playground, all different areas for differing activities. There was a building center, a pirate island, a regular playground, soccer field, swimming pool, and a petting zoo. We spent nearly ALL day at this park, not even exiting the gates to discover the rest of the park in which houses this "playground". The boys LOVED it and even managed to swim in the pool. We built a hut from wood and captured some tadpoles. We played with the baby goats and wandered through the paths in the pirate forest searching for treasures. We had a picnic lunch sitting in the sun, and just had a really terrific day together. Kaeden came up with the reasoning behind the name: Mom, they have a bunch of wood where you can get splinters, so that's why they call it The Splinter. I was impressed as that didn't even cross my mind. Jari loved crossing the bridges onto the pirate island and manning the boat complete with skull and crossbones. I enjoyed the sunshine, getting a bit of color and moving our possessions from one playplace to the next. I'm so glad we spent the day as we did. It was peaceful and fun, and I came away feeling like the mom I want to be...involved, active, and happy. And so were my lil guys!

We went to pick Papa up from work and got to tour his office building. He is on the 7th floor with a really nice view of the city. We met his boss and saw his new desk and it was a great end to a great day. I wouldn't have traded it for sleeping in a bit later for anythign in the world.