The Last Day

Today is one of those days. It's a day when your heart pumps a little harder, from excitement but also sadness. It's like one journey is complete but another is awaiting you. You can't help but think back to this journey and remember all the wonders of it, each special moment, all the milestones, but then look ahead to what waits you in the coming segment of your life. I'm feeling torn between two journey's today as my baby steps into his very last day at kleuterschool (kindergarten). Tears keep welling up in my eyes as I think about the boy he has become. 3 years ago I brought him for the very first day to his school, crying and not wanting to let mama go, still in a diaper and just a teensy little person that didn't even reach my waist. Today, as I took him into his classroom for the very last day of his play years in school, I wished him a terrific last day at kleuterschool. His eyes lit up as a little giggle escaped his mouth, and the ensuing smile was evidence that he's happily moving onto a new phase in his life. Each day as I drop him off at school, I watch my five year old bound happily toward his friends on the playground, but he never fails to give me a goodbye kiss and tight hug before he takes off. He no longer needs me to hold his hand and bring him right to the doorway, like he did at the ripe age of 2 1/2. But, he's still my little bug, and still caters to his mama's needs. But what will tomorrow bring? I can't stand to think about him growing even bigger, knowing even more, leaving me behind as he finds his way in this great big world. He's my baby, there's no other child to follow in his footsteps, no more children to wave at me from the kleuterschool playground as I bike away, no more boys to chase me along the fence and climb it to give me one last kiss before I leave. I'm going to miss this journey.

Congratulations my little bug, on a wonderful kleutertijd. I hope that as you move forth onto the grote school, your life will only be enriched with more wonderful things...reading and science, writing stories and doing math tables...and through it all, don't forget that you will always be my little bug, the sweet little boy that held my pinkie as we walked towards your first day at kleuterschool all those years back, who couldn't let go of mama and always, always met me with hugs and kisses at the gate when it was time to pick you up. I'll be here for you still, and for always, as we start the next journey together. XO


Interesting thoughts

Got this from my aunt and it just hit me in a good way...made me think about things that really matter, what's important in life. And I like it, so here's some thinking for you as well.

1. The nicest thing about the future is that it
always starts tomorrow.

2. Money will buy a fine dog,
but only kindness will make him wag his tail.

3. If you don't have a sense of humor,
you probably don't have any sense at all.

4. Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.

5. A good time to keep your mouth shut is
when you're in deep water.

6. How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of
the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?

7. Business conventions are important because they show
how many people a company can operate without.

8. Why is it that at class reunions you feel
younger than everyone else looks?

9. Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job.

10. No one has more driving ambition than
the boy who wants to buy a car.

11. There are no new sins;
the old ones just get more publicity.

12. There are worse things than getting a call for a
wrong number at 4 AM. It could be a right number.

13. Think about this....No one ever says
"It's only a game." when his team is winning.

14. I've reached the age where the happy hour is a nap.

15. Be careful reading the fine print.
There's no way you're going to like it.

16. The trouble with bucket seats is that not
everybody has the same size bucket.

17 .Do you realize that in about 40 years, we'll have thousands
of OLD LADIES (and old men) running around with tattoos?
(And RAP music will be the Golden Oldies!)

18. Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more
comfortable to cry in a Lexus RX300 than in a Scion.

19. After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching
in every joint, you are probably dead.

20. One of the hardest things in life we have to learn
Is which bridges to cross and which ones to burn


There are times when a woman just needs a break. A break from reality, a break from husband and kids, from cleaning teh kitchen and doing the laundry. Times when a woman needs to be with other women, share stories and tell secrets, laugh at silly jokes and be among the understanding of other women. This past weekend, I had that opportunity. I am refreshed from the experience. And I had a really terrific time.

We headed to Den Hague, which is the government capital of Holland, and entered a quite luxurious hotel complete with glass-enclosed bathroom. Tâlk about shock! We decided then and there that we'd be using the public toilets 7 floors down to do our duty. The glass enclosure left nothing to the imagination and was truly alaughable design. But it did do that...we had plenty of laughs from that special room in our "house". And, after looking at the skyline view from the top floor of the hotel, we decided we'd happily deal with the bathroom issue. The beds were hard, but did my back good. And the breakfast...well, it was the best I have seen in any hotel I've been in. It was a real treat complete with real bacon, pancakes and even maple syrup! YUM!

We took the tram into the center of den Hague where we sat on a terrace for coffee and a light lunch, then visited the old prison which was quite a shocking experience. The tools they used to torture and kill the prisoners in those days was a site to make you cringe. Branding, smashing bones, chopping off heads...ugh! I got a tshirt from there...and when I got home Erwin said ""Wow, you can wear torture!" But it is a true replica of the past, and the visit did make us think hard about religion and the role it plays in society, about the advances (or not?) we have made since those early times. And as always, I absolutely loved being in the midst of such histroey, touching walls from thousands of years past, feeling those 'ghosts'of the past.

We visited the many special areas in the Hague...the Peace Palace which we got to a bit too late to really see (all that walking made for tired legs, bodies, and spirits), but we did have a great look around the Binnenhof where the government officials do their business. We saw the Palace where the Queen sometimes works, and so many statues that just intrigue me. I think that sculpture is my very favorite art form. It's so creative and alive.

We then headed to teh IMAX theater where we saw a film on the African Serengeti which was really marvelous. After seeing the hot air balloons flying over the fields of grass, it made me want to take a trip even more so. We'll see if that time ever comes. I had the most fun watching my friend Sharon's face...she was so expressive throughout the film and gave me a chance to see a bit deeper into her soul. It was nice.

Scheveningen, here we come. We caught the tram from Imax and headed to the beach scene. It made my blood pound with adrenaline. That first glimpse of the sea, so much water it goes to the end of the earth, waves crashing against the shore, lights flashing from the restaurants littering the beach, the pier so strong haging in the water, the sun just a vision behind clouds of red, blue, and yellow, the scent of the sea filling you....it was really beautiful. Though I wasn't rasied as a beach baby, the ocean and the sea brings me peace. I could have stayed sitting there all night long...but we had to have some dinner...so we headed to a Mexican restaurant where we actually got real and good Mexican food. My favorite by far was the refried beans...oh, so yummy! I wish I'd ordered two plates of just beans (but then there may have been problems later with teh whole glass-walled bathroom thing! haha). We managed to catch the last tram back to the hotel before night was upon us. I was ready for sleep...but not just yet...we had birthday candles to blow out and a last look over the city skyline...

Wake up to the beep of the cell phone alarm...3 minutes too early! But other voices too, women with whom I'd shared a day of wonderful excperiences were ready to get on the move...more to see...

We got ready, headed to breakfast, and then checked out of Sir Winston Churchill's hotel. It was as grand as he. We took the car back to Scheveningen beach so we could spend the day there, playing in the sand, putting our feet in the waves, picking up shells and flat, smooth rocks. We shopped, just a little, not too much, and we had drinks on the terrace overlooking the beautifully alive crashing waves. We watched children play soccer on the sand, couples walk hand in hand barefoot, and seagulls come gliding to the earth from out of thin air. And then, we stepped into this sandy world ourselves. I took the shoes off my feet and dug my toes into the wet coolness of this other world. I stooped to collect some sheels...blacks and white stripes, blue and brown, white...and then I headed for the water. After the first rush of cold tingles slipped through my body, I was at peace. The sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore took away all the other sounds around me and I was one with nature. It filled me completely...adn it was a perfect end to a perfect girl's weekend away. A break from reality, a break with women and friends, and it was simply wonderful!


Okay, got this tag from my friend Amanda over at What About Your Hips... (http://whataboutyourhips.blogspot.com/)

She's on a weight loss journey and doing SO terrific!!! I am so proud of her and she has lots of ways to give you motivation and think about what life really is all about...the REALITY of life and learning to be HAPPY! Way to go AJ!!! And now, onto the fun stuff...

Instructions:Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place.Then add your blog to the bottom slot...like so...

1. Sandie Bee
2. Diet Coke Rocks
3. Wanna.b.slim
4. What about your hips...
5. This is my REALITY (www.tank95.blogspot.com)


What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was a single mom going to school to get my teaching degree and living in Casper, Wyoming. I worked weekends in Laramie helping my mom at her store so she'd have time to enjoy her grandson when we came back "home". We were on the road a lot, and that was perfectly fine with me. I was an A+ student with a 4.0 GPA (that changed once I met my husband online a couple years later!). I took pride in having my little family and spent a lot of time with my best friend Tammy letting our kids play. We lived across from each other in an apartment building and often left the doors open and ran between the two places. It was a busy time, but really self-fulfiling.

Five snacks You Enjoy:

1. Ice cream cone (man, I've been craving one for days now)
2. Fresh fruit...mainly berries, bananas, melon, pineapple, aw, you get the idea
3. cereal, eaten in handfuls from the box
4. yogurt
5. Whatever's left over from dinner in the fridge

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
Hmmm, I am so terrible at song names and artists. I can sing along to most of the 80's music, but ask me to sing it all to you without the music and I can't even begin. Probably the 5 songs I sing most often are:
1. As I Lay Me Down To Sleep
2. Slaap Kindje Slaap
3. All The Pretty Little Horses
4. The Dinosaur Songs
5. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

and now you know when I sing the most of all!!!

Five things you would do if you were a Millionaire:
1. Pay off my house
2. Pay off my student loan
3. Go on a trip around the world
4. Build a house in Wyoming
5. Put the rest away for a rainy day

Five Bad Habits:
1. Sitting on the computer too much
2. Biting my nails
3. Leaving laundry sitting around in piles
4. Eating when I'm not hungry out of boredom
5. Flying off the handle over nothing

Five Things You Like Doing:
1. Travel
2. Cooking
3. Going to walk in the woods
4. Reading
5. Writing

Five Things You'll Never Wear Again:
Hmm, dunno, this one's tough. But how about 5 pieces of very sentimental jewelry that got lost during the mess of my wedding day. I SO regret this...my engagement ring, a special ring from my mom, the first jewelry Erwin bought me, my friendship ring shared with Erwin, and all those other little favorites. I think it all got thrown away, but I just dunno...never to be worn again, in any cae :-(

Five Favourite "toys":
1. My computer
2. My thousands of containers filled with craft stuff
3. My camera
4. My baking supplies
5. My kids

I'm not gonna tag anyone, cuz I'm not too good at leaving comments on blogs I read so mostly the writers don't know me!!!! But if anyone wants to join in the fun, go for it!!


Locked Out

Last night was my last choir practice of the season...but we didn't sing. We took a 25km bike ride through forests I have never gone to discover on my own, then stopped for drinks at a cafe...and after debating for the whole day about whether I was gonna go or not, I had a complete and total blast!!! We traded off riding in pairs and I talked to some of the members I have never done any more than smile at. I had a Leffe (my fave beer) and shared lots of laughter with the sopranos. And in a comment that I mentioned how much I love raspberries, I was promised a container filled with them fresh picked from the garden...and this morning, I got them!!! Yum! But, once I got home, excited to tell my husband about my adventures (and about the preschool teacher drinking a bit too much and riding in the ditch filled with mud and water) I couldn't get in my house. It was locked up solid, and dark, and I didn't have my keys (reminding Erwin to leave the back door unlocked does no good when a kiddo locks it anyway). So, there i am, feeling energetic and frisky, with thoughts of sleeping in the yard flowing through my brain. I threw rocks at windows, I screamed for help, I pounded on wndows and rattled doors, but noone came to my rescue. I was stranded. Finally, resigning myself to the fact that I'd just have to wait til Er woke up, I went to get a drink from teh fridge...one last beer to end the night. And then, I hear the rattle of keys adn the door springs open. I was in luck...some of my noise must have alerted the corners of my husband's brain!

We stayed up talking til 2 and finally hit the sack. It was a great night and made me realize I need to get out biking more. I totally love doing it, I feel strong and powerful, and I sweat which gives me a feeling of accomplishing something, and there's so much unchartered territory to discover. And then, when I looked for my keys this afternoon, I found them outside...hahaha...where Jari left them. If only I had known then what I know now...


My Dad

I finally got to talk to my dad and wish him a Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day (yeah, they were the same day this year). I always enjoy talking to my dad because I don't get the chance to do it often enough. He's always working when I'm up and about, so it was nice to catch him for his quick hello before he headed off to the woods. My dad is a logger and has been since before my birth. We lived in the woods when I was a child and I grew up knowing the woods as my home. It was a childhood filled with nature and pinecone friends and fallen log horses, watching beavers build their dens and roasting marshmallows over an open fire. It was a paradise for a child, and I had freedom offered to me at my doorstep. I was among the elk and deer, swimming in the lakes with cow pies and covered in dirt at the end of each day. My dad now enjoys sharing his love of nature with my children, my husband, and me again, whenever the opportunity arises. We no longer sleep in a tent, but he's moved up to a camper, and we no longer walk to bring dad his lunch and call out timber watching him fall trees, but we ride on his forwarder or skidder or four wheelers, all of which bring my children a complete thrill. He's a very busy man, but admits freely he couldn't survive without the stress his life offers him. He's gone from working for a lumber company, to being a small-business operator with large company customers. I am so proud of all he has accomplished, and in turn, been able to offer me and my family. For his special day, I wrote him this poem. This says it all, about what he has given me, and what living in his world means. Happy Birthday Dad, and Happy Father's Day, too. You truly are a one of a kind father.

How Far To The Mountain, Daddy?
Dedicated to my dad on June 17th, 2007

How far to the mountain daddy?
How far can it be?
It looks so far looming over us
But it’s really not you see.
For that mountain and the trees and elk
They are a part of you.
They’ll never leave your heart or thoughts
No matter where you go or what you do.
Every time you smell the pine
The life of those trees out there
You’ll have a little tug at your heart
Because this is the life that we share.
And every time you see clear blue skies
Home will call out to your memories
Those long days playing in our woods
Branches rustling in the breeze.
And every time you hear the stillness
Of this great big wilderness
A peace will envelop you
And you’ll feel no more stress.
And every time an elk or deer
Wanders past you, a glimpse through the trees
You’ll think of that moment just before dark
A beauty so freeing, you’ll be at ease.
And every time you come across a stream
You’ll want to have a look
At the trout waving from the water
Whether or not you’ve got your pole and hook.
And stepping through berries in the woods
Can’t wait to have a taste
Fresh from nature, oh so good
And no need to watch your waist.
So these mountains looming over us
They aren’t so far at all you see
For these mountains are so big and grand
And they’ve formed the woman you’ve turned out to be.
They bring you peace and comfort
And wonderful memories
Pieces of the life you’ve led
From summers warmth to winter’s freeze.
And because I am your daddy
And pass through here every day
I get to chase these memories
Like butterflies at play.
So, how far to the mountain, daddy?
How far can it be?
Just look into your heart and life
And the answer is plain to see.

To My ‘Daddy’, the man that brings nature alive, and keeps a special place in my heart open to all those memories. How far to the mountain, daddy? How far can it be? My heart promises me that it’s very close, wouldn’t you agree? And since the mountain is so close, and I know that’s where you are, I know you are so very close too, in my heart you’re never far. Happy Birthday Dear Dad! Happy Father’s Day To A True Man of the Mountains! And the best daddy any little girl could hope to learn from, and as for dad’s go? Well, you’ve reached the very top, way up there where trees can no longer grow! I love you...thanks for being mine! Love, Tera Michele


What it means to be a Mama

What a day. I picked Jari up from school at lunch with plans to head to the hospital for the following procedure on his foot. But, when I picked him up, I noticed he looked, well, white as a sheet, you might say. We got home and he asked me to carry him to the couch. He told me he was freezing and I wrapped a blankie around him, returned to get him a drink, and came back to a soundly sleeping baby. He woke to puke and use the toilet, his skin burning with fever. He fell immediately back to sleep after taking tylenol, something he just won't do...unless...you guessed it, he is really sick. I called the docotr to reschedule the appointment, nervous because this is a serious affair that we were going to miss. They scheduled me for late next week, until I grumbled enough about needing to get in this week, and somehow they found an opening for Friday. Okay, good...but it's at the same time Kaeden's bus gets home...what is a mama to do? I kept the appointment; Kaeden will have to wait for us in the yard, and I can worry he won't stay there until I am home again to find him safe and sound where he should be.

Jari slept until 4:30 feeling a bit perkier. Kaeden got home and we ran to get money for his doctor appointment...which I had planned to do after Jari's, but helaas pindakaas. So, we get to Kaeden's appointment just in time. Doc tells me about the test results of his bladder, everything looks okay, but he's just unable to relax enough to urinate and we need to try ot keep him on the toilet longer; maybe give him a book to read. He does an ultrasound on Kaeden's intestines...they are once again nearly completely blocked. He writes a prescription for an enema and fiber. Once again. Then I tell him about the pain he's having on his heel, and how he can sometimes barely walk. He checks it out and tells me he's got Sever disease. Huh? Yep, many kids in adolescence have it...the Achilles-tendon stretches from the bone due to a growth spurt, and causes tiny fractures in the heel. Not much you can do but apply anti-inflamatory medication and use a special rubber sole. He wrote the prescription, and assured me it would be worth getting to limit the pain which he'll most likely have until after his adolescent growth period. Great!!!! Next I asked about his constant sniffling. He gets out his allergy testing kit, pricks Kaeden with different solutions, sets the timer for five minutes, and we all look at his skin. Within seconds, a bump appears...and not the test bump. The bump comes from grasses, different kinds of prairie grasses. He's allergic to grass. Great! Another prescription...May to July every year. And then, as the doc is writing the prescriptions for his regular meds, Jari asks me to hold him. I feel his cheek...hot. He asks if we can go home and he can lay down. Yep, the tylenol has worn off...

It's a day in the life of a mama...and know what? I wouldn't trade it for the world.


I'm feeling so, well, shifty might be a good word. Is that a word? I dunno, but that's how I'm feeling. Like one minute everything is terrific, the next I'm stressed to the max, the next I am sad and lonely, the following I feel like I'm on top of the world. I don't know where it's all coming from, but I know part of it has to do with sleep. I'm not getting enough, no matter what time I get to bed. A conversation at our house last night:

Me: I'm so tired. (at 7:45pm)
Er: How can you be tired? You went to bed at 10 last night.
Me: Yeah, I was so tired after I tucked the kids in I just went into bed to lay down and then fell asleep immediately...at 10:20.
Er: Yeah, so you got 9 hours.
Me: No, I fell asleep at 10:20, you came in at 12:30 and I woke up, Jari came in at 3 and I woke up, I got up to pee once, and I woke up a couple other times in between, the alarm went off at 6:30 and I woke up twice to snooze until I finally got up. So, I didn't sleep well.
Me: So, I think I'll put the kids to bed and then do you want to watch a movie? What's on anyway? If there's something on I won't go to choir tonight.
Er: (looking up the tv guide) Well, there's Dumb and Dumberer
Me: Do you want to see that?
Er: Well, Dumb and Dumber was pretty funny.

Me: Okay, then I'm gonna go put the kids to bed.
Er: Okay.
Me: (coming back downstairs at 9:15, kids still not asleep, but left on their own) Okay, they aren't asleep, but they'll fall asleep soon.
Er: (playing a computer game)
Me: Are you gonna watch this?
Er: Yeah, but it's already half over.
Me: Yeah, but I had to get the kids tucked in. (going to kitchen to get drinks)
We start to watch the movie. 10 minutes later Jari opens the door. I head back up to settle him in bed again. I come back down, return my attention the movie, and fall asleep on the couch. Er wakes me at 12ish to head to bed. And the night begins again.

Things here are so up in the air since we decided to send Kaeden to America this summer. I am really nervous about it, but also trying to make it seem like a huge deal for him...which he is getting, cuz he can't stop talking about it, or what he's going to bring back for us, or what he's going to do while he's there, or where he's going to go while he's there...but for me, it's just making the pit of my stomach feel tight and achy. I need to get all the details settled so I can plan my summer. I feel distracted about it all. I need to know what the plan is. Are we (the three of us) going on vacation? Is Kaeden going to be here to head to England with us? Am I going to see my mom? Can I get flights with her coordinated so Kaeden doesn't have to fly alone? I really need some information from my mom and then get everything settled, so i can concentrate on feeling excited with Kaeden. Do I tell the airlines he's autistic? Will they let him on alone then? He's a great traveler, but will he remember to take his meds which he really needs to stay focused, which will be incredibly important during a trip such as this, with your body running on zero sleep and an entire day of your life missed? Can I trust the airlines to take care of my baby? I have to pay a great deal of money for the unaccompanied minor service, but will they do their job satisfactory? I keep thinking how great he always is on trips, and how well he knows everything, but still, he can't read...what happens when he has to fill out the forms for US entry? What happens if his plane is delayed? What happens if the staff don't get him to his connection? What happens if my parents are late to teh airport meeting place to pick him up (like they always are!!! Though I should hope in this instance, they'd make sure to be on time!!!)? And most of all, how am I going to get through five weeks of missing my little boy? I dunno, maybe this wasn't such a good idea afterall...I mean, Kaeden is happy, gramma and grampa are thrilled, but mama, those 2 postcards he promised me just aren't going to give me a goodnight kiss and hug, they aren't going to wrap their arms around me and tell me they love me, they aren't going to be Kaeden...and having him gone is going to be a bit like a gaping hole in the middle of my heart.


A List of Little Things

  • Yesterday I had my appointment with the consulate in Antwerpen for my Dutch citizenship. He praised me on my Dutch speaking abilities, which made me feel very proud and hopeful that I truly deserve to become a Dutch citizen. I will be awaiting a letter from the queen and then the citizenhip ceremong in a year's time. I will then be officially Dutch! Wow! I just hope it all goes through.
  • While in Antwerpen, I noticed a bar called 'Daddy's Home'. It has a dual meaning and I couldn't stop singing"Daddy's Home" in my head all day.
  • While in Antwerpen I noticed so many different people. I saw a Jewish family, muslims, asians, blacks, whites, beards, balds, curls, tall, short, in a wheelchair, on crutches, and the everyday Joe. It amazes me that in a 1 1/2 hour drive, the culture of the land is so very different from my own community. I like being among all the differences. It makes me feel a bit more like I fit in.
  • Jari's last doctor visit made me cry. His skin is dying rather than growing back healthy on his ankle where he had the bike accident. The doctor scraped away all the dead skin in hopes of regenerating new growth. I hated seeing my baby in so much pain. We have another appointment next week which I am NOT looking forward to. I just hope this process works, or we're looking at a possible skin graft. OH MY GOD!
  • Kaeden had a tantrum in the middle of the city yesterday. He screamed out curse words so loud that literally everyone on the street stopped, turned, and stared. It was a moment where I wished the sidewalk would swallow me whole. After a disastrous afternoon with our two naughty boys, we came home early and sent them immediately to bed without tucking them in. Erwin and I had a very long night together and it was very strange, but peaceful.
  • We picked up the papers for the insurance company for our new car. We should be getting it this weekend. But when we saw the car, some of the damages that were supposed to be done, were still not fixed. Erwin and I talked about the culture of the Limburg people, how very laid-back they are. It would be so easy to get mad and rant and rave, but that's just how it is here and you've got to learn to roll with the flow. It does make me have doubts, though. I'll just happy once the car is totally ready and in our possession.
  • I asked my parents if they would like to have Kaeden come visit them this summer. My mom sounded very excited about the idea. When I asked Kaed, he was worried about getting there, but told me the entire process of how it works with unaccompanied minors. Who says travel isn't good education? 'He knows it all, and not from first-hand experience as this will be his first ever trip alone, if we end up sending him. He was given the choice of going to England, to summer camp, and on vacation with us, or to America with gramma and grampa, and he chose America. It will be very hard for me to send him off on his own, but our entire family could use a little break, and I think it will be good for all of us.
  • Jari is very interested in the processierupsen. But, he is adorable, because he calls them princessenrupsen. And that they live in the eikelbomen. (In English, instead of saying procession caterpillar, he calls them princess caterpillars. And instead of oak trees, he calls them eikel trees which basically translated means dufus, which is very representative considering all the hairy caterpillars they have covering their branches.
  • And so, that's life from here today. This weekend we're attending Kaeden's school end-of-year party and going to the air show open day which is always great fun to see.



Remember those summer days carrying around a plastic container with a lid so you could go off in search of caterpillars that you'd collect to see if they'd turn into beautiful butterflies? I do. I was always in search of those scientific experiments, whether it be ants, creepy crawlies, or catepillars. My mom never threw away plastic containers knowing they'd come in use for "something". There have been many a day when my boys come asking me for a container for spiders they've found, or worms, or beetles. And I've always happily obliged, emptying out my cupboard of yet another lidded container. But, my boys cannot collect caterpillars and watch them grow into beautiful butterflies. Caterpillars are dangerous, and I remember the first time I was out walking with Erwin and went to collect one and show the boys, how he reprimanded me for even thinking to pick one up. Huh? It's just a caterpillar, I thought. However, I have since learned about caterpillars in this part of the world, and I now know that they aren't something to be played with. At this moment in time, Limburg has inducted 24 military personnel to help aid in the depletion of the dangerous processierups (procession caterpillar?). There is such an outbreak that people are getting sick and I can't tell you how many complaints I've heard from people naming these caterpillars as the villains. What is the processierups? Well, it's a caterpillar that has long hairs that contain some type of acid which, carried through the wind, comes in contact with the skin, and causes swelling, itching, red eyes, and rashes. The hairs actually burn the skin, and while not everyone is susceptible to their dangers, I have recently come under their attack. Ouch! I keep scratching away, but can't seem to relieve myself of the processierups hairs. You can't see them, but wow, can you feel them!!!

So, I hope the firemen, airplanes flying with poisons, military personnel, and helicopters all conquer this little creature. As cute and memorable as my caterpillar days are, I wouldn't mind never seeing another.


Hospital Visit & Orange Belt

Life sure tends to keep us entertained. Sometimes not in the happiest ways possible. Last night, we ended up in the emergency room yet again. Jari and I were biking home after having a fun afternoon shopping for birthday gifts together (he's got a party to attend this afternoon...or not?). We stopped off to get bread and as we started home again, Jari's foot stuck between the spokes on my bike. He was screaming in pain and I panicked as I looked at his swollen mass of foot all bloody and bruised with skin hanging open. I walked the bike the rest of the way home and settled my screaming boy on the couch. I called my friend Sharon to come and take us to the ER and then called Erwin to tell him what was happening. Sharon got here just as Kaeden did, so it worked out well and we headed to the hospital. They took x-rays (twice) but can't quite determine if there is a break. They think it's just badly sprained and has a lot of wound abrasions. He can't walk, and we're not to force it, but return back to the doctor on Tuesday for a follow-up. If he's still having trouble, they'll look into a break again. I feel miserably guilty. Yes, he was in his child seat, yes it has footholders, but no, I didn't strap him in...and no, a few months back he broke off my foot protectors that cover the spokes and we haven't replaced them. Lessons learned....always too late. I just hope he's okay...and that he can walk again soon. Carrying him to school and the to the activity this morning, I realized how heavy he's getting!!!
In other, more positive news, Kaeden took his Judo test and passed!!!! I am so proud of him. He's now an orange belt and he's pretty happy with himself. I'm hoping to have some kind of treat to celebrate his success tonight. Way to go, kiddo!


She Doesn't Know Much

After picking Jari up from school, we stopped for groceries at our neighborhood shop. I needed just a few things, including lunch meat from the deli. We headed to the deli case where the butcher shop is housed and I requested 100 grams pork roast. "What?" asked the girl behind the counter, a new employee I haven't seen before. "Pork roast, 100 grams." She looked all through the meats until I pointed out which was the pork roast, then she asked again "How much?" Next I asked for 100 grams roast beef. She picked up the mustard filled bacon. "No, roast beef, that one" I said again, pointing it out to her. "How much?" she asked. At this point Jari said to me, "Mama, she doesn't know very much, does she?" I went on to explain to him that she's a new employee and probably doesn't know where everything is at, and that she probably was having a bit of trouble understanding mama's accent as well, unlike the regulars in the store. I watched her measure the sliced beef as she began to take a few slices off, it being over 100 grams. "That's okay. Just leave it. May I also have 100 grams liverwurst sliced?" I asked, hoping she'd understand my last request. She started to pull out the huge dish of pate instead of the block to make slices. "No, the blokpate," I said a bit louder, as if that might help her to understand my foreign accent a bit better. Jari looked at me and laughed, quite interested in this exchange we were having. As she was slicing the correct meat, Jari looked at me with his big blue eyes...his eyes told me the entire story. He thought this was just hilarious. "She's a new employee, and she better learn what she's doing better, huh mom?" he asked. "She'll learn," I told him, hoping she'd understand me helping her out. Then, as she turned around to weigh my meat, he went on to say, "But, she's also pretty fat." "Jari, that's not nice, we don't say things like that about people." I reprimanded him in English. "Yeah, but she is fat mom. I'm not lying." he continued in his perfect Vlaams dialect that she couldn't help but comprehend. She handed me my package of meat with red cheeks. "Thank you," I told her, looking right into her eyes hoping she'd see the 'sorry'. "You'll get to know my accent better soon." As we were walking away, Jari said "She can't do very good. I think you could do better than her, mama. And she is fat!" I'm glad my son has faith in me, but I wish he'd learn to quit being so honest!


Ik Heb Honger!!

This is something I hear with extreme regularity throughout every day of my life. "Mom, ik heb honger!!!" (meaning, mom, I'm hungry!) Last night, as I was trying to decide what to do about dinner Jari came to me with his usual "Ik heb honger!" But instead of leaving it at that, he added "Mag ik een driehoekje boterham met kaas daarin?" (May I have a triangle sandwich with cheese in it?) "You mean a grilled cheese?" I asked him. "Yeah, a grilled cheese. YUM!" At which point my stomach started rumbling as his suggestion took over my taste buds. Yum, indeed! Erwin heard our conversation as he passed by and with a grimmace on his face and a "Bleech" from his mouth, I decided grilled cheese is what we'd have...I love to tease my husband that way! Kaeden was also thrilled with teh suggestion as long as he could have"tomatoes on his cuz "you know that tomatoes are my very favorite on a sandwich, huh mom?" So, I sent the kids to the bread machine (yes, in Belgium we have bread machines just like a snack machine and I can't tell you how many times I have used it!) to get white bread, because I like my grilled cheese best on white and normally all we eat is wheat. When they got home, everythign was ready to make delicious melty cheese sandwiches...and boy, were they yummy! Erwin doesn't know what he's missing out on...he only chomped away on grilled roast beef and bacon ...not too shabby, I suppose! But next time I hear "Ik heb honger" I'm thinking I'm gonna be craving another grilled cheese...cuz I like cheese like that, you know!


A "New" Car

We've been searching for a "new" car for the past few months, since we were told Sunny was coming to the end of her life. With too many miles and too many problems, we decided not to put any more money into her, though she's been a great first family car for us. We've been happy with our Sunny and I'm finding it hard to say goodbye. She's become comfy, she's been safe, trusty, and I know just what all her glitches are. But at 13 years old, she's ready to retire to the sunny roads of Africa...yep, that's where she's headed...on an African adventure.

We found another Nissan...a well-made car without all the newest electronic technology that eats away at the pocketbook, yet still a step up from our current lil Sunny. It's got LOTS more room in the backseat for our growing boys and mama if need be (in fighting instances, you know!). And it's a station wagon, so the room for luggage is plenty spacious, and if not, there are luggage racks on the roof for a ski box. It's got a boordcomputer (what's that in English???) and tells us our mileage, etc, and it's got airco to take the place of our well-used sunroof (we'll miss that). It's nothing fancy, but it's what we've been looking for. It's a pretty blue (I didn't want silver or black...too many to search thru in the parking lot) and a diesel to save on gas costs...good since Erwin drives lots of work miles during the week. And, it seems like a good compromise for the price, considering it doesn't have the versatility of changeable seats which I really was excited about.

We went for a test drive last night and called to make an offer this morning. The dealer isn't willing to budge on the price, but he is going to sell Sunny for us from his lot...as I said, she's off to Africa, where many used cars from here go when they're pretty much beyond Belgian standards. I hope her new family will love her as we did, and proved to her in each stain on the seats, spilled bottles of fabric softener in the trunk, lots of Jari puke from his bouts with travel sickness, and an entire melted chocolate bunny that never quite came out during our Easter vacation. I remember the day we got our Sunny like it was yesterday...I was in labor with Jari, and we took her for a spin around town. I took pictures of my husband standing before his first ever very own automobile in the parking lot of the supermarket, just as he was awaiting his first birthing experience. His life was changed overnight. Our family has spent numerous kilometers playing games in our car; who can find the first cow, I spy with my little eye, There's an A, there's a B, singing numerous lullabies, and watching for twinkling stars from gramma from the roof. We've chased after hot air balloons, seen much of Europe, and been stressed to the max by too many fights. We've argued and used the window to throw out maps of our vacation address, we've sung champion soccer songs heading to a soccer match, we've crashed her into a kid biking that wasn't following traffic rules. She taught us about many stupid Belgian laws trying to import her from Holland, and she brought us home daily, waiting for us in her place next to the house. She's been a good friend.

But now, it's time to say goodbye. Next week Primera is coming home with us. I hope she will be as good to our family as Sunny has been. I hope she will keep us safe, give us many memorable road trips, and be willing to explore on adventures all over Europe. Our family has grown up since Sunny came into our lives...Primera is going to take us the next little distance.