Sitting Here

Thinking...how has my life come to this? I just sent Erwin and Jari to the city to take care of some last minute city hall business that can't wait til we return next week...yeah, I lost a couple bills that HAVE to be paid by July 31. Where oh where did they go? I had them in my purse before I left for England, but what the heck did I do with them when I repacked my purse fior our trip??? I have no idea...have searched the house 3 times over but they have not resurfaced. I'll feel more settled leaving when those bills are paid. BUT, Erwin didn't leave until 11:50...it's closed at 12...yep, if he gets that accomplished I'll be amazed.

So, where are we going? Yes, we're off on another vacation. WHAT? ANOTHER??? Yes, we are vacation fanatics and staying home when we could be out exploring just isn't in our vocabulary. So, Jari will be enjoying 3 nights with oma and opa while Erwin adn I head to Sauerland in Germany. We're staying at a quaint little B&B which is something we've never done before...we like our privacy. But, those B&B's are so reasonable and provide a good start to the day in the form of breakfast...before we take off hiking in the tree covered forests and mountains I can't wait to smell. I love the smell of uninhabited woods. I love the sight of mountains looming above me and valleys that I can peer into filled with lush green trees. I love the clean air and the fresh coolness of the mountain regions. It reminds me of home. And so, when given the choice to go anywhere I wanted with my husband for our little break away, I chose the mountains...not Paris, not Rome, not Vienna...just the mountains...peaceful, fresh, and beautiful. I think we're going to have a nice few days away. I'm looking forward to the time to rebond with my husband, discover secrets that I never knew, hear his laughter, ad take time to listen to him speak...and to look at him over the breakfast table, leisurely drinking a second cup of coffee, deep in his green eyes as the love I feel for him stirs something inside me...the reminded of why I fell in love with him in teh first place and the knowledge of why I am blessed to have him by my side now, through the ups and downs of marriage and family and autism and parenting and bills and a home...yes, the reality of life. My husband is someone I treasure. I hope to really store our reality and live for each moment with him by my side in the coming few days. It's amazing what a few days away can do to regenerate that playful butterfly feeling of those days when we first met...

But, I have laundry to wash, suitcases to pack, and dishes to do. And then we'll be off, leaving our fish to enjoy their twice daily feeding from the mechanical feeder I purcahsed before our last vacation. While we, my husband and I, eat out at a simple little cafe with good down-home fixen's like only the Germans can do...yum!


Anger Feels

Where does this anger come from
As it festers inside me, growing
Bigger and bigger like a rock
Water crashing against it's sides
Breathing no longer shallow
As I struggle to gain control
And release this rage inside of me
The weight no longer pressing me
deeper into the ground
I can't speak for my voice
has become bitter and hard
And I don't want to hear
How shallow and moody
And unjust some people will
say that I am as I try
to find the calm that gave
me smiles before this storm
that rages inside my body
my heart and soul as it
takes me on this journey
I never wanted to explore
Peace replaced by lightning
Shooting from my eyes and the
throb of heat pounding through
my aching head my toes
curled in a tight and tense
little ball of fury as I fight this
demon called anger swelling
in my body my heart and my soul.

The Sea

We hit a traffic jam
Cars moving along at 10
Frustration showing on our faces
Take the next exit to home.
But then the road cleared
And 120 was the norm
We're heading for the sea today
A walk along the sandy shore.
Digging in the sand
And running through the waves
Watching little boy smiles
Enjoying the sunshiney day
As we went to take the exit
The traffic once again stood still
No way we're going there
Black Friday, splendid idea
Jari in the backseat
Look mama, what I've done
I turn around to face a surprise
Shoes tied, proud of his first time
With a thumbs up to my son
Pride floods through my veins
A family day out a complete success
In that one small moment
Nothing else more matters now.

We did finally arrive at the beach and then headed to Madurodam...and know what? It was a magnificent day. Thank you dear husband for going against your will to make it a day to remember...in more ways than one!

aND FOR A FUNNY BIT: As we were sitting in traffic arguing, Jari says to us "I think you guys better go to bed when we get home." "Why?" "Cuz you sure a yelling and being mean to each other, so you must be really tired!!!" Kids speak volumes....


Too Much To Talk About

I've had so much going on as of late, that I don't know where to begin. The trip to England (WONDERFUL!!!), letting my baby go, my birthday celebration, our summer plans...so much happening in my life at the moment. So, I'm just going to add a couple pics and say that life is good. I feel completely blessed.


Ready To GO

The bags are packed, the ticket confirmations printed, and the boys can't wait to get to England. Yep, the time has come for us to take our first Ryan Air flight across teh north sea where family will greet us with their English accents and the boys will again be driven to use their english language skills. I'm looking forward to the trip...I love seeing new things and experiencing new adventures, and this is bound to be yet another. And, as an added bonus, I get a real live hug from my mommy...and what could be a sweeter birthday treat than that (well, besides maybe seeing her give one to my boys who miss their gramma). Tonight as I tucked Jari in, he asked me a million times how many days til he gets to see gramma? And his eyes light up when I tell him it's just 4 more sleeps. Maybe that's why it took him 2 hours, 1000 pats on his butt, and 400 songs before his eyes finally drifted off to dreamland. Kaeden wanted me to sleep with him on his last night in his own bed, but after a long story, numerous songs, and a million things I needed to do running thru my head, I finally kissed him goodnight...I'm going to miss that little boy. And little he is, even though he's 12...I can still remember the surprise of my life finding out I was pregnant, holding MY son in my arms on the day of his birth, and seeing him through the ups and downs of our life together. He is and always will be my baby.

So, I better hit the sack as the time will be upon us in a short 5 hours. As we'll be busy exploring England we'll chat again sometime next week. Have a great week!!!


Almost England

Just three days to go. And I haven't really even begun to consider what that means as far as being ready with suitcases packed and tickets in hand. Heck, I'm in a state of denial. I think the problem with this trip is that I am packing for one week for Jari and I without the option of traveling with a suitcase...we can only take carry-ons and that seems quite a chore....and as for Kaeden, well, I've got 6 weeks of packing for him to do. How to manage? How to manage?

I have no idea what we're going to do while in England. I worry a bit about the prospect of two busy boys cooped up in a tiny house with an 88 year old woman for a week. Are there playgrounds in the neighborhood? Can we find a swimming pool nearby? Will anybody be available to help us figure out public transport if things get too hot and bothered staying with my aunt? I mean, really, I don't epect any problems or I'd never planned to go, but still, a week is a long time without computer games to keep them busy, their dvd's to watch, or games and toys to gather in every hook of the house. My aunt hasn't had children in her house in 40 years...will my kids be able to survive in a postage-stamp yard for a week?

I'm excited about seeing my mom. She's coming half-way through our trip to be there to celebrate my birthday with me. What kind of birthday will I have this year? I have no clue how English birthdays are celebrated, so that'll be a cultural surprise I'm really looking forward to. And being with extended family on the day will be nice, but my husband won't be there...will he miss me? We'll celebrate upon my return home, but my baby won't be with me...it's going to be so hard. Saying goodbye to this little being I have had with me by my side nearly daily since his birth is not going to be easy. Five weeks without my Riley boy...I can't imagine what that is going to be like...a bit more peaceful, a bit less rowdy, but just not the same. Though his antics sometimes drive me up the wall, he certainly brings a sense of energy and excitement to our home. I'm going to msis him to pieces...seriously.

Anyway, I have 3 days before our flight leaves Holland to cover the distance across the north sea. Three short days to figure out how to pack and prepare myself mentally for all this trip will bring. It's going to be an emotional roller coaster...hello mama, goodbye little boy, happy birthday to me, i miss you honey, let's play ANOTHEr game of stop and go...


Bath Toys

This afternoon I took a bath with Jari. He loves to play with plastic animals, and today was no exception. As his animals came to chase me and bite me, my dinosaur picked up the penguin and we booked it on outta there. Completely innocent game and he laughed and laughed. And when I looked down, I couldn't help but laugh either...but what I saw wasn't quite as innocent....see what I mean?! :-) hahaha The joys of toys....

And then, to top off my fit of laughter, I glanced at my son who looked just like Alfalfa...see any comparison?!

Thank You Erwin

This is going out to my husband. Why? Well, he's basically a good guy that gives lots and cares deeply...and he helps me succeed in raising our kids to be world citizens living in one culture while encompassing the cultures and traditions of two other cultures that are important in our children's lives. Last week I sent Erwin an invitation to our 4th of July party. This was after he reminded me that there wasn't much time left to send out invites and get everything prepared. And then later in the week I sent him a grocery list for the must-haves for our BBQ, which he purchased after work one day. And then all through the week he came home to paint and pictures and decorations littering every surface of our home as the boys and I made American flag creations in red, white, and blue. And then Saturday, when we had so much to do, our hot water heater gave out and he organized the purchase and installation of a new one (even tho opa did all the actual work...thanks SO much, opap!!!) while I ran around picking up the last minute stuff for our party...and spending even more money. And Sunday, while I was busy preparing food and organizing our BBQ, my husband spent all day cleaning outside,and decorating with American flags galore to create a 4th of July atmosphere unknown to this area of the world. He carried loads of chairs and tables down from the attic, washed them all, put away the mess of a winter's accumulation of crap int he serre, and then created little America in our garden. And he did it all without complaining. In fact, he was even smiling most of the day and at the end of the night when everyone had left our home filled with good food and the spirit of America pulsing through their veins after lighting the torch on the statue of liberty, he told me that our party was a success. Yes, my dear, it was a success...and that was because of all the work you did to help make it so. For accepting my American culture as your own, for wearing a USA t-shirt with pride, for teaching our children special dates in America's history, for buying hamburger buns which weren't on the list just because you know Americans like hamburgers ona bun, and for buying corn on the cob even though you think it's meant for pigs. Each year as we bring doen the bin filled with American decorations, your world opens a bit bigger, and you look forward to the party we share with our family and friends from all walks of life. You understand the importance of honoring a country which meant nothing more than an intereting place to visit less than 10 years ago. Today you envelop America with teh same enthusiasm as I. You look forward to vacations "home", you keep up with the sports and news from the other side of the atlantic, and you bring it all home, here in Belgium, when you place the American flag proudly at the head of our dinner table.

There is noone but me that understands the impact of your thoughtfulness. Nobody can feel the spirit of America and your acceptance of it but me. Nobody knows what being a tri-cultural family is like but those in the situation...us. Nobody knows the importance and desire to instill pride and love ,n acceptance and envelopment of two nations, in our children, but those that strive to do so...us. And Er, we're doing it well. We're making it work, because you are open to accepting me by accepting my traditions and my roots. I moved here to be with you. I uprooted my life to call this my home. But for you, staying here was just as difficult with all the changes that came into your life, and from the first moment my gratitude to you for all you do has never wavered...thank you for being my husband, my love, and my support. Thank you for knowing my needs and putting up with my failures. Thak you for hanging the American flag, and doing so with the knowledge that this is something that is natural and ordinary and necessary in our lives. It's not just about a 4th of July party...it's about accepting me, where I am from, the values and norms I have within, and making it all just another day in our life. I love you.


My Boys

I was tucking my kids into bed tonight. It's one of my favorite daily rituals as it usually ends the day on a nice note, no matter what has happened all day long. We read stories, sing songs, snuggle, and I tickle their face or rub their hair, depening on the kid. Anyway, it's a time I treasure as a mom. Most of the time.

Tonight, I was reading Jari a story he received from a friend of mine from Australia. It was about all the animals in Australia and he had a story to tell about each one. For each 10 word page, I received a 10 minute documentary about the animals. His favorite was by far the platypus. And when I told him he got the book when he was a baby like the joey, he giggled and laughed and it was a wonderful moment. As he finally settled down to sleep, I started to tickle his face ever so lightly...his chin swept ever so softly with the tip of my finger never fails to relax him. I watched his face as he became ever more relaxed, wondering why I was blessed with such a beautiful child, when he pulled my fingers to his cheek and started to caress my fingers. He hugged my arm tight and then placed my fingers back on his face. And it is moments like these that I feel blessed to be his mommy...no matter what they day has held for us, the end of the day brings me so much comfort, peace, and love.

And then, I headed to Kaeden's room. He is overly excited about our 4th of July party we're holding tomorrow and can't stop talking about the jobs he plans to undertake and the games he plans to use to entertain our guests. Hearing his excited chitter-chatter makes the hard work of a party (when I'm feeling a bit sick and weepy) 110% worth it. He just can't wait and his animated voice proves to me that I am teaching my kids the traditions of an American culture within the confines of Belgian soil. It means a lot to me. As I told him I didn't want to talk about the party any more or he would be too tired to have fun, he started to rub my back...this is something he does extremely well, and I can't help but fall victim to his massage. As I lay on his bed with his hands working their magic on my back he asked me "Mom, do you know how much I love you?" I responded with "Uhm, all the way to the stars and back?" which is his normal response. "Nope. All the way to hell and back!" he lovingly answered. My body shook in laughter...I guess I can count that a good thing??!

Anyway, my little angels who are usually not so angelic (maybe that's where he got the devil theme from??!) throughout the day are now snuggled in bed awaiting the sun's rays in the morning. And for now, I feel so completely fulfilled. This is what life is all about.



I am not a fan of politics. Half of the time I don't understand what is happening and the other half I am confused about why it is happening. Every once in awhile, however, something hits me and feels completely wrong. And when Bush disregarded the law and used his power to commute Libby from his prison sentence, I understand politics far too well. I am not a fan of Bush. I feel that what he stands for undermines the good of America. When someone with so much power rules a country, the country itself is turned and twisted to be seen as a mini-version of it's leader. And what we see in Bush is someone with too much control, who loves war, and disregards justice. And that's how America is seen in other countries, surely, but also within the borders of America itself.

I wonder what makes Bush so scared to allow this man to be sent to prison and come to turns with his lying and cheating ways. What is Bush afraid will "come out" if he doesn't protect this lying member of the political staff? What exactly is happening in America's government administration? What have they done to tear a country completely in two? Why is it not even about the parties, and more about who likes and dislikes Bush?

I feel sad for America. A country that was built on great leaders and justice and compromise and support has come to this grueling war within it's own borders, based entirely on a presidential leader that doesn't have America or it's citizens in mind. He throws around his weight, but hasn't yet accompished anything in his 7 years in office for which American citizens can be proud. And what can we do? Sit back and wait...for the next election...for a new president to support...and hope that he gives to our country instead of to himself and his clique of close-knit friends (cheats).

I don't claim to understand politics, and I most certainly don't understand Bush and his war cries. But what I do totally get, is that our president just created yet another situation which Americans will be once again put through hell for. And I, as an American living abroad, will most certainly get yet another message from the warden at the embassy warning me that Americans could be terrorized, or to be careful because there is a demonstration against America in progress, or, in other words, to be fearful for being an American.

I am proud to be an American and I am proud of the basis of my country. But Bush, well, he's tearing my country apart. And I don't like him. And I don't like what he's done to (not for) America.


4th of July


My country tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing
Land where my fathers died
Land of the pilgims pride
For every mountainside
Let freedom ring.
America, my birthplace, the land that gave me a childhood and opportunities to be the woman I am today. The land that helped form my opinions and values, gave me mountains and oceans, deserts and plains. The place that I call HOME even though home is too far away. Thank you America! Happy 231st Birthday to the land of the free and the home of the brave. May we wear your colors with pride today as we celebrate the birth of a great country....ours!


Jari's Dream

This morning Jari came bounding downstairs yelling "Mama, I had a dream!" He told me that he dreamed that he came out of my tummy when he was 10 years old and he loved mushrooms and he turned 90 years old and still loved mushrooms.

We sat laughing together on the couch about his silly dream...how could he possibly still fit in mama's tummy if he was 10? And about the mushrooms, well, that is his least favorite food and the face he makes when one comes in contact with his tastebuds is extremely entertaining. When we have mushrooms, which is pretty frequently, he's always required to have just a bite and see if maybe it tastes any better this time!

He also asked if he still has vacation. Having had exactly one day of vacation to date, he's quite intrigued with this idea of not having to get ready for school, watching some cartoons in the morning, and playing games all day long. He asked why Kaeden didn't have vacation, and I said he does. "Well, why is Kaeden at school then, mama?" And when I told him Kaeden had vacation too and was still sleeping, he found that just hilarious. Kaeden can sleep so long???

I wish the weather would be a bit more cooperative so we could get out and enjoy the outdoors now that summer is upon us. But I suppose we'll have to find soem other means of entertainment that won't get us too wet...bowling, movies, museums...

Yippeee! It's vacation! (and not for mama, I might add! :-))


Party Culture

Erwin and I attended an anniversary party Saturday night. As much as he didn't want to go, he ended up enjoying himself...and so did I. It was so much fun to compare the party culture of Holland vs. Belgium. For one, there was no introduction coffee offered. Drinks started off the evening. Then, at 11 pm coffee and cake was offered, followed by sandwiches of slices of bread with bacon and egg on them...cold. And then more drinks followed with chicken legs at about 1. There was lots of dancing and we all laughed as one dancing fool split his crotch, only to be led from the dance floor and return a bit later in a pair of jeans just as groovy as before the "accident". Watching the line dancers was interesting, and seeing the little boy crazy out there on the floor was quite entertaining as well...especially since Jari considers him one of the really cool guys (watching him dance, you'd never guess that!!!). I drank wine...wine, wine, and more wine...and when I stood up to go outside, my world was spinning as fast as Mr. GroovePants on the dance floor. Only I wasn't dancing...just giggling a lot. Erwin suggested I have a coke but I told him the one chance a year I get to spin I was gonna enjoy it. And I did. I spoke to lots of people and one woman's son was an exchange student in Maine. She discussed the schooling differences between America and Belgium. Personally, I am appalled by America's teaching standards after seeing the expectations in both Holland and Belgium. Kids in America just aren't being challenged like they should be. And comparing the knowledge of European children to American children at the same level makes our society pale. What about junior high kids that get 3 hours homework every night? In America we'd have parents complaining that their kid just can't manage to get it done, they shouldn't have to work so hard outside of school, etc etc etc. Here, parents support the schools and engage their children in homework routines and rituals to prepare them for tests that set them up for their lifelong career. In America, I studied maybe 10 days through my entire highschool career and managed to achieve honor roll status every quarter. Even in college, I was not completing as much work as kids here are expected to do. Sometimes I think it's too much...but in America it's beyond a doubt far too little. Kids should be expected to excel, to try to challenge themselves, to do their very best, but they just aren't. It's sad, really.

Anyway, Erwin and I came home to bed and had an 11:00 sleep in!!! It was heaven! The kids stayed with oma and opa and spent a pleasant day at a war musuem. We were thrilled to be kid-free for an entire day...it was a really refreshing change to wake up late, eat a relaxing breakfast, talk about life, play a game together, and still have time to do a bit of cleaning up without ever being interrupted by a fight. But, my heart swelled when my guys came walking through the door later in the afternoon...as much as life is relaxing without them, loving them and hearing "MMMOOOooooooooMMMMMM!" just can't compare!