Root Canal

I took Kaeden to the dentist for his appointment on Tuesday. It was supposed to be a routine filling at a new dentist, because our previous dentist couldn't numb Kaeden and he felt the entire procedure. I don't think it's so much he can't be numbed, as I think he can't handle all the noise from the drill and sucker and other machines. The new dentist is awesome with him. She tells him calmly every step she's doing and tells him "Kaeden, after the count of three, I'm going to stop." He knows exactly what's happening and for how long he's going to have to endure each step. I am completely impressed with her, and relieved that we were referred to her. She is a child specialist, and as soon as I told her he had autism, she knew what his issues were and was willing to go the extra mile for his dental health. But, as she was working on his huge cavity, she suddenly stoppped and said "Oh, darn!" as she quickly reached into a drawer and produced a ring. His tooth had broken and she needed to do an emergency root canal.

I was watching every step of the way, letting Kaeden hold my hand and dig his fingers into my flesh. It was a long two hours...and about 3/4's the way through I realized I wasn't going to be able to make it to the end. I was starting to see the room spin, felt like I was going to yak all over, and got extremely hot to the point I was dripping sweat. I knew I had to get out of that room. So, I told Kaed I would be right back and left the building to suck in fresh air and get a grip. This is the second time I have felt this way, the first being last eyar when I was with Kaeden during his bladder tests. I never realized I was a queasy person, but having that happen twice now, I understand those shows that show husband's fainting during childbirth, etc. It was very strange to me, and I felt bad that I couldn't be there for Kaeden when he really needed me to be. Whe I went back in a few minutes later, he immediately latched onto to my hands again as I pulled a chair next to his and kept my eyes off of the procedure the dentist was doing. I was still not feeling 100% and was getting frustrated by how long it was taking. I was never so relieved as when the dentsit said "Okay, we'll stop for today and finish up next week!"

So, my tweleve-year-old son has a root canal. It makes me feel utterly guilty. Kaeden has had problems with his teeth since he was a baby, undergoing his first procedure at 2 years old. But, he also does not take good care of them, no matter what we try to enforce. He hates brushing, he refuses to let me help, and his teeth are rotting away. He's only a little kid. And he needs his teeth for the rest of his life. How can I make him understand the importance of good dental care?

Our new dentist asked me to bring his electric toothbrush to our next appointment. She's going to teach Kaeden how to properly brush. She's going to aide him in understanding the importance of this twice-daily chore. And I'm grateful that she's making this effort, and I'm hoping Kaeden will understand the importance of her words. Or we'll be looking at more than just a root canal when he hits the ripe ol'age of 13.


NO Divorce

I've been thinking a lot today about all the kids in Jari's class. Don't know why, but it hit me today that there isn't a single kid in his class with divorced parents, separated parents, or single parents. And what I've been thinking is that it says about the values in Europe...or at the very least, in our little corner of Europe. When I was teaching, there were always kids in single-parent homes, or those living two days with mom and three with dad, or those that had mom pick them up through the week and dad pick them up for his weekend visit. It made me feel really good to know that I'm raising my children in a society in which families don't have these severe issues to deal with, that my son's playmates don't have the stress and concern about parents who fight continually and say mean things to their child about their other parent. I feel proud of my community for making this a secure place for our children. A place where they are free to be children without the adult worries and fears that so many American children live with. And it made me wonder why? Why do Americans see divorce as such an easy out? What has given parents and couples the okay to not work through problems and take the easy out? And what value has been imposed upon Belgians to assure that their families remain intact?

I don't disagree with divorce in certain situations. And I don't believe that people should stay together for the sake of their children. What I do believe is that too many people run into an issue and scream out the D word and then put it into action before they even consider the consequences of their actions, before they have time to remember what it is that made them fall in love in the first place, before they give their marriage a chacne to work, before they put in the time and energy to repair the damage done. It's too easy to get mad and leave. And damage ourselves and our children in the process as we go off in search of another mate to marry within the year and start the cycle all over again. It's so irrational for people to go into marriage thinking there will be no problems to overcome, that the butterflies will twittle in our tummies til the day we die, that we won't have financial disagreements to overcome or disagreements about how we parent our children. And even more irrational to bolt out the door when those issues do arise.

Erwin and I both have parents that have been together since our birth, that have stayed together through thick and thin, riches and poor, sickness and health. They took their vows seriously, and continue to do so after 40 and 36 years respectively. I admire them for this, for giving us a secure childhood, and teaching us what marraige and commitment mean. And I admire my community for taking their vows seriously as well. My children are growing up in a world where family means family, where families support one another, and strive to make things work. They are learning the value of commitment, and taking in the feeling of security, not just in our home, but within our entire community. All these realisations just made me love Europe a little bit more today, and made me hurt for the children that aren't allowed this experience in their lives.


Oma's Hip

Today my mother-in-law is going in for her hip replacement. Her opeation takes place in just one hour and already I'm awaiting the phone call to tell me everything went well. I am so happy she's having this done so that she'll be able to have a better quality of life. The last months have been nothing but pain for her, and she's been unable to go do all the things she enjoys because 1) she can't walk and 2) she's always in pain. Since I have known her, she's been such an active and energetic, lively person, and though she's undergone many medical problems, she always comes out on top. So, I'm praying that today is the beginning of yet another victory for her and that she'll be given back her better quality of life once she's completed the recovery program. Still, every time people we love go through something like this, we sit in a state of worry until we know they are okay. And that's where I am at this moment. It's a pretty major deal, but thanks to technology, it's become a pretty routine procedure. The recovery and getting back the use of her hip is going to take a lot of work over the coming months. I'm so grateful that my father-in-law is now retired and able to stay home and help her. He's going to be a big support while she sits back and lets him take care of the home, cooking, laundry, cleaning, HER...while she gets the fun of focusing on HERSELF, getting well and able to again move through life in her 'get up and go' style. Be strong, my dear omam, and I'll see you again when you're on the road to recovery!


Our Family is Growing

I am so excited. I totally believe in the power of pets bringing a bit of extra happiness in a home. We have our fish whom I love watching and caring for, but they aren't cuddly and peepy and furry. I have always had pets in my life from the time I was a little girl, but at this moment, we have none. Erwin adn I constantly have the discussion about getting a pet, but our lifestyle is not suited to properly caring for a dog (which would be my first choice) or a cat (which Erwin really doesn't like). So, he's always told me I could have birds, guinea pigs, or rabbits. And I have been a bit hesitant to get them after our last guinea pig died and I fell to pieces. But yesterday I popped the question again, and Erwin okayed my getting a new pet. We decided guinea pigs would be the best choice, and tonight he's going to pick up our two new babies. I don't know a lot about them, but the former owners need to give tehm up for adoption because their daughter just doesn't like them. They are long-haired guinea pigs and about 14 weeks old, and will be mine to love, care for, and admire! My kids will get the benefit of having a pet in the home, and they can enjoy their funny little antics and happy peeping. And I will have another two lively little beings to take care of, feed, love, groom, play with (sounds a bit like having two more boys to haggle with everyday, he?!)! I can't wait til Erwin gets home tonight! I'll certainly be meeting him at the door with a kiss and open arms...wide enough to hold a cage of little bundles of fur!

Something Hit Home

This morning I was reading through my favorite blogs before starting my day. This post by Min really hit home. I wasn't at back to school night when it happened, but I have many moments like these in my daily life with my son. With the far too many negative moments we share, due to his autism and aggression (which I am convinced he got from his father...and it helps me understand his father and have a bit of compassion for him, tho I will never be okay with how he treated me or Kaeden in our time together), there are moments when I look at my not so little son and say a word of thanks to the man that helped bring him into my life. And, I am also grateful that he was never involved in our lives and I had enough sense to leave before it was too late. However, those genes play a role, and sometimes I just stand there and see the man I shared a brief few years of my life with, and remember all the moments of fun we had. Of course, I also remember the dreadful times that made him the monster I often think of him as. But, I hope that I am raising my son in an environment filled with love and care and security that he can grow up to be a man much better than his father. And without his father, there never would have been Kaeden, and for that, I am grateful every single day of my life. That man will never be my son's Papa, he was able to claim a Papa whom he loves and who loves him back, a man that acepted us with open arms and has continued to love and care for us through all the ups and downs, staying even through autism rearing it's nasty head. Erwin is Kaeden's Papa, the only Papa he's ever known, the only Papa he will ever have, but he can never be his father, the man that helped bring me the gift of his life. Lucky for me, Erwin and I share that experience together in the form of our son, Jari. So, I have this gift of life brought to me by someone I never again hope to lay eyes on. And yet, I owe him a world of thanks. Because regardless of whatever else Kaeden brings into my life, he has without doubt brought me more love than I ever knew was possible. So, here's the post Min wrote, which got me to thinking...


Mama and Papa

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
You've got to admit, these dance lessons we've been taking have really paid off!!! What a lotta fun we're having these days!


My Showroom House

What a joke!!! I cannot begin to fathom how people live in showroom-like homes???!! It doesn't matter how long I am busy cleaning up our little love shack, it always seems like such a mess. Every chance I get to throw somethign away, three new things come in it's place. And, as everyone already knows, laundry is my big downfall. I just can't keep up with it, and I despise doing it. I have piles of clothes eevrywhere...even when all of the clothes are clean, we tend to live out of a basket...or the chair in my room, or the top of the desk in the kids rooms, or...well, you get the idea. I don't know what kind of block I have that prevents me from seeing the laundry through from dirty piles to wash machine, dryer, and then folded, ironed, and put away. But, once those babies are washed and I know that we'll all have at least something clean to cover our bodies each morning, I feel like I'm done. So, anyway, my clean house (or dirty) always has stacks of clothes lying around. And, my kids consider it normal if there's nothing in their closet to wear. They know to go check my bed, my chair, the ironing board (which I use to hold the piles I pull from the dryer...why would I need the iron?)...or if all else fails, there's usually something sorta half-wrinkly in the dryer. I totally stink at housekeeping. I never claim to be anything but mediocre. My life motto is claimed in a special place hanging over my kitchen door: A clean house is a sign of a misspent life...and I believe that. Yet, a clean house also shows pride, gives you a feeling a freedom, makes the stress less noticeable, and allows you to bring people through the front door without quickly running to hide when the bell rings. It's all about balance. And my scale is tilted a bit too far in the "other" direction. Time to put on those gloves and that mask and see what can be accomplished in getting my life in order...and getting these stacks of clothes put into their proper place in the closets!


My husband

Last night after going to the Openlucht Museum in Arnhem, we visited oma and opa. It was a nice visit as I haven't been to their house in ages. Oma and I were talking about husbands and boyfriends and what it means to be in a relationship. The entire time we were talking, I just kept thinking about my husband, and what a great guy I've married. So often, I tend to get caught up in the daily grind of life and forget about all the goodness he brings to my life. But, speaking about him with another person, knowing his faults and voiceing them, and then realizing that I have come to accept him for who he is was really mind-opening. There are lots of little things I'd cahnge about him if I could. But I can't change him into the perfect husband...he is who he is, and I love him for who he is. He doesn't open the car door for me, he doesn't clean up the dinner dishes or come to bed at a reasonable hour. But, he doesn't complain when I don't get thigs done, he helps tuck the kids into bed, he picks up diapers and groceries when I need them, and he picks the kids up from their activities. He loves me, and I know that he loves me. He teases me and makes jokes with me, he rolls his eyes at silly things I say, he acts annoyed when I try to tickle him. When we stopped at the parking to let our little car sickie out for fresh air, I kissed my husband in the parking lot. I can look into his eyes as I kiss him and know that it's comfortable between us. We have a good life together. We're at a point where we are finally feeling financially secure. We have two kids that keep us on our toes and provide plenty of interesting moments, but we do a lot as a family, and our kidare well cared for and loved. In the great scheme of things, my husband is a real treasure. I don't tell him often enough thank you for all he is to me. He supports me, he cares for me, he loves me. What more could I want in life? I need to remember to "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" and let him know more often in actions and words just how glad I am that he's my husband. Because, I really am!


Soccer Talk

This afternoon after lunch I was outside playing soccer with Jari. I was the goalie and he was shooting penalties. Every once in awhile he'd exclaim "Good one mama! That was very good!" And then, suddenly, he sits down on his ball and looks at me real close. I could see his little mind was wildy busy. "Mama, when you were a kid like me, you used to play soccer, right?" Yep, mama played soccer too. After a couple minutes considering this, he pipes up "Were you skinnier when you were a kid?" I smiled and told him I was skinnir. "Skinny like me?" he continued. No, Jari, Mama was never skinny like you. "So, you were just a little skinnier?! But you could make lots of goals?" Mama only scored one goal ever during a game. I was a defender. "Oh, that's cuz you weren't skinny like me and couldn't run so fast!" Amazing, that child of mine...always thinking...quick in his little head and his little bod!!!


Money in the Bank

Today I got a call from the bank. I went and returned the money I found, with much praise from the bank staff...and a happy feeling in my heart. I heard the story of the couple, in their late 70's, who tried to get their bank pass to work and thought the machine was broken...and the look of exasperation on their faces as the bank manager told them that somebody had probably pocketed the money. She offered me coffee and cake, then told me that deeds such as mine are what makes us believe in the human race. She told me how extremely happy her clients would be to have their money returned. And in my heart of hearts I feel really relieved and proud that I did the right thing. So, I won't have 2 months gas paid, or 1/2 the repair cots of our car, or 3 months electric...but I will have pride and justice and honesty which will carry me through my life. And, I also have this nifty new pen set...a thank you gift from the bank for my honesty...and an image in my mind of two happy elderly people holding hands walking out of the bank with their wallets full of money...their money...hard-earned and much needed. I feel really good.



I Just bought the plane tickets for my parents to come and visit at Christmas! I feel so completely charged right now! I am so happy! Actually, I didn't buy the tickets, they did, but I completed the transaction. The prices were high, but I am afraid if they wait longer, they'll just keep going up. Who knows...but it doesn't matter now, cuz the tickets are purchased! And, they'll be flying Northwest which isn't my choice of airlines (it's actually down there on the list, but it has been awhile since I've flown with them), but the times are really good, so that's a big plus. Mom and Dad will be with us from Dec 23-Jan 1! I can finally tell my boys exactly when gramma and grampa will be here...and make plans for what we'll do during their visit. It's the little things, ya know???! :-)



Yesterday, I received 3 emails from the embassy in Brussels...beware of demonstrations resulting from the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. An anniversary is a day of remembrance...yet 9-11 is something I would rather forget. But, it's not something we can forget, for we're still living it day to day, and our lives have been forever changed in varying degrees. For the people whose lives were lost and left behind family struggling with their losses, this is a day that still burns in pain. They don't want to remember this injustice, yet the memory of their loved one is etched upon this date forever, and they are forced to remember...not just today, but every day. I remember sitting in front of the tv watching the "events" unfold, nursing my nearly two-week-old son and wondering what kind of world I had brought him into. As I tried to call my family, all the lines shut down, and never since my arrival in Europe have I felt so far away from home. I was an American living overseas and I wasn't able to support my family, my country, my people. And yet, I felt safe being away from it all. I emailed family and friends to make sure they were all okay, and was relieved as email after email came in assuring me that they were, indeed, alive and safe, but not okay...how could they be okay when their country had been terrorized? The trip my parents had planned to come visit their new grandson was put on hold, and thoughts about when I'd be able to see my family again worried me constantly. When would I be able to enter American soil? Would I be safe flying? Would America ever again be the same home I left?

No, it won't. America is a changed land since the disturbance of 9-11. It is a country that is still fighting the injustices of what ahappened, and being further split by political debates stemming from this disaster. It showed it's pride by bringing people together during and after the terror, and many continue to fly their American flag to show their support of soldiers and their pride in our land. But what exactly does all of this mean?

Today, I woke my son with tickles and realized that we have survived this injustice, we have been able to find the goodness in living in a world fraught with war, enemies, and disaster. In the six years since Sept 11, 2001, my son has seen far more good than bad...but he doesn't yet watch the news, or read messages from the embassy, or see YouTube movies of dying soldiers...I try to keep his world happy and safe, giving him a reason to smile. Yet, I know, one day he too will be affected by the date, in ways much deeper and stronger than he is now in his sheltered world of mama, papa, big brother, toy cars and soccer practice. He, too, is an American. He, too, will have to remember. September 11th...a day to remember...



What a busy and really good weekend we had. But boy, where did it go? Time sure flies when you're having fun.

1. What would you do??? Saturday morning we headed to the zoo...but before we could go, I had to go to the bank for money. As I headed to the bank machine, I heard it beeping. As I looked down thinking it was out of order, a pile a bills caught my eye. 400 euro I pulled from the machine, left by the previous user. I looked around and then pulled the money out. Thoughts of what I could do with 400 euro passed through my mind as I headed to the car where Erwin was waiting. I handed him the pile of money as those same thoughts ran through his head...1/2 a plane ticket home, 3 months electric paid, 1/2 the repair costs of our car, a new oven, 2 months gas...and then I told him to wait while I went into the bank to return it. But, we were already running late for our trip to the zoo and the line was long (I mean, really long) with only one window open. I waited by the bank machine a few minutes hoping the owner of the money would come back, but they didn't. So, I went back to the car and decided to call the police upon our return home.

2. We went to the zoo nearby Brussels. Planckendael is a nice park with tons of stuff for the kids to play on. The weather was perfect and we saw lots of beautiful animals. My favorite was the snow tiger...his eyes were so piercing blue they bored right into me. The kids had a really good day, enjoying every moment of our outing. It's the first time I have erally seen Jari get excited about a zoo, and it was fun to see him exclaiming over every animal. His favorite was the turtle...he couldn't believe there was no water in their pen for them to swim. And he giggled and giggled as one ran from place to place, retelling the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Kaeden enjoyed throwing acorns to the baby swines and laughing as they fought over them...right along with his papa, who couldn't get enough of the boss pig claiming his territory.

3. Jari (and his team) had a really off soccer day...lost their game 12-4. Jari played goalie 1/2 the game and I don't enjoy that at all (I always get nervous when he's in the goal...he's a much better runner than keeper). He was also wearing a pair of shorts from something out of the 1940's...he looked so old-timer and it was kinda funny. After their match they led the first team out onto the field for their opening season game.

4. We went into Bree where the fire station had their open day. They had so many fun activities for the kids, and my boys would have stayed there all day. They loved climbing in the fire engines. Kaeden took a ride in a rolling car, and the fire demonstrations were enlightening. We didn't stay for the burning down of the house which would have been thrilling because

5. We had a BBQ. Yum! Just the four of us enjoying an end of sumemr BBQ where we clinked glasses in a cheer. Kaeden had baked brownies earlier in the day and we had those for desert, and I made fresh lemonade which was a treat as I don't do it often. Erwin enjoyed a beer we brought back from Tsjechie, and it was relaxing and nice. After, the boys played soccer while we cleaned up, then we got them to bed, happy and zero problems...what a great way to end the weekend!

6. I tried calling the cops about the money, but can you believe there is no access to the police on a weekend unless it's an emergency? I couldn't believe it. I tried calling different chiefs, the head offices, etc and only got a message to call back during office hours. That blew me away....so, I still have the 400 euro sitting here waiting to go home to it's rightful owner...and still, thoughts of what I could do with that money are runnign through my head. It's like a tug-of-war raging through my mind what's right and good on one team and free money on the other team. I'm going to do the right thing and contact the bank this morning, but it feels a bit like a loss...

7. I have been wearing Kaeden's new Crocs since he returned back to Belgium. They are too big for him, but fit my feet to perfection...I have always stood by my Birkenstocks, but boy, do they have competition. They look a bit weird, but I think they go perfect with anything :-)
8. I did my nails while watching tv with my husband last night...maybe to you that's nothing special, but to me...I quit biting them!!! I've done this before and have relapsed, but hey, it's been a year since I have had pretty nails and finally I can paint them again and not be embarrassed and have to cover up my hands all the time! Yippeee!
9. Jari was talking about praying at school. He wanted papa to sing him Jesus songs before bed. As he started talking about prayers he did the sign of the cross..In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. But, he said it in a manner that made Erwin and I almost pee our pants... In de naam van de Vader, de Zoon, en de Geilige Geest, Am. (In English, this says In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Horny Spirit, Ahm...hahaha)

Update: I called the bank...as of yet, nobody has turned in a report for missing money. I left my phone number so that they could contact me if they were asked. I feel relieved knowing I did the right thing. If it was me that had lost the money...well, you heard all the reasons it'd be useful...


Sweet Moments

Last night as I headed up to tuck Jari in, I noticed the framed picture of my mom and dad was on Jari's desk. It normally has it's place on a nook in our staircase. I nonchalantly asked, "How'd that picture of gramma and grampa get in here?" Jari went over and lovingly fingered the picture. "I brought it in here," he said. "Cuz I miss my gramma and grampa so much and now I can see them every day." It brought tears to my eyes and opened up into a beautiful conversation about all the reasons he loves his grandparents. He is counting down the days til he sees them at Christmas. He discussed how he saw gramma in England this summer and loved playing with her, but that it's been a million trillion threehundred thousand years since he's seen his grampa (well, a year anyway, my sweet boy). So, as grandparents day comes around this Sunday, we'll be thinking of you both and loving you from afar...and waiting til we can "jump up in your arms and give you a big, tight squeeze when Santa comes!" Happy (nearly) Grandparents Day!!!


Managing Life

I have got to get myself organized. Now that my knee is improving and I can actually walk again, I need to get my home cleaned up and get some kind of pattern settled. Since everyone is gone all day, I can feel myself sliding again. At the end of each day, I wonder just what it was that I accomplished and where all the hours have gone. It's not that I do nothing all day, but it seems like nothing really gets accomlpished. My house is just sitting patiently waiting for me to get busy, and I just don't know where to begin. I need to make a schedule and cross things off the list to assure it's getting done. I hate that I can't seem to focus on one thing and get that one thing finished. My mind is always full of way too much, which backs me into a wall. Last night, I dropped Jari off at soccer and came home and played basketball with Kaeden for an hour. At first I kept thinking about all I should be doing, but as I started enjoying myself and my son, I realized I was doing exactly the most important thing. Yet, I have all this time during the day when the kids are not home to get my chores done, and I need to start, so that when they are home, I can enjoy them instead of having to "get everything done before papa gets home". So, I have decided to start making a daily list. It seems stupid that I can't do it without, but I can't. I hope it will help me get into a pattern and schedule and get our life cleaned up. We'll all benefit if I can keep this sinking depression at bay. I don't know why, but it seems I easily fall into depression...and in order to prevent it, I have to stay busy, be active, and keep myself from being a hibernating bear in his den. So, I know what I gotta do...now, if I can just manage it!!!



How would you like to start your morning with climbing out of bed, trying to wake your son to groans and grumbles, then heading to your room where the alarm has been snoozed to have your husband start your day with "Turn off the F***** light NOW!" as you search for your son's swimming trunks for his school swim today? And not just once, but 3 times I had to listen as blood boiled through my body. I didn't care if the light was on...it was time to get up and get ready for the day. And it wasn't early, as I said, we'd already snoozed numerous times. Now that's a way to make the day begin just joyously. When my husband came downstairs, I wasn't kind and sweet...I was plain ole mad. I definitely didn't deserve to be treated that way. And yet, even after telling him how rude I thought he was, still no apology. 4 hours later, and I'm still waiting....for the apology and for my boiling blood to simmer down.


School Begins!

Today marks the start of another school year. And an important one as it's Jari's first day heading off to elementary, where he'll really and truly be learning to read, write, and do arithmetic. Kaeden starts in a new class with new teachers and is excited to be heading back to his friends. Me, I'm feeling kinda lonely...everyone is off doing their thing and mama is stuck at home where I hurt my knee and can barely walk. Erwin headed back to work after vacation this morning and our house just feels too quiet and empty...yep, it's that time of year...schedules rearranged and homework and lunches and backpacks and bells...the start of another schoolyear!