Happy Halloween!

We're heading off on vacation for the week, but wanted to leave you with one last wish...Happy Halloween! Hope it's spooky, creepy, but most of all lotsa clowny fun! EnjoY!

Giggles of Embarrassment

This morning I was getting Kaeden's backpack ready for school. Inside I found a little package all duct-taped and stapled closed. That's weird, I thought, as I set it down and continued rummaging, looking for his daily journal in which the teachers and I correspond about everything to do with Kaeden. Finding it and opening it up, what I read gave me horrored shock. I couldn't help but get all giggly, am emotion I can't seem to control when I am embarrassed. It was as if a Halloween trick was coming to life. Here's the note staring back at me:

Dear Mama,

This afternoon the bus teacher came by our classroom. She returned this intimate lingerie which she confiscated from Kaeden as he shared it with the children on the bus. It seems that he decided to take these from your drawer as he was searching for a pair of socks. I secured your panties so that it won't happen again. I wish you all a stress-free holiday!

Thank you,
The teacher

I picked up the "secured" package wondering if it was a lacey pair that I barely wear preferring the cotton version of undergood. As I pryed it open I stood in shocked horror with the hext-to-nothing intimate (yes, it was not ANY panties, but THOSE panties...oh my god!) panties barely filling my fist. I could feel my face begin to burn as I immediately headed to the bathroom giggling.

Erwin, look what I got back from the school, I said dangling THOSE panties in front of his face.
Shaking his head, he said: No way, no way! It's time we start locking our bedroom door! And then he added: It's really not funny, as my laugh continued to escape me.

So, I wonder what kinds of stories all the other parents from the bus heard from their little darlings when they got home last night? It probably wasn't the same story Kaeden had to tell...those poor, innocent little kiddies....


Boys Will Be Boys

It was a really wonderful day. My kids were both so happy and good and played together like angels...something that happens far too infrequently. Here's a glimpse into their lives, back to the days of soldiers and kings...


School Pictures

Jari had school pictures today. As I got him bathed, his clothes all ironed, and his hair combed to perfection and then sprayed so it would stay that way, I remebered back to all the years when I was a kid and school picture day was announced. It was always a day met with anticipation, and kids dressed in their best and looked perfect angels which was not typical of them at all. Jari, in reality, should have been sent to get pictures with his hair all cock-eyed from sleep, his favorite crumpled t-shirt hanging from his body and jeans with a hole in one knee. That would be the true picture of my little boy. Not wearing a starched dress shirt tucked into his pants with a belt to hold the entire ensemble together. Not with perfectly combed hair and that fresh from the bath smell of newly washed little boys. Portrait pictures are something of a special variety. They strive to bring out the best in us, but never quite reach the standard. They can't capture the true us as we are, unless our cheeky grin happens to get in the way of the perfect shot. They don't emphasize our personality as we put our best foot forward to look completely put together. But still, they are the picture variety that we send to all our relatives in Christmas cards, the adorable perfection they pull from their wallet to share with all their friends. I wonder if they are ever disappointed at the 10th annual family reunion, to see the "real" portrait live and lively, after years of seeing nothing but the school picture perception?

School pictures are just something you have to do. It gives you one day a year to bring out the best of your little devils, turn them into the Beaver as you reach the June Cleaver goal of the 1950's view of perfection. You will look handsome today, my darling little devil. You will prove to all what a brilliantly beautiful child I have brought onto this earth. And when said child comes home and strips of their perfection and once again becomes your devil child, the real little devil you have come to treasure and love, you know with clarity that 20 years from now that school portrait will bring back memories of that one day you reached some perceived perfection. If, when you get them back, with no retakes, their eyes aren't closed, their smile a grimmace, or one patch of hair accidently poking straight up into the air, that for just one day you achieved June Cleaver status, and your little devil was somehow transformed into an angel for just long enough for you to dream. School pictures...perfection today, a laugh for the future.


Autism Rears It's Ugly Head

Yesterday we had the experience of seeing autism rear it's ugly head after months of having no major outbursts. Just a couple days ago I commented to Erwin how much easier Kaeden had become...we haven't heard him screaming nearly as often, haven't witnessed his violence or been cussed out like we have previously. But, I had to go and jinx it by mentioning it. And yesterday the full reality of living with autism came at me in one full leap. I have to say, 'his tantrum wasn't as bad as it could have been, and we gained a bit of control throughout the episode, but it still hit me like the blow of a hamemr watching my son regress to the violent, out of control child that rips my heart to shreds. And in reality, the entire thing could ahve been prevented last night, and I am the one to blame for it's full blow-out. That makes me feel really sad, that after years of living with my autistic son, I still manage to create a scene in which I know can become explosive. You'd think I would have learned by now. But I haven't. It's just too confusing living with autism, trying to work out when a situation is okay and when it causes a tantrum. Like walking on eggshells waiting for one to splinter under your feet.

Kaeden has been undergoing some major dental work for the past month. Every week we are greeted with shots and drills and water sprays and lots of noise. This is not something Kaeden handles well, and he has been very brave and done well throughout it all. Last night, the shot numbed his lips and tongue, which sent him over the edge. He was not happy. He couldn't relate to the weird sensation in his mouth and kept telling me over and over how much it hurt. I tried to be sympathetic, but really, there was nothing I could do. I reminded him the value of good dental care, how brushing his teeth could prevent a lot of these problems, because brushing his teeth is a major issue for him every day of his life. He hates doing it, and when he does, he doesn't do it well. And I can't help him, becuase he can't handle the pressure of me brushing his teeth. It's a no-win situation. Anyway, after his appointment we got home and it was already past dinner time. I agreed to make fries and snacks just to get everyone fed, but told Kaed he'd ahve to wait til his mouth wasn't so numb. Mistake number 1. He was hungry.

Next. because he was in pain, I told him to lie on the couch and watch a movie. He picked a family movie and we decided to make a movie night out of it, eating in the living room while watching the movie together. However, I suddenly realized 3/4 through the movie that the kids hadn't yet done their homework. The whole dental visit had thrown our schedule off-whack. So, I got out their homework and turned the movie to pause until their homework was complete. Mistake number 2.

Kaeden can't focus on homework unless he is sitting with no distractions at the kitchen table. However, there was mail from earlier in the day on the table and he became interested in that instead of his homework. I took it all away, leaving just his work in front of him. Mistake number 3.

I sat next to him to help him as he complained that he doesn't know how to do this work, it was never explained to him, blah, blah, blah...trying to get out of doing his math, his favorite subject. I assured him he could easily do the math problems, as he can add and subtract better than anyone I know. So, I started helping him by turning it into money problems, which is his favorite subject matter. But he wouldn't write the answers, so was giving me the answers and I wrote them for him. Until he started giving me only 1/2 an answer and expecting me to complete it for him. When I wouldn't do it, I could see the fury beginning to rise. Mistake number 4.

I told him we were going to turn the movie back on at 8:30 whether or not his homework was done. He could choose to get it done, or else go to bed without watching the movie. Mistake number 5.

After 10 minutes of scribbling on his homework and punching holes in it, I calmly put it away and told him to go brush his teeth. It was time for bed. Mistake number 6.

You don't need to know all the details following, but it was as if a huge explosion erupted. Too many commands, too many changes at once, too much happening for my son's brain to work through it all. And when I knew what was happening, I didn't stop and let him relax, but just piled on more commands and more stress, and was asking for a break-down. And I got one.

Although I don't blame myself for his tantrum, becuase the requests were simple and needed to be completed, I knew at one point that it was getting to be too much for him. I didn't take this cue and put an end to it all, but continued on as if my son could handle it. I didn't deserve to be treated by him how he treated me in the hour that followed. Nor did our home. However, it was all my mistakes leading up to that moment, mistakes which Kaeden didn't deserve to be subjected to either.

This autism thing, it is shattering. And it's so confusing. And it's a continual learning process. And last night made me realize that I have much more to learn. And with the schedule we've been keeping these days, it's no wonder he'd had enough. We have to leave room for him to breathe and to process. And last night, we were all breathing much more rapidly than our bodies and spirits could handle.

CS6 Numa Numa Project

This just made me feel happy all over this morning. I'm glad our deployed soldiers can still find some things to be happy about, and bring happiness to us as well. Hope you enjoy it as well!


Some Things About ME

1. What kind of SOAP is in your bathtub right now?
Dove Cream Oil (and a couple bars from the hotel all mushed up in the corner)

2. Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?
Nope, no watermelon

3. What would you change about your living room?
I'd put in double glazed windows, add a new couch set, and create more useable wall space

4. Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?
Clean. Got to put them away to make room for today's dirties!
5. What is in your fridge?
Leftover garlic chicken and rice, 2 bottles of yogurt drink, meat for lunches, a block of cheese, butter, a HUGE assortiment of sauces, milk, a bag of salad...hmmm...probably a bunch of bacteria!

6. White or wheat bread?
Wheat, but I like white for certain things like french toast

7. What is on top of your refrigerator?
Nicky's water bowl, an extension cord with the dishwasher plugged in and probably a few dead bugs...but I'm not looking!

8. What color or design is on your shower curtain?
We have no shower curtain...which is why the floor is always wet...but opa will resolve that issue for us soon, I hear!

9. How many plants are in your home?
A nearly dead one in our room, 3 in the kitchen, 6 in the living room...adn I'd like a few more, big floor ones

10. Is your bed made right now?
Nope, not made, but covered, yes, in clean clothes that need to be put away!

11. Comet or Soft Scrub?
Neither..oxy power spray is my choice
12. Is your closet organized?
In a fashion...at least I know where everything is...

13. Can you describe your flashlight?
It's camoflage and has no batteries in it!

14. Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
Glass...I don't like plastic very much unless it's a bottle of water when we're out and about

15. Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?
Nope. But I do have a container of it in the pantry

16. If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
Don't have a garage...but anything resembling a garage (the serre, the attic) is definitely cluttered

17. Curtains or blinds?
Hmmm, depends on the room and the use. I like the coziness of curtains in our home, but in some interiors blinds look good

18. How many pillows do you sleep with?
2...but one is much too puffy to be comfy for anythign toher than reading

19. Do you sleep with any lights on at night?
One in the hallway for the kids...but my door is shut.
20. How often do you vacuum?
Almost daily...it's one of those never done chores

21. Standard toothbrush or electric?

22. What color is your toothbrush?

23. Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?
It's a mat, but it doesn't say Welcome!

24. What is in your oven right now?
Nothing. Well, probably some baked remnants of dinners past

25. Is there anything under your bed?
2 mattresses in case we have extra visitors

26. Chore you hate doing the most?
Laundry...and anyone that doesn't know that already...

27. What retro items are in your home?
Hmmm, I can't think of anything
28. Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?
We have the computer set up in the living room, and our official office/guest room is definitely more like our attic and serre...cluttered!

29. How many mirrors are in your home?
Five I think.

30. Do you have any hidden emergency money around your home?
Yep, it's called the kids piggy banks :-)
31. What color are your walls?
Off-white with accents in beige, in the kitchen soft yellow, and in our room a deep beige color

32. Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?
Do play swords count?

33. What does your home smell like right now?
Guinea pig hay
34. Favorite candle scent?
Cinnamon during the holidays.
35. What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?
Baby sweet-sour

36. What color is your favorite Bible?
I don't think we have a real bible...just the kids ones

37. Ever been on your roof?
Nope, and don't wanna be
38. Do you own a stereo?
Personally, no, but my husband does, and what's his is mine :-)
39. How many TVs do you have?
2, one in the living room, one for the playstation
40. How many house phones?
Three, 1 in the kitchen, 1 in the living room, 1 in our bedroom...but they aren't always where they should be according to my dear husband
41. Do you have a housekeeper?
That'd be me...adn I'm not a very good one

42. What style do you decorate in?
Second hand!

43. Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?
Solids, definitely...and prints to accessorize
44. Is there a smoke detector in your home?
Yep, but the one in the kitchen has no battery cuz it went off every time I cooked

45. In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip?
Computer and hard drive with all my pictures...if I absolutely HAD to choose

America vs. Europe

Yesterday I had an hour to meet up with a girlfriend. I picked her up and we wanted someplace close-by to grab a drink, so we hit McD's. And that's when we started discussing Europe and America. It was a conversation which had my mind boggled and confused throughout the entire night. Being an expat is not an easy job. It takes a lot of courage, sacrifice, and acceptance. Courage to learn customs, cultures, langauges, lifestyles. Sacrifice to give up all that is familiar and tread on unfamiliar ground. Acceptance of customs, cultures, languages, lifestyles that aren't those that you grew up knowing, understanding, and living. And acceptance of a changing you. A new person that evolves from the old, pieced together by the society that formed us and the culture that we've adopted. We live constantly with a longing for our life to take on some normalcy, and it seems like we never quite reach that goal. We're stuck in the middle, our hearts and our ideals and beliefs lying someplace in the middle of the Atlantic, between two continents that we consider our own. It is sometimes a scary and lonely place to be.

As we talked, we both worried about the America that we'd left behind, the America that we nolonger feel completely connected to. We discussed the fact that America is a country with a lot of issues, and it's not the superpower that it perceives itself to be, not the land of the free and home of the brave as we once perceived it to be. Our attitudes and our morals have changed with the changeover of our American address to our European one. Yet, yet, there's still thsi patriotic need to accept our home land, to see it as the land we left behind, the one we didn't realize was lacking in so many areas, the one we thought was THE land, the place to ruled and controlled our lives, our upbringing, forming us to be the women we are today. Where is the news, real news and not another Britney Spears anecdote. Where are the family values promised us by politicians that throw children into daycare from sunup to sundown while parents work ina job that they won't receive holiday pay or vacation time? Where is the promise of medical help, insurance for the sick and elderly, without wiping them out of all they have worked so hard to achieve? What happened to the sit-down family dinners where parents talked with their children about their day, where couples shared stories about colleagues and meetings, rather than the jump-in-the-car and head to the 99 cent menu at McD's for a meal to provide further obesity of the population? Why are babies and toodlers drug through the 24-hour Walmart to pick up toilet paper and milk when their brains need sleep to learn and feel unburdened by the trials of the day at daycare? Why are there neon lights flashing 24 hours a day when global warming is not a "thing of the past"? Where is the acceptance and rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, religious beliefs? Why, when I state that I'm an American do I feel bile rise in my throat rather than being proud of the place I call my true home?

Because, Europe has opened my eys to the many differences between these two continents. Europe has plenty of it's own issues and problems which we hear about on the news and see in our daily lives living here. Europe is becoming more American-ized before our eyes in the short 7 years I have become a resident. There are more fast-food restaurants housed in beautiful 17th century buildings. There are shops staying open later and snack isles filled with too much junk food. Butchers and bakeries are now housed in the big super-market chains, and I no longer need to go to 5 stores to comlplete my shopping list. Convenient, yes. But is life all about convenience? What happened to wholesome goodness? Why is the insurance that is mandatory for all citizens takign away little pieces of care bit by bit? Where does the 19% tax money go? As I replace another light bulb with an energy saving one, and carry out my bins of recycling to the curb for pickup, I realize that I have changed. And so have the two places in which I live. And I'm not so sure it's for the better.

I applied to become a dual citizen with Dutch and American citizenship. I am awaiting my acceptance as a Dutch national. I feel that my heart, my ideals, my mindset and my beliefs are clashed into some mixed up, twisting and turning ball in my mind. I love America. I love Europe. I dislike America. I dislike Europe. I agree with America. I agree with Europe. And some may say you can't have it both ways. But I can, adn I do. I am an expat. I am 100% American, formed by the likes of Jefferson adn Washington. But I'm also going to be 100% Dutch, formed by the ideals and values I have come to learn and accept in this land of Oranje. And so, I have an obligation to both countries, and yet I sit here, with all these thoughts and moral issues on my mind, and can't see anything that I as this 200% person can achieve to make the ideal world. Which pieces of American will I keep? Which pieces of Europe will I throw to the wind? It confuses me greatly.

My girlfriend and I had a really introspective discussion. And since then, I am more confused than ever about where I stand. But I am even more sure about one thing than I have ever been before. I want to do something to help make my country the best it can be. My country is not America, nor is it Holland or Belgium. My country is both. For my mind, my heart, my character and personality are built upon both...and I believe in both of them, even with all the problems I see. For they have created this me, the woman standing here today. A woman I am proud to be, with an open mind and a loving heart, and destined to be stuck somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic forever.


The Perfect Family Day

Saturday was a day we have all been looking forward to. It was the day we chose to spend at the Efteling, a wonderful amusement park that my husband fondly remembers from his own childhood. We've been gearing the boys up all week for this special day out, and I assure you, none of us was disappointed. We got up and had breakfast together, not rushing, but starting the day out right, the boys starting out the morning playing a game of basketball with the neighbor while mama finished packing our picnic lunch. And then we were off, the sun shining out a promise of cheer.

Our car ride went wonderfully. This is our biggest issue when we head anyplace as a fmily. The car ride brings on fights and torment and tears and stops midway while the boys gather their wits so we can continue on. But Saturday, we didn't need to stop for tears, fighting, teasing, or even car sickness...we played games and scored points and we were all winners! And then, as we watched fro signs for teh Efteling on the highway, we finally spotted them, and suddenly the castle gates of Pardoes-land was in sight!
I won't go on and on about the fun we shared that day, but it truly was pure enjoyment. We weren't rushed and though some of the lines were longer than we had expected, and though we didn't make it onto all of our favorite rides, we did sit in the sun watching our children play together in the playground, we ate lunch together in little nippets after a ride, and we managed to see Pardoes, the Efteling mascot, bigger than life in the eyes of our kiddos. It was a relaxing day at teh amusement park, which is something you don't often achieve at an amusement park. We really had a great day.

And then, on the way home, we went into Eindhoven to enjoy the Lichtjesroute, where the city is lighted with displays through all the streets and creates a fairy-tale world for a couple of hours. Half-way through teh display, we headed to McDonald's for dinner, which is a treat in itself for the boys as we don't often go there and they were happy with their Happy Meal surprises, I enjoyed my plastic-y formed American hamburger, and Erwin stayed true to his Dutch self eating a kroket burger!

As we finished the ride home, the boys fell into a contented sleep and we tucked them into their cozy beds immediately upon arriving home...it was a great day!


English or Dutch?

My kiddo sure can make me laugh. Last night as I was reading his bedtime story, I realized just how in tune he is to the differences and similarities between Dutch and English. We were reading a Pooh book, and Pooh brought Piglet a honeypot to use as a stool. Stool, yes! Jari looked thoughtfully at the pictures and said "Dat is geen stoel, mama, maar een kruk. (That isn't a chair mama, but a stool)." Stoel (stool) in Dutch is a chair, while stool in English is kruk...does that make any sense?? haha He definitely didn't know the word for stool in English and yet, he knew the story was all wrong. I explained the definitions of stool, chair, stoel, and kruk to him and he then says to me, "English and Dutch are nearly the same. They even have the same words!" As I continued reading teh story, I don't think he heard a word because a little bit further he suddenly pipes up, "But that sure is hard when the same word means a different word, he mama?" Smart cookie I have there. I've got the same troubles as he does when it comes to this langauge stuff!!! I sure get a kick out of our bilingual-ism (is that a word??!).



Some days are just filled with sadness. Yesterday was one of those days for me and I climbed into bed early with a throbbing headache that just wouldn't go away. I was so relieved when my husband finally got home last night, and I just went to him and let the tears fall down my cheeks and into wet patches on his shoulder. I felt so much relief having him there to hug me tight and give me his strength as I fell to pieces.

It was an emotional rollercoaster day for me. First, I discovered that my friend Amanda is in the hospital with blood clots in her lungs. She had surgery last week and came through it fine, but after having shortness of breath and a feeling of general unhealth, she went to the hspital and was immediately booked in for a stay...probably a week long one. I tried to contact her all day, but could not get through no matter what I did. I felt so helpless and just wanted to hear her voice and know she was okay. Luckily, another friend finally got through to her husband, who told the story and let us know what is happening with her. I wanted to go visit her last night, but I couldn't with all the differing juggling acts that makes up my life. So, we're going this afternoon and bringing her chocolate and English books at her request! I'll feel so much better after seeing her with my own eyes and knowing she knows that I care about her.

Then came the firewood. The guy called me at 3:10 to tell me he'd be here at 4ishI had no money to pay him and had to bike to town to the bank before I picked Jari up from school at 3:30. I didn't think I could make it. Normally it's about 12 minutes into town, 12 minutes back and I had 20 to complete the task. I have never ridden so fast, and could feel the air from my lungs, inhale, exhale, as my heart beat double time. I made it home with time to spare, the money in my wallet. The guy brought the wood. It was filled with emotion for me. My dad is a logger, and it brought back all those feelings I had as a little girl, helping load and stack wood. The guy came with a trailer and hoisted it up by hand, dumping the wood into our driveway. That's how we used to do it too, when my dad was first starting his business, kids by his side with gloves ready to help unload. The guy ahd his son with him, who proudly helped his dad, and his dad praised him each step of the way. I loved seeing their jolly-ness and teh great balance they had between each other. When I asked the kid if he liked being Papa's helper, his eyes lit up as he answered a definite Yes. It reminded me of being with my dad in the woods all those years ago, and I missed my dad a whole lot more than I normally do. And it made me wish that his business hadn't expanded to the point it is today, when he has so much stress and too much work...the point at which it's just no longer fun for him, something he used to LOVE to do. Maybe he shoudl go back to the days of loading up a trailer and unloading it by hand with satisfaction in one small job well done...but he'd have a lot of disappointed customers and lose a lot of money, of which he owes for all his big machinery to make his life a living hell. Just makes you think...

And then, I called my mom. She is so sad and unhappy and I feel so far away, being unable to offer her the hug and support she so very much needs right now. My brother has moved back into town, and though most people would consider that a good thing, there has been a lot of pain the past years stemming from the relationship between my brother, my dad, my mom, and me. He has pretty much disowned our family. But now that they are back in town, it's causing marital problems between my parents as they struggle to find a balance seeing the grandkids daily from a distance, desperately wanting to be with them, yet not knowing how, or how far they can go. It's tricky business in what should be the most natural of feelings. And it's just plain sad. I hurt for my parents, and then I hurt for myself. I still don't know what I did that caused me to be an ogre in their (my borther and his wife) eyes. I don't know what my parents have done to cause a complete falling out of our family. All families have problems, but they deal with them and set the path straight so that Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays can be enjoyed by all, as a complete unit, everyone compromising and coming to a balance to enjoy these special days together. But my family hasn't got that anymore. We are no longer a comlete family. My family has been shredded into bits of me, them, we, mine...and there is no longer an us and ours. And it hurts so deep that the pain is never truly extinguished. It sist there like a huge tumor on your heart, never shrinking but growing bigger as the days pass.

My mom seems so fragile. She tries to hide her pain behind a laugh, but at the end of each laugh come a fury of tears and the echo of annihilation. She is depleted, a shell of sadness and pain of the mother I knew as a child. She feels useless and doesn't even want to go on living. And that scares me to bits. I need my mom. I need her love and support and advice and strength. And she hasn't got nay of that to give any more. And it makes me so angry all over again, every core of my being is flooded with an almost hatred for what my brother has caused our family to become. I don't blame him for every rough patch we've encountered on the way, but I do blame him for what we have become. And as my mother's sadness let loose, my own began to build until the pain in my heart was unable to take any more. I can't be there to make it easier for her, and even if I could, what could I do? I can offer nothing more than my love, my support, my friendship, but that still doesn't put her family back into one piece, the only goal she ever had for her life. It just feels as if the earth is slowly swallowing you up, but won't do it in a quick gulp, but does it slowly, sucking all the air out of your lungs and laughing as you suffer in the quicksand of life.

Sadness. It's a pure raw emotion, and one I have felt enough in my days. I just wish it was easy to swipe away and defeat.



I just finished tucking the boys into bed. Kaeden and I were reading a story about a fox and rabbit. His reading is getting so much better and I love hearing him read to me. He's still at about a first grade level, but he's improving and that's what counts. Anyway, he was reading about the fox making soup. He had to get a pan and make a fire and peel an onion...etc etc etc. Suddenly, Kaeden stops reading, looks at me and says "Mama, you don't know how to make soup." "Yes I do!" I told him firmly. "Yeah, you can open a can of soup!" he laughed as he gave me his reply. Okay, so maybe I don't make homemade soup...my husband hates soup and my kids love soup from a can!!! Why would I bother??? Except now that he's mentioned it, I may have to give it a go...especially to calm his joking laughter from my head!!! It's so much fun to hear him making jokes that really are jokes and funny. He knows how to make his mama smile...even as I hang my head in soupless shame!

Thumbs Up for my Husband

Last night Erwin came home with a smile. He told me he was featured in the Philips magazine, and proudly pulled it out to show me. There he was in a full-color picture holding his prize. As I read the article, an overwhelming pride shivered through me as well. The article discussed how hard Erwin has worked, how much overtime he's put in, doing his own job, the jobs of other employees on vacation, as well as completing an audit and the audit following on his own. They gave him a "pluim" (thumbs up) for his efforts and success. He also received 2 dinner gift certificates which was just the icing on the cake.

This is the first "pluim"that Philips has given out. It's their plan to do so monthly, to an employee that goes over and beyond the call of duty. I am happy that it's my husband that set the standards for this honor. Proud that his late nights (and mine) have not gone unnoticed, and that he's been rewarded for his dedication to his job. I am proud that someone finally took notice of his time card, of his light burning in the office deep into the night, of his missing family dinners and bedtime stories...I am proud, because he deserves it. As he heads out the door every morning onto traffic jammed streets to head to the Philips parking lot, he's doing so to provide us with the pleasant life we have; a car, a home, food, clothes, travels, phone calls, internet, DVD movies, soccer and Judo, scouts and school functions. And often, it's all just taken for granted. "Papa, I want..." "Erwin, we need..." "I called my mom today..." "Papa, my uniform is too small..." "Can we go to my soccer club dinner..." and though he must find us worthy enough to accept his care and prosperity, we don't thank him enough for what he does for us. And neither does Philips. I'm glad they finally did!

Congratulations, Hon!!!


A Good Feeling

I've often wrote about the troublesome issue that haunts me day and night. This is the relationship between my husband and first-born which tugs at my heart as I know they care about each other, but have a hard time showing that to each other. The struggle I have trying to help them bond and be positive towards each other is one which drives me to craziness some days. There's really nothing I can do about it, but I keep trying in hopes that they can both find happiness together, and in turn, I can break free from the pain that drives a knife through my heart on a daily basis. I don't think anyone knows how much it hurts me, how much sadness and anger I have inside, knowing their relationship is not what it should or could be. Some days I work myself into a frenzy worrying about what their relationship is doing to them, to our family, and lastly, to me. And then along comes a good moment, just one little glimpse into the true nature of their hearts, something that makes every slice of that knife from the past 7 years disappear, every bit of pain and anger and grief dissipate into thin air. Yesterday, I experienced one of those moments, and today, yet again, a complete happiness enveloped me, agve me hope, gave me security and trust and freedom. Just one simple experience to grant me my every wish come true.

We attended Kaeden's parent teacher conferences last night. It was the first time we've met his teachers, and it was an interesting conversation. The best part of the night was hearing that Kaeden is doing well in the class, he's the class helper with the younger kids, and both his teachers feel blessed to have them in his class. The not so good news was that he does not know how to interact with other kids, he gets angry in the blink of an eye, and that he can't seem to stay on task without being continually watched. All in all, nothing we don't already know about him and continue to work on. They classed him as a very typical autistic child...his main issue comes in the form of not being able to share his emotions and turning into a time-bomb in place of verbalizing them.

But the moment that brought me so much peace came in the form of Erwin defending our son. When he spoke to the teachers, it was mind-boggling for me to hear him telling them about our son, all the good things and he can do, the positive things about him, and even admitting that Kaeden does not know what he is doing when he is in the midst of one of his tantrums. Hearing Erwin speak to the teachers, all the love and care I know he hides inside for our child was washed ashore, and I heard him put Kaeden on a pedestal I didn't know existed in his mind. I was confused, but filled with glee and peace and contentment. It was as if a light went on in my mind, promising me of a better tomorrow, giving me hope for them as a team. I was ecstatic!

On the way home, I questioned him about this, and he down-played it a bit, again hiding his positive emotions behind the cloud of autism that always hangs above our family...and yet, what I had seen and heard had broken free, and I felt some of the stress and exhaustion relese from my shoulders and heart. To complete this story, came yet another moment this morning that gave me even more hope and even more freedom and relief. Kaeden went to his Papa, wrapped his arms around him, asked for a hug from "the best papa in the world", yes his very own words. I heard Kaeden cooing as Erwin encompassed him in this hug and rubbed his back, Kaeden's arms tightly latched around his papa in a tight squeeze. It was just a fleeting moment, but every inch of me was taut with peace and happiness, scared to look their way as I wanted the moment to last forever. I felt so utterly complete, and I hope that the same feeling encompassed both of them.

I don't expect their relationship to suddenly take a complete turn for the better, but in these past two days an awareness of what hides within each of them has been released, and a mother and wife can once again dare to hope.



I don't know what I was most drawn to. Was it his smile as we waited together in the hallway? His curly blonde hair falling just over his forehead? His scrawny, skinny body housed in training pants and a tank top, his sport shoe resting against the wall holding up his slouch, his arms crossed over his chest? All I know is that this teenage boy, oh, I'd say about sweet 16, really captured my attention. My gaze kept returning his way as we waited together in the sport hall; waited for our "kids" to finish up sport club and bring them safely home again.

As I collected Kaeden and we headed outside to our waiting bikes, I watched a handicapped girl, about 6 years old, runtowards this boy with a huge smile on her face. I watched this young man reach out for her and bring her up for a tight hug as he ruffled her hair and kissed in her scent. I watched as he set her back down again and took her hand in his, his self-assured walk helping her clumsy shuffle as they amde their way outside.

"Look what I have here," he said to this little girl. "We get to go on a bike ride." He reached down to pick her up and settle her into the child seat behind his bike. He gently buckled her in and hopped on, telling her she could feel the wind but it wouldn't be cold, because his body (clothed in a tank top and skinny) would keep her warm. The little girl poked him in the back. He turned around and playfully poked her back. She laughed and then they were off. I didn't hear another word, or catch another glimpse of them in the distance. But for those 3 minutes, I was entranced.

I assume that the boy was her brother. He was far too young to be her father, and the bond between them was definitely strong. He made me feel so proud. Here is a teenager picking his little sister up from the sport club for handicapped kids. He didn't hurry her along and try to hide her from the world, but tenderly and sweetly gathered her into his arms, showing his love for this little person, no embarrassment, no shame, nothing other than love. I learned so much just watching the two of them interact. This boy, whom I do not know, whom I have never before seen, opened me to an understanding about what commitment, love, and courage means.

Waiting with him in the hallway, I knew there was something about him. Seeing him with his sister, I know exactly what it was about him. Sweetness. I now know what the word really means.


Meet Crocky and Rudolph

We've been having fun getting to know our new babies! They are quite chirpy little critters and keep us entertained. The boys love them, though I'm not so sure Crock and Rudy like my boys quite as well....you get the idea. They are pretty timid, but getting braver and braver as they get used to us. This morning I let them run around outside eating up fresh grass and enjoying the breeze. They are now napping in their freshly cleaned cage...they tend to get stinky pretty fast! They are shades of tan with bright red eyes, they do not enjoy being brushed, and love hay, carrots, parsley and apples. Forget the tomatoes and bananas, please! Here's a few pics of our new babies...aren't they just adorable?


I got a huge laugh from my husband yesterday morning as we were all eating breakfast. Sitting around the table we were discussing animals and the different kinds; amphibeans, mammals, fish. As we were speaking combined English and Dutch, it got to be a quite interesting conversation. I piped up, telling the boys about zoogdieren (mammals). We were talking about how mammals drink milk from their mother. However, instead I called them zuigdieren (literally translated, this is sucking animal). "Dolfijnen zijn ook zuigdieren (dolphins are also mammals(only I didn't use the proper Dutch translation for mammal))." I was trying to portray that just because they are in the water, doesn't necessarily make them fish. Erwin laughed out so hard he almost choked on his sandwich. "Zuigdieren??! hahaha Zuigdieren?" "What's so darn funny?" I asked as he reminded me the proper word was ZOOGDIREN. "Well, they suck milk from their mother, so the word should be Zuig (Suck) animal!" I tried to regain my composure setting the record straight! Our conversation went round and round as I tried to get him to see my reasoning. He didn't buy it however, and remians firm in his belief that the proper word is Zoogdieren, while I will claim fame to my new invention of Zuigdieren, because afterall, it just makes sense!