Thankful Thursday

Lois at Life is Just A Stitch In Time is hosting Thankful Thursday this week. Go have a peek for all the reasons we all have to be thankful.
This week, I am thankful for medication. My son has ADHD and autism and I was one of those parents that was going to go without medicine. I didn't believe in putting my child on medicine for a condition he couldn't help. I didn't want his body to be filled with drugs that altered his mind status. However, that all changed when he was 7 years old and we I noticed how wired he was all the time, how he was failing in school, how he was no longer a happy little kid, but fighting with himself to be a good boy and just never able to succeed. Our psych recommended we just try ritalin, see how it goes, and we finally relented. After 2 hours on the drug, I knew it was necessary in order for my child to have some semblance of a normal life. He was able to quit jiggling wiggly all over the place, he was able to play a game or put together a block castle, he was able to listen and his eyes began to shine with childhood dreams again. Since giving him that first pill, I have become a believer that drug intervention CAN be a good thing. I do believe strongly that it needs to be closely watched, that alternative forms of therapy should be used, and that he needs to learn to live within his own body without relying on a drug. But, it really helps my son. It helps our family, and it helps my marriage. I am no longer a non-believer. If you have a condition that you need medicine in order to breathe (as Kaeden did as a baby, with hsi severe bouts of asthma), you take it to survive. And, if you have a condition which messes with your mind and creates a bunch of behaviors that you don't enjoy, you take medicine to assist you. Same thing, different purpose.
We are working with Kaeden's psych again to find a correct dosage and the correct drugs to try to once again get his ADHD and autism behaviors under control, so he can again have a happy, successful life. And it's hard figuring out the correct combinations, explaining to him why we're changing his schedule around, the cost of adding new meds. But, I am hopeful that we'll get this all resolved and our son will be free of the anger that stems from his mind not slowing down enough to properly work. That he'll once again, with the help of his medication, be able to find the sunshine that makes his eyes sparkle bright, his face break out in happiness, and his heart peaceful and filled with love. Today, I give thanks for medicine. It gives my son a chance be a kid.
**In other thanks, here's a link to an autism video which donates money each time it is watched. Please click on the link to help get funding for autism, maybe find a cure, but at least get these kids therapy and help that they need. This particular video really tells my feelings to a tee...but there are hundreds for you to watch. Thanks to each of you who support this cause.


Game Night

Tonight we were playing a new game as a family. It was Erwin and Jari's turn (they were playing as a team) and Jari was rolling the dice while Erwin made the big decisions. Here's the conversation that really hit my funny bone:
**Erwin waiting for Jari to resume play:

Erwin: Are you going to quit holding your penis and roll the dice?
Jari: But that feels good! (as his hands exit his pyjama bottoms and he clutches onto the dice while the rest of us laugh)

Oh, good Lord...what's a woman to do in a house full of guys...besides laugh...and get out the Clorox!!!



Things here are weird. My mind is all jumbled up with lotsa stuff. I am so forgetful and it makes me wonder if I have the early stages of dementia. Seriously. It kinda scares me. The past few years I have noticed myself becoming more and more forgetful. I used to be able to remember everything and nothing really bothered me. But now, I worry that I am losing my mind...and not in that funny, lighthearted sense either. It's been a struggle for me, and one I have been considering for some time, but haven't been able to express out of pure fear. But I figure, hey, what the heck, this is me, take me as I am, faults and all. I need to talk about this, as it's really driving me crazy. I am worried about myself.

I manage to forget the simplest of things. Sure, everyone forgets stuff once in awhile, but this forgetting I've been doing just seems a bit unnatural. Things like not being able to find my keys because I put them in the fridge. Not remembering an appointment even though I have looked at my calendar 5 times throughout the course of the day. Getting another cup of coffee even though I have just made one. Making Erwin's lunch even though he's reminded me that he has a lunch meeting that day. Forgetting Jari's swim gear for swimming even though I have just read his school agenda. Giving Kaeden a full lunch on Wednesday even though he always comes home for lunch on that day. Forgettting conversations that Erwin and I have had which he must completely repeat before I even have a glimpse of them taking place.

I try to keep it all organised by writing everything on my calendar. But even that has a way of getting all jumbled up. Sometimes, I think it's because I have so many little appointments to remember that I just have too much going on in my head. And sometimes, I attribute it to the state of my mental being, such as too much stress in my life to keep the simple things all at the forefront. Other times I wonder if I would start drinking more water if it comes from lack of being sufficiently hydrated. Or maybe if I would exercise more it would balance my mind better. Or if it comes from not having enough challenges to keep my mind working adequately, such as a job and social affairs. I really don't know if it's just one of the above, a combination of them all, or if something is truly medically the culprit.

What I do know is that I can't sleep well worrying about the state of my mental health. I get angry at myself and others quickly as a result of my forgetfulness. I find myself often in a state of tears because I have once again done something stupid due to my forgetting something important. I feel like my mind is failing me. And I am scared to discuss this with a doctor, as I am afraid they'll do tests and discover that I really do have the beginning stages of Alzheimers or something. It's a battle I fight within myself on a daily basis.

I'm not sure why I wanted to write about this today. Maybe because when I looked at my calendar I know that there are a few appointments missing that I need to try to remember so I can write them down before they are also forgotten adn I must make new ones. Or maybe because I am finally allowing myself to be realistic about the fact that this is a reality for me and I need to do something about it before it gets even worse. Whatever the cause, I need some help. I don't liek walking around worrying that there is something truly wrong, like I am a bit out of control and a bit psychotic. I just start to question myself and feel so much stupider than the woman I know that I am. And I want to feel whole again, like my mind is working with my body. I don't want to be the forgetful one.


Thankful Thursday

Julie at Another Chance Ranch is again hosting Thankful Thursday. So, what is it this week I am thankful for?

This week, my friend Sharon has the opportunity to see her dad. He is here visiting from Australia, traveling to take in a number of bird shows. Her dad has written books on birds and has made it his hobby in life. But, it has been more than 7 years since Sharon has seen her dad. And 7 years since she has even spoken to him. Her move to Europe caused a family riff, and when she was unable to return for her grandmother's funeral just a month after her arrival in Holland, her dad used that as his excuse to break all contact with her. They haven't spoken since.

A month ago, Sharon got an email from her dad. He was coming to Europe and would like to meet up. This week, she finally called her dad and made arrangements to meet up with him for drinks and a visit to the bird show with him. After 7 years, the flood gates are opening. Yes, those flood gates of emotion: excitement, fear, anger, sadness, happiness...you name it, the feeling is there. I have been trying to be supportive of my friend in this journey she is taking. She is more than willing to make a clean slate with her dad, get their relationship back on track. And he must be ready as well, to have taken the chance to let her know he is coming.

So, anyway, for today, I am thankful that they have this opportunity to make amends, make a fresh start, and get back on the right path in their relationship. Family is so very important. And this afternoon I will be accompanying her to meet up with her dad at the bird show. I will be there to support my friend. So, I am thankful for friendships as well. And for today, when I see them embrace in a hug releasing the pain of these past 7 years, that's going to be a real moment to be thankful for.


Oh, The Humor!

Today Jari had a birthday party to attend. Yesterday we spent getting ready for this event. We made a rocket together to present to his friend as his birthday gift. When I asked Jari if he wanted to go to the toy store to pick out a gift, he informed me we had already made one...and he was perfectly content with his rocket ship. But me, er, not so much. Although it was a fine rocket ship,it's carboard exterior covered in stickers and the word RAKET printed neatly on its side, colored paper fire coming out the bottom, I wondered what the other moms would think if that was the only gift we came bearing. So, I told Jari we could go for a bike ride, which just happened to come along the toy store. "Do you wanna go in and have a look?" I asked him. "Yeah. maybe I can buy something with my birthday certificates," he claimed with a grin! "Or maybe you'll see something Bert would like to have," I nonchalantly replied. "Then he could have TWO presents," Jari shouted in glee. So in we went and came out 40 minutes later with a playmobil figure and a set of cars to add to the beautiful rocket ship. And a promise that Jari could return to use his gift certificates to purchase the easel which he was dying to have and I could only hold him off by the fact it wouldn't fit on my bike.

When we got home, he tore apart the card drawer looking for the perfect birthday card. He found it when a lopsided Goofy stared back at him. "I'm gonna write Bert a joke for his birthday!" my son informed me. I got out the markers and let him go to work. "Do you ened any help writing your joke?" I asked? "No, I can already write that, mama!" So, I went back to cleaning up the kitchen while he sat patiently writing his joke. 20 minutes later, he came to me with a devilish, gap-toothed smile. Laughter was penetrating his knotted up shoulders and I couldn't wait to hear what he'd come up with. "Mama, this is SOOOO funny. You are gonna laugh SOOO hard," he told me, and continued to read me his joke.

A bird was in the tree, but the tree was broken.

He began laughing so hard I was afraid his insides would fall out. Real, deep, belly laughter that made tears stream from my own eyes as I laughed right along with him. And then I looked at his card which amde me only laugh 10 times harder. Here's what was written on the back of his card.

Een voochel was in de boom, +++++ (a few letters crossed out from a misspelled word)maar de boom was kapot.
(Een vogel was in de boom, maar de boom was kapot.)

Just seeing his sounded out to perfection spelling of the word vogel (bird) gave me a deep satisfaction. My little boy can read, he can write, and he is really very, very funny. My little boy, you make mama laugh, and even better, you make my heart swell with love. I absolutely loved sharing such a funny moment with you!


What A Day

I had plans with my girlfriends today. One friend picked me up and we headed to a central point where we all met up for lunch. I was looking forward to chatting girl talk and just hanging out. Which we did. But I wasn't exactly present today. I dunno what was on my mind, but I couldn't stay focused on the purpose of this get together. I kept catching little blurbs of the conversations taking place, but my mind was wandering...a lot. Even my favorite people-watching activity was a bit stunted. I saw the people walking by, but couldn't focus on their activities like I usually do. One friend brought her darling little boy, but he'd had enough of sitting quietly while we ate lunch. I didn't blame him. I just wasn't into it today like I normally am. But, her son, as darling as he is, is 2 1/2. He likes to run around and play. He likes to hear himself laugh, and after he finished his pancakes, he was totally through...and expected us to be as well. As he screamed and loudly complained, I watched my girlfriend start to stress and get fed up with her son's behavior. I could tell that she wasn't happily relaxing, but was at a point of not knowing what to do to quiet and calm her son. I tried to help by taking him for a walk and giving him something else to keep him busy, but that's when he decided he needed his momma. She is the light of his world. He trusts her, he knows he is safe with her, and he was having NONE of auntie Tera. So, as he screamed for momma running down the hall, I felt disappointed I couldn't release my girlfriend of her responsibilities for just 10 minutes. To let her gather her wits in silence while finishing up her cappuccino. It is so hard being a mom. Nothing about it is easy. We're on command 24/7. Our little people bring us a lot of sunshine, but they also make us feel like the worst parents on the planet. Everyone feels this, and my girlie mate was no exception. She broke down in the store stating that she's a bad mom. Which she isn't. I see her with her son and I see this happy and energetic 2 year old and I know that any child that happy knows he is loved, cared for, and special. How can we measure up to the perfection we expect of ourselves as moms? How can we see ourselves as the loving, caring women our children ultimately see us as?

We got home just in time to run Jari to the dentist. He had to have another tooth pulled. It was pure hell. As he screamed and cried in pain and panic, I looked into his terror, tear-filled eyes and felt nothing but guilt for allowing this to happen. I, too, was questioning myself as a mom. As I tried to assist the dentist in calming my son and holding his body still, my own eyes filled with tears. Being a mom is hard. We do the best we can to make our kiddies happy, to make them feel safe and loved, and yet there are always moments like today that claw these positives away from our relationship, from our hard work, and make us feel like a failure.

Jari and I went to the bus station to catch the bus home, it being rainy and windy I didn't want to take the 25 minute walk, nor did Jari feel up to it. We had just missed the bus, by mere minutes. The next was nearly an hour wait. Kaeden would be home before us. WOuld he know enough to wait in our yard, like I always try to drive into his mind, just in case? As Jari and I headed to the cafe for a special treat of coffee out with mama for his bravery (and sine we had an hour wait in the rain) I was concerned about Kaeden. But enjoyed my little outing with my little boy, something we don't often do. He was pleased with our conversation and enjoyed reading the menu to me. My little guy can read. Wow!

When we finally got on the bus, after 4 number 8's (which we needed) passed us by and made my nerves even more frayed, there were few free seats. However, that came from all the teenagers sprawling all out, with their bookbags and feet taking all the chairs. There were 4 setas together in which one girl claimed all. I asked if we could have a seat and waited for her to move her stuff. SHe just looked at me but didn't make a move to remove her belongings. I did it for her, pushing her dirty shoes off the seat in which I would sit, and throwing her backpack on the seat next to her. After I sat back down, she returned her foot to the edge of my seat. I didn't say anything, because I was boiling and didn't want to start a debate with someone so disrespectful. I told Jari that it wasn't nice not to share seats and that everybody has a right to sit on the bus. She knew what I meant. But I wanted to stand up to her, this little brat of a teen that had too big an attitude. Why couldn't I just do it? Why would I let a little brat like that content with this mama bear?

I got home, Kaeden was home. I hugged him and he shrugged off my hug. He was uptight that we weren't here. After calming him down by explaining the situation, I made him a sandwich. I then realized that he was in a bit more of a state than I first thought. He was wound up and I could tell that one wrong step was going to be a meltdown. I stayed calm, he remained somehwat calm until I told him to get ready for his doc appointment. He wasn't having any of it. Not going! was his only feedback. But, he finally did manage to get ready after he heard Papa beeping for him outside...without an incident, without any fight, without nasty language or hot tears. Being a mama is hard work. Walking on eggshells is also a lot of hard work, and that's kinda what it feels like being a mama some days.

So, now I have the weekend before me. Lots of plans. Plans, being a mama, doing mama stuff, and getting rewarded with little more than a kiss at the end of the night...a kiss which tells me all I need to know. I am doing okay. My kids love me. But wow, being a mama is hard work. I bet the mama of that disrespectful little Beeyotch on the bus knows it too. And so does my girlfriend with the two year old.


Thankful Thursday!

Julie over at Another Chance Ranch has decided to start the Thankful Thursday edition of blogging. I'm going to join her on her mission to remember all the things I have to be thankful for. At least I'm going to give it a try. I'm not good at remembering these weekly or daily posts, but at this time in my life, I need to remember reasons I have to be thankful. So, it's comng at a very good time. So, for today, here's my reasons to be thankful.

I am thankful for my husband. I met Erwin on ICQ back in 1998 and weformed a true friendship which quickly advanced to the stages of 'something more'. When he made plans to visit me in America 10 months after our first contact, neither of us was sure where it would lead, though I was hoping that our times in real-life would equal the fun we had together online. We spent three weeks traveling the Western US together and got to know each other on a more personal and intimate basis. The last week we shared was spent with my son who was 4 years old at the time. The three of us fell easily and cozily into our "family life" and one of the very hardest things I have done in my life was to say goodbye to Erwin at the end of our three weeks together. It was then that I knew I was in love with this Dutch man, and that I didn't want to live without him in my life. He was then, and still is, a man true to his word, someone who stands beside you and believes in justice. He is a good person.

Our long distance relationship lasted 2 years with trips back and forth between America and Europe, thousands of dollars in phone calls, and daily chats and web-cam visits, before we took the leap and decided to make a move to actually be together. It was a jump I was all than more willing to take with him by my side. But it wasn't without difficulties, as I had a son and it would mean Erwin becoming not only a partner, but a father. My son, at five years old, would finally have a dad, someone who could be his hero, teach him all about guy things, and give him the fatherly-love he was craving and deserving of. Erwin stood up to the challenge, and Kaeden got his dad. As Kaeden and I said our goodbyes to my family and America, it was a bizarre experience. I was thrilled for the life I was about to embark upon, but saddened to be leaving all I had come to know and love. I didn't know what would await me when I entered the Netherlands, the new culture, the new foods, the new language, and a partner to share every day with. It was exciting to say the least.

So, I have been led to this moment in time, with Erwin by my side, now my husband with another child to share between us. The times have not been easy. I have had difficulties adjusting to life in a foreign land. I have gone through depression. We have been through a diagnosis of autism and ADHD with Kaeden, and that has been the hardest slap to our relationship as a couple, but also as a family. Still, Erwin has stuck by my side. He has continued to love me, to love our children, and to provide a comfortable lifefor all of us. He has not run out the door and left me behind, but proved his love and faithfulness to me time and time again by staying with me through the hard times, when it would have been much easier to just tell me goodbye. At this point in time, our marriage is having some difficulties. We are not standing together as a couple, not supporting each other as we should, not giving each other the care we both need and deserve to have to be happy in our lives. We are going through a really rough spot. But the thing I am thankful for, is that I know that my husband still stands by my side. Whatever problems we are encountering, I know we can make it better becasue we are committed to each other. I trust my husband. I know that he wants the same life as I do, filled with happiness and fun and comfort. I know that we can work through this valley and come out on top, because we have made it through so much together already. We have a history of making it work beyond all odds. And we will again.

I am thankful for my husband. He goes off to work each day to bring us the comfortable lifestyle we live. We take vacations, we don't want for any of the necessitites in life. We share family movie nights and family game nights. We take walks in the woods and attend air-shows and car races and parent teacher meetings and psychology appointments...and we do that together, as a pair, with our children by our side. In the ten years we have shared our lives, never have I worried that he wouldn't be there to kiss me in the morning. Never have I worried that I wouldn't have a home in which to live. Never ahve I worried that I wouldn't have food to feed my children or clothing to cover our bodies. He is stability in it's finest. He is my rock.

We are going to work on making our marriage mentally stronger. I know that I have much to be thankful for, but for today, I need to remind myself that it is my husband. Without him, I couldn't stand on my own two feet. And I don't want to have to. I love my husband with a depth I didn't know was possible. I would do anything for him, for us, and for our family. And today, I will take the first step in making sure that I let my husband know that I am thankful for him. He deserves to know it. Erwin, I am thankful for you.


Questions and Answers

I was tagged by Claudia at ChocolateCoffee&Wine so thought I'd oblige her and let y'all learn a bit more about me. So, here you go...more about me, mommy, T.

1. What is your occupation?Mom, Wife, Cook, Secretary, Financial Consultent, Cleaner, Chauffer, etc...all that stuff that comes with being a SAHM
2. What color are your socks right now?No socks, just my grey slippers with a hole in the toe
3. What are you listening to right now?Touched By An Angel is on tv, but I couldn't tell you what it's about. And my little critters are whee-ing even tho I already fed them
4. What was the last thing that you ate?A piece of salami
5. Can you drive a stick shift? I have to if I wanna drive
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?Today I'll say Ocean Blue
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?My friend Sharon called last night
8. How old are you today? 36
9. Favorite drink?Coffee and Cappuccino
10. What is your favorite sport to watch?Soccer, when Jari is playing
11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yep, every few months
12. Favorite reality TV show?I like the home improvement shows...those are reality, kinda
14. Last movie you watched? Lives of Women that downloaded (I think that's the name)
15. Favorite day of the year?July 1, it signifies summer break for the boys and summer fun, including vacation
16. What do you do to vent anger? If I'm really mad I throw dishes, otherwise I just scream or if I am more hurt angry I climb into bed and pull the covers over my head
17. What was your favorite toy as a child?My camera...even as a kid I loved taking pics. Real toy, toy? My Simon Sez ventriloquist doll
18. Favorite: Fall or Spring? Spring because summer is on the way, Fall for the beauty...I like all seasons for a reason
19. Hugs or kisses?I love kisses from my immediate family, but hugs from everyone else
20. Cherries or Blueberry?Mmmm, either and both
21. Do you want your friends to email you back?I like to hear from friends but don't expect too much from them :-)
22. Favorite dessert?Depends on my mood but my fave is probably oma's apple pie
23. Who is least likely to respond?I really don't mind...do it if ya wanna, if not don't
24. Living arrangement?Own a home in Belgium with my husband, share it with our 2 kids, 3 fish, 2 guinea pigs and too many toys and paperwork
25. When was the last time you cried?I seem to cry a lot...lately it's every day for one reason or another
26. What is on the floor of your closet?Probably a bunch of dust, a few shoes, and a few shirts that have fallen off the hangers and I am too lazy to pick up
27. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to?I'm not sending it to anyone, just gonna let it collect dust here on my blog. Freind I have had the longest: Emma. She lives in England and we became pen-pals when I was 9 years old and she was 6. We have kept contact our entire lives, even though it's somewhat sporadic, I love her like she's my sister
28. What did you do last night?Went to choir practice, came home and read blogs, tried to wake my husband up to no avail and then went to bed and fell asleep reading
29. Favorite smells?Fresh-cut pine trees, dinner ready in the crockpot after coming home from being out all day, my kids after a bath
30. What inspires you?My son, Kaeden.
31. What are you afraid of?My kids dying, my husband and I ending up divorced, Kaeden's future, heights
32. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers?I like plain hamburgers best, but then add a bunch of pickings when they are done
33. Favorite breed of dog?I dunno, I think most dogs are beautiful and all bring happiness and heart to their owners so they all have something about them
34. How many years at your current job?SAHM, 7 years and counting
35. Favorite day of the week?Saturday, it's when the whole family is together!
36. How many states have you lived in?I can't even begin to count them all right now, but it's very significant. We moved a LOT when I was a kid
37. Celebrity crush?I have none. I know, weirdo!
38. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery?Done both. Used to ride a motorcycle as a kid, and helped my dad log which gave me experience on his heavy machinery
39. Who's your favorite NFL team?Uhm, football isn't something I watch anymore. So I ahve no fave
40. Do you have a house phone that is NOT cordless?Up in the attic stored in a box there are a couple. But I finally talked Er into cordless a couple years back and I SO prefer them. I can cook, do laundry, etc while talking which seesm so much more productive
41. 10 inches of snow or 100 degree weather?Defintely the snow. Althought I don't mind hot weather for a couple days, I lose all my energy when it's too hot. And snow is fun to play in!

So, now you know. Feel free to create your own!


Walk With Us

Through the Belgian winter countryside...
We visited a new woods yesterday (Polismolen in Opitter) as it was a beautiful winter day, warm and sunny. The kids love getting out and exploring and it gives us all a chance to recharge and relax. It was just what we needed as a family and hopefully you can share our journey...


13 Today!

Dear Kaeden,

It seems like just yesterday that I first held you in my arms for the first time. My tiny little baby boy that boggled my mind; how could I create such perfection? I couldn't get enough of you; holding you, nursing you, watching you sleep. That still holds true today, my teenager. I still am in awe of the beauty God entrusted in me, to care for and help grow into the wonderful person you are today. There isn't a person I know with such a strong spirit as you. You glow when I watch you helping others. You take such pride in making sure everyone around you is well-cared for. For doing such small little favors for others, you prove to me again and again what a treasure of a child I am raising. You make me know that I am doing okay when I see the pride flow across your beautiful face, your dimpled chin turned up into a smile that lights up the room. I am so very proud of you!

We have been through so much together in your 13 years of life. There have been so many moments when i didn't know if we were going to be okay, if we were going to make it. I remember all those days sitting with you in your hospital room as each breath you took could have been your last. I remember the day when you did take a last breath and turned blue and how for those few seconds of my life, time stood still and I couldn't breathe wondering how I was ever going to be okay again. And then, when the power of medicine and doctors brought your life back to me, how I took your little hand in mine and the feeling of a love so deep as I have neevr felt again washed over me. It was then that I learned what it truly means to be a mama, what it means to love so deeply that nothing else matters, and when I grasped that you were mine and I would ALWAYS be there for you, would do whatever was needed to make your life happy and secure and loved.

And then came the ADHD and autism and all the anger and fear and anxiety. We sure manage to get ourselves into some situations, many I wish niether of us had to live through. I don't claim to understand what hides underneath the smile I see radiating from your face, nor do I grasp what lies in the beautiful head of hair I caress each night as you fall asleep. All I do know is that whatever lies behind the beautiful face I brought onto this earth is a part of you, and whatever is a part of you, is something I treasure and love so deeply I can't even begin to explain. When I consider autism, it is only with the hope that I can learn to understand, learn to do what is best for you, and learn to overcome the shadows and doubt caring for you brings. I don't ever wish that you were someone else, for it is you that I love, each and every part of you, and I will take the good with the bad and do my best to be the best mama I can.

Tonight as I tucked you into bed after a long day of celebration, all you spoke of was the gift you received from Aunt Ilse; a subscription to Kids For Animals. All you talked of was the animals you could care for, the food you could make them, the zookeepers that you could assist, and maybe one day be a zookeeper yourself if you could learn from them. As I tried to read you a chapter of your new book, you kept interrupting me to ask about different animals and ways that you could help them. Care was the only thing on your mind. Giving of your time and expertise to help animals in need. And as I tried to redirect you to the story so you could fall into a peaceful sleep, I recognized once again this characteristic about you: you are giving, loving, and helpful. And those qualities, my dear son, will get you far in life. People that don't see the value of your loving character can never benefit from the joy you bring. I am glad that I am one of many that sees you for the good person that you are. I am glad you have the power to bring me hope and that I am allowed to know you, love you, and be in your company eevry day. I have learned so very much from you, but the thing that really sticks out is acceptance. For you are accepting of everyone, and have taught me to be accepting as well. You don't judge, but love people for who they are. And I promise you, what goes around, comes around, and in your life, you are bound to be the receiver of many important gifts from people of all walks of life. Gifts that truly matter like acceptance, love, smiles, comfort, care.

Kaeden, I truly can't believe we have reached this milestone. It makes mama feel 100 years old to have a teenage son. But my boy, there have been so many smiles and so much laughter along the way to brighten up even the greyest of days. Those grey days, well, I wish there weren't quite so many. When we both lose control and then we have to rely on the sun to come out from behind the clouds, wait for those smiels and that laughter, well, I wish they didn't have to be. But still, it doesn't matter, because through it all, I love you, deeply, purely, truly, unconditionally. And I will always love you and continue to do my best to be the mama that you need. And that is a promise I will keep to you forever, that started on the first day I held you in my arms, holds true today as you turn 13, and will hold true for every day in the future that we share. I am blessed to be your mama. And I hope you feel blessed to have me as your mom.

Happy 13th Birthday My Teenager. I love you more than all the stars in the sky.



Speaking English

I've been really excited the past few weeks as Jari has suddenly started speaking to me in English. It might have something to do with my parents having been here where he was forced to speak my native tongue if he wanted to have any conversations with them, but in reality, he almost always still speaks Dutch to me, Papa, and Kaeden. But these past few weeks have been music to my ears as my son has been speaking English completely impulsively, on his own, about 25 percent of the time when we are alone together. As soon as anyone else is around he relies on his Dutch skills, but with mama, he's really been doing great! I always have to do a double-take hearing his requests in English as it's not something I am used to, but it makes me feel so excited and happy. His Dutch accent is really strong and we've been working on his TH pronunciation (stick out your tongue and then you can say thing, thanks, those), but still, he's speakign English to me!!! It amazes me, how easily language comes to my boys. I struggle even though I am pretty happy with where I am with my Dutch speaking skills. Some days I have a good Dutch day, soem days a bad one, but never a Beek dialect day!!! I wish people here would just speak NORMAL (whatever normal is, he?)!!! But they don't and I continue to try and learn it to fit in a bit better, but I know it'll never happen completely. But enough about me, did I mention that my baby is speaking ENGLISH!!!?? Yippee! I'm SO proud of him!


When You See BAD Things In Your Head

Today I picked Jari up from school for lunch. We were walking (well, he was running as usual) home on the sidewalk as always, and he was about 10 steps ahead of me. As we got to our driveway, a delivery truck had just pulled in. I just got a really bad feeling and screamed at Jari to STOP! He did, thank the heavens above. Just as he plowed to a stop, the truck started backing out of our driveway, without any possibility of seeing a lil 6 year old behind him. As he finally glanced out his window and saw us, he realized as well as me what could have happened. He apologized with his eyes through the window. But all I saw in my mind was my baby being squished by this driver that didn't bother looking before he started pulling out. I saw the funeral and my life without my son blur before my eyes...and it was not a pretty sight. I told Jari about the danger, and how even in our own driveway we have to be careful to watch for cars. I held him extra tight taking in his smell and his toothless smile. And I was shaking, thinking of how easily it could have been a dreadful accident. Luckily I was close enough to Jari to stop him, luckily my mama instinct kicked in and commanded me to scream, luckily my son just happened to listen. But it was a scary experience, and one which reminded me how precious life is, and how suddenly all that's good can be whisked away from you. I hope that delivery driver slowed down just a little this afternoon, I hope he also had those same visions of me of what could have been and realized that making that delivery is half as important as a human life. My son's human life, and one which I am grateful to have for another day.


Back To Normal

Well, there seems to be a lil something missing in this corner...yep, our Christmas tree is gone! Just in time for the 3 kings to reach the stable and our Christmas glory has vanished until next year. All the little ornaments dated and safely stored away til next year, the lights all rolled up and sure to be come a jumbled mess by the time we take them down from the attic to adorn our next tree. It was a wonderful holiday season with much to bring a smile to my face. And now it's over, vanished into thin air just as 2007.
So, what's on the agenda for 2008? What are my plans, goals, resolutions? Simply put, I'm not making any. I try to live life as a good person. I do my best to be a good wife and mom, to keep in touch with important family members and friends, to spread smiles to strangers I meet on the street. I don't see any reason to change this pattern in my behavior. I always strive to be a good person, and really, if I consider all I have endured throughout my life, I think I am doing a pretty good job of it. There's always room for improvement, and that is what I will work on in 2008, just as I have in all the years past. But since it's a goal I have for my entire life, to be a good person, I'm not stating that as my 2008 New Year's Resolution. All those resolutions always fail me. I come up short when I place that title onto goals I have for myself. So, no resolutions and I will not fail. I will just do my best, be my best, and hope for the best...and in 2009 I can look back over another year and say, ""Hey, it's been a pretty good year! You made it! You are alive!" And I will know that I have been a success, for just one more year of my life.


A Water Buffalo

"You won't believe it," my aunt told me when I called her before Christmas. "It's a gift only your parents could come up with!" I wondered what they had up their sleeves, and the next time I called my mom, I asked her what her gift plans for Christmas were. "Well, all the kids are getting the same thing. They can't see it but they can feel it. I hope they will understand what it means."

Hmmmm....just what could they be thinking? Something they can't see under the tree at Christmas? That should be a thrill. My thoughts kept circulating around charitable causes, but I couldn't pinpoint just what their plan was. Until Christmas morning when my boys unwrapped a little picture book with animals on the cover.

"What is this?" Kaeden asked as he turned the book over in his hand. "It's a water buffalo," Gramma answered as she steered him towards the dedication page. "You gave some poor children food and hope for the future with this gift. They have a water buffalo to help them farm and give them food to eat. Whatcha think of that?"

Kaeden didn't immediately answer, but later in the day asked questions about "my water buffalo named Kaeden." Jari was also a bit confused, but grasped the concept of the poor children in Africa as it's something that consumes much of his energy. He is intrigued with the poor children that have no clothes and no food, and relaying the gift of the water buffalo in this manner helped him to understand.

This morning, as we put together his farm on the floor, he put animals into the pens we had made. "Here is the water buffalo for the poor kids in Africa," he said. "Did you know I gave them a water buffalo for Christmas?" he asked. My eyes teared over as I realized that he did understand what his special gift was all about. A water buffalo...peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind...

So, my parents outdid themselves in the giving department this year. Though my little guys managed to have plenty of sparkly, shiny packages under the tree to open, there was one gift that will continue to shine forever. The water buffalo, plowing fields to provide food for needy children, helping them become self-reliant. The gift of giving that just keeps on giving...what could be better than this gift filled with the spirit of Christmas?

If you're interested, here's a link to the site where my boys names are listed as helping others help themselves. It truly was a special Christmas, and one that won't quickly become cast into the depths of the closet, forgotten and broken.



New Year's Eve...2008 was upon us...we'd toasted with a bottle of sour champagne, set off a load of fireworks, and given our good wishes for the new year. And then, as oma and opa left the scene, oma told me, "Meid, sterkte morgen. En je weet dat ze nemen een stukje van je mee." (Girl (in a sweet way), have strength tomorrow. And you know that they take a piece of you with them."

I responded by telling her that yes, they always take a piece of me with them, always will. But having strength, well, that's the hard part.

This morning I woke up and first walked into my parents bedroom. Their beds were empty, staring back at me with no happy Good Morning, no promise of laughter and hugs and stories of the past. No promise of my boys being spoiled by grandparents that can't get enough of them. They weer simply gone, leaving only that little pice that they always leave behind...that piece that I always carry with me, wherever I am...their love, deep, satisfying, and perfect.

I feel a bit empty today. I miss my mom and dad more than I even imagined. It does get easier in one sense, the longer we're apart, as I don't remember the wonderful hugs, the scent of my mom in the morning, my dad's hat always forced upon his head. But in another sense, it never really gets any easier, as I long for those memories, those touches, and even more so for a closeness with my boys that can't be forged across the miles. But still, I always have that little piece, and that's the most important part.

Sterkte...yes, I am trying to have strength. But as I just went and made a cup of coffee for myself, there was noone else to ask "You wanna cup?" And it feels a bit gloomy and lonely. I am awaiting their call to tell me they made it home safe, so our lives can return to normal as we know it. It was a wonderful visit and I think we all truly enjoyed ourselves....and I'm glad I have that little piece to carry me through the coming days...

So, here's my mom and dad...and if you look REAL close, you just might even see the "little piece they took with them."