We're HOME!

Got back from a heerlijk week away! It was magnificent. We all really enjoyed ourselves and none of us was ready to come home. But, once we got here, we had a surprise awaiting us...here's just a glimpse of the wonderful people my in-laws are. Home, unpack car, head to bed...wake up with no groceries in the house...get a call from oma and opa that they're bringing dinner. They show up with goulash, rice, pudding and whipped cream! A complete meal without having to worry about groceries, cleaning up, nothing! It was truly a treat! Thank you omam en opap so much for showing us how much you care! You're the best!

And here's a couple pics from vacation...until I have more time to write more!


Travel Update

Traveler(s)> JOYCE .....>> Monday, April 28> Flight: Northwest Airlines #892> Depart: Denver International, CO (DEN) Mon. April. 28 3:00 PM> Arrive: Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport, MI (DTW) Mon. April. 28> 7:47 PM> Cabin: Coach> Seats: 22-A> Monday, April 28> Flight: Northwest Airlines #94> Depart: Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport, MI (DTW) Mon. April. 28> 9:15 PM> Arrive: Dusseldorf International, Germany (DUS) Tue. April. 29 11:45 AM> Cabin: Coach> Seats: 28-F CONFIRMED!!!!! Yipppppppeeeeeee!!! I am So happy!!!

Friday Farewell

For a week, anyway! This afternoon we're heading out the door for a luxurious vacation away from home and humdrum!!! We've rented a little house in the Twente region of Holland where we'll be out and about discovering all the area has to offer. I've printed out TONS of stuff to see and do while we're gone, but it looks as though the weather is planning to be very contradictory to all those outdoor/nature jaunts. So, I have also packed the DVD player and a stash of movies, 5 board games, and some microwave popcorn! We'll make it a party, whatever it turns out to be.
So, here's where we'll be, hoping the sun is shining at least a little so as the picture shows! Hope the Easter bunny hops into your garden and leaves lots of surprises...just as my boys are hoping for during our freeing Paasvakantie!

Until next week!!! Happy Easter!!


Thankful Thursday

"Mama, today my teacher told us a story about Jesus. There was a man and he didn't like it that Jesus was the King. Then there were people that came with weapons, and priests, and they took Jesus to put him on the cross. They used hammers and put Jesus on the cross and then Jesus died. And then he went to heaven." said my little six-year-old when I asked what he'd done at school today.
I am thankful that here in Belgium, school and faith have not been separated. That my children attend a public school, with the advantage of it also being a Catholic school. They receive the benefits of a religious education that I could not offer them, being that I don't know enough of the stories of the Lord. I do not regularly read the bible, and I am not a huge religious fanatic. But, I believe in God, and I want my children to grow up knowing the teachings of the bible so that they are prepared to make their own choices about religion and christianity (or not).
Both of my children partake in the sacraments of the Catholic church, being that Erwin and I were both raised as Catholics, and that it's the prevalent religion of our area of Belgium. My sons are growing up with a knowledge that I do not have the tools to offer them. They will know the stories, and with that knowledge, they can decide for themselves what they believe in, and how they choose to live their lives. I don't push religion or faith upon them, but I support their learnings and offer them my views as we discuss the Lord, and say prayers and sing songs. We rarely attend church services as a family, but my children are still being presented with a basis of who God is. We had our sons baptised, Kaeden has received his First Communion, and Jari will be accepting Jesus into his heart in May. Kaeden will complete his Confirmation. And what does all of this mean?
Well, to me, it means my children are being offered a chance to learn. They are being given an opportunity to hear stories about our Lord, stories from history. Stories that have led to many disagreements between people and nations throughout the history of the world. Stories that have played a part in culture and language and values and beliefs. They are being given a choice.
So, when my son returns home from public school telling me about his teachings of the Bible, I feel thankful. The school is helping me teach my children what I would be unable to. And they are making religion and learning have a balance. And, to be truthful, I am learning from my son in the stories he retells. He is helping me remember stories from my own Sunday school days.
I am thankful that we have not been forced to separate school and religion. Today, my sons know what Easter is, why we celebrate it, and even while they are searching for hidden treats from the bunny, they will still be walking with stories of Jesus filling their head and heart. That is definitely something in which to be thankful! Happy Easter!


Confirmation, Communion, Voetbal, Queen's Day

Yep, all within 4 days of each other! It's going to be a VERY busy weekend in May! But, I am so excited!!! Last night, my mom called me. SHe'd been online for 3 hours trying to figure out how to do a multy-city flight with no success...she said "Tera, could you see what the schedule and cost would be for me to fly to your house and then be at your brother's house by Tuesday the following week?" Within 2 minutes, I had her agenda all logged into Kayak. And, the price was right! And, my mom is calling me back this afternoon to confirm her flight! At least, I have been using my telepathic vibes to send my dad the go-ahead!!! We'll see if it works!

My mom MAY be coming to help us celebrate Kaeden's confirmation, Jari's First Communion, get to see what Queen's Day is all about (I'll have to remind her to bring some ORANGE to wear), and take in a soccer tournament. Now you know WHY I begged and pleaded for her to come. Look at all she can share with us in just a few short days!!! All those important little religious functions that are little stepping stones in my boys finding their religious identity. And then all those lil extras!

I am so excited. I can't wait to get that call telling me to go ahead and book her trip. There's just this urge to tear her out of sleep right now so I can finalize the arrangements. But I'll be nice and let her sleep a lil longer before springing my high-pitched excited voice upon her rested brains! "So, what'd DAD say? What's your credit card number?" and then as the adrenaline rush subsides, "Okay, you are booked and confirmed for April 28 at 3pm!! I can't wait to throw my arms around you in a hug, mom!!!"

Now, help me with those telepathic vibes...there's still a few hours to go to bring me complete contentment!!!



There's been so much happening in my life that I have been living with a continual headache the past few weeks. I haven't suffered a migraine in ages, but in the past few weeks I have felt the beginnings of my share. Luckily, I know the signs and can usually catch it before it really hits me. And yet, I have a non-stop headache. Last night I skipped out on choir, but today I decided to just go with the flow of my plans. So, on my agenda was written: Kinemundo KAV 9u kerk
Translated, that means: Cinema Women's Group 9:00 at the church

So, I got everyone out the door and headed out myself. I tried to get to the church, but with all the work going on in the neighborhood, I couldn't reach it (it's right next door to my house). So, I walked through all the mud and dirt and finally saw another woman from my group. We walked around and finally saw the group of 15 women waiting to head to the movie. Quite a large group for such a lil village.

We drove to Genk and attended the Euroscoop theater. I haven't been there before, but it's an old mine which is beautifully restored and houses the theater. We got our tickets and headed in to watch Tuya's Marriage. What an interesting film. It made me so grateful that I live in the land that I do. The film was shot in Mongolia and the whole jist of the film was that a woman cares for her disabled husband and two children, but in order to actually survive, she is forced into marriage with another man who agrees to care for her entire family. She herds the sheep, makes do with little, and rides on a camel, with a constant pot of broth heating on the stove to eat.

After, we had lunch and then did a bit of shopping. All was done with women, for women, celebrating women. It really reminded me that I am me, Tera, a woman outside of the home, outside of being a wife and mother, there's another facet to this person that I am. And it put me in a very productive mind-set, giving me the freedom to just be a woman, and enjoy the woman that I am. It reminded me that I need to take care of myself, my needs and desires, as well as those of my family. If I lose sight of me, this woman named Tera, I lose sight of all the other goals and objectives I have set out to complete and worked so hard to achieve. I can't be a good mom, a good wife, or a good homemaker without knowing that I also love myself and put myself as high up on the list of priorities as I do my husband and my kids. It was a good day. I am woman, hear me roar!



Well, I haven't been up to riding my bike the past few days...wanna see why? Yep, Holland, March 8 2008...

Red or Blue?

I'm having a moment today. Yesterday Jari came home from school with the results of his annual medical tests. Seems that he's a right healthy ole soul...except for one thing. My son is color-blind. :-( It breaks my heart. And even though I know that he must suffer from a very light version of it, he still is not able to experience the colorful world that I enjoy. When I exclaim "Look at those pretty red flowers, Jari!" he is not able to see those pretty red flowers which bring me so much joy. His world is shadowed by muted versions of everything I see. And it just makes me feel sad to know that he hasn't been able to fully experience the world due to his vision.

I looked up some colorblind tests online to test it out myself last night. He truly could not see the same view as I could. It is a reality. My son is colorblind. Which form he has and to what degree are tests that they will not complete until he is nine years old. Probably something to do with them needing to know their colors, shapes, etc before the tests are performed. But my son knows his shapes, and he could not see the red square. He could not see the red circle. He could only see the yellow shapes nestled next to the red. I cried.

My dad is colorblind. He has a fulfillng and satisfying life, and with the exception of a few troubling areas due to color, he leads a complete life. It is not going to restrict my son from living a full and happy life. But it will restrict him from seeing all the beauty in everyday things. As I was researching it online last night, I learned it is most often hereditary, passed on mostly to males due to the XY chromosome, and passed down from the mother. Great, nothing like a little mama guilt, heh? (No, not really, but still, ya know?!) So, two boys, two genetic disorders...I am doing great! yeah, really!

Here's a little something I found that is a simulation of what it's like living in the world of a color blind person. I am going to assume Jari has the mildest form, which is what he sees if you use the deutan button. Have a look and see why I feel like crying...In red or blue or green?

Or this site, where you can put in your own picture to see what a color blind person sees.


Mom's Red Cheeks

I spoke to my mom yesterday. Eevry time I hear her voice, it uplifts me. She is my rock through the storm, my very best friend in this life. And yesterday, she made me laugh like I haven't laughed in a long time. Deep, hearty laughter that built up from my toes and relesed itself in tears that streamed down my face. It was truly what I needed, just as she always knows instinctly what I need.

The story will come, but first a bit of bakground on my mom. She is quiet, private, and quite prudish when it comes to sex or those 'things that remain unspoken'. Yeah, such as menstruation, pap smears, menopause. She rarely mentions any of these taboo subjects, and when she does, it comes in the form of an answer to a question I ask, along with glowing red cheeks. yep, I learned about it all the old-fashion way...through experience. Not through private talks with my mom!

Anyway, I have been sending them all this free stuff I find...free samples, free taste test items, free...whatever I find online, they become the recipients of. So, here comes the funny bit.

My mom is training a new employee at her store. He is a young man, a boy she always calls him, and he's worked with her for about 4 days now. So, a box arrives for her. She tells him that her daughter overseas (that would be me) always sends her little surprises that she finds online. She told him about some of the special treasures she has gotten, like a hamburger helper meal, and some lotion. And then, she asks him to help her open this surprise, see what special gift I have granted them today. As they open the box, mom notices a strange shaped fan pop up as her employee peers into the box. She told me it was shaped "funny". As she pulled it out, she realized what the fan was for . It came with brochures telling about "cooling down during those menopausaul night sweats." Mom said she quickly stuffed the stuff back in the box and closed it up before the guy had a chance to see what it was all about. She promised him that he could open the next surprise that arrives...but then wasn't sure she should do that, never knowing what it will be.

But imagine, a private person such as my mother, pulling a penis-shaped fan from a box with the words menopausal night sweat with someone she barely knows, a male kid...and imagine her glowing red cheeks, even as she recounts the story back to me. Classic humor! Yes, the perfect blog flodder!


A Cloggie

I thought this was hilarious. I just took the What Kind Of Shoe Are You test and look at my result...a true cloggie, yes, now 100% true Dutch! Fits me, well, like a pair of well-worn shoes, I suppose! haha And now, I ask, what kind of shoe are you?

You Are Clogs

You are a solid and down to earth person.

You seek – and almost always achieve – a really sound balance in your life.

You are stylish yet comfortable. Mellow but driven. Excited yet calm.

You are the perfect mesh of contradictions.

No matter what happens, you have the ability to stay well grounded in your life.

People know that they can truly depend on you.

You should live: In Europe ** True to my feet!**

You should work: At a company dedicated to helping the world

Thankful Thursday

Oh, do I ever have LOTS to be thankful for today. It was a very trying day yesterday. I rarely have use of the family car as my husband takes it to work every day. However, yesterday I got everyone up and ready early so I could take him to the train station (20 km from home) and have use of the car. I had numerous plans all laid out for my day and started by grocery shopping in Holland (it's cheaper there). After doing the shopping, I planned to run all those little errands that never get done since I had more mobility. But, suddenly as I was driving, I smelled diesel. One of my chores was to fill up the car as it was nearly empty, but when I looked at how much was left, I suddenly went from having 92 km to having 80 in just seconds. The diesel smell grew and I had no power steering left and when I parked at the pharmacy to get Kaeden's medication, the car started smoking. So much for getting everything done.
I drove home as more and more diesel leaked out of the car. Called the AAA for assistance, and they came immediately, BUT they didn't have the part needed to fix the problem. Informed me I could go to any garage and they'd ahve the part. Fine, there is a garage not a mile from my house, I could manage to get there. And, I had no money in my Belgian bank account to get gas...and there are few stations that have a tennant on duty to pay cash. So, I drove to the garage, hoping to make it there, get the problem fixed, and maybe borrow a gas can in case I didn't make it to the station.
Car to garage...nope, no part. Car to second garage...nope, no part. You'll have to take it to a specialized Nissan garage. CRAP! So, I booked it to the gas station thinking maybe, just maybe, I could get 10 or 12 euro out of the little money on my card...and lo and behold, the station accepted my Dutch banking card with their brand new sytem! I filled up the car and felt a surge of relief. At least I had gas to get to a garage.
When the kids got home at 12 we headed for the Nissan garage. The guy fixed the problem in a matter of minutes and the part only cost 5 euro. I used 1/8 of a tank getting 16 km...I would not have made it if I hadn't been able to fill up.
We continued on to Kaeden's school parade where the kids got loaded down on candy, gifts, and toys. Jari had his school bag filled to the brim and while he was walking with it on his back, he actually fell over backward from teh weight of it. It was hilarious! Kaeden was in 7th heaven having all his friends throw him extra and special surprises, and I just enjoyed my day out with my kids. After, we went to teh second hand store where we found 3 new games, a couple books, and some clay for a mere couple euro...they had a blast digging through the crappy toys while I rummaged through the books..buy 1, get 1 free!
We took the car to the car wash...it stunk terribly! Got it all washed up, got Jari to soccer practice, Kaeden was ready for Judo practice, and we ran to pick up papa from the train. Got home just in time for Judo.
So, why am I thankful? Well, the problem with the car was very minimal...it cost little, and was easily fixed. I was able to get the kids to and from all their activities, and pick my husband up when just that morning Í thought I was doomed. The gas station accepted my bank card which is a small miracle in itself...it truly is just days since they changed the system! I was proud of my skills in getting something such as this completed completely in Dutch. I can speak eevryday Dutch perfectly, but throw in those specialized terms, and then I'm in another country! But, I got it done and felt very pleased with myself for accomplishing all of it alone. And, I had so much fun with my boys yesterday. We were all happy and laughing and playing and it was so freeing. My fave part of the day was when I was washing the car and they wanted me to spray them...yes, magical! So, I definitely have lots to be thankful for, but it may be awhile before I ask to borrow the car again!!!! :-)
Go have a peek to see who else is naming all they have to be thankful for at Julie's Place.


Our Shopping Trip

Saturday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Kaeden. Just the two of us. And we were on a mission. His confirmation is fast approaching, and though he has his special shirt for the service, he is lacking a pair of pants. Realistically, he is lacking many pairs of pants...the kid has grown...and as his hems touch the top of his socks, I decided it was time to figure out his true size and find some things that would work. Unlike the typical past 12 years when I would go shopping, pick out something I thought he'd like and bring it home as a surprise. This time, he had choices. He had control. And he had an opportunity which led to many smiles and a special bonding between a mama and her son.

I discovered this outlet sort of store a couple months back while I was doing some Christmas shopping. They have all the brand clothing at the price of 4 euro each piece or 3 for 10 euro. How can you go wrong...well, besides needing to make sure there are no hidden holes or faded material, how can you go wrong?

So, off we went. Kaeden didn't know my agenda...he just knew we needed to find pants for his confirmation. So, when I asked him what he liked and he started flipping through the racks and I okayed any number of items for him to try on, he thought he'd died and gone to heaven. His dressing room was filled to overflowing as he changed into 20 different pairs of pants. And when I showed him what I thought was "cute" and he claimed they were disgusting, well, I was thrilled. My son is growing up. He is coming to the point where he expresses himself, thro
ugh his own style, his own fashion. And I have to admit, I didn't think it was too bad. He ended up picking out 6 items, and with each he was all THANK YOU MOM!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE MY GOOD LUCK!! WHY ARE YOU LETTING ME HAVE ANYTHING I WANT??

And you know what? I did it because 1) He needed clothes 2) He needs to have a chance to learn his own style and 3) It was absolutely FUN! Oh and number 4) It was also cheap, cheap, cheap! And I can afford cheap like that :-)

It was a good day out. Kaeden got home and shared all his treasures with Papa and Jari (and gave them something he picked out just for them) and was really proud of himself. And so was I. And he was thrilled to have only spent 30 euro when the total bill came to 297.16 euro (ask him, I KNOW he knows the exact amount. Money is his autistic stim thing) And so was I. So, here he is, modeling one of his favorites...don't you think he's a handsome teen style icon? :-) (So, the shirt sleeves are a little long, but hey, that was his absolute FAVORITE purchase of the day...who am I to deny him his happiness?)