Queens Day aka Koninginnedag

It's time to get out the orange! Dress up and have a party! Celebrate! It's Queen's Day in Holland today. The celebration of the Queen's birthday. And we do it up in styling orange, just as the royal family of Orange would do. Though it was an extremely busy day (week..and will continue to be until this week comes to a complete end) I couldn't pass up a good ole celebration. Especially as it is my first Queen's Day celebration as a real Dutch citizen! A comparable holiday in America would be the 4th of July. The patriotism, the celebration of a land and the people within, food and drink...but in Holland, it's market day. Everybody that doesn't set up a flea market stand heads out to see what junk they can bring home.

Here's a few pictures of our celebratory day. In Belgium, Queen's Day is not a holiday, so the kids still had to go to school and still had to go to soccer and still had to do all the normal stuff. But I made sure they got a little Queen's Day action right here at home. One of those traditions which is sincerely important for me to pass on to my children. So, here it is in all it's glory...Koninginnedag 2008!


From Jari

Sometimes Kaeden kicks me and teases me. But sometimes he is nice and he plays with me. I like it when he plays Playstation with me or soccer. And he can play basketball good. But I can do it even better. Sometimes I can play with my friends. Sometimes we play hide and seek, but I like to play soccer and basketball best. I read some books today and colored at the daycare. Another day I got to work in the garden at school. Four times I got to spray water on the plants. We have pears, onions, brussel sprouts, and carrots. And potatoes too. My feet got muddy. That's not good.

I can do the entire girls song for our end of year party at school. But the pirate song for the boys is hard and I can't do it all. Today I went to the church and sang a song. And if the hostie is as big as milk, it would be a quarter of the milk. I gave the priest a flower, but not a sun.

My friend Bert's mama is called Kat-leen. She has a cat in her name. HAHAHA She comes and reads with me. I am with Bert and Lotte and Femke. In read the best. My group is the flower group. I got a new book today. Oh, and we have Kobe too. Today I made an airplane for Kobe and a tractor for Anouk. Write that she is my sweetheart. Cuz Anouk is my sweetheart. She makes things for me and she plays with me and reads and looks in stroies with me. And she is pretty. And she likes me. She wants to kiss me. She already did kiss me. Can everybody read this? Even Gramma?

And now I am completely done. Look how much I already wrote. That's enough words, mom.


A Haze of Disappointment

I'm trying to be happy. Trying to stay positive. Trying to remember that everything happens for a reason. I have lots of reasons to be happy: two adorable kids that keep me going going going day and night, a husband with whom I can laugh, good friends that share their ups and downs with me, a home, food, clothing, plane tickets for summer vacation, family far and near, my computer, a telephone. I am happy: I have all it takes to have a good life. I have lots of reasons to stay positive: it keeps my spirit free, I can imagine a better future, things could always be worse, summer is on its way, my family is healthy, there is a party to celebrate the Lord in our lives quickly arriving. I know everything happens for a reason: I worked with autistic people as a teen, my fave author since I was a kid writes books about autistic kids, my main project in college was about Holland, we purchased our home just before the market costs exploded, just driving by a garage one afternoon we spotted our future car in the driveway, I sent an email to some American that lived in the same town as me and she has become one of my best friends, I gave birth when my entire life was falling apart around me. These are all examples, even if ever so tiny, of proof that things happen for a reason. And today, that's what I need to remember, as the spring in my step falters, my shoulders hold an extra knot, and my eyes are not shining as bright as they could.

Today, my mom is supposed to be leaving: destination Belgium. Today my mom is unable to fly, on antibiotics, and staying home with her foot up in bed. And me, call it major disappointment. And even as I try to rationalize these feelings of self-pity, I know it is unfair. But to me, the unfairness falls under the category of me not being able to arrive at teh airport, park my car, and meet my smiling, beautiful mom at the arrival gate. These plans we have had for months in the making have been carried off to some forsaken land, and if I don't keep busy, tears threaten to fall from the corners of my eyes. Today, I am walking around in a misty haze.

I should be grateful. I have a mom in my life, she supports and loves me. And at this moment in time, she is sick and in pain and needs me to be strong. I am trying to be strong, trying to be positive, trying not to allow disappointment to blur my vision. But it is difficult. Still, we'll get through. As long as my mom comes out on top of this, feeling healthy and living with no pain, that's when it will truly all be okay.

So, she won't be here to share in our celebration. But at least we'll be at church where we can ask God to watch over her, help her heal, and feel His love fill us up with faith. And hopefully, some of that disappointment can be turned into strength for my children as well, helping them to smile as seas of dissapointment fill our world with that misty haze.

Get Well Soon, MOM! We'll be missing you, but we're staying strong!


The Phone Call

Yesterday, I called my bestest girliefriend. She lives in Utah, and we met back in the day...when we lived across the hall from one another in our apartment complex, single moms looking for a little something extra. And we found that in each other. We opened our doors and lived in the two apartments simulataneously, each of us caring for the others kids, sharing meals and cleaning up together, throwing dishes away when we didn't feel like cleaning! We made a weekly trek to the laundromat, one of us whisking our little one year olds back through the doors time and time again while the other folded the wash. We pulled out the couch bed and threw sleeping bags for the kids on the floor, sharing family movie night, just the two of us and our three little ones. We wrote magnificent love letters to boyfriends Tammy would meet, and then run from as fast as she got to know them.

And when she moved away a year after we first met, heading to Rhode Island to pursue a new beginning, I helped her pack up her rental trailer, and cried as she pulled out the driveway, her kiddos waving from the back seat. It wasn't long after that I also moved from our little apartment home...being there was no longer any fun...it just didsn't feel like home without my girlfriend and her kids to share it with. So, Kaeden and I began anew in a new home, while I continued dropping Kaeden off at daycare each morning, running to and from classes, and then to work, picking him up only to have to kiss him goodbye as the babysitter arrived. It was busy back then, but fulfilling. Every spare moment I had, I used to give my little boy my full mommy attention. We shared so much in the hours that didn't occupy school and work. And Tammy and I...well, we continued to talk, to share news and ups and downs, but using the good old telephone for our line of communication. Neither of us had much money back then. But we didn't need much...just enough to manage to keep in touch, check in, touch base.

Tammy moved back to Wyoming, then onto Utah. She never was one to stay put for long. A bit like myself, she needed change to keep her interested. But I had no choice then. I had to complete my education to make a life for my son and myself. And it was all working out okay.

Tammy bought me a modem for my computer. She wanted to be able to keep in better touch and knew that we could via internet. We got my computer up and running while she headed back to Utah. The first night I set up ICQ thinking it would be great to chat with my girlfriend. But instead, I met Erwin. First night online, and I responded to some guy from Holland called Eagle...because I had hit an eagle with my truck just days before and my windshield was still shattered from the impact. And, for a project I was doing in school, Holland was my topic. And once that started with him, there was no turning back.

But in the meantime, Tammy and I continued to call, to chat, to be bestest friends....from a distance. She was still the first person I called in a crisis, in moments of panic, or when I just had to share a story about my new 'boyfriend' in Holland. During New Years, Kaeden adn I headed to Utah to spend some time with Tammy and her family. While I was there, Erwin first told me what I love you means in Dutch. That moment, I shared with my girliefriend, Tammy. When Erwin made trip plans to visit, she was the first I called to cry out in giggles and yet fear. When Erwin and I got married, she was the maid of honor in my wedding. She is my bestest girliefriend, afterall.

Yesterday, I got an urge to call Tammy. These days, we don't talk quite as much...the time change is huge, and while she is at wotk, I am home, while I am sleeping, she is awake. But she still never leaves my mind. Yesterday, I needed to touch base, hear her voice, talk with this person who knows me from inside out, and still loves me, more than I sometimes love myself.

I got the voice mail. My stomach took a dive. Oh, how I needed to hear her voice. It's been months since we've spoken, and emailing is just not the same. And so I left a message, telling her I love her. And later, after I'd been outside playing with the kids, I listened to my own voice mail, and there was her voice. "Call me at work. I need to talk to you. I wanna know how you are. I have so much to tell you!"

And I called her at woek, and the instant she answered the phone, it was if we have never been apart. We laughed and giggled, we spoke of the serious issues happening in our lives, we shared all those little things bestest girliefriends are meant to share. And when Erwin came home from work, she told me to go and enjoy my husband, and she'd talk to me again soon.

Soon. Speaking to my bestest girliefriend. Doesn't matter when that will be, because soon is always just as if it were today. Our lives change, our missions in life change, but through it all, we have and will remain bestest girliefriends. Tammy. What a multi-faceted woman, wild and yet down-to-earth, rebellious as heck, and fighting to do her best as a mom. She's truly a terrific friend...someone I thank God every day for putting in my life...yeah, my bestest girliefriend.


Playing Games

This afternoon the boys and I spent a couple hours playing soccer games. It was so much fun! Jari and I were playing 9 months and when Kaeden came home we continued. I love hearing them cheer me and each other on, working together as a team, just enjoying the game and life as a family.

Tonight we played a game I picked up at the second hand store...Pinkeltje. Seeing Jari's face light up with excitement each time he came closer to his goal brought many smiles to Erwin and my face. He is so expressive...and so darn cute with all his missing and growing teeth. And when he won, it was as if the heavens released a pot of gold right over his head. Pure joy. Pure happiness...and so much expression.

As much as my day was a total waste (I went back to bed after everyone left, expecting to take a little nap and waking up 5 (yes, FIVE) hours later having gotten absolutely nothing done, my afternoon and evening has been a complete success. Nothing makes me feel more total than seeing my happy boys, being nice and loving, just completing the dream that fills my head for our family. Family Game Night...perfection!


Calling Out For Help!

Please peeps, keep my mom in your thoughts and prayers. She has been having severe pain in her leg the past few weeks and even with strong antibiotics, it is not improving. She cannot walk, she is in severe pain, has major swelling, and her skin is peeling off of her leg. Though she has been to three different doctors, none of them has been able to help. She called me this morning and is very sad as she is admitting that she may not be able to make the trip here for Kaeden's confirmation and Jari's First Communion. She simply cannot travel being as ill as she is. Today she is going to yet another doctor with the hopes of finding something to cure her (they think she may have a form of cellulitis, but it's not entirely clear and it's not healing from antibiotics). After researching on the internet, I told her to demand IV antibiotics. As much as I would hate for her to have to give up the trip here, I am mainly just really worried about her. I just want her to be better, able to walk, and not in agonizing pain. So, send along any positive vibes you can...first for her health, and secondly that she is well enough to make the trip overseas. Thanks!!!

Stupid Tooth Fairy

Oh dear...the stupid tooth fairy forgot to make her magical entrance into our home last night. Stupid tooth fairy. Which led to tears this morning as my lil guy brought his tooth from under his pillow, set it on the table before me, hiding his teary eyes under his arm. "And that is my very prettiest tooth." he exclaimed through hiccups of sobs as I pulled him into my lap. "Maybe lots ad lots of kids lost their teeth yesterday and she didn't have time to get here yet." I tried. "Maybe while mama is at teh grocery store and you are at school, she'll come to our house and take your tooth away to help build her house and leave you a special surprise." The tears were slowing, the hiccups beginning to subside. And then he jumped off my lap and went into a long dramatic speech about the magical fairy and how HIS tooth is going to be affixed right on the top of her tooth-fairy tooth house because it is the shiniest, prettiest tooth and she'll want to see it every day. And that maybe since she was so busy with other kids teeth that she'd bring him an extra-special surprise this time, not just a euro, but something magnificent, like a real-live puppy. You know, since she forgot all about MY tooth, huh mom???

Stupid tooth fairy! Manipulative boy!


I Got An Award!

How exciting! I came home with a bit of a headache after discussing my son and his problems with yet another new psychiatrist, and signing him into the hospital psychiatric program....and when I logged on, I found out that Alison at RDH MOM granted me a Blog Of Distinction Award! How cool is that? Thanks Alison...I'll treasure this forever!

So, Kaeden is now on the waitlist for this psychiatric program. I'm pretty jumbles up at the moment. The downside is that the psychiatrist wasn't sure that their maximal four week program would be able to address all of our needs, and wanted to discuss it further with colleagues. The upside is that we are underway to getting help for Kaeden, and in turn, our family unit.

Speaking with a psych always makes me feel like the situation we are in is far deeper than it feels living it on a daily basis. We discuss the issues, and it just seems like there are so many to address, so many things that need fixing. Sometimes, speaking of Kaeden in those terms with him sitting beside me makes me feel for him, wondering what he is thinking with his parents discussing him and his problems in such a light. But he really is a trooper. The psych asked him what he thought of the program and he was 100% committed to being checked in. He recognizes there is a problem, even if he doesn't see it as a step into his future. He also can't voice exactly how he feels, but my hope is that this program will help him to achieve that, even if only a little bit.

So, we will most likely acquire a placement the beginning of June, which runs for 4 weeks with follow-up therapy outside of the facility. He will live in the hospital and have weekend visits at home (though he still sleeps at the hospital). There is also weekly counseling with family members, so some of those issues can be addressed as well. And, they secure help for after-care, which is my biggest motivation for doing this..in four weeks, there is no way that everything can be 100% hunky-dory!

Anyway, imagine a mother reaching out for help and finally having prayers answered...and think of a mother longing for her son to be happy and finally being given the tools to help him on his way...and think of a mom sending her child off to a facility other than home for a month...and think of no bedtime kisses, no daily hugs, no talks about hwo his day has been...and think of no morning fights, but in place of them, a nightly phone call or visit...and complete attention for a little guy that seems to be so overshadowed by his big brothers problems...you can see why my mind is a jumbled up mess at the moment.

But yeah, I got an award!!! And that sure takes away some of the pain of those jumbles!!!


Just A Bunch Of Stuff

Today the sun is shining. My face is shining too. My heart feels happy and light. My body feels energetic and free. When I said goodbye to my gang this morning, it was with an extra air of pride, love, and passion. It's only been 2 hours since I awakened to the sound of birds singing in my ear, and it already feels like a fulfilling day. My dishes are done, my laundry started, my little critters happily fed and peeping contentedly. Can it get any betetr than this moment? No. I am grateful for my life. Grateful for my family and my accomplishments. Grateful for the home in which I live and the European culture I get to explore on a daily basis. Grateful that my husband is employed and his paycheck provides adequately for all our needs and wants. Grateful for the flowers blooming and the breeze blowing. Today the sun is shining. My face is shining too.

Saturday was my choir's spring concert. It was really inspiring. Though my choir didn't have the very best of concerts, the thrill of stepping on stage and seeing all those people stare back at you, waiting for you to entertain them, is such an adrenaline rush. I am a pretty shy person at heart...but I also love attention. A strange combination, but standing on stage singing, well, it gives me the best of both worlds. Our three guest choirs also gave lovely performances, though one was just music to my ears. Upbeat, wanna get up and dance kinda songs...all melodious and it just grabbed me. Plus, I was drinking wine, chatting with my fellow choir members, just really enjoying my big night out. Though I left relatively early and didn't stay to help clean up, it was just the kind of evening that makes me feel at home here in another world. I felt a part of something bigger, I felt included, and I felt happy.

Saturday I also spent the afternoon shopping. Not grocery shopping, not running errands, but true girly-fashion shopping. I was so excited going into the fitting rooms, my arms laden down with clothing that I could actually fit into and zip up and staring back at me in the mirror was a beautiful woman who is taking care of herself for the
first time in a long time. I have been working really hard to be healthier...excersising, eating right, meditating. Looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself what a lovely woman I am. I rid my hair of the greys, plucked my thick brows, and feel just so much happier with the image staring back at me. And, it helps that the numbers on the scale keep going down...not too quickly, but steadily. And with those numbers falling, so is my dress size. I walked into the dressing rooms with clothing 2 sizes smaller than I have had to buy in the past 5 years! Taking care of me is working. I still have a long ways to go, but man, did that ever feel good! And, I bought a couple new skirts (yes, skirts!!!) and a pants suit which I am considering wearing for the boys' special events coming up in May. I love shopping alone...I can take my time, look over my selections, decide what I like and what I want, without worrying about bored little boys or friends that are ready for a coffee break. Not that I don't enjoy girls days out too, but yeah, there's something so empowering about shopping on your own.

During my shopping expedition, Erwin and Opa worked on our new serre and shed! When I got home, my messy old trashing ground was turned into a little wooden paradise...it is so homey and reminds me of a little log cabin in the woods. It's amazing what changing your environment can do for your spirit. I can't wait until we get all our little treasures secured on the walls and can burn candles into the night while sitting out chatting in the warm summer evenings, a beer or glass of wine before us, my husband and I discussing our lives together. So, THANK YOU to my husband
and my father-in-law! I just LOVE it!

Another little something which may seem totally unnoticed to some, was worth a million bucks to me. At Jari's soccer game Saturday he was the goalie. I was standing behind the goal to guide him and give him tips...go a bit more forward, here comes the ball, get ready, grab it!!! He did a good job, even if he let a few get into the net. But at one moment, a ball was whooshing past the sidelines an
d I jumped over and stopped it with my foot, kicked it back onto the field, and started back to my place behind the goal. All the moms from our team, standing on the sidelines, started whooping and cheering "Go Tera! Yeah! Whooooo!! Whatta player!" They were clapping and joking and I raised my hands over my head and gave them a big thumbs up. I am an outsider in their world. As much as I do my best to fit in, it just doesn't come naturally. They were all raised here in this village together, they went to school together, have a history...and speak the dialect that I cannot manage to wrap my head around, so I often get lost in the conversation around me. Yet, in that one moment, hearing them cheer MY NAME (I didn't even know if some of them know my name), I felt so much a part of their world. So much invited and drawn in. I was a winner. And that feeling hasn't left me yet. Maybe, after all this time, I am finally beginning to be accepted into this foreign little town, this place that is truly becoming my home.

Sunday we headed to Helmond to celebrate Oma's birthday. With them we shared our first BBQ of the season. We play
ed with the kids in the yard, a beautiful afternoon, celebrating the life of this woman I have come to love and cherish. Erwin's entire family has welcomed me with open arms, and when I am with them I can be true to myself, and still be loved and supported. I absolutely feel 100% at home with them, and sharing my days with them is something I have come to treasure. Happy Birthday Oma!

And finally, tomorrow is the big day. When I speak of it, my nerves get all twisted and I feel the tenseness in my shoulders. I am a bit scared. But, I am so hopeful. Tomorrow, we bring Kaeden for his intake at the hospital. We are finally being heard as parents screaming for help for our son, for our family. And our cries are being carried through the breeze and reaching their way into the doors of help. Maybe I am being too optimistic about what can be done. But right now, at this moment in time, I need to be optimistic. I need to believe that my son and our family can achieve this dream of becomign a ball of twine, all twisted together to form that perfect circle, one long, never-ending circle of threads, strung together tightly, held together by each other, able to tear apart, but wanting to be unified as one. Tomorrow is teh first step in that direction.

But, that's tomorrow. Today the sun is shining. My face is shining too.


First Thing In the Morning

I make a cup of coffee, sit down to drink it, and pour the entire steaming cp directly over my stomach, legs, and then drop the cup, sending it shivering across the floor in 100 pieces. My body is on fire, I strip off my pants and go in search of clean ones, grab a towel to clean up the floor and then go into the kitchen to make a new cup of coffee hoping to start the morning out right. I reach for the coffee and in the process the bottle of oil on the same revolving tray plunges to the floor, oil spashing all over the cabinets, the floor a slippery mess. I continue making coffee with a big sigh...the oil is still waiting to be cleaned up...but first, I need some coffee in my system. I have a bad feeling about today...but I'm hoping that it all hit me at once and got it's deed done with nice and early.


11 Things

that made me happy yesterday:

1) When my mom called me and I answered she said "Hello Baby Girl."
2) Shopping in a second hand store, glancing through the shelves of books, and staring back at me were 2 copies of books by my favorite author (Torey L. Hayden), which I quickly snatched up for a mere 1,50
3) Spending the morning at a garden center with just my husband, walking through aisles of fresh, green shoots of flowers and plants that will become beautiful blossoms, thinking of where we will arrange our flowers, which we will buy, what colors will spring out and make us happy all summer long
4) Spending the evening hiding little goodies from a treasure box my parents sent us for Easter, and watching the excitement on my boys faces as they uncovered their finds
5) Sitting behind my husband while he and I watched a video he made during the weekend, laughing with him, while rubbing his back and feeling his body relax under my hands
6) Picking my son up from school after leaving him there for lunch, and seeing his eyes light up at the sight of mama, feeling his soft lips kiss mine without abandon in front of all the other kids, and feeling the extra hard squeeze when I told him I missed him today
7) Taking Kaeden shopping for groceries with me, and watching how he interacts with other people, seeing happiness on his face as he spoke to an old man, watching him gently maneuver our cart out of the way for a mother and her little girl
8) Reading the paper last night to discover that today a kids movie is playing at our local cinema, and making plans in my head for a fun afternoon with my children
9) Feeling hot tears pour out anger and frustration, uncertainty and pain, during a meeting at Kaeden's school...but at that same time, realizing that the reason I have so much built up hurt inside is because of the depth of my love for my son, my commitment to him and his success and happiness, and knowing that no matter what anyone else believes or says, I can see his full potential and am willing to do what it takes to help him reach it
10) Laying next to my husband in our bed as we both read our books, turning out the lights and wrapping my arms around him, and in the darkness telling him that I love him...and not only saying those words, but feeling them with a passion deep in every pore of my body, and recognizing that I made a good choice when I married this man, my partner in life and love
11) Walking into the living room after being gone all day and hearing my little critters start wheeet whheeeeting at the sound of my footsteps, and then watching them jump and spring and run when I gave them my attention and okay, a little bit of food!


We Will Survive

So, my husband and I have been checking for plane tickets to get to the US this summer. It's been 2 years since we've all been back, and it's time to make the trek to old haunts. We've been checking prices for about a eyar now, and they are just unbearably high at the moment. And when I finally asked Erwin if we were going to go and fork out the dough or not, his reply was the following: Well, do you want a trip to visit your parents or a new car?

NO FAIR!! I want it all!!! I want the security of being back in the throes of childhood, having mommy and daddy hand me my every whim on a plate. Watching my boys bond with their grandparents as they play in the woods that was once my very own playground. As they stick quarters in the crane game and the immense smiles that ensue after they have won a cheap stuffed bear. I want that feeling of family, my family, to surround me and make me feel special and safe and loved. I want to enjoy the clear, blue skies, feel the thunderstorms that evolve every afternoon, glance into the distance and see the Rocky Mountains staring back at me in their peaceful glory. I want to look into the night sky and see millions of stars, and walk into my parents store to be greeted by each of the regulars as if I have never left. But come on, a car??? Something that can help me complete errands, enjoy visits to friends, make it possible to spend more fun days out with my kids, maybe even assist in finding a job I could actually get to without hours on the bus...give me freedom!

Anyway, I made my choice. I purchased our plane tickets a couple days back. They won't get me to my parents, but they will get me across the Atlantic, entering customs where the American flag hangs with a sign Welcoming me to America...welcoming me HOME. The kids and I will be flying out July 2 in time to enjoy a true 4th of July celebration in the country where it is most meaningful. We will have made it 1/2 way across the US and I'm still looking for solutions to complete the necessary arrangements to make it to those tall and magnificent Rocky Mountains...but stopping off in Chicago gives me a great reason to visit my grandparents, spend some time enjoying stories from the past, letting them spoil their little greats, just being present. This means a great deal to me...my grandparents are aging (gracefully, but still aging), and you just never know when the last visit could be...

So, we forked out $3300 for 3 tickets half-way home...makes sense, huh? Erwin will come later, hopefully booking himself a ticket with frequent flyer miles, and I'll eventaully tie up all those loose knots as to how I will get home. But even as my excitement over this new adventure passes through my body, I'm still regretting not getting a car. Dang...what's more important? Freedom or Family? Freedom or Family? I guess in my heart of hearts the answer is clear...as soon as it was offered, I went in search of the fastest way home, to my family, to my playground, to my majestic, peaceful mountains. Unfortunately, the fastest way is not in a car.


Whatta Day

My kiddos have a half day on Wednesday. That is the day I try to schedule all our appointments, make plans for fun, and make it to soccer and Judo practice. It's always a busy day, but one which I always fall into bed feeling accomplished and successful. I like Wednesdays.

Today, I had a doctor appointment for Kaeden. I needed him to fill in some papers for our insurance, as well as get prescriptions and have him check Kaeden's intestines again. But when I got to the office, I started out by asking him what his opinion of the hospital stay was, if he thought it would be helpful for Kaeden, etc. And after giving me his thoughts about why he thinks Kaeden needs help (his maturity is so far behind, but his body is not, he is slowly getting more and more aggressive, his medications are not working as well as they should be, he is having major difficulties in school...it goes on and on) he called the hospital in Genk to ask for an emergency intake for my son. This came as a huge surprise to me, as he is usually somewhat reserved with these issues. Truthfully, I don't think he has dealt with a lot of autism in his day...however, I have noticed him becoming more knowledgeable and more interested the longer he works with Kaeden. Score for future childrent hat need help with autism.

It was interesting hearing his side of the conversation with the hospital. Yes, this is a willing family. Yes, they do know about autism. Yes, they have been to a psychiatrist. Yes, they have tried medication. Yes, they keep a structured home (this may be debatable...). Yes, they are here asking for help, it is not being forced upon them. Yes, Kaeden is completely involved in the choice. Yes...yes, I sure sound like Kaeden's perfect mom on paper! The conversation made me feel strong. made me feel like I was doing this for all the right reasons. And gave me more faith in our dcotor, knowing he has faith in me and my mothering abilities.

Anyway, within the week we should hear back from the psychiatrist of the hospital children's unit...and he believes that Kaeden will be in the program the beginning of May. My feelings are so mixed up. I am thrilled that finally we may get some answers to our questions, that someone is finally listening and understanding that we need help. And I feel a miserable failure that we've gotten to this point. I feel hopeful that Kaeden will be helped, I feel sad that he'll be away from home. What a hodge-podge of emotion.

So, I'll be anxiously awaiting the return call so we can get this experience underway. But, I HOPE it doesn't happen before May 5...I could just imagine my mom and Kaeden's dissappointment if he's stashed away at the hospital while she's here to visit and see him partake in his Confirmation. But I don't think we have too much of a choice in when he is admitted considering this is an emergency call out for help from our pediatrician. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers...I need all I can to keep emotionally sane.

Battered and Bruised

Being a mom? Tough work!!! In the past few days, I have played so much soccer that I think I could become the next big star! And maybe, just maybe, my biggest fan will be my son. But, before I get that celebrity status, I am having to go through all the hazing rituals. A huge bruise on my shin? Check. A twisted ankle from trying to stop a ball but landing on it instead? Check. A sprained pinkie from stopping a whizzing ball as goalie? Check! A major headache from trying to head the ball from reaching the goal? Check!

I'm really nearly there...what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And I think I am the toughest, strongest mama alive!!! And even better than the strength, is this little voice that giggled out "Mama, you can play soccer better than ALL the other mama's!!! as he kicked yet another ball my way which I stopped with a half kick, half diving motion which ricocheted off my hands. Yep, I'm getting there. Watch for me in upcoming sports articles...if you don't find me in the obits first!


The Falcon

Have you ever been to a bird show...those where they show birds of prey and wear those special leather gloves so the claws don't cut their skin? Where the birds whiz over your head as they fly quickly to retrieve their little piece of meat for flying where they were supposed to go? Yeah, those bird shows.

When Jari and I were at the zoo last week, there was a bird of prey show. We went to watch. And we got more than we bargained for. They had owls and buzzards and falcons. Sometimes teh birds flew right to the glove, sometimes they flew to a post standing high in the room, and sometimes, well, once actually, they landed on someone's head. Yes, that someone was ME! The falcon dove down right onto the top of my head and sunk his claws in my scalp good. I watched him coming at me and then bent my head and covered my face as the crowd gasped in surprise. I think I probably let out a little squeal, too. It was quite a surprise.

Luckily, though I felt his claws and got a little tingly, I only had one small noticeable scratch. I was glad it was me and not Jari, or the baby sitting behind us. But, I don't know that I'll ever be able to attend another bird of prey show without feeling just a little fear as those birds swoop past me, wings spread wide...


Super Day Out!

I'm writing this post in Jari's favorite color. He loves blue...we have only just begun to understand why, as with his color-blindness it's one of the colors he sees perfectly. Blue, blue, blue, it's all about blue. And you know what else is blue? His eyes. They are dreamy, sparkling, and so enticing. I love his eyes. And yesterday, I experienced a deep gratification after seeing his eyes really sparkle and shine and well, he just twinkled. It gave me so much happiness, something that started in the cavities of my heart and rocked through to my toes and then shivered into my fingertips and made it's way all the way to the hairs raised on the top of my head.

You see, Jari and I don't have the opportunity to go out together to do fun stuff just the two of us. We spend lots of time in each other's company playing soccer or going for a bike ride or making lunches together or running errands...but actually a fun day out? It happens rarely. You see, I have another kid. I have a husband. And those fun days out are usually reserved for family days. Which is really great, but it doesn't give me time for just my lil guy. But, yesterday, it was all about Jari. And it was more than I could have imagined, dreamed, or hoped. It was perfection, put on the highest pedestal. It was all things grand wrapped into the fingers of my little boy.

We dropped Erwin off at the train station and drove Kaeden to his autism camp. And then, Jari and I headed to the zoo. And we laughed at the animals, we giggled at the bumps during the jungle express ride, we played on piles ok rocks and watched a circus with a horse that could count. We ate lunch together in the cafe and bought popcorn to share at the circus. And we held hands and looked into each other's eyes, and really, truly enjoyed sharing the day together. It was like I was in a state of bliss, and nothing could take my mood down even a little notch. When Jari wrapped his arms around my legs, looked up into my eyes, and exclaimed "I love you, mama!" it was like the waters parted and I was taken directly to heaven.

I can't even really explain why it felt so good. But I do know that it was exactly what both of us needed, this bonding mama and boy time, this day of perfection to renew our relationship, a chance to erase autism from our lives for just a day. A chance for him to just be a kid, and me to see a happy, smiling little boy, be the mama I only dream of being...to give, give, and give some more, and in return, take this feeling, this indescribable feeling, to fill my every nerve ending with pride and joy and love and hope and...well, it was so, so pure.

Here are just a few little glimpses of our day...do you see those shining eyes? Can you feel my passion about my son? Can you see his extreme freedom and happiness? Thank you, Jari, for letting me be your mama, for completing my heart wholly, and just for being you. I love you, little bug.


Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for my husband (yes, yet again). Last night he came home from work and immediately got busy fixing my bike. And this morning, I once again had a means of transport which could get me further than my own two feet. Yes, all that walking did worlds of good for my body, but it still added lots of extra time to an already full agenda. I am thrilled that my husband could fix my bike, that he took the time to do so, and that I am once again in the club of bike transport. As much as I complain about having to complete all my errands via bike rather than car, I sure am thankful for having a bike rather than having to walk everyplace I go. Thanks Erwin, you made my day!!!

Autism Part 2

In my post yesterday, I told you one side of Kaeden's autism. I told you about the frenzy of our morning dealing with his adjustment to the day. But, there is another side to autism, one which may be even more important to address. This is the side of Kaeden that makes me happy, that makes me grateful for autism. He has taught us all so very much. We are learning acceptance more and more as we live with him. He is the most non-judgemental person to live on this planet. He gives lovingly of himself, and is happiest when helping others. He looks beyond what most of us see when coming into contact with other people. He doesn't see an ugly face or a handicap or a physical deformity. He doesn't see someone "not quite all there" or an addicted drug addict. He doesn't see a beauty pageant winner or a top model. He doesn't see a built body or freshly shaved face. What he sees is the person that comes from within. What he sees is a loving heart, a hope to be accepted, and the true value of a person. He is open to any and all people, and is very outgoing when coming into contact with someone that could be a prospective new friend (anyone). While this does have a negative side in that he can't judge the character of a person and could easily be manipulated, the positive side is that everybody is worthy and loved when it comes to Kaeden. His nature is one of acceptance. His heart opens to all those whom the door would normally be closed upon. His acceptance of people is what I am very most proud of in my child. He shows love and has taught me what it means to be nonjudgemental (and I have always considered myself so, but since seeing Kaeden's level of acceptance, I am amazed at how much I had to learn). Anyway, this is the other side to autism, and the only part of autism that I feel accepting of. It has helped my child to know and embrace unconditional love.

My mom posted a comment on my previous entry. She was worried it would hurt my feelings, but it made me instead want to write this post, telling you another side of my beautiful son. There are two sides to every story, and I tend to forget the beauty when I'm standing in the midst of a tornado. But it is definitely there. I am including my mom's comment so that you ahve yet another view of autism from a grandma who is supportive and stands behind her grandson 100%. Here is her comment:

I don't have to wake up every morning in a home with an autistic child, instead I get to wake up every morning wishing my autistic little boy were here to give me a another lesson about the true meaning of LOVE. When he was in America with me last summer I for the first time in my 57 years of life learned what real love was all about, and it was Kaeden who taught me. True love means communicating with "deaf and dumb" parents via hand gestures and lip reading the needs and wants of their baby. It is sitting out on the sidewalk with a homeless man and discussing his plans for the day because you really do care. It is finding a bowl to put water in for a travelers puppy. It is giving treats to children whos mommy said she couldn't afford it, and giving a lady "Hells angel" on the back of a Harley a break from the wind in her face. In general it is bringing a smile to a face that is otherwise distraught from fear, thirst, hunger or pain.It is taking a gift from God and giving it to another because they are special and so are you. This is what living with my autistic Kaeden is all about!!!!And while his mommy holds his heart the closest, his daddy yearns for a little more patience, and his brother strives for normalacy, they are all enriched beyond what we'll ever know because Kaeden is in their lives every minute of everyday. No I don't live the daily "grind" but I know about it. My daughter shares everything with me, from the early morning episodes to the night time hugs and "tuckins". And we both thank God for the true meaning of the LOVE of Kaeden.

So, what is autism? Well, quite simply, it is love, complete, unconditional, and deep. Just ask my mom!! :-)


Autism Awareness Month/World Autism Day

***TODAY IS WORLD AUTISM DAY!!! SHOW YOUR SUPPORT IN ANY WAY YOU CAN!!! READ, LEARN, UNDERSTAND, HELP US FIND A CURE FOR AUTISM!!!!!!*** For lots of autism stories you can go to http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2008/news/autism/

So, as most of you are probably already aware, April is Autism Awareness Month. That sounds a bit cliche to me, being that every month, every week, every day, every minute, there is Autism surrounding our lives and family. I don't need a special month dedicated to being aware about autism. I live, breathe, eat, and sleep autism. But, for those not directly affected by autism, I suppose it does give a message, and maybe brings just a little bit more understanding about this disorder. So, that's why I am mentioning it. There are thousands of websites dedicated to Autism, and I know that television in America is hosting a special autism week as well. Even if this doesn't affect you, it may be worthwhile to check it out, just to increase your awareness of what is happening in our world today. It's scary stuff folks. And when you live it day after day, you relaize just how scary it is. 1 in 150 kids are diagnosed with autism. What will happen to our world when those little ones grow up and are running our world? How will this play out in the future of the world?

Every autistic child is different. But, I wanted to bring you an awareness of how autism directly affects my family. So, here's my autism awareness story for April.

We start out the morning. It is never fun. Kaeden struggles to pull himself out of bed every morning of the week, yet on weekends he could be awake as early as 4am. Every morning that he wakes before I do, there is the inevitable fight about what he has taken from the cupboards and hidden in the strangest places throughout our home. Mostly, I find hidden candy wrapers behind couch pillows, banana peels undeer the tv stand, half-eaten sandwiches smushed behind the table in our living room. He has an obsession with food, and is scared he will not have enough. When we eat dinner as a family, he watches as each scoop of food is dished out onto plates, worried the entire time that there will not be enough. He always takes more than his stomach can hold, due to his fear that he won't have an ample amount. If there is any left in the pan, and someone reaches to take seconds, and he worries he will want more, he begins to hit the wall behind him while screaming out obsenities, which often leads to him eventually hiding under the table before he is sent to his room to regain composure...which yes, creates even more disruption before he finally finds some peace.

Mornings begin with screams in our house. I wake him gently, but as the time on the clock ticks away and he refuses to present himself, to get dressed, to brush his teeth (the absolute most difficult chore in our home), or take his pills, my patience starts sliding. I start counting, which always has the success of arousing him from his bed, but then angrily. There is rarely a morning when I am not cussed out and called nasty names as I prepare breakfast, lunch, and get everything ready for the day. It seems almost normal in our home, except for the days when it also involves over-stressed parents who are not willing to put up with it for another second...those are the days I truly dread. And when Kaeden is finally sitting at the table after having had his shower, which was also a fight due to the sheer amount of time he stands under the hot steam wasting water without ever really washing (he finally accepts this as part of his morning ritual), he starts in on teasing his brother. Often it's something simple like moving the cereal boxes so Jari can't see them, or sticking his fingers in Jari's cereal (which elicits screams from Jari, who will then refuse to eat it), other times he just stares him down or makes snide little comments ...typical brother teasing, but to a higher degree. Most days, Jari eats in the living room watching cartoons until Kaeden has met his morning goals and is out the door headed for the bus. This is not ideal, but sometimes the only form of creating sanity for my little guy.

No matter how much time Kaeden has to get ready, it is never enough. He wastes his time like noone I have ever met. We have used pictos to help him complete his chores, but because he also suffers ADHD, this is something that works for only a short period of days before he bores of it. We try to get him to take his pills immediately first thing in the morning- it takes 30 minutes for them to be in his system and working for him to concentrate enough to even begin the process of thinking about what needs to be done. He flutters about, his eyes darting from place to place as he wiggles his way back and forth getting into everything within his sight. If there are papers on the table, he must look at those. If there is a ball on the floor, he must kick it around. If there is anything in his way that has the opportunity to distract him, it will. And don't you dare get in his way, or you will be cursed for having come into his contact, often also hit. And if it happens that he spills a glass of milk, you will be immediately blamed, for nothing is an accident, nor his fault. Everything that happens is someone elses fault.

And then there are the dirty diapers. His biggest task is to deposit his dirty diapers appropriately in the trash outside. Getting him to do this is hard. He knows he has to, but he fights it with every ounce of his being. And yes, he stinks, he is covered from head to foot in pee, and he aslo thinks it's great fun to tease you with touching you with his pee-covered body. We have tried various brands, forms, etc of diapers, but nothing contains the sheer volume of urine he manages to create each night. Are you wondering about my laundry tasks? Yes, it is huge. Blankets, sheets, pyjamas, extra pants and undies...every day. It is daunting.

So, that's the first hour of our every day with autism and ADHD. Sound like fun? You're right, it isn't. But, I am not writing this to make my child out as the bad guy. It's simple...the majority of all the above issues are out of his control. He doesn't wake up hoping to create an upheavel. He doesn't wake up wanting to start his day off with a fight. He doesn't wake up scheming ways he can make mama mad. He has autism. He is lost in a world inside his own head which differs from the world most of us accept. He fights because it is his only manner of having control. This is autism, folks, this is it. And that is why it is scary to me. That is why I worry about the future of our world. For this just one hour in our life, one hour of each day that he lives with autism, that we all live with autism.

And you know what happens last within that hour? Every morning, come rain or shine, smiling or crying, I send my son out the door with a kiss, a hug, and the sincere words of "I love you. Have a good day." Because that kiss, that hug, those sentiments are what keeps me sane, brings me the reality of why I wake up each morning, and the hope that he knows, autistic or not, just how deep my love for him is. Autism Awareness. This, folks, is what it's all about.


Who Are They?

Walking into a stranger's home. I look around me. How do people live? What furnishings do they own to show their personality and style. Where do they hang their hat after a long day of work? What's cooking on the stove for dinner?

Last night, I went on a walk around our neighborhood selling tickets to a Spring Concert my choir is giving. I had 40 tickets to sell with my neighbor lady, and we managed to get our pile down to a bit less than half. It's a small village...people want to support the causes within our village. And, I had the chance to glimpse into the lives of all the people surrounding me. What hit me first, was the invitation to come sit for coffee from nearly every home. Secondly, at each home, my boys received candy from the candy jar. Third, every home I walked into was clean. Whether the furnishings were antique wood, fresh, modern Ikea, or a hodgepodge between the two, these homes all had their own character, to match the people that live within the walls.

Being the nosy person I am, this was very interesting for me. I love seeing into the lives of other people and creating stories about how they live just from little glimpses into their lives. So, I enjoyed my evening of ticket sales, though I am NO born salesperson!

This morning I walked Jari to soccer camp. My bike broke down on me yesterday and has left me transport-less (that's a word, right) other than the two feet that swing from the end of my body. So, we took a walk, and on the way, I noticed it was glass recycling day. In front of each home, were the recycling containers filled with glass. And I got another intake of information about all my neighbors. What brand pasta sauce do they use? How much wine do they drink? Do they use olive oil or sunflower oil? In which stores do they shop?

As original as each home is, so is the container of glass to be recycled. Each container holds a story, a story of a family, how they live, what they like, who they are.

In my recycling bin today, there was a broken Bob the Builder glass, 2 bottles of coffee milk, 2 jars of different varieties pasta sauce (I buy what's on sale), a sheet of broken glass from a curio cabinet, 5 jars of different sorts of veggies, 1 jar of sweet and sour mix, a jar of mustard, and a jar of chocolate pasta. 2 jars of peanut butter and who knows what else. What does that say about me? About my family? About how we live and who we are? And what conclusions are my neighbors drawing when they take a glimpse into my recycling bin? Or am I just overly curious and nosier than most?