I was watching my son as he stapled together blank pages of crisp white paper, folded in half to form a book. He proceeded to get his markers and a pen and amidst all his supplies he began to write. Lately, the one activity I can suggest to bring him joy is writing a story. He's written many lately, usually 4 or 5 pages and a total of 50 or 60 words. His stories vary from creative to journal entries of his day, but always, without fail, his name is contained in the pages of his book along with a drawing of his house with the number 6 next to the front door.

I cannot get through reading one of his stories without a smile spreading from one side of my face to the other. They contain little secrets into his soul, and some of his thoughts are so simple, yet deep. All of his stories are a link to his life today, how he sees the world, what activities have stayed with him throughout our day to day happenings. They capture my little boy in a way that I have never before been able to see him. I can now read him through the pages of one of his books.

What I find most interesting about this newfound joy is the similarity to my own childhood days. As a little girl, my favorite gifts were paper and writing tools, and I too would bind them together to create teh pages of a book. I started writing very young, and by the time I was in 6th grade I had written some truly detailed, long stories. They were my pride and joy, and I would spend hours upon hours trying to perfect the characters and the scenarios. One story I wrote was in 5th grade. It included much dialogue and took me ages to perfect. It was a school assignment in which I went above and beyond the call of duty. I spent weeks writing this story about a girl on a horse who has an accident and ends up in teh hospital trying to regain use of her legs. When I turned in the completed work, I rememebr the feeling of pride as I showed it to my teacher, the pages upon pages of carefully written words. He responded kindly, telling me he couldn't wait to read it.
However, after a couple of weeks and the other students all having their copies returned, I was becoming impatient. Daily I asked my teacher if he ahd read my book. He finally acknowledged that he had read a couple of chapters, but he couldn't finish reading the story. He described to me a family emergency which took place only weeks before, in which his sister-in-law had fallen from her horse and was in critical care in the hospital. He said that my story was eerily similar, and he couldn't get through the pages without a sinking feeling in his heart.

I was so utterly disappointed. He was the only teacher available to read my work of art, as I was schooled in a two-room school in the middle of timbucktoo. There were 11 students in grades K-6, and he was the only upper grade teacher. All teh work I had put into my story was a lost cause. I was heartbroken, because though I had written numerous stories previously, this was the first in which I put my heart and soul, and so much time. My story was never returned, and I went on to the following grade always wondering where it landed.

So, now my own son is a budding author. And I am so proud and have the same emotions rushing through me as I read the words which link me to the importances in his life. Stories of birthdays and Christmas and soccer and playing games. Stories about animals and dinosaurs. Stories in which carry many grammatical mistakes. Stories which contain many spelling mistakes. Stories which come from a child's mind and heart. Stories which are written by a child who could not even read just one year ago. He has come so far, and I am just thrilled that my son is following in my footsteps. I believe in writing, and it has always been a part of my life. It leads me to freedom and sanity. It gives me hope and helps me work through difficulties. And it makes me smile. Jari's books also make me smile. I hope when he reads his first works years and years from now, they'll still put a smile on his face, just as they do today as he comes to share with me another of his creative endeavors.


Just The Two Of Us

Your hand encased in mine. We walk over the sidewalks, never straight but missing bricks or too high or with a gap, in which mama inevitably stumbles into. You laugh. "Mamaaa, what'd you do that for?" Looking up at me with your wide blue eyes and a smile on your lips, chapped and cracked from the winter, your hair long enough that it's falling into your eyes. "I can never stay out of those cracks" I reply, giving your hand a little squeeze, the warmth of it filling my entire body with the heat of a thousand suns. "I can. Watch how I do that." And you begin to watch each step, jumping over one brick, gliding into another, concetration etched on your face. Your hand never leaves mine, though it flips and tugs about as your body does this dance. "You know what? When I was a little girl we played a game. You had to never step on the cracks. And you say: If you step on the crack, you'll break mama's back." Your eyes, with just a twinkle of a devilish grin, join mine as you purposely step on a crack. You meet my gaze with this devilish achievement, and a hearty giggle escapes your lips. "Hey, are you trying to break my back?" I ask as you pounce ahead of me and I chase after you, dodging people coming at us from the other side of the sidewalk. "Hey, you better get back here..." and I continue on, trying to capture you as the most glorious sound in the world flutters into the air...your giggles. I can't get enough. I'd play this game forever.

We go into each of our destinations, coupled with our hands locked, our conversation comfortable and easy. Where are we going now? you ask. We still have to go to the postoffice I reply. And we head in that direction as you suddenly veer off to enter the 'old' post office doors. Hey? Where you going I ask? This isn't the post office. Yes it is...you continue to bounce along, you never ever really just walk. It's either a ful-fledged run or bouncy jouncy steps. You grasp at the door handle and tug. Hey, it's closed. You look at me for confirmation, and I shake my head. Uh-uh. See, I told you that wasn't the post office. It moved. We have to walk around the corner and go up the steps to get there. And again, you grasp my hand into yours and look upward, commenting on how tall those buildings are and notice all teh possessions lining the balcony windows. Are we gonna go all the way up there? And a we reach the staircase and begin teh climb, you race ahead of me. You covet so much energy, I don't know where it comes from. At the top, I look for you, wonder where you've gone when you peek out from around the barrel sitting there with a loud BOO! Did I scare you, mama? Yes, you sure did, I exclaim with my hand over my heart, a stratled expression on my face. And you laugh, again giving me the fullest happiness I could claim to feel. What you don't know, is that though I know youa re there, when you are out of my vision my mind begins to juggle the worries of a mother...could someone have taken him. Does he know cars could come at any time. Be careful so that heavy door doesn't smash your fingers. Yes, you did scare me, but only within the realm of mother worries, quietly tempered the moment I again see your face.

Our day, ever so ordinary and not anything unique, reminds me of the greatest love in my life. When I am with you and you're not daring your monstrous self to come out and play, there is something so completely beautiful about sharing my life with you. Nothing can compare. Nothing can bring me the warmth from within as the sound of your laughter, the feel of you hand in mine, and the sight of your devilish grin that makes my heart melt. Youa re now a seven year old child...and I know that this can not last forever, these sharing of simple moments, but I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as you're with me, my baby you'll be.

Thank you for giving me something that can never be taken, an always renewable source of energy for days that aren't quite as simple and peaceful. Thank you for your love, and for accepting mine. It'll always be here, always and forever. Please never forget.


The Inauguration

It was breathtaking. It brought tears. It brought laughter and hope. The inauguration of our new president, an historical event I shared with my sons, one which they will remember as a special moment in their books of life. They stood to salute the flag. The waved their flag as the crowds waved theirs. They listened to the speech President Obama delivered, Jari even commenting on how the 'th' sound was made. Kaeden watched me and asked if I was happy or sad as tears streamed down my cheeks. I told him this is a day in America that noone will forget. This is a day in which Americans are forced to look their part of disaster in the eye. Americans are forced to come together beyond bounds of race, religion, or belief. We have a new president. We have hope. Yes we do! And the promise of cake at the end was also plenty motivating!!!


Breast Cancer

I am so glad I have been writing about these deep feelings I've been having lately. Today, I suddenly seem to feel a bit lighter. It's nice to have a place where I can just let it all out and in the process relieve myself. I know that some people think all I do is whine about my life, others think I am depressed and sad, and still others may empathize with me a bit. But this is my place to just be me. I share myself and this space is my own. Though I know others read what I have written, I only do this for me, for my family, a journey of our life. I am in general a happy, fun-loving person. I know that I have been afforded an advantaged life. I am deeply in love with my husband, my children, my family and friends. I may get down, but I am not in a constant state of depression. This is just the way life rolls. Some days are good, some days are bad, and you take it as it comes and deal with it in the only manner you know how...until you learn new ways, better ways, of making your life an even more positive experience. I do this through my writing. By releasing the negative, I can hopefully get a grip on the positive.

Yesterday I had a downer of a day. Someone in my family whom I deeply love with all my heart and has been a constant in my life from my very first memories was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is one of those people who is so alive and vibrant, brings fun to every experience in life. She is not only a family member, but a very good friend, and someone I trust with my deepest secrets. And to learn she is going through this battle made me feel scared and sad and a little bit helpless.

She is in the early stages of breast cancer, and will be having a lumpectomy in the coming week. More news will follow as they learn more of her condition after the surgery. She has a teenage daughter, a very family-oriented husband,lots of pets, a job she loves and clients that love her back. She is very involved in life, caring for her elderly parents, taking a 3 mile walk eevry day, busy with ALL the kids in the neighborhood, a volunterr at an animal sanctuary. She hunts and fishes and camps. She loves water parks and roller coasters. And she has breast cancer.

I can't even find the words to say how it makes me feel. The disbelief and shock. The hope...oh, the hope. I will say an extra prayer for you today. I will keep you in my prayers in the coming days, just as I always do. And I will be ehre for you, to share some of those deep laughs that we have always shared. I have hope. Be alive as you always are, the life of the party, the one that always has a ready laugh and so much courage. This is a journey that is going to take courage. I have faith...it'll all be okay. And always know that no matter what, you are loved...


The Autism Mountain

Yesterday we spent home...just home. We did a bit of cleaning, did a bit of cooking, did lots of playing, and we watched some home movies. That is always so much fun, looking back and seeing how life was and how much has changed. I especially love seeing my babies, how little they were, how far they have come. When I watch those movies, something else arises in my soul. The knowledge of autism and how it has consumed my family. The videos don't lie. You can see the young, fresh faces of involved and free parents on those videos, just five years ago. Today, our tired and stresed faces, filled with lines of worry and fear, have stripped us of that freedom of the young, fresh parents we were. There is more anger hiding behind our words, more discomfort and sadness blurring our every day motions. And there is a 14 year old child, our son, who used to be free to be a kid, who laughed and danced and smiled...and though he still does these things, still has his happy moments, he is not the free kid he once was. I

know, I know, all children grow up and adolescence consumes them. All children change. But what changes I see when I watch the movies are changes that do not bring me peace. Autism has stripped my son of his freedom, kidnapped him from the happiness I once saw glowing on his face, whenever I looked at him. Though his eyes still twinkle with delight, the delight is short-lived. He has more worries and more fears and more adjustments to make than any child should have to have. And whatever I do to try to protect him, to help him to be happy, I can't take away that aspect of his life. 5 years ago, my son was just a little kid with little kid worries. Today he is a teenager with a teenage body and raging hormones, with a mental state of that kid all those years ago. And he can't work out how to fit the two together. he wants to fit in. He wants to be unique, but not unique becasue of his autism. He wants to be free of anger and pain and worry, but autism has stolen that from him. he will never again be free to just be.

And I also saw my little guy on those videos. He was so smiley, so loveable, so utterly happy. There wasn't a moment that he wasn't being just cute as can be, and laughing and making us laugh with him. He had a loving and sweet big brother who cared for him. And when I look at my now seven-year-old son, I know that he too has been stripped of childhood innocence due to autism. He is not able to run around happy and worry-free, because autism has consumed our home and our lives, and he is unable to escape it's presence for even a moment. And his behaviors today show how it affects him. He is stubborn and head-strong, manipulating and rude. The happy go lucky kid that once was is no longer. I know his sweetness hides within him. I see traces of it every day. I see him smile and laugh and do what little boys are supposed to do. But I also see the worry...how he has learned to escape to another room when a tantrum is oncoming. How he, when he is in a mood, knows just which buttons to push to cause one of those tantrums. How he turns to video games to relieve his stress. How he is another child completelty when I have him alone compared to when Kaeden is home too.

Erwin and I keep trying to reach the top of the mountain. We keep pushing each other when we feel we can't take another step. We are supportive of one another, but sometimes having to push someone else when you can barely breathe yourself starts taking it's toll. We try to shelter our little guy from autism, try to make his world seem relatively normal in the face of a storm, try to compensate for what we know he has had to give up. We try to give Kaeden patience and consistency, to help him with the issues confusing his life. We try to be present and do what we feel is necessary in being good parents. But the video doesn't lie. It is cute and happy and peaceful. It is filled with love and family and closeness. And all of that in our real life today just isn't present.

I can't blame it all on autism, because many factors are present in what has become our life. And it's not an unhappy, sad, dreary place either, our home and family today. It is, however, stripped of that piece of joy we once knew. And that does come from autism. Our young faces have aged, our hair has greyed, our shoulders have filled with worry, our hearts have been beaten. We keep doing our best, but our best keeps sliding further and further behind. I so want to reach the top of that mountain. I so want to look behind me and cheer at the top, knowing we have made it, we've come through unscathed, we've been strong. But we haven't yet reached the top. And even though it looks so close, it's evident we're still a long ways from the top. Our son is just now 14. We've got a lot of years ahead of us. Once we reach that peak there's always another in the distance glaring at us from beyond. Some days, watching old home movies makes the mountain seem even steeper. And the tears that fall down my cheeks are not tears of happiness.


The Big Picture

Questions run through my mind. I can't find peace from within. There's something sitting here weighing on my mind. I can't figure out what it is. I'm feeling as if life is passing me by and I don't even know what day it is. Where do the days go? I can't believe it's already Friday and another weekend is upon us. Just yesterday I went and helped at Jari's school and it felt as if I'd been there just the day before. My days are all running together and the only thing unusual I have done is bake a batch of cookies. I've been looking at my plants for a week, knowing they need water...but they are still thirsty. Every day I go out and feed my guinea pigs and know it's time to clean their cage, but I haven't done it yet. There is a box sitting on the floor filled with the last remains of Christmas that needs carried upstairs and put away. But it's still sitting there waiting. My windows are grimy and need a good washing, and every day as I look through them I know it needs to be done, something I even enjoy, the only cleaning activity I truly don't mind. Yet they are still grimy. There's a desk sitting on the landing upstairs which needs unscrewed and pulled apart and moved to the attic. It's been there for two weeks and still, it takes up all the space the kids have to play. Nothing that needs done is getting done. All the simple needs sit waiting, just as I do, waiting for the drive to do it. Waiting for this feeling to leave my body so that I can find the energy to complete what needs to be done.

I can't get comfortable. I feel lazy and strung out all in the same breath. I don't like feeling so worthless. I don't like looking in the mirror and finding HER staring back at me. I haven't been taking care of myself. I do what needs to be done for survival, but that's the extent of my activity. I feel overloaded, but there's no reason I should. I haven't been doing anything strenuous in the least. And yet I feel as if there's no energy left.

I don't care what it takes, today I will complete those little extra tasks that have been waiting in the crooks and corners for some attention. I think that if I just start taking care of what needs to be done, I'll be able to step back and feel a bit of pride. Feel as if I have accomplished soemthing. Let that lonely, disgusted feeling leave me, give me a new outlook on what I can achieve. I need to take care of those little things in order to care for this big thing...this thing that's suffocating me, shredding my spirit, and pulling apart the layers. One thing at a time. And after that's all done, I can sit back, relaxed, and look at the big picture.


Who Are You

I pretend to be reading, but my focus is not on the words decorating the page. I have reread the same passage 5 times, never truly taking in what the words mean. My mind is elsewhere as I glance at the words blurring on the page as my eyes focus on your face. Who are you? You sit with your glasses covering your eyes, the remote in your hand as a movie plays on tv. I have no idea what the movie is about, I hear the words but cannot take in their meaning. Words have no direction now. Only this question burning in my mind takes on any real meaning for me. Who are you?

I look at each feature on your face, from the curls covering the wrinkles on your forehead to the eyebrows and lashes that decorate the green of your eyes. The room is a bit dark to see into your soul and I return to just looking at you, wondering what it is about you that helped me learn to love you; to love you still. I pull my feet up into the chair, turning again to my book, but my heart only searching for answers. Who are you?

Sometimes when I glance across the room at you, I haven't a clue who you are. As long as we have been together, sometimes I feel as if I know only your face as a stranger would passing you in a grocery store aisle. Yet I continue to stare, can't take my eyes off of you, wondering what shadows I can find hidden behind the stone hard surface of your face. We haven't spoken, each of us rearranging our bodies into comfort, you on your chair, me on mine. There is a tension between us, not uncomfortable, just there, hiding in the darkness of the room.

As I turn again back to my book, becoming momentarily distracted by the tv, I see you glance my way. You know I was watching you, and it has brought you to your own question of who is she? What is she thinking? Yet neither of us dares to ask the question. We both return to our activities, me trying to concentrate on the last pages of my book, you on the movie that has returned after a commercial break.

There is so much distance between us, in this space of 3 feet. I could reach out and touch you physically, but emotionally we are worlds apart. I want to draw you in closer, but I don't know how. Who are you?

I finally laugh at something that comes on tv. It isn't something funny, yet in this moment it hits me as funny, considering the thoughts I am having, and I need a distraction, to undo this distance, something, anything to pull you closer to me. I laugh. You look at me, a glint of a smile on your face, but I can tell it's a questionable smile as you wonder again, who is she. You shake your head as you begin to explain to me the joke in this advertisment. I don't care about that. Who is she? Who is he? Who are you? Our minds, our bodies, our worlds are disconnected. We live in this home, sit in this room, yet between the space is a glass wall we can't seem to reach through.

We have learned to become comfortable with this glass wall. We have learned to allow ourselves the distance. But I wonder if you want it to shatter as much as I do. I wish I could reach out and touch the wall, break it down, see through the darkness into your soul, laugh because I am happy, and not because I need a distraction, any reaction. I want to turn to you, reach for your hand, let the remote fall to the floor and shatter into a thousnad pieces, breaking the distance that cowers between us. But I don't. I can't. I don't know how. I don't know how you will react. This distance has become comfortable, but I am long tired of comfort. I want passion. I want our spirits to reach for each other and latch on and run through the grass with bare feet and the sun shining down making our faces glow. I want to quit wondering: Who are you?


Hello From Jari

I thought it was fun at Kaeden's birthday party. The Haunted House rollercoaster was the best. And the second best was the bumper cars. I also liked when we threw snowballs and made a snowman. That was fun. Now my snowman fell down dead. Why are you writing that in English? I am telling you in Dutch. I don't see gevallen. Where is that in English?

I made a picture for Kaeden's birthday and the cake was very yummy. The cake I ate yesterday.

I am reading in school and I am doing math. I made things about Jesus today in school. I made sheep and an ox and Jesus. I colored them and then I cut them out and I got sticks from my teacher. And then I taped them on the sticks and they are puppets.

from jari


Kaeden is 14.

From This......

To This.

And it only took 14 years to get here. Happy Birthday my Riley Boy. I don't know how it happened, but I love you even more today than all those years ago when we first met.


A New Year. It Is Time.

My Christmas tree is still standing in the corner where we first placed it before the holiday gedoe. It has brought me many moments of peace and enchantment, lighting our home with twinkles for the past 3 weeks. But, it is time. It's a new year. Time for a new look on life. Time to remove these last remains of a year in the past, a year in the book of life.

January 6th has past. The three kings have reached their destination of the stables in Bethlehem. The tree is all that remains of the holiday season. Needles are littering my floor, the last of the stocking stuffers collecting dust under the branches. A few forgotten gifts hide under the tree skirt and a few ornaments have made their way into the pile as well. It's time to pack up the memories and savor them for the 2009 season. Tuck each ornament away remembering when it was received and by whom. Fold up the stockings making sure there is no peanut residue as there was one year inviting a mouse and a hole in the stocking. All the Santa candles wrapped up in paper to be opened like a new gift come the holidays 'next' year. And the nativity carefully placed in the plastic bag while each figurine, hand-painted by opa, is secured in paper and placed in the same box we've stored them in since our arrival in Belgium.

But I despise the lights. Putting them on, taking them off, getting them all to work, untangling them, rolling them up so they won't be tangled next year...but always somehow are. The lights are a pain, and they have become my responsibility. Erwin gives me credit, saying I do it much better than him. It's his way of placating me, giving me credit so he doesn't have to partake in the worst job of the holidays. And for some reason it works. The lights are my job. And even though I hate it, in the back of my mind I think: I'm best at this, that's why I GET to do it!

So, our up and coming job for the weekend is to remove our tree, unclutter our home, and make way for 2009. When the main tree is removed, there will be a floor full of needles to sweep up, which ultimately end up throughout the entire house, slowly cleaned up throughout the year as they become embedded in tiny corners, on the stair mats, and under the radiators. The tree doesn't really like to leave, but rather leave a lasting impact.

So, goodbye 2008...hello 2009. A New Year. It Is Time.



This morning started out with tears. And screaming. And a heaviness in my heart that just doesn't want to go away. Sometimes I feel so optimally defeated. Like, why am I here, how did I get chosen for this life, where is the strength to keep on trucking on. And where has my patience and understanding and love disappeared to?

Kaeden has been going through another of his stealing phases. These phases come and go in our book of life, and it really is quite trying. I begin to question my own sanity as I search for money I thought I had, but which seems to disappear into thin air. I never want to accuse my son of being the culprit, but deep in my heart I know it is him that has stolen from me, and it hurts. It isn't just the money, or the food, or the whatever else he somehow thinks is his. But he also steals my sanity in those moments. And my faith and pride in him. He steals from me something much deeper than just the material possessions. And quite frankly, I am getting tired of this 'game'.

I want to be able to hold my son, stroke his hair, give him my love, without this blinding anger tugging at my heart, filling me with regret rather than letting the love flow fromme through to him. This morning, I said words which I would rather not have said. And I didn't even care that it may have hurt him, that it isn't the behavior a mother should demonstrate to her child. I didn't care, because I feel defeated and all used up, as if there is no turn I can take in which will solve this lack of trust, which can make me feel pride in my son, which will release me of these niggling dislikes that encompass me as I encompass him.

I told Kaeden today that I am one of the last people that keeps fighting for him, for his rights, for his needs, for his perspective on life. I am the one that keeps on giving and and never stops loving and never stops having hope...for him now and for his future. And yet, I am the one that keeps getting hurt, keeps being disappointed, keeps having to fall and pull myself up again. And it's getting scarier as he gets older, gets stronger, and uses his strength to hurt me even physically. As if the emotional abuse wasn't enough. As if he is punishing me for being his mom, for not being able to make everything in his world right, for having to take the time to pick myself up off the floor time and time again.

I don't try to pretend I can understand how difficult life must be for him, wandering through trying to fit in, trying to be someone you are not, trying to accept that this is the way the world is and like it or not you must exist here. I know it is hard. I live with this child, and I see his trials on a daily basis. I try to be patient and loving, be his strength to fall back on in times of need. But I am faltering. I am getting tired. I am lsoing my strength as he sucks it out of me time and time again. And with this loss of strength is also a loss of hope and commitment. Sometimes I just want to quit fighting...quit fighting for him and his needs and his rights, and just let him for once see that mommy is not able to pick up all the pieces and complete the puzzle. To allow myself some peace instead of always feeling so worried and scared and angry. I just want to escape from him and his autism and all the issues that it brings. I want to be free to love him and give him all he needs without knowing that in return I will get another good ole stomping. But I also knwo that I can't...he can't...and I'm not really sure that I feel fit enough to hold on for this long ride. Today, I just feel as if I wanna climb off the ride and quit feeling so utterly dizzy. It isn't that feeling of euphoria and that rush of adrenaline that makes you feel alive. Instead, it's as if I am dying a slow death that sees no end.

I am tired. And that makes me sad, because when I placed my feet in my mommy boots way back when, it was with the promise that I would do whatever I needed to do to provide my child with the life he deserves. That I would love him unconditionally and forever, and that I would be proud of him and me and all the accomplishments we shared along the way. Right now, I am not proud of either of us. I don't feel as if I can love unconditioanlly. My heart has hardened, and love seems a bit too overdone. I don't even have the desire to give any more, to provide him with a good life, when all he does is turn it around and abuse my gift. When is enough is enough? When do you just throw up your hands and decide something is a lost cause? When do you finally know that you cannot mold someone to be his best, and that he may never choose to do it on his own? When does feeling defeated truly become being defeated?

I feel defeated. And I am scared that my feeling is coming slowly to a reality. My heart is slowing its beat. My mind is ready to explode. And my body is frail and in pain. Defeat is just aroudn the corner.



It is cold! Very cold, and snowy. A little winter wonderland complete with fluffy layers of crisp, white snow. Absolutely beautiful as I look out my back window, watching it cover the plants and ground completely in a thick blanket of cushiony softness. Not just a dusting, but a complete snowy world, probably 5 inches deep. Since I have lived in Europe, I have missed the snow. It used to be that by the end of winter I was so sick of seeing snow and being cold, of the dangerous driving and wet floors from pulling off snow-covered boots, from trying to find lost mittens and collecting scarves and hats where I went. But it is something I have missed, having just little dustings that bring gray skies and filthy mud-covered streets, perils for cars and children walking to school, but without that added fun of a true snowstorm. A covering of snow where you can't wait to don hats, scarves, mittens and boots and jump into piles of snow, make a snow angel or have a snowball fight. Where you know your face will turn pink with cold, you'll be complaining of frozen toes, but it's all okay cuz you also know that once you've had your snowy fun you'll head back into the house for a hot chocolate with melty-marshmallows and warm up under a blanket on the couch watching a film and feeling all cozy from the cold, crisp air mixed with the comfort of the inside heating and steam rising from your mug. Mmmmm, winter perfection, that cozy feeling.

The boys and I woke to this winter wonderland, and while Kaeden leaped outside to create snowballs to throw at mama, Jari was more hesitant to partake in the goodness of this white world. "My shoes will be all wet. The snow comes over my shoes. It is cold. I don't like the snow." All the while walking on tiptoes through our footprints in the snow trying not to get covered. However, by lunchtime, his tune had changed, and when walking home for lunch I asked if he'd like to help mama make a snowman, he was more than a little enthusiastic. We got right down to business, making our snowballs for his body and head, then added a carrot nose and leaf eyes and a tomato mouth. And while putting on the finishing touches, my tentative son began giggling as he threw snowballs at mama. We laughed and played and chased each other around the yard in it's winter glory, fully enjoying this cold and snowy experience, one which Jari has never known to exist. It was like stepping abck in time to my own childhood, hours of outdoor snow fun, making igloos, playing Fox and Geese, skiing and ice skating. It was wonder, and I saw that on my son's face as well. My only regret was that Kaeden wasn't here to share in our fun, as snow is a favorite of his, and by the time he arrived home from school it was already dark and we couldn't enjoy it fully.

Jari and I went into the house, pulled off our wet shoes (HE refuses boots), left a trail of mittens, hats and scarves as we entered the warmth of our home. "You want a hot chocolate with melty-marshmallows to warm up?" I asked my little guy. "YUM! Melty-marshmallows...mmmmmmm" he replied licking his lips with a smile on his face. And we sat chatting to Papa about our adventures drinking our cup of cozy, our cheeks still cold from the winter, but our hearts warm with the thrill of a day of snow and fun.