I’m so behind on decorating the house for Fall / Halloween. I cleaned up the patio this week and added a few new plants and some candles, to add a bit of light in the evening, as the days are getting shorter.
I have many more plans to decorate the exterior though. The weather forecast looks promising, so I’m ready to start sanding our bench and add a coat of fresh paint tomorrow. And we will definitely be buying big pumpkins next week to decorate the front of our garden shed. My mom also gave me a small patio table she was about to get rid of. I just need to sand it down and give it a new color. I can’t wait to share the final results!
Emery turned 3 months old this week! He’s becoming so tall. I’ve started putting away his newborn clothes, which I need to finish this weekend. We’ve already gone through several sizes at a pretty ridiculous pace. Right now, he’s wearing 6 to 9 months clothes! 😱
His eyes have become a lighter shade of blue. I can’t tell if they will become lighter in the next few months, or if this is his definite color. Time will tell!
He laughs so much these days! I admit I don’t always know what he seems to find so funny. 😂 I wish he’d let me in on the joke. lol
One of this past month’s milestones includes babbling to his toys. Haha! He literally had a one hour long conversation with his blankie on Wednesday, which then exhausted him to the point of falling right asleep in the end. Another one of his new favorite occupations is watching cartoons. Gert sat him up in front of his laptop one day and played an episode of Pingu on youtube. It grabbed his attention instantly, and he’s been loving it ever since!
I started creating Youtube playlists for him and I stream them on our TV. One of his favorites is the “Laugh & Learn” series, on the Fisher Price youtube channel. He especially loves the episode “Let’s go to the farm”, which never fails to make him laugh! 😄
And we finally put a “baby on board” sticker on the car! Pretty sure we have the coolest one in Belgium, for those who know which movie this is from. 😂
My sweet Sam, two years already since you left us. We’re at this point now where our sense of time is getting distorted. In a way, it feels like an eternity ago since I was taking my weekly pregnancy pictures and putting together the nursery, full of excitement. Yet those two years escaped through our fingers in the blink of an eye. And as that moment when I held my perfect little boy is distancing itself further and further from the present that I’m in, my heart still aches like it was yesterday. Forever broken. I picked up the pieces little by little, and I’m getting there slowly. But it will never be intact again. Fractured, at best. Most likely forever incomplete.
Today, Sam would be celebrating his second birthday. We’d be having cake this afternoon, decorating the house with balloons, handing presents and taking happy pictures. Our birthday boy would be going to kindergarten with his brand new little backpack and his lunchbox, in which I would have secretly added a few surprise treats for his special day. He would be so big already. I would proudly make him sit on the couch and prep Emery next to him so I could take a beautiful picture of my two boys. But alas, this reality will never be.
Today, instead, we took Emery with us to decorate Sam’s headstone. It’s a terrible thing when your child’s birthday is a sad date. I remember last year – his first birthday – being particularly hard, yet healing in away. Once I passed the one year milestone, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I had gone through the grief and trauma like a warrior, and proudly concluded: “I survived”. I felt like the rest of the road would be going up from that point on, instead of going down. And it did. Things only got better afterwards. But only to a certain point. I feel like I will never get all the way up that giant mountain where I once happily stood. There’s only so far up I can go after having lost my little boy. I’m not at my maximum yet; there is still a bit of a way to go. But life will never be like before. Even our wedding memories are tainted with the loss of Sam. We were so excited to start a family when we got married. We couldn’t wait for our first little one. It’s all we talked about during our honeymoon. I was looking at our pictures from Aruba the other day, and I felt something sad about them. It’s almost like Sam was already there in a way. We were so ready for him.
Last year, I was so emotional that I completely failed to come up with something nice to put on his grave. I spent weeks trying to come up with the perfect flowers, the perfect stuffed animal. My mind felt so chaotic that I didn’t even manage to make any decision about it in the end. And I remember feeling so frustrated with myself as we stood there in front of him with nothing nearly as special as I had hoped to bring him on his very first birthday in Heaven. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that this is nothing like me. I’m the decision maker in most situations, and everyone around me usually leans on my strength and sense of practicality. So to be this indecisive and then failing to produce any result is completely out of my character. That’s when you know something is really wrong with me.
This year, I feel like I’ve got my head back on my shoulders somewhat. The ideas occurred to me naturally. I put a few pretty things together and improved the little angel Gert’s aunt placed on Sam’s grave when he was buried. The angel’s blonde hair, which matched Sam’s, had completely faded under the sun. I gave it a fresh coat of paint. I added a beautiful “2” on his brown teddy bear, which I take back home regularly to wash.
(I removed the last name digitally, for obvious reasons.)
Today, Sam’s stone looked pretty and that made me happy. Happy second birthday in Heaven, sweet Sam. We miss you so much and think about you every day. 💕
Last month, I spent several weeks looking for bargains to update my Fall-Winter wardrobe. I found some exceptionally good deals. One of them is this coat from Forever21:
It was originally priced at 50€. I got it for 15€! The only thing I didn’t like about it were the buttons. And as per my mom’s wise words: “You can always judge clothing by the quality of the buttons.” And, you know, if my mom says it, then surely it must be true! So the brown plastic buttons had to go. After a quick search on etsy.com, I found two different types of metal buttons, which I thought might work.
I wasn’t quite sure which of the two would look the best. At first I thought maybe the more elaborate one with the fleur-de-lis on it. But it turns out it blends too much with the tweed fabric, making it hardly visible from a distance.
So I ended up choosing the plain copper buttons. And since they came in a pack of six (for only 3.68€ total – wow), I went ahead and added two extra ones at the collar.
And now of course I’m still not sure about it! Hah! With or without the collar buttons? Or perhaps darker buttons would make for a nicer contrast after all? Aaargh! I’m such a woman sometimes when I can’t make up my mind about silly details. 😱
I can’t believe it’s been 15 years already. I’m sure everyone who’s old enough to remember that day, still knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when the news broke. I don’t remember much about my own activities during other catastrophic events throughout the world. But this one I do. That’s how you know how significant something truly is. When even 15 years later, you can still remember it all like it was yesterday.
Coincidentally, I ended up living in Manhattan for a short while in 2007. You could tell that even six years later, it was still very present in everyone’s mind. I subrented an apartment in the upper East side, right near Lexington Avenue. The apartment was being leased by an eccentric Jewish woman, who somehow decided to trust me with her entire furnished pad, including her little dog, which I agreed to take care of during her short-term move to Israel for half a year. It was a good deal for us both. I got a great discount on the rent of a fully furnished place, and in exchange, she had someone to house- and dog-sit; which was no trouble at all for me, since I had my own dog to walk anyway. One day, I came back from walking Jack and Zuki, and started talking to the doorman at the entry of the apartment building. We somehow got to the topic of 9/11. He told me that the apartment right above mine belonged to a man at the time, who worked in the North tower. He didn’t come home that day. They lost several residents in that apartment building. You could tell he still had a hard time processing it all. As I laid in bed that night, I remember staring at the ceiling, thinking about the apartment right above me. That man I didn’t know and never will. How empty and eerie his apartment must have been the night after the attack. I imagined the phone ringing in the dark, from friends and family trying to reach him, still hoping for an answer at that point.
I decided to plan a break in my scheduled tasks the next day, and visit ground zero.
I had never been to the lower part of Manhattan before. So I tried to guess my way around a bit, not knowing exactly which corners to turn. But all of a sudden, you could feel it. I hadn’t even turned the last corner yet, I couldn’t see how close I was. But I could feel it. There was a very particular vibe lingering. And as I turned the last street corner, there it was … like a painful open wound.
Strangely, I remember a friend of mine mentioning that same heavy vibe he felt when he visited it 5 years later or so. It was still a massive construction site when I saw it, all still down to ground level. You couldn’t make out any old structural outline, nor see any new foundation of what was to come. As I walked around the whole place, I noticed this little church across the street and decided to check it out. It turns out it was a key place during that day, as well as the following months. Something they never talk about here on European TV.
Saint Paul’s Chapel, also known as “the little chapel that stood” is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan. This is actually the back of it. The chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12-hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others.
The church survived without even a broken window.
Church history declares it was spared by a miracle sycamore on the northwest corner of the property that was hit by debris. The tree’s root has been preserved in a bronze memorial by sculptor Steve Tobin.