The Life of 40

Wow, it has been a long time since I have written. Every day I think, "I need to blog about this." But it just never happens. However, life has been happening. And the past number of weeks have been magnificent and good in every single way. I turned forty. I am now officially Óver The Hill' but if being over the hill means having what I have had as of late, I am happy I am here.

First, Jari and I went on our trip to London. It was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing vacations I could have imagined. I got to see my parents and my gramma, and I witnessed the reuniting of two elderly sisters whose love can be touched and made every one of my senses alive. I realized that even being far away in Europe, I have extended family fairly close by and they are all people I can turn to in times of need. They were very welcoming and hospitable and I sincerely enjoyed getting to know them more. And then, Jari and I explored London on our own for two days which was pure enjoyment from dawn til dusk with my little man. Never have I enjoyed him as much as on those two days we shared together, It was a trip I will always hold very close to my heart. When on top of the London eye, my little boy gave me a riddle to solve: "Mama" he said with two thumbs pointed in the air. "Who is somehwere here that has two thumbs and is having the vacation of a lifetime?" he asked. And as I looked at him again, he tilted his thumbs to point at himself and yelled out "ME!" And the delight in his eyes at everything surrounding him and the feeling of his hand in mine as we toured the city will be etched in my mind forever.

Party Number One: With my English family, my son, my parents and my grandmother in our little Roydon vacation house. Streamers complete with 40 decorating our little bungalow, cups of strong, hot tea, and a cake made out of muffins. A birthday Sunday traditional dinner at Morehen "Horse" restaurant complete with Knickerbocker Glory, and then a gift given to me which was like a treasured piece of heaven. A book, made of handcrafted wood boards made by my brother, a gold plaque stating 40 Years of Tera's Memories, and pages filled with photos, messgaes of love, old cards and pictures, baby announcements, awards I accomplished, and the wristband from the hospital when I was born. It was a gift that brought tears to my eyes and made the trip totally complete.

Friday evening, after our trip, Jari and I were playing Lord of the Rings on Playstation when the doorbell rang. I sent Jari downstairs to see who it was and he climbed back up telling me I needed to go down. When I opened the door, 30 people were standing there yelling Surprise and singing Happy Birthday to me, in English. The soccer club had placed the coveted door before my house, with a poem about my life and photos of me welcoming me into the 40 Club. In Belgium, it is tradition to have an old door placed in front of your home every 10 years starting at 30. This was a gift to me. It made me feel as if my life here in Belgium is complete, as if I have been welcomed here and accepted and am now óne of the club'. The poem they wrote showed me that my activities and life in Belgium are numerous when all stacked together in a poem, and that I have found my niche living in this faraway home. What my soccer friends did for me, they will never know, but it really gave me a place where I felt competely home.

Party Number Two: Soccer friends and kids running amuck playing hide and seek, adults conversing with beer and coke and bowls of chips in our humble backyard.

Saturday, breakfast with my guys complete with a vase filled with 40 red roses from my husband and gifts hidden in the yard by my son (a poem written completely by him, he also has a gift for words, and a little paper-created city) before heading off to Helmond Sport stadium for Open Day. My son goes through the soccer circuit, scoring high points. He looks good out there on the field, and my husband and I watch and cheer him on. We buy jerseys for an amazing price of €1 each worn by the players in the previous season. It's a fun afternoon, only just beginning, because my in-laws hosted a birthday dinner for me at their place. Jari and Erwin and Oma made me a fruit cake when we arrived, and we ate it up upon completion, yum! I got some gifts, the highlight being a piece of paper. Written on it was a gift certificate for a trip to Paris! Which is already reserved and arranged for a 3 day adventure this coming weekend. Wow! My sister-in-law came with reading glasses and a guide book for Paris, as well as some spending money. Have I ever said how much my in-laws mean to me, how grateful I am to them for giving me family and love and support? For making me feel special? I think I have said it many times in the past, but it remains strong to this day. They knew I wanted to visit Paris, and they are making that dream happen, for me.

Party Number Three: At oma and opa's house with Ilse and Michel, Tante Ricky and Ome Karel, Omam, Opap, and us. I arrived to find balloons and streamers decoratin the walkway to their home, along with signs stating all the reasons 40 is so great (botox, reading glasses, etc) complete with pictures of Moi! A delicious gourmet dinner, bottles of wine, and good conversation. And they did it all at my request for me. And it touched my heart.

Sunday, slept in late and woke up to get things ready. Party Number Four just around the corner, a BBQ for friends hosted by us. The weather wasn't helpful and we had to shuffle stuff around, and my husband helped to create a wonderful little BBQ world in rain-filled skies. The food was good and way too plentiful (as always), and my home was filled with friends and laughter and stories of life. I received another gift, another gift that cannot be replaced and will always touch me deeply. A photo book of my life, pictures of me growing up and now, with friends and family, me smiling and being goofy (and even a little naughty). And on those pages were also letters written to me by all these people I have crossed paths with in my life, people I have come to know and many of whom have become a second family to me. These pages filled my heart with joy. In my 40 years here on earth, I have found a good mix, a good balance, and a good basis for a wonderful life. I have been truly blessed, and from the words on those pages I have also blessed others with my presence. It is a special gift to know you have touched others lives, and this book was testament that I have. I had to put my book down to collect myself as tears filled my eyes. I am loved, oh so loved, and by so many people. What a wonderful gift.

Party Number....nope, no more parties. 40 has come and will remain til 41, and with it I have realized what a gift my life is. I am blessed, truly. Life is a party. You have to bring out the party hats and streamers and make each day alive, find that sunshine and make it glow. I think 40 has given me another new start, a place to start fresh knowing my life is complete (even tho I miss my other son who is loving every minute of his vacation in America!). Happy Birthday to me, and Thank you to all of you in it with me. Much love!