Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why the Joplin tornadoes?

Joplin Tornado from Jay Pelzer on Vimeo.

Have you ever watched the horror on the nightly news and identified? This was the first time, the weekend after Isabelle passed away, that we looked at an international disaster and got it. These people were FINE one day. And the next: loss of an unimaginable amount. They too were blindsided. They too lost people they love. Many lost even more. We knew it was the people of Joplin that we wanted to help first and foremost in honor of our daughter's birthday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Bubbles for Isabelle plan

Roses called "Isabella's Renaissance" given to us as a gift that we planted in her honor.

June 24 to July 24 -Post your bubbles picture and we will donate an Aden + Anais baby blanket to a child in need.

Description ::
Isabelle was going to turn 3 years old on the 24th of July, and in honor of her birthday we are organizing a ‘pay it forward’ project that we invite you to join. Isabelle’s sudden and tragic death happened just days before the devastating tornados hit Missouri. Even with the enormous grief of losing our daughter, the natural disaster that affected so many reminded us: no one is ever prepared to lose someone they love. Loss is a universal feeling.

Love and generosity are also universal feelings, both of which we’ve experienced in abundance from loving friends like you. And in honor of Isabelle, her sparkling spirit and for all of the incredible ways she has made the world a more beautiful place, we want to do something for her birthday that she would have loved.

General Information ::
STEP 1: Go blow some bubbles! (An absolute favorite pastime of our daughter.) Laugh, hug, love, be grateful. And then…
STEP 2: Grab your phone or camera and snap a picture.
STEP 3. Post it here, directly to the ‘Bubbles for Isabelle’ facebook page. Add your city, state & country as well!
THEN… We will orchestrate an Aden + Anais* baby blanket to be delivered to children in need, starting with those displaced by the devastating tornados in the Midwest.

You post a picture of bubbles and we send a baby blanket to a baby or child in need.

Mission ::
Our challenge is to reach the goal of 300 blankets for children and babies in need. We have contacted Aden + Anais*, and to our amazement, they have generously offered to donate the first 100 blankets to our cause. After which, we will purchase the following 200 and anything beyond that we will do our best to make happen. If the goal is reached, we still encourage participation, as additional pictures will only emphasize that it is the little moments in life that make life so beautiful.

Please post all pictures on or before what would have been Isabelle’s 3rd birthday, July 24. Join us in celebrating our daughter, whose life was far too short, but whose life has touched so many and who has taught us to make every moment count.

Aden + Anais ::
Aden + Anais baby blankets are beautifully made and versatile, which make them perfect for any baby or child. Out of all of the many baby blankets out there, we’ve specifically chosen them for one reason only; because they were Isabelle’s favorite.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


We were asked to describe Isabelle recently for purposes of a portrait painting, and below is what we offered.

:: Happy - of all things we hold dear, we know that she was happy every. day. of her life.  That she was showered with love and had the capacity to feel it, accept it and return it with the force that we gave it. 

:: Affectionate - the best cuddle-er around. She always wanted you close and in range of sight. And lord knows she wanted nothing to do with sleeping in her own bed by herself. She would climb into our bed at night and fall asleep with her head on my arm and her legs over her daddy's belly. Just loved the physical closeness.  Even at 2+ years, she preferred sitting in the Bugaboo facing you versus facing forward. 

:: Sparking - this word sums her up perfectly.  Absolutely perfectly.

:: Stunningly beautiful inside and out - she could take our breath away. I know we're her parents, but watching her play among peers...she would illuminate. She was just so 'stand out.' From her beauty to her sparkling personality - both of which were immense - she was always drawing people to her.

:: Silly and sweet - she could be such a goof, always finding ways to make us laugh.  A lover of the silly, that Isabelle of ours. 

:: Strong willed - her grandparents say, "she earned it honest." 

:: Incredibly bright - again, I know we're her parents. She was so happy and bright, but in a truly engaged way. Even at 2 she was always checked in to what was going on. Very astute and socially aware for her age, with the language skills to articulate it.

:: Dominant personality - it was Isabelle's world and we just lived in it! She was strong and in charge always knew what she wanted. Many of her toddler friends were about 7 months older, which is something when you're one and two years old. But she was neck in neck (or beyond) with their developmental skills, especially that of language, vocabulary & cognitive. People couldn't help but chuckle, catching glances of her holding the hands of her (older) friends in the dominant position, leading them around to where she wanted to go, despite them being physically bigger than her.

:: Tough - she was never the kind of child to slow down when she was feeling unwell. Most kids happily curl up on the sofa watching Barney when they aren't feeling well and that was never Isabelle. However poorly she was feeling, she would never complain of pain or want to slow down. It was always go go go. Always wanting to make, do or play with something.

This is a sliver of who Isabelle was, as there simply isn't the capacity to encapsulate who she was in the form of a list.  Above all things, she was Isabelle.  One of kind and special, sparkling, and smiling every minute of her life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Celebration of life

2 years and 299 days is far too short of a life.  In that time that Isabelle was with us, she introduced us to parenthood and patiently allowed us to "learn" with her.  She brought us immeasurable joy and every day with Isabelle - no doubt - was a day with smiles.  She was warm and affectionate, happy and bright.  And for all of those reasons, we simply could not think of holding a traditional funeral.

For us, there wasn't a spec of darkness, sadness, or even finality that we traditionally associate with a funeral, associated with Isabelle.  It just didn't feel right, regardless of religious association.  What did feel like the best approach, was to celebrate her life.  To watch home videos of Isabelle's life in the company of those very dear friends and family whom we love and lean on.  To share funny stories of Isabelle through our tears and release our love for her in the form of each person letting go of pink and white balloons.  In the face of the unimaginable, this is approach to her passing was the only thing that seemed...right.  Let me be clear though - nothing feels right when you are memorializing your child.  Nothing.  But you must do it your way, and your way only.

In the end, it was almost overwhelming to be sitting there thinking, "how is this my life?"  It was almost overwhelming to accept such grand amounts of love and support.  In the end, it was surreal.  That day, those days.  But in the end, there was a double rainbow.  A rare, but strong, double rainbow that put the most beautiful, magical touch to the day honoring the most beautiful, magical little girl. 


The kids and I traveled from Holland to the midwest, arriving without incident on Saturday night.  Isabelle enjoyed the plane ride and Sebastian tolerated the limited capacity to move for much of the trans-Atlantic flight.  We spent the first couple of days seeing family, playing with the new toys Isabelle & Sebastian's grandparents surprised them with, and dealing with jetlag.

On day 3 we were feeling a bit run down, a bit jet lagged.  Upon waking from their afternoon nap, I noticed that Isabelle was feeling warm so I gave her a bit of fever-reducing children's medicine.  I ran a bath and threw in all of the bath toys so Isabelle could also cool down naturally in addition to the fever reducing medicine.  She and Sebastian loved bath time, so this was a good afternoon activity for the jet lagged. 

We spent the rest of the day taking it easy and for their dinner, I cooked homemade chicken noodle soup with tiny pastas.  They love it and I knew it would go down well, but it's also said that chicken noodle soup really does help to heal a person who is under the weather.  Overall, nothing seemed out of sorts and I was encouraged to see Isabelle eating considering she didn't feel the best and was jetlagged.

After dinner we did the regular routine; bath time, book time then bed time.  Isabelle was feeling warm again so after her bath we gave her another dose of fever reducing medicine, which was safely distanced from her first dose.  She was appearing exhausted so I took her in to the room first to put her down.  We sat down next to her bed and I started to read her favorite book, Skunka Tanka, to her and she was asleep before I got to the second page.  I kissed her.  I cuddled her.  I admired the luxury of her falling asleep in my arms which hadn't happened in ages.  And then I laid her down on her bed.

A few minutes later - appox 8 minutes - I went in and found her.  She wasn't laying in an "Isabelle" position (as a parent, you just know their favorite positions to sleep in - and this wasn't one of them).  I immediately checked on her and the minutes, hours and days that followed are by far the worst moments of my life.