Nov 27

Today I wished: I wish that I had kept up with some type of baby book for M & G.  I want to write their baby-hoods down (in words and pictures) while I still remember them.  Lucky for me, it’s not too late.  They are still babes.  I re-discovered my passion for story-telling this year.  One photobook (storybook?) each for Christmas; I can make that wish happen, can’t I? I wish for no more cancer.  For anyone.  Ever. I wish that my house had white lights and wreaths on every window.  My dad used to go all out with Christmas lights; I think our house was even in the newspaper once.  Christmas lights are magical.  However, Brad and I never seem to find the budget money for exterior Christmas decor.  (Though we do have two trees with lights that flank the front door–we plan on adding a bit every year for the next forever.)   I want my house to look cozy because I feel cozy in it. I wish I could buy big things and make problems go away for Christmas.  I wish I could rub away the stress, offer an opportunity, annoint health, and tell the future.  Since my meager budget and eclectic skills are rather limited, I wish instead that my people would feel the love that comes at them through trinkets in pretty boxes this year.  I love gifts and love gifting even more.  It’s a language of love. I wish we could still afford the cleaning lady (aka: fairy godmother) to come clean my house.  But really Brad and I are too practical to have a cleaning lady now that I am not a chemo patient.  But still.  Fairy godmother, I miss you. I wish my computer would miraculously stop giving me the rainbow wheel of (im)patience, and the web-loading shudder of gloom, and the flickering screen of uh-oh-that’s-not-good.  I also wish that when I bring it to the Apple Store this week (a desperate attempt for a free fix), that the Genius would say, “Congratulations, it is your lucky day: here is your new MacBook.”  And then s/he would hand me a spiffy new computer that doesn’t rumble, whirr, or threaten to lift off when it...

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Maren: fivinuhhaf

Nov 21

Maren’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Heart, began calling the children (the five-year-olds) writers the very first week of school.  Some, like Maren, could write their own name, but others were still practicing.  Yet, Mrs. Heart called them writers: she called out their identity, and the twenty-four little people in the class are rising to the challenge and becoming writers.  It is fascinating to watch through the occasional classroom glimpse, the parent-teacher conference, and the litany of papers that come home in the daily folder. Maren is writing: she has embraced the idea of sounding out words instead of worrying about spelling.  She writes us letters.  She labels her pictures.  She is writing books.  I’m proud to say, “I love my Mommy” is a common theme in her work.  Her friends, her family, her church, her school: this is what makes up her world. I need to remember this sweet development: her pride in her work, the thrill that she can read back to us what she has written, and the confidence she has in her ability to be understood.  She is no longer tied to the rules of spelling or the perfectionism that was looming this summer.  Mistakes are okay.  Mistakes don’t make it wrong.  We learn from mistakes. My favorite part of the writing is the phonetic spelling.  The title of this post is Maren: “five and a half,” taken from one of Maren’s recent works wherein she celebrated that she is halfway to age six.  She is angry with me that I dared allow her to be born after her closest friends.  It is appalling to her that she did not come out of my tummy first.  What am I supposed to do besides tee hee these lamentations? She is an independent little thing.  She prefers to take her own shower, unless I let her have a “play bath” with Greta, which means that there is ample time to dawdle.  She can make her own peanut butter and Nutella sandwich for lunch.  When on playdates, she makes the parent-in-charge call/text me to check and see if she can have a dessert/treat when offered; she feels she must have permission from me to indulge.  (Who is this kid?)  She is...

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G, today. Just because.

Nov 20

Today Greta wore her light up shoes.  She struts around like she owns the town.  Since the shoes light up her path, it does seem like she owns the town. She came with me to a follow-up appointment with Dr. Razzle: we pushed elevator buttons, the nurses gave her cookies, we saw the “shiss” (fish) tank, and she melted hearts.  Mine included.  Dr. Razzle looked at Greta and back to me and said, “See, this is why we have to keep you (Jen) here for a really, really long time.”  Yes, Dr. Razzle.  YES, indeed. She knows what our car looks like and yells, “Der it is!” when she sees it in the parking lot.  When I buckle her in to her carseat, she inevitably points at “Manen’s” (Maren’s) empty carseat and we have to talk about where Maren is and when we will see her again.  As we drive around she yells (yells), “Home!” when we near our house.  “Store!” when we pull into a parking lot.  She’s observant.  It reminds me of how Maren used to yell, “Nugget store!” every time we passed McDonalds.  Nugget store still makes me laugh. I taught her how to make a grouchy face, and how to make a happy face.  She will make them on command.  Scrunched up fake angry faces on eighteen-month-olds are adorable.  (I did this with Maren, too.  It started when Maren was throwing a fit, and this alternating happy/grouchy tactic would distract her.  It works with Greta too.) She knows how to take off her own shoes and put them in the closet when we get home.  She loves to throw things in the trash (oddly, she only does this with actual trash–I am lucky.)  She likes to get the mail, and then read the mail on the family room floor; she’s got a thing for catalogues. She wants to eat yogurt and goldfish crackers.  I also got her to eat apple slices, grapes, six bites of puree peas, peanut butter crackers, a bowl of applesauce and baby cereal, three bites of baby mystery puree, and Cheerios.  She is such a weird eater.  She’s picky with both flavor and texture and won’t try anything new.  Oy. She...

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Prayers of thanksgiving

Nov 18

Thanksgiving week.  It’s a great holiday season.  And it is a season–all on it’s own. I love the deep inhalation of gratitude and rest that comes at the end of November.  When I was in school, I needed Thanksgiving break.  (I needed it when I was in school as a student, and possibly even more when I was in school as a high school teacher–haha!) This year I’m breathing in my NED cancer-free status.  It is still sinking in.  I am so thankful that I am ready to enjoy this Thanksgiving, that I am getting stronger and healthier by the day.  Aside from my NED maintenance appointments, I am back to my full-time mom job.  I love it.  M, G, and I are all adjusting.  Maren is testing me, and Greta wants to be held all.the.time.  But I love these little people and these little problems.  Life is good. Brad and I have been on two dates in November.  I think we’d been on two dates in all of 2012 until this month.  He loves me, I love him.  Romantic schmoopiness is not my style, but he is my knight and I’m the princess.  Fairy tales are real.  Who knew? I often pray prayers of thanksgiving.  I pray a lot as I go about my day.  Every time I remember, I pray that my cancer stays away.  Sometimes I pray it six hundred times a day, and sometimes I pray it only twice: first thing when I wake up, and last thing when I go to sleep.  I pray for lots of other things, too, but my day starts and ends with some version of Lord, thank you for this day.  Please banish all of the ugly from my body, fill my heart with love, my head with peace.  In Jesus’...

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Our little gift tradition

Nov 17

I’ve had several friends start asking: what are you doing for the holidays this year?  We, as with most young families, are finding our footing on how we are going to celebrate our past traditions while making meaningful holiday memories for our own young families. Last year, I wrote up a small article about how Brad and I do our gift-giving within our immediate family.  I thought I would share it here.  The tradition has forced us to be thoughtful and intentional with “stuff” we buy at Christmastime.  I love gifts.  Gifts are a big love-language for me.  I love to give them, I love to get them–what can I say?  It’s always the thought behind it that I appreciate.  Here’s the article I wrote and shared with a few people last year: Christmas Somethings In 2010, my family changed the way we approached Christmas.  Our little family was just a trio: our daughter, the first grandchild on both sides, and the two of us.  My husband and I both have large, generous, loving extended families. We both have warm, full traditions (that continue today) sharing Christmas with our loved ones.  Our parents, now grandparents to our children, continue to bless us with Christmas gifts each year, and also delight in gifting to our children.  Separately, we share in his family’s traditions and my family’s traditions.  It is easy, fun and joy-filled to continue to share in these extended family celebrations and to enjoy alongside them the pleasure of gift-giving and receiving.  And yet we found ourselves wanting to carve out a little bit of Christmas for ourselves.  It was with incredulity that we asked each other: “more Christmas?”  Our craving wasn’t about stuff, or extravagance, or a dollar amount, or any ‘thing.’  We wanted a deep breath, a moment; we wanted memories for us and for our children. This wish is a burden shared by almost every young family we know. And so the Christmas Somethings were born.  Each year, my husband and I have decided that we will give gifts to each other and to our children that follows this theme: Something you want, something you need, something special and something to read.   Want: It can be anything you want, as...

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