A perfect mismatch

Feb 26

Greta is an enigma.  I’m a little worried about what she is going to be like as a teenager. She does not (ahem NOT) like strangers.  Even when she was a squashy three-month-old listing sideways in the shopping cart, she would never (NEVER) smile at the inevitable friendly person who came up behind us in the checkout line.  Our newly found grocery-store-checkout-friend would babble, and coo, and say “what a pretty baby,” and make faces, and Greta would simply stare. them. down.  She wouldn’t avert her eyes, she wouldn’t cry, she wouldn’t look for me.  She would stare at them with this expression that said, “What?  Are you trying to be entertaining?  Because I am bored and I couldn’t possibly be bothered to toss you so much as a gummy grin.”  It was very Eeyore of her, if you ask me.  People would look at me as if I had been rude, and I would fumble over an apology that she doesn’t like strangers. These days, Greta has her favorite people.  Some are favorites because of regularity, some are favorites because they work to charm her, and some are favorites because Greta just knows they are awesome.  She’ll spot a faraway family member in a photo and start screaming their name.  She’ll hear the word “car” and bolt for the door, while shrieking the name of every person who has ever driven her anywhere.  She’ll be bored and start demanding her people come rescue her from (god forbid) independent playtime.  She is enthusiastic about her favorites. What’s funny to me is that she still has the exact same reaction to most acquaintances and all strangers who approach her: deadpan gaze, stone cold fox, winner of the staring contest. It takes a lot to bust into Greta’s world and win her over.  Many have tried and few have succeeded.  Greta’s best friend is one such person who pursued her, and pursued her, and pursued her until she caved.  And now, I call him Greta’s best friend.  He’s her best friend because she wakes up from her nap asking for him.  When we walk Maren to the school bus twice a day, she is asking for him.  I love that Greta’s...

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Chutes and Ladders

Feb 24

Chutes and Ladders

I snapped this picture of Maren this same week last year, in February 2012.  Greta was probably napping, and I was having some one-on-one time with my favorite four-year-old.  She must have chosen the game because I never choose Chutes and Ladders.  C’mon, can any other parents relate?  It is the game that can go on for hours.  All that sliding… This average stay-at-home-and-play day was three or four weeks before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Sometimes I try to remember: what was I like before breast cancer?  Was I always so “carpe diem”?  No.  Did I treasure the little moments with my children?  Yes.  To be clear, I wasn’t perfect then, and I’m certainly not now. This photo is evidence for me.  It is evidence that I did not need cancer to recognize the beauty of my children and the privilege of my life that is right in front of me.  On this day last February, I saw Maren in her favorite pink dress, with her hair sweeping across her face, intently concentrating our game and so full of innocence that she does not even know the word cheat.  I was not recording a first, or a last, or a graduation, or a performance.  I was recording a peaceful Mommy-daughter moment so that when she asks me to tell her what she was like as a four-year-old, I will remember this game, and her serious, rule-following demeanor; I remember for both of us.  Soon, she will have her own memories that will keep, and I won’t have to do all the remembering.  A bittersweet milestone, for sure. Cancer helped me to focus, to be intentional, to write it down, to love them completely.  But before cancer, I was working pretty hard at those things too.  This photo reminds me that there is not a stark line of Before Cancer and After Cancer.  Cancer has sharpened the person I already was. I’m still me, but, honestly, I’m probably a better person after cancer: I’m kinder, I appreciate strangers, I am more bold.  So far, the rewards of these character improvements are so very sweet.  The more I step outside of myself, the more I am blessed. Life itself...

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We 7

Feb 20

This past weekend, I went away with my six college roommates.  We shared a house, two different houses actually, our junior and senior year of college.  All these years later, we still have one to two reunions per year, which is pretty amazing since we are now spread out through the Midwest, with one outlier in California, and we have complex logistics to coordinate to make it happen.  It’s been nearly twelve years since we left the invincible world of college and began our pilgrimage through adulthood.  Through the years, we’ve held hands and continued to live life together across the miles. This year, they tell me I am different; I’ve grown, I’m stronger, I take more risks, I have more dreams.  (All good things–take that cancer!) These girls came alongside me at a defining point in my life.  We bonded, we talked in the wee hours, we processed life’s mysteries and challenges, we laughed–oh, we laughed.  We simultaneously, yet separately, evolved to be Who We Are.  I can look at the thirty-four-year-old versions of my twenty-two-year-0ld friends and tell them they they are still true.  True to themselves, true to God, true to all that we believed and idolized when we were young and worry-free.  It takes more guts to be bold and grateful and hopeful and kind after twelve years of living as a grown-up.  But that’s what we are, we seven, we are bold, grateful, hopeful, and kind.  They make me give more and take less in the world–and that’s not something that comes easily. I know that no matter what comes next, they’ll be holding my hands while I do it.  And I’ll be holding...

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Six months post-chemo

Feb 14

I passed my six month chemo-versary; it’s been six months since my last chemo treatment in August.  I know you probably think I’m crazy, but I’m still somewhat nostalgic for my friend Chemo.  I have good memories of Chemo.  Today, as I try to rise and Do Today Well, I feel proud that I can look back on Chemo Days and say, “Yes, I think I did chemo well.”  It’s a private, personal victory, one that no one will ever measure or evaluate.  Well, it was a private victory until I decided to over-share on the Internet about it.   Bottom line: I had Chemo and now I’m cancer free.  As with most of life, happiness is in the journey as much as it is in the destination.  I am thankful for those months of chemo.  Deeply, deeply grateful. In the six months post-chemo, my hair has been growing; I have had two haircuts.  I have to get the sides and back trimmed while the top grows in… otherwise it gets… fluffy.  (Fluffy = not good.  Fluffy = helmet-esque.)  At the current short length, I get some serious bed head, which is unfortunate for Brad and the girls; I’ve never had a haircut where bed head was a possibility until now.  Also, hair grows s l o w l y, people.  It’s only since Brad’s last haircut that his hair is officially shorter than mine again, and it’s not like he is sporting anything remotely close to long hair, even by boy standards.  Strangers compliment my hairdo–which, this is funny, happens way more than it ever did before cancer.  I’m reflecting on my Haircuts of the Past with some trepidation.  In the meantime, I am experimenting with different hair products and spiky ‘dos.  People ask me all the time whether I am going to keep it short or grow it long, and at this point, I just have no idea.  And, to be clear, I’m pretty much still super-excited that my “problems” these days are bed-head-related.  Yes, being cancer-free gives me awesome perspective in that way. My daughters have made subconscious adaptations as a result of my cancer treatment.  I have a very sticky-outy port (technical term, obviously).  My...

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Sweet words

Feb 05

Me:  “Night night Greta, I love you.” Greta:  “I wud you Mommy.” Me:  ::melting::  Are there any sweeter words?

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