Through the grainy monitors, I see them

Jan 29

I’m sitting at dance class, watching my girls in their classes on the monitors. Maren is the least wiggly kid in her hip hop class.  She repeats the precise movements of her teacher and practices as many times as she can in the allotted time so she can get it just right.  What she lacks in rhythm, she’ll inevitably make up up for with determination.  I can see her dimple flashing most of the time, even though the monitor is of grainy quality.  Her eyes follow the off-screen teacher, and I can see that Maren could probably repeat the entire forty-five minute class for me in her bedroom later tonight with the tenacity in which she is paying attention.  She is so determined to get it right.  With her work ethic, her respect, her smiles, she’s already got it all right.  The pre-class tears about stage anxiety over the recital that is four months away are on a back burner now.  It’s that dimple that makes my mama-heart beat.  Teasing out that dimple will be one of the greatest pleasures in this life. Greta is in a class with five dots on the floor.  Each girl is assigned a dot, and Greta is on dot number three.  As the other girls count off with the teacher “5, 6, 7, 8” and perform corresponding moves involving toe-pointing and flourishes (ballet is not my area of expertise…), Greta does a signature G twirl and then hides her face in her hands until the music/counting stops.  Five times in a row, I watch this happen.  It’s like a bizarre live worksheet of “Which of these does not belong?”  She’s enthusiastic about her moves.  Her interest in the teacher and blending in with her peers is minimal to nonexistent.  I thought it got a bit better when they changed from ballet shoes to tap shoes.  At least in the tap shoes she jumps/hops/marches constantly because she’s thrilled with the volume she can personally generate.  Again, she’s completely aloof to the beat, rhythm and choreography demonstrated by everyone else in the room, but at least they are  all noisy.  I’m already looking forward to this recital; Greta guarantees it will be entertaining. And yes...

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My shimmy girl

Jan 28

Tonight after dinner, Greta ran over to me (because Greta doesn’t ever walk; she runs). She said, “Mom!  I’m ready for my snuggie jammies,” as she did a little shimmy shake. (Greta ends the majority of her declarative sentences with a little shimmy shake.  I’m pretty sure that I have never done even one little shimmy shake in my entire life, so this is such a mystery to me.) I said, “Okay, G.  I’ll be ready in a few minutes to help you.” “‘Kay Mom!” as she ran off again. A few minutes later, she came running back into the room.  She is wearing her favorite-of-the-day monkey jammies, she’s taken out her ponytail, she proclaims she’s ready for night-nights as she — you guessed it — does a little shimmy shake.  It’s the first time I can remember that she’s taken the initiative and figured out all those sleeves and leg holes and other tricky elements of pajamas without calling for help. Next, the two of us climbed up into Maren’s top bunk, where Greta has been sleeping for the past two weeks, and she picks up her pillow by the top corners and places it precisely in the middle of the bed, at a slight angle, optimal for story-reading.  She says, “Just a minute Mom, I have to get my bed all organized.”  She painstakingly positions her night-night items of the evening just so.  Her favorite blankie is squarely across her pillow so that her cheek is on it as she sleeps.  Her doll Emily (named after her best friend’s doll Emily) is snuggled to her left with her own softy blankie against her cheek.  The little pink elephant and Belle, both from outings with Chief Sister, are snuggled to her right, along with her Dreamlight and a sippie cup of water.  I watched her sorting and her precision with a little bit of awe, marveling that a little girl could grow up so much in one evening. The lining up and the organizing and the pleasure that she derived from such things was so very mature for my little three-year-old, and also so very Maren.  Maren, I recognize, was very much a rough-and-tumble toddler like Greta was,...

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Our winter

Jan 27

I cut my own hair on Friday.  My 35-year-old self feels sneaky about this as it’s against the rules to to cut your own hair.  My last cut was the day after I got out of the hospital in December; a lovely stranger friend volunteered and came over to my house to de-mullet me.  A month more of hair-growing and I needed another trim at the nape of my neck.  I used my sewing scissors.  It was (very) messy.  When Maren got home from school I asked her to take a look and see if it needed trimming.  She gave it a passing glance, said, “Looks good to me Mom!”, and handed the scissors back.  I’m pretty sure that if I offer the scissors to seven-year-old Greta in four years, she won’t pass up the chance to style me Greta-style!  I’m 3-for-3 in going from bald to thick red curly/wavy hair in my lifetime, so the texture definitely helps hide my hair hack.  I also think it is possible to say that I now have a “short hair cut” rather than a “pixie cut”… whatever–it’s just nice to have hair in the winter! People often ask how I’m doing physically… there are random things that I deal with; at 10 months since my last chemo treatment, it’s not really chemo side effects as much as it is chemo fall out. I have what I call a witch’s toenail… it keeps falling off; I think I’ve lost it at least five times.  Now that it is growing in (again) it still doesn’t look healthy.  I’m trying to coax it back to health in the winter, and may have to band-aid it again for summer 2015 as I did summer 2014. My skin is super dry; I had my estrogen-producing ovaries taken out last winter, and I’m on medication that further squashes my estrogen production, so I lose skin elasticity and skin health with that.  Keeping lotion on/with me at all times is the only maintenance required.  Itchiness is the first symptom, but I’ve quickly learned that if I itch a spot, it turns very painful quickly; moisturizing is the way to go. Last week I managed to crank out several...

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Catching up

Jan 23

Last week I was feeling sluggish and reluctant to get back into Normal Routines.  I was/am still recovering from my lung surgery, and going upstairs was enough to leave me winded.  I was tired of being tired, right?  I complained to my sister and my girlfriends and my mom (ooooops, sorry about all that complaining, folks!) that I was frustrated. And then I got strep throat. All of a sudden this week, I’m feeling better (yay antibiotics), and I’m excited to get back into Normal Routines. Yet another example of how perspective makes me feel grateful. Fitness is like a mountain.  At the bottom the view is abysmal, and the first step is the hardest.  After spending a solid week in a hospital bed and heavily restricted activity since coming home, I am at the very bottom of the mountain again.  It was hard to make myself take the first step.  Thanks to some encouragement, I did though; I worked out my arms on Tuesday morning, and have been feeling the twinges of lactic acid in my chest/back/shoulders since then.  Those lactic-acid twinges actually make me think: “Yeah!  Good job muscles–I worked you out–now you are stronger!”  (I’m such a nerd.)  Yesterday I did a leg workout and my pre-op brain was the one calling the shots because my pre-op brain forgot that I’m at that wimpy fitness level right now.  Today my muscles were so sore when I got up that I could barely walk. Greta got the job of sweeping the kitchen floor today using the dustpan and little sweeper brush because I’m too sore to do it the right way.  You know it’s bad when a three-year-old’s standard of clean is acceptable.  But, after lunch with G, it will be crumb-filled again anyway, right?  She was so proud of herself for helping.  Ironically, the best cure for sore muscles is to get them moving, so that’s what I did, and I can move a bit better now.  But still, ouch.  Hi ho, hi ho, up the mountain I go.   The girls had dance last night, and they both love it.  It’s become a highlight in their week and I’m so glad we made room for...

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My dancers

Jan 07

The girls have been dancers since birth.  I love this about them. Tomorrow, they both start new dance classes. Maren’s in a hip-hop class: attire is “funky sportswear” with an emphasis on shirts that stay in place when they move and black jazz shoes.  It is testing my Cool Mom abilities to come up with the correct wardrobe for this class.  Wish me luck. Greta’s starting a combination tap and ballet class.  Thankfully, her class attire is leotards; Greta in dance class without a tutu just would not do.  Our biggest problem there is to decide which of our dozen tutus is just right.  I’m allotting 30 minutes for tomorrow’s tutu selection.  No joke. I told Maren yesterday, and she cried tears of nervousness.  What if everyone else already knows the moves?  What if she has to do something in front of an audience?  What if she’s not a good dancer? I signed her up to tease out confidence.  I knew she would be nervous.  I’m so looking forward to her satisfaction when she realizes she did it: she learned the move, the routine, the dance.  And what I’m really excited for is for this to impact her confidence to dance freestyle in her room and at dances and at weddings and at parties all throughout her future.  She doesn’t have to be good, I just want her to be free of inhibition. Freedom is perhaps the defining quality of a good dancer, is it not? I told Greta about tomorrow’s class today while we tried on selections from our secondhand dance shoes.  Maren’s hand-me-downs fit (yay!); next in line will be my very old tap shoes, from which small black bits of something may have been sloughing off and sifting into the bottom of the Used Sportswear bin.  Greta absolutely glowed with glee, and hasn’t taken off the ballet shoes all afternoon.  I’ve been commanded invited to watch no less than five dance performances in the past two hours.  She’s tip-toeing around the house in her ballet shoes like she has never walked any other way. I signed up Greta to allow her to radiate her Greta-ness.  She’s uninhibited and flaunts a wink when she knows she has...

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