It’s so not even the 31st yet…

Oct 28

It’s so not even the 31st yet…

Whew!  What a day.  It was epic and fun. First: A face-painting-breakfast-party at our house for five little faces.  (One dragonfly and four butterflies.)  I bought a face paint kit in 2011 for $19.99 with a 40% coupon from Michaels, and it is one of the the best investments I’ve ever made.  It came with (good) paints, different sized brushes, a tiny-but-very-helpful tutorial book, and I’ve never looked back.  I’ve bought more colors to round out our color wheel of choices, but the paints themselves last forever.  Need face paint?  Boom.  I’ve got that. Greta got on her bus, and I delivered the other five to school.  They were (thirty seconds) late, and all got pink tardy slips.  Ooooops.  Can’t win them all, right?  (Sorry to the other moms and the school staff!) Second: Maren’s class Halloween party.  I spent roughly thirty dollars on new Bingo supplies (which we will definitely re-use) and used some things we already owned.  I clickity-clicked everything I needed to my house via Amazon Prime (best thing ever) on Tuesday.  The game was great; you would have thought I was tossing these fourth-graders five dollar bills.  They were SO engaged, SO fun, and SO enthusiastic.  I highly recommend real Bingo for fourth grade (and up) party games.  Maren rolled the bingo cage and was full of dimpled smiles. Third: Greta’s class party.  I texted my friends on Monday: “…does anyone have a Halloween/fall bingo game I can borrow for Friday?”  And then I got two immediate ‘yeah-I’ve-got-that!’ replies.  By the time I got home from chemo on Monday, I had a perfect-for-kindergarten pictoral bingo game waiting for me on my kitchen counter.  She even brought me candy corn to use as the bingo markers.  Lest I ever need reminding: ye are only as strong as strong as ye village.  Greta was the most excited kid at her party (which is saying something in a room full of twenty-five five-year-olds at their first school party).  I had the other volunteer helpers rolling with my verbal descriptions of clip art:  their teacher the leaf princess, a scarecrow in a blue situation, and a combine (farm equipment for those of you who don’t know) that I may have first...

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What a week

Oct 27

Wow… it’s been a weird week.  I’ve been sick.  Chemo sick (normal for me, though this drug regimen is not predictable from day-to-day or week-to-week) plus some other run-of-the-mill infection.  I had a fever for the first time in a long while, and — dang — I’d forgotten that shivering-under-ten-blankets-feeling that accompanies a fever.  I’ve been nearly bedridden except for a few windows of stuff I really wanted to do, and a brief stint on Wednesday morning when I thought I was better.  Days have gone by now without me doing the basic and essentials: no laundry, no dishes, no pick-up, lions-and-tigers-and-bears, oh my! Ironically, last week I was processing with some friends and said that I thought I could/should be stewarding my time a bit better.  (On the whole, I feel I do my days well, but there are things — important things — that I keep putting off.)  This week I have had no choice but to be absolutely present in my immediate needs.  Late this afternoon I began to feel like I am doing a bit better, so hopefully that trend continues.  My chemo break comes on Monday, so that is well-timed.  (I’m on a three-weeks-on, one-week-off cycle.) Brad, in his usual awesome fashion, rearranged his week to be more present and did so while high-fiving me for doing “my job” (resting) well.  I love that he not only supports me, but champions me.  Does the subtlety and the awesomeness of that difference come across?  I hope so because it is one of the reasons I know Brad and I are meant to be together: no one else could love me as well as he does.  Maren stepped up this week too: she ran her first load of laundry when I forgot to wash her volleyball uniform between games, and she made dinner for herself and Greta so I could stay in bed for an extra half-hour.  Greta, too, is supportive: she has a sweet way of patting my head/face and giving me oh-s0-heartfelt five-year-old well-wishes when I am not at the top of my game.  My mom dropped of dinner, my mother-in-law sent a well-timed gift card to go out for dinner, and the village as...

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Our life is good

Oct 24

Our life is good

Last week, on Chemo Eve, Brad found me in the driveway at dusk frantically pulling out my long dead (sorry neighbors) summer plants from my outdoor pots and winterizing the pots.  The kids were running amok, the car wasn’t unloaded from our Wisconsin road trip to visit the grandparents, and yet I was out wrangling outdoor messes.  Brad looked at me like I was three shades of crazy to have chosen that particular time to do that task. “This is my time!” I explained, “Tomorrow is Chemo Day, so this eve is the best I’m going to feel for another week.”  I feel an urge to get things done. Last night — Chemo Eve again — in another zealous burst I signed up to bring a game to BOTH Maren’s and Greta’s Halloween parties at their schools on Friday.  Ambitious much, Jen? (I really, really enjoy Halloween.) The choice to don my supermom cape for the class parties is why I’m so thankful for the treatment I’m on: yes, I feel cruddy a lot, but I am also able to do most of the mom stuff that I want to do.  I recognize it is a very great blessing to be able to be the fun mom for my kids.  And they were both wiggle-y with excitement when I told them this morning.  Those wiggles, man.  They do much to restore my soul. On a personal level, I’m dealing with more loss.  It’s hard to explain how I feel, and hard to know how to answer those fleeting “how are you?’s” in passing as I move through my community.  In an effort to be concise: I behave normally as often as possible; I thrive as Jen, as Brad’s wife, as Mom to Maren and Greta.  I am my best Jen a lot.  On the flip side, the exhaustion is so great that at times I crawl up the stairs.  It’s humbling to write that.  It’s humbling to experience it.  I fight to view myself as the fierce, energetic, relational, dynamic person I am at my core, even when I am at my weakest.  I credit my faith and blessing from God that my perspective is positive, righteous and good as I navigate...

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Inner Light and Arkadiance

Oct 19

I’m big on calling out truths in the people around me.  If you have a dream or a goal and we’re friends, don’t tell me unless you want me to ask you about it.  Often.  My friends know this and I’m received often with equal parts gratitude and chagrin.  I can’t help it. For years one friend has had a dream to take her passion for science and fashion and deliver it to the world in the form of wellness and beauty.  She began working on this in earnest around the time that I was diagnosed.  Thus, each time we get together for the past few years, I ask her about her Ami-project… where it’s going, how she’s thinking about it, and what she needs.  She processes with me and invited me to be on her unofficial board early on in the process.  All of this exists in the same space where we watch our children go on an animal safari in the pool, shop for something wow, drink (really good) tea, walk and talk.  We are very like-minded in the big picture, and she brings out the best in me.  I admire her greatly. With the half-stay-at-home parent, half-cancer-patient lifestyle I’ve been leading for the past several years, it has been SO GOOD for me to “help” her on this development.  She invited me to her conference room where I sat with other intelligent professionals and gave feedback about products, marketing, consumer appeal.  (That day alone stands out as it is such a departure from my norm!)  I sampled products and gave honest reviews.  Her science-grounded background was fundamental for me as I — along a similar timeline — was evaluating how to best care for my cancer-ravaged body; she started me on supplements (at no cost to me) that have ended up being game-changers.  Since words are my gifting, we had working sessions where I drew the precise language she was looking for out of her. She launched Arkadiance, her beauty and wellness line, last month and I am so proud of her that her dream became her reality.  I’m tickled that I’m in Arkadiance too, as are many of her other close family and friends.  Arkadiance is the...

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Stories from an imperfect parent

Oct 10

Five-year-olds really are pretty awesome. Two weeks ago(ish), Greta comes home with her un-eaten snack. As I pull it out of her backpack, I’m surprised; they have snack time every day. It’s apple season, and she had Honeycrisp apple slices in her bag for her snack.  Sale season for Honeycrisp apples is a thing in our house. Me: “G, why didn’t you eat your apples?” G: “Mom! Someone in my class is allergic to apples! I CAN’T take apples for snack.” Me: “Really?!” I’m surprised, but my college roommate was allergic to melon and we have a friend allergic to watermelon, so maybe apple allergies are a thing too. ::The next day.:: Me: As I pull a baggie of un-eaten grapes out of her backpack, “Greta! What’s this?! You didn’t eat your grapes?” G: “Mom!” She looks me right in the eye, “Someone is allergic to grapes; no grapes are allowed.” Me: Eyebrow arches as I have a lightbulb moment. “Does this mean you ate something from your teacher’s emergency snack basket?” G: Big grin, “Yep!  Goldfish crackers!” Me:  “What about yesterday?  Did you have Goldfish from the basket?” G:  “Nope!  I had animal crackers from the basket yesterday,” she is grinning. Me: “I’m on to you sister,” in my serious mom voice while trying to keep a straight face.  “I don’t think anyone is allergic to grapes. I also don’t think anyone is allergic to apples.” I watch her face fall as I speak, “I do think you really like your teacher’s snack basket.” Greta is aghast that I caught on.  She is upset that she should eat fruit when there are better options available. Oh, the indignation. We proceed to have a lengthy conversation about lying and making good choices and doing the right thing and waste and healthy food and the cost of food and starving children and privilege and socioeconomics and all the things. She still thinks she’s right. I don’t know what to do. I’ve started putting her goldfish/pretzels/crackers as her snack and putting the fruit in her lunch. She still eats the same stuff, but in a different order. Does this mean she won? I think I know why her teacher requested supplements to the snack basket....

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