Our happy spring

May 02

I can’t decide if I haven’t written because there’s nothing going on, or whether I haven’t written because there’s so much going on.

Our “goings on” is all good stuff.

Greta is playing her first ever season of soccer.  It’s highly adorable.  She wavers between hating the sport and not wanting to play ever again, and then beaming while she proclaims her love for the game.  If you know Greta, you do not find this surprising.  She cried at her first practice because, “The kids kept stealing my ball.  They are so mean.”  A month later, at our game on Saturday (where Brad, Maren and I sat huddled under an umbrella), we told Greta we would buy her ice cream if she scored a goal.  Two goals later, and that girl got her ice cream.  As of today, she thinks soccer is pretty cool.

Maren is playing her fourth season of volleyball.  She can anticipate, move to the ball, and get herself in the right position to play the ball (most of the time.)  Her serves are more likely to be in and playable rather than misses or shanks.  She’s a confident leader in this arena as she has more relative experience than most other girls in the gym.  She has close friends on the team, some old, some new, and it is really adorable to see her develop as part of a true “team”.  Brad and I both view the team experiences as formative in our childhood, so we enjoy watching that element grow.

Maren’s birthday was last week.  She’s nine.  We let her plan the meals around her birthday events because that is a tradition that my family does.  For her birthday dinner, she chose campfire sandwiches with her friends.  (Brad has camping irons for cooking in campfires.)  He cooked them in our little fire pit on the back patio with perfect weather.  Maren’s recipe: buttered bread (like grilled cheese) with mozzarella, pepperoni, and marinara sauce in the middle.  Pizzamwiches!  It was really fun, and it really was so Maren.  She’s an awesome kid.  She loves stuffed animals still, which I feel like I need to mention because I can’t imagine she will love them as she does now for too much longer.  Her favorite birthday gift has been a jump rope.  Her first day she could get six jumps.  Yesterday she got twenty-eight and had three separate blood-drawing wipe outs while practicing.  I was thrilled at her tenacity to get a new personal best despite actual pain.  It has been fun to teach and encourage her; I see the day coming all-too-soon when she will readily out-jump me!

Greta’s birthday is coming; next time, I will definitely have my younger child’s birthday fall two weeks before my older child’s birthday because these two weeks are a loooong wait for poor G!  She is excited to be five, and planning for kindergarten in the fall.  She’s reading; Brad has been working with her on that–go SuperDad.  She can now read most three-letter words, and is willing to sound out anything you put in front of her.  Her gumption is still unmatched.  She knows there are rules: no gum unless you ask mom, for example.  So, when I find her with gum, I get a very well-versed (lots of practice — LOL) apology and a shrug as if to say, “bummer, I got caught” more than actual remorse.  As long as we channel her energy for good (remember the soccer goal motivation?!), that girl can do anything once she decides she’s all in!  She loves to help and serve and do chores, which I find a bit baffling, and managing Greta while she “helps” is a job in and of itself!

The girls are delightful together.  Yesterday they asked if they could go for a bike ride after lunch.  Together they got themselves all ready and set off for an hour by themselves.  (They were within sight range the whole time, but in the green space near our home.)  They stopped and checked out the wildlife in the pond, played at the park, and did several laps at the park.  Maren patiently helped Greta with her helmet each of the (many) times Greta took it off.  Greta wore her pink boots she got at Christmas and was a hot sweaty mess because she has to pedal so fast to keep up with Maren.  The teamwork and sisterhood is beautiful to watch.

I am continuing to explore the boundaries of my activity and exertion level.  I get to “FED UP” points where I am so tired of “doing nothing and feeling crappy” that I just do it–whatever “it” might be.  Last weekend, I mowed the lawn during one of those moments.  It feels good to do something so normal in one sense, but there is also an energy consequence in the aftermath.  I miss the exhaustion that follows hard work.  It’s a weird thing to miss.

Basically, I choose to burn a disproportionate amount of energy on occasion because I just want to and don’t care about the consequences.

I still struggle every single time I accept a meal, or help with cleaning/laundry.  I CAN do it, but I am choosing to spend my energy on different things.  It feel selfish and decadent and like I’m valuing my time more than the helpers’ time.  BUT, I hear over and over, the helpers want to do it, they want me to be free to use my energy — even my ridiculous-consequences-be-damned-energy-bursts — for whatever I want, and not for the “shoulds” in my life.  I’m so grateful.  So, so grateful.

I spend as little time as possible thinking about “how I am” which is ironic, I think, because the people who know me best are frequently asked, “How is Jen?” with way-more-than-average frequency.  I’m well, and continuing my mission and loving my people.  There’s a great analogy/story that somebody else wrote that is a great explanation of a chronic condition like mine.  Here is the link to it if you are interested: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

The lists, emails, notes, and piles on my desk are laughable if they didn’t induce stress when I think about them.  Maybe this will be the week I dive into that?  Sorry if this applies to you; I feel like it applies to many if not most people I know at this point.  Let’s focus on the laughter rather than stress, mmmkay?  Grace, always grace.

As I write this, I’m finished in the chemo chair.  I’m praying that the chemo does it’s job in my body, and that this blog finds you well as you read it wherever you are.  My parents sent me a picture this week of their toes in the sand, and that was a great thing.  I love it when family and friends do that.  Their happy mojo from their happy space makes me happy too.


  1. Kristin /

    You rock Jen! 🙂

  2. Marlayne Skeens /

    Jen ~
    You are so Funny & Loving ~ What a Wonderful Person, Wife & Mother ~ Your view of life is so on ~ We should all take a page from your book & say, it’s okay to nap, it’s okay if someone wants to help ~ Life truly is 1 day @ a time ~ Today is Today = ENJOY :-)We are all puzzle pieces of life ~ Huge Hugs, Marlayne 🙂

  3. Margaret McDonald /

    When you describe the girls playing their sports it is exactly as your Mum described you and your sisters playing sports years ago! Wonderful!!

  4. Shari /

    Lovely! It’s so nice to read about you and your wonderful family. Cheers to and for you all!

  5. annie /

    Just finished reading The Spoon Theory. Such a relatable explanation about living with a chronic condition; I am glad you shared this. It gives a little needed insight into how one might make choices based on energy levels and the consequences of spending that energy. There is so much we can take for granted when we feel mostly well most of the time.

    Here in Seattle we continue to hold you and your family up in prayer. I hope you can feel the gentle breeze of God’s Spirit from over here. 🙂