A beautiful week

Sep 19

A beautiful week

I’m back in the chemo chair today, and praying over the treatment, my loved ones, and plans for the future.  I am neutropenic, which means that I am immuno-compromised and susceptible to illness.  Nonetheless, life goes on.  In forty-eight hours last week I went to the pediatric office twice: once for each kid.  Greta came home sick from school on Tuesday with strep throat, and subsequently spent the first 24-hours (the contagious window) with Chief Sister and the Rozzinator.  Maren has been to the pediatrician four times in six weeks, and on two rounds of different antibiotics.  She’s not sick enough to miss activities or school, but she has a troublesome cough and lacks some of the skip in her step.  I took her in to rule out walking pneumonia (per our third visit to the pediatrian two weeks ago), and her doctor thinks her current symptoms are just another virus.  Please pray that we can *all* get healthy and stay healthy!

Greta missed the bus for the first time.  Maren was late to school for the first time.  Supermom (not)!

Meanwhile as we crisscross our town I realize I have moved from the “rugrats underfoot” stage of parenting to the “eat in the car” phase of parenting.  There are more glamorous ways to put it, but I think you get the idea.  I love the phase we are in.

We drive around town rocking out to our “sing-along” playlist, and Greta wants to know why Adele sings about green beans.  Maren and I dissolved into giggles as Greta belted out “green bean” in place of the real words.  We are part of a big volleyball carpool that treks around our town, and Brad has earned the “fun car” title because of his playlist in his car.  All of the fourth graders think he is the fun one, so obviously I need to up my musical game.

Greta is full of gumption.  She’ll say, “I want a strawberry, please.”

“No, G.  No snacks before mealtime.”

“Well, I just want one bite of a strawberry.  Please,” eyelashes batting away.

Leveling my mom gaze at her: “Nope.”

“Well, I just want to give you a kiss.”

And I simultaneously inwardly laugh and cry as she flounces over and plants a big kiss on me: she wants to “win” every conversation, and I struggle with which battles to pick, and I think she’s hilarious.  Greta is a study in dualities.

One day last week, she emerged from the basement a few minutes before bus time with a gift bag for her teacher.  Inside was one handmade egg maraca (made by SuperGramma circa 2009), a large satin hair bow, a love note, and a pad of paper from a board game with a scribble on it.  In essence, the bag was filled with kid crap.  After a few attempts at redirecting, I chose not to pick that battle, and Greta carried it to school to give to her teacher.  Lucky for all of us, her teacher has a great sense of humor and gets Greta.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see her open that “gift”.  I need to keep a pile of five dollar gift cards ready so that when Greta does this again (because I’m sure she will), I can at least tuck a real treasure in with the crap.

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In these stories about Greta, her fortitude and genuine love for her people spills over.  She’s a gift-er, like me.  She’s naturally confident, like Brad.  We just try to keep helping her channel her mojo in good pursuits.

Maren had picture day last week, and she’s always attentive to her appearance, particularly on picture day.  It’s the first year she did not (under any circumstances) want me to do her hair, so she went in with loose natural bouncy curls and a single clip.  (I am actually *really good* at fancy hair, so my talent went unutilized this morning, but I am happy to see her competency, independence and confidence growing in herself in this way.)

As we snuggled in my bed the morning before school she pointed out her perceived flaws (?!) for the first time and said “I don’t think I’ll look good in my picture.”  I quickly affirmed her beauty and told her the secret to having a gorgeous smile and a great picture: right before the photographer snaps the photo, shout inside your head “I am BEAUTIFUL!” and you will glow for the camera.  My baldness was an asset here: she was quick to call me beautiful, and came to agree that it’s not our physical characteristics that make us beautiful.  I think we processed through the conversation pretty thoroughly and she broadened her definition of beauty into a healthy perspective for her age.

But still, my heart ached a bit that she’s evaluating beauty with a critical eye at age nine.  I hope she latches on to her beauty and runs with it for all of her days.  After all, if she doesn’t believe she is beautiful, she’ll never believe anyone who tells her she is, or worse, she will cling to someone who tells her she is without believing it herself.  I cant wait for her to spontaneously say (and mean) “I am beautiful”.  It’s one of the best gifts one can give oneself.

She came home on picture day, and I asked her what she was thinking when they snapped the shot.  I was hoping for a vivid “I am beautiful” declaration, but instead she told me about the weird prop chair they had to stand with.  Oh well.  We are no longer tip-toeing into the big conversations with Maren; she’s mature.  She hears every conversation and wants to know the context for every story.  I love to watch her ____________ (fill in the blank); it’s just so fun to watch her move through the world.  She’s choosing her own pursuits these days and it is a thrill to watch her navigate an emotional challenge with her team at school, get frustrated with the inconsistency of her overhand serve in volleyball, twirl with excitement over her Halloween costume plans, ease with practicing piano, advocating for what she thinks is right, solving a problem (or pwobwem), and strategically defining her Maren-ness.


I love this stage with her; she is smart, strategic, courageous, witty, and contemplative.  Oh, and beautiful; she’s gorgeous, actually.




  1. Beautiful family!! I pray *all* of you get and stay healthy!
    Love the “Rozzinator”!!

  2. Your virtue is being “strategic” about how to care for your family. The generousity in your heart of letting Chief Sister and I look after Greta, so that you you could continue to be all wonderful “Super Mom” without getting sick, is a brave, unselfish choice. I know it hurt you to acknowledge this, but “you made a good decision, Jen”

  3. Catherine Butterworth /

    What a trill it was to see you and the girls a few weeks ago. They are a credit to both you and Brad. The 4th generation of Powell women (that I’ve known) are indeed beautiful.

  4. Sweet!! Praying for you.

  5. Carolyn /

    Beautiful post and we’re praying for you!

  6. Julie Hines /

    I loved your story about Greta giving her teacher the special gifts… That made me laugh out loud! Praying your family stays healthy.

  7. Lisa Smith /

    I can’t say enough how much I enjoy you enjoying motherhood. You are one of the best. xo

  8. Diana Gibson /

    Totally agree with the Rozzinator on sharing Greta with them as being a good healthy decision, for everyone. They had Greta’s special lifeview for a time whilst you had special time to appreciate G when she returned home!!
    Powe-r/ll on Super Mom.

  9. I am certain that I have never known a more BEAUTIFUL family than the Mathie/Anderson family. Truly…insight and out. You set the bar very high!!

  10. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, it sure was good to see you at our meeting place.. you had just finished your blogging.. You are looking great, and love your positive attitude and smile…Your girls are awesome, you are doing a great job.. Prayers continue for you and your family… take care and keep up your blogging.. love it.

  11. Christin /

    Gosh, I had goosebumps through that whole blog…. And tears by the end. I don’t even know why exactly. Something about how purposeful you are with the important stuff with your girls. Maybe about the vision you have for what you want them to learn? You’re truly guiding them to a goal… I learn from you constantly.

  12. I’m so touched… thrilled, really, to read that there are girls being raised by such a fabulous mother and her village, too. What wise, strong women they will become because of your intentional, loving parenting.