A day of smiles

Dec 05

Today I slept in.  So did the girls.  (It was a fun weekend, obviously.)  I woke up Maren first by climbing into her bed and snuggling her.  (It’s the only way she doesn’t whine when I wake her up.)  I mitigated her need-to-rush anxiety by telling her I would drive her to school so we have twelve extra minutes.  Next I woke up Greta who was already wiggling in her bed.  She asked me if I would help her pick out her clothes, and I said, “Sure.  What are you interested in today?” because when Greta ask for help, she actually wants to make all the decisions by verbally processing at someone.

She slouched on the floor and rolled over to look at me, “Probably some throw up clothes,” was her unexpected reply.

At that point I scrutinized her, took note of her bloodshot eyes, snuffles, and sad face, and decided it was a no-school-for-Greta kinda day.  Throw up clothes?  Sheesh.  She must have been feeling pretty wimpy.  I gave Greta her softest sweatpants, panda slippers, and and oversized t-shirt, and she was ready for the day.  Since it is chemo day, I’m immediately counting the childcare options (of which there are several — we are blessed).  I made a mental note to call her school.  (And then I forgot the mental note and the school secretary called me mid-morning.  Oops.  Mom fail.  Lucky the secretaries at Greta’s school are highly skilled in the grace-giving department.)

I sent Maren off for the day with smiles and some treasures for her teachers.  (Maren and Greta are both big-hearted gifters.)  I dropped Greta off at Phenom’s house with a smile, happy for them to spend their first whole day together since the summertime.

I went through Starbucks as a treat for myself–a combination of no-time-to-make-coffee-in-our-rush-t0-get-out-the-door and pumping myself up for chemo.  To my surprise and delight, the woman in front of me paid for my drink.  I paid for the person’s drink behind me, and I’ve been wondering all day how long the pay-it-forward-in-the-Starbucks-drive-thru-line lasted.  I hope it lasted all day.  It’s the first time I’ve ever been on the receiving end of that particular act of kindness and it had me smiling all day.

I joined a mix of old and new friends for lunch out–a rarity for me these days; one of them binge-read my blog this month (and frankly I am chuckling at that whole concept), one I’ve known since high school, and one was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer this fall and this was her first outing since starting chemo.  We talked a lot about living with cancer at lunch.  We laughed more than we cried.  Two of them split the bill to pay for lunch for two of us.  Everywhere I turn, there are kind and wonderful people who seek to make the world better.  These are my people, and I hope I do the same when they reflect on me.

Due to the level of excellent conversation, I looked at my phone/clock at 1:56 and literally ran out of the restaurant to my 2:00 chemo appointment.  Oops (again).  Luckily, I got yet more grace from my medical team, and the drip juju was running strong today and I finished my treatment before the close of business hours.

I left chemo and went to watch Maren’s volleyball practice.  On the way home from the volleyball carpool, I listened to happy fourth graders chatting about fourth grade things in the backseat and smiled to myself.  I kept my eyes out for Christmas light displays and was cheered by the twinkling lights.  I heard about how Maren’s science teacher made up lyrics about erosion and weathering, set it to the tune of All About That Bass, and taught the fourth graders to sing the new version of the song today.  It’s catchy, and it has been running through my head all night.  Bring on that science test: not only is Maren ready, I am too!

We came home to hear Greta shrieking with glee as Brad tickled her.  (Book shout out: The Tickle Monster!)  The laughter continued as our quick cleaner today accidentally put Greta’s unicorn pajama onesie into Maren’s pajama bin, and Maren thought it was new-for-her and put it on, only to discover it’s way too short.  She kept it on anyway–and asked Santa to bring her one(!), and we giggled that Greta would be maaaaad if she saw her!

Today was full of unexpected kindnesses, reflective smiles, and gifts given to me by almost everyone I interacted with as the day progressed.

Tonight I pray that the chemo marinates in the cancer cells and spares the healthy cells, and I pray for today’s smiles to ripple on.


  1. Jane Powell /

    Delightful! I remember one of the boys’ science teachers performing a rock & roll song with guitar, singing ‘air takes up SPACE!’ A great way to make the lesson stick!
    When I read this blog’s title, I thought Ian (Smiley) would rate a mention, but we know why it was a fun weekend. Love ya Jen. Love your writing. I can see your blog published one day, complete with Quentin Blake – type illustrations! For everyone to binge-read xx

  2. Jen,
    I will pray that, too.

  3. The JOY of The Lord is your strength!!!! Thank you God! Much love.

  4. Marlayne Skeens /

    Ripple on girl!!!!! ????

  5. Nancy Zwolinski /

    Darling girl, your words never fail to bless me!

  6. Aunt Annie /

    Loved hearing about your blessed day! Hope Greta feels better soon! XXOO

  7. 1) I completely confess to binge-reading your blog every few weeks to catch up. Gotta get on that subscribe thing- you have such a fiercely positive outlook on all parts of your life, and I feel inspired each time I read.

    2) Ahh! I’m Maren’s science teacher and can’t tell you how much it made me smile to hear that the girls were singing our song 🙂 It’s definitely one that can get stuck in your head but I’m so glad they enjoyed it!

    You have such a gift for noticing and chronicling the little happinesses of each day. I am so grateful that you write and that you shared your blog with Maren’s teachers this year!