I prefer saltwater

Jan 09

It’s been long enough since my last blog post that I’m starting to get real-life phone calls, texts, and questions about how I’m doing.

Not to worry, I’ve mostly just been busy.  Thanks for the love!

I’ve had some yin and yang over the past few weeks.  My last blog post talked about The Gift Quest 2017, where I sought and secured a Christmas item for Maren; the exchange for said item (after it traveled via airplane from Washington DC in my friend’s niece’s suitcase) took place Christmas Eve in the UDF parking lot by my house.

Christmas itself was awesome.  Maren — whose excitement is usually measured by the depth of her dimple rather than emotive displays — jumped up and down and twirled and fell on the ground with excitement when she opened her longed-for treasure.  I got her reaction on video and it will be a precious stand-out moment of her childhood.  So sweet.  Greta opened a special treasure too, and her reaction was no less adorable.  Their sisterly bond as they play together is fantastic.  I felt loved and known by the thoughtful gifts I received and I so enjoyed it all.

One of my favorite revelations was Greta’s cries of, “I knew you’d get it!  I knew you’d get it Maren!” as Maren opened her surprise gift.  Apparently Maren confided in Greta weeks and weeks ago that this was the thing she really wanted, but made Greta promise not to tell.  Greta didn’t tell — she kept her sister promise — but she said she prayed, and prayed, and prayed Maren would get it.  Not to worry — in true five-year-old form, she also prayed for her own much-wished for gift.  Greta never lacked confidence that her wishes would come true; Greta never lacks confidence.  It is really sweet to me how the girls clearly have their own relationship that is separate from us; I’m so glad they have each other.

Right away after Christmas, we were set to jettison to Virginia to spend the week between Christmas and New Year celebrating with Brad’s family.  I went down (hard) with the flu on Christmas night and literally slept on the bathroom floor.  Our 7:00am departure time came and went, and by 10:00am Brad and I had to have the ‘Should we cancel?  Should we go without Jen?  Should we delay/shorten our already-short trip?’ conversation.  Not knowing when I would recover (and I was sick-sick-SICK), we made the boo-hoo decision to send the family without me.  I cried as they left, and I spent a VERY quiet Monday to Friday alone, recovering, and re-grouping.  I was super-bummed to miss out on the family time.  We FaceTimed quite a bit, and Maren made a Jen-on-a-stick to carry around so I’m in some of the pictures–ha!  I rested, organized the storage room, and other non-exciting things.

The family arrived home on Friday, and then on New Year’s Eve — our 13th wedding anniversary — woo hoo — we flew south for two nights in Miami before boarding my sister’s cruise ship.  In the airport I found a wallet and went through it in effort to find the owner; I was thrilled to be able to give it back to its owner intact: a check, a lot of American cash, a lot of Canadian cash, a bunch of credit cards, etc.  (PSA: clean out your wallet when you go on vacation people, but leave a paper with “if found cell number” in it!)

Brad, the girls, and I spent a great forty-eight hours in the Coconut Grove area; our collective favorite moment was eating cheesecake in the hotel room together.  We are a pretty rocking foursome, if I do say so myself.

Baby Sister, the glassblower who makes Happy Thought Bubbles, works onboard one of three Celebrity cruise ships that have hot glass shops on board for three months at a time.  They do two-hour shows on the top deck of the ship: one is the gaffer, one is the assistant, and one is on the microphone explaining, entertaining, and educating the audience.  It’s awesome to see her in her element (we go to every show!), and we have discovered we love cruising which was a bit of a surprise.  The family time was wonderful; I really enjoy seeing everyone relaxed and their best selves on vacation.  We made a lot of special memories.

With the way the chemo schedule fell, I got to be on vacation during my off-off-week.  My current chemo schedule is that I have treatment for three weeks in a row, and then an off week.  My vacation fell on what should have been the start of a new cycle so I got an extra week off chemo last week; it means I felt the best I have felt in months and months–it made for a really nice bonus element to the trip for me.  My body and my brain are both grateful for the reprieve in dealing with the chemo side effects.

I’m literally sitting in the chemo chair now starting my next cycle, so I’m also happy to be back at it thwacking some cancer today.  Booyah, right?  What else can we say?

After a midnight arrival last night from the cruise, everyone woke up and made it to school and work on time.  I ran around this morning getting laundry started, unpacking suitcases, and using the last of my off-off-week mojo to get jobs done before I left.  A friend signed up to do a Quick Clean, so I decided to leave out our Christmas boxes in case she wanted to tackle taking down the tree.  When I went downstairs to find the Christmas bin, my feet squished on the carpet.  Our sump pump malfunctioned while we were gone and I walked in to three inches of standing water in my storage area.  Not awesome.  

My friend arrived just as I was pulling furniture away and finding tools to reattach the pipe that had come loose.  She stood with me as I explained what was happening, and watched as the sump pump kicked on and — instead of pumping water through a pipe to outside — spewed water like a sprinkler all over the shelves/bins/floor of my storage room.  We laughed because it’s always better to laugh than cry.  I sat down in the cold slosh and reattached the pipe (I hope) and hopefully it will hold until Brad gets home from work and can check my work, start shop-vacuuming all the water, and peeling back the carpet.  Is it safe to say we hit the ground running back to real life after vacation?

Real life is messy and disheveled.  It’s not meant to be fair or perfect.  I control how I react to all things that happen.  If I can delight someone I will: surprising my nine-year-old and returning a stranger’s wallet makes me feel joy that is only possible when I reach outside myself.  The flip side is true too: holding the hand of a chemo friend who gets a bad scan, not pouting over missing Christmas with Brad’s family, or joking with Brad on the phone as we discuss next steps to deal with basement sogginess as he heads into an already-pressed work week and me into chemo reinforces that I have to choose how to spend my mental energy.  I choose to spend it focused on all the good things — and there are so many!

However, as I review my past seventy-two hours, I think it is safe to say that I prefer saltwater to basement water!  Toes-in-the-ocean Jen is a favorite version of myself.


  1. Kelly /

    Oh Jen – Thank you for your gift of perspective. I carry it with me everyday of my life. I have never met you in person, but you, my stranger friend, have taught me some of the most important life lessons……so thankful for you.

  2. Malia Millard /

    Continued prayers…I’ve been thinking/wondering about you too! And thank you for the much needed reminder. “I control how I react to all things that happen…I control how I react to all things that happen…I control how I react to all things that happen”. 🙂 Thankfully my girls are gracious in the forgiveness department.

  3. Karin /

    Saltwater is DEFINITELY better! Love hearing things from your perspective my friend! You have shown us again how you “do today well”! Much love ❤

  4. Here’s to saltwater, holidays, and humor!
    Go, Chemo GO and do your stuff!

  5. Marlayne /

    Jen ~ You did “Do Today Well” 🙂 #MixedBlessings ~ If you hadn’t stayed back to get well, You might NOT have been able to give the owner his wallet back or Enjoy & Make Many More Memories 🙂 You are Awesome & so are your Families & Close Friends to help 🙂 Big Hugs & Continued Prayers 🙂

  6. "Another Jen" /

    I tried to go on a mama-getaway spa weekend this past weekend – to give my introvert self a chance to recharge after a long slog through 2016. I kid you not – the spa burned down while I was there. I was not in any immediate danger (my room was in another building thankfully) so honestly all I could do was laugh. You’re so right – the only things in life that we can at all control are our reactions.

    Continuing to send love your way from the frigid north. <3

  7. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, You have a heart of gold..A great since of humor, and a lot of love for Brad, your girls, family and friends..Keep kicking butt…take care

  8. Oh my goodness. Flooding again! You handled it well. It might be time to tile your whole house?

  9. I’m the one you’re talking about for the wallet! Thank you again Jen, it would have been a pain in the $%?& and my vacations would have been pretty bad!

    Happy to see there is still honnest people in 2016. Yup, it was the last day of 2016!

    Thank you Jen…