Pardon me while I brag a bit

Caution: this post contains shameless and excessive grandparent bragging.

Last week we went to Peanut’s school for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Now, normally, non-eduction types don’t voluntarily attend these ceremonies…unless given the heads up that their child is one of the recipients.

A little background info: Peanut started a new school this year after moving into their renovated house in August. She was filled with all the anxiety an 8 year old can feel about walking into the unknown. Peanut is not a fan of change and this was a major one in her young life. Slowly, she came out of her shell, made friends and did very well academically. Her teacher was a perfect match for what she needed this year.

Throughout the year, Peanut was recognized for a reading challenge where she read more than 600 pages in a week’s time. Last week, she was chosen as one of the Students of the 4th Quarter for academic excellence. She was also chosen to participate in a second grade STEM program.

 

So that’s the back story. Now, we’re sitting in the awards ceremony listening to all the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers announce their selections for various academic awards…..and Peanut’s name is not one of them. Okay, perhaps she’ll be recognized for Citizenship, Art, Music or PE? Nope. I was beginning to think there’d been a mistake.

I scan the program to see if I missed a category but the only one left is something called the Glory of Missouri. This is a proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in participating schools, each student representing one of 14 virtues; Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity, Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity. Peanut’s award was for Knowledge. The virtues were engraved in the House of Representative Chamber between 1922 and 1924 when the capitol building was rebuilt due to a fire.

Surely not.

But I would have been surely incorrect! As her name was called to receive the award for Knowledge, it was one of those elusive Joy moments I’m trying to find in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. I honestly didn’t see this one coming. Her teacher said there was no question whose name she would be submitting.

Knowledge
Qualifications:  The student qualified for the Knowledge virtue is one whom exemplifies this definition.  The student who receives recognition for this award must not only be book smart, but be aware of the state of information.

Example:  A student who possesses intellectual capabilities beyond his or her years, a student who has demonstrated aware behavior such as a potential valedictorian or a strong student leader. 

We are all so thrilled Peanut seemed to assimilate seamlessly into her new school. And, evidently, she never missed a beat when it came to the love of learning.

And…..we now have a third grader on our hands!

Might have been bad timing….or not?

Can you believe I chose “Joy” as my One Word for 2017?

Joy. Really?

When I picked this word back in January, my crystal ball was evidently malfunctioning. For who in their right mind would choose Joy knowing their husband would be facing brain surgery in a month and a half? How in the world is one to be able to pay attention to Joy in the middle of crisis and chaos?

I had good intentions choosing Joy for my word this year. Yep, those good intentions were to try to see moments of Joy around me. But it’s oh so much easier to notice Joy when life is beautifully smooth, isn’t it?

Joy seems more elusive when we’re weary with one challenge after another. It’s hard to see the Joy in life when we’re up to our eyeballs in worry and anxiety. Choose Joy is a phrase batted around by those trying to offer help for people facing hopelessness, despair and uncertainty. Like “choosing” joy is as easy as choosing which pair of shoes to wear…or choosing what to order for dinner.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34

Isn’t that the truth.

Back in January, it was so easy to write that Joy doesn’t come from a worry-free, prosperity-filled life. In a more self-reflective moment, I wrote this:

I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

Very profound if I do say so myself. I just don’t know how well I’m doing in this department while in the middle of these “circumstances,” which are hard and more than little overwhelming at times. Left on my own, I don’t feel anything has settled in my heart except mental exhaustion, much less peace and strength.

But there I go again, confusing Joy with Happiness.

I have discovered my hindsight is working fairly well. In hindsight, I’m thankful for the flu. Yes, you heard correctly. I got the flu the Sunday before we were to leave on vacay. By Thursday, Entrepreneur was showing the first signs of it. A flu headache, coupled with the headache he already was experiencing is was drove us to the ER…and to the discovery of the cancer mass.

As terrifying as this event has been, in hindsight, I see it did provide opportunities to repair some family rifts, and opened up heartfelt conversations that otherwise might not have happened. I suppose there are things to be thankful for in the middle of chaos. Focusing on being grateful can result in experiencing Joy.

So, even though 2017 has not started the way I’d hoped, I am going to try and feel those moments of Joy in the middle of chaos and confusion by focusing on being thankful and grateful.

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Thirty-six hours

Thirty-six hours.

That’s all that stood between us and our family vacation to Mexico. Luggage is packed. House sitter scheduled. Last minute cleaning in progress. We were leaving for the airport about 2am Saturday for a 6am flight….on the beach in a short 48 hours.

And then this happens.

Entrepreneur decides he needs to go to the ER. A nagging headache that had been previously dismissed as due to stress, sinus or seasonal changes took a massive turn for the worse. Coupled with nausea and the belief his head would explode, we head to the ER. Oh, and he’s got the flu.

And then this happens.

With a four hour wait ahead of us in the ER, docs send him for a CT scan to try and narrow down the cause of his headache pain. I head to teach my class at the university, thinking I’ll come back to take him home with some meds for his headache. We’ll resume the Tamiflu regimen and be good to go later on Friday.

And then this happens.

He texts me and says it’s not good and is being admitted to the hospital. “We see what looks like blood and a mass in the right temple area of the brain.” I hear phrases like aneurism and brain tumor. I hear the words I never wanted to hear again…..renal cell cancer met. I hear these words, yet they don’t really fully register.

I’m numb and my brain is in a fog. Somewhere in the cloud the word surgery is spoken.

Surgery. Brain surgery. This coming Tuesday. Valentine’s Day.

So not how I’d planned to spend that day. In four hours, we’ve gone from eagerly anticipating a relaxing tropical family vacay….to surgery for a hematoma or possible brain cancer.

All foreseeable plans cancelled. He’s admitted and taken to his room. MRIs and more scans are scheduled for the morning. But those are only to help determine how to proceed with the surgery. He’s in severe pain as we settle him in for the night. The next day will be filled with neurologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists and other medical personnel. He settles into the bed, a nurse finds him some food. Pain meds follow.

I retreat home and begin sending updates to family and friends. No sleep ensues.

So, now, it appears we’re going down this path again. A path I knew might be a possibility but never thought it would ever be this soon,,,,or in this form. Odd how two words can shake me to my core….brain surgery.

Thirty-six hours.

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Fiercely Independent Snuggle Bug

Twix monitoredYesterday, Twix turned THREE! Can you even believe it? To look at her now, you’d never know she was three weeks early. Today, she is a happy, healthy almost preschooler who teeters between fierce independence and being a big snuggle bug.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Twix is a precocious child that never ceases to amaze me. Her problem-solving skills and deductive reasoning are almost scary. As smart as Peanut is, I believe Twix just might supersede her.

She is perpetual motion from the time she hits the door at 7:50am. Except for (mercifully) her afternoon nap, our days are filled with continual conversation that mainly center around answering her “Why?” questions. She loves everything Dora and putting things together….from Legos to blocks to assembling geometric shapes into different forms. She is mastering preschool academic skills with her Leapstart book and calls it her “laptop.”

twix-3yrs

Mama (aka The Recruiter), Peanut, Nana and Papa are her world right now. We are here to support, comfort, encourage, teach and, yes, discipline during these years that have been filled with more than a few changes. From the anxious newborn nights when she slept on a bili blanket to her first toddler steps, she knew we were there. From those unsteady first steps, she’s growing into a confident preschooler with a “there-is-no-place-I-can’t-climb-to” attitude. Really, nothing is safe. And don’t even think about leaving her alone for more than…oh, about two minutes.

Memories in the making. Our home is full of them. And their significance is not lost on us, even when the days seem impossibly long waiting for The Recruiter to finish with work. Entrepreneur and I know we’re blessed to have this opportunity to be such an integral part of Peanut and Twix’s lives. Nobody knows what the future holds, so we really try and take those good and not-so-good days and file them away under the heading of “thankful for every moment”….even the bad ones! With Entrepreneur’s cancer scare in 2014, we are keenly aware of how precious these moments are. I know it sounds fatalistic, but we are praying, if cancer returns, it won’t be until all our grands are old enough to really remember just how special and strong this bond is between us.

So, Happy Birth Day Twix! May you continue to become fiercely independent, yet always have a snuggle bug heart. Nana and Papa love you to the moon….and back!

 

To the moon…and back

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…He was almost too sleepy to think anymore. Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be further than the sky.
“I love you right up to the MOON,” he said, and closed his eyes.
“Oh, that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.”That’s is very far.”

Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. 

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile,
“I love you right up to the moon-AND BACK.”

~Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney

My third quote for the 3 Quote Challenge is more of a passage from a well-loved children’s book titled Guess How Much I Love You. And last month’s super moon was more than happy to help me out with this one.

Guess how much I love you?….in the literal sense of the book it’s a conversation between a child and a parent; a question and answer to reinforce the bond that happens between those that genuinely care for each other.

But what does loving someone to the moon and back really mean? The distance between the earth and moon is almost 500,000 miles. If I wanted to really convey my love, wouldn’t I say I love them “to infinity and beyond”? Yeah, I could and it would probably more accurately represent my feelings.

And why to the moon and not the sun or stars or other planets? Seems a bit short-sighted.

It does until you really stop and think about it. The closest planet to our earthly home, the moon has always been romanticized and the subject of deep mystery and intrigue. Waxing and waning…new and full…the moon’s cycles represent eternity and an endless cycle of life. She lights up the sky, yet not by her own power….but great power she has upon ocean tides that can wield unparalleled force in nature.

And to a wee one who doesn’t understand the logical or statistical nuances of the distance to the moon, “to the moon” is an unimaginable distance to travel.

So the phrase now takes on a new meaning….I love you more than you can possibly imagine, with great power, and endlessly for my whole life!

Mystery solved.

The value of a moment

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Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
~Dr. Seuss

Wow. Talk about a huge FAIL. Carol challenged me to a 3 Quote Challenge back in November. I got one in on Nov. 22 and then………oops. So, here is my second quote post. In my defense, I did mention I probably wouldn’t post consecutive days. 🙂

These two shots capture why I drive everyone insane taking photos. Entrepreneur rolls his eyes and others drag their feet when I mention “family photo time.” But let them gripe and complain. I think it’s important to capture as much as possible as often as possible. Most of those complaining are under the age of 35, so they haven’t hit that time in their life when looking back is just as important as looking ahead.

Precious memories. That’s what looking back provides. And that’s all they are now….memories. So often, we’re so caught up in life’s stresses and interruptions that we fail to really take in those fleeting moments. Photos capture those times when we, perhaps, were too busy to notice or care.

It’s only when your children are grown and gone that photos from their childhood take on a newfound importance.

It’s only when your spouse is no longer with you that those photos become cherished memories of a life together.

It’s only when you’ve had to say goodbye to those that now wait at the Rainbow Bridge that you realize how special those muddy paws were on your clean floor.

No, we rarely realize the value of a moment until it’s past and all that remains is a memory.

So, as we all enter the holiday season…get those cameras ready!

Month in photos: July (aka: the Twix edition)

July 2016

Peanut was gone for summer visitation at her dad’s for the entire month of July so she is conspicuously absent in these photos. But Twix had a great July. From the pool to shucking and eating corn on the cob to playdates at the park, she didn’t want for entertainment.

True to form, July flew by with barely a blink of an eye. The temps turned off HOT with heat indices around 110F and the humidity so thick you could almost see the steam rising out of the ground. Because of all the rain we had in June, we rigged up wires running the length of the corn rows; effectively “sandwiching” the stalks between the wires to hold them up until the corn matured. We salvaged a fair amount of corn on the cob to eat for summer dinners. I’ve frozen 13 quarts, which isn’t going to be enough for winter, but it’s better than nothing. I’m going on 17 quarts of green beans canned and tucked away in the pantry plus another 9 pints that I pickled for The Recruiter. More fresh beans are in the frig for summer meals. Okra is coming fast and furious. I swear, you could stand in the garden and watch the stuff grow right before your eyes. Tomatoes got off to a rocky start but are ripening faster than they can be eaten.

All in all, the garden has been a success this year…but it’s been almost impossible to keep up with it this year along with all the work being done at The Recruiter’s new house. Reno continues with new paint, trim and floors. The kitchen has new appliances and some minor reconfiguration of a few cabinets.

Peanut came home yesterday and we’re all so thankful she’s back safe and sound. Just in time to get ready for school! She’s not too happy about missing out on most of the garden corn, but perhaps picking the thousands of cherry tomatoes that are ready will appease her this week. That….and some time in the pool with Papa.

I hope your month was full of summer fun.