Jenster's Musings

Monday, June 30, 2008


Katie was awesome last night. Some day maybe I won't be quite so shocked when I see her singing on a stage. But until the novelty wears off I'll enjoy the, "I can't believe that's my baby" and "Where did she get that incredible voice?"

Let me back up just a little bit here. You all probably think I believe my kids to be perfect. Every time I write about them it's pretty much something positive, never anything negative. I'm not trying to show them in a false light, I just figure the negative is their story to tell and it's not my place. I may be upset with them, but I don't want to humiliate them in such a public venue.

That said, Katie is grounded. Her grounding started Saturday afternoon. Her "infraction" was telling Todd and me a falsehood last week. When the lie was revealed I had two thoughts: 1) Disappointment because, well, she lied to us; and 2) Honey, if you're going to lie make it a good one. She would have been in some trouble and probably would have received a really good scolding if she'd told the truth. But instead she lied about it and ended up grounded for a week.

I had told her she couldn't go to Youth Group on Sunday night and she was not pleased, though she is accepting everything without pouting and flouncing so she gets kudos for that. This decision didn't sit well with me because I don't think it's right to use church as a form of punishment. But she just has so much fun there and she's not supposed to have any fun right now, dangit!!

One of the Youth Interns, Adam, came up to me at church yesterday morning and said, "Hey. I know Katie is grounded and you told her she can't come tonight, but can she at least come for the message? You know, you can bring her when the service starts and take her home as soon as it's over." This made great sense to me so I agreed. "But no hanging out with your friends afterwards," I told her. She was pretty happy with this small victory.

After church the kids and I were eating lunch at the table while Todd was doing some running around and I was telling Katie she needed to unload the dishwasher and pick up her mess in the basement before she could go to Impact (the Junior High portion of Youth Group). It was nearly 2:00 and the phone rang. It was Alex calling to see if Katie could sing. Talk about a HUGE surprise!!

She was incredibly animated - face-splitting grin, large eyes, barely keeping her feet on the floor - and she said, "I'm grounded right now so I'll have to ask my mom." Grounded or not, how could I say no? Especially when the very wise Taylor, better known as Smarty McSmart Pants, said, "You're not going to keep her from working for Jesus are you??" Yeah. That's what I live with.

So at 2:00 she and Taylor went down to the basement and they worked on the songs until nearly 3:00 when I drove them to the church so Katie would have a few hours to practice.

I like the format we use on Sunday evenings. Impact - 6th through 8th grade - has a worship service from 6:00 to 7:00. At 7:00 they get to hang out with their friends until 8:00 or so. Riot - 9th through 12th grade - gets to hang out from 6:00 to 7:00, at which time they go in for their service. They come out at 8:00 and hang out until about 9:00. This is a great way to do things because sometimes the message for the older kids is a bit more intense. This means, however, that the band plays twice.

When I got to the church a little before 6:00 with my friend, Kris, and her daughter, Shelby, in tow, I asked Katie if she was nervous. She said not for Impact (she is at the top as an 8th grader, after all), but she was a little freaked out about singing for the high school group.

She sang "We Won't Be Quiet" by the David Crowder Band and "Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin. And she was backed up by another new singer - a 9th grader. She has a few things to work on but some of those will be non-issues when she gets more than a few hours of warning. And as Frank Chiapperino (the current Big Kahuna of Youth Group while we're looking for a new Youth Minister) said, she has 5 years to hone her skill with the Youth Band.

One of the techies taped her performance and will be emailing it to either Todd or me. She was a little disappointed in her performance - even though EVERYONE told her she was amazing - so I don't know if she'll let me post it or not. The fact that this was the first time she's ever sang with a live band and had no time to prepare didn't seem to mean much to her. During Impact she started "Indescribable" out of key because she couldn't hear herself over the band. But she got it pretty quickly and by the time she sang for Riot she was pitch perfect. And she mixed up some of the words in "We Won't Be Quiet". Hello. First time ever. Last minute thing. Not much practice. HELLO!

Unfortunately for her, it all had to end. She's back to being grounded.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

AVMDIJ & "More"


Stop the presses!! Have I got a news breaking headline!! And this isn't even part of today's post!!

A few weeks ago I told you Katie had tried out for the Youth Band at church and had made it. She wasn't supposed to start singing for another month or so, but she just got a call from the Student Worship Leader, Alex, who asked if she could sing tonight. TONIGHT PEOPLE!! She hasn't practiced - heck, we just went online to see what songs they're singing tonight - but she's up for the challenge. Taylor is practicing with her in the basement while this goes to press.

So guess what I'm doing tonight? Instead of just hanging out with Todd while the kids are at Youth Group, I'm video taping her debut. If I get her permission and I figure out what I'm doing (I'll be checking with Sing 4 Joy) I'll put it on YouTube or GodTube and post it later in the week. I know she's more than capable, but since this is her first time and it was a last minute thing it may not be up to her standards. I'll let her make the call.


How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:7

Today the worship team sang this song during communion. This song holds such a special place in my heart because when Katie was about 9 or 10 we were chatting in the car and I told her I loved her. Instead of the usual, "I love you, too", or even more common, "I know," she started singing the chorus of More by Matthew West to me.

I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine, you are mine, and you shine for me, too.
I love you yesterday and today and tomorrow. I'll say it again and again. I love you more.

Can a mother's heart get any fuller without completely exploding? Comparing a mother's love for her child to God's love for us is a common theme among parents. But what about a child's love for a parent? I remember thinking I loved my mom and dad more than they loved me when I was young. It's as deep and intense as it gets when you're a kid.

So if my child loves me that much (we always have these arguments over who loves the other more) how much more does God love me? I don't believe we have an adequate scale to comprehend it. I just know it's MORE.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Buttons and Bows

Look at this beautiful button the Mayor of Lemonland, now called Worldwide Breast Cancer created for Mothers With Cancer.

Mothers With Cancer

I've added it to my sidebar with a direct link to the website. It took me a bit to figure out how to link the image, but I finally did it!! If you would like to add it to your sidebar with a direct link and don't know how, let me know. I'm more than happy to send you the html codes.

If you DO add it to your site let the Moms know so we can add your link to our Supporters page and enter you in our upcoming Summer Fun give away!


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Bunch of Good Stuff

So what's up? Nothin' much going on here. Just the usual. You know. Todd's at work - he's got major short timer's disease, but he's making a valiant effort; Katie's babysitting; Taylor's at CIY in Tennessee - kind of like church camp only much more intense. Katie's Little Homies are going camping this afternoon through Saturday morning so Todd and I get some just us time. I think I'm going to make reservations at that new Italian restaurant we were going to eat at for our anniversary, but they were booked. Yeah. That's a great idea.


We watched "Fools' Gold" last night and LOVED IT! The chemistry between Kate Hudson and Matthew McConnohotty is nearly palpable. It had everything I love in a movie. Adventure, romance, humor, an exotic location and even a bit of history. Well, made up history, but still.

The prude that I am was a little disappointed at a flash of anonymous boobies. It's PG-13, for cryin' out loud. It was a quick flash, but so very unnecessary. It reminded me of when I was in 8th grade and my AT group went into Hollywood to see Romeo and Juliet at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Really cool experience, but the boys in the group were thrilled when Olivia Hussey jumped out of bed, baring her chest. (But really, what do you expect with a name like Hussey?) The girls were just embarrassed. And a little envious. Or maybe that was just me.


OH! Have I told you we actually have a Sonic AND a real Starbucks with a drive through now? Maybe two miles from the house, if that. The only problem with the Sonic is it's such a novelty up here that they have to have traffic managers with walkie talkies directing cars who are waiting for the next available slot. It's totally insane. I mean, I love Sonic and all - you know I do - but it's not THAT great.

Last Sunday after Youth Group a bunch of the older kids went to Sonic. They parked in the lot and walked over to order and eat at the picnic tables out front. You order in the same kind of speaker box as if you'd pulled up to a slot, but you give them your name so when they come out they know where the order goes. So here's the conversation with the Sonic chick and my son:

SC: What's your name?

T: Taylor.

SC: What is it?

T: Taylor.

SC: Tyler?

T: Taylor.

SC: What was that?

T: Billy.

SC: Billy?

T: Yup.


This is the top of the swimsuit I bought for Hawaii the other day. I consider it was a good day because I didn't cry in the dressing room. Didn't even feel the urge. I certainly don't like the way I look in a swimsuit. Heck, I didn't like it when I was 40 pounds lighter. But it is what it is so there's no sense getting depressed about it. But what thrilled me was the fact it's just a normal top and it just happens to hide both my mastectomy scar (my left mastectomy scar is pretty high up) and my port scar. I also got two different bottoms - red regular bottoms and a coral SwimMini.


This morning I found a great deal on plane reservations for my parents to come up for Thanksgiving. So I called Mom and we booked those babies before they went away. Mom and Dad actually get in on my 43rd birthday. I think we'll celebrate with a chocolate cake and 29 candles. It's just been the four of us for the last two Thanksgivings so we're really looking forward to having some family to help us celebrate.


All this goodness leads me to today's verse.

If you, then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give
good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:11

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Do I See?

Back in my 20s I started having trouble reading street signs and bumper stickers and license plates. A trip to the eye doctor confirmed I was slightly nearsighted and glasses for distance were prescribed. My driver's license reflected this so when it was time to renew at 35 I decided another trip to the eye doctor was in order. My glasses just weren't doing their job anymore and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pass the eye test.

After the exam the doctor told me he had good news and bad news. The good news was I had 20/20 vision and I no longer needed glasses for distance. Silly me! I thought I needed a stronger prescription because things were getting a little blurry with my current lenses. I was feeling a bit smug here because, well, I was aging, but my eyesight was getting better. What a nice little birthday present for me!

The bad news, however, was that I was on a pendulum swinging from nearsighted to farsighted. He told me I would be back to needing glasses at 40. Well, somewhere around that time I noticed the print in my books was getting smaller so I bought a cheap pair of reading glasses at Walgreens. Lately I've been thinking how nice it would be if my arms were just a little bit longer.

So yesterday Katie and I both had eye exams. We thought Katie was nearsighted because she has trouble seeing the board at school. When the eye is looking at something close the muscles around the lens contract. When the eye is looking at a distance the muscles relax. Katie's muscles aren't relaxing like they should and that's why she's having a hard time seeing the board. So she's been prescribed reading glasses in an effort to keep those muscles more relaxed. Interesting, isn't it?

As for me, I still have 20/20 vision. Yes, unless there's something wrong with YOUR eyesight, you read that right. When I want to I can read the fine print. The problem is I have to work too hard to do so. My cheap plastic reading glasses help a little, but I'm going to get good reading glasses and give my eyes a break. I hope this will step up my reading a bit. I'm only on my 10th book of the year, down from 28 books the same time two years ago (which was down from my pre-cancer reading days when I ignored my family and responsibilities just to finish a book). I do wear out faster and I think I'm probably exhausting my eyes. So who knows! Another month and I may be back to ignoring my family and responsibilities again!

Katie and I both had our eyes dilated and thankfully we live fairly close to the doctor's office because things were really fuzzy for a while. Which made me think of today's verse.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

Someday we'll get to see the completed puzzle with perfect vision. Awesome!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

MWC Post

Just wanted to let you know if you're interested that I have a new post up at Mothers With Cancer. You can click here to read it.


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A Change in the Air

Our family, or at least our marriage, is about to take on a new dimension. Todd begins work with a new company next week. It will require a bit of travel - maybe a little more than he travels now only more spread out instead of two or three weeks every quarter. The real difference will be that he'll be working from home when he's not traveling. Did you get that? He will be working from HOME.

For the most part I'm looking forward to it. We'll be saving a bundle on petrol (doesn't that make me sound so very European?) and I think I've talked him into swimming with me. I'm hoping he'll drag me along on those days I don't want to go (which is probably just about every day). He will only require clean and pressed "nice" clothes when he travels - which really won't change much of anything for me because it's not like I iron like I should anyway. I'll also have a daily lunch buddy. I think it's going to be nice.

Realistically, however, I imagine there will be an adjustment period. Every time he's at home he throws me off my mojo and I'm not sure why. My routine just seems to go right out the window. That will not be acceptable if he's home every day. How in the world will I spend hours on the computer or reading with a messy kitchen and piles of laundry?

I am seriously proud of him. It's funny because when we were dating I knew he was smart, but I didn't know he was THIS smart. For the last several years he's been working in the electricity sector - not for an electric company, but for a Regional Transmission Office (RTO). I liken an RTO to an electricity broker. They "trade" electricity between electric companies in their region and watch the transmission lines, making sure they don't overload here or run out there. That's the Jenster's Mega-Simplified Version, but I think you can get an idea of what his company does.

Have you seen Live Free or Die Hard? If you haven't you should. It's one of the most realistic action movies I've ever seen. (That statement, my friends, is dripping with sarcasm.) If you can suspend belief it's awfully fun. Definitely one of my favorite car-chase-explosion-shoot-'em-up movies to date. The reason I bring it up is because a terrorist targets the electric grid, among other utilities. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the entire US electric grid was shut down. It's not a pretty thought at all. Which is why it's high on Homeland Security's list of possible terrorist targets.

Which brings me to Todd's job. In a nutshell he's responsible for making sure the various departments are following procedures and compliant with the government regulations. All electricity entities, including the RTOs, are periodically audited and it can prove bad for them if they are found to be non-compliant.

He works with others across the U.S. and Canada in similar positions and the FBI and Homeland Security to come up with these regulated procedures to insure protection against a terrorist attack on the electric grid.

His new job is for NERC - North American Electric Reliability Corporation - the pseudo-government organization that does the auditing. Yup. He will no longer be the stressed out auditEE, if you will, but the in charge auditOR.

I know, I know. "Auditor" has such a negative connotation to it. But I like the idea of someone out there making sure these companies are doing what they need to be doing so we can continue to enjoy our a/c and TV and lights and refrigerated food and so on, not to mention health care machinery like life support, etc.

If you'll indulge my bragging just a smidgen longer. According to his new boss he is considered a national expert in the electricity sector. I admit it. I'm fairly preening with pride right now. That's my man. All mine!

He starts this new position in July, though he'll be at the home office in Princeton, New Jersey for a bit of it before we go to Hawaii. You know, orientation and all that. Then we'll be settling into our new arrangement. Should be interesting...

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Friday, June 20, 2008

A VERSE, etc., and It's Over

Yesterday was my last day at school. No, really. I know I've said that before, but this time I really mean it. The third and last week of preschool camp is finished, finito, Beendet, terminado, fini, afgewerkt, acabado, avsluttet, законченный. So in celebration I offer today's verse.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.

Luke 6:23

Alright. So Jesus isn't really telling me to rejoice and leap for joy because I'm through working. He's actually telling his disciples to rejoice when they're persecuted for His sake. Hey! I can make the stretch and say in all honesty I WAS persecuted for His sake.

There were eleven three-year-olds in my care for five days at a church-sponsored preschool camp. I was working for Jesus. And while I did enjoy these kids, there were times when I was definitely being persecuted. At least once a day. Ergo, I was being persecuted for Jesus' sake!

And this, folks, is why I will never be a theologian.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


His Girl is such a crack up!! Look what she made just for me!!

Now I'm all giggly.


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AVADIJ - Thursday, 6/19/08

*sigh* I'm not very good at this verse a day thing. It's more like a verse every other or every third, maybe fourth day. But that's a really long title so I'm going to stick with A Verse A Day In June to keep it simple for everyone else. Besides, His Girl's pretty little banner wouldn't work with A Verse A Day Or Second Or Third Or Fourth In June.

This week I've been ushering eleven three-year-olds around to different centers at Bugs and Bubbles camp. They're really cute. They'll be even cuter tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 when their moms come to get them. (Does that sound terrible? My diplomatic center isn't working well right now. It's too early and I haven't had enough coffee.)

I've got lots of stuff to post about, some of which nobody will care to read. But I'll post it anyway because I can and that's how I roll.

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.

Psalm 105:4

This should be my Verse A Day For The Rest Of My Life.


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

AVADIJ - Sunday, 6/15/08

You may have noticed I didn't post a verse yesterday. I was going to, but we had a horrible storm with lots of lightening and thunder and high winds, and lost electricity so I was unable to. Actually, that's not true. We had a storm last night and the lights kind of flickered.

But before we had the storm there was a plane crash in the field near our house. Nobody was hurt, but it hit the electrical lines, plunging us into darkness. Actually, that's not true, either. A plane flew over our house.

But before the plane flew over the house, a traveling band of stealthy ninjas snuck into our house and stole my computer. Okay, so that's also not true.

I have no excuse. I was busy with housework and driving Taylor all over Southeast Pennsylvania for one thing or another, but I had time to post my verse. I just never got around to it.

Sorry. I have a great one for today, though! Very appropriate, if I do say so myself. Which I do.

The LORD is like a father to His children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:13 (NLT)

Today is Father's Day, the day we think about our dads and honor them with cards or calls or presents. But every day should be Heavenly Father's Day. Every day we should think about Him and honor him with praise and thanksgiving.

So Happy Heavenly Father's Day!!


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Friday, June 13, 2008

AVADIJ - Friday, 6/13/08

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or hold back His love from me.

Psalm 66:20

Does this one really need any explanation??


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Family & AVADIJ Thursday, 6/12/08

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.
John 1:16 blessing after another. Let's see...


Saturday night Todd and I went out for an anniversary dinner. I say "an" and not "our" because there will be another, maybe two. (Yes, Todd. You read that right.) Anyway, we started at one restaurant, but the wait was wicked long. So we went to another restaurant, but their air conditioner wasn't working and we were heading into the nasty heatwave you've been reading about. We finally ended up at our usual pizza joint - the place we pick up the best pizza around from. We'd never eaten there, but it was so pleasant. No wait, cool air, a booth for two, a glass of wine, a delicious meal, even a little hand holding over the table. Niiiice.

When we returned home Todd went upstairs to pack for the business trip he was leaving for the next morning. Remembering I was supposed to iron a pair of slacks for him, I headed up to do just that. But he said he decided to just take the pants the way they were. The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: I actually thought I'd wait until the morning when it was a little cooler up here. You can put them in your suitcase at that time, can't you?

Todd: Yeah, but that's okay. I'll just set the room air on North Pole cold and iron them there. I get in fairly early in the day and won't have much else to do.

Me: You don't want to iron while you're gone. Seriously, I'll iron them right now for you. (I was feeling kind of guilty because I'd said I would do it.)

Todd: No, really. It's no big deal. I'll just iron them tomorrow at the hotel.

Me: You're sure??

Todd: Yeah. Don't worry about it.

Me: Okay. (kiss) Um, since the room is going to be so cold and you're going to have all day, why don't I just give you the rest of the ironing??

Not surprisingly, he declined.


I had to drive Taylor to work one day. He works for a lawn care service and I had to take him to Stewart Road. For being a smart boy he doesn't pay much attention to directions. He knew the neighborhood, but it's a humongous development and he had no idea where Stewart was. So we drove around and when I saw Tudor Road I knew we were close. He was totally amazed at my knowledge and when I explained the connection he said, "Who knew such useless information would come in handy."

Fast forward a week or so. He and Kristen were at the mall and as he was getting ready to check out of the bookstore he saw this great book and thought of me. So he bought it for me. With his very own money.

Here's an example of one of the stories inside:

The infamous battle of Waterloo wasn't fought in Waterloo. Napoleon's defeat occurred outside the village of Pancenoit, which was over four miles away.

Who cares? My inner geek does!! I love this kind of stuff!


After months, if not a year, of being pestered by Ben and Taylor and some nudges from mom and dad, Katie finally tried out as a singer for the youth band at church. I didn't go to the tryouts, but Todd and Taylor did. According to Todd, "she was perfect." According to Taylor, "She totally rocked!" Todd's pretty biased so I figured "perfect" could be exaggerated. But Taylor's the brother and has no compunction about telling it like it is. So if he said she rocked then she rocked. Which I had no trouble believing anyway. And, of course, she made the band.

Other than the singing, she's turning into me. She has a book with her nearly everywhere she goes and is always reading. I love that about her. Especially because she was diagnosed with Phonological Awareness Syndrome, a type of dyslexia, when she was in the 3rd grade. She worked with the school's speech pathologist throughout 3rd, 4th and half of 5th grade. She could barely read on a 1st grade level when she was diagnosed. Now she's reading young adult novels that are 500 pages long. That makes me smile.


A week or so ago I was reading something in preparation for the Mothers with Cancer website. The memory of one of my lowest moments as a parent with cancer assaulted me and I started to weep. Not out and out crying, just sniffling a bit and, well, you know. Sookie looked up from where she was and came over to me. She jumped up on the love seat, sniffed my face while she stared into my eyes, licked my cheek and then snuggled down next to me. What a balm to my heart!

We had her spayed on Tuesday and now she has to wear the cone until the 24th. She hates it, but we can't help but laugh at her. Just see for yourself:

That was some kind of party last night. Hey! Why is there a lampshade on my head?

Not only is she very loving and sensitive to my emotions, but she also likes to help me plant flowers:

Yup. I'd say that's one blessing after another after another after another...

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AVADIJ - Wednesday, 6/11/08

Holy moly!! I've got less than an hour and a half left to get my verse in for the day!!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

This is something I forget a LOT. I am, by nature, timid. I don't want to ruffle feathers. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. I just want everyone to get along. *sigh* I really need to get over that...


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

AVADIJ - 6/10/08

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25

This is one of those "big picture" verses for me. Whenever something doesn't make sense to me - a disappointment, an illness, a catastrophe, whatever - I remind myself that God is so much smarter than I am. And what a comfort there is in that.

Of course, saying God is a lot smarter than me isn't saying a whole lot. When I was a kid and friends would get into that whole "my dad can beat your dad up", thing, I could always say, "my dad is smarter than your dad," and it usually shut them up. Because my dad is really smart. So maybe I should start reminding myself that God is so much smarter than my dad.


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Monday, June 09, 2008


Being a mom is hard work. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either delusional or has never been a mom. Going through surgery and treatment for cancer, along with its lingering effects, is also hard work. Put them both together and you've got quite a challenge. Sadly, there are a lot of women who fall into this category. A few of you cyberfriends unfortunately come to mind.

When I was diagnosed Katie was 10 and Taylor was a few days shy of turning 13. The only "cancer moms" I knew of, I didn't really know. I finally found some women at a message board who started chemo for breast cancer the same month I did. A few of them were mothers and it was great to chat with them, to encourage and be encouraged.

Not all women in the same position have had that available to them. Not until now, anyway. For the last year Whymommy at Toddler Planet has been blogging about her experience with cancer and chemo and radiation and mothering two young boys. She's been an incredible resource for so many people, mostly women, on so many levels. But now she's taken it a step further.

Today is the official launch date for a new website - Mothers With Cancer. There are sixteen contributing moms, myself included, and while none of us are happy about fitting the criteria, we're thrilled at the prospect of helping other women in the same situation. Our cancers and our stories are different, but there are two common denominators - cancer and mothering.

If you know anybody who could benefit from this website, please direct them there.


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AVADIJ - Monday, 6/9

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

I thought this verse was appropriate, especially since it's finals week at school.

I'll have another post up later this morning. Big things, people. Big things.


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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Verse of the Day

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Psalm. It's chock full of comfort and encouragement and, in this case, a plea for a little self control.

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3
This should be my daily mantra.


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Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Road to Paradise

Six weeks from today the four of us will board a plane, relax in first class and fly to Honolulu. There we will spend a week in Waikiki and another week in Kona. We will chill on the beach, unwind by the pool, drink delicious concoctions out of coconut shells with cute little umbrellas and try not to giggle as we order a pupu platter. We will explore a real volcano, hike up Diamond Head and experience Pearl Harbor. We will play in the ocean, look for marine life and search for the cast of LOST. Todd and I will take walks in the sand, enjoy gorgeous sunsets and romantic dinners and hopefully dance under palm trees and stars.

These two weeks in Hawaii is more than just a family vacation. This is our reward. Recompense, if you will, for the last three years.

We've had some pretty fabulous vacations, in my opinion. We've been to the beach in Florida, the mountains of Durango and Northern New Mexico, the awesomeness of Yellowstone and Southern Montana, East Tennessee, North Carolina and, of course, California. All our vacationing came to a screeching halt in 2005, however.

This might sound a bit whiney (when has that ever stopped me before?), but vacations are kind of a big deal to me and going without for three years has been pretty lame. The older the kids get the bigger deal vacations become. I figure we only have another summer or two of vacations left with Taylor before he's busy with work and college and his own thing. Maybe I'm wrong, but what if I'm not? If I'm not then I want to take advantage of the time we still have.

We were supposed to take this dream vacation last summer, but further medical issues prevented it. As sad as I was about postponing our plans last year, now I'm kind of glad because I still have it to look forward to. And last year "cancer" was still such a fresh word in my vocabulary. This year I'm two-and-a-half years out of treatment and Mom is a little over a year out of treatment. I'm pretty much done with reconstruction and I feel like I've really moved on in the last six months or so.

Except I'm very overweight. I find it funny that I would be happy if I weighed what I weighed 8 years ago when I hated the scales. At least then my face wasn't quite so round and I actually looked like me. Ever one to look for the silver lining, last year I joked that delaying the trip would give me 52 more weeks to put off my diet. Unfortunately, truer words were never said.

But I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm going to see how much weight I can lose in the next six weeks – hopefully enough to take the puff out of my cheeks – and go enjoy Paradise. That and be on the picture-taking side of the camera.

I'm not going there to impress anyone but Todd anyway (and he makes it really easy). I'm going to see a part of the world I've never seen, to relax and read, to enjoy my family without the responsibilities and pressures of every day life. I'm going to thumb my nose at cancer and gloat because I kicked its butt and will be wearing the t-shirt to prove it.

Two weeks in Hawaii and first class round trip is not something we would normally shell out that kind of money to do. But, as I said before, this is our reward. Or maybe a better word would be "reimbursement" for having to be separated (physically, not legally) from Todd for over a year. His company put him up in a Homewood Suites during that year and we got to bank the Hilton points. His company also flew him home every other weekend and we got to bank the sky miles.

One year's worth of Hilton points = one week each at two different Hilton resorts.

One year's worth of sky miles = four first class round trip tickets.

I felt a bit guilty at first for using all the points and miles for such a luxurious vacation. That guilt didn't last very long, though. We went through a type of hell and it's only fitting we enjoy a type of heaven. And while I hate to use the word "deserve", I do see this as just one more blessing God is pleased to give us. One more in a myriad of undeserved blessings we've been inundated with.

So despite my largess (I know, I know. Inappropriate use of the word, but it sounds right to me. "Largess – generosity of largeness". If that's not me, I don't know what is.) I'm looking forward to our looooong awaited vacation. I'm looking forward to seeing the beauty of Hawaii; to meeting my friend, Cigi; to reading a lot; to doing a lot of relaxing; and to just hanging with the family. What a great gift.

Mused by Jenster :: 10:56 AM :: 17 People musing:

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I'm Late to the Party

So you know my very good friend, Gretchen, over at Good Enough for Now? Well she's not there any more. Now she's at Jewels in my Crown... Someday. She's still the same incredible, insightful, open, honest, godly woman. She still reminds me of things I shouldn't have to be reminded of (like "Be still and know that I am God"). She still makes me smile and laugh. I still want to go to Seattle and have coffee with her. And now she's doing this really cool thing called A Verse A Day In June. Look at the beautiful button His Girl made for her!

Since it's a participatory game I'm going to play, too! So here's my first offering:

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Proverbs 10:19

Depending on how you look at it, one of Taylor's strengths/weaknesses is his ability to argue his way out of a paper bag. When I came across this verse for the first time several years ago I couldn't help but laugh as the image of Taylor immediately popped up into my head.

Mused by Jenster :: 10:37 AM :: 3 People musing:

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Friday, June 06, 2008

And It's Over...

Today was the last day of Dinosaur Camp and what a week it's been. This was the first camp of it's kind at our church/preschool and it was a screaming success! It was well thought out and organized and the kids have had the best time.

There were four centers: crafts, games, snack, circle. I had the circle center. I found a song in the materials given to me that talked about five different dinosaurs so we sang that every day and the dinosaurs became the Dino of the Day.

Monday Dino of the Day - Tyrannosaurus Rex

After learning a few facts about T-Rex, singing the song and reading a story we did an activity. We used these cute grabbers of various dinosaurs to pick up "eggs" - wadded up pieces of paper we'd colored.

Tuesday Dino of the Day - Brontosaurus

Now before anyone gets all technical on me, the brontosaurus is actually called an apatosaurus. But everyone still calls them brontosaurus and how do you explain that to preschool kids? Exactly. The activity that day was seeing if we could trace all our feet inside the footprint of a brontosaurus:

Wednesday Dino of the Day - Stegosaurus

We also talked about fossils and we made these really cool plant fossils:

Thursday Dino of the Day - Triceratops

When I found out that the average triceratops head was 6.5 feet from the top of his fan to the tip of his beak I knew we had to measure that. So I measured out where 6.5 feet would be on a piece of butcher paper and measured the kids' heights to see how much bigger the head of a triceratops would be. That was kind of fun.

Then to continue our talk about fossils we broke open "pumice" to see what was inside. Here are one of the homemade pumice stones:

Check out what we found inside:

Friday Dino of the Day - Pterodactyl

After talking about this particular dinosaur we talked about where the dinosaurs lived. The kids really liked this model I made last night:

Not nearly as much as the active volcano, though:

But the biggest draw was the dinosaur egg I bought in Hilton Head on a whim.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

I don't know about the kids, but I learned a ton about dinosaurs this week! It was a lot of fun, but I'm glad it's over. Maybe now I can sleep without dreaming about the following day's activities!

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Mused by Jenster :: 6:18 AM :: 9 People musing:

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Anniversary, Anniversary

I really shouldn't be here. I have to figure out what activity we're going to do tomorrow at Dino Camp. I've got Thursday and Friday covered, but not tomorrow. Not to worry, though. I'll think of something!!

The beginning of June is just one anniversary after another and I couldn't let it slide by without notice. Two out of the three are worth celebrating and depending on your perspective, maybe the third is, too.

June 2: I had my first chemo treatment three years ago yesterday. I'll just look at that as a positive because, well, here I am.

June 3: We moved to Pennsylvania - into this house - as a family after a year of seeing Todd every other weekend or so two years ago today. I love the neighborhood, the house, the area, etc., but the best part is actually living together!

June 4: Todd and I will have been married 20 years tomorrow. How is that possible?? As of this moment we have no plans of celebrating. At least not yet. Most likely we'll just postpone the festivities (i.e., nice dinner out) until we're in Hawaii.

Okay. Now that that's out of the way I can concentrate on figuring out what to do tomorrow at camp.


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Mused by Jenster :: 2:21 PM :: 10 People musing:

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Monday, June 02, 2008

No Time To Say Hello, Goodbye!

Right now there are four blobs of coffee dough with little plastic dinosaurs hidden in the middle cooking slowly in my oven. On my counter is a gallon ziplock with brown homemade playdough that looks an awful lot like poo. Also on my counter is a glass jar filled with vinegar and two hardboiled eggs that are all soft and squishy. I have a can of orange juice thawing in the fridge so I can make up the juice and use the can for a prehistoric model complete with watering hole, little plastic dinosaurs, vegetation, rocks and a working volcano. I also have a cool little egg that, when placed in water for 12 to 24 hours, will hatch a dinosaur.

It's a really good thing I'm only doing this for one week because I'm not getting anything else accomplished!!

See ya in a few!


Mused by Jenster :: 9:08 PM :: 5 People musing:

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