Seeds of Hope

When Jake was sick and I was freaking out over a local palliative care and hospice, a woman from Willamete Valley Hospice (a terrible organization that Kaiser says is our only option here in town, which I refuse to accept) came, took our information, dismissed us and left us with one tidbit of informiation. There is a local nonprofit group called Seeds of Hope, that we should apply for. “They take care of literally anything,” she said. She sent us an application a few days later. After a month passed and I was more worried about my husband dying, than asking for handouts, she called because I hadn’t filled out the application. So I filled it out. I asked for them to pay for Norah’s preschool or a new mattress. Weeks later a woman asked if she could come by with things to deliver. She dropped off baskets of toys for the girls, full of tailored things just for them. Movies, Barbie toys for Norah and art supplies for Gwen. Meanwhile our basket was chock full of gas gift cards, grocery store gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, a warm masculine blanket, towels, an lovely delicate lace Scentsy wax warmer that says “Hope” on it and plenty of Star Wars paraphernalia, including the most recent film. Not to be forgotten is a gift certificate for $1,000 to go towards a new bed.

It was so incredibly thoughtful and generous, I still to this day am not sure how to ever express the gratitude I felt for the time and generosity it took to put these things together for us.

As she was hanging out in our living room, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the woman who dropped these things off asked if we needed anything else. Coming off of an all-expense paid trip to Disneyland, and our immediate bills being met, I felt beyond entitled that we were even receiving this gifts, so responded, “Oh, no, we’re just fine. We just went to Disneyland!” Meanwhile Gwyneth being Gwyneth (and a lack of politeness towards adults, with which we are working on) shouted out in her excitement of having toys delivered to her by a stranger (which is far too commonplace nowadays) “I WANT TO GO TO THE BEACH!” We laughed, shrugged, exchanged the proper pleasantries and off the woman drove to her bridal shower she stopped on her way to.

As we were sorting out which bed we’d like to get and how to get the payment from the non-profit, the woman we were in contact with mentioned a woman whose name I now forget, would be contacting me. Sure enough within a day a woman had texted and asked if someday that week she’d be able to drop something off for our family. We arranged a good time and Jake and I joked about what they could possibly be giving us. Hadn’t they given us enough already? Jake mentioned that Gwyneth had said she wanted to go to the beach, maybe they were bringing us a trip to the beach! Ha, wouldn’t that be a hoot!

And then a woman stopped by on her way home from work, and delivered an envelope with certificates for a 2 nights stay at an oceanside resort in Lincoln City, a city an hour west, that’s on the Oregon Coast. In that envelope were also gift cards to various restaurants as well as more than enough gift cards for gas to get there. Every detail had been though out, down to the menus for each restaurant they had paid for our meals at.

I called and booked our reservation for the first weekend we had available.

Our favorite parts are as follows:

Jake: watching the sunset together from our hotel room the first night we got there.

Lauren: searching and finding fun things at the Tide Pools.

Gwyneth: swimming in the pool.

Norah:

#SalemLove

Sunsets. I have never seen more beautiful sunsets than the ones here in Salem. There is some sort of magic that happens when the sun stays up well into the night and twilight lingers far longer than anyone can expect. Especially after winter, when the sun goes down so suddenly you miss it if you blink.

 

Let’s Be Still

IMG_0633.jpgAfter pulling numerous handcrafted invitations from my kindergartener’s backpack, I got my planner out from the desk drawer. My planner is my lifeline, acting as a crutch during times of crisis and keeping all of the world’s chaos in a well-designed space.

I hadn’t been using it lately. I packed it to Disneyland, but never once referenced it during the wild flurries of activity.

You see, Jake has been doing significantly better over the past few weeks. So much better, in fact, he has been solely responsible for his own care. And because of this, I have checked out. At first I felt guilty as he did the dishes and laundry while I napped or simply didn’t do those things. It’s not that I felt guilty for enjoying myself, it’s that I felt guilty for being a perfectly healthy person that’s too lazy to do the things the stage 4 cancer patient is doing.

So anyways, I took my planner out and penned in a few dates and activities. Then I do what I normally do, which is over plan. Which is why this past week I had to cross out a lot of cancelled plans. Because, you see, on paper I should be able to do all these things. Why shouldn’t I be at art night supporting the elementary school? We don’t have any appointments, Jake is feeling well and it’s just an hour and a half in the evening.

Or why wouldn’t we sign the girls up for the awesome 3000 race they so enjoyed doing last year? We don’t have any plans that Saturday.

Which all sounds fine and dandy, until the day of art night. Where I dreaded going to that elementary school for one more event.

Or when I went to register the girls for the Awesome 3000 race and realized we were too late to register. My immediate feeling was relief. So much relief that I had an excuse to get out of it.

I can’t explain what’s going on. Nor do I want to.

I want to not have to plan for the worst. I don’t want to have to ask for help, then constantly wonder if I’m being polite enough when accepting said help.  I don’t want to look into selling my home and what the rental housing market looks like in Portland. I don’t want to seek out and find support groups for our situation.

I’ve been to hell and back, and the other side isn’t what I expected it to be. It’s better. Jake is still here and healthier than before. Not only did I not lose my husband, I got my husband back, and with more time than we had thought.

After being told he had months to live, if that long, I kicked it into high gear and took care of business. I made sure his estranged mom came to visit. I made sure his favorite grandma came too. I got our family to Disneyland.

And now, here we are. Our parents aren’t living with us, we can manage our life by ourselves and things finally feel like they aren’t being shaken and tossed around by cancer.

And now, it’s time to just be. To listen to the words I like to say to Gwyneth, to appreciate what’s in front of us and not worry about what’s happening in the future.

 

 

 

On Star Wars

We were having a conversation last night. You know, one of those deep ones where things just spill out because you just watched the series finale of Girls and it spoke levels to you so you need to cry on your husband’s shoulder. The kind of conversation that requires listening and no problem solving. That kind.

Jake said something poignant, through tears, about how he feels that the only thing okay about dying is that he knows the girls will be fine because they have me.

I followed that up with stating that he doesn’t get off that easy and the girls still need him. If it weren’t for him, they’d never ride a single roller coaster until they were 20.

After a good laugh to break the seriousness of the topic, Jake then said that yes, he needs to be here so he can teach the girls about Star Wars.

I can not roll my eyes far enough back into my head.

There are fewer things in this world that I do not like as much as I despise Star Wars. It is not out of resentment. It is not out of jealousy. It is not based off of the narrow mindedness I once based my hatred of it in the past. It is just plain and simply silly to me.

I like fictional stories. I once enjoyed Star Trek. I can get into Battlestar Galactica. Science fiction may not be my favorite genre, but it is not beyond me.

Over the years I’ve been indoctrinated into Star Wars stories through watching the movies, reading books to the girls and listening to Jake drone on and on about the plots of the movies as he nervously awaits results in a doctor’s office.

It is just silly to me. Silly silly silly.

Regardless of what I feel, Jake loves Star Wars and who am I to keep a father’s passion from his children? And lord knows Star Wars teaches far better morals than the standard princess/Barbie garbage out there.

This was the girls at breakfast this morning. No, it wasn’t staged.

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Gwyneth Loses a Tooth

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While rough housing with Norah on our bed, Gwyneth bonked herself in the mouth with her knee. Her incredibly loose tooth began bleeding and she immediately freaked out. With Jake being nauseous all day, we weren’t quite sure how this was going to play out, seeing as nothing grosses me out more than a child’s losing of a tooth. They went into the bathroom to rinse her mouth out. She did so with a complete look of horror as her and Jake tried to figure out the next best step.

“You have to pull it out.” I told Jake, as Gwyneth sit in front of the mirror. “Ok, we’ll need a paper towel for that,” he said.

Gwyneth sat patiently at the kitchen table with her mouth bleeding and a paper towel in her hand. I walked up and tried to pull it using the paper towels and managed to pull on her lip instead. Annoyed, she took the paper towel away from my hand and pulled the tooth out herself. Just like the other 2 she’s lost.

All night she said in amazement, “I can’t believe I lost my third tooth! What do you think the tooth fairy will bring me? She’s brought my money before but I wonder if she’ll bring a toy this time.”

“Wait, what? A toy?”

“Yea, you said before that sometimes tooth fairies bring toys or money.”

“Oh….”

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Tulip Photos

17854793_1511126375565239_7165236053260790015_o17880305_1511125455565331_3189824099650789323_o17880581_1511126465565230_2365825795333951797_o17917835_1511153738895836_8912237685179225507_o17917881_1511124712232072_5263289147202861481_oMOMS Club. Oh, how it holds a lot of fears and resentment from my forlorn and lonesome Reno days. For some reason (I desperately need friends), in January I decided to join the Salem MOMS club. I paid my dues and set out to become an active member in the club. I immediately read the book for the book club and knew this group would be different. The book was hilarious and totally inappropriate.

I didn’t go to the book club. I remember feeling guilty leaving Jake with the girls for the evening. And I was totally nervous about stepping into a stranger’s home and meeting new people. Time and time again I managed to miss event after event.

I have, however had an online presence and connected with a few of the women. One of who’s husbands has cancer. We’ve kept in touch and checked in on each other (her more than I) and we both happened to finally meet up at the Tulip Festival. One other woman was there during the beginning of the day but had to leave for the afternoon. This left the Natasha and I the entire morning getting to know each other as our little girls played in the tulips.

She also happened to take awesome photos while we were there.

It was refreshing for the soul to connect with someone in more ways than one.

 

 

Thursday is for Peeps & No Pants

Today begun with Gwyneth being sent off to school. Because I was in Norah’s bed where I had migrated to during the night I woke up to Chris waking up Gwyneth for school, . Of course I had no pants on. I had to perfectly time getting out of bed when Chris was in the bathroom getting Gwyneth ready. The morning was a relaxing few hours as Jake, Norah and I vegged about the living room and Chris contemplated leaving to Bill’s. It had seemed like a grand plan when we made it two days ago. Then Wednesday happened. A palliative care appointment wiped Jake and my asses out, thanks to the killer three hours of driving it took to get to and from it. Not to mention the blood sugar debacle that left Jake an argumentative lethargic mess with me to pick up the pieces. I took a four hour nap once I got Jake to take his insulin, he napped and came through the other side a reasonable human being.

It was a bad day.

Today, on the other hand, went so well that I told Chris he could confidently go to Bill’s.

And then we rocked the damn day.

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Norah and I went to Target and Jake went downtown to shop for an outfit for our photo shoot this Friday.

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Norah drove a hard bargain today. “Just Target.” And then she demanded a smoothie. IMG_0371

Then we got an Easter package from my mom.

We had pizza for dinner, I was a tyrant with bath/bed time and tucked those kids into bed at 8:30 pm sharp.

Boom, baby.