Thursday, June 27, 2013

A much needed respite.

The Pack House Inn
Edenton, NC
Sometimes lovely things happen when you least expect it. Like when my husband recognized I was going bananas and realized that he needed to whisk me away THAT day instead of waiting til the week-end. We left in the evening last night and stayed at our favorite bed and breakfast, The Packhouse Inn in Edenton, NC. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, homestyle potatoes and toast with cups of coffee and fresh squeezed OJ.

The first thing I did when we arrived was take a long soothing bath. I read a mystery and enjoyed a brand new sugar scrub.

We fell asleep just after midnight and I awoke naturally in the morning to the sun streaming through the skylight and the warm glow from the yellow walls. I felt so much better. An uninterrupted night of sleep. No children coming in at one or two or three in the morning. No demands at 5 or 6 a.m. Yawn. Pure bliss.

After breakfast we sauntered over to our favorite coffee shop that used to be a book store too! Oh no, where did it go?! don't be alarmed... just down the corner. Oh phew. It's a book store/tea house. So after we enjoyed our coffee and unwound for a couple hours we made our way to the book store, Garden of Readin', and searched for treasures. The prices are so reasonable $2-$3 for fun paperback mysteries. Mmm. A pot of china black tips. She even offered milk or cream and lemon. And delivered some biscuits with the tea. I could get used to that. We drank our tea and read our books only breaking the silence to comment on this or that passage from a book.

Later we ate a completely carbalicious lunch of McDonald's and passed out for afternoon naps.

The sweetest part? Mike is letting me take an extra night to myself. Sigh. I'm sprawled out in a room by myself. Took another luxurious bath. Ate icecream before I had dinner (salad).

I fell asleep at 7:30. Yes, that tired. And then was awoken an hour later by a phone call. My sweet children were chirping in my ears. Telling me how much they missed me and the books they've been reading and their bad dreams and how we should make books when someone is gone for more than a day so that they know how much they were missed... And so I'm awake again... after finishing a bar of chocolate and strawberries and having a soothing cup of tea.

I'm that delicious tired, when my eyes are heavy and droopy and my belly is full... and my muscles are relaxed and soothed. I still have a sore throat from a lingering cold/sinus thing I've had going for a week or two. But it's manageable and tea with honey is a balm.

It truly is a luxury to get a moment to hear oneself think. And tomorrow a delicious breakfast awaits. And I get to walk in town again and read books and drink tea again. Sweet blessings come in such unexpected ways. In our desperate moments God is so kind to give us respite. Moment to renew our strength and energy. Moments to breathe. Moments to give praise. Thank you Jesus!

Monday, June 24, 2013

all a jumble.

I have been having mania at night lately. I'm unable to sleep because I'm too full of energy. I wish I could bottle up the energy and go to bed and then drink it up in the morning when I need it. I wake up drained and tired. I'm not having caffeine late in the day. I'm not doing anything unusual but I'm just up. I want to fix the world or at least my house or my bedroom or just me.

I'm agitated. Emotionally strung-out. Burnt out and exhausted. Maintaining the house and trying to keep things fun for the kids. We've been bowling. We've made home-made ice-cream. Banana chocolate chip muffins. We've played fun games and built forts and had movies and popcorn. We've had grilled cheese on rainy days and cocoa and s'mores. We've played with play dough and colored. They've gotten thoroughly hosed down outside and then they threw sand at each other. Eeek. We've so many fun things ahead of us as well. zoo. botanical gardens. more bowling ;)

Michael has been having therapy 3 days a week. Physical therapy 3 times a week and speech once a week. It's been wearing me out.

I think it's time for a rest and a break. A time to stop and relax and read a good book. Savor a cup of tea.

I'm excited that my Grandma (dad's mom) is coming over tomorrow to have lunch with us. I'm taking the boys to get haircuts in the morning. I have to make snack for caregroup.

Days are full. I have had pink eye. Samuel's hearing seems to be getting worse and I need to call the audiologist office again. I found some new shoes at the thrift stores for the boys and some fun dressy sandals for Libby.

The kids have been loving that my Grandmother (my mom's mom) lives with us. They are so glad to see great-grandmother every day.

so there are my thoughts. unedited. jumbled. flying from every which way out of this tired head. and off to bed. and to sleep... and perchance to dream...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Duck & Monkey

Rainy days have meant umbrellas, rain boots and of course good ol' rain jackets. The twins are wearing some of my favorite ones which unfortunately they are growing out of and won't be able to wear again.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Last Day of School Pics

Thursday was the last day of school! Wahoo. Summer here we come.

All cool

celebratory slurpee

Freedom Ducky

No More School... until we start Kindergarten!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Donating Hair

I started donating my hair years ago... well, before Samuel ever had cancer.

It was something my sister had done and it made me feel connected with her. How wonderful to give something that would bless a child. I had thought I would wait until her birthday (dec. 7th) to donate my hair but when I sat in the hairdresser's chair I felt the time had come. I had the 10 inches of hair. So I went for it. I said cut it off and then do what you will with my hair! I think being back in the cancer clinic was enough for me to let go of my hair...

So, I found myself once again donating my hair to Locks of Love. So excited that once again I'm able to make two tails to donate instead of one.

Monday, June 17, 2013

irish dance

Libby's Dance recital was Saturday. She was beautiful. She did a great job performing Irish Dance! Here she is at rehearsal.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"I'm Persevering!"

Samuel was citizen of the month this past week. He was chosen for perseverance! I thought that was perfect given his CT scan this week! Samuel has kept going in spite of so many different life threatening issues over the course of his life. So grateful for this miracle boy of mine!

Don't you wan to just eat him up?

Samuel in front of the principal

Yes, we got one of "those" bumper stickers!

Too cute!

so proud

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Long day at the hospital yesterday but we got great news. Samuel's scan was "clear". No cancer growing. So thankful.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CT Scans & the Significance of Saving Turtles.

Samuel has a CT scan. We leave in just ten minutes to make sure we make it to the Children's Hospital in a hour. My sleep hasn't been very good lately so don't be surprised to see me correlating my son's upcoming cancer check with saving turtles.

Turtles have always been significant for me growing up. My Dad taught me to love turtles with a fierce protective passion.

Recently I accidentally hit a turtle. I heard the crunch under the wheel. I had been driving on a curved road and I didn't realize until too late what was approaching. I felt sick. There's something for me that felt inhumane killing that turtle. Of course it was an accident but it hurt me in a way that it wouldn't have hurt if it was something I cared less about... say an opossum.

I remember being a small girl and driving with my Dad on a country road. He would pull the car over to the side and get out and help turtles cross the road. Here's the key. You have to take them to where they were heading. If you pick up a turtle and put him back the other way then he will turn around and continue crossing the road again. So take them to where they are headed. They have this amazing internal GPS and they know where they want to go.

Somehow I equate turtles as sacred as valuable. And so is life. And so, this saving turtles is just a small thing in light of how important my son's life is to me. Samuel is more than a million turtles to me. And so I trust Jesus with the sacred. I pray and I ask Him for mercy. I lean and depend on His faithfulness and rest in the fact that He loves Samuel even more than me.

Well, it's that time. Time to walk out the door. Time to go the Hospital. And maybe on the way, save a turtle.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Death, Life & Happy Pills

The plan was for me to go the dentist's yesterday. My Mom came in my room in the morning and I heard it in her voice before I even saw her face. "Jennifer?!" The anxiety, pain and grief in her voice alone told me... someone has died. Then I saw her face and it was complete confirmation. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her hair disheveled. Eyes red.

Marie Schafer, one of my Mom's dearest friends
One of my Mom's dearest friends passed away. 

I spent the day with my Mom. She had a doctors appointment and then we had lunch. I loved hearing her stories about Marie. We also bought the last minute things needed for my grandmother's arrival.

Roger and Marie have been family friends of ours for a long time. I remember Roger coaching Libby's (my sister) soccer team. Marie has always been a beautiful woman. Gorgeous dark hair, glowing skin and a lovely smile. She and my mom bonded over nutrition and health tips. They both love exercising and healthy eating and living.

One of my first memories of them was going over to their house. I was set up to babysit all the kids; meaning my two siblings, Libby & Christopher as well as Roger and Marie's kids: Brett, Rachael and Matthew. Matthew kept biting us. It's a funny story to remember now but it kind of bonded our families together. We kids weren't together all the time but we came together at parties and graduations and various other life events. And now these "kids" are all adults. Libby is gone and now Marie. My heart breaks for their family.

Last night, Mike and I picked up my grandmother and aunt and cousin from the airport. The usual drive home of 45 minutes extended into an hour and a half. It was crazy traffic. We were thankful to get to the house and enjoy a supper of Chinese (thanks Christopher & Kristin!!!) Kristin is also a rockstar and did an amazing job helping clean and pick up and organize the house! Tremendous blessing!

Michael had surgery today.

Surgery went well and the process was smoother than expected. Michael is tired and wiped out but his stomach is fixed and now he needs rest. What I wasn't counting on was how exhausted I would be. I feel emotionally and physically wiped out.

Just gave Michael pain medicine. Hopefully that will cover him til morning. He's supposed to have field day tomorrow at school but it would be too rough and too much for him. He needs to stay home and recover. Also had to cancel his physical therapy appointment that he was to start tomorrow.

Ian has field day and his end of year class party tomorrow. Samuel has the dentist for x-rays and sealants. We only have one vehicle right now. Mike's is officially totaled. Rental car option is over for now. We need to get a new car soon. Mike wasn't able to work much this week with all the appointments and goings on that we've had. It's been a lot of pressure and stress financially in addition to emotionally, physically, etc..

Yeesh. I took a nap when I got home. I thought I would take a little rest since there was someone helping with the kids. I completely passed out. Just utterly zonked.

Sleep is calling my name. But there's inner turmoil that I'm trying to put to bed first.

This anxiety of spirit is bringing me down. Don't you wish you could snap your fingers and be okay? All I need is to pop  just a few "happy pills" and I will be okay.

I will manage but not in my own strength. I know that in the end all will be right. But I'm not there yet. Right now there is death, pain, sin, suffering, disease and heartache. I'm not on the other side of this. So, instead of a happy pill that would fade, that would temporarily stave off the hurt and the ache of this life or temporarily numb the pain, I have something much deeper, much richer, more fulfilling, but requires faith- I have Jesus. 

I bring to Him all these hurts, these aches and pains and griefs. 

Jesus, I need you. you say you are near to the broken hearted and the crushed in spirit. Please comfort. Please be near. Please heal the wounds... of heart, body, mind, and soul. Surrendering all to you. Committing myself into your hands. Believing you will make beauty from ashes.

Chris Tomlin's song is the cry of my heart...
"Lord, I Need You"

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You

My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Surgery Thursday & other life events

Michael saw Dr. Kuhn yesterday and she concurred that he does indeed need surgery. He's been set up for this Thursday (the 6h). It should be quick and he will be outpatient. Praying that he recovers and heals quickly! Been a crazy time of him having pain. I feel terrible for the delayed reaction on this but it's hard to know how much has been psychological pain; he talks about wanting his g-tube back all the time, and the physical pain.

Libby turned in her science project today. Phew. What a relief. 6 pages to fill out and a diorama on top of it all (Cheetah's environment/habitat). Field day for twins on Friday and Ian's end-of-year party. Next week is 3 end of school year parties.a

Samuel was nominated citizen of the month but we have yet to receive the info and I think the award ceremony is Thursday... same day as Michael's surgery.

Dentist again for me tomorrow. Dentist for Samuel Friday.

I need to pick up medical supplies for Michael today and my medicine at Target. I need to return late library items. I need to buy a new mattress for Samuel.... which Libby will be sharing with him for the next few weeks...

So much happening.

And my Grandmother, Aunty and cousin come Wednesday from Texas! I'm very excited but I need to be a cleaning machine today! Trying to trust the Lord with all these things.
I think I should just go back to bed...

Anxiety about Samuel's scan is seeping into my tone of voice. Having a hard time falling asleep. Reliving his chemo/radiation treatment days. My heads been in a downward vortex. Hard time sleeping. Not enough sleep. Exhaustion. I've been edgy lately. Off to exercise so I don't bite anyone's head off!

Trusting the Lord with Samuel again today and with Michael as well. All of my kids in fact. And that the Lord will uphold me by His mighty right hand!

Girl Friends!

This past Saturday after Irish Dance I had the joy and pleasure of being with my new friend Keri and her daughter. Libby and Aileen had too much fun. We went yardsaling and then enjoyed a coffee/tea break at Cafe Moka. The girls were making up stories and singing funny songs. We took Aileen home with us and carried the good afternoon into the evening.

I am so blessed when Libby gets to have a playdate and girl time with a friend!The Lord provides her "sister" time when she needs it!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Third of a Century.

As my dear brother-in-law reminded me I'm turning a third of a century (33). Today is  my birthday. Hello June 3rd.

I always get a little rattled about my birthday. There's this element of wondering if people will remember... not really the date or my birthday but just me in general. Have people forgotten I'm here? Do they really care? It's very silly and horribly self-absorbed... but it's a confession of my heart. I want people to acknowledge me or just remember me.

And on this day I often feel like I have to take every moment and every advantage I can. I better suck it dry. This is all I get for 365 days... this one birthday I better make the most of it. Truly ridiculous, right? I  mean, there's birthday "week" and "month" after all. (wink)

But seriously, it's like the "7th"'s* in my life. I feel like I have a grace card for the day and I better punch it up before it expires. You have twenty-four hours of "anything goes" because it's such-and-such day. On your birthday you can pull the "Oh, I'm sorry officer. It's my birthday." Okay, maybe not to the officer. But maybe to the person you were sharp with or the excuse to eat another piece of chocolate... etc.

I get super emotional reflecting on my life thus far and this weird sentimental urge to make the most of every moment now. I recognize that my life is passing by and I want to make it count. I want every thing to point to God. I want Him to be glorified in my life. I want to enjoy my kids and my husband and bless my family and my friends.

My heart has been breaking. I was crying hard earlier this evening. I was reflecting on the fact that my friend has lost her son  and that I have the joy of celebrating with my kids today. How could I ask or want anything more than that? I have been given so much. I have a husband who loves me and kids that are precious and ALIVE.

So this wrestling... for wanting to make the most of it all and rejoicing in everything I have.

And a special day awaits me... Keeping kids home from school. Breakfast with my family and Mom and Dad Napier at IHOP. Dollar Movie with the kids. And then strawberry picking. Strawberry shortcake for dessert. And dinner with my husband (sans les infants- without kids!)

I am blessed. I am rich. I am loved by God. And even if no one else "acknowledges" me I am content in knowing that I am God's child. He created me. He was there at my birth and He will be there at my last breath. What a blessing to know that I am His.

*The 7ths refer to impt. dates for me. December 7th- my sister's birthday. March 7th-her death date.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Losing Max.

I told her to name him Max.

       My sister and I were giggling and drinking Starbucks. We were discussing good potential boy names. I told her... "just think about it. Max Griswold. What a great, strong German name!" I didn't know this until after she died but she wrote on her baby calendar, "Auntie Jennifer calls you Max." And in my heart Samson Wells Griswold is still Max to me. He and my sister Libby went home to Jesus on March 7th, 2004.

Joy, Max & Alex
      June 2, 2011 another Max was born. Max Alexander Ganzel. A Max that I desperately wanted to be an "Aunt" to. And although my dear friend Joy cradled her son's little body in her arms, Max was already in the presence of the Lord.

I've lost two Max's.

I don't know know what it is to lose a child. I have come very close to seeing my children slip from this world to the next... but thankfully they are still here. I have lost a nephew and a sister. And I've lost precious Max Alexander. I don't know the bitter tears that my friends Joy and Alex have had to taste. I don't know their hurt or loss. And so I ask the God of all comfort to comfort them. who comforts us all in our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction...

Joy made something beautiful. She created a heart. A heart painted red with a white letter M to represent Max. We were allowed to take pictures with the M. Joy made this beautiful video.

Thank you Joy for sharing your son's life and loss with us and allowing me to be a part of it. I will never forget Max. And I know I will see him one day, along with my precious nephew. I will kiss their faces and tell them how much I have missed them. Until that day... I press on in this race. I love you my friend.