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Simple Joys and the Scent of Strawberries

     Today is Lauren's March visit to Oncology.  She already had her blood drawn last week, so this appointment should be pretty simple.  She had some visual changes and had to get glasses.  This could be a result of the chemotherapy or it could just be her eyes.  She is having reoccurring headaches and can't seem to get rid of them, so she is going to see a neurologist.  This is probably from the chemo, but the doctors are not worried that it is any sign of the cancer coming back.  Before last week's appointment, I was kind of a mess.  I kept thinking it was something awful.  I didn't tell anyone I was worried, but I walked around sick to my stomach all the time.  Then I found out Phil was feeling the same way.  We try not to worry each other.  I think Lauren was worried too.  But, she does better at focusing on some fun.  I think she was simply tired of having a bad headache.  She had a headache for about 3 weeks and barely gets relief with pain reliever.  She can't get in to a neurologist until the end of April, so we wait.  The good news is that her last visit, her growth curve was not a curve at all; it was a straigth line going up.  She is starting to grow again!  Her short, curly hair could not be cuter.  She picked out some very stylish glasses.  She has this Audrey Hepburn fascination.  She made the connection that Taylor Swift's style mimicked Audrey Hepburn.  I think this ties into her fascination with Paris!
     Speaking of Paris......Lo's Make A Wish trip was approved.  We went and got our passports last week.  Lo did a computer presentation for her lovely "Wish Granters" and told them about all the interesting things to do in Paris.  They loved it, but since it involved international travel, they had to present it to a special board.  A couple of weeks ago, her trip was approved.  So, Phil, Jonathan, Lauren, and I will be going to Paris this summer.  Once our passports get here, they will let us know the dates.  We are all very excited.  Lauren has been using her artistic talents and drawing Eiffel Towers!  I will have to download one of the pictures.  They are really good.  Last night as a school homework assignment, she wrote a personification poem about Paris.  She has done so much research thatt she had no problem giving beautiful descriptions to the various landmarks of this incredible city.  She had to do two poems.  She could choose something she loved and/or hated.  She chose Paris and her lawnmower.  Both are things she loves.  Lauren thinks getting to mow our yard on the riding lawn mower is the most fun ever.  She is wishing winter in Omaha would end very soon so that she can get it out for the season.  She spent way too long on her assignment because she was having a lot of fun making Paris and her lawnmower come alive.  It was such a great night!  Jonathan was busy doing Chemistry and actually taught me something!  (that was my college major)  He was so enthusiastic to do his homework, Phil and I thought that the planets must have been aligned for our family last night.  Jonathan had to give up his invisalign and go for the metal braces because of non-compliance, so he bargained with Phil.  "If I do homework for an hour straight, will you get Lauren and me a Shamrock Shake?"  Ok, that was the best deal ever.  Giddy up!  I wil get a Shamrock Shake for them for homework any day of the week!  The cold helped his aching jaw and his aching pride.  Hard lessons.  So, Jonathan will have some great metal smiles in Paris this summer!  Hopefully, he will get the most of his French class at Prep this semester and help me brush up on my francais as well....bien sur, Je parle francais! Mais, pas tres bien! 
     We are finally starting to gel again as a family.  I am sure that seems strange since it has been such a long time since we got out of the hospital.  But, the strain that something like that takes on a family is immeasureable.  We were all tired.  I think Lauren is finally able to handle going to a full week of school without physically falling apart.  She is starting to get in a groove of doing homework again.  Many nights, she just couldn't complete it all and needed to go to bed.  Her teachers have been patient and encouraging.  Her friends have been loving and supportive.  This is all pretty timely since I am probably going to have to go back to work in the fall.....say a prayer for me!
     Today is Ash Wednesday.  I saw the cutest post of a little girl that was 3 getting her hair cut off for kids with cancer.  Oh, she was adorable.  I am so impressed that her parents are already teaching their child compassion, service, and sacrifice.  What an angel.  It brought back some memories of the hospital and Lauren losing her hair.  I shed a few tears.  It felt good because I started remembering how I was so worried about Lauren losing her hair. But, I also remembered how she suprised me by handling it all with such grace.  It was no big deal to her.  I started remembering her in her little pink hat and her sweet smile and all the fun we had in the hospital.  So, I decided I am going to try to focus on the fun, the love, and the many dear people that loved us through last year.  I am gonig to try for Lent to give up grief and focus each day on the beautiful memories I have of last year.  There are a lot.  I started wondering if I had 40, but I am sure I have more.  This time last year, Taylor Swift came to visit Lauren.  That was an incredible day!  But, today, what I remembered most was Lauren's love of the scent of strawberries.  She had a deep cut on her nose between her eyes.  It happeend as a result of having to wear the oxygen mask in intensive care and since she had no immune system, her skin broke down.  It was really sore.  So, the gave her a scratch n sniff band aid with a strawberry on it.  It was right between her eyes.  She had the sweetest grin on her face.  I remember I looked at her and started crying.  She had just fuzz for hair and this gash on her nose.  She hadn't eaten for days and was so weak and pale.  She was starting to lose her color and was looking gray.  But, she had this sparkle in her eyes.  She thought that was the coolest idea ever-wear a strawberry scented bandaid on your face and you could smell strawberried all the time!  That is my Lolo!  If all of us could be more like that and find simple joys in our toughest of days, the world would be a happier place!  A bientot!