Day 41 – Small victories

What a difference a haircut makes!

After a month or so of asking, begging, pleading, and insisting that Henry please, please, please, please, pretty please let Mommy cut that hair before it becomes a bonafide mullet…

Oh, who am I kidding? H-man and Stevie have both been sporting psuedo-mullets for a few weeks now.

But finally today, I managed to distract Henry enough with the iPad and offer the right kind of bribe (a strawberry Blow-Pop), and lo an behold he finally agreed to let me cut his shaggy hair.

He doesn’t even look like the same kid!

Now, I just gotta get Stevie’s hair taken care of and all will be right with the world again.

School, Soccer, and Style

The end of summer rush hit us hard around here. Between our trip to New York, Henry’s birthday, school shopping, appointments, paperwork, and trying to figure out what our schedule is going to look like with Cadence starting 1st grade and me starting a new job on Thursday, we’ve barely had a minute to sit down and breathe. But we’re not complaining. We’re excited to turn the page on this brand new chapter. And in those few free moments we managed to find these past weeks, we’ve had a whole lot of fun.

Cadence and I had a special girls’ day to go get her hair done. She’s been asking to dye her hair for quite awhile not. I’m not sure whether the obsession started because several of her favorite cartoon characters have funky-colored hair, or because she saw a few photos of me with pink/purple/red/blue hair from my college days. Either way, Stevie and I knew it was something she really wanted to try, so we decided it would be a fun back-to-school treat to let her give it a go. Miss C has always had a very unique sense of style, and both Stevie and I are supportive of Cadence’s desire to sport a little extra color. So C and I headed to the College of Hair Design last week for a cut and a little color (she asked to dye her whole head; we agreed that we’ll start with a streak). And other than Cadence getting a little bored when the bleaching lasted more than an hour, we had a blast and were both so excited with the results.

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Yeah, our kid is cool.

Sunday, Cadence started fall soccer with the YMCA. We thought we’d give it a try since she’d done so well in the Happy Feet league. It was the perfect day–sunny, warm but not too hot–and Stevie, Henry, and I had fun watching Cadence play. Team Coventry ended up losing 2-1, but it was a great game, and Cadence had two awesome breakaways and really controlled the ball well. It’s amazing how good she is for only starting to play soccer in January.

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Since Cadence is running around looking so stylish, I figured it was time for Mr. H to finally get the haircut he’s been so desperately needing. Little man’s hair was hanging down into his eyes, and he’s been sporting a full mullet in the back for quite some time now. These days, the boy is obsessed with books and Mickey Mouse, so I put some Mickey cartoons on the tv and gave him a board book to look at and dove right in. Other than stealing the spray bottle from me and demanding his own comb, he did awesome, and I think I managed to give him a pretty straight cut. But he looks so different! Seriously, he doesn’t even look like my baby anymore, and I don’t know how but cutting his hair made him look taller. Long or short hair, he’s one handsome little man.

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Somehow we managed to fit it all in and get everything done, just in time for Miss C’s first day of 1st grade today. I can’t even believe she’s this old already, and it amazed me how mature she looked standing there on the front step impatiently waiting for me to get the obligatory first day of school photos. Impatient or not, she couldn’t hold the serious face long, especially after I pointed out how Electra was creeping on her in the background.

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And now H-man and I are waiting for her to get home so we can hear all about the first day. And then I’ll have one more day home tomorrow before I head back to the office life and start my new position at the University of Nebraska. I can’t wait! Just when I don’t think it’s even possible, life always finds a way to getting more interesting. But with Stevie, Cadence, Henry, and Electra along for the ride, I’m ready for any new adventure that comes my way.

Happy Hair Twin Day! – Kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Katie (then Luekens) was one of the first people I met at Concordia College when I arrived in August of 1998. During the flurry of Orientation, I walked into the Dean of Students office to have my ID photo taken. With a camera in her hands, Katie ushered me in and asked for my name.

“Lori Luethje,” I said. “It’s spelled L-U-E…”

I know you!” Katie squealed as she jotted my name down on a piece of paper. To this day, she is one of the only people I have ever known who could spell it right on her own.

“Well, I know your mom anyway,” Katie explained. “I love it when she calls. It’s always the exact same thing…” she paused, cleared her throat and softened her voice for the impression. “‘Hello. This is Jayne Luethje from Holdrege, Nebraska…’”

I laughed. The impression was spot on.

Katie snapped my picture mid-laugh and I spent the remainder of my college days carrying an ID with a goofy grinning photo staring back at me. Whenever anyone commented, I blamed Katie.

For the rest of my days as a student, Katie and I remained friends, and even spent two years living together in staff housing after I graduated and started working in Concordia’s Admission Office. I fell in love with her sweet dog Scherzo, and spent several holidays and vacations dog/housesitting while Katie traveled to out West to visit her family.

It’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to Katie like moths to a flame. She’s funny and feisty and full of energy. She’s one of those people who is such a natural performer it’s as if a spotlight follows her wherever she goes. And she still has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. When I lived in New York, I used to count down the days to her performances, and make sure I sat near her in chapel so I could mouth the words to the hymns while I listened to her sing them.

When Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer, the thing I hated most (apart from seeing one of my dearest friends so ill) was not being able to physically be there for her. After all the years we’d spent being friends, hanging out, working together, venting to each other, and being roomies, the thousands of miles between us suddenly seemed to grow. I wanted to be able to drop by her house to see her, to hold her hand, hug her. Instead, I had to keep up with her through texts and photos, and send her all the positive thoughts and prayers I could from halfway across the country.

But I knew Katie is a fighter, and that she would never let a little cancer keep her down.

Earlier this year, Katie and I made a deal. I think it started one day when I made a comment on Facebook about wanting to cut my long hair, and Katie suggested I try her post-chemo hairstyle and we could be hair twins. I told Katie I would love to be her hair twin, and we settled on October 1 as our official Hair Twin Day, as a way to kick of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and celebrate Katie being a survivor.

It also gave me a little more time to grow my hair as long as possible for donation.

So, I made an appointment, and had Katie send over a few photos. A few people asked if I was nervous making such a drastic change. Nope. Not one bit. Not for my Katie.

Happy Hair Twin Day Roomie!

The one and only, Katie Luekens Chan Chee lookin’ fabulous as a redhead!
My before picture
My amazing hairstylist (and old high school friend) Desirae (Fowler) Tira
12 inches cut to donate, and a whole lot more on the floor
What’s this?
Bye bye hair! It’s off to be made into a wig that will be donated to one of the American Cancer Society’s wig banks.
I don’t think I know how to make a normal face in a photo, so I’ll just show you my hair
Pretty sure the neighbors thought I was nuts taking self-portraits on the front porch
It may be Breast Cancer Awareness month, but October is not the only time to show your support.
It’s a lot of hair, but it’s the least I can do.

To all my friends and family who have bravely battled cancer–whether breast, brain, throat or thyroid–you are loved. You are courageous and tenacious. You inspire me to be a better person, and to be thankful for every moment I get to spend on this earth.

Keep fighting. Keep fighting. Keep fighting.