Monthly Archives: February 2009

50 things I love about Jenna

(Thanks Sheye, for the inspiration…)



Those kissable little cheeks. They got kissed several times a day.

Her laughter.

How she’d call her brothers “the guys” or sometimes, “my guys”.

The way her hair curled after a bath.

Reading the same book at bedtime, night after night after night, and the way she’d correct me if I got a word wrong or skipped anything.

Watching Jenna and her daddy greet each  other when he came home from work. There’s just something about a little girl enveloped in her daddy’s bear hug…

The way Jenna’s eyes would grow big when her daddy made the shopping cart go fast.

Jenna and Tom.

Jenna’s bossy tone of voice when she put her brothers in their place. It was something to behold!

Watching Jenna and her best friend Joseph chase each other at church. Jenna often seemed to be in front, and would run with her head turned to see where Joseph was. How she managed to avoid bumping into things, I don’t know.  

Jenna dancing.


Hiding under the bedcovers with Jenna until her brothers or her daddy walked into the room, and then shouting ‘boo!’ at them.

We’d try on clothes every now and then. Jenna would admire her dress in front of the mirror, and then proceed downstairs to show off to her brothers. She’d make a slow, stately entrance, and then sit down in front of them and fluff her dress out, waiting to be noticed.

When Jenna would decide to turn on the charm at the grocery store, and greet everyone in sight.

Jenna’s brothers would indulge her desire to play on the wii by handing her a remote that wasn’t plugged in. She’d press buttons happily, thinking she was really participating in the game.

Surfing the internet with a sleeping muffin across my lap.

Drinking in the beauty and sweetness of Jenna snuggling with her oldest brother, fast asleep.

Having Skype conversations with the family overseas. I was always so proud to show Jenna off. 🙂

Playing hide and seek with Jenna. She’d always return to the same spot to hide. 🙂

Watching her line up her plastic animals along the edge of the bath tub, or along the grout lines on the tile floor.

Laying on the trampoline and watching the aeroplane trace ‘lions’ across the blue sky. Hubby says he and Jenna would count the ‘beards’ (Spanish moss) on the trees whenever they were out on the trampoline together.

Jenna and her pink bike. She was fearless on that thing!

That she was everything girlie.


Watching Jenna clean. She was a cutesie-pie cleaner! She loved wiping my mirrors, or wiping dirty spots on the floor with her spray cleaner and her little cloth.

Jenna and I scooting down the stairs on our hineys, one by one, bumpity-bump, taking that last step with a big  jump! I loved the way she’d smile up at me when we did silly things like this together. That special look is one of the things I treasure the most.

Singing the “hop little bunny song”, Jenna was a very enthusiastic and cute little hopper.

Extra-cuddly days when she wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to be held.

When Jenna would take my picture with those toy princess cameras at the Walmart checkout, telling me how beautiful I was.

Shopping for second hand girlie outfits at half-price on Wednesdays. ( She’d go through the racks as enthusiastically as I did.) Scouring Ebay for bargain designer clothes. Building up a stash of girlie clothes for the muffiny to grow into. Pretty pink items in my laundry basket.

Hearing her say: “You’re my best mama”.

Playing dollhouse.

Watching the muffiny paint – in the buff.

Seeing Jenna and Joseph share a ‘hug and kiss’.


Having a little sleepy Jenna-hand trail across my back in the middle of the night to feel if I was still next to her, and then grow limp as she fell back to sleep.

Playing drums on whatever surface we could find – usually it was pots and pans, the floor, and the kitchen cabinets – all at the same time.

Listening to her sing. Here and  here .

Jenna was irresistably drawn to anything she could balance on. The stone edges of  flower beds, parking lots, the wooden beams at the playground. Watching her balance along these was usually fun, yet sometimes exasperating (when I was in a hurry).

When she would cheerfully inform me that she was going to sleep with her brothers, give me a hug and kiss goodnight, and crawl into their bed, right in the middle between them. I’d peek into their room and find three (sometimes four, when they were smaller and still fit into one bed) smiling faces peeping out from underneath the blanket, like little peas in a pod. Jenna had no intention of going to sleep with her brothers, of course. She simply wanted an extra snuggle with them sometimes.

When I was still nursing her, but trying to wean her, we made a rule that she could only nurse after dark. She’d come to me and ask: “Is it dark yet?” We’d go to inspect the sky through our dormer window, and she’d nearly jump out of her skin with excitement when she saw a dark sky. LOL!

How she’d release a contented sigh, and say: “Mom, it’s a beautiful day…” when she wanted to make conversation but didn’t quite know what to say.

Her beauty.  I know I am a biased mommy, but to me Jenna was The Most Gorgeous Little Girl In The Whole Wide World…ever. I could sometimes just stare at her and drink her in.

The times I told her how delicious she was, asking if I can have just a little taste. At first she took me literally and refused. Later, she knew better but still pretended that it horrified her. (But mom, I’m not food!   … with a big smile on her face…) In her last months with us she’d offer her arm for a nibble and ever so gently nibble me back, telling me I was delicious too.

Jenna tugging on my cheek, my nose, my chin, the skin on my neck, and laughing at the funny sounds I made with each little tug. (I didn’t particularly like this game but I indulged her – thankfully it never lasted long. 🙂 )

Seeing that sweet maternal tilt of her head as she snuggled a soft toy, or a live kitten under her chin.


Walking Morsel, the neighbor’s dog. Jenna LOVED everything about it.

Watching Jenna beg my pastor (who is a real softie) for dum dum pops. She made it hard for anyone to say no.

Sniffing candles at Walmart. She thought they all smelled “like jelly beans.”

Her demanding goodbyes (she wanted her snacks, prepared by me, and served just so, followed by a hug and kiss, before I could leave) and her exuberant greetings when hubby and I arrived home from a night out. (Mommeee, Daddeeee, you’re baaaaack!)

Jenna-hugs, Jenna-cuddles, Jenna-smells, Jenna-talk, Jenna-giggles, everything Jenna…

I love that she still lives. That I can smile into her eyes on her pictures and almost feel her smiling back. I love that sense I get sometimes, when I am doing well and know that I have pleased Jesus, that Jenna approves and cheers me on. I often feel like she is my biggest cheer-leader. I know her daddy feels the same way.



As I sit here, weeping softly so that no-one in this house full of people will notice (why am I so private with this?), I just miss Jenna. I miss all the girly things she injected into this house full of boys. I miss fussing with all her pretty clothes. I miss snuggling with her. I miss her girly sweetness. I miss that uncanny female ability that she had, as young as she was, to be tuned in to her momma and to seek relationship above anything else. Jenna knew my moods better than her brothers ever did. She managed to connect with me in ways that the boys didn’t.  I can’t explain it, but I think it is a girl thing. The other day, I had the awful realisation that my relationship with my boys when they are grown men will never be the same as the relationship with a grown daughter. It is simply different.

Now, as yet another friend is expecting a baby girl, I cannot help but feel slightly envious. Hubby and I were shopping at Walmart today and he asked me if I didn’t sometimes get the inexplicable desire to just reach out to a little toddler stranger at the store and hug her close. The answer is yes. Sometimes my eyes linger too long as I look at a sweet little girl Jenna’s age, and I wonder if anyone can read the longing hiding behind my smile. (I doubt it).

I look at Jenna’s pictures…she was the quintessential little girl, wasn’t she? Soooooo perfect. Cuteness itself. And she was mine to snuggle and hold and sing with and bump down the stairs on our hineys with and to tickle and to build relationship with. Relationship that normally would last a lifetime.

Oh, I get it, that relationship is eternal and that she is waiting with Jesus for me. I have found closure in the fact that she isn’t really all that far away. I know lots of peace and plenty of joy and this outburst is a rare moment in my day. But right now my fingers are flying across the keys trying to express what is pouring out of my heart and right here, in this moment, I simply miss her. My sweet little muffiny and everything she is. I miss my girly girl.

February 13

I have had bloggy thoughts swimming through my brain a lot the past few days, but have had little time to post them. Now, of course, most of them are gone. 🙂

My mom was due to arrive at noon today, but engine trouble has caused them to stay over in Dakar, Senegal. She spent the day at a hotel on the beach, and I took the opportunity to clear out our sunroom, which had become a junk room. It is a gorgeous room, and one of the main reasons we bought this house, but for various reasons it had become unused. Weather being one, male cat being another, and needing space to dump things another. After a morning spent clearing out and cleaning, the room looks inviting enough that I want to go out shopping to decorate even more (not going to happen) and the boys made themselves at home on the carpet and dumped out some toys to play with. The cats had been banished from the room a long time ago and the smell is gone – phew!  

What’s new this week:

My oldest shaved for the first time. He held on to his childhood as long as he could, LOL, but eventually even he couldn’t stand the dark furry caterpillar on his upper lip anymore!

Both my history classes on Wednesday ended with sweet little 6th graders clustering around me and telling me what a great lesson it was, and eagerly continuing to talk about Teddy Roosevelt as we walked back to class together. We had our lesson outside to take full advantage of the lovely weather. I told my oldest son what a great feeling it was to have my classes so enthusiastic about history and he half-seriously replied: “What is wrong with them?” 

The weather has been loverly. We have been sleeping with the windows open, and I have been awakened by birdsong. I will never feel quite the same about birdsong anymore, however. It instantly transports me back to those days last spring that dragged on in their sameness, all blurring into one with the same overriding thing binding them all together – missing Jenna and coming to terms with life without her.  This morning I had to get up and close the window. While I LOVE listening to birds sing, I needed to sleep in this morning, and I knew that hearing the birds would make me think too much and miss Jenna too much to be sleepy.  

The morning Jenna left us was the most raucous morning I can remember hearing. The birds were exuberant in their song. I remember sneaking out of bed and panning my camera across Jenna’s sleeping face and into my sister’s yard. The idea was to capture some of that birdsong, and I was less concerned with what I was filming. Later, when I realised that my camera’s memory was too low, I erased that clip, not knowing that Jenna would leave us that day and not realising that I would have treasured that clip beyond any picture taken that day, had I kept it.

We listened to a bird identification tape in the car that afternoon, because I wanted to know which bird had made the plaintive song that rang out above the others that morning. Now as I type this, I can’t remember. It was some kind of dove.

I am not sure about other regions of the US, but the birdsong in South Africa is much more varied and melodic than the songs over here. I miss it.  

Today a year ago, we visited with my hubby’s side of the family. His cousin took these pictures:


OK…wayyyyyyyy past bedtime. Hopefully I can post more coherently tomorrow.

Soooo busy…sigh

Sigh. I really want to stop the world for a day so I can just sit and remember Jenna and miss her, but there’s no time. That just stinks. Anyway – I need to get to bed so I can catch up on the sleep I didn’t get last night! Hopefully my week will ease off a bit after Wednesday, though I doubt it. Anyhow – I just had a quick look at my pictures folder and saw this one of Jenna, taken a year ago today. When she was about two years old we couldn’t get her near a carousel. As she grew older though, we couldn’t get her off one! 🙂


PS. Check the razor wire in the background. Security is a big deal in South Africa.

Snippets, and a prayer request

Nothing much going on today, except that I dragged my cold self off to the grocery store where I picked up food for the kiddos and another ball of yarn. Yes, I have taken up knitting again! It has been so cold here that I became aware of the lack of scarves in my wardrobe, and that inspired me. I made myself a scarf in less than a week, and I am a very proud little Sumi!  

The scarf I’ve finished is black with a golden-ish tread running through it, the yarn I picked out today is soft and pink, like Jenna. I have already casted on and knitted about 10 rows, and the youngest says it reminds him of his little sister.

We have been doing OK, but I notice a general grumpiness around here. The kids are out of sorts a bit and arguing more than usual, and my patience is on the short side. I don’t know whether to attribute it to the time of Jenna’s heaven day approaching or just plain old warfare. It is a new season for hubby and I, with new challenges.

I just learned this morning that my mom will be popping in for a visit, arriving next Friday! I am not sure if it was meant to be a secret (because my mom hasn’t told me a thing), and I don’t even know how long she will be staying, but hubby told me so that I will be able to get her room ready. In our phone conversations recently my mom has been expressing how much she longs to just have a face to face visit with me where we can talk about Jenna, and without my knowledge, my hubby and his sister conspired to bring her here. Aren’t they sweetie-pies?

I have tons of schoolwork to do this weekend. Our newspaper will be published this week, which means a lot of layout work for me. (I still don’t have it set up in a way where the kids can do layout). I have tests to grade. And lots of planning to do.

It is also Jenna’s best friend Joseph’s fifth birthday this weekend. Last year he had a very low-key birthday, because they were waiting for us to get back from SA to celebrate Joseph’s birthday. Sigh. For Valentine’s Day Joseph made Jenna a precious heart collage which his mom mailed to us in South Africa – it never arrived. Oh…what I’d do for that valentine’s card to turn up after all this time.

I know that of all my friends here in America, Joseph’s mom and dad were the closest to Jenna. They miss her terribly too and celebrating “Jo-sho’s” special day without his Jenna will be bittersweet indeed.

Finally, a prayer request. Baby Nathan needs your prayers urgently. I told his friends that I would post a request on my blog so we could get the word out.

I can’t end this post without thanking all of you for your AMAZING support. What precious friends you all are to me! Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement, they are so appreciated. Someone asked me recently if I would mind receiving emails or a card for Jenna, and the answer is, I’d LOVE to!  I’m not always the quickest to respond to emails, but I appreciate all of you more than you can ever know.

In keeping with what I’ve been doing for the past week, I am posting pictures taken a year ago today. We were walking on the golf course in a game reserve (wild animals roam on the golf course at will…but only the reasonably benign kind – no lions rhinos or elephants). Jenna repeatedly ran from me, to my sister and mom, and back again, loving the feel of the soft grass on her bare feet.





Farm pictures

Who wouldn’t want to wake up next to such a precious sight? I remember just lingering in bed that morning, and staring at that sweet little face:


While Jenna slept we had an early morning cup of coffee and Jenna’s brother got acquainted with the cows:


We went on a loooooong walk. Jenna was still a bit shy around all the strangers. Here she is hiding behind my leg:


Looking at an ant nest:


Watching the cousins play in the mud. She is in awe of the kitty cat Tarryn made out of mud. Do you notice how clean Jenna is as opposed to her cousins? LOL! 




I just remembered this picture, and felt like adding it now, somewhat belatedly. We are on a tractor ride shortly before sunset and the muffiny is very serious and sober after having woken up from a nap:  


These pictures were taken a year ago today. My heart catches in my throat as I post them. Isn’t she just the sweetest little petal?

Quick update

I have plenty of typing to do to put a school assignment together for my students, so I can only pop in for a minute. 🙂

An update on baby Camden, taken from an email I received shortly after his operation:


Little Camden Roell is in recovery.  The surgeon left the operating room smiling.  ALL of his organs were successfully moved except for a spleen.  The spleen started bleeding badly and it was decided to remove it.  When they did it, they found that God had given him an extra one!  Only one in about 500,000 people have a second spleen like that! 

Camden did not develop a diaphragm and only has one lung, but they either were able or are able to make him a diaphragm out of a synthetic material and the little lung he has, while under developed, is bigger than what they thought. 

Camden’s lung is still not working on its own, but the docs are continuing to work with him.  A machine will continue, at least for now, to oxygenate and clean his blood.

This is one tough little boy with a VERY BIG GOD! 

Thanks for praying everyone.

Things are going well over here, life is busy at the moment but the goodness of God makes my heart sing. Memories of our last few days with Jenna are coming hard and strong at the moment and I am weepy at times. Today a year ago we had just arrived on the family farm. Jenna was overwhelmed with all the ‘newness’ of everything and was a difficult little madam. I don’t have time to upload pictures right now but I’ll post some pictures from that trip later – I have some really cute ones. OH…what I wouldn’t do to just scoop the muffiny in my arms right now for a big bear hug! (Jenna gave great hugs, like her daddy).

Gotta go – Helena, thank you for your sweet note. I got it in the mail yesterday. Michelle – I have no link to your blog address. Please leave a link for me, I’d love to visit you there.

I’ll bow out with a question: Are you watching the Superbowl tonight? We’re going to our pastor’s – hence the haste to get schoolwork done. I have been asked to take a jar of pickles for sandwiches tonight. Do you like pickles?