Tuesday, October 27, 2015

high five

My dear sweet darling girl,

You are finally 5! You waited all year for your birthday because with the exception of Carl Rove, yours is the last family birthday of the year. You have even celebrated each of your friends turning 5 before it was your turn. 

I am about 3 weeks late on your birthday letter, but between making 40 superhero capes and masks for your birthday party, baking 4 dozen cookies and a cake for fall festival, and putting together a treat bowl in a mandated yet tragic effort to build morale, I have not taken the time to sit down and reflect on my new 5 year old.

You are so much like me that I empathize with you wholeheartedly in your excitement, your sadness, and your frustration. We both try our best to not upset people and hate when people are upset with us. We both feel people's disappointment at a level deep within the depths of our soul. We hate disappointing people. When you get frustrated with your Appah, trust me I know how that feels. You get so excited that you are bouncing off the walls, to which I can also relate. Although, as you get older you have to hold that in or channel it in a different way, which trust me, is really hard. 

At 5 years old you are still a mix of little kid, big kid, and even a tiny bit of the little baby that I barely remember. The kindergarten you is the big kid. The big kid that is learning how to read, write, and how to cope with life's challenges, but I can still pick you up and hug you like a little kid. More than anything, you will always be my baby. I have to remember to let you try things on your own and not baby you too much.

I love your smile. I love your laugh. Your talking is a bit excessive at times, but you LOVE talking. Last night I watched a video of you explaining to your dad about what both the word "free" and the word "sarcastic" mean. I love how you explain things so matter of factly, and quite frankly you are correct more often than not. You are inquisitive and are constantly asking us to tell you how things work - like lasers, magnets, holograms, and fire. Your dad has already given you lessons in thermodynamics. 

You love watching YouTube videos of people playing with children's toys and people doing their makeup like Disney Princesses. Your favorite toys are My Little Pony and the Incredible Hulk. You love to try different foods and were so excited about cooking club at school.

You are my first, and will always have a special place in my heart. I both rejoice and lament in each of your milestones. I have shared all of my motherhood firsts with you and you have taught me that I am capable of a love greater than I ever imagined. Thank you for showing me how much a person can love another - it has given me insight into exactly how I think my own mom (who you refer to as Mama Jean) felt about me. 

You have handled this past year of growing up with as much grace as can be expected of a 4 going on 5 year old. I'm so proud of the person you are becoming. I love everything about you. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes. You truly are the best thing! I wish you nothing but a year full of laughter and love.

All my love forever and ever,


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

super birthday, super girl

I am a sucker for planning kid birthday parties. If I didn't already have a full-time job and was interested in having my own business, I would start my own event planning service specializing in kid events. Last weekend super sick me hosted a super birthday for my super Little Miss J.

This year she requested a superhero themed birthday party. I decided that I wanted to make superhero capes for party favors and got busy making prototypes back in August. I ended up making 40 total plus masks, and only have 4 leftover.

We held the birthday party at a local pumpkin farm. The kids ran around, feeding goats, playing on the playground, going on hayrides, riding ponies, and running around like crazy. 

Our party got its own special hayride where everyone sang Happy Birthday to Little Miss J. 

Then there was MORE singing and cake!

I think my little girl was pretty excited that so many kids came to help her celebrate. She was quite the little hostess making sure everyone had a superhero wristband. 

After people went home and we got all cleaned up, the little Chunglunds stayed around to pick out their pumpkins.

Thank you to everyone who came to help us celebrate. It was a long drive, a hot day, and I'm sorry there was no alcohol allowed - but you all helped to make one very happy little girl. Happy super 5th Birthday, Little Miss J!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

october 9

The day I left for Reykjavik in 1998
October 9, 2001 remains the worst day of my life. We knew my mom was sick and we knew the end was near, so the phone call I got on October 9 did not come as much of a surprise, which, of course, did not make the news any easier. Here is the obituary I wrote. No one wants to have to write their mom's obituary. But when your mom asks, you just do it. Of course, she insisted that I start writing it before she passed so that she could have some input. 

October 9, 2010 remains one of the best days of my life. I became the mom to the most awesome girl that I know. No one really wants Pitocin or stitches in sensitive areas, but when there's a baby in there it's got to come out. All my friends have photos of themselves looking radiant and beautiful after having a baby. I wish I did too. But I don't. You cannot tell by the look on my face that this is one of the best days of my life, but it was.

On October 9, 2015, Little Miss J will turn 5 and my mom, Jean, will have been gone for another year. It is literally a day to celebrate and a day to mourn. Losing my mom is a loss I still feel with an uncompromised clarity. I certainly do not miss her any less, and imagine that I never will. There is a special kind of unparalleled comfort a mom provides. When I am struggling and I feel alone because the only thing I can do is complain and I don't want to burden my friends with negativity, I would like to still be able to talk with my mom. When my confidence is shaken and I don't believe in myself or my abilities, I wish she were here. She may not have known how to help me with calculus homework or what my urban design professor really wanted in that paper he assigned, but she knew how to listen and she knew how to remind me of the smart, capable kid/teen/adult that I was (and hopefully continue to be).

There is the saying about not crying because it's over and instead being happy because it happened. While I do feel lucky for having an incredible mom for 22 years, the fact that her life ended too soon for my liking will probably always make me cry. While telling my kids about their Grandma Jean makes me happy, I am sad that I even have to do it in the first place. I wish Grandma Jean could see and love on the little people that I have made. The little people that, like me with her, look to me for the comfort that only a mother can provide.

Family was important to my mom and I often think that she was the glue that held us all together. An unfortunate time of big hair and stonewashed jeans, but I know how happy my mom was to have all of her kids (including the foreign exchange student, Henri, and the dog, Tobie) together this Christmas. Personally, I think Liane has the best hair.

I don't know a single person, who knew my mom, that doesn't still miss her. She touched so many people's lives. October 9th will probably always be the best worst (or worst best?) day of my life, but I think the most fitting way to honor my mom's memory is to continue to be the best mom that I can be to Little Miss J and J2. And being the best mom I can be on October 9 is by planning Jean Hoff-worthy birthday celebrations for Little Miss J, complete with decorated sugar cookies cut out in the shape of a "5."

Love you, mom!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

happy birthday dear j2

Before he gets too far into 2 years old, I wanted to do the birthday recap. We celebrated J2 turning 2 last Saturday with a trip to Funderland, a nap, presents, and cake. It was free admission to Fairytale Town that day so Land Park not only has a zoo, but was a zoo.

Chunglunds in a teacup
selfies on the flying dragon
Then it was time for cake.


A much more subdued celebration than his 1st birthday, but a perfect day for a perfect little boy!