Today I let him…


Cry cancer.

Over the last several weeks (months), Broder has been applying to colleges, and vying for scholarships.

His test scores are more than good.

His grades are rather impressive.

He volunteers. He is an athlete.

And it is NOT ENOUGH.

So, yeah, I said it: play the cancer card.

Yes, I know he is healthy.

Yes, I know he is physically strong.

Yes, I know he is emotionally stable.

And getting to this place has been hard work.

And staying in this place is not a given.

So he writes these essays.

And he talks about what his dreams were. And how those dreams were stolen from him.

He goes on to say that letting go of those dreams was incredibly painful.

He talks about how finding new dreams has been so unbelievably amazing.

My heart breaks for him.

I am so incredibly proud of him.

And I pray that someone on the committee sees that he is speaking from his heart.


  mundane, exhausting, wonderful…


It’s mid-September. Football season in in full swing, and once again our Friday nights consist of endless butt-numbing hours in the stands.(although I will say, as a cheer mom as opposed to a bench warmer mom, there is a bit more to keep my interest). 

Broder and Sunny are back in school. Thank the Good Lord!  (Routine makes this liberal hippie really really happy)

  Kjell is somewhere, but because he is earning his own money and pushing 21, apparently I don’t need to know where that is…{I am NOT bitter, nor do I feel rejected(I am so sorry, Mom, for all those times I didn’t call)}

Dave has been spending a little time here in Tulsa, a little time at our home in Texas, and a lot of time traveling. Ensuring the  world (or at least North America)is a  fully trained, safer, place.  

Our house projects continue, only 1 room lacks intact walls and ceiling. Every room awaits finishing touches.  (But it’s paid for, so…)

Leonard, our 6 month old Great Pyrenees pup has stopped sitting on our chickens, and only sniffs and licks them.  (The girls tolerate this, but I am not sure they enjoy it)

Hesed, our demon dog, (which is ironic, since her name roughly translates “God’s indescribable love”) has stopped trying to shred the chickens.  We are proud.  

I am middle aged.  I have been married a long time. I lie awake worrying about the things I didn’t check off my to do list.  My spouse struggles to maintain a wortk/life balance. My house is never as clean as it should be.

 I  have teens, and one young adult.  2 dogs, 4 chickens, 1 lizard (how?? Why??)

Perhaps it’s boring.

 Certainly it’s tiring. 

It’s nothing special. 

And yet, this life is so much more than I ever dreamed could be.  

20 years ago…


I found myself thrown into an epic tug of war battle.  It began the moment I first held him (which, thanks to a progressive OB dr, was truly  as he was born into my shaky, woefully unprepared hands). 

All I wanted to do at that moment was keep him safe, forever.  

And yet I knew my job was to, eventually, let him go. 

And for the last 20 years, my heart has been smashed to a million pieces/full to bursting. 

Those first steps, not holding my hand. 

The day he learned to open the front door and venture into the yard. 

Walking to school, in first grade. (I stayed just out of sight, the entire mile) 

Dragging his sled to the park, without me. And coming home with frost-nip

Falling out of a tree. And calling to tell me about it.

Biking to school. 

Driving to his job. 

Rear-ending a car.  And calling to tell me about it.  After he had called the police and filled out the accident form.

Watching his hand shake, just before he signed his appointment acceptance to the United States Merchant Marine Academy (18 and committing a minimum of 9 years to service) 

Waving as he goes through airport security, on his way to Indoc. 

Phone calls, from the ER, AFTER he has been discharged.  

A text.  From Djibouti.  

With each of these, my every fiber wanted to encase him in bubble wrap.  And with each one of these, I reveled in his victory.  

 From those first steps:  just inches from me, to 1\2 way across the globe, all I wanted to do was pull him close and make him promise to never leave his mother.  

From those first steps: just inches from me, to 1\2 way across the globe, I knew my job was to prepare him to truly live life.  

And for 20 years, my heart has been smashed to pieces with a mother’s fear/ bursting with the pride of a mother’s love 

Happy Birthday, Kjell. 

I love you, with my heart burst into a million pieces. 

Tradition!! And then there is our house. 


For the majority of our life together, we have lived far from family (550-4500 miles), so holidays have often looked a bit different, the big gatherings taking place in our hearts, but not at our dining table. 

I am not going to tell you this is easy, it’s not.  

We miss our loved ones and the chaos/fun that comes with a packed house full of siblings-cousins-aunts-uncles-grandparents.  

Sonetimes it’s a pinch of salt  in a wound I thought long healed when friends tell me their plans to get together with family, when my siblings text me the menu, when my mom calls to tell me that my sister-in-law came over to help her clean. I want to be the one whose kids are going to grandma’s!  I want to take a day off to dust the bookshelves, wash the china, polish the silver. 

But there is joy.  Over the years we have created our own, special, a little offbeat celebrations. 

At Thanksgiving we have frequently chosen to order our meal fully prepared from a top notch restaurant. (I cook all the time, seriously, this is a gift to myself).  We spend the day playing games and take time to talk about the countless things for which we are thankful. 

On Christmas Eve we have a humble meal of soup in homemade bread bowls.  We attend a late service, and then open, what has become as our children grow older, fewer and fewer gifts, instead taking time to reflect on the incredible blessings we take for granted. The last 2 Christmas eves being especially sweet, celebrating our Savior’s birth and Broder’s health (his cancer surgery taking place on December 23, 2013). 

Christmas Day finds us sleeping in, playing games, eating a ridiculous and elaborate meal, taking a walk to make room for pie/cake/cookies/lefse, and then snuggling in to watch a movie or 3 on the insanely big TV Dave somehow convinced me was a “good deal”. (I was very opposed, being a good pietist, the pleasures of this world often cause me great consternation).

Birthdays are a non-thing.  If lucky, we remember to get cards.  And sometime during the weeks surrounding the actual birth date, if we slow down long enough, I will make a cake.  Which we eat for breakfast.  As it should be.  

And then there is Easter.  Arguably, as a Christian, the most important day we can observe.  

So we celebrate.  We attend a service.  Preferably the most traditional we can find.  Liturgy. The telling of the Easter story.  Singing the hymns that give me goosebumps. Rejoicing in the gift of our salvation. 

And then we come home and eat a traditional Easter dinner. 

Of potstickers, fried rice, spring rolls, eggs rolls, fried wontons and cabbage salad.  

This day, last year…


Started far too early. The alarm rang at 4:30am, and as much as I wanted to turn it off, roll over and go back to sleep, ignoring all obligations, it was not an option.

Broder’s check-in time was 5:30am.

Surgery was scheduled for 7am.

It had been just six weeks since that weird lump on the ridge between his shoulder and neck had been removed. And less than 4 weeks since it was confirmed as cancer.

Everything had moved so fast. And none of it seemed quite real.

We knew that Broder’s cancer was a couple of things: very rare and very slow growing.

What we didn’t know was if there was any cancer lurking, if in the cleanup process of this second surgery if there would be nerve or bone involvement, if he would have feeling in his neck, if he would be able to move his arm, or (unlikely, but mentioned too many times to ignore completely) if his arm would be removed at the shoulder.

As Broder waited to be taken back into surgery: the regular vitals, surgery site and identity checks all happened as one expects. (It felt like every surgeon for miles was a part of this, as a number of people introduced themselves with “when I heard what kind of tumor you had, Broder, I asked if I could be a part of things, this is a once in a career kind of opportunity” but in reality, I think it was really only 6)

Each person: nurses, CNAs, medical assistants, MDs, asked Broder the same thing.

“How are you doing? Do you have any questions about what is going to happen today?”

And to each one he responded with exactly the same answer.

“I am great! Can I go home today? I really want to be home for Christmas”.

And every single person looked at me, with an almost imperceptible shake of the head and said to Broder.

“Well, we will just have to see”.

To which Broder replied.

“I really want to be home for Christmas”

Just before they took him back, his surgeon took me aside and told me she fully expected we would be admitted for a couple of days. This is what I figured I would hear, but decided I would wait to call Dave to let him know until after surgery was over. (Dave had stayed in Tulsa, as he had his own colonoscopy/cancer check up with the colorectal specialist on the 23rd as well). I just needed to wait. And pray.

The longest ever 3 hours passed (I swear it was really 4 days I sat in that family waiting room) and finally, the surgeon came out to talk to me.

And she said “surgery went well. Better than we could have ever hoped. I had to take some minor nerves, and some layers of bone off the scapula, as well as some muscle in his shoulder, neck and pectoral area, so he will have some loss of sensation and there will be significant pain, but the brachia plexus nerve is untouched and the surrounding muscles will learn to compensate, so I anticipate no permanent loss of function”.

“But”. She continued, “there is one thing I want to talk to you about”.

My heart sank. I just knew we were spending Christmas at MD Anderson

“The last thing he said, before going under, and the first thing upon coming out of anesthesia, was ‘can I go home today? I really want to be home for Christmas’.

So, I asked the anesthetist to give him a little extra. And I asked the medical assistants to round up a few extra pillows and blankets. The recovery room nurses are standing by to give you a quick lesson in wound care. The way I figure it, if you can leave by 2pm, and drive like hell, you can get home before the pain really kicks in.

You have quite the kid there, and I can’t wait to hear what he does what amazing adventures are in store for him. Merry Christmas!!”

And so, packed in like the priceless cargo he was (is), on a cloud of pillows and blankets, Broder slept in the passenger seat of my rental car.

And I drove like a bat out of hell. Across Houston. Past Waco. Beyond Dallas. And then, all the adrenaline left my body.

I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

All I could think of was getting home. Getting my arms around Dave, Kjell and Sunny. Having all my babies together. Being complete.
But each mile was a struggle. And I had to pull over.

After a 2 hour nap in a truck stop parking lot, it was back on the road. It became apparent, about 2 hours later, that my nap was not quite long enough, as I took the wrong exit on the toll road and headed west for 49 miles before I could turn around.

And by 5am, Christmas Eve morn, we pulled up to the house.

Home for Christmas<

Catching up, finally…


Oh goodness, it’s been months since I last wrote.

This fall has been a blur of college applications, football and volleyball games, and marching band contests.

It started out innocently enough. Just the 2 boys in football.

But then Sunny heard an announcement stating there would be try outs for middle school volleyball. So on a whim, she went, and ended up being one of three 6th graders picked to join the team.

Then, as I sat at my desk one morning, a friend of Kjell’s approached me and asked “would you consider hosting an exchange student?”

Always one to speak before I think, my response was “yes! That would be fun”

4 days later, many many phone calls, and an expedited State Department background check (apparently we passed), Louisa moved into our home.

Hence the marching band component.

She is 16 and hails from near Hamburg, Germany. She fits in with our kids as though they have been friends, or even cousins, since the dawn of time. Sunny is thankful every day that her dream of having a sister has come true.

So now we are a family of 6. And it is very busy, and very very fun.

22 years. 8-28-92


My sister Lucy loves to tell people that Dave and I owe our marriage to her.

And it’s true.

Set up on a blind date, Dave was the second of 3 young men my sister had deemed worthy. (I have this sneaking suspicion that Dave was considered maybe only marginally worthy as he was not Scandinavian and had no idea what lefse was, but older sisters can’t be exactly right on everything!)

That first meeting was awkward and uncomfortable, but something must have intrigued me, because it wasn’t a week later and I found I absolutely needed to go watch this near stranger play hockey.

After the game, sweaty and stinking like only a hockey player can, he asked if he could call. I said yes.

On our first real date, he brought flowers, took me to a way out of the way, hole in the wall restaurant that served the most amazing food. He didn’t blink an eye as I put away plate after plate. We talked for hours. (I can’t remember what the conversation was, probably due to the onset of a food coma). He drove me home, walked me to my door, did not kiss me (coward) and asked if he could see me again.

I said “no”.
I think I saw his eyes widen just a tiny bit, but he just nodded and said “ok”.
Then I told him I was kidding and that I would love to see him again.

He tells me that is the moment he knew he wanted to marry me.

There was another date, more flowers, another great restaurant.

Then a 3rd date, this time he brought me chocolate, but no flowers.

It was after this date that I called my dad and told him I had fallen in love, and I was going to marry this guy, even though he drove a Chevy (and not a Ford).

56 days after the first time we met, he asked, and I said yes.

6.5 months after that first dinner at Lucy’s house, we were pledging our lives to each other in front of our family and our friends.

It’s been 22 years since we stood in the front of that church.

22 years of (sometimes hard) work.
22 years of (more than I dreamed possible) adventure.
22 years of (never too much) fun.
22 years of (exactly the right amount) of love.