Monday, November 23, 2009


I keep bugging Dan with questions.
"Does your mom make the kind of stuffing inside the bird, or only the kind that gets baked separately?"
"Growing up, were you guys an eat-at-2'o clock or eat-at-4'o clock Thanksgiving family?"
"What kind of sweet potatoes does your mom make?"
"What kind of pies?"
"There will be mashed potatoes, right?"

And really, I have no reason to question the merits of the Thanksgiving meal in Lynden. Sue is a phenomenal cook. Everything she's ever made, I have wanted more of, almost immediately. It's just that this is my very first Thanksgiving where I won't be with my parents. I know what you're thinking, Shelle, you're 30 years old, it's time to cut the cord. Don't worry, I have taken the command to "leave and cleave" very seriously and Dan and I are starting to make our own family traditions. That doesn't mean I won't miss the oh-so-very traditional Thanksgivings I enjoyed in the past.

Yes, we were cheesy and went around the table and everyone said something they were thankful for, and yes, as a teenager, I probably scowled through the exercise, but was secretly glad we did it anyway. We all had a job too. Jen would make a fruit salad, Kasey started out by setting the table, but I think he eventually was promoted to mashed potato man, and I did the appetizers. I took my job very seriously. As a kid, I cut up veggies and made a ranch dip, but my appetizers evolved as I grew up. One year I made a homemade cheese ball with fancy cheese and port wine. Another year I did a baked brie with honey.

Guests were always welcome. When I was in college, my dad always asked if all my friends had plans, because if they didn't, they were certainly invited to Oregon with me. One year, right after I moved to Pullman, I invited my co-worker/friend, Kristene. She was from New Zealand and had never experienced an American Thanksgiving. She was a great help in the kitchen and fun to have around. My brother and sister thought she was pretty funny and everyone loved her "exotic" accent. But what was most entertaining to us was that at dinner she asked if she could have one of the turkey legs. Sure, why not? None of us cared for the leg. But apparently growing up, she and her brother fought over the drum sticks whenever their mom cooked a turkey. She was happy to have a turkey leg without a fight and we were happy to hear that sibling rivalry was just as prevalent on the other side of the world as it is in the good ol' USA.

This Thanksgiving we will all make some new memories. Jen has been promoted from fruit salad maker to the bringer-of-the-cheesecake at dinner with her husband's family. Kasey will do more than set the table and make mashed potatoes this year because this year he is hosting our parents in Des Moines. He and his wife are also having Christina's parents over too. And me? I'm not too sure what my Thanksgiving job will be this year. Maybe Sue will need help with the pies or the stuffing or the potatoes. Or maybe I'll even make my signature appetizers, just at a different house this year.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Make some great memories and remember the fun times of Thanksgivings past. We have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Quit!

That’s it. I quit.
I really mean it this time. It’s over. I’m done. No more.
Nail Biting, you and I are officially no longer together.

Oh, we’ve had a good run, probably 26 or 27 years, but as of Monday, no more. I’m tired of making excuses for keeping you around. I’m tired of covering you up with acrylic nails that I can’t bite through. I’m tired of hiding you and biting in secret. Well, guess what? The secret is out in the open and Nail Biting you are no longer welcome as a part of my life.

I’m sure I started biting as a form of self-soothing, similar to thumb-sucking, that’s how it typically starts anyway. I actually don’t remember becoming a nail biter, I just always was. But I didn’t outgrow it like most kids do. I do remember when I was stressed or anxious, biting my nails down so short they bled would actually make me feel better.

Slowly I’ve been letting go of being so tightly wound. Imperfection on my part doesn’t cause a flood of self-imposed guilt. I definitely am more relaxed and laid-back. You know that super-cheesy and cliché phrase, ‘Let go and Let God?’ Well I’m much, much better able to do that now. I’ve let go of my anxiety, but the Nail Biting has still stuck around. I’m not sure why, I thought they went together hand-in-hand. So now I am taking active and deliberate steps toward letting this go as well. On Monday night I took off my acrylic nails and carefully filed my little stubs. I covered them in a thick nail-hardener and then used a tastes-yucky clear polish as a topcoat. I bought gum to chew on in case the need to bite becomes overwhelming. I think I’ve got all my bases covered.

I used to joke that I’ve been biting my nails as long as I’ve had teeth. Lana now has teeth, two of them to be exact. I don’t want her to be a nail biter. I need to be a good example to her, but more than that, I need to teach her healthy ways to deal with anxiety. I need her to know that it’s okay not to please all the people all of the time. I need her to know it’s okay to say you’re sad or scared or worried. Of course, she’s five months old right now. When she’s unhappy, she lets me know. But as she grows up, she’ll watch me, and my actions, infinitely more than my words, will demonstrate to her what is acceptable and what is not.

So dear friends, this is where you come in. I am officially making all of you my accountability partners. I have admitted I have a problem and now I am asking for help. If you see me biting, please tell me to stop (in a loving way please). Ask me how my stop-nail-biting progress is coming. If you’re one of those people who can beat your bad habits by yourself, that’s cool, good for you. But this is too big, too important for me to go at it alone. I thank you all in advance for helping me out with this one.

If you have beaten a bad habit or an addiction, please share your story with me. I am inspired by people who have overcome anything that was holding them back. Whether it’s smoking or road rage or even, yes, nail biting, I would be honored to hear from you. You can leave a comment or email me (shelle.lenssen@live .com).

Day Two is so far off to a good start!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm a lazy Blogger

I'm sorry about that. Really I am. I know there are some (Hi Mom!) who check this blog religiously, waiting for new pictures of Lana and to read about our latest adventures. It's been two whole weeks since I've updated. It's not that I haven't had anything to blog about, it's just that I haven't been disciplined enough to sit down and do it. I was thinking of blogging about the perfect day Lana and I had on Wednesday. See, it was Veteran's Day, so I had the day off from work. The two of us stayed home and played and sang silly songs (okay, so I was the one doing the singing, Lana laughed at me.) I got some projects around the house done. We even had a couple of things to do outside. So I bundled Lana up in her front carrier, put her ear hat on her head, and zipped up both up in one of Dan's vests. She was cozy and warm and we were able to be outside for a bit.

I was also thinking of updating this blog with Lana's progress into the world of eating solids. She does a good job of making a mess, but I'm still not convinced that she's actually swallowing anything yet. We'll keep practicing and I'm sure she'll get it eventually.
I've also been meaning to share this photo. Kasey and Christina sent Lana some Halloween treats. A mummy bib and a headband with black bats on it. I was surprised that she actually let me put the headband on her, but she thought she was pretty hot stuff. Her hand is in her mouth because it makes her sore gums feel better. Yup, we're officially going through teething right now. Lana has one bitty baby tooth on her bottom gum. Tooth #2 should come anytime.
And then there is this. I could write post after post about this. Lana loves her Daddy so much and Dan is as smitten as can be with this chubby-cheeked baby girl.
I could write ten thousand words about what it means to me that they're developing a healthy father-daughter relationship at such an early age. I could go on and on about how happy this makes me and how much Dan loving Lana makes me love him even more.

Thanks for being patient. I promise I'll try to do a better job with the updates.
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