February Snow Day

Over the last couple of weeks, the temperatures have been well above freezing and the wind has been blowing.  I definitely thought Spring was on its way!  But then we woke up to a layer of the white stuff on Monday morning.  I knew thinking Spring was here was too good to be true!  It's been such a mild winter, especially compared with last year.  So naturally, I had to get Levi and Conrad dressed in their gear to enjoy the winter wonderland while it lasted.

(Poor Jed.  School got in the way of his snow fun.  But I sent him to school with a pair of good gloves in his backpack pocket in hopes that he'd make a snowman during recess with some friends).

Levi volunteered to take Conrad for a ride in the sled up and down our street.  They both had a blast.  Levi told me, "Mom, a long time ago when I was four (last year), I remember Jed pulled me around in the sled. Now I have BIG MUSCLES and I can pull Conrad!"  Melt my heart.  I hope these brothers always love and take good care of each other.    


Our Saturday Adventure Exploring Black Magic Canyon

What a difference a week makes!  If you stopped by our home last weekend, you would have found me glued to the couch with a baby on my lap.  Conrad was feeling so so sick.  He ran a fever for four days straight and vomited at least once a day for a full week--up through Friday!  It was concerning enough to me that I took him to see the doctor.  He was basically surviving on breast milk.  (So much for weaning this month.  I'm not sorry.)  Both Jed and Levi got sick as well, but bounced back fast.  Even I felt a little off one day.  Something was definitely going around.  I didn't mind slowing down and enjoying all the extra snuggles.  In fact, it was necessary.  But it was sure good to see Conrad's appetite suddenly pick back up yesterday.  Whew.  I am glad to have that week behind us and to all be healthy again!

Before I launch into explaining our family adventure, I need to mention a much smaller and yet equally exciting--to me--adventure that occurred yesterday morning.  I was recently asked to volunteer my time helping with the local youth orchestras.  They meet every Saturday for two months every Fall and every Winter.  I agreed and showed up for the first time yesterday morning.  Upon arrival, the conductor of the Beginning and Intermediate Orchestras had to leave; she was so sick she could barely stand on her feet.  Could I fill in for her?  I hesitated.  I took a conducting class in college but had zero experience conducting anything.  I said I'd give it a shot.

You guys!  To my enormous surprise, I CAN CONDUCT.  And not just wave my arms.  I mean, I can actually conduct.  Given, the music wasn't anything too complicated and I know there's lots of room for personal growth, but it was my very first time standing in front of a group of instruments as their leader and the whole experience came amazingly natural to me.  I felt like I was in my element!  I read the scores without trouble.  We stopped to work on difficult passages.  We made progress.  And it was fun!  I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise to me.  I've spent literally weeks of my life sitting in a little black chair playing my violin in various orchestras and symphonies.  The thing is, I didn't expect to like being on the other side of the music stand.  Now I realize I wouldn't mind taking on the responsibility of conducting these young kids and contributing to their musical growth.  In fact, it would be a great honor that would give me the happy giggles.  Talk about a natural high!  I just discovered an ability I had no idea I had!!!


Centennial Man for the 100th Day of School

Today I sent an old man off to school in place of my second grader to celebrate 100 days of school.  Jed was so cute.  He was so enthusiastic about dressing up. We didn't have much around the house to use, but my favorite part of his outfit, by far, was his little gut. (How's that for creativity?  Hehe.)  Makes me wonder what Jed will really look like many years from now!  And if he'll possibly really live to be 100 years old?!


ONE Photo: The Paper Heart Project

Welcome to the monthly blog circle!  February is the month of hearts, so we're switching things up with a theme.  We're joining Danielle Awwad, a fellow blog circle member, in The Paper Heart Project to help raise awareness for Congenital Heart Defects (CHD).  Danielle's son was born with a heart defect.  Her family's story is one of trial and inspiration.

Did you know that 1 in every 110 babies is born with a congenital heart defect?  Some defects are minor and simply require monitoring while others are life threatening and require open heart surgery--sometimes multiple surgeries!  Raising awareness can lead to change, research, and funding.

The good news is that you too can join in the fun to help spread awareness for CHD.  Simply post a photo to social media of anyone holding a paper heart and hashtag it with ‪#‎CHDawareness‬ and ‪#‎Paperheartproject‬ throughout the month of February. If you or your child has CHD, draw a zipper on your paper heart and hashtag it ‪#‎hearthero‬.  Let's spread the love and awareness all month long!

Please hop on over to Kelly Ann's blog to meet her precious brand new baby (who was born with a minor heart defect!) and continue through our special paper heart blog loop.


My Trip to See Lauren in Phoenix

Last week, Conrad and I flew out to Mesa, Arizona to visit my sister during her second week of radiation therapy.  I've decided that Phoenix in January is pretty much paradise minus the beach.  Not a cloud in the sky and 70 degrees.  It reminded me so much of San Diego with all the sunshine and palm trees, that I felt right at home.  I honestly did not want to leave!  Is it realistic to dream of becoming a sun bird in my thirties?!?

The best part, of course, was getting to spend precious time with Lauren and her two littlest hooligans.  I cherish those few days each year we get to spend together.  There is no one else on earth who "gets me" quite like she does.  And now that we've discovered we share the same faulty genetics that cause cancer, I feel even more connected to her... except our roles of big and little sister seem to be reversed.  Someday she'll be my coach when I have a double mastectomy and get to go through early menopause.  Wow!  But we hardly dwell on cancer.  Instead, we talk and laugh about our kids and eat fruit out of a bowl and guacamole like it's going out of style.  Lauren has this wonderful sense of humor and outlook on life that I learn from every single time I'm around her.  Sisters really are the best of friends.  I am so so grateful God blessed me with a sister.

For those who ask, Lauren is doing well.  Surgery in November to remove the cancer went smoothly, though it was the pinnacle of what has been a physically and emotionally hard year.  Numberless tears of grief and pain and helpless frustration were shed.  Fortunately, her margins came back clear which tentatively means, she is cancer free!  Lauren is now going through the final stage of her cancer treatment plan: radiation 5 times a week for 6 weeks.  So far, she's handling it like a champ.  Lauren's skin is starting to look a bit red (like a sunburn) and she needs a daily nap, but other than that, she's able to do what she loves best and that's being a mom.

Lauren (and a few family members) have become temporary residents of the Phoenix area during the week and drive home on the weekend.  She's living in a home located in a gated retirement community graciously offered by family friends for her to use free of charge.  The home has never been updated (read: obnoxious wall paper.  Haha), but it's clean and comfortable and surprisingly relaxing. I felt lucky that I got to be there with Lauren and two of her kids!  (Seriously, I'd kiss the folks who own that house if I knew who they were.  What truly kind and generous folks.)


Rain Puddles and Five Current Happenings

1.  Let's address this set of pictures first.  Conrad got to play in rain puddles for the very first time!  When we took Levi out to the bus stop one rainy morning, I noticed Conrad excitedly splashing through the puddles.  It made me smile.  He even crouched down to take a sip!  Eeew.  So I grabbed my camera and just went with it.  He wound up covered in mud from head to toe.  It was worth it to see him explore the world.  Good thing Conrad loves bubble baths.  One of my favorite things about being a mom is getting a front row seat to all of my children's first time experiences.