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.

Eat Like a Hobbit


I have a thing for striped light this winter.  Also, we're pretty much a bunch of hobbits around here minus the hairy feet. I make breakfast at 7:15am for the boys, second breakfast around 9:30am after Conrad wakes up, Elevensies before Levi gets on the bus for kindergarten, and finally lunch after naps. (Yes, I often lay down for a few minutes too!)  Whew!  That's a lot of time in the kitchen.  But I'm not complaining.  I really do believe that kitchens are the heart of a home.

Christmas Vacation


Ahhh.  Christmas vacation.  The two weeks right at the start of winter when we all get a needed break from the daily grind to just be and enjoy one another.  There were plenty of days spent in our pajamas, but I'd say the majority was spent on the go!  Our boys are busy and need to get out of the house or else they start fighting and tearing the place down board by board.  Anyhow, Bron and I aren't ones to sit around either.  We only have ourselves to blame for our lack of true relaxation around here because we like to have fun and adventure too!

On Saturday morning, two days before Christmas, we braved the snowy roads and traveled 2.5 hours up and over the pass into northern Utah to play at Crystal Hot Springs.  The natural hot spring has the highest mineral content in the world.  It tasted like salt water!  But it made my hair oh so silky.

The rumors we'd heard about the place didn't disappoint.  Nestled at the base of the mountains, there were three hot pools.  The newest pool was the most popular.  It was only 18 inches deep, perfect for lounging in.  Underneath a small waterfall was a man-made cave where the water was only about 8 inches deep.  It was Conrad's preferred hang out spot because he could move around as he pleased.

However, what set Crystal Hot Springs a part from other hot springs were the tube slides!  There were two huge tube slides set on a hill with a funny old-school shack at the top.  I think the dated features definitely added to the place's charm.  The walkway up to the slides were enclosed and warm water sprayed from hoses.  There was hardly ever much of a line and even Conrad got to ride down on my lap!  Conrad enjoyed it but at the same time felt kind of wary about the whole thing.  Jed and Levi, however, went down the slides so many times that they lost count!  It was a blast of an afternoon and all three boys passed out in the truck on the ride home.  Yes!  Mission accomplished.

ONE Photo: January


baby with twinkle lights and bokeh at sunset

It's not only a new month, but a fresh start to a new year!  My little family and I partied hard all December long.  We made sure to fit in as many traditions, eat as much rich food and candy, visit with family and friends, and do as many fun things together as physically possible.  It was a riot and half.  And all along the way I managed to take a few pictures.  One of my favorite things to play with during the holiday season were tiny fairy lights!  They make the most beautiful bokeh.  Plus, there's just something magical about those blurry little lights.  I had them out one night when Conrad tried walking off with them!  The sun was setting through our living room window and this was the resulting image.  I love it.

Be sure to click on through to Tara's Blog to see the next image in our blog circle!


ONE Photo is a blog circle that I have joined with several other very talented photographers.  On the first of each month we will be sharing ONE image that spoke to our hearts from the four weeks before.  It's bound to be a set of eye candy that you won't want to miss!

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