Arizona for My Sister

During the last weekend of October, Conrad and I flew down to Arizona to visit my sister Lauren!  I'd been looking forward to the trip all month long.  We talk on the phone often, but my heart has been aching to give her a hug, to be there physically.

(For those that don't know Lauren's story, check out THIS POST and the TAIL END OF THIS POST). 

Lauren is doing well.  I am continually impressed with her grit and attitude.  Lauren puts on a brave face and smile; she's good at finding the silver linings and things for which to be grateful.  If you need someone to laugh with, Lauren is your girl!  But it's hard.  Cancer sucks.  She is tired.  Lauren just survived 8 rounds of chemotherapy and all of its noxious side-effects, including but not limited to: the loss of her hair (including her eyelashes and eyebrows), sores in her throat and mouth, painful knife-like stabbing neuropathy in her hands and feet, and feeling so tired and heavy that even watching tv was too much.  It makes my eyes tear up just writing about it.  But she did it!  Now Lauren is anxious about the next phase in her treatment which is surgery to remove both breasts next week.  We're all praying that surgery goes smoothly and complication free.

Cancer will forever change my sister, in every way imaginable.  From her physical looks, to her energy levels, to her outlook on life, she (and her family) will be changed because of this experience.  But for all the negative, I'd like to think that the little tender mercies of becoming a better and more intentional person will ultimately win out for Lauren.  I also think her family will be tighter because of it too.     

Lauren picked Conrad and me up from the airport in Mesa on Thursday afternoon.  Then we attended her pre-op appointment, hit up Target for sunglasses, and ate dinner before driving two hours east towards Pima, AZ.

Friday, we simply hung out with the kids.  We went to the park, put the babies down for naps, binged on ice cream, made dinner, and just got a chance to chat and catch up.  Later that night, we left the kids at home with her husband to attend Fall Sing, a choir performance put on by Eastern Arizona College.  Lauren used to be a part of their more exclusive performing groups (you know, back in the day), so it was a lot of fun to sit in the audience and appreciate some good music!

I came away from the performance with two thoughts: 1. How much I miss those college days when I could dedicate so much time to music, and 2. Why in the world do we listen to all the meaningless talent-less five chorded crap that's on the radio?  So many popular songs are about sex and getting drunk while the songs sung during the performance had an underlying message about happiness and God.  Some of those songs pricked my soul!  I'm serious.  I need to fill my car stereo system with real music.

The weather was BEAUTIFUL, by the way.  Lauren says that everyone wears pants in Arizona not because it's cold but because it's the season.  Well, I embarrassed her and wore shorts.  The temperature was right for it.  It was warm enough to enjoy being outside but not hot enough to break a sweat in the sun.  Perfect.

^^My niece June and her sweet chipmunk cheeks.  Everyone calls her June Bug.^^
^^My nephew Jax!  Oh, that kid gets under your skin in the best ways.^^
^^June took an interest in Conrad and they were buddies for the weekend.^^
^^Swoosh!  Look at those moves on my nephew, Carter.^^
^^Eeek!  The cute little hair spout!^^
^^Clinging to my legs for balance and attention, a usual sight.^^
^^Lauren teaching June proper girly ways.  I really enjoyed taking candid pictures of someone else's normal.  Lauren's messy home seems more beautiful than mine!  Haha.^^
^^Learning to walk... with lots of drool.^^
^^Conrad's first time on a trampoline was a hit!^^
^^The 'Name Ten' Cereals, Fruits, Colors game.  Haha.  Carter was being a pill.^^
^^June's eyes!  She was scared of the train that runs by their house.^^
^^More first steps.  I love the little beginner walking stage!^^
^^Conrad and I stayed in the trailer in the backyard.  It was like having our own hotel room, complete with AC during the day for naps and heat at night.^^

Saturday morning wound up being a mini family reunion with my Dad, Liz, Mia, Aunt Becky, Uncle Jeff, and several cousins and their children as we and the community rallied for a 5K race and fundraiser held in Lauren's behalf.    

It's touching to see how much Lauren has been buoyed up in her time of need.  She is beloved by so many.  I can only describe her sister-in-law as angelic as she babysat Lauren's three kids, sometimes sick and overnight, regularly.  The community has also helped Lauren by bringing in food and cleaning her home.  And now this!  As well as so many other countless acts of kindness.  Knowing Lauren is so well taken care of makes living so far away from her more bearable.

^^The start of the one mile fun run!^^
^^Jax, June, and Conrad enjoying a wagon wide for the fun run too with Aunt Liz.^^
^^I caught Ty and Luke stretching before the 5K race.  Haha.  So cute.^^
^^Obligatory 'Sister and Me' and picture!^^
^^Lauren's little family.^^
^^My dad playing with Jax on Saturday afternoon.^^

We spent the rest of Saturday with family.  The babies napped, we chatted and played outside, we met up with extended family for pizza, I tagged along with my cousins on a photo shoot, and then we gathered at my cousin Rachel's house for ice cream sundaes.  It was the best!

Good and lasting memories were made.  I sure love you, Lauren, my one and only sista. 

P.S.  This trip was Conrad's very first flight!  He's such a happy baby and was an excellent traveler.  I seriously could not ask for a better miniature companion.  He fell asleep in my arms during take-off on both flights, going to Arizona and coming home.  He slept about half the air time and was a wiggle worm the rest of the flight, wanting to cruise the aisle.  On the trip home, however, I stood in the back of the plane just snuggling him.  Conrad wanted to be held.  I couldn't tell if he was tired or sick!  Well, as we made our descent I found out.  As soon as I sat back down in my seat, Conrad threw up ALL OVER my lap.  It was a mad rush to get both he and I cleaned up (as I sat next to two single 20-something year old men) but I managed to slide him into a fresh pair of jammies as he zonked out.  Poor baby.  I was proudly wearing my mommy badge that day.  The thing is, this would've been pretty traumatic for me if it had happened with Jed.  Now, however, puke is no big deal.

 ^^Conrad's first flight.^^
     ^^After the puke.  Cleaned up and in his jammies.  Oh, I wish I could snuggle that sweet little body all day.^^


  1. I haven't read your blog in a while... I am so in love with your lifestyle images (I really need to at least take a few "nice" pictures of my own kids!) and my heart and prayers go out to your sister. She is a beautiful woman!

  2. I know the battle with cancer is not easy on the person dealing with it nor on the family trying to be supportive. Your sister will be in our prayers. :)

  3. Oh my goodness, Conrad is getting so big! Your sister sounds AMAZING; sending prayers her way, especially during her upcoming surgery. I'm so glad you were able to visit--what a special trip!


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