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.)

We fell into a kind of routine while I was there visiting last week.  Lauren and I would get up with the kids between 7 and 8am, make breakfast, fold some laundry or something, get ready for the day, and then take the kids for a wagon ride outside to enjoy the sunshine before naps.  That last part was definitely all my idea.  Haha.  Then I'd watch the kids while Lauren went to her daily radiation appointment.  After naps, we hopped in the car to go play!  

The Phoenix area has the most incredible parks.  We spent hours at Freestone Park on Tuesday afternoon playing on one set of toys, feeding ducks, and then moving on to another set of toys.  On Wednesday afternoon we toured the zoo.  Conrad got to experience his first carousel ride!  His face was priceless.  And on Thursday, our cousin Rachel (who feels more like a 3rd sister) came to visit with her two littlest munchkins.  Between the three of us, we had five children three years old and younger.  We played at another park, ate a dinner at Rubio's that must've looked hysterical to anyone passing by, and then ventured all the way into Tempe to celebrate my 33rd birthday early by eating decadent ice cream sandwiches at The Baked Bear.  

It was the best week of January ever in the history of Januaries.  It was truly a vacation for me.  Or maybe it was a vacation for Conrad since we centered everything we did around the kids?  Hmmm.  No matter.  There weren't many chores or responsibilities.  Instead, I got to soak in some one-on-one time with Conrad and simply enjoy my sister and her children's company.  The family time and sunshine were good for my soul.                    

In fact, I've had so much fun editing and reliving my mini getaway vacation through the photos I took, that I just can't whittle them down.  The images just make me happy.  In short, it was bright and sunny and relaxing and full of people I love.  It doesn't get any better than that.

 ^^Morning wagon ride through the neighborhood.  Look at that giant Saguaro!^^
 ^^Citrus trees!!!^^
^^The best part of the neighborhood tour: seeing the lake and fountain!^^

 ^^Playing with chalk and a big screen door back at the house.^^

June's nickname is Twinkle Toes.  She does the cutest excited hop-run wherever she goes.  She also sounds like a minion.  Every third word is understandable.  The rest is just gibberish.  She couldn't say Conrad's name, so she called him, "Baby Carrot" our entire trip.  I could eat June up she is just so darling! 

Jax in his preferred position: on the couch with the iPad.  You win some, you lose some, right?  Jax is a nearly four year old conundrum.  He is sooo stinking handsome, generally happy, and has the cutest high pitched voice, but ohhh can he be naughty!  He was having a meltdown one afternoon in the car and was using some pretty ugly language.  Lauren asked him to use a nice voice.  He responded, "No!  I'm a mean boy!"  I burst out laughing.  He didn't think it was very funny.  Sorry, Lauren.  

^^June sleeping with her dolly.^^
 ^^Twinning with my mini-me!^^
^^Kids are a treasure trove of authenticity, aren't they?  Love it.^^
 ^^Peek-a-boo!  I see you, Conrad!^^
 ^^June + Baby Carrot.  They took a genuine interest in each other.^^
 ^^Another sunny day, another wagon ride!^^
 ^^Ooops.  Sippy overboard!^^
 ^^Ready for the zoo!  I had to document Conrad sitting facing forward for the first time.  Such a cute little munchkin.  He loved it!  And I loved being able to see his sweet face.  Poor kid is back to rear facing now that he's home in our car again though.^^
 ^^Watching the little monkeys up close and personal!  We got to go inside their sanctuary.^^
^^So handsome and cute.^^
 ^^The Petting Zoo!^^
 ^^Chasing goats.  Got his tail!^^
 ^^See June hop!^^
 ^^June's face here cracks me up!^^
 ^^Conrad's very first carousel ride.  He didn't want to get off!^^
 ^^I love that Lauren has a little girl.  Pretty sure Lauren does too.  June is sweet and sassy.^^
 ^^Look at me, jumping in the frame for once.  Those baby kisses melt me.  Don't grow up, Conrad!^^
 ^^Exploring.  Conrad is into EVERYTHING.  And he's quick too!^^
 ^^Good morning, June!^^
 ^^Hi Jax!^^
 ^^Meal time without a high chair.^^
 ^^A Thursday afternoon walk with the whole crew.  I can't believe how long all five kids stayed squished in that little wagon!^^
^^Five cousins (all 3 years old and younger) piled in a wagon. Their names are Twinkle Toes, Ornery Pants, Cabbage Patch Doll, String Bean, and Baby Carrot.^^

Pushing is more fun than riding!  Fortunately, Rachel brought along a pair of plastic motorcycles on our walk.  All five children crammed into one tiny wagon didn't last forever.  We had a three ringed circus on parade and the senior residents of the community expressed how much they loved seeing children.  It felt so warm and welcoming.

^^Not going much of anywhere, but he wanted to!^^

Lauren and Rachel sent me home on a {sugar} high note: real cookies and rich ice cream for the win!  What a blast!

^^Tuckered out.  Kill me with cuteness--that pouty lip and those squishy cheeks!^^

Thanks for showing me some of your best, Phoenix!

1 comment

  1. I love all the pictures! I'm so glad you girls got together and you were able to help Lauren! Love you all


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