In September . . .
Kaden started his last (just a moment, I need to get a box of tissues, my eyes are brimming with tears) year of preschool. Academically, this kid was so ready for kindergarten, but with his birthday falling right before the enrollment cut off, Chad and I both felt we should give him an extra year to mature socially (and really, to give him an edge when he reaches those teenage years). I wanted him to still feel challenged, and to have a change of scenery; I immediately fell in love with this sweet school when I went to observe. It felt so right that I cried. It's a 20 minute haul each way, and after losing both my carpool buddies, I've questioned my decision to send him here more than once, but I know this is where he was supposed to be for his last year of pre-k.
We gave into the peer pressure and joined the minivan club. I've got to say, despite my initial skepticism, it is a very fantastic, albeit un-hip, family vehicle. I am in love and I don't care who knows it!
We spent Labor Day weekend with Chad's parents in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We had a great time enjoying the beach, introducing the boys to crab legs (Kaden keeps asking when we will be eating them again), and savoring family time.
I spent lots of Sundays behind the piano in Primary, watching these three pranksters, and praying for their teachers.
We finished stage one of our downstairs face lift. I'm really happy with how much lighter and brighter it feels, even though there's still
shopping work to be done!
I ate the best mac-n-cheese of my life, when I snuck out one evening to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend. And my tomato pie wasn't too shabby either.
We attended the family Fabry conference in Greensboro, which has become a tradition. I volunteered at the camp for children with the disease at Victory Junction this year and had an amazing experience.
Everett upped his Strider game and started coasting.
I went in for a precautionary MRI to assess a soft-tissue mass on my right shin and, following the results, was referred to an oncologist.
In October . . .
We drove to Baltimore, to spend Columbus Day weekend with my mom, and to celebrate her birthday. Our pass to the Durham museum got us in to probably the most amazing science museum of all time for free. It was awesome. The kids loved it, and Grandma treated us to an IMAX movie about humpback whales. We ate Shake Shack for lunch, and Everett snoozed on the go. On Sunday we went to church, and then had a picnic lunch at the park. We had a great time and loved that when we left on Monday, we knew we'd be seeing her again soon. I always hated those Utah goodbyes!
Everett and I tagged along with Kaden on his school field trip to the pumpkin patch/farm.
This is Kaden's cute friend, Jo Jo. Only semi-related to this photo, but I have to document it somewhere: A few weeks into the school year, Kaden's teacher talked to me at carpool and said that they had a lesson about asking for permission before giving hugs, and reminding everyone that you can say no to a hug. She said so many of the little girls kept hugging him, and that he looked terrified. At his preschool open house, one of the moms told me that her daughter, Jocelyn, thinks Kaden is her boyfriend. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to be aware of this. Kaden, I hope you are still terrified of PDA in 10 years.
We spent a beautiful fall day at Pullen Park with friends.
Kaden went to the cutest Halloween party of ALL time, hosted by one of his preschool friends. You know when you see one of those perfectly executed parties on Pinterest and wish you were creative enough and cool enough to pull it off? It turns out some people actually ARE and DO. I was in awe. And it wasn't even anyone's birthday! Just an excuse for a party!
I drove to Durham, paid the atrocious parking fee at Duke hospital, and, after waiting for over an hour, met with an oncologist, who threw out the c-word when he reviewed my MRI results with me. And I understandably freaked out, since my PA had used the words, "purely routine," and "nothing to be concerned about" at least a billion and a half times during our brief phone conversation when she suggested that I see him. Suddenly, I was in a room with half a dozen people I didn't know, being told by a sarcoma expert that he was, "very concerned this tumor may be cancerous," and I said, "I honestly don't think I can have Fabry disease AND cancer; it wouldn't be fair," then started to cry. I called my dear friend, Jamie, who was watching my boys, and asked if they could stay for an additional two hours while they did an in office biopsy. I'd gone to the appointment alone, under the false pretense that everything was hunky dory, but the nurse practitioner was the world's sweetest, and held my hand the entire time. (Nurses are angels! Can I get an AMEN?!)
The cancer center at Duke is in this magnificently beautiful building, and when I left my appointment, this sweet gentleman was just starting to play, "When You Wish Upon a Star." I wanted to hug him. Instead, I walked to my car and waited for two weeks, before the doctor would get the biopsy results back from pathology. They came back benign, but despite the statistical accuracy of such results, the oncologist was still skeptical. He didn't agree with the pathologist's diagnosis, because he didn't think the MRI imaging matched up. He recommended scheduling immediate surgery to remove the tumor, as it was pressing on a nerve and would eventually need to come out anyway. That way, we wouldn't lose any ground if the pathologist was wrong. So, we did.
We went to our neighborhood's fall festival for free juice boxes, fried chicken, and bounce houses.
Chadwick started painting again.
We savored my favorite season with many a fall bike ride. I love Autumn, and I especially love Autumn in North Carolina.
We ate lots of Joe Joes, sometimes with hot cocoa.
A very darling addition to the dark side, one preschool-sized Darth Vader, and his miniature storm trooper accomplice, hit up many a Halloween event in costume. One of my favorite times was the carnival at Kaden's sweet Montessori school.
We started another stellar soccer season with these cute boys as teammates, and their awesome dads as coaches.
We spent the BEST Halloween of all time at Vollmer Farm with our favorite Gigi and Poppy. The place was practically empty, and we enjoyed every feature with no lines or chaos.
Then we hit the streets to beg for candy.
We met up with friends at the start of the evening, so we could get a group shot of these buddies in their Star Wars gear. (I'm still disappointed that Mia ditched her R2D2 outfit for Queen Elsa.)
In November . . .
I started enzyme replacement therapy for my Fabry Disease. I spent approximately 8 hours every two weeks binge watching British television, while medication dripped through my IV. Even though this has been less than convenient, I am thankful for treatment, something that's relatively new in the Fabry community. I also feel empowered and more in control of my own health, knowing that I am doing all that I can to prevent this disease from further damaging my body. I'm also incredibly thankful to have recently transitioned to home infusions, which doesn't require a drive to Duke, or a two hour wait time for my medication! Thankfully, my time tethered to an IV has also been reduced drastically!
I had that pesky tumor removed from my right leg, and was thrilled to officially know that the nasty little intruder was 100% benign. The official diagnosis? A spindle cell lipoma. It turns out it was those tricky spindle cells fooling my oncologist, as they appear dark and mottled in MRI scans, just like cancerous tissue. Also, this type of tumor typically appears in the shoulders of middle-aged men. Not the lower right legs of women in their 30s. I'm special. Hooray for no cancer diagnosis, and for ultimate Thanksgiving gratitude! Hooray, also, for all the people who helped take care of me and my family while I recovered. We were so spoiled with in-home help from Joy and my mom, meals from friends, and play dates for the boys.
We did our very best to "re-start the fun," with a quick trip to the Durham Museum of Life and Science. I sure miss the days when these little boys were in Joy School together, learning their ABC's and singing songs with me, when it was my turn to teach.
We ate until we were completely stuffed at Joy and Bruce's house on Turkey Day.
In December . . .
The Sounders became league champs, much to Kaden's joy. In his words, "It's hard being a champion." That plastic trophy may have gone to his head. In all seriousness, though, I was really proud of Kaden during his fall soccer season. He was one of the youngest kids on the team; he worked so hard and grew a lot as a player. We loved watching him score, and also be a team player.
We savored every moment of the special spirit that fills the air during the most magical time of the year. Lots of storybook hours in front of the Christmas tree, a visit to our Stake's creche exhibit, visits S.C. himself, a night out at our favorite party of the year (the Stevenson's ugly sweater bash), a special encounter with a real, live storm trooper, and one last Christmas Jon Jon for Everett. My favorite part of the holiday season was a new tradition we started as a family. We ditched our elf this year (well, technically he went missing and we just never replaced him), and instead got a 25 days of Christ ornament kit. Every evening we read a scripture about the life of Christ, a devotional message (sometimes watched a short video clip), and put an ornament relating to it on our tree. The kids loved this, and it really brought home the real meaning of the season.
Living with two Star Wars obsessed little boys made the premiere of the new movie even more fun. Everett stayed home with a sitter, but we took Kaden to see the movie with one of his best buddies, Mark. Of course, costumes were in order.
Kaden and Everett both managed to make the nice list this year and were spoiled rotten by Mr. S.C., not to mention two sets of grandparents and great-grandparents. We hosted Gigi and Poppy and Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning festivities.
Star Wars paraphernalia dominated the gift scene, and these two weren't too disappointed about that.
In January . . .
We discovered the boys were much more adventurous in their pizza topping choices during make your own pizza night at home.
We started to take advantage of all our new museum memberships, thanks to generous Grandma, Grandpa, Gigi, Poppy, Nana, and Papa.
In January . . .
Kaden and I finished reading the first Harry Potter book and celebrated with a movie night, complete with chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's every flavor beans.
We drove to Washington D.C. and spent a fun three-day weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. It was kind of the trip from hell with two little ones in cold weather, both our kids had public meltdowns, and I cried while driving and demanded a new navigator, but the pictures make it seem lovely. We hit up the National Zoo, the Air and Space Museum, several monuments, rode the metro, discovered the world's best toasted-marshmallow shake, and chowed down at our new favorite pizzeria in Arlington.
At one point on the trip, we thought we'd lost Everett's beloved rhinoceros, Shiloh the rhino. Luckily, Kaden found him and they were reunited just before bedtime.
The boys finally got some snow. Well, mostly ice, but they were still happy about it. We enjoyed lots of snuggles by the fire and hot cocoa breaks to warm up after sledding adventures. Of course, a snow day in our house isn't officially a snow day, until we have our traditional beignet and bacon breakfast.
Our family spent the entire day in our pajamas, the perfect under-snow-gear layer, which Kaden and I are modeling here:
We went house hunting with Grandma, after she accepted a new job in Jacksonville, NC., which is pretty much the best news ever, since it puts my parents two and half hours away, and also conveniently close to the beach. Joy went with us, and we had a lot of fun peeking in windows of rental properties, and driving all over the greater Jacksonville area. The boys were so good all day, so we rewarded them with some sunset play time on Emerald Isle. It was such a beautiful ending to a day.
I snuck out to honor a dear friend one night for some exceptional birthday sushi.
We headed to Kinston, filed our taxes, ate ice cream at the best local creamery imaginable, and enjoyed a date night out with free babysitting, thanks to Joycious and Brucious.
North Carolina continued to be awesome, by allowing me to take my children to parks in light jackets on many occasions. Everett was pretty happy about that.
In March . . .
Bruce and Joy kept the kiddos, while Chad and I booked it to Baltimore to help Mom and Dad officially make the trek to North Carolina. We loaded all of their earthly belongings from temporary storage into two giant Uhauls, then caravaned to NC where we helped unload them. It was an exhausting couple of days, but I am so glad we were able to help, and that they are officially here!
We started to have some shorts and t-shirt weather, which made picnics, bike rides, and park play dates pretty standard.
Chad and I each took a turn going with Kaden to his school for an evening. He was able to show us some of his favorite works. He has really thrived at his preschool this year. He's grown as a reader (independently reading some chapter books and even The Book of Mormon these days), has learned some basics of multiplication and fractions, lots of geography, and all kinds of other cool things. He is a worker bee, and his teachers tell me he gets a lot accomplished during a daily work cycle.
We lucked out with free tickets to a children's performance by the North Carolina Symphony, thanks to the generosity of a dear friend. The entire performance was based around Lemony Snicket's picture book, The Composer is Dead, one of my favorites. It was fun seeing it brought to life!
I helped the boys dye Easter eggs one Sunday afternoon, and everyone survived.
The boys combined their Christmas money from Gram and bought some magnatiles. They've been getting a lot of daily use. Now we want some more!
The boys and I discovered doughnut Mecca in Durham after a trip to the science museum one day. If you're local, you should try Monuts PRONTO.
I got to hang out with these two beauties at Time Out for Women in downtown Raleigh, for a little bit of spiritual rejuvenation that was greatly needed.
There are days that end with me in a puddle of exhausted tears and days that end with pure satisfaction and joy. Motherhood is definitely my hardest job to date, but by far the most rewarding.
A sweet friend was kind enough to share some of her boys' old treasures with us, and my kids have loved every one. Everett's Batman voice when he wears this cape is pretty much the cutest thing of all time.
I officially transitioned to home infusion. I had one terrible experience (five sticks to get the IV in. F.I.V.E., while the nurse told me she was nervous and not very experienced with IVs . . . ummmmmm OK?!), was honest about it, and thankfully switched home health care providers. I have an AWESOME nurse now, which has made my every other week infusion a lot less dreadful. My pump fits in a fanny pack, so I've cooked dinner, done laundry, snuggled the boys for movie time, and felt as close to normal as possible during infusions since the switch. From start to finish, I'm done in about three hours now. I'm still pretty wiped out at the end, but the convenience has been great!
These two cuties had lots and lots of breakfast dates.
We enjoyed lots and lots of Easter festivities. We kicked things off by joining in at an egg hunt potluck for our playgroup, complete with activities and photo booth.
Next up was our neighborhood hunt. I volunteered to help our awesome neighbor with this event. We stuffed a bazillion eggs, and though I might be biased, I think it was a huge hit.
Everett even found one of the golden prize eggs. He was pretty excited!
We went to my parents' house for Easter, and I stayed up all night making a ridiculous coconut cake. Chad's parents drove down from Kinston and joined us for dinner. It was fun to all be together!
We hit up the beach on Monday, before driving home. My parents are renting a house about fifteen minutes from Emerald Isle. It's pretty fantastic to have them that close to one of our favorite beaches. We can never get Kaden out of the water.
And we can never get Everett in.
Kaden found an awesome shell to add to Grandma and Grandpa's back porch collection.
In April . . .
We went camping with friends overnight. It was a pretty cold night, but we all survived. I left thinking, "We should do this again!" while Chad's take was, "That was pretty terrible."
I did a 21 day sugar detox, so for three weeks I kicked sugar to the curb. All sugar. No honey, very minimal fruit (one green apple, green-tipped banana, or grapefruit was allowed a day), and very minimal carbohydrates. It was extremely difficult, easier than I expected, rewarding, and miserable all at the same time. Someday I might write an entire post about it, but for now, I guess I would say I'm glad I did it, and I will probably do it again at some point. It didn't cure my sugar addiction in the slightest (which maybe is a good thing, since affinity for dessert is kind of a huge part of who I am), but it did teach me that I have more will power than I previously supposed, and I felt amazing when I was eating this way.
Kaden and I found a new favorite game to play during Everett's nap time, when he actually naps.
We spent lots, and lots, and lots of time in the culdesac.
Spring isn't spring until we go to NC State Farm Days. We've been every year since our move to Raleigh. Even though there are mobs of people, I just love it. My parents came and joined us this year.
Everett, ever the animal lover, adored every second. Kaden had to plug his nose every time he was near an animal. He's a true city boy.
I'm not going to lie, missing out on this free ice cream was one of the hardest moments of my sugar detox. So silly, but true!
We stopped by Historic Yate's Mill Park after the farm festivities. It was gorgeous! I can't believe it's taken me this long to go there!
Kaden's class took an Earth Day field trip to a small, local organic farm.
In May . . .
Spring soccer continued and Kaden's team remains undefeated; they will play in the championship game in a couple of weeks. Kade has grown as a player this year, and while he may not be the tallest or fastest player on the team, his hard work (and Daddy's coaching and backyard practicing) has paid off. It's been fun seeing him start to anticipate where the ball will be played, and to be able to control the ball with his head up. He's scored at least one goal at every game, and despite missing one game this season, is still the highest scorer on the team. Most importantly, he is an excellent teammate and celebrates everyone's victories and successes. He really wants another championship trophy, but we will have to see what the end of the season brings. He is ready for a more challenging league, so sadly this may be his last season with Daddy as one of his coaches.
And I'm officially caught up! Until I load the pictures from my phone onto the computer. Phew! That was terrible. May I learn from my mistakes and never go that long without posting again!