Ambruary is a wrap!

Several years ago, someone jokingly nicknamed February “Ambruary,” in honor of Valentine’s Day, our anniversary and my birthday. That same month the wheels came off so Jamie banned us from ever calling it that again! We had a pretty low-key week.

Pre-Valentine’s Day. Fondue has been our Valentine’s Day tradition the last several years. Since the holiday fell on Wednesday (our busiest night of the week with volleyball, piano, Scouts, young women and missionary meeting), we had Jamie’s family over the Sunday prior for a delicious meat and cheese fondue while we watched the Olympics.

Valentine’s Day. I woke up really early on Valentine’s Day to make Pioneer Woman’s red velvet pancakes and assemble treat bags/gifts to the family. There was a minor teen meltdown that morning and she later apologized…for the first time ever. Forget Christmas miracles; it was a Valentine’s Day one. That night, we made a heart-shaped pizza that we ate in the small 30-minute window we have together. Craaaaaazy night.

Anniversary. Jamie and I celebrated 15 years of wedded bliss by meeting in Utah County to go car shopping after work.  We have essentially been a one-car family since our Pilot’s problems in Canada last year. When Jamie and I both worked from home, this wasn’t a problem but now that I’m at BYU, he needs a car to get around town. We’ve been poking around and found a 2016 Pilot with low-mileage so jumped on it quickly. Normally, we sell our vehicles on our own but decided a trade-in was the best bet due to its continued problems…and we were offered exactly what we were hoping for it which still wasn’t much but we gratefully took anything we could get. It was a wonderful, reliable car until this last year. The funny thing is we had planned to replace it until the move happened…and then we just kept pushing it back until it was almost too late. 

Isn’t it pretty? Don’t blink or you’ll miss Jamie’s bow. :-) He says he bought it for my birthday but really, he’ll be the one who drives it because his old Camry gets better gas mileage for my commute.

Birthday. I had a nice, low-key day. Normally, I would have taken my birthday off but since the day before was President’s Day, I went into work.  While the boys skied on the holiday, Hadley and I had some nice adventures hiking in the snow and bonding with the geese.

“Hey, Mom. Have you ever had anything swarm and attack you like this?”

“Yes. They’re called children.”

We had received our first sizable snowfall of the year and I was thrilled. Last year was truly epic for snow and I had a blast volunteering twice a week in Bode’s cross-country lessons at Soldier Hollow. Since going back to work, I’ve scaled that back to once a week and I haven’t minded because all they have had opened was a 5 km stretch of man-made snow (I told you it was depressing). But on my birthday, it was a white package tied up with lots of powder. Our class climbed higher than I ever had, I did not die on the downhills and I just felt grateful to be alive. The week prior, I had a bad wipe-out on a steep, icy hill. But on my birthday as I helped the slowest skier in the class, I had a renewed outlook. I no longer need to be the strongest or fastest; I just want to keep doing what I love…and survive. Low standards? Sure. But I hope to still be hiking in my 80s so longevity is my new focus…and hopefully getting one of my bad knees fixed this spring.

After cross-country skiing, we raced home for an evening out at Midway Mercantile, a delicious new restaurant in town with a stone hearth and succulent dishes. We’ll be regulars for sure!

From there, I rushed off to bookclub where we video chatted with the authors of Mustaches with Maddie. If you liked Wonder, you’ll love this feel-good book based on a true story of their daughter Maddie who was diagnosed with brain tumor.  The book had an ambiguous ending but the real-life story is so much better. Maddie spent two weeks recovering in the hospital, but luckily the doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor from Maddie’s head. Unfortunately, 10 percent was hard tissue, and the doctors were unable to remove it. The risk for removing the hard tissue was much higher, so the doctors left it alone. But after the surgery, a cyst started growing on the hard tissue that was left, and two years later Maddie went in for a second surgery.

After the first surgery, her mom Shelly recalled that the pediatric neurosurgeon was just talking about things and [mentioned], “With that 10 percent you never know—maybe it could just fall right off the brain. It’s happened before.’” She continues, “I just thought, ‘I like that answer.’ And so for two years almost, we were praying at every family prayer and every meal that Maddie’s tumor would fall off her brain.”

Shelly says there were two doctors working on Maddie’s head during her second surgery as they successfully removed all the soft tissue.

But Maddie was still facing radiation because of the remaining parts of the tumor the doctors couldn’t remove.

“When they turned around [to finish the surgery], that little piece of hard tumor that was stuck to her brain had just fallen right off the brain, and they plucked it right out of her head,” Shelly says. “So it was straight up an answer to a lot of prayers that happened oddly in the way that we had hoped.”

What an amazing miracle and an amazingly awesome way to end a great birthday.


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