Thursday, April 29, 2010

Body after baby

I was recently asked twice in two days if I was pregnant. Then, just a few days later, I was told that I look fantastic and must be lying about having a baby. I'm still confused as to which of these is true, but if I have a choice, I'll take number two.

Apparently some people have never been told that pregnancy and (at least) the year that follows is a very sensitive time during which all comments regarding a woman's weight (or, for that matter: diet, hair, clothing and overall appearance) should strictly be kept to themselves. Because we know we look tired, we know we're carrying a few extra pounds, we know we probably shouldn't be eating that for one reason or another, and although we aren't sure whether it's spit up or ice cream, we are aware of that fact that our shirt has a stain on it.

But even though we're vaguely aware of these things, we are happily living in a cloudy post-baby haze where our thoughts are entirely occupied by things like look at how cute she is and I can't believe she's crawling or oh look, there's a starburst wrapper in her diaper! In this blissful fog we're able to rationalize the fact that we still have a poochy belly even though our baby has now been on this side of the womb as long as she was in it, as well as the fact that we haven't showered for three days now because HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE CHUBBY THIGHS? It's a wonder there's enough time in the day to do anything other than nibble on them.

As happy as we may be in that haze, it doesn't last. No, inevitably someone will make a comment about our weight or we'll happen to see a breathtaking magazine cover displaying a partially nude celebrity and her ridiculously fabulous "BODY AFTER BABY". The cloud is suddenly lifted and we're reminded of how our pounds didn't just melt away and leave the body of Heidi Klum behind.

And that loathsome realization is usually followed up with strong shot of despair and a pint of Ben & Jerry's Triple Chocolate Chunk.

This is a fairly accurate account of how postpartum life has been for me, anyway. Please tell me I'm not the only one...

My problem hasn't been the number, as it is for a lot of women, but rather the distribution of the post-baby pounds. I was actually down to my pre-pregnancy weight shortly after Morgan was born, but I didn't feel beautiful at all. Everything on my body had shifted. Where I used to have a slight curve, I now had a bulge. Where there was once a toned stomach, there was now a thick, jello-like substance. My pants were fitting tighter around my hips, but hung loosely from my bum. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, Morgan had exhausted the nutrients my body was willing to give, so I'm pretty sure she had to start eating my butt to sustain herself.

Then, to make things more interesting, when Morgan was three months old I became very ill and had to be hospitalized. I have to admit, that extra belly fat came in pretty handy when they began giving me heparin shots in the stomach each morning to prevent blood clots. I ended up losing 13 pounds during my hospital stay. After I was discharged, I was leaving the hospital when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a large window. I was horrified! My mid-section had managed to stay the same size, but I now had toothpicks where my arms and legs used to be and after spending quite some time staring at my reflection, desperately trying to locate my butt, I came to the conclusion that at some point during the past two weeks it had packed up and moved entirely.

Over the next few months, for reasons that had nothing to do with trying to lose weight (at this point I actually needed to gain some back) I began working out. After a while I noticed something strange happening to my legs. After hitting Adam up for a second opinion, I realized what it was... are you ready for this? It was MUSCLE. You have to understand, this was something completely foreign to me; something I was unfamiliar with even before my pregnancy. I actually had muscles!

As Morgan has grown, the muscles have started showing up in other places, too. Did you know that SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS when I flex my biceps now? I'm pretty sure those things that pop up are more than just tendons. I guess that's what happens when you carry an almost 20 pound little one around all the time.

As my body has continued to change I've begun to develop a new found appreciation for it, although it's far from perfect. This body of mine was solely responsible for sustaining another life for nine months, and parts of it continue to sustain that life today. It was able to create and deliver another human being! Seriously is there anything is this world more amazing than that? I've also learned that I am my own harshest critic. Adam still thinks I'm beautiful ("Rockin Bod" is the term he prefers to use) and Morgan couldn't care less that I haven't lost all that belly flab or that, thanks to stretch marks, the underside of my boobs now looks like a road map.

I've become perfectly comfortable with my imperfect body. Although it will NEVER resemble the body of a supermodel, it's good enough for me. I loved it three years ago, I loved it when I was pregnant, and I've learned to love it now.

But I may, on occasion, still go out of my way to avoid the freakishly fit bodies and beautiful faces that peer down from the magazine rack at the grocery store.

Natural health remedies

I got quite a response from my last post, so I decided to write this one and give a little more detail about my daily regimen. Due to the nature of this post, I feel like I need to have some sort of disclaimer, so here goes:

This is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment. I am not a doctor. I do these things because I feel like they benefit me, personally. That is not to say that they would necessarily benefit you in the same way. Even the most natural remedies straight from God's green earth can have potentially harmful side effects. I firmly believe that you should thoroughly research and/or consult your doctor before trying anything new. I also think that compliance with your doctors--medications, treatments, etc-- is absolutely vital.

That being said, here is a list of some of the things I've been taking (along with all my prescribed medications, of course):

Garlic: The reputed benefits of garlic are endless: preventing the common cold, treating acne, lowering high cholesterol levels, repelling mosquitoes (and vampires, of course), improving general cardiovascular health, etc. Garlic is also said to be a natural antibiotic, immune system booster and decongestant. I take the odorless capsules to avoid garlic breath, but that's not to say that I don't enjoy the occasional garlicky meal...Mmm. I also use garlic for ear infections which both Morgan and I are very prone to.

Elderberry: Elderberry is said to have many of the same health benefits as garlic. It's full of antioxidants which makes it a great immune system booster. Where garlic is an acclaimed anti-bacterial, elderberry is also said to have the ability to disable cold and flu viruses.

Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV is claimed to be helpful in ailments such as sore throats, headaches, arthritis, weak bones, indigestion, high cholesterol, diarrhea or constipation, eczema, chronic fatigue, mild food poisoning, sinus infections, high blood pressure, obesity and the list goes on (and on and on...seriously, google it.) It's also said to be a great aid in alkalizing the body, if you're into the whole acid vs alkaline thing. I take 1-2 tbsp daily, either in water or just straight. (I actually like the taste, but it's definitely not for everybody.) For maximum health benefits, it's recommended that you get organic, un-distilled ACV with "mother".

Acidophilus: With stomach issues from the get-go and antibiotics constantly messing with gut flora, a girl can always use a good pro-biotic!

Raw Honey: Local honey can be very helpful if you have allergies, which is the main reason I eat it by the spoonful. To read about other health benefits of honey, please read my friend Somer's great blog post.

Emergen-C: Okay, so I realize it's not natural, but it's still good stuff. I generally try to drink a packet a day, but if I start feeling run-down I'll drink two.

Vitamins and Other Supplements: I take prenatal vitamins every day. I think they're a great supplement for any woman, whether or not you fit the typical demographic (are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant or recently had a child). I have a friend whose OB told her that he strongly recommends prenatal vitamins over other women's one-a-day supplements. They are full of wonderful vitamins and plenty of folic acid. Along with prenatals, I also take vitamins C, D, E and an iron supplement. Thanks to the advice of a friend, I did some research on magnesium and will start taking a magnesium supplement promptly. If you want some more info on magnesium in relation to CF, click here. (Thanks again, Cindy!)

If you have any more questions, thoughts, or other suggestions, please feel free to contact me!

Thursday, April 22, 2010



(Now there's a sentence I never imagined myself saying.)

Over the past few months I've REALLY been working to strengthen my immune system and get my lungs functioning better; exercise, treatments, herbal supplements and natural remedies, treatments, vitamins, more treatments.

It's been A LOT of work, I'll admit, but the payoff has been HUGE! I'm incredibly proud to say that I've brought my FEV1 up from 27% in November 2009 to, well...



**I know that I'm one of the lucky ones. I realize that there are people who work just as hard as I have been, or EVEN HARDER, and don't get the same results.**

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My CF Family

Shortly before I became pregnant with Morgan, I was dealing with some very difficult emotions. In order to deal with them in a constructive way, I began writing. Expressing those emotions through writing was therapeutic for me, and so I continued writing through my pregnancy. Those early posts eventually became the start of this blog.

When I became serious about this whole blogging thing, I wanted my blog to serve a few purposes:

-I wanted it to continue to be an outlet for me, a place to express myself freely.
-I wanted it be a way to stay in contact with friends and family, post pictures, etc.
-I wanted it to be a place where I could connect with the online CF community.

I had no idea what a strong impact the people I'd "meet" here would have on my life. It's hard to explain the unbreakable ties I feel to these people that I've never actually met, and most likely never will. This CF community has become such a part of me. I read their stories each day, and each day I find myself laughing, crying, and praying right along with them. I admire their strength. I admire their courage. I admire the raw emotion they share.

I have been particularly touched and inspired by a story that I recently began following. It's the story of a beautiful mother named Sarah who is fighting for her son Conner, who has CF as well as Prune Belly Syndrome. It's Conner's seventh birthday today, and because he is in the final stages of his fight, this will most likely be his last birthday. In a recent post, Sarah said some things that spoke to me strongly enough that I felt like I had to share them here. I hope she doesn't mind.

"It just can't be. He's my child....My love. My every breaths fight...." 

"I know he's only on loan to me from God...and I count each day as a blessing...but how can this all be happening so fast?"

"Had I known that he was only gonna be here with me for seven short years I would've made them better. I would've been better. I would've done more for him. More smiles, more family memories...but's all moving so swiftly in the other direction that all I have are the undones and the what ifs. Theres not more time for the shoulda and wouldas...and thats devestating."

"Hug your kids for me. Love them. Not just say you love them but truly love THEM. Each and every moment. Life changes in the BLINK of an eye. Gods plans are not our own. And now I'm just wondering where things are going and when...and how much more time I have to make the best of the situation that I can. Thats no way to live. Live each day to the fullest, how cliche but DO IT. Kiss. Love. Hug. Hug some more. Cry. Scream. Dance. Laugh. Play. Make messes. Have arguments. Have pillow fights. Make the most of every single moment. Time here is so short and so precious."

(To send some love, see the entire post, or just to read more about their story, please visit Sarah's blog Not So Bright and Shiny.)

Sarah, and SO MANY others have taught me countless life lessons. They have helped me find my faith again. They have helped me put my trust in God again. They have given me a sense of community that I didn't even know I needed. And like Sarah said, even though I wish I never had reason to be a part of this heartbreaking (but amazing) community, I'm also SO INCREDIBLY grateful for it.

You have become my friends. You have become my family. And for that, I could never thank you enough.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Life as a Mom with CF

1:30 AM: I'm awakened by Morgan's cries. As I sleepily stumble toward her room, I stub my toe on the oxygen compressor that sits just outside my bedroom doorway. I'm not using oxygen tonight. In fact, I haven't needed it for a few weeks. But I find comfort in knowing it's there. Just in case.

As I peek into her bedroom, I see Morgan looking through the bars of her crib, waiting. She smiles when she sees me. She knows what's coming. I'll pick her up out of her crib and sing to her as we return to my bedroom and crawl back into bed. Together.

She falls asleep almost immediately. This is our routine. She goes to bed in her crib, but at some point she ends up next to me in bed. She sleeps so well next to me. I could stay up with her, rock her for a while, then put her back down in her crib. But that would take twenty, maybe thirty minutes. Then she'd be awake in a few hours and I'd have to do it all again. I need the sleep. When my body is tired it's more susceptible, an easy target for infection. And I can't afford to get sick.

As I lay there watching her sleep next to me, listening to her slow, easy breaths, I think again of how much I cherish these moments. I silently pray that I'll be able to hold her like this for years and years to come. That I'll be there for her first day of school, her first date, her wedding. And maybe even someday, for the birth of her own child.

7:37 AM: I've hit the snooze button one too many times. I'm feeling extra tired this morning. I guess that extra half-mile I walked yesterday caught up to me. I'm hoping my PFT numbers will be up at my upcoming clinic appointment, so I've been pushing myself lately. The extra few minutes of sleep felt great, but now I'm running late.

Among other things, I need to do my treatments, feed and change the baby, and take a shower. I don't have time for everything. I choose to forego the shower again today. I put my makeup on while I do my TOBI, as the baby nurses with a blanket over her head. (I keep her covered to prevent her from inhaling the antibiotic. I had second thoughts about continuing to nurse during my TOBI months, but after a lot of questions and research, we're still breastfeeding.)

I don't have time to do the VEST, so I throw the PEP in my purse. I'll do it at work on one of my breaks.

8:39 AM: We're out the door. I didn't have time to make a decent breakfast, so I grabbed some pop tarts and a banana to eat in the car. I've learned better than to skip breakfast altogether. My body needs the calories. I don't usually have a problem maintaining my weight, but my new exercise routine and the extra calories my body expends by breastfeeding have made it more if an issue lately.

8:50 AM: I kiss Morgan good-bye as I drop her off for day care. I notice one of the babysitter's kids has stayed home sick. I immediately start to worry about Morgan catching whatever he's got. I'm also concerned about what that will mean for me. I then chide myself for thinking that way. What kind of mother is more concerned about her own health than that of her baby's? But I know that although her immune system is still immature, it has more of a fighting chance than mine does. I can't feel guilty about that. Morgan needs me to be healthy.

9:00 AM to 12:30 PM: WORK. Working with the public is difficult for me sometimes. I can't count the number of times a day I use Purell hand sanitizer. And I've cleaned my work station with Lysol wipes twice already.

12:30 PM: I quickly drive up to the babysitter's house to nurse Morgan. Still concerned about the little boy who stayed home sick, I feel her forehead several times. Of course she's not running a fever. Chances are she'll be just fine. I worry too much.

I only have a few minutes to play on the floor with Morgan before I have to get lunch for myself then get back to work.

1:30 PM to 5:20 PM: WORK again. I find myself counting down the hours until I go home. I realize that I was going to fit a PEP treatment in at some point today. I didn't.

5:30 PM: I pick Morgan up from the babysitter and am happy to see the "sick" little one playing basketball with his brothers. Apparently he's feeling better.

5:45 PM: Once I get home, I take 20 minutes to nurse Morgan and just relax. This is one of my very favorite parts of the day. Again, I find myself wishing that I could quit my job and just be home. I'm so grateful to have a job, and I really enjoy it most of the time. But even on the very best days, my job doesn't hold a candle next to these moments in the quiet of my own home. And although it's not a physically taxing job, it wears me out sometimes.

6:15 PM: Adam puts Morgan in the stroller and we take a quick walk around the neighborhood. It's nice to get out as a family, and the fresh air feels great! The slight chill in the air causes me to cough, and I like it. It's good therapy. It makes me feel a little better about skipping that treatment earlier today.

6:40 PM: I attempt to tidy up the kitchen as I cook dinner. Morgan scoots around the kitchen in her walker as Dixie follows her closely, quickly devouring the cheerios that are left behind.

7:00 PM: Dinner is on the table. (Coffee table, that is. We don't sit at a family dinner table. Some people find that very odd.)  I alternate between giving Morgan a bite of her sweet potatoes and myself a few bites of my own dinner.

7:20 PM: Adam offers to play with Morgan while I shower. Showering is HEAVEN.

7:40 PM: Now it's Morgan's turn to bathe. She loves taking baths and doesn't want to get out.

8:00 PM: After nursing again, I give Morgan a couple ounces of formula with some vitamin/flouride drops. It's the easiest way to get her to take them. Plus, that extra little bit helps top her tummy off so she can (hopefully) sleep better.

Morgan loves having her teeth brushed. She knows that after brushing her teeth she'll get to turn off the bathroom light and we'll sit down to read. "How do I love you, let me count the ways..."  I can recite the entire book by memory. We've read it every night for two or three months now. It's Morgan's favorite.

8:15 PM: Morgan is asleep in my arms. I'm told that rocking her to sleep will spoil her. I don't believe it's possible to spoil a baby with love. I let her sleep there for about ten minutes before I gently set her in her crib.

8:30 PM: I fold some laundry while Adam and I discuss our day. These moments together are nice. This whole "alone" thing is getting pretty hard to come by these days.

8:50 PM: I start the treadmill. I've been alternating between that and an exercise DVD with different walking exercises. I'm hoping to walk a couple miles tonight. I really want to get my lungs working. Then I plan to do my VEST or have Adam do some CPT while I do my nebulized treatments.

9:03 PM: Three-quarters of a mile into my walk, Morgan starts crying. Adam tries to calm her in her crib, but she just screams harder. She's been that way the past few weeks, wanting--demanding-- Mom. Adam rocks her, she screams. Adam walks around the house with her in his arms, she screams. Adam bounces her, she screams. I step off the treadmill and take her, she stops crying.

9:35 PM: I've rocked Morgan back to sleep. As I set her in her crib she wakes up. I gently rub her tummy and tell her "shhh". She closes her eyes, but I know she's not sleeping soundly yet.

9:50 PM: I've given up on the rest of my walk. I'll try again tomorrow. I've just finished Pulmozyme and started TOBI when I hear cries coming from Morgan's bedroom. Again, Adam attempts to put her back to sleep. Again, she is having none of it. Adam paces with a crying baby in his arms for several minutes before I give in and take her. She sits in my lap, playing with and chewing on the nebulizer tubes, while I finish doing my TOBI. Eventually she falls asleep in my lap.

10:35 PM: Morgan wakes up again as I set her in her crib.

10: 59 PM: Morgan is still awake. Adam feels bad because he hasn't been able to help much tonight. It's not his fault. Morgan has been especially difficult at night for the past few weeks. I haven't done my VEST yet and I'm tired. I need to get to bed. Shylee is coming tomorrow, and adding a four year old to the mix means I'll be even busier over the next few days.

11:37 PM: Morgan is FINALLY asleep in her crib. I still haven't done my VEST.

11:55 PM: I crawl into bed, feeling exhausted and a little guilty. This guilty feeling is familiar to me. Not every day is like today. Most days it's easier for me to take care of myself and fulfill the needs of my husband and child--both physical and emotional. Then again, some days are harder and I find myself giving in completely, only doing the bare minimum as far as my health. It's a constant struggle. What's more important: taking care of my baby's needs right now, or taking care of myself to ensure I'm there for her later on? They're both VERY important, but it's hard to find a good balance between the two.

I know it's only a matter of time before Morgan wakes up, so I try to relax and go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow, I will do better.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 2010 Newsletter: 8 months

Dear Morgan,

Something strange happened to you this past month. YOU BROKE. That's the only way I know how to explain it. And it happened overnight. You went to bed a good-natured, pleasant little darling and woke up a screaming, angry little tyrant that thinks the world will come to an abrupt end if I'm not holding you AT ALL TIMES. You're going through a separation anxiety and "stranger danger" phase, which I'm told is completely normal at your age. Although I'd been warned about this phase, I wasn't entirely prepared for the magnitude of it. When we're home you definitely prefer that I carry you around on my hip, but often you'll settle for me being near enough that you can at least see me. But if, for some reason, I have to step out of your sight for even a few seconds, you scream with the same intensity I imagine you'd scream with if your face were on fire.

Our morning routine used to go something like this: you would continue sleeping while I showered, then you'd wake up and babble until I came and got you out of bed. You would then happily play on the floor while I finished getting ready for the day. Then I'd play with you for a few minutes before I fed you and got you dressed. Relaxed, breezy and simple. Now our mornings go something like this: you wake up at 6:00 demanding to be fed and then simply held in my arms. I'm allowed to take you out of the bedroom, but I'm not allowed-under any circumstances-to put you down yet. Not until you're good and ready. Eventually I'm allowed to shower, as long as I keep the curtain open far enough for you to keep an eye on me. I then spend the next twenty-five minutes trying to find something, ANYTHING, to keep you entertained long enough for me to pull my hair into a ponytail and swipe on some mascara.

A new object can entertain you for a good ten mintues, but if you've already played with something you cannot be bothered with it again! You've already seen that cup! You've already played with that rattle! And that book? You looked at it TWICE yesterday! If I can't find something NEW for you to play with, you get bored and start whining. OH, THE WHINING! The sound of this whining makes my ears bleed. It sounds like a mixture between your normal cry and the moan of a gut-shot bear left in the woods to die slowly. There's not much I won't do to prevent you from making THAT SOUND. The other day you were sitting on the floor making THAT SOUND for absolutely no reason and after a minute I turned to your father and asked him "Do you hear that, honey? THAT SOUND? If at some point you find me hiding in the closet with the lights off, rocking back and forth and mumbling incoherently, just know that I've been driven to do so by THAT SOUND."

You are trying, and LOVING, all sorts of new foods. You're also learning to feed yourself and although it makes a terrible mess, (how do you turn a graham cracker into THAT???) it's a blast to watch you. You're such a good little eater, which I guess I should have expected since you're the product of a man who loves food and a woman who is passionate about food. You especially like sweet potatoes, pears, peas, strawberry pop tarts and cheerios. But, trying all this new food must have confused your little tummy because one day it just quit working. And then you didn't poop for six days. I won't go into detail about what was necessary to remedy this situation, but I will say it involved an infant suppository and me learning that sometimes REAL LOVE means being willing to put something in someone else's bum.

I can't count the times in the past month that you've been called a boy. When you were a newborn, I often heard "He looks just like his father". So, for the first couple months of your life I made sure I dressed you in pink and put a cute headband in your hair. Apparently it worked, because for a while nobody called you a boy. Not even once. But then you decided that you don't like headbands or bows, in fact, you HATE them. Almost as much as you hate having socks on your feet. I'll put something in your hair and within a matter of seconds it's off your head and in your mouth. I've considered gluing something on your head, but I'm afraid you'd still tug at it and that you'd end up pulling your hair right out with it. And there are just so precious few hairs on that head of yours that I'm not willing to risk it. So the boy comments have returned, full force. I've reached the point where if one more person says what a "CUTE LITTLE FELLA" you are, I'll have to physically stop myself from whipping them with a car antenna.

To my surprise, you're not crawling yet. Although you possess all the skills required, you haven't quite figured how to put it in gear and actually move forward. I blame your chubby legs. If they weren't so darn pudgy, they might be easier to maneuver. But I adore those legs of yours and it's because of them that you've lovingly been given nicknames like Ham-legs, Hammy and Hamster. I'm afraid that when you start crawling you'll slim down and lose some of the leg fat that I SO enjoy nibbling on. (I wonder who you'll be when you're no longer our Squealbert Hammalot.) In an effort to help you learn to crawl, I'll set something just out of your reach, then watch as you attempt to make your way to it. You begin by leaning forward and tucking your feet under you. Then, once you're on your hands and knees, you'll rock back and forth for a while as if you're working up the momentum you'll need to launch your body toward the desired item. After you realize you're not actually going anywhere like that, you get on your tummy and make swimming motions which, I must say, are very cute but ineffective. All of this is very frustrating to you, which brings us right back to THAT SOUND we discussed earlier.

Morgan, this phase you're going through has been challenging. But, I promise that it's not all bad. In fact, for each frustrating thing there are at least a HUNDRED good things. Like the way you've learned to give real kisses. And the way I roll over in bed to find you wide awake, staring at me with a big toothy grin. Like the curve of your adorably round belly and the way it hangs over your diaper. Like the way I pick you up when you're crying and you bury your face into my neck, trying to get closer. Or the way you giggle when you touch your nose to mine. And how you laugh until you get the hiccups when your dad holds you upside down and says GIMME YOUR MONEY, PUNK! Like the way you get excited and kick your frog legs when you see me filling up the bathtub. Or the way you screech with delight when you hear songs that you recognize. Like the way you use my hands to pull yourself into a standing position then excitedly say "OGLEE, OGLEE, OGLEE!" Like the way your laughter echos through our home and makes it a happier place. Like the way you've taught me how to live life more slowly and appreciate little, everyday things because now I'm seeing them through your innocent and wondering eyes.

Even though part of me grows tired of holding you twenty-four hours a day, another part of me NEVER wants to let you go. Each time you cry and reach your arms out to me, I secretly want to high-five you. Because I love that you love me. And do you know what? I love you too, little fella.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

EASTER means it's officially SPRINGTIME!

Well, that's the way I think it should be, anyway. Apparently Utah disagrees. Or maybe it just didn't get the memo.

Despite the weather, we had a really fun Easter!

 My brother Tommy, his expectant (and absolutely glowing) wife Megan, and their adorable son Logan, came over for an egg hunt. Since we had far more eggs than were necessary for three kids (that is if you count Morgan, who doesn't eat candy yet) we invited two of the neighbor boys, Alec and Zane, to join in. They were very excited about the hunt, but wanted to know before we started what the rules were. After admitting that we didn't actually have any rules set yet, Megan asked them what they thought might make some good rules. They came up with the following list:


Is that not the most adorable list of rules? After the eggs were hidden and the rules were set, we were ready to begin! Luckily, it warmed up enough to melt the snow and by early afternoon, the sun was even trying to peek through the clouds.