Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Just popping in for a quick update. We closed on our house Wednesday evening, painted almost the entire house Thursday/Friday and then moved Saturday. My mom is here until next week, and we could not have survived the weekend without the help of my parents and Brian's dad. Moving is hard work, people!

I'm discovering that we have clearly accumulated way too much stuff after 15 years of marriage and am trying to simplify as we unpack. Loving the house (despite the fact that the upstairs bathroom is not working - yikes!), but there is not as much storage space as we have been used to so finding a spot for everything is proving a little more difficult than I'd hoped.

Not to mention that there is no cable above the fireplace . . . which means I can't hang the big screen TV above the fireplace . . . which means my living room floorplan has completely gone to pot. These are not third world country problems I realize. ;)

I have not touched my camera in a week so there are no pictures to share although I have been (kind of) keeping up with my iphone. This is a big chemo/doctor's appointment/Neulasta shot week so I'm putting all my energy into unpacking as much as possible before Thursday. Maybe I'll be back over the weekend with an update and pictures, but don't hold your breath. 

Hope all of my friends are safe as Hurricane Sandy blows through!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday's Tidbits

Oh. My. Stars. I have discovered West Elm. It speaks to me.

I've been DVR'ing episodes of The Cosby Show to watch together as a family, and last week we saw the episode where Elvin proposes to Sondra. The kids could not have been more opposite as they watched it. Camden was gagging at the lovey dovey stuff when Sondra says yes and kisses Elvin. Rory was giggling, leaned over to me and said, "I'm thinking about kissing Camden."

We are neck deep in packing, and our house resembles a war zone. I forget how much I hate the chaos of it all. We're scheduled to close Wednesday afternoon, and then the real fun begins.

One picture from last night, and then I may be gone for several days as we paint, move, etc.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Field trip, naps, scrapping, etc.

Rory's field trip yesterday was a success, although documenting that field trip via pictures? Not so much. I have about 100 pictures of the back of kid's heads as they run frantically toward the next activity. Oh, and they all seem to have a lovely green tint to them thanks to the green field trip shirts they're all wearing. Lovely.

And apparently, I was completely wrong about Rory being happy to have me on the field trip because the very first thing she said to me as we sat down in the school bus was, "When can I ride on the bus all by myself?" And the first thing she said to me as we got in the car to leave was, "Can I go on the next field trip all by myself?" Clearly, I am a downer.

Just one example of my stellar photography skills.

We came home from the field trip (Camden was still at school), and I laid down on the couch to watch a little TV. An hour later, I opened my eyes from an impromptu nap and saw Rory in her p.j.'s asleep as well.

In case there is ever any doubt about teachers earning their pitiful salary, Brian has not been home one single night this week. In fact, last night was the second night in one week that he's worked at school until 11ish and then was gone again by 5:30 the next morning. I think most people have no idea how hard teachers work; all they can see is that teachers have 8-9 weeks off in the summer. I'm here to tell you that my husband works hard, and your kid is lucky if he's their teacher.

My kids are both off school (yet again) today and Monday (as well as next Friday). This would be about 4 weeks in a row without a solid week of school. Brian left strict instructions with the kids to let me sleep in, and I happily took him up on it and didn't get out of bed until 8:03. I was also able to enjoy a lovely cup of hot coffee in peace before the kiddos started up with wrestling and sword fighting in close proximity to  my desk. I cannot wait until I can send them upstairs to do this. Did I mention the new house has an upstairs that houses not only their bedrooms but the bonus playroom? It will be glorious.

I have set a goal for myself to clean this house from top to bottom today in the hopes that we can keep it mostly clean until we move. It's a glamorous life, people.

And, finally, the Lilypad has some AMAZING new scrapping goodies today that I hope to play with sometime this weekend. I did sit down last night and within half an hour had scrapped these two pages. It is absolutely a record for me.

110811_boo to you

110811_late nights

Oh, and one final scrapping note. Persnickety Prints is having a rare sale so if you've got layouts waiting to be printed, now is the time to do it! I've actually stayed on top of my printing this year and have printed once a month, but I'm going to send in a little order anyway.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Field Trip Day

Today is Rory's first field trip, and she. could. not. be. more. excited. Typically, I would have chemo today, but the stars aligned and my doctor was out of the office so chemo was moved to yesterday. My platelets are super low, but still *just* high enough for chemo.

Now, on my best day, I'm not necessarily that special mother who can't wait to ride a school bus with 25 screaming kindergartners. On the day after chemo, I'm about as far from that special mother as possible. But I just couldn't miss her first field trip. And the good news is that she is thrilled to have me with her. Camden typically prefers to be on his own because it means more friend time. ;) But my girlie will love having me by her side, and I'm looking forward to seeing her in a school setting.

Oh, and to see all these cute little people she spends every day with and talks about constantly.

She would like you to know these are all her own poses. ;)





Excuse the missing hand.

And the missing feet.

Our house closing for this week got pushed back to Tuesday/Wednesday next week and we're super bummed to not have the weekend to get some painting done, but hopefully we'll get all the packing done instead and then be able to paint Thursday/Friday and move Saturday. My mom is flying in on Sunday (hurray!) to spend a couple of weeks with us, and I am very much looking forward to both the company and the help.

I snuck over to the house yesterday morning and took a picture. Want a peek? Yes, I realize it looks like every other subdivision house, but I think it's adorable and it's going to be all ours, ours, ours.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Last week's after-school pictures. It was all about the bokeh - I am absolutely going to miss this pretty background for my pictures after we move to suburbia.

Test shot. This boy is giving us a run for our money these days and not necessarily in a good way.

Not posed. This happens every time, I just happened to be ready for it this week.

This was last week as she was getting sick, and you can see it in her eyes.

 So, so cute.

Settings were f2.0, ISO200, 1/320 SS with white balance set manually to Kelvin 8330. I would typically set a slightly higher aperture in order to get 2 people in the picture, but I was going for super bokeh in the beautiful fall light.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It Gets Better

My chemo cycle is 28 days. After 4 cycles since July, I'm starting to see a pattern. I seriously struggle days 5-10ish. That's far enough into the cycle to be really tired of feeling sick; far enough into it that it feels like I'm not going to come out of it. To be so tired. To avoid phone calls and email. To feel like the days and nights are running together, and I can't seem to remember anything that's happened. I forget that I will feel better.

But along comes day 11 or 12, and I wake up feeling like a completely different person. This cycle it was Sunday that I finally woke up and felt like myself. We went to church, spent some time with old friends. Visited over lunch. I could feel myself coming alive again. Why is it so hard to remember each month that "this too shall pass?"

This morning I uploaded pictures from the last 2 weeks and remembered it wasn't all bad.

And next month? I'm going to remember that it gets better.

The kids are very interested/scared to death of all the spider webs. This one was really cool with the morning dew hanging off it.

Playing a little football.



Camden making it all the way across the monkey bars is a big deal. He is 9 and has avoided the monkey bars at all costs until recently. Overcoming your fears is no small feat.

Even Brian took a turn. Notice there is no picture of me taking a turn.

Silly faces. Too bad I didn't actually take advantage of this light because it was kind of perfect!


Camden has been SO patient helping Rory with her birthday lego set. I spent about an hour and a half the first day, but he's taken over ever since. He LOVES Legos and as long as he can be patient, I am more than happy to let him be in charge. Well, as long as she is happy for him to be the helper anyway. (What in the world was I thinking buying her a 220+ Lego set?)


Friday, October 12, 2012


I'm kind of a mess today. I woke up to the news that Jen Burgess Thompson went to heaven this morning. She is my age and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last August. You can read her blog here.  I'd encourage you to take some time scrolling through it today. We have matching scars although let's be honest: her stomach is much flatter than mine. She says alot of stuff I couldn't say. We had the same treatment and her portrayal is brutal.

I am devastated at her passing. Although I've never met her, I think I probably feel about her the way some of you feel about me. I feel as if she became a friend via her blog posts, instagram and facebook feed. Her highs became my highs, her lows my lows.

It's been a hard morning. But it's made me think alot about all I have to be thankful for: I'm still here for my kids and family. My cancer hasn't grown in 18 months. That's some kind of miracle all in itself, even there are lot of days that it doesn't feel like a miracle. 

And it's a reminder to step back and take it easy. To love on my people a little more. To show them a little more kindness, a little more patience. Okay, alot more patience. To just keep taking one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other.

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.#

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields# with fire.
He says, "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"He never changes or casts a shifting shadow."

Someone whose cancer journey I follow received bad news yesterday, and it immediately sent me into a tailspin. A tailspin not helped by the fact that my throat is on fire and I received approximately 3 hours of sleep last night thanks to a coughing Rory and needing to be on my best mama duty. Unfortunately, today is a chemo day which means in addition to this sore throat and cold, I'm going to be feeling gross within the next couple of hours.  I haven't felt this anxious or scared in several months. And while this is completely not logical, all the good news we've had recently makes me feel as if we're on the verge of bad news. I've said recently (in fact I said it to Brian minutes before learning of my friend's news) that it feels as if I'm one blood test result away from disaster.

Here's the thing I can count on: this verse I read this morning. "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17

f2, 1/125 SS, 1,000 ISO

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I had grand plans of doing a big picture post with all the fun stuff that's been happening around here.

And then I realized . . . there has been no fun stuff happening around here.

Ever since chemo Thursday (and running errands with Brian Friday), I haven't left the house. Both kids were out of school and they've been a delight, but let's be honest here. Being sick (thank you, chemo) + 4 straight days of kids at home isn't the most relaxing of times.

And, hurray for me, I get to go back to chemo tomorrow. Not looking for sympathy at all! Just kind of wallowing a bit in my reality.


There is this picture to smile at. And you can't help but smile, right?

Oh, yes, she totally has make-up on. We had a little girly afternoon (and I have lots more pics). Brian just shook his head in disbelief.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tuesday's Tidbits

Great post that points out the importance of not getting so mired down in the everyday stuff that we miss out on the so, so important little things.

Rory's favorite phrase these days is, "I feel awkward, mama!" I am positive she doesn't have a clue what she's talking about since it's said in a perky, cheerful tone.

While at the park yesterday, Camden noticed that someone had carved their names into the picnic table. It was written Will -n- Julie. He read it, "Will minus n." ;)

Rory has had a cold pretty  much from the very start of school, but thankfully it hasn't morphed into her usual asthma related problems. Until yesterday. We're headed to the doctor today for inhaler refills. I've been feeding her cough drops like they're candy (which she loves, btw) and yesterday afternoon she said, "These taste so minty, mama. Now I don't even have to brush my teeth!"

While we're at the doctor's office today, the kids are getting flu shots. If you remember, Rory is the queen of screaming, non-brave behavior when it comes to needles. As in she literally starts screaming her head off the moment the nurse opens the door. I was hopeful this year might be different, but she's already cried several times this morning so I'm thinking 6 year old Rory is going to respond just as poorly as 5 year old Rory.

Our local weather station last night led off the news that this was going to be our coldest day/evening in 6 months. You have no idea how happy that makes me. Yes, I know most people hate cold weather. I happen to adore brisk mornings/days.

The kids and I are home alone this morning, and I've thoroughly enjoyed letting them snuggle up on the couch watching cartoons while I waste time drinking coffee and browsing the Internet. Back to a regular schedule tomorrow.

Quick picture from Sunday after church. I sure do love these 3 people.

Using the October BYOC at The Lilypad

Monday, October 08, 2012

Thousand Gifts October 8

Thank you for all of the well wishes on our new house. My brain is overflowing with decorating ideas, paint colors, furniture, etc. I have this idea in my head of a pale, neutral gray paint with all the color coming from pillows, pictures, etc. Who knew finding the perfect shade of gray was going to be so difficult! I've bought 3 Benjamin Moore paint samples so far, and I'm not convinced any of them are the right shade: Revere Pewter, Intense White, Stonington Gray. Suggestions?

And, yes, I've heard all about how boring gray paint is. :)

We had a pretty quiet weekend. Because this was my chemo/Neulasta weekend, I spent most of it in bed or on the couch with my best friend DVR. 

Brian was out of school Friday and today; the kids are out today and tomorrow so our schedule is out the door. Today is a beautiful fall day, complete with cooler weather that reminds me of home. Brian and I have been snuggled up on the couch with blankets each working on our own things while the kids play in a fort in their bedroom. I'm hoping later on that I'll feel well enough to take a family trip to the park. I feel like it takes so much energy to deal with chemo and Brian's two jobs that we have slacked off on spending quality time with the kids. Little things like park trips, family game night, etc. seem to have gone missing from our lives over the last year and a half, and I hate it. 

 I snuck in a photoshoot Friday night; third year in a row with this family, and I just love the mama. She is a girl after my own heart - passionate about family pictures. She is always so prepared and intense and determined. Love it. She's also an adoptive mama. This little guy just made his way home from Russia 4 weeks ago, and he was super sweet.

And my thousand gifts for this week:
a quiet Sunday afternoon at Gramp and Gramp's house
celebrating Rory's birthday
lunch with friends
kisses on the forehead from Camden
first pigtails of the season
pretty fall scrapbooking kits
when Addison's eyes light up as I walk into the room
a great realtor
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7
a new house
cute after-school pictures
answered prayers
early morning phone calls from Becky 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday Snapshots

I babysat Addison two days this week, and she was especially delightful Wednesday. This little smiling face greeted me every time I turned around. This first picture was a bit of an accident in the sense that she moved so quickly that I didn't get her whole face, but I decided that I love it because even though only her eyes are visible, you can tell she's smiling up at me.




There was a little morning light streaming through the open door, but I still needed to go a little slower with my shutter speed than I like to. Thankfully, they're still in focus! Shot with my 50mm 1.4 lens. Settings were f2.5, 1/125SS, and 640 ISO. Edited with Florabella Colorplay Matte Film action.

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, October 05, 2012

Okay, the details

In 15 years of marriage, we've owned a house one time. For that matter, we've never had a choice about where to live in 15 years of marriage except once.

When we first got married, there was a teeny tiny upstairs apartment that was cheap, close to school, and available right when we needed it. We didn't even look for anything else, even though you had to walk through the door-less bedroom to get to the kitchen and bathroom. The little old man who lived downstairs would routinely let himself in to check out how we were taking care of it and to defrost the 25 year old freezer every couple of weeks.

From that first upstairs college apartment, we moved into a little parsonage in Illinois. Now, the church was super-generous and allowed us to choose new carpet, paint, and I decorated that little spot right up with stenciled walls and lots of paint color. Yes, it was the 1990's.

From that little parsonage, we moved next door into the bigger parsonage when the church pastor (Brian was the youth pastor) relocated. We painted all over again. Even when we both were struck down with the flu, we painted. Maybe all this painting explains why we hate it so much these days.

When we moved back to Nashville in 2002, we moved into a tiny little duplex sight unseen. Yes, I was fairly horrified.

Six months later, we got bit by the "buy our own home" bug, and we bought a tiny little plot of land in a tiny little subdivision and proudly watched as our home was built. It was little; our yard was even tinier, but it was shiny and new, and we loved it.

Five years and one little Korean boy later, we sold our house so that we could pay for Rory's adoption and moved into yet another parsonage. It had a beautiful yard, was very convenient for church, but I longed for a home that I could call my own. And a bedroom with a little foot space around our bedroom furniture. And a closet. I gave up all pretenses of decorating. Being debt-free was very freeing.

With the exception of all the money I spent on cute clothes for my girl anyway.

5 years into rural parsonage living, we started planning to move to Texas. And I started buying and decorating a house in my head.

And then we didn't move to Texas. I really thought that my dream of owning a house was done. It was just something that I thought I wouldn't experience in my life. And, yes, some of this thinking was during my really dark days this summer. I tried to let go of it, knowing that it is not the most important thinking in life.

Not only did we not move to Texas, but we were forced to move out the parsonage; I was in the hospital with nowhere to come home to. Some sweet, generous friends and their church family arranged for a house for us to rent and we moved in. Sight unseen again. 

Fast forward a couple of months, and we find ourselves in the position of looking for a small, cheap house, but a house none-the-less. We knew that we were going to have to choose location over everything else and was expecting to buy a small, older home that needed lots of work. In fact, we had 2 realtors tell us how hard it was going to be to find a house in our price range in the location we specified.

But I think God had different plans. I think God saved a house just for us. I think God is trying to give me the desires of my heart (Ps. 37:4).

Because in the first weekend of looking, we found a house in the exact location we were looking for - 3 minutes from the interstate.

And about 8 minutes from a Starbucks if you're interested in that sort of thing.

It is bigger than I thought we'd be able to afford (1,637 sq ft). It has the bonus space for an office we really wanted. And best news of all, it has new floors (including ceramic tile that I dreamed of), new appliances, new light fixtures, and new counters. And a decent front and back yard, sitting on a cul-de-sac so the kids have a place to ride their bikes.

We think we're going to close October 15ish. Let's all take a deep breath at the realization of how soon that is! We saw the house for the first time on September 29. I seriously could not be more excited.

And this week's after-school picture. Okay, pictures.


Okay, that first picture was a lie. Here's what the reality of this shoot was.

And a cheesy picture of Rory that I snapped while we were waiting on Camden.

Enjoy your weekend! We've got paint shopping, food truck eating, 2 doctor's appointments (for me, unfortunately), a soccer game, house inspection, church, etc. Oh, and Brian is off today and Monday. Kids are off Monday and Tuesday so lots of family time.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Fall Photo Sessions

I've had a few people asking me about fall sessions this year. I am happy to take family and friend pictures, but because of chemo, sessions are limited. If you're interested, shoot me an email at camdensmommy at gmail dot com, and we'll see what we can work out. I'm actually having a shoot tomorrow night here at my house - I have lots of pretty places just in my own front yard. ;)

And just a few of Camden being silly.


Today is a chemo day for me. The big one that includes two different chemo drugs, a visit with the doctor, followed by that oh-so-fun Neulasta shot Friday. Good news is that I get to meet a friend for lunch today; Brian is off work tomorrow so he gets to take me to Nashville for my shot, and we're going to try to find a food truck for lunch!

I'll be back tomorrow with a little more information on my Wordless Wednesday.
Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Tuesday's Tidbits

"Well, that's a relief. Our crayons are made in the U.S." - totally serious comment from Camden

We watched the season premiere of Amazing Race Sunday night, and for one of their challenges, the teams had to eat a Chinese dessert: frog fallopian tubes. I guess just one more reason to be happy I was born in the USA. We get to eat ice cream and chocolate for dessert instead of froggie fallopian tubes.

For all of you who have asked, I did not make Rory's birthday cake. I must have seriously misrepresented myself if you think I'm capable of that much decorating!

My brain is kind of overwhelmed with news, but most of it is confidential so I guess I'll have to be satisfied with keeping it to myself.

I have not been very good at snapping pictures the last few days, but here are two.

Rory's first pigtails of the season.

There is not much sweeter than a baby who wakes up happy. They don't seem to take much notice of the gray, dreary days.

Kim Jensen/Kate Hadfield: Fantabulous Fall
(are these colors great or what?)