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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

Christmas pictures from the big camera.
Two things.


1. If you can believe it, I'm only sharing a few pics and sending links to family to the rest. I have nearly a 100 in the Christmas 2013 folder. You're welcome for not sharing them all. Actually with Flickr's new crazy-town photo sharing, you can just click through a slideshow of all of them.

2. Anyone else feel frustrated that their photos are unable to capture or convey the sheer joy they're feeling at the moment they snap the picture?

Okay, 3 things. I'm really ready to have my own computer back. Enough with this little laptop nonsense.

William and Rory playing the DS on the bed.
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The glazed looks on Camden and Xavier's face should tell you they're playing the Wii.
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Camden and Rory's Christmas present.
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Their reaction when they opened the present.
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Oh, yes, we did get a big jar of Nutella for Christmas.
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This is self explanatory.
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The guy's took a walk/bike ride after Christmas dinner.
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The goodie table. Oh, we definitely needed a whole table. And the picture doesn't even show the extra tins underneath the table.
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Family picture
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Dirty Santa. William opened the first gift, and it was a beauty set. :)
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Xavier, on the other hand, opened up a Star Wars clipboard.
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Uncle Matt with the kiddos.
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Three very serious super hero boys wearing their new super hero hoodies from Uncle Michael and Aunt Liz.
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Tossing a girl into the mix.
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Just a few final thoughts about the 2013 Christmas season for my own documentation. It was the year we simplified even more than previous years. We decided early on (with the kid's input) to not give gifts not only to each other but to pretty much everyone else who is typically on our list . . cousins, friends, colleagues, etc. Instead, we chose to use the money and give to others. We chose deliberately to focus on Christ, to read Scripture and sing together each night in front of the tree, family togetherness. We did surprise the kids with tickets to the Legoland Discovery Center (to be used during spring break) and I bought Brian a small gift (much to his dismay) so we didn't totally stick to the no present rule. The look on their faces when they opened the envelope was priceless. And instead of a pile of presents that they will not remember in a couple of months, not to mention the financial stress of a big Christmas, I know they will remember choosing to give away their present money and then the surprise of a Legoland ticket.

I love that we kept it simple; the kids were still spoiled thanks to grandparents and they were so, so sweet and generous to voluntarily give up their own Christmas presents for someone else. We will keep this tradition I think. What we won't keep is not giving physical gifts to others in our lives. I want us to remember that there is joy in giving, and I think we lost that just a bit this year. We gave away to causes and monetary gifts to other people who have less than we do, but it wasn't personal. There is definitely joy to be found in choosing simple, meaningful gifts to those we love in our family and I want to make sure we remember the value in that.

The tree and decorations are down and put away (anyone else breathe a sigh of relief when that is done?). The house looks so fresh and clutter-free as of this afternoon. We're spending the evening with our church family playing games, and then New Year's Day is blissfully quiet and completely event-free.

2013 was a good year. It had its hard moments, to be sure . . . my dad's heart surgery and multiple hospital stays, but he is doing well and I had no chemo . . . for an entire year! I don't know what 2014 holds, but we're blessed to be starting a new year together.


Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year of the Purse

We spent the last week in Oklahoma with Micah, Becky, William, Xavier, my parents and my brother (briefly). If 2011 was the Year of the Preemie Baby and Gallbladder Attack and 2012 was the Year of the Flu, then 2013 was the Year of the Purse. With Christmas money burning a hole in our pockets, my mom, Becky, and I spent our days searching for the perfect purse and wallet. The search included 2 different Dillards (3 trips), Macy's, and T.J. Maxx (3 trips). We all managed to find the perfect purse/wallet.

Leather smells so good.

We also had a fantastic time eating (of course), drinking coffee (of course), listening to the boys play (loudly, of course), and being together. We also managed to fit in alot of shopping (Brian and Grandpa ended up on kid duty. Alot.), a trip to see the Rhema Christmas lights, a beautiful Christmas Eve service (with Michael Boggs leading worship), a trip to see Frozen (which was seriously fantastic - Camden even had to shush Becky because she was laughing too much).

We arrived home Saturday night, had a VERY full Sunday, and we are now home for a couple of days before Brian starts back to school Thursday. The kids are currently engaged in World War 3 (and not in a good way) while I try to take care of the most enormous pile of laundry ever, upload Christmas photos (I can't even think about tackling this right now). Brian is spending some time hunting, and I am grateful he gets the opportunity.

Here are the few pictures (mostly from Becky's phone). All big girl camera pics are going to have to wait, because my laundry and unpacking just can't.

It was a total winter wonderland on our way to Oklahoma. This is not a b/w picture, just lots of ice coating everything.
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I briefly lost my mind and let the kids share a roadtrip coffee.
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Headed in to the Christmas Eve service.
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Candlelight at the service.
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In their p.j.'s (very hyped up, I might add) before bedtime Christmas Eve.
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Our families both chose to read scripture by the light of the Christmas tree and sing carols every night of December. This was the final night. And while Camden and Rory are pretty enthusiastic singers, it is nothing compared to William and Xavier who are VERY enthusiastic singers. A seriously fantastic way to make sure we are concentrating on Christ's birth, by the way. We have plans to continue this every year.
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The kid table. Not that I don't love them, but these four are loud (to put it mildly) so a kid table was fan.tab.u.lous.
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Lights on Christmas Night. Micah had his own Christmas miracle and was able to be off on Christmas Day, something that doesn't happen often for a doctor during his residency.
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If you couldn't find these 4 playing with Legos or at the Wii, then they were all snuggled up reading.
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Shopping! (Sidenote: someone remind me never to style my hair this way again)
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Rory got Grandma's old purse, and she is kind of into carrying it.
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Rory taking advantage of one of the few moments the boys weren't completely engaged with Camden. While she talked their ear off, they dutifully said, "yes" and read. I always feel a little sorry for Rory - she's always SO excited to be with the boys, but they quickly drop her in favor of Camden. Which is understandable, of course, but I do feel bad for her.
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Frozen. We took up a whole row. And because it was sold out (2 days in a row), we were on the second row.
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Playing games on our last night.
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It was a typical Lewis/Derby Christmas. And by "typical" I mean wonderful.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I received many beautiful cards in the mail this year, but only sent to family for the first time in many years. For all of my friends, here is your virtual Christmas card and I won't skip out next year!



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Snapshot

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DSC_8151, a photo by 4lewisfamily on Flickr.

Sure! Go ahead and make yourself comfortable.

Friday, December 20, 2013

PL Week 50



Christmas Tidbits

The kids finished up their fall semester with a Christmas party yesterday. We were home by 10:45, and they were bouncing. off. the walls. Lots of holiday cheer going on around here. :) I put Camden to work making our chex mix, and he did a great job. I might have handled the stirring once it went in the oven, but that's it.


Speaking of chex mix, I made this sweet version. Oh. my. stars.


One of Rory's Christmas crafts. The girl is seriously into crafting right now, which is unfortunate because her mother knows nothing about crafting.


Brian is in a whole new level of elementary school hell: colonial day the week of Christmas parties and break. He had to dress up, make butter from cream, dig holes in the ground (for something?). He came home yesterday exhausted and declared Teachers: 0, Students: 1. Today is their Christmas party and then he is out for a whole week and a half. That is not long enough, right?


I love Christmas music, and bought this Dave Barnes CD earlier this week. It's really fun!


We buy a new dated ornament every year. This year's came from Lisa Leonard (during her Black Friday sale).


So, yes. This is a picture of coffee set up in front of my tree on an ottaman. Don't judge. I thought the package was so pretty, and I wanted tree lights in the background. ;) And they had free $5 gift cards with the purchase of the holiday blend last week.


The kids were up bright and early quietly doing little Christmas crafts. It was sweet (and quiet), much appreciated since I was up until about 3:30 last night. Those quiet moments are gone, and they are now currently in the middle of a nerf gun war that is extremely loud and violent. I just heard Rory yell at Camden to stop shooting her because "I just don't feel so well." Of course, she feels well enough to chase him around . . . just not be chased.

Notice the freshly trimmed hair, btw.


And one tidbit from each kid.
1. "What in the great, green blazes is that?" . . . not exactly what I was expecting to hear our of Rory's mouth Sunday while we were getting ready for church.
2. Camden wrote in his teacher's Christmas card, "I hope that we have many more good times together." Cracks me up.

It is supposed to be 72 tomorrow. December 21. What is up with that?

Our weekend plans include some baking, pancake breakfast at church, candlelight communion service, babysitting Addison, dinner with Michael, Liz, and Addison, a haircut for me (hurray!) and packing for our Christmas trip. Happy Friday!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Boys and Girls

The difference in boys and girls is mind-boggling.

Or maybe it's just the difference in an oldest and youngest child.

Or the difference between a 10 and 7 year old.

Whatever it is, these photos kind of sum it all up.

Rory perfectly happy to be my test subject.
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Now let's add 10 year old brother to the mix.
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Having your picture taken is just. so. difficult.
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A very small victory.
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And let this serve as a before picture. Much-needed haircuts are this afternoon.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

To Do Lists

Instead of blogging the last week, I've been racking up a list of surgeries on my "to do" list. Oh, I wish I were kidding.

Actually, I'm being slightly melodramatic because none of them are certain yet. Up first is a preventative mastectomy after meeting with a genetics counselor last Thursday. I was going to write a whole post on that meeting, but decided it's too complicated and slightly depressing to do. Suffice it to say that Vanderbilt finds me very interesting . . . it's tough to determine what my risk is for breast as well as other cancers . . . they're using my case at one of their peer panels. We're also redoing my genetic testing for the THIRD time as they try to figure out why in the heck I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the first place. What they discover could have a significant impact on the other females in our immediate and extended family. Oh, and then there's that preventative mastectomy they want me to strongly consider.

Up next is an MRI on December 30 to see if I have a torn meniscus in my knee, which would require surgery to repair. Here's hoping it's just some crazy random swelling/stiffness that has been around for 6 weeks but is now going to disappear.

My personal favorite is the chronic tonsilitis that they think is contributing to the infected lymph node in my neck. This has now happened 3 times in the last 6 months, and while it sounds simple, it is incredibly painful because of all the nerve endings involving teeth and ears in your neck. In a last ditch effort to get rid of it before thinking about having my tonsils removed, I am taking 875mg of Augmentin twice a day for the next 14 days (don't google side effects because they're not pretty).  My throat is so sore it hurts to talk, which actually might be a good thing when it comes to my husband and children.

In the meantime, we've been having some Christmas fun. Did you know last Saturday was national hot chocolate day? That's because it wasn't, but I missed it on Friday and decided to declare Saturday as the Lewis Hot Chocolate Day. Can you believe Rory doesn't like hot chocolate? She enjoyed the whipped cream and marshmallows on top anyway.
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We had adult church parties to attend Saturday and Sunday nights, so the kids (from our family and two others) all stayed together. I was initially a little worried about this plan (our kids were the youngest) of 8 kids ages 16 down to 7, but it turned out to be a fabulous time for them, and we're very blessed to have these families in our lives. It's kind of a new stage for us - leaving our kids with their peers with only teenagers as supervisors, but these are kids that I absolutely trust. Camden and Rory are lucky to have such good role models . . . although the following prayer was posted via Twitter this same night: "Dear Lord, please help us not break anything." Pretty sure this prayer was relevant to the 3 hour Nerf gun war that happened.
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Rory went on a little Christmas outing last weekend with 4 of her friends from school. The mama who arranged the viewing of Frozen, supper, and Christmas lights is a hero. Rory came home giggling and didn't stop until we sent her to bed. The hosting mama also confirmed our suspicions that Rory is trying to give every public restroom in Nashville a try.
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Yesterday was Polar Express Day at school for Rory, so she and her doll wore matching p.j.'s to school. The night before she said, "I think we might even be watching a movie at school tomorrow!" Why, yes, Rory, that would be the point of Polar Express Day!
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The kids both have Christmas parties at school tomorrow morning and then their 3 week Christmas break begins. Let me repeat that: THREE WEEKS.

I'm going to spend the rest of my day taking it easy as I concentrate on feeling better as well as feeling grateful that the sickness I experience today is simply a bad case of tonsillitis and not chemo or cancer related. Not everyone is as lucky as I am right now, and I never want to forget how blessed I am this year.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PL Weeks 47, 48, 49

I made a brief and fairly disastrous detour into the paper Project Life world, but the past few weeks have gotten back on track with digital. Paper looks so pretty, but I just don't have the creativity (or supplies) to do it justice. Pretty sure I'm a digital gal for sure.

A very abbreviated Week 47.
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Week 48
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Week 49
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday

We've had a fairly busy couple of days, although ice canceled several of our events. While some of those events were going to be fun, some quiet time at home snuggled up in blankets because of winter weather outside is also kind of right up my alley. We drank alot of extra coffee, watched a movie or two, played some games, and mostly stayed in our p.j.'s. Here's our last 4-5 days in pictures.

Each night we're reading Advent scripture and then singing Christmas carols by the light of the tree (and iPad). Thank you, Becky, for this idea.
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They won't win any kind of Pinterest award, but I went with what I had on hand and the kids decorated goodie bags for our church college kids.
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Ice on Friday/Saturday.
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After seeing what the rest of the country went through via ice/snow/loss of power, etc., our little ice seems laughable. It was enough to cancel school everywhere, Camden's Christmas program at the mall, and our city parade.
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I cannot even tell you how well the kids played together Friday and Saturday. Clearly, a little alone time with their toys had been missing in their lives.
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Sidenote: I feel as if I should admit we started Sound of Music Live and turned it off about 10 minutes later. Brian and the kids had absolutely no interest in it whatsoever. Does that make us less cultured?

Sunday afternoon, we went with a group from church to sing at a local nursing home. After singing to our big crowd of 5, we split up and went to individual rooms. My favorite part was Camden singing at the top of his lungs.
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Brian's parents were in town for a very short visit. I have a feeling his mom would have preferred I take a picture sometime other than the morning, but it was my only opportunity.
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Everyone had school again as usual yesterday, but today Brian is out again. The snow (can you really call it snow when it's less than an inch and supposed to be gone by 9:00 a.m.?) completely missed us, but he teaches in a different county and apparently some tiny section of his county was affected. As a teacher, he's completely on board with a school system that calls off for every little thing. He's off working at church right now, but we're hoping to take advantage of this unexpected day off a little later.