INSERT ALTERNATIVE TEXT FOR YOUR HEADER IMAGE HERE

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015: Year of . . .

"All over the world right now, a thousand thousand trees dance with light.
All over the world right now, a thousand thousand gifts are given.
All over the world right now, at the foot of every tree, we are all unwrapping love."
-Ann Voskamp, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

DSC_3646


Defining Christmas of 2015 proved to be more difficult than in other years since there wasn't a clear theme, but many possible directions.
DSC_3553


DSC_3554

Year of the nearly broken wrist . . . Rory took a nasty fall while riding a scooter on our Christmas Eve walk and the adults were quite concerned about her crazy looking wrist. Thankfully, we still haven't had our first broken bone in the Lewis family.

DSC_3516

Year of the Christmas Eve trip to the hospital . . . Camden made the not-so-bright decision (at Xavier's urging) to drop a Yoda clock from the top bunk after the 3 boys had been tucked away into bed late on Christmas Eve. The clock landed on Xavier's head leaving a large knot and split eyebrow. Camden cried because he felt so bad; Xavier cried because he didn't want stitches; Rory cried because she was scared; William just piped up with, "I'm so jealous" over and over because it meant Becky, Camden, Grandpa, and Xavier got to make a trip to the ER so Dr. Micah (a.k.a. Xavier's papa) could fix him up. Xavier decided it was a "blessing in disguise" because he got to see his daddy.

Untitled

Year of the Yeti . . . this was clearly a popular gift since Becky received one from Micah, we bought one for my dad, and my dad bought one for all of the sons-in-law.

DSC_3687


Year of the Vegetarian Christmas Dinner . . . there might have been a slight (or not-so-slight) miscalculation on cooking the turkey this year, and we ultimately decided to eat side dishes and pie for Christmas dinner. That turkey made for great turkey sandwiches the next day, though.

Year of the Bag . . . Brian surprised me with a green Kelly Moore camera bag (which has been on my wish list for years!) for Christmas. On boxing day, the girls all went shopping and came home with purses. This seems to happen when we're in Oklahoma; must be the peer pressure. Becky and I chose Patricia Nash while my mom's brand of choice was Coach.

Year of the Crud . . . that nasty sinus infection I had before our trip managed to linger through Christmas despite the strong antibiotic. Dr. Micah performed some kind of osteopathic sinus voodoo and then hooked me up with the good cough syrup. Brian seems to be having his turn now that we're back home.

Year of the Sugar . . . despite the fact that in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we (as in me, Becky, and mom) all said there was no time to bake, we ended up with an overflowing treat table. We've decided no pies next year, no birthday cake for Jesus, and we should definitely coordinate our baking . . . because nobody needs 3 different kinds of gingersnaps.

DSC_3752

Year of the Titans . . . All of Brian's gifts from me and the kids were Titans themed. We didn't plan it necessarily, but a theme definitely emerged so we just went with it (despite their dismal season).

Year of the Coloring Book . . . all the kids along with the grown-up girls now have adult coloring books and art pencils to use. Supposed to be good for reducing stress, you know.

DSC_3678


Year of the Harry Potter . . . Camden received multiple HP gifts this year, but his favorite is the HP coloring book and new illustrated HP and the Sorcerer's Stone. I hear William and Xavier have one of those coming as well.

DSC_3704

We could also declare this the Year of the Star Wars, but I am so sick of that topic, I just can't do it. I've never seen the original movies and have no desire to see the new one.

Year of the Missing Loved Ones . . . Even though we're not always all together at Christmas, I felt the missing family a little more keenly this year. Liz, Michael, and Addison couldn't travel because of Michael's work schedule. My brother stayed home, and although Micah was technically present, he was working ICU nights and could only pop in for brief periods.

Untitled

Ultimately, I decided on the Year of the Weather. From driving through incredible downpours both to and from Oklahoma, tornadoes on Christmas Eve, playing tennis in short sleeves on a sunny Christmas Day, using the air conditioning throughout the holiday, Nashville's record breaking 76 degrees on Christmas Day, and now Illinois and Oklahoma experiencing snow and ice in the days following Christmas (TN is still quite balmy), Year of the Weather seemed appropriate, if less momentous than other years.

Untitled

I don't have pictures of my favorite parts of Christmas 2015: reading Advent together at night, singing as many Christmas carols as we could remember in the evenings in front of the tree, watching all 4 kids sing at the top of their lungs from the front row during the Christmas Eve service, their joy at being together, the looks on the 3 boy's faces as they walked out hand in hand to tell us about Xavier's head (which was dripping with blood), the coffee and conversation, the quiet that settled on the house after the kiddos went to bed each night.

DSC_3738

Christmas 2015 was over all too soon. We're back home and (mostly) off work this week. I'm looking forward to some reading (I've got two books ready to go), a little TV watching (started a new Korean drama last night), putting the house back together, eating something a little healthier than Christmas goodies. Brian and Camden are finally going to see Star Wars (this was all Camden asked for at Christmas), and maybe we can fit a date afternoon somewhere into the mix. Mostly, I just want a little space in the schedule this week to recuperate from the busyness of the past few months and to gear up for 2016.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

2015 FRONT

2015 BACK

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Snapshot #25: December

Thankful for . . . so many things, but the kindness of others is at the top of the list. The Dollar Club video from Crosspoint just about made my December and I told Brian and the kids that part of what made it so meaningful to me was that our family has experienced this generosity and love often. Inspires me to pass it on.

Finishing . . . my scrapping career at The Lilypad. I resigned from their creative team this month, which marks the first time in nearly 10 years that I am not scrapping for a designer. Of course, I'm barely scrapping at all.

Starting . . . Project 365 again. Maybe. Possibly. Not sure yet. Haven't decided 100% I'm going to tackle this again, but I do know I was much happier with my photography in general  the years that I completed this project.

Baking . . . my mom's gingersnap recipe, chewy chai snickerdoodles, and Russian tea cakes.

Reading . . . All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (sad, but excellent), The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (not a fan), Where She Went by Gayle Forman (flew through this one), Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas (good). Clearly, I'm in a YA state of mind.

Watching . . . Survivor Second Chances (so good - and my pick to win actually won which is always nice) and The Bletchely Circle (decided to binge this one during Christmas break although it is decidedly darker than I thought which makes binge-watching feel a little depressing)

Listening . . . A Very She and Him Christmas, Adele (along with the rest of the world), When Christmas Comes by Kim Walker Smith (I'm loving a more mellow Christmas sound this year) and Serial (okay, so not listening yet since I'm saving the episodes for our Christmas trip).

Letting go . . . of getting everything done. Focusing on being happy with what I did accomplish this year.

Laughing. . . Rory ate 13 sausage balls at her school Christmas party in an attempt to one-up her brother (who always came home bragging about the number of sausage balls he had consumed at the annual party). Here's the thing: she doesn't. even. like. sausage balls.

Happy . . . that I finished about 99% of my Christmas shopping, wrapping, and running around by December 1 (it was a goal!). I knew the rest of the month would be insane and having that part completed was good, especially since I ended up sick this week (feeling SO much better after 2 doses of antibiotic).


DSC_3456

DSC_3440

DSC_2852

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Me and the Boy

Camden has been out of school the entire week (don't even get me started on why our school deemed it necessary for 6th graders to have an extra FIVE days of vacation) so this week has been full mother/son bonding.

[I may or may not have told him at one point that he could not say the words "star wars" for the rest of the day. And I may or may not have said at least 562 times, "would it be okay if you stopped drumming?" I was actually screaming in my head, "JUST STOP IT ALREADY."]

We've done a bit of Christmas shopping, some Christmas wrapping, some Christmas baking, met a friend for coffee. He's been two 2 different coffee shops, had coffee or hot chocolate nearly every day this week, made a trip to Vanderbilt to get my port flushed (I may or may not have forgotten to do this since September. Oops.).

Twelve has been challenging. We had a big breach of trust earlier this year, and I feel like we've spent the last several months figuring out what it means to parent a 12-year old. I always imagined I would dislike the tween years (and I did mention they've been challenging, right?), but it is all kinds of amazing to realize that your not-quite-a-kid, not-quite-an-adult is actually evolving into a cool, funny, smart, kind, sensitive human right in front of your eyes.

We took a lot of selfies this week. By the last day, when I asked him if we could grab a picture, he replied "I kind of thought you might want to do that."

DSC_3295

Untitled

(not-so-successfully using my camera remote)
DSC_3355

DSC_3382

DSC_3398

Untitled

(well-known blogger, speaker, author, adoptive parent in the background . . . our first ever selfie stalking)
Untitled




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

We Searched the World

(poses all her own)

DSC_3133

DSC_3131

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Who's Driving Again?

Growing up too fast, time passing too quickly . . . both common themes around here.

I was not prepared, however, for this.

DSC_3080

DSC_3082

DSC_3084

Unbeknownst to me, Brian has been letting Camden move the vehicles back and forth in the driveway. They let me in on the secret over the weekend.

Yikes!!

I love the middle photograph because he was having trouble straightening up the van, and we watched him struggle from inside for quite a while. And the last photo feels like a glimpse into the future.

Way too soon.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Friday

I am in the process of rediscovering my camera so fair warning that there may be more pictures than usual over the next few weeks. I've been so frustrated with my pictures for so long that it's become habit not to take any!

We are in the downhill stretch of the Christmas busyness. Camden finished up school today (Rory has another week). When I left work yesterday afternoon, I knew I would only be returning for 1 day until January 4. We have multiple programs, practices and parties this weekend, but our Friday is slightly less busy than planned since Rory has been fighting off an illness all week. She came home with a fever last night so I kept her home from school today and we're staying in tonight. She is very disappointed about missing her school program, but there's not much to do but give in and rest sometimes.

I will admit she doesn't look especially sick (and she's currently singing in the shower). We're going to take advantage of the unexpected free night and pull out the Christmas books, catch up on our Advent reading, and maybe play a round of Phase 10.

DSC_2986

DSC_2992

DSC_2996

DSC_3000

DSC_3006

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Untitled

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

We have reached a new milestone in this house: Rory asked for dresses and shoes for Christmas. I think I can no longer deny she is officially a tween.

Both kids had recitals (their first) this past weekend, and while they both get super nervous beforehand . . . you couldn't tell it during their performances. Watching your child perform gives whole new meaning to the well-known phrase regarding parenting that having a child is like "your heart forever walking around outside your body."

Brian turned the Big 40 yesterday. Becky said William and Xavier asked, "he survived Pearl Harbor Day??" Completely cracked us up.

Jeni's ice cream is sending me multiple emails with all their holiday flavors, and I am thinking Christmas 2015 may not be complete until we've made a trip to Nashville for a scoop of dark chocolate peppermint or maybe sweet corn spoon bread. Maybe both. It's the holidays, after all.

I took Christmas card photos, edited and designed a card, ordered cards, and picked up cards from the printer all in less than 36 hours this past weekend. A veritable Christmas miracle.

Untitled

I have spent the last 3 weeks not sleeping. When I picked Camden up from school today, he said, "No offense, but you have these dark bag things under your eyes."

Remember when they were all little and cute and I still dressed them up, made them wear Santa hats and took adorable pictures?

Untitled

Saturday, December 05, 2015

'Tis the Season . . .

. . . for a very full calendar! Choosing to focus on the bits of breathing time I'm finding in the midst of the holiday madness (when did Christmas turn into a veritable marathon of recitals and program practices and church/school programs?).

Camden's first guitar recital was last night, and it was fun to watch him and the others perform (with varying success). He's progressing really well, and I love seeing him play. We made a rookie mistake and sat on the wrong side of the auditorium so I have a solitary picture of him leaving the stage.

Untitled

DSC_2293

My goal for this year was to have all gifts purchased and wrapped by December 1. I squeaked over the finish line on December 2 (thank you, Amazon Prime and gift cards!).

Photographing a 9 and 12 year old is definitely different than taking pictures of toddlers. They may be slightly less energetic, but possibly more uncooperative. Transitioning to a more casual, lifestyle mode of photography has been difficult, but I am trying to pull the camera out more often for the little things.

Hello, exhibit A. Uncooperative.

DSC_2450

For instance, Rory has homework nearly every single night. Not because there is homework assigned, but because she has a difficult time focusing with the hustle and bustle of the classroom surrounding her. She comes home, sits at the kitchen table and finishes up. Personally, I think it still makes her feel grown-up to have homework. ;)

DSC_2330

Today's agenda includes a relaxed morning of blog browsing and coffee drinking, which will hopefully energize me enough to be patient during this afternoon's Christmas card photo shoot with the kids. To reward ourselves for surviving not only the photo shoot but all of the practicing involved in preparing two kids for their first recitals, Brian and I are going to go see Mockingjay 2 this afternoon. Tomorrow begins another marathon of events, company, birthday-celebrating, and programs so we are trying to soak in today's relative lack of schedule.

DSC_2338

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Counting my Blessings

Friends investing in my kids. While I was in OK, our pastor took Camden hunting and the pastor's wife and daughters took Rory with the while they shopped for homecoming dresses, and both kiddos had an absolute blast.

Community: I've been hosting a women's Bible study in my home for the last 4-5 months, and we're currently studying biblical parenting. Not only is it one of my favorite topics, but Friday mornings are starting to feel cozy and like I'm spending it with friends.

Brian hunted four days in the past 2 weekends (and killed 2 deer). Not that I care one iota about that actual deer/hunting part, but I am thrilled his schedule allowed the time for hunting - his idea of fun. It has been years since he has had the time, and while each school year has seemed more difficult than the last, things have evened out recently.

November 2014 was full of doctor's appointments as I prepared to start a new chemo regimen. November 2015 has been doctor-free.

A safe trip to and from east Tennessee where we spent Thanksgiving with Brian's family.

DSC_2268

Thanksgiving leftovers. Enough said.

Unexpected blessings.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

We watched Annie (the 2014 version) over the weekend, and the next morning Rory told me she had a dream that I was Mrs. Hannigan. I'm sure my standard reaction over the constant state of her room had no influence on this connection.

Our church handed out coats and warm weather accessories this past weekend in an impoverished area of town. Not only did it suddenly turn freezing cold with rain, but we heard gunshots and Rory got punched in the back (she's totally fine). Surprisingly enough (and I'm thrilled about this fact), what the kids took away from the day was how grateful everyone seemed for the hotdogs, chips, and used coats.

Becky bought me a grown-up coloring book with pencils for my birthday, and I have to say it's been kind of relaxing to color . . . not something I would have thought I would enjoy. She bought me this one, and then I couldn't resist the Christmas version.

Untitled

Kids are out of school all week while Brian and I are working Monday/Tuesday so we've been pawning them off to aunts and friends.

In an effort to get ahead of the holiday rush, we put up the Christmas tree this weekend. My goal is to have all Christmas shopping and wrapping done by December 1. Miracles are still possible.

Speaking of miracles, if we have a Christmas card this year - that will be a miracle. Who knew taking pictures of 9 and 12 year olds would be. so. hard.

What's not hard? Taking a picture of this girl.

DSC_2066-3

DSC_1899

Friday, November 20, 2015

Deep Breath

I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them - Andy (The Office finale)

There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things - Pam (The Office finale)

Life is so full. I found myself remembering these two quotes from The Office series finale over recent weeks (a miracle in itself since my brain is feeling every bit of a sluggish 40). I am guessing I am not the only one to find it much easier to get caught up in the busyness of life instead of pausing for a deep breath with the realization that these full days are good and blessed.


Untitled

I flew to Oklahoma last week. It went by much too fast, and we skipped all the food and fun pictures this year. Food and fun still happened, of course.

I did, however, take a picture of my cute new red shoes (which I would never have bought with peer pressure from Becky).
DSC_1603

Camden suddenly switched from uniform polos (ugly) to plaid shirts (cute) this week, and I thought he was actually paying attention to his looks. Turns out, I just needed to do laundry.
DSC_1697

The tree outside the front door has beautiful red leaves right now. I took a pretty picture, but though you'd enjoy the photo bomb from Rory instead.
DSC_1607


Addison paid us a visit this week.
Untitled

Rory was sick last week (you know the throat is in bad shape when both the nurse and doctor respond with a "whoa" after seeing it) and needed a penicillin shot. She spent most of 72 hours not speaking because her throat was so sore, but this photo was taken during an Ibuprofen high.
DSC_1499

Busy weekend ahead. Pausing for a deep breath first.
Untitled