Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Snapshot: August

Starting . . . a Kelly Minter Bible study on Friday mornings with gals from church.

Reading . . . almost everything recently has been a win!
  • Night by Elie Wiesel - how have I never heard of this book before? A definite 5 stars.
  • What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman - I stayed up until midnight finishing this one.
  • Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand - unbelievably depressing with unlikable characters
  • Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin - absolute 5 stars and a book I will be recommending for a long time
  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson - a fun, quick YA read
  • The Expats by Chris Pavone - meh
  • Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch - fun
  • Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright - whimsical
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - quirky and excellent
Listening . . . lots of good things here too, although heavy on one particular topic. Completely representative of what's occupying my mind these days.
Watching . . . Olympic viewing took over our evenings for me and Camden in August. Brian didn't have time to watch, and Rory slept through most events. I'm falling asleep to America's Got Talent recently (it takes me 3-4 nights to make it through an episode; I'd complain about that, but it means I'm sleeping so I'll take it). It's taken us 3 months to watch the first 2 episodes of O.J.: Made in America (fascinating and thought provoking - we absolutely made the kids watch the first episode which dealt with history of race and riots in L.A.).

Admitting . . . we are struggling to keep our heads above water. August - October are brutal for Brian in terms of work hours. He honestly just never stops because there are not enough hours in the day and days in the week. The kids feel the stress, I feel the pressure; Brian feels all of it. Things never truly slow down when you're a full-time teacher and children's pastor, but these months can suck the life out of us if we're not careful. 
    Anticipating . . . Labor Day. Hello, no work or school.

    Thankful . . . for car pool two days a week (especially since I don't have the morning shift!).

    Drinking . . . triple venti iced espresso with 3 pumps of white chocolate mocha. Let's blame Becky for this.

    Eating . . . lots of fresh fruit and veggies because it's all in season!



    Laughing . . . Rory described the Olympians as "burly."

    Also laughing . . . Camden wearing sunglasses even at night because "I can and it feels cool."

    Photos . . . 

    Waiting for a ride to school; she's decided she wants to wear hairbows again.

    Feeling like this is the last summer for cute little boutique dresses. So sad!

    All the scowls all the time from this one. He's learning how to be a teenager while we're learning how to parent a teenager.

    Friday, August 26, 2016

    Five on Friday (Aug 26)


    Just like Alexander, we have had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day . . . all week long. The good news is that those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days are completely redeemable so we are happily leaving this week behind.

    1. Brian and Rory had the opportunity to attend a Titans pre-season game. Camden was a little bummed to be left behind (welcome to Rory's world, C), but we logged in some solid Olympic viewing while they were gone.



    2. Rory's baseball career started and ended within the space of 4 days. She wanted to play (because Camden plays) so we signed her up for fall ball. When we found out it was co-ed, she was less than thrilled. Later in the week, she received an invitation to go to American Heritage Girls with a friend from church. As soon as we walked into that meeting, I knew she had found her thing. It is very Southern precious (and I am not Southern or precious), but it is absolutely Rory's style and I'm happy for her to have something that Camden has not already experienced (the curse of the youngest child I think). Staying true to the spirit of this week . . . we missed the first meeting.

    3. No more glasses for Camden. Bring on the contacts, and we couldn't be happier about it. It's a big adjustment because learning to put something directly onto your eyeball is tough, but I think contacts are a big win. Here he is geared up to mow the yard with sunglasses (he's never been able to wear sunglasses before) and this crazy water backpack thing that a soldier friend gave him. He looks hilarious.



    I'm happy to have a clear view of his eyes these days.

    4. After falling asleep while watching the Olympics Saturday night, Rory walked through the freshly mopped kitchen and took a hard fall on our ceramic tile floors. She was not fully awake and kept screaming, "I can't feel my ears!" Because I am nothing if not a compassionate nurturing mother, I had to stifle the giggles. By Sunday afternoon, her elbow was alarmingly swollen and black with bruises so we had it checked out. She has to put up with a splint and sling for another 10 days with no recess or PE, but the xrays confirmed that it is not broken. We have spent a shocking amount of money this week on this arm, but I am very glad it's not more serious. The orthopedic surgeon proclaimed her to be one seriously tough little girl. Rory didn't appreciate the "little" in that definition, but I appreciated the "tough."



    5. Speaking of doctor's appointments (we've had 4 in the last 7 days!), Camden and Rory had physicals this week. Rory weighs all of 50 pounds soaking wet (literally, she was soaking wet from the rain and fully dressed when I weighed her last week and the doctor's scale confirmed). I keep reassuring her that there will come a day when she does not mind being the smallest, but she cannot fathom it. Camden, on the other hand, has shot up into the 75% of his age group and Dr. H assures me that this growth spurt is not actually a growth spurt and he is on track to be one very tall teen/adult . . . much to Rory's chagrin.

    Here's to a Friday evening with nothing more exciting planned than grocery shopping followed by pizza and a movie.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2016


    Brian and I started off the school year by setting a few goals for ourselves and the family. Nothing huge, but the adults resolved to spend less time on Facebook. I want to finish my study in Galatians before I begin teaching my Friday morning Bible Study in September, a little more character-building around the supper table, etc.

    We attempted multiple times to get the kids involved, but goal setting is apparently not a kid thing. For instance, the only thing Rory could come up with was to exercise every day. Of course, she has PE every day at school so that "goal" is accomplished without any effort on her part. Camden took the idea of setting goals as a criticism of his personhood and after a week's deliberation begrudgingly landed on "focus more on school." When the lowest grade on your report card is a 97, I'm just not sure that more focus on school is exactly necessary.

    So, clearly, goal setting wasn't a big win from the kid's perspective, but still beneficial. One of the main goals for adults was to set aside a couple of hours every other weekend. The gold standard of weekly date nights has always been very out of reach (we still haven't even celebrated our anniversary from back in May), but as the kids grow older and can easily stay at home without a sitter for a couple of hours, setting aside every other Saturday afternoon seems doable.

    I've already noticed it makes me feel better to see a time on the calendar when I know I will have Brian's undivided attention. Two weeks ago we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, followed by grocery shopping. This past weekend we went to a little cheesecake bakery that's been on our list to try for a while now and discussed the budget. So romantic, right? After nearly 20 years of marriage, time alone is nearly the same thing as romance.


    Wednesday, August 17, 2016


    Camden has been taking guitar lessons for about 8 months, and he's definitely got a knack for it. I know I'm his mom so it's possible I'm looking at things through rose-colored glasses, but I don't think so! Sunday was Youth Sunday at church, and he played for both services. After hearing him play, a friend gifted him with a Taylor guitar.

    Do you know anything about Taylors? Me neither until Sunday. They are kind of the gold standard, and this guitar is better than anything we could have ever afforded for him. As in, he'll seriously never need to upgrade. That's how awesome it is.



    Isn't it crazy when God uses someone to just bless you in an unexpected way? I am so thankful and humbled for Camden.

    Friday, August 12, 2016

    Five on Friday (Aug 12)

    1. Camden logged in a solid 8 hours of Olympic viewing in a row last Saturday and I can't decide if I should be proud or embarrassed by that fact. I cannot even make myself add up the number of hours we've spent in front of the TV this week. We have loved Michael Phelps and the gymnasts. Any time not spent watching the Olympics has been spent recreating Olympic events.



    2. Camden has broken his glasses 3 times in the last 10 days doing typical 13-year old boy activities. I think we've possibly convinced him to give contacts a try because those poor glasses are not going to survive.

    3. Over the past several months, I've had increasingly severe stomach pain that led to a scan this week. The good news is that the pain does not seem to be caused by cancer growth (scan showed cancer is stable with exception of a tiny growth on my liver); the bad news is that we still don't know what's causing the pain, but I see a GI specialist next week and am hopeful he can figure it out. Never one to be left out, Brian had a tiny little scratch balloon into a crazy oozing disgusting mess that requires antibiotics and bandages this week as well. We are falling apart.

    4. I had a photoshoot earlier this week, and Rory was my light tester.




    5. My boss had a layover in the Incheon airport in Korea and brought us back these mugs from the Starbucks. Fun, right?!


    Happy Friday!

    Wednesday, August 10, 2016

    You Can Almost Hear the Grass Grow

    Because of an overabundance of rain this summer, our grass is still spring green and growing inches overnight. This kid has mowed 2 yards every single week this summer (in nearly 100-degree temps). And while he might hate it, he still does it (sometimes with a whole bunch of complaining and always with a break every 10 minutes). He got paid for 1 yard, but ours is all free labor. It often feels like more trouble than it's worth to make him mow the yard. Seriously, it often takes a superhuman effort to show empathy and support in the midst of the complaining, but let's be honest - I complain my way through hard things just as often. 

    It's good for him to know he can do hard things, and when he finishes, the sense of accomplishment just emanates from him.

    Along with the sweat.



    (I have never, ever, ever sweated this much.)

    Monday, August 08, 2016

    4th and 7th Graders?

    Well, here are these big kids on their first day (together) of 4th and 7th grade this past Friday. It was raining on their individual first days of school, and I am old enough to know better than to attempt pictures under those conditions. We all had a much better morning because of it.

    Camden is wearing man's size 8.5 shoe and 16 slim pants (which are going to be too short for him any day now). Rory is wearing size 7/8 shirts and size 7 slim pants/shorts. She desperately wants to grow! Rory is most excited that 4th graders have a fitness test every Monday in P.E. while Camden is happy to get back to choir and his favorite science teacher.

    (notice the Sonic cups in hand - Sonic Happy Hour on the first Friday of the school year always)

    Today marks our first day (kids and Brian) of the first full week of school. Transition is rough. We're staying up way too late watching the Olympics and suffering for it every morning, but it's worth it.

    I think.

    Friday, August 05, 2016

    Five on Friday (August 5)

    1. I delivered both kids to school this morning (they've each been one day this week already, but separately) and breathed a sigh of relief. Anyone else feel like they've accomplished something when the summer is complete and kids are safely back in the hands of the professionals? (yes, I hear you teacher friends - including my husband and 2 sisters - silently protesting this). We stayed up all the nights, ate all the ice cream, talked all the talks, played all the games, read all the books, watched all the Food Network and now it's back to reality. I will admit that a 5:15 wake time felt very early this week. As usual, I didn't quite appreciate the slightly later alarm while it was available.

    Ice cream on the last night of the summer (Brian also returned to school this week)

    2. Rory and I went to NCT to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Sunday afternoon. Everything NCT is quality and Joseph was no exception (although this is kind of an oddball musical).

    3. We're all in for Olympic watching beginning this evening. I even looked up a few Brazilian recipes (and promptly decided on the easiest one) for supper tonight. Only thing that would make the Olympics better is if they would have happened prior to the start of school. I feel like we could have really taken advantage of 24-hour coverage and seriously camped out for the duration if there weren't this silly thing called school to contend with.

    4. I found out this week that I was chosen for the launch team of a book I have been waiting to read for MONTHS. More on this this later, but let's just say I pre-ordered this book back in February (that's how much I was looking forward to reading it) and I have linked the author here many, many times.

    5. I think calling this crafty might be pushing the definition of crafty just a bit, but I took Rory to our brand new Michael's store and bought embroidery thread to make friendship bracelets. It's pretty much the only crafty thing I remember doing successfully as a child (the sewing and embroidery were both complete disasters despite my mom's attempt to teach us every summer).



    Bonus: When I asked Rory how her first day of school was, she replied that her teacher was "you know, real happy."