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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Snapshot: February/March 2016

Starting . . . a new baseball season. I had not forgotten Clarksville baseball involved many hours of practice, but I had forgotten, perhaps, how those hours accumulate over the week. It is super fun, however, to see how much fun Camden is having. And this is his last year for Little League - how sad is that! I bought baseball pants in a men's size small for him this week.  What is going on here??

Finishing . . . nothing for myself necessarily, but we successfully navigated through a Bible memorization competition and two projects for each kid in the same week without losing our cool, and I feel like that is a major accomplishment.

Wondering . . . when I started turning the camera over to my 12-year old?? It's happened more frequently in recent months, and he is currently working on photographing a wildflower science project.

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Reading . . .
Columbine was the most riveting of this group. It's a hefty book with a tough subject matter, but I could not stop reading for 4 days (impressive considering our schedule that week).

I also highly recommend Raising Grateful Kids by Kristen Welch.

My first Ann Patchett novel (Bel Canto) was more poetically written than is generally my taste, but interesting.

I read Everything, Everything in one sitting (I have no idea the last time that happened).

The Gilded Hour (not pictured) by Sara Donati was a fascinating look (historical fiction) at women's issues, poverty, and immigrants. Even though I didn't agree with her slant on the issues, this was a fascinating and eye-opening book.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom was heart-wrenching, and I'm still thinking about the characters weeks later. Unfortunately, it also featured a truly abrupt ending that felt very ill-conceived. It was bad enough that I'm not even sure I feel up to reading the sequel that comes out next week.

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Watching . . . I'll Have What Phil's Having - a PBS travel/food show the kids and I watched during our sick days in February. It is educational, funny, and tends to bring on serious hunger pangs. Also American Idol and Reality Check (commentary on AI), Survivor, starting Season 2 of The Blacklist with Brian, and working our way through The People Vs. O.J. Simpson.

Listening . . . not much music these days, but an abundance of podcasts. Here are a few of my recent favorite episodes:
Inspired to Action podcast: Preparing for the Teen Years with Elisa Pulliam (Episode 95)
The Happy Hour: Retha Nichole (Episode 77)
The Art of Simple: Neighbor's Table with Sarah Harmeyer (Episode 21)
The Happy Hour: Jami Nato (Episode 68)
A Mom's Mission Field: Flower Patch Farmgirl Blooms in the City (Episode 15)

 Deleting . . . Facebook from my phone. It's been nearly 2 weeks, and I still need a 12-step recovery program.

Discovering . . . that listening to podcasts while grocery shopping transforms the mundane into a much more palatable experience. Introverts, unite.

Laughing . . .
"Mom, are we Dominican or Republics?" -Rory
"Have you ever lived in a compartment?" -Rory

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Five Years

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In September 2012, we traveled to Oklahoma to celebrate Becky's 5-year remission milestone. My mind worked double-time that weekend as I struggled to ignore the fear that kept trying to creep in. When that sweet weekend with friends and family was over and it was time for us to go, Becky began to cry as she hugged me and told me I was going to have 5 years one day. My own tears flowed, of course, and what I didn't say out loud was that I didn't believe her.

Today, however, marks 5 years. Not 5 years of being cancer-free, but 5 years since my diagnosis. Five years, my friends, is a big win.

I've changed in five years. There has been anger, fear, grief, acceptance. My kids are forever marked by the experience. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of just how much, and it is so hard. I'm not sure what our lives would look like in 2016 without cancer, but I know that God has walked with us these past years. I know He is good. I know He has a plan to redeem the hard stuff. I know that He will walk with us for the next 5 years.

We celebrated, as we always do on this day, with ice cream for breakfast. Mint chocolate chip ice cream at 7:30 on a Wednesday morning is always a good thing.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend was a crazy-busy couple of days, but good.

Mostly good, anyway.
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(Camden's getting a bad edit these days, right? He spends about 90% of his time as a happy go lucky kid; it's only when I bring out the camera that he shows his age.)

Our church had a community cook-out and egg hunt Saturday. The weather was incredible and I loved looking around at the women chatting and passing babies around, the younger kiddos at the playground while the older kids played Wiffle ball, football and kickball.

We celebrated Easter Sunday with our largest crowd yet at 180 Church then spent the afternoon with Michael, Liz, and Addison. It's strange that we have kids this big, but there were no egg hunts, egg-dyeing or even cute photos of Easter outfits. I managed to do a bare minimum of photo taking over the weekend.

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Brian is on spring break this week so he took the kids fishing this morning. Unfortunately, I still had to work, but they probably have more fun without me when it comes to the great outdoors.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Snapshot: Camden

Twelve years ago Brian and I woke early after a night of little sleep - because who can sleep when your life is about to change - to fly to Chicago to meet an endearing 8-month old Korean baby. He was wearing too-big mustard yellow socks, and he smiled at us almost immediately. The college-aged Korean man who spent over 24 hours traveling with this little one strapped to his chest was the first Korean we had ever met. We did not speak Korean, and he did not speak English. That sweet man, with tears in his eyes, handed the baby to me, and I became a mama. I still can't think about it without tears in my own eyes. Twelve short years ago.

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A few things about Camden on this 12th Family Day:

Reading . . . everything he can get his hands on. His love for reading has not diminished over the years, and you can almost always find him with his nose in a book. He especially loves books with magic/fantasy worlds (think Harry Potter, Wingfeather Saga, The Marvels by Brian Selznick).

Eating . . . anything you put in front of him. The kid inhales food, and he pretty much likes everything although raw vegetables aren't necessarily a favorite. I would call him a foodie because of his palate for new and exotic foods (no fast food junkies here), but he adds Sriracha to supper every night so that kind of negates his foodie status.

Feeling . . . all the feels. As he matures, he feels in a bigger way, more in tune with others, more compassionate in general. And, oh, the book characters. He invests heavy emotions in book characters. Recently, after finishing a favorite series with a less-than-desirable ending, he set books aside for 7 whole days (definitely a record). And he was wrecked this week when we finished Harry Potter #6 and learned of Dumbledore's death. Wrecked.

Persevering . . . I love the progress we're seeing as he tackles hard things. For instance, he decided to cut out dessert/sweets and soft drinks for the month of March, and he has been rock solid. Middle school is not easy to navigate, but he is persevering not only in school work but in character development.

Striving . . . to find a sense of accomplishment in real life situations (vs. winning a video game). For example, completing a difficult physical job, learning a new guitar skill, finishing a school project. So much progress over the last several months.

Winning . . . at life. This kid is so smart, funny, talented and such a deep thinker.

Avoiding . . . the camera, but not hugs from mom and dad.

Favorites . . . teal (color), he could not choose a favorite food (which doesn't surprise me in the least), The Warden and the Wolf King (book), Glow in the Dark by  Jason Gray (song), Young Justice (TV show), baseball (pitching, in particular).

Celebrating . . . Friday with a trip to a Tennessee State Park and lunch (he's having trouble deciding which restaurant, of course).

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An old picture, but one of my all-time favorites.
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bonus Hours

January and February eased along full of quiet, dark evenings that included soup and early bedtimes . . . both things I love. March, on the other, has accelerated forward with the velocity of a freight train.

I read recently that it is a good and God-honoring thing to fall into bed at night weary from serving your family and others. We are created to serve and love and do good. Obviously, a little down time is a welcome bonus, but it's a bonus not our right. Let's be honest, we all function at a higher level when we feel rested and personally fulfilled. The challenge arises (for me anyway) when I begin to feel as if I deserve those bonus hours; it is so easy to settle into discontentment.

This first week of DST is making us all feel extra weary. I am, however, enjoying the sunshine at 5:30 p.m. Not enjoying leaving for work/school in the dark, but it's a decent trade-off.

We spent a bonus hour last week at the park. Yes, the same park and same activity as the week prior (Rory is even wearing the same shirt), but it's the only spot close enough to home to grab a little activity on a week night.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Typical . . .

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. . . but his smile is worth the effort.
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Return-to-Baseball List

You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you too. -Roy Campanella

Camden returned to Little League for his 10th baseball season this week (this is his own statistic, but I don't actually know if 10 is correct), and I jotted down some thoughts while I watched him practice. By jotting down, I mean that I texted a list to my mom and sisters reminiscent of my steroid days.

(Shameless bragging ahead.)

1. It's a wonder what good coaching can do for a kid. Remember last year's homeless coach in the city league who disappeared less than a month into the season? We've returned to Little League, and I am impressed yet again at the dedicated parents/coaches.

2. There is nothing quite like seeing your child excel. My heart was overflowing as I watched him do something he loves.

3. Camden was offered the opportunity to pitch during the first practice, and he did an awesome job. He did so well that the coaches gathered around him, sent the other kids to the dugout and spent extra time working with him.

4. He is the second tallest on the team. It feels so unfamiliar to be the parent of a big kid.

5. He still kind of runs in slow motion.

6. One of the most obnoxious kids I have ever experienced took every opportunity to make fun of Camden because he attends a Christian school. I am certain this is going to be an opportunity for Camden to show grace and maturity.

7. Several of the boys were very complimentary to him regarding his pitching, and if he told me once, he told me ten times "it was just so encouraging."

8. He mentioned being 99% excited about playing baseball again, but that there is a tiny part of him just excited about that free drink at the finish of every game.

9. Except for the obnoxious kid (see #6), the boys thought it was cool that he's Korean. They asked if he were Chinese or Japanese first, of course.

10. I was so proud of him. Not just for his ability, which was fun, but because he walked into that first practice late (because of church attendance) without knowing a soul, and I know how hard that can be. He was calm, confident, and more self-assured than I have ever seen him.


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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Photo Dump


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She is so into cooking these days, and I'm trying hard to allow her independence in the kitchen.
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A warm day in February and they both headed out for homework/music practice.
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Oh, this kid sure does not like having his picture taken these days.
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Talking on the phone to a friend who moved out of state.
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Read Across America Week
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Singing into a pretend microphone, a favorite past-time these days.
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Friday, March 04, 2016

The Fun Parent

When I suggest a trip to the park, what I really mean is that I'd like to take a walk or sit in the grass and read or maybe just take pictures of Brian, Camden, and Rory playing.

What Brian means when he agrees to a trip tot he park is that he'll throw the baseball, try to teach Rory how to perform a cartwheel, make up silly games with racing sticks, etc.

You can guess who's the fun parent, right? Maybe I can get credit for saying yes to wading barefoot in the water despite the cool breeze.

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Oh, yes, he did.
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