Friday, August 25, 2017

A Few on Friday (August 25, 2017)

Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. -Luke 1:78-79

You may have heard about the total solar eclipse on Monday (sarcasm because everyone was talking about the eclipse). Clarksville happened to be in the viewing area for 100% totality, and it was pretty incredible. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect and might have wondered if it were completely over-hyped. Turns out, it lived up to all of the hype! We had plans to attend an eclipse party, but I wasn't feeling well and we decided to stay home and celebrate in a very low-key manner. Brian ran to Walmart at the last minute to grab essential eclipse food such as sun chips, candy bars candybars, and Sunkist soda. We watched coverage on TV, went outside 15 minutes before the eclipse and then spent the rest of the day relaxing when it was all over.

I fully realize it *looks* like my camera settings are drastically wrong. I promise they're not - the light was so crazy and then the absence of light was just as crazy. 







When asked what kind of husband she was going to look for when old enough, Rory answered, "One who doesn't do drugs or smoke." Awesome.

Brian and Camden spent the months of March-June playing basketball out in the driveway. And every single time, the game ended with Camden losing his temper in a very not-so-awesome way. A thirteen-year old competitive perfectionist does not lose to his dad well. In part because of the temper but also because of warm weather, they have taken an extended break from basketball. Tonight they resurrected the game, and it went well. Not perfect, but well. We are seeing so much progress and maturity in Camden, and it is so encouraging. The child has actually been emptying the dishwasher in the mornings without prompting. I could not have imagined that happening last fall (both being ready early enough to help and helping without any prompting).



Can you believe this bug project? What is up with ziplock bags? I still have nightmares about sticking a pushpin through crickets when I was in 5th grade so it feels as if she got off very easy.


Weekend plans include a church leadership meeting, putting this house back together, chiro appointment, ortho appointment, guitar lesson, and a 2.5 mile-run for the kids.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five on Friday (August 18, 2017)

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. -2 Peter 3:8

1. I don't know if I've ever explained my work situation. I am the assistant to the CEO of a publishing company who also hosts and produces a large family ministry conference. It is an awesome job. A significant part of my job is to attend the administrative planning meetings and stay up to date on what is going on so that I can better serve the CEO. It is absolutely a privilege to see the planning, vision, and problem-solving that occurs behind the scenes. A privilege.

During our weekly meeting Monday morning, they surprised me with donuts (cronuts to be exact) to celebrate my good scan news last week. After 6.5 years of ups and downs, we don't tend to celebrate much in the way of cancer these days, and it was more precious to me than I can say when they chose to celebrate that news.


2. And speaking of news, my CA125 number from last week came in and it has dropped down into normal range. A number we haven't seen since 2014. A number worthy of a happy dance, according to my generally non-happy dancer oncologist.


3. I finished 3 books this week: I've been slowly reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates for many months trying to take it in and understand. The book is a series of essays written by the author to his son chronicling his experience as a black man in America. It is one of those books that is beautifully written and gives me an entirely different perspective than my own experience. As I get older, I find myself increasingly driven to pursue perspective outside my bubble, and this is a good one. In an entirely different vein, I also finished The Identicals by Elin Hildebrand - definitely, an easy summer read. Finally, I finished My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. I'm not sure I know how to explain this book other than it is a quick but very literary, artistic book. I'm eager to read the follow-up to it Anything is Possible. These 3 books could not be any different!

4. Camden and Rory seem to have settled into this new school year so well. In fact, this morning they were both up and ready to walk out the door by 6:30. We don't leave until 7:15 on Fridays! Does this mean I have to let them stay up later? Because I really treasure that final quiet hour at the end of my day. In other news, Camden has both basketball tryouts tonight followed by cross country. He has run approximately 11 miles this week already and tonight's practice will bump him up to 15+. Who knows what basketball tryouts will include. He should be sleeping more, not less.

Eighth grade means official typing lessons from school and so both kids have been obsessed with I fully realize that many kids are technologically proficient at this point, but we choose to limit access to computers so they're a little behind the curve but right where I want them. To be perfectly honest, I care little for the fact that we are a technologically advanced society when it comes to my kids. They have plenty of time to devote themselves to laptops and devices.


5. I have had the Modern Renaissance eye palette on my wish list for well over a year now and when Ulta offered a 20% coupon last week, I caved. It is very different from anything I have but all my YouTube watching is making me try new things.


So our weekend plans include basketball tryouts, cross country practice (during which Brian and I are going to spend the 1.5 hour time slot at a local coffee shop eating ice cream before supper), pizza with my parents tomorrow night, and church and planning meetings Sunday. Monday is Eclipse Day and we're all off school/work and attending an Eclipse party. It sounds like Tennessee is going to be over-run with visitors so we'll mostly stay close to home. Happy Friday, friends.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Currently (Summer 2017)

I've had several requests for what I've been reading lately so I thought I would just type up a quick list of what we've all been reading, watching, listening to over the summer.


Dreamland Burning (5 stars) - loved this YA story that moves back and forth between current times and Jim Crowe days. The story is set in Tulsa and it was fun to see references to restaurants and hot spots I've been. Camden also read this one and loved it.

The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard (3 stars) - this was a visually beautiful book and I love the concept, but the content felt more like it could have been covered in a blog post as opposed to a book.

The Hate U Give (4 stars) - loved the perspective this book gave. Without the language, it would have warranted 5 stars from me.

Lonesome Dove (4 stars) - this was a re-read for me from back in my college days and it held up. Gritty and rough, but beautiful writing and a page turner. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

Ginny Moon (4 stars) - written from the perspective of an autistic 14-year old. I almost put this down halfway through, but I'm glad that I didn't because it came together in a satisfying way.

Love and First Sight (4 stars) - easy YA read

Written in the Stars (4 stars) - an immigrant YA story that was darker than I expected

American Wife (4 stars) - I could not put this one down and read this 555-page story quickly. Some crude moments and language that I fast forwarded my way through.

I'm about halfway through these 3 and they're excellent: The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in it's Place by Andy Crouch, Fearless Parenting: How to Raise Faithful Kids in a Secular Culture by George Barna/Jimmy Meyers, and The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak (Camden read this one first then passed it on to me).

Camden has been reading some Frank Peretti (a throw-back from my own teen years) and Steve Sheinkin books while Rory has read a whole bunch of Nancy Drew.


Kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed America's Got Talent and World of Dance (which was surprisingly un-sexy and very family appropriate) this summer. I typically like my TV on the light side (like AGT and World of Dance) but have enjoyed these decidedly not-light shows recently: Turn (all 3 seasons), American Crime (first season), and Prison Break (Brian and I have made it about halfway through this reboot).


Anne of Green Gables audiobook (the Rachel McAdams version) - we started this on our road trip and while it wasn't an immediate hit, the classic eventually won everyone over. In fact, the audiobook was such a success that I have 2 more in the queue ready to go (Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Pax by Sara Pennypacker).

Podcasts: Ear Hustle (human interest stories from inside San Quentin prison), Sorta Awesome (always my favorite listen during Saturday cleaning), How I Built This (specifically the Kendra Scott, Spanx, and Rent the Runway episodes), and For the Love with Jen Hatmaker. And as always: The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and The Boo Cast with Sophie Hudson and Melanie Shankle.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five on Friday (August 11, 2017)

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is full of joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. -Psalm 28:7

1. Biggest piece of news from this week came during my 11-hour Vanderbilt day - scan showed a 15% decrease, which is the biggest decrease I have ever experienced over the past 6.5 years of off and on treatment. So that was pretty awesome! I'll try to ignore the dark little voice inside my head that reminds me it took a solid 9 months to make it this far. Ultimately, it does not change our treatment plan and 15% isn't even enough to be considered an official response to the chemo, but we will take it! Mom kept me company. Unfortunately, the timing of the appointments did not allow for fun food, but we did walk for a quick latte.

2. Both kids decided to participate in the cross country track team this year. I had no intention of adding to our schedule for this part of the semester, but it's certainly an easy sport. Because 5th and 8th grade are both considered middle school, they practice together, have the same track meets, and the same requirements. There's no equipment involved; this is just lots of running. Camden has jumped in head first and is running even when it's not required. His long legs are being put to good use. ;) In typical Rory fashion, she is participating mostly because she has 2 friends on the team, which is just fine.

3. The first week and a half of school have gone smoothly for the most part. The freezer is full of bugs - Rory has the annual 5th-grade bug project due soon. The kids have gone and switched morning personalities on me. Camden is cheerful, up early, and ready to head out the door. Rory is getting up late, cranky, and never ready. I have no idea what is happening! I do imagine that this switch to middle school is mentally draining, and she is feeling the effects of the extra effort her school days are taking. She's also never participated in school sports before so the practices and extra running requirements outside of practice are quite a bit to take on. I'm writing this as a reminder to maybe offer a little extra compassion and grace.






4. We picked up new glasses for Camden this afternoon. It's a new look for him (and he'll still be wearing his contacts for the most part), but I like it!



5. Weekend plans include a youth group water event for Camden and a date for me and Brian. Trying to get back into our bi-weekly dates because squeezing in a few minutes to talk is proving difficult with everyone back in school and running in different directions!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Five on Friday (August 4, 2017)

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. -Isaiah 26:3

After such a long absence, there is nothing to do but pick up my laptop and start typing. I can't possibly fill in all the gaps, but here are 5 of the many things that happened in the past few weeks.

1. My parents finally made their move to Tennessee! It wasn't without a few hiccups, but they're here and getting settled. The first set of grandparents move Labor Day weekend with the second set of grandparents arriving soon after. With the exception of a brief period of time shortly after we were married, we've always lived apart from my family so it's quite a blessing to have them nearby. I stopped by for coffee with my mom after dropping the kids off at school this morning. That's pretty awesome!


2 Becky and the boys visited for nearly 2 weeks. Camden, William, and Xavier were inseparable as usual and they disappeared upstairs to play and talk for unending hours. (Seriously, poor Rory) They shared a bedroom and, without fail, we had to make them stop talking in order to sleep every night.

You will not be surprised to hear that I did not grab my big camera even one time while everyone was together. Sadly, not grabbing my camera has become the norm.


3. While Brian and Camden made a trip to Illinois to help my parents move, Becky, Rory, the boys and I made a trip to Louisville for our denominational national convention. The kids competed in various Bible and drama areas while the adults just tried to keep up. The five of us shared a hotel room which was blissfully a suite. As in, Becky and I had beds to ourselves and two closed doors between us and the kids. :)

Before making the trip, I worried about the emotional toll over seeing so many people and having to reassure everyone many times over that I really am fine. Not to mention the sheer vanity aspect of facing everyone with no hair, lashes or brows and in generally definitely not looking my best. As it turned out, I was mostly able to set my vanity aside and it was a joy to see old friends and be on the giving and receiving end of many hugs. And, of course, it was good to have Becky as my sidekick. Or maybe I was hers. Either way, we were together and it was good.

After being home for a short time, Becky, Liz, and I (along with many friends from church) drove to Evansville, Indiana for a Living Proof Live Beth Moore event. While rushed, it was lovely and emotional. Why does Beth Moore always bring on the tears?

Gram and Gramps were there too




After not leaving the hotel and convention center for 48 hours, we ran out for lunch and coffee. I asked Rory to take a picture for us and she proceeded to climb up on the window sill (in her dress) to take the picture from above. That makes perfect sense, of course.


4. I have eyebrows! They're not finished quite yet, but two weeks ago I had my eyes microbladed. Basically, a kind and generous aesthetician took a blade, drew many hairlike strokes on my face and rubbed ink in the open wounds. It wasn't super pleasant but not as painful as I anticipated. I cannot believe how much better I feel about my face in general with the return of eyebrows. I'm giving Brian fair warning to start saving his pennies because when these start to wear off in 12-18 months, we're paying to have them freshened up (this first experience was a sweet gift).

(Not a stitch of makeup or hair - this is so embarrassing. Through the process until the final picture about a week after the procedure. They have lightened up considerably from this picture, but I am still thrilled to have something resembling eyebrows again.Clearly, makeup and a photo filter make a difference as well.)

5. Camden had his braces put on about 10 days ago, and it's amazing how a mouth full of metal changes his appearance and ages him. No one in our family grew up with braces so this is a whole new experience for us. I feel pretty sorry for all the extra care he has to take, the many sores they rub in his mouth, being deprived of certain foods, etc. It was especially sad when his lip literally got caught in his braces while eating supper earlier this week. Ugh. Maybe that whole thing about your braces getting caught if you kiss someone else with braces is true. Possibly this will work in our favor since he'll be 16 by the time these things come off. Oh, my. Let's pretend my brain did not even go down that road.


I can't possibly leave this one out, so we're moving on to number . . .

6. The kids went back to school yesterday and, just like that, I have two middle-schoolers. Summer was an incredible blur (literally, I can hardly remember two weeks of camp and our road trip), but there's something just so good about a routine. We've already decided getting out the door in the morning is not so fun, but there's something a little bit beautiful about dropping the kids off at the door for a full day of school although I did miss them almost immediately. Both of my kids adore school so while there were a few nervous jitters the first morning, they tend to settle in quickly.




Brian also went back to school this week (his in-service actually started up last week - SO early!). The weekend is full - school meeting and pizza with my parents tonight, church training event Saturday morning and dinner with church friends Saturday evening. Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Out West, part 6

Our Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods adventures





Rory fainted in the giftshop at the top of Pike's Peak. This was so scary!






They spent their souvenir money on some mining materials. Rory was feeling recovered enough at this point to participate in arguing with her brother.








It was so bright and hot that not only could I not see any camera settings, but they could not keep their eyes open long enough for me to get pictures. They were also 100% over scenery at this point and just wanted to get into the hotel pool.







Our trip out west this year was incredible. It was also exhausting and without a doubt had long-standing negative consequences regarding my health and Brian's summer work. But, I wouldn't trade it for anything. The trip with Camden and Rory, seeing our Utah family was well worth it. And I think it showed us that traveling is possible. It requires saving, time, planning, but it's possible.