Friday, September 13, 2019

Five on Friday (September 13, 2019)

Round two of chemo was last Tuesday and it took a solid week before I felt myself again. Thankfully, I have a bit of extra time before the next one because of a work trip.

I have no actual pictures from the past 10 days, but I did find a couple of not-Instagram worthy photos that are sentimental to me.

Camden and I watching TV together; he's a giant these days.

1. We're setting heat records even though it's mid-September. I burned a fall candle, bought a cardigan, even jumped on the pumpkin spice cold brew wagon and it did nothing to usher in cooler temps. We're all ready for summer to say goodbye.

2. Speaking of chemo, I'm not supposed to completely lose my hair this time, but my eyelashes are definitely falling out and my hair just feels strange. While I don't noticeably see it falling out, there are definitely thinner spots and it looks dull. I'm trying to be glad it's not gone altogether.

3. And while we're still on chemo, I had the crazy idea of trying to count up how many chemo treatments I've had over the past 8 years. Maybe it wasn't a good idea because it's a little depressing? Maybe reassurance that there's a reason I feel sick all the time? Since May 2011, I have had a grand total of 86 chemo treatments using 10 drugs in addition to about 14 months of Tamoxifen which is an oral drug. Sheesh. Did I mention the ER doctor visibly gulped in disbelief when I mentioned 8 years of ovarian cancer to him?

4. Camden drove the family for the first time this week. Rory nervously giggled hysterically from the back seat the entire time which did not please him at all. I don't blame her. It's just weird. And doesn't feel safe.

(Sidenote: he drove us to a watch party for the current season of AGT. Our friend Jason is part of Voices of Services who made it into the finals. So fun!)


5. Book club was this week, and we've had more serious books with heavier topics to tackle the last couple of months so I wanted something lighter. I chose A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, which is a YA retelling of beauty and the beast. I finished it in 2 days because it's a total page-turner. The only downside is that it's a trilogy (which I did not realize) and now I have to wait for the next installment. I do love a good series!

The kids have physicals today (I skipped them last year) so we're making a trip to Nashville this morning. Brian has an early release day so when he finishes up, we're going back to Nashville to visit a friend in the hospital and finally eating hot chicken with Camden. Have a great weekend, friends.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Five on Friday (August 23, 2019)

Rory says "good morning!"


1. Event #1 in the Lewis household this week was a very unexpected 36-hour trip to the ER. I was very, very sick and signs were pointing to a quite serious complication related to cancer. After many tests, the very last one cleared me. My oncologist says she can't quite explain what happened, but I'm on several new medications and we have the knowledge that a tumor is pushing against my liver and compressing the bowel. But it is not blocked! Dr. C says maybe chemo last week made the tumor angry, maybe it blasted it dead, or maybe not. Only time will tell. I'm feeling much better but tired and weak. I am a professional public vomiter, which is not a title I want to keep. I managed some coffee this morning which means my caffeine headache is gone.

2. Any longtime blog readers remember the early days of my cancer diagnosis and all the hospital stories? (My favorite involves when a man's pair of underwear showed up in my hospital bed after surgery. Yikes!) Well, 36 hours in the Vanderbilt ER gave me new stories. That place is a noisy, filthy war zone (although I was incredibly impressed with how calm the doctors and nurses remained). For instance, there was a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit with his own armed guard in the room next to me. And the time they performed a medical procedure on a patient who needed no less than 5 nurses holding him down. Scalpel, blood, screaming, and all. We saw police officers running down the hallway multiple times. The very narrow hallways were lined with patients in beds and wheelchairs. I am so thankful that I had a room at least!

3. Rory likes to make up her own phrases. Instead of saying "Oh, shoot" she'll say "snap crackle" or "fiddlesticks." This week that phrase has been, "Oh, sugar nuts."

4. We've been pulling out old movies to watch with the kids and last night was Robinhood: Prince of Thieves. Definitely darker than I remembered, but I don't think they had nightmares so we're all clear. Last week was School of Rock. Next week is going to be Anna and the King.

5. I've read several good books lately. Here's a short list:

The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs - historical fiction about Harriet Tubman
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith - a cute teen love story that wasn't too sappy
Girl in Translation by Jean Wok - would have been a 5-star read for me if the ending wasn't so abrupt
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead - I didn't like this one as much as the author's previous but still enjoyed
Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl - my first food memoir and after a slow start, it really did read like fiction


Our weekend should be uneventful. Let's hope so anyway! Rory is meeting friends at the mall this afternoon (a first for her and I don't quite know how I feel about it) and that's the extent of our social life.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday (August 16, 2019)

I don't have a list of 5 this week, just one big thing. Several weeks ago a CT scan showed "not subtle" growth (Dr. C's words) which means it's time to begin chemo again. While I wasn't surprised by the scan results, it's still hard to take. This is maybe the only time I've moved into the chemo routine with cancer-related symptoms, pain, etc. and I thought it might help me embrace the chemo as a gift, as life-giving, etc. But I just can't. I've tried to be grateful and I just hate it instead. Tuesday was the first round of this newest drug and despite the prediction that this would be a much easier drug to manage than the last one, I've been quite sick for the last 3 days. Thankfully, I will only need to have infusion every 3 weeks instead of weekly. I know that things will settle down, and our whole family will become accustomed to the chemo routine again, but it's been a hard week. My parents have been so helpful with the kids and even brought my favorite comfort food (homemade chicken and dumplings) for supper. 

I'm happy for the weekend. Nothing better than Friday night at home with Brian and the kids; it's always been our favorite downtime. Depending on how I feel, we have a little morning trip to the farmers market planned for tomorrow and hope to attend a friend's soccer game in the evening. Happy Friday, friends.


 Eyes on the road, please.


I see the blog background is messed up. It's okay - I haven't updated in over 8 years so I guess it's time. Now if I can only figure it out!

Friday, August 09, 2019

Five on Friday (August 9, 2019)

I'm not going to even address the fact that I skipped blogging for the entire summer. Yikes! I'm writing a summer recap post so we don't forget summer 2019 but it's not ready. For now, let's jump back into memory keeping because if I don't get to it, maybe I never will.

1. Today marks the end of the first full week of 7th and 10th grade. Both kids were ready to go back although Rory balked a little more than Camden. We're entering the season of electives, which means Camden has added and dropped classes this week. I believe he ended up with 4-5 honors classes and his electives are Weightlifting and Visual Arts. Because our school provides Chromebooks to 7th grade on up, Rory came home with her very own Chromebook and I'm not sure I've ever seen her so excited. This means both kids have fully entered into the digital age which terrifies me completely.

 Official uniforms this year complete with plaid skirts and branded polos.

First night (didn't even make it until 7:30 on the couch)

Last night (fell asleep reading her Bible with light on)

2. I heard recently that if you don't regularly manage the logistics of being a family, then date nights quickly turn into business meetings. So we had a Lewis family business meeting (over coffee and scones) Tuesday afternoon and then passed on the info to the kids Tuesday night. Maybe now we can have date night?



The 3 biggest changes we made for the school year: no bedtime for Camden at all and no limits on video games for his Friday night which technically means he could pull an all-nighter on the PS4 (He's 16 years old so it was time to stop controlling this, but I don't want to!!). Family devotions on Monday night, and we'll be working our way through the gospel of John; kids are to come prepared with the Scripture read, notes made, and a list of things they're grateful for from the past week. And, finally, kids are on their own to set alarm clocks and get up and out the door (Worst-case scenario they could be left at home and miss school. It won't come to that, right?)

3. I got new glasses this week. Unfortunately, I had to pick them out all on my own (because Rory was certainly no help) and I'm having flashbacks to my 5th-grade school picture with brown glasses and short, permed hair. It's too late now for a change so I'm stuck with them for the next 2 years. "Don't take this the wrong way, mom, but you kind of look like a nerd. In a good way." -Rory


4. Rory chose contacts instead of glasses for the year. Immediately, she looks like a teenager and I don't like it. The red lipstick didn't help. Have I mentioned that she is thissssss close to being the same height as me? I cannot deal.


(matching red lipstick)

5. Because our schedules were so off this summer with one or more of us missing for a majority of the weeks, I've done very little cooking. We've had ice cream almost every night and Rory and I have eaten our body weight in watermelon. My back-to-school mission was to cut out ice cream and prepare meals. Here are 3 recipes that stood out: southwest chopped chicken salad, chicken salad (I used avocado instead of mayonnaise), and blueberry buttermilk breakfast cake.

Our weekend plans are family night tonight (Camden requested pizza so the dough is already rising on the stove), basically recover from the first week of school, and gear up for next week which will be much busier for a multitude of reasons. Brian and I have fallen hard for two documentaries this summer and we've invited our local family over to watch with us tomorrow night. In case you're interested - The Dawn Wall (Netflix) and Free Solo (Hulu). 

Happy Friday, friends!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Saturday Musings (May 25, 2019)

Since I never seem to finish up a blog post for Five on Friday, let's give Saturday morning a shot!



Week #2 of summer 2019 is complete, and after a crazy May, couple of months, year, our schedule has come to a screeching halt. For comparison, I only filled the car up with gas once this week while my norm throughout the rest of the year is 2-3 times. The kids are reading, sleeping, and consuming TV. No doubt our schedule will pick up again, but for now, the kids are professional couch potatoes and I'm trying not to feel guilty about all the downtime. Why do I feel bad about a slow schedule? Busyness is such a way of life that it somehow feels wrong to have white space in our calendar. It's not, by the way. A slow season is restorative if we let it be.

Brian is in Uganda for 2 weeks, which feels all kind of strange. After 22 years of marriage, it just doesn't feel right without him. Because our church is made up primarily of military families, I cannot complain about having my husband out of pocket for a mere 14 days. But it sure seems like a long time.

I spent the morning browsing the many summer reading lists being released, adding books to my lengthy "to be read" list. Here are several to get you started: MMD 2019 summer reading list, How Sweet Eats summer reading, and MMD new summer lit. Camden and Rory are inhaling books faster than I check them out from the library. Several favorites from the last couple of weeks:

I enjoyed this blog post: To the Middle Season Mama in May.

Thanks to a Mother's Day gift, I had a facial yesterday (only the second one ever) and it was delightful. 

The kids and I are going to see the brand new Aladdin movie with my mom this afternoon, and I can't wait. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, friends.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Five on Friday (May 17, 2019)

1. It's official: I have a 7th grader and a sophomore. Where in the world does the time go? I might be tempted to feel sentimental about this, but the reality of teenagers and their eyerolls keep me grounded.

Last day of school was Tuesday morning, and we hardly know what to do with all the time. Well, the kids have a lot of extra time. The adults not so much although I am remembering how much time I save every day just simply by not having the responsibility of driving them to/from school.

They saved Christmas Golly G gift cards for the last day of school.


2. Speaking of driving - we're the proud owners of a nearly new Nissan Altima. Buying 2 cars in less than 6 months is  not recommended, but Carmax made it easy.

3. As an ordained minister, Brian occasionally officiates weddings but usually just as part of the job. This week, however, he officiated the wedding of a couple very dear to him. Because I've been sick, I was unable to attend but even the kids agreed it was a great wedding!

4. Warm temps mean I am in full iced coffee mode. I've tried many variations of making my own over the years with minimal success. This year, however, I think I've found the right recipe and tools (look up Bri McKoy on Instagram for recipe/instructions in her highlights). I bought a Bodum cold brew French press and am putting Brian's Yeti to good use nearly every day. It's certainly cheaper than my current Starbucks favorite - doubleshot on ice with a splash (or two) of heavy cream.

5. Over the years I've had occasions with extreme fatigue and sleepiness. The first time I started falling asleep at the wheel, we adjusted medication (which I'm no longer taking). The second time I had a brain scan. The crazy sleepiness has happened since then, but until last week it wasn't happening while driving. Unfortunately, I had an episode last week that was really scary. Camden told me later that I scared him to death because I was driving so slowly, weaving in and out of the lines. After several close calls where I woke up swerving into another lane, I eventually became scared enough to turn around and go home. I walked straight to my room, collapsed on the bed and slept for the rest of the day. So glad I didn't hurt myself or anyone else.


Friday nights used to equal family night in the Lewis house, but family nights have been few and far between in 2019. However, Friday night is free and clear (first time since February!) and I'm making pizza and we're watching the Survivor finale and reunion. Also on the agenda is a soccer tournament (Addison's team) and a night at the skating rink with church friends. I think we've earned this slower weekend schedule!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Five on Friday (May 10, 2019)

If this isn't a true representation of the Lewis family these days, I don't know what is.

1. There may have been tears and sadness, but Papa Bob's funeral was also full of hope and laughter. Because we're scattered from Tennessee to North Carolina to West Virginia to Utah, family reunions are few and far between but we made the most of the hours available. The cousins (Camden was the oldest and the only boy present) had an old-fashioned sleepover complete with late night talking and giggling, a snake hunt, and a lot of snacking.




Camden and Kelsey

2. Because they're exempt from exams, Camden and Rory are finished with 6th and 9th grade as of 11:30 Tuesday morning. The school year was our busiest yet - Honors classes for Camden combined with cross country (Rory), basketball (Camden), and soccer (both kids) made for a full schedule. Camden is the only Lewis not ready for a break.

It is no secret that 6th grade was Camden's toughest year socially, emotionally, etc. We nearly made it through Rory's year without major drama, but she confided in me last night which resulted in tears on both sides. A "friend" has been directing a racial slur towards her for months, and she is being forced to confront right and wrong on issues that are far beyond her years. The world is so broken. I'm proud of her for trusting me to help her figure this out and relieved that sixth grade is over.

3. Uncle Matt was here for a visit. Camden is officially the tallest.


4. Basketball and pizza with church friends made for a fun Friday night.



5. A few recent favorites:

David Crowder interview - he's a hillbilly and a musical genius
Johnnyswim interview - loved his story of meeting his wife
Charles Martin interview - immediately headed to Amazon and bought 2 of his books
EveryPlate - $20 off your first box
The Dawn Wall documentary - just incredible
Laura Mercier lipstick in Fresh - the perfect berry for fall, but bright enough for spring

Our weekend is jam-packed, but the most significant event is that Camden has plans. At the mall. With his friends. As in, we're dropping him off and picking him up 3.5 hours later. What? When did he become old enough for this?

Happy Mother's Day weekend, friends!

Friday, May 03, 2019

Five on Friday (May 3, 2019)

2019 is proving to be a difficult year. Brian's Papa Bob passed away this week, which means we've lost 3 grandparents in the last 10-12 weeks. Add in lesser challenges like totaling my car, an overbooked schedule along with heavier issues like rising cancer markers, heart procedures for my dad, friends and family going through incredibly tough circumstances, and it would be easy to feel overwhelmed. And we do feel overwhelmed, very overwhelmed. But we're also hanging in there, trying to communicate well, and choosing to find things for which to be grateful. I read this passage of Scripture this week and instantly burst into tears.

Lamentations 3:19-33 (Message)
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all - oh, how well I remember -
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope.

God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The "worst" is never the worst.

1. The kids had a color run at school recently. It was a perfect day to spend outside (not that I was there), and they enjoyed getting dirty more than I thought they would!





2. Here's what I remember most about Easter this year: (1) eating lunch together with my parents, grandparents, sister, and family after all the hard work of Easter weekend was completed and (2) the joyful mood of Camden and Rory while we took these pictures.







3. I attended my first book club and it was so much fun. We read Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. Prior to this first evening, I could not have imagined that 4 women could talk about 1 book for nearly 3 hours. Can't wait for the next one - we're reading Long Way Gone by Charles Martin.

4. Although it's hard to imagine, we're only 2 weeks away from the end of the school year (school ends early when you begin August 1). The kids are knee deep in projects, and they're ready for a break. As always, Rory is slightly more ready than Camden. He is much too sentimental to truly enjoy the end of anything.

5. Because I totaled my car, we're car shopping for the second time in less than 6 months (Brian's least favorite chore for sure). Our MO is to buy a used car and then drive it to death. The challenge, of course, is finding the best used car so that we can drive it to death. Brian's headed to Uganda in a few short weeks so we need to find something sooner rather than later.

In other news - kids competed in state event and will move forward to the national in Bible memorization, group drama, and vocal solo. My CA125 continues to rise, but I feel well so we're keeping an eye on everything but holding off on chemo for now. My dad is having two stents put in later this month. While we wish they weren't necessary, I'm glad for good doctors. 

We're headed to West Virginia as soon as work is over tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing Brian's family; I just wish Papa Bob were also going to be there sitting on the porch in his overalls making fun of everyone.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Five on . . . Sunday?

It's not Friday but it felt like I should take advantage of the extra time today.

1. Spring break has come and gone in a flash. The kids spent a couple of days in East Tennessee with Gram and Gramps while Brian and I went to NYC. I can't even begin to describe the weeks leading up to spring break. Let's just say that a long nap would have been more appropriate than a trip to NYC but after finding our bearings and mapping out a plan, we enjoyed the time away. Brian loved the busyness of the city while I found it more overwhelming than I remembered. We basically did a food crawl through bakeries I had found on travel blogs. With the exception of our first meal after arriving in the city (fresh pasta from a small restaurant in Little Italy), the focus was on cookies and pastries. Of course! A few highlights were the Sunday morning service at Brooklyn Tabernacle and My Fair Lady on Broadway.

We brought home cookies from Levain's to share.


2. When I heard the lightness in Camden and Rory's voices as they called to check in (daily), I realized that it's not just the adults who have been feeling the stress of our schedule. If we can survive the school year, I have ideas on how to simplify just a bit. During the break, not only did we go to NYC but Brian made a trip to WV to visit his ailing grandfather while I stayed home to catch up on work.

3. Last weekend I traveled to Orlando for less than 48 hours. While I would like to tell you I spent the time lounging a the pool, it was a work trip and I came home exhausted.




4. My dear friend Tina invited me to the symphony Friday night, and it was lovely. I think everyone should enjoy an orchestra at least once. The music is so complex and chaotic and beautiful. Having the experience with Tina was the best (as were our seats!).




5. Rory and I were in a rough wreck yesterday afternoon. Thankfully, we are both fine (just sore and shaken) but my car is totaled. I'm so grateful no one was hurt and the EMTs were so kind and lovely. A couple of firsts: sitting inside an ambulance in a neck brace, the kind of crying where you can't catch your breath, strangers wiping away my tears (since my arms were strapped down).


Kids are heading into a week of state achievement testing. Easter week is one of the busiest for churches/pastors and this year is no exception but I hope to take a breath and focus on why we celebrate this busy weekend in the first place.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Five on Friday (March 22, 2019)

1. Two bookish dreams came true recently: I was put on a PR list (because of work) and I was invited to join a book club. My reading life has been quite meh in 2019 so a book club sounds like so much fun!

I've been listening to Becoming, which is Michelle Obama's memoir. I do love when an audio book is read by the author so I've had Michelle Obama in my ear for a while now. One of my nurses (we've connected over our love of reading) said it felt like losing a friend when the book finally ended (it's 19 hours long). I've also recently started listening to the Currently Reading podcast which comes with more recommendations than I can keep up with. I love that they end the episode with a book recommendation to "press into the reader's hand."

2. Our Friday morning small group has been going through Tim Kimmel's Grace Based Parenting curriculum. I wish I was naturally full of grace. I wish my kids didn't need grace. But I'm not and they do. This week has been especially challenging, and I've been so grateful for what we've been learning on Friday mornings.



3. After trying nearly every meal service available over the last couple of years, I've settled on EveryPlate. Not only is it the most reasonable financially, but the recipes are also the simplest. There's no fancy app but again, cheapest and simplest. We don't use it every week, but it sure makes these crazy weeks a bit more manageable and that's worth a whole lot. You can use this link for $20 off your first box.

4. Officially adulting when I used my Christmas gift cards to purchase a new cast iron pan. It's beautiful and I've used it nearly every night.


5. We're headed into our NYC trip with basically no plan so if anyone has great tips regarding a visit to NYC, send them our way. We have a list of restaurants/bakeries we want to try and that's about it. What I really want are tickets to Hamilton, but so does everyone else! The weeks leading up to this trip have been so challenging that a weekend away has often felt like more trouble than it was worth. The timing doesn't feel perfect. But if we can manage to leave the stress behind us in Tennessee, the timing is actually ideal.

Happy Friday, friends.