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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fourteen

Despite the fact that Camden still plays with Legos (and likes to play in general), there is no denying this kid is big. I love his sweet nature, but also appreciate the maturity I see in him. It's amazing how quickly he changes - I can note several adjustments even since summer began.

His number one request was a weighted blanket and so that's what we bought. I find it funny that the most expensive birthday gift I've given to one of my kids is a blanket. ;) Yesterday he invited a friend from school over and we went to Dave and Busters (he has been requesting this for months). Today is his actual birthday and he spent it working at a church event. We're going to celebrate with family, cake and ice cream next weekend.

Note how tall he is next to his very tall Uncle Michael (who bought him that basketball goal).
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Happy Birthday, Camden!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Go West, Young Man

We returned last week from a 9-day road trip out west. We spent 4 days traveling, 5 days vacationing. Not that we're counting.

With the exception of the Sunday afternoon when the adult women in the Lewis family chatted for 8 hours straight from the same spots on the sofa in the living room, I can confidently say we did our best to experience the West to the fullest. Right up until we decided to come home a full day and a half anyway.


Some of our favorite things (seeing family is obvious so I won't list it):

Driving through the Rocky Mountains - absolutely the best.

The climate out west - we've decided the humidity in the south is the pits.

Taking the train to Salt Lake City was pretty awesome. Who doesn't like air conditioning and no traffic!

Brian enjoyed the trip down memory lane as he took us all around Colorado Springs (he spent ages 6-18 there).

We survived Pikes Peak! The drive up and down the mountain is a bit of a nail-biter, but so beautiful.

Rory and Miley had the. best. time. dressing up, doing their makeup, fixing their hair, watching hair videos, driving the little boy cousins crazy by ignoring them.

The kids were less than impressed with the audio book Anne of Green Gables at first, but it won them over.

Camden and Logan spent the evening at a gym doing ninja stuff, and Camden decided it was his favorite time on the trip.

Brian, Camden, Tim, and Logan did an overnight backpacking trip to the Uinta Mountains. The boys got to have their own campsite separate from the men, saw wildlife, fished, and generally spent the day in a postcard setting.

The adults had breakfast in the mountains outside alongside a river. It was beautiful and also freezing because - the mountains in the morning.

While the boys camped, I spent a solid 8 hours camped out in the living room chatting with my sister-in-law and nearly-adult niece. It was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Seeing our friends, The Smiths, who are headed to Uganda - they were in Utah before leaving and we were able to see them one more time.

Being in church with our Utah family, which hasn't happened in 13 years.

If someone were to ask me the all-important question of "mountains or beach" I would definitively say mountains.


Some of our not-so-favorite things

My feet stayed immensely swollen the whole time. Not sure if it was the altitude or long days in the van or a combination. At one point, Rory told me my feet were the size of "at least 4 bratwurst sausages."


Rory passed out in the gift shop at the top of Pikes Peak. After spending some time with the EMT, he told us to send someone for donuts (priorities) and then get off the mountain. 


I took hundreds of pictures right up until the day we drove 17 hours home. And then I took nothing. Driving through Kansas is the personification of boring.


With the exception of an excellent Italian dinner, food and coffee were not up to Nashville snuff. While I knew Nashville is a foodie town, I expected to be able to find good food along the way. We hit at least 3 Diners, Drive-ins and Dive spots, but nothing to write home about. One barista immediately recoiled when we told her we were from Nashville and called it swanky. I kind of like swanky.

*****

Vacation hangover is a real thing. We jumped back into life full force, and while our schedule has been challenging, I am oh-so-grateful for the opportunity to be crazy busy. We are, however, at the point in summer when kids are tired of being on the go, yet also tired of being left at home for long days alone. And none of us want to be responsible enough to cook or clean. Ice cream every night? Why not.

I am posting a few pictures but will save the rest for another day. Since arriving home, we've been back to work and chemo, made a 1-day trip to Indiana. Rory and I are joining Becky and the boys in Louisville this weekend while Brian heads to Illinois to help my parents move next week. I'm leaving Louisville early so I can have chemo on Wednesday. Friday morning I'm having my eyebrows microbladed (SO EXCITED about this), then Becky, Liz, and I are going to see Beth Moore in Indianapolis.

Tired yet? I sure am.

These pictures will make us all feel better.
(our first 2 days traveling and the first pretty scenery we saw in Wyoming)
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Five on Friday (June 23, 2017)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:35, 37

1. I've been home alone all week since Brian and both kids were off to camp. Remember I'm an introvert to the core and will never turn down a little quiet time (chemo recovery is so much easier when I can just be a grouch alone). But I am missing all 3 of my people. I know they're having a blast and not missing me one bit, but I'll be happy to have them home. I expect to welcome them home soon after lunch. They will talk over each other in their excitement, and then they will crash in their comfy beds for a much-needed nap.

I had all kinds of good intentions to do a whole lot of reading or binge watch something fun. Instead, I spent a whole lot of the night hours watching YouTube makeup videos. They are so addictive and I cannot stop.

2. Monday night I hosted a little going away party for 2 of our Friday morning Bible study group. I'm such a nervous host, but once everyone arrived I was all good, and we had a ton of fun spending a few hours chatting and eating (waaaayyyy too much food - I've been eating leftovers all week).

3. Wednesday was my regularly scheduled chemo day. Tina and Kathy met me for lunch at Farm Burger, and then I took a good long nap during infusion. My nurse this week was a floater and each step seemed to have a little hitch, but the appointment was otherwise uneventful. For only the second time since December, I have two weeks off before I return. Cue the choir singing, throw the confetti, eat the ice cream, do all things celebratory.

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4. So I have two weeks off because we're taking a family road trip west! (I typically don't like to post ahead of time if we're going to be out of town, but we have family staying at our house while we're gone.) Brian has family in Utah, and we haven't been to visit since Camden was an itty baby. So, uh, THIRTEEN years ago.

Any recommendations for Utah or Colorado? When I told Dr. C. we were headed out west, her face lit up as she proclaimed her favorite memories from childhood to be the road trips with her family every summer. I have been more focused on anxiety about how the trip will wear me out or if I get sick while we're gone instead of focusing on what a great family adventure this trip can be. Adjusting my attitude stat.

We're traveling cheap so I'm taking a cooler full of food for most meals while on the road. There is a line item in the budget for ice cream and coffee, of course.  I have downloaded the RoadsideAmerica.com app for help with touristy stops.

I would welcome your prayers for endurance, low fatigue, and good health. Most of all that I will able to be fully present for the trip.

5. I know this will be an abrupt change from the silly to the serious, but I've been lamenting this particular news story all week. As I'm sure you know, a jury handed out a not-guilty verdict to the police officer who killed Philandro Castile last summer. As these racially motivated tragedies occur, my first thought is to wonder if this will finally be the time that someone is held accountable. Clearly, not this time.

My second thought is to wonder if this will finally be the time that family, friends, the world will be unable to deny that life is very different for people of color. Our D6 Podcast interviewed a speaker recently who admitted his biggest fear in life is that his 3 teenage boys will be shot (Episode 58 with Jeff Wallace). While this is not news to me, it still took my breath away to hear these words from a leader I have spent time with, listened to his teaching, hugged. My doctor, who also happens to be a person of color, shared with us how his family chooses to drive straight through certain southern states instead of stopping for food or gas. I recently had someone (actually two someones) who I love dearly ask me if I actually thought racial tension still existed in our world.

I don't know why I'm sharing other than to acknowledge the racial injustice is still present and weighs heavily. Isaiah 1:17 says, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed." Psalm 9 tells us the Lord will be a stronghold for the oppressed. Let brotherly love continue - Hebrews 13:1. Rescue those that are taken away to death - Prov. 24:11. We are all one in Christ Jesus - Galatians 3:28. Russell Moore often connects the gospel and racial reconciliation by reminding us the New Testament message is clear that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls we have with each other. So this is my small way of saying that I care. That I seek forgiveness when ugly preconceived notions pop into my head. I  seek out books and entertainment (for myself and for the kids) that highlight people of color. I listen to different voices with unique perspectives. I encourage Camden and Rory to celebrate the beauty found in diversity. I pray for God to send me friends who are different than myself.

*****

Weekend plans are scarce as the days will mostly consist of dealing with the piles of dirty, smelly laundry from camp, packing and organizing for our road trip, and a coffee date with Brian Saturday afternoon. Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Belated Father's Day Note

Ever get the feeling that maybe you've started to neglect honoring the ones you love? Just me? I've been battling a nagging feeling for several months now that I have let down my people. Well, I can call it a naggling feeling or I can call it conviction, which is probably closer to the truth.

We've never been strong on celebrations. I'd rather stab my eyes out than host a birthday party complete with pinterest-worthy decorations and crafts. Our parenting philosophy errs strongly on the side of simple not extravagant, and I stand by that. But 20 years of low-key marriage/parenting has disintegrated into a half-heartedly written card (or not), maybe tossing a little gift (certainly with no wrapping) into the lap of whoever's day it is. And I think maybe the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.

I want Brian to feel like the most honored dad in the world on Father's Day. I want the kids to feel they are the most special 10 and 13 year old in my world. While it's not realistic to live every day with cake, presents, love notes and celebrations, it is possible to memorialize birthdays, anniversaries and even on the dreaded manufactured holidays like Valentine's day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day in a significant, heart-felt way.

So Brian and I are turning over a new leaf in this celebrating thing. We'll continue to be the practical parent and wife/husband every other day, but we're going to be the silly, celebratory parent on special days.

I didn't even take a picture of Brian and the kids together on Father's Day (which was the last straw), but I do have these pictures from late May. You'll find this scenario often in our front yard, especially spring and fall (not as often when it's 95 degrees outside). The way he invests in our kids via quality time is only one of the reasons Brian is such a good dad. He works 2 jobs but still says yes more often than no when they ask for just one more game (paper football and real basketball are the games of choice most days). He loves our kids so well. And if you're lucky enough to have Mr. Brian as your 4th grade reading teacher at school or your Children's Pastor at church, then let me assure you that he loves your kids as well. He puts everything he has into showing God's love to his 4th graders and into discipling kids at church and at home. I am SO guilty of thinking every dad is just like him. Truth is that with the exception of my own dad, he is one of a kind. 

So Happy Belated Father's Day, Brian. You are knocking it out of the park. Or maybe considering the sport you're playing, I should say "You've got a triple-double" instead?

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Doing what he does best: knowing it all and telling everyone else about it. ;)
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This kid does not handle losing well; it is a constant struggle in our house.
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Kicking the ball because he missed a shot. Guess it's time to pull out the belly.
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This is Brian's go-to when he's trying to settle Camden down
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Remember When?

Remember when I used to use this lens (my 28-75mm) for a bobble head effect with the kids? It was kinda cute when they were little. Now it's just weird.

And remember when they played in the water all summer long? Just doesn't happen anymore.

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