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Saturday, September 01, 2018

September already?

I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. -Psalms 138:2b

Because blogging (and picture taking) has unfortunately been at the bottom of my "to do" list, I'm combining the past few weeks. While I had actually been doing a tiny bit of journaling, I never published. Do you know my computer has been broken for nearly 6 months now, which means I haven't uploaded pics from my big girl camera (who used to be the love of my life) in 6 months? How do I remedy this!!?? 

Five on Friday - August 24 edition

1. Brian's introduction to bus driving was rough, but a consistent route after the first week made a huge difference overall. A steady route is so much simpler than showing up and being handed something new every single day! What seemed like an easy answer to (1) keep our insurance and (2) have time for a full-time job in ministry is turning out to be not so simple. It's not any less of a direct answer to prayer, but not as easy or simple as we imagined. We have a whole new appreciation for school bus drivers, that is for sure!

2. Cross country began this week and it's all Rory's sport this year as Camden is reserving his energy for basketball, soccer, and honors classes. While I would have liked him to also run cross country purely for the exercise benefit (and to burn off some of his neverending energy), I am not particularly sad about missing out on the additional sports fee.

3. My dad picked up the kids and took them for an afternoon of horseback riding - a milestone because they're both old enough and experienced enough to ride on their own so 3 horses = 3 riders (which is pretty fun for my dad to have company on his rides).

4. Part of beginning high school is a new chrome book for Camden, his first device all his own. Homework has never been so exciting. He also had to complete an application for the honors program. Here's what he had to say on the section that asked what the committee should know about Camden, "I was adopted from South Korea at 8 months of age. You should also know I'm pretty much a perfectionist."

5. The weekend was a full one with company Saturday night and a solid 10-hour work day at church on Sunday (also a sick Rory, but more on that later).

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Five on Friday - August 31 edition

1. It's a half day of school for the kids so lunch at Chick-Fil-A, a sports physical for Camden, and a chiro appointment filled the afternoon. Camden is officially 5'10" and a whopping 107 pounds and currently in the middle of basketball tryouts. Basketball combined with 4 honors classes, youth band, and regular church band makes a pretty full plate for a 15-year old. As a parent, it's hard to strike the balance between taking advantage of opportunities to develop his skills but also keeping him as part of the family unit for these last 4 years of high school. Balance, balance, balance - chanted repeatedly through my mind and heart.

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2. Rory's annual allergies-meet-asthma illness brought her down this last week so the two of us missed church on Sunday; Brian stayed home with her Monday, and she spent the rest of the week trying to recover. Unfortunately, she still hasn't kicked it and sounds like a smoker, but she's on the downhill slide.

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3. For all the time I was on chemo these past 18 months, I lived with the incorrect belief that if I could just quit treatment, all my physical ailments would go away. That is faulty thinking, of course, because cancer (and chemo side effects) is never ending but chemo felt like such the enemy. Nearly 5 months after stopping treatment I'm still trying to figure it out and battling nearly as many bad days as good. My doctors are still fine-tuning medication and I'm still fine-tuning how to cut myself some slack. After an entire week of bad days recently, this week has easily been one of my best.

4. I finished two excellent books in the past week, both featuring diversity and stories with twists and turns that made me gasp out loud. Not only is the story-telling compelling but the story informs the reader on diversity and experiences that I know nothing about. More and more, a story that teaches me something is my favorite kind to read: Dear Martin by Nic Stone and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. I've nearly reached my goal of 50 books in 2018 with a solid 4 months to go. I wonder what my total for 2018 will be.

Pretty lucky to find myself on the launch team for Shannan Martin again, and her new book is lovely - have you seen a prettier cover? Pre-order here and then visit this page for lots of pre-order goodies.

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5. I didn't know how much I was looking forward to this 3-day weekend until it arrived, and I felt light as a feather. Brian and I are kicking off the holiday with date night (Crazy, Rich, Asians). Movie Pass is a beautiful thing when it works correctly.

Saturday holds a little pampering with my mom and sister - my first pedicure since May of 2017! We're spending the afternoon in Nashville on the hunt for a recliner - something cushy enough for Brian but aesthetically pleasing, small and compact enough to fit in the living room. Does this recliner even exist? Also planning to treat the kids to a fun lunch. Sunday evening is free and Camden has requested the Avengers Infinity movie while Monday is reserved for a Labor Day cookout with family.

Happy Holiday Weekend, Friends!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

We're too busy

I'm trying not to complain, but (1) I'm documenting for the family and (2) I know there are other families besides ours with too much busyness, a crazy schedule, grumpy teens, etc. so read on with fair warning that I'm venting a bit.

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The past 2-3 weeks are reminiscent of August 2014 when Brian and I simultaneously started new jobs and the kids went back to school. It was challenging 4 years ago, and it's challenging now. The details are different - this time it's Brian starting 2 new jobs and kids going to middle school and high school - but the challenges are similar.

We've gone several 24 hour periods without even laying eyes on Brian (or only saw him on stage at church), even more days where we steal 5-10 minutes in the same space before going our separate ways - indications that our schedule is out. of. control. He leaves the house at 5 a.m. to drive a bus and his evenings are full of meetings and church happenings; the beginning of school means parent meetings, sports physicals, and extracurriculars that I am left to maneuver on my own. The good news is that we see the challenge and we're doing our best to ride out this wave of busyness and know it will eventually be easier. Not easy maybe, but easier. More importantly, we acknowledge that schedules don't smooth themselves out. Balance is hard work. I've had to laugh because the majority of communication with Brian has been on the phone recently, and a phone hasn't been our standard mode of communication for years.

Camden and Rory still enjoy school even as 6th and 9th graders for which I am very thankful. Despite reasonable bedtimes, Rory nods off nearly every single day on the way home (sometimes in the morning too) and at nearly 12, her attitude and eye rolls indicate puberty is just around the corner. Camden is affectionate, only wants to spend time with both of us and is an absolute delight . . . until school routines are established, that is. And then he morphs into every negative description regarding teenagers. I'm unclear as to why this happens each year, but the truth is that his attitude kicks into overdrive and we all tiptoe around his anger.

While I'm tempted to lose my cool from the pure frustration of missing Brian and parenting alone, the better choice is to let the dust settle, to know there are many situations worse than a little back to school craziness. I religiously listen to podcasts. My favorite segment is always when the interviewer asks for their guest's favorites, what's saving their life and so on. So what's saving our lives?

1. Hello Fresh and Walmart grocery pick-up. With a coupon, Hello Fresh is worth the expense during busy seasons for our family. And grocery pick up is self-explanatory!

2. Watching Brian really settle into his calling. These days may be crazy, but it's clear that God has called Brian to this job of lead pastor. I know God will sustain us through this season and redeem the long hours.

3. Watermelon, iced coffee, and ice cream are all that sound good on these hot summer days. Even better is drinking my iced coffee from Brian's Yeti cup (which I have completely taken over) because I can sip on it all day long.

4. Lazy Saturday mornings - the only day of the week without anywhere to be except home. I don't sleep in, but the kids do which is even better. It's my opportunity for an extra cup of coffee in bed and catching up on reading blogs and social media.

5. Having mom and dad (and grandparents) close by. There's just something about knowing they're only a phone call and 15 minutes away. Voxer is also quite handy not only for venting sessions but staying connected with my sisters.

It's all going to be fine; more than fine. Happy Hump Day. The weekend is coming!


Friday, August 03, 2018

Five on Friday: Back to School Edition

The Lewis Family verse for Fall 2018:

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -Colossians 3:14-17

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1. Where, oh where, has the time gone? The Lewis family now has a 9th grader and 6th grader. It dawned on me just this morning that next summer Camden will have his license. Did our last family summer just happen and I didn't even recognize the end of an era? It was really great to have Brian with us on the first day of school - something that hasn't happened in forever!

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Both kids adore school and Camden has been excited to return for several weeks. Rory was a bit more anxious, but anxiety had transformed into excitement by the time we dropped her off the first morning. It was sweet to listen to them talk a million miles a minute as they tried to cram their entire day into the drive home.

2. It's become a tradition to "surprise" the kids with ice cream the night before school begins. This year we introduced them to rolled ice cream tacos.

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3. Camden is taking a foreign language for the first time (Spanish), and it is his favorite class by far although he is also excited about his Bible and History teachers. The school is offering honors classes for the first time, and Camden is choosing the Honors classes for all available subjects. He says, "I don't love work or learning yet but I'm committed to trying to learn how to love it." Rory's favorite subject this year is history although that has everything to do with her teacher and nothing to do with the topic.

4. Brian is supposed to "show up" at 6:00 a.m. Monday and the transportation department will hand him a bus route. So to be clear: He is driving a bus with kids for the first time on a route he has never seen or driven before. Yikes!

5. New eyeglasses for this girl. For the first time, I let her pick them out all on her own even though it killed me. I just may be a control freak.

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We closed out the first week as usual with Sonic Happy Hour and a trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant for supper. I sure do sound like a broken record, but our schedule for the next 3-4 days is unusually heavy even for us.  Happy Friday!



Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Closing Out July

Where to begin?

Let's start with our whirlwind trip to Little Rock for the annual denominational convention, which included youth competition in areas such as music, art, drama, and multiple Bible categories. Rory competed in a children's choir and individual drama. Camden competed in Bible memorization and vocal solo. Becky and her boys (along with a large group from her church) were present and competed in many categories. We spent 2 days running back and forth between competition rooms. Our hotel rooms were miraculously side by side. I have no idea how that happened, but it was awfully convenient!

I'm not sure how we missed taking a picture, but we did - only a quick (but cute) one of the cousins.

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Brian is officially not a teacher, is a full-time pastor, and is a bus driver after passing his test Friday. The county's previous record was 21 days of training, but Brian completed it in a mere 17 days. This was not an easy process, and I am so proud of how hard Brian worked. These training weeks coincided with some of our busiest weeks of the summer but there was nothing to do but press forward.

A family friend took Camden for sushi Wednesday and he downed 32 pieces. Our friend ate 54 so 32 seems downright amateurish. ;)

Camden purchased a PS4 and is having himself a blast breaking it in. Our family screen guidelines have been as follows for the summer: 1 hour per kid plus an episode of The Flash (finding something they both enjoy and is age-appropriate was not easy, but The Flash has been a huge hit). If we have activities planned outside of the house, their screen time goes down to 30 minutes. Friday nights they have free rein until 10:00. I can feel good about this amount of time and putting a schedule in place at the beginning of the summer cuts out all the nagging (parents) and begging for more time (kids). Mostly.

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My mom, sister Liz, and I had ourselves a little girls day Friday to celebrate/mourn (depending on your perspective) the end of summer. The kids start school tomorrow, which is ridiculous since it is only August 1. We visited a friend's cute little shop, had coffee, of course, made a Trader Joe's trip, and ate pizza. It was quick and all we could manage, but provided some kid-free time to chat.

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My dad took Camden, Rory and Addison to supper and a rodeo Saturday. Brian and I had hoped for a movie date night, but Movie Pass failed us and we ended up renting a movie and running errands. For long-time readers, remember Camden's early birthday celebrations with matching cowboy hats (Camden and Grandpa)? This is the same rodeo, except Camden is now taller than Grandpa.

A back-to-school miracle - I found khaki pants in a 28/34 for Camden. This size is so insanely hard to find! With one day to spare before school started, JCP ensured Camden wouldn't embarrass himself with high waters from last year.

Our schedule in the upcoming weeks makes me want to lock myself in the bedroom and cry. Working from home several days in the coming weeks will save the day.

Goodbye, July.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Present Participle List - July

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. -Psalm 34:4-5

I am desperately behind in blogging because summers are bananas. What happened to lounging around? Binge watching your favorite show? Eating ice cream every night.? Okay, we've actually got that one down.

I'm just going to hit a few summer favorites and call it good.

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Eating . . . Anyone else having a hard time cooking in this heat? We've been pulling out cheese, summer sausage, crackers with some fruit and veggies multiple times a week. And Rory is baking.

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Babysitting . . . As a thank you to some friends, we've done a little childcare these past few weeks. Our kids have had a blast playing and so have we. It's also a good reminder that I'm not sad we're past the younger stage.

Camden couldn't be there one night so he left out his legos for the boys. :)
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Surviving . . . We're on the other side of a week of VBS so it feels a bit like we survived a war. I was on the treat bag/attendance team so I only spent one night battling 3 4-year-olds.

Tanning . . . I've started using a self-tanner for the first time since my teenage self used to lather up in an orangey mess. I'm happy to say that self-tanners have greatly improved!

Reading . . . Three really good books since my last post: The Book of Essie, No One Ever Asked, and The Ensemble (content warning on this one). Here's what's sitting in my "to read" basket right now:

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Listening . . . to the Goodbye Road EP with JohhnySwim and Drew Holcomb and the In The Dark season 2 podcast.

Working . . . Brian is spending about 65 hours worth of training in 2 weeks in order to take his bus driving test on July 27 in addition to running VBS and becoming pastor. This is contributing heavily to the life is bananas comment at the top of the post.

Watching . . . Kids are burning their way through The Flash (the adults have even been known to go to bed early this summer leaving the kids to watch alone - something new for our family). Two of our summer family favorites are America's Got Talent and World of Dance. The new season of Somebody Feed Phil was a very welcome surprise (all of the Phil shows are our FAVORITE travel/food television) and we're savoring the episodes instead of binge-watching.

Debuting . . . I have officially given up hats/scarves. It's been about 2 weeks since I started going out in public with a bare head, and it makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. Just like when I went through this experience 7 years ago, random strangers stop me to give me a high five, thumbs up, or a "rock it, mama" comment. It also produces A LOT of staring, which is difficult to ignore.

Week 1
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Celebrating . . . Camden turned 15 on July 15 (WHAT??) so he and a friend went to The City Forum for the afternoon; we celebrated with the grandparents Saturday and then spent Sunday afternoon eating his favorite meal (Italian Drip Beef Sandwiches) and watching the World Cup championship game. Brian also took him out for his first driving lesson. He received everything on his birthday list: money (he's saving for a PS4), a pull-up bar, and cologne.

First driving lesson
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He's been saving this Mt. Dew since May to drink on his birthday. Notice the French flag in the background.
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Praying . . . In addition to losing a young father in our church this month, we are surrounded by friends and family who are walking through incredibly challenging circumstances. There is absolutely nothing we can do but pray for God's continued work in their lives.

Pressing on . . . In just 10 short days, the kids start school and Brian begins his new full-time job as pastor. We're making a quick 48-hour trip in the next few days and then I hope to fit in some last minute fun and relaxation before those 10 days are over.

Happy weekend, friends.