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Sunday, October 07, 2018

Favorites

A few recent favorites:

Evicted by Matthew Desmond: I finished in less than a week despite a hefty 400+ page count. It is profoundly sad and gives an insider look into poverty and housing in America. I gave it 5 stars.

We've been reading Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle out loud together as a family for the past 4-6 weeks. Well, I cry through it and then pass it over to Brian to read.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places is Shannan Martin's second book, and I am so honored to be on her launch team again. Have you ever seen a prettier book? I underlined, highlighted, and marked up the pages because there were so many things to remember. I believe there's still time to receive pre-order goodies if you order TODAY. Here's one of my favorite quotes: "Do we care enough to love those around us as though we really belong to each other? And can we dare to believe these small gestures of specific care and well-timed warmth are enough to alter the path of mankind?


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I really enjoyed this interview with Kwame Alexander, a YA author. Camden and I are loving the audio version of his first book.

Loving this lipstick color and formula. Can't beat $7 either!

My favorite perfume from 8 years ago is back on the market and I snatched it up right away. It's perfectly warm and spicy and just right for fall.

Two weeks ago I cooked up 6 pounds of ground beef for the freezer. I cannot believe how much simpler my evenings have been with that one little task completed ahead of time. Here's an easy recipe for taco spaghetti which is a new favorite.

My least favorite thing? We're setting heat records IN OCTOBER. I am so ready for fall weather, and I believe it is finally going to arrive by the end of the week.

My favorite thing? Brian and the kids are on fall break this week. I took off last Thursday and will take off this Thursday as well. While the days and weeks surrounding fall break have been insane, Thursday we simply lounged together, read books, watched the latest The Voice episode, and met Brian for lunch.

I love these lounging pictures so much.
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Happy Fall Break!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

September Recap

Well, I knew it had been a while since I last checked in here but I didn't know that it was over a month ago. . . A solid clue that life is overflowing with busyness. I can't possibly record everything from the past month in a short list so let's go with the highlights.

Rory turned 12! We celebrated 2 weekends in a row with a family party one Friday and a sleepover the following Friday. She requested a lemon cake for the second year in a row (notable because she doesn't like lemon). Her birthday list included Chacos, a lamp, gift card (to anywhere), and a Fit Bit. While she didn't get a Fit Bit, she did get everything else on the list plus an aquarium, fish, mascara, lip gloss, and a heated brush.

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Camden also had a sleepover and this is how tired he was when I picked him up.

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For the 5th September in a row, I headed to the D6 Conference (it's my 4th year to work). This year we traveled to Greensboro, NC, the week after Hurricane Florence hit. The conference was a success and flew by in a whirlwind 4 days of work, work, and more work. Brian was with me this year and I thoroughly enjoyed those few days away together even though we were with 1200 of our closest friends and co-workers. Brian was a speaker this year, not just an attendee, and I am so proud of him!

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My parents and Brian's parents split kid duty while we were in NC. 

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This week marked yet another 8-week check-in with my oncologist. I continue to struggle with chemo hangover as Dr. C puts it. Seven and a half years is a long time to live with cancer and some days I feel every minute of it. My CA-125 inched up yet again. The growth is ever so slight and I'm trying to forget about it.

Rory has been spending Monday afternoons at cross country meets and has improved on her time every week. I am so proud of her and she is so proud of herself! Last week she set a goal of breaking 20 minutes and her final time was 19:10 for a 2-mile cross country run.

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(official proofs)

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Fall break began Wednesday afternoon for the kids; Brian's fall break begins next week. I am taking a couple of days off over the course of the 2 weeks and we're already enjoying the slower pace.

Happy Weekend!

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).

hello, bright sun
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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!