Monday, August 14, 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!

Saturday, July 15, 2017


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).





Happy Birthday, Camden!
Edited to Add: we celebrated with cake and ice cream a week late with cousins and grandparents. I completely failed to take a group picture. :(

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)