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Friday, January 12, 2018

Five on Friday (January 12, 2018)

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1. Well, it may have been 69 degrees yesterday, but today it's 24 degrees with snow and ice. Our very first Snow Day in 2018! Possibly our one and only because this is Tennessee. If I remember correctly, we had absolutely no snow days last year. With 4 teachers in the family, snow days are very, very important to our sanity. By the way, the 4 teachers are Brian, my sister Liz (who teaches PE and coaches basketball at the kid's school), my sister Becky (who teaches high school French and Bible in OK), and my dad (who subs at the kid's school but was a middle school math teacher at one point in his life).

It's a snow day, no plans, and we have all the ingredients for Chex mix. Life is good.

2. So we all went to see The Greatest Showman last weekend, and I never imagined jumping on this bandwagon, but it is SO. GOOD. I mean, I think it was the movie that was so good, but the reclining seat theater probably contributed to the amazing-ness. Nevertheless, I've had the soundtrack on repeat and I've been watching all the inspiring little videos that the crew filmed as the actors learned the music, and it's pretty incredible!

3. I met Tina and Kathy for our annual Christmas lunch this week before chemo. They are so dear to me. There's nothing like old friends who have seen you through thick and thin.

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4.  I have spent every spare minute over the past several weeks posting the rest of our 2017 pictures so that they're all here in one place. As you know, I convert the blog into a book every year as our scrapbook for the year. So if you're interested in seeing way more pictures than necessary, here are Thanksgiving, more Christmas, and part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6 of our trip out west.

5. We are thoroughly enjoying our new espresso machine. There is a learning curve, but we're making progress and it is perfect for the weekends and snow days.

And every night after supper if you're Brian.

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Knock on wood but I'm feeling really well after this week's treatment. A snow day along with the weekend feels so right and cozy that I'm just about as content as it's possible to be. Happy weekend, friends. I hope many of you are enjoying a snow day right along with me.


Monday, January 08, 2018

Why not?

Why not dress up in a fancy dress, borrow mom's red summer sandals, throw on some blue eyeshadow and pink lips, and sing the Hamilton soundtrack at the top of your lungs? It's still Christmas break after all.

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Friday, January 05, 2018

Five on Friday (January 5, 2018)

The first Five on Friday of 2018!
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1. Brian and I headed back to work/school on Tuesday. Guess who slept through the alarm until 6:40, which is exactly 10 minutes before I needed to leave and about 20 minutes before Brian should have headed out. Brian and I both woke up panicked, which was certainly not the most peaceful way to start the year. Funny - Rory, who always sets her alarm to tell us goodbye on the mornings when we leave but they stay, set her alarm for 6:00 and actually came downstairs and realized our door was closed and didn't want to interrupt us. She came back down at 6:15 but still didn't knock on the door. At that point, she gave up and just went back to bed for good.

2. Speaking of Rory, guess who tried to sneak out of the house with make-up on her face. Because she has not learned the art of subtle or sneaky, it was bright blue eyeshadow which I spotted immediately. I am no dummy.

3. Wednesday, which I was dreading more than I can say, actually turned out to be a sweet day. Still long, still lots of doctors, still chemo, but sweet. Mom came with me which gave us a chance to really catch up after the holidays. The eye doctor's assistant said I was her favorite, and my chemo nurse (who I don't have every week, but often) also called me her favorite. Both the lab gal and the receptionist in the infusion waiting room have my name and birthdate memorized (which is both sweet and also a reminder of just how often I am there). Nothing too strong in the way of side effects so far.

4. Because every book you've been waiting for arrives from the library at once, I currently have these books in my living room waiting to be read in a mere 3 weeks time: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, and The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman.

5. In 2016 I read When Breath Becomes Air, which is the memoir of a 36-year old neurosurgeon diagnosed with terminal cancer at the end of his extensive medical training. It has over 7,000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating on Amazon if that tells you anything. I stumbled across this article earlier today about his wife, and it made me so happy.

Our weekend plans are both busy and not-so-busy. The kids were so desperate to get out of the house that they grocery shopped bright and early with me. Christmas break was too short for the adults, maybe a couple of days too long for the kids. We have tickets to see The Greatest Showman tonight; tomorow afternoon is the Titan's playoff game (we're watching from the cozy comfort of our own couch). Sunday is church and a nursing home service (the children's choir is singing). Happy Friday, friends.

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Closing out 2017

"But the angel reassured them, "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!"

Christmas 2017 highlighted changes in our family (both immediate and extended) - those changes run the gamut between difficult, just not the Lord's plan, and blessings. Our family was missing two members this year and we felt their absence keenly. Brian, the kids, and I drove to East TN before Christmas for a very quick trip and celebrated with Brian's parents, grandpa and aunt in their new home where they now live together. Christmas Eve was our annual appetizer night at our house. Mom and dad came early Christmas morning to watch Becky and the boys along with our family open presents, followed by Christmas dinner at their house with both sets of my grandparents.


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My feet had a chemo reaction and blistered up the week before Christmas. At the same time, Camden was sick, which delayed our trip to East TN (he also missed one day of exams). He passed on the fever to me and I was sick Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As a result, the girl's annual Boxing Day shopping trip had to be postponed to the following day, but not canceled! We enjoyed a delicious and leisurely breakfast and coffee at Milk and Honey, but shopping was a complete bust. I do not know why we didn't take one single selfie to document the day.

Becky, William, and Xavier stayed with us for the week, and their love affair with Camden has not lessened. Poor Rory continues to be on the outs. Becky and I had one long afternoon/evening of nothing and we managed to watch 4 episodes of This is Us while she was here. I completely blubbered through the last 2 episodes, which is fairly typical although I'm generally in bed late at night alone instead of watching with someone.


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We sang Christmas carols on Christmas Day, which is always my mom's request and it was lovely. The 5 grandkids sure do enjoy music. The following day the grandkids put on a little program for the grandparents and my Grandpa Elledge sang The Lord's Prayer and my Grandma Hale brought out her omni cord. We even played a quick game of charades with Christmas carols (definitely the kid's idea; William and Xavier's twin connection totally dominated).

Camden's favorite gifts were his Madden 2013 (yes, 2013) game and the dual controllers although he cried when Gramps gave him a pocket knife. Rory is in love with her Instax camera. I am ridiculously excited about my Lipsense holder and Brian likes his new comfy stadium seat. We are hoping to spend our Christmas money on a beginner espresso machine and milk frother which may easily move to the top of the favorites list.

Between the sickness, the trip to Kingsport, hosting family, and shuffling back and forth between our house and my parents, it was a very full 8 days. Completely worth the effort to make all the memories, though, and I'm so grateful to be here and experience it together. Brian, the kids, and I have spent the last 3 days mostly in our p.j.'s being 100% lazy. Kids have been sleeping in until 10ish and the adults have enjoyed the quiet time. Brian has been working his way through episodes of the Blacklist while I have been reading and browsing Instagram. We've left the Christmas tree up way too long, but I'm having trouble bringing myself to take it down. We are experiencing unusually cold weather. Cozying under the blankets with the tree lights twinkling has been my favorite thing.


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I am planning to post Christmas pictures (along with Utah pictures - finally) sometime in the next few days, but post-date them to this past week so that they will print in my 2017 blog book. Brian and I return to work (much too early!) on Tuesday. Wednesday is a very, very full day at Vanderbilt for me, and, to be honest, I'm struggling with anger over the need to go at all. I'm not sure it's possible for anyone to understand how difficult it is to do this week after week with no end in sight. I knew when we received the news last November that the cancer was growing that this was going to be my life. I know I am blessed to have the opportunity to participate in this clinical trial and I am definitely blessed that the chemo has been working, but that doesn't make it easier to experience. 

I have enjoyed our Christmas break, but the time has passed much too quickly. Someone mentioned on Facebook that the week of Christmas is the fastest week of the year, and I completely agree with that. I guess if every week were Christmas break, then we couldn't possibly enjoy it in the same way. But I'd like to try!

My parents hosted a little family get together tonight with Michael, Liz, Addison, grandparents and my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Dana. We were home by 9:00 and the kids are tucked away on the couch watching Rogue One. Brian has been asleep for an hour and I am well on my way. 2017 was full of memorable experiences: our trip out west, the Crowder concert, an evening with John Crist, and my parents/grandparents moving to TN are at the top for me. I also took 2 work trips and continue to be so thankful for my job and the opportunities it provides. 2017 has been challenging on many, many levels and has brought about hurt for some of the people I love most. I don't know what 2018 holds, but I know that the Lord is good and He is with us.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Reading Round-Up

My 2017 goal for reading was 60 books, and I clocked in at 55. I'm not going to beat myself up about that because it was just a random goal! Here's a breakdown with stats and favorites.

10 Non-Fiction and my favorite was The Tech-Wise Family. This book is less about rules and more about the importance of family and how family rituals and togetherness are influenced by technology. Two that felt important to read and understand:  Hillbilly Elegy and Born a Crime.

45 Fiction. It's hard to choose a favorite, but I would say The Language of Flowers took me by surprise, and I really, really enjoyed Sing, Unburied, Sing, Behold the Dreamers, and Mosquitoland.  

12 written by people of color. This was a focus in 2017 for both me and the kids. I actually thought this number would be higher, but it only shows that being intentional is important. 

A few books that stood out to me even though they didn't make the favorites list are Silence, The Hate U Give, and The Sound of Gravel.

2017 is also the year that I finally read two classics. To Kill a Mockingbird was different than I expected (and the first half is very slow), but completely won me over by the end. On the opposite spectrum was The Handmaid's Tale, which I hated and the end was awful. I also reread Lonesome Dove (I first read this in college) and it is graphic and heartbreaking, but such good storytelling. It is also nearly 1,000 pages.

And that wraps up 2017 in books. I set a goal of 55 books for 2018. What are you reading?

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