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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Five on Friday (January 11, 2019)

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We dove head first into the deep end of the pool and barely know how to swim. That's how this week has felt as we all returned to work and school full time. January has never felt so busy! But we survived the first week and we're prepared for week #2.

1. Turns out recovering from surgery (even a little one) is harder than it seems. Or, as my boss kindly pointed out, the older we are the harder to recover.

Proof my skin does not like adhesive.
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2. Camden caught me off guard this week when he mentioned that he's been thinking about going to medical school to become a gynecological oncologist. Not gonna lie - he didn't know what that specialty involves. I think he would be a great doctor. It's a fine line to walk between encouraging him to pursue whatever career God places on his heart and not influencing him in choosing that career.

3. Finished my first book of 2019.

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4. Brian and I booked tickets to NYC for spring break. We're taking an early anniversary trip, and I'm very excited. Also a tad overwhelmed at finding a place to stay and setting an itinerary. Suggestions? Especially for a place to stay?

5. Our Friday morning Bible study started back up this morning. Literally 3 minutes away from the church, I got a phone call from school letting me know Rory was sick. I'm sorry she's sick but I can't complain about a cozy quiet day on the couch with her.

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Weekend plans are slim. Camden is spending the day with a friend; Brian has a Saturday morning meeting and Sunday afternoon/evening discipleship group. Other than that, the days are slow. Happy Friday, friends.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Christmas 2018

The 2018 Christmas season has come and gone much too quickly as usual. Our Christmas break was a little different this year with a few quieter days on the front end, busy days at the end of a 2-week break. Our family continues to miss loved ones, and the new normal is still not quite normal. Mom is recovering well from her rotator cuff surgery but dad is still responsible for the bulk of the care and feeding of my mom and 4 grandparents. She has done so well, but it's a long recovery.

Becky and the boys visited for 6 days. The girls still got to have their after-Christmas shopping day (and, yes, purses were purchased); we still did appetizers and Dirty Santa (on NYE this year). Brian, dad and the boys had a football night while the girls had a movie night. Our group took up the entire back row of the theater to see Mary Poppins (delightful!). Camden and the cousins spent an incredible amount of time playing video games, talking about video games and planning to play video games. We let the kids stay up until midnight on NYE while the adults headed to bed about 10:00. Becky and I spent several mornings with an extra pot of coffee and plenty of time to talk (and cry).

Rory's favorite gifts were the caboodle, make-up, and many hair and nail accessories. She is interested in full glam these days. Camden received an Echo Dot, Madden 2019 and luggage (he's participating in a 3-week long leadership camp this summer). He was also SO happy about receiving a signed poster of the Titans Music City Miracle. This kid's love for sports is only growing as he gets older.

Officially, tomorrow (January 7) is the last day of Christmas break for the kids, and they've requested to spend their last day binge-watching/playing video games. The adults ended their Christmas holiday at Vanderbilt Friday where I had surgery to replace my port. This is my third one, which isn't especially fun. I was able to spend a quiet Saturday and Sunday recovering and hope to go back to work tomorrow. After the surgery a couple of years ago when they used conscious sedation (and I was awake the entire time), the surgeons chose to use general anesthesia for this surgery. So much less traumatic! While another surgery wasn't part of the plan, I'm choosing to be grateful that my chemo break continues (January 4 marked 9 months). The elderly gentleman in the bed next to me was headed straight to the chemo chair for a 5-hour infusion.

My computer is on the fritz again so I just have these few phone pictures to share.

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The word for Christmas 2018 might be change. It would be easy to focus on the challenges, but I'm trying to highlight all the good stuff. And being together is the good stuff.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year in Review: Books

I take reading seriously. It's been my favorite thing to do from my earliest memories. I was the kid hiding my book underneath my textbook, hiding under the blankets at night with a flashlight; a trip to the library was as good as a vacation. And so before 2018 is history, I wanted to review my 2018 in books. 

I completed 67 books, heavy on the fiction side. In 2018 I learned to define the kinds of books I enjoy. A few common themes: likable characters, books focusing on a specific skill or specialty (The Ensemble), historical fiction from WWII (We Were the Lucky Ones) and early American years (Love and Other Consolation Prizes), books focusing on social justice or issues (Dear MartinEvicted). While I don't read nearly as much YA as I used to, I do still like the occasional highly unrealistic teen love story or dystopian novel.

Although I don't really set reading goals, I do sometimes highlight a general direction for my reading. For instance, in 2017 I focused on reading books written by people of color. In 2019 I want to read a book on the Enneagram as well as a couple of parenting books that have been on the shelf for a while now (I'll be a mom to TWO teenagers in 2019).

March was my best month - I only read 3 books but they were all 5-star books (and I don't give out many 5 star ratings). Here's how I rate books:

  • 5 stars - I think everyone should read it. 
  • 4 stars - I highly recommend and thoroughly enjoyed. 
  • 3 stars - I generally liked it, but maybe wouldn't recommend it to everyone for any number of reasons. 
  • 2 stars - skip it
  • 1 star - why didn't I skip it??
  • No rating means I didn't quit the book and enjoyed it on some level, but it's not something I can recommend.
Over the years, I've gotten better at quitting a book if I'm not hooked. There's no reason to waste time on a bad book when my "want to read" list has 483 books and growing. So here's my year broken down into months.


January (6 books)
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel - 3 stars
It's Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Choose by Melanie Dale - 3 stars
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - 4 stars
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green - 4 stars
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan - 3 stars
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan - 4 stars

February (7 books)
Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker - 4 stars
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - 3 stars
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway - 4 stars
Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford - 5 stars (the first 5-star book of the year!)
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis - 4 stars
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira Lee - 2 stars
I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka - 4 stars (listened to the audiobook of this one with the kids)

March (3 books)
Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly - 5 stars
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - 5 stars
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs - 5 stars

April (5 books)
The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant - 3 stars
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - 4 stars
The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan - 3 stars
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner - 5 stars
Fearless Parenting by Jimmy Myers - 5 stars

May (6 books)
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - 5 stars
Something Like Happy by Eva Woods - 5 stars
Still Me by Jojo Moyes - 5 stars
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson - 4 stars
Force of Nature by Aaron Falk - 4 stars
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - 5 stars

June (8 books)
The Assistants by Camille Perri - 4 stars
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy - 4 stars
Educated by Tara Westover - 5 stars 
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - 5 stars
That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam - 3 stars
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza - 5 stars
If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey - 4 stars
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel - 4 stars

July (6 books)
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne - 4 stars
No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert - 5 stars
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir - 4 stars
Save the Date by Morgan Matson - 4 stars
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - 3 stars
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin - 3 stars

August (7 books)
The Selection by Keira Cass - 4 stars
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton - 5 stars
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos - 5 stars
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser - 5 stars
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson - 5 stars
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie - 4 stars
Dear Martin by Nic Stone - 5 stars

September (4 books)
The Elite by Kiera Cass - 3 stars
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter - 5 stars
Limelight by Amy Poeppel - 4 stars
The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand - 4 stars

October (6 books)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond - 5 stars
The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin - 5 stars
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger - 3 stars
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson - 4 stars
Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry - 5 stars
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand - 3 stars

November (4 books)
Sadie by Courtney Summers - no rating
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed - 4 stars
How to Walk Away  by Katherine Center - 5 stars
Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West - 3 stars

December (5 books)
This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips - no rating
Scythe by Neal Shusterman - 3 stars
The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan - 4 stars
Remember God by Annie Downs - 4 stars
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter - no rating

It's hard to choose a favorite. Because I read so many books (and have crazy chemo brain), I can often read a book and as soon as I close the last page, it's out of my head. So when a book makes an impression and I can remember it 6 months later, it's a big deal. As I looked back over the list, the books I remember from 2018 are the ones rated 5 stars which means I rated them correctly.

Here's to another year of good books!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Five on Friday (December 21, 2018)

Christmas music is playing, my Frasier fir candles are lit - the generic Aldi version that took the internet by storm and the Anthropologie version (currently 30% off with 85 hours of burn time) - and I have an extra cup of coffee in hand. Brian took the kids Christmas shopping this morning so I'm sitting in an empty house with only the glow of the tree lights. It is incredibly gray and gloomy outside. Exams, bus runs, and basketball/soccer practice ended yesterday. I made a trip to the library and brought home 22 books to get us through the weekend. There are Christmas cookies in the pantry and plenty of coffee in the cabinet. We have a couple of quiet days planned before family arrives Wednesday and our family holiday begins.

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1. A little trip down memory lane

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2. Not a single student on his high school run on the last day before the break.

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3. As a freshman (and taking all honors courses), Camden felt the pressure of cumulative exams and the knowledge that these grades go on his permanent record. He's never had to do much studying, but he put in some hard hours in preparation for this week. And we're all a little happier now that exams are over and his stress level has gone back to normal levels.

4. I received the Ember mug as a Christmas present earlier this month and I cannot even tell you how much I love it. And remember my stroop wafel recommendation last week? I discovered that the legitimate way to eat one is after it's been warmed up by the steam from your cup of coffee. Genius!

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5. I see a chiropractor generally twice a month so it was business as usual to have an appointment this week. What wasn't standard was the pain and discomfort I've been feeling in my back and hip. I breathed a literal sigh of relief as the doctor acknowledged that my hip was very much out of whack. That feeling of relief reminded me of two Decembers ago when Dr. C informed me that the pain was related to cancer growth. Do you know I spent months convincing myself that pain was nothing? I can't be the only one who doesn't trust their intuition, who keeps a negative running commentary in their head - your pain isn't real, anyone else could handle this better than you, why don't you do more for church/home/family, when are you going to step up, lose the weight, be a better mom, etc. It seems like just a little thing - this hip issue - but it was enough to make me rethink how I talk to myself, doubt myself, bully myself and I'm going to do better. 

This weekend's plans involve Home Alone (first time for the kids), date night tomorrow for the adults, Christmas service Sunday and as much lounging as we can fit into 3 days. We'll catch up on adulting tasks after we've relaxed ourselves into oblivion.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

February 2018

Now that my personal computer is back up and running, I finally uploaded pictures from the big girl camera to edit and post - all the way back to February 8 of 2018. Crazy! It was so good to spend time looking at pictures, and I was reminded all over again of why I love my camera and photography. I'm planning to post a year's worth of photos over the next 2 weeks (sadly, there aren't many) beginning with February.

I bought Rory the best book to commemorate Black History Month. The book highlights influential women, both historical and present day. Rory's favorite chapters featured Rosa Parks and Dominique Dawes.

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First time using a flat iron (pretty sure she hasn't used it since).
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