Friday, May 30, 2008

Officially indoctrinated.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking in the Sam's parking lot and passed three SMU frat boys getting out of their Tahoe.

One guy said to his friends, "...yeah, I'm gonna be ridin' on some 20"s."

I was a little shocked by the very first thought that popped into my head.

"Boy, you lame."

I mean, everyone knows you're nothin' unless you're sittin' on some 22"s or 24"s.


Duh.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Trey!


"The Cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us."
John Stott

Today is Trey's 40th birthday when I read this I couldn't help but think of him. He, through the grace and sustenance of our Risen Lord, continues to draw so close to the Cross of Christ that he is showered with the sparks of His unquenchable fire.

With this fire, he loves us out loud and pours himself out before his Lord each day as he humbly seeks to serve Him well in the Call he has been given.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from becoming polluted by the world."
James 1:27


Trey, we are so thankful for you, your life, and your commitment to be used by the Lord in His redemptive work.

And it doesn't hurt that you're smokin' hot, too.

We love you!

Because I did 225 walking lunges...

...yesterday morning, I felt absolutely no guilt making this beautiful, fabulous pasta for my family last night.

Now, I've expressed in the past the new and exciting way of cooking we've found in the Hill house since Dea and Darius moved in. I've learned to fry anything and everything from chicken to catfish and there was a night not so long ago when I made neck-bones.

No, you didn't misread. Neck-bones. Want the recipe? That's what I thought.

Aside from these dishes, they call my cooking 'mochalatte'.
"It's too fancy." Which it's not.
"It's plain." Which means I didn't fry anything.
"It's got shrimp in it." Well, I can't really argue with that. I love shrimp and when it's mixed with pasta and tomato cream sauce, heavenly!

Tonight, as the boys were activating the "Backup Plan" which entails heating up Tostino's pizzas or burritos instead of eating my cooking, Dea gave me a little culinary suggestion.

"MaMelissa, you know what you should make? Frito pies. You know, with a can of chili, fritos, rice and cheese. Now THAT would be sooooo goooooood."

Seriously? Frito Pie?

Now, don't get me wrong, I love Frito pies as much as the next guy and really believe Fritos are the secret to world peace, but we're trying to expand their taste in food beyond what you can find at our local convenience store.
It would also be nice if they actually tasted the food before drowning it in Ranch Dressing or hot sauce but I'm a dreamer that way.

Tonight, I'm making fish but may be a rebel and bake it instead of frying it.
I know. I run with scissors, too.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day.

Last December, I flew to Scottsdale and surprised my dad for his 60th birthday. My brother, Bryan, and I had planned the trip for months and couldn't wait to spend the day with dad celebrating his life and spending some time together.

A day before we were supposed to leave, Bryan called to say he couldn't make it. He is a Navy SEAL and a friend of his, a buddy from his old platoon, had been killed in Iraq. Instead of celebrating with us, he would be attending to the funeral services of this young man.

While dad and I were at lunch, he called.

He had spent the previous day accepting the body of this young soldier at an airfield in Vermont and escorting him back to D.C. where he would be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. He cried as he told us about the man's amazing family and the difficulty of performing the uniform inspection on the body of a young friend who died so courageously.

Hearing him on the phone, my dad broke down at the table and wept. He wept for his son who had made him so proud by forgoing the good for the best. Who had set his face as flint and come back unscathed from war only to walk another family through the heartbreak we had dreaded. Who he loved not because of all of the honorable things he had done or the medals that hung on his chest, but for the son he had been and the one he had become.

We're so thankful for Bryan and the men and women like him who live lives in noble service to our country.

Have a blessed Memorial Day.

Winding Down

I love the end of the school year. Every little bit that points to a long summer sitting by the pool relaxing and having no schedule whatsoever. I love early summer mornings when it's still coolish and everything smells good, like fresh cut grass. I love the way you can put sunscreen on for the first time and the smell immediately takes you back to last summer. I love sandals and shorts to church. (On the kids. Shorts on me would be unfortunate.) I love evening kickball games and slurpees, going for ice cream after dinner and staying up past bedtime.
We're winding down here at casa de long way from the Theta house and momma is happy. We're nearing the end of a fantastic school year and looking forward to a summer full of fun and memories and sleeping late.
Even though May can be more stressful than season 2 of 24, we're excited and had a fantastic time at one of our 65,486 'End of the Year' parties the other night.

Here Trey and I are "working" the bungee run. He worked, I did jaw aerobics.
Secretly, I wanted to take a turn but was afraid the first graders would eat my lunch.


The girls stopped throwing slime in the pond for .5 seconds to take a picture with mom.
This, my friends, is a reminder to use sunscreen every day and avoid tanning beds at all costs.


We're almost there and thrilled.
It's been a crazy couple of weeks and my friend Carrie, in one candid pic., may have expressed many a mom's emotions.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Crossing over.

Dea will be a senior next year at Pinkston H.S. and they have a crossover ceremony to celebrate.

We took him to get a suit and it was really great to see him all dressed up. Trey was able to steer him away from the saggin' suit pants and had a great dialog about learning the ability to crossover into lots of different worlds, not just dressing, or living for that matter, for the ghetto.

He looked smashing.


Smashing, but he won't smile for pictures.
He will, however, throw a sign.


But doing it in a suit, standing in front of a Coke machine and holding a candle somehow neutralizes the whole thing.

Thank you Lord, that you have grown this child into a young man who has a vision and hope beyond today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two purchases.

I was reading on one of my favorite blogs the other day about the benefits of dry brushing. From my extensive research, again on google, I learned the benefits of dry brushing are skin regeneration, detoxification, improved circulation, and cellulite reduction.
Honestly, I really don't care about the detox and circulation but they had me at cellulite reduction.
So I went online and ordered a dry brush, got some instructions, and last night, brushed my whole body.
Here's what it looks like.
The brush. Not my body.


Whew! That was close.
This morning, my husband looked at a little rash on my arm and said, "Melissa, where did you get poison ivy?"
"Oh, that's not poison ivy, it showed up the other day after we went to the park...Oh. But (scratching) it didn't look this bad or itch this much...Oh. Crap."
Then Tee came in with the same itchy rash all over.
Fabulous.
Did I really scrub my whole body with that dry brush last night; most likely spreading the already present poison ivy all over?
That's just perfect.
So, this afternoon, I made myself another little purchase. This time from my doctor. Looky what I got.
Oral steroids.


I'll let you know how this little fairy tale works out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A little interview.


I love being a part of the Family Friendly Blog Network and was recently asked by Lauren to be interviewed for their website.
Flattery will get you everywhere...
You can read about it here.
While you're there, grab a Diet Coke and look around.
There's tons of treasure to be found.
And now, I'm a poet.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fear not.

For most of my childhood and a good way into my adult life I struggled with fear. When I was little I had the run of the mill stuff like being scared of the dark and of strangers. As I grew older, I was still pretty easily shaken. I overthought scenarios and locked doors sometimes unable to relax and enjoy a situation for fear of something bad happening.

While Trey and I were living in Nashville, I shared this struggle with a dear friend of ours and he immediately prayed for me to truely rest in the One who promises, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." There is great power in prayer and in learning to lean into a mighty Father who cares about each hair upon our heads.

Recently we've seen this same kind of fear manifesting itself in Olivia. She gets scared in large stores and unfamiliar places. She hasn't always been this way. She was our fearless one; willing to take risks even her older brother wouldn't dare. It saddens us to see her being paralyzed by fear and to watch her miss out on some of the joys of childhood because she's simply afraid.

We're very careful with the kids to not overwhelm them with warnings and scary stories of tragedies. I really have tried not to pass this struggle on. Indeed, the Lord has done a mighty work in my life as evidenced by my ability to live in our neighborhood without fear.

In spite of the freedom I've felt, she has begun to feel swallowed up by her fear and it kills me to think of her going through her life anxious over dark corners.

Sunday in our worship service, we stood together as the body and made this profession of our church's faith. We do it every Sunday but this time, I was incredibly moved and so thankful Olivia was sitting next to me, holding my hand.

Our prayer is that this summation of God's word will indeed set her free to live in the delight and the glory of her Father in Heaven.

Christian, what is your only comfort, in life and in death?

That I belong - body and soul, in life and in death - not to myself, but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of His own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Glass half full.

There are certainly negatives about living in this neighborhood. The gunfire, the complete lack of natural beauty, and the Crack.

There are, however, a few benefits. We have some wonderful neighbors and friends in the community and I have just experienced another.

I was in the middle of whipping up The Pioneer Woman's Best Lasagna Ever and realized I had forgotten a few things at the store. This happens almost every time I go grocery shopping and probably something that I need a little help with.

You're probably thinking, 'take a list'.

I do.

'Double check it before you leave.'

I swear I do but inevitably, something is left behind.

Maybe I should stop using invisible ink.

My most patient husband is almost always willing to run back to the market as I'm putting my dish on hold till he returns.

Today was an extra low day for me because I forgot one more thing after Trey had already left to pick up the other two things I needed. Since he left quick like Batman, he forgot to take his cell phone. I just called right up to the Carnival and said I needed to find my husband who was in the store.

"We can page him but it's pretty crowded right now. What does he look like?"

"He's white."

He was on the phone in 17 seconds. I counted.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why my house isn't clean.

I'm an exerciser. Not necessarily the "did and IronMan" kind of exerciser like my Tee's stud teacher Roni, but an exerciser all the same. There is something wonderful about getting up before dawn and having some time to get my thoughts together and blood pumping before entering the busyness of life. Odd as it may sound, I feel like the hour I spend helps me to be a better wife, mother, and friend.

I've been going to the YMCA every morning at 5:45 with Hannah. Dea and Darius have amazingly and voluntarily gotten up with me each morning to play basketball in the gym while I'm working out. For 14 and 17 year old boys who could definitely sleep in a little, it's impressed me beyond belief. I'm hoping they're learning a kind of discipline that will serve them their whole lives.

On Friday's, my little boys like to get up as well and shoot hoops with their new big brothers. It's pretty cute.

Darius plays a lot of basketball in addition to his early mornings and has been complaining of sore muscles. The other night he said, "Mama Melissa, could you get me some Epsom Salt next time you go to the store?"

I giggled.

"Darius, what in the world are you going to use Epsom Salt for?"

"I'm gonna soak in it. It helps your muscles relax."

This time, I laughed out loud.

"Oh, Honey! You sound like you're 80!"

He insisted, so yesterday at the store I picked up some good old fashioned Epsom Salt for that boy. It was $1.86 so I figured I had minimal financial risk.

When Darius got home from basketball and saw that carton sitting on the counter, he jumped for joy and practically ran to the bathtub. About 30 minutes later he came out beaming saying he felt like a million bucks. I teased him a little but deep down wondered if the stuff really did work.

You see, yesterday morning, Hannah made me do 4,786 walking lunges and I was so sore this morning I could barely walk. (I don't know what I did to her but if she's reading this, Hannah, I'm so so very sorry. Please forgive me and don't ever make me do those again. Well, until tomorrow morning and then make me do 4,787. Thank you.)

So a while ago, I tiptoed into the boys' bathroom and under the sink found that big carton of Epsom Salt. Now, they weren't home to see me but the shame I felt was enough to make me sneak. I poured and poured that manna from heaven into a hot bath and I'm a big liar if I don't admit I feel tons better. I can actually sit down to write this without tears rolling down my face and can get up without help. But, before I would eat a big slice of humble pie a la mode, I had to find out for myself if there was any truth to the whole 'Epsom Salt helps sore muscles' folklore.

I spent the better part of the morning delving into the vast ocean of information that is Epsom Salt. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it's the rebellious child in me just wanting it to be summer. Maybe it's my passive aggressive way of not cleaning my very dirty house. And maybe I just long for knowledge on a variety of subjects. Ok, no. It's for sure not that.

After my extensive research on Google,(does that qualify?) I decided to go with Wikipedia's description which stated "Magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salt) when used through soaking, can soothe muscle pains..." because in the words of my good friend Michael Scott -
“Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world, can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”

The very best.

Darius, I owe you an apology. And a new thing of Epsom Salt. I used all of your's.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Heartbreaking turn...

Please pray for the Em, Moody, and the kids and the heartbreaking turn their Ethiopian adoption has taken. We rest in the blessed assurance that we have a mighty Saviour who pleads before the throne of grace on our behalf and a merciful Father who's plans are not our own but perfect and good beyond measure.

Monday, May 12, 2008

9

My firstborn child turned 9 today and what an incredible gift he has been. I was so worried about being a mom and scared that I wouldn't know what I was doing but then the first night after he was born, that little booger did something that I have always remembered.

It was the middle of the night and I was dead asleep, tired to the bone from labor. Our precious nurse came in with Tee and he was all swaddled up and clean and his eyes were wide open; big as saucers. As she brought him closer to my bed, I whispered "hey, buddy!", and he immediately put his little hands in his mouth and started sucking like crazy. He knew my voice and that I had food! It sounds so funny to tell this story but his reflex response to my voice was such a gift to this very insecure new mom.

He has grown into a bright, tender, funny young boy and each year has brought new adventures for all of us. As the oldest child, he has a great responsibility and by the grace of God, is growing into that role.

Lord, thank you for this indescribable gift. I love every bit of that kid and pray that You will capture and enrapture his heart and use his life for Your glory.

This is Tee with his volcano project.


That's tomato sauce lava.
I have some pretty good tips for getting stains out if anyone needs 'em.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A heart to heart.

We had Spring Fling at my children's school today. It is one of my very favorite events we do all year. One day in the spring, totally kept secret from the children, the moms decorate their cars, run into their classrooms banging pots and pans, whistling and cheering and take all the kids to the park for a fun day of games, food, prizes, and sugar. Seeing the surprise on their faces is priceless.

It was such a joy to be with them all day and I couldn't wait to come home hang out with just our family. Then it came time to leave. They were obviously not satisfied with their most fun day.

"Mom, can Luke/Abby/Nicole/Grayson/Jack/Luke/Cooper/Claire come over to play?" "Not today, guys."
"Can we get a slurpee?"
"Can we get ice cream?"
"Can we get donuts?"
"Can we get a snake?"
"Can we get a fish?"
"Can we get a kitten?"
"Can we get some candy?"
"Can we get some new pool toys?"

Was I going crazy? We just had a great, full day and they were wanting more and more and I was feeling like a mean ol' mom because none of the things they wanted to do or have was either going to work out or something they needed. Especially the snake.

With my most deflated spirit I prayed and called my friend Carey knowing she would offer me some sound advice and reassure me I had not totally failed in my parenting. Not totally.

She was most encouraging and thought I should sit down with my kiddos this afternoon and talk with them about what I had observed and how we as a family could do a better job being content with what we have and not always wanting more.

I took that sound advice and called them all together for a good old fashioned heart to heart. We had to wait a minute because someone had to go poop.

"Can I play the Wii while we're talking?" No.

After I bared my soul and explained how I was feeling. I told them thought we could all work a little harder on being content with what we have and remember the One from whom real contentment comes.

Then I made the mistake of asking them what they thought.

"Do we have to work on it now or can I play Wii."
"Can I eat this lollipop I found under my bed?"
"My eye's itchy. Really itchy. Do you think I might be allergic to something?"
"I might need to go poop again."
"These shorts are a little big, can I go change?"
"What time is my game in the morning?"
"Can I try on your sunglasses?"
"What does an exclamation point look like?"
"When's Daddy going to be home?"

So, I think it went pretty well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cathartic.

When I was little, like every other child with attachment issues, I had a blankie. It was fuzzy and blue and white with little kittens and clouds all over it. I loved that blanket and it was as much a part of me as my own thumb. In fact, the two went quite nicely together snuggling on the couch watching a little Captain Kangaroo.

One day some really unkind and ill-behaved children stole my blanket from me and it was never seen again. I still remember how much I missed that precious piece of cotton/poly blend and my mom singing me to sleep so there wouldn't be weeping and gnashing of teeth in my state of mourning. I did finally recover. Sort of.

Ok, by the Captain Kangaroo clue, you can probably guess it was more than a few years ago. We all know there are things that we lose that we just remember for a long time; especially if the loss was somewhat tramatic. A few posts ago tragedy struck the Hill home and our beloved cat Max was um..well..kindof..uh...you know, consumed by a pit-bull. My kids knew what happened mostly because Tee woke up in the middle of the "consumption" and loves some good drama. I love that kid but he's not shy with details and sweet Sadie has had some mourning of her own to do.

I was in Sunday school the other day and one of her wonderful teachers came up and whispered into my ear that she had just had Sadie in class. This particular teacher is an artist and had asked Sadie if she could draw something for her to color.

"Would you pwease dwaw me a picture of a pitbull wif a cat in its mouth? Like the one who got Max?"

So this precious, beautiful teacher drew her a great rendering and said Sadie colored it so carefully, really trying to stay in the lines and then carried it around with her for the rest of class. Look at the cat's sad face.


Kim, her teacher, told me it might be a little morbid for Sunday school but she thought it really meant something to Sadie and maybe it was kind of cathartic.

When we picked her up, she was very proud of her picture and I was so thankful for a teacher who could love my child outside of the box.

I'm having her come over next week to draw a picture of my blankie.

Friday, May 2, 2008

What happens behind the scenes.


My friend Carrie just had her fourth and final baby. His name is Buck and how stinkin' cute is that? Really cute, and evidence that a husband can have an opinion on the name of their child when it's number four and there are drugs involved.

What also comes along with number four is a really fun sip-and-see that is less about the onsies and diapers and more about fellowship, fun conversation, and cupcakes.

Last night we had the privilege of celebrating Buck and Carrie, and four babies, and a night off from the babies, and did I mention the cupcakes. Delicious.

The theme was Cupcakes and Champagne...or Champagne and Cupcakes, I'm not sure. You see, it's not that I wasn't totally interested in the finer details of the party, it's just that when you have a friend like Gini Florer, who is apparently very popular because her google searches end up on my blog weekly, you tend to become a worker bee. That designation is just fine with me.

Every detail was covered and she had assignments for us all down to who would fill the punch bowl and who would open the champagne. That was my job because I'm so strong. Well, not really, but mainly because no one else wanted to be held responsible if anyone was over-served.

It all came off beautifully and to the naked eye, without a hitch. That would be without a hitch if you didn't include Jennifer showing up early and pretty darn proud of herself for being the first one on the scene until she realized she was at the wrong house. She had to call the guest of honor to find out where the party she was hosting was being held.

And what about Carey who was at the grocery store at 6:15 in sweats, no make-up and her hair in a ponytail without a care in the world...until she realized she also was hosting a party for her best friend across town in 45 minutes.

Or the person, who will remain unnamed who arrived early enough to help but forgot to eat dinner so, after realizing the champagne on an empty stomach was going to take me, I mean her, down an unfortunate path continued to sneak in Gini's pantry all night and eat an entire bag of cheetos. Gini doesn't cook so the options were pretty limited.

We wiped water rings off of tables with the hems of our dresses, shot corks into the neighbors yard and hosted vigorously in an effort to earn points with Gini who can be, um, particular. We saw old friends, new friends and celebrated with great joy another member of our extended family.

I'm still feeling those Cheetos this morning.