Friday, October 31, 2008

It's been a long week.

In an effort to take up enough space to move my prom picture down on the screen, this is going to be a really long post.

Really.

Super long.

It's going to be hard because I don't have any good ideas.

I wish there was a way to increase the spacing so it would appear longer. Kind of like I did on all college papers.

My lack something intelligent to say may have something to do with the week we've had; and that you can buy large bags of little boxes of Milk Duds to give out for Halloween. I have two left - little boxes,not bags - so I hope we don't have a lot of trick-or-treaters.

I may have to resort to handing out packets of ketchup. Whenever I'm at McDonald's or Chick Fila, I take a couple of extra so I can put them in my kids lunches with their chicken nuggets. I have 1.48 million packets. It's not stealing because we never use our ketchup packet allotment when we're in the restaurant. There is an allotment, right?

If not, could you wait until a less stressful time to tell me I've been unknowingly stealing from McDonald's and Chick-Fila for the past couple of years? Maybe in 2011.

We didn't hear what we'd hoped from Abe's Neurologist the other day and the news has been a blow. Although we know in our heads that we are promised only what is His very best and our ways are truly not His ways, we still, in our flesh, have expectations of what our lives, and those of our children will look like. Laying those expectations aside is painful and requires us to come once again before the throne of grace where His strength is made perfect in weakness.

We love this child, this family, and pray that the Lord will equip all of us to be the hands and feet of Christ in their lives.

Ya'll have a great Halloween weekend.

Hopefully this is long enough to push my prom picture off of your screen...

Now?...

What about now?...

...yeah, I think we're good.

*

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Confession #2.

My memory has again, failed me.

Back in the day, when I was attending my senior prom...


...apparently, I actually did wear long white satin gloves.


I'm pretty sure, in 1990, there was no such thing as over-the-top.

Now, go read this and this and PLEASE pray for my nephew Abe. Many of you have walked with the Alexander family through the miracle of adoption and, although Abe is home and immeasurably loved, it seems the journey continues.

We worship a God who, above all, loves us beyond comprehension. He calls us to fear not, and upholds us with his righteous right hand. He will be glorified, and He is good.

"He who did not spare His only Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"

We do not know what those "all things" look like, but, we pray with sure hope in the promise that they will be for our good and His glory. Amen.

And, yes, I did totally change the subject. How can you make fun of my prom picture in light of sweet Abe without looking totally insensitive?

I know. You can't. I did that on purpose.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Parenting...so close.

"Mom, can I get onto the computer?"

"Have you finished ALL of your homework?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Have you cleaned your room?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Really cleaned it?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Have you taken out the trash?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Ok, then, you can get on for a little while."

"Whew! I gotta play Battlefront. I mean, those Clone Troopers aren't gonna kill themselves."

Fabulous.

*

Breakfast in Bed

Trey was out of town for several (read: whippin') days and we've been crazy busy. We've had games, birthday parties, Bike-a-Thons, ACT tests, work, school, end of season parties, and trips to Sonic for a Route 44. They were all totally necessary but driving them all single handedly has worn me out.

We (I) slept in this morning then my precious children brought me breakfast in bed. Mini-bagels with American cheese, and unsweetened iced tea. EXACTLY what I would have ordered. EXACTLY.

They ate almost all of my breakfast and then Sadie brought me the bill. While I was thinking, "I'm being charged for this?", Sadie asked, "How much are you going to tip us, Mommy? Can you give us each five dollars?"

Generosity abounds at the Hill house.

Sadie actually didn't eat any of my breakfast. Apparently, while she was helping cook, she found a gummy worm under the microwave and ate it so she was all good.

Graham, in anticipation of his daddy coming home asked if he could decorate the house with string. They've done this before and literally every chair, table, and lamp is attached to each other with string. I'm pretty sure it's not exactly the welcome home Trey would hope for.

Instead, we TiVo'd the Cowboy game and had it all ready for his watching pleasure when he walked through the door.

I'm not sure I've ever been more glad to see his face.

On another note, I did find one picture of my prom date and I in all our crowned glory but can't figure out how to get in onto the computer. I keep rubbing the picture on the screen but nothing happens. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Confession.

Can we talk?

I need to tell you something.

Sit down.

You're probably already sitting because you're on a computer.

I've been cheating.

That's right cheating.

Cheating on my blog with......Facebook.

I know.

I'm sorry.

Wait! Don't leave. Let me explain.

It's not you. Not you at all. It's me.

IgaveintopeerpressureandinnocentlycreatedapageandthenIcouldsee
allmyoldfriendsfromHigh SchoolandCollegeandtheyhavechildrenand
husbandsandwivesandfacialhair!


But please, listen, I promise I won't let my relationship with FaceBook t come between us. I know I've neglected you the past two days that I've spent on FaceBook but you're not alone. I haven't showered, my kids had Fruit Roll-Ups for dinner, and my bearded dragon's crickets escaped all over my house.

I actually think my relationship with FaceBook may enhance the one we already have.

It will make it stronger.

Four minutes after joining, I received this picture.


I'm in the very back. And I'm really tan. Was it because the weather had been so sunny and warm and I tan easily, or maybe because I had the month-pass at Tan City?

Here's a hint. I had skin cancer when I was 23.

The picture is from my Senior Prom and we all talked our mother's into spending obscene amounts of money on dresses because we promised we'd also wear them in our weddings.

I have since repented for lying. Lying like a dog on a floor because I had to have that big beautiful bundle of matte satin and would say anything to get it.

She drew the line at the elbow length gloves. I coveted those gloves but have since thanked her in my mind for not letting me go overboard. I mean the gloves would have been too much. The rest of my ensemble was totally subtle.

I was Prom Queen because I had the biggest hair.

It was the one and only qualification and, obviously, there was some serious competition.

I had a secret weapon.

Aussie Super Scrunch Spray.

Ok, not so secret, but super and a weapon if there ever was one.

My nickname in high school was Booger.

Don't gross out, it was because of my very hard-to-pronounce maiden name.

Love you, Daddy!

My prom date's last name was equally unfortunate and his nickname was Boner.

He was Prom King.

In one evening, we managed to totally strip the honor and dignity from the titles, King and Queen.

I've missed you, blog.

You. Complete. Me.

And what totally humiliates us can also make us stronger.

*

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I don't think it means what you think it means.

Out of her sincere love for me and my marriage, or guilt for getting me started on a home improvement project that was way out of my league, my friend Jennifer kept our kids Friday night so Trey and I could have a whole 24 hours alone.

On our way out for the afternoon, we dropped Dea off at work. He sweetly asked what we were going to do all night.

I told him we were going to meet up wit our crew and hit the clubs.

He started laughing so I, again, not knowing when to quit, kept on, "We gonna stay up all night rollin' from club to club in our tight suburban with the 16" rims and I'm gonna get my freak on."

Crickets chirping.

Then Trey and Dea look at each other and burst out laughing.

"MaMelissa, do you know what 'get your freak on' means?"

"Totally. It means to dance. Duh."

Trey was still laughing.

"No. Not exactly. Mr. Trey, you can wait until I get out of the car to tell her what it means."

I think I'm asking for a ghetto slang dictionary for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My knight in a red pickup truck.

The other day, my friend Jennifer came over and, after a brief but thorough eval. of my dining room, decided my table needed a little TLC.

She is a firm believer in Briwax and believes it can cover many of the ills of cheap furniture. What we were working with was a pretty nice, albeit dated, dining room set that Trey purchased as a housewarming gift for me when we moved in five years ago. He bought the whole thing, table and 8 chairs, at a resale shop in West Dallas for $250. Some days, our marriage is held together by the thin thread of our mutual love of a bargain.

The table and chairs have seen better days. Apparently those better days would be those in which a thick coat of reddish lacquer was all the rage. Jennifer promised me that by simply stripping the top of the table and rubbing it with Briwax, it would be like a whole new piece of furniture. She came over to help me and stayed about 27 minutes. I think it was her way of empowering me. Honestly, I thought if I acted clueless enough, she'd just go ahead and do the whole thing for me. I was wrong. After a few hours of stripping, sanding, and waxing, I did finish the table. It looks great.

Unfortunately, I am absolutely incapable of leaving well enough alone. I decided the whole thing would look even better if I stripped and refinished the chairs, too. Over the weekend.

Here's what the chairs looked like before.


I quickly realized my "easy little weekend project" was indeed going to do a lifetime of sanctification in one fail swoop. See what I'm doing here? I'm scrubbing off the acid I put on the chairs, trying to peel away that lacquer.

And, I'm wearing a HazMat uniform because I kept burning myself with the chemicals.

Here's my garage three days later.

Not a whole lot of progress. I had only partially stripped two of the eight chairs and was in a fetal position on the garage floor sucking my thumb, crying.

I asked Trey if he wanted to help me and he laughed. LAUGHED. He knew I was in way over my head and wanted no part of the fiasco that had become our dining room set.

In a moment of great compassion and pity, he told me I could call someone to help me strip the chairs. I'll still need to refinish them but at least a professional will help with part of it that was causing my great angst.

Craig, of Craig's Furniture from Craigs List (awesome), showed up this morning bright and early to take my blues, and my chairs, away.

When he saw my garage, he laughed too.

Hopefully he can take the lemons I have given him and make some sweet, sweet lemonade.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why I don't have a recipe for you this week.

I was all set to whip up a little sussy for you and give you a recipe Thursday night while about ten kids played around in my house.

Through the door ran my little neighbor looking for Angela, our 11 year old neighbor who was playing upstairs with Olivia and Sadie.

Her little puppy had been hit by a car.

She was, for the fourth time this year, heartbroken. This family loves animals but does not necessarily have the the ability to really care for the animals they adopt. They often bring home puppies someone has given them but neither feed them consistently or give them shelter. These puppies are left to roam the streets all day, often coming to our house looking for the dog food we store in our garage.

This little guy was probably just ten weeks old and had been living at their house for at least a month. He's always left in the front yard and tonight, he ran out in front of a car. A 15 year old niece had been staying in the house and was showing off how she could back the car down the driveway when she hit the dog. Three other of their puppies have died this exact same way in the last six months.

When I got out there, Angela was crying hysterically and trying to clear the dead puppy from the road. Her mother was cussing a blue streak at the children trying to find out what happened since the niece had lied and said she had not been driving the car.

I asked Angela if I could please take care of the little puppy corpse so she could go inside and not have to see the mess. My kids had also run outside so I told Darius to take them in as well. We have enough kids crawling into our bed at night as it is. We don't need anything that could cause extra nightmares.

The whole incident was really sad but really frustrating, too. Angela came over to our house and called her dad. She told him she wanted to come live with him or at the very least, get a new puppy. In my mind, it would just be more of the same and the dog would probably meet a similar demise. She also said that she wanted her cousin, who hit the dog, to move out. Along with puppies, the family also has a penchant for taking in troubled relatives. The last cousin that lived with them broke into our house one day while we were out and stole a bunch of stuff.

Band-aids and knee jerk reactions are common everywhere, I know. There's so much chaos with this neighborhood and this family in particular it's maddening when you see the same mistakes being made over and over again and apparently no change in behavior or decision making.

Prayerfully, we'll see this change over time. If not, I may have to install a electronic dog fence in their yard one day while they're gone. It could totally work. Maybe not for the cousins, but at least for the puppies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm pretty sure Mary Poppins wasn't a Kappa Kappa Gamma either.

The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma have a wonderful, annual, charity event in Dallas called Kappa Tablescapes. Various designers, boutiques, and businesses submit tables, amazingly decorated, and ranging from the most elegant to the most whimsical. Several non-profit organizations are chosen each year as beneficiaries of the event and, this year, Mercy Street was one of those.

There are two main events associated with Tablescapes; a cocktail party which Trey and I attended last night, and a luncheon this morning attended by me and my very special date, Sadie. She's pretty fun at luncheons. She was asleep on my lap two minutes into the speaker's presentation and, at lunch, thanks to Hannah, we were probably the only table that put the whole "everything on your plate is edible" theory to the test and ate the flower garnish. Sadie's eyes were as big as saucers when she saw Hannah down that sucker. It's behavior like this that most likely got me cut from Kappa during rush way back in 1990. That or my grades. It was one of the two. Maybe both.

After lunch I received a phone call from my friend, Carrie. You remember her, right? The Enchiladas? Yeah, that one. She had herself a little problem and I was the one she thought could provide her a solution.

It seems that, for a day or so, she had been hearing some noises from her chimney.

Noises?!? What kind of noises?

Cat noises.

She wanted me to come over and get the cat out of her chimney.

One day, when I have lots of time to sit on a beach and practice deep introspection, I'm going to examine what it is that made her think I was the go-to-girl when you have a cat stuck in the chimney. I don't have that time now and prayerfully, never will.

What I did do was pick my children up from carpool and prep them on the rescue mission at hand. Olivia informed me that on Fox News she once saw a story about a fireman who performed CPR on a cat and saved it's life.

"Do you think you could do it if we needed you, Liv?"

"I got your back, Mom."

"Awesome."

Did I mention that I was still wearing these shoes?


Not exactly ideal for search and rescue.

Indeed, there was a cat stuck in Carrie's chimney. I realized this when I was halfway inside the thing. In my Kappa Tablescapes luncheon dress.

Olivia only got half as dirty as I did having a turn trying to save the cat.

Tadaaaa. And no mouth to mouth recessetation necessary.


Here's the rescue team in all our sooty glory.


The name on the cat's collar is Cleo, and we think she's in heat.

*

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where has the week gone.

I'm sitting here at my computer. It's 5:30 in the morning. I should be exercising but instead, I'm eating a brownie, drinking a glass of milk, and trying to figure out where the last week went. None of those things are good for my thighs.

We didn't have school on Friday for the Annual Texas State Fair. WHOOHOO!! Except, I boycotted the fair this year. I know. If you live in Dallas, you may want to come over and burn a corndog in my yard for such blasphemy but I did it and you know what, I don't feel a bit bad about it.

I've had two children get lost at the fair. Doesn't that make you want me to babysit your kids? One of those episodes resulted in my son needing to keep me in his sights at all times for about a year. It was all fine and good until I had to go to the bathroom.

If every person in our family ate one corndog and split a drink (which would cause ten minutes of arguing over Sprite or Lemonade), the grand total would be about $55 and seriously, I can't eat just one of babies. I need about three to feel like my time was well spent.

And that doesn't include the funnel cakes, the candy apples, the chicken fried bacon that we'd have to try, and all the games and rides. It's pretty hard to get out of the Fair with a family of 8 for less than $200.

Two words; TOTAL WHIPPIN'.

So, I boycotted the State Fair of Texas and thankfully, Trey agreed. Sorry Big Tex.

Instead, we took the kids out to Cedar Hill State Park where we hiked, swam, picnic-ed, and played, all for about $15.

The highlight was seeing huge vultures eating a dead something. My kids went crazy because the birds were almost as big as they were.

We also told them to watch out for bobcats. "Sadie, can you tell me the difference between a bobcat and a regular cat?"

"Uh huh, A regular cat is like Caddy Woodlawn and a bobcat will scratch your face off."

Nice Sadie. Really, what else do you expect from a child who dresses like this about 75% of the time?

That's Darth Sadar and she knows a thing or two about bobcats.

Right at the end of our day, just before we were about to load up in the car, Scout and Fern found a little stagnant pond and came out looking like this.

It made the ride home so fun and really smelly.


I didn't think it was possible for her to get any uglier but, indeed, it is.

Darius went to Six Flags with some friends on Saturday.

He was a little scared to ride the rides so we thought a helmet might make him feel safer. Trey tried to bribe him into wearing the thing the whole time he was at the park but, to a high school sophomore, nothing is more valuable than your image. Nothing.

Case in point. Don't smile for pictures.

That is definitely against the code. Definitely. Even when you're wearing a Barbie helmet.


Oh, Tom cracked. Don't do it Tom! Don't smile.

That's better, Tom. Now, Darius, you gotta hang in there, buddy. The camera's almost put away, then you can smile. Until then, channel Ice T from 'Boyz in the Hood'. I think Charlie and John (in the back) have been practicing in front of the mirror at home. They're good. Real good.

Tom obviously hasn't mastered his ghetto gangsta look, yet. We'll have to work on it.

*

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Johnny Lee would be so proud.

When we got Caddy Woodlawn several months ago, we forgot two things.

1. That we had sworn off adding any more pets to our family.

2. To have her spayed.

Now, she's in heat.

When we told Darius, he thought it had something to do with her temperature.

I will keep that little nugget in my back pocket until the next time he makes fun of my cooking or the way I dance.

She is a little nocturnal which has made for some interesting nights. She walks around the house all night meowing so loud it sounds like either howling or a really mad baby.

That's exactly the stage of life we thought we were finally out of.

Every time I hear her cry longlingly for a he-cat or or see her fnuggle up to Fern, I think of the song, "Lookin' for Love".

The song is now stuck in my head.

It makes me want to watch Urban Cowboy all over again.

It may have been the pinnacle of John Travolta's career. With his role in Grease coming in a close second.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A little Red Raider follow up.

Trey and Dea had an incredible time at Tech and came back fired up with some reservations. In some ways, I don't think Dea knew exactly how to categorize the whole thing. He loved the campus, the people he met and the amenities he saw but, as Emily and I were saying tonight, he doesn't come into contact with peers who have gone to college like we did in high school. My high school experience pretty much looked like this...


And his looks more like this...

Mine may be slight exaggeration. I mean, obviously, I'm not blonde, but Dea's, well, it pretty much looks like that except this year, they're wearing uniforms.

So much of college life is a foreign language to him. The unfamiliar is scary and Tech seems pretty far away. He's said several times how long the drive is and he'd like to still be able to see his brothers and us more often than he thought might be feasible. Even the verbiage is new to him. Majors, minors, credit hours, dorms, etc are words he's just unfamiliar with. I think the unfamiliarity makes it difficult to see himself there in just a few short months.

We deal with that a lot in this neighborhood with kids really not being able to imagine or dream outside of the reality they've grown up with.

I remember Trey and Quincy talking about Quince one day owning a car. Quincy couldn't imagine why he would need a car because the bus would take him everywhere he could ever want to go. Quincy never imagined himself on the beach or in the mountains or across an ocean. The same is holding true with Dea, just to a different degree. He wants to get out of the 'hood but can't really imagine himself anywhere besides either West Dallas or a in mansion like the rappers' on YouTube.

We're trying to show him that there's a whole lotta real estate between those two extremes.

Whether it be Tech or a more superior school down south in College Station, we're hoping to help him take off the West Dallas lenses through which he views the world and put on a bigger pair of glasses.

Lord, may you be glorified in this process and point this young man in the direction you've known for him since before one of his days came to pass.

Friday, October 3, 2008

College Road Trip.

This is Trey and Dea at 5:15 this morning. I am behind the camera and apparently unable to focus the thing because of the dark, early hour that it is.


They're going to visit Texas Tech.
"Get your guns up!"
Precisely the opposite motto we've been teaching the kids in the 'hood for the past five years, but I'm rolling with it.


Dea really would love to go to Tech in the fall so Trey's taking him to visit the campus this weekend. They're going to an orientation, to the Admissions Office, to tour the campus, and to a kegger at the SAE House. Ok, maybe not the kegger, but Dea was so stinkin' excited he could barely stand it. I think he packed enough clothes for a week.

The prospect of college to Dea was certainly not off his radar a year ago but somewhat of a distant dream. I'm so thankful we have to privilege to walk with him through this next huge step in his life.

Please pray for their safety, encouragement, affirmation, and that, while he's in Lubbock, he'll change his mind and decide he really wants to go to the school of all schools, Texas A&M.
Gig Em.

You can't blame me for trying.

*

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How I know fall is here.

Or, another title for this post might be "How I drive our family into financial ruin."

Hi. My name's Melissa and I'm a bargain hunter.

Hello, Melissa.

As much as I talk about shopping at Nordstroms, I rarely shop anywhere but Target and Old Navy, and maybe Forever 31. That's not a typo, it's my way of convincing myself that I haven't completely aged past that store with all its cheapness.

I think my buying habits changed when it became important that a store have shopping carts for all my children. If it had the kind with the little car attached, even better. It also may have something to do with the whole 'being in ministry' thing. It's not exactly the highest paying industry out there and our people wouldn't exactly appreciate Nanette Lepore.

Every fall, though, I lose sight of myself, our budget, Dave Ramsay, and a little bit of wisdom, and buy these.

This is the most delicious apple ever, ever, EVER. It's called a Honeycrisp and it's sour and sweet and crunchy and they're only available for a couple of months each fall. It's a miracle of nature that exists for a brief period. It's like the Aurora Borealis. At least that's in Texas. If you tell me you can get them year-round I may die of jealousy. And if you tell me you have a Honeycrisp apple tree growing in your backyard, well, just don't.

Because they're only around for a short time, the market is apparently very high for these babies because they cost about $2.50. A piece. Don't you love capitalism?

But, despite my husband's objections to the price, we love them and it's like a little fun thing to look forward to each fall. We don't buy shoes and we ride our bikes everywhere to save on gas but we eat the fire out of these apples.

So, I don't have a recipe this week because cooking these might be sacrilege. They're best just sliced and eaten in a dark corner where no one can find you so you don't have to share.

I'm pretty sure, when all is said and done, we're going to find out this is the fruit Eve ate in the garden. It might explain a little.

*