Thursday, November 27, 2008

It was a Happy Thanksgiving.

Last night, our family played a little game where everyone writes down five of their favorite things and we go around the table and successful guesses earn you points.

Here were Trey's five.
1. Bass Fishing
2. Bottle Rocket (An obscure independent film made by and starring Luke and Owen Wilson.)
3. The Office
4. Family
5. Meat

Do you notice anything peculiar?

Me too. I got lumped into the family group with Trey's second-cousin-thrice-removed, Phyllis.

My only consolation was that Jesus also didn't make his list so I'm in pretty good company.

I'm not going to say it hurt my feelings, really, but I milked it for a good six hours just for fun.

We had a great day with family and friends but the day's sweetest gift to Trey and I came after we had gotten home and settled in to watch the A&M/UT slaughter, I mean game.

Dea and Darius sat down and handed us a three page note they had written on the computer.

It said this...

6 Hills + 2 Jones = 1 Family

We have never had a family like this one. This family is so great. It's very hard to be down in the Hill's house. Sometimes I get sad thinking of my past but when I walk in the house, it's a light of happiness shining on me. We are so happy to live with you all. (Tee, Graham, Olivia, Sadie, Mr. Trey, and Melissa)
Melissa (Momma Lissa) is a non-stop hard working woman. She makes sure the food is done on time, clothes is washed when needed, money is provided when needed and etc. We love her. She made us feel welcome when we first walked in the doors of the Hill's house. It's a blessing to have a step-mother like her.

Same for Trey Hill (Brett Farve). He is a hard working man. He is busy a lot, but still somehow pulls it through to hang with us, his kids, and wife.

We love this family and am glad to be a part of it. For a second, we thought we was at the end of our road. Until, God blessed us with a great family. He saved us. This was a true blessing to us. We hope you all are happy to have us, because we are thankful for you all.

Love,
Dea and Darius

Trey and I were left speechless and in tears and thankful for the gifts these young men have been to our whole family over the past year. There are certainly many days, like yesterday, when we are discouraged and heartbroken, and wondering what the Lord's got in store. This was truly a sweet gift of encouragement that we both needed.

It almost made up for me not getting top billing on Trey's list.

Totally kidding.

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

*

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A phone call.

Yesterday afternoon, our family went to watch Darius play a basketball game across town. During the game, a boy from the freshmen team sat down next to Trey. He seemed downcast and when Trey asked why, he replied that he'd call him later.

This morning, he called.

His family had no food for Thanksgiving and could Mercy Street, or us, please help them out?

Mercy Street had 270 mentors deliver Thanksgiving baskets to their kids this year. Additional baskets were put aside for the staff to deliver to families who may have been missed or that they personally knew would be in need of a meal.

Even with that effort, there are still countless families in our community that won't have food this Thanksgiving. This one in particular has probably received the most help from the ministry over the course of several years. The mother, grandmother, and stepfather have been continually in Trey's office asking for rent assistance, jobs, groceries, and legal help. Their children have had great mentors who have walked alongside them through the chaos that has defined their lives. Because of this help, and their apparent willingness to continue to lean Mercy Street for bailouts, Trey is frustrated and feels like he's simply becoming part of their revolving door.

What stops us in our tracks down the path of judgment, and breaks our hearts, is the fact that, not the crack addicted mother, nor the grandmother, nor the stepfather but, a 15 year old boy picked up the phone to call Trey and ask for food.

We've used the same Thanksgiving recipes for years and we joke that it would almost be heresy to deviate from them.

These kids probably don't have any traditional recipes like we do, because, for years, they've simply eaten whatever came in the Thanksgiving basket that was donated for them.

Poverty is like a solvent that is stripping away the dignity of these children year after year.

Please pray for this family, for this child, his brothers and sisters, and all those in our community; that they may know the hope of the Living God even this very hour.

I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.
Ps. 140:12


*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's ruined me forever on other popcorn, popcorn.

With Sadie out of town, Tee at a birthday party, Dea and Darius playing basketball for hours on end, Trey and Graham having a Dude's Night Out at Bass Pro, my beautiful girl, Olivia, and I were left with a night all to ourselves.

With a little brother coming just thirteen months behind her, sometimes I get the feeling she got pushed off my lap a little too soon. When we can, we try to get some time together to catch up, and do what girls like to do. Eat and watch High School Musical 3.

We had such a great time, I found out all the deep dark secrets of the playground, her Littlest Pet Shop Journal, and who she square danced with at Living History Day. It's what I love about having girls; they'll actually give you information instead of the cursory, "Grunt. I don't know. Grunt. Feed me."

Dinner was great and the movie was so fun to watch with Olivia dancing in her seat next to me. I know, I know, you've all seen it and have been singing the songs in the shower for weeks. We're a little slow at the Hill house because, unless we want to take out a second mortgage, we can only see movies in the "big theater", as we like to call it, in groups of two. We usually wait until they hit the Dollar Theater before we take the whole gang.

Whilst in the theater (practicing my King James English for you), I was tempted, as I often am, to buy the biggest, butteryest, box of movie popcorn they had. Something, though, was wrong. I looked at that normally tantalizing, orangy-yellow popcorn and wanted it not.

What was wrong with me? Something has died inside of me and I must find out the cause.

About a third of the way into Troy's fourth song; so about three minutes into the movie, it came to me.

It's this...

I'm calling it, Ruined Me Forever on Other Popcorn, Popcorn.

My friend Jody gave me this recipe and it is so easy and delightful I just have to share it with the rest of the world. Or, you two.

Best of all, you probably have all the ingredients right in your house except for the popcorn kernels that come in a bag and not that, gasp, microwave kind. You need the real, old-fashioned kind that are on the very top shelf of your grocery store, right next to the fat free beef jerky.

It's sweet, it's salty, it's crunchy and perfect for all the football games your bound to watch this weekend but, beware, it may ruin you on all other popcorn. Forever.

If you can handle that, let's get to whippin' up this bad boy!

First, you take a big stock pot, like the kind you make a hearty winter's stew in and put that baby on your stove.


Pour in 1/4 cup of corn oil. It tastes the best but in a pinch, of if you're just passive aggressive, you can use vegetable. I have so that should tell you something.

Next, turn your burner up to about mid-mid-high. About 6 and 1/2 on a heat scale of 1-10. I know this is a lot of numbers but put away your calculators and bear with me.

Pour in 1/2 cup of kernels and wait.


Wait...

Wait for it...

POP!

That's it! That's what I'm talking about! When a few of the kernels start popping, sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the kernels and close that lid. You need to do this fast or the popping corn might fly up and hit you in the eye and my insurance won't cover that. Now, with your lid tightly on, get in touch with your great-great ancestors who did not have microwave popcorn, and shake that pot back and forth.

You may not hear anything for a second because the sugar will temporarily cool down the oil but don't open the lid. Whatever. You. Do.

Keep shaking and soon you'll hear the delightful sound of popping. When it dies down to a second between pops, quickly dump that sweet, crunchy goodness into a big bowl before the sugar burns and it makes you cry.

Now, take about a teaspoon of Kosher Salt and sprinkle it all over your heavenly snack. Again, you can go getting all passive aggressive on me and use table salt, but don't.

Toss the popcorn to distribute all the salt and serve.

I always have little vultures waiting to get the first bite.

How 'bout taking some human bites, Darius?


Enjoy!

*

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just in case she's learned to read, too.

Dear Sadie,

Yesterday afternoon, I put you, my youngest, precious, baby girl, on an airplane with your Uncle Joey and let you fly all the way to San Antonio for three whole days.

THREE WHOLE DAYS
!

I waited for you to go through security because I was sure you wouldn't make it and I wanted to be right there when you decided you couldn't leave me for so long. Instead, you blew me a kiss and put your pink princess suitcase on the conveyor belt, thereby wrapping the very large security guard around your little finger.

Just as we were driving out of the airport, Uncle Joey called and I knew I was going to have to make a U-Turn and come and fetch you. Instead, he told me ya'll were sitting in Chili's having a big lemonade with a bendy straw and therefore the time of your life. You're pretty easy to please.

This morning, I woke up early, gassed up the car, got dressed and ready for the long drive I would certainly have to make to go and get my homesick little doodle. Instead, you were still sound asleep after a night of smores, non-stop play with your cousins, all topped off with a double-stuffed oreo snack right before bed. Seriously, who can compete with that?

I know you're getting bigger and you've even learned to ride your SeaStar bicycle.


You can even dress yourself, though judging from this picture, you may be fashionably challenged.


But the fact that you're miles away from me and not missing me even a little tiny bit is more than I can take. I want to be a fly on the wall, listening to your conversations and hearing you belly laugh. And making sure you put on a matching outfit.

I know it's impossible but, sometimes, when I see you growing up and doing things without my help, I wish I could laminate you and keep you little, and four, forever.

I love you, stinker.
Mommy

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Car wash.

Trey and I only have one car that will carry our entire family at once so, inevitably, it's always the dirtiest and stinkiest in our fleet. Our fleet of two; so only a fleet in my mind.

Over the past couple of weeks of scurrying from school, to baseball, to gymnastics, to dinner, to school and back again, my car had become, let me think of a word, um, wait, let me check the Thesaurus, pigpenish and unsanitary. I think those words should paint a sufficient picture for you.

I was driving into the sun and literally couldn't see out the windows because of all of the fingerprints so yesterday I splurged and took the beast to a carwash. They promised to send me away driving a spotless car smelling like apple blossoms in the springtime. Or, maybe New Car Scent, but either way, better than crushed up Cheese Nips, socks, and stale Diet Coke.

They totally delivered. Best $18.95 I've spent in a long, long time.

When I picked the kids up from school I quickly established two new rules. 1. No touching the windows - which should last until the first time the windows fog up and everyone wants to draw stick figures picking their noses. 2. No eating in the car. I'm serious about this one. For a brief moment, I tried to figure out a way to have a 'No eating in the house' rule. Would that be going too far?

Anyway, here's my dilemma: Graham is home sick today. He's got an upset stomach and a headache. Classic symptoms for the stomach virus. We're fine now but in a couple of hours, I've got to go pick up carpool and he's going to have to get in my car. My. Clean. Car.

I love that little booger but if anyone is going to throw up in my car, it's gonna be him. He'll run past two bathrooms to find you and tell you he's sick just before he throws up on your shoes.

What, as a loving parent, can I reasonably do to love on him and keep my car clean at the same time? I know I can't tie him to the roof, I mean, if he got sick up there, it would still get all over my car. I also can't make him drive with his head sticking out the window, that would be plain cruel. I think I'm just going to have to dress him in a trash bag and have him hold a garbage can in front of him the whole time. That way, if he does get sick, it's somewhat contained; at least until I have to slam on my brakes because the lady in front of me is talking on her cell phone and almost misses her turn.

Or, maybe, as I'm sitting here looking at his pitiful-self about to spill Gatorade all down the front of his shirt, I just need to realize that a clean car was not in the cards for me when the Lord gave me four, and now six children. I'm pretty sure there will be a time when my car won't be covered with fingerprints, my couch won't have Sharpie on it, and my front yard will actually grow grass.

For now, it seems as though I'm supposed to work on growing children instead; ones that have my fingerprints all over them and the Lord's Sharpie on their hearts.

But mark my words, when they get older, I'm riding shotgun in their cars with a strawberry milkshake in each hand.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't drink the water.

I know I've been writing about our trip for the past several posts and I'm not promising this will be my last. From that you should be able to conclude two things: 1. nothing funny is happening around the house, and 2. I don't get away very often. That being said, I'm totally milking this trip for all I can because, before too long, I'll be cleaning out the litter box of a cat I'm tolerating at best.

Sorry Caddy Woodlawn, but it's true. Totally true.

I've been thinking about all that was discussed among the several speakers at the conference last weekend but there's one story that was told that keeps coming back to me.

Winston Smith was speaking Saturday morning and told of the training of Navy sailors. Engraved into their minds, like eating and sleeping, is the understanding that if they are ever stranded at sea, they are never to drink the ocean water.

It sounded like simple instructions to me, and to Mr. Smith. If you've ever been swimming in the ocean and had the salty water accidentally splash into your mouth, you understand that it might be the very last thing you would ever want to drink on purpose.

Mr. Smith continued to explain, however, that our bodies can survive without food for weeks upon end but water is an entirely different story. After just a couple of days, depending on your circumstances, lack of water is a death sentence. What happens then, to a sailor stranded on the open sea, is that he would look around at all that water and begin to drink it, even if it was just to put something wet in his mouth and, by drinking it, he would only expedite his death.

Ya'll, I'm just like that sailor.

I know I can't be filled by anything but Christ but, when I'm thirsty, I look around at all the things that look refreshing and I gulp them down. I scoop them up by the handful and try to quench a thirst that can only be abated by the Living Water.

Be it affirmation, esteem, praise of my husband, praise of my children, money, home accessories, or this, it is the saltiest ocean water in disguise. It promises to quench whatever is my 'thirst du jour' (I'm totally bi-lingual). When I use it to replace what is genuinely refreshing, it will only dry my very bones.

I, again, and again, keep coming back to the very basics of Scripture. We are created to become thirsty, but it is a thirst that can only be quenched by Him who says this about himself...

...“Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never become thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a well of water for him, springing up to eternal life.”

I know so much was said at the conference, and this is certainly not all I learned, but it's simple truth has convicted me once again. We have been given great freedom to live this life surrounded by an ocean of the saltiest sea-water and never needing to drink one drop.

I pray, as we enter this holiday season, I'll take hold of this truth like never before.


*

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheesesteak Wars.

We're on our way home from a weekend in Philadelphia. I'm listening to the gentleman behind me talk all too loudly about his 21 year old daughter starting a fist fight in a bar in Longview.

With a guy.

Obviously, we're on the Texas leg of our flight. Yeehaw.

My mind is swimming with all that we learned this weekend. CCEF is an incredible resource in biblical counseling for anyone dealing with broken people and broken families - or broken people and families dealing with each other - so it pretty much makes a great resource for all of us.

Trey and I were able to sneak away for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon in a attempt to put to rest, once and for all, a great debate that has plagued Philadelphia for over 40 years.

Pat's or Geno's.

Philly cheesesteaks people. They make the world go round.

There has been a fairly well-known rivalry brewing in Philadelphia between these two cheese steak shops. They're right across the street from each other so it's like Archie Bunker and Michael Stivic in 'All in the Family' only without all the hugging.

I totally lost you on that reference, didn't I? I know. Sorry.

Trey and I were determined to try both and have our own little cheesesteak taste-off. We're CRAZY fun like that. CRAZY FUN.

We divided and conquered by standing in our respective lines that wrapped around the building. Trey at Geno's...

...me at Pat's.

I was thankful for the line because it took me that long to practice how to order. "Whiz pepper-steak, wit." That meant I wanted a cheese steak with cheese-whiz (not even close to a food but lining the windows in giant cans), and grilled peppers and onions. Basically, all my 5:30am workouts were about to be negated in one meal.

I felt ready. More ready than I've ever been. Until I got to the window and started laughing. The guy taking my order thought I was neither funny or cute and almost sent me to the back of the line, just like the sign promises.

Trey went to Geno's. Geno's is obviously the new guy in town; cleaner-looking and the people weren't as rude. No doubt that it was because he ordered correctly and with a perfectly straight face.

We sat outside as pigeons flew overhead and listened to several people drop the "f-bomb" like it was the word "the". We ate to our hearts content. Maybe not to our cardiologists' content but our hearts seemed pretty happy.

We were unanimous in our decision.

We loved the flavor, the bread, and the seemingly reduced likelihood of being verbally assaulted.

Geno's wins!

Geno's, you have captured our greatest cheese steak affection. We didn't actually know we had cheese steak affection that had gone untapped but, apparently, we did. We ate three.

And Philly, although we saw little of you, thank you for rocking our world with your sandwich. And thank you, Lord, for time away with Trey to be washed in your Word, refreshed and renewed.

*

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blue Ribbon Banana Caramel Pie.

Banana Caramel Pie

First make some delicious pie crust or use Pillsbury refrigerated dough because it's easy and who has time to make pie crust from scratch? Then boil a can of eagle brand milk for 4 hours. You just take the label off the can submerge in a big pot of water and boil it. Make sure you keep refilling the water as it evaporates. If the can is not submerged it could explode all over your kitchen. You actually might want to boil two cans so you and your children can eat the other with spoons after your pie is finished. Just a thought.

The eagle brand milk will turn to the best caramel ever. Cool it down in an ice bath and put it in the fridge for an hour or so. Then pour in into the pie crust. Slice up 2 or 3 bananas on top of the caramel, then put cool whip on top. Use the whole tub. Then, crush Macadamia nuts and sprinkle them on top. Toast them if you're feeling extra naughty.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm not trying to be morbid. Really.

We've had an amazing day listening to some incredible men of faith teach on addictions and the redeeming, and wholly cleansing love of Christ. Men like Ed Welch and Mark Driscoll have addressed various topics through the lens of the unchanging, all sufficient, Word of God. It has been a refreshing and challenging day for all of us.

I've also realized that being a mother of six children for years has, indeed shortened my attention span and caused the part of my brain responsible for remembering names and vocabulary to atrophe.

To cover up my waning intellect, I have practiced throwing out some simple phrases in conversation to help me fit in among all the theologians and scholars.

Phrase number one: "Presuppositional apologetics". I used it twice at lunch and once in the line for the bathroom. Sweet.

Phrase number two: "Hermaneutical principle." I used that one at dinner. In the same sentence as "Webkinz". Not great, but for sure an A for effort.

Right? Riiiight.

The Getty's are leading worship all weekend and we started the day with this beautiful, beautiful song. I thought it was an old hymn but learned it was indeed written in 2002 by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. When the time comes for me to meet my Saviour face to face, I want it sung at my funeral.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

No way Trey's gonna remember that one. And, if someone would please make sure my kids are dressed cute, that would be great, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Up Up and Away

I'm sitting on a plane to Philidelphia.

Sin ninos. Chile con queso. I like to practice my Spanish now and then.

Trey and I were graciously invited to attend the Annual CCEF Conference this year with his parents. I'm so excited to get away with Trey for the weekend I can barely stand it. I'm dreaming of hours of talking and reconnecting.

Before we left, Trey downloaded the audiobook, Brothers Karamazov by Dotchievsky (or something like that), onto his iPod. It's like 40 hours-long so I'm thinking he may not share my sentiments. Every once in a while, when he's thoroughly engrossed, I like to mouth words to him. He pauses the story, removes his earphones, and politely says "what?", just in time for me to say, "Oh, nevermind.". Actually, that little trick only worked once. Now, he's just ignoring me.

The conference is on addictions within the church. As I sit typing furiously away on my blackberry, nursing my second Diet Coke of the morning, I'm once again reminded that there are no coincidences with God. The Lord may have some help because our flight attendant just shared with me that it's possible to kill a mound of fire ants with just a little Diet Coke.

"Now, honey, what do you think that's doing to your brain?"

"I don't know but can you just hand it over? I don't like to put my blackberry down any longer than I have to."

I didn't really say that.

The kids are in the very best care a mani/pedi can buy: Hannah. She picked them up for school and looked ready for the weekend. She was wearing pleated khaki pants, an embroidered Thanksgiving sweater, comfortable shoes and had her hair cut into a practical mom-bob.

Oh, I kid.

Unfortunately, she did have to drive my car which is considerably dirtier than hers.

At least if they all were stranded in the middle of no where - totally possible in Dallas - they could survive on crushed Cheese Nips for about a week.

It's what I like to call justification.

I can't wait to tell you about our trip and about everything that got broken while we were gone.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Note to self: Read the Labels.

This morning, Darius woke up with a scratchy throat. I gave him some Tylenol and then, being uber-homeopathic and preventative, I gave him some Echinacea. Sadie was still asleep in our room so I didn't turn on the light and got the medicine in the dark.

When I got home from dropping the boys off at school, I realized that instead of Echinacea, I may have inadvertently given him Herbal Colon Cleanse. The bottles look almost identical.

Oops.

Only Darius' colon and time will be able to solve this little mystery for us.

I'm giving him about an hour.

*

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Celebrating Veterans' Day.

At the grocery store the other day, Tee begged me to pick up some Hickory Farms Summer Sausage. He loves the stuff as a quick and filling snack after school. It reminded me of another young boy with deep affections for the salty, processed goodness that is Summer Sausage.

My brother, Bryan, adores it. Every Christmas, we would undoubtedly be gifted a large collection of sausage and cheeses and Bryan would be in protein heaven.

A couple of Christmases ago, while he was serving our country as a Navy SEAL in Iraq, I remembered his love for this holiday goodness and sent some over for him to enjoy. I was pretty proud of myself for thinking of it and just imagined him getting the package and being taken back to his childhood, Christmas memories, and maybe feeling a little love from home.

I think I sent him like 6 pounds of sausage.

After I placed the order, I talked to my dad who confirmed that great minds really do think alike. He had remembered the same thing about my brother but had, as parents often do, sent an even more generous Hickory Farms package.

We laughed out loud thinking of how much sausage Bryan would be getting in the mail that Christmas. A thought that was confirmed when he called and said. "Hey! I'm sitting on my bed in the middle of the desert, on the other side of the world, surrounded by pounds of Hickory Farms summer sausage and Triscuits. I sure hope I'm not still here at Easter. I can't imagine how many Peeps I'd get."

All this to say, he was away from us and we were doing what we could, albeit overkill, to give him a sense of home, family, and love while he was fighting a war on the other side of the globe.

Today is Veteran's Day and there are men and women around the country, and around the world, who have left the comforts of U.S. soil and volunteered to serve our armed forces.

Many have lost their lives in wars and many have come back to a "normal" they did not know before they left. They have experienced victory and loss with great consequence and have undoubtedly come home to find our preoccupation with things like Hollywood stars and fashion a difficult adjustment.

This Veteran's Day, please take a moment to honor a soldier, past or present, who has stepped away from home to defend the freedoms and principles of our great nation in wars, both foreign and domestic.

And if you send love in the form of food, you just might want to include some Tums just in case someone else had the same idea.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Can you clear this up for me?

Is it a house divided cannot stand or a house of vices?

If it's the latter, we may be in trouble. For thirteen years, my husband has had to venture out in all sorts of inclimate weather to get himself a cup of coffee in the morning. He's had to bear 68 degree summer mornings and 48 degree winter mornings. Hmmm, as I read that last sentence, it's not sounding like suffering but, believe you me, he has suffered.

Not being a coffee drinker myself, I never saw the need for a coffee maker. The idea of coffee grounds all over my kitchen counter day after day outweighed any romantic fantasy about waking up to the smell of fresh brewed java.

The other day I was at Target, saw a great little coffee maker, and decided Trey deserved a break. I could do this. I could program the thing to make coffee for that sweet hunk of a man every morning. I even purposed to find out just how he liked his cup of morning sunshine and bring it to him. We're keepin' the fire burnin', people. Keepin' the fire burnin'. Apparently with lots and lots of caffeine.

The first morning with our new coffee maker, we woke up to an aroma fresh from the mountains of Columbia, or Starbuck's. I was taken back to mornings at my house growing up. It was pretty sweet.

After Trey left, I decided to try a little cup myself.

With whipping cream.

After my second cup, I was officially in love. With coffee. I also cleaned my house, top to bottom, in about the time it usually takes me to blow-dry my hair. It's pretty good stuff.

I have a new vice and I think my Diet Coke is missing me. I found one 'fnuggled up on my pillow this morning. I think it snuck in from the refrigerator in the garage and tried to woo me back.

I haven't forgotten you Diet Coke. I mean, coffee is fabulous but it has it's disadvantages. Especially when you make it with whipping cream.


Ick. This would NEVER happen with my Diet Coke.


There's no way a cat's face could fit down in that opening and I'm pretty sure Caddy Woodlawn doesn't know how to use a straw.

*

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Abe.

If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I just recently got my hair cut, and that we've also welcomed home a nephew from Ethiopia. Abe.

We've had ringside seats through his journey home and, as is so often with the Lord, it has been a miraculous gift and a trial in patience all at once.

This week, we've had some news about Abe that has broken our hearts. It is believed that he had several strokes in utero that resulted in injury to his little brain. What exactly that means is still a little uncertain and may be for some time as the brain is seriously tricky territory.

The Lord moved mountains to bring Abe home to the Alexanders and in that we rest and pray for His mercies that are new every morning. He hand-picked the perfect parents for this little booger and will equip them in every way possible. May He also give the rest of our family and this community an added measure of wisdom, grace, and compassion. May we refuse to sit ringside but, instead, we will be humble instruments the Lord will use to write the beautiful story that will be Abe's life.

*

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Students of the process with a twist.

As most of you are probably doing, we're sitting down to watch the election coverage.

Graham has been asking all day if he could stay up late to watch the results. We thought it would be a great time for the kids to learn about the electoral vote, the popular vote, and margins of error in exit polls. Because he's six, we've been explaining most of these terms by relating them back to episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants.

It's been incredibly effective but he keeps wondering if Squidward has won yet. We're just ten minutes in, so we may be in for a longer night than we previously thought.

When we first started watching the coverage, he asked when they would announce the results, play the music, and show all the pictures of the winner. He thought it would be like the season finale of American Idol so he actually may be in for a disappointing evening and decide playing the Wii is more entertaining.

In all seriousness. This has been a great opportunity to teach our children about the right we have to exercise our freedoms as citizens of a great democracy. A right many have died for. One we should not take lightly. Or blindly.

May we rest in the truth that we worship a sovereign Lord who does not act upon our whims, but with absolute, divine purpose in all things.

And He is good; all the time.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween '08

Ok, it's a little bit of an understatement that we love us some Halloween over at the Hill house. Sadie started our Halloween morning like this...


She had come into our room giggling at about 3:00am and whispering, "Mom! I put-ted my costume on and am going to wear it in my bed. Tee hee hee hee!", and ran back to her room.

She woke up and before her eyes were open, she was asking when she would get her candy.

To get the day rolling in sugar, I gave her a Pop Tart for breakfast because, let's be brutally honest, isn't it just about the same as giving children candy for breakfast? Some of the flavors are Barbie Berry and Hot Fudge Sundae; let's not pretend it's anything but shelf placement that distinguishes them from a box of Milk Duds.

Halloween is one time a year where our neighbors all come out and celebrate with the kiddos. The costumes are simple, if there are costumes at all, and everyone gets their Wal-mart grocery bags filled to the brim. Over the years, participation has dwindled some, but the houses that do participate really embrace the fun. We like to count how many times the kids make the rounds. Quincy used to do at least three laps around the neighborhood.

Trey took the kids trick-or-treating, and I stayed back with our neighbor, Kim, to pass out candy. It was such a great night we just sat in our driveway and watched all the kids pass by.

Last year, we bought costumes from Target on sale but we resolved, this year, to make due with what we had at home. Here's what we came up with.


If you can't tell, Graham is G-Man. The Superhero with Bling. I think he's a second cousin once removed from Superman.

Oh, and um, here's Trey.


Flesh of my flesh wearing my sunglasses.


Here's a picture of some serious chest hair, and my children.


Tee spent the night with a friend and came home with so much candy, I think they must have done a few laps around the neighborhood themselves. Way to teach the tricks of the 'hood, Tee.

He was Joker. "Which joker do you want to be, Tee? The funny one?"

"No. I want to be the Heath Ledger one, Mom, but without the drugs."

Super.

In my defense, we have NOT seen the movie. I think he got this look from the McDonald's Batman Happy Meal toys.

As expected, the police came about 9:00 to send the trick-or-treaters home before all the tricks started.

In other weekend news, our precious neighbor Kim was invited to Homecoming. I got to take her shopping for a dress, help her get ready, and drive her to the dance. Her date met her there.


She is one of our favorite kids in the neighborhood and we loved getting to participate in this special night with her.

Her date has obviously mastered his ghetto-gangsta smile-less picture pose.

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