Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Giveaway! Let's talk about...

...or, let's avoid the subject, call it God Magic, go get a Slurpee, and call it a day.

If that's your first reaction regarding the of education your children about sex, join the club.  We have t-shirts.

The whole subject scared the fire outta me and made me want to hide under the covers, rocking in fetal position, for the next 10 years.

And then I met Mary Flo.  Actually, I didn't meet her, I heard her speak and her words were like sweet, sweet, comfort to my petrified soul.


For years, Mary Flo Ridley has been helping parents just like you and me navigate the waters of talking about sex with your children.  She does it with grace, humor, and honesty and encourages you, as the authority in your children's lives, to do the same.

Being in Dallas, we have the privilege of hearing from Mary Flo more often than most.  In fact, she's speaking at Covenant's Parent Forum on Monday Night.

She has recently published a book called Simple Truths where she walks parents step-by-step through the process of establishing healthy values in the home, and answering tough questions that young children have about sex.


It's amazing, a must have for parents, and a whole lot better than hiding under the covers.

Trust me.  I've tried.

Mary Flo has given me a copy of her book to give away.  Just leave me a comment and I'll pick a winner randomly on Wednesday, March 3rd!

In the meantime, check out her great blog, "Sooner Than You Think".  She's a fantastic writer with great tips for parents. And I'm not just saying that because one time she baked her famous Ridley Pumpkin Cake for our family.  For that, I just kissed her feet.

Good Luck!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Worry Wart?

I'm over here today at the Dallas Morning News Briefing page...

"Have y'all been spying on me? How did you know?

Perhaps it's the fact that I have six children who call me Momma; worrying simply comes with the territory.

I don't know any mother who doesn't struggle with this subject to varying degrees. Motherhood is a very big deal, and whether you birthed them, adopted them or acquired them by marriage, the responsibility you feel for your kids' lives can be overwhelming.

The truth is, we all know worrying will get us nowhere. Worrying about something never actually changed the outcome.

But that logic can fly out the window when we're talking about the rubber meeting the road..." More..

Ya'll have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A man on a mission.

So my dad came to visit this week. As a matter of fact, he's on a plane right now back to the home from whence he came.

Excuse me for that. Our school is doing the play, "Pride and Prejudice" this weekend and, after overhearing the two lead characters rehearsing yesterday (and being able to finish their lines for them), I just want to talk like Elizabeth Bennett.

Not necessarily wear her clothes, because, you know, corsets and all, but talk like her.

I think it would go over well in my present location of residence.

Whatever.

Anyway, my dad was here and, since it did snow on Tuesday - ten flakes to be exact - I'm sure he's defrosting on the plane with coffee and a hot water bottle. Living in a state where summer temps can reach 120 degrees hasn't exactly thickened his blood.

We had a great visit and the kids loved seeing him.

His visits are also a time where things get taken care of, fixed, assessed. Just like when I was little except when I write the word assessed, I don't giggle because there's a bad word in the beginning.

Through some sort of cosmic misappropriation of gifts, I did not inherit the gift of technology. I don't understand it, I underuse it, and, when it breaks, I don't know how to fix it. Example, our internet/phone service. It's been spotty at best for the past four months. We've called, cajoled, wrangled the phone company to no avail. Finally, I decided that the root cause of the problem was simply that AT&T hates me.

When my dad got here and my internet was once again down, he was on it like ugly on yo' momma. Oops. Sorry about that. Let me try again. He, with fortitude, purposed to avail me of my internet woes.

That one was for you, Mr. Darcy.

He also decided my phone needed to be updated so I could use the voice memo feature. I think I made him nervous driving and writing blog posts at the same time.

OH, I KID!

Anyway, with very little help from AT&T the technology in my home is on the road to restoration. It's good because where else would we be if my kids couldn't download an application that makes their voices sound like mice or Darth Vader?

Not anywhere. Nowhere.

My dad, in his gadgety-nerdiness, (sorry, Dad, it's true.) also decided I needed a Gmail account and Roomba. You know, the vacuum robot that cleans for you? I think it's how he compensates for my dirty car. If he can get my house humming, maybe I'll find time to vacuum out the goldfish that are crushed in the back seats of the Suburban.

Somehow, I am his child. I'm just not sure which genes he passed down.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tomatoes.

I had a Valentine's party to go to last night at my friend Gini's house.  It was supposed to be last week but, because of the ice and snow, and general discombobulation that comes any time a winter storm passes through Texas, she rescheduled.

I was making a plate of desserts to bring and ran to the store to grab a couple of last minute items.  Mostly whipping cream which, by they way, can elevate just about any dessert to rock star status in my book. 

With my lone whipping cream, I got into the express lane behind a sweet elderly woman with two tomatoes.  When her turn came up, she asked the checker to weigh the tomatoes individually and tell her the price of each.  One was $.25 and the other was $.27.  She laughed and said, "I'll take the $.25 one."  Then she pulled out her Lone Star card, which is Texas' brand of food stamps and payed for her tomato.  The checker rang her up, said thank you, and told her the balance on her card.  It was $11.87.  I know enough about Lone Star to know it will be the first of March before she gets her next allotment.

I've thought about that transaction all night.  Things can get pretty tight in the Hill house and we really do try to be careful with the way we spend our money.  The reality is, though, eggs sometimes get broken by helpful little hands carrying in groceries, bananas go bad, and tomatoes are sometimes hit with bats in the backyard and I don't really sweat it.

Her careful purchase of one small thing represents a whole new level of tight, doesn't it?  And I know enough to know she's not the only one debating the purchase of a tomato over two cents and trying to make it these last few days before the end of the month with less than $12.  There are thousands just like her in my zip code alone.

It's made me think once again about the way we spend our money.  Could I do that?  Could I get through the next seven days with only $11.87?  Do I pick up pennies in the vaccuum and not bat an eye?  Do I waste food because I've changed my mind about what sounds good for dinner?

Once again, the Lord has used a very small incident to cause me to examine my heart and my habits and perhaps to change my definition of some words I throw around about money like "tight", "careful", and "stewardship".

I'll guess He'd rather me ask Him those questions this week instead of why He didn't give me the ability to ski like Bode Miller. 

Go figure.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Volcano Day!

I want to apologize in advance for the weird picture color below.  There was not, actually, a nuclear explosion occurring during the time of photography causing a blinding, picture-distorting light.  I just had my camera on the wrong setting.

Anyway,

Did you know...



You can replicate an erupting volcano simply with Diet Coke and Mentos?


It explodes in a big gush and sprays everyone with foam.

Washable, non-staining foam.

Or...

You could use tomato sauce, a power sprayer, and end up with, in the words of my husband, "realistic lava flow" ...


and "realistic looking eruption-ing" (not a word)...



and a need for lots and lots of this...

Guess which one my daughter chose to explode her 3rd grade volcano?



Of course she did.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It was a ball...SNOWBALL! HAHAHAHAHA!

I had every intention of writing all about our upcoming weekend last Thursday morning.  Trey was out of town, the kids would be all at school, and I would have the entire morning to be alone in my house catching up on everything that hadn't gotten done the week before because of the stomach virus that had taken over our home.

I had big plans, people.  Big plans.

Insert record snowfall and school cancellations across the city.

All except Dallas Independent Public Schools.

Poor Darius.  Pinkston was wide open, ready for instruction on Thursday as the snow came down in buckets for a straight 24 hours.

Some early riser had already made this before school started at 8:00am.

While taking this photo, I realized I have officially become that mom who embarrasses her children by getting out to take pictures during morning drop-off wearing her bathrobe, wooly socks, house shoes, and holding her coffee in one hand. 

I've never seen Darius run so fast.  I'm thinking of wearing this to his next basketball game to see if he can make some better time up and down the court.

The kids played all day while I covered and recovered the floors with fresh towels.  Despite the infrequency of huge snowfalls in Dallas, my children are experts at getting all their shoes and clothes soaking wet and covered with snow and then tracking in and out of the house hour after hour.



Scout was over the moon.  She stayed out with the kids all day long romping through the snow and they kept yelling at her for making yellow patches. 


Snow forts and snowmen covered our lawn.

The boys used my kitchen knives to carve their creations.  I'm sure I'll be finding those scattered throughout the yard well into Spring.

Thankfully, Graham's friend Hogan was constantly licking the snow off the knives so, you know, they'll be nice and clean.

This snow Southern Belle was built by a friend of mine's children who decided to give her a little glam.  If anything, Dallasites are consistant.

We missed two days of school, half the city lost power, and the kids played in the snow to their hearts content.  I made endless cups of hot chocolate, refereed snowball fights, and tried unsuccessfully to vidoetape the first ever Mercy Street Snow Football Game.

In spite of the crazy weather, Saturday, Mercy Street's annual Valentines mentor and mentee event went on as planned.  Speakers talked of purity, choices, and gave moving testimony after testimony of the rescue and redemption of the Lord.

I didn't actually hear the speakers because I was busy sampling and serving the food.

We all have our gifts, right?



Finally, Graham celebrated his 8th birthday with bowling and a slumber party.  I was tired after the first 30 minutes but, thankfully, Trey was back and rested and ready to take on the boys.

This was officially the ugliest birthday cake ever created but it tasted divine and, at this point, that's all we cared about.


And, in wrapping up, a word of advice...

When you've had an incredibly fun-filled, child-centered, surprise pre-Spring Break break, and you're wanting the seven young boys spending the night at your house to settle down on the last night of aforementioned break, and you think popping a movie would be a great idea, do not choose Michael Jackson's "This Is It."  They will spend the entire 93 minutes of the movie dancing, singing, and trying desperately to perfect their moon-walk.

Much like I did when I was their age.

Close to their age.

Their age plus five years.

Darn you, Honesty.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sadie's Sandwich.

After my last post, I thought I'd lighten things up by talking about food. 

Seriously, food is a universal giver of joy and warm fuzzies, no?

Another might be George Clooney.  

I know.

Anyway, when Sadie was down last week, being the second of four to be taken out by the vicious stomach bug, she didn't eat a thing for a day and a half.  When her appetite finally came back, all she wanted was what we like to call, Sadie's Sandwich.

It's not fancy or snoochy, but it is loved by our little girl and it's one of her favorites.  I thinks its the flavors.  Or the smells.  Or the butter, that comforts her little soul.  Either way, try it and see if you don't get the same reaction from your little stinkers.


Sadie's Sandwich.

2 pieces of bread
Butter
Peanut Butter, Sadie prefers the kind "without nuts" which is Creamy.  Explaining that all peanut butter has nuts sometimes seems far to complicated, and I know what she means, so I just roll with it.
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced.
Cinnamon
Sugar

Heat up your skillet and butter one side of both pieces of bread.  Spread peanut butter both slices and slap one in the pan, butter side down.  Place apple slices on top of the peanut butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and top with remaining piece of bread.  Grill pretty slow so the peanut butter gets nice and melty and the bread gets golden and crunchy. 

And for Heaven's sake, don't mash the whole thing down with your spatula.

I'm sorry, that sounded bossy.  Let's try again.

It's best if you let the bread remain in it's God-given form, instead of trying to make it something it was never intended to be.  Like a smashed piece of bread.
If it pleases your heart, serve with a big glass of milk and a hug.

Total comfort.

 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Precious and the Blind Side.

We've been pretty couped up this week.  With all the sickness, vomiting, laundry, and disinfecting, Trey and I eventually needed a break so we sat down the other night with popcorn, wine, and a movie.

I'd been wanting to see Precious for a long time but hadn't had the chance to get to the theater.  When Dea and Darius said they had a copy, we were thrilled to finally get to see the critically acclaimed film.

I'm just going to tell you right now that, despite my new "connections" with NBC - or not - we do not get movies before they are released to the public on DVD.  Just as we were starting the film, we questioned the source of the DVD.  It was a bootleg copy the boys had gotten from, "a homeboy".

We'll be buying two when in comes out just to make up for our waywardness.  Maybe I'll do a giveaway.  Just keepin' it real.

Since we've now seen both Precious and The Blind Side, it's hard not to compare the two movies based on characters from incredibly similar neighborhoods.


The Blind Side, nominated for 2 Oscars, tells the beautiful story of Michael Oher, a big kid with huge potential but no opportunities.  Raised in the inner-city of Memphis, his past is eluded to but never really uncovered.  He's got a crack-addicted momma who loves her boy but can't care for him.  Through some pretty great turns in his favor, he is lifted out of his 'hood and transplanted onto the other side of the tracks and into the home of the Touhey's.  They are wealthy, connected on all fronts, and set their affections decidedly on Michael, helping to unearth his amazing propensity for football, love of family, and integration into their white-washed world. It's a great movie that makes you want to stand up and cheer - a success story in the most exaggerated sense of the word.  A rescue.  Eventually, the economically and educationally impoverished Oher graduates from the southern Christian private school he's attending with the Touhey children, goes on to play football at Ole Miss, and is eventually drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.  The Touhey's now faithfully attend each game via private plane.   

Precious, nominated for 4 Oscars, is a different story all-together.  From the welfare subsidized housing projects of Harlem, Precious eeks out an existance despite her abusive mother, illiteracy, and the two children she has borne at the hands of her father.  He also, in the process of raping her, has infected her with HIV.  Precious is sent to an alternative school where a instructor, who is neither wealthy or connected, teaches her not only to read but to find her voice by journaling.  It is the story of a rescue of a different sort but a rescue all the same. 

As we watched The Blind Side, we could name people we knew just like the the Touhey's.  The feisty, strong, influential, and affluent types who's safety net is so huge, they live without fear of failure or even the dissapproval of peers.  In the book, their net is Christ.  In the movie, it seems to be something far less magnificant. 

And as we watched Precious, we got big ol' pits in our stomachs.  We could name people we knew just like her, just like her momma, just like her daddy, just like her friends, just like her granny, and just like the boys on the corner.  We knew her teacher, and her principal.   We'd seen firsthand the sharp change in demeanor by the momma when the one holding the purse-strings of welfare was watching.  These kids live in our neighborhood, come to Mercy Street, and play basketball with our boys. 

Part of us wishes we could get them all out like Michael Oher.  Scatter them across the country into the homes of wealthy, resourced types, put them in great schools, and expose them to opportunities beyond their wildest dreams.  How much of a difference could we make if we could just remove them from the influences that scream at them from all sides.  If we could separate them from their envrironment, could we have a slew of Michael Oher's on our hands?

Or, what if the Touhey's of the city, and the Michael Ohers for that matter, came down, volunteered.  I mean really volunteered.  Gave their lives away for the cause of the broken.  What if they came into these kids world all the time and shouted a different kind of message.  To all the Precious-es of West Dallas - what if they heard hope, deliverance, justice, and  

"YOU ARE YOUR NAME!  YOU ARE KNOWN AND BELOVED BY THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE!  HE KNOWS YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE AND, EVEN WHEN IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT, HE HOLDS YOU IN THE PALM OF HIS RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND!  
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!  
YOU ARE BELOVED!  
YOU ARE GOD'S WORKMANSHIP!  
YOU ARE A NEW CREATION!  
YOU ARE MADE ALIVE IN CHRIST!  
YOU ARE A HOLY PARTAKER IN A HEAVENLY CALLING!  
YOU ARE PART OF THE TRUE VINE!  
YOU ARE CHOSEN OF GOD, HOLY AND DEARLY LOVED!
YOU ARE AN ALIEN TO THIS WORLD!
YOU ARE A SON OF GOD, ONE IN CHRIST JESUS!
YOU ARE A JOINT HEIR WITH CHRIST, SHARING HIS INHERITANCE!
YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD!
YOU ARE CHRIST'S FRIEND!
YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY!
YOU ARE PRECIOUS!" 

We might not get ourselves a bunch of professional football players, but instead, the Lord might change a city.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Please make it stop...

Have you ever stopped to wonder how many germs are actually killed with one bottle of Clorox?  Or if your skin will actually fall off your bones if you use it too much?

I have.

Tee has been feigning illness for the better part of his educational existance with the, "My head hurts.", or the "My stomach hurts.", or the "I don't feel good, Momma (insert giant doe eyes)." only to come home early from school and somehow have a miraculous recovery.

He's lucky he's a good speller.

Trey and I finally made the call that, unless there was hard evidence such as vomiting and fever, the children were going to, and staying at, school.

Be careful what you wish for.

Like ghost-white little dominoes, they've all fallen.  Graham on Sunday night, Sadie on Tuesday morning - in class mind you, not quite making it to the restroom - and Tee Tuesday night.  I've still got to figure out some sort of apology gift for her teacher.  I don't think Hallmark makes a card that properly communicates the sorrow I feel for my child vomiting in her classroom before Opening Chapel had even begun.

They might need to get on that.

Clorox and my washing machine have never been closer.  We're like old friends who share thoughts and feelings.  Actually, I'm the only one sharing thoughts and feelings because, you know, they're inanimate. 

It's noon and I'm still in my bathrobe, on my second cup of coffee.  I've barely left the house all week.  I hear it's cold and people actually shower and wear make-up.

Jakeem and Levon, two little rascals from the neighborhood, have stopped by every afternoon to play but, to their obvious irritation, we keep turning them away...Jakeem...Jakeem...hmmm...that reminds me...

Jakeem came over about a week ago to play.  He was here about four minutes before he asked for a snack and told me he felt sick in the same sentence.  Moments later, he was vomiting in my bathroom.

Thanks buddy.  You're a real giver.  So is Hannah who's blog I stole this from.

Ok, Tee just woke up.  Let me go make sure he still knows where the trash can or the commode is. 

Jealous, yet?

Yeah, I thought not.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tee and the Bee.

Seeing how, we have a vomiting child in our house and have done lots and lots of laundry, I think it's best, and more positive, if I talk about the beginning of our weekend instead of the end.  That way, you'll have something to look forward to.

Last Friday, Tee, my fifth grader, was chosen to represent Covenant at the District Private School Spelling Bee.

Nerd. 

It is the greatest compliment coming from me because I was the antithesis of Tee growing up and would have never in 1,000,000,000,000 years have been asked to represent in the spelling bee.

For example, I when I typed that the number above, I had to count the zeros twice to make sure I'd correctly positioned the commas.

Anyway, although he'd talked about it for a year, and watched Akeelah and the Bee fourteen times, he didn't really study which led to several discussions by Trey and myself about the value of a tough lesson.  We were sure he'd be out on the first round and had our speeches prepared.  Mine was really good.

In addition, I was all ready to drop him off, console him after his inevitable first-round elimination, and then go return some stuff at Home Depot. You know, 'cause I had some errands to run.  Instead, my fellow moms and I sat at the bottom of the elevators all morning while groups of children who had misspelled a word came to find solace in the Starbucks, wood fired pizza oven, and video games that were inside the host-church's building.

Let that sink in a minute will you.  There ya go.

Anyway, slowly, we saw Covenant red sweater after red sweater but no sign of Tee.

I'm sorry, did I mention I had errands to run?  I thought so.

Hour after hour went by and that little booger hung in there like a dog on a bone, finally finishing fourth in his grade level, and going further than anyone at Covenant has ever gone.

Did I say Nerd?  I meant Stud.  Or Lucky, either one.  And my speech was totally wasted.

We were really proud of everyone and proved it in the universal kid language of burgers and milkshakes.

And that was the pretty great start to our weekend.  It digressed pretty quickly by Sunday afternoon.  More on that tomorrow.