Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer has officially begun!

Now, let me begin this post by saying that I love my children more than anything on this earth.  They are a delight and I cherish them above all else but their Lord and Creator, Jesus Christ.

And, that being said...THEY'RE GONE AT CAMP FOR A WHOLE WEEK!!!!!!!!


Olivia met her counselor right off the bat and I knew I loved her because she went to Texas A&M!!

We dropped these cuties off yesterday and now it's just Trey and Me all week long!  Ok, ok.  And Sadie, Dea, and Darius.  Dang!  Why do you have to be so specific?

Anyway, we are down 50% of our children for a whole week, Dea and Darius can drive themselves to the hospital if anything happens to them and Sadie is going to Camp Nanny and Bunty for a couple of days.  I've gotta be honest people, I may take a break from blogging and enjoy the quiet.  Not that y'all are loud or anything, I just can't wait to relax a little.

My friend Carey, who organizes people for a living, got all giddy when I told her I was going to be empty-nesting it for a few days and her first reaction was, "That is so DREAMY!!!  We need to find a project for you to do since you'll be alone-ish in your house!"

See, that's what I love about friends.  We can be so, so, different and still love each other.  She got extra doses of the gene I didn't get at birth and I'm going to embrace that fact this week and maybe read a book.

Right now, along with Tim Keller's Counterfeit Gods, I'm reading A Mercy by Toni Morrison.  Any other suggestions?

And just so you'll know I'm not totally heartless, I met Bill McKenzie, the founder of Pine Cove yesterday and cried telling him how much his camp has meant to our own children and Mercy Street.  Week 11, we'll be heading back as Mercy Street takes 120 kids down to Pine Cove Outback for the kids' favorite weeks of the year.

We love ourselves some Pine Cove in this community!

And in this home.  This very, very, quiet home.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Even the Unlimited Chewy Bars couldn't overcome this one.

Just before school let out for the summer, I received an email from a lovely woman with Quaker Chewy Bar's P.R. firm inviting our family to a private concert with Miranda Cosgrove as part of their After School Rocks campaign.

Now, me being all unconcerned with the world and famous people and all, I kind of took half a breath before I replied, "WE'DLOVETOCOME!!!!"

I mean, "I guess it would be o.k., if we can squeeze it into our schedules."

Demure-ity is my middle name.

The smallish Hill children were U.N.D.O.N.E.  One, by the opportunity to be arms length away from iCarly, and two, the variety and quantity of snacks available upon entrance to the venue.

If they didn't already have a favorite Chewy Bar, they would by the end of the afternoon since they tried them all with Gatorade chasers, twice.

I don't have pictures because cameras were forbidden and I'm a rule-follower. 

Miranda (we're totally on a first-name basis except she calls me Mrs. Hill because I'm old) was amazing.  She has a beautiful voice and acts like a 17 year-old girl - not a hooker on crack.  Wow.  That just popped out, sorry about that.

Ahem.  Anyway, thanks to the Quaker people, we all got to go backstage after the concert and meet her which was great for my kids but I was all, "Who cares?", because, you know, the whole 'I don't really care about famous people thing.'  She was so cute and sweet and talked about homeschooling, her poodle, and my son's hair - which leads me to the only negative about the whole experience.

Y'all know my 8 year old, Graham.  Y'all know his obsession with his hair, his disdain of haircuts, and the constant battle we have keeping him properly coiffed and in-line with school policy.

Earlier that week, the wonderful Head of Lower School, Mrs. Sharpless pulled him aside and said, "Graham, buddy, I know we've only got two weeks of school left but you're hair is too long and I gotta have you cut it one last time before summer."

Truthfully, it's the only way we can get him to cut it because Mrs. Sharpless' words are like the LAW.  Sometimes, I ask her real nice-like if she'll, in passing, tell my kids they have to clean their rooms.

She usually just laughs like she doesn't think I'm serious.  She's wrong.

Anyway, the battle had begun and Graham was loudly lamenting the fact that he would have to cut his hair in the next couple of days as we took off for the concert.  During Miranda's performance, he had all but forgotten the directive handed down by Mrs. Sharpless.  Forgotten until we walked into the room with Miss Cosgrove herself.

The very, very first words out of her mouth were, "Hey, Graham, it's nice to meet you!  LOVE YOUR HAIR!"

How do you think that haircut went?

Yeah, that's about right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mission. Accomplished.

The contents of this photo are the result of hours of hardcore swimming in high temperatures featuring a Monkey-in-the-Middle Marathon, an order of chicken tenders and fries, topped off with a blue-raspberry slushie and a ride home in a car so hot I felt like it was singing to the air-conditioner, "Can't Touch This!"

Finally, for the first time so far this summer, my children actually passed out from sheer exhaustion.

Na na na na. Na na. Na na.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

I was looking through pictures this morning looking for one of Darius.  He'll be starting his Senior year this fall and we're getting ready.

Trey's asked him about his goals and what he'll need to do over the next 12 months to prepare.

Trey also talked to Dea this morning about which college classes to take this summer, what he thought about the upcoming fall, his job, and who he's dating.

Then, he wrestled with Graham, taught Tee something or other about deep sea fishing, and let Sadie and Olivia give him a real, live pedicure sans nail polish.

He's the best dad and the love of my life.

Happy Father's Day!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The tree.

Some mornings, when I walk/run/chase my dog out of traffic, I pass this tree.

Over the last six years, I've watched it grow and change and it's now one of my favorite trees in the community.  There are several like it but this one is my favorite.  It's huge and, for a long time, was totally dead.  A few years ago, though, life started to grow out of the dead branches.  I'm honestly not sure how - whether another tree grafted itself in or it was not actually completely dead in the first place, the latter of which will totally kill my analogy but bear with me.

So I see this dead tree with new life sprouting from it and it reminds me of our lives in Christ.  Again, if your some kind of arborist with a double major in Reformed Theology and are going to write me and tell me the thing wasn't dead, don't bother, I know.  I just like the image and I'm using a little creative license.

We are dead.  Through mercy and grace we can't really understand, the Lord of the Universe calls us to himself, forgives our sins by placing his wrath instead upon his Son, and breaths new life into us.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away, 
behold, the new has come."
2 Cor. 5:17

We who were once dead are made alive in Christ.  Part of being grafted in is that, because of Christ's work in our lives, we will bear fruit.  We will have life.  We can't help it.

But also, like this tree, my dead wood still hangs on and it often gets in the way.  Although logic would tell me not to build tree houses in the crooks of the dead stuff, architecture was never my strong suit.  I find myself building little castles in the brittle branches of my own heart that have been long since dead in Christ.  Eventually, though, and mostly as a result of raging storms, the weak and dead wood will fall away leaving only that which has deep living roots in the firmest of all foundations.

On a side note, when the dead wood finally falls, I'm gonna be right there with a chainsaw cutting that stuff up for firewood.  And there's now spiritual analogy in that, I just want to be able to say I used a chainsaw.  Once.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Reunion Recap

We had a fantastic time in Houston this weekend.  Trey and I enjoyed a night away and found we still actually like to hang out with each other sans children.  Which is a good thing since, so far this morning, I've contemplated selling them to the circus about six times.

As we speak, Graham is messing up Olivia's just-made-bed in effort to drive both her and me totally and absolutely crazy before 10:00 a.m.

The boy's got high aspirations.

Seeing everyone Saturday night was such a great reminder of high school and how fairly simple life was.  At the time, it may not have seemed like such a walk in the park but, now, with responsibilities abounding, it was a sweet time of friends, fun, and very little homework.  At least that's what I told my mother.

I think we were all relieved to see we were using a lot less hairspray, a lot less blue eyeshadow, and have learned the proper place for pleated jean shorts, flowered jeans, and half-shirts - far, far away from our bodies.

These were some of my oldest friends who now have husbands, children, and fabulous hair.  The damages of Aussie Scrunch Spray long since gone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me.

Oh, my stars.  As I write this, my beautiful children are perusing my yearbook that I've pulled out in anticipation for my reunion this weekend.

The comments are priceless.

"Mom!  You looked nothing like you do now!  You look!"

"Was everyone's hair that big?"

"Look at you!  Look at your jeans!"

If I owned a scanner, I would totally show you what they're talking about.  Since I don't, let me just give you a mental picture.

My Senior picture was taken by the skilled photographers at Glamour Shots. 


I was wearing a leather bomber jacket, giant gold earrings, my hair was HUGE, I was unusually tan, and I had a pink light shining behind my head to match the bright pink lipstick I was wearing.

It was not pretty, not pretty at all.

The good thing is that my classmates' expectations that I might  look any better than I did in high school are extraordinarily low.  I mean, forget the pressure, I could just use less hairspray and wear normal color eyeshadow and it would be 1000% of an improvement.  Glass half-full, people.  Half-full.

Anyway, we'll be glad to get away this weekend because our house has become infested with house flys.  Flies.  However you spell it.

I am convinced it's all the kids going in and out in the afternoons and leaving the door wide open like they were born in a daggum barn or something.  I've totally said that and confirmed that I am my mother's child. 

It was so bad the other day that my friend was scouring my kitchen sure they were breeding in my house.  Silent vomit.  They are not.  And her son asked, "Mrs. Hill, did you, like, BUY flies or something?"

I've cleaned my fingers to the bone with orange scented Pine-Sol because they hate that, I've planted basil outside my doors because they hate that, sung that "Shoo Fly" song all the live long day, and I've hung ziploc bags full of water and pennies outside my house to scare them - and everyone else who might walk up - away.  It's humiliating.  Trey won't even claim he lives here.

Nothing is working!!!

WHY ARE THEY BOTHERING ME?!!?  What can I do?  I need your advice people!  ADVICE!  I swear we are clean and do not have any livestock living or dead on our property.  Would you please give me any tips as well as your home address so I can come live with you if your remedies don't work? 

I lost you on that last part, didn't I?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Week two of Summer. GO!

This upcoming weekend, I'll be headed back to my hometown for my 20th high school reunion.


When I write, "my hometown", it reads all quaint and charming-like, doesn't it?  In fact, my hometown is Houston which is not at all quaint but gigantic and gives me heart-attacks whenever I drive in it.  To be more exact - and trying with all my might to not end a sentence with a preposition - I'm actually from Spring.  Back in the day, it was a large suburb just outside the city limits where the effects of too much hairspray and acid washed jeans on the Ozone Layer where largely ignored.

Spring - where I got my first moped, my biggest perm, and my most beautiful Laura Ashley dress with the tiny flowers and giant white collar.

Oh, don't be coy with me, you know the one.

I wore it with pantyhose and white flats.

Totally rocked it.

On a side (and truly encouraging note) a dear church in Northern Ireland sends students over each summer to intern-ish at Mercy Street.  They stay with the Smiths and are incredibly delightful.


Anyway, this Spring's intern is Irish Jonny and he is dear and loves Jesus and, if he would just stay a little longer, I'm sure I could find him a charming young lassie with whom he could share his love of football (soccer) and inner-city ministry. 

The other day, I was telling him I had my reunion this weekend and he said in his precious accent, "Melissa, what year did ye graduate?"


Oh, yeah?  I was born in 1991.

Remember when I used the word precious?  I totally take that back.

In preparation for my reunion, I thought it would be a great idea to take all my kids, Irish Jonny, and his friend Glenn with me to the mall so I could look for the ever elusive pair of perfectly fitting, yet affordable, white jeans. Those words make up the oxymoron that became our great fool's errand.  And because we, as a rule, rise to the challenge and then are easily distracted, we did practically everything but look for white jeans.  We perused every athletic shoe store, ran down the 'up' escalator, and begged samples from the marginalized Godiva chocolate clerk who was carefully filling chocolate tarts with berries and sugary goodness.  Poor guy.  Irish Jonny and Glen insisted the chocolate they had in Ireland was so fabulous compared to our suckish variety.

"Really?  Have you tried a Peanut M&M?"

They scoffed at me and my blind love of substandard chocolate which, by the way, might explain my inability to find well-fitting white jeans.

It might also explain my love of voluminous Laura Ashley frocks.  Back in the day.  

Friday, June 4, 2010

Was' up?

So, I logged onto my computer this morning to find my oldest boys had been watching a bootleg copy of Iron Man 2 and my header has been changed to a portrait of President Obama gazing off into the distance, surrounded by stars. Seriously?

Clearly, summer is here and the little time, space, and electronic devices I had to myself while my children are being teached in school is now, officially, gone.

Right along with my ability to use proper English.

I've been busy trying to figure out what in the heck we're going to do all summer when it's 8000 degrees outside and the schools are closed.  I know this because I've been up every morning at 7:55, with my kids dressed in their uniforms, holding sack lunches, rattling the iron gate begging them to let my children back inside.

I haven't really.  Actually, I love summer.  I love having my chicks home, watching them sleep in, and playing in the pool.  They're all old enough to swim by themselves and I could actually read a book poolside if it wasn't for the whole wanting to talk my friends' ears off thing.  They're also young enough, though, to squeal when I get my hair wet and play sharks and minnows with them.

Especially Dea, he loves playing sharks and minnows.

He doesn't really, but he never reads this so I can totally say stuff like that and he'll never know.

He sleeps with a teddy bear.  He likes eating Jell-O through a straw.  His favorite pastime is rolling coins.

Anyway, we've had a big week trying to get into the rhythm of summer and have had a few challenges along the way.  We've had an extra child staying with us in an effort by the Lord to do a little Speed Sanctification.  Kind of like Speed Dating but without the awkward conversation and wine. 

Oh, who am I kidding, there's been wine.

In my efforts to entertain, I may have made a mistake or two along the way.  For example, at a recent fishing expedition, I may or may not have inadvertently bet all the children in my presence $10 if they ate one of the very large and very alive worms we were using as bait.  I had one taker.  It was awful and awesome at the same time.  I may have filmed it.

See you next week with some more frequent (I promise) posts.