Friday, October 29, 2010

Homecoming!

First, a couple of house-keeping items.

1. I'm so excited y'all like the crosses!!! It's so fun to see a contest bring us all together - those of us who are Aggie fans, and those of us who will say just about anything for the chance to win something cool. I can tell the latter because you spelled everything correctly. I'm sorry, self-deprecating Aggie jokes are some of my very favorite.

2. I'm sure you all have been dying to know if we are still surviving with no AC. You'll be thrilled (if you have absolutely no life) to see our thermometer reading this morning at 10am.


WHOOHOO!!! If it gets much colder in our house, it might actually snow. I'm gonna have to put on my boots with the fur.

I don't really have boots with the fur - I just like saying that.

And now for the start of our weekend...

Darius has his last high school homecoming this weekend and we've already started celebrating!

Pinkston had a parade last Saturday morning and the community really came out to watch and participate.

The football players...

Pinkston's principal...

The Color Guard...



And the parents all came out to walk, or ride, or dance through the neighborhood.

These guys are alumnus, alumnae, alumni, whatever, and rode the whole way with their speakers cranked up to some kinda crazy rap music.
These folks were from Pinkston's class of 1968 - so fun to see them!



This nice gentleman wanted to make sure I got a picture of him and his car. I offered to trade him for my old suburban that smells like slurpees and feet but he said no.

Weird.

The band played.


And my kids all got a picture with the Pinkston Mascot. Funny story... years ago, our neighbor - who was the mascot at the time - put the old costume out one morning for bulk trash. Well, no way was I going to let that one get away so I picked up the giant head and the rest of the suit and took it home. From the trash. Clearly, I had not learned my lesson yet about lice, or bedbugs, or lice because we all tried it on. Ironically, it also smelled like slurpees and feet so we felt like it somehow belonged in our family. We still have it. Tee wants it to be his costume this year.

The cheerleaders threw treats to the kids - some of whom fought so vehemently over the butterscotch discs that their mommy had to take away all their candy and ban them from sugar for a week - but that's not important right now.

And we all had a great time celebrating the upcoming game and dance with our neighbors.

The Homecoming Dance will be held Saturday night at Mercy Street and the theme is...wait for it...Nightmare on Mercy Street! Oh, I can't wait! Photos to come!

Y'all have a great weekend!



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Giveaway!!

My whole family is from Nebraska which was all fine and good until the dissolution of the Southwest Conference and Texas A&M's consequential move to the Big 12.

As I type this, Trey is reading over my shoulder making sure I don't make any ridiculous sports analogy he will somehow be held accountable for by his man-friends.

That O.k., Baby? Now get yourself to the office where, I'm sure, you will find much bigger fish that need fryin'.

Anyway, now that Texas A&M and Nebraska actually play each other, I get all kinds of vicious hate mail from my grandparents, et. al. who still reside in the Cornhusker state.

I don't, really, I just like saying things like that to get a rise out of Grandma. She's feisty.

I promise, I have a point to this post.

My great-uncle and some of his life-long buddies decided to do something with their time in retirement to give back to their community and beyond. They call themselves the CrossMakers and make hand-carved, cedar crosses that are just the perfect size and shape to fit into your hand.

The volunteers get together twice each week over coffee and cut and sand down the donated wood. So far they've given away about 800 crosses to local churches and hospitals and have sent hundreds to our troops overseas as a means of encouragement.

They also sell the crosses on my favorite site Etsy at www.thecrossmakers.etsy.com. Head over and check them out. If you're looking for teacher's gifts this year, these are perfect!

My great-uncle was so generous and sent me several to give away. Head over to their site, come back and tell me what you think in the comments section, and I'll pick some winners on Monday, November 1st.


I have three sets of four crosses each so I'll randomly choose three from the comments left below...unless you say something disparaging about Texas A&M, like how we're at the bottom of the SEC rankings. Then, you're name might "accidentally" get removed from the hat and flushed down the commode.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."

Colossians 2:13-15

Monday, October 25, 2010

A poor reenactment at best.

One of our snakes got out.

Again.

Orange Julius - he's gone over the wall before. Last time, he went missing for a couple of weeks and then appeared in Dea and Darius' room all hungry and frisky-like. They almost moved out.

We're not sure exactly when he escaped but we noticed him missing Saturday morning. It was the flashing VACANCY sign on his aquarium that tipped us off.

I didn't tell you because I already know what you're going to say and, I already KNOW I have let my children railroad me for not one but two snakes....and a lizard, and a fish, and a dog. No wait, the dog's mine and I love her something fierce even though she's so ugly a friend refused to pet her the other night.

I know.

Anyway, I got up at crack-of-it's-still-dark-outside-thirty to take my beloved canine for a walk. I'm groggily getting dressed in our bathroom, brushing my teeth, and pulling on my running shoes. One goes on fine but just as I'm putting my toes into the second one, I see this.


I AM NOT KIDDING, I SWEAR!!!

Julius was all curled up inside my shoe and my toes almost touched him...and I don't wear socks.

ENOUGH WITH THE JUDGMENT!

I screamed, Trey came running in - sure I'd seen a roach. I pointed and cried "LOOK WHAT'S IN MY SHOE!!!"

Knowing how excited Tee would be to have Julius back, Trey said something like, 'Way to go, Baby!' and quickly put that snake back in his cage safe and sound. I, on the other hand, stood there I awe of the fact I had actually maintained control of my bodily functions.

Later that morning, Tee ran up and hugged me hard, so excited I had found his beloved snake...and then I went to the store and purchased hair coloring in a box to cover the new grays I'm sure I'll be welcoming soon.

Good night.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It IS time!

For the first time in 39 seasons, the RANGERS are going to the WORLD SERIES and we're pretty excited in this here part of the country.

This is an inspiring side of one of our favorite players, Michael Young. Carson Leslie went to school with our kids and we had the privilege of seeing his great faith lived out.

Love how his life is still having an impact on so many.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Feelin' the love...or the mocking.

So I appreciate all of you who were so encouraging to me regarding my suffering.

You complete me.

The rest of you...hmmm...I'm on the fence. It's amazing to me that my most unsympathetic comments came from my family. Especially my snarky brother, Bryan. I wonder why that is? I guess when you live on the beach in Southern California, don't even NEED air conditioning (except for one random weekend last month - totally heading you off at the pass, dude), and can freakin' kill a man with your bare hands, it's pretty easy to throw stones.

Whatever.

ONCE, WHEN YOU WEREN'T HOME, I BORROWED YOUR RACING BIKE AND RODE IT TO HOLLY'S AND WE JUMPED SAND TRAPS ON THE GOLF COURSE WITH IT! HA! IN YOUR FACE!!!

To the rest of you - I have a gift...

Last week, the kids had to sell some discount cards for school and as an added incentive, we baked some cookies to go along with the cards. You're never too young to learn about upselling are you, Sadie?

Anyway, they're pretty stinkin' delicious and really easy to make and I'm going to share the recipe because I'd like to memorize it in case I'm ever stranded on a desert island without cookbooks but somehow still have an oven and all the ingredients to make cookies. Typing it out totally helps me remember.

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip Cookies for all of you except Bryan...

1 Cup Butter (please use butter and not the fake stuff. I beg you.)
1 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup packed brown sugar
1 Cup peanut butter
1 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 cup rolled oats (not the quick oats but the regular oats)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, and both sugars until smooth. Mix in the peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the batter until just moistened. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until the edges start to brown. Cool on cookie sheets for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Then, roll the extra dough you don't cook into balls, stick on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Then, once their pretty frozen, toss into a freezer bag to keep on hand in case your husband doesn't let you turn on the AC and you need a cold, delicious snack. Stand in front of freezer nekkid and eat about eight. Chase with a giant glass of milk and then go check your blog to see if anyone has written any sympathetic comments. If not, walk back to freezer and repeat.

And now, a reading from last nights thermostat...


And Bryan, um, yeah, totally kidding about the whole bike thing. You know that, right? You're awesome...please don't hurt me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We're hot.

I was all excited to write something fun and witty and charming this morning but I've been distracted. And I'm a little cranky.

September utility bills came and our electric bill was so high I had to use math with "carrying". After graduating from college, I vowed to NEVER do that again and being forced to by TXU made me a little bitter.

Trey thought it was high-time for a Hill Household Experiment - No AC for the Whole Month of October.

Thankfully, we started October with a blessed cool front and were able to shut off the AC without being miserable. Actually, we were out of town - staying at our friends' who believe strongly in the air conditioner - and the big boys were home being sanctified through our frugal-ness. At least that's what we told them.

We probably should have brought them a T-shirt or something.

Hindsight.

Since then, we've been enveloped with what has to be the hottest October in history. Mornings are fine but afternoons are a killer and even though I look at Trey with my 'sad face', and the kids have made subtle comments like, "WE'RE GOING TO DIE!!!", Trey has not budged.

I usually like his tenacity. Sometimes, it's a thorn in my side.

This afternoon, highs in Dallas are already at - wait, let me check my weather app. - Oh my stars!!! 78 degrees!!!

Ok, as I write that, it just doesn't sound as horrible as it is but hear me out. Cooking dinner is a torture because the oven heats up the whole kitchen. I beg for reasons to run errands just so I can drive in my car which has fabulous, and unmonitored AC, and I've resorted to drinking iced tea because as much as I hate to admit this...it's far more refreshing than Diet Coke.

I will regret saying that as long as I live.

I used to long for the cool, crisp Autumn weather so I could wear boots and scarves and have an excuse not to exercise. Now, I have a bigger dream and it involves being able to blow-dry my hair without sweating.

I'm sorry you've just spent two minutes of your life reading my rant. They're minutes you've lost forever - you can never get them back.

And, I know there are people all across this country and world who never have AC and I really should treat this experiment as an opportunity to learn patience and lots of other things I can't type out right now because the keyboard is making my wrists hot.

You're right and, by golly, I'm going to start... right after I go stand in front of the open freezer.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Out of the mouths of redheads with sponge rollered hair.

Sometimes, scratch that, lots of times, Sadie says things that make me laugh.

Utterly disregard - but laugh all the same.

For example..."Mom, I have the BEST IDEA EVER. I think we should make your bed bigger. Really big. It would fill up all this space." Motioning around to the remainder of my bedroom not currently taken up by a mattress and box springs. "Then, all the kids could sleep in the same room every night with you and 'fnuggle' together as a big family."

Um. No.

But sometimes, the things that come out of her sweet mouth stop me in my tracks.

The other day, she came home with her scripture memory for the month. I can't stop thinking about it. It's simple and, hearing her recite it it her little six-year-old voice, has made me ask myself the pointed question posed in the first verse.

The addition of sponge roller-ed hair and a slight stutter only enhances the whole package...and the fact that it's actually Luke 6, not Psalm 6...and she may have left some parts out...but who's counting?



"But why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say?"
Luke 6:46


Upon returning home from school, Sadie was a little less than content with her performance. She asked that I rerecord it so she could do it when she wasn't so sleepy and her hair wasn't so poufy.
I obliged her.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A new look and a new conversation.

So, I've been working on redoing my blog for a while and finally finished.  Almost.  I wanted something a little simpler so I spent hours taking what was perfectly fine and changing it.

Obviously, the VERY BEST use of my time.

Anyway, because I had to actually do life in the process, lots of information was lost.  Ok.  Not actually a lot - except by blogroll.  It vanished.  I've been trying to piece it back together but - if you were on it, and now are not, and you care - be patient, I'll get you back on it ASAP.

Actually, one of the things I've been taking care of instead of actually finishing the blog re-do, is having a conversation with Trey.  It's one I never thought we'd need to have but, after headlines this past week, I felt the need to sit down with him and have a heart to heart.

It went something like this.

"Baby, could you pause the Ranger playoff game for a sec. so we can talk?"


"Really???"


"Yes.  It's very important and can't wait."


"Seriously?  Do you know this is the first time in Ranger history that we're even in the Playoffs?"


"Yes, baby, I do - but this is big and I need you to listen...to hear me.  Hear my heart."

Sometimes, I insert drama.  Sometimes it works.  Most of the time, not so much.

Deep sigh.  "Ok."  Pause exciting Playoff game.  "What's up."


"Baby, this is about us.  About our marriage.  About our future."


"Oh, o.k.  What's on your mind?"

"Well, you know those Chilean miners?  How they were rescued this week?  What a triumph it was that they all survived and made it out safely?  A celebration of a world coming together to help?  Well, I would think this goes without saying, but, apparently not because, well, it happened.  So, here goes...  (deep breath)

If you are ever trapped in a Chilean mine, trapped beneath the surface of the earth - fearing for your life - and are given the opportunity to invite three people to the site to be near you, to pray for you, and to be a strong presence for you above ground, please invite me but, for the love of all things good, don't also invite your mistress if you have one because, if you do, you'd be better off staying underground.  Seriously.  Stay there.  You'll be safer."

Unpause game.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Cause we've gotta eat.

After coming home from Nashville and reentering the crazy world that
is our lives, I thought a little about the things that are near and
dear to my heart. Namely, food.

Everyone I know is bustling around from carpool to sports to training
for marathons and are struggling like I am to find things to cook.

Ok, let me clarify. The people who are training for marathons, I
barely like anyway because they're all strong and balanced and
breathing correctly so never mind them.

But, for the rest of us, we gotta do all this stuff and still put something
decent on the table so I'm going to start posting some of my family's
most requested recipes.

Some are very simple, most are borrowed, and none are vegetarian. I
say this because we have new neighbors who are vegetarians and so I
tried to make vegetarian chili last night.

Ground beef, how I love thee. Nuff said.

So, when I get some time, over the next few weeks, I'm gonna throw out
some of my favorite, go-to dishes that are crowd-pleasers and
relatively quick.

So, here we go.

Two-soccer-game-night-with-homework-and-laundry Stone Soup and The
Very Best Cornbread You Will Ever Eat. Ever.

Stone Soup
(I always double this recipe. It makes a ton but freezes great...

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey, health freaks)
1 lg. onion - chopped fine
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t pepper
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 T sugar
2 28oz cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 15 oz can pinto beans, undrained
1 15 oz can black beans, undrained
1 15 oz can lima beans, undrained - I promise, your kids won't bat an eye
1 15 0z can corn, undrained
1 4 oz can chopped green chilis
Grated cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Brown beef and onion in a large soup pot and drain grease. Add chili powder and next seven ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add remaining cans of vegetables. Simmer 30 minutes. Serve in bowls and top with cheese and tortilla chips.


The Easiest, Very Best Cornbread You Will Ever Eat. Ever.

This is from my friend Kristy. Just remember that name because any recipe she recommends is bona-fide awesomeness.

3 boxes Jiffy cornbread
1 Cup milk
3 Eggs
1 15oz can creamed corn
2 Cups grated cheddar cheese (grate it yourself - it's worth the effort)
3/4 Cup sour cream
1 can green chilis (optional - I don't add them)
Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Pour 1/3-ish Cup of oil in the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. Then, shake plenty of salt and pepper over the oil.

Next, combine all the remaining ingredients and pour into the pan. Don't mix with the oil, just let it come up around the sides. Salt and pepper the top of the cornbread batter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done.

You will love me for this one. Or Kristy. Whatever.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Theta House.

The title of my blog came from our good friend Ray who, until last weekend, I thought used to say it to his beautiful wife, Kitsie.

They clarified for me over coffee last Sunday morning that it was actually Big Ray, or Ray's daddy that used to say it to his daughter-in-law when he would drop by to find her running around the house toting babies, laundry, and a cookbook.

I loved it and so I stole it. Or borrowed it. Whatever. Anyway, just in case Big Ray ever wants to use "A long way from the Theta house" for anything official, it's his.

Looking back on those days in the sorority house compared to now, it certainly was a little idyllic. We studied a lot (that's for my father who sometimes reads this), watched a little Melrose Place, and perhaps drank a little Zima on Thursday nights. For four incredibly impacting years I had some beautiful friends walk alongside me through finals, boyfriend break-ups, bible studies, and eventually, job offers. We spent a lot of time together and learned to love one another for all our similarities and our differences. We laughed. A lot. Sometimes until we cried.

This past Wednesday night, I had just sat down to read my Bible or watch Modern Family, I can't remember, when I looked on my phone and saw several Facebook posts on a pledge sister's page.

They were words of shock, sadness, and condolence and I immediately felt her loss even though I hadn't seen her in years.

On a beautiful fall day in New Orleans, a city that fit her like a perfectly broken-in pair of jeans, Jennifer, for reasons we don't yet know, took her life.

She was a force and fiercely loyal. She was the life of the party and the deepest of thinkers. She was brilliant, and beautiful, and a lover of people and a defender of the weak. Even in college, she was always taking in animals or adopting gross things like snakes. I swear, the only reason I can own one now is because I watched her bring one home in college and laugh at its antics like was a more animate pet. She moved with me to Dallas after graduation and we watched Jack Ingram play live every Tuesday night. She was my first friend to meet Trey and issue her approval when he wanted to marry me. We took road trips and plane trips to places, I'm sure, we would have ended up incarcerated without her ability to think fast and talk faster.

She beat me every time we played Words with Friends.

Although it's been a long time since graduation, and I haven't been exactly spectacular at keeping up with everyone, seeing their pictures now, and hearing their voices or reading their emails takes me immediately back to the familiar family we were back at A&M. It's weird the lasting impact some people can have on your life. I'm so thankful for Jennifer, her life, and the impact she had on mine. Even though I haven't seen her in years, I miss her. I liked knowing she was walking around the same planet as me. I thought of her a lot because she was so stinkin' opinionated, I often wondered what she was thinking about when a scathing political story made headlines.

This past week has been hard and yet, she's managed to pull people out of the woodwork to remember who she was and how she impacted them. Everyone has a story and they, in the words of another sister, have been a salve to our souls. Some days, it does seem like we're a long way from the Theta house. Other days, it seems like we're just around the corner.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nashville, here we come!

Guys, it's been a whirlwind of a week around here and I can't wait to catch you up!

About six weeks ago, we received an invitation to a dear friend's wedding in Nashville. To watch this beautiful bride walk down the aisle was something we just couldn't miss so we started planning. Some of our very favorite people in the world, Ray and Kitsie called and invited us to come stay with them for the weekend. Trey and I had barely been back to Nashville since we moved away in 1999 and were so excited at the prospect of getting back and seeing old friends and old places that were so dear to our hearts.

Tee was born at St. Thomas Hospital and has held fast to his Tennessee heritage. He's a huge Titan's fan and has learned everything he could about the state. But, he'd never actually been there. We started planning. Ray and Kitsie were wide open to the idea of us bringing the little ones along so we surprised them Wednesday afternoon with a trip out of town.

As soon as they left for school, I quickly packed all of their things, emailed their teachers and we picked them up from carpool. They were surprised to see Trey in the car so we dropped the bomb. "Guys, we're all headed to Nashville RIGHT NOW!!!"

They were ecstatic! Ray and Kitsie have kids that match up almost exactly with ours and the thought of seeing their buddies made them want to do backflips! Me too!

We drove to Memphis and all packed into one hotel room for the night. It's amazing the reaction a hotel room can elicit in a child. They were already saying it was the best vacation ever and we weren't even to Nashville yet.

We arrived Thursday morning to the most beautiful weather in Nashville we could have hoped for and the kids reconnected so quickly.

We saw old friends and the beautiful bride Thursday night,



had a yummy breakfast - well worth waiting in the line around the building - at Pancake Pantry Friday morning, ran around town all afternoon,



and then more time with friends Friday afternoon and night.

Saturday was all about games and we cheered on all the kids as they played football, more football, and soccer. Actually, Trey and I skipped the last soccer game to enjoy another of our favorite restaurants and spend time with his mom and another sweet friend, Lisa, who has also moved to Nashville.

The wedding itself was incredible and too see two people so in love and excited about starting their new lives together made us all cry several times throughout the ceremony. The reception itself was one big party and we danced so much, my feet still hurt.

Reconnecting with so many people was such a gift to our family. Trey and I have so many memories from Nashville since it was where we really started our marriage and learned to walk through life together.

This was our first house and we loved seeing it had barely changed. We built that porch rail together and planted all the landscaping on weekends one spring.

We were so blessed by our friends in Nashville then and continue to be now. It was a fabulous weekend we'll remember for a long time.


Ray and Kitsie will probably be reminded of us for a long time too since the kids may or may not have hidden snacks under one of the beds in case they got hungry in the middle of the night.

And then forgot to eat them.

It's like a treasure hunt - only not really.