Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Traditions? Humbug.

Even though it's been a few days since I've posted anything - and we've had a whole holiday and an Aggie win in between - I still logged onto my computer this morning wondering what in the world I was going to write about.

Then, I saw it. The ad. My BlogHer ad this morning has a tagline that literally made me laugh out loud.

"Creating new traditions is the best part of the holidays."

Really? Now, I'm pretty conservative scientifically but now I'm trying to figure out what kind of wacky alternate universe these people are living in where "new traditions" are being created.

Clearly, not mine.

The whole POINT of a tradition is the fact that you can sink into it like a warm bath. You know what to expect. You can COUNT ON IT. Changing them - or trying to come up with new ones every year totally defeats the purpose. Finding a new broccoli rice recipe every year? Or sweet potato recipe? The madness! The pressure! What if it BOMBS? Just imagining the utter humiliation is more than I can take.

Now, I'm not saying I don't have a little fun with the traditions. I've told you before that I sometimes threaten to mix it up with the sweet potatoes and substitute Splenda instead of sugar just to get a rise out of my sister-in-law. But I would never actually DO IT! I will throw a new pie in the mix every once in a while for fun just because I'm nutty that way. But, in the end, I love knowing what to expect. We may change locations. We may circle around the table with more or less people each year but when we sit down, a few things never change and I like it that way.

By Thanksgiving day, I had totally lost my voice so my brother and I texted Happy Thanksgiving to each other. And, to my ultimate comfort, he still found a way to be snarky even though we weren't actually talking.

He also sent me this picture.

One of the things my mom always made for Thanksgiving was this Dill Bread. It's fabulous and smells delicious and makes the best leftover turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce you've ever had in your life. Ever.

I haven't had the recipe until now and it's become very clear to me that my mother liked my brother best because he has it and it's all in her handwriting and stuff meaning she wrote it out for him years ago. Without a computer. She probably signed it, "you're my favorite".


For sure, this will be added to our Thanksgiving next year, even if I'm the only one who eats it. Except Trey will eat it because he'll love it. Or he'll pretend he does so he won't hurt my feelings.

It won't actually be a new tradition but an old one introduced. And that can be some of the very best part of the holidays.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Redemption and collard greens.

Even though it's been a few days, Sadie and I are still celebrating the do-over that was granted Thursday afternoon. She did great and Graham, Olivia, and Tee even came out of class to watch. Perhaps they were worried I might not show again and they could together make up for my absence.
No need. I was there 30 minutes before she was supposed to present with my nose pressed up against the window, fogging up the glass with my breathing.

That was one tough lesson and I've found it so true that what doesn't kill us at least shames us enough to double check our calendar next time.

On another note, I made collard greens Thursday night for Darius' class' Thanksgiving potluck. Apparently, he told his beautiful teacher that I made really good greens and she asked that I contribute those to the meal. I suffered no small amount of shame when I had to confessed that the only greens I've ever served were from a can. It was a not a proud moment.

Just because I've never made them, though, doesn't mean I don't love them and I asked if she'd let her class be my very first tasters. She was willing and I was petrified.

Why? The dirt. All I've ever heard about cooking greens is that they're actually not that hard, you just have to MAKE SURE YOU WASH THEM LIKE CRAZY! The worst thing is to bite into a forkful of beautiful collards only to be met with grit.

The worst thing.

I washed them like a precious newborn babe. Eight giant bunches of them.

While I was washing, I brought my water to a nice boil and added my neck bones and seasoning just like Paula Deen told me to in a vision, or on the Food Network. Even though everyone from Darius' teacher to the lady behind me in line at the grocery store told me how to make 'em, I just felt better with a recipe I could quadruple.

Note: when quadrupling a recipe, you might think twice about quadrupling the salt. If you do, your greens might turn out tasting good but slightly over salted producing post-consumption eye puffiness and extreme thirst.

Like you've been walking for hours in a desert.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, I'd love to show you pictures of Sadie and my first attempt at collard greens but my computer's hard drive is bidding me a slow and painful farewell so I'm having to type this whole thing on my phone while driving to San Antonio for Thanksgiving.

That, my friends, is commitment. Or a way to look distracted so I don't have
to do the "Sic Em, Bears" claw thing with the rest of the car as we drive through Waco.

Seriously. Trey made us. And the whole thing makes me curious...so, at Baylor, it's ok to basically encourage your team to claw your opponent's face off like a ferocious wild animal but you'd better not dance the two-step.

Just one of the things that makes me go hmmmmm.

Happy Thanksgiving from me and my jive turkeys!

Gig Em.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do Over.

When it comes to giving advice, or counsel, especially to moms, I tend to sit pretty solidly in the grace camp. Not always, but mostly. Mostly a lot of the time.

I would have been the first to say breast feeding your child is so important but, if it get's too hard, or painful, or frustrating, there are great formulas out there and you're not a terrible mom for hanging up your nursing bra.

Unfortunately, I don't always extend myself the same latitude. I nursed Graham for four months with off and on infections and terrible pain because I felt like a failure for giving it up.

1. I'm sorry if you're eating while reading this.
2. I don't think other mom's are failures - just me. I wish there was a chocolate bar for that but I've yet to find one.

Anyway, over the years I've seen and talked with many a mom who feel like failures in the role they're in. They've lost their child's most beloved trinket. They've said things they would give anything to take back. They've forgotten important moments in their kid's lives and I feel like I'm usually pretty quick to tell them to give themselves a break - people make mistakes - and we mom's can't be perfect.

Right? Riiiiiight.

Yesterday afternoon, I'm piddling around, doing kind of a whole lot of nothing at the house. I cleaned it a little, read a little, talked on the phone to some friends, and took a much needed bath. I wasn't in meetings, appointments, or even running important errands.

When I pulled up to school to pick up carpool, I saw several friends walking out with their first graders and their projects - the Sea Turtle project we'd been working on and that Sadie was scheduled to present today, Thursday afternoon.

Or Wednesday afternoon.


I totally missed it. I missed my baby girl's first-ever presentation where she had to be nervous all alone and stand up in front of her class without her mom even in the audience. She wasn't even really ready because we hadn't practiced like we always do the night before presentations.

Insert big, ugly cry where I had to use my friend's son's sweater as a tissue.

Sorry Carrie. Sorry Holt. And sorry Ralph Lauren.

I pulled up and Sadie had her little face buried in her brother's chest and he was stroking her hair. As she ran to my car and immediately climbed into my lap, I thought, "What kind of mother DOES this? How could I miss this baby's first presentation? That's my JOB - to be there - sitting in her little desk with my knees in my chin so that, when she gets nervous, she can look at my face and be reassured and OK and know I'm cheering for her! What the heck? I suck."

The self-flagellation continued all afternoon even though she was over it in about five minutes. When we got home, she grabbed my hand and said, "Mom, let's go upstairs and fnuggle and talk about our feelings."

Although I didn't share all my feelings with her six-year-old self, I told her over and over again I was so sorry I missed it and she was quick to forgive.

My friends and my husband said what I would say to anyone else. Mistakes happen. We're not perfect. Kids are resilient. Give yourself a break. But, I think it's so interesting, even when I believe them for others, I don't always apply those principles to myself.

I'm learning another contradiction of my life and it's no es bueno. Or bueno. Depending on how you look at it. I know I'm not perfect - nowhere close - but letting others down makes me feel horrible.

This afternoon, Sadie gets a do-over and she'll give her presentation again with us there. It's the first thing she said to me this morning, as did Graham - seven times. Bless his heart.

It's a good lesson for me to learn to believe truths not only for others, but also for myself. And learn from the quick and sincere forgiveness of a six year-old child.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random 2. Or 3.

Two things.

1. In yesterday's post, I may have inadvertantly undersold the fabulousness of being able to make caramel by boiling a can of Eagle Brand for four hours. KEEP IT UNDER WATER! I actually boiled two cans because I'm both a skeptic and have a sweet tooth. I was also committed enough to the whole pie contest that I started boiling the stuff at 9:30p.m. and set my alarm for 1:30a.m. to take it off the burner. That, my friends, is resolve. Or crazy. Either one.

The fun thing is that, for the past four mornings now, I've woken up to my alarm going off at 1:30a.m. I get up, turn it off, and go back to sleep (READ: Trey gets up, turns it off, goes back to bed while I barely stir). Then, I forget all about the alarm (or at least him telling me about the alarm) until it happens all over again.

Because I love him, I'm turning it...hang on...ok...here we go...OFF...now. Much to Trey's delight, my selflessness sometimes takes days to actually manifest itself.

The kids and I ate an entire can of caramel with spoons for breakfast Saturday morning. Let the Mom of the Year nominations begin.

2. On another note, I heard a quote the other day from George Grant. He was the famous inventor of the golf tee but that's not the one I'm talking about. This George Grant is actually a pastor, author, and all around smarty pants. He spoke at a Covenant event the other night and said something I've been thinking about for days. I like it.

"May the works of our hands bear witness to the faith of our lives."

3. Sadie is finishing a class project as we speak. She just ran upstairs and yelled, "Guys! Come look! My sea turtle looks like poop!" Trey, who has been working with her for hours, shook his head in defeat because, as she stands in front of her class and gives her first presentation on Thursday, she may just include that observation.

That was actually three things but Quincy has been here talking over my shoulder for the past few minutes and I may have lost concentration along the way.

Can you understand why? He's saying something about his new girlfriend, Shayla, so I'd better give him my undivided attention.

Y'all have a good night.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Neighborhood Potluck

Friday, I needed you. I needed your recipes. I needed your pie-expertise and you answered the call. Mercy Street was having a pie cook-off and, although I'm really not competitive at all, I had to win.

Reading that last part does seem like a little bit of a contradiction but I assure you, my motives were completely pure - I had to beat the fire outta my nine year old.

I mean, look at her. She's a force to behold in the kitchen.

The problem was, with end of the year flag football games and parties in the morning, and the general running around I had to do before the event, I kind of ran out of time to make all your pie recipes.

I was willing to enter eight pies and perhaps increase my chances by sheer odds but time was my enemy.

I made this pie first because Trey was a judge and his favorite is apple. It also has the Mercy Street Logo cut out of the crust because I'm nothing if not a suck-up.

Can you see it? It really did look cool but that may not translate in the picture Tee took on his lap, in the car, on the way to the Potluck, with my phone.

Unfortunately, instead of Trey being a judge, they brought in the big guns: Pastry Chef Laura.

Seriously, look at her in her pink chef's coat. Intimidating to say the least.

One pie I did get to make of your recipes, though, was the Banana Caramel Pie from Dina. If I'm perfectly honest, when a recipe has the words "might explode" in it - I'm gonna try it. I've put the recipe on my Recipe Page along with some others you sent me because they sounded so awesome and I can't wait to spend my Thanksgiving break trying them all. With milk. And stretchy pants.

Here were the final entries.

The little girl on the left with glasses is Daisha. She's my Mother-in-Law's mentee and so sweet. I was actually running so late that I assembled my pie in the Mercy Street kitchen with Daisha's help. She did such a good job smashing Macadamia Nuts that I put her name on the pie.

Guess who won First Place? Daisha - and her Caramel Banana Cream Pie! WHOOHOO!!! She went home with 50 American Dollars! Thanks, Dina!

Olivia, even though she won second place with her Coconut Cream, has just started speaking to me again. Not really. She was a great sport and, along with the whole community, really loved the event.

Everyone got plenty to eat.

Plenty of fellowship in the beautiful weather.

And plenty of horseback riding.

The community really came out in droves, bringing their favorites and stayed until sunset laughing, playing, and enjoying one another.

It's days like this one that affirm to all of us why we're here - to see a community transformed into one that delights in the Lord's greatest creation - His people.

And his pies.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I like pie.

Once afternoon, after a magnificent birthday party where the kids received helium balloons with a removable stopper, I taught them how to inhale the helium and then speak like a cast member of an Alvin and the Chipmunks made for t.v. movie.

It was fun.

Except, the kids were laughing so hard, they wouldn't actually talk. They'd just say, "Hi." in a really piercing key and all the dogs in the neighborhood would start to howl.

"Guys! Say something else! Say something else!"

In between all of Tee's laughter, all he could think to say was, "I like pie."


Although basically useless information, it does, however, create a nice segue for my cry for help.

Mercy Street is hosting a Neighborhood Pot Luck this Saturday afternoon. Along with the usual hams, potato salads, and jello molds we're hoping the community will bring, there is also a highly anticipated chili cook-off and pie baking competition.

I've got a pretty good chili recipe but I'm out on pie recipes. Olivia has been talking smack all week about her coconut cream pie and how it's going to knock it out of the park. Humility is a gift we're still unwrapping.

I've tried to show her I'm not scared but I am. I am scared. It's a really great pie and, although I love her and want the very best for her, I just don't know if I can live in a house where my own child beats me at my own game. With my own recipe.

I need help, people - big help and I knew I could come to you in my hour of bakery need.

Which one of you out there would like to loan me a recipe so I can put that little 9 year old to shame? I mean, so I can be used by the Lord as a tool to sanctify her? Who's got the mother of all pie recipes, capable of winning community potlucks, and at the same time, has access to it instead of it being locked in a safety deposit box in your grandmother's hometown?

When, I mean if, I win, I'll be sure to give you credit - unless, of course I'm swept up in the moment of receiving my trophy like Sadie was at her end of the year soccer party.

Highly probable.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans' Day!

Seriously, I love myself a little sap. Give me a good underdog story, I'm in. A story of a Texas H.S. football team playing a group of kids from the juvenile prison and how the whole town cheered for the incarcerated teens, I'm weeping like a baby.

But this video did me in. I was a blubbering mess, crying so hard Dea came in to check on me. And to laugh at my sniffling and boo-hooing.

But then, total vindication. Trey = big ol' man tears. I double-dog dare you not to cry.

Today, and everyday, we are thankful for the men and women who serve our country and who have fought in wars to defend our freedom.

You too, Bryan. And Grandpa. Thank you. I love you!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homecoming pics.

Last week totally got away from me and I didn't get to post pictures from Pinkston's Homecoming Dance. It may have had something to do with my having to speak to a women's retreat at Pine Cove on Saturday morning. Instead of blogging or, basically anything else, I spent most of the week curled up in the fetal position on my floor praying I wouldn't actually have to stand in front of people and talk. I'm sure that makes my father so thankful he dropped all those Benjamins on my education since my major was...wait for it...Speech Communication. I'm thinking I may have overslept the morning they taught us about overcoming stage fright. Actually, for 4.2 seconds, I considered the Margarita because I have certainly seen it help others overcome their stage fright.

Then, thankfully, reason set in, 1. it was 8 a.m. and 2. they seem to work best when karaoke is involved and I was fairly certain there would be no karaoke involved.

Anyway, Pinkston's homecoming was a blast and all the kids had a great time. Darius especially seemed excited when I showed up about 1/2 way through the evening with my camera and my gigantic zoom lens. I mean, really, what High School Senior boy doesn't love his momma showing up to his dance, running around asking all his friends to smile?

I'll tell you, no High School Senior boy!

This is Sebastian looking dapper with his date.

These girls were so beautiful and had so much fun!

And these two worked hard to pull the whole thing off.

At then end of the night, I definitely had flashbacks watching all the Student Council help clean up in their dresses, suits, and socks. It used to take us forever to get all those crepe paper streamers down. These guys were having more trouble with the fake cobwebs and headstones that decorated Mercy Street for the Halloween themed bash.

The whole night, I also had Homecoming circa 1988 flashbacks of my over-permed and over-Final Netted hair and my taffeta bubble dress with the poufy sleeves. They are probably another investment my father is so glad he made.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And the winner's are...

Gooooooooooooooood Morning, Campers! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and were able to sleep after eating boatloads of Milk Duds, Almond Joys, and Peanut M&M's.

Maybe that was just me.

I've spent the latter part of the hour picking a winner with random integers, and counting, and cutting and pasting. It was such hard work, I had to stop a couple of times to rest and regroup with a Twix and another box of Milk Duds.

You know, when they say 'Fun Size', they are really not lying.

One of my favorite lines of our Halloween night was, after Dea and I had been sitting outside for a while handing out candy, he turned to me and said, "Mrs. Hill, you really did good. You know, black folks love Reese's Cups and you bought lots of them."

I said, "Dea, ALL folks love Reese's Cups." and we ate two more each just to prove it.

Ok, the winners of the CrossMakers' crosses are...


Leventhal Family


Lea - I don't have a link for you - your comment went something like this..."Beautiful! I love ... you ... your ...amazing ...amazing ... genes. :)" I may have edited it a little for space but you get the picture.

Y'all email me at the8hills@gmail.com and I'll get these shipped out to you!

Happy Monday!