Thursday, July 23, 2015

Apps that Simplify My Life? Yes, Please + First Six Months of 2015 Video

I struggle to keep up with the documentation of so many things about this life I love. 
That's why I am truly thankful for these 2 apps: 

Chat Books - Sorry fellow-instagrammers. I don't really instagram so much with you in mind, (although I'm delighted when you are also interested in my posts) so much as to store the photos that will make up my next Chat Book - perhaps the closest thing to a family photo album I will have until my kids leave for college. It's so easy - every 60 instagram photos go automatically into your next chatbook album, shipped to your door without any interaction from you, for $6.99. This is my speed. (So those times you sense I'm an OVER-SHARER who could not possibly have traveled to so many places and done so many things with my family today? Sorry to flood your feed. I'm actually just filling the last 8 photos in my chat book with photos I forgot to upload over the past 3 months so that our family album will ship to my door in three days.)

1 Second Everyday - I cannot believe how watching a literal second from one day brings the whole thing back. A tiny blip of my boy rolling down the driveway on his balance bike, and I remember the whole scene - the helmet he thanked me for not clipping his chin in, 100 rounds of running beside him on the street in front of our house, the sidewalk chalk hop-scotch fail, and then my surprise at looking up and seeing him start independently at the top of the driveway, and succeed in coasting all the way down for the first time! ALL FROM A 1 SECOND CLIP!!! So it's worth the mental effort to take a video instead of a photo each day. Speaking of worth it... I love this compilation of all the seconds I caught in our first 6 months in 2015.

Friday, June 12, 2015

It's A Date

Sometimes, life might best be expressed through hashtags. Ok, this truth statement only applies to... me? But tonight it really does. I kind of have two share settings: succinct enough to not complete a sentence (hashtagged), or lengthy enough to capture all the thoughts and feels (which is LENGTHY). This evening belongs in the archives, but must also continue with folded laundry, fun recital cards for nieces, and cuddle time with the husband, so tonight I'm choosing the hashtag version. You might even thank me.

#‎itsadate‬ ‪#‎happyheart‬ 
Bedtime last night was the sweetest. Absent photos... Gabe said to me, "Last time, you go a date with Daddy, 'omorrow, you go date with me?" I accepted.

#theplan #awalk #icecream #chocolatewithsugaronit #tractorstruckskeys

 #wewalked #wehadchocolateicecreamwithsugarinit #wetalkedabouttrucksandtractorsandkeys

#ilovemymom #intentionalexpression #thoseeyes #dying


 #youwatchme #isofast #followmemommy #adventuresindodginggoosepoop

 #alltheprettylittlehorses #wherezeke #ilovemybrother

#ihappywithyoudaddy #hestopstalkingonlytosip #twohappyguys

#zekeanddaddycomin? #textingdaddy

#alltogether #datenight #thehillfamily 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What Mamas Really Want: Mother's Day 2015

Some of the highlights of my day were seeing my Mama friends loved on. From morning coffee deliveries to handmade cards, facebook post accolades or on our evening walk the sight of an early teen out in the driveway diligently washing his Mama's car... I loved it all. It's not flowers, breakfasts, gifts, or even homemade crafts we moms want, just the message that we are loved and appreciated, and we'll take it in any form.

Last night after my boys were tucked into bed and I was getting started on the plans I had for my evening, I heard, "Mama... Mama, I have a dream." (This, because the first time I asked Gabe if he had a nightmare, I said, 'Did you have a dream?' And he laughed, because his association with that phrase is from the song in the movie "Tangled," which he then started singing...) Awake from a nightmare 10 minutes after lights out? No way. "Mama, I scared." Also no chance this was the case, but a good effort at getting "Mama" into that room; a bait I was obliged to take. My extroverted, clown of a three year old beckoned me over to his bed, asked me to kiss his cheeks, and then took my hand and began stroking his head the way I sometimes do. I melted, and as I stroked his head and watched those precious eyelids get heavy, I thanked Jesus for a special opportunity to drink in all that being "Mama" really is. Being wanted, called on, appreciated. What a gift.

This morning the sweet twins that woke me up as they crawled in bed with us later kicked me in the eye, fought in the bath tub, and displayed my least-favorite behaviors during lunch. But I know them. I get them. I have seen them conquer physical delays, learn amazing new things, I have seen their souls swell with understanding and compassion, and when they need soothing or help they call for me. They are mine. Independent of their recognition of what I do for them (and independent of my husband's affirmation of these things), the joy that is mine is knowing our Creator entrusted them to me. When my heart explodes at hearing them give unprompted "thank-yous," or my eyes get all teary from watching their handsome little faces when they don't know I'm looking, I share those moments with Jesus. That's as deep and true as it gets. While I appreciate a day to remind us to step back and think about it, no one else has to affirm it or convince me: being a mom is a joy.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lessons in Threes (and Lent.)

On the last book before naptime, Mom falls asleep and wakes up to twins' photographic evidence. Mom says she's just relieved they were busy taking pictures on her phone the whole time.

Lent is trending this year - right? I'm not a high order kind of person; my perception of our faith is basic and free, but darn if we non-denominational freebirds can't get in on some high order traditions that start with MAGNIFICENT ideas that will pierce your heart. (Like taking 40 days to repent and prepare to perceive the reality of what Christ did for us leading up to the celebration of His resurrection.)

I've been participating in this easy to follow Lent study at She Reads Truth, and it has been timely for my soul. There have been a lot of changes up in the Hill huddle, with Daddy getting ready to exit grad school, a plot-twist of a job search, and with these new-found three-year-old identities.  Actually, they've been hard for Mommy lately. Lots more "I do it," and "I WANT to!" around these parts, and while I'm battling that seemingly ever-present attitude up-in-my-face all day, much bigger questions about what God is doing on the job front and where we'll settle are constantly in the back of my mind.

Let's start with the 'tude: I'll just tell you, my boys, the new "I know better" attitude around here is killing me - admittedly, a little bit because this Mommy craves control. But these days, it's like your sense that I know what's best, and I want what's best for you, is waning. You second guess me. You suppose I might even be keeping the good stuff from you. Often. And it's frustrating. Sometimes, it's even hurtful, but not because you are doing anything outside of the perfect natural order of new three-year-olds... The sting is that once again, you've pointed me to my own heart - to my place as daughter of The Creator King, and shown me how very three-year-old I can still be. You've made me stand on the other side of my own questioning, balking, not trusting... The Lord I love most endures this so frequently from me right now, and, (poetically?) I'm walking out how difficult it is, as you, little loves, are asserting your own will, to not just snap at you because I KNOW BETTER! So at the beginning, middle, or end of each day, (or days like yesterday, ALL THREE), I try to get my stuff together. I'll briefly pray about keeping my cool, having patience that's beyond me - shoot, more often than that I've been trying to make realistic lists that will empower me to refrain from any reactions that don't make my pre-approved list! Guess what... NOT WORKING.

Lately, I can't escape the reality of my own failure. Praying as I get up, losing it at breakfast. Making a list before lunch, straying from said list before nap time. But beautifully, seeing the reality of my sin has helped me see the truth of my salvation.

Take this little instance from today... In real life, filtering nothing, here's what happened:

During nap time, I was processing an event from earlier in the day, saying something like... Self? Why don't THEY (whoever they is) just ask those of us who clearly KNOW to speak out on the topic (which was ironically related to parenting)...  I started imagining my dream "Today Show" interview, where my look was modest and fresh, my words were wise and smooth all of which was going splendidly until I was rudely interrupted by my toddlers in the next room who were getting up from their beds at naptime after specifically being told not to for the THIRD time, which is when I stormed in there and yelled so loud it hurt my voice.

*hangs head*

I walked out of there a little shocked at myself, and after cooling down and feeling pretty mortified at such an eruption, I went in to apologize, and had to do it to one sleeping toddler, who'd fallen asleep within five minutes, to the memory of his Mama LOSING HER COOL all over him. Heartbreaking. I had to whisper my apologies and truths to his little sleeping self, hope he could feel the sincere Mama kisses on his cheeks, and trust the Lord to make his dreams peaceful ones, despite me.  

I still felt sick until he woke up and we could talk about it. The talk was good, and it made me feel better, but my words were not erased, and the damage was not undone.

And so it comes back to this: We just can't. WE JUST CANNOT be as good as we want to believe we can. I've been reading lots of the cries of the Israelites and other followers of the Lord, and they sound just like mine- Lord, if You just deliver us in this way, if You just help us with this one thing... (and so quickly the end of the plea becomes) ...Then WE! WE can. WE will! But ya'll... WE WON'T! We don't!! It's tragic and painful, and... it's true. Through all of history. Through my friggin morning. Despite man's best efforts, WE JUST CANNOT STAY GOOD. We need help. And more than each other. We need the divine. We need a Savior.

And He came. I recommend to the highest of highs spending time looking at the days leading up to Jesus' choice to die on the cross. I challenge you. Who could dream up this Savior? Divinity that walks in our shoes, has mercy on us, even offers Himself in our place. And what other way could there be for us to be connected to the Holy of Holies? What could better fulfill the longing in my heart, than to know and be known by such a Savior? I'm looking forward in a new way to celebrating and sharing in the fact that after laying down His life in my place, Jesus lives, and He has made a place for me.

Until then, I'll be busy trying to curb the three-year-old in my own nature, and to stay awake at least until the twins' naptime. If you have other advice for navigating the waters of THREES, I'll be happy to hear from you in the comments...


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Start of Spring, and My Newly Three Mighty Men


Beautiful days. 

"Mommy, I love donuts. You love donuts?" Yes. "Daddy love donuts?" Yes. "Zeke love donuts?" Yes.
 "All the Hill family love donuts!" 

There are so many things about my newly THREE-year-old boys that are FUN. Your new fixation on family and names. Asking and answering intentional questions at dinner and telling stories... Zeke's new character "Baby" and the never-ending pretend game you two pop in and out of.

My new favorite Gabe sentence is, "I will, Mama." It comes so unexpectedly every time, and sounds so seasoned and confident. Gabe, pick up your shoes before someone coming in the door trips over them. "I will, Mama." Hey boys, we're going to hurry up and clean up our project so we can go take lunch to Daddy. "I will, Mama!" (That's my boy!) My favorite Zeke development these days is all physical. Who ever could have guessed that the child who refused to roll over, to crawl, we worried might never walk, would run exactly 64 laps around our living room coffee table this week, or run beside the stroller at a light Mommy pace for 3/4 mile? Daddy and I also love that Zeke is always wanting to share beyond what is "fair." Frequently, after hearing a brother told that it is not his turn, Zeke is heard saying, "Gabe, yes! Gabe, yes!" and extending what he has to brother bear. A sweet and generous heart. Gabe, your love of the Bible softens my heart so often when I am in a hurry, and trying to cut corners (like Bible time) to keep to our schedule, but it IS childlike faith, and I love to see how much you just sincerely want to learn about God, to the exclusion of everything else.

This last photo is my favorite from our almost-spring walk. Gabe, you took Zeke's hand, and asked,  
"How a' you today, Zeke?" All the conversation and hand-in-hand trail exploring that followed had my heart exploding.
What makes Mommy and Daddy happier than watching you two do life together? Not much. You're growing in every way, stepping more confidently away from our little nest every day, and wowing us all the way. XO Mighty Men. 
You are and will always be so loved. ~Mommy and Daddy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

January in a flash (One Second Every Day)

Hello February-

Your arrival was a bit unexpected, and yet we welcome you always with your "Love" emphasis and four family birthdays and all... I know you're the short month, but could you...? Would you? Slow down a teency bit?


January, In a Flash
(One Second Every Day)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Very THREE Birthday

Zeke and Gabe,

How fabulous that you are such tall 40-inch, 34 and 32 lb boys, on to the adventures, mischief, and joys of being three. Mommy has accepted that the baby stage is behind us, although I'm still holding on to little glimpses of my once-babes, like the way that Gabe still bounces vertically, walking or running, on his way from room to room, and how Zeke still delays his answer to ANY question (an imitation of Mom's infamous deliberation about everything) with, "Ummmm, hmmmmmmn...." even when you've already decided what you will say. But I also welcome the new habits. As you are taking in so many new things -and understanding them- Zeke's way of processing is to say, "Mommy! Mommy!" and then to point out or explain out loud what he sees. Gabe is always saying, "What happened, Mama?" and then phrasing in a question the observation he has made. I love it. (We can have full conversations about EVERYTHING now!)

Everyone has been out of school this week due to the loads of snow we got! We celebrated Daddy's birthday on Tuesday night after Mommy finished teaching. We all went over to Grandmarmy's house for a wonderful Greek dinner and good times all around. After cake, playtime, and long goodbyes, we began the trek *haha* home. Half way up the driveway, Daddy asked me to give him back the key. (That's when Mommy remembered laying the keys down in the house on her quick errand before locking up to run back across the street.) It was really cold, so straight back into Grandmarmy's house we went, with pitiful *locked out* faces, and after Daddy decided our locked house is impenetrable, Grandmarmy fixed us up on her futons and we had a very fun sleepover at her house. (A birthday Daddy will never forget.)

On Thursday, the forecast was high of 9 deg, low of -7. You both walked into our room whispering, "Me, birthday?" It absolutely was, and Mommy and Daddy were ready! Gabe spotted the new book we'd hidden behind our headboard before we could attempt a reveal, so we snuggled in and read what used to be one of your favorite library books, "Hickory Dickory Dock." Then we went downstairs and had Daddy's smoothies while Mommy made you funfetti pancakes, which you loved. After breakfast your gifts magically appeared in front of the fireplace: bright red balance bikes, and a tee-ball set! The rest of the morning was spent on those bikes. It was a blast. After your nap, Katherine and Cam, Grandpoppy, Grandmarmy, Addie, and Eli came over for your birthday dinner, and we ate, laughed, played, and enjoyed several twin performances.

We had big plans for a birthday party on Saturday, but more snow shut down the possibility of out-of-towners making it in. For awhile, we thought the icy forecast might mean no one could come, but our across-the-street crew and Pete and Astleigh were not going to miss it, so the party went on, and we had a lovely relaxed party-day together.

One of my favorite moments of the week was right before family arrived that morning. After making peace with the fact that we had not cleaned for a party (since the forecast indicated all humans might hibernate that day) and that our local family would soon arrived to a non-picked up house, the weather also delayed said family members, at which time Mommy flew into a frenzy to clean it all up. Daddy was cleaning the kitchen, and you boys were riding your new bikes. Then Gabe spotted his Bible, opened up to the page where Jesus is on the cross, Zeke came over and you both asked Daddy to tell you about it. So Daddy stopped what he was doing and sat down on the kitchen floor with you, and together you poured over every page of the gospel message, so many great questions, so many beautiful answers. Stopping to watch it was way better than the last minute cover-up mission Mom had been on. I don't have any photos of it - just the mental picture that will never leave me.

Here's to a great year of new explorations, and deeper understandings of SO MANY THINGS! Daddy and I love you so much, always!