30 Day Giving Challenge : Superstorm Sandy

We’ve all seen the footage on the television and Internet. I’ll admit it. It’s so upsetting, I can’t really even watch anymore. All of those people affected by such a crazy, freakish storm. So many without electricity. So many without water. So many without so much.

The question that comes is of course, “What can I do?” I know there are people heading up north from Atlanta to physically lend a hand. I TOTALLY admire them. However, I don’t feel called to leave my family. And, let’s be real…40 year old short lady with bad knees would not be much help.

Fortunately, I can donate money from our “give fund,” and we plan to do that.

In addition, I plan to collect items at my Operation Christmas Child party on Tuesday that can be sent up to those in need. If you are coming to the party and want to help, please bring:

  • Feminine products
  • Bottles
  • First Aid Kits
  • Cough Drops
  • Cough Medicine

I will box up everything contributed and pay for the shipping to get it to those who need it. I’m getting an address from this blogger who is in the thick of it.

Are you looking for a way to give? Check out some of these possibilities.

I know there are MANY other organizations out there helping out. If you have one you want to share, please leave a link in the comments.

My heart hurts for the people in the Northeast. I’m praying for them each and every day. But, I feel I’ve got to DO something. So I am!

Have you ever felt that way?

Follow the 30 Day Giving Challenge on Twitter and Facebook.

30 Day Giving Challenge Day One 2012

The House of Hills is once again participating in the


Our goal is to give something EVERY day of the month. Big or small, every give is a gift to someone! Join the giving with us. We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

Day one was an easy one for us. I already had a writers’ meeting scheduled for November 1st, and I always make lunch for my writing team.

About a year ago, we realized we we were outgrowing my office space for our monthly meeting so we moved it to my house. Now, my writing team arrives to a warm breakfast casserole made by the queen of breakfast casseroles, Deb, and I usually have something going in the slow cooker for lunch. The house smells of whatever dessert I just pulled from the oven, and it makes for an awesome meeting environment.

Because of the cold snap that accompanied Superstorm Sandy, I decided to make chili for the ladies. I made taco soup last month and didn’t want to repeat myself. I felt chili was far enough away but still easy to get started that morning.

I searched my Main Dishes Pinterest Board and found this chili recipe from my friend Mary. She claimed it was awesome.

My team would agree with her. It was was SO YUMMY… just the right balance of spicy and hearty. I highly recommend the recipe.

I also threw a quick batch of brownies (from a box – ack!) in the oven that morning. They didn’t seem to mind that they weren’t my usual homemade ones.

The team LOVES that Deb and I cook for them each month. And, we LOVE to do it for them. Nothing says I love and appreciate you more than a nice, home-cooked meal (in my humble opinion).

What are your favorite recipes to give?

Follow the 30 Day Giving Challenge on Twitter and Facebook.


The Not So “Drama” Mama

I’ve been a “Drama Mama” for over a year now. It’s not a role I ever thought I’d have in my life. I mean sure, I wanted to be a mama – since I was old enough to know I could be one. And, I figured when I gave birth to a mini-me there was going to be some drama. But I never saw myself being a “Drama Mama.”

The mom that drives hours every week just so her child can get to rehearsals and shoots. The mom who sits and waits and sits and waits and waits some more while her child performs. The mom that willingly works wherever she can pull out her laptop so that her child can experience everything there is to experience about the theater. The mom who seriously needs to learn how to french braid, but can do some awesome stage makeup.

I’ve become that mom.
And, I like it.

I like it because I’m able to watch my child totally consumed by something she loves. I like it because I have watched my child grow in ways I never even thought of. I like it because I get to see my child use her God given talent to teach others about His love. I like it because when I watch my child perform she is full of passion and joy and confidence. It’s really amazing.

However, there’s a side of the “Drama Mama” role that’s selfish too. You see, where there is one drama mama, there are more drama mamas. We’re ALL sitting and waiting. We have a common bond, and we kinda enjoy each other. What you see on TV… ya, that’s not real. What’s real is a group of women joined together wanting what is best for the entire troupe. What’s real is a group of women who work hard to make sure the show is the best it can be and that EVERY child shines. That’s real. And, I love it.

Yesterday, a local news station filmed a rehearsal at Mags’ studio, Off Broadway Dance. It was a special rehearsal called for 7:45AM on a Monday morning so that they could be filmed and interviewed. The reporter was hoping to a have a few kids there for the story. EVERYONE showed up (minus two who were devastated they couldn’t be there, but had prior commitments). Not only did they show up, but they were EXCITED to be there. They couldn’t wait to share their passion with this reporter. They wanted her to see what they LOVE to do.

And, show her they did. The drama mamas were oh so very proud!

To see the news story click here.

I think the reporter was a little surprised by the lack of drama in the “Drama Mamas.” What she found was a group that acts like a family, each member having something unique to give, and everyone better because of the group.

Is your child involved in a group activity? How has it grown him/her?

I don’t get much face time…

Yesterday, I sat down to write a quick blog post after my Instagram and Twitter feeds received lots of feedback on a picture I had posted.

I had taken a gift to my child’s parent/teacher conference, and my friends thought it was a great idea. It appeared blog worthy, and I wanted to share other thoughts on how to honor a teacher since parent/teacher conferences are this week in my county.

I apparently hit a nerve in a multitude of people because my blog had more traffic than it ever has in its entire existence last night. I was really excited. People were sharing what I had to say. I must have said something of value. Then, I got a comment that wasn’t exactly supportive.

The commenter basically alluded to the fact that I am letting teachers raise my child. When I first read it, I was offended. But, then I pondered. The commenter has every right to write his/her opinion. I can delete it if I really want to. I have that power. However, what was my reaction telling me about me? I feel that whenever I’m offended I need to look at the “why” in me. Why does that bother me?

The more I pondered, the more I realized that I truly don’t think I’m letting teachers raise my child. Yes, she spends seven hours a day with other people influencing her. Yes, I allow and even encourage that. Because that is what’s best for our family right here, right now. It’s not what’s best for everyone’s family. It might not even be best for our family six months from now. But, right now, that’s where we feel God has led her to be.

Here’s the thing. She’s ten. I was home with her full-time for the first two years of her life and then working at her preschool (often with her) for the next two. While her foundation was being built, I was in every piece of it. Her dad was in every piece of it. God was in every piece of it. Then it was time to open the door and let her shine her light.

She is a beacon for the Lord. Her joy and confidence and all out love of life shower everyone around her with God’s love. When it was time to decide where she was supposed to go to school, God led us to send her to public school. Has it always been easy? No. Has God convicted us to change the plan yet? No. Are we open to His changing the plan? Always.

In yesterday’s post, I said “I don’t get much face time.” And, I don’t get as much as I used to. But, I think that’s okay. The time I do get is rich with conversation and love. It’s time that we cherish as a family and try not to waste. She’s at a stage in life where she’s becoming more independent, her own person. She shouldn’t need me as much. She needs to trust herself and her God to lead her. Her dad and I are now touch points. We’re safe places to come to when she needs help and is trying to figure out how to deal with something. Her foundation is strong. Now, she just needs us to help her smooth out the rough edges that come with being a tween. But the journey is hers. I don’t need to be in her face all the time.

My girl starts and ends her day with me, her dad, and her Heavenly Father. The time in between she knows we are all there with her, but she’s doing it on her own.

And, isn’t that the goal?

One Year Without My Katie

It’s been ONE YEAR since my Katie went to dance with Jesus.

One year without her amazing smile.

One year without her laugh.

One year without her sarcastic roll of the eyes.

One year without watching her cuddle with her children.

One year without crazy phone conversations about anything and everything.

One year since she’s had to be stuck with a needle.

One year since she has suffered in pain.


We’ve gotten through the year of firsts.
The first summer, the first football season, the first Christmas.
We made it to the one year anniversary.

I wasn’t sure how today was going to go.
I thought maybe I’d be upset.
I thought maybe I would be in denial.

What I didn’t expect was…


Did I miss my Katie today? OH YES!
Did I remember what I was doing EVERY minute of this day last year? OH YES!
Did my heart hurt? OH YES!

However, my overall feeling is one of being TRULY BLESSED!

Blessed to have an amazing husband to hold me when I cry.
Blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who continue to check on how I’m doing.
Blessed by texts that say “I’m thinking about and praying for you today.”
Blessed by friends who send herbs rather than flowers because that’s more me.
Blessed by emails and Facebook posts that let me know I am loved.
Blessed by The Sisters who have held me through this year and had lunch with me today.
Blessed by a boss who understood that I couldn’t work today.
Blessed by my loving heavenly Father whose hand has so obviously been in every detail of this year and the years preceding it.

I will never understand why my Katie had to leave me (us). I will always mourn that her earthly body wasn’t strong enough to fight the evil that invaded it. No, I will never understand that her children had to lose their mother.

But, here is something I KNOW…

God has been GLORIFIED daily throughout Katie’s sickness and her death. His name has been lifted in song and praise. People have come to serve Him through her story. She has left an amazing legacy.

I am humbled and blessed to be a small part.

I miss you my Katie.

Christmas Letter 2011

Merry Christmas from the House of Hills!!!

The biggest news of 2011 was our move into our new home! Last Christmas, we were living in our temporary home (thanks F’s). This year we are celebrating in our little cottage and LOVING it. We’ve got a great neighborhood, excellent schools, and shorter commutes. It doesn’t get any better than that!

This is a picture of our courtyard before we moved in. We loved watching the build process and seeing it become our home. It’s a great house for entertaining (read that as it has an awesome kitchen) so come by any time!

Our Maggie is now a fourth grader. This is VERY hard for Mommy to take as that would be a grade she used teach, and those are “big kids.” The girl becomes more independent daily. (Unless of course she’s sick or tired and then can be found in Mommy’s lap.) Somehow I ended up being room mom this year, but it’s been fun and enjoyable to be back in the classroom some without all the paperwork.

This is the first day of school. She’s already gotten “older” than this. It’s crazy.

In addition to excelling at school, Maggie has become involved in musical theater. This summer she took a week long camp at Off Broadway Dance and played Thomas O’Malley in the “Aristocats.”

She decided she LOVED singing and dancing and being the villain, and was cast as Jasper in “101 Dalmatians.”

She auditioned for an made the company’s competition troupe and is now in rehearsals for “Mulan” in which she is mainly ensemble and has a few lines as a Hun. The troupe has performed several times this fall in preparation for the competition in February at Disney.

David and I continue to keep busy. David is still working at North Point Community Church as the North Point Store Operations Director (and, yes, I just had to ask what his title is). I am still the Editor-in-Chief of the First Look curriculum for Orange. I’m not sure what that title means, but I keep busy and curriculum gets loaded each month! We also started a new small group in March, and have so enjoyed the new relationships. We are both enjoying living closer to our church friends and have entertained quite a bit in our new home.

Here we are at my Christmas party. That man of mine… always making me laugh. We celebrated 13 years of marital bliss this December. So blessed.

We lost my best friend Katie this year. After years of fighting, the cancer finally won. I was with her until the end and honored to give the eulogy at her celebration service. (You can read it on the March 4th entry in her Caring Bridge Journal if you like.) While I (and MANY others) continue to struggle with missing her, we are learning to celebrate her time with us and figuring out how to live without her. We as a family are very involved with her kids and husband. I am so thankful that our move also brought us closer to their home. The silver lining in the pain are the amazing friendships that have formed in our mourning.

My Katie was an awesome lady whose ten years of friendship I will ALWAYS cherish.

We went to Disney TWICE this year! I was lucky enough to go to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in March. It was AMAZING! We surprised Maggie with that trip via a video David and I made. Watching her reaction was almost as fun as the trip. The March trip was so much fun and just what our family needed at that time. We felt so blessed to be able to go.

Then, I surprised both David and Maggie with a three day trip in November on our way to the beach for the Thanksgiving.

There is NOTHING more amazing than Disney decorated for the holidays. It’s so beautiful. We had a great time, and it was so cool to be able to surprise them both.

Throughout the year, we’ve enjoyed multiple gatherings with friends and family. Maggie’s cousins continue to play an important role in her life, and she enjoys getting together with them often.

These are the cousins from David’s side where Maggie is the youngest (by 8 weeks).

These are the cousins from my side (minus the youngest) where Maggie is the oldest (by 8 weeks). Maggie is especially close to E who is the only other girl in the gaggle of crazy on my side. They stick together on the annual Thanksgiving trip to the beach and at family gatherings at my mom’s.

That’s pretty much all that’s been going on in the House of Hills this year. If you’re stopping by because of our Christmas card, know that I post on this blog all year long. It’s the easiest way to keep up with us!

We wish for all our family and friends (and my amazing readers) a Christmas full of peace, joy, and love.

Christmas Advent Ebook : Truth in the Tinsel

I am SO EXCITED to share this book with you today. My real and bloggy friend, Amanda, has created an AMAZING resource for you and your children. AMAZING I say.

Amanda has taken each day of December and made it a teaching opportunity for your child as well as a crafting opportunity. What an awesome way to spend the month celebrating the birth of our savior – quality time with our children reading scripture, discussing it and making it real for our littlest family members.

Here’s a few of my favorite things about this book:

  • There is a (short) scripture reading for each day. Each day you open the Bible with your child. Love that.
  • The crafts are EASY – mostly using things you have around the house. Meaning you don’t have to be super-mom in order to pull them off.
  • Amanda gives you the words to say in order to discuss the scripture with your children. What a gift.
  • There are multiple plans – as in you DON’T have to do a craft EVERY DAY if that overwhelms you. Just pick a plan and do several throughout the month.

This FABULOUS book will be available TOMORROW – BLACK FRIDAY at a reduced rate!

Do yourself a favor a pick up a copy!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this ebook to preview. ALL opinions are my own.


30 Day Give : Day 13

Today I cleaned the bathrooms.

Yes, I consider this a “give.” I DO NOT like to clean the bathrooms. Nobody in this house does. So, when I do it, I consider it a give.

In fact, today I cleaned the bathrooms, did several loads of laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, and multiple other things.

On my birthday.

And you know what… I was SO VERY THANKFUL the entire time I was doing it.

Thankful for bathrooms to clean.

Thankful for a house to live in.

Thankful that I could stop and have a snack when I wanted.

Thankful I had a daughter to care for (she’s got bronchitis).

Thankful for my family.

Just, thankful.

So, my give to my family was cleaning the bathrooms.

The give I received from my Heavenly Father – so very much more.


30 Day Give : Day 6

30-Day Giving Challenge

Today’s “give” was easy. I served at my church. It’s not something I did because of the 30 Day Giving Challenge. It’s something I do EVERY Sunday. A couple years ago I pulled back to serving every other Sunday. I hated it. I like to be in there, helping EVERY Sunday.

I’ve been serving in the preschool environment at my church for over 10 years. I was there before I had the Princess, and I’m still there now that she’s moved on to the elementary environment. Why do I serve in preschool EVERY Sunday?

Because preschoolers are the most important people in that building!

It’s true.  Preschoolers are often overlooked and just baby-sat, but they are little sponges just waiting to absorb anything and everything they encounter. What an amazing opportunity we have to teach them that God made them, God loves them, and Jesus wants to be their friend forever. (For more information on the curriculum we use, visit Orange.) It is truly an honor to serve with leaders who influence the next generation every Sunday.

Today, I had a rough one. We had one little girl who was in full tantrum when Mom dropped her off. I mean FULL tantrum. Like kicking, screaming, flailing. Whew! I held her through it so she wouldn’t hurt herself and was rewarded with those exhausted sighs and limp hugs that come at the end. Then, we took a walk and she was ready to go learn and play with her class. When mom picked her up, she came and gave me a hug and snuggle and told me that next week she wasn’t going to cry.

And that’s why I go back each week. Because, no matter how small a difference, I am making a difference in at least one child’s life each week. I love it.

Do you serve somewhere on a regular basis?

I’m turning 40! Let’s Party!

Yes, it’s true…

I’m turning 40! And, soon!

So, it’s time to get ready to party. Whoop!

I’m having another Operation Christmas Child Birthday Party just like last year.

This year’s goal is 120 boxes – 3 for every year that I’ve been alive.

Do you think we can do it? We did 89 last year. I think we can do 120! I do!

We’ve moved the party to my office since it won’t fit in our little cottage. We’re going to have yummy food to eat and cupcakes to share.

And we’re going to have boxes…. lots of boxes!

Boxes that my family and friends can fill with amazing goodies to send somewhere far away to bless a child with Christmas. Christmas in a box. For most, this will be the first (and possibly only) Christmas gift they will ever receive. How blessed are we to be able to give them that?

I’m getting so excited! I can’t wait!

If you’re in the North Atlanta area, feel free to come on by. I’d love to meet you!

If you’re not able to come to my party, you can still pack an Operation Christmas Child shoe box with your family. They’ve made it so easy. Check out the Operation Christmas Child site for more details.

Pack a box and party with me!