Letter From Camp

We got these AMAZING letters in the mail Thursday. Why were they amazing? Because they were from the Princess. She wrote us two letters from camp! I was SO EXCITED when I saw them in the mailbox.

The Princess is off at camp for the week. We packed her up and dropped her off on Monday. We’re picking her up Friday morning. I can’t wait to hear the stories she has to tell! Her letters told of us of swimming and kayaking and tubing… all the joys of summer on the lake. I can’t wait to hear about the dining hall, her cabin mates, and chapel time.

I am SO PROUD of her for writing us. I am SO THANKFUL that she’s having fun. I am ECSTATIC that I get to see her soon.

A letter from camp… it’s a FINER THING.

Linked to Finer Things Friday.

Summer is HERE!!! What’s the Plan?

Today is the last day of school. The last day of 3rd Grade for my Princess. I CANNOT believe that she will be in 4th grade next year. Overwhelms me. I always take a LAST day of school picture.

So I can compare it to the FIRST day of school picture.

And then think about how much she’s grown over the years…. How did she get SO BIG?

Alright… Enough reminiscing… this blog post was supposed to be about SUMMER! It’s here!

Now, what do we do?…..

I work full time. And, while I can work from home some, I still have to find time to actually, well, work. Therefore, I must keep the Princess busy. So, here are a few things we already have planned for the summer…

  • Sleep away camp for four days: I’m sure I will blog about it as I’m sure I’m gonna be a little {ahem} sad, overwhelmed {ahem} lost while she is gone and not in family care.
  • Callaway Gardens: Her annual trip with Grandma, Gramps and the cousins.
  • Drama Camp: Like we need more drama in this house. We’re hoping to channel it.
  • Camp All-American: An AMAZING day camp that we’ve LOVED for the last two years.
  • Time with Cousins: There is NOTHING better than hanging out with the cousins at Grandma’s House.
  • Childcare at Church: Since my Sweetie works at our church, they provide childcare (paid of course) for staff. There are a couple of fun activities they have planned that the Princess is excited to attend.

Seems a bit overwhelming – right? All this planning. You should see it on the calendar…

The thing is I HAVE to plan because I HAVE to work. You know what? I’ll tell you a secret. {shhhhhh} I’d plan even if I didn’t have to work. We at the House of Hills like to have a plan. Even if it’s a tentative one. So, on the days that I plan on staying home with the Princess, we’ll still have a plan. However, those days are planned with more flexibility. Those days are planned more in tune with what she wants to do right then and the weather forecast.

I’ve found some great resources that will help me plan the “hang out” days. I thought I’d share them with you.

  • Cumming Local: I live in Cumming and LOVE this site. Mandi has lots of great lists and continues to update weekly on things to do around town.
  • Free Cheap Summer Fun: Again, local to the North Metro Atlanta area, but you could probably find something similar in your area.
  • Summer Staycation: An amazing list of blogs giving ideas to do in cities around the country.
  • Your local library: Most libraries have summer programs. Check yours out.
  • Your local bookstores: Many bookstores have weekly story times. Investigate.
  • Local Movie Theaters: Just about EVERY movie theater in our area offers cheap or free kids’ movies once a week. SERIOUSLY worth investigating.
  • Make Your Own Bubbles: This is just fun!

What’s your summer plan?

Works For Me Wednesday: Sleeping in the Closet

The Princess has been having some serious trouble with the time change. She likes it to be PITCH DARK when she goes to bed. Ya, that is hard to achieve when you’re in bed by 7:30 during Daylight Savings Time.

We have used a sleep mask. We have made sure all blinds were closed and curtains drawn. We have done everything we could think of to help her out. She’s not fighting going to bed. She’s truly struggling with how light it is. The other night was overly difficult. She had a lot on her mind with our move and everything else going on and was just REALLY STRUGGLING to go to sleep. She suggested putting her head in her closet. We almost tried that. Then, I remembered that the walk in closet in the master bedroom gets AMAZINGLY DARK on one side.

So, we gathered ALL her sleeping paraphernalia (and there is a good deal of it), her sleeping bag and pillows and moved her into the closet.

It worked for her… and me.

We haven’t had to do it again, but she’s only got 3 more nights with access to that closet. I’m not sure she’ll fit in the closet at the new house.

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

The Newest Chef at House of Hills

Tonight, The Princess made dinner for us. Like seriously, I was her sous chef/handler of hot things, but she was pretty much in charge of dinner. Here’s how it started.

This afternoon I decided the roads had probably thawed enough that we could head to the grocery store since we were now out of milk and strawberries – the two most important things at the House of Hills. The Princess then stated that she wanted to get some things at the store “herself” (that starts at 2 and never ends) because she wanted to cook. She then got a lecture on the fact that we were not going to waste food so that she could play with it and “make something up.” She doesn’t know enough about cooking to just throw something together that is edible so IF SHE WANTED TO COOK, SHE NEEDED A RECIPE. I thought that was the end of that….Nope.

The Princess marched (literally) over to the cookbook cabinet and grabbed her copy of “Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook” (that I gave her Christmas of 2008), flipped to the dinner section, and announced that she was making stuffed shells for our dinner. Ever the flexible mommy (please insert laughter here), I agreed. You see I had just done this post this morning about God and family time and using this snowcation to build relationships so I, um, needed to practice what I was preaching. I do believe she was slightly shocked that I agreed.

We looked over the recipe and discussed what we had on hand and what we needed to get at the store. The original recipe did not call for any actual meat so I suggested that we add some sausage for Daddy. Anything for Daddy, so sausage got added. We jumped (well slid a bit really – ice you know) into the car and headed to the grocery store. The Princess brought her cookbook with her so she wouldn’t forget anything.

Once we arrived at the grocery, The Princess announced that she was going to get a basket, gather her things, and meet me at the checkout. Um, NO! We then had a discussion lecture about how I loved her too much to allow her to go willy-nilly throughout the grocery store. Someone would steal her, I would be sad, and there would be no dinner. After a short pout, we moved on with our shop.

WHAT A GREAT AFTERNOON we ended up having. While shopping for the things she needed to make dinner, we had amazing conversations about brand differences, price differences, where to find certain items, what Daddy likes to eat, what Mommy likes to eat. She listened intensely and soaked it all in. I was in awe of her attention. Once we got home, we unpacked the groceries and planned out the rest of the afternoon based on the time she wanted to serve dinner.

The Princess didn’t pick the easiest recipe to do. Stuffed shells has multiple steps involved. First we browned the sausage. I will admit that I did a good bit of this part. It was hot and hard for her to do. Then, we cut coupons for awhile until it was time to boil the shells. While the shells were cooking, we mixed the filling. Then, she assembled (with only a bit of help from me), and we put it into the oven to bake.

It was delicious! Of course, it was Paula Deen so that was a bonus. My Sweetie and I enjoyed it very much. Even more amazing, The Princess ate one of the stuffed shells. Like, an entire shell. That is AMAZING!! She is the pickiest eater out there. In fact, she hadn’t planned on eating any of what she was cooking. She was cooking for Mommy and Daddy. She didn’t think she’d like it. I was so proud of her for trying it. Then, she ate the whole thing. AMAZING! And, we discovered she likes plain cottage cheese. Who knew!

I’m going to bed one very proud mama. Proud of my girl for cooking for the family. Proud of my girl for trying something she seriously didn’t think she’d like. Proud of my girl for growing up and becoming the amazing young lady I know God has planned. It’s days like these that I want to hold onto. I want to remember the look of accomplishment on her face when she placed the dinner plates on the table. I want to remember the joy on her face when Daddy pronounced it delicious. I want to remember it all.

Next week, she’s making Chicken Pot Pie. Can’t wait!

Stuffed Shells
(Adapted from Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook)

  • 1 Box Jumbo Shells
  • 1 Pound Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Cups Spaghetti Sauce
  • 2 Cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Pound Mild Sausage*
  • 2 Shakes Red Pepper Flakes*
  • 1 – 2 Tsp Italian Seasoning*
    • * indicates what we added to the original recipe

Preheat oven to 350. Boil shells according to package directions. Brown sausage.

Mix sausage, cottage cheese, and Parmesan cheese together in a bowl.

Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

Add red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning to spaghetti sauce. (Basically season it to your liking.) Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Stuff shells with a heaping teaspoon of cheese mixture and place them side by side in the dish. Cover the shells with the rest of the sauce, and then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the mozzarella is bubbly and brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Top Ten Tuesday: Snow Images O1.10.11

It snowed Sunday night in the ATL. I mean it SNOWED. We usually get a dusting here in the South. I’ve done other posts about snow in the South. We’ve played in it before. We even made indoor snowmen while waiting for it.

However, this snow we had Sunday night. It was some SERIOUS SNOW. There is over half a foot on the porch. People, we don’t get that much snow down here. Well, not since 1993 anyway. Needless to say, Monday was a snow day. Tuesday will be too. I have a feeling we’ll have another one on Wednesday. I’m just hoping the sun comes out and does some thawing because the temperature at my house…it’s not supposed to be above freezing before Saturday. Ya, that’s some winter weather ya’ll.

I thought I’d show you ten images from yesterday, Monday, a GREAT SNOW DAY!

My girl after a GREAT morning in the snow.

Daddy sending her down the hill in front of the house.

Daddy pulling her back up the hill.
Such a NICE Daddy!

Daddy pulling the girl and her friend towards the golf course.

Getting ready to go down the hill on the golf course.

This is the ultimate sled.
We are so getting one for next time.

Going down the hill on the Snowboogie. Wahoo!

Snow Angel

Look how DEEP the snow is!

Bringing in the snow for SNOW CREAM!

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Ohamanda.com.

Snow Flurries in the ATL

We had snow flurries. That’s exciting!! Exciting enough to take pictures!! Exciting enough to share them with you!!

Catching flakes on her tongue outside church. She was jumping for joy at the flurries.


“Look Mama! Snow”


Look at all that snow at her feet. It’s almost a blizzard!
Yes, I’m being sarcastic.


Enough to make the gloves wet!

So, all my Yankee friends and relatives you can make fun of us here in the South now. However, I will say that a Southern child’s joy at even the fewest flakes is something to behold and a lot of fun to experience.

Just to get you in the Christmas cheer. Here’s a picture we took at church yesterday. My former neighbor Lare of Stuart Lawrence Designs decorates the church every year. He does an amazing job.

Seeing Santa 2010

I took the Princess to see Santa today. I take her every year so this is not earth shattering. However, this year was different. Somehow, I knew that this year, she was doing it for me. She didn’t need to see Santa. She had already written him a letter. More importantly (and I think she’s realized this), she had told her dad and I what she really wanted for Christmas. She had her bases covered. She didn’t need to see Santa, but somehow she knew that I needed her picture with Santa. I’ve always taken my baby girl to see Santa.

As we were standing in line, she whispered to me about the fact that she always got her picture taken with “her Santa.” She knew there were other Santas at other malls. That these couldn’t all be the real Santa. He must still be at the North Pole. I think she whispered because there were small ones about. She didn’t want to ruin the magic for them. I wonder if she even realized she whispered.

We stood in line… For almost an hour. She didn’t complain. She didn’t whine. She let me take her picture. She smiled at me when asked. She smiled at the babies in front of us and those behind us. She didn’t comment that she was one of the oldest kids in line. She didn’t fuss that she was tired. She let me put a bit of lipstick on her and comb her hair when it was close to her turn.

Then, she went and sat on the same Santa’s lap that she’s sat on every year of her life. She smiled prettily at my iPhone. She smiled prettily at the camera. She talked to Santa for a bit. And then she was done. Our turn was over in minutes, many fewer minutes than we had spent standing in line. Patiently standing in line.

She smiled at me as I paid for the pictures and held my hand as we walked through the mall. “Momma, I want to buy you a Christmas present this year,” she said. Little did she know that she’d already given me my most precious one.

And here it is (after a trip back to the mall to get it on the empty USB drive they gave me originally), the “official” Santa picture.

Cumming Fair 2010

We’ve moved to a town that has a fair. In fact, it has a fairgrounds. I have driven past the fairgrounds several times over the years when I happened to be in this town. However, I’d never seen the fair in full swing. That changed this week. And today… today I took the Princess to the fair.

She was VERY excited as she’d never been to the fair, which she told me over and over again on the ride there. I started thinking about it, and um, I can’t really remember the last time I was at a fair. I mean surely I’ve been to one – right? Hasn’t everyone? But, the last time I was at an honest to goodness County Fair – ya, I have no idea.

The funny thing about my Princess…even though we go to Disney World EVERY year, she’s a wimp when it comes to rides. Like a super wimp. Love her, but she’s a wimp. So, the first thing she rode was the Crab Crawl. It was similar to a the Disney tea cup ride, but MUCH slower. It’s for little kids. In fact, she was almost too tall to ride it. She didn’t care. She rode it proudly.

We did a few rides, but the thing she loved the most – the games. The most expensive thing at the fair – the games. She got spoiled this time. I didn’t go in knowing how much things were going to cost. Next year, there will be a better budget plan. FOR SURE! But, she had fun, and isn’t that what life is all about when you’re eight? Having fun? This particular prize is called “Oinkers,” but we’re calling him “Oinkey” for short.

In trying to get the above shot, I got this one. This shot. This is my daughter. And, I love her very much. Each goofy ounce of her.

The Princess did get daring at one point. I’m not sure what took over her, but she decided she wanted to ride this ride.

Um, you lay in it and basically fly in a circle…while it goes up and down…several times. I was SHOCKED and AMAZED that she wanted to ride it. So, we rode it. And she freaked. And then I talked her off the ledge. Then… she started to laugh. She actually started to enjoy it. So much so that she wanted to ride it…


There is hope friends. There is hope that we will ride some new rides at Disney this year.

Thank you, Cumming Fair, for pushing the Princess just a bit more away from Super Wimp status.

Princess Comparisons

It’s that time of year where I sit and look at pictures and wonder what happened to my baby girl. She seems to grow by leaps and bounds, and the passing of time never seems more clear as when you compare pictures. So, here are a couple of comparisons for you.

First Day of Second Grade

Last Day of Second Grade

Making me feel even older is if I compare the photo above to this one:

First Day of Kindergarten

How is she getting SO big SO fast? How do I make it stop!!!???

I took this picture today:

05 29 10

She’s so beautiful. So grown up. Especially when you compare it to a picture from almost a year ago where she’s wearing the same shirt, when it was MUCH looser.

06 13 09

I don’t know if you can see it, but in the picture from last year, she’s missing half her teeth in the front! They are now all back in beautifully!

I know they have to grow up. I know that I can’t stop it, but every once in awhile I want to pause time. To just stop and look at this amazing young lady she is becoming. To enjoy the stage that she is at on THIS day. To just cherish THIS moment.