Things I Love Thursday: Cuddles

Last night was one of those nights. You know the ones where the sweet princess is up and up and up. It was one of those. The poor thing was slightly congested, which was the 3:15 – 3:45 coming in and out of my room and the nose blowing and coughing. We finally got that under control after a few treks up and down the hall and her laying with me for a few minutes.

Then, she woke up at 5 and was just plain excited and giddy about the day. At 5AM! You see, today was Consumer Day at school and she was so full of anticipation. She’d made her sign, made her products, checked off her checklist. She was ready, and she couldn’t wait for the day to come. So, she climbed in my bed chatting about it at 5AM. Seriously, 5AM. I calmed her down, said “Yes, it is exciting. Now get some more sleep!!!” and held her in my arms. She slept for another hour and a half. In my arms. All content and snuggly. Just like she did when she was little bitty.

I was complaining a little this morning about how tired I was today because of our crazy night, but then I got to thinking. Isn’t this what I signed up for when I became a mom. Isn’t this what I wanted. A little person who looks to me to hold her and make it all better. Who thinks that in my arms is the best place in the world. Aren’t the cuddles worth it all. They are. The cuddles are worth every minute of lost sleep. They’re worth the snotty tissues and dirty clothes. They’re worth pretty much everything.

When my “baby” girl curls up in my arms, lets out a tiny little sigh, and falls asleep, I know that she feels loved, safe, and secure. Everything I’ve ever wanted for her.  Today, cuddles are the thing I love the most.

Linked up to Things I Love Thursday at Diaper Diaries.

Indoor Snowmen

We had snow in Georgia a couple of weeks ago. Well, there was a LITTLE bit of snow and A LOT of ice – to the point that we were out of school two and a half days. It always looks crazy on the news to you Yankees, but let me tell you – there is a HUGE difference between driving in snow and driving ON ice. I can do the first. I won’t even attempt the second. I’m a mom. My Princess needs me alive and functioning. I won’t risk it.

In typical Georgia fashion (or maybe it’s news organizations everywhere), they hype before the snow was even more insane than the actual event. They weren’t really sure when it was going to start coming down, and if it was going to be ice or snow when it did come down, so our county decided to have early release on the day the weather system hit. Now, let me say that it had been REALLY COLD here – cold for Georgia anyway. So, the ground was actually frozen. So, whatever hit it was gonna freeze immediately. That means ice. I agreed with the decision to release early. You don’t want your kid on a bus trying to make into the hilly part of the county on an iced road.

School got out at noon. There wasn’t anything coming from the sky until about three. I had four girls (I had my neighbor’s three since she had to be at work and I could be home) – four extremely excited, “Oh my goodness I can’t wait for it to snow” girls. And there was no snow in which to play. We needed to be busy.

My first thought – we’ll bake something! Well, that’s all fine and good until it’s sitting in the oven and we’re all waiting for the yummy goodness to come out.

Next thought – we’ll make Rice Krispie Treats! They are edible right away. However, there’s not much to that. It will take like five minutes.

But WAIT! They can play with the Rice Krispies!! They’ll get messy, but who cares. We have soap.

The BIG IDEA! We can make snowmen out of Rice Krispie Treats! They can form balls and stack them and then eat them. FUN! FUN! FUN!

That’s what we did. We made INDOOR SNOWMEN with Rice Krispie Treats.

Here’s what you do:

1. Put a piece of waxed paper at each spot at the table.

2. Put softened butter in bowls that everyone can reach. Depending on age and size of children, you’re going to want each child or every two children to have a bowl. And you need LOTS of butter. We used about a tablespoon per child.

3. Call everyone into the kitchen and explain the plan. Explain that when you are almost done mixing, you are going to tell them to wash their hands. They must do so IMMEDIATELY and get to the table so their treats won’t harden before they get to play with them. They will listen VERY seriously and promise to do exactly what you say.

4. Make the Rice Krispie Treats. I never use actual Rice Krispies (unless I got them on sale with a coupon), but you know the basic recipe is on the box of any puffed rice cereal.

5. As you are adding the cereal to the marshmallows, call out for everyone to wash and get to the table.

6. After they are mixed, let them cool about 30 seconds. During this time, instruct everyone to get a mass of butter and make sure it covers their hands. They LOVED this part. There were many squeals of joy. Getting messy and greasy on purpose. Oh the fabulousness of it all!

7. Give each child a portion of of the Rice Krispie Treats and let them have fun. You can make snowmen. You can make logs. You can make…. well, whatever you want.

8. Helpful hint: The Princess discovered that if your treats started to get a little stiff, like they wanted to harden up, just add some more butter. Made them soft and pliable again.

The girls had a blast! We had over a half hour of fun out of this activity. And, it was our snack too. Check out the pictures below and looking at the grinning faces. They’ll tell you that Aunt Kathy/Mom rocks! It’s ’cause I let them play with food.

Girl Cousins

These two are cousins. The older a blonde with blue eyes. The younger a brunette with brown eyes. Opposite on the outside, but so so so similar on the inside. They are exactly two years apart (well, miss it by 5 days). They are the only two females in a cousin crew of seven. They are learning to stick together.

They’ve created memories together since birth and have been blessed to go on many adventures together.

They’ve supported one another at recitals and games. Cheering and smiling and giving hugs to congratulate one another.

They’ve been princesses, fairies, pirates, and more together in their plays. Giggling and dancing around Grandma’s basement.

The bond they are forming is a strong one. Their love for one another is deep. It’s beautiful to watch their relationship grow as they age. These two little girls may not have sisters, but they have each other. The Girl Cousins.

Ice Skating and Conquering Fear

I took The Princess ice skating today for the first time. She was invited to a birthday party at the ice rink. Had it not been for that, she still would never have been ice skating. I can’t ice skate. I don’t want to know how to ice skate. It scares the… Well, it scares me. Slick surface while on blades of steel (or whatever they’re made from). No thank you.

However, when you’re child is invited to do something and wants to try it, you can’t let your fear show. This would be the ultimate example of NOT transferring your own baggage to your child. Believe me, I’ve got plenty of baggage. It’s just not fair to share it with her.

Ironically, Maggie had fears of her own. We had tears last night as she lay in bed thinking through the next day. She’s an over-thinker (have no idea where she gets that from – really). Therefore, she was thinking about how hard it was going to be to try something new. What if she couldn’t do it? What if she fell? What if her friends left her behind? All those normal 7 year old fears. I held her while she cried and reminded her that I would be right there. No, I couldn’t hold her hand on the rink (’cause there was NO way Mommy was getting out there), but I would be there cheering her on. And, if she didn’t want to skate, she could just watch. I would support her decision either way.

We got to the rink, got the skates on – not a small feat by the way – and it was time to try. This is her “Oh my goodness I’m so not sure about this but Mommy wants to take a picture face.”

She got out onto the rink and went about two feet. The whole time holding on with a death grip to the wall.

After the venture of 2 feet, she scurried (as well as she could on ice) back to the entrance and got off the rink. “I can’t do it. It’s too hard,” said she with a look of panic on her face. This is where some serious parenting comes in. I had two options. I could tell her to get her rear back out on the rink and try since she didn’t even go that far, OR I could nod understandably and support her decision. I chose the latter.

I had told her the night before that I would be there for her. That means being there for her whatever her decision may be. I want her to know that I will ALWAYS ALWAYS love her and support her. This may not seem like a huge thing. This is just ice skating. But is it? Every time I support her decision making and am there for her, I’m building a pattern of behavior in our relationship. She can trust me to be there – no matter what. When she’s seven, it’s that I’ll be there while she’s ice skating. When she’s eight, it may be that I’m there when she’s having to make a tough decision about a friendship. When she’s a teenager, those circumstances and decisions are going to be harder and more life changing. I want her to know I’m there. ALWAYS. And she’s not going to know that then, if I’m not right now. While she’s ice skating. When she’s seven.

We walked around outside the rink a little bit letting her get more comfortable in the skates. Her friends, one by one, ventured out onto the rink and stayed out there. Here’s what this momma knows. Peer pressure works. I didn’t have to be the heavy. She was going to want to join in the fun. And, she did.

The first time around, I walked with her as far as I could. I couldn’t reach her through the glass. I couldn’t even hear her through the glass. But, I was there. And, that’s all she needed. She needed to know I was there. Supporting her, no matter what.

Once she made it around the rink the first time, she came off grinning and telling me she loved it. After our time in the party room (for the birthday), she got on the ice and never looked back. She was one of the last people off. She had conquered her fear. I just got to be there, stand to the side, and watch the confidence bloom.

Christmas Carnival – Maggie Style

Maggie informed us this afternoon that we were going to have a Christmas Carnival tonight. She then proceeded to plan it, give us directions, organize prizes, and pretty much orchestrate the whole evening.

First order of business was to create some lists. That girl loves to create some lists. I have NO IDEA where she gets that from (says the mommy with MUCH sarcasm). The first list was a list of games we were going to play.

Games for Carnival Night

Translation from 7 year old writing in a hurry: Pin the tail on the reindeer, Throw the ornaments, Reindeer rhymes, and Name that tune.

Then came the list of prizes. This list was  a little trickier because they had to already be in the house. So, the prizes were: 5 kisses from everyone else in the family, sweet treat of your choice, choose a Christmas book to read before bed, and get to open the first present on Christmas morning. She then cut up the list of prizes, folded them and put them in my hat.

Hat with prize choices

She drew a prize and assigned it to the next game on the list. So, we went into the carnival knowing what prize we were playing for. I thought that was pretty smart myself.

The first game was pin the tail on the reindeer. Maggie had drawn a reindeer and then cut out paper tails. She found the glue dots, and prepared a tail for each one of us. Maggie won this one, with Mommy coming in a close second. Daddy put his on the doorknob – pretty sure that was on purpose. Maggie gave each of us five kisses.

Maggie pinning her tail on the reindeer.

The next game was the ornament toss. I was “in charge” of this one so I go to set the rules. I forgot to mention that you had to stay behind a certain point to throw the balls (ornaments) into the bowls. So some little cutie got them “all” in. She won. And, she got the sweet treat of her choice (2 mini-donuts) after dinner.

Ornament Toss

We moved on to reindeer rhymes. This is apparently something they did in school last week. I’m not sure where the rhyming was supposed to come in, but Maggie read us a clue she had written about a Christmasy thing. It was a good clue. The answer was sled. Mommy won this one and got to pick the Christmas book for bedtime. We read “Merry Christmas, Strega Nona” – one of my favorites.

Reading Reindeer Rhymes

Finally, we played a round of Name that Tune with Christmas songs. Daddy was “in charge” of this one since he is the master of the iPod, and his was already hooked up to the stereo. Since he was DJing, Maggie and I were guessing. She barely won, but she did. That means she gets to open the first present on Christmas morning.

DJ Daddy Dave for Name That Tune

After our Christmas Carnival, she turned on “The Grinch” and announced it was Grinch and hot cocoa night. She had been planning that part of the evening for several weeks. We can’t cuddle and be snuggley on the couch on Christmas Eve because we are with family, and she wanted a snuggle and movie night. So, she decided sometime this month that Christmas Eve Eve was going to be Grinch and hot cocoa night.

Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows - Yum

She planned and executed the whole Christmas Carnival with very little guidance from us. It was a fun family evening, and one I know I’ll never forget. I have a feeling it may become a tradition.

What traditions are you engaging in tonight?

Linked to Tip Junkies Christmas Show and Tell.

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Letter 09

My Christmas card went out today – before Christmas!! I know, I know, I’m amazing. Really amazing for me. How did I do it you say? Well, I didn’t write a letter this year. It’s the first year in over a decade that I haven’t written a Christmas letter to include with the card (which is now a picture card and not really even a card).

I went to write the letter and realized that between Twitter, Facebook, and this here blog, I’d pretty much written everything. Seriously, what more was I going to say? Now, there are those few people who are on the Christmas card list that aren’t my Facebook friends (yet) and who might not read the blog (yet). So, how would they know what’s going on? (I’m sure they REALLY want to know.) This puzzled me for about a minute. Then I thought, well, I’ll just include a slip of paper with the web address to the blog, our twitter handles, and our emails. After all, that’s all anyone needs anymore. Didn’t even think about putting our actual mailing address or phone numbers on there. Hmmm… actually didn’t even think of that until I’m typing this. Guess that tells us where communication is going.

SO, in case you’re coming to the blog for the first time because you got our Christmas card, or because you heard about how awesome the Hills are (just kidding there), here is what would have gone in the Christmas letter in no particular order…

1. Maggie continues to be the most amazing child ever. Well, I’m kinda partial, but even other people think she’s pretty cool. She is in the 2nd grade at a new school this year (we were rezoned) and loving it. Her teacher, Mrs. Johnson, rocks and is becoming a good friend. We would REALLY have gotten along well if we had ever taught together.

First Day of School 8/4/09

2. Maggie played soccer this fall with Cherokee Impact and LOVED IT! She is already looking forward to the spring season. We saw SO MUCH improvement over the fall season in her skills. It’s amazing to watch your child be an athlete – especially when you have no athletic ability. She gets it all from her Daddy (played keeper for years) and her Uncle Bill (played defense since he could walk). We can’t wait ’till practice starts in February (brrrrr).

Mags playing keeper. Fall 09

3. Maggie has become quite the reader and we’re struggling to keep her in books. Seriously, she can read one or two a day when the mood strikes her. She also likes to be read to. Daddy is reading Kingdom Keepers with her, and I’m reading Harry Potter 6 with her. Yes we’re all the way to six. We just started reading them together last Christmas. (To read about her introduction into the world of Harry Potter, go here. Hey this blog letter thing is cool. I can refer people back to actual events. Neat.)

Mags reading. June 09

4. We put our house on the market. What! We’re moving?!! Well, we might move. Depends on if the house sells, which right now is not going so good. The goal is to get to Cumming – closer to both our jobs and many of our church friends. While there has been very little traffic, we’re not getting anxious (or trying not to) trusting that when God wants us to move, we’ll move.

Anybody want a house in Woodstock?

5. We SERIOUSLY DECLUTTERED the house this fall in preparation for putting it on the market. And I mean seriously. We got rid of rooms of furniture, boxes and boxes of books, over eight bookshelves, and the majority of the “little things” that didn’t hold sentimental value. It is amazing how freeing this process is. Difficult, but freeing.

6. David and I continue to love our jobs and are so thankful that we both get to work in places where what we do has a direct impact on people for Christ. We are both in our dream jobs, and never a day goes by that we don’t say a thank you for it.

7. We also continue to lead a Couples Small Group and are VERY thankful for that opportunity as well. As marriages as old as ours (11 years this year) are starting to crumble, we have become even more committed to being in community and continuing to work on ours. This fall, our group split into guys and gals in order to do some intense marriage work on being a better husband/wife. The guys read “Choosing to Cheat” by Andy Stanley and the gals read “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn. We highly recommend both books. They’ll make you think.

8. My friend, Katie, had a rough fall in her battle for cancer. There was a pretty rough week there in the beginning of September. That same week David’s dad, Richard, had to have heart surgery so David was out of town and hanging out with his family. It was one of the hardest weeks we’ve been through – ever. We thank everyone who prayed for us, served us, and loved on us that week and the weeks following. Brings tears to my eyes now even thinking about it. Thank you.

My BFF, Katie, and me - November 09

9. We had several trips to the beach this year. Twice we went to Edisto Island, SC to be with David’s dad and step-mom with the cousins on that side. Then, we went to Long Boat Key, FL for the annual Family Fest with my side of the family for Thanksgiving week. Another great time.

Mags and Miller cousins at Edisto

The girl cousins. Couldn't get one with all the boys.

10. We took our annual trip to Disney World this year the week after Thanksgiving. We always love to see the parks all lit up for Christmas. We had a wonderful time, and Maggie tried several new rides – including the tea cups at Magic Kingdom, which she had previously refused to even consider. We were proud of how many times she put her fears aside to try something new.

Mags LOVING the tea cups.

May the joy of Christmas fill your heart and your home!

There you have it. Our Christmas Letter Top Ten. It’s a pretty fun list. Can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

If you want to see more awesome Top Ten lists, head on over to She’s always got cool stuff going on over there.

My Little Helper

As a mom, you have “your little helper” – you know that adorable kid that “helps” you in the kitchen, especially during Christmas baking. She’s the one that accidently stirs half of the flour right out of the bowl or drops two eggs on the floor while she’s trying to “do it herself.” You know that helper. The one you take pictures of every year as she “helps” you make the Christmas treats. The pictures looks great in the scrapbook – much better than the kitchen counters did after the treats were done.

Something happened to “my little helper” this year. There was some sort of transformation. She actually became a HELPER! It makes me tear up a little. My sweet little pumpkin has become a fun loving young lady who is now old enough to be truly, well there’s no other word for it, a helper. I can honestly say that she took about an hour off my baking time Tuesday. Seriously, an hour.

We made Holiday Pretzel Treats together. You can find the actual recipe here.

We made an additional variation with Rolos and pecan halves.

Maggie did the hardest part which was unwrapping all the Hershey Kisses and the Rolos. She was great!!! She even lined them all up so they were easy to count and know how many we had. This is the part that saved me the most time.

Then Mags placed the pretzels on the pan (notice it’s lined with parchment paper for easy clean up). She did most of this herself too. I just came behind her and fit a few more on the tray. I like to use the butter snap pretzels because they add a little something to it. A plain pretzel is good too, but I prefer the butter snaps. Of course, they’re more expensive.

The last step before the oven was placing a Rolo or Hershey Kiss on each pretzel. Another time consuming task where Maggie was a huge help. She was getting a little tired by this point so I made it a race to see which one of us could do a row the fastest. We were done in no time.

Then they went into a 250 oven for about five minutes – just enough to get the candies melted. The final part has to be done QUICK!!  Place an M&M on the Hershey Kiss and push down. Place a pecan half on the Rolo and push down. We had Maggie get on a stool for this part so she wouldn’t burn her hand on the pan by leaning on it. We also called in Daddy to help us get the M&Ms on fast enough. The Hershey Kisses don’t stay melty as long as the Rolos.

Finally, we put the tray in the fridge and let them cool for awhile. The next morning I put them in a cute holiday box lined with waxed paper and took them to the office. They were a hit!

While I’m glad my co-workers and friends enjoyed eating these little treats, it really was the making them that was special. I know I’ll remember that time forever. My little baby is growing up and becoming more and more independent. She’s becoming more a little person. And now I actually have a helper during the Great Christmas Bake!

Oh! I almsot forgot! Maggie helped clean up too! She threw away all those little annoying wrappers and made sure to get every last one. Amazing!!!

All – Skate

Mags and I had so much fun tonight. It was one of those great nights when you and your kid are just in sync. It was fabulous.
We went to a birthday party at a skating rink. I knew it was going to be hard for her to get the hang of the whole skating thing. We had been one time before, and she had quickly become frustrated with her inability to learn how to do it quickly. And, it was a Friday afternoon – usually a prime meltdown time. So, to say I entered the rink with trepidation would be an understatement.
Well, I sadly underestimated her and her attitude. She did GREAT! The party had the rink to ourselves, so the lights were up, and everyone was of the younger set, so everyone was learning. This made it a lot easier to go slow and easy. She did one lap on the carpet, then decided she wanted to go down on the rink, but holding my hand. We made it all the way around. It only took about 15 minutes. 🙂

This is my cutie proudly taking a rest after her lap around while holding my hand.

The next lap around she let go, but wanted my hand to be near her so she could grab on if needed. Notice the wild windmill arms to keep her balance. We did a couple laps like this. She fell down several times, but we both just laughed each time. Then, we would laugh as I attempted to help her get up and her feet would slip through my legs. It was quite comical.
She had the best attitude about it. She was trying her hardest, but didn’t hit frustration level or have a meltdown. I was SO proud of her. She just kept trying and trying, determined to do it. And, she was having a blast.
Then it came time to totally let go of Mommy and head out on her own. She went out near the middle and went round and round. SO awesome. I was told I could go sit down. She fell down several times, but managed to get herself back up. It was great to watch.
Then, it was time to take off the skates. That was when there was a near meltdown, but she recovered when they started playing music for them to dance to. Here she is doing the YMCA.
It was a fun night. I can’t wait to take her again!