How CRAZY is your May?

Is your May as crazy as ours is in the House of Hills???

Every day brings another piece of paper to sign or email to read. And, I’ve only got one kid! I truly feel for you mamas of multiples. I can’t imagine how insane your calendars must look! We use Google Calendar, and everyone has a color. Its a veritable rainbow on there each and every day of May!

There are:
Projects to finish.
AP tests to take.
Finals to study for (but hopefully exempt).
Honors night.
Drama Banquet.

The list just keeps going.

I have to be very careful in May. I’m a list checker.
I like conversations about “What are you doing now? What do you need to do? What’s happening tomorrow? Have you done all the things?”
But, my girl, she’d rather talk about “I was thinking. I was dreaming. I have an idea.”

I want to shout, “Mama does not have time for any more ideas!” But, I hold my tongue (or try to—I don’t always succeed), because her ideas—her dreams—are what give her life. I need to stop. I need to listen. I need to love.

I need to remember that once the May crazy has passed, it will still be the three of us living and loving in the House of Hills. The checklists will be a thing of the past, but the relationships we continue to build with each other will live on.

How do you manage the crazy of May in your house?


The HOH Valentine’s Day Box

The HOH Valentine's Day Box -

As I watch my Facebook feed tonight, I see exhausted moms perfecting their children’s Valentine’s Day boxes and cursing Pinterest for its cuteness factor and for raising the bar on moms everywhere.

And, I’m so very thankful!

You see, I was an elementary mom before Pinterest, and kids didn’t know you were supposed to have adorable Valentine’s Boxes that were themed to something you liked and that were actually sculptures made out of a shoebox and cardstock and sometimes other things that I’m so impressed these moms even find!

This was Maggie’s Valentine’s Box. 


We made it when she was in the three-year-old preschool class. 

She used it until she was in the third grade. 

Once she hit fourth grade, her teachers had gotten smart and they just had them decorate paper bags to collect Valentines. There wasn’t room in their classrooms for thirty adorable, yet space sucking boxes.

Ya, Mags and I, we got one of Daddy’s shoeboxes and cut a hole in the top. Then, we wrapped the whole thing very tightly with white tissue.


Then, Maggie herself added foam shapes. She put her unique stamp on this box. There is no other one like it in the world. Not even on Pinterest. This is a total Maggie original.

We saved this box after the first year and then just pulled it out to take to school the following years. She decorated it a little bit more each time she pulled it out, apparently adding some stickers she found around the house.

It was the sturdiest box in Valentine’s history. It’s still going strong and is safely put away in the memory box. (At least I think it is. It might not have made the move.)

When we were packing to move, I opened the box because I heard something rattling around in there. It was ALL the Valentine’s from her last collection. STILL IN THE BOX!!

Obviously, the actual cards were VERY important to her. Ha!

So mamas, if you’re still fretting tonight…looking for that perfect Valentine’s Box on Pinterest…

Take a deep breath.
Go get an old shoebox and some tissue paper.
Create an awesome Valentine’s box that is an empty canvas for your child’s creativity.
Wake your child five minutes early tomorrow and hand him some markers and stickers if you have them.

In five minutes, your kid will have the most awesome and unique Valentine’s Box ever to take to school.


Time for Cookies


That’s my girl.

This afternoon, she decided she wanted to make cookies. But, she didn’t want any help. So, she grabbed the iPad and looked up “No Bake Recipes.”

She landed at Shugary Sweets’ “Nutella No Bake Cookies.” Had you at Nutella right. Seriously, what is it about Nutella? Why is that stuff so yummy? So so yummy…

Sorry, got sidetracked by the Nutella. So, this afternoon…

I didn’t know that was what she was doing at first. I thought she was playing Minecraft and all of the sudden I start getting these questions.

Mags: “Do we have any whipping cream?”
Me: “No.”
Mags: “Do we have any Nutella?”
Me: “Yes.” (Like duh, what house doesn’t.)
Mags: “Do you like Nutella?”
Me: “Yes.” (I’m not sure why this question was even asked.)
Mags: “Okay. I’ll make these.”
Me: “Huh, what are you doing?” (I’m thinking at this point I needed to look up from the emails I’m frantically sending off to coworkers.)

When I finally did emerge from my email haze, I see ingredients on the counter and a decision being made on the size of the pot needed.

I jumped in.
But, I wasn’t really wanted.

See, she had looked up no bake recipes so she could do it herself. She wanted it to be all her idea and execution. From beginning to end.

So, I stood by. I watched and advised.
And, I waited for her to ask for help.
I waited for her to need me instead of jumping in and just doing.

Let me tell you. It was hard.
I’m a doer. I’m a let’s get it done and move to the next thing kinda gal.

However, that’s not what she needs right now. Not only in making cookies, but in life in general.

What she needs right now is to go it on her own, but know I’m there to help. She needs to try new things, fight her battles, make her choices… all by herself.

We’re moving into the coaching role of parenting here at the House of Hills. We’ve laid the foundation. She knows how to make good decisions. She knows what questions to ask. She knows what things are going to hurt her. Now, she needs to move forward with that knowledge and begin the task of going it on her own, with us just here to guide.

So, that’s what I did tonight with the cookies. I guided. I suggested. I bit my tongue when it wasn’t exactly the way I would do it.

The result.


Some pretty awesome cookies… All ready to share with her cousins on Saturday.

Are you in the coaching role of parenting yet? Any tips?

Girls’ Night : Hanging with a 10 year old is the best!

Last night we had girls’ night. Just my and my girl. Hanging out.

Now, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that my girl and I are together ALL the time. She’s got a crazy busy drama schedule, and I’m her ride. When we’re not hanging out in the car together on the way to rehearsal, we’re hanging out at a show, or on a drama trip. We always seem to be rushing somewhere together. She and I and the minivan.

But that’s just the thing. We’re always rushing. And even if we’re not actually rushing, there is a time we HAVE to be there. A schedule we HAVE to keep. Last night. We didn’t HAVE to be anywhere. We CHOSE to go hang out together.

We headed out for dinner at about 5:30. Now, in Cumming, GA hitting a restaurant at any time after 5:30 on a Friday means you will wait… at least 30 minutes. Since I actually didn’t get her out the door until 5:30… you see where this is going. We attempted where she wanted for pizza, but, ahem, the wait was at least 30 minutes. I told her it was her choice. I didn’t get upset. (I may have said “I told you so” though.) We didn’t have a schedule to keep, so it didn’t matter to me. She was hungry. So, we didn’t wait.

We ended up at Chickfila, which didn’t bother either of us a bit.


Then, we decided what to do next. Multiple suggestions were tossed around. We landed on painting pottery. We hadn’t done that since last summer.

And of course we ended the evening with her favorite, Chill Hill frozen yogurt.


The best part of the night. We talked. A lot. Not the staccato talking that really is me giving her a list of things she needs to do and her giving me a list of things I need to know.

The kind of talking that has long pauses while we reflect and just be. The kind of talking that lets her be vulnerable and tell me how she really feels about things at school. The kind of talking that lets me see the young lady she’s becoming and be awe of what God is doing in her heart. The kind of talking that helps to cement our bond and let her know that I’m there for her always… no matter what.

Girls’ night what awesome. Can’t wait to do it again. Looking at the calendar now to figure out a day.

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?

Never enter a parent/teacher conference empty handed!

I had Mags’ parent/teacher conference today. I didn’t NEED to have one. She’s doing fine. But, it’s conference time, and I always like to take my allotted ten minutes to sit across from the women that spend more hours a day interacting with my kid than I do.

Take a minute. Have you thought about that? If your kid sleeps ten hours a night like mine does, and they’re at school for about seven hours, that leaves all of seven hours hours to spend with me. And during MY time she’s bathing, getting ready for school, doing her homework and quiet reading. Ya, I don’t get much face time.

So, those women who see her all day. They are IMPORTANT. I need to appreciate them. I need to thank them for the time they are investing in my kid.

So, I NEVER enter a parent/teacher conference empty handed. Never. Ever.

Today, I tweeted this picture:

It caused quite a stir on my Instagram (kathill29), Twitter (kathill) and Facebook pages. Tons of moms telling me it was a good idea. Tons of moms scrambling to see what Starbucks drink is their teacher’s favorite. (Hint: I emailed mine a week ago to ask. I’ll now keep it in my phone so I have it for future reference.)

But, what if you don’t have a local coffee shop near you?

How about walking into the conference with:

  • Flowers
  • Gift card
  • Chocolate
  • Hand-written thank you note
  • Candle
  • Freshly baked cookies
  • Yummy smelling hand sanitizer
  • Fun pens
  • Lunch from a local deli
  • Post-its
  • Cute notepad

You get the idea. There’s really no perfect gift for a teacher. It’s the thought that counts.

By walking in with a small gift, you are saying “You matter to me and my family. We value your contribution.” And, THAT is what every teacher needs to know.

Isn’t it what we all need to know?

What have you taken into a parent/teacher conference?

I’d Like Another Please…

Yesterday afternoon and evening was one of those that a mother dreams of. And, I’m being totally sincere here. It was one of those rare afternoons where apparently neither I nor my daughter were cranky or hormonal. We spoke to each other with respect and harmoniously accomplished a huge list of chores.

I got a glimpse of what a day could be. And I’d like another PLEASE!!

I’ve been thinking about it since she went to bed last night (very obediently during small group without a need for three re-tucks). What was the trick? What did I say or do that made it work? I’m still not sure I figured it out, but I have some ideas.

ONE – I wasn’t stressed about work when I picked her up. All summer long it’s been this insane balancing act to try and get my work done while schlepping her from one thing or another to keep her busy while I’m trying to work. The result was a stressed out mommy who didn’t think she was giving enough to either her job, kid, or husband. I was constantly tense and thinking about the next thing.

Yesterday, when I picked her up at the bus stop, I was focused only on her and getting our after school routine established. I’d accomplished a lot at work and had felt I’d put in a good day at the office, so it was time to wife and mom.

TWO – I’ve gone back to written lists for me and her. My husband and co-workers don’t understand my need to write on paper (lots and lots of paper), but I feel so much more in control when I actually write it down and then cross it off. And yes I will write something down just to cross it off if it wasn’t on the list to begin with.

I’d crossed a lot of my list yesterday. When we got home, she relaxed for a minute and then tackled the list I wrote out for her. I wasn’t having to be bossy so she wasn’t whining back at me. She just did the list and managed to fold two loads of towels, unload the dishwasher, and clean up her room with no complaints.

THREE – I ASKED for her help. When I needed her to help me clean the top of the mirror in the bathroom, I asked her to please come help me. I didn’t boss. I asked. And guess what? She was happy to do it. And then she asked for a dust rag to clean the top of the mirror and lights because “Mom, these are nasty up here.”

We don’t have as many cleaning tasks to do today, but we do have to get to a voice lesson and the grocery store. I’ve already made out her list, and it’s on the counter waiting for us to get home. I’m cranking through my list at work so that I feel like I’ve put in a good day.

I’m hoping and praying that I get another one just like yesterday…

A Year of Drama

Last summer, Maggie took a Drama Camp. It was just a week camp that culminated in a show at the end where every parent applauded proudly at their cute little thing up on the stage. Maggie was Thomas O’Malley the Alley Cat in Aristocats. She was adorable.

And… she was bit by the bug.

The drama bug that is.

As soon as she finished the camp, she BEGGED to audition for a role in 101 Dalmations Junior. Audition? How does a kid even audition? Does she need to sing a song? What’s the protocol on that?

She went in and sang a song from Aristocats. Then, they had her sing “Twinkle, Twinkle.” She got the part… the one she wanted. She was Jasper in both Cast A and Cast B.

She was at the studio two and three times a week. She wanted to be there EVERY day. She LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it. We had never seen her so happy.

Then she wanted to audition for the competition troupe. My heart stopped. This was serious drama people. This was five hours every Saturday. As in, no birthday parties, no family trips, no missing for anything ever, five hours EVERY Saturday… for like 6 months. Then, the last month it got even more intense… like three times a week for three hours or more intense.

Not to mention the cost. There was travel (to Disney no less) and the cost of the show and this and that, and we were slightly overwhelmed by the thought.

We talked it over AT LENGTH as a family. We prayed about it. Would this be the best thing for her to do? Would this be best for our family? Would she start and then get upset a few months in that it controlled her life?

And, this mama PRAYED HARD for her little girl’s heart because this mama honestly didn’t think her baby would make the troupe. These were mostly middle and high school girls who actually knew what they were doing. My Maggie, um, I didn’t think she really knew what she was doing.

This mama… was WRONG!

We let her audition with the understanding that she would have to help raise money for the trip if she made it and with the understanding that she was committing to something and there was no backing out.

She made the competition troupe.
She was over the moon excited.
I was was seriously in shock and pulled out the calendar immediately.
How was this going to work?

We made it work. She missed multiple birthday parties. We went to no GA games. She missed several friend opportunities. But, she didn’t care. She was in her happy place. There is NOWHERE she would rather be than the theater.

And, in February, Mags and Mama traveled to Disney for her to compete. We went without the Daddy. We’d never been to Disney without the Daddy, but this was a different kind of trip. We were constantly on the go and then there was competition day and all that went with that. It was INTENSE. It was AWESOME.

And, they brought home the SUPERIOR rating and a special judges award for one of their dances.

More importantly, Maggie learned to be a part of a team. She learned to work hard. She learned to listen to constructive criticism and get better. She made great friends. And she had an AMAZING time.

All in all… it was an awesome year of drama.

Says this Drama Mama.

First Day of Fifth Grade

I can’t believe this day is here.

The first day of fifth grade.

The last “first day” of elementary school.

The beginning of the end.

My baby only has one year left of being a baby.

She’s already teetering on the edge of “tween” even though she won’t be ten until the end of the month. Body changes and the accompanying mood swings have begun. What she looks like is beginning to matter. The comparisons to others has started.

I’m going to have to face it. My baby is growing up.

But she still likes to go for frozen yogurt with Mommy after school.

I’ll take that while I can get it. Love this kid.

Then and Now…4th Grade

Every year, the last day of school brings great excitement and just a little sadness.

Every year, I take a last day of school picture and then compare it to the first day of school picture.

Every year, I am AMAZED at how my girl has grown.

This year is no different. We’ve only got one more year in Elementary School. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

I think she might be though.

LAST day of 4th Grade

FIRST day of 4th Grade

Oh, and that dress she wore the first day. It’s now a long shirt to wear with leggings… just like the two other dresses we bought before school started.

Does the last day of school make anybody else nostalgic?