Christmas Morning Surprises

My favorite part of Christmas morning is the surprises. I love that look on their faces when they get something they totally didn’t expect, but is so them – you know that thing – that perfect thing. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it has to be something they didn’t expect, but will really love.

Well, this year’s perfect things did happen to be pretty big things (well in the value sense of the word), but the looks on the faces were priceless.

First, I surprised my sweet hubby (and daughter – but she wasn’t as excited) with tickets to the Mary Poppins musical that’s coming to Atlanta in May -seriously, we have to wait FOREVER! Mary Poppins in his ALL TIME favorite movie and music, and I knew he would LOVE to see the show. He was surprised. I was happy.

Mary Poppins Tickets!!

The last present we let Maggie open was the big one. The big one that she wasn’t expecting. She had asked Santa for a DS, so that was already there and was expected. This one was not even on her radar screen. She got a laptop – like Mommy and Daddy have (well not exactly like ours – we have Macs – she got a mini-Dell). The best part about this is 1. It’s hers – so all her game icons can go right there on the desktop. 2. She doesn’t have to use mine.

A Mini-Dell!

We had some surprised faces here at the House of Hills this morning. That made this mommy very happy. In fact, I’m filled with Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas!

How Are You?

How often do you get asked or even ask this question? It’s an American standard. You see someone and you ask how they are. But, do you really want to know? You expect to hear the answer “fine” or “good” and are shocked when that’s not what you get. You might even stumble in the conversation and not know what to say next.

Then, you have those really good friends, that when they know you’re in a crisis and ask “How are you?” they really mean it. It’s said in a different tone with warmth and compassion in their eyes. It’s not flippant, and they don’t expect “fine” or “good.” They really want to know how you are.
I have some good friends like that. And, they’ve rallied around me in the last few days. As I type this and think of them, there are tears running down my face. I am so blessed to have these people in my life – friends and family – who really care about how I am. That know I am in pain and want to take some of that burden from me. I am so thankful for them, and I’m not sure how to tell them. They are very special gifts, and I treasure every one.
To answer the question. I’m doing “OK.” And, I am blessed beyond measure to walk through this valley with my friends on every side.

First Day of Second Grade

School is back in session already. I know it’s hard to believe. Maggie switched schools this year and is now attending the school closest to the neighborhood. We are VERY excited to be on a new adventure this year, meeting new people, and making new friends.

Maggie’s teacher this year is actually really good friends with her teacher from last year, which is fun. Maggie is excited because she has an agenda like a “big girl” and even wrote her spelling words in it yesterday. Today is PE so I’m sure it’s going to be a great day. ūüôā
David and I are both amazed by how much our little girl has grown. She really is a young lady now. It’s awesome to watch her personality develop and wonder what God is going to do with all that energy and enthusiasm. She’s a joy.

First Grade – Beginning and End

First Day of School 8/4/08

Last Day of School 5/29/09

Here are the comparison shots I know you were all looking for. The first day of school vs. the last day of school. It is SO AMAZING to see how much a child can change in just nine months. For a real shocker, go back to my June posting of last year and see the difference from the beginning of Kindergarten to now. Shocking!

The Great Date #2

The Married Groups folks at NPCC started this really cool “experiment” last month. Each month, for the next six months, they are creating a “Great Date” for married couples that corresponds with one of the “6 Essentials to a Healthy Marriage.” The greatest part about the Great Date is that it takes all the planning out of going out. You just get a sitter, go pick up a packet, and it tells you what to do (with plenty of options). The packet also gives you discussion questions/topics for each step of your date leading you and your spouse to talk about things that maybe you haven’t talked about in awhile. There are also fun little things to do too.¬†
This month’s Great Date was around the essential of Cultivate Communication. We picked up our packet and started following the directions. Now, please note that not knowing what was coming next and accepting it was a HUGE step for yours truly. I DO NOT like surprises or not knowing the plan. Ask anyone.
Here we are at The Pig and Chick – a BBQ place in Alpharetta. The directions said we had to let the server/cashier order for us. My eyes nearly popped out of my head at that one. So, we went somewhere where we knew we’d eat just about everything on the menu. Not to mention BBQ makes my sweetie VERY happy. I even got steamed broccoli out of it. It’s was yummy.

This is me yelling in public “My husband is so hot!” Again, my eyes popped out of my head when I read that I was supposed to do that. While I do believe that with my whole being, yelling it out loud was a little scary. David kindly reminded me that “public” is anywhere out in the open, and I yelled it when there really wasn’t anyone around to hear me. Whew, I followed the directions, and I didn’t embarrass myself. Win for me! The other fun direction was that we were supposed to kiss at every stoplight until someone honked. My loving sweetie, knowing that I would die of embarrassment if I did that, kissed me at every light but stopped when it turned green. Did I mention how much I love him. We did stop kissing at red lights after he had a coffee. Bluck, I hate coffee.

Here we are at the mall. The directions told us to go somewhere and “do something” while talking about one section. We ended up at the mall. We used to window shop all the time together when we were dating, but don’t do it much anymore. It was fun to just hang out. We did purchase a couple things – mostly for Maggie. There were Hannah Montanna t-shirts on sale at the Disney store for $3 – couldn’t pass that up!

Our final task was to go to a grocery store and buy a dessert for each other that the person had never tried and was under $2. Well, please, under $2 – who wants to try it. So, we cheated there. David had the harder task on this one as I’ve tried just about everything out there. He ended up getting me these Premium M&M’s – I moaned when I ate them, won’t deny it. SO yummy.¬†

After that we headed home, relieved the babysitter, and then, well, that’s all you really need to know. Oh yeah….¬†
All in all, it was an awesome evening devoted just to our marriage. We both loved the discussion questions and spending time specifically thinking about each other, just as we did “back in the day.”¬†
You should try it – you can download the first one now –
Stay tuned for next month’s date. We’re definitely going!

Happy Easter 2009

WOW! It’s been forever since I’ve blogged! For any of you who actually check this blog, I apologize! Facebook has pulled me away from blogging. ūüôā

Today was a fun Easter Day at the House of Hills. Actually, we spent the majority of the day and the House of Grandma and Gramps!
Maggie spent the night there last night since there is no
 Upstreet at NPCC on Easter. She got to hang ou

t with L and A, which was a good time. Then, everyone else arrived after naptime for an egg hunt and dinner together.

¬†It was a¬†great time. With all of us being so busy, it’s hard¬†to get the whole group together often, so today was a special day.¬†

Christmas 2008

Some pictures from the season.

Maggie on Santa’s lap. This is the same Santa she’s seen every year since she was born. I have an album of all the pics. It’s great to watch her grow from year to year.

Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. Love the look on her face!

The carnage of Christmas Morning

The Hill Family Cousins…

Riley, Maggie, Gray

The Wileberger Cousins…
Hamilton, Wells, Landry, Ayden, Maggie
We are missing two (Ella and Will) due to illness. ūüôĀ

Things You Hear at the House of Hills

Things I have heard in my living room since Santa brought a new Wii game.

“I get to pull their yes out!” ~ Maggie
“Nice!” ~ David
“You shot me!” ~ Maggie/David
“Sorry, didn’t mean to.” ~ David/Maggie
“Walk on ’em” ~ David
“Get the bomb, Maggie!” ~ David
Ah, the sound of father/daughter bonding.  Music to my ears.

Harry Potter Begins

Holy cow! It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter. However, there comes a time when everything can’t be said in a status update.

Tonight was a night I have actually looked forward to since Maggie’s birth. ¬†Truly. Seriously.¬†
Those that know me know my absolute love of the “Harry Potter” series of books. I read the entire series every summer and have even read the last book (came out summer 07) at least 4 times already.¬†
I’m such a fan that when book 5 came out the same weekend that Maggie broke her arm at 10 months, I set her in exersaucer after exersaucer while bouncing her and trying to get a couple chapters in. ¬†When books 6 and 7 came out, I took the day off from mommying totally so that I could read them straight through.¬†
I think J.K. Rowling is an AMAZING author. I loved using her work to teach vivid descriptions when I taught 5th grade. You can read/listen to her words and total envision this alternate universe that she created.
So, to say I was looking forward to sharing her works with my child is an understatement. The question was when to share them. The Harry Potter series gets dark and evil. Book by book, the villain, Voldemort, becomes more and more powerful and Harry is put in more and more dangerous situations. So, David and I talked long and hard about when to introduce the books to our precious daughter. 
We consulted with lots of friends. I reread them countless times. We finally decided that Christmas break of 1st grade would be okay for the first one. By that time she would very much understand the difference between fact and fiction. She also had to be able to understand good and evil.  She needed to be able to know that there were mean people out there. 
Maggie hadn’t really met any mean people in preschool, and up until she started kindergarten she was surrounded by Christians. She didn’t understand until the last year that everyone doesn’t believe in God’s love and grace. She didn’t know that people could be angry and frustrated and not know that they could give those feelings to their Heavenly Father. She totally didn’t get that there are people out there that don’t try to do the right thing all the time like we are teaching her to do. We were pretty confident that by the middle of 1st grade she would have a better grasp of these things and be ready to read about Harry and his battle with evil.
So, tonight was the night. Mags and I had dinner together because Daddy was working a little late. We got in our pjs, Mags went and got the book, and with great excitement, she opened it and read the chapter titles. It was so awesome to see how excited she was to read it. ¬†She knows how much I love Harry Potter and couldn’t wait to have me share it with her.¬†
She read the chapter titles and then decided she wanted to read the fourth chapter “Keeper of the Keys.” I had to explain that this wasn’t a book where we could just pick the chapters to read – in “Frog and Toad” all the chapters are really independent little stories. We had to start at the beginning and go all the way through. And it was going to take us awhile.
Then, she started flipping through and realized there weren’t that many pictures – just one at the beginning of each chapter. Her eyes got huge at that one. I explained that this was a book where the pictures would be in her mind. She needed to listen carefully to the words and she would see a picture in her head.¬†
Then I began. And she started wiggling all over the place. Doing twists and turns. Sitting up, sitting down. Rolling around on the bed. And I realized, she is really listening hard. And she’s seriously trying to process all this information.¬†
When Maggie is thinking hard, she’s moving. When she does her homework, she dances. When she’s reading a really hard book, she rolls all over the place. It seems that when her mind is working hard, her body has to work hard too. I kinda think of the movement as the release of steam from the engine. All the energy runoff has to go somewhere.¬†
We read through chapter one and then did a review of characters. She got A LOT, and we just had to review who each person was a little. Then she begged for chapter two, and I indulged. Daddy had gotten home by this time, so he got on the bed with us and listened too. She LOVED chapter two as it got a little more interesting and wasn’t just backstory like chapter one is. She laughed out loud in a couple of places and has decided the Dursleys are “the boring people.” She also said the Hills are not like the Dursleys. We’re “much more fun.”¬†
So, we have started reading Harry Potter with Maggie. To me, this is as much a milestone as her crawling, walking, starting school. She’s grown up just a little bit more. She’s a little bit closer to being a young woman and a little bit farther from being a little girl.¬†

Maggie's 6th Birthday

Maggie had a two day celebration for her birthday. There were cupcakes at school on Friday and then a High School Musical birthday party Saturday morning with the family gathering on Saturday afternoon. 

On Saturday, Maggie was allowed to invite eight girls over, and we did fun HSM crafts, danced to the songs, played trivia, and watched the movies. They had a GREAT time.
The cousins so enjoyed the cupcakes at the family gathering as you can see by the photos.