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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Counting my blessings

Tonight is "Thanksgiving Eve" and since I don't do any actual cooking for the big meal, I have some time to reflect on what my family is giving thanks for this year. I've noticed a lot of my facebook friends have been listing one thing a day that they are thankful for all month, but since I am an incurable procrastinator I am listing mine all together at pretty much the last possible minute.
I am feeling pretty sentimental today so bear with me :)

I am so thankful for my husband. He is a man that has survived both cancer and living with me and still manages to keep a smile on his face :) He has faced challenges that I can't even imagine and doesn't share his story much because he worries that people will feel sorry for him. I share his story because I am proud of him and of what he has accomplished. I am lucky to have him because he makes up for my short comings in so many ways. He has patience when I don't and he has a logical side that I envy whenever my mind seems to be too flighty for the real world. He loves me enough to forget that I had bangs as thick as a down comforter when we were seat mates in the sixth grade. He loves me enough to know immediately that when I am making Malt-o-meal for dinner, it has been a bad day. I love most of all that he gets my sense of humor and even finds it funny once in a while. He has seen me at my sickest, my meanest and my most scared and he loves me.

I am thankful for my boys. They are the children we never knew that we could have. Pregnancy is rarely a guarantee for anyone and I know that it was most definitely an uncertainty in a lot of people's minds for us. Getting pregnant was a blessing, being pregnant and keeping myself and a baby healthy was a daunting and dangerous journey for me. Twice. I am thankful for medical advancements that made it even possible because not too many years ago it would not have been. I am thankful for not just one but two healthy boys and the fact that I got them here and am still all in one piece myself. Thankful. I am blessed to have a mom that was a wonderful example to me of how to raise your family and enjoy them at the same time.
Before I was a mom I had experienced happiness in my life, a lot of it. But once these two little men entered the scene I realized something I had not truly experienced before, Joy. Every smile I get to witness, every time a sweet boy runs to me with his arms out and every time I get to hold them while they sleep, I am experiencing God's grace in the most tangible way and I am so thankful.

I am thankful for our every day life. The good, the bad and the ugly. I am thankful that our house is almost always full of laughter, although most of this comes from laughing at ourselves :) I have the funniest family on the planet and they are constantly teaching me through example that if we can laugh at a problem, it seems easier to solve. Our life is not a perfect one and there are moments on a daily basis when I find myself frustrated, stressed or upset about something that at that one moment seems to be the most critical thing in the world. But, those moments are part of our story as well and so I am also thankful for them. I am thankful for a boy that has a heart as big as his imagination, who is so proud of his baby brother that he wants to shout it out to every stranger we meet and advertise his affection with matching shirts. I am thankful for a little boy that has fallen into the role of baby of our family with an open mouth, open arms and a perma-smile. He is a little guy that loves music in his soul and is already a loyal companion for his big brother. I am thankful for the glimpses of their dad that I get to see in both of them.

I just finished reading a great book called, Have a Little Faith. In it the author is interviewing an aging man of God in order to prepare for his eulogy. He asks the Rabbi if he has discovered the secret to happiness and the Rabbi says yes. He says the key to happiness is simple, be satisfied and be grateful. That's it. Today I am both.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Part 1

This month is a great time to focus on what we are thankful for in our lives. Our blessings are so abundant sometimes it is hard to believe. I have to admit though that I can easily fall into the trap of focusing on what we don't have or what isn't quite the way I would like it to be. It is easy to get caught up in the material world and lose sight of the things that truly matter. I realize that between Matt and I, all the grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles, that there is probably nothing in this world that our boys will want for. They will probably never have to experience true hardship and that is a wonderful thing but it also had me a little worried. I don't want to have children who are so self focused that they don' t realize the hurt and pain of others in the world. So enter into the Hill Family our newest member: Nilo.
We decided to sponsor Nilo in the hope that we could be showing and teaching our boys compassion and empathy through our example. I selected Nilo in particular because not only is he adorable but he is the same age as Connor and I thought that would make him easier to relate to. We decided to talk about him a little before we formally "introduced" his photo. Needless to say, Connor was very excited about this little boy.
I tried to explain where Africa is in relation to where we live and how it is very far away. After listening to my big speel about geography Connor said, "So it's like Garland right?" Um, not quite. We talked about how Nilo's village is different than our city and how they live in a different way than us because they don't have things like running water or television. Connor was fascinated by this discussion, especially the part where Nilo likes to kick a soccer ball around the village, just like Connor.
Finally, Matt and I unveiled Nilo's photo. Connor's first reaction."Why is he black?" I was horrified! I couldn't believe that I had raised a tiny racist! Connor has African American friends so I brought them up and he said, "No Mommy, they are brown." That's when I realized that we just had some color confusion, however I was determined to "fix" this problem. I then, in typical Melissa fashion, overthought, worried, and researched the issue. I got a couple of books that explained to kids why we are all different colors. They were great and I personally learned a lot from them. After our learning time though, I had Connor so confused that he came to the conclusion that he and his brother were from different racial backgrounds. Great. I am sure he shared at Sunday school that although he was "cweam colored" his brother was "light brown". We just decided to drop the topic and move on to the compassion and empathy.
We love having Nilo in our family's life. We pray for him every night and there is rarely a time when Connor kicks the soccer ball around that he doesn't wonder if Nilo is doing the same thing. He likes to imagine what Nilo's life is like and if they like to do the same kind of three year old things. I think it is so important for Connor to know that there are so many people in the world that are less fortunate than us and I think slowly, but surely he is catching on. It is hard for him to fathom that Nilo doesn't have a McDonalds or "Chunky Cheese" but he is starting to get it and I hope it makes him grateful for all we have. Sometimes his imagination gets away from him, as it is prone to do, and currently he is hoping that Nilo has a pet lion cub and sometimes gets to ride a zebra if he can get his hands on one. As I said we are still three.
I hope Nilo is a part of our lives for a long time to come. He is a blessing that we were not expecting but one that we now greatly value. Matt says he likes to imagine our letter and picture arriving in Mozambique and Nilo opening that package and exclaiming, "Why are they white?"
We like to think a three year old is still a three year old no matter where you live.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Road Trippin'

Last weekend we took the boys on a quick roadtrip to Houston for their cousin Eliza's first birthday. We decided to drive down with my mom on Friday night and come back on Saturday night. This plan was devised with the foolish hope that traveling at night would entice Hudson to sleep in the car. Not so much. Let me just preface this with the facts about Hudson as a sleeper. He is amazing, a champ really. This child sleeps a solid 12 hours at night and has multiple naps during the day. He loves sleep like his mommy loves cake. However, this wonderful sleep only occurs in his comfort zones, his crib and his nap mat at the babysitter's. He is completely inflexible with other sleep locations. He does not fall asleep in his carseat or snuggled in his loving parent's arms. He likes his bed, plain and simple. I toss him in there at 7 pm every night and don't hear a peep until morning.
So my elaborate plan of dinner, bath, jammies and a quick four hour car ride obviously blew up in my face. We were not 20 minutes down the road when the crying began. Nothing could make him happy. Not only was he up past his bedtime but I had dared to restrain him in a carseat! His crib was nowhere to be seen! It was a nightmare. I am normally not in the best of moods during a car trip anyway, so to be barrelling down the highway with my mother at the wheel while a 16 month old screamed hysterically was not high up on my list of fun times. The most painful part is that his older brother is now an expert car tripper. He had a movie player and headphones and was in heaven, we could have driven to Alaska and he wouldn't have cared. We didn't hear a word from him until about an hour in when he took off his headphones and said, "Brother, this is the part where Fwosty melts because he gets warm and I can't hear it because you are scweaming." The logic did not phase Hudson and his calm rationality made me want to snatch those headphones off his head and put them on my bleeding ears. Needless to say, my patience was worn thin especially when Matt wanted to stop at every gas station that had a sign in the window that said Fresh Fudge, Free Samples. There is officially nothing worse than trying to shove gas station fudge into your baby's mouth in a pathetic attempt to get him to stop crying.
We finally made it after what felt like days on the road. The boys had a blast at the party and we were so happy to be a part of Eliza's big day. But the whole time one thought was at the back of our minds....the ride home. We stuck with our original plan of night driving and just prayed that he would be so exhausted from the hard partying and saying hi and bye to 1000 people that he would be able to handle it and his mother wouldn't have to throw him out the car window. Thank goodness it was better, he was flat out exhausted and fell asleep right away. We took advantage and hauled it out of Houston at illegal speeds. We felt like we were in a getaway car, but by God nothing was going to stop us while that baby was asleep.
We got home safe and sound and dumped the boys in bed, then Matt and I just sat in our living room in a daze. I stood up to go upstairs and much like Scarlett O'Hara holding up her turnips, I clutched Matt's bag of fudge to my chest and announced, "With God as my witness I will never road trip with my toddler again!" Matt didn't really appreciate the reference but it made me feel empowered and I will take whatever I can get:)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Delectable Fish Lips

Yesterday was supposed to be Connor's second and final attempt at his sedated dental appointment. No such luck. At our previous attempt I learned that my kid is a funny, sloppy drunk. At the first appointment, once the meds kicked in, he accused a tiny girl baby in the waiting room of being his brother and kept complimenting "new Hudson" on his beautiful purple shirt, giggling like a mad man. "New Hudson's" mother was not so amused. Alas, that appointment was a bust so yesterday we went to a new dentist to try again.
He had his "special" juice and 30 minutes later the overly affectionate case of the sillies set in. His first victim: the giant fish tank in the middle of the waiting room. He was amazed by the "most beautiful, gorgeous fish" he had ever seen. He kissed the tank repeatedly and open mouthed. But was that enough? Nope. He then begged me to hoist him up and dangle him over this six foot tall tank so he could catch a fish with his bare hands and then kiss it on it's "delectable fish lips." Yes, this is a direct quote, shout out to Nick Jr. for teaching us that new word. When he realized that he wasn't going to get any reciprocal affection from the tank, he turned the silly love on me. Every other minute I heard, "I love you Mommy, let me kiss you." Sweet. For a while. Please keep in mind that this was a shockingly busy dentist's office. I started to feel slightly uncomfortable when Connor demanded loudly that our kisses last "forever." It was like he was literally glued to my lips, the cheek was absolutely unacceptable. Slightly awkward for the casual observer, I'm sure.
After all that the only real result we got from the silly juice was this silly story. When it came down to it, the medicine was incapable of actually sedating him enough for any real work to be done. So onward and upward we press, I can't even imagine how my little under the influence cassanova will react at our next appointment.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Because that's the way God made it.

I was talking with a friend this morning after church and she was telling me how she was in an awkward conversation with her four year old about why girls and boys have different parts. He really sprung this on her and she said she just didn't know what to say. I do.
"Because that's the way God made us."
Now, I also shared with her that my husband has requested that I lay off of using this answer, because apparently I do it a lot. I know that the day is coming when my child will officially be smarter than me and I am prepared to accept that. There is tons of stuff I don't know and Connor is the king of endless questioning. Why is the sky blue? Why do I have two arms? Why is dirt dirty? Frankly, I have no idea, so I tell him, "Because that is the way God made it." Is it a total cop out answer, yes. Am I ashamed of it, no. Right now it works and I would like to keep up the facade that his mother is a genius for as many years as possible.
It is really bothering Matt though. He has visions of Connor sitting down for his medical board exams and in response to some open ended medical question writing, "Because that's the way God made it." Somehow he doesn't think that is going to inspire confidence in a doctor.
The other night, Connor comes in and asks me, "Mom, why does a volcano get hot?" Um, I don't know. So I gave him my standard answer and his father freaked out. Two hours later they have googled, discussed thoroughly, created some sort of powerpoint and are in the midst of a "volcano experiment" involving exploding a can of Diet Dr. Pepper in my bathtub. Now Connor can explain molten lava and gasses to you to an annoying degree. I earned two uninteruppted hours of TV time. I ask you, who is the smartest now?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cougar Town

As my boys get older, I know they will start to pull away from Mom some. Dad is the hero, the cool guy. I guess that is normal. I am no expert on guy stuff and Matt is the real deal. I get it, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. I love that I have Momma's boys, even if it is only for a few fleeting years. Connor is like a sponge and Matt finds it hilarious to teach him things that Mom never would. Luckily for now, Hudson is still mine.
Here is an incident involving Matt and his mini-Matt: Matt and I came in separate cars to Connor's last soccer game a few weeks back. Connor and Matt left in his truck and Hudsy and I went in my car. As we approached a red light, I changed lanes to get right next to the "man truck" certain that they would be happy to see me. Well, they were prepared. I rolled down my window and said, "Hey guys! Lookin' good!" I saw Matt lean over and whisper to Connor. Then my son said the following to me, "Hi, nice to meet you, but you're too old for me." Stunned, I opened my mouth to speak, but he wasn't done yet. "Listen, let's not make this awkward, I'm way out of your league. No, I don't want to be friends, just let it go." Then he put his elmo sunglasses on and they drove off.
What?!? Several questions raced through my mind. 1. How long have they been working up this little routine? The memorization was perfect. Is my child some sort of genius? And 2.Did my three year old just call me out as a cougar? I think so.
I am blogging about this incident first and foremost because it was a great moment in Matt's life. Notice I did not say a high point in his parenting career, but a great moment nonetheless. He has lived on this small victory over me for several weeks now and he deserves the credit. The time and effort put into this prank is quite impressive.
So here is your moment, Honey. Live it up!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our Poky Little Puppy

Well Hudson survived his second Halloween. Last year, he was just a little guy so we weren't sure what to expect from him this year since he is walking and doing his own thing a little bit more. He didn't disappoint!
My little man apparentely has a love of candy like I have never seen before in a child. He couldn't quite get with the trick or treating program. Instead of putting his candy in his bag at each door, he felt the need to sit down on that stranger's front porch and eat until it was gone. Then he was ready for the next house. Needless to say, this really slowed down our travel time. His big brother and cousin hit the ground running, with a goal of raking in as much candy as possible. Not my little fire dog. He was definitely the poky puppy.
He got into quite the routine, hit a house, look adorable, get candy, sit and eat. His precious, pottery barn kids white dalmation suit was soon covered in chocolate drool. Every photo we have features Hudson with a mouth full of candy with back ups clutched in each fist. At one house, someone dared to hand out pencils, Hudson immediately tasted it and threw it down with a look of disgust. We are not interested in eating pencils.
You might be wondering what kind of reaction the little guy had to all this sugar. Some of you might be familiar with Hudson's regimented sleeping schedule. He averages about 16 hours a day with a strict 7 p.m. bedtime. Not on Halloween! He arrived back at his Gammie's house hopped up on candy, walked straight to the portable cd player by the door and turned on Monster Mash. He proceeded to host what I like to refer to as Hudson's dance party. As soon as the song ended he immediately hit repeat and danced like a mad man, all by himself. He clapped and twirled himself into a frenzy. Finally, he collapsed in exhaustion, wild eyed, sweaty and covered in candy residue.
Now that is a good time.