What's happening with the Hill family!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It takes a village

After another whirlwind week, I was reflecting on the variety of experiences the Hill family takes part in on a regular basis. I kept thinking of the old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child." It really got me thinking about what our village looks like and what kind of impact it has on our boys.

For example we had two family events this week that are probably at opposite ends of the activity spectrum. On Wednesday night we had dinner with Uncles Aaron and Jack. These two are some of our favorite village inhabitants. Connor is crazy about these two uncles and for pretty good reason. They are way classier than his parents, first of all. Their house is always neat and their furniture is never sticky. To say they are world travelers is an understatement and they make it a point to think about the boys in all of their high flying adventures. Connor has quite the collection of Euros and his own fake passport. If he ever needs to flee the country in a hurry, he is all set. They help us infuse his life with a little culture and are the cool uncles that take him to museums. (This is probably a shock to some of you to find out that Matt and I don't hang out in museums all the time or ever.) Because of Uncle Aaron and Uncle Jack, Connor and Hudson both own clothes from H&M, a feat their mother has yet to accomplish :) They are also our social conscience, do-gooders to an annoying degree (sorry guys). Because of them, Connor knows all about "wecycling" and "veterinawians" (the kind that eat only vegetables, not the animal doctors.) They are fun uncles that will spend their dinner time engineering an official AA airplane glider and doing endless test flight until Mom finally calls an end to the fun. They help my boys see that there is a lot more to the world than what we see here in Rowlett, Texas. Granted, Connor has repeatedly tried to pay for his kolatches at the donut shop with a pocketful of Euros, but hey, he will need them someday. Uncle Aaron suggested he try at La Madeliene, but I think that fake French people are going to be much less forgiving than he thinks.

After that low key, classy dinner with the Uncles, we immediately ran down to the other end of the village spectrum and went to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo with my dad. It was a whole different type of culture. Connor and Hud got totally decked out in full cowboy gear, which was right up Connor's alley since it was, essentially, a costume. This is not mine and Matt's scene by any stretch of the imagination, but we are resolved (or resigned, in this case) to let our kid's experience as much of life as possible. My dad is the quintessential cowboy, and is always proud to have his grandkids dressed as tiny versions of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Matt and I just wore our regular clothes, in case you were wondering. To appreciate my dad, you would have to be a fan of John Wayne. In fact, over the last year I have been reading several books (The Shack, The 5 People You Meet in Heaven and Can't Wait to Get to Heaven) and coincidentally, all three are similar in that when the characters get to Heaven they are all surprised to see that the people in Heaven take on familiar shapes of loved ones or people they highly respected. For my Dad, the person greeting him in Heaven would have to be The Duke. My dad's influence on the boys teaches them about being tough and brave. Connor was intent on watching and observing every bit of the rodeo. He desperately wants to be thrown off bulls and then he wants to put on his Stetson and ride them again. This is a lesson I don't think Matt and I could have taught him, and certainly not in that dramatic fashion. Pop, against my better judgement, once put a two year old Connor on a very slow moving mechanical bull and convinced him to ride his full eight seconds with one hand up. The rodeo is a life experience that, despite being a complete parade of some of life's most bizarre oddities, serves to show my kids that there is a uniqueness and richness to life that I hope they embrace, even if it is out of their comfort zone. Plus, you get to wear a totally wicked awesome belt buckle.

There are a lot more people in our village that influence our kids regularly, but these two events just stood out in my mind today because they were so completely different from each other and yet they both have an impact on helping grow my boys into good and decent men. Plus,we did all this in one 4 day time period. They are two lucky little boys to have so many unique people that care about them and want to help guide them through life. Now, that isn't to say that we all don't take a turn as village idiot or that we aren't all just a little crazy, because it's pretty safe to say that we are, but since we're all in it together we just might keep the village from burning down.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Perfect Storm...of Hair

I would like to take today's blog to address something very serious. Hudson's hair. It is a mystery that I cannot seem to solve and it drives me crazy! It is kind of the blonde elephant in the room that we all tiptoe around until one of us finally breaks and says, "Good Lord! What is going on with his hair??"

Hud was born with a fair amount of dark hair and a natural tan, so in all honesty he looked fairly Hispanic. In fact, I was asked several times on the street if his father was in fact, Hispanic, or my personal fave the lady that commented, "Aren't mixed race children so beautiful?" Well, yes they are, but mine was just a white baby with a tan. Anyway, I digress. His dark hair never fell out, it just turned blonde and stayed baby fine. It got pretty thick so I kept expecting it to start acting like normal hair, I thought I could wait out the flyaways and the freshly electrocuted look, but no luck. I decided to not cut it in hopes that being longer would weigh it down. This was very hard for me, it really goes against my very nature. I have Connor's straw toupee cut every six weeks come hell or high water. But longer didn't work for us and instead of being seen as a boy with crazy hair, he was mistaken for a girl with crazy hair, often. That I could not handle, so we decided to take our chances and get his hair officially cut.

I entertained the thought of trimming it myself for a few fleeting moments, but Matt has some weird issues with home haircuts ever since his mom cut his hair herself with some sort of vacuum cleaner/hair cutting contraption. So he nixed the home trim idea and off we went to the "salon". Cutting Hudson's hair however, was not a challenge that the stylist had been properly trained for. She studied it dry, then she studied it wet. She finally looked at me and announced that she could see at least 3 cowlicks on his tiny baby head and she was amazed. Yes, this I already knew. I call it "the perfect storm" of hair. It defies gravity and all manner of styling products. She did her best, bless her heart and wished us luck.

We are back to the daily battle of trying to beat his hair into submission, but it is putting up a valiant fight. It is now part of Connor's morning routine, in the car on the not so cold mornings, to try and smooth it down with a wet wipe. This takes intense concentration on his part and usually ends up with him throwing the wet wipe at the windshield and declaring, "That's it, Mommy! I give up!" Once I even caught him stacking cheerios on one of the flyaway spikes like his brother was some sort of human ring toss. Hudson just waited patiently for them to fall in his lap so he could eat them. That poor baby :)

As confounding as his hair is, there are moments during the day when we are outside and the wind hits his face, blowing that crazy hair in 75 different directions, and his face completely lights up with a joy that I have never seen when I look in the mirror.

It is that face, in those moments, I hope I remember forever :)

P.S. If all else fails, I am sure he could get a job as a child actor playing a very young Rod Stewart in a lifetime movie that will likely be titled, "Maggie May: The Truth Behind the Hair."

Monday, January 25, 2010

And the blind can see!

Tonight was another biblical reenactment in our living room. It started out as most things do in our household with the words, "No Hudson, hold still!" Matt and I came in from the kitchen to see exactly what drama was unfolding and it didn't disappoint.

At Sunday school this week Connor learned about the blind man Bartimaeus who was healed by Jesus. Connor loved this story so much that he insisted that we read it in his children's bible that night so he could really get the plot down. I thought this was wonderful because he usually only likes me to read the stories in his Bible that have pictures featuring swords, other weaponry OR baby animals. So after having a good 24 hours to think about this story he decided it was time to assign parts. Luckily there are two boys in this house and two parts to the story. For some reason Matt and I are not ever asked to participate.

Connor decided that he would be the blind man and Hudson would be Jesus. I know. Sometimes I can't even believe what goes on around here. But anyway, Connor takes the time out to tell Hudson first what blind means. He explains (as he wanders around the room with his eyes pinched shut and arms outstretched) that blind means that you can't see. I thought that was very clear and to the point. But no, there was more. He goes on to tell his brother that even though he can't see he can still hear, and touch and taste people. This is where Matt decided to jump in and suggest that it is unnecessary for anyone portraying a blind biblical character to taste anyone. Just as a FYI, suggestions from the audience are not appreciated.

By now, "Jesus" had lost interest and was wandering off, Connor pulled him back over and told him that he needed to walk by and heal him after he called out to him. Well, Hudson wasn't getting it. He never managed to walk in the right way past where Connor was crouched down draped in a towel (I have no idea why). He even made me hold Hudson back and then when Connor was in position and cried out for healing, I would release Jesus in the right direction. But it just wasn't up to Connor's high theatrical standards. He decided to switch the roles and he would do the healing.

As I suspected there was no convincing an 18 month old to sit with his eyes closed and wait for his older brother to heal his blindness. He just didn't catch on and Connor was beyond frustrated. I told him it was time for an intermission and I went back in to finish dinner. The boys went into the playroom and all was quiet for a while. I started hearing giggling and Connor announced that he had found a way to make Hudson blind (talk about a terrifying statement). Thankfully though, they walked into the kitchen with Hud sporting Connor's old Elmo sunglasses.

Obviously, problem solved. Matt and I were able to watch as Jesus healed Bartimeaus in our living room by whipping the Elmo sunglasses off his face and then they both danced around wearing towels, laughing like lunatics. Just like in the New Testament :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Florence Nightingale is rolling in her grave

We have had sickness in the Hill household and we are not handling it well.

In the wee hours of the morning, Connor started throwing up. In our bed. Here is confession number one, Connor spends at least part, if not the majority of every night sleeping with his mom and dad. Yes, we are those parents. We have the best of intentions and he almost always starts in his own bed, but that sneaky little man seems to always find a way back in. Sometimes we don't even know it, he just lays across the foot of our bed like a dog. We pretend to not like it, but we kind of do. Except for last night. Once again, he had snuck in and we were awoken to the sound of a three year old throwing up. Not good.

Confession two: Matt is the heaviest sleeper of all time, he is cursed with the inability to awaken to the loudest of noises like freight trains or jet liner engines. What a horrible burden that must be for him. So I have had to adapt my sleeping to become hyper sensitive to all the kid noises a parent must be aware of in order to be considered fit by the state. When Matt is abruptly awoken he usually stumbles around in a semi-hysterical stupor until he can fully regain consciousness. This takes anywhere between 5 minutes and 2 hours.

So back to the sickness. When the puking in our bed started happening, Matt and I sprung into action like the well oiled parenting machine we are. I grabbed Connor and headed to the bathroom, Matt leapt out of bed (after I kicked him in the kidney) and started running around the room shouting, "He's sick! He's sick! Melissa, he is sick!" Over and over again. Well, no kidding Honey! He is extremely disoriented (Matt, not Connor) and literally walks into a wall while pacing around. He finally gets it together and comes into the bathroom to check on the little man, who is still throwing up. Then we encounter another problem, Matt is incapable of watching someone vomit without having sympathy vomit. I am sure this medical condition exists in textbooks somewhere. His case is so extreme that I once had a case of food poisoning so severe in a hotel room in Caesar's Palace after eating at an In and Out Burger, that I literally thought I would die on the floor in front of a tacky gold plated toilet. Matt was only able to tend to me by completely wrapping his entire head in towels, totally obscuring his vision, and blindly crawling over to me to bring me water. That is sacrifice.

So now I had two people sick which was double the fun for me. Luckily, after a few minutes Connor was over the worst and Matt was able to step in and take over. He started to get Connor ready for a bath and paused, looking confused. He asked me why our soon to be four year old was wearing size 12 month pajamas. Well, obviously, because he wanted to. Connor has been getting a real kick lately out of wearing his brother's pajamas, Lord knows why. The pants look like shorts and the tops hit right at his rib cage. It's definitely a look, especially when you have the physique of a toothpick and are dry heaving. I told Matt some things are not to be analyzed at 3 in the morning and to get him ready to go back to bed.

Connor came out refreshed but still feeling puny. I told him that we needed to get him some new pajamas and he could go back to sleep. He, in a very dramatic, feeble voice, asked me to get him another set of Hudson's pj's. His sickly tone of voice was so over the top, I felt like I was listening to Debra Winger tell Shirley Maclaine to take care of the kids after she was gone. I told him that his would be much more comfortable, but he disagreed. He informed me that they were his "sick P-jams" and that having his tummy exposed to air (keep in mind that the shirt barely covered nipples) would make him feel better faster. As ridiculous as that whole conversation was it was kind of a relief to know that although he was sick, he still had his flair for the dramatic. That was a good sign.

Matt really did an awesome job taking care of our sick boy all day today while I got to vacation at work. I arrived home to a happy and seemingly fully recovered boy, dressed only in two pairs of underwear because he and Daddy decided that would be a good idea in order, "to cut down on laundwy."

Take that Shirley Maclaine, we call that caretaking Daddy-style.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My moment in the spotlight...stolen

Last night Matt and I went to the Mavericks game with our good friends Eileen and Dan. Here is the deal with me and professional sporting events: I don't really care. I can enjoy the experience and appreciate the atmosphere but you will never catch me spouting off statistics or ruminating on play off chances. However, if one of the players is involved with some sort of celebrity, has a pregnancy scandal or has been featured on a reality show, then you are speaking my language. I just like to go on a date with my husband and hang out with friends we really like.

Anyway, Eileen and Dan are super fans and Matt can hold his own based on the ridiculous amount of ESPN sports radio he listens to, so that just leaves me as the odd gal out. I really get a lot done though, I catch up on my texting, update my Facebook status with what I am currently eating and make observations about the die hard fans sitting around us, which always cracks me up. Basically I have a good time without having to emotionally invest anything in the game.

Last night's game was endless! We were losing and then we weren't and then it was tied. A real nail biter it seemed or whatever. Here is what I hate about all sporting events, two minutes lasts for an hour. The clock finally wound down to less than five minutes left and I silently rejoiced and started gathering my purse. But nope, it was a stream of timeouts that seemed never ending. During these "really short" timeouts the camera panned the spectators and of course featured them on the jumbo screen. All of a sudden, there we were! Granted the fans behind us were doing some out of control dancing and that might have grabbed the camera man's attention more than me clutching my purse and looking slightly pissed and very impatient, but nonetheless there we were!

Well, almost all of us. Matt didn't make the shot. He was inexplicably cut out. Keep in mind that time had now slowed down to a crawl so one second felt like a month. I was just starting to acknowledge my giant multi story high self when all of a sudden I was gone. Someone had stuck their giant man hand right in front of my face! I was totally confused, I hadn't even gotten to wave at myself yet or take the opportunity to study how my face and hair looked magnified. All I could see was my purse and a giant hand. My husband's hand.

Instantly our time was up and I turned to the man I married and demanded an explanation. I could not believe he had just stolen my thunder. I had just sat through a really boring three hours and at the end, one little moment of excitement happened to come my way and it was blocked. Here was his explanation. He said, "Melissa, I didn't want to be 'that' guy who dove over his wife's lap so he could see himself on the big screen, so I just stuck my hand out there in front of your face."
Um, what? In what world would that ever make sense? Then the final nail in his coffin, he spends the rest of the walk out to the car making comments on how awesome his hand looked jumbo sized, like an agent was going to seek him out for a hand modeling gig or something. Please.
You know what Matt, it didn't look awesome, it just looked really hairy.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Revenge: A dish best served in someone else's voice

My son received the most annoying toy for Christmas...The Voice Changer. I have developed a hatred of this toy like I have never experienced before. It was a gift from my brother Aaron ( I am purposefully leaving Uncle Jack out of the blame game because I feel like he would never intentionally do something like this to me). Before Connor had even opened it Aaron says to me, "You are going to kill me." HA! That was an understatement. Not only was it a blatant disregard for my "no batteries this Christmas" manifesto that I shared family wide, but it's entire existence seems to be for the sole purpose of making me crazy. You might be wondering....but how could that be?

The voice changer is a small, simple little device. All you do is press the trigger and speak into the mouthpiece and your voice is magically changed...and amplified. Please note that I said speak. This is problem number one, my kids cannot talk into it, they have to yell. The sound of their little voices changed to sound like Darth Vader or Minnie mouse on helium is so exhilarating that they lose all control of their volume. We opened this wonderful gift on Christmas Eve and it quickly stole the show, everyone in my entire family had to have their voice changed. It was like a drug and no one could say no. Except for me, it was lonely up there in my ivory tower. I just observed the insanity and prayed that they would lose interest when all of the other Christmas toys made an appearance the next day, or if that didn't work that it would run out of battery juice and we could give it the proper burial it so deserved.

After we got the boys to bed on Christmas Eve, I still couldn't get a break from the hated voice changer. Matt found it endlessly amusing to toss out witty commentary on my toy assembling ability while changing the tone of his voice. There is nothing more annoying than being up to your neck in the deluxe Island of Sodor, Thomas the Whatever Train set with 5 million pieces and having your grown husband yelling, "You're doing it wrong," in an obscene phone caller voice.

I really didn't want to be "that" mom that would get rid of a beloved toy because she found it as irritating as nails on a chalkboard so I kept my plan of waiting it out. However, the shine is still on the voice changer! Now Hudson had jumped on the bandwagon. He, however, does not have the hand strength or finger dexterity to press the trigger himself, so he and Connor traipse around the house like conjoined twins with Connor pressing the button and Hudson yelling out "Helllllooooooo, Hellooooooo!" And to think some brothers wouldn't like to share toys, I am just so lucky.

So as I wait on the seemingly endless battery life to finally come to a close, I have had a lot of time to think about how I could possibly thank my brother for this oh so generous gift. I mean really, how can I truly express my gratitude. I have had several trains of thought on this subject, most of them not fit for public viewing. I don't have a plan set in stone yet, but I think that is for the best, it might or might not involve me switching his dog's anti-depressants with a placebo of some sort. I think it is much more intimidating for him to never know when or where my plan of revenge will be enacted. It is coming though, Uncle Aaron Glenn.

It is coming.

Here is the voice changer in action. I asked Connor to demonstrate it and he agreed only if he could, "stand in front of the fire for the video because it looks so beautiful behind me."
He is all about the ambiance.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2009, We hardly Knew Ye

I guess a New Year's post is better late than never.

I cannot believe it is already 2010! 2009 flew by, our fastest year yet. It brought a lot of firsts for the Hill family. Hudson turned 1 and took his first steps which quickly turned into his first dance moves. He developed a real love of crazy baby dancing and can climb like a mountain goat because of his freakishly strong upper body and low center of gravity.

Connor turned 3 early on in the year and really came into his own personality-wise. He has turned into a tiny Renaissance Man who has developed a passion for a broad spectrum of all life has to offer. Over the past 12 months we have developed a love for theatrics, organic gardening, dramatic monologues and soccer( just to name a few).

In 2009 my boys became friends, and it is a wonderful thing. Now that Hud is a toddler, he can fully embrace his role as Connor's constant companion. They are now spending all day together at the sitters which is going to give them plenty of bonding time. Together they are quite the team. A song and dance man paired with a character actor. I think of a Jerry Lewis/Daniel Day Lewis combo :)

I don't have any real resolutions this year. Yes, I need to lose weight, exercise etc. However it is highly unlikely that I will do any of those things regularly. Instead I am going to chill out and try to stop worrying that my sons will be featured in a TLC show titled, "World's Tallest and Shortest Brothers: Can They Find Love?" (yes I realize I might need professional help). I instead resolve to enjoy every day with the three walking, talking and breathing blessings in my life.

In 2010 I choose to embrace the weirdness, laugh at the zaniness and learn my lines without fail for whatever production is getting top billing in my living room.

Happy (Belated) New Year!