Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Song That Moves Me

A dear friend gave me a wonderful gift the other evening: a CD from an artist new to me, Sara Groves. Her album "O Holy Night" was lovely! She has a soothing, airy voice and her take on traditional Christmas carols was very interesting and pleasing to the ear. When I heard the song, "To Be With You," I was moved to tears. We had just celebrated Christmas with my side of the family at my parents' lake house and I had been so emotional that day, thinking what a blessing it was to have my four children, my husband, my parents, my sisters and their husbands, and my grandparents there with me. How many people can say that, and how many more earthly years will I have all I hold dear with me?
Here are the lyrics to "To Be With You" -
We come in from our travels/Lay our gifts beneath the tree/My mother's in the kitchen/The parade is on TV/My father's with his father/They're setting out some toys/The kids all want the train he's had/Since he was a boy
CHORUS: To be with you/To be with you/I love this time of year/It always brings me here/To be with you
(my most teary part): I FALL IN WITH MY SISTERS/JUST LIKE WHEN WE WERE YOUNG/MY GRANDMA HOLDS THE BABY/SHE ROCKS AND SOFTLY HUMS/We gather round the table/We close our eyes and sing/"Praise God from whom all blessings flow"
To be with you/To be with you/I love this time of year/It always brings me here/To be with you
We set out milk and cookies/The kids are quick to bed/They know St. Nick is coming/And nothing need be said/We gather by the fire/Reminiscing by its light/The kids will be up early/But it's hard to say goodnight
To be with you/To be with you/I love this time of year/It always brings me here/To be with you

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Busy and Fun Day

Nothing special, but a nice day in the Hill Household. Two big kids went off to school and the two little ones played so nicely...I cleaned the upstairs, really cleaned (not just dusting and vacuuming)...the walls/door frames were nasty - all those little hands make quite the messes! It felt great to get at least part of the house spic and span.
CAH came home from school and we went over her school work, had lunch and cleaned the basement (WAY too many toys were out at once!) Again, it felt great to tidy up. KBH received a doll bed for Christmas from my parents, so we put it next to her bed today. We also moved CAH's doll crib upstairs next to her bed. The girls had a ball getting everything set up!
This afternoon, to my delight, the contact person from Lakeridge Farms called me back and quoted me a great price for an indoor pool party for KBH (who will turn four in January.) I was SO relieved to have it planned!
When NCH came home, I made the kiddos cocoa and NCH talked about his day. He was eager to get started on a new Star Wars lego set he received for Christmas from my parents. I made spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread for dinner, and for dessert, the kiddos enjoyed the last of the reindeer cookies.
After dinner, hubby helped the kiddos open "day three" of the week-long gift from my parents (on day one, they give a book with a theme; for the next 6 nights, the kiddos open a gift and follow the instructions.) The book this year is called, "What Can I Give Jesus?" by Cheryl Kirking, and so far, the kiddos opened a dog bone for canine cousin Takoda, supplies to make Christmas cards to give away, and tonight - supplies to make cupcakes: keep 6 and give the rest away with the Christmas cards. After NCH and I cleaned up the dinner dishes, the kiddos all helped make the cupcakes. NCH read the directions, CAH got out the bakeware, KBH and NJH got to pour and mix. While NCH and CAH scooped the batter into the cupcake liners, KBH vacuumed. While the cupcakes baked, CAH did the dishes and KBH dried.

Afterwards, we watched The Charlie Brown Christmas special, frosted the cupcakes and got ready for bed.
The kiddos have also been enjoying two Christmas books with CDs...we gather in the boys' bedroom and listen to the bedtime stories.
Tomorrow, I look forward to cleaning the downstairs, going to KBH's preschool Christmas party, and in the evening - getting my hair cut and going out for dinner with two special friends.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


- I spent a lot of time watching my kiddos play today.
- KBH is totally into the memory-matching game "I Spy Memory." She had all the cards lined up in her room today, along with several of the I Spy book.
- I watched KBH write her name for the first time today (this has been a huge challenge and a big worry of mine!!)
- CAH got to read with the school principal today. She came home with a special pin/ribbon that said "Star Reader" and the school name.
- The girls have been coloring up a storm! Both girls take pride in staying in the lines and they enjoy coloring for hours on end.
- NJH pooped on the potty before nap time today...he was so proud of himself!
- I love watching the kids take care of one another when they play out back in the snow. The older ones help the younger ones, and they all love to pull NJH in the sled.
- Tonight's math homework for NCH is adding columns of 3 2-digit numbers. Suddenly he's a big kid!
- A friend of the family just stopped by as Santa, to check up on the Herd. CAH answered the door and almost burst into tears! All three older kids stared while NJH ran right up and said, "Hello, Santa! What's in there?" and reached for the gift bags Santa was carrying!!
- Hubby is working a side job tonight so I'm just doing chicken nuggets with honey, raw veggies and dip and some applesauce for dinner. The kids can't wait!
- After dinner, I'll have the kids get jammied while I do the dishes...then we'll gather to watch "Rudolph." KBH has been asking to watch it for over a week now!
- I love days like this, when I am not pressured to get all kinds of things accomplished and I can just keep up the house/meals/laundry and enjoy the kids!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts Today

I don't know why I wait so long in between my blog updates. So many things happen that I want to share, and the next thing I know, a week has gone by! So rather than write a long update and pressure myself with the need to add pictures and all, here are just a couple of things on my mind today...

- I can't believe NCH is adding double digits, you know like:

He likes math a lot and he breezed through his homework last night. I love to see him enjoying school! I am amazed at how much he is growing and in so many ways, day by day. He plays basketball (or "hoops" as the guys call it) every Saturday. He really enjoys it. Although he is just beginning to learn the sport, he doesn't get flustered when the coach tells him to do this or not do that. I can see why I never did sports because I get nervous just listening to all the instructions from the sidelines!

- CAH is "Star of the Week" in her kindergarten class this week. We had such a fun time selecting photos and items to bring in...just remembering her as a super-chunky, super-happy baby makes me smile. She is becoming such a "big girl" - in her interactions and the way she speaks and plays. She is still such a helper to me. Lately, she will come to me in the kitchen and ask, "Can I help you with something, Mama?" Her baby brother absolutely thinks the world of her! They get along very well and he trusts her to care for him and love him. It's precious to watch them. She is busy memorizing the books of the New Testament for AWANA...she has the first 8 books down, now 19 to go!

- KBH, although still a feisty one, is gradually changing. She has earned a number of patches in her AWANA Cubbies class, for saying many different Bible verses. I really wasn't sure she would be able to do this, but she is proving me wrong. In appearance, she looks older to me. Even her preschool teacher said to me today, "Boy, she looks so tall and slender - like a bigger kid now!" She will turn 4 in just a few weeks and would like to have a Little Mermaid/Under the Sea party. I am still in the process of looking for an affordable indoor pool to use for the party. If not, we have pages of game and craft ideas...we shall see! She is LOVING gymnastics! Her confidence is growing and growing, and I actually observed from the window last week (like regular parents do...up until then, I'd been in the gym with her as she absolutely lost it when I tried to leave.) Her coach has been so patient with us! I do love to watch her flip over the bars, learn to do forward rolls on the beam, and add turns to her seat drops on the trampoline.

- NJH "reads" books to me now. At nap time today, we read the "Peekaboo" book and he said, "Oh, the baby has a car. Now the baby is playing hide and seek. See, the baby is eating the apple." I love that he talks so well - it really decreases frustration for everyone. I signed him up for preschool next fall...I don't even want to think about it! He's such a sweetie boy, I just want to keep him home with me forever! But I also want him to learn and grow and get along with his peers. This year, we dropped out of bible study (due to his crying for me the whole time). I have to say, I am loving the time with him. He has such a great sense of humor, and I could watch him play all day!

Well, I guess this turned out longer than I'd planned...and it ended up more of a Hill Herd update than "thoughts today" other thoughts -
. I'm really enjoying listening to each of my Christmas CD's.
. I love my "hot bag" (this bag of rice that you heat in the microwave, to keep you warm at night).
. I am reading a fantastic book by Pearl Buck called "The Townsman." I'm about 2/3 through and I look forward to reading a chapter or two every night.
. South Beach is working this time. Not to my "goal" weight yet, but almost there.
. Running felt GREAT last night - it was a warmish night and it was fun to see all the neighborhood decorations lit up
. I am looking forward to Christmas at the lake with my side of the family this Saturday.
. I can't wait to have dinner at my sister's tonight: just the girls getting Japanese take out, catching up and having fun!
. Hubby and I watched "The Office" last night and I laughed harder than I have in a long time!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Can Have My Salsa and Eat It Too!

That's right...and I can have my coffee and drink it too! Confused? Let me enlighten you: I'm back on South Beach (don't stop reading...I know, I like gimmicks, and I annoy you, but read on)...anyway, the scale recently went past my "scary weight" and into my pregnancy weight. I tried being "sensible" and "eating right" but it wasn't enough. I needed a bandwagon to jump on, just to get myself started. Why this time of year when there are treats and goodies and parties? Because I was already past my scary point and my pants wouldn't zip! If I gobbled my way through December, I would really be getting out of hand. So last Wednesday, I jumped into South Beach, Phase 1 with both feet. It felt great this shakes and nausea from the carb and sugar withdrawal. I am following their plan, but not necessarily the specific "meal plan per day" in the book. I am really enjoying it and the scale is giving me great positive feedback!
Yesterday, I discovered something wonderful: for a snack, I had some of the Price Chopper fresh garlic salsa with a part-skim mozzarella stick and some celery...yummy! I really didn't miss the chips, and the zesty salsa was fantastic!
Today, I made my own coffee combination: decaf coffee, 2 splendas, skim milk, a little pure vanilla, and a little baking cocoa...delicious!!!!
Another recent find: McDonald's coffee is $1 for any size, so I get a large decaf with 2 splendas and skim lasts me all day and is quite yummy. I found a powdered sugar-free hazelnut nondairy creamer at Price Chopper's actually a nice treat in coffee!
Dinners have included tilapia in ginger sauce with broccoli, ground sirloin (burgers) and veggies, chicken caesar salad (no croutons for me), dilled shrimp salad, even Chinese take out (steamed shrimp with mixed veggies...I just gave my carrots to the kiddos.) Later this week, we'll have two different kinds of chicken dishes and a broiled sirloin...not bad, right?
I am very motivated to stick with this until I am at a happier place on the scale. Then I will move into Phase 2 (allowing some fruit and whole grains), with the goal being to see Phase 2 as a life habit.
I am still trying to run three times a week, but with the winter weather moving in, it looks like the treadmill and I will need to be reacquainted. Last night's date didn't go too well, but there is room for improvement!