Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bad Guys and Ghosts

During a 6 minute drive to my sister-in-law's house last night, we had this conversation:

Keaton (nonchalantly): You know if a bad guy comes to me, I will punch him in the mouth and in the nose. Then I can also cut him in the belly.

Me: What???

Keaton: A bad guy. That's what I'll do. Punch him in the mouth and the nose and cut his belly open.

Me: Where did you learn that?

Keaton: From Tucker.

Me: Tucker, did you teach him that?

Tucker: Nope. If a bad guy comes to me I'll run away. You never know if he might have a gun.

Me: Keaton, who taught you that?

Keaton: Daddy

Tucker: Yeah, if a bad comes I will run away. Or if a ghost comes.

Keaton: I saw a ghost yesterday, but he didn't have a gun.

Tucker: Where?

Keaton: At my school.

Tucker (doesn't believe him): Really? Where was he?

Keaton: We were eating lunch, and Miller had chicken nuggets. The ghost was up in the air, and then he came down so fast to get Miller's chicken nuggets.

Thank goodness we arrived at our destination. Who knows what other topics we may have covered.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hello, my name is Stormy, and I have a Christmas card problem.

I admit it. I have a problem. Making our Christmas card each year fills my every waking thought from October 1st until they're in the mail. I love making them. I want to surprise people with the awesomeness of our card each year. I want the cards to be unlike anything our family and friends have ever seen. I want people to stand at their mailboxes every day hoping and praying that our card will arrive.

Sometimes my friends say things like, "I don't know how you have time for that," or "That seems like a lot of work." Those who ask haven't yet understood the magic of the perfect, original Christmas card with pictures of my boys. They haven't experienced the pride that I feel when someone expresses their astonishment at the Christmas card made with my very own computer.

Once the cards are mailed, I think about them even more often. I secretly hope that all December conversations will turn to the subject of greeting cards and that at least one person involved in that conversation has received a Stormy Original. I want to see my cards displayed on "Regis and Kelly" and oohed and ahhed over by people all across this great nation. I want the attention...the glory...the fame that comes with being the Queen of the Cards.

Is this quest for the perfect card healthy? I don't have time to care. It's almost Thanksgiving, and I have only a concept for this year's card. I've been pondering the design for months, and now it's time to bring that design to fruition - to bring joy to the hearts of all who know us by sending them an amazing half sheet of paper with our pictures on it. It's a lofty goal, but I shall prevail.

This is the first card I designed - Christmas 2005. It was a year of much loss and much gain, and it was Keaton's first Christmas.

2006 brought a new challenge. I chose to center the card's theme around our love for Christmas music. It took many hours of scouring the internet to find a company that printed CD case inserts, but it was well worth it in the end. The first picture is the front and back of the card/CD case insert, and the second picture is the inside. I loved that card.

And then the 2007 version came along. The background is a picture of our actual Christmas tree that year. I just couldn't find an image up to my standards, so we had to put up the tree before I could finish the card. Making the mock-Polaroids was an exciting challenge.

And now I must bid you farewell. There is much work to be done, and I know you're all waiting with bated breath not for Santa nor Christmas carols nor blessed church services, but for the Hickman Family Christmas Card. Fear not, the card cometh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of course he does that!

I learned something new from Tucker's teacher last week. We were emailing about something, and she added "It's so cute how Tucker kneels like a football player during the moment of silence every day."

Really? It's the twelfth week of school. Is he praying? Does he think there's a player injured somewhere in the world and he has to "take a knee"?

I don't even know what to say.

Theme Music

I like to keep things simple and uncomplicated. You know, not over think every little decision until it drives me crazy.

One example of my non-obsessive nature is my daily theme music. When I'm selecting music from my ipod to listen to at school, I simply have to ask myself some very basic questions:
1) How am I feeling today? Excited? Stressed? Tired?
2) How do I want to feel today?
3) What do I need to get accomplished today?
3) What music will make me most productive in my current state?

Does a musical checklist make me neurotic? Of course not! It only makes me thorough. That's a good trait to have - just ask my students when they get papers back from me.

Anyway, from these questions, I can ascertain what sort of music I should be listening to. I've decided to share some of my most often played theme music to perhaps save you some time in deciding on yours.

Scenario #1 - I have some important tasks that need to be completed carefully and methodically. I am not quite awake yet, and I need to focus on the task and not the fact that I'd rather be at home sleeping.

Music #1 - Corinne Bailey Rae or Norah Jones

Scenario #2 - I have lots of little things that need to be done, but I'm too tired to move too fast. With this music option I can sing along without losing focus on my tasks, but too much dancing could cause me to give up on accomplishing anything at all and go down the hall to find someone to chat with. I need to stay on task while leisurely enjoying the music.

Music#2 - The Police or James Taylor

Scenario #3 - Anything and everything is driving me nuts. I'm going to snap and scream obscenities at the next person who says any words to me. I need a vacation.

Music #3 - Tim McGraw's song "That's Why God Made Mexico" on repeat

Scenario #4 - I am a multi-tasking machine. I am sorting stacks of papers, returning emails, and making copies all at the same time. Need something? Bring it on.

Music #4 - The Killers or Fall Out Boy (Maybe I've got some lame emo kid inside trying to get out. Somebody call Trey if I show up at school in skinny jeans.)

Scenario #5 - I know that I will be faced with negative attitudes and/or situations, and I know that I need to handle them with positive words and grace and dignity for everyone. I also know that I am in no way capable of doing this on my own.

Music#5 - Chris Rice, Rich Mullins, or (lately) Bart Millard's "Hymned" and/or "Hymned Again" OR Willie Nelson. I know, right? Willie Nelson? But it reminds me of where I came from and where my priorities really are and what's most important. And Willie is awesome.

Scenario #6 - I can't answer any of the questions. I don't know anything. I can't make another decision because my brain is mushy. Choosing music is just too hard, and it's a choice I should never have to make.

Music #6 - I choose the playlist titled "An Eclectic Mix." It has Johnny Cash, The Bangles, Chicago, Willie Nelson, Journey, Green Day, Prince, Patsy Cline and lots of other songs and artists I just like.

So, I'm curious. What's your theme music?

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Yesterday the bank Trey works for went under - as in the FDIC came in to take over. He worked from 8:00 Friday morning until 1:30 Saturday morning, then from 7:30 Saturday morning until 6:00 Saturday night. He's going back in tomorrow at 8 a.m. He is exhausted, but such an amazing trooper. Never have I known anyone so committed to getting done what needs to be done even at his own expense.

The bank has been purchased and will be open bright and early Monday morning, so he still has a job. We don't know if things will stay that way, so please pray for God's direction in this uncertain time for him and our family.

In the midst of all this, I realize yet again that when life gets messy everyone I know wants to help. My friends and family want to do something - anything - for us. Unfortunately, the FDIC really doesn't want us up there at the bank lending moral support. (I can't imagine why not - we're very fun people!) So folks have other ways to support us.

I called my mom a million times, and she didn't even seem to care that I kept bugging her.

I called my friend and went from perfectly fine to crying in less than a second, and she didn't question my mental stability once. The drink she bought me at the Chicken on a beautiful Friday afternoon helped, too. ;)

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law just showed up to pick up the boys and take them to lunch. Trey's parents took the boys to the Aggie game. They did this both so the boys wouldn't miss out on the game and so that I could get some much needed grading done.

My sister called to check in.

Everywhere we look we see people who mobilize. That's what God's people do. They move. We are so very blessed to surrounded by people who - without even thinking about it - get up and do something.

Then my bizarre perspective on life in general kicked in. If you know me at all, you know it was only a matter of time. I had this epiphany that since I found out about the bank failure I felt like someone died. It seemed like at any moment old ladies would start showing up at my door with pie and the sympathy cards would start pouring in.

I was forced to laugh at the ridiculous seriousness of the whole situation. We're all here. We're all fine. No one is dying, or even sick (although Trey's really tired). I honestly don't mean to make light of the situation. It's pretty scary and I know it's even more stressful for Trey than I can imagine, but the reality is that - job or no job - life is still pretty darn good.

I've never known God to leave us high and dry, and I'd be a fool to think he will this time. We'll be fine. Better than fine, actually, because we'll have one more testament to God's divine omnipotence and intervention.

So, with that, two random kid things:

Kid Thing #1: When Keaton and I stopped to pick up Tucker on Thursday, Keaton stepped out of the car and exclaimed, "Oh, Mommy! It's a corn. Do you see it? It's a corn. I found a corn!" He was excited - not the screaming kind of excited, but the "in awe" kind of excited. It wasn't until he asked me to pick him up so he could get the corn out of the tree that I realized "a corn" meant "acorn."

Kid Thing #2: Tucker brought home a paper from the library on Monday. It explained a contest between all of the elementary schools. Students who read 250 pages will get two free tickets to an Aggie basketball game, and the school with the most readers will have an Aggie basketball player come to their school to read with them. They have until early December to finish.

Tucker loves contests. More specifically he loves to win contests. So much so that my five year old read 251 pages in five nights, including I Love Trains, Lasso Moon, The Night Before Christmas, and (my favorite) The Poky Little Puppy. He read them out loud to me all by himself. I sure hope his school wins!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Still a Rockstar

At 6:46 this evening I kissed the boys goodbye and zipped off to the closest nail salon for a much needed eyebrow wax.

I have to - I mean get to - attend a function tomorrow night with Trey's new office people. I've thought a hundred times this week that I'm going to stop on the way home to get my unruly eyebrows under control so as not to distract these new people with my lack of grooming, new people who should decide the moment they meet me that I'm wonderful, only to realize that I'm WAY more than wonderful the second I open my mouth. So wonderful, in fact, that Trey must be the smartest man in the world because he chose to marry me. As a result he will become better respected in his job and be a part of the team instead of the new guy.

Yes, I realize he's already done all those things on his own, but I still feel like it's my job as "the wife" to reinforce them. Or at least not shoot down everything he's worked for by getting drunk and cursing out the waiter.

Unfortunately, I've never remembered the eyebrow wax when I'm actually on my way home. Tonight, however, I was out of time. It was now or never, and the nail place closed at seven.

So I found myself driving alone at night - which never happens. I flew down the road listening to Pink's "So What" and rocking out. I screamed the lyrics in my best "Pink" voice - angry and full of angst, ready to take out anyone who gets in my way (or at least call them a tool). I was awesome. A rockstar. It was a beautiful, ageless moment.

And then in a flash I remembered I'm a 31 year old slightly overweight mom and teacher - definitely not Pink, and definitely not about to get into a bar fight just because I've had a bad day. To make matters worse, I was going 53 mph in a 55 mph zone on my way to an emergency eyebrow wax. So much for rockstar.

Oh well, I'll take mom and teacher any day. Well-groomed mom and teacher, that is. ;)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Okay, so I started and deleted a philosophical political diatribe on this Election Day. I decided that my random thoughts on the political process really aren't all that entertaining, and that most of you couldn't care less about the anxiety I feel about this election. Let's just say we're good ol' God-fearing Republicans in this house and leave it at that.

This election will be an historic one for many reasons, but mostly because it will be the first election Tucker will remember. (I guess it's also historic because of all those reasons you hear about on the news, too.) Anyway, he's been very excited - asking questions and watching the television coverage.

They voted at his school today, and he was proud to announce last night that he had decided to vote for McCain. When he came home this evening, we realized how much he's come to love democracy.

He made these campaign signs:

Then, I guess he realized that voting and running for office was exciting because he decided to hold his own little election. HE wanted to be president. So just like any other good leader, he tallied all of the votes himself:

As you can see, he won. So no matter which way the US presidential election goes, at least one of our candidates is victorious!