Friday, December 28, 2018

Wait. What? Is this a blog post? No way.

I blogged one time in 2018. ONE TIME.

Well, now two.

Do the cool kids even blog anymore?

I started this blog to document my kids' hilarity. I wanted to remember the silly little day-to-day things, and keeping a baby book was never really my thing. Then my kids got older and stopped appreciating that I shared personal stories about them with the world. (They should really appreciate their internet fame a little more. You're welcome, Hickman boys.)

Then in 2015 the profile of my job changed, and I felt (and still feel) a vast responsibility to represent myself in a certain way (a way that doesn't include occasional bad words and wine).

These things inhibited me as a writer. But I miss it.  So what follows is probably going to be a rambling, too long post about nothing.

Not Seinfeld nothing. More nothing than that.

I've only run off and on this year. Yesterday I ran three miles. Don't get excited - it was three slow miles accomplished with a 2/1 interval. It was a perfect Texas December day at 60 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze, and it reminded me how much I love to run.

I marveled at how amazing God made people. My knees screamed for the first three or four minutes, and then I settled in and did some serious marveling. I did my best to remember the prayer that Chris Field prayed before the marathon I ran in 2016. All I could really come up with was how he thanked God for our bodies that can run and our lungs that can breathe. I went back to my marathon post, but I didn't write that part down. If anyone knows Chris and he has a copy of that prayer to share, send it my way. It's one of the most memorable prayers of my life.

This caused me to remember the song "Great Are You Lord" by Casting Crowns that God sent to me via Pandora at about mile 23 of the marathon. (Props to Pandora for doing God's work.) It's apparently a pretty well known song, but I had not heard it before then. I pulled it up on my Amazon Music (because Amazon can do God's work, too), and I ran and I sang in my heart and I marveled some more.

Insert segue way here. (In my brain I'm saying, "I sure hope I spelled that right.")

I can be a little anxious. I often worry about things that are ridiculous. For example, a few years ago a teacher wanted to arrange for a helicopter to come to school, and all I could think about was the helicopter chopping off a child's arm. Y'all. This makes no sense. But I saw it happen to Dr. Romano on ER when I was in college, so I guess I just can't let it go.

I suppose I should note that I LOVE to watch Criminal Minds, and I'm not worried at all that someone will murder me and feed my body to pigs and put my shoes in a trash can so that the police can solve the mystery. I guess I'm selective about my crazy.

It's Christmas break, and I'm off work, and my crazy can go, well, crazy when I'm not occupied. Running yesterday reminded me that when I focus on the wrong things, that's when I feel anxious. Then I saw this thing on facebook (that I cannot find again to save my life), and it said something like how you're feeling may indicate whether God is leading you or just following behind carrying your bags. I was all "Oh. That's pretty legit. That is so me." (If one of you finds that quote, hook a girl up.)

Insert another hopefully-spelled-right segue way.

I reflected on the year I learned how to quilt and then made like a hundred of them (2014). The year I decided to become a runner (2015). The year I decided to run a flipping marathon (2016).  The year I read the whole New Testament and Psalms and Proverbs (2017, I think).

Then I thought about 2019. What should be my thing? Do I need a thing? Maybe I should run and blog and quilt and pray more and scroll less. I spend a lot of time scrolling through nothing. It doesn't make me better. I've frequently considered my doctorate lately. Maybe that's the thing. It will likely require a great deal of running and prayer for stress relief!

To Summarize: Blogging. Running. Marveling. Anxiety. Doing big things.

Happy Almost 2019. Let's do it right.

The End.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Here you go, Amazon. Take all my money.

We got an Alexa for Christmas. So basically our lives are changed forever.

We set up our new family member pretty quickly after Christmas, but it took us a few days to actually start using her to our advantage. When I learned that Alexa will remind you of things, I immediately set a reminder for Keaton's stupid reading log that's due online by midnight Friday nights and NEVER gets done. Since it's online, if he forgets he is locked out and unable to log anything at all. It's kind of the bane of my 7th grade mom existence. At first we fought about it all the time, and by the end of the semester I gave up and now I'm just happy if someone in this family mentions a reading log ever. Until Alexa. She's like the OCD daughter I never had.

Me: Alexa, set a reminder for Keaton's reading log for Fridays at 8 p.m.
Alexa: I have set a reminder for Kitten's reading log for Fridays at 8 p.m.
Me: Yeah, you did!

Whose winning at life now? This girl.

Then the boys figured out the reminders.

Keaton: Alexa, set a reminder to punch Tucker in five minutes.
Me: Alexa, do not set that reminder!
Alexa: I have set a reminder to punch Tucker in five minutes.
Me: Alexa, cancel reminder.
Alexa: Which reminder would you like me to cancel?
Me: What reminders do you have?
Alexa: Kitten's reading log on Fridays at 8 p.m. Order iPhone X for Tucker at 5 p.m. Punch Tucker in five minutes... (I stopped her because I feared she would go on forever).

Why do kids have to learn technology? What are schools these days teaching them anyway? They should really stop bullying their robot sister.

Alexa will also set timers, which is super easy when cooking. The shopping list feature is fantastic. We simply ask her to put items on the shopping list when we notice we're running low, and they show up in the app so I always have the list if I stop at the store. She loves lists just like me!

I did have to translate a bit when I was at H-E-B and saw "fun size eminems" on the list. I pictured tiny angry rappers in my head as I walked down the candy aisle, so that was fun.

My family came to celebrate Christmas over the New Year, and we were showing off our new toy. We did the question of the day and played Jeopardy. Great fun was had by all. The best part was when my dad called her "Alexis" and she didn't respond. I don't think he's even seen this SNL skit which made it all the more hilarious.

[Dad, I'm not implying that you are old. Don't get your dentures in a bunch :)]

Finally, the ultimate, life-changing gift that Alexa has given our family is Amazon Music.

Listen carefully. This is important.

Amazon Music has ALL OF THE MUSIC. Yes. All of it. Every song in the world. I am not exaggerating. I asked Alexa to play some Russian polka from 1937 played on a xylophone, and she did it!

Not really. But, ALL OF THE MUSIC!

The boys and I were listening to some top 40 popular music over Christmas, and one of them quickly realized she was playing the "explicit" version of a song.

Tucker: Alexa, skip.
She moved on to the next song.
Keaton: Alexa, skip.
A few notes of the next song plays.
Tucker: Alexa, skip.

This went on for a bit, and then we decided to choose another station. It wasn't until the next day that I wondered how my sons both know after the first few notes that a song is explicit. Exactly what do they listen to when they aren't with their fine, upstanding mother?

It didn't take me long to decide to spend the $9.99 a month on Amazon Music Unlimited. I can listen to ALL OF THE MUSIC in my car, outside on a speaker, and when I'm running. I even started making playlists - one with Ray LaMontagne, Norah Jones, The Lumineers; one with James Taylor, Elton John, John Denver; one with The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Coldplay. Want to hear a random song you haven't thought of in years?  Hang on - I've got it here on my phone.

I'll finish my Alexa post with a quick story:

Apparently Ed Sheeran's song "Perfect" has two versions - one with just Ed and one that's a duet with Beyonce. Every time it comes on the radio in my car Tucker sings along to the first verse, interjecting "please, please, please be the right one!" When Beyonce doesn't start singing on the second verse, he yells, "Where is Beyonce?!?!?!"

I know what you're thinking. Tucker? Belting out a song and begging for Beyonce? But I'm telling you this has happened on multiple occasions.

Today when he cried out to the windshield for Queen Bey once again, I smiled and changed the radio to the duet version from Amazon Music.

Beyonce is here in the car with us. Alexa introduced us, and we will never be without her again.

We love you, Beyonce. Thanks, Alexa.