Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Greatest Gift This Christmas

On Christmas morning we went to Ashley's parents' house to open gifts and grub on some good grub. This year we decided to just do gifts for those who've yet to graduate from High School. So, it was odd when Heather, Ashley's sister, started passing around matching boxes to each of us.

We waited for everyone to get a box, counted to 3, and dug in. Inside my box was a simple card which read, "You will be a recipient of a new niece!" Confused at how Heather and Gardner would already know the sex of their new daughter, I quickly racked my brain. The light bulb went off and then Heather blurted out the great news. "We're adopting a baby girl from Uganda!" Cheers went up and tears flowed (mainly from Ashley's eyes).

Many circumstances came together to lead them to this point, but the video below of an orphan meeting her new family was a big contributor and you can see why.

Bottom line: Another parentless child will be rescued and we couldn't be happier about it.

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress...


Friday, December 25, 2009

Snow In Winston-Salem

I tweeted last Tuesday, "Don't be an amateur scientist." Thursday, I didn't heed my own advice.

I don't generally keep up with the weather forecast unless I have outdoor activities planned. So last Thursday when everyone started talking about snow coming to Winston-Salem, it was the first I had heard about it. Then, I dismissed it. They were talking about 3-5 inches of snow falling in a city that was currently 54° and sunny. Even though I made a B+ in Dr. Viney Aneja's Meteorology class in college, I know almost nothing about weather (other than the fact that it NEVER snows in Winston-Salem when the Meteorologists say it will).

Even though I know almost nothing about weather or the reasons for the forecast for snow, I presumed none such snow would settle on the ground. I was being an amateur scientist, similar to those who "choose a surgeon based on the carpeting in his office and a politician by his hair cut."

I was wrong.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Visit To The Doc

Kessler had his 2 week check-up today - 3 days early. He's almost back to his birth weight! With newborns you're able to notice tiny changes, what seems like, every hour. He's becoming more and more alert. He continues to sleep and eat well. We are so blessed and thankful. We continue to love him and love being parents. Wednesday was the first time someone said, "Oh, you're Kessler's dad." It was an odd and satisfying feeling.

These are 2 photos taken at our appointment (from my phone):


Hopefully this is an estimation of his future height, but it's probably just the pounds and ounces of his weight.

This is him being alert.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just Calm Down

At my office, a common phrase you'll hear is, "Just calm down!" It'll be said, humorously, after someone is dramatizing a situation; personal or business related.

Newsweek ran an online retrospective of the past decade. One of the features was overblown fears. The top overblown fears of the aughts were things like Y2K, shoe bombs, web predators, and Anthrax, among others.

What can we learn from this? Don't watch the news and "just calm down!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Ref Punched The Cotton Candy Guy

Bill Simmons, ESPN's The Sports Guy, has a section in his weekly column called, "GREAT CALL OF THE WEEK." Sometimes, it's sports related. Other times it's not. This week's made me smile.

"I took my 4-year-old daughter to the Clippers-Magic game Tuesday. Every Clips game turns her off on the NBA just a little bit more. After all, dead crowds and sloppy basketball isn't exactly a hook. She spends most of her time rooting for the cotton candy guy to walk by, asking if various players have "permanent tattoos" and listening to people in our section yell at the refs and Mike Dunleavy. Not the best way to develop a fledgling NBA fan.

In the second quarter, one official made a horrible call against the Clips that got a groan from our section. The guy behind us even screamed "Donaghy!!!!" My daughter was confused. "Why did he scream that?" (I explained that Donaghy was the name of a really bad ref.) "Is that Donaghy right there?" (No.) "Why was he a bad ref?" (Because he just was.) "But why?" (Now I'm debating whether to dive into the Donaghy scandal, ultimately deciding to repeat that he was just bad.) "Daddy, I want to know why Donaghy was bad."

Needing an answer she would understand, I fibbed and told her Donaghy was a bad ref because he punched the cotton candy guy once. She couldn't believe it. "He punched the cotton candy guy?" (Yup. And nobody got to eat cotton candy for the whole game.) "Are you making this up?" (Nope. That's what happened.) "Well, he's a very bad ref," she decided. "You shouldn't punch the cotton candy guy." (I agree.) And with that, she let it go and started watching the game again. Telling white lies to your kids so they'll finally be quiet -- that's my Great Call of the Week."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Kessler In Living Color

KESSLER STATON HILL
Born 12.7.2009 @ 10:12am
Weight: Average
Height: Average
Eyes: Bluish gray
Hair: Light brown
Middle name pronounced: State ən


A little over 24 hours has passed since Kessler was born. It's been quite special; the whole process, really.

Much of what there is to say regarding the birth process and meeting your offspring has been said in many ways and in many places, so it seems trite to even attempt to put it into words. Here are some of the things that impacted me most:

Ashley's patience, focus, and effort
- Males, be very thankful you don't have to carry a baby in your belly and push a baby out of it. Ashley did it with a calmness and grace that quintupled my love for her. Since, she has only continued. Her intelligence and precision give me a confidence that my son is being cared for as well as possible. I'll now stop gushing about my wife, so you can go vomit. But, just know she's extraordinary.



Family and friend's care - Through the wonders of email, facebook, twitter, and mobile computing I was able to share updates on the process of Kessler's arrival. The overwhelming response of facebook comments, @replies on twitter, texts and emails was encouraging and a welcome distraction from the waiting. As soon as he was born, I snapped a quick pic with my phone. I posted it to twitter which then fed into my facebook page for many to see. In the 24 hours since, it's been viewed about 290 times! Also, many were praying. My faith was strengthened and I trust the prayers impacted both the outcome and our feelings throughout.


Kessler's great Aunt - Ashley's sister and true best friend, Heather, was a tremendous blessing to both of us. She came to our house and decorated for Christmas (with Russ's help too) on Saturday while Ashley and I were at the hospital. She came to the hospital and sat with Ashley for many hours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and all of Sunday. She came back to the hospital and was with us through the early parts of labor; staying up basically all of Sunday night. All this, to encourage and love her sister (and me), resulting in a rare bonding experience.



Many other things had a great impact on me. Some just aren't fit to print on a public blog. The whole process was incredible; too extraordinary to even believe.

Our first night as parents went well. We opted to try to keep him in the room and if we couldn't sleep, we'd let the Nursery take care of him. Well, he slept unless he was eating, so we kept him in the room. Yes, I pounded on wood after I typed that.

We have loved holding him and just looking at him. Objectively, he is a cute baby. Subjectively, he's the cutest baby in the world. No one has been able to confidently say he looks like either of his parents. He's a great dude and I expect his greatness to only increase as he ages. He is not a fan of any sports teams. He does not have a favorite color and he is not potty proficient.

We love him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's Never Quite Worth What You Give Up To Get It

"Like an Indian casino or a tank of unleaded it's never quite worth what you give up to get it."

We are in the midst of the most progressive time in music, perhaps since the '60s. The standards of what music is and how it is distributed seem limitless. If you're a music lover, it's a good time to be alive.

This summer, limits were pushed again as Derek Webb released his controversial album, Stockholm Syndrome. First, there was the release. His music label wouldn't allow him to release the full album primarily because of one track that communicated some provocative ideas with some choice language. So, Derek began to promote his album on his own with an Alternate Reality Game that led fans on a search for "stems" of different songs that were left all over the country. He set up secret websites, had a strange RSS feed, used Twitter to fake people out and offer clues, and even had passwords at various points. Overall, the experiment was compelling, drumming up anticipation for Stockholm Syndrome. Then, there was the content. "Stockholm Syndrome" is the psychological diagnosis given to hostages who, over time, become loyal to their captors. One could surmise that to Derek the term is analogous with those of us who continue to hate rather than abandon our prejudice. Webb's usual thought-provoking, incisive commentary is ramped up even more, with each song containing a lyric, or ten, that make you say, "Hmmm." His word choice forces the listener to listen, rather than passively let the music play. It's participative.

A few weeks ago I was able to see him play live in Charlotte. The electonic synth and skittering beats made for quite an enjoyable show.


This is his visually interesting video for the controversial track, and best song on the album, "What Matters More".



Go visit his store to download the full album for just $7.99. It will definitely be worth what you give up to get it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

29 Weeks

This past weekend, we led Work Crew for Forsyth County Young Life at Windy Gap. Ashley was the "boss" and had worked hard for about 24 hours of the weekend when this was taken. I like this woman.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

TerryandEllen.com

Terry and Ellen, 2 great, long-time friends, are now married and expecting. They have a great blog where they chronicle life through words and things that speak a thousand words. Several weeks ago, we got to head down to Charlotte to celebrate. Aside from the ending of an epic cornhole World Series, it was a fun night. The 2 pregos - and former college roommates - are in the middle.


23 Week Photo

We're at 27 weeks now, but we took this photo at 23 weeks, so I thought I'd share. Lil' Kessler is growing and Ashley is feeling great.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Time Is Tickin'

Wow. I just realized it's been over a month since I posted to the blog. I sincerely think life has been that busy. We've had plenty to report, but not much time to report it.

I'll catalog some things that have happened in the past 4 weeks sometime in the next week (or 2)!

Ashley's doing great, but starting to poke quite a bit and feel the weight of lil' Kessler.

Holla.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How To Survive 1 Hour As The Chick-fil-a Cow

Preparation is key for any challenge in life. Here's how you should prepare for 1 hour as the Chick-fil-a cow:
  • First, you must put your body to the test ahead of time to make sure you can handle it
  • Start by getting into a sauna that's around 120° Fahrenheit
  • Then put on some ski bibs and a heavy winter coat; oh, and some gloves too
  • Stand there
  • Then, have a friend rest a 20 pound weight on the back of your neck
  • Then put some shoulder restraints on so you can't raise your arms
  • Have your friend tickle your face with a feather
  • But don't scratch it
  • Another key for the sauna: make sure there is no air flow. This is important
  • Find a restraint to make your head completely stationary - no neck movement allowed
  • Now put a blindfold over the top half of your eyes so all you can see is 24 inches of the ground in front of your feet
  • Stand there some more
  • Pretend cars are driving by, only you can't see them, and then wave
  • But, remember, you can't raise your arms
  • Have some of your friends who you haven't seen in a while come in and wave and scream and say hello
  • But remember, you won't be able to see them
  • Let beads of sweat drip down your face, neck, body, and legs, but never wipe them
  • Continue until 1 hour has elapsed
Once you have completed the exercises as described above, you will have accurate expectations for your hour as the Chick-fil-a cow.

Consider yourself warned. I wasn't so fortunate. I showed up with a smile on my face ready to put on the cow costume and help draw some people in for my brother-in-law's Eagle Scout Car Wash Fundraiser.
All smiles for now.
The fun begins.


A car being washed.
The guy who roped me into it.


If heat was visible in pictures, that's all you'd see here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's a...

We went for our 20-week baby appointment yesterday and it was CLEAR that we are having a boy! His name is Kessler Staton Hill. We hope he comes sometime in the month of December.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Young@Heart

The Young@Heart Chorus is a New England senior citizens chorus, age 73 to 88, that has delighted audiences worldwide with their covers of popular songs. My favorite Young@Heart cover is Fix You by Coldplay. The clicking of the oxygen machine, combined with the sincerity of an older man learning and performing a popular band's music, makes for an enjoyable watch.

Incidentally, we got the hook-up and tomorrow we will be taking in the pleasantries of Coldplay in Charlotte.

If you haven't gotten it yet, they've made a live album available for FREE by clicking here. Highly recommended.

Holla.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spaghetti Night

Our niece, Livy, is killer cute and we have gotten to take in quite a bit of her this week. I wish you all could have seen her shaking with excitement once the plate of sketti landed on her tray.

Plate one.
Break before plate two.
Plate two.
"All done."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Honey Cate Is Here!

We have a new niece!

Catherine Honey Hill made her debut on July 19 weighing in at 7 Lbs. She is healthy and the baby mama, Natalie, did a phenomenal job fighting throughout the ~13 hours of labor. Drew and Natalie didn't find out the sex of the baby and they were the only ones who knew the name options up until she was born. Not knowing the name or sex really added to the anticipation of the day. Ashley and I are super pumped about another cute niece.
According to the people who are responsible for such things (pictured below), she is going to go by the name 'Honey Cate'. See if you can find that one on the Popular Baby Names List 2009 or any year before or after.
Babies are, in my judgment, the best toys ever created - even better than bouncy balls. Tonight, my parents came over and we got to do a webcam chat where we 'played' with Honey Cate and her parents all the way in Denver, CO.

We love Honey Cate!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

"The Pledge To Allegiance"

You see, there is never a dull moment when the Hill-Craft-Kessler-Etc. Crew teams up for their Annual Beach Extravaganza. Though, this year, we are missing some key contributors. Love ya Kinsley and Drat!

Here's a small sample of the hilarity produced each evening when sometimes more than 30 people gather in a small area to create fun. My mama, affectionately known as L-Boogie, got us kicked off with a little 4th of July celebration. She was so excited, she got a little tongue tied.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Fútbol

Over the past 2 weeks, the U.S. Men's Soccer Team made an improbable run to the finals of the Confederations Cup in South Africa. It was both surprising and exciting to see the U.S. have such success in the world's most popular sport, where America has consistently underachieved.

Reviewing my favorite photojournalism site today brought light to the unbridled passion for this sport in other areas of the world, namely South Africa.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson - A Tribute

Since this wasn't getting any coverage, I thought I would create a blog tribute or...blibute.

A man whom millions worshiped died last Thursday. Unequivocally, he was the greatest performer ever captured on video.

As far back as I can remember, channel surfing would stop when I came across a live Michael Jackson performance - and I would not change the channel until it was over. It was always riveting television. When I discovered videos on the web in 2000, his was some of the first material I consumed. Still, I somewhat regularly stop by YouTube to be reminded of his immense talent. Crowds worldwide would swarm to watch him perform. China, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Romania, Brazil, the USA, and those in between all adored him. He transcended language and culture.

Now seems like a good time to be reminded again of his brilliance. It is extremely difficult to narrow it down to just 3 videos, but here are some I found especially fantastic:

1. Billie Jean - See the debut of the Moonwalk around the 3:40 mark. Notice, no special effects or special lighting, just a really talented man and a handheld microphone. He was about 24.

2. Man in the mirror - Presumably there are not a lot of English speakers in Romania but notice how the entire crowd sings along. Also, you'll understand what I meant by "worshiped".

3. Beat It - I'm not an Music Video Guy, but I imagine this is a top 5 all-timer.

It is truly sad to know that he will create no more.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chain Letters

Who doesn't love a good chain letter? I mean, you get the opportunity to have a profound impact on people's lives - just by forwarding on a letter.

Yesterday, I got a chain letter! The promise of financial blessings could not be more welcomed with a baby on the way, especially in this sort of economic environment. You may be wondering how I knew it was a chain letter (Actually, you probably don't really care at all and have likely stopped reading at this point). Well, the letter opened with, "Greetings! This is Not a chain letter."

Here is a list of some other phrases found in the letter that confirmed my suspicion:
  • "You will receive a financial blessing within four days of receiving this letter provided you 'pass it on'."

  • "THIS IS NOT A JOKE!"

  • "...this letter must tour the world..."

  • "SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN 4 DAYS!"

  • "You will get a surprise!"

  • And my personal favorite: "This is true even if you don't believe in miracles."

There are too many other things to list about this letter that make it Certified Gold in the booming Chain Letter Industry.

Check it out for yourself. I'm hoping at least 20 people see this on my blog in the next 4 days and I will win the lottery, even though I don't play. With Chain Letters, all things are possible.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Big News!

One random Wednesday morning several weeks ago Ashley woke up with a full bladder and went to pee on a stick. She came into the bedroom without the stick. We waited for 2 minutes and went back together to see how it reacted to her urine. Still wiping sleep from my eyes, I looked down to see 2 lines, only I didn't know what that meant. I hurriedly asked Ashley, "What am I looking for?" She replied, simply, "We're pregnant." I held her and we prayed. It was a sweet moment.

A few weeks later we had the opportunity to tell her whole family while together celebrating Mother's Day. Our little niece woke up from her nap and Ashley went up to change her. Ashley changed her shirt into the one seen below. I carried Livy downstairs and waited for the family to react. It took some long seconds for everything to process, but they were VERY excited once they realized that Livy's little cousin was living in Ashley's uterus.
We waited to tell my family because my brother and sister-in-law, Natalie, were coming to visit from Denver, CO on Memorial Day Weekend. I had acquired a pocket video camera the day they got here. So, below you can see how it played out.


It was a good reaction.

Credits: Music - Phil Wickham, Editing assistance - Stephen Mann, Inspiration - Zack Mansfield

We're back

I think we're going to start using this blog more. Some interesting things have been happening recently and it might be nice to share them (e.g. Our house was broken into a few weeks ago.). With a sister heading to Honduras and a brother, sister-in-law and future niechew in Denver, CO, I thought it would be nice to at least share more of our life with them.