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I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world, and I have a beautiful stepson that I love with all my heart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I know I haven't been around for a while...so much has happened, and yet we're still playing a "waiting game."

First of all, around the 17th or so, I started getting symptoms of what I thought was just a cold, or maybe my allergies acting up. I took some OTC allery medicine, some cold medicine, and kept thinking it would go away.

By the 23rd, my chest was so congested I could barely breathe...I had to sleep sitting up, and I was miserable. The next day, I went to the doctor: pneumonia, and a fever of 103. I've been on antibiotics, etc. since then, but I'm still so congested that my lungs sound like a pipe organ.

The doctor gave me orders to stay out of work until September 4th. This actually worked out okay, because I had to be with my mom for her surgery on the 28th (Tuesday).

Monday (27th) I took her to St. Thomas hospital in Nashville to see her surgeon and have her admitted. Turns out, her blood work showed that her creatinine level was up, and the surgeon said that if she had the bypass then she would more than likely go into kidney failure and require dialysis for the rest of her life. The surgery has been put off until next week.

I am out of days at work, and I have had to take a family medical leave to get well and to take care of my mama. I miss my students more than I ever dreamed I would. I know they are not my real kids, but it is still very hard to be away from them all for this long. I miss being in the classroom. I miss talking to them. I miss seeing their smiles, hearing them laugh.

As my lil' Mama would say, I'm feeling so low I have to look up to see the ground. You can really tell I'm having a hard time when the WMP playlist is full of Joy Division, Belle and Sebastian, The Cure, and The Cocteau Twins...lol.

Okay, enough whining for now...sorry about that. I just have to be strong so much of the time, and it feels good to have a place to "let go of it all" for a while.

Hope everyone is doing well.
Take care,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Getting ready for Monday...

I made preparations yesterday for Mama's big day. I hadn't talked about it here because frankly I just hadn't had time. It's a scary, but hopeful day.

Back last week, Mama had been feeling more and more short of breath. I know when it's coming when she says, "the air is getting thicker." I took her to the doctor, and they referred us to the Heart Group, where she's been going for the last seven years. The cardiologist ordered an arteriogram be done at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, so we went on Tuesday, the 7th.

Greg and I took her for the procedure at 6:30 that morning, and they wound up keeping her for 3 days. The doctors first decided that there was almost nothing they could do--based on the arteriogram and the films, she had 3 major and 1 minor arterial blockages, and over 80% of her heart muscle was "dead," and that bypass surgery was a moot point. They had decided to put in a defibrillator and send her home. We cried a thousand tears and said a thousand prayers in that hospital room, Mama and I.

Then, a miracle happened...a diminutive, kind-faced man with curly hair and a soft voice came in to see Mama right before dinner time Thursday evening. His name was Dr. Chomsky, and he was a specialist in cardiac failure. He told us that he could not approve the defibrillator with a clear conscience without mama having a cardiac MRI first. He said that there had not been a complete scan of her heart done, and there was no way anyone could see how viable her heart muscle was until that was done.

So, they sent Mama home for the weekend, I went back to work on Monday the 13th, and my dear in-laws took mama for her MRI. The very next day, we received the news that we had prayed for: MAMA WAS A CANDIDATE FOR THE BYPASS SURGERY!!!!

Miracles do still happen.
Now, mama goes back Monday the 20th for her pre-surgical consult, and we see what happens from there. All I know is we have a chance; that's all we're asking for.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sharing a Favorite Poem by Neruda

I have decided that I am going to start posting an occasional favorite poem on my blog. I used to write my own poetry, "back in the day," as my students say. While I was never on the same level as my favorite poets by any means, I could write a decent line or two once in a while. However, it seems my muse has gone into permanent hibernation. The reason? I'm happy. I have always believed that most great art has to come from sorrow, despair, addiction, mental illness, or some other driving influence. When the artist/author/composer is content, the art suffers. When I was searching for meaning in my life, when I was heartbroken, when I felt my life was incomplete, I could write halfway decent poetry. Now, I couldn't do it if my life depended on it.
I could care less. Let the muse sleep the rest of my days. I'll revel in other people's words, and be content with my new life. It's more than a fair trade, to be sure.

XVII (I do not love you...)
by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Translated by Stephen Tapscott

Friday, July 27, 2007

Things are fine at Chateau Hillis...

Great news...Greg passed his CDL (Commercial Driver's License) driving test yesterday!!! I am soooo proud of him! Now he can get a route with Pepsi when one comes open. He passed both parts (written and driving) on the first try; apparently, not many people do that. My Baby is so smart!

I'm getting stuff ready for school to start...getting my lesson plans ready, trying to "get all my ducks in a row" (I love that saying--I just picture a big bunch of cute little yellow rubber ducks all lined up, quacking like crazy--lol), so that when graduate school starts I'll be able to handle it better. I received word that my Masters credits are going to cover 12 of my PhD electives, so I'll only have to take one elective, along with my specialization and core courses. Not bad...

I'm also cherishing every second of what's left of summer break. Not because I don't want to go back to work (I miss it), but because I'll miss these lazy summer days, hanging out on the porch, being with my lil' guy and Greg in the afternoons, having lunch with my lil' Mama, and naps...man, do I love naps!
Take care, y'all,

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Continuing Education this Summer...

This summer has been quite educational for me so far. I have gained several important skills as a brand-new stepmother. These include:

1. The ability to distinguish the difference between Picachu, Squirtle, Charizard, and various other forms of Pokemon.

2. The ability to eyeball the amount of chocolate syrup needed for preparing the perfect glass of chocolate milk.

3. The ability to remove peanut butter stains from almost any surface known to man.

4. The ability to know the exact location of any object an 8-year-old may have lost in the house. I just "know."

5. The ability to fix any ailment with a soothing word, a kiss, and a Spiderman bandaid.

6. The ability to create ramen noodles or Kraft mac'n'cheese in record time when an 8-year-old decides (in the blink of an eye) that he will perish if he does not eat immediately (even though he said he wasn't hungry five minutes earlier).

7. The ability to distinguish between each type of fast-food chicken nuggets sold in town with my nose plugged and my eyes covered, simply because I've eaten the remnants of them all a MILLION TIMES.

8. The ability to recite the show schedule for Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, and Boomerang.

9. The ability to create couch-pillow forts that rival the Taj Mahal.

10. The ability to successfully color in a coloring book upside down and from the opposite angle than normal, because the little guy is coloring in the same book across the table.

These skills may not look good on a resume, but I've had a blast learning them.

OH, before I forget, I have developed one inability--namely, the inability to say "no" to a certain eight-year-old.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Wedding Photos...

After wrestling the album from my mama and my in-laws, I finally am able to post my favorite wedding photos...

"You may now kiss the bride..."

Time to cut the cake...

Headed to the Smokies...

The Wedding Party...

Our first photo as man and wife...

My favorite photo, just because it is so "us"...

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Things to do that Celebrate Summer...

There are some things that I can only do in summer, and because of that these are treasured memories the rest of the year.

1. Making dinner out of nothing but fresh corn on the cob and sliced ripe garden tomatoes.

2. Gathering day lilies on the side of a country road and placing them in a vase for the kitchen table.

3. Going with my boys to the drive-in in a pick-up truck, sitting in the truck bed to watch a double feature with cold sodas and lots of popcorn in greasy brown paper bags.

4. Sitting on my porch swing in the dark, listening to the music of the cicadas and tracing the glow of the lightning bugs across the lawn.

5. Taking my rod and reel and "drowning a worm" for a few hours on a riverbank somewhere, eating peanut butter sandwiches and drinking cold cokes, not even caring if I catch anything.

6. Going to the outdoor flea market in Crossville, wandering around the hundreds of booths under the trees, marveling at the things people will buy/sell, and trying to figure out what some things are.

7. Shopping at the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings for fresh vegetables, honey in mason jars with the golden comb floating inside, fresh warm bread made by Mennonite women with work-worn hands and sweet smiles.

8. Going down the street to the dam with our little guy to go wading out on the rocks, watching him have a ball out in the cold, clear water that's been running since before any of us can remember.

9. Concerts on the lawn of the local Savings & Loan, running into people I haven't seen in months, buying hotdogs from the man with the cart, clog dancing on the sidewalk even if I can't dance well.

10. Heading to the local ballfields with the rest of the town to see the fireworks on the 4th. This year, it will be even better; I'll be watching the fireworks reflected in the eyes of my husband and son. A new summer tradition--possibly the best ever.

Happy 4th Everyone.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Just stuff...

Things are going well...Greg has been hired full-time by the bottling plant, so that means benefits and more pay. He was practically full time anyway, but now he'll get the full rewards for it.

He went yesterday and took his CDL permit test--passed on the first try! I am so proud of him. A lot of his buddies at the plant had to take it 3 times or more to pass, but not my Baby...hehe.

The little guy has been here since last Friday. He's up with his MeMaw and Poppy right now on the mountain, and I miss him. His mom and stepdad are coming to get him Friday, and I dread his leaving already. I had no idea how fast I could fall in love with this little man who came along into my life when his daddy did. I never dreamed my life would be filled with cartoons, pb&j, Veggie Tales, Pokemon, bandaids and boo-boos, comic books, early-morning snuggles on the couch, and the dramas that only 8 year old boys can create. I never dreamed I would love every single second of it.

I have become the biggest homebody on the planet...I hate to go anywhere anymore. I dread when work starts back in August. All I want to do is stay in my little house with my "guys" and hang out. I want to do laundry, clean, cook for my boys, tend to my lettuce and tomatoes growing in the back, my herbs and flowers growing in the front. I want to stand out on the back porch every night with the little guy and call for the neighbor's cat, look up at a million stars while the jasmine growing on the railing perfumes the air. I never want the summer to end.

My one consolation is that even when it does, there's always next summer, and the next, and the next...so it will be okay.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our Weekend in the Smoky Mountains of TN...

Here's Greg and I in the car on our way to Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is the front port of a little place where we had lunch while out shopping (well, more like window-shopping) in the arts/crafts colony in Gatlinburg

This is my hubby having a sammich!

This is a photo Greg took of us with the "self-portrait" setting of the camera...his always come out better than mine because my arms are too short...lol!

These other shots are just random photos I took on our drive up into the mountains...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hi, I'm Mrs. Hillis...

So. I promised myself I wouldn't post here until it was official. Finally, the day has arrived. As of last Saturday, I am now Mrs. Charlotte Hillis.

Everyone kept telling me I was the calmest bride they had ever seen. So many people kept saying, "wait, the breakdown will come." Well, it never really did. Our wedding day was so wonderful, so happy and full of love, friends and family--there was no reason to be nervous or anxious.

My bridesmaids were my best friends Jane and Wendy, and my first cousin (practically sister) Tammy. They looked beautiful in dark purple gowns with shrug jackets over them, carrying wildflower bouquets. The groomsmen were Greg's dad, his nephew Dustin, and my cousin (practically brother) Eddie. They looked so handsome in black suits with white shirts and lavender ties. My (step)son looked beautiful in his little black suit, purple shirt and matching tie. And my Greg was the most handsome man in the world in his suit and lavender tie.

The wedding party walked down the aisle to "Feels Like Home" by Raul Malo. I watched from the wings as the couples went before me, then my sweet little boy. My little Mama (so pretty in soft blue) held my arm and whispered "take a deep breath, baby," as we stepped to the end of the aisle. Raul Malo was singing my exact thoughts as I walked slowly down the aisle:

"If you knew how much this moment means to me
and how long I've waited for your touch
If you knew how happy you are making me
I've never loved anyone so much...
Feels like home to me
Feels like home to me
Feels like I'm all the way back
Where I come from...
Feels like home to me
Feels like home to me
Feels like I'm all the way back where I belong."

The moment I started walking I saw Greg's face smiling at the end of the aisle. He looked so happy--just glowing with happiness and love. I glanced around the church, and every face was smiling at me. I have never felt so happy, so thrilled, yet so at peace with where I was and what was happening. Everyone I loved was there, and so many of my dearest friends, also.

Kevin conducted the ceremony perfectly, with grace, charm, humor, dignity, and reverence. His calm manner and strength kept me from crying (well, until the end anyway), and his gentle direction made everything go so smoothly.

I had the best bridesmaids in the entire world. Jane has been my rock and my strength, my sounding board, my confidante, my cheerleader, and my right arm. I could have done NONE of this without her. I love her more than I can say.

Wendy was my protector, my assistant, my defender, and my "panic button" for the day before and of the wedding. I never realize just how much I miss her until I see her again. We've been best friends for over twenty years, and whenever we get together, time seems to have never passed. We fall right into a rhythm that only true friends have.

Tammy was (and is) the sister I never had. We've always loved each other and been close, but this made us even closer, I think. She was so wonderful about helping me plan everything, made me laugh when I needed it, encouraged me when I needed it, and kept me in the right perspective when I needed it.

Whew...this is a lot after only one cup of coffee. I'll post more later, and hopefully some photos soon.

Until then...

Much Love,
Mrs. Hillis

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can't post here...yet.

I'll be back when I'm Mrs. Hillis...hehe.