Friday, June 26, 2015

My new decor

Whenever I am annoyed by something here in Utah
I try to list for myself all the good things about being here.
I don't really want to be that person who complains about where they are.
Especially when I longed to be here (or close to here) for so many years.

But I just have to say
(You knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?)
The flies are making me nuts.

We would get the occasional house fly in Mass
but I don't remember it really being a problem.

Here they are everywhere.
We do have horses just down the hill from us, 
so some people say that is why the flies are so bad here in this neighborhood.
From what I can tell they are pretty bad everywhere.
Let me tell you,  they are bad.

I try to think of it as trading flies for mosquitoes.
I hated the mosquitoes in Mass...
There is always something to dislike no matter where you are.

Last night I had had it!
So I got in the car at 9:30 PM and went to the store 
and bought some of every kind of fly contraption they had.

And now I have little sticky towers in my kitchen and by the tv.
Stickers that go on your sliding glass door that supposedly attract the flies and then kill them.
And right smack in the middle of the room, I have fly paper hanging down from the light fixture.
It's not a great decorating scheme but, darn it all, I will get these flies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Frisbee Golf

Last night Frank asked me, "What should we do for family home evening?"
I said, "I was thinking we could play frisbee golf"

He agreed that it was a good idea.
I recommended walking to the local middle school where I'm sure they have an open field we could use.
Amber mentioned that there was an actual frisbee golf course down south in Provo that we could try out.
Frank said, "Let's go to the American Fork Canyon!"

I told him that I didn't think there were any big open spaces for frisbee throwing in the canyon.  And my original thought was to have a pretty low key, easy kind of going to a place that was walking distance away.

However, I gave in to his desire to go to the canyon.  He said the canyon was calling to him.  Who am I to deny someone the call of the canyon?

We loaded up the babies, the boys, the strollers, diaper bag, bottles, binkies, frisbees, get the drift.

The canyon was, as usual, very pretty.  
The mountains are so amazing and majestic and I never get tired of them.

When we arrived at the intended location I told Frank that I was pretty sure there was no big open space here.  He assured me that, yes, if we just hike up a short distance there was a field.  We've been there before...I remember it more like a smallish swampy area...but ok.

and so we began our hike.

Isabelle quickly lost her footing and fell down.  So up on my shoulders she went.

 We gave up on the stroller early on.  
Amber carried Kaylee and Carter carried the stroller since it wouldn't roll in the rough terrain.  
After a while, we stuck it behind a tree.

 The trail was windy, rocky and very narrow.

When we arrived at the "meadow" (which had knee high grasses) Austin threw his frisbee and it went right over the river.  No one wanted to get it.  All the other frisbees got left behind with the stroller.

Carter found a tick on his leg.
The "meadow" was not very big.
Amber didn't want to put Isabelle down due to possible poison oak.
 we had no stroller and there was no where to put Kaylee down since sitting her in grass over her head seemed like a bad idea.

Frank did finally realize that this was not going to work.

So after retrieving the frisbee with a branch, we took a quick picture and headed back.

Austin took over the job of four wheeling with the stroller
 (once we removed it from it's perch behind a tree)

Honestly, it was a beautiful hike.
Lots of gorgeous wildflowers.
We even came across two different brides having pictures taken.

And, not gonna lie, we did harass Frank a little bit over his choice of places for frisbee golf.
He took it well.
Overall a fun, if not exactly what we had planned, family activity.

Afterwards we picked Ryan up from work and went out for ice cream.

All's well that ends well.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

We had the whole family together for this father's day,
which is pretty amazing.

Austin got everyone motivated to get up "early" (8 a.m.) 
to make breakfast for Frank.
We made a HUGE breakfast.
hash browns

Austin making pancakes...notice the MESS!

After church we went to Doneen's house for a family dinner
and celebration of Father's Day and my Dad's 80th birthday!

mashed potatoes
green beans

Frank requested a Pineapple upside down cake for Father's Day
so I made one from scratch.
It still fell slightly in the middle (as all of my cakes have done since I moved here) but it turned out good other than that.
It was a new recipe so I was happy with it.
Summer brought an ice cream cake for Dion.

Delicious food and great time hanging with family.
I failed to take pictures.
Frank and Kaylee had matching shirts
I always want to stay longer than my kids or husband...
next week for my Dad's party I am bringing my own car and staying till I want to leave.

Then home for games.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers in my life!
My Dad, Frank's Dad, and of course my hubby.

An evening at the Hill home

I was sitting on the couch reading
(on my iPad)
when I looked up and saw this:

Austin and friends laughing about something on their phone
(I think they were taking crazy slow motion videos of each other, if memory serves)

Carter playing a game or texting

Ryan watching a video

Oh yeah.  We know how to interact and have fun around here.

*face palm*

The last week

So here are a few tidbits from the last week.
I always think that my life is so dull and there is nothing to write about,
but when I look back there is always something that I realize I should write about
or some activity I want to remember.

Branden and Amber went to Michigan to visit Amber's family last week.
When they got back, I was amazed to see that both girls looked different!
After only a week.
So I don't know how I will survive them living in Alaska.

Kaylee has figured out crawling.
She is taking a little longer but she is slowly but surely figuring things out.
She's such a cute girl and always ready with a smile.
She loves pat-a-cake and bubbles and swinging.
She babbles and talks a lot. She says a few different words.

Isabelle is talking more and more.
Lots of new words every day.
She asks to go out and do bubbles.
She asks to pick strawberries
and the newest activity...playing in the hose.
She's really fun.


Austin and his friends came from Oregon as I mentioned previously.
His two friends only stayed for the weekend and we dropped them off by the side of a highway so they could make their way to Colorado.
Austin is meeting them in Chicago at the beginning of July.

It was fun having them all here.
I told them I had to take their picture before they left so I could tell their mothers that they were alive and well.

This is their "Power Strangers" pose

putting up with me...
Here we are at the spot where I dropped them.  It was a small store on the side of the road by the highway they wanted to take to Colorado. 
As we chatted, we noticed that the window behind them said "Adventure".
These guys sure do live an adventurous life.

Connor packing the food into his bag

I have been dieting.
Actively trying to lose weight.
It's actually going pretty's been a long time coming.
I gained weight when Frank was sick and have never really tried to get it off.
I am walking with a neighbor every morning.
Watching what I eat.
Actually NOT eating the donuts and the cake and the bread.

Luckily for him, Frank was out of town for the first few days of the "diet"...
he missed me at my crankiest.

Next week is my Dad's 80th birthday party and I've already decided that I will allow myself a piece of his cake.
Not 3 pieces.
Wish me luck.


My hair is almost long enough to go in a pony tail.


Ok that last bit of info might not be a good way to end a post where I'm trying to show that my life isn't dull.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Then this kid came home

Austin showed up at our house Friday morning!

We knew he would be coming sometime in June but he never told us exactly when.
He decided to surprise us!

He and his two friends Dan and Connor got a ride share from craigslist
to Utah from Oregon where they have been living and working on an organic farm.

The ride share dropped them at the freeway exit in our town but still a few miles from our house.
Since Austin wanted to surprise us, they walked to our house rather than call for a ride.
Which totally backfired on them.
Because Frank was out
I was gone for my morning walk
and both of the other boys were sleeping.

So they came home to what appeared to be an empty house!
Not the exciting welcome he was looking for.

But he's here and we are happy to be spending some time together.

My parents are adorable

Spontaneous dancing before a meeting at my parents clubhouse.


Although it appears that I hit mute or something as I was recording since the music stops suddenly.

my parents are adorable
and I'm just a dork.

Turn on your own music and enjoy!

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I've been having insomnia for a few days now.
Waking at 2:30 AM and not able to go back to sleep.
Waking at 3:00.  Tossing and turning and finally reading in bed.

Today I went to the gym at 7:00 AM even though I had another restless night.
Then afterwards I went for my daily walk with one of the ladies that lives in my neighborhood.
We try to go everyday at 8:30 AM.
I was so tired as we strolled through the town cemetery (yes, that's where we walk each day).
I just wanted to go home and read a book and take a nap.

Then it was off to the stores to buy Ryan a pair of pants and "non-slip" shoes for his new job that starts today.
He's working in a bakery nearby.
He says they are going to teach him to do some cake decorating...maybe just some simple things like writing the words on an already decorated cake? I really don't know.
But I wonder if he will some day make me a birthday cake that he decorates himself. 
I would like that.

I sat out on the covered porch and read for awhile while the rain came down and the smell of woodsmoke filled the air.
Our neighbors are probably smelling it too and wondering who in the world has a fire going on this warm summer day...
The fact that we had some thunderstorms today helped make the fire seem less ridiculous.

The book I was reading is  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.
I often go to the library website and just pick a book at random.  I will base my choice on the title or the cover of the book.  There is really no reason to think it might be a good book necessarily.  But I like taking chances on my reading choices.
As I read it, I realized that it was familiar.
I had randomly chosen this book before.
But I kept reading because it is a really good book.
I just finished it a few moments ago and it left me feeling sad.
I hate those first hours after you finish a good takes me awhile to adjust to real life again.

Ryan is off to work.
Carter is in the basement, reading and watching the fire.
Branden, Amber and the girls have gone on vacation to Michigan to see Amber's family.
Frank is out of town until tonight.

And so my house is exceptionally quiet.

The kind of quiet that makes a person want to nap. Or read a good book.
But I just finished mine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Another Isabelle story

Here is a happy little story from this week.
*No wild animals were harmed in the making of this story*

I have a tiny little strawberry patch in my backyard.

Last year I got exactly zero strawberries from it.
This year I have learned to get out there early before the birds come and eat all my strawberries.

I have gotten several handfuls so far.

One day as Isabelle and I were out in the backyard, she started picking strawberries.
White ones, half ripe didn't matter.  
So I explained to her that we can only pick the red ones
and that the other ones were babies and we had to let them grow.
(she's really into babies right now and anything small is a baby so that worked for her)

So she started looking for "red"
We found a few and we ate them right there sitting in the yard.
She loved them!
Up till now she really hasn't liked strawberries much so this was a new thing.

About 3 times since then she has come up to me and said "red"
and so I say "do you want to go pick some strawberries?"
and she gets all excited.

I wish I had pictures.

We sift through the plants and find only the nice red ones that will be sweet.
We take them inside and she sits on the counter and we wash them under the running water and set them on the counter.
Then she hands them to me one by one so I can cut off the tops.
Then we eat them.
She gobbles them down and has juice running down her chin.

She is never satisfied when we are done and wants to go pick more so I always have to explain about only picking red ones and the others being babies.
It's a little confusing since there are some that are pretty red and she can see that but I know they aren't quite ripe and will be sour.
She's tried to eat a couple of those and regretted it.

I tried to keep her happy once by pulling out the strawberries in my refrigerator that I got from the grocery store.
Guess what? They aren't even close to as flavorful and sweet as mine.
Now I can see why she likes my garden strawberries but not the store ones.
Neither one of us were too impressed.

Now she is gone on a family vacation to see her other Grandparents.
And today I couldn't help but think of her as I picked the red.

The Saga Continues

At this point I just have to move past the fact that baby raccoons have died.

I'm always giving human feelings to things that don't necessarily have them.
Rocks, for example, when I was a kid.
That's another story.
(and, no, it wasn't a pet rock)

But something about the behavior of this mother raccoon just feels like more than instinct to me...
even if that's all it is.
And it's hard for me to get over the fact that her babies are dead.

Although it is possible that she came back and took the ones that survived.
I hope she did.

But now we are trying to deal with the aftermath of the whole thing.
Dead animals in the chimney.

I've gotten bits of advice here and there.
And my husband keeps telling me to start a fire in the fireplace.

So today I called a chimney cleaner and asked what it would cost to remove dead raccoons from my chimney.
I told him that we had reached the point of my basement smelling very, yeah.

The good news is that I know what's in there.
Apparently lots of people have no idea that they even have raccoons until they have a serious problem on their hands
(not that my problem hasn't reached the level of serious...because it has)

Anyway, they don't clean them out.
It's too late.
It's too messy and smelly and, well, it ruins their cleaning equipment if they try.

I have to...
light a fire
Yes, the husband was right.
Except he was thinking a fire for a couple of hours.
I have to light a fire and keep it going (in the summer mind you) for as long as I can stand it...
and keep doing it for 7-10 days.

His exact words, "Don't underestimate how long to have a fire. Overestimate."

If I don't do this I will not only have  a very bad smelling house
I will have maggots and flies in my house.
And raccoons will smell that there were raccoons here in the past and keep coming back.


I sent Carter down to start a fire
 and he could actually hear the flies buzzing in the chimney!
That's a lot of flies.

He successfully started the fire and we now have it going strong.
And only one fly escaped into the house during the starting of the fire.

The good news is that my house smells less like dead animal now and more like campfire.
I'll take it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Raccoon Saga

When the kids came up to meet us in Bear Lake, they mentioned that they had heard some sort of animal in the chimney/fireplace in the basement.
They could hear it moving around and making noises.
It sounded large...not a squirrel or bird...more like a Raccoon.

Sure enough.

I could hear it moving around in the evening.
I could hear it snoring in the daytime.
When we jiggled the handle on the flue, it would growl.

We weren't sure if it was stuck or not.

So I started doing some research on how to get a raccoon out of your chimney.
Turns out it is quite common to get a raccoon in your chimney.
Chimneys are like a nice hollow tree as far as a raccoon is concerned.
They can climb in and out, no problem.

So what we most likely had was a Raccoon and her babies.

Of course, during this time, Frank went out of town.
I called an animal exterminator.
No one called me back.
Still haven't.
I looked up how to remove a raccoon from your chimney on the internet.
I looked for some sort of animal control in my area.
I found a lot of ideas but none of them seemed like something I wanted to do myself.

So a few days ago, after he got back from his business trip,
Frank got some smoke bombs and put them down the chimney.
According to the internet, this is a good way to get the mom to gather her babies and find a new place.

The smoke did cause the mom to leave.
She didn't have any babies so we didn't know if she left them behind or if there weren't any.

And she is HUGE.

After she left, Frank put caps on our chimney to keep her out.

Well, there were babies.
She has come back every evening to our roof.

We even got a picture of her climbing our tree to get on the roof.

Can you see her peaking out from behind the chimney?

Tonight I was at a neighborhood party and I mentioned the raccoon.
Other people have seen it around the neighborhood.
I told them I thought there were dead babies in my chimney...
my basement, just today, is having a funky odor.

One of the neighbors offered to come over and take a look.

We looked from the top
We looked from inside the fireplace
We opened the flue expecting babies to fall down.
So my neighbor reached up to try to see if he could grab anything...
and he touched a baby raccoon who moved and made noises.


So we removed the cap on the chimney in the hopes that mama will return tonight and take her baby (babies?) with her.
The chimney cap is completely covered with little bloody paw prints where that mama was trying to remove it and get to her babies.

I don't love raccoons...they are a nuisance and can be quite mean...but I sure felt bad when I saw those bloody prints.

I haven't seen her yet.
I spent all evening sitting by the back door watching for her.
I hope she hasn't given up.

But even if she does come back and take the live babies with her
I'm pretty sure I've got some dead ones in there as well.

I'm back to wondering how to deal with them.

This is not my idea of a good time.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Birthday Week! Episode 3-Ryan

Ryan is the last birthday in our big week of birthdays.
He turned 24!

As we all know, birthdays get less exciting as we get older and Ryan was proof of that this year.

His birthday fell on a Thursday which is the day I usually go to lunch with my parents.
So I took Ryan and Carter with me and we had a nice lunch together.

Afterwards I took him to the sporting goods store to get his gifts.
He asked for running shoes and swim goggles.
He's been running, biking and swimming to get prepared for our family triathlon in July
but he's been doing it with keds and no goggles.

goggles with glasses.  It's the new thing.

He told me he was going to spend the evening with friends so I didn't make any big plans
and I didn't make a cake.
Then he found out that his friend had to work until 9:00 PM so he wouldn't be going out until after that.
Sooo...being the amazing homemaker that I am, I whipped up some sloppy joes for him.
And put a candle in it.

He wasn't too sure about this great idea of mine but he did go along.
We even sang.

The next day I made a cake that we could all have together as a family
(Frank had been out of town all week until Friday)
Homemade chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting.
It tasted amazing if I do say so myself
even if the cake did fall in the middle again!
*curse you high altitude*

Ryan has an amazing ability to blow out ALL the candles with one puff of air.
In the past, I've even put candles on the side of the cake to try to mess him up.
It's impressive to see but hard to catch with a camera...
But to the naked eye it appears that all the candles go out at once.  

Happy Birthday Ryan!