Must Be Crazy

Yesterday afternoon we decided to get out of the house and go sledding. We have a couple of parks with smaller hills, but Jon and the boys discovered what we call "The Gully" a week or so ago. It encompasses quite a few great sledding runs on the west end of the golf course. You'll notice in these pictures that we are the only people out there. Well, it was a whopping 19 degrees, and the wind was blowing. I don't know what the wind chill factor was. I do know it was C-O-L-D.
Moments where Carson and Evan are not taking swings at each other are relatively rare these days. I was happy to catch this one.

Makes me happy to see my Jonny happy, and there's not much that makes him happier than a day outside with his guys.

I took another photo of Carson properly attired, but I wanted to catch his wild hair - he's washed it, but it hasn't had a comb in it since Christmas Day.

We really weren't torturing Griff on purpose. He wanted to get up the hill "all by myself!" (said in his typical 3-yr-old stubborn fashion). So, this is what he came up with. He never made it to the top - just ended up sliding down sans sled.

Can't tell in this photo, but Evan is missing 4 of his front teeth (two top centers, one just to the left of center, and the 4th is right of center on the bottom.) He's really got a jack-o-lantern smile going for him right now.

These are the western and eastern views from the top of the hill. I love that we live where we do.

To the west you can see the Kennecott Copper Mine in the distance at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains (which you can't see because of the cloud cover).

To the east you see the golf course and in the distance, the Wasatch Mountains.


Jazzy Jinglin Bells

Carson decided to join the Terra Linda Elementary School Choir this year. They had their Christmas concert on December 13. It was great! The choir director taught them 9 songs, which included choreography, bells, lights, and singing in both Alto and Soprano. Sounded fabulous!

Jon told Carson to use his flashlight and point out the girl he likes. Carson just did his typical pre-teen frozen eye stare and turned to aim the light right at Mom and Grandma Norris. Thanks, Cars we really enjoyed that part.

He later confided (I suppose it'll be the last time if he finds out the conversation is now on our blog...) that he couldn't point her out because with all of the girls grouped together (see far right side of photo), he wouldn't be able to shine it at just one. At that point he turned red, realizing that he'd just admitted there was one that's caught his interest. He wouldn't tell me who it was specifically, but he had 3 reasons to take named females off his prospective list.
1. Her front teeth aren't straight.
2. She's already liked half of your class. (I'm assuming this means that he won't be considering any floozies)
3. When she dumps you, she dumps you hard - Apparently Samantha (who would be my first choice for my son's first 5th grade girlfriend) dumped Carson's friend Jordan the day before the choir concert. Not only did she tell him that she was dumping him, she had at least 5 of her friends talk to Jordan throughout the day to make sure he knew. Carson's last response on the subject was, "If I'm gonna get dumped like that, why would I want to like her?" (And this was the crowning moment - he already understands that at 10/11 years old, these things are definitely temporary.)


Cornbread and Beans

Carson had some assignments to choose from for his Colonial Project. There was a total of 150 points required, and he chose a 150 point project - Making Cornbread and Beans and serving it to his family for dinner. The following text and pictures are what he submitted as proof that he did the assignment.

I thought I could take a card out of my mom’s recipe box, read it, find the ingredients, and make the corn bread. My mom didn’t have a recipe, but we found one on the cornmeal box.
I didn’t know what corn meal was so we talked about how it was made. We guessed that you plant corn, let it grow, pick it, husk it, dry it out, then grind it. If you grind it when the corn’s still wet, you’d probably make a mess.

We had no idea how to make beans. We had a bunch in storage in our basement. I got a can of pinto beans. We called my great-aunt to ask her what to do. She said almost exactly what the directions on the can said.
First, we put the beans in the crockpot with water, turned the crockpot on low, and soaked the beans over night. We dumped the water down the sink the next morning. My grandma said you have to get rid of the water so that the beans don’t make you gassy. My mom had saved some ham drippings from Thanksgiving, so we added those to the soaked beans, put in more water, and then let the beans cook all day long. We added chunks of ham a couple of hours before we ate.

Dinner was DELICIOUS!!!!!


No Hollow Weenies This Year!

Can you say fabulous All Hallow’s Eve? We had a yummy dinner. Carson got to go out for the first time with just the guys - no parents. He even had a few of the neighborhood hotties stopping by to see if he could go with them. Good thing he was gone already, huh? Jon's friend David Tipton brought his son Josh over to go out with Griff and Evan. I got to stay home and answer the door. Griff and Evan came home to empty their bags and ended up going out again.

We started out with witch’s eyes, fried zombie flesh, and mummy guts for dinner. Look like something you’d eat at your house?
Martha Stewart had a great idea for creating spider-webbed eggs. You supposedly just add a few blueberries to the water toward the end of the boiling. When the eggs are finished, you crack the shell with a blunt kitchen tool (think wire whisk with a heavy handle) and then pour the blueberry water back over the egg. Pouring wasn't doing the trick, so we ended up putting the eggs back in the water to soak. Still no web. Added blue food coloring to the water, and here was the end result - not so spider-webby. How many eggs do you think they used to get their magazine layout anyway???
We only had one boy in makeup this year. Hallelujah!

Carson was going to be a zombie, but he found this incredible sword and had to use it. The only costume we could think of was Duncan McLeod - The Highlander. For all of you non sci-fi types, Duncan is a timetraveler who fights other Highlanders. Upon killing such foes, he goes through a quickening and becomes more powerful. Since Sean Connery had the good sense to be a Highlander, I was all for this costume...

Evan was Count Bloodthirst. His costume was the most fun to come up with. Had all of the boys involved looking for pieces of it, and I even did a little bit of sewing to make his cape. He forgot his teeth though. He'd taken them out to eat the eyes, flesh, and guts and walked out the door without putting them back in. Woops!

Griff was a RED RANGER. We found his costume earlier this fall on clearance at Target. For $6 there was no way to come up with anything better, so he was what he was. This one started eating candy before he'd even walked out the door to go Trick or Treating. When we went through his candy later that night we found multiple candy bars that had been partially chewed - paper and all. Seems G was tearing off wrappers, got a taste of the sweet stuff, and bit right in. Jon had a good point - at least we're not still changing those diapers...

Carson got the prize for largest score. At one home, the robot, CPA, and Yoshi Egg were headed off the steps ahead of him. The woman asked, "Would anyone like these?" Carson turned around and she was holding up an entire bag of Robin's Eggs (those malted milk things you get at Easter). Carson shrugged and said he'd take them home.


Waxing Domestic

OK, maybe it's the time of year, the state of disorganization in my house, or the nagging from my guys because we've been out of their favorite home preserves, but something besides thoughts of dear Martha being sprung from her iron-barred cell a while back had me turning into quite the domestic diva. (I probably shouldn't mention that the diva part possibly came from letting my happy pill Rx expire without having a refill on hand...)

Jon has diverticulitis (say that 3 times really fast!) so he isn't supposed to eat seeds (apparently his definition of seeds doesn't include those from sunflowers). Being the loving wife that I am, I make him jelly instead of jam so that none of those pesky berry seeds can get stuck in his diverticulii. This year I did 4 (yes, count them) batches. I used the frozen triple berry mix from Costco and fresh strawberries. The frozen berry mix made almost two batches, and then I had 2 of strawberry. I make freezer jam after running the fruit through the strainer. My boys have disgustingly named the leftovers (skins, seeds, etc) JAM POOP, but I suppose it is an accurate description. I used a different type of pectin - specifically for freezer jam, that only called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Made for some mighty tart syrup. I say syrup because it didn't set as firmly as I'd have preferred. It's more viscous than syrup, but it isn't what I'd call jam either. Grr. Jon and Carson figured out that if you mix it with butter, cream cheese, or peanut butter before you spread it, then you don't notice the irregular consistency. The strawberry stuff turned out all right because I used different pectin in those batches, but the triple berry is my favorite blend, and it's not so good.

Next in line was carmel popcorn. Think I was a bag or two short on the popcorn, becauth thith sthtuff wath thticky! (apologies to my speech pathologist cousins Mandy and Kirsten) Carson ended up bagging it up and handing it out to buddies at the bus stop. I've had requests from these buddies to make them another batch. Gotta love when the guilt trips are coming from outside the walls of your own home.

Thirdly came the applesauce. Notice that it's in quart jars - not the pints that my mom and grandma always made. My kids inhale this stuff so it's just not worth piddling with small quantities.

I have a fond story about my applesauce - go ahead and skip a few paragraphs if you're short on time. When I was pregnant 8 years ago with my dear middle son, Evan, I craved Grandma Egan's applesauce something fierce. There was just something about that craving that no store-bought brand could quench. So, I set out to find the recipe for Grandma's Applesauce. I called my mom, my aunt Nina, my grandpa, and my great-aunt Ione. When I'd tell them what I was looking for, every single one of them said, "Honey, it's just applesauce!" OK - maybe they didn't say, "honey", but play along with me. Then I got involved in discussions with 4 people who I didn't talk to often enough. Somewhere in the scheme of things, one of them mentioned that Grandma used Wealthy and Macintosh apples. Hah! A lead!

I called the remaining orchards in the Salt Lake/Kaysville/Brigham City area and found that NONE of them grow Wealthy or Macintosh apples. YIKES! Having the inquisitive mind that I do, I wanted to know why and where I could still locate a grower, so I called the USU Extension Office and my favorite nursery. They told me that Wealthy and Macintosh apples are old varieties that are not drought or disease resistant, and if orchards are still producing and haven't been taken over by housing developers (OK that last part was me - so sorry - I digress) most growers have phased them out. My kindly mother informed me that this is why my grandparents helped her plant a Wealthy tree in the back yard at our old house. Did she mention this when she moved out? NO! I'm sure I could have paid my brother and persuaded my hubby to dig the thing out and transplant it...

So, we were down to just Macintosh. my mom finally took pity on me and said that she'd get the apples. (She found a grower somewhere south of Provo) We made lots of pints of sauce that year (this was when I discovered that pints wouldn't cut it for the Hill boys) and I did indeed find out that IT WAS JUST APPLESAUCE.

Anyway. This year's crop of macintosh apples were not as red as they typically are. So, I ended up with regular looking applesauce. My niece, Courtney, will be thrilled. She won't touch my other stuff because it isn't the right color. Little does she know...

My boys couldn't wait for me to put the applesauce in jars. They had large bowls of the stuff and kept taking spoonfuls out of the bowl where I'd mixed in the sugar. They figured out that not only do they like lots of applesauce when it's eaten, they now prefer it warm. So we pop the lid on a jar and stick it in the microwave prior to sitting down for lunch or dinner or breakfast or after school snack or what can I eat until mom has something on the table for dinner snack or ....

Thinking you've completed reading about my domesticity? Take heed - I'm only about half way through the list of what I've done this fall, but I'm tiring of blogging for the day.

I'll conclude with a bullet list of the remaining adventures.
  • Pizza using Grandma Hill's dough recipe - this stuff also made yummy flavor-enhanced french bread. The boys and I rolled it out, spread on some olive oil, sprinkled on some garlic powder, and then topped it with either Italian herbs or parmesan cheese before rolling it up and putting it in the oven. Delicious!
  • Apple dip - straight from Aunt Merrilee's recipe. I love this stuff so much that I'll eat it by the spoonful without any apples! Griff thinks it's some kind of cake batter or cookie dough, so he digs in right along with me.
  • Cookies - we've made peanut butter (from Gayle Warren's recipe), chocolate chip (my friend, Kerri Hernandez's recipe), and pumpkin chocolate chip (right out of the bag from Lehi Roller Mills).
  • Today we're having homemade chicken noodle soup. It'll go nicely with the snow we woke up to this morning. We're making the noodles with the pasta maker as soon as I get out of the shower and my guys are finished with the 3rd installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that they started yesterday afternoon. It'll simmer this afternoon and be ready when we sit down for a toasty dinner.

I think the thing I enjoy most about all of this is the time I get to spend with Jon, Carson, Evan, and Griffin while I'm doing it. It's not a time to clean up or worry about what the rest of the house looks like or how much I still have to do on that next report for work. It's just time to get busy and create a smile or four.


Here are the photos I took of the boys on our visit to Sundance on Labor Day.

Evan doesn't know how to just be normal in a photo.

This is on the ride down the mountain. Carson and Griff were riding with me. Jeesh they look like brothers...

Evan was riding with Grandpa & Grandma Norris. He was nervous on the way up (Ev's like Jon - they don't do well on rides), but the way down was worse... Maybe I just see it because I'm his mom, but his body language sure looks tense!

I Spy With My Little Eye...

Griff and I were heading out the door this morning to go to daycare, and he asked if Grandpa Hill had seen what he sees along the way. Grandpa Hill doesn't see what we do since he's across the pond in England. So, Griff and I took a couple of photos.

The route we take crosses 9800 South at 4000 West. 9800 South is also known as "Shields Lane". It's named after George Shields, who is my great, great, great, great-grandfather. He was one of the original settlers of South Jordan, Utah.

First thing I see is Griff in my rear view mirror. This morning he and Kenny Chesney were singing about being on the coast of somewhere beautiful. The shadow's blocking his mouth, but he really does get into it. Most of the time he carries the tune and gets the words right. Pretty impressive for a 3 year old.

The next thing we see is the construction site for the Oquirrh Mountain LDS Temple. It's amazing how quickly this is going up. When it's done, we'll get to drive straight down 4000 West directly into the parking lot. We're so excited!

We don't really drive this close to the temple on the way to Mindy's, but I wanted to get a photo of the construction up close.

As we head East on 10600 South, we cross Bangerter Highway and then the construction site for a brand spanking new Costco. I was so excited the day that they put up the Costco sign! I drove by just as they were raising it and had to call Jon to tell him. I'm doing pretty good right now not spending $ at Costco because it's far enough away that I really have to need something to face the drive and the crowds. I'm looking forward to having a Costco this close so that I can run in for bread, milk, churros, pizza, and ice cream bars! I suppose now would be a good time to start padding the budget.

The last thing we see before we turn into Mindy's neighborhood are these fine fellas. Pretty cool, huh? This morning we stopped to get these photos, and they were bugling like crazy. Some of the younger guys were fighting over who go to stand closer to the hay piles. It was pretty awesome. These are domestic elk, but there are some seriously large racks in this pen. Did you notice the buffalo in the background?

That's a day in our drive to Mindy's. Kind of fun, huh?


Where were you 6 years ago?

So - September 11. First of all, it's my anniversary for working at CH2M HILL. I started on September 11, 2000. One year later Jon, Carson, Evan, and I were on vacation with my best friend, April, and her family at April's parents house in Cerritos CA.

We'd been to Disneyland the day before and were planning on going to Legoland and Sea World while in San Diego. We'd had breakfast, and I was in the shower. April knocked on our bedroom door to tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City. I hopped out of the shower, and we all sat mesmerized in front of the TV. April's mom pointed out that there was no time delay and that we were watching live TV.

We were absolutely amazed as we watched the towers fall. We decided to go ahead and proceed to San Diego--we just left a little later than we'd planned.

On the way, we saw troops at Camp Pendleton stacking concrete barricades at the gates and along the freeway. We drove in silence for most of the 2 hours, and the kids were ready to be out of the car when we got to the hotel. April immediately headed over to the newspaper dispenser so that she could get a copy of the LA Times.

We were at Legoland when the FAA reopened the US airspace. There must be a commuter airport near the park because there were multiple leer jets that took off. Carson was jumping up and down pointing at the planes. That night however, he was very nervous and talked about how he didn't want to get on a plane to go home. He said he was afraid we'd hit a building.

We ended up driving back to SLC because we had standby tickets and didn't think we'd be able to get on a plane. Jeff (April's husband) worked for SkyWest and was nervous that he wouldn't have a job when he got home. We really didn't have any idea what the impact would be.

So, six years down the road, I can't imagine a world without Sept 11. I worry about the time that my boys may spend either defending the freedoms that we have here in the US or fighting to protect others who are not able to protect themselves. I wonder how old they'll be, where they'll be sent and what events will lead to them going. I hope they are confident young men who will have learned or gained respect, compassion, and empathy for their fellow man; that they will have an ongoing desire for self and societal improvement; and that they will understand that while the world around them may be in turmoil, their testimony and faith in Jesus Christ will allow them peace.

When I think about what I've learned because of the events on September 11, I've found that I may not be able to influence the world's economic or political setting, but I can definitely influence what happens in my own home. What a challenge that is to be responsible for raising three young men who will be examples of courage, strength, and humility. What a challenge that is to find these same qualities within myself before I can teach or encourage them in my sons.

I am grateful that I'm part of a large family that help develop these traits. I'm grateful for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who provide knowledge and experiences that far exceed my own. I'm impressed by how much my sons can learn from all of them.

How's that for a challenge. If you're reading this, you're in the realm of influence for each of my sons. Do you have it in you to help them achieve what their mother wants for them?


Who's Your Celebrity Match?

I was looking for Zombie costume ideas for Carson online this morning and found a website that said your costume would be better if you had a "story" to go along with your zombie.

The first part of coming up with your story was to figure out who you were before you were zombified (a doctor, cheerleader, motorcyclist, pirate, etc). It provided a link to myheritage.com, which allows you to upload a photo of yourself and then choose a celebrity that looks like you. I had some fun and came up with the following two groups of celebs for myself:




You can select one of the celebs and do a morph of yourself into that celeb. Pretty dang scary...

They also let you upload a photo of a mom, dad, and child and determine which parent the child looks more like. My boys all looked 5-14% more like me - not a definitive answer if you ask me.

Thought it was silly enough to share, but I'm really supposed to be working this morning. Back to it!


Labor Day Weekend

Jon left us for greener pastures and ventured to Texas for the weekend. Our friends, the Tanners, are moving back to the DFW area, and Jared is already working down there. Jon flew out for a weekend of dove hunting. The boys missed him, but I think I missed him more.

I stayed home and tried to do some fun things with the boys. We ate at the Mayan and spent time with cousins Kim & Josh on Saturday evening. Sunday we spent the night at Grandpa & Grandma Norris' house. Monday we rode the skilift at Sundance, hiked, had a picnic up Provo Canyon, and swam in the hot tub. It was busy enough that all 3 boys fell asleep on the way home.


School Started...

School started today (FINALLY). Carson's in 5th grade, and he wanted nothing to do with me once he got out of the car. Evan (2nd grade) wouldn't let my hand go while we were in the parking lot, but once we got to the playground he wouldn't touch me. He winked at me when it was time for him to go inside the building (they all line up outside until the bell rings), but he wouldn't let me kiss him goodbye.

I can tell we've been doing the school thing for quite a while. I didn't even take a picture of the boys on their first day. How sad is that?

These are the first day photos from 2 and 5 years ago (Evan and Carson's first day of kindergarten, respectively). Weren't they adorable?


Oh, The Drama...

A wicked bug reeked havoc on Evan, me, and Jon last week - I missed 2 days of work and part of my weekend!

Evan spent his first day of feeling better playing water games and football with the kids on our street. Ended up with a rock stuck in his head and ran screaming into the house, "I'm dying!"

I couldn't do the blood, so Jon took him upstairs to put him in the tub. (No stitches needed - hoorah) Jon had told Carson to get the rock thrower's parents. They showed up while Jon was upstairs, and I had to deal with that interaction. Great. Go Jon.

Evan calmed down enough to ask Carson (it was one of Carson's friends that pegged him), "Is this what friends do?"

I'm so ready for school to start on Monday!


Hike from H-E-double hockey stick...

Carson had a great time on the Clements Lake hike with Jon & Uncle Ben (It’s 22 miles and 4000 ft elevation change roundtrip!). He befriended a deer, talked Ben's ear off about Pokemon, and according to his dad was quite the trooper. Carson loves talking about this trip, so if you have a minute go ahead and ask him.

On the way down, Carson literally walked the soles right off his shoes. Think we could get a refund? He bought them a couple Saturdays before the hike and had put in quite a few miles walking in them on the treadmill so that he’d be ready. Good thing Ben's trained in proper taping techniques (although I'm not sure there is a proper method for taping shoes) and Jon had tape on his walking stick!

By the way, should any of you find yourselves interested, here's the link (I know it's not a working link - just copy the address into your browser, all right?) to a document that describes the construction this summer at Clements Lake. I know it’s my inner nerd, but I think it would have been amazing to be there the day they airlifted in the construction equipment.



Had a great day yesterday with Staci's family. We BBQ'd at Grandma & Grandpa's house and then watched fireworks at BYU stadium from the church parking lot near the house.

We got to see Grandpa & Grandma Norris; The Lundbergs (Cory, Shannon, Emery, Ryan & Tyson); Graham, Kristie & Catherine; Sarah and Steph!

Carson, Evan and Griff loved seeing their cousins.


Moon Lake - June 2007

This year's group was very good sized. We sure missed Grandpa & Grandma Hill! All 5 of the SLC siblings and their families made it (except for Aunt Merrilee who was having some pregnancy problems). Uncle John, Aunt Karen, Aunt Gay & dog Kayla came up for a day.

Griff has 5 boy cousins who were all born within 9 months after him. Five of them were on this trip, and they had a great time! Jon was a great dad while he & the boys soaked up their time. I, Staci, was really busy with work and couldn't leave it at the office or at my desk at home. I spent the majority of one day sitting at a picnic table, hand writing an EA that I couldn't get out of my head. Not my favorite way to spend a camping trip.


Fast as a Speeding Bullet

Carson took first place in this year's Pinewood Derby!

Jon and our neighbor, Gary, were placing the rear axle as Staci was trying to get the boys herded out the door and loaded in the car. How's that for last minute preparation?

Carson chose a color that Jon calls @&*%-blue. (We ran out of time to get to the store, so he had to choose from whatever paint was available in the garage and basement) I think it turned out just fine. Of course I can say that because it's the color that I chose to paint Carson and Evan's dresser. Jon dressed it up with a coat of gloss finish.

Have to apologize for the photo quality. Our digital camera was broken by an independant, adventurous 3-yr-old, who lives at our house. So the phone was what we had to work with.


Something About Evan

So, here's one of my favorite things that Evan's done this year. Can you guess who he was mad at that day? I love Ev's sense of humor.

The blurriness of this is due to a malfunctioning scanner. Sorry...


We Went to Disneyland!!!

The boys were off track in February. We decided to make a trip to Disneyland - haven't been there since September 10, 2001. Apologies to Aunt Willie and Uncle Jim for not stopping by for a visit. The drive took longer than we'd planned. Thanks to Grandpa & Grandma Norris for the hotel room!

The boys had seen a booth like this one in the photos that Grandma Hill sent from England, so they had to jump in. Funny thing was, no grandma came out, and there weren't any Superman costumes in there...

Carson and I LOVED California Screamin. We rode it 8 times!

Evan was selected for Jedi training. He was so excited to take on Darth Maul that he was shaking. Of course, he'd never let his aponent know that. He was all sorts of calm.

This is how Griff survived Pirates. Jon wanted the boys to remember this ride, so we went on it at least 3 times per day. This was the last time we got G on it... We made the mistake of taking him on the Tower of Terror at California Adventure, and it scared the puddin out of him! I suppose we should have listened when the girl in front of us said ToT made her cry her first time riding it. Oh well. One more adventure to add to G's list...

Recognize this guy? Jon said he's the only character who gets to act like "an arse" and not get in trouble for it. He wasn't very friendly...

What's up with Jonny and that stance anyway?


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