Yesterday was the first day of school at my house. This morning I'm thinking that I should be elated that the house is all mine - no one is here.

Instead I'm online in blogland reading an alarming number of posts that describe a situation that is so similar to mine. There isn't a single bed made, stuff piled in every single room, bathrooms in need of serious attention, and I just want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head. I find myself angry - that's right absolutely angry - that the boys aren't cleaning up after themselves, but I have no motivation to do anything about it myself either.

I'm mad that Jon wants to go to sleep before 11:00, but I'm also mad if he stays downstairs and watches TV until after I've gone to sleep. The guy must be walking on egg shells trying to figure out what to do with me, and I have no idea what to tell him.

And it's supposed to rain today.

Really isn't looking good for me. Perhaps a walk on the treadmill would help - except I've already showered. Wouldn't want to have to do that twice...


Jeff - Take Two

Jeffrey Roy Hasara was the first addition to the extended Hill family following me & Jon's July 1993 wedding. So - whether Jeff knew it or not, I always had a soft spot for him.

Jeff was born November 24, 1993 in Okinawa, Japan while the family was stationed there with the US Air Force (my BIL, Mark, flew tankers - KC-135s). I don't know how old Jeff was when I first met him, but I remember walking up the stairs into the kitchen at Mom & Dad's house and having Jeff's older sister, Rachel, jump into my arms yelling, "Aunt Staci!" That was awesome - and an incredible way to be welcomed - and from what I've come to love about Rachel, not completely typical behavior.

Jeff got to come stay for extended visits at Grandma & Grandpa Hill's house fairly often. (The majority of the Hasara family actually came for these visits, but this post is about Jeff.) Hill family summer fun typically involved this boy. This photo shows the beginning of Moon Lake memories when Carson was my only boy. Jeff is sitting on the fence next to Carson.

My boys learned so many things from Jeff (the least of which was tantrum throwing - don't really want to dwell on that, but Jeff was a master at expressing irritation when he was younger...).  

  • Jeff was good about including my boys - making them feel accepted even though they were younger than him. He made a point to single each of them out to say hello, give a hug, or high five.

  • As he got older he encouraged them to listen to me and to do nice things for me.

  • He was a game player - board, card, computer, outdoor etc. My SIL, Shauna, and I got to play Ticket to Ride with him this summer - just the 3 of us. What 16 year old boy plays a board game with 2 aunts? I sure hope mine will.

  • He was a good brother. He was particularly close to his brother, Ryan, but he loved his brothers, John and Travis. My boys often talk about how their cousins interact with each other-they definitely pay attention.

  • He knew that when the entire family left him at that gas station in Evanston Wyoming 8 years ago that he just needed to pray, and we'd be back. He demonstrated that praying was a necessity.

  • He was hopeful. When Jeff was diagnosed last summer, he was ever optimistic about being healed.

  • He honored his priesthood, trusted Heavenly Father, actively strengthened his testimony, and encouraged my boys to do the same.
We were blessed to have Jeff in our family these few years. I'm grateful that I can call him mine.


Fair Fare

When I was growing up, my mom always made a big deal about being in Burley for Fair Weekend. We'd go into town to watch my cousin, Miranda, primp her 4H steer (with glitter on the tail folks! Have you seen what cows do with their tales?! I have! And let me tell you that sparkled tails don't look any prettier than a regular tail does when it's got poop on it), and then walk it through the ring at the auction.

We'd also get to watch the rodeo. I seem to remember watching all sorts of injuries, but those just didn't happen this year. Dang lucky cowboys!

We spent this year's fair weekend in Burley with my grandpa. I always worry about what the boys are going to do to his house, but I think they were OK this time.

It really was a great weekend. We left Friday afternoon and got to stop at Maddox on our way north. If you haven't tried Maddox's fried chicken, I suggest you take a drive and enjoy some of the stuff. That is some good eatin!

Friday night we got to Grandpa's and ran around outside for a while. My boys marvelled at the size of the horse chestnut tree, and I missed the maple. Then we headed over to my Aunt & Uncle's house to let the boys jump on the trampoline and run through the feedlot. What? You've never done that either? Well - that's not necessarily something I'd suggest jumping in your car to go do. There's an odor problem. And sometimes you carry it home with you. Seriously - it seeps into your clothes, and  you're treated to wisps of eau de bovine...

Saturday morning we got up, ate porridge (AKA germade) that Grandpa so kindly makes for us each time we visit (it's one of the things my boys look forward to - I make it at home, but there's just something about Grandpa's porridge...), and we went back to my Aunt & Uncle's house to stress out my cousin Miranda while she prepared for a brunch she was hosting.

We realized that we didn't have jackets for Saturday night's rodeo, so we drove into town to remedy the situation, drove in the face of danger by ignoring road construction signs and turning where we weren't supposed to turn, picked up a couple of hoodies, and shopped the clearance racks and propane supplies at CAL Ranch. Boy were we having a grand time.  No really.

Evan asked if we could go see my grandma's headstone - it was something I wanted to do, but he asked if we could go before I'd even brought it up. I love that kid! So I got to demonstrate my Burley geographical prowess and navigate my guys through Heyburn and across the other bridge across the Snake River (which Carson still doesn't believe is the same Snake River he whitewatered on last summer in Jackson Hole). Spent time looking at headstones and leaving our mark in the cemetery - I want it on record that I disagreed with Jon doing it, but I am curious to see what happens...

Went swimming at the Burley pool where Griff surprised us all by passing the swim test (swimming across the pool and back without touching the bottom and raising your arms out of the water) so that he could jump off the diving board. Go G!

I went back to Grandpa's to shower and visit, and Jon took the boys to ride 4-wheelers at the feed lot. I don't know what happened, but Evan says he'll never ride a 4-wheeler with Carson again. It can't be as bad as watching my brother crash our uncle's 3-wheeler into one of the apple trees in the pasture 20+ years ago...

Finally - took my guys into the fair for dinner and the rodeo. The boys got Falls Brand foot-long hotdogs and Dutch oven ribs. I thought I'd try some taco salad, and was COMPLETELY disappointed. Here's my food tip: if you're at the fair, go with dutch oven or with a burger from one of the church-worked booths. I promise. My poor taco salad was from a lemonade trailer and was basically tossed salad dumped on top of round tortilla chips. Just not what I was looking for.

My boys are not at all familiar with rodeo events, so Miranda's husband, Nate, filled Carson in on the goings on. Griffin worried about the calves during team roping and especially bulldogging (although I've caught him pretending to bulldog since we got back. Scares me a bit).

Sunday morning my Aunt Connie came to visit, and then we drove through the smoke-filled air to our lovely metropolis.

One of those weekends that felt much longer than it really was. Wonderful!


I Think It's the Battery

Things have been pretty somber at our house for the past couple of days. Yesterday Griff threw the mother of all tantrums over a silly sausage biscuit that he couldn't get at McDonalds because they were no longer serving breakfast. Honestly - think chicken nugget woman except in your own home. Wasn't pretty - and wasn't as bad as her.

Shortly before lunch time (a mere one hour later) Griff walked up to me, tapped me on the sore shoulder (that's right - it's still burned...) and said, "Jeff wouldn't want us to sit around at home all day. Jeff got really tired of sitting." I looked at Griff, realized I'd played so much Bejeweled Blitz that I was mentally trying to slide his nose up between his eyes, and decided that he was oh-so-right.

Took a quick shower, got dressed, texted Carson, and we were off!

Or not.

The Yukon would not start. No problemo! Sent Evan back in the house to get the keys to Jon's work van. We're all loaded, sweltering in the heat, and I quickly figure out that even though Jon didn't drive to work, he still managed to take the keys with him. Hunh.

Is there anything worse than being trapped at home? Even when about 20 minutes earlier you would have been content to sit and be a vidiot (it's a term Jon applies to the boys [or me] when we've been in front of a TV, video game, or computer too long).

So - time for my own tantrum - except my neighbors pulled up in their driveway and looked at me funny when I has yelling at Jon. I'm so sorry Jonny! Anyway - I walked back in the house with my head held high - only to discover that I'd left my keys inside and the front door was locked.

Yep - that kind of a day.

Today will be better. Jon charged the battery over night, and guess what didn't work... I've now been instructed on how to start the Yukon with the battery charger and have been directed to drive ONLY to the nearest Sams Club to pick up a new battery. My husband knows me so well. I can indulge in some retail therapy while someone else fixes my car. I love that guy.

Both Jon and the one who will fix my car.

AND I'll get to hear my name over the loud speaker - kind of like being called forward when you win an Oscar. That is pure motivation to get cleaned up and get out of my house today.


Jeffrey Roy Hasara

I got one of those calls that we're never prepared to receive today. My nephew, Jeff, passed away. Not too many details yet. Just lots of emotion.

There are all sorts of thoughts swimming in my mind, and I just can't collect any of them yet.

I know you are in a better place, Jeff, and I know that they love you there just as much as we do here.

I just didn't know how heart broken I'd be when you were gone.


Summer Slump

Do you get into a summer slump? I'm in the middle of one, and the pity party is absolutely raging. I'm even feeling left out that I didn't get to go to girl's camp this year - and I haven't gone to girl's camp since before I was a mom!

Gotta get out of this.

Baby steps.

Set some achievable goals - today that means answer the phone, shower, and make at least one bed. I get to help with Webelos this afternoon, so that will get me out of the house.

Ooo - how about one more goal - post the Hill cousin gift rotation on the family blog. That one I can check off!

I feel much (well maybe just a pinch) better already.


Fried Spam, Cheese and Baloney!!!

My missing oldest child returned from scout camp today. I spent the afternoon hugging the boy and kissing his sweet cheeks. How did I forget how tall he is?

While I was figuring out which questions to ask so that I would receive more than one word answers, I stumbled across this little tidbit:

Me: So - what was your favorite meal?

Him: French Toast and sausage.

insert crickets chirping here

Me: Did you eat anything that you typically wouldn't?(This is based on me knowing that male scout leaders would not cater to the whims of picky eaters)

Him: Um, ya know, fried spam was not as bad as I thought it would be.

insert crickets chirping here - this time from me because I'm completely flummoxed.

They freaking fed my son fried spam!!!

Dear future daughter-in-law - I just want you to know that fried spam has never been something I have prepared for this darling boy to eat. He did that all on his own.


Is a Weed a Weed?

This morning I was reading a blog post about sunflowers because my dear friend, Debbie, has been gone since Friday. She's in Phoenix because her grandson, Kody, was born yesterday. Even though I don't see her every day when she is home, I miss knowing that Debbie is right next door. Debbie LOVES sunflowers.

That post indicates that some sunflowers are weeds. I imagine those are the kind that grow in my back yard. How can something so happy looking be a weed? That led me to thinking about Dalmation Toadflax.

My friend, Jen, recently got married at Red Butte Garden. While I was wandering around, I found a noxious weed display that had samples of each species. There was Dalmation Toadflax. There's a colony of this species that we monitor on one of my work projects. I've never seen it in bloom, so I was completely surprised to find this:

Really?! Something that looks like my beloved snapdragon is a noxious weed?! And then I started thinking, what exactly is a noxious weed? Well, my friends, here is your educational tidbit for today. According to wikipedia:
A noxious weed is an invasive plant species that has been designated by county, state or provincial, or national agricultural authorities that is injurious to agricultural and/or horticultural crops, natural habitats and/or ecosystems, and/or humans or livestock. Most noxious weeds are introduced species (non-native) and have been introduced into an ecosystem by ignorance, mismanagement, or accident. Typically they are plants that grow aggressively, multiply quickly without natural controls (native herbivores, soil chemistry, etc.), and adversely affect native habitats, croplands, and/or are injurious to humans, native fauna, and livestock through contact or ingestion.
Those are some nasty buggers!

But really - suppose I had a hedge of those growing along my fence. Suppose I added sunflowers. Every single hot summer day would be full of minimally watered, golden yellow, blooming smiles! And maybe the glare from my neighbor's white vinyl fence would be tempered and I would avoid a migraine or 7.

I don't have any livestock to worry about (other than my completely intelligent, non-weed eating black lab, Kona) - and if that bulldog next door that bit the nice, young, pretty neighbor girl and left her with an ugly scar on her thigh decided to chomp away to aid his digestive issues, would I really be responsible?

Notice that I didn't mention my own not-so-intelligent, weed eating chocolate lab... I like Hilo, but he is just missing a brick sometimes. He's really good with my boys, and he's stopped chewing on things - except for the cable and the tube between the propane tank and the BBQ grill. Propane doesn't taste good. I keep telling you that! Silly animal...


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