Monday, October 14, 2013

Time to Celebrate!

A couple weeks after Mike's birthday, it was finally time to celebrate his 28th birthday.  We were going to get the coveted Ducky and see what Tuttle, Idaho had to offer.  I had called Wayne, the owner of the duckies and High Adventure River Tour, a couple weeks back to ensure the ducky's were still for sale at $200 a piece.  He let me know we would be good to go an and was kind enough to work with me when we pushed back the pick up date.  He let us know we could also set up camp at his RV park for the night.  We were also going to be picking up two additional duckies, one for Ryan and Kenzie, the other one for Jake and Netti.  We had stopped by an additional time with Ryan and Kenzie to view the ducky's as we made our way to the Oregon Coast last year.  Ryan was also sold on the idea of the ducky and was glad we would be able to secure him one of the ducky's.  With three duckies on the line, you better believe Mike would pick out the very best one.

We arrived late Friday night.  Wayne was kind enough to show us where the showers were located along with possible camp spots.  We set up camp and would go exploring the next morning.  Wayne was a great host and gave us several different options in the morning of things to do.  Of course we were looking to try out the ducky- so he said we could try out the river or he also recommended a "beautiful" spot called 1,000 springs about 5 miles away in Haggerman, Idaho.  We decided we would give 1,000 springs a try.  Upon arriving, we decided the "beautiful spot" Wayne had told us about had had some pretty features but the island itself wasn't so beautiful.  I guess Wayne had been stuck in Tuttle a little too long.  Nevertheless, we were glad we came.  The boat launch was located at a swimming pool which was naturally heated by a hot springs.  We paid our fees and launched our ducky's into the Snake River.  Just across the river is an island with an old house on it.  We paddled about halfway around the island and saw a waterfall.  We stopped to check it out.  We climbed up the rocks close to the top of the waterfall.  We then saw a trail where you could view the old house.  We walked up to the gates.  On the way back, we saw a very manly looking woman, welcome to the small town life!  With that image seared in our minds, we continued our quest around the island.  After getting back to the dock, I noticed a drain for the hot pots.  I wanted to warm up and paddled over there.  Little did I know, how blasting hot it would be!  It definitely did the job and warmed me up but I kept my distance after the initial burn.  In paddling around the river, we had worked up quite an appetite.  Lucky for us, we had some cups of noodles in the car waiting for us.  I soaked up the sun while Mike cooled of in the shade.

After filling our tummies and baking ourselves to a crisp, we drove around Haggerman to see what else it had to offer.  Surprisingly enough we were able to find several things to occupy our time.  We went to a fish hatchery where we saw several very large sturgeon and some other not so attractive fish.  After sufficiently staring at the poor, trapped fish we continued on our way.  To our surprise, we saw Haggerman also had a Fossil Beds National Monument.  We stopped to check it out and found various types of fossils including, but not limited to, the famous, "Haggerman Horse".  They also have on display a Saber-tooth Cat, Ground Sloth, Camel, and many other unique animals along with information related to the Oregon Trail.  According to their website, it is "one of the most fossilferous Pliocene-aged sites in the world", aka 3.5 million years ago just prior to the Ice Age and which represents the earliest appearances of modern flora and fauna.  Don't worry, I did have to look that up on Wikipedia.  Nevertheless, it was a fun little museum where they even let you cool off with an informational video in the back room, which we utilized.

In one afternoon w were able to see many of the main highlights of the small towns Haggerman and Tuttle, Idaho.  Feeling pretty accomplished we decided it was time to pack up and head home.  We packed up our newly purchased duckies, said good-bye to Wayne, and hit the road back to Salt Lake.  We took a slight detour in Twin Falls to grab some food.  We were pretty hungry by this point and decided Sizzler, a buffet with unlimited grub, would be an excellent choice.  We went to order and they informed us that to get a steak and a salad bar was practically the same price as just a salad bar so obviously we decided to get ourselves a steak. We both came to the realization that this was the best steak we had ever eaten at a restaurant.  Although, the fact that we were camping may have played into it.  Yet, we still felt like royalty.  It was a great feast to end the birthday celebration and the acquisition of our newest boat, the ducky!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mother's Day Surprise!

Mother's Day was just around the corner.  My dad wanted to surprise my mom with all of us coming down for the weekend.  Of course we were game for a trip down south.  We also had a very special Mother's Day gift to give to our mother's...removable tattoo's!  Don't worry we did provide more practical gifts as well but the tat's far surpassed any other gift we could give.  Mama Deb had a good laugh while Marty had some ideas of where to put the tats.  We left after work on Friday and picked Levi up in Cedar City to have him join the party as well.  Michelle would not be joining us this weekend as she had a 10 day camp out for school.  It couldn't have been a more suiting activity for Michelle.  It was ironic to think she was in the woods as we were eating some frozen yogurt at Menchi's and watching a crazy lady make a scene in the parking lot.  Apparently she was saying some pretty off the wall things, some people decided to call the cops and she was not too happy to say the least.  Later that night, we tried the famous wiggle scooters, they were as everybody had said, slow and hard to get going.  Needless to say, we didn't waste too much time with those slow scooters.  We had other activities to pursue.

Saturday morning, my mom had to go into work for a few hours.  Lucky for her she had put one of her tattoo's on her neck.  It made a great look for her in the Salon.  My mom is not the biggest fan of golfing, so while she went into work, the rest of us went golfing.  Mac and my dad split a round, which was probably a good thing seeing my dad was on the phone for much of the time, and Mac doesn't like doing the full nine holes. Golf is definitely a love/hate relationship for me.  I love it when I am doing well, which in all reality isn't too often, and it is super frustrating when you are losing.  Well this day of golfing was a not so hot one.  I was doing terrible, however, Mike was doing awesome.  I know a good supportive wife should be throwing up high fives and patting him on the back,  but, unfortunately, I was not being such a good wife.  Instead, of throwing high fives I was throwing my clubs. Curse my competitive spirit.  Yet it was a fun time on the course with the gang.

After my mom returned, we did one of her favorite things to do, biking.  In Washington Fields there was a trail she loved doing which she lovingly referred to as the horse head trail.  It received the name due to the fact that there was actually a dead horse's head on the trail.  Pretty crazy, eh?  It was supposed to be a pretty easy trail.  All was going well until my pedal fell off my bike.  Mike was kind enough to take my bike and give me his bike.  He got creative and rode the other bike the rest of the way home like a scooter.  He got his work out and good deed all done in one fell swoop.  He was still able to make it fun for all and that's one reason I love him so! We also spent time swimming in the pool, playing Monopoly Deal, our "true" Mother's day gift which was a smashing success, and saw none other than War Horse.  Probably better than the movie itself was renting the movie.  We went to the Red Box and my dad was up getting the movie.  My mom told him to get War Horse, he said, "What?".  Again, she repeated, "Get War Horse".  Levi pointed out, very accurately I might add, how much they symbolized an aging couple.  As one tried to communicate to the other but their aged ears were failing them.  We all had a good laugh.  

To top off the weekend, we figured we still had a new kickball, which was my dad's birthday present, which we needed to use.  After drinking some home-made orange julius we all headed out to a nearby park.  We split up into teams and started kicking.  It wasn't long before we realized how out of shape we all were in.  A few times around the bases, in the hot sun, and we were feeling it.  The Orange Julius that had previously tasted so good, wasn't settling too well and many of us were feeling slightly queezy.  We spent a good deal of time in the shade drinking some cool water!  Despite our opposition, with the sickness, and the breeziness we endured and finished the game. Mike, Mac, and I lost, even after our almost super dramatic comeback.  So close and yet so far!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mike's Birthday/Hill Family to the Rescue!

Yup,  you guessed it, Mike was about to get a whole lot wiser.  He was going to be turning 28!  Mike had been eyeing a ducky we saw at a garage sale for an old rafting company for over a year.  It was on a return trip from Boise where it all got started.  My dad recommended on our drive back from Boise we stop to look at the Malad Gorge, as it was worth seeing.  On the same exit, luck would have it there was a large sign for a "Garage Sale" posted and we decided to stop and check it out.  It happened to be a High Adventure River Touring company/campground.  It was here where Mike first spotted the ducky.  Mike fell in love at first sight and tried to convince me of how great a deal it was.  I was able to talk him into getting the man's number and thinking about it.  But after a year plus of delay, I decided I had delayed him long enough and was going to surprise him with not only the ducky but a trip to  retrieve it in good ole' Tuttle, Idaho. However, a series of events led us to rearrange the scheduling of our ducky trip.

At the end of April, after returning from a beautiful trip to France, Mark had an unfortunate accident...with a toilet.  Before leaving for France, Mark decided he was going to be leaving his job at the Post Register and start looking for work elsewhere.  Upon returning from France, he was going to work on odds and ends around the house to get it ready to sell.  One day he was going to replace the toilet and do some painting in the bathroom while the toilet was out.  Unfortunately, the toilet had other plans.  It attacked Mark and had sliced his wrist open.  Thankfully, Mark was able to think clearly enough to call 9-1-1 and get in a position to lose the least amount of blood as possible.  Carrie had been out at a doctor's appointment and was promptly notified.  She was able to call a neighbor to pick up Taylor as she raced back home. She arrived in time to see the ambulance.  The neighbor's husband gave Mark a blessing in the ambulance.  Fortunately, Mark was able to see a hand specialist who was quick to get him into surgery.  Mark was going to be OK with a little bit of rest and physical therapy.  However, Mark would not be able to live down the fact that he had just gotten worked by a toilet which severed three tendons, two nerves, and the radial artery.  Poor Mark.

On the 3rd of May, Mike moved up in the world though and was now 28. It hit him for the first time that he was closer to 30 and I was closer to 20.  For the first time, Mike realized he had in fact robbed the cradle!   With this realization, there was nothing left to do but embrace it and celebrate.  My dad happened to be in town and wanted to take us out to Rodizio Grill for Mike's birthday.  We obviously accepted and had a wonderful feast.  On the drive home we were rear ended, creating only a few small screw marks in the back of the Corolla.  Obviously we weren't too impacted as we rented "We bought a Zoo" and had a nice relaxing night.  Pretty easy going birthday but the real birthday party would come in a few weeks on our ducky trip.  Needless to say, with Mark being down for the next few weeks, Carrie needed some assistance with the house and that took priority over Haggerman.  Plus, in a few weeks it would only warm up that much more making the ducky trip even more enjoyable.  So Friday after work, Danny, Jon, David, Mike, and I all hopped in the Expedition with Papa Hill and made the trip up to Idaho Falls. Mama Deb had gone up a few days prior to help Carrie paint the kitchen cabinets.   We had a great road trip.  My favorite part was when we decided to play Karaoke with the iPod.  Only this time, the singer had to put in the headphones as the rest of the car tried to guess which song was being sung.  It was really funny and we got to hear some excellent solos.  We also stopped at Arctic Circle to grab some grub before arriving at Mark's house to do the real work.

We all pitched in as David worked on the sprinklers, Jon and Papa Hill spackled the playroom, and Danny, Mike, and myself painted several rooms, baseboards and all.  Carrie's brother-in-law also was able to do some odds and ends around the house as he had once been a contractor.  In between painting, we took a short intermission to destroy the shed in the backyard.  Jon, Danny, Mike, and I took turns kicking, running into, and our favorite sledge hammering the walls of the shed.  In no time, we had demolished the shed and had it loaded on a trailer to take to the dump.  We also made sure to take away that awful toilet and put it in it's place.  We showed it who was boss. The weekend turned into another great party with good food, aka Donuts and KFC, music, and just a good time.  At KFC, Mike decided to try the Double Down sandwich.  A sandwich made with fried chicken as the substitute for bread and even though it was dripping with grease it was surprisingly pretty tasty.   We also found out the honey isn't really honey after all.  Rather it's a "honey sauce", good one KFC.  Despite the disappointment with the "honey sauce", it was a rather successful weekend where much was accomplished.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

To Tri or Not to Tri!

At the end of April, one of the Utah State fraternity's was putting on a triathlon.  Because it was at the school, it was better priced than most.  Ryan and Kenzie were going to do it and invited us to join. Neither Mike and I had ever done a triathlon and thought at this price it was worth testing the waters.  We slept over at Ryan and Kenzie's house so we could get up bright and early, ready to get our race on.  Saturday morning we arose and checked into the race.  We went through the orientation and were getting pumped. Mike and I were well equipped with our basic swim goggles and hefty mountain bikes.  Ryan and Kenzie had done a few in their days and were giving us some tricks of the trade for faster transitions between events.  We followed their advice by laying out our clothes by the bikes, rolling down the socks, and loosening up the shoes all in the hopes of saving a minute or two.  We were going to need all the help we could get.

It was only a sprint triathlon meaning a 500 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and a 5K run.  Doesn't sound so bad, right?  Think again.  The race started in the hyper pools.  Ryan, Kenzie, and Mike all did some warm up laps to get started.  I was a little chilled so I waited it out instead.  Eventually it was time for the first wave to get started.  I was getting more and more nervous the closer it got to my time.  It wasn't like I was expecting to win, but my competitive streak was definitely showing it's colors.  Initially, we were hoping for the warmer pool until someone mentioned you swim faster in a cooler pool.  We quickly switched our mind set, as mentioned before, we could use all the help we could get.  But luck was not on our side, we were both in the warm pool.  Mike and I were swimming side by side in the same line.  He beat me by a few seconds but we were both pulling in at 12 minutes.  After swallowing and burping up some significant water, it was time to get onto the bikes.  I stumbled out to my bike and Mike and I started out biking together.  It didn't last too long as Mike showed his strength and pushed quickly ahead.  He outshone me by eight minutes in this leg of the race as I was at a remarkable 46 minutes compared to his 38.  Unfortunately, being on mountain bikes proved to be a much larger disadvantage than either of us had previously thought.

After getting past left and right, we were finally to the last stretch the 5K run.  Both of us were pretty spent by this point, but we persevered.  I ran past one of the volunteers and said something along the lines of, "Only crazy people do this".  As I was promptly reminded, I was one of them.  However, I got a boost of extra strength when I ran past the library.  Behind me running in her socks, is my friend Druanne Murray!  She ran by my side for a bit giving me the will to keep going.  I was just trudging along.  Finally, the end was in sight and I lost my balance.  I ate it on the sidewalk with the finish line in sight.  Luckily I wasn't going so fast as to get road rash, just a little embarrassed.  I finished the race and was spent.  Mike had finished the 5K in 24 minutes bringing his total time to 1 hour and 16 minutes.  I was 11 minutes behind at 1 hour and 27 minutes, with a 26 minute 5K.  Mike placed 32nd for the men and I was 15th for the women.  However, it wasn't too shabby considering we burped our way through the pool, lumbered through on our mountain bikes, and I ate it on the run.  Not bad for our first triathlon!  We treated ourselves to a meal at the Beehive Grill for all of our hard work.  Mike would also serve to brighten our spirits the next day on the rope swing.  We were out for a nice casual bike ride and came across a nice rope swing across a little creek.  Mike was getting fancy and tried to run in a circle, while holding onto the rope, around the banks, but he didn't have quite enough momentum.  He was left hanging until his strength exhausted him and he fell into the creek.  It was a good end to the weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From the South to the North!

My dad's birthday was quickly approaching, so we thought it would be a great time to get away to St. George.  We were there the weekend prior to his birthday so we could start the "Birthday Week" celebration. We lived up the weekend with a variety of sports, including: swimming, baseball, tennis, and kickball.  Our birthday gift may have played a small role in some of the activity selection.  We had wisely given him a kids baseball bat and baseball along with a Sponge Bob kickball.  Pretty smart planning, eh?  We played a little baseball in the backyard and had a home-run derby. There were many balls we had to retrieve from over the fence, because we were that good  In the pool, Levi introduced us to a game called "Pencil, Cannonball, or Dive".  You had to jump off the diving board and someone would call out one of the three positions.  In mid-air, you had to switch into that position.  So simple, yet so fun.

We also played a little tennis at the Summit Athletic Club  They had a little drop-in doubles where you could show up and they would pair you up to play some fun doubles matches.  Levi and Michelle were partners, Mac had a younger male counterpart, my mom was paired up with a nice gentleman, and Mike and I made an unstoppable team.  To my dad's dismay, he was hoping we were going to be on the same team.  Instead he was paired off with a very serious player.  Let's just say my dad wasn't having the best of time as he was feeling the pressure and not living up to his double's partner's expectations.  It didn't help that we were smoking them, too!  Though when frustrations were very visible, we backed off a little too much giving them a chance to close in on us.  Don't worry, we still pulled it out.  Later the teams were switched up and the "serious" player was on Michelle's team.  He was very friendly to her only making the whole situation that much more enjoyable.  After playing a little doubles, I played a little one-on-one with my parent's neighbor.  The others, minus my mom, went in for an ab workout led by Levi.  Mike was so sore within the next few days he couldn't even stand up all the way.  It was pretty hilarious.Among all the activities and fun, Mike's favorite part of the weekend., however, was the time we were able to spend in the Salon.  I decided it was time to chop off my hair and spice things up a bit.  We were both a little nervous after the initial snips.  But I must say, it turned out rather sassy!  We had to show it off, so what better way than pedaling around the neighborhood on the beach cruiser tandem bicycle.

The next weekend we headed to the other end of the state and joined Danny and Haley and Jon and Julie's family at Crystal Hot Springs.  Wellyn and Everett loved going down the water slide and we had a blast joining them on the fun.  Mike, Danny, and Jon entertained us to see who could do the highest breach out of the water.   We also had a contest to see who could crawl across the pool fastest and many other games most normal people wouldn't understand.  But what do they know anyways they are right there with us enjoying soaking in warm water that smells like rotten eggs. Life can't get much better.  After a fun night in the hot pots, we spent our first night camping in the good ole' Subaru Outback.  It actually worked out pretty well and worked as our own personal mini-trailer.

The next day we took off to Logan for the rest of the weekend.  We joined Kenzie's family at Britain's high school track meet.  She is a nationally ranked high jumper so that was fun to see for a little bit.  Kenzie hung back with her family while Mike, Devin, and Ryan kayaked a portion of the Logan river.  I volunteered to run shuttle and get a little shut eye as they ran the river.  The boy's worked up quite an appetite so we stopped at Mo Betta Steaks and had ourselves a delightful Hawaiian feast.  Later that night we sat deliberating what our next plan of attack should be.  We waited till the last second and then rushed off to the theater to catch a movie.  Ryan and Kenzie were also excited to introduce us to Zeppe's Italian Water which was a new addition to Logan.  Pretty much it is a fancy snow cone with some ice cream- aka delectable. Though the biggest news of the weekend,  Mike and I decided we were ready to bring little junior Hill's into the world.  It was the start of one of our biggest adventures yet!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Swell Start to Spring!

During the month of March my company got me into doing a bracket for March Madness.  I had never done it before and was excited to see what it was all about.  I decided it would be fun to have a little side contest with Mike as well.  Neither of us really follow college basketball so I thought it would even the playing fields.  Let's just say Mike smoked me.  At the beginning, it was relatively close.  However, with each passing round I fell further and further behind.  Needless to say, Mike won the first year.  It's funny how often you check the final scores though once you have written down your picks for the year. It definitely spices up March.  So we decided it was a tradition we would continue and I was determined to get him next year.

With March Madness heating up March and spring rapidly approaching, it could only mean one thing, it was time to get out the camping gear again.  On the weekend of the 22nd of March, we were going to join Ryan and Kenzie and Dusty and Michelle on their trip to San Rafael Swells.  They would be carpooling down and as a way for us to save on a little extra gas money they suggested we pick up their siblings, Donna and Britain, and split gas money with them.  Mike was able to pick them up and then swing by my work and grab me as well.  With the crew on board, we were ready to hit the road, literally.  Mike was loving driving the Subaru in the swells.  He was hitting those curves so fast and was all the more encouraged with Donna and Britain squealing and laughing the whole time.  They were loving their little roller coaster ride. I, on the other hand, was a little more nervous for not only our safety but also the well being of the car.  Mike was 100% confident we would be just fine.  Thankfully, he was right, despite a few close calls, we pulled safely into the campsite.

By the time we arrived, it was dark and time to set up camp.  We were camping by the entrance to Ding and Dang.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get up there quite as early as the other car and join them on their hike through the canyon.  However, Donna was able to find a pretty sweet cross bow that provided great entertainment to the group, especially Mike.  It was a homemade bow that shot sticks a good 20 feet or so.  We all enjoyed sitting around the fire watching Mike and a few of the others shooting sticks out into the surrounding area.  The trip was off to a great start.  In the morning, we awoke and drove over to the trail head for Baptist Draw.  Ryan had his handy navigation tool and we began the 9-10 mile journey.  It was a fun hike with several different repels.  I had an awkward repel where I was heading down head first.  The others had a pretty good laugh and Ryan was able to help straighten me out before reaching the bottom.  After several miles of hiking we stopped to have some lunch.  We enjoyed throwing sandstone at the walls and watching the sandstone explode into a powdered mess.  After dropping off the largest repel, the canyon shortly opens up to a larger slot.  We again sat to rest before making the final trek up to the car.  Again rocks were thrown, but this time it was more of a game where we tried to hit particular targets.  Perhaps there is a correlation with being tired and having a desire to throw rocks.  Either way it worked out that way for us.  It was a fun trip. 

The next week was conference weekend so we decided to hang around town.  Let's be real, we couldn't fathom missing the famous Hill Family Potato Bar in between Sunday sessions of conference.  The Wednesday before conference we had a game night at the Hill residence.  As always, there was a yummy dessert involved.  On this particular night, we had pie because Village Inn ran a special on their pies on Wednesday nights.  We played games, laughing, chatting, and eating pie.  All was well until we got to the last slice of pie.  Trouble quickly arose as the situation became clear to those at the table.  Let's just say, I had never seen grown men act like animals  to get the last remaining piece of pie.  They were like savages.  It could have been because we had just seen or were going to see the Hunger Games or it could have been the Hills natural drive for sugar. All I know, is it was quite entertaining.

Well, conference weekend had arrived and as usual, Mr. Mac had their buy one suit get one for $1 sale.  Danny and Mike went in on the offer together.  They must have been feeling in sync as they even bought the same suit.  But you can't blame them when it was such a good looking suit!  Saturday morning we awoke and turned on the Saturday Morning session at our place and then decided we would watch the afternoon session at the Hill home.  We were itching to get out and ride our bikes since the weather was getting nicer.  We thought we could even ride our bikes to there place in between sessions.  It was a brilliant plan, it was only 13 miles and most of it would be pretty easy going.  Or so we thought.  Turns out strong head wind along with our mountain bikes, aka non-road bikes, can prove quite challenging.  At times, it seemed as if we weren't making any progress.  It took us over an hour to go those measly 13 miles, but it was definitely worth the experience.  Not to mention we would be able to recuperate the next day as we were not only spiritually fed but as we carbo-loaded on delicious potatoes!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Solutionreach Here I Come!

 After a few months of searching and interviewing, I was finally starting to see the results.  I had received an offer for a Customer Support Representative at Solutionreach but was also waiting to hear back from  I let know I had received another offer, however, was still interested in their company.  Fortunately for me, they countered with another offer.  Now decisions had to be made.  I applied Mike's technique of doing a pro's and con's list.  Only problem is they had the same pay, about the same drive time, many of the same perks, and both had the intent to move me out of the entry level roll relatively quickly.  Ultimately, it was going to come down to which company I wanted to be at and what type of work I wanted to do.

I decided if I was stuck in an entry level position for a while, the work description sounded more exciting at Solutionreach.  Haley's sister, Stephanie, along with several of the people I had interviewed with, told me the entry level position at SEO is very monotonous.  I was also impressed with several of the personnel, not to mention a few personal connections, at Solutionreach.  Joseph Stith, a family friend of Uncle Rob, called me after I had been extended the offer and was willing to answer any questions I had.  I could tell he was genuinely interested in my success.  He even mentioned the possibility of me moving over to Adobe seeing they could probably pay me more.  Karmen and Steve, one of Mike's friends from high school, were also much more excited when they extended the offer.  Mike had also vouched for Steve and his Uncle Rob who both worked at Solutionreach and loved it.  With my mind made up, I accepted the offer and would start employment on March 16th.  I was pumped!

I let Steven's Henager know I would be accepting another offer.  My supervisor, technically known as my ADOA (Assistant Director of Admissions), had seen it coming.  He said they would miss me but he didn't seem too put out.  Although he should have been, since I was on course to make a record month of sales for myself and get enough starts (6 or more) to earn "Top Dog" status.  Yet I can't be too offended because I was ready to get out of there except for I was sad to leave my good friend Meghann.  Nevertheless, it was definitely the right move and Meghann would again be joining forces with me a few months down the road. To make it only sweeter, she got a porcelain dog from Mike, another employee at Steven's Henager, to award me for my unofficial Top Dog status!  We celebrated the weekend prior by playing games with Dave and Amanda, going to see "Man on the Edge", and having a pizza party with Grandpa Goates.  Even though the pay was less, it was definitely worth the switch.  We would see more benefits to come...but that my friends is for a later time!  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Desert and me some adventure!

It was time to break up the winter and head down south and get a few rays of sunshine.  That's right,
St. George here we come!  Ryan and Kenzie had planned a trip to go down south to the Shakespeare festival with Amy, Ryan's sister, and her husband Jeff.  They figured since they were down south they would also utilize some time in St. George for none other than a little biking and canyoneering.  We thought it sounded like an excellent opportunity.  They liked us joining as well because we were able to stay at my parent's house in St. George.  My mom played the role of excellent host and was kind enough to supply us with some active goodies-trail mix, granola bars, and sandwiches along with full on meals.  Not to mention each couple got to have their own king size bed to sleep in.  Pretty luxurious for a bunch of outdoor bums!

Needless to say, we lived it up.  In our short time down there we did a slot canyon and two different biking adventures.  Mac and her college roommate, Sarah, joined us for Yankee Doodle a shorter slot canyon in Silver Reef near Zion's National Park.  It was one of my favorite slot canyons I have ever done.  It had it all and it only took 3-4 hours.  There were rappels, places where you had to chimney across some water in a tighter spot, and even a make shift zip line.  To top it off, it was a really pretty slot canyon.  Can't get much better!  Also, on the trip we did a couple of bike rides.  We did one of my favorite
mountain biking spots, Bear Claw Poppy, where Mike had his "incident" last Thanksgiving, and a new trail called Barrel Roll.  Luckily this time we didn't have any problems at Bear Claw Poppy.  We enjoyed the rolly-pollys and challenging each other to make it up the steep climbs.  I was definitely the worst biker there, which would be more apparent in our next ride.  Barrel Roll was much more challenging ride than Bear Claw Poppy. I was always in dead last place as I walked my bike through many of the technical spots.  I was not finding joy in the "challenge" and hence had a pretty bad attitude.  I usually like to be in the front or feel like I can at least keep up with the gang.  The others all finished the ride and had their bikes parked by the time I made it to the end.  Don't worry there were multiple spots where they still waited for me to catch up as well.  Looking back, I should have been more like the "little engine that could" and I could have had another fun ride to add to the list because it did have some fun stretches and some pretty views. On Sunday, my mom joined us as we took it easy with some walks around Zion and went on a pretty drive through the park.  It was a nice relaxing, yet chilly day, to wrap up the weekend.

By now it was the end of February and we still had a few more ski passes to use.  We decided we had to go for it.  We enjoyed the mountain air and skiing around with just the two of us.  We did a few moguls, the usual box jumps, skiing through the trees, and flying down the mountain.  Unfortunately, on this trip I forgot to pack my ski poles.  I disappeared into the trees for a while and came out with my makeshift ski poles.  Mike thought it was pretty entertaining along with several of the workers there.  But a girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?

The next weekend we mixed it up and returned to Logan.  Mike and I stayed up late chatting with some friends leading to a decision which would change our lives forever.  She was talking about her own experience with the "pill".  It wasn't until we heard her story that we realized the impact the pill had on us as well!  I had always heard about the "pill" leading to some girls going crazy.  However, I never felt like it had really impacted me, as I wasn't seeing hallucinations or crying every minute, until we heard her story.  We always just excused it as a stressful time because we were adjusting.  Later that night we decided it was time to go off the dreaded "pill" and see if it would make a difference.  In the next few months, we would begin to see the more mentally stable and secure me return.  It truly was a turn around for us.

Saturday we did two different types of sledding adventures- both unique in their own sense.  The first adventure was with Ryan and Kenzie.  They trekked up the mountain on their ski's and Mike and I climbed up in our snow shoes.  It was a silent hike as they enjoyed the peace and serenity of the mountains.  I wished I had my tunes to keep me pumped but soon enough we would be to the top of the mountain where it would be sledding time.  Mike and I were able to get a few long spurts on the sled together but mostly it was short little spurts where Mike ended up running down a lot of the mountain.  Ryan and Kenzie had no problem navigating down the mountain on their ski's.  After being teased on the Mountain with our attempt at sledding, we decided to try it out again later that night with Amanda and Tyler.  We were cruising down Old Main Hill and even broke a sled doing so.  Only this time it was unique as we unexpectedly found a mattress some others were done using.  They let us take ownership of the mattress contributing to what many of us would later refer to as the "best sledding we had ever done!"  We flew down the hill so fast it was as if we were floating down the mountain. Amanda and I had it good as Mike and Tyler drug the mattress up to the top again while Amanda and I shot the breeze.  I guess you could say it is a benefit of being a lady. After sledding some others were hungry and nothing could satisfy their pallets except for a little fried bacon, it was a great night.

The next weekend we returned to the slopes for our last ski of the season.  Jon and Jon Goates both joined us as well.  This time, we did it their style, which was in style.  We dressed up for the slopes. Both Jon's put on their lovely turtle necks and suits while Mike and I did a little more random style.  I had my bling-bling shirt and Mike wore his Sweedish green army pants.  Mike also spiced it up by bringing his wrestling mask.  We were looking good.  Plus it just so happens a professional photographer was out snapping some pictures as well- good thing he could capture my excellent technique on camera. In actuality my form was below top notch, but lets be real, we all looked positively goofy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Love is in the Air!

Yup, you guessed it, it's the magical day when Cupid floats through the air shooting his love darts at people, the day many know as Valentine's Day.  Though Valentine's day is miserable for some, I am fortunate enough to already have my Valentine's date picked out this year and for the rest to come with my best friend and husband, Mr. Mike.  This year for Valentine's day we already had made some plans at the Food Bank with some friends, so we had our "true" Valentine's day dinner a few day's in advance.  We met Sam and Whitney at Cafe Trio at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Mike thought we were headed for a Mexican restaurant, based on the name, so we were both a little surprised to find it was actually an Italian restaurant.  The food was respectable, however, the best part was the size of Mike's meatball.  It was practically as big as my hand, it was huge!

Although eating the man size meatball was enjoyable, we decided to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Rancherito's for the actual holiday.  Best Valentine's Day dinner yet! We did a quick dinner before and then headed down to the Food Bank to meet Scott and Meghann to sort some food and do a little service on this day of love.  We had been attending the Food Bank every couple weeks to every month for a little while now.  Scott and Meghann also volunteered there as well as Scott was looking to be a Fireman and so he needed some volunteer hours.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed working there and having an opportunity to serve.  However, we were not always the best at planning in advance and not surprisingly the only day they had left in February was Valentine's Day.  So we thought, what better way to spend the day of love than serving others?  Yup, we are that good.

No snow...Huge Snowman?

With hanging around town for the past few weeks, we needed to get out of the city and up into the mountains for a real winter adventure despite the bum winter season we had thus far. We decided to head up to Logan for the weekend.  Ryan and Kenzie were kind enough to let us stay with them and were also ready for some quality snow time.  Late Saturday morning Jon, Danny, and Haley joined the fun as well.  We had our snow shoes packed and were ready to hit the mountains.  Danny loves watching animals, so he suggested we head up Blacksmith Fork Canyon to do none other than see the elk at the Hardware Ranch.  We thought it seemed like a reasonable request and then we could also find a spot up the canyon to do some snow shoeing.
*Not Actual Snowman-Our's was way better!

After getting our feel for the elk, we decided it was time.  We found a nice pull off on Blacksmith Fork Canyon and started our winter hike.  We climbed up some big hills and walked around for a while.  Some of the boys starting rolling huge balls of snow.  Hence, we had no other choice than to make a giant snow man.  We built the largest snow man I have ever built.  Danny was using his cross fit moves to pump everybody up.  It took all of the boys strength to lift the different pieces of the snowman. Nevertheless, we were able to complete it.  By some estimates they say it was 8 feet high other estimates get as high as 10 feet.  Either way it was pretty awesome.  We added the arms, legs, nose and the whole works.  Yet it was the hair and mustache made of straw which really made our snowman unique.

We were feeling pretty satisfied with our snowman and even joked that hikers better beware as they came around the corner to find our great creation.  To celebrate we tried the famous Pizza Pie Cafe.  Ryan and Kenzie had a coupon for four of us for $20 -which included unlimited pizza, pasta, and salad.  Sounds like a deal that simply couldn't be passed up.  Needless to say, we stuffed our faces.  One of the best parts was the dessert pizzas- Oreo, Cookie Dough, and Cinnamon were all among the favorites.  We decided then and there we would be returning to Pizza Heaven.  We left filling full and satisfied as we made our little resources go a long way!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Everything's Super!

Since returning from Hawaii, I had been looking pretty heavily for new jobs.  I began reaching out to past contacts to see if they had any openings or if they knew of any where that was hiring.  Karmen from Solutionreach was excited I had called.  She said a business development position had opened up and she had thought of me for the job.  I was pumped and maybe a little bit too excited.  I was talking on the phone about it at Steven's Henager in the break room, I now know that was a terrible idea.  Word got back around to my supervisor and we had a little chat.  I told him upfront since I was put on my "Personal Improvement Plan" that I had been looking but didn't have anything set in stone at this point.  He was good about it but was baffled I would talk about it at work.  Point taken.  As it turns out, I didn't end up getting the business development position because I still did not have enough work experience.  However, they said they would love to look at me for a Customer Support position with the intent of working up.  I had held back in the past because it would have been a substantial pay decrease.  Although, by this time I was ready to consider the possibility but not before I tried a few other places.  I was also heavily considering SEO as a possibility.  Haley's sister, Stephanie, worked there and really enjoyed it and seemed to be doing well.  Things were finally starting to look good with the jobs. However,  Mike could tell I needed a little boost with the recent decline for the business development position.  He took me out for a night at the cinemas.  But before sitting down to see In Time- we went to Wendy's and bought our combo meals to sneak into the theater.  Nailed it.  In Time was an interesting plot where instead of being paid in money you were paid in time.  Hence, the wealthy lived much longer than the poor people.  It was a pretty good movie.

Sunday, February 5th, was the day many American's look forward to in anticipation.  You guessed it, Super Bowl Sunday.  We would also be celebrating Jon's birthday since it was the first Sunday of the month.  Mike and I were able to find a sweet toboggan sled for $3 at the D.I..  We brought it over to the house and had it sitting in the front room.  Our mistake.  The kids quickly found it and were all trying to ride it down the stairs.  It was pretty hilarious- but maybe not the safest thing.  Anyways, back to the Super bowl.  Mike and I are not too into watching football, yet it is still a good time with good food and funny advertisements.  In fact, at the Hill residence it is known as an "Advertising" party.  Although, some get pretty into the football.  We couldn't go completely unprepared so we did a little research that morning to find out which time was the underdog.  According to our quick study, we determined the Giant's were the underdog and hence our team of choice.  As it turns out, we selected well for they were crowned the champions.  It was pretty super!  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Missionary Moment!

 A few months back, the Skokos's had started teaching Talia.  She was about my age and had two kids, Jasmine, age five, and a little boy who was two.  The Skokos's met Talia because the kids dad, Kevin, was living in the ward boundaries and was also making an effort to come back to church.  They were dating at the time and trying to see if they could make it work between the two of them. The Skokos's wanted to help her feel more comfortable in the ward and have more friends, so they asked us if we could help.  It was a great missionary moment which fell into our lap.  Some time in January, Mike and I were able to go with the missionaries to join the lesson.  They asked me to teach her about tithing.  It is amazing how the Spirit can work on people and they are willing to change their lives for the gospel.  She had no hesitations paying tithing.  At this point, she had a baptism date already set for February 4th and you could tell she was ready.  She was willing to do anything the missionaries asked her to do, without any hesitations.  Crazy enough, her sister had also independently decided she was wanting to take the discussions as well and she too was going to be baptized.

On February 4th, the date had arrived to be baptized.  Mike was asked to give a talk on baptism.  He did well, as always. Talia entered the waters of baptism.  As her daughter would report in primary the next day her mom held Stephen's hand, she plugged her nose, and then came up and got in some new clothes.  Everybody laughed and thought it was so cute.  She is a funny and animated little girl.  It was a really neat experience to be a part of and we were able to make some new friends.  Later we went out to pizza with the Skokos's, Kevin, Talia, and they kids.  Kevin was trying to convince us to dine and dash.  We all just laughed.  Turns out he had already paid the tab without us knowing.  It was very thoughtful of him.  Later that night, we watched Crazy, Stupid, Love.  A little inappropriate but had some funny parts.  Nevertheless, the day as a whole was rather fulfilling and I'm not just talking about the pizza.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Eagles, Industries, and Skiing

January always seems like a slower month after the party month of December.  Although, it doesn't stop us from living it up.  After we got back from Hawaii we needed another adventure.  Danny and Haley live by part of the Great Salt Lake and are lucky to have eagles make their winter home in a nearby tree.  We decided we like eagles, so we should get together.  Fortunately, they liked the idea as well.  We headed up to their house for the weekend of the 17th and were able to see four or five different eagles.  Mike and Danny felt like exploring the territory, probably because of their Carhartt's and hiking boots, so we packed up Danny's new backpack he was trying out and headed out to a section of the Great Salt Lake. It was frozen over so obviously we had to run and slide across the ice on our feet, bellies, and knees.  We also wrote our names in the snow and walked around the surrounding area, which happened to be supplied with ample amounts of cattails.  On this day, I learned how fun cattails can actually be.  We, primarily Danny and Mike, spent lots of time throwing cattails at one another and watching them explode.  By the end we were covered in cattail seeds.  They remind me of exploding hot dogs, how could that not be fun?

The next weekend we were hoping to go skiing.  However, it was not a good time for skiing.  The snow was incredibly low and the weather was not looking like it would cooperate.  We decided we would wake up in the morning and see what the weather was looking like.  As it turns out, it was going to be really windy and was even supposed to rain which didn't sound too appealing, especially since we would only be able to go five times during the season.  We later found out it turned into 15 inches of snow, which wasn't very comforting. So instead of skiing we were now faced with a free Saturday.  We stopped by Mike's parents and decided we should check out some of the famous industries in our area, Ikea and Cabella's.  It would be my first time at both shops.  Both are brilliantly designed, although, I must admit, Cabella's isn't my cup of tea.  It is made for the hunters of the world and as I have never been hunting you can see the dilemma.  Nevertheless, it was worth seeing.  They have an aquarium with lots of big fishes and mannequins which seemed so inviting. Can you blame me?  We also went to Ikea as well.  Another brilliant design.  They know how to lock you in their store and keep you shopping.  Thus, it is not so convenient if you want to do a quick in and out. However, if you have the time you can find practically everything and anything you need to decorate your home.  After wearing ourselves out shopping, we were hungry and joined Ryan, McKenzie, Dusty, and Michelle for lunch at the Red Iguana, one of Ryan's favorite places too eat.  It was wet and cold outside so the employees were kind enough to bring out some hot cocoa, which may have even been a better surprise than the actual food.  Although, it wasn't too shabby we will never quite understand his love of the place.  McKenzie, his wife, doesn't quite get it either.

The next few weeks we were ready to go skiing, again.  Although, this time we were ready to brave anything as the snow was still very low.  The first weekend we hit the slopes their was a base of 68 inches.  Mike said it usually will have an average base of 41 feet!  The first weekend we were trying to get back into the ski mode.  I hadn't been out for a full day of skiing in a really long time.  Mike is a really good skier though and was very patient with me.  He can fly down those hills, figuratively speaking.  It didn't take him long to get back in the swing of things.  By midday we had worked up an appetite and took a lunch break in the lodge.  It was a good thing for me because we had gotten ski boots that were just a little bit small.  They were so tight they cut off the circulation of blood to my feet.  By the end of the day, my feet had had enough and pulling the boots off was incredibly painful, if we had been ice climbing we would have referred to it as the "screamy barfies".  Despite the boots, it was still a fun day on the slopes.  However, you better believe that Mike would make sure I had the proper gear for the next time.

Within the next week, we returned to Sport's Authority.  Unfortunately, the main staff was unwilling to work with us.  In fact, the guy helping us told us that some other boots were much better quality even though they had plastic buckles instead of metal buckles.  Some imagination he had.  Luckily, Mike's friend Katy worked at Sport's Authority and was much more helpful.  She did us a favor and was able to call around and get us connected with a pair one size bigger.  Bigger boots made the next go around was much more pleasant, even though the snow was even lower at 62 or 63 inches.  Mike and I went off boxes and even got some air.  It was my first time trying the boxes and I must say it was quite exhilarating. For Mike, it was like a walk in the park-though as always he still had a good time.  We hit the slopes again and again.  One time as I was waiting in line, I leaned a little too far against the railing, which was not secure, and in slow motion toppled onto the ground.  Here I am supposed to be an athlete and I fell while standing in a line, pretty embarrassing yet hilarious. Don't worry this wouldn't be my last attempt at the slopes we still had more skiing in store.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Paradise in January!

My parents Christmas gift this year was none other than a trip to Hawaii!  My dad had done some law work for a former neighbor, Mike Thompson, who just so happens to have a condo on Poipu Beach in Kauai.  Fortunately for us, he gave us a sweet deal so it made it all possible. We slept over at Mike's parents house the night before and Mark volunteered to take us to the airport bright and early.  Rumor has it he had to get us out of bed, which is debatable, but either way we were boarding the plane on New Years Eve day for the beautiful island of Kauai for a week in paradise.  We arrived late that night and were able to watch fireworks from our restaurant as it had no windows and was open to the nice ocean air.  Our waitress happened to have gone to school with Bethany Hamilton.  I don't think she was a big fan of all the attention Bethany Hamilton got because she said she should have known sharks were there because it was mating season.  To Bethany's defense a shark attack hadn't happened there in a really long time or even ever.  My dad being the wise crack he is, asked if she knew Carrie Underwood because of the movie Soul Surfer.

After dinner and fireworks, we found our new home for the week.  It was a nice big condo with three different bedrooms, a loft, a kitchen, and a living room.  We would be making most of our meals at the condo, after doing a Costco run, in order to save a little cash.  The condo had several different beaches within walking distance.  We spent lots of times in the waves- boogey boarding, body surfing, snorkeling, and even swimming with some big turtles right in the small beach by our condo.  At the other beach, just a five minute walk you could spot whales early in the morning just off the shore.  It was amazing to see so much wildlife in Kauai.  When speaking of wildlife in Kauai, you can't forget the chickens.  Chickens were everywhere.  One entrepreneurial spirit was wise enough to capitalize on the fact that chickens were all around the island.  He created a simple black t-shirt with an orange chicken on the back and the inscription underneath stating, "Stoopid Chikin."  It sounds simple, but he is racking in the cash at $28 bucks a shirt.

Two different beach experiences provided a scare in different ways.  One was caused by stupidity and the other was caused by fear of sharks.  Let's start with the stupidity.  We got away from Poipu beach and went to Shipwreck Beach on the other side of the island.  It had massive waves and was really pretty.  Mac and I were having a great time going out further and further in the surf.  Mike warned us to stay close so we don't get caught in the surf.  We were unwise and were having too much fun to listen to any cautionary advice.  As you can already tell where this story is going, we did exactly what we were warned not to do and got caught in the surf.  We were swimming and swimming but not getting anywhere.  Lucky for us, some surfers, which Mac happened to think were highly attractive, were out there who were a little more experienced.  They told us how to get  out of the surf safely by swimming at an angle.  Mike had told us so and we learned our lesson.  The second scare was with Michelle in the water.  She is not a fan of snorkeling around fishes.  It doesn't help either that she is terrified of sharks.  So after much convincing, Levi was finally able to get her to go snorkeling with him.  They were out in the water when an alarm starts to sound.  Panic arises in Michelle as she believes there is a shark in the water and she begins calling for Mike to help her- even though Levi was right by her side.  She claims Mike was taller and already at shore, we just think it is hilarious she wanted Mike to help out when Levi was right there.  As it turns out, they do a routine alarm once a month to make sure it is working.  It was just an unfortunate event that it happened to be as she was snorkeling.

One of our first days there we hiked the Napali Coast.  It was really cool.  My dad wimped out after about half a mile and said he was going to head back.  My mom volunteered to go with him as well while the rest of us got to see the cool stuff.  We hiked down to the beach area and Mike discovered a cave with one open end towards the beach and the other to the ocean.  To enter the cave, you had to climb in when the tide was low.  It was slightly dangerous because if a huge wave hit, we would be trapped inside this cave.  Luckily,  we didn't have to experience that misfortune and could just enjoy the cave.  Also on the hike was a cool waterfall where we were able to snap a few pictures.  The parents missed the best part of the hike, too bad for them!

Tennis was also a popular activity for the Swenson Clan.  They had some tennis courts right by our condo, however, you had to pay per hour.  The lady running the place also asked Michelle if she was 18 or older.  With those two strikes against them, we went elsewhere to find courts.  We were able to find two public courts, aka free tennis courts.  It also came with a homeless man that would sleep on the benches in the tennis dug out. The family, except maybe Mike, loved getting out and playing tennis together.  Mike couldn't understand why we would want to play tennis when there were beaches around.  Knowing Mike's love of the water, I can see his point.  However, we also liked mixing it up with doubles games, five misses, and ping pong style tennis where you take one hit and then pass the racket to your teammate behind you.  I played tennis in my Vans and still was able to come out victorious.  However, on the day we played a little 21 in basketball it was a different story.

Mike's favorite activity, which compensated for all of the tennis, was when we went surfing.   His surf book that we bought on our anniversary payed off royally.  He was surfing like a champ.  Mac and I were struggling a bit more but were at least able to get up.  Trying to catch a wave was exhausting.  Paddling out there took some energy, failed attempts to catch a wave took lots of energy, and then actual surfing or riding the wave in took little energy but was the most exciting part, not surprisingly.  I was getting a little frustrated because I was not excelling and kept failing time and time again.  I kept eating it in rocks and even have a scar on my left knee to prove it.  Mac and I can say we caught our own wave, but Mike did awesome and was finally able to fulfill all of his childhood dreams.

We also did the touristy things as well.  We drove around the island, tried some local taco stands, viewed the Spouting Horn, a blowhole, and went to the Grand Canyon of Kauai.  We drove the island and did the Grand Canyon on the last day so we didn't have to get dirty for the airplane.  It was pretty to see the Grand Canyon and fun to see the island.  We had a fabulous trip and grew to love Hawaii even more.  We spoke to a lifeguard on one of the beaches. She was heading up to Utah to go to Snow Basin and hit the slopes.  I guess everybody's Paradise is different, but Hawaii definitely isn't a bad choice!