Sunday, September 28, 2008


Ok so crazy Jodi tagged me on her blog so I guess I'll keep this thing going.. sort of. I'm supposed to share 7 random and/or weird facts about myself. So here we go!
1. I am deathly afraid of clowns. They scare the crap out of me and I blame my Mom. Who the hell lets their kid watch It anyway?!
2. I love to cook. I know - who'd have thought, huh?! Lately I've been doing a lot of it though and I think (Doug's rave reviews usually confirm it) that I'm getting pretty good at it!

3. I have 3 best friends. I know on my last post I spoke of Crystal and she is one of them. The other two are Meda and Sodavy. Believe it or not, we've all been very close since high school. Not talk on the phone every day kind of close, but we try to get together regularly and they each know more about me than anyone else. I wouldn't have it any other way. How many people can seriously say they're still best friends with anyone from high school?!

4. I am agnostic/atheist. Leaning towards the first, but as a teenager I was adamantly atheist. Sorry if it pisses some of you off but if it does, you're not my true friend anyway. If you ever want to ask me about it, feel free but don't expect a debate because I'm not going to defend myself to anyone! I get that enough from certain people.. GRR!

5. I'm BLUNT. If you didn't already notice. And opinionated. Although being married to Doug (and thus his family) has taught me great patience and tolerance in my age. I've learned to pick my battles (sort of..) and bite my tongue when before I would lay into people on exactly what I think of them. Unless someone is a close friend or family, I generally don't care what people think of me.

6. I am a history nerd. If in doubt, read my post on seeing the Declaration of Independence here. I took AP American History and AP European History in high school by choice. If that doesn't scream nerd I don't know what does! Although part of it could be attributed to the crush I had on the Euro teacher.. hmm...

7. I love being a Mom. Anyone who has known me for at least 10 years pick up your jaw right this second! When I was a teenager I swore up and down I wasn't getting married until at least 30 (ahem, married at 19!) and I was definitely never having kids. They just weren't my thing. They're loud, stinky, they don't listen, etc, etc. It took him five years to convince me that maybe I might kinda want one after all, but I am SO glad I listened. Tyson is the best thing to ever happen to me and I wouldn't trade him for the world. And for the record, all those things still annoy the hell out of me but somehow I am slightly more patient with them. Now it's more the stupid parents that irritate me!

So now I tag 7 (or so) people and then I will stalk your blogs and learn random things about you. I tag: Brittany, Lonna, Chelsea, Tom, Christy and Missy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friends Are The Family You Choose

I have an awesome best friend. Her name is Crystal. Seriously, I couldn't ask for a better friend. We met in junior high in 8th grade, but we weren't friends right away. We didn't actually start to get to know each other very well until 9th grade when we were both on the school yearbook staff. She had another best friend at the time (let's call her "Yesth they hate me" - an inside joke and a loooong story), who coincidentally did NOT like me. Crystal and I hit it off though, and when we both ended up on our high school yearbook staff together, we quickly became friends (YTHM faded away and ended up with a very LDS crowd - probably best for her, really - anyway, I digress). We both had a passion for photography, sports, and doing well at school. Crystal was Valedictorian of Hunter High, I was Sterling Scholar in Social Science. We shared the title of Co-Editors in Chief of our school yearbook and had a blast our senior year. I look back at high school with fond memories and no regrets. We both went on to attend the University of Utah and were each other's support system while we each worked on our Bachelor's degrees. I count being blessed with her friendship and support over the years as one of the best things that has happened to me.

At a friend's wedding

She has been there for me through the darkest days of my life and always proves herself a true friend. I know that if I ever needed anything, she would move heaven and earth to help me. We've been through a lot together.. She was in my wedding, I was in her wedding, you get the idea. She's pretty much like a sister to me.

Our 5 year high school reunion.. Go Hunter!
New Year's Eve 2003 - Always the goofballs!
Crystal & Eric's wedding
When I found out I was pregnant, Crystal was the first person I called to tell. I asked her straight away if she would be there with me when Tyson was born. I needed her there. Not only because she is an RN, but because she is my family. She was there with me through the whole labor and wept with me as Tyson came into the world. What a cherished memory.

Tyson and Auntie Crystal

Tyson and Uncle Eric

Tyson's favorite past time - reading, of course!

Crystal and Eric had been trying to get pregnant for about 6 months when I finally got the anticipated call... they were expecting! Doug and I were so excited for them. I was even more excited because she asked me to be there with her when their baby was born. I felt so privileged to be invited to such a special event. I waited (not so patiently I'm afraid) and waited and on Thursday, September 11 Crystal called... her water had broken! I rushed over to the hospital and spent all night with her, along with Eric and her family.

Let me just say that Crystal is one of the strongest people I know. Having been at mine and seen what I went through, she had high hopes that hers would be just as smooth. Unfortunately, her epidural didn't seem to work as well and she experienced quite a bit of pain throughout the entire labor. Despite all that, she never gave up and hardly complained at all. I am so proud of her for being brave and so strong. She did an awesome job and at 4:17 AM on September 12, little Jesse Gordon Hill came into the world. I cried with her as we realized that he was here. He is beautiful and is a perfect combination of everything that is wonderful in both Crystal and Eric.
Hi Mom! I'm here!

Handsome boy!!

The Hill family

Jesse and his proud Auntie Michelle

Congratulations Crystal and Eric on the new addition to your family. I look forward to many more years and memories with you guys!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Little Slice of Heaven

This summer we decided that we were due for a visit to Yellowstone. Neither Doug or I had ever been there, which when considering our love for wildlife, photography and nature is practically a SIN! So last weekend we loaded the Subaru up and took off for Yellowstone. These are some of the photos from our trip. I'll share tidbits of our journey with each photo.

On our drive in to the park on the first day, we encountered a few female elk and their babies. We were able to get a great up close view.. what a way to start our adventure!

Our next encounter was a couple of male buffalo taking dust baths. This one took offense to the Toyota Camry in front of us and decided to charge the guy's car. The Japanese sure know how to give those Camry's get up and go though, because he hit the gas and was off like a bat outta hell!

While driving through Hayden Valley, we saw a bunch of cars pulled off to the side of the road. All we could see was a couple of silly bison though, and when you've seen a couple already (charging Camry's no less!) what's two more? Then we drove over the hill and understood. There were A LOT of bison grazing. Close to a hundred I would bet. Very cool.

And of course while we were driving around we had to stop at all of the geysers, hot springs and paint pots. Tyson loved goofing around and being a ham. And of course he was curious about these steaming lakes of water.

Driving up to Tower Falls, we again, saw a bunch of cars pulled off the side of the road. And a RANGER. This surely screamed something major! We got out and were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of this young (probably about 2) black bear. What a treat!

When we made it to Tower Falls, we were amazed by the beauty of the waterfall. Almost as cool as Multnomah Falls in Oregon, but not quite. We took off on a trail hoping to get down to the base of the falls for a closer view but the trail had been washed out and was closed.

Of course we had to visit Old Faithful. You can't visit YNP without seeing it go off! While we were waiting for the show to begin, this cute little girl (about 3?) took a shining to Tyson. She shyly came over and touched his shoulder. Then she leaned over, grabbed his face with both of her hands and planted one on him! I never laughed so hard in my life. That's right, my son is going to be a ladies man. Ahem. Shortly after the kiss came the lecture about how he's not allowed to date until he's 30.

Doug was so hoping to see a bull elk and was rewarded on our way back to the hotel when he spotted this handsome stud. Nice rack, buddy!

On our second day in the park, we again saw a ranger directing traffic and a crowd so we pulled off to see what we'd come across this time. Score! A very large bull moose! What luck! I've only ever seen cow moose and a baby one.

Also on our second day, we went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It is a sort of non-profit refuge that is home to 8 grizzlies and a pack of four wolves. All were either orphaned or nuisance animals that would have otherwise been shot. I was very impressed with the way they run the facility (they're even AZA accredited!) and the animals seemed much more content than the typical zoo.

This is Sam. He's their largest grizzly, weighing in at 970 lbs. Yikes. What a beautiful bear though.

This is one of the wolves in the pack. It's a hard life.

It was interesting to see the wolves behave very similar to the way a real pack would in the wild at feeding time. This is the Alpha female letting the Beta female know that she is boss and will wait for her to say it's ok for the Beta to eat. Amazing to see the interactions!

Tyson riding the wooden bear in front of the refuge.

We took part of the day and drove up to Mammoth Hot Springs and had to visit the Boiling River (thanks for the recommend Kevin & Teresa!). It was awesome! It's where a natural hot springs (131 degrees F!) meets with the Gardner River and creates a bath-like river. Tyson obviously loved it. He cried when we had to leave.

Our third and last day in the park, we got up at 5 AM (we're such horrible parents, I know!) to get to Hayden Valley by about 7 to see if we could spot any large animals that typically only come out after sunrise (such as WOLVES and GRIZZLIES!). We weren't so lucky. I did see a coyote though. He seemed kind of pissed that I spotted him on the hunt for some cranes. Tough nookie!
I have to take a moment to share the fact that we were clearly in the car A LOT this last weekend so Tyson was napping on the fly. The poor kid was so tired on this occasion, he was still asleep when Doug pulled him out of the car seat. Oh well, we had so much more to see!

Yellowstone Lake

Tyson found some puddles at the marina and delighted in splashing about in them.

On our way through Lamar Valley, we again, spotted TONS of cars pulled off of the road. I jumped out to ask someone because I couldn't see anything remotely interesting. That's when this guy said there was a pack of wolves out playing on the riverside. Wolves!! Next to dolphins, my favorite animal EVER! We were able to get this photo with our 300 mm zoom lens - that's how far away they were! Nevertheless I was tickled pink at the rare opportunity to witness wolves in Yellowstone. I never thought I'd see the day. I can die happy.

This is the view of the mountains along the Beartooth. Shrouded in mist and fog, they were beautiful and make me want to live there. Oh. Until we got to Cooke City and saw that gas was $4.70 a gallon. Hmm. I suppose heaven does have a price... Anyway, thanks for letting me share our awesome adventure!!