Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Eight Years and Counting!

Eight years ago Kyle and I started down this journey into marriage together. Eight years ago we were such babies! I laugh to think we were just 22 years old. At the time 22 felt so old and grown up. And I was ready to start the next adventure in my life. Now I think back and wow, that really wasn't all that old. To be 22 and make such an important decision! But I did it right. I was ready and I knew exactly who wanted to share my life with.

The even crazier thought is that Kyle and I met when we were just 14. That is 16 years ago! By the time we were married we had already known each other for 8 years. I think that really helped make my decision easy. Plus, I really couldn't keep away from him, nor stop thinking about him, or talking about him...

We would stay up late talking and laughing. Sometimes we still do. Most of the time these days I'm asleep on the couch by 9 pm and Kyle is left watching TV or a movie alone. Totally lame. But my eyes honestly refuse to stay open! Part of the price of pregnancy I guess. Though I can't completely blame just pregnancy, pregnant or not I still fall asleep through my fair share of movies. It's just extra bad while my body works to grow a baby.

But seriously, Kyle is fantastic. He works hard for our family, both at work and at home. He does so many things for me, I've found myself becoming helpless. The tire on our double stroller has had a flat for a few months. Neither of us have fixed it. I mentioned it to Kyle and he nicely reminded me that I know how to patch a tube. Sigh... yes, I guess I can fix it myself. But Kyle is just so handy! :)

Eight years has brought on so many new experiences for us. Kyle spent four of those years in school at BYU. We spent one summer exploring Texas. We have two little girls and another on the way. When Kyle started his first full-time job, we started that together. We bought a house together. We do everything together. And that is exactly how I want it to be.

I've mentioned it before, but Kyle really is a perfect match to my personality. We have always had similar likes and interests. At our house he is fun and I am business. There have been numerous times when we have gone to text or call each other at the same time about the same thing- this happened just this past Friday. Our brainwaves must have been in-sync. There usually isn't much debate over what movie we should watch, (unless it involves aliens or is Jurassic Park, I usually veto those pretty heavily.) We can have fun doing most anything together, and I think that is most important.

Thanks Kyle for a fantastic eight years! Here's to an awesome eight-plus more! I love you and am so glad you're mine!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thoughts on Motherhood

Let's be honest here, motherhood is one of the toughest challenges I have ever taken on. 


I am not lovey-dovey. I am not a giver of soft and squishy hugs. I don't delight in tickles or playing dolls. Though I do I love my girls and try my hardest to show it. Usually it is expressed in the form of food; we enjoy a treat, or spend some time baking together. Often times it is spent on the couch reading books. Other times it is shown through an outing; a trip to the park, or an afternoon at Lagoon. 

Being a mother is no walk in the park. Somedays I hit a home run and feel like I am on top of the world, bursting with joy and happiness! A good many days I feel like I've been gifted a walk on base and coast through the day, nothing extra special about it other than the fact that we survived it. And then there are those days that I feel like I have completely struck out, sometimes swinging my heart out with no chance of connecting that day, heading dejectedly back to the dug out awaiting my chance to redeem myself.

Many days I feel like I'm not cut out for this motherhood gig. I know as part of being a woman it is what I was created for. But I certainly don't always feel that I, personally, was intended for motherhood- or at least not for it to wear naturally on me. Motherhood is my challenge and struggle. 

As a teenager I hated babysitting. I never wanted to hold someone else's baby. I still am perfectly happy looking and smiling, but not touching or interacting. I didn't grow up dreaming of being a mother. Of course I thought about it, and always had a list of names I liked in the back of my mind. But never was motherhood my number one aspiration. I went to college to study and get a degree. And I did it. I found myself unable to pull myself away from Kyle, so marry him I did. (And I'm still so happy I did!) Then naturally, as time wore on it became time to start a family. So we did. And I worried before that first baby was born if I would be able to love her and care for her. What if those mothering instincts that I had yet to experience didn't surface? I do not have a naturally mothering soul. 

Luckily when Hailey was born all was right in the world. Something hit me and I found myself capable of loving a baby, enjoying her company. Though I really had no idea what I was doing. I hadn't ever held a newborn before, and suddenly there I was with one in my arms, mine to care for and raise. Never had anyone relied so heavily upon me for everything. I remember thinking how odd, yet how fantastic it felt to have someone so desperately need me.

And now here I am, 5 1/2 years later, with a second little girl to care for and just two months away from welcoming a third little girl to our family. Some days I am overcome with joy for my chance to love them, and teach them, and grow up with them. Other days I am overcome with terror and worry about whether I am teaching them what they need to learn, or whether I am setting them up for future scarring and failure. They are so malleable right now, am I really using that to my advantage? Or when they hit those teenage years are they going to turn their backs on me, because I didn't prepare them well enough, or love them enough while they are young?

So often my patience wears thin, and I can see the hurt in Hailey's eyes. Sometimes she is hesitant to tell me something or ask for something, afraid of my reaction. I tend to be an uptight parent. I want the best for my children, yet it most often comes out in the form of the word "NO". Why can't I relax a little bit? Because I want to protect them and shield them. But now I see Hailey growing up and becoming so much more independent. It's hard not to do everything for her, and make all of her choices for her. It even comes down to small silly things, like giving her the opportunity to help me and allowing her to show her independence by filling up our water cups when we stop for pizza at Costco. She can do so much, if I would just let her.

I just can't let go... Me, the girl who avoided small children and babies at all costs. I have found myself struggling to give way, even just a little bit, to my babies. I guess that's natural. Maybe there is some sort of natural mommy-ness ingrained in me. Or maybe it is an overwhelming amount of love, that I haven't yet figured out how to properly express.

I struggle with receiving compliments about how I am doing as a mother. It's because I know I can do better. I know I should do better. But it's hard. And so important. Which leads me to worry and stress, because I know there are too many areas I am struggling in.

In the end though, I know this is where I belong. Off and on I have considered looking for work to supplement the income Kyle makes. I haven't ever acted upon it, because I can't drag myself away from my girls. One day, a month or two ago, after going through a bit of a rough patch financially, I sat on the couch, cuddled up with Hailey reading a book. Clear out of the blue I had the the strongest confirmation that I am right where I need to be. Right now I need to be home with my children. I need to be a mother. I need to be there for them. I am where I should be. I struggle. It's hard. But this is where I belong. Being a mother is where I belong. 

Motherhood is me.

That is something I never thought I'd say. Though this may be true, it isn't all smiles and art projects at our house. In fact, a lot of the creating and bonding I've spent so much time doing in the past has been set aside. Life is a terribly hard balance of so many good and important things. And I've found myself stuck in the middle, unsure of how to manage it all, without overloading myself. But I guess we're doing ok, as long as my girls are clothed, fed, and loved, right?

I had no intention of writing a post reflecting on motherhood so close to Mother's Day, but I've had so many thoughts swirling around in my brain the past couple of months it was time to release them. 

As a side note, do you know how hard it is to get a good picture with a self-timer? Sheesh. Especially if I have to pull my pregnant belly on and off of the bed repeatedly to see if we even captured anything worthwhile. Someday I need to invest in one of those remotes for the camera, then at least I could snap the picture right when I want it, instead of trying to quickly stage it.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fishing at Farmington Pond

This past weekend the weather was absolutely perfect. The sun was out, the sky was blue, but it was just cool enough that you didn't sweat. It was the best set up for some birthday fishing with Uncle Cody.

Cody chose to celebrate his birthday with some fishing, and invited the lot of us to tag along. I actually had no intention of going at first. Kyle was going to take Hailey and I was going to stay home with Keira. Keira really didn't want to be left behind and was begging to go fishing too. So, we took two cars, just in case. Turns out that girl had a blast. I'm so glad we went.

We stayed close to home and spent the afternoon at Farmington Pond, seriously a 5 minute drive from home. How awesome is that? 

Hailey was excited to get out for her second go at fishing. She said she was going to watch her bobber carefully this time. She may have done so at first, but I don't think it took too long until she was more interested in being sure to reload herself with another handful of goldfish crackers. I don't blame her, it isn't too exciting when there isn't much happening, especially when you are 5.

Since Keira and I arrived in a second car, a little later than everyone else, I was told that upon arrival Hailey informed everyone, "Hey guys, make sure you don't eat the worms. They aren't the candy ones." :)

My job was to follow this little lady all over the place. I trailed along while she explored the shore, said hi to the geese and ducks (while steering her away from attempting to pet them), and tramped through the brush.

On our walking Keira found herself a nice long stick which she turned into her own fishing pole. Clever girl. 

At first the fish were slow to bite, until we switched spots. Then it was a bit of a feast for the fishies. Cody caught the first fish and was gracious enough to let Hailey help reel it in. And then the fish kept coming. 

Keira helped Kyle reel in one of his 5 fish he caught (and released). Keira even touched the fish when they were pulled out of the water. She gave them a nice quick slap with her finger and then ran to me pointing her finger at me saying "yucky" and asking for a wipe to clean it off. 

Despite our hesitance at bringing Keira along, she ended up having a blast. Hailey too. All of us in fact. I think we need to do more of this fishing business. It was so fantastic to get outside and enjoy nature.

BTW, birthday boy Cody won the prize for the most caught fish at 6, with Kyle at 5, Brittany at 4, and Chelsie with 1 (who so kindly let Brittany use her pole, otherwise I'm sure she would have caught more.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015


The main purpose of this blog is a way for me to journal about our family. I am terrible at keeping a written journal, but feel perfectly at home typing away at the keyboard. The second purpose is to share updates on what's going on with our family with friends and family who live far away. 

In November Kyle and I finally hopped on the smartphone bandwagon. It really has become more difficult to avoid, companies are really pushing everyone to go down that road. It isn't a bad road, just terribly distracting and addicting. But also convenient and fun. There are always two sides to a coin, right? Anyway... since I now have a camera at my nearly constant fingertips, I have been posting more pictures of everyday things on Instagram. I figure those pictures deserve a place in our family's journal. Plus I'd like to share them with others who don't occupy themselves on Instagram. 

So... I'm introducing a new post topic. The InstaDump. 

Here are the latest pictures I've posted along with their captions:
I appologize for anyone who may follow me on Instagram (@renaeganell and @hillmade_blog), there isn't anything new to see. :) 

2 January
Hailey is busy writing and illustrating a book. She says it's "for the children". Look for "The Lonely Puppy" soon to be in bookstores everywhere. Or so she thinks. I love the enthusiasm!

Keira couldn't be left out of picture taking. "Mommy, I cheese!"

5 January
I walked into my bathroom this morning to find a pair of earrings pulled out and waiting for me on the counter. Hailey has taken on the responsibility of making sure I wear earrings everyday. She constantly reminds me to put them in and is very pleased when she pulls back my hair to discover earrings adorning my lobes. She seems to be living through me. She has yet to ask to have her own ears pierced, thankfully. The sight of these two earrings just made my morning. :)

6 January
Hailey is really taking on some independence these days. She is all about preparing her own breakfast and lunch. Each morning she heads for the kitchen and grabs an orange and yogurt for each her and Keira. She loves to prepare her own sandwiches for lunch. I'm all for it. Maybe no the mess... But practice makes perfect, right?

3 February
Looks like we're going to the bookstore tonight to pick out a new picture book. This girl finished her reading chart today. So proud of her! It took a few months, but she did it. 

4 February
 Quiet time activity today: Valentine's Day heart painting.

6 February
Impromptu free crafting this afternoon. Hailey wanted to do a craft, I didn't have any spur of the moment ideas (or desire) so I just gave them supplies and let them at it. Blossoming creativity at work.

9 February
One of the best parts of a holiday: the excuse to bake treats! Valentine's Day cookies making this afternoon.

11 February
Nothing says love like a heart shaped pizza. We're enjoying these babies for lunch. Keira jumped up and down shouting "Yay pizza!" over and over for the whole time I spent making them. And now she's quiet because she's busy eating. I think they're a hit.

13 February

I'm working on Valentine's Day pajamas this afternoon. Christmas pajamas didn't happen, nothing wrong with finishing a couple months later, right?

 Hailey is busy "sewing" along with me. I love that she wants to get in on it too.

21 February
We put the girls to work this morning. Hailey made pancakes for the girls for breakfast. She did all the work, besides the flipping.

While Hailey cooked breakfast Keira vacuumed the living room. I could get used to this... if only they didn't need supervision!

3 March

We had an impromptu birthday party for Hailey's imaginary friend Leo today. Cupcakes at 10:30 am? Why not!? No frosting in the house=Nutella to the rescue!

4 March

 I tried my hand at making bagels this morning. They may be ugly, but they're still bagels.

10 March
There is more of this mess scattered in every room of the house at the moment. Today it doesn't bother me because 1. I am lacking the energy to care and most importantly 2. It is proof of my girls playing together and having fun. After lunch Hailey was already busy playing in the disaster zone. After finishing eating Keira hopped down from the table and said "I play Hailey". From there it was two sisters happily playing together, until I sent Keira off for a nap. Do I clean it? Not right now, I'm going to relax in front of some books with Hailey instead. then off to the park to play when Keira gets up. Today I don't care. Now tomorrow... that is likely another story.

13 March
I came downstairs after taking a quick shower and getting dressed to find Hailey right where I left her, but no sign of Keira. I asked where Keira was and received a muffled "right here". I looked around and still didn't see her. As I came into the kitchen and peered around the pantry door I saw this sight: a mouthful of craisins, quickly trying to close the package. This girl! Seriously. I moved all the snacks to the bottom shelf in an attempt to keep little people from standing on stools to reach the food. Now she pulls one up and makes herself at home to a buffet!

14 March
Hope you enjoyed some pie today! Pi Day is a favorite holiday of mine. Any excuse to make a pie. I may or may not have made three plus some pizza pie. I of course included my favorite pie, pineapple sour cream. Don't be scared off by the name. It's awesome stuff.

17 March
Shamrock pretzels for St. Patty's Day! I thought pretzels sounded good and Hailey had the genius idea of shaping them into shamrocks. Admittedly I found the whole idea super fun and loved rolling them out. Both girls loved playing with the dough, pretty sure Keira thought it was PlayDoh.

19 March
 Where's Keira?

Future scientist Hailey gave us a lesson on density she learned from a video she checked out from the library. The glass on the right is plain water, the egg sinks. The glass on the left is salt water, the egg floats! I'm glad she's at least learning something when she's sitting in front of the TV. :)

24 March
 When the 2-year-old lays down all on her own to read a book, while the 5-year-old runs all over, something must be up. Guess we're hanging at home today. The grocery store can wait.

25 March
 Play Doh is one of the best toys ever. Ever, ever. Keira asked me earlier to play and I said she could in a little bit. She walked around the table singing about Play Doh. And now she is in heaven. Especially since Hailey is occupied and she gets the whole lot of it to herself. Yay Play Doh!

27 March
This girl has been begging me to teach her to sew. Constantly asking. I finally got myself together and we sat down to sew up a pencil skirt. It was so easy peasy, even the 5 year old could do it. With lots of help of course. Though she did get distracted easily. After we sewed the first seam she was happy until I told her we had two more to go. What!? Yes... Sewing takes a bit of work. Lessons to learn, right?

The finished skirt. She is ecstatic. I think we need to sew a few more of these. If she won't do it, I might just take the task upon myself. The skirt turns out so cute and is so quick to put together. Why not whip out a few more!?

4 April
Yay for Lagoon this morning! I hung out with this girl while Kyle ran from one roller coaster to another with Hailey. Kyle's dream is coming true, Hailey is big enough to share in some of the larger roller coasters with him this year. They both had a blast. Me... I got a little dizzy on the carousel. Sorry Keira, hanging out with the pregnant lady isn't as much fun.

10 April
Happy Friday! Today was an I-have-to-get-out-of-the-house-or-we're-all-going-to-go-crazy kind of day. Which of course necessitated ice cream cones. Please tell me I'm not the only person to attempt to make up for bad mothering with treats? On the plus side it makes me feel better too. Ice cream is good for the soul.

18 April
Fishing at Farmington Pond today. It was perfect weather. Felt so nice to get out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


As is life, things are going on around here. Here's a little bit of the noteworthy as of lately:

Hailey completed her reading chart!

Hailey has always loved books and had a knack for remembering and quick to learn. After she mastered all of the letter sounds I began teaching her a few sight words last spring. This past fall we began pushing reading a bit more and she has taken off! Honestly, I think a lot has to do with the computer program she uses everyday. The UPSTART program is provided to us from the State of Utah, free for any child the year before they enter kindergarten. She has learned so many words from doing this program since August. I'm proud and excited for her!

To help encourage her to read outside of the program I made a reading chart for her. The goal was to reach 100 total points and then we'd head to the bookstore and pick out a new picture book for us to read together. I gave her points based on the difficulty of the book. Simple two word sentence books earned her 1 point. Books with longer length and more complex sentences earned her 3 points. As she improved in her reading I phased out the 1 point books because they became too simple. It was no easy task, it took her a few months to finish the chart. We didn't read everyday, sometimes she'd read a couple books in a day, and then it'd be a week or so before we pick up another. We weren't consistent, but at least we were doing it. When she was 9 books away from finishing she pushed through and read 5 in one day and 4 in another!

Keira is potty trained!

Potty training Hailey was what nearly swore me off of having any other children. Really, it was my own doing, she just wasn't ready when I was. When Keira started showing signs of readiness before she turned two I was worried and not prepared to start. I really, really was hoping to wait until she was older and make it easier on all of us. Turns out Keira took matters in her own hands and made it easy on us. Afraid of losing my window of opportunity, I decided to start potty training the first of February. We picked a weekend and just went for it, straight to undies, no pull ups, and a lot of trips to the bathroom. Once that girl went in the potty it was relatively smooth sailing from there. She caught on quickly and began to go immediately after she sat on the potty, every time. There were still plenty of accidents, we flew through underwear those first few weeks. Now a month later I've gotten brave enough to take her out in public sporting her undies. She is doing awesome, and I feel like I haven't done anything to help it along. Honestly, I kind of slacked off for a little while and some days she ended up in a diaper most of the day, but she still kept it dry. Last week she started waking up in the morning completely dry. I'm shocked! Unfortunately she's waking up at 6:30 instead of 7:30, I think from a full bladder. That I'm no fan of... but to have my 2 year old potty trained, I'm a HUGE fan of. Just in time to stock up on baby diapers. :)

The Hill (big) girls went to a fashion show

Kyle's sister Brittany is tall and skinny, and of course beautiful. She has modeled in a few fashion shows put on in Provo, just for fun. She was asked to do it a couple years back and has done it twice a year since. Rara Hill drove down and all the grown up Hill girls went to the show to support Brittany. 

I always enjoy the fashion shows. It's just fun. I'm not one for fashion, not at all. But I love going and seeing the designs local designers have come up with. For this show Brittany sported a long sleeved spandex wedding dress. Of course it looked fantastic on her!

Pictures courtesy of Chelsie. :)

Kyle went rabbit hunting

One funny thing about me and Kyle's families is that both of our sisters married hunters. Neither of our families are into hunting, though Kyle's is much more firearms friendly and enjoy the occasional shooting outing. It is funny how hunting has slowly crept it's way into our lives. 

Corinne and Taylor used the rabbits they caught as bait for coyotes. They set them out in front of Taylor's trail camera in hopes of spotting coyote activity. Instead eagles have been snatching them away. I stole this awesome picture they captured on the trail camera from Corinne's facebook. :)

Kyle was invited to go rabbit hunting with my sister and her husband. Kyle invited his brother-in-law. The boys were so excited about going. I was excited for Kyle to go. It's good for him to get out and do something he enjoys every now and again. While the Hill girls were away at Brittany's fashion show, the boys (and Corinne) went out looking for rabbits. We were sent the picture of Kyle with the caption, "For the fashion show." Ha! They only nabbed a few rabbits, but I'm pretty positive they still had a blast.

Jaden's archery tournament

Kyle has some cool cousins who are each busy with their own sport. These cousins live in Colorado and are busier than ever. Seriously, I don't know how they all manage it. Aunt Jen is busy with rabbit shows (they have 40+ rabbits at their house, they show some and breed some. Each of the girls have at sometime shown rabbits in shows), Jenna is a swimmer and working at the local rec center, Jill plays competitive softball and travels for tournaments (she was just in Las Vegas and will be in Park City this summer), Jaden is busy with archery and competes mostly in Colorado, but recently made the trip to Utah to compete in Salt Lake City. 

The Saturday/Sunday portion of the tournament was a national tournament. Such a funny sight to see her shooting next to grown men! (Thank you to Brittany for the picture!)

We were so lucky to have Jaden come compete in our area! Andrew and Jaden stayed the weekend with us and it was awesome. Jaden's tournament was 3 days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Kyle made it to all three days to cheer Jaden on. We took the whole family Friday evening to watch her compete. We were shocked at how many kids were there competing, it was so fun to watch! Keira wasn't so into it, archery isn't the most fast paced sport to watch. I ended up taking the girls home early and stayed behind Saturday with Keira while Kyle took Hailey to watch some more.

The critter in the fireplace stove pipe

Two Sundays ago while laying down for a nap in the afternoon we heard scratching noises coming from the chimney/fireplace. Upon inspection, Kyle determined there was something trapped in the stove pipe of our wood burning fireplace. I was a little bit panicky... we had no idea what is was, a mouse, a rat, a bird... (Luckily we were positive it wasn't a raccoon. :) Whatever it was, it had to come out. This is what really made me nervous, figuring out how to pull off the stove pipe, while still keeping the critter contained and not letting it loose in our house. Luckily the stove pipe came off super easily, easily enough we could pull it just slightly loose, just enough to slide layers of saran wrap over both ends of it. Then we had the dilemma of where to release the beast. We didn't want it in our yard and were afraid of letting it loose out front and having it run right back into the house. So... all 4 of us went for a nice Sunday afternoon walk to the field behind our house. We put the stovepipe in the back of the stroller and walked it around the block. When we took the saran wrap off of one end both Kyle and I were expecting some sort of rodent to scurry out. Instead a starling flew out and away! I am sooo glad it was a bird, otherwise we would have the problem of figuring out how the creature got in, in the first place, and how to keep them out again. It wasn't as bad as we had feared, and put a little excitement into our calm Sunday afternoon.

Kyle took Hailey fishing for the first time

Two Saturdays ago Kyle took Hailey fishing for the first time. Kyle's coworker was taking his boys and invited Kyle to come along. While Keira and I ran errands, Kyle and Hailey relaxed by the pond. I say they relaxed, but I'm not so sure it really was all that relaxing. Hailey became bored after a while and quit watching her bobber. Apparently she missed out on some fish a couple of times. They didn't catch any fish, maybe next time. She may have complained of boredom, but after they left she said she wanted to go again. Kyle is totally down with that, hopefully they'll get out again this summer. 

Kyle said on the way out to the pond Hailey brought up the point that they forgot a bag to put the fish in. Seems Hailey had the idea they would be bringing home a new pet. When Kyle explained that the only reason they would bring home the fish was to eat it. Hailey thought about it, then said, "I could do that." She may be the only one... we aren't much of fish eaters around here.

We celebrated Pi Day with Pie

Pi Day is a favorite holiday of mine. It may not be a standard calendar holiday, but it should be. A day with the perfectly good excuse to make and enjoy pie! Really, I only make pie twice a year, for Pi Day and for Thanksgiving. We deserve to have pie twice a year, right?

This year we invited our friends the Burgins over to celebrate with us. We made some pizza pie (pepperoni and BBQ chicken) and then enjoyed some dessert pie after we digested a bit. There were only eight of us total, but I made three pies. A bit overkill? No! Never... Ok... maybe, we still have pie in the fridge. But, I always make my favorite pie, pineapple sour cream. Kyle's family traditionally enjoys chocolate pudding pie, and Kyle also requested cheesecake, which really isn't pie, but it's in a pie pan, so I'll count it. It's hard to decide on just one pie, so why not three? 


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