The Negotiator

Sam is really quite the negotiator, always trying to make deals with us to get what he wants. Sometimes it works, and he does something we want and gets something in return. And then there are those times that the conversations go in an unsettling direction:

Me: "You need to eat your yogurt, and then you can have fruit snacks."

Sam: "I won't eat the yogurt until I have my fruit snacks."

Me: "How about I just put you in time out until you have the yogurt?"

Sam: "Well, I'll put you in a house that's on fire!"

Knit Picking

Sweaters are strange things. If you go to a department store in the winter, they are everywhere. But if you look at everyone on the street, the proportion of people wearing one is much smaller. I imagine we all have several sweaters that maybe get worn once a year, but we keep giving and receiving them. Where do they all go? Are they just stuffing the dresser drawers of the world?

Those were my thoughts as I stood in line to exchange a sweater vest I got for Christmas. And I had a lot of time to consider the subject, as the woman in front of me exchanged several sweaters for different sweaters, which all had to be their own transaction for some reason. I guess the bottom line is, if you were an alien and wanted to take over the earth, you could do worse than somehow finding a way to involve the sweaters of the world.

A Hiller Christmas

We were actually going to print and mail a Christmas letter this year, but laziness won out once again. So here it is for your enjoyment.

Season’s greetings to friends, family, and court-appointed investigators! To celebrate the holiday season, rather than as part of any rumored plea bargain, we decided it’s high time we inflict an annual Christmas letter on our loved ones. After all, we enjoy hearing from so many of you every year, and we rejoice in your not-at-all-suspicious good fortune, attractiveness, and ever-increasing accumulation of worldly wealth.

This year has been an eventful one for the Hillers. As the year opened, Joel decided it was time to move on to another job, to better support the family and keep the lawyer on retainer. So after some months of careful planning, a few rolls of duct tape, and some surprised bank employees, we have seen our efforts bear fruit. And through some off-the-record rental agreements, we’ve been able to remain in our lovely home this year with little trouble from the authorities.

Katie has been especially busy this year taking care of the home and preparing for a new arrival. Yes, our little family has expanded to four, following many prayers, a generous “donation,” and the very accommodating headmistress of a certain orphanage in Ireland. We are very pleased to have little Allison in our family, sharing her laughter, smiles, and helping us avoid any official attention from any law-enforcement officers or nosy neighbors who may be on the lookout for a family of three.

Sam is growing like a weed, and his dexterous little hands are becoming increasingly skilled at working with fuses, triggers, and complex wiring. He loves animals almost beyond description, which came in very handy in moving some valuable tarantulas from one country to another under his clothes without raising suspicions from any customs officers. He is also quite the performer, having perfected his “stick ‘em up and nobody gets hurt” glare.

And of course Allison is delightfully charming, holding the attention of everyone who meets her, including law enforcement officers, who never seem to remember why they wanted to talk to us in the first place. She loves playing with any paper she can find, from board books to large, unmarked, nonsequential bills. And she should be crawling any day, freeing up her parents’ hands for carrying “groceries.”

Yes, this last year has truly been a gift. We feel very blessed to have such wonderful, talented children and unimpeachable character witnesses as friends. This coming year is shaping up to be pretty busy as well, with Sam starting school, more travel, and various court dates. We wish you all a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

The Hillers


Last week I noticed a car with a headlight out and thought to myself that of all the car woes I've had, I've never had a headlight burned out. Then the next morning I got to experience it.

Life is strange.

Table Turning

The other day, Sam and I were in the car on the way to the store. I had music on, but it was fairly quiet and only on the front speakers, but he wanted me to turn it off. I explained to him that sometimes we just have to deal with things we don't like.

A few minutes later we pulled into the parking lot, and it was packed. I was muttering about having to park really far away from the store, and Sam took the opportunity to remind me that we sometimes have to just deal with things we don't like.

Yeah, I wonder if this kid will grow up to be a lawyer.

Time Vacuum

Why is it that we are willing to devote so much attention to utterly useless tasks? Last night I spent the better part of an hour trying to untangle a string of beads for the Christmas tree, when I really have no plan to put them on the tree. I could probably have found a dozen more productive things to do with my time.

What pointless task have you completed lately?

Outerwear Undercurrents

I've previously chronicled my affinity for jackets. But I think it's getting more serious. I've gotten two more in just the last month. Last night I opened the coat closet and counted 14 jackets and coats just for me. Is that wrong? I mean, it's not like I'm collecting little knickknacks that serve no purpose, or anything to do with Twilight or whatever.  Don't judge me!

We the People

I think we should all get a chance to draft a law. Mine would demand the death penalty for anyone throwing cigarette butts on the ground. And if you throw it out of a moving car, you are tortured first.

What would your law be?


It's odd the patterns we notice in our lives. One pattern I notice in my family is that our sleep tends to be cyclical. Sunday nights are the worst, for some reason, setting us up for an exhausted week. Then we do a little better through Thursday, and then we end up getting to bed late Friday, because we're too beat from getting the kids to bed during the week to care too much when we don't have to get up early.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Sundays are the worst nights for us, which I decided again at some point last night. Here's how it went down:

8:30—Allison is asleep. Hooray! She never goes to bed that early.

9:30—Sam is asleep. Finally, a chance to get 8 hours on a work night...

10:30—Allison gets up. Katie gets up with her.

1:30—I finally realize Katie hasn't come to bed yet, and that Allison is still up. We trade off.

2:00—I get Allison to sleep and go back to bed. I toss and turn for 30 minutes or so.

2:45—Sam gets up. I go down to his room with him.

3:30—I'm still awake with Sam, who can't go back to sleep for some reason. Allison wakes up again. Katie get up to help her, while I continue to try getting Sam to sleep.

4:00—Allison goes back to sleep. Sam is still awake.

5:00—Sam is still awake.

5:30—Sam is still awake. Allison wakes up again. Katie gets up to feed her. I give up on Sam and get in the shower.

6:00—Allison is asleep again. I send Katie back to bed and let Sam come downstairs to watch some cartoons.

7:00—Sam is still awake, watching cartoons when I leave for work.

Usually there's a reason when he is up for a long time, like he has to go to the bathroom and won't admit it. I had him use the bathroom, I got him a drink, I put some lotion on him to help with itchy skin, and I even gave him some food around 4. But all for naught.

Anyway, I imagine this is a really boring post, but lack of sleep tends to cloud my judgment. You can't unread it!

All That Jazz

Last night I had the good fortune to be able to attend a Jazz game with my friend Rob, who was given the tickets by someone in his ward. And I feel spoiled, because our seats were on the 7th row. It was a really fun experience, although in a way it was bad because now I'll never be satisfied with the nosebleed seats again. Thanks for ruining every game I ever go to in the future, Rob.

Here's a photo to show that the players looked like people rather than ants from this distance.