Browsing Category


Blog Family Family Adventures

We Need to Talk About Montana

Hill's are Moving to Montana

Last summer, my family and I traveled for two months in our travel trailer. Our goal was to live full time in our RV for as much of the summer as possible.

We traveled from California into Nevada, through Idaho, up into Montana, over into Washington, and then back home to Central California. Just over three weeks of our trip we spent in Montana, and while we were there, we fell in love.

I had been researching Montana for about a year leading up to our trip. Moving there was a frequent topic of conversation between a few of my friends and me. Though none of us had much or any experience with Montana, the idea of it kept sounding better the more we talked about it.
Before this trip, I had never spent much more than two weeks away from my hometown of Modesto, CA. I would vacation for a few weeks from time to time but never long enough to get used to somewhere else. This trip helped me realize what I had been feeling for a long time.

Weirdly, Modesto was comfortable. It was all I knew. It didn’t have much to offer, but what it did offer, I had figured out. Modesto is a few hours from the ocean and the mountains. The weather is decent most of the year, and it has most of the stores one would need for a convenient existence. That had not been enough for me for quite some time. I wanted to explore, and I wanted some space.

I grew up spending a lot of time at my grandparents’ house outside of Escalon, CA. They had a ranch out in the country surrounded by orchards. My brothers and I spent our days roaming the property most of the time on our own. It was nice having that freedom as a child; the freedom we can’t offer our children living in Modesto.

My wife and I have had the goal of being able to offer that kind of space and freedom to our children since we were first married. Our oldest is almost 10-years-old now. We have yet to be able to offer that while living in or near Modesto.

The cost of owning property in California has remained out of our reach. Being self-employed, I have not wanted to restructure my company to qualify for a bigger loan. Operating a small business in California continues to get harder and harder as well. As I got older, the idea of owning property in California has become less desirable.

Everybody will agree that Montana is beautiful. Montana is known for its beautiful lakes and mountains. It’s home to Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone is just south a few hours.

While in Montana, I worked from local coffee shops, we shopped at local grocery stores and played at local parks. We explored the area and went on a lot of hikes. We even found a church we liked and attended their weekend gatherings a few times. The more time we spent there, the less I looked forward to returning home.

After returning to Modesto, all I could think about was Montana. My kids loved it and asked when we could go back. That was when we started discussing what it would look like to move to Montana.

My work is mostly virtual, so that I can work from any location with a good internet connection. The summer trip was a test of that. I originally got into digital marketing so I could have the freedom to travel. I didn’t like the idea of being landlocked in my business. I contacted my clients, and so far, the news has been received well.

With all of that said, the idea of relocation had never been more possible, so we started looking into it. We decided not to make any quick decisions but to spend the 2019/2020 school year looking into it and making plans.
We now have a hard date set to head to Kalispell, Montana, end of next month. We made the decision earlier this year that Montana was going to happen, but figured we would make a move sometime during the summer. With the Covid-19 isolation and school being virtual, we decided to move a bit earlier.

I don’t want to own property in California anymore. We have a lot of good friends we will be putting 20 hours between, but we have to choose space over-familiarity. My entire marriage, my wife and I have discussed moving. Now is the time, or we will have to wait until our kids have graduated high school.

We found a home to rent for the time being, and have signed a lease on it. We will likely have to self-isolate for 14-days once we get there, but we have been isolated in Modesto for over a month now, so we are quite used to it.

I want my kids to be able to play outside and have friends who’s parents are ok with that as well. In Montana, I can afford to own property so we can spread out a bit among the lakes and mountains. Moving is not going to fix everything; Montana is not perfect. There will always be problems and frustrations to endure. It’s time for a change.

We will miss our friends and family in Modesto, but we will have space for visitors in Montana. I look forward to this new chapter and am thankful for technology that will allow us to stay connected from a greater distance.

Family Parenting Personal Development

Covid-19 Social Distancing Family Daily Schedule

We’re sure living in interesting times aren’t we? I can’t count the amount of movies I have watched where crazy things have happened like this but I never could have imagined living through one. It would be easy to simply wait this thing out, but I don’t want to look at this as wasted time. I believe we are given this time to do something with it and that is what I intend to do. Many people are sharing about what they are doing with their families and themselves during this time, so I thought I would share what we are doing in my home.

I work from home, so this is going to be a test for me. I am used to having three of my kids in school at least half of the day and my wife usually stays pretty social which gives me quiet mornings at home for work. On days when there was all day activity at home, I would work from a coffee shop. Those options are not available for my wife or myself now. We all have to be at home.

This will be good for me and my family. When we travelled full time for two months last year, we had to get used to being in close quarters as we were sharing a travel trailer between the six of us. It will take a few days for us to adjust, but I know it will be good for us as a family to have this extra time together. I believe it will help each of us learn to better appreciate each other and the things each of us have to do in a day.

I’m writing all of this out for a few reasons. The first is to force myself to think through it all. It is important to process everything and to make plans. Without that, I am only hoping for the best. That is not a strategy.

The second is to share what we are doing in this unique situation. Not only is this situation totally different for us but it’s different for many others who’s kids are home from school and find themselves now working from home. It can be quite chaotic and different in so many ways for most.

The third is to set public intentions. Sometimes we have to declare something publicly in order to stick to it. I did this earlier this year on my YouTube channel with my goals for 2020. I intend to use this time well both for myself and for my family.

Our Daily Family Schedule

My kids will be out of school for at least the next three weeks. My wife and I decided it is important that our kids have a schedule for the day. When at school, there is a schedule they have that they can count on. Each day they know what to expect and I want that to continue while we are at home. Most of you with kids know that a schedule is important. It helps keep things sane.

Our kids will still have school requirements during two of the three weeks they are home. One of the weeks is spring break. We will have a modified schedule for that week, but still plan to have a schedule for it.

Our daily schedule will look like this:

Though we have a schedule we intent to stick to daily, we understand that sometimes things need to be adjusted or changed as needed. This schedule is to guide us and to give our kids structure. Given the opportunity, we will try to change it up from time to time to keep things from getting boring.

My Day/Work Schedule

Working from home has already become more challenging for me lately. I started the year off pretty strong until I injured my back. That got me out of a routine and I have struggled to get back into one. A good routine for me starts with a solid morning workout which I am going to have to try to do from home for now.

My goal is to try and work out each morning. That means going for a walk or run, riding my bike, lifting the few weights I have at home, and doing some body weight workouts. With that accomplishment each morning, the stage will be set for the rest of my day.

I plan to front load my day with my work. I want to get all essential work completed early so I can be available to assist my wife if needed later in the day. My kids are not going to get the normal social interactions they get during the day so I want to be available in the afternoons to engage with them.

We had just started baseball and softball practice, which was postponed for now. When that is allowed to start back up, I want to have been practicing at home.

Being Prepared

We have not gone crazy with our household preparedness. I went to the store today to get a few extra things but we had done our normal grocery shopping just a few days ago.

We will naturally consume more as all of us are home all day. Being that we are at home, we don’t need gallons of disinfectant or an over abundance of toilet paper. We just need what we would normally consumer plus a little extra. That is it. Everybody else needs what they need as well. It is not responsible to hoard.

The best thing that my wife and I can do as parents to our children is to maintain a sense of normality and structure for them. They are kids and should not have to deal with all of the anxieties that we have to deal with as adults. We can use situations like this to show our kids that their parents can lead in a time of crisis and we can use that time to grow closer as a family. It won’t be easy, but it is what my family needs right now. It took us less that 15 minutes to come up with a daily schedule and that will relieve a lot of stress and anxiety starting first thing tomorrow morning.

Be a Leader

I encourage you to be a leader to those who rely on you. My wife and I called all of the parents and grandparents in our family today to check on them and to see if there is anything we can do for them. They are more at risk than we are and because of that, we can help. It doesn’t matter if there are disagreements or frustrations within your family. Those things get put aside because they are not important during times like this.

Our church has also set that standard. If people who are more at risk need something, the rest of us can step up and help. That is what a healthy and productive society is supposed to do and my hope is that we hear amazing stories of how people are stepping up to help those around them for years to come. This is not a time to search for a monetary edge or to better position ourselves for success but to band together with those who are close to us and be there for each other.

This is scary and there is a lot of uncertainty. I have had a few large jobs cancel on me this past week and that will put a financial strain on things for a while, but there are people who are less fortunate, who have less control than I do. There are businesses that won’t survive this because they can’t afford to be closed for a few days let alone weeks. The best thing we can do is to be there for each other and to let those in our circle know that we are there for them.


This afternoon I told my wife and kids that it would be cool if we could use this extra time to learn something new. There is so much information online that is free or near free to consume. Most of it does not take that much time to watch. You can learn something you had no experience with during these next few weeks. Your kids can learn something they have never experienced in the next few weeks. We can use this time to grow. Here are a few ideas:

YouTube: You can search for just about anything on YouTube and learn how to do it. There are tutorials from a multitude of people on YouTube and all of those videos are free. Just search for “thing you want to learn tutorial” and you will find many who have taken the time to teach their methods in video form.

SkillShare: This is a website with structured courses on a wide variety of topics. SkillShare offers a two-month free trial. My oldest son and I started watching a course on Illustration on the iPad using an app called ProCreate, as he has shown an interest in making his own comics. Get 2-Months of SkillShare Free

Disclaimer: The SkillShare link is an affiliate link that gets you the two months free. You don’t have to pay for anything to get the free trial and you can cancel it at any time. If you do decide to stay subscribed, SkillShare provides me with a small commission. Use the free trial to learn some new skills.

My Courses: I have a few online courses on Photography and using WordPress to build and maintain websites. Almost all of my courses are free and I invite you to check them out if you have ever wanted to get to know your camera better or how to create a website. Visit LearnwithJerad.Com to see my courses. One of my goals is to update and expand my catalog of online education as I believe self-education is the way of the future for many.

Closing Thoughts

I encourage you to make the most of this time. It very much feels like a set back but it is what you make of it. Use this time to learn and grow. Also use this time to grow closer to those who mean the most to you.

We are all learning just how reliant we are on others just to exist in times like this. Some have jobs they can not do and others will lose their jobs over this situation due to businesses closing or being unable to operate. The best thing you can do is to use this time to set yourself up to be less susceptible to situations like this in the future. Use this time to grow and add to your skill set so that you are more in control of your life.

If there is anything I can do to help you, please reach out. Please stay safe and healthy. Be blessed my friends.

Blog Family

Some People are Timeless: Remembering my Grandmother

Carole Hill & Liam Hill

Carole Lucille HillI have only been on this earth 34 years but I have came to realize that some people are timeless and others are ephemeral. Timeless people leave their mark, a legacy if you will. My Grandmother, Carole Lucille Hill, was timeless.

The issue with timelessness is that it stands the test of time, it’s neverending. I felt that way about my Grandmother’s life. I could never imagine a time where she would not be around. On the night of her death, I spoke to her. We made plans to get lunch together. She had some Dr’s appointments, which she didn’t seem to concerned with, and we were to spend time together the following week. Though she was 85, she kept busy. Not one fabric of my being would have believed that only an hour and a half later, she would pass away.

My Grandmother Carole stood just shy of 5 feet tall but that didn’t stop her from commanding the attention and respect of all of us. She taught me that family is family and business is business. She was a business woman who taught me a lot through her actions and the way she dealt with people. Besides being well known in Real Estate in her time, she founded the Modesto Apartment Association. Before her successful career in Real Estate, her and my Grandfather Kenneth Hill founded Valley Air Conditioning, a company they sold in the 70’s when my Grandfather wanted to retire from the business.

Though I have had many great influences in my life, my Grandmother has influenced me in so many ways, it would be hard to recount them all.

When I hear about business woman theses days complaining about equality I think about my Grandmother. She became a Real Estate Broker and had offices in Modesto and Escalon, CA. Real Estate brokerage at that time was a male dominant profession. She told me many stories about her professional dealings. She never seemed intimidated. She knew what she wanted to achieve and she did just that. These days there are many female Real Estate Agents and Brokers. This taught me that it did not matter who you are or where you came from, you can achieve what you want to achieve if you work hard. My Grandparents are the American Dream. I have been self employed for 15 years now and I credit my entrepreneurial spirit to her and my Grandfather.

When I was a kid, she would pay me to help her with yard work. She had this jar of quarters that she would pull out to pay me from after an afternoon of pulling weeds or spreading bark around newly planted plants. My brothers and I spent a lot of time at our Grandparents home in Escalon, CA. Though my Grandfather had retired from Valley Air, he tried his hand at almond farming. I have pictures of myself around the age of 3 years old driving an Almond Harvest Sweeper. We grew up around mechanics and motorized vehicles such as go-karts and dirtbikes. We would blast around their property. My Grandmother yelling, “Where’s your helmet?!”

My Grandmother was the original early adopter. In the early 80’s, I spent a lot of time on her computer, which ran DOS. I played Lode Runner on it and my brothers and I spend countless hours getting the Soundblaster Parrot to say funny things. They had a whole house stereo system which I loved to spend time playing with. My Grandmother ordered me business cards when I was 5, I wonder if she has one of those cards saved… Every few years she would get a new computer to stay current. Even though she had been using computers for ages, they always gave her trouble; or maybe she gave them trouble. As I printed a photo from her computer today, it printed quickly. My Grandfather told me how it would have taken her hours to get it to print right. There are countless things she taught me such as how to track stocks. As an 8 year old, I was tracking the stock prices of Coke and Pepsi manually on graph paper.

During a week long river rafting adventure through the Colorado River, I had appendicitis. This resulted in her and I being airlifted to a nearby hospital where I had surgery and spent a few days in recovery. This could have been a scary time for me but she created so many memories during that time. I don’t remember any fear, I just remember the laughs we had together.

As I grew into an adult, spending time with my Grandmother was always important to me. We would get lunch and catch up. Occasionally I would ask her business related questions I knew she could relate to in hopes to glean some of her wisdom. I cherish the time I got to spend with her. She would always give me money to pay for lunch and let me keep the change. She still did this into my adult years even though it was embarrassing and I could easily afford to pay for our lunch on my own. To her, I was still her little boy.

Ken, Carole, Jerad, Mallory

I also credit my “photographic eye” to being introduced to photography at such a young age. Back in the film days, my Grandmother would take pictures at the same rate we take pictures in the digital age. She would walk into the local photo lab with a ziploc bag full of film rolls to have developed. She was always the one behind the camera documenting everything we did. She did her best to avoid being in pictures. When we tried to turn the camera on her, she would bark at us. Together, we would take pictures of interesting mailboxes. I couldn’t have been any older than 5 years old when we started that. As she moved into the digital world, she would print just about every photo she took, as a full page photo. Instead of having ziploc bags full of film canisters she now had ziploc bags full of dry inkjet cartridges from printing photos.

When I opened my first retail business, I needed a loan to make an initial purchase to become a direct factory dealer. She offered to give me the loan but there was a contract I had to sign and repayment was to be prompt. I feel like she was harder to bank with than an actual bank would have been. I paid them back within 60 days for a $14,000 loan. What I did learn was that I should do my best to fund my own needs in business. Since that day I have funded all of my own ventures.

My Grandmother always gave it to me straight. If I was in the wrong, she would let me know. She had strong opinions and convictions. You always knew where she stood, even if you preferred not to know. She taught me that you should always find reasons to celebrate. As a family, we celebrate all birthdays and would find other reasons to go out and celebrate. Now with my own family, we have carried on the tradition. We love to celebrate. Though I have never been good at budgeting, she taught me that you should spend 10% of your money for life and enjoyment. The rest is for expenses, saving, investing or donating. My parents didn’t travel much, but my Grandparents made sure we were able to explore and try new things. If we said we didn’t like something, my Grandmother would say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”

When I was 17 years old, my Grandmother signed me up for a Dale Carnegie course so I could learn to be a better speaker. My Grandparents had me around their friends and business colleagues when I was young. Because of that exposure, I have always been able to talk to and relate with just about anybody.

My Grandparents believed in living life. As they got older, they did not travel as much, but my Grandparents have seen the world. They enjoyed this world while they could and they have hundreds of amazing stories to tell because of it. Much of who I am today is because of my Grandparents.

It has only been a few days since her passing and I still can not believe it. I never thought I would see a day where she would no longer be around. I am so fortunate that my kids got to spend the first few years of their lives knowing their Nanna Kaye. My Grandmother’s nickname was Kaye. Liam will remember his Nanna Kaye well. Cohen will probably have some memories of her when he grows up. Unfortunately, Emmy is a bit too young to have any memories at all, but we have photos of her being held by her Nanna who loved her so much. Emerson is the first Hill girl in the family. I know how much my Grandmother looked forward to taking Emmy out shopping once she was old enough.

The Hill side of my family does not really express feelings verbally, but I know the love my Grandmother had for me well. She was a very giving and loving person.

People like this are timeless. Though her Real Estate Agency is no longer, her legacy lives on. It lives on in me and what I will teach my children because of the influences she had on me. Many times she told me that I am living in more difficult times than she did. Even though she grew up in the depression, she would say that it is harder for today’s youth than it was back then. Come to think of it, I don’t ever remember her telling me stories about how hard she had it back in her day. She always had fun stories to tell about every situation. This is how I want to live my life. I want to live life and love those who are closest to me. Even as I write this, I feel like I still expect to get an email from her telling me that she enjoyed my latest blog post.

Thank you Grandma for the countless hours poured into me. I am who I am today because of you. I will spend the rest of my life celebrating you and the things I have learned from you.

Carole Hill & Liam Hill

This is a photo of my Grandmother Carole Lucille Hill holding my oldest son Liam at a small party we had for my Grandparents 65th wedding anniversary in 2011.

Blog Family Parenting Personal Development

Stuff That Makes Me Cry

2012-01-26 17.37.26

Since having children, I have found that I am a much more emotional person. Prior to being a parent, I can’t remember the last time I cried or got very emotional about anything besides my wedding day (happiest day of my life btw). When stuff happens to your kids, it is a different kind of pain. The world puts a lot of hurt on each of us but when something is hard on your child, it is a different kind of pain that is hard to describe to people. If you have kids, hopefully you understand what I mean.

When my son Liam broke his leg at around 20 months old, 2 weeks before my wife gave birth to our second child, my whole world stopped. After his femur failed to set, all I could think about was that my little guy might not be able to walk normal and I assumed running would be something he could achieve after much therapy. Thankfully everything went well and though he had to learn how to walk again after the cast, he shows very little signs of ever having any issues. He outruns kids that are older than him. Nothing holds him back.

There were moments when I thought to myself, what if he lost his leg? What if it heals back wrong and he can’t run. There are many things you allow yourself to think and worry about. I am sure most of my issues with acid reflux come from the stress I allowed to affect me during that time.

2012-01-28 19.44.59

When my son came out of surgery in a hip spica cast and I died a little inside because I felt that I had failed to protect my son. It’s hard to find hope during a time that I let fear of the unknown get the best of me. I bottled it up so that nobody else would see how afraid I was, but I had never been more scared in my life.


Thankfully my son was healed and does not seem to show any signs of issues from the break. It’s one of those things you just have to hand to God and trust that everything will go well. You ask as many questions as you can to the Doctors and do your research, but you trust that God has it all under control. When all you have is a horrible looking x-ray, all you can do is trust. Since he had his cast removed, he has not had another x-ray. Pictures help us understand, even if it’s an x-ray of your childs leg that looks like a snapped toothpick. I still find myself analyzing his leg as he walks or runs. Until he is an adult and is done growing, I will always worry about his leg.

Since becoming a parent, I have watched other parents lose a child to illness or tragedy. I thank God often for the healing my son has experienced knowing that none of us are promised a tomorrow.

It has been 2 years since my son broke his leg, so I thought this post would add some context to how I am currently feeling. Thanks for reading/understanding.

Parents, hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Don’t allow anything to take priority over your family.

2012-02-23 20.57.31

This photo was taken the day we got home from the hospital with second child.

Blog Family Parenting

Father & 7 Year Old Daughter Start Metal Band

This is awesome. I hope to do fun things with my kids like this. This guy, who is obviously a musician with a love for metal put a fun song called “I want pancakes” up on SoundCloud that he created with his 7-year-old daughter. The lyrics are fun and the music is… well it’s brutal!

Here is what I like about this: A father is spending quality time building something with his child. She is learning about music, production, marketing and having an audience. What cool stuff to grow up already having exposure to. Right on Dad!

I love the Genre the music is listed under: Adorable Grindcore

“I want pancakes” Lyrics
I want pancakes
I want hot chocolate
I want cereal
I think that’s all I want
I want window
I want macaroni
I want pizza
Give them to me right now
There is a witch
I want to play a game, right now
I will never eat again but you will give me the ipod, I want to play a game
Ok I will play the game
No way, you are grounded
No I aint
Yes you are
Quit your laughing
I don’t care, I will do what I want
No you won’t, if you do, you’re grounded forever.

You can purchase their album on Bandcamp:
Check them out on Facebook. SockWeb

Blog Family Parenting

How to immediately be reminded of how great it is to be a parent

Sometimes as parents we have days or in the case of today, just an evening, that makes you feel like you are going crazy.

I have three kids, all of which are 3.5 years and younger. My oldest is going through a stage where fear now seems real so he contemplates everything. I recognize this is just where his brain is developmentally. My middle child will be 2 on Thursday and besides piggybacking off of my oldest sons neediness, has decided he can’t go a moment without my wife’s or my attention. Then there is my 3 month old daughter, who is extremely chill and patient, except for when she needs to feed or sleep. When the evenings hit, which is when I am home, all three of their craziness levels seem to be at peak.

Let me just stop for a second to mention that I am well aware that my wife has situations like this unfold sometimes multiple times per day while I am at my office writing code and listening to music. I am no where near as resilient as my wife.

So, as my wife and I crawl into bed this evening she opens her laptop and we start looking through old photos and video clips of our oldest when he was the age of our youngest. Nothing reverses the stress and anxiety faster than watching our big boy smile and laugh at 3 months old.

Sometimes I feel bad for holding a camera or a phone up to capture what seems like every single thing my kids do but having these moments to reminisce on like we did this evening quickly reminded us of how much we love our kids. The short spurts of craziness may temporarily overwhelm us but we have countless reminders saved on our computers and phones to remind us of how lucky we are to be parenting three fantastic little children.

So I have three tips for you:

1. Take a lot of short video clips of your kids. With smartphones, this is easy. I love using Google GLASS to capture little 10 second video clips of my kids.

2. Back up these moments to your computer. Sync them using iTunes, iCloud, Dropbox or whatever you can get. Just make sure they are backed up. I would die a little inside if I didn’t have these precious moments available to play whenever I wanted.

3. Take time to watch them often. We have all of our photos play as a screensaver slideshow on our AppleTV. Whenever we have the tv on and a show ends or is paused, within 2 minutes the photos start scrolling by. Sometimes my wife and I just sit there and watch photos instead of watching another tv show. A couple of times we have sat there for an hour looking at them and laughing about those moments. It helps keep the memories fresh and our hearts full.

Pardon my writing. I thumbed this out on my Nexus 5.

Find me on Facebook

Blog Family

Driving Go Quads with my Brother

My brother and I used to have a couple of these Go Quad pocket GoKarts. We used to take them to parking lots and race until we ran out of gas or got kicked out. They are loads of fun. Now that my son is old enough to drive one, I bought a couple of them so we could take them out. I recorded a short video with Google Glass of my brother and I racing the karts around a parking lot. His was not running right at first. Seems like I already need to do some tuning.

Get my Sunday Dispatch right in your inbox
Join 18.5K subscribers