Learning to be Grateful

Sometimes we learn the hard way to be grateful for what we have. This past week has been another one of those times.

Most of you who read this blog didn't know that I was pregnant again. This time I was a bit nauseous even and felt overall lousy. I was EXHAUSTED beyond belief and generally felt that things were fine, that is until a week ago last Monday. When overnight I was no longer ravenous and didn't feel icky if I didn't eat, I got worried. I had made it to 10 1/2 weeks, but that's rather early to feel better. When Tuesday appeared to be the same, I began to panic. I tried really hard not to, but I've done this too many times and couldn't help it. I had mini breakdowns all morning. If I hadn't been teaching, I would have been a complete wreak. Sometimes distraction is the best medicine. Between classes I called and set up an appointment to check for a heartbeat. I arranged for the girls to go to a friend's house and after my afternoon class, I headed to my doctor's office.

When I got there, they took me right back. In fact, Nick was meeting me there and wasn't able to be there for the first while. The nurse was certain she would find a heart beat. She tried so hard. As my heart sank, I was able to keep it together. There was still a slight possibility. When the second head nurse tried and couldn't find one, I pretty well knew. Fortunately their ultrasound tech was there for the day, so I went into the waiting room to wait my turn. While I was there, Nick showed up. He had been very supportive and understanding about my nervousness, but he figured everything would be fine. When I told him they couldn't find a heartbeat, he let me just melt into him. I'm so grateful for a loving, supportive husband.

Not long after we went back for the ultrasound. I do have a bit of experience by now, so even I could tell right off that things weren't right. Last spring there had at least been a recognizable baby. This time the pregnancy looked more like a mass. Clearly there wasn't a heartbeat.

We met with the doctor soon after to discuss our options. Where I hadn't even started spotting or cramping yet, I knew that just going naturally would likely take a long time. I know I don't handle that well. I also really didn't like the idea of taking the medication and hoping that it worked. If I wasn't getting a baby, I wanted to be done. We certainly met our deductible this year, so we scheduled a D&C for Thursday morning.

I won't lie and say this go around has been easy. It has been easier in ways but also more terrifying in others. Last February I emotionally fell apart. The worry and not knowing seemed to last forever. I can cope better when I know what is going on and what to expect. Physically I am doing all right. This go around, emotionally I have my moments. I kind of have to block off my thinking. I long to hold a little one again that is mine. But I can't think about it. Now we're considering our options.

Where I have now miscarried four times, my case becomes more serious and testing is a definite option. There are three main tests they can do. First, they can X-ray my uterus to make sure it is shaped correctly. However, since I have had two healthy babies, this one is less likely to be an issue. Second, they can do blood work. There are possible treatable issues there. Third, they can test chromosomes of both me and Nick. Likely this is the issue. However, if so, there is nothing that can be done with the information save having it. Although I did ask and the doctor said that we are at a higher risk for having a baby go full term with severe problems. Those are big issues to weigh. I'm grateful I don't have to make any decisions today.

Back to gratitude. Right now I have two perfect, beautiful, happy little girls sleeping in their big girl bunk bed. They are busy, rather loud, and full of life. And I'm beginning to realize that they are my miracles. The more I think about it, the more my heart fills with gratitude to have them in my life. As much as I miss the little lives I dreamed about bringing into the world that won't be in this life, I am full of love for my girls. I love them more than I can express. They make life worth living. This loss has taught me that more than anything else could. I am so far from the perfect mom. There's so much more I want to do with them each day. But I know they know I love them. Some day I'll get to explain to them just how special they are; for now I'll do my best to treat them as such.

I've had several people express how well I appear to be doing. I am doing all right. I am heartbroken, but while I have my moments, I know they won't get me anywhere. More importantly though, I have certainly felt the power of the spirit very strongly this week. I know our names were in the temple and that multiple prayers have been said in our behalf. I am so grateful. It has certainly made and makes a difference. I continue to feel that I am not alone. I know my Savior loves me and has a plan for me and my little family. Some day we'll understand why things are the way they are, but for now, I continue to trust him.


Hiking in the Tetons

Nick and I decided to go hiking for a bit of an anniversary trip. We debated going backpacking in the Uintas, but I've really wanted to hike in the Tetons again. I hadn't been back since hiking Table Rock seven or so years ago. Nick indulged me and we planned a trip to the Tetons. Nick's mom came to our house and we headed out. We drove two cars, left one on the Jackson side of the mountains and camped at Teton Campground. Well, we actually slept in the car. (Next time I'm pushing for a tent.) Since we were woken up around 5:30 by hikers hitting the trail head, we decided to just get up and go.

It took us a bit to get on the trail, but once we did, I was in heaven. I love being in the Tetons. It is so beautiful up there. The wildflowers are gorgeous, the mountains are spectacular, and everything was perfect. We didn't see much for wildlife but a few marmots, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I have to admit that I was particularly fond of all of the huckleberries growing along the side of the trail. What a fun treat as we hiked.

We hiked from Teton Campground to Alaska Basin, up to Static Peak, and down through Death Canyon. Every bit of the trial was unique. Coming down Death Canyon was long and rather hot, but it was all beautiful. Overall, we went over 18 miles. I LOVED it. Thank you Nick for taking me back to one of my favorite spots on earth.


Saying Goodbye

I learned this afternoon that our neighbor Todd passed away yesterday. He fought cancer with everything he had for a year. It is so sad seeing such a great man die so young. Although there is no doubt in my mind that he is happy and taken care of today, he will be sorely missed. His wife is a good friend who has helped me and those around her grow as they've been through this ordeal. There are so many ways people can react to loss such as this, and she is strong. Their kids are young. Their youngest will be in Emma's kindergarten class this year, and their oldest is almost twelve. They also have a nine-year-old.

As I write, I find myself just wanting to do something. I'd go scrub toilets or cook them a month worth of meals, but I know that those things aren't quite what they need. All along I've wanted to do something more. I know that the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years are going to be tough. There are going to be a lot of days when she will need a friend. I suppose my prayer is that I will be prompted to be there when I'm needed. It's so easy to see a need now, and I hear that those needs often appear to fade, appear being the key word.

My heart breaks to see this little family's loss. I know they're strong, but even the strongest feel overwhelmed quite often. Steph, if you ever happen across this post, I love you. You are an incredible example. Todd is okay; the rest of us will always miss him.


Caught Up!

It has been a VERY busy summer. I thought it was going to be rather low key this year. It's been anything but. Yet we've had so much fun and have really enjoyed ourselves. While I've posted about many of the things we have done, there have been a lot of fun moments when I didn't have a camera handy. We had a great time with our neighbors on the slip 'n slide on the hill, we attended an extended family reunion with my grandma and her siblings and their families, and we've simply enjoyed being together. School is starting just around the corner. I can't believe my Emma is going to kindergarten. In many ways she is more than ready, but I'm hesitant to let her grow up. Even Ashlyn is starting preschool. It's going to take a bit of adjusting around here, but we're excited at the same time. This fall will be full of just as many memories as the summer, I'm sure.

Swimming Lessons

We've been taking swimming lessons at our Rec Center off and on all summer. Ashlyn's first class was rather difficult for her, but she survived. For her second go around, we requested the same teacher and then as a double bonus ended up being in the same class as three of our fun little boy friends from our ward. It was perfect. She had so much fun. By the time she was done, she would float around on her back with her teacher and could be dunked without inducing screams. Emma has learned so much, too. While she's willing to jump in now and puts her face in with full enthusiasm, she is just like her mother and is a bit squeamish about tucking her chin down for dives. I love watching the girls get comfortable in the water and look forward to many future days of playing.

Zoo Day with Cousins

When cousins are in from out of town, what do you do? You take twelve kids to the zoo. It may have been a bit crazy, but we did have a lot of fun together.

Bock bock bock bock.

Brushing the goats is so much fun, second only to feeding them.

The 'Standing Like a Flamingo' competition

Climbing a Tree

The other day Emma came into me with long pants on, a long-sleeved shirt, helmet, and knee and elbow pads. She was determined to climb the maple tree in the front yard. It's not a particularly big tree, but the branches were too high for me to reach. She came up with the brilliant idea of pulling herself up with her jump rope. I think she may have watched one too many Go Diego Go episodes. Needless to say, the jump rope didn't work, and she had to wait until Nick came home for lunch to help her. It was quite hilarious. My Emma girl can be rather determined when she wants to be.

Girl Smiles

My girls LOVE getting a hold of the camera. We have many pictures taken at about a 3 1/2 foot eye level. This particular session brought about some fun smiles. I love these two. They keep life interesting and never dull. They are very special little people. I'm fascinated by watching how much they soak up and how much they love life.

Ashlyn took this one. :)

Emma took this one. :)

Celebrating July 24th

The 24th of July was a fun celebration in Pocatello. We started out by going to a pretty good parade here in town. The floats were quite good, actually. Then the girls and I went to a celebration at the fairgrounds. A couple of Emma's friends participated in the mutton busting. I'd never watched it before, and I honestly felt kind of bad for the kids. In addition to the mutton busting, Emma got her face painted and they both rode in a little train. It was very busy at the fairgrounds, and somehow we always got in the long lines. The girls had a lot of fun though, and it was good to see that this town makes a big deal of the 24th.

Boating with Grandpa at Palisades Reservoir

We love to go boating with Grandpa Millar. Summers have been so cold the last two years that we've hardly been able to go. When we had an opportunity, we took it. Everyone had fun. The girls really enjoyed riding on the tube with Dad and Grandpa. Emma wouldn't hardly get off it. Thanks for a great ride Dad. I just hope that we'll be able to go one more time this summer so I can ski!

Relay for Life

Although I didn't take pictures, I need to write a bit about participating in Relay for Life. As soon as I heard that my neighbor and friend Stephani was putting a team together, I signed right up. While her husband has been fighting cancer, they've been incredible examples for me. Participating was one of the most humbling, eye-opening experiences I've had. There were so many people at the track the day of, and I think it happened to be the only day we've been over 100 degrees this summer. There were also luminary bags set up in tribute of those who are or have fought cancer. When night came and the bags were lit, it was a beautiful sight. And then there were all of the people who walked all night. I believe there were 99 teams with at least one member on the track the entire time.

Now I'm far from the best night owl out there. I made it until 2:30 or 3:00 before I set up and disappeared into my tent. I woke up at 6 just as everything was wrapping up. Apparently I somehow managed to sleep through all of the high school bands that played for an hour some time in there.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate. It was a life-changing event. I have family members who have died of cancer. I have neighbors and friends who have fought good fights. It's incredible how far-reaching it is. I've been humbled and have a stronger appreciation for the health of my family as well as myself. I just want to be able to help in some way. This was one small way I could participate.

Celebrating Birthdays with Cousins

My niece had a fun birthday party at the Riot Zone in Rigby in July. It was fun to see the kids play on the inflatables long enough that they became rather brave. They went up and down as quickly as possible.

Then Emma got to drive a little go cart and Ashlyn steered her own paddle boat. It was a fun afternoon. We're grateful to be close enough to cousins to share fun times with them.


Rexburg Splash Park

What can be more fun than a water day at the park with cousins? Rexburg's splash park was a hit for everyone from the little kids to my very pregnant little sister. I was quite a fan of the snow cones. Ashlyn was happy just kicking the fountains and watching the other kids.

Emma got up the courage to go through the tunnel slide and felt like a big kid. It was fun watching her go over and over again. They're both getting so big.

Camping in Wyoming

We got to go camping with Nick's parents in July. It was a great trip. The girls slept in the trailer with Nick's parents. And although Ashlyn fell out of her bunk, apparently Uncle Ryan was nice enough to rescue her and let her snuggle next to him. Oddly enough, he was in her bunk the next morning, though. :) Emma fell in the river first thing the next morning and managed to get all of her clothes wet. Not surprising. That kid loves water.

We tried to go fishing with dad, but all we found was Uncle Brady with his dogs. It was good to see him and the girls loved throwing sticks into the water for the dogs.

"Helping" Dad fish.

Ashlyn really warmed up to Brady. I don't think he minded.

Throwing rocks in the water.

Our final camp adventure came on our way back when Nick and I got to carry the girls across the river because a herd of sheep had taken over the bridge. I couldn't get a picture of us crossing though because I had the camera and was afraid I'd slip and fall into the water. It was a great trip. Hopefully we'll get to make it again soon.

Cousins to Visit

We were fortunate enough to watch four of my brother's kids for a couple of days in July. They are great kids. Everyone played well together, and we even took all six kids to the park for lunch both days. That was a bit of a trick, but worth it. I'll admit that I was a bit of a pansy when my nephew's tooth fell out. It's been a long time since I've had experience with that, and it bled quite a bit. Sigh. Overall though, it was very fun. They're great kids, and I loved spending more time with them.

The crew showing their true colors.

Water paints outdoors turned out to be quite the treat. So did the popsicles that followed.

Kids always love Marbleworks.

Whack-a-mole - what a great game.

4th of July

For the 4th of July we went to my aunt's house in Rigby for dinner. A couple of my cousins were there with their spouses. I don't get to see them nearly often enough, so it was a great excuse to visit and swap stories. After dinner we went to the fireworks in Idaho Falls. Emma, not surprisingly, made a friend while we waited for the show to begin. It was so much fun to be together. I loved spending the 4th with my family.

Playing Frisbee with cousins. Isn't that playhouse fun!

Snuggling up before the fireworks.

Blowing Emma's new friend's bubbles to pass the time.

Ashlyn snuggling with Dad for the show.

Kitty Baby Carriage

When I was a little girl, I had a Huge tomcat named Raskal. He was my best friend. I would dress the poor thing up in my doll clothes and push him around in my baby buggy. My dad has now fixed the buggy, and Ashlyn loves it. She has a stuffed kitty named Sarafina who got to ride all over in the buggy. What silly memories come from hanging on to old toys. Oh, and this is Ashlyn's favorite skirt at the moment. If she sees it, she will wear it. What a girly girl. I love it.

Sheep Creek Canyon

Nike and I went HIKING! Okay, truthfully, it was much tougher on me than I'd like to admit. (Next time I'll avoid Five Guys and square ice cream cones beforehand. Well, at least the burger. How can I pass up huckleberry cream ice cream?) But we actually saw several Mountain Goats. I haven't seen any around here before, and Nick hadn't seen them in the wild before. We just sat and watched them for the longest time. It was a great trip.

There is a goat on horizon on the left peak. You'll have to click on the picture to see it at all. The other goats were in and out of the trees.
When we got down, we spent the night with several other couples at a cabin/home in Swan Valley. It was a lot of fun being with everyone. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, but we had a ridiculously good time eating, playing games, eating, etc.

Being Creative at Grandma and Grandpa's

We love visiting Nick's parents. His mom has recently started collecting Lowe's craft projects for the grandkids to work on when they visit. This trip's activity was birdhouses. Since coming home they've been hanging in our trees. The squirrels love them. Fortunately, the girls like watching the squirrels, too.

This is Emma's project that she came up with all on her own. Sometimes I'm not quite sure what to do with this child's creativity. She's quite random, but certainly creative. We all got a good laugh out of this mask.

Tumbling Recital

Emma was in a tumbling class this spring. It has been so much fun watching her build more confidence. At first she was so scared to try new things that she would just cry. Now she does somersaults all the time, does bridges, and tries to do cartwheels. A few of our friends were in her class, too. Emma loved playing with the kids, and I loved chatting with their moms. It made for a great weekly activity all around. The recital was very cute. The pictures didn't turn out as well as I'd like, but Emma was very proud of her costume. Ashlyn just loved being in the picture.

Grandpa Millar's Birthday

We got to celebrate Grandpa Millar's birthday at our house this year. It was very fun to have so many cousins over. These little kids are certainly Grandpa's pride and joy. I love the way he interacts with his grandkids. He is able to make each one (there are 16 now) feel important. He loves them; no question. Thank you Dad for your love. I'm blessed to have you in my life.

Emma Graduates from Preschool

Yes, this is a bit late, just by three months. But if I don't write, it may not happen. Emma's preschool teacher did an incredible job of preschool graduation. She even scheduled it later than usual so we could be there (we got back from Mexico late the night before). Each of the kids represented a letter. Emma was "Vacuuming V." Emma did a very good job at graduation. We were excited to see how much she has learned through preschool. She always had fun. Now we can hardly wait for kindergarten to start.

Emma with her teacher Miss Jenn.



Nick and I just had the incredible opportunity to visit Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We left early two Sundays ago and came home the following Friday night. It was a great trip, and I'm finding myself longing to go back.

Fly. Once we got through the Cancun airport, we boarded a bus to Playa. From there we pulled our luggage to our hotel and then decided to wander a bit and find some dinner. We ate at El Fogon, one of the more authentic Mexican restaurants in town. The waiters didn't speak English and the menu was only in Spanish, so it was a bit of an adventure. Oh, and did I mention that it was hot (the temperature next to the kitchen, not the food so much).

We decided to go wander the beach first. It was beautiful. I always find ocean life fascinating, likely because it is so foreign to me. I'd love to spend more time getting to know the ocean.

We then did our only real tour for the trip to Rio Secreto. It's an underground river that was only discovered four years ago and has been open to the public for two years. We rode a large van down a very bumpy road to the site where we donned wet suits, life jackets, and helmets with head lamps. Then we went down. We were in a river approximately 22 meters underground. We were fascinated by some of earth's beauty that few are ever able to see. Our guide was fantastic and the views well worth it.

That afternoon we took local transportation, a collectivo (much nicer than the transportation in the Dominican Republic) and went to the town of Akumal. This is one of the best places for seeing sea turtles near Playa. Unfortunately, the water was pretty rough for snorkeling. We did, however, go to Yal-Ku Lagoon and do some snorkeling there. We saw some beautiful fish and enjoyed being in the ocean.

Tuesday morning we took the collectivo to Tulum, a ruin on the coast. Nick and I were amazed as we walked through the arch into the ruin and saw various temples, house platforms, and churches. Iguanas were everywhere (even one to pay to wear on your shoulder for a picture).

From there we caught a taxi to the Grand Cenote, a swimming hole where part of the limestone has fallen into the water below. The water was beautifully clear. While we swam with little fish and a turtle, actually, birds and bats flew overhead. It was really quite fun.

The next morning we rented a car and set out for Coba, another ruin about an hour-and-a-half drive from Playa. This site hasn't been cleaned up very much, but there's so much to see. We were even able to climb one of the pyramids and see out over the jungle.

Our next stop was Valladolid, a Spanish settlement from the 1500s and a frequent bus stop for those heading back from Chichen Itza. We ate the most delicious meal from our trip while we were there. I never knew pork, pine apple, mushrooms, and cheese could be such an incredible combination. I'll be trying to replicate that one. Getting through Valladolid was a bit interesting. We got to explore some of the back streets while we found our way out of town. It was actually a good way to get to see what the city was actually like off the main road.

The remainder of the drive to Chichen Itza was uneventful. The road was in excellent condition and we made it through the military check point without an issue. Our hotel was a five-minute walk from Chichen Itza, so we were able to go to the light show that evening. The lights really weren't anything to brag about, but we were fortunate enough to get headphones that interpreted the speaker. The history that has been gathered was remarkable. Learning about an entire culture that has been since disappeared was fascinating, especially one that was advanced in so many ways and yet practiced human sacrifice. It set the stage for the next morning.

We toured Chichen Itza with an incredibly knowledgeable guide. From the moment we said yes to his being our guide, he poured out information about the main pyramid, ball courts, sacrifices, religion, etc. The site was fascinating, especially when you consider that only 1% of it has been uncovered. It was certainly well worth the trip.

We had lunch at Piste just outside of Chichen Itza and learned that there is a difference between burritos and burritas. Then we went to another cenote called Ik-Kil. Nick quite enjoyed jumping into the pool. I was happy just jumping from the lower ledge. It was absolutely beautiful there, and we still wonder just how deep the pool was. The swim was just what we needed after the trip through the ruins.

On our way back to Playa, we stopped once again at Akumal. The water was calmer, but the dive shops were closed. Next time we'll know to bring our own snorkeling gear. It was a beautiful evening. Back in Playa we finished buying our souvenirs and prepared to leave the next morning. It was a wonderful trip we plan on taking again some day. We learned what we liked and what we'll do next time.

During our 5+ hour layover in Denver, two of my good friends from Laramie came to take us to dinner. Sarah and Sarah are two of the best things that have ever happened to me. They are great people in every way. We giggled all through dinner, and Nick patiently endured. I have a quote on my wall behind me by Eleanor Roosevelt that says, "Many people walk in and out of your life, but TRUE friends leave footprints in your heart." I don't need to say more.

I'm very blessed to be married to someone who likes to travel and has learned to do so on a budget. We may not have fancy things, but we have incredible memories of time spent together. We're also blessed to have parents who love our girls and enjoyed the time they had to spend with them.