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.