Caught Up!

Well, there you have it. It was a bit time consuming, bit I'm caught up! I can hardly believe it. Many posts don't contain as much detail as they could, but they will serve the purpose of reminding us what we did in the last year. And that's the point, anyway. Now, when life calms down again (haha - in maybe six months or so), I'll get this blog printed off into books. It's been fun reviewing what we've done in the past year, and I'm excited to see what adventures we'll go on in the next year. Wish us luck with baby, move, and new job. It's going to be CRAZY, but exciting.

Tautphaus Park Zoo

In case you can't tell, we like zoos in our family. Last week before my dr. appointment, we met my mom at the Tautphaus Park Zoo. The girls had a blast and were super cute. Emma took her camera in, too, so we got a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, her camera doesn't focus well, so we only got a few, but they're fun nonetheless.
Emma really was more excited than this to be there. :)

Ash was very careful to make sure that each goat got at least one treat, despite there being a greedy bully.

Both girls enjoyed the little animal show and really liked petting the ferret and chinchilla.

Silly Ash

 So, what do kids do when they don't want to go to sleep once they're sent to bed? Ash has never been one to get out of bed much, but this is what we have found a couple of different nights over the last couple of weeks. I love this silly little girl.

Every little girl needs her own canopy

Yes, Ash has suspended her stuffed animals via hangers. At least they're "put away."

Saying Good-bye to "Stuff"

I find it interesting that I'm the one who was affected by selling the swing set, but I'm watched my kids have a lot of fun playing on it. That, and it was hard work to seal coat everything and put it together. But, it was rather impractical to bring it with us. Nick posted it online, and it was gone within a couple of days. Sigh. I'll miss you swing set and hope to replace you next year. :)

My sister might kill me for posting this picture, but we did get rid of a ton of "stuff" at a garage sale last weekend. It was nice to get rid of so many things we really didn't want to bring along with us. Good-bye "stuff." (And I like seeing pictures of my sisters pregnant because it reminds me that we just carry our babies the same way. Hehe.)

Emma Finishes 1st Grade!

 Emma's class got to end the year with a fun trip to the skating rink and then to the park for sack lunches and play! I met them at the end of the trip to take a few pictures. Emma has enjoyed the year, has been a great student, and make many, many friends. I'm proud of you sweetheart and have loved watching you learn and grow so much this year. HUGS.

Mrs. Lewis - a wonderfully fun teacher

Em with good friend and neighbor, Carter!

Amberly has been a great friend to Em all year.

Chiara is a sweetheart.
Emma is going to miss all of her friends, but we look forward to staying in touch via letters.

A Baby Shower

My sweet friend Kim Hansen threw a baby shower for me. It was so humbling to have so many great friends and family members come. My babe was spoiled rotten and I felt such an overwhelming sense of love. It was especially overwhelming because we put a for sale sign up in front of our house the evening before, so many of my great ward members were curious to know what was going on. Overall though, everyone was incredibly kind. I feel very loved and am grateful that friendships don't end when you move. Thank you Kim and for everyone who came and for those who traveled to be there.

Grandma Charles, Ashy, and Grandma Millar - Thanks for coming!

My good, good friends Kim H, Megan W, and Dana W.

Sweet Dixie P crocheted this beautiful afghan.

Monica and Shanna came all the way from IF. I love you ladies.

I couldn't resist getting a prego belly shot with Reb. She's due 2 weeks before me (jealous!)
Grandma C's friend Linda made the adorable diaper cake.

Ashy Graduated from Preschool

My little girl grew up on me. She graduated from preschool this May. I can hardly believe she's been going for two years and is old enough to go to kindergarten. But she is an incredibly sweet kiddo who is very smart and ready to be big like her sister. I sure love her and am going to miss her when she's in school. I love you, Sis.

Ash at her graduation with Miss Jen. Ashy got to be Opera "O" on stage.

These swings were a hit at her end-of-the-year picnic.

Another cute picture with Miss Jen.

Big Decisions and Hidden Blessings

You know, timing is an interesting aspect of this life. For a long time, we tried to add a little person to our family. Then, once it happened, life told us that it was time for another change, too. (This is a long post; just scroll to the bottom if you want to read about the end result.)

Nick has enjoyed work as a civil engineer. He has enjoyed the challenges and successes as well as the people he has met through work. But he was starting to feel a bit trapped, like there was more for him possibly elsewhere. We tried a few times to see if he could get such things at his current job, but it didn't quite work out. At one point, I told him to start looking for jobs to apply to, but he refused and said we needed to wait until after the baby.

Shortly after this point, he went to a conference in Cheyenne, WY. While there, he was approached by two separate people about three possible job opportunities. It became rather obvious at that point that it really was time to look. We decided that he should apply but that we should see what else was available to us. The result was several job offers and the need to decide where we should end up.

First, he was offered a very good job in Cheyenne with the Water Development Commission. It was a very nice offer, so we decided to drive up over Easter weekend to visit Cheyenne once again (it had been a long time since I'd been there) and see how we felt about it. Truthfully, I had never really felt good about Cheyenne. There are people I love who live close to there, but it just didn't ever feel right; in fact, it felt very wrong. But Nick still needed to come to the same conclusion. On the way there, though, he got a phone call requesting him to interview for a job with Idaho Power. (By the way, he really, really wanted this job.) That phone call, and the fact that Cheyenne just didn't feel right, helped us both decide that we needed to continue looking at our other options. It was hard, but we turned the job down.

Nick had an over-the-phone interview with Idaho Power soon after that he didn't feel good about. But they told him they were going to hold face-to-face interviews the next week on the 26th. (An interesting side note: Nick had tracked down some contacts via a family friend who lives in the area where this job would be, and he planned to call them. Somehow though, we couldn't find the paper he wrote the names and numbers down on. We searched and search, but to no avail. I sometimes wonder what would have happened had he been able to make those phone calls.) Then we found out that he didn't make the cut to the second round of interviews, and for a couple of days he was very, very disappointed. Then an interesting thing happened.

During the job hunt, Nick found an intriguing job listing in Douglas County, NV. It's a civil engineering job for the county there, which happens to be nice and small community no more than a day's drive away. It paid well and offered good benefits, so he applied. He got a call to come in to interview on the 26th. That's right. Interviews there were scheduled to be on the same day as the interview with Idaho Power would have been. Interesting how the chain of events allowed Nick to interview with Douglas County.

During this trip, Nick also stopped in Richfield, UT to interview with a consultant engineering company there. The trip resulted in two job offers. Let's just say that it was very, very difficult to decide on paper which offer would be better. The consulting company was a great company and they offered Nick the chance to work in Price and possibly become their new office manager after six months, and it was a lot closer to family. The job in NV didn't pay quite as well, but had several PTO and retirement benefits, yet is far from family. It became a matter of prayer. I'm very grateful for answered prayers.

As a result of all of this, we accepted the job in Douglas County, NV. They agreed to let Nick start after the baby comes, but they want him there as soon as possible. Bitter sweet. It's a good job in a great area, but it's a long ways away from friends and family. We're interested to see what the next phase of our life brings in so many exciting ways.

Grandma Hutchens

If you remember a couple of posts ago, I wrote about our trip to Salt Lake. Fortunately, that trip culminated with us stopping to visit Grandma Hutchens. My grandma is an incredible lady who couldn't love her family more.In March, I believe, she had a procedure done to clean out a nearly blocked artery (I'm pretty sure I have that right). The procedure was fairly noninvasive, but Grandma never quite recovered. She was 89 after all.

When we visited, Grandma was on oxygen (which she HATED) and had very little energy. But she was still thrilled to see us and loved that the girls gave her big hugs. She quite enjoyed my belly and talking about her pregnant bellies had practically gone to her knees when she was sitting down, too. She was bright and alert and as excited as ever for visitors. She was counting how many great-grandbabies were being added to the family in the next couple of weeks, and mentally was doing very well. Unfortunately, though, it didn't last long.

A few days later, Mom called me to tell me that Grandma was having a hard time breathing, that her twin sister Elaine (who was staying with her) had called the ambulance, but they didn't think Grandma was going to make it. A few minutes later, I got another phone call from Mom telling me that my Grandma was gone. It's hard to explain that feeling. Grandma could sometimes be a bit difficult. She was rather demanding in her own way, but she loved everyone, gave so much to her family, and was always wanting to do something good for someone. It didn't seem like she could possibly be gone. Grandma has been such a big part of my life for so long.

And yet, I know that my Grandma is where she wants to be. She was widowed twice, the first time when her kids were very small. I believe my dad was only 7. The second time was about 24 years ago. She's been alone a long time. She was ready to be surrounded by those she loved who had gone before her. I am very grateful for my knowledge of what happens after this life, and I know she is happy. I love you and miss you, Grandma. Thank you for always being there for us.

Kitchen Cabinets

 In April, we decided to give the kitchen a face lift. It's been something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and we finally made it happen. The only down side to these pictures is that I didn't take them before we replaced the incredible original oven from when the house was built in 1965. It was a beauty, I tell you.

We used a Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformation Kit to resurface the cabinets and installed new hardware. And although it wasn't hard, it was incredibly time consuming. A lot of that was because Nick or all of us left several times for various reasons during the process. And I take it back, removing 45+ year-old hardware, especially hardware that was painted right over with the sealant, was incredibly difficult to remove. I did my best with my huge prego-ness to help, and there were a few times I wanted to call it quits. But we did it. Phew. I'm really glad that project is over with. I'm also incredibly grateful that our kiddos were so good about helping out and letting me work on things when we got the chance.




After (including my new-to-me oven that I LOVE).

Salt Lake Trip (April 2012)

 We went to Salt Lake for the weekend to go play with the kids and to meet up with the Moore family. It was such a great weekend. Everyone had fun. Our trip was spoiled a little at first because we had planned on stopping at Trafalga, but they didn't open when we thought. Instead, we headed to the aquarium (one of my favorite stops, by the way). The girls had fun watching the penguins and otters swim, and we all enjoyed seeing so many different creatures. For one thing, I had never seen an octopus swim before. It was cool. We really enjoyed the experience.

Ash liked the penguins (sorry it's blurry).

This little pop-up was inside the otter exhibit. Emma thought it was really fun.
After that, we met up with the Moore family at the hotel. Everyone enjoyed playing in the hotel's incredible swimming pool. Dad especially liked the water slide and even talked Emma into going down once. Apparently Emma figured out pretty quickly how to make herself go very slowly. They wondered for a minute if she'd stopped mid-slide, but she eventually came out. Both girls loved swimming with Daddy.

The next morning was zoo time! We were there fairly early, so the weather was perfect, even for big-bellied Mom. We honestly had a perfect trip. The kids (and adults) loved being together. It brought back fond memories of our trip to Disneyland two years ago. 

Who doesn't love a baby elephant?

Rhino time!

And every trip must include a ride on the train. Here's the crew.
We were glad to get together with fun friends and enjoy some great activities in Salt Lake. We always enjoy spending time together as a family, especially when it means getting together with friends. Thanks Moores for a great trip.


Happy Birthday Ashlyn!

Ash turned the big 5 this year. It's crazy seeing my baby get so big. She's not so little any more. Her birthday was a lot of fun though. For starters, we made cupcakes for her preschool class the day before her birthday. She said she wanted butterflies, so with an idea that started on Pinterest, this is what we ended up with. I've decided that I am a fan of the compressed frosting. Talk about making my life easier.

Chocolate butterflies w/ red sprinkles.
Then, she was able to go on a field trip to our local nursery and plant a flower. She had a lot of fun and was super cute about the whole thing. She was even able to do the tour with her little friend. I think she quite enjoyed it.

That afternoon we had a birthday party. She was so sweet about the whole thing and loved her cake (note the red - definitely her favorite color - again here's another plug for prepared frosting) and was really cute about her party. She had chosen to decorate it with black and red. I was surprised. It seemed a bit sophisticated for a 5 year old.

Ash is really growing up. She loves being silly and still thoroughly enjoys singing and dancing. It's quite fun watching her. Ashy is still rather shy and prefers staying right close to mom most of the time. She is very self entertaining, but she loves it when someone will play princesses or Littlest Pet Shop with her. I'm amazed at what a good colorer she is and how much she enjoys looking and making other things look pretty. She's our little princess, and we love her.

Easter Weekend!

Easter weekend was quite the event. We had originally planned on staying home, but then Nick received a job offer in Cheyenne, WY that we needed to look into. It was bitter sweet for me personally. It wasn't that I was sad to be going, it just also happened that we ended up traveling on my birthday, and I'd really been looking forward to spending my birthday with my girls. I didn't even get to see them. :( Oh, well. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

We left the girls in Mt. View with Grandma and Grandpa and drove on to Cheyenne. The job offer was quite nice, but after driving around and looking at the city and looking at available housing and neighborhoods, neither of us felt like it was the best choice for family. It really didn't have anything to do against Cheyenne, necessarily. It just wasn't right for us for some reason.

The main highlight for the entire trip for me though was getting to stop and see Sarah B. in Laramie. I've missed her so much, and it was a wonderful, if too short, visit. Truthfully, when Nick got the job offer, being close to her was top on the list of reasons to move to Cheyenne. Not being close is also the main reason I was sad we turned it down. It's a good thing that friends can still be friends even over great distances. In Laramie, we did get to stop by the chocolate store downtown that our old landlords still own. I loved that place then, and well, I couldn't help but buy myself a bit of chocolates for a birthday treat. They were perfect on the way back to the valley.

Back in Mt. View, we enjoyed a fun Easter with Nick's family. Brady even tolerated letting the girls put little bows and barrettes in his hair. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. It was also fun to get a birthday/Easter package from my mom while we were there. She gave me a beautiful maternity statue and gave each of the girls cute Easter baskets with light-up bunnies. The bunnies ended up being a bit of an ordeal, because Emma's stopped working. It was rather traumatic for her, and she ended up writing the Easter Bunny a letter asking for a new one. It was a good thing that the Easter bunny was prepared for just such an emergency with an extra toy. Easter morning ended up being quite fun for everyone. Again, I don't have many pictures because everything is on video. If you're really interested, I guess you'll just have to come visit and look at our videos.

Brady all "dolled up:

Emma striking a pose - don't you love the WY Cowboys hat!

Cheesey Ashy in her UW hat.

Cousin Carson enjoying his loot.

One of the main Easter highlights though was our rather red-neck Easter egg hunt. I'm pretty sure that the guys had more fun setting up the hunt than the kids had doing it. They used drills to attach eggs to trees, tied them on the end of strings to make "trick" eggs, and hid them in places no kid could reach. Everyone had fun figuring out the hunt, and even the kids saw the humor in it once they got the trick eggs emptied. And of course, it's always fun to open eggs.

I'm always humbled by Easter. When I stop and ponder the real reason for the holiday, I can't help but truly be overwhelmed. My Savior did so much for me, and I am so grateful for his love for me and the rest of the world. It's such a personal feeling of love and appreciation.

It's a Boy! (Feb 8, 2012)

I have been really nervous this pregnancy. For those of you familiar with our story, you'll understand. But I was incredibly nervous the day of our ultrasound. Apparently I shared a good dose of adrenaline with the baby, too, because the tech could hardly get the pictures she needed. I LOVE those sneak peaks of my little people though. There are often times I've wished for a small window so I can just peak on my little one's progress. It's hard to be patient. I can't imagine what it was like to wait for the full 9 months to get even a tiny glimpse of the life growing inside you.

 Our tech was really good. She was a traveling tech who normally did the ultrasounds to double check for potential issues, so she spent a lot of time with us explaining in what ways our baby was growing healthy and normally. With all my nervousness, it was a tremendous blessing. The gist of it is that our little one is strong and healthy, with normal heart, spine, brain, and extremity development. And of course, we were very excited to see that we're getting a BOY! We love our girls, but unless something unexpected happens, this is our last pregnancy, and we really were hoping for a boy. It feels somewhat horrible to say we hoped for a boy, because of course we would have loved another girl, too, but everyone in this family is excited for a boy. Dad especially. I think he's looking forward to potentially a little less drama. Maybe. We'll see if that's what we get. We're certainly looking forward to our little one no matter what.


Treasure Hunt and a Twisted Ankle

Grandma and Grandpa Charles really like to spoil the kiddos whenever we go to Wyoming. This weekend Grandma had a volcano to set off and made a treasure hunt, and Grandpa flew kites and let the girls ride the horses. It's always fun in WY. It was rather sad though when Em twisted her ankle on the trampoline and wasn't able to join the treasure hunt. She did her best watching from the side lines. I wish blogger wasn't such a pain uploading videos. The videos of the volcano and digging up the treasure are really quite cute.

Ashy and cousin Carson reading their treasure maps.
Em tried to participate from the lawn chair. Poor kid.

Skiing and a Hockey Game

We bought Utah's Pass of All Passes last fall and have loved them. With them we got free ski days at Wolf Mountain and tickets to see the Grizzlies hockey team play in Salt Lake. When we went skiing this time, we couldn't get Ash in a class, but she did great on Wolf Mountain's Magic Carpet, so Dad took turns skiing with each kiddo while they alternated hanging out with me in the lodge. (I opted out of skiing due to my growing belly and did some editing in the lodge instead). Emma has become quite the pro on the lift, and for a while, she was just riding the lift and cruising down by herself while Dad helped Ashy.

Have I mentioned how fun it is to see your kids doing something you enjoy doing so much yourself? Nick and I LOVE skiing and have spent many fun days riding lifts and enjoying the much faster shoosh of the snow under skis. Watching our kids enjoy it so much makes us very excited for the upcoming winter. It's going to be fun.

 After skiing, we headed into Salt Lake for the Grizzlies game. I'd never watched a hockey game, so it was a blast watching the insanity. The girls really enjoyed it, too, especially since we were able to meet up with Grandma and Grandpa down there. It was a very fun trip.