Friday, April 21, 2017

Gas Fireplace - Basement Remodel

The fireplace.
 I wanted a fireplace downstairs so we measured it out on every wall and  in every corner of the living room. How much space would it take up? How would we do the venting? etc.?
 The gas line wasn't far and it wouldn't have taken much to tap into them.
 But as we were assessing our options we realized that there was this cinder block chimney that went through the center of our house. Maybe the house did have a fireplace upstairs? So I asked a bunch of my neighbors who were born and raised in the neighborhood if our house had ever had a fireplace?
 No, definitely not.
From what we could guess and helpful neighbors, it was put in when the house was built in the 1950's probably for a coal furnace, seeing as there was a clean out in the bottom. Well the house never had a coal furnace and therefore this chimney had never been used. I actually wanted to get rid of it the cinder block chimney because if we got rid of it it would give me more space in my dining room upstairs.
 But then we got thinking, what if we could use this random chimney as a ventilator for a gas fireplace? We had a professional come look at it and it took all of five minutes for him to say absolutely it could be done. All we would need to do was get a new lining.

It turned out to be a prefect place for a fireplace, not just because we could use the chimney, but because we could put the bulk of the fireplace behind the wall and into mechanical room so it wouldn't be taking space out of our living room.

 Now we need to decide what to do with the fireplace wall? We bought some ship-lap months ago but haven't put it up. But is that what we want to do? I thought exposed brick might look really pretty (but expensive.) Any good ideas for us?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Basement Living Room Reveal Before/After

The Basement Living Room is probably our most drastic change. Mostly because it went from a unfinished cold storage room to a beautiful, spacious, light, and airy Living Room!

 I know what you all are thinking, what did we do with ALL THAT CRAP?? Clearly we were utilizing the storage space to it's max capacity so where were we going to put everything after we changed it into a living room?
 First, we purged.
 Big time. 
Because we had the space, 600 Sq Ft. of storage, (which actually was about the size of our first apartment we lived in after we got married,) we filled it up. It's easy to talk yourself into keeping almost anything when you have a place to shove it. Especially if that place has lots and lots of shelves in a cold, dark somewhere you hardly ever go. A lot of it was donated or sold.
And guess what? 
We still had ample storage space for the things we did need after our remodel, in the mechanical room!
And lucky for me, I have a husband who is a champion Tetras player. 
The picture below shows what you saw when you first walked down the stairs. There was a landing with wood paneling staring you in the face. I was SO happy to see that taken out. 

 And wouldn't you know it, when that wall was gone it opened everything up like a breath of fresh air!

Monday, April 17, 2017

FLOOR PLAN - Basement Remodel

When we were looking at homes to buy we had our wish list, like most people. On that list Trevor wanted a garage and I wanted a master bedroom with a decent closet and preferably an en suite bathroom. This house had none of those things but we were sold almost immediately when we walked in. We could just tell it had good bones and even though it wasn't exactly what we wanted we felt like we could make it exactly what we wanted.

For a long time, probably about two and a half years after we moved in, I was convinced we needed to do an addition. That was going to be the only way we would get enough space for our family to grow. We had the existing basement that was mostly finished but I hated the set up and I could not think how to change it. We talked a lot on how we could make an addition work. We drew out countless plans like the ones below. We even had a few people come out and bid us on concrete work and excavation. I started to put together estimations on the cost of an addition.... it was going to be PRICEY! 

It wasn't until we had Darby and I was trying to figure out how to make our family of five fit into two bedrooms (because the basement was so dark, dingy, cold, and spidery I was not going to put my children who the oldest was 3.5 years old down there.) So Trevor and I thought, well maybe he and I could move downstairs and have the girls upstairs and spread out a little more so we could all sleep. At the time we were in such close proximity that when one person would wake up in the night everyone woke up. When I started to imagine myself downstairs living in that space I began to think what I would want to change with it. The carpet and the bathroom for starters and the windows for sure. 

The electrical was so bad in our basement that we knew we were going to need to replace most if not all of it. When we first moved in we kept tripping the breakers down there so I had an electrician come check it out. He told me that we had 17 outlets on one breaker, the max for code is 8.

Once we realized we could gut the entire basement and start from scratch, updating the electrical would be so much easier if we were down to the studs. So the sketch ups for the floor plans began again. How could we set up the basement to maximize the space we already had?

Because we were changing the specs of the home, adding more bedrooms etc. we knew we needed to apply for a building permit with our city. To do that you need to submit a floor plan that includes electrical, windows, closets, smoke detectors, etc. A bunch of people told us we were going to need to hire an architect to draw up our plans. I wanted to see what our floor plan would look like before we spent money on an architect. I knew about google sketch where you can draw up some plans on your own but it was proving to be too difficult for me because I couldn't do it on my phone and I didn't have the time to sit in front of a computer and tinker with it.

That's when I came across a FREE app called Stanley Floor Plans. This app is awesome!! It took me a little bit to figure out how to compile a bunch of rooms into a floor plan but because I had all the measurements of our basement I in essence just plugged in the numbers and voila! 
They even had the option to add furniture, plumbing, outlets and light switches, and even smoke detectors. It took me about 2 days of messing around with it here and there and ended up with the below floor plan. It looked so good and professional that we decided to pay the $3.99 to get the PDF and try submitting it to the city. Success!!! They accepted it within a week and we had our permit. We were even able to use this floor plan when getting bids from electricians, plumbers, framers, and HVAC (Trevor just drew in on a copy where we needed additional duct work.) Looks awesome, right??
I am constantly amazed at how easy and cost effective technology has made some aspects of life.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stairwell before/ after

I decided the best way to show our whole basement remodel is to go room by room. Talk about what we did, how we did it, and what we learned from it. Starting with duh dunna duh....The STAIRS! super duper exciting.

We did a surprising amount of work in the stairs. Mostly because we needed to update all the electrical in the basement and the electrical panel was in the stairwell. Well 60 years ago that was totally appropriate fast forward to 2017 and that is not a code-able option any more. So guess what we were required to do? Move the entire electrical panel! Sounds complicated? Yeah we thought so too, thus we hired the professionals. We don't regret that in any way. 

We did however, do some of the manual labor to save money with the electrician, we cut a massive hole in the wall that went almost from stair to ceiling (not just the little box you see in the picture) so he could drop the panel (and all the wires) into our mechanical room below. A big hole in the wall meant a lot of patchwork and repairing. I didn't really consider the stairs to be a viable "room" worthy of progressive shots so unfortunately I didn't take many pictures to show you the process of all the work. 
We had a tiny one bulb light in the stairs, it gave off very little light so I knew that needed to change. I searched for months on websites like wayfair and amazon, we checked Home Depot and Lowe's. Most everything that was under $100 was only one light bulb or not our style. I wasn't in a hurry to change it out so I just kept my eyes open. Last week Trevor and I were walking through Costco, we had seen this light fixture before and liked it but weren't sold on it...until we saw that is was discounted to $79.97. 
$80 bucks for a 6 bulb industrial style (which style Trevor loves and was really pushing for but because it's so popular right now everything that is industrial-esque seems to be overpriced.) AND it came with the cool looking bulbs! Isn't it funny how you like things more when you get it for a good price? 
I actually love how it turned out. And I love that there is so much more light in the stairwell.
The mirror was one that I saved from my mom's DI (goodwill) pile about 5 years ago. I have been holding on to it ever since, waiting for the perfect place to put it and I LOVE it in the stairs.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Renovation Realities DIY Network

When Trevor and I were first planning, contemplating, and starting our basement remodel we wanted to figure out ways we could pay for it. I looked on the DIY network and there was a show called Renovation Realities, we made this video to apply for the show.

There wasn't a host or anyone to help with the project but they did compensate like $2000 for coming into your home and filming you. We figured any extra money would be worth it.

We actually got through the first few rounds of casting. But then we didn't hear from them for a while and we wanted to get the project going. So I emailed them and the lady we were working with told me they were in negotiations with the network because they weren't sure if they were going to get confirmed to do another season.

We decided to let our dreams of being reality TV stars go and just continue with our basement on our own. But I am really glad we tried for it because now we have this video and it gives us a great "BEFORE" of our massive basement remodel.

If you are interested in our casting video / our basement before:

ps if you look up the show "Renovation Realities" every intro is the same with the people working on the house is outside back to back with their arms folded and a pissed off look on their face. We decided to beat them to the punch and get all the footage they needed of us looking ridiculous. Please enjoy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The biggest question of this entire project was how were we going to pay for it all?
Clearly we are running out of space faster than we have been able to save money, three kids in three years will do that to you. If we were to wait until we could save enough to pay cash it would take us more years than we wanted to wait for more children. 
It came down to the two options: Do we get financing? Or do we look for a new house? Trevor and I have been very particular about staying out of debt so it wasn't a decision we were taking lightly. After careful consideration and much fasting and prayer we decided that it would be very difficult to find a home with more space and a nice yard in our price range... all what we have in our current home. 
We decided to apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit. This would allow us to borrow in smaller chunks and only pay interest on what we borrowed instead of paying interest on entire loan every month until we paid it back. The Home Equity Line of Credit was also helpful in another way. In order to get the line of credit we needed an appraisal on our home, when we got the appraisal back we fond out we had over 20% equity in the home so we were able to remove that pesky mortgage insurance from our monthly payment thus lowering our monthly mortgage.  Cha' Ching! Thanks US Bank!

We began stashing money before we started the renovation and continue now saving everything we can in an account, separate from our regular bills and expenses, to cover our monthly payments on the HELOC.  Once the basement remodel is finished and the last penny spent then we will know the final total and as our friend Dave Ramsey would say with "gazelle intensity" pay off the balance. We have projected that it will take us a little over two years to pay it off completely.

We love are home and we love where we live, the people and community are fantastic. We are grateful to have been able to get financing to get this remodel underway, to make our home more of the home we can stay in for years to come.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Basement Remodel Beginnings

When we purchased our home almost 3.5 years ago it didn't have any of the things that were on our "wish list." Such as Trevor wanted a garage and I wanted a walk in master closet. But the second we walked in we were excited about it.We could feel it's potential in it's sturdy walls and squeaky floors.
It's an old Ranch style home, built in 1957 a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom in 2400 sq. ft.

There is plenty of square footage it just has not been used well. We have two bedrooms upstairs and one down. But like any 60-year-old grandma house the basement is cold, dark, spidery, and not a place I would put my babies. Which means that the 5 of us are in the two upstairs bedrooms.... and truthfully 4 of us sleep in my bed and Ruthie sleeps in her own room because we are all terrified she will wake up in the night. There's nothing like a 2-year-old's middle of the night tantrum to make sure no one sleeps. And honestly, I am tired.

Which brings us to our basement remodel. It was actually kind of funny, it wasn't until about 8 months ago that I realized that we could gut our basement and started over by re-purposing the space to better function for our family. It took me three years to look past what was already there and see what it could be. I was trying to figure out how to squeeze two other bedrooms in the unfinished spaces when the finished spaces weren't helpful the way they already existed.

We have been saving our pennies and have started the process to do a full basement remodel. There are lots of super dumb weird things about our house that will definitely need to be addressed. (the poop pipe, the hole in the middle of the bathroom floor, and the fact that all the outlets seem to be on one breaker. etc. etc.)

Two Summers ago Trevor remodeled our bathroom so we are pretty much professionals. It only makes sense to take on a whole basement renovation as our second project.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

The Christmas Season is upon us yet again. I love this time of year. I love all the family time and traditions. I especially love my Savior Jesus Christ and I am so grateful He was born. 

It is also time for our traditional Christmas Card! If you are curious about our previous years cards: 20122013, 2014

2015 has been good to us. Not even Miserables at all.
The biggest highlight being the addition of Darby Naomi to our family in April.

Darby: Was born at home, just to make you feel uncomfortable. This time on Trevor’s side of the bed, just to make him feel uncomfortable. She is now 8 months old and 22lbs. She has more body rolls than the Michelin Tire man and should audition as the vocals for police sirens and/or fireworks. But seriously. I will get after Bridget and Ruthie for screaming only to find out it was Darby’s pure elation of life that was expressed so loudly. I then remember she is the third kid and just doing her best to make sure she’s not lost in the mix.

Ruthie: Almost 2 years old and a jabber box. She has taken up joke telling, knock knock jokes being her forte. She has perfected the punchline… just start fake laughing and everyone will follow. While Trevor and I have to spell out a large portion of every conversation, it is imperative that we never say B A T H out loud because just mentioning it Ru will get completely naked in 2.3 seconds. Ruthie is sugar and spice, and keeps us laughing constantly.

Bridget: 4 years old, started dance lessons this year and loves it. Although I have noticed that she is a much better dancer if you don’t ask her to do the moves she learned in class. Bridget comes into our bed and sleeps in between us in the middle of every night. We have been trying to get her to stay in her own bed, in exasperation I asked her when she was going to sleep in her own bed all night? “When I’m 20 probably.” She responded. I’m pretty sure she’s serious. It does feels like Bridget has all the sudden become an adult, she asks deep penetrating questions about the meaning of life and death. I suspect I am learning more from her than she is from me.

April: Has enjoyed being a mom to my three little girls. Almost in a giddy punchy type way, sleep deprivation has a way of doing that. I have continued to teach HypnoBirthing classes, and love it. I am gearing back up to start doula-ing again in the Spring. 

Trevor: Not much has changed with him. A little less hair on his head, feels the need to compensate with the hair on his face. Totally sexy. We have 3 kids in 3 years to prove it. He is the best part of our every day when he walks in the door from work.

We send our love and prayers and wish all our family and friends a wonderful Christmas season with an excellent New Year.
Trevor, April, Bridget Ruthie, Darby Millar

We would like to publicly thank:
Douglas and Russell Steed for the assistance with the picture taking.
Douglas Steed for the impeccable Photoshop job.
Hale Centre Theatre Orem for costume help.
Eugene Delecroix for painting Liberty Leading the People.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Darby Naomi Birth Story

Well she's 8 months so it's high time I share her birth story. 

Darby Naomi Millar
April 7, 2015 10:23AM
6lbs 14 oz 19.5"

Lets start with the name, I really liked the name Darby even when we were pregnant with Ruthie. When I suggested the name Trevor called her Darby Millarby, and even still I loved the name.Where we were getting hung up was the middle name, nothing seemed right. It wasn't until a couple weeks before she was born that I thought and really considered the middle name Naomi. I thought about it before but would almost immediately dismiss it seeing as how we already have a Ruthie and it would just be going too far if we had a Ruth AND Naomi.

Bridget recently figured out that Ruthie and Grandma Ruthie have the same name. She seemed devastated, when I asked her about it she said "what about me?" That's when I got to explain to her that her middle name is the same as her Nana Jude. She too was named after her Grandmother. Immediately all was well and she said "she needed more pictures of her and Nana together, because we have the same name." It became very apparent to me that this new baby sister needed a name just as special. Hours I searched through mine and Trevor's family names. Nothing felt right.

Naomi was in our family lines a few times but it wasn't until one early morning when I woke before my babies and I lay in bed thinking. I had the distinct thought, "I have always loved the name Naomi."It was then that the whole weight of the meaning of the name, the bible story, what it all meant to me and what it would mean to my precious unborn daughter. The story of Ruth and Naomi is one of my very favorites. I realized that is exactly what I want for this sweet girl. She and Ruthie are only 15 months apart, I want them to have a deep bond, connection, and love for one another. I want my darling Darby Naomi to possess the same glorious qualities as Naomi of old; her faith, her dedication, her testimony, among so many other wonderful characteristics. "Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept...Ruth clave unto her. Entreat me not to leave thee...for whither thou goest , I will go." Ruth 1. I love the part where they lifted up their voices. I have come across a saying; "She is clothed with strength and dignity. She speaks wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Her children arise and call her blessed." That! That right there is exactly what I want for my daughters. In a world of chaos and fear to teach my girls and raise them in the way's of God is all I can ask for.

I am well aware that I have fast labors. So as I got closer to my due date I was trying very hard to make sure I was in tune with what was happening in my body to make sure all the right people were able to get there. A week before her birth Sherri, my midwife, checked me and I was dilated to a 4 and about 70% effaced. Things were definitely happening even without being in labor. It was Monday night April 6th, I noticed more of a consistency with my Braxton Hicks. They weren't painful at all, I just found I could time them a bit coming every 20-30 minutes. I let Sherri know. I decided to go to bed at 10:30ish, but I would still groggily make note of the time with every Braxton Hicks I had. At around 1:00AM I decided it was stupid to sort of wake up to see how far apart they were and decided to just stay asleep.

Around 7:00AM Sherri called and I told her I slept through the night and hadn't noticed a single braxton hick since 1AM. She said she would come and drop off the birth tub at my house around noon and check and see how I was doing. I then called my mom to give her an update. She was in California with my sisters but was supposed to be home late that night.

As Trevor was headed out the door around 8:00AM he gave me a kiss and very seriously put his hands on my shoulders looked into my eyes and said, "Do not hesitate to call me home if anything happens. I can see you wanting to wait and make sure it's real labor to call anyone, but don't you dare wait with me, you call me!" I promised I would.

Bridget and Ruthie woke up shortly after that and I got them and myself breakfast while they played. They got oatmeal but I made myself a special egg pancakes with chocolate chips, peanut butter, and lots of strawberries. It was 8:50AM when I felt my first contraction. I was half way through my breakfast, it was stronger than any I had up until then and it definitely wasn't comfortable although it didn't really hurt and I could still walk and talk through it. The next one came 8 minutes later. So at exactly 9:00AM I called Trevor, "I have had two contractions, you should probably come home." I felt so silly saying it. Two! Who calls their husband home after only two contractions and they weren't even strong. But I realized if things picked up quickly I didn't want to be in active labor alone with two toddlers. However, I did tell him we were out of eggs and milk so if he would please stop and get some at the store on his way home.

With every contraction I experienced each got a little more powerful and intense. I called Sherri after four contractions. "Ok! I'll be there in about an hour, or less." She said.

Trevor got home close to 9:20AM and started to get the house in order and get the girls dressed. We asked Bridget if she wanted to stay and watch the baby be born or if she wanted to go play at Vana's house? She chose to go play. So Trevor texted my neighbor, Diana, to see if she would come pick up the girls? I remember him reading me the text and I told him he needed to alter it and take out the words "beginning labor" because it gave the perception that it was going to be a while and I knew it wouldn't be long. She responded that she was at an appointment but that she could be at our house in a half an hour.

At this point I decided to get in the shower. I was in there about ten minutes and experienced three contractions so I knew things were picking up. Right after I got out of the shower Roxanne Mauer, another midwife Sherri works with walked in. "Sherri said you wanted my tub?" "Yes!" I responded. "Ok, before we do anything lets check you and see where you are." We went into my bedroom, this was about 10:05AM I went to my side of the bed when she asked if I would go to the other because she was right handed. She checked my cervix and smiled, "Ok we have some time, you are at a five." I was actually really relieved. She and Trevor left the room to start setting up the birth pool. I got up and took this picture of my belly. That's when everything started to shift.

(I took this picture at 10:06AM)

My contractions became really intense, I went back to the bed to try and get into a better position. I really started to moan loudly, Both Trevor and Roxanne started to bustle around trying to help support me with counter pressure but set up the pool and get towels and things at the same time. Bridget and Ruthie were still there in and around. Bridget was at the bottom of the bed and Ru was playing in Trevor's night stand right below where I was laboring. I remembered asking if she was ok where she was on the ground or if she was going to get slimmed? I could not get into a position that helped relieve what I was feeling, it was all so powerful, completely rocking my body and would not quit. I was laying on my side, but I did not like it there. Roxanne said not to worry that they could just lift up my leg. "No!" I exclaimed! "I get really bad charlie horses in my hip I don't want you to lift my leg." I knew that I just wanted to get on my hands and knees I just needed it to subside a little so I could move. At that time my friend Diana got there to take the girls. I heard her gathering the girls in the other room and I yelled from my bedroom "Thanks Diana!" She shut the door at 10:20AM It's funny to think about now, but because only 15 minutes before Roxanne checked me at a 5 I figured I had plenty of time left so I felt like I needed to get my head around this labor, thus the spurts of normalcy out of my mouth. Had I known Darby would be born only three minutes later I would have had Diana bring in the girls for the birth.

I was still on my side when I decided that maybe what I needed to do was to push through this pain. I didn't really have the urge to push until I decided to try it. Pushing actually did what I was trying to accomplish, which was to get a grasp on the intensity of my contractions so I could get into a better position. I got to my knees and it was then that I realized that I wasn't just pushing through the pain, I was pushing a baby out. As I felt the intense pressure of the crowning then the slight release as her head came out, the contraction continued so I pretty much catapulted her out of me. Trevor and Roxanne were there helping but I don't think either of them knew I was still pushing because I felt Darby drop onto the bed between my legs. Trevor told me later that Darby was born in the caul, there was a slight tear along one side though so Roxanne was removing the sack from around Darby's face when I pushed her all the way out. So they indeed weren't completely ready to catch her. 10:23AM she was born. Sherri, my midwife walked in at 10:26, "You missed it by three minutes!" I said as she rushed in the room. "April! Dang it! I knew I shouldn't have showered!"

Darby was perfect. She snuggled right into me and we stayed that way until the shakes settled in. I was cold so Darby and I got into the bath to warm up and relax. Once back on my bed I got stitched up and finished my half eaten breakfast from an hour and a half before. 

It was an absolutely perfect morning. Darby is a lover, she adds so much joy and happiness to our family. We can't imagine life without her.

About two weeks after Darby was born Bridget Asked what Charlie horses were? It took me a bit to realize that I had said that in labor while she was sitting at the edge of my bed. She really was aware with what was going on. Both Bridget and Ruthie love their new baby sister. They are so kind and gentle with her. Even Ruthie who not much older than her is so tender and even talks to her in a higher pitched voice. Girls, I tell you, natural born nurturers. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Small Bathroom Renovation

When we purchased our house two years ago I knew the first thing I wanted / we needed to change was the bathroom.We have one tiny bathroom on the main level. It's the one that is used 99% of the time. 
(One more bathroom in the basement but it's far away and in need of work as well.)

The bathtub being the thing I hated the most.
I'm not kidding, I took that picture right after I finished scrubbing it. 
 It was the original cast iron tub from the 1950's. You can see that the bottom of it was flaking, which being a mama of little children very much concerned me that they were going to get lead poisoning or something.
And the mold! There was mold all around the tub and the way the previous owners decided to deal with it was to calk over it. So it was impossible to clean unless I tore out all the calk. It made me sick every time I had to bathe myself or my children.

Then it came down to the rest of the bathroom, if we were going to replace the bathtub we might as well redo the entire bathroom. 
Especially because they put pergo floors... in the bathroom! Not to state the obvious but any flooring that is susceptible to warping isn't a good idea in a tiny bathroom.

Needless to say there was a lot of warping and thus leaking into the basement because of those floors.

The decision was made, we would redo the entire bathroom. 
Here we are, the Before and Afters:

We took a year and slowly bought and acquired supplies. 
-We were gifted the subway tile for the tub surround and the floor tile from Trevor's brother. They were left over from a job he had worked on. 
-We bought the new counter and sink on Craigslist 
-Bathtub from Home Depot
-Mirror from Ross
-Paint from Sherwin Williams
-Painted the existing cabinet with Annie Sloan chalk paint
-Cabinet hardware from Hobby Lobby
-Light fixture we found on Craigslist
-Decor we picked up throughout the summer from garage sales
-The fake plants, rug, and curtains are from Ikea

I have to be honest with you, because we would get things here and there and mostly we were looking for the best price we could find. I was shocked everything came together so well and it looks so wonderful!!!
I am so proud of Trevor, for the hard work and time he put into it. Along with some fabulous family and friends that helped with the electrical, or cut tile, or moved the massive 500 lb. tub, etc. We are lucky to have so many wonderful and generous friends!

Perhaps my next post will be about all the things we learned from this experience, so you can benefit from out mistakes.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Millar Christmas Card

You may think that I only blog now when I am announcing a pregnancy... sure does feel that way. However I have made a goal to blog more in 2015, we'll see how I do. 
You see, being a mom of two soon to be three little girls I don't hold very high expectations for myself on the daily. 
I like myself better for it. 

However, I figured a great way to jump start my 2015 blogging year off was to post our 2014 Christmas card. It has become a tradition to do an Untraditional Christmas card.... to keep people on their toes. Make it fun for them to open our card and not see our Facebook profile picture on our Christmas card.

See previous Christmas cards here and here

I will be honest with you, this is a controversial card. I may have even had concerns from well meaning family members to not post this on the internet for fear that it will go viral, end up on the today show, and I get plagued with a whole bunch of hate mail. I think it would be very telling and sad of our society if that happened. This Christmas card was made in good fun with no intention to offend anyone. ever. 

So without further ado:
Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas!
Lets start off by saying we mean no ill will, offense, or insult by our Christmas card. We wanted to hear you laugh. Or at least gasp in confusion and shock.

Trevor & April: We have had a fairly busy year. We welcomed our second child, Donna Ruthie Millar, just in the nick of time last year, December 30th. We didn’t realize how grateful we were that she came the day she did until about March when we filed our taxes. We have since become pregnant with our third child, another little girl, due mid-April 2015. We are beyond excited. Seeing as our family is growing rapidly we invested in a minivan, to the delight of April and the outward chagrin (but inward pleasure) of Trevor.
Besides multiplying and replenishing the earth this year:
Trevor has enjoyed his work with Progress Mfg. and is always pointing out “his” products on vehicles as we drive down the freeway. Trevor also completely renovated our bathroom, gutting the whole thing and starting from scratch (with the help of great family and friends). It was his first home-improvement project and he did a beautiful job! But now April thinks he can do anything so his honey do list has gotten really long.
April has very much loved the work she’s done as a doula and HypnoBirthing instructor. Although she promised Trevor she was going to take 2014 off from doulary she still ended up attending 7 births this year, each such an amazing miracle. But now she really does have to take 2015 off from being a doula… it’s harder to get a babysitter for 3 very little children. (However, she will continue to teach HypnoBirthing classes).

Bridget: Is three and full of sass and sweetness. She is a complete social butterfly and loves nursery and her pre-school class. Everyday we watch for the kids walking home from school so she can say hi to all her “friends.” She is an excellent big sister always making sure Ru is taken care of. She talks non-stop and always wants to hear stories about: Bridget and her friends Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, and Rapunzel, and the Bad Fairy. If we get details wrong she makes sure to whisper corrections.

Ruthie: Is such a wonderful addition to our family. We have loved watching her grow up this year and can’t believe she’s almost a year old. She is incredibly affectionate giving lots of head-on-the-shoulder hugs, pats on the back, and all-tongue-no-lip-kisses. She donated all her hair to locks of love when she was born, plus interest, that’s why she still doesn’t have any. She’s just really kind and generous like that.

We have been blessed beyond measure and give Glory to our God. We have such strong testimonies of the love our Savior Jesus Christ has for us. We pray constantly for our friends and family to find comfort and peace in the path The Lord has set before them. We send all our love to you and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Trevor, April, Bridget, Ruthie, and baby Millar

Monday, January 13, 2014

Donna Ruthie's Birth Story

Preface: This story is incredibly special to me. I am sharing many details I wouldn't normally share but I feel like it needs to be documented this way.

Donna Ruthie Millar
Decmeber 30, 2013 1:00AM
6lbs. 12oz
19 1/2"

I thought I would start this story when I went into labor, but the story of Ruthie began long before that. About 4 years ago Trevor and I had been married just over a year, I was talking to my mother and she was telling me about an experience my brothers had. They were doing some emotional work with a friend of my mom’s, Suzie. Suzie has many gifts and one is  that the veil is sometimes very thin, she said she saw a blond little girl come into the room to help in the process. Suzie asked her name and the little girl responded “Ruthie.” As my own mother, Ruth, related this experience I had the distinct feeling that that little Ruthie was going to be my daughter.

A few months later I found out I was expecting a girl. Trevor and I discussed deeply what we should name our baby. Of course I wondered if this was my Ruthie. Both he and I felt like this was a different spirit, this wasn’t Ruthie yet.

When I got pregnant again we weren’t really planning on it. We had planned to get pregnant a few months later so that the baby would arrive in the spring instead of winter. I was so excited when I found out I was expecting. I knew that this was a very special spirit, one who needed to come right now! She couldn’t and wouldn’t wait even a couple months. Could this be my Ruthie? 
I kind of became consumed with figuring out if this baby girl was Donna Ruthie. Trevor and I went to the temple, we both felt fine about the name, that it worked for the little spirit inside me. But perhaps I was feeling like I needed a big spiritual “aha” experience that just feeling good about it wasn’t enough. 

Over the next few months I kept thinking about it. One day I came across a story of a woman who was completely stumped as to what to name her unborn child. She had a friend simply say to her “Why don’t you ask the baby what she wants to be named?” 
That was it! 
I knew that’s what I needed to do, I had asked The Lord and he had given his approval but I didn’t feel like I had gotten all the approval I needed. Of course I needed to ask my baby what she wanted to be named. 

I made some quiet time and began to take deep breaths to clear my head. I imagined going inside my womb to where this sweet baby was growing and developing and I asked 
“What is your name?” 
There was a long time where I thought nothing, then I had the thought, You know her name. “Well,” I responded, “what is your first given name? Are you Donna? Or are you Ruthie?”
I came away knowing that she was my Ruthie but because the name Donna was so sacred to both Trevor and I she would be honored to carry that name as her first given name.
Trevor and I both have grandmothers who have passed named Donna. In fact Donna is my first given name, April being my middle name.

Ruthie’s original due date was January 8th but I was also given the due date of January 2nd according to her ultrasound and fundal measurements. It was nice to have a range of dates because I just had it in my head that she would come sometime between the 2nd and the 8th but she was definitely coming in January.

I should have seen the foreshadowing with the fact that I became pregnant with her before I was anticipating. I should have realized that she had already exuded the personality trait that she does what she wants when she is ready; she doesn’t wait for anyone.

It was Sunday December 29th. It was a good day and I was feeling good. Church was excellent and we had plans to go to Trevor’s sisters house for dinner after church. I was assigned to bring dessert so I spent the morning making a huge mess in my kitchen. When we got home from church we jumped in the car and headed over. 

We had a nice time with Angie and Mandy and their families. As we cleaned up dinner I was having some Braxton hicks contractions that felt more like an achy period cramp. They didn’t bother me, I could walk and talk through them and I just figured it was because I was moving up and down that was why they were coming more frequent. 

We sat and chatted about the pregnancy I assured them all that I wouldn’t have that baby until January. As we sat down I noticed more of a consistency with these achy Braxton hicks. I began to time them. Every 10 minutes lasting 40-60 seconds. 
That was interesting. 
We left their house at about 8:45pm, on the way out to the car I said to Trevor 
“I think I might be in labor” with a big hearty laugh.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Well I am having some surges that just feel like period cramps but I was timing them in there and they are coming about every 10 minutes. But I really don’t think I am in labor, these just feel like strong Braxton hicks. Besides I have so much I need to do before this lady comes. My kitchen is a mess!!”

As we discussed what would happen if I was hypothetically in labor, I said well I have to go home and clean my house, and we have to find the adaptor to the sink and the hose for the birth pool. We had bought the adaptor but had also lost it. We figured it was in the house but with a very helpful two-year-old in the house the adaptor could literally be anywhere.

When we got close to home I decided I had better call my mom and give her the heads up in case I woke up in the night in actual labor. It was about 9:00pm. She was not feeling well at all, I told her to not worry about it because I was not convinced at all that I was in labor. Luckily she didn’t believe me and told me she was going to take some medicine and come over. I told her to bring her pjs so she could sleep downstairs because I probably wasn’t going to have that baby tonight. But I did feel better knowing that my mom was going to be there in case I did go into labor.

We got home and Trevor and I both started to look for the adaptor. We could not find it anywhere. My surges were still coming regularly 8-10 minutes apart. I decided to get in the tub to see if that would make them subside. Bridget heard the water going and decided she really needed a bath too. She and I got in at about 10:00pm and I texted my midwife, Sherri Price.

“Hi, just wanted to give you a heads up, I have been feeling contractions every 10 min for the past couple hours. They aren’t super strong, just hard period cramps. I got in the tub to see if it will change anything. I will let you know.”

They didn’t subside in the tub but they did feel better. I decided to get out to get Bridget down for bed. Trevor was frantically cleaning my kitchen, vacuuming the floor, searching for the adaptor, and concocting a new adaptor all during this.

10:45pm I got a text from my dad “April, mom wasn’t feeling well so she laid down and took some asprin. So hopefully in the next little while she’ll be feeling better. If you need her let me know.”
“Ok. Thanks so much. I would say I am definitely in labor just not active labor yet.”

11:00pm I texted Sherri again, “Things have gotten stronger, can’t really walk or talk through them. Still about 1 min long and 6-8 minutes apart. I’m heading to bed and going to try and get some sleep."

I was in complete denial. 
In my mindset I had hours and hours still ahead of me. I think there were a couple of factors that made me believe that. 
First, with my labor with Bridget my surges came on very strong from the beginning and continual. I had to be in a complete relaxed zone the entire time with her, during the surges and between the surges, I was always feeling something with her. With this labor between my surges I felt completely normal, like I hadn’t felt a thing. I had this ongoing debate in my head during a surge, well these are pretty strong, I think this is labor. And between surges, There is no way I am in labor, I feel nothing right now.
Next, it was still December. I truly did not consider that Ruthie would come in December. She was going to come sometime between the 2nd and the 8th of January.
And lastly, the week previous I had attended a 34-hour labor of one of my clients. She did amazing, but witnessing her in her hard active labor and comparing it with my own labor, which I never should have done, I convinced myself I still had hours and hours ahead of me. I figured I was probably at about a 4cm.

At my appointment a few days before Sherri taught / showed Trevor how to check my cervix. I asked him if we would check me to see if I was in labor and if anything had changed. “Whoa,” he said “Her head is really low, I can’t feel any cervix but I don’t know if it’s moved.”
He doesn’t know what to look for. I justified in my head.

It was 11:15PM that I asked Trevor to give me a blessing. It was such a sweet blessing and we both had tears flowing when he was done.

After that things shifted and I started involuntarily moaning through my surges. Trevor was still bustling around trying to get everything together. He would come running in every time I started in with another surge and started moaning and put pressure on my back or knees. He asked if I wanted him to fill up the birth pool. I logically thought about it and said no. I figured once the pool was filled it that was it, I wouldn’t be draining and filling it up multiple times and I wanted to be closer to the delivery before I got in. I decided I would wait for the assessment from Sherri before we brought the pool into it.

11:25pm I texted my mom again “They are getting pretty strong, about 6-7 min apart. Mom out?”
“Not out. I’m coming!”
“Are you feeling ok? I don’t want you to get sicker.”
“I’m Ok, so conflicted about greeting Ruthie sick. But I can’t miss it, I am coming!”

I literally breathed a sigh of relief. I needed her and I knew Trevor needed some help.

11:53pm Ruth: “In the car but need to stop for gas. See you soon!”

12:12am me to Sherri: “Back in the tub they are getting stronger longer and closer together.”

My mom got there at about 12:30 I had a few more deep moaning surges in the tub and decided to get out. I do remember expressing to my mom how grateful I was that I shaved my armpits that morning. I moved into my bedroom and sat on my birth ball. Trevor had my back and my mom had my knees. I told Trevor to call Sherri. He was on the phone with her when I started into another surge. He was putting pressure on my back with just one hand as he talked to her but that wasn’t working for me, I needed his strong grip around my hips. “Put the phone down! I need two hands!!” I demanded. He dropped the phone and helped me through that surge.
Sherri had heard all that she needed. She said she was in the car and would be there as soon as she could. She also called Roxanna, another midwife who lived in Spanish Fork. I had met Roxanna a few times and liked her a lot.

Down at my knees my mom said to me, "I think you are in transition." “No way” I scoffed. I think you think I am much further than I really am. I can still handle this.

It was about 12:45am when I was in a surge and there was a knock on the door it started quiet and got louder and louder until there was hard relentless rapping on the window and door. Trevor and Ruth didn’t dare leave when I was in such a hard place. “Can’t she just wait a second?” I heard my mom say. I finally burst out, “Go let her in!” Trevor left and was back at my side in a split second.

Roxanna came in and in a flash my bedroom was covered in chux pads and she was directing me to the bed.  “I need to check the baby’s heartbeat and I would like to check your progress but after your next contraction.” I got as far as my hands and knees and was again at the mercy of my body and the support I received from the nurturing hands of Trevor and my mom. 
Faster they were taking over with little relief in between, Roxanna got in there and all was well with baby’s heartbeat. Roxanna got Sherri on speakerphone as she drove and they were both offering up words of encouragement. There didn’t seem to be any end to my next surge so as the sharpness faded and the pounding ach remained I told Roxanna that was her chance to check me. In her fingers went and a small chuckle flowed from her mouth. “Ok, Sherri baby is less than a knuckle in and I feel no cervix, there is a bulge from the bag.”
“Wow April” Sherri’s voice came over the speaker “when you said you go quickly you weren’t kidding!”

It was then I felt another shift in my body. I could feel the baby moving down, my whole focus and attention on her head, I was down there with her. I was vaguely aware that my breathing had changed to pushing, 
“Don’t use your thumbs! Get your thumbs off my back!!” I commanded my support team. 
I am sure they were completely confused by my demand. And looking back I realize it had nothing to do with them, in fact it had everything to do with what was happening inside me but I could not figure out how to make it stop and that was the only thing I could associate with what I was feeling. Then with a small pop water rushed down my legs. My water had broken. That was it, the urge to push was overwhelming.

“Whoa! Ok, April you need to slow down, we need to ease her head down and out.” Roxanna exclaimed.
The crazy thing was even though I was in the thick of all of this, I knew she was completely right. I could feel that my baby’s head was moving down too quickly and things weren’t getting the chance to unfold like they needed to. 
But the problem was, I didn’t know how to slow down; look at your mouth, keep exhaling I thought to myself. I followed that advice. As I write it now it seems obscure and ridiculous. How in the world was I supposed to look at my own mouth? It was almost as if I was having an out of body experience. Don't get me wrong; I was very much in my body, very much feeling every single thing but my mind was so focused on my baby and what was happening down there that I needed to remove my focus. I shifted my mind to my mouth and focused on my breathing. I was at the end of my breath but I knew I had to keep exhaling, if I took another breath I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop my body from pushing with all my might. Slowly I wrapped my brain around a way to inhale, through my teeth, ok that was working. Until I reached the top of that breath and I couldn’t stand it anymore, my control was gone, the few seconds I bought had better have helped because I was pushing the baby out now!

And out she came. 
According to Trevor you could just see her head then all at once she was out to her shoulders. Then a split second later the rest of her body came whooshing out. With her cord wrapped around her arm Roxanna expertly untangled her.

I on the other hand slumped down on my arms feeling as though I needed to gather back all my body parts. I knew my baby was out and I knew she was in good hands, but I needed a few moments. I took a few deep calming breaths to stem the flow of adrenaline that was now surging in my veins. I was somewhere up in the atmosphere and I needed to ground myself. I was having an even harder time believing what just happened.

"1:00AM exactly" I heard Sherri proclaim over the speaker. 

Several more chux pads were laid out so I could flip myself over and hold my baby. As she was laid on my abdomen and I covered her tiny body with my hands I was thrown from the clouds and immediately back in the present. 
This really happened! 
My baby was in my arms! 
It’s interesting because I believe and know that immediate skin-to-skin is incredibly beneficial for the baby to regulate all body functions. But I never considered that it would be exactly what I needed to ground me and give me balance.  
We needed each other, she and I.

She literally did not cry, at all. She squeaked some but not once did she cry. Even now as I write this a week later I have yet to hear Ruthie really cry.
I remember Trevor saying, “Have we made sure she’s a girl?” That’s so silly, I thought, OF COURSE this baby is a girl. Even though I too had not verified. Low and behold…she stayed a girl.

We hung out and soaked up each other’s warmth, not needing to say a thing just connecting our spirits. Ru was then passed to Trevor to get some skin-to-skin bonding with daddy.

I was able to get into the tub with Ruthie at about 2am. It cleaned us both up and it was incredibly relaxing, again I am sure for both of us, to unwind our tense muscles. It was amazing to watch Ruthie the more she relaxed in the water the more she unfolded her little body. It was literally as if each of her limbs were breathing a sigh of relief and rest.
(yes her cord was still attached to the placenta and her placenta was bobbing around in that bowl. She stayed attached for over an hour, until the cord was completely white and very thin.)

At 3am Sherri was stitching me up when little Bridget woke up. 
A little note, I am convinced it was a complete miracle that Bridget slept through the entire labor and delivery. I am sure she had some angels watching over her making sure she stayed sound asleep. The whole thing would have had a very different outcome had Bridget been awake. 
She walked into the room with what I can only interpret as confusion. Luckily my mom was there to comfort and console her. 

With me on my back unable to move while I was stitched up and Trevor holding another baby, we betrayed her. She didn’t want anything to do with Trevor, little Ru, or me. Luckily it didn't take long for Bridget to forgive us all and she has been exceptionally sweet, gentle, and kind to her new baby sister.

Ruthie is an amazing little nurse-er, she has the best latch and all she does is just smack her lips together a little to let me know she is ready for some food. She sleeps so well and truly couldn’t be sweeter. None of us can get enough of her. I feel so blessed to have her in our family. My heart has swollen and I feel as though it might burst with the love that has consumed me.

This was my team! Trevor and my mom, Ruth. Sherri is in the purple and got to my house about 10 minutes after Ruthie was born. Roxanna is in the black in the right hand corner, I am so glad she lives in Spanish Fork and was able to be there to deliver Ruthie. Gloria, in the tan, is Sherri's apprentice and is a special friend of mine, we went through doula training together. She got there about 20 minutes after the birth.

Not pictured, but the one who took these pictures is my dear friend Whitney Smith. Months ago I was talking with Whitney when I told her I was planning a home birth. Whitney exclaimed that she has always wanted to film a home birth. So of course I invited her to the birth. And unfortunately she missed it as well. Arriving about 15 minutes after Ruthie did. 

I am so grateful for all of these amazing women who helped to bring Donna Ruthie into this world. Not only that but before they left they changed my sheets, did my laundry, took out the garbage, fed me, and made sure my home was in perfect order.

I am so grateful I was able to have a home birth, in fact I think I would have ended up with a home birth had I planned one or not. Trevor told Sherri a few days later that he thinks he should take an emergency childbirth delivery class. "In case things go even faster next time I should probably know what I'm doing if no one else can make it."

Which brings me to Trevor, I am so grateful for him! He is my rock and foundation. I cannot believe how supportive he has been with my desires to have this baby at home. He is the best man, husband, and father. He stayed so calm throughout the whole thing I was amazed. Seriously, I hit jackpot with him, thank you Trevor. I love you so much!!!