Monday, November 3, 2014


A little over a week ago, Greg and I did our second round of Disney and spent a day at Epcot, or, as the 4-year-daughter of my good friend calls it, Et-tot.

The first area of Epcot has futuristic rides and is focused a lot on technology. My favorite ride was Test Track, were you design your own car and the ride gives you your ratings as you drive around. The schnazzy racecar that Greg and I designed definitely bested the truck-like invention of the small children who sat in front of us. Perhaps I should not have gloated, but I sort of did. 

The next part of Epcot is a bunch of buildings and rides and shows and restaurants that showcase countries from around the world, all situated around a lake. All of the workers at the country stations are actually native to the country in question. It was fun to interact with them. 

Inside the ancient Mayan temple in Mexico: 

Outside in front of the entrance:

We contemplated Greg's heritage as we meandered through Norway. Here's a shout-out to you, Iselin. You should come work in Florida. 


Italy (I think): 

Morocco, the abode of Aladdin and Jasmine. The tiled courtyards actually reminded Greg of Spain: 


Another fun day at Disney, all in all. The architecture really reminded Greg and I how much we want to travel some day. We got lucky and were just in the right place at the right time to watch a lot of the street shows they put on. There was a Chinese acrobat and dance company that was really amazing and fun to watch, and a renaissance Italian flag-waving show, which was more entertaining than it sounds, and Japanese drummers and other stuff I'm sure I've forgotten. 

There was only one disappointment...there are food booths set up around the lake, and we didn't bring a lot of other food with us because we thought we could get a good meal from taste-testing a few of the $3 plates from a bunch of different countries. We made the mistake of paying $6.50 for a few bites of lamb doused in a super weird mint pesto and crushed up potato chips, courtesy of Australia. I mean, I like Australians as much as anybody, but we were kind of disillusioned after that. We ended up giving up on the food carts and ate lunch in China. 

Lunch in China. No big deal. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Feliz Cumple, Heather

So I've been waiting a good couple of months to say I'm 24. Twenty-four just sounds WAYYY better than 23, you know?

I did this for my birthday:

Yeah. Went to the ocean to go "running." Mostly I just sat around and thought about how pleasant the beach is. This is your cue to be enormously jealous. 

^ This meanie crab attacked me though, so be grateful you missed out on that. 

Greg told me he's a really good wrapper. After a few birthdays, I'm not entirely convinced. They look a little lumpy, right? The reason why is because Greg tries to disguise all his presents. My shoes were wrapped up in an old Carhartt sweatshirt and my vase was in a shoe box that wasn't closed all the way. Whatever. I'm cool with that. 

If Greg has questionable wrapping skills, his shoe shopping skills are top notch. Better than mine, actually. He picked these out all by himself. Super cute, right? Look at that plaid on the sides. All I told them him was that I needed sturdy, cute-ish shoes that I could wear in the Florida rain. And now I have my first pair of Sperry's. Score, Greg. Score. 

I also got this pitcher. I always like looking at pitchers. I just think a nice vase with good lines and a good shape with flowers in it is just fresh and lovely. But I never buy them for myself. It was a fun surprise present. My husband has a good fashion sense, I'm realizing. 

What birthday is complete without Reese's as a present? No birthday. 

The "cake" was a little special this year. Normally I'm a birthday cake purist. No other dessert will do. And since high school I've typically made my cake myself just for quality control purposes (no offense, general family members who have made cake for my birthday). This year I really felt like instead of cake I just wanted a fatty cheesecake of some sort. So I pulled out my trusty Hershey's cookbook and did a special dark three layer chocolate cheesecake. 

Divine, my friends. DIVINE. 

Happy birthday. To me.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Four Years, and Disney on a Whim

The cool part about my non-pregnant state? I can go to Disney and ride whatever I want, whenever I want. 


Today is our four year anniversary, and we celebrated in style. Last week we bought a four day pass to the happiest place on earth, mostly for our four year anniversary, and also partly for my birthday, and also partly because we're adults and we can go to Disney if we want to. 

We spent Saturday in the Magical Kingdom. Excuse my washed-out appearance, I was just not going to worry about being cute and stuff. Us in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse: 

On a raft going out to Tom Sawyer's island: 

The Castle. Dreams come true and all that jazz. (Also a fellow in an orange shirt). 

Thanks to Heather's research, we did the park like pros. We rode Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and The Pirates of the Caribbean all within an hour of parking. Disney is so commercialized, so predictable. But I'm always surprised at my own nostalgia, the way that musty smell inside Pirates makes me feel like a wild ten-year-old, the way the first glimpse of the castle makes me want to point and show people, the way I scream on Space Mountain just kinda because I want to. Call me sentimental, but it's a good feeling, you know? 

We have three more days...three more parks. Prepare to be inundated with blurry photographic evidence of our travels (if I can get myself to blog, that is). 

Four years. It's crazy. I had never meant to get married that young--and I told him so. 

But I wouldn't change anything. Through everything, our marriage has always been good and strong and happy. I think I have smiled more with him than I ever did in the whole rest of my life put together. I could go on with this cheesy stuff forever, but I'll just say that we are strong. We are just strong. The last four years have been the hardest of my life, but also the best, and I wouldn't change a thing.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4th - One Year

I've been confused over the past month about what exactly this day is for us. This demonstrates, I think, one of the smaller heartaches that accompanies a life experience like this. We just don't have the language to describe the loss. What is it? Austin and Daniel's one year birthday? One year since a miscarriage? One year since the stillbirth of our sons? Sometimes I feel a little bit like I'm just stumbling around in the darkness in a very large room, and I don't know where the walls are or how long I'll keep looking, and all I can feel is the floor, and the floor is cold.

But other times I feel like I'm sitting in an open field with my hands folded, and there is sunshine everywhere. I decided a few weeks ago that I would simply think of this day, October 4th, as the year anniversary of the hardest and the happiest day of my life.

One year ago today I made such difficult decisions. One year ago today I was so extremely angry. One year ago today I labored for three and a half hours with hardly any help because I knew I had to be as aware as possible, and because I wanted to feel every bit of pain I could because I wondered if later the pain would be the only thing I would have left, and the only thing I could hang on to.

But all of that just pales in comparison to the blessings that we saw. One year ago today I felt the Spirit stronger than I ever have before. One year ago today I was told exactly what to do. One year ago today I gave a strong declaration that I would keep my covenants. One year ago today we saw the Atonement working in the most profound of ways. And one year ago today I held my children for the first time, and Austin looked more like Greg, and Danny looked more like me, and they were just absolute troopers. They did so well. And I have never been more proud in my entire life.

Today we did what we could to remember. Oaklawn Cemetery here in Jacksonville is beautiful, with spanish moss hanging from the trees and a riverbed running through. We walked in the quiet and found children. A set of siblings who both passed away in the fifties, and a set of siblings who passed away in the thirties, and others, too. We had two dozen roses and we made sure that all of them we could find were remembered. Of course, they don't really need the flowers. The ways their parents love them could never be fully described, and God himself is aware of these children in the most beautiful of ways.

We kept two flowers, just for us. One for Austin, one for Daniel. Now they are on my kitchen table, and they don't make me sad. They make me happy.

I don't know if anyone visited Austin and Daniel today. I hope some did, not because Austin and Daniel need it, and not even exactly because I need it, but more because I think that it is a place on earth where we can understand what is really important.

I know that things work out. I know the gospel never ceases to work. I know we are stronger than we seem, and I am grateful for a God who lets us realize it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lucky Girl

Do you ever have a very distinct thought string itself through your mind, put together all perfectly even though you were never conscious of putting it together? Something that comes to you almost unbidden but belongs to you so completely at the same time?

Today I watched Greg through the front window as he headed out for work.

I'm a lucky girl, I thought. I'm a lucky girl. 

I know I spend a lot of time complaining, but sometimes the simplest things remind me of how good life still is, of how lucky I am.

I wouldn't ask to be anybody else, and I wouldn't want my life to be any different. Sometimes I think you realize what really makes you whole in the moments when you feel the most broken.

Ether 12:27

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Goyito Gets a Bike, and the Stages of Infertility

We made an exciting purchase in the Zollinger family recently. No, not a puppy (although I've thought about it). Not another car. We bought ourselves a bike.

I have a church assignment that requires me to be in Orlando one day a week. It's a bit of a drive, and since we still are a one-car family, we needed some way to be able to get Greg to and from work. The solution was exciting for Greg because it's something that he's thought about before: a commuter bike.

Greg did his research and got himself a cheaper model, a single-speed fixie. (Yeah, I know what a fixie is now. I'm cool, too.)

Needless to say, he's had himself a whole lotta fun lately.

Even Heather took a ride. Remember that feeling of riding a bike with no shoes on? Makes me feel like I'm nine years old. 

I know, I know. A new bike. Try to contain your excitement. 

In all seriousness, this really is the most exciting thing going on for us lately. I read Foucault and "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" for school and Greg goes to work and that's pretty much it. That might attest to the sparseness of the blog lately, my friends. 

If I was going to be completely honest, I'd probably acknowledge that there are other reasons the blog has been neglected. This blog really began as a way for Greg and I to discuss trying to add children to our family. This is still a battle we fight day by day (and day after day after day after day...) Later this blog became one of my outlets to discuss coping with the loss of our little boys. I'll always be grateful for the ways that documenting our survival was one of the most powerful tools Heavenly Father gave us in helping us to survive. 

But things have changed. I don't know what it is. I can't put my finger on it. First, I realized that the things I write could potentially be difficult to read for someone who is undergoing infertility challenges, but is struggling with things that are even more difficult than what Greg and I are going through. I know that might sound like a silly fear to someone who hasn't gone through infertility, and maybe even to a lot of you who have. I just didn't want to be involved in anything that was hurting anybody. 

But it's more than that, too. I've just changed. I just feel like now I need a little privacy. There are many reasons for this, which I don't really feel a need to go into. One day, maybe I will. 

There is one thing I should make clear, though. Our silence is by no means an indication that we have given up. We are still motivated by faith, and our knowledge that God is aware of us and things will work out. At the same time, I feel like lately I've just been wrapped up by this whole other identity. Instead of being the woman who is trying to have kids, somewhere along the line I've just become the woman who doesn't have any. I know, of course, that I do have children, so this identity is based on a lie. And maybe this is really what it is. Because of our experience with Austin and Daniel, I have trouble picturing myself with a healthy baby in my home. It's just been so long, I don't know how to be anybody else. 

We still have a strong faith and a knowledge that things will work out. But the strength I've gained has sort of come at a price. I'm strong, but I'm also tough. Thick-skinned. So thick-skinned, in fact, that I'm dismissive of the people in my life and I've maybe even forgotten what it is that I've wanted all along. 

I've told you before what I want. I've told you before that things aren't fair. I've told you before that I'm heart-broken. I've told you before that I'm strong enough to handle it, that God makes us all capable of handling it. I've told you before that good things will come, and I still believe that good things will come.

What I didn't know how to tell you is that I'm struggling to care. The funny thing about apathy and infertility: the desire doesn't actually go away. The pain doesn't go away. You just wake up one day and realize that it's the only thing you know, the only backdrop to life that you remember, and after healing from the same wound over and over again, you begin to worry that maybe you are incapable of feeling anything at all anymore. 

Here's a confession: I wasn't going to post this. I was afraid that I wasn't clearly defining how I felt, the weird juxtaposition between continuing to have hope and letting go of it all. But Greg has read the post. "Finish it," he said. "People need to know."

Yeah, people need to know. You keep fighting. You keep believing. And you keep crying in the moments when you least expect it. But this is the reality of infertility. 

Somewhere along the line, you just accept it. I can't fix this as easily as I thought I could. This is who I am. 

This is my life. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Greg

The blog has been pretty silent lately, but we had to commemorate the Day of Birth of one Greg Zollinger.

Last week this guy turned 26.

I forgot to buy wrapping paper, so I went with the homemade variety: 

Gifts: New socks (he always wants socks), Manchego, Tipsy goat, and Iberico cheese (it's a Spain thing), and a shiny, spanking new watch. 

I did a ton of research before I bought it. Did you know you can spend $5000+ on a watch? You know, if you're an insane person. Needless to say we went with one a bit cheaper than that. This watch is not one of the top brands, but it is a kinetic automatic. It stays in sync based on the movement of your arm. No batteries. 

I have a killer chocolate cake recipe. We always do cream cheese frosting around here. None of that plain powdered sugar stuff. I used a little dark cocoa to decorate. The cake layers did not lean or fall over, because I chopped the uneven sides off just like Buddy Valastro showed me. 

I didn't mean the cake to look so zebra/girly, but whatever. 

Greg sizing the band on his new watch under the Happy Birthday sign.

After presents and the cake unveiling, we went out to dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. I ate BISON POT ROAST, people. Now I'm a true American. (Cherry Coke on the side. Don't tell my parents. Or Greg's mom. You can tell Steve). 

Greg had himself a bison burger. 

Token bad picture of Heather: 

I got this picture from Greg the next day. The watch holds up nicely at work. Birthday success. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy Independence Day

On a whim, Greg and I decided we would go up to Atlanta for the Fourth of July. Eh, why not? I'm as adventurous as the next girl.

After driving down Friday morning, we went to eat at a place called The Varsity. I am blogging about this because it is the largest Drive-thru in the world. Seriously. It was ridiculous. They had two levels of parking and probably employed 100 people. It was a ginormous maze filled with fast-food eating, American loving Georgians. There were probably 10ish eating rooms tuned to different TV channels. I wonder if the CNN people and the Fox people ever have food fights?

^These were old desks in there that looked hijacked from an abandoned middle school. Sweet, right? 

It was just really big. The food was mediocre at best. But sometimes that's not actually the most important thing, right? 

After that we went to the World of Coke.

Coca Cola was invented in Atlanta in the late 1800s. I think they pump the smell throughout the whole building. I don't even really like Coke that much. When I'm feeling particularly righteous I won't really even drink it. But they had a bunch of exhibits with vintage Coke ads and other memorabilia and I really loved those. Love American social history. Just love it. One day I would like to have a vintage American-y themed den or something. They also had international Coke ads, too, and those were fun. The big attraction is a tasting room where you can taste 60+ different Coke products from around the world that you can't get in the US. I REALLY like Ugandan Fanta, but everything else was kind of gross. Sadly, both of our phones kind of died, so we didn't get many pictures of inside the building. Just imagine stuff like this:

On Friday night we went to a Braves/D-backs game. I'm not sure what it says about me that I felt very little loyalty to the Diamondbacks. I ended up rooting for the Braves...which was good, cause they won. 

The stadium was packed! Everyone likes some good old fashioned baseball on the Fourth of July. 

A fireworks show in the stadium is really fun. You can see really well and the crowd feels uber-American. Good pictures of fireworks are impossible but this one's not bad: 

On Saturday we decided to go see Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is a carving into a giant granite hillside in Georgia of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. 

I very appropriately wore my Yankees shirt on Saturday. The history behind this place is not all positive...the Ku Klux Klan was re-initiated on top of this hillside in the 1910s. But, again, solid American history. And I have a lot of respect for Robert E. Lee. 

We toured some historical buildings and such around the site. This is a 19th century lattice bridge. 

All in all, Atlanta is a super fun city to spend the Fourth. I've had some fun Independence days the last few years, and they have all been spent in different locations (2009-Vienna, Austria. 2010-Circleville, UT. 2011-Idaho Falls, Idaho. 2012-Austin, TX. 2013-Jacksonville, FL. 2014-Atlanta,GA. Sweet, right?). And next year we will be somewhere else in the Northeast! I love doing little trips like this with Greg. It's fun. It's a blessing in our lives right now. And Goyito is a hottie pants.