Monday, November 30, 2009

Broncos Rule!

Tammy went to the Bronco game in Denver on Thanksgiving.  She ate dinner with her friends, but we wanted to celebrate again now that she is back home.  So I dressed Ellie in her Bronco cheerleading outfit (a present from Tammy, of course!) and we had turkey pot pie and mashed potatoes and smoked turkey and broccoli salad with Tammy and Gwen and Dave last night.

And here are some cute pics of amazing Ellie and her fabulous Daddy.  Greg loves the bows I put in Ellie's hair for church.  He said this pink bow made Ellie look like a coal miner (like she was wearing a headlamp...).  Silly daddy!

Thanksgiving Pictures

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things that put life in perspective....

I had been planning all day to blog tonight when Greg was at his game about my week - how I went to New Moon on Monday night with the Book Club Ladies (and loved it), and about Thanksgiving (we hosted this year and enjoyed the company of Bobi, Brian, Adam, & Lyssa; Kent & Jessica; Tanya, Dave & Andrew; Gwen & Dave; and Paul, Dallin & Parker at various points during the day), and about what an amazing baby Ellie is and the things she learned this week (like finding her tongue and figuring out how to make buzzing noises with her tongue stuck out), and about how fun it is to go shopping with Greg, Ellie, and Tammy.

But when I got home tonight I got a phone call that changed my whole perspective.  My neighbor (who is 31 years old), with 2 nursery-aged children and a pregnant wife, was killed this afternoon in a motorcross accident.  I don't know any details - just that Brian is gone.  And Collette is due to have her baby in about 2 weeks.

And my heart aches for Collette and her children.  I cannot imagine what she is going through right now.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about her pain and grief.  All I can do is pray for her.  And kiss Greg an extra time before he walks out the door.  And hold Ellie a little closer.  And pray for Collette again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gratitude for our trials

Friday night, Greg was preparing his talk for his speaking assignment for church today.  After he was done, he had me read it.  I found it very touching and poignant and I wanted to share some of it here.  Greg is a deep thinker and a deep feeler.  I am grateful every day to be a part of his life.  He is definitely a tender mercy to me.
Gratitude for Our Trials
High Council Talk
November 22nd 2009

I. Introduction – I am deeply humbled by my assignment today particularly because of the assigned topic, that of Gratitude for Our Trials. I have spent time in sincere prayer and study in the hope that I might be encouraging and uplifting.

II. Ten Years ago in October General Conference Elder Jeffrey R Holland gave a conference talk entitled “An High Priest of Good Things to Come.” In that talk he shared the following experience from his life.

a. Thirty years ago last month, a little family set out to cross the United States to attend graduate school—no money, an old car, every earthly possession they owned packed into less than half the space of the smallest U-Haul trailer available. Bidding their apprehensive parents farewell, they drove exactly 34 miles up the highway, at which point their beleaguered car erupted.

Pulling off the freeway onto a frontage road, the young father surveyed the steam, matched it with his own, then left his trusting wife and two innocent children—the youngest just three months old—to wait in the car while he walked the three miles or so to the southern Utah metropolis of Kanarraville, population then, I suppose, 65. Some water was secured at the edge of town, and a very kind citizen offered a drive back to the stranded family. The car was attended to and slowly—very slowly—driven back to St. George for inspection—U-Haul trailer and all.

After more than two hours of checking and rechecking, no immediate problem could be detected, so once again the journey was begun. In exactly the same amount of elapsed time at exactly the same location on that highway with exactly the same pyrotechnics from under the hood, the car exploded again. It could not have been 15 feet from the earlier collapse, probably not 5 feet from it! Obviously the most precise laws of automotive physics were at work.

Now feeling more foolish than angry, the chagrined young father once more left his trusting loved ones and started the long walk for help once again. This time the man providing the water said, “Either you or that fellow who looks just like you ought to get a new radiator for that car.” For the second time a kind neighbor offered a lift back to the same automobile and its anxious little occupants. He didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the plight of this young family.

“How far have you come?” he said. “Thirty-four miles,” I answered. “How much farther do you have to go?” “Twenty-six hundred miles,” I said. “Well, you might make that trip, and your wife and those two little kiddies might make that trip, but none of you are going to make it in that car.” He proved to be prophetic on all counts.

Just two weeks ago this weekend, I drove by that exact spot where the freeway turnoff leads to a frontage road, just three miles or so west of Kanarraville, Utah. That same beautiful and loyal wife, my dearest friend and greatest supporter for all these years, was curled up asleep in the seat beside me. The two children in the story, and the little brother who later joined them, have long since grown up and served missions, married perfectly, and are now raising children of their own. The automobile we were driving this time was modest but very pleasant and very safe. In fact, except for me and my lovely Pat situated so peacefully at my side, nothing of that moment two weeks ago was even remotely like the distressing circumstances of three decades earlier.

Yet in my mind’s eye, for just an instant, I thought perhaps I saw on that side road an old car with a devoted young wife and two little children making the best of a bad situation there. Just ahead of them I imagined that I saw a young fellow walking toward Kanarraville, with plenty of distance still ahead of him. His shoulders seemed to be slumping a little, the weight of a young father’s fear evident in his pace. In the scriptural phrase his hands did seem to “hang down.” In that imaginary instant, I couldn’t help calling out to him: “Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” (Ensign November 1999)

b. At the time my wife and I were desperately trying to find a way to bring children into our home with no success. It was beginning to seem an impossible trial to endure. Listening to conference CD’s I came across this talk. For months I would listen to this talk over and over as it was very inspiring and gave me hope. As time passed I began to see the need for gratitude in the midst of trials. One particular phrase at the end of that address has always stuck with me – “Some Blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”


V. Brothers and Sisters the key to having Gratitude for our trials is found in engaging in behavior that will help us to Remember the goodness of a loving God and his Son Jesus ChristA few things we can do:

1. Offer Prayers of Thanksgiving – President Ezra Taft Benson Said: “The Prophet Joseph said at one time that one of the greatest sins of which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty is the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a great sin. There is a great tendency for us in our prayers and in our pleadings with the Lord to ask for additional blessings. But sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. We enjoy so much.” (God, Family, Country, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 199.)

2. Personal Book of Remembrance or Journal – Express your thoughts and feelings of gratitude so that when “Sore Trials” come you and I can do as the hymn suggests and “Count our many blessings, so we might be surprised by what the Lord has done.”

3. Worthily Partake of the Sacrament each week paying close attention to the words of the prayers particularly “That We Do Always Remember Him, and Keep His Commandments”.

VI. Ten years ago as I would lie awake at night listening to the voice of Elder Holland it became evident that some of the blessings I desired would indeed not be coming now. However I became Grateful for what I did have and only wondered if the blessing of children would come later or not until Heaven. A little over Three months ago my wife and I entered a hospital hand in hand much as we had many times before for test and procedures that we hoped would help bring children to our home. This time was different as a little girl had been born just two days previous to a wonderful, beautiful, and selfless young women. Her situation not ideal she had chosen us to raise her baby girl. My gratitude has found new depths as the means of bringing children to our home is not the way I would have chosen but it is the way the Lord Has Chosen and I have experienced blessings I did not know existed because the Lord is in control. After witnessing the most selfless act I have ever seen and with our new little bundle wrapped securely in her new car seat we made our way down to the lobby. There I left my wife, new baby, case workers, and nurse and went to get the car. As I pulled around to the front door in my minds eye for just a moment I saw a young man walking hand in hand with his wife. The disappointment of yet another failed procedure written all over their faces. The anxious desire to say the appropriate words of comfort that would not come showed in the eyes of the young man. In the scriptural sense his hands hung down and his feeble knees needed strengthening. In that moment I wished that I could call out to him, “Don’t you quit Greg, you keep going, you keep seeking, you be grateful for what you have including this trial. It will be alright in the end!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grateful for technology

I was so resistant to getting a digital camera.  I have a nice SLR, and I knew that it would be difficult to replace the quality of the pictures I was used to with an inexpensive digital camera.  I finally broke down and got a decent digital camera to go to Dubai.  It is true that the picture quality is not as good as my SLR, but the convenience of the digital far outweighs the disadvantages.  I can take video clips any time, and I can take 15 pictures to try and get a few good ones, and not worry about the waste.  (I used to think it was highly successful if I got 8 or so good pictures from a roll of film).

I have been thinking about how grateful I am that we entered the digital age this week as I snapped picture after picture of beautiful Ellie.  Here are some of my favorites:

Ellie is getting so good at holding up her head, and she always wants to sit up tall.  Even when I prop her in the chair (or try to get her to snuggle while I am sitting with her) she tries to pull her head up.


Ellie has also started wanting to hold on to something while she goes to sleep - her hair or her burp cloth or her blanket.  Tonight I caught her holding on to the edge of some pillows (Greg and I were working on cleaning out the office/guest room and had Ellie laid down on the bed).

Ellie loves her grandmas!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving & New Outfits

Ellie is now big enough for her 3-6 month outfits.  It is so fun to dress her in new clothes!  She has more clothes in this size than any other size, so I hope she is able to wear these clothes for the projected 3 months so that she can wear all of them at least twice each...

Tonight we went to my mom's house to have an early Thanksgiving dinner (since my mom is going to LA to spend the holiday with one of my sisters).  So, I had to dress Ellie in her Thanksgiving outfit.  I picked this outfit because I hope Ellie will always be grateful to both of her mommys.  I know that I am eternally grateful to Ellie's birth mommy!

Here are some pictures of Ellie in some of her cute new outfits:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

3 Months Old Photo Shoot - by Kelly

My amazing friend Kelly came over last Thursday, November 5,  to take Ellie's 3 month pictures.  She captured so many amazing shots - especially when you consider that Ellie was not feeling that great.  We were originally scheduled to do the session on her actual 3 month birthday, the 4th, but had moved it back a day.  Kelly did such a fabulous job that it is hard to choose my favorites, but here they are:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Songs in 6/8 time

I have discovered that Ellie loves it when I sing "jaunty" songs in 6/8 time.  It gets her to smile and coo every time, even if she is crying or a little whiny.  I sing to Ellie all of the time, and knew that she loved Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam.  The other morning when I was getting her dressed, I tried Have You Done Any Good in the World Today, and it was such a hit that I dusted off every energetic 6/8 song I could think of (which was only Who's On The Lord's Side, Who?, and I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In,  for which I could not remember all of the words, so I had to make up some of my own).  It is great to have these songs in my back pocket for when they are needed.  I think it is the meter and the tone that Ellie likes the best.

Ellie has been kind of laughing for a week or so, and a couple of days ago I caught her first actual laugh on video!  I am so happy that I just happened to be taping when it happened.  It is a long clip, but if you fast forward to about 2 minutes and 10 seconds, you will hear it yourself!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Does Ellie look like us?

I remembered that my friend Beth had this on her blog ages ago with her first son, so I found the site in her archives and tried it out. It is funny to me that the "image detection" software came up with these results!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ellie's First Funeral

Today Ellie attended her first funeral, for Bill Gabbitas.  I know Cheryl better, having been her visiting teacher twice (for just a few months each time), and attending Institute classes and Education Week together.  I also have the privilege to be acquainted with three of their daughters.

Brother Gabbitas was always the first one to greet you when you got to church, and he always used flattery, calling every women a beautiful girl or telling her how pretty she looked that day.  Whenever I asked him how he was doing, he always said he was just as mean and ornery as ever.  He could get away with saying that, because those attributes in no way describe him!

The funeral service was very nice, with each of the 7 children speaking.  The comment that stuck me the most was from Tiana, who said that other people's names were always safe in their home, because her dad always looked for the good in people and spoke about them positively.  What an honorarium!  I need to be better about that.

Here is a quote that sums this up perfectly: 
You find yourself refreshed by the presence of cheerful people.  Why not make earnest effort to confer that pleasure on others?  Half the battle is gained if you never allow yourself to say anything gloomy.  ~Lydia Maria Child

After the funeral, Greg & I stayed to help put on the luncheon.  Ellie was so good (but no one is surprised, right?).  Our friend Alesha stole her at one point, and put Ellie to sleep just by walking around with her.  I put Ellie in her car seat in the kitchen, and she slept for a long time, which allowed us to help fully.  Wasn't that nice of her?

So it has been a good day.  It is good to celebrate Brother Gabbitas' life - even though his death was unexpected.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Cheryl as she is adjusting to the loss of her dear husband.

Friday, November 6, 2009

3 months old!

Ellie turned 3 months, or .25 years old, on Wednesday.  Where has the time gone?  It seems like we have only known her for a short time, and yet it also seems like she has always been here. 

She seems to be feeling better today - hopefully she is getting all recovered!  Ellie was doing well enough yesterday about 7 that she laughed for the very first time.  It was so sweet that it brought tears to my eyes.  I am a total sap, I know, but it was amazing to hear her.  She was laughing so much that I called Greg and put the phone on speaker so that he could hear her also.  So precious!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poor baby is sick...

Poor Ellie has been sick for the very first time today.  She is not a spitter-upper or a puker, and she has thrown up twice today and has been running a fever.  Just in the last 90 minutes, she looks like she feels a lot better, and is talking and smiling, and her fever feels like has broken for the most part.  Poor baby!  We have tried so hard to prevent sickness, and we made it 3 months, so that is a victory of sorts...


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