Dear Family & Friends,
Welcome to our inaugural Christmas letter. Many milestones, trials and triumphs have marked our first full year of marriage. As we draw to the close of 2011, we are able to look back and see the blessings we’ve been given and feel compelled to share them with you!
In this recession, we’d be ungrateful if we didn’t recognize the blessing of full-time employment for both of us through out the year. Eric continued working as a Supported Living Staff for the Horizon Project up until August. While his work blessed our little family, and he was so good at working with the two elderly gentlemen he cared for, he wasn’t all that sad to bid them adieu and start his new adventure at the Morrow County Alternative School as an ESL Assistant. And by adventure, we mean his daily explorations into gang violence, drug busts, teen moms and kids that “haven’t taken a bath in a year.” His ‘adventures’ leave this wife with scary gang dreams and daily gratitude for our simple life. I’ve continued working at the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce where my title was upgraded to Communications Director (formerly Coordinator), but my job description and perks remained unchanged. Two publications I worked on were recently given statewide recognition – both our Chamber newsletter and member directory received General Excellence awards in the state of Oregon for mid-sized Chambers. It was pretty validating.
We’ve also, sometimes grudgingly, been blessed to continue our respective collegiate educations. Eric continues to hammer away finishing his Associate’s degree at Blue Mountain Community College – taking classes full-time while working full-time. He’s pretty much my hero, even conquering Shakespeare. Magically (after an appeal letter, some charm and some help from above), I was re-admitted to Brigham Young University in the fall. I’ve been wrapping up internship credits that were conveniently fulfilled by my current job as well as taking an online Statistics class, also referred to as water boarding. With only two classes left to take, I can almost feel those graduation tassles shifting from left to right. Yes, I’m on the seven-year plan. No, I won’t be graduating with my Doctorate. Or my Master’s. After Eric completes his Associate’s, we’ll be relocating so he can continue his pursuit of teaching high school Spanish.
Family has been a great blessing to us. Shortly after a massive Easter egg hunt meltdown by yours truly in April, we learned we were expecting our first baby. I think we were both surprised at how quickly it happened! But, we also felt so lucky and humbled to be given such a responsibility and opportunity. In July, we were able to take a short trip down to California to visit Grandpa Lee. This was also during the tail-end of my morning sickness (that lasted all day) period and poor Grandpa had to endure what Eric had been enduring for months, my green face and easily provoked gag reflexes. Despite the nausea, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in California and hope to go back soon. We headed up north to join in on the Lougee Family Reunion in Prineville. We went white-water rafting on the Deschutes and possibly caused fetal hearing loss during an afternoon of shooting guns with cousins and uncles. It was wonderful. We’ve also just been humbled by the amount of support and love shown to us from both sides of the family – we feel so lucky to be so loved.
Our church callings have given us the blessings of service. Eric has been serving as an assistant to the 11 year-old Scouts and was recently handed over full reign as THE 11 year-old Scout leader. I love when he comes home from Scouts, he’s always energized and smiling, and has entertaining stories to share. I’ve been serving as the Sunbeam (3 & 4 year-olds) teacher since January. It can be a battle, and typically it’s an exhausting job, but I’ve really grown to love these kids. And have learned a lot about myself, too. I was also recently asked to serve on the Enrichment Committee and have been blessed to build sanity-saving camaraderie with the women who serve with me.
The blessing of a stronger marriage has also been felt this year. We were able to witness three other marriage ceremonies over the last year, two of them performed in the Portland Temple where we were married and by the same man. What a tender mercy it was to be able to hear much of our ceremony repeated when we weren’t in a “oh my gosh I’m getting married” haze. We’ve also made regular temple attendance a priority, and luckily we live less than 30 minutes from the closest temple. We’ve also learned A LOT about one another this year – like that we both need to be fed before we can interact with one another sanely. Through the trials and triumphs, our partnership has shown it’s strengths and our friendship and love has increased.
And these are just a few of the reasons 2011 has us feeling thankful. Add among those the blessings of a warm home, good health, friendships - both new and old, as well as our knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father and his guidance in our lives.
We are looking forward, maybe naively, to the arrival of our first baby (which as of this writing has not happened yet) and continuing down this exciting journey together. As a character in one of our favorite shows often says, it’s going to be legend … wait for it … ary!
The (young) Lougees