Dear Family & Friends,
This year started out with a bang for our little family. Ella Maur Lougee was born on Tuesday, January 10th at 1:09am. She came after only 5 hours of labor and so fast that I couldn’t get any pain medication if I wanted to!
I was on maternity leave from the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce over the next 12 weeks while Eric continued to work at the Morrow County Alternative School and take classes through Blue Mountain Community College.
In February, Eric celebrated his 25th birthday and went to go watch a Blazer’s game in Portland with an old mission companion.
In March, over spring break, we took a trip up to Seattle. It was Ella’s first longer car ride and she did great. We had a great time exploring the city and many people commented on our beautiful, blue-eyed baby. On the way home, Eric and I started talking about how I could finish my bachelor’s degree. It was then we formulated a plan to go to Utah for the summer so I could take my last two classes and graduate from Brigham Young University.
So April and May were spent packing up our apartment and making preparations to go to Utah. I officially left my position at the Chamber of Commerce. Also, at the end of May we took another trip, this time to Portland. It was there we bought a new car! At least new to us. We also got to see lots of family members and take Ella to the Portland Temple where we were married. Then we moved almost everything we had into a 10x10 storage unit in La Grande.
We spent the first week of June living with Eric’s parents in Umatilla while he finished up work. We spent the second week of June living in my vintage camp trailer in my Mom’s yard in La Grande and celebrating my 25th birthday. It wasn’t really roughing it, as we had the TV and Wii connected out in the trailer. It was also at this time that we found out our car needed a $1200 repair! But, we were blessed with extra money from the Morrow County School District that we hadn’t known about and were able to afford to fix our car and head off to Utah.
Uncle Ken and Aunt Jan graciously hosted the three of us for the next eight weeks. My days were spent commuting to and from class and doing homework. Eric adjusted quite well to his role as stay at home dad. On the weekends we took trips and explored Utah. Some of the highlights were the zoo, the Bingham Copper Mines, visiting Stan, Elizabeth and Ella’s first cousin Travis in Rexburg, seeing four bears at Yellowstone, going to a Bee’s baseball game on the 4th of July, and the Mower Family Reunion. As a graduation gift to myself I went down to Las Vegas with a good friend to see Celine Dion in concert. Life changing experience. We also attended the Las Vegas Temple while there. We loved our adventures in Utah and getting to introduce Ella to lots of friends and family.
In August, I graduated from BYU! It was a great feeling. My cousin Morgan traveled up to Utah to help us celebrate. The day after graduation we all went to Lagoon. Ella enjoyed the baby pool at the water park and the train ride past all the animals. From there we came back to Oregon and moved into a little house in La Grande.
Eric started out driving school buses (a skill acquired at Morrow County) but quickly found a new job as a special education paraprofessional (teacher’s aide) at my old elementary school. It’s a rough job – recess, dodgeball, crafts, music, reading time, etc. He loves his job, so much so he almost considered majoring in elementary education, but ultimately decided to stay with his Spanish major and an ESOL minor. He also took a full schedule of classes at Eastern Oregon University and really enjoyed his Intro to Art class. Eric has also been busy as the Elder’s Quorum Secretary. He spends his Tuesdays in presidency meetings and making home visits to families in our ward, this has helped him get to know the town and the people in our ward.
Meanwhile, I stay busy with Ella. She’s my little buddy. We enjoy story time at the library on Thursdays and taking walks down to my mom’s house. I’ve also started cooking a lot more and trying to get better at providing delicious food for my family. I’ve also started a little hobby business doing design work. I have a little shop on Etsy selling digital photo cards.
Next month we will celebrate Ella’s first birthday. We can’t believe how quickly a year has gone by and how much has happened. We’ve been very blessed this year and recognize our Heavenly Father’s hand in our lives. We’ve learned more of our Father’s love as we’ve become parents and have felt such love and joy from having Ella as a part of our family. We recognize the gift of happiness and peace that comes from our Savior, the example his life left for us and his sacrifice on our behalf.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and fulfilling New Year. We count you a blessing in our lives and hope you know we love you.