Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012: The E-dition

December 2012

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.

The Lougees

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December First

Apparently I didn't do well with my month of gratitude. Oh well, on to the next holiday. 

And let's face it, blogging is really hard to get to. So consider yourselves lucky. 

We went up into the mountains with the Elder's Quorum and after lots (and I mean lots) of searching, as well as getting lots (and I mean lots) of mud on our new tires we found this little guy. He's really pretty perfect for our small home. I apologized to him because he might've grown to be a big beautiful tree. But then again, he was kind of squished in a cluster of other trees and I'm not sure he would've thrived after all. So, I guess we did the Oregonian thing to do and put an end to his potential misery and are letting him die with dignity....

I am happy to report that Eric's stint in boy scouts has paid off and the tree stayed on top of the car while flying down the freeway. 

We then did something that used to be a fairly regular tradition in my family and that is going to the Festival of Trees. Santa and Ella had their first meeting and as you'll see by the photos taken with Eric's cell phone, it went quite well. 

She did get a candy cane (which she'll enjoy this evening) and I promised Santa she'd be better next year. 

But, do you see the size of that guy? I'da had a hard time sitting there too, without getting scared. 

Happy December First, Ella! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Crap. Three days of gratitude to make up for.

I'm grateful for my sweet, funny, silly, cute, social, attached baby girl.

She's been my strength and motivation. She is my light in the foggy gray.

Love her!

I'm grateful for our home. For the warmth, the refuge and for a place we can make memories in.

And I'm grateful for weekends. I get to spend them with two of my favorite peeps.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Hills Are Alive

I have to stop with this two-a-day gratitude stuff. It makes me really stretch and have to come up with not just ONE thing I'm grateful for, but TWO, and that's exhausting. Okay, that's dramatic. And who am I kidding, it will probably continue to be spaced out in intervals of two or more. 

Today I am grateful for MUSIC! I love turning on the tunes in the car to see what the soundtrack of the day is going to be. Nothing quite emotes or expresses emotion like music. That's why music plays such a pivotal role in film (aka movies). 

Sometimes I don't know what I'm feeling until I hear just the right song. 

I. Love. Music. 

Here are some recent faves you should check out. 

And you know what? I wouldn't get to appreciate music if I didn't have ears to hear and listen with. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for working ears and the beauty of music. 
You're the besty. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

One Nation Under God

I guess I'm writing two days at a time again. 

Of course, you know, it is election season. And, I'm certainly a political junkie. It's rather stressful sometimes. I don't know why I get so invested, especially in races like President where in all reality the results will not in all reality affect my life so much as local politics and measures. 

But I can't help it. 

It's fun, in a masochistic kind of way. 

My husband is an avid Oregon Ducks fan, and he get's pretty into the Portland Trailblazers, too. I try not to give him too hard of a time for scouring the web, reading forums and feeling so passionate about it all because I can relate! 

I remember really getting into politics when I was about 17 and George Bush and John Kerry were the eventual contenders. But, I watched the Democratic Primaries, scoured the "news" channels and made sure my Mom cast her ballot. 

Flash forward about four years later. 

I was 20, in my third year of college, my first at BYU-Provo. I remember eagerly watching the Republican Primaries and trying not to cry when finally Romney bowed out after Super Tuesday 2008. Honestly, I'm a moderate Republican - that's why I like Mitt - deep down he's a moderate. That's why I was able to get on John McCain's bandwagon, not to mention an American Hero and great guy. Fall of 2008 I was on the BYU College Republicans executive board. It was so much fun, met so many good people and had many great experiences. 
You should probably just go to my 2008 blog archive and relive it all. 

Sarah Palin's folks. So nice and down to earth!

At John McCain rally in Las Vegas.
And now here we are 2012. Mitt's my man. Not nearly as involved as I was in 2008 (baby, husband, living in Oregon). But, I'm still eager. It's like my Superbowl. I love watching the results come in. I love/hate so much about it all. I'll definitely be glad when it's over. But, I'm just so grateful to live in this country. I believe the government and constitution to be divinely designed and inspired. 

Also, I'm grateful for the freedom of speech, aren't you? 

P.S. For one of the main reasons why I oppose Big O and support Mitt, see this blog post from 2008. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Enough is Enough

I missed writing yesterday - Eric came home from an overnight field trip to Portland and my posting got lost in the shuffle. And so today I must be grateful for TWO things, and that is hard. Jk, but really. What a brat I must be. 

I am so grateful for modern transportation. Can you believe how quickly we can get across the country if we wanted to? Or even across the valley? I think about how people would go visit someone who was only 15 miles away and stay the night because it did take so long and was hard on the animals they relied upon. We're going to Rexburg for Thankgiving and that's only possible because of modern transportation. And it's pretty luxurious considering in the 1800s you rode in a saddle, walked or sat on a hard bench of a carriage/buggy or wagon. 

And secondly I'm grateful for always having enough. Maybe I've not always had a lot, or ever been wealthy, but I've never wanted for a roof over head, a bed to sleep in, food to eat or clothes to wear. I've always had enough of what's truly needed and important - including love and family and faith, but those are for other posts - and for that I'm so very, very appreciative. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


So, I can be a bit of a brat. And, unfortunately I think my daughter is inheriting this character trait from her mom. In my efforts to improve myself, I've decided to write at least one thing I am grateful for on the blog everyday leading up to Thanksgiving. 

Today I am grateful for clean, running water - to bathe with, to wash dishes with, to drink and cook with. How blessed we are to have, at the turn of a knob, clean running water. It definitely came in handy as I had to clean baby El's hands and face and hair from her sticky, sticky sucker. 

First Halloween

Originally we were going to be Fred, Wilma and Pebbles Flinstone. Eric and I even went to a Halloween party Saturday night, sans baby, as such. 

But then Halloween rolled around and we were far too lazy. Not even a pumpkin got carved. So, we quickly threw together a costume so Ella could at least go to the Church "trunk or treat." 
Thug baby it was. 

And today she enjoys her spoils. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Doll

While helping out at Shabulous (see Facebook for more pictures and details) yesterday, Ella got to go to her first pumpkin patch. She also got to ride a donkey! What a kid. 

I also have to say, we had such a fun day! We (Eric and I) mainly worked in the "soup kitchen" selling delicious, warm bowls of soup with my sister Riley and brother Eli. I was a little worried about how well Miss El would do, but she did great! She loved seeing all the people and things - and she loved just being outside. She also took an excellent two hour long nap in my Uncle's den in his shop and woke up so happy for the next several hours. 

Here are some photos. 

This was early in the morning before people got there, a bit warmer attire, too. 
In the afternoon.

Big, medium, small. 

This picture is out of order (as the different outfit suggests), but our Stake President and his wife brought some donkeys and were giving free rides. Ella loved the pony's hair. 

Hay fever? 
One of the best things about parenthood is getting to experience the little things in life again. You get to share in your kids' new experiences, while still holding the "wisdom" of age to appreciate these moments. Love it. 

And you could also check out our pumpkin patch excursion from 2010, apparently I can only come up with one title for this type of blog post. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How much is that doggy in the window?

Ella's favorite thing lately is to stand on the couch and look out the window. She's entertained for so long by it, especially in the morning when all the kids and cars are going by the school (we live right by an elementary school). 

She always reminds me of that song by Patti Page, "How much is that Doggy in the Window?"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Officially Fall

My Mom came and picked up baby El and me for a quick trip out to the country to pick some corn from another one of the ward gardens. While there, we enjoyed the old barn, the mist out in the valley, the chickens in the coop - and lusted after the property! We also got a few corn stalks to decorate our respective front stoops.

Plus, the "fall fairy" had already dropped off lots of front door goodies - indian corn, sunflower heads and a few more pumpkins.

When we drove back into town last night we opened the car door to pouring rain. And today it's been raining on and off and cool. Very fallish.

And fall weather makes me want some fall food. So, I went to work and put this soup in the crock pot. It's not originally a crock pot recipe, but I improvised.


  • onion, finely chopped
  • cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (NOT 2 cans, just two chiles)
  • cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn 
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper
  • hass avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
  • Crushed tortilla chips


I basically put all the ingredients into the crock pot except the avocado, the juice from one lime and the tortilla chips. I cut the kernels off of some fresh corn from the garden and a can of pinto beans (drained) that I had just hanging around in the cupboards to make it a little more hardy. This afternoon, after 3-4 hours in the crock pot, I will add additional lime juice, cut up the avocado and put it in at the at the end. Then sprinkle the tortilla chips on top. It's smelling FANTASTIC! 

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    When life hands you batter...

    I was a fun mom yesterday and gave Ella some old pancake mix so that she could practice "pouring" like they say they can start doing. But El had other ideas.....

    The first video is a little long, but cute. Also, DEFINITELY watch the second video. Ella turned into an angry bird chef or something.....

    P.S. I am putting this out there so that you all can keep me accountable and motivated, but I'm starting a 6 week "Hot Mama Biggest Loser" competition today. Trying to lose 1.5 pounds a week! Wish me luck!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Rocks and Mountains and Lakes

    We went on our first little family camp trip. It lasted a mere 21 hours, but it was one for the history books. We had fun, except for the whole part where Ella woke up several times in the night crying and would take 15 minutes to quiet back down (sorry to everyone else at Anthony Lake - however, you only paid $8 - $12 to stay there, so what did you expect?).  Ella also scared away all the fish when we sat by the lake to watch them jump up and eat bugs on the surface. Apparently she didn't think it was as entertaining. She also decided to eat her first handful of dirt. 

    The photos are prime, so here we go. 

    Ella loved the tent, in the day time. 

    I forgot a sunhat, so we made do, with a do-spit-rag.

    The ski resort. 

    E also enjoyed reading books back at camp.
    Where's Lexy?

    Happy face. 


    My favorite shot of the trip! Hot! 

    By the campfire.

    Morning owl.

    She was so happy, she couldn't hold her hands still! 

    It was okay, maybe we'll try again next summer, when she's a year older and a better sleeper, too!