Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

It's Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day 2010.  But this year, it feels very different.  We always celebrate Thanksgiving with my side of the family and Christmas with Emily's side, but this year, we are going solo. I think this is the first time that I've ever been away from my family on Turkey Day.  This is Em's year in the holiday rotation at work so we were unable to go to the Woodlands with the Koelling clan.  And with Mom's move to Oregon, we didn't have a lot of options.  So as I sit here watching Abbott eat breakfast while Em is at work, it really just feels like another day.  But I am determined to get in the holiday spirit and make it feel like Thanksgiving for us at home and I thought a good way to kick off the holiday cheer might be to write some things that I'm thankful for, so here goes.

First of all, if you're reading this, I hope you don't hear me complaining or pitying myself.  It's just a little different and a little weird.  I'm so thankful for all of my family and the fact that everyone is getting to celebrate together in some form or fashion.  I'm particularly thankful that Mom is spending Thanksgiving with Charlie and the rest of her family up in the northwest.  I'm so thankful that Em and I both have good jobs, even if they do keep us from doing what we want from time to time.  I'm so thankful that we have a roof over our heads and a way to get from point A to point B.  I'm thankful for the freedoms and the luxuries we have in this country.  I'm thankful for the fact that we don't have to worry, at least for now, about if and what we are going to eat or whether or not Abbott is going to be provided for.

I'm thankful for my friends, of which I have many.  Many of my best friends have been so since elementary school and remain so to this day.  And many of my best friends I've gained along the way.  I'm thankful for my family.  Despite my parents' divorce, they managed to instill in us the values, morals, and wisdom that we have today.  And because of that, I remain very close with my brother and sister and, despite all the turmoil, we've somehow managed to keep our heads on straight and work together with Mom and Dad to keep this family together despite it's division.  I'm thankful that even though they couldn't work things out between them, they loved us enough to "raise us right" as my brother-in-law, Hudson, would say.  I'm thankful for Emily and her family, because in the last decade they have been a source of stability for me when things weren't really stable on my end.  I love them all so very much and am proud to call them my family.

I am so thankful for my beautiful wife and my precious daughter.  And I am so thankful to the Lord for the blessings He has showered on my life through them.  Emily is such an amazing strength in this marriage and family.  She does so much and gives so much of herself that I marvel at times.  Anyone that knows me knows exactly what I'd be doing if I had to work today, tomorrow, and over the weekend.  It wouldn't be pretty.  Yet I haven't heard, or even detected, a single hint of negativity or complaint from Emily.  She's much better at removing her wants and needs from most equations than I am.  And she's such an amazing mother.  Watching her with Abbott makes me love her a little more every time.  I'm so thankful for my Fridays off with Abbott, but it ain't a cake walk by any stretch.  And for Em and all you other mothers that stay home with the kid(s) on a more frequent basis... wow!  Anyone that would talk down at being a stay at home mom has absolutely no concept of the hard work it is.  I'm thankful for wives and moms, and if any of you men out there haven't taken a minute to reflect on all the hard work they do while we are sitting on the couch, or at work, or doing "guy stuff", you should do it now.  It's the perfect day for it!

Watching Abbott grow up, especially at this phase in life, is like watching an ongoing daily miracle.  I'm probably a little biased here (just a little), but she is so smart.  She catches on so quickly and she's so sweet and playful.  Not the biggest cuddler, which has been hard on Daddy, but we have our moments.  She is so expressive and funny, and slightly dramatic... I can't imagine where she got such qualities.  It's kind of like here blond hair and blue eyes... what in the world is that all about?!  Being a father is such a blessing.  She has added so much joy to a life, marriage, and family that already had it's fair share.  I hope and pray that we will have more children.  And I would love to have a son some day.  But having a little girl makes me kind of want more little girls.  It's weird what happens to a man when a daughter arrives on the scene.  I'm thankful for my girls, and I love being able to say "my girls".

I'm very thankful for our church family.  We joined our church a few years ago but have only started getting plugged in in the last several months.  A door was opened up for us to get involved with the college ministry and it has been quite a blessing.  And I'm thankful for Mary, the leader of the college ministry who is opening her home this afternoon to us and a handful of college students so that we can all spend Thanksgiving in fellowship with friends and loved ones.  I'm thankful for TURKEY BALL (if you don't know, you should find out!).  And I'm thankful for awesome traditions like Turkey Bowling (because my family is awesome!).  And yes, we will be passing the tradition along this afternoon, as Emily has obtained a set of bowling pins from the bowling alley.  Pins, check.  Tarp, check.  Frozen turkey, check.  Awesometown, check.

I very much believe that all of these things that I have to be thankful for are made possible only by the grace of God.  I am so thankful that because of what happened on the cross, I have been given the gift of grace, and through faith I can have hope in something greater than all of these things.  I've had very few real trials in my life, but I'm not promised 5 minutes from now and I'm so thankful that no matter what happens, no matter how the tides may turn, no matter which way the wind blows, my hope and my faith and my fate don't terminate here on earth.  I stumble and stray more than not, but the beauty of grace is that I don't have to run away from God and clean myself up.  I can press in to Him and keep trudging forward with an assurance like no other.  Grace and mercy are hard to wrap your head around sometimes, but unmerited favor in the eyes of God is a powerful thing to be thankful for and I probably don't thank Him enough.

"Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." - 2 Corinthians 4:13-15

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Thank you very much if you took the time to read this.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fun in Phoenix!!

Much fun was had by all in Arizona! We started the vacation with a tubing trip on the Salt River. 
We left the kiddos with the babysitter and had a day of roasting in the sun on huge tubes. Now this was an event. It was like six flags, parking lots full of people taking buses to float. It was a riot, many, many different folks enjoying this event. We had a blast but managed to forget the camera so you'll just have to think in your mind what a good time we had:) 

We had a great Father's Day! Abbott and Jake made foot and hand canvas' for their Daddies which were precious. We headed over to Chip and Kirsten's to eat and play with Amalie. The kiddos had a great time in the pool and Kirsten's parents cooked a yummy meal!!

Picture of the Year!

Marc and Dana were off on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday we headed to Sedona for some shopping and sight seeing! It was beautiful, as you can see in the pics!! On Wednesday, Dana and I took advantage of our hubby's babysitting skills, and went out for a day of shopping and Mommy time. Lulu Lemon will never be the same:)

Hmmm....think they look alike:)

Adam and I enjoyed time with Abbott in the pool and checked out a few restaurants in the area while the Charbonneau's were away. Kirsten brought Amalie over for a visit! The kiddos were so funny together! On Friday, the girls went out for a movie (Knight and Day) and the guys chilled at home. 

The boys got away for the day on Saturday while the women braved a restaurant with all three kiddos! Now this was an adventure!!  Saturday night the kiddos stayed with a babysitter and we ate at a local Sushi place.....amazing! Our flight was great on the way home. Abbott was a trouper the entire trip. She and Jake played like champs. By the end of the week he was calling for Abbott from his crib when he woke up! So sweet:) She and Amalie will be fighting over him in a few years:) What a lucky guy! And we are all so very blessed as parents to have healthy and happy children!! 

 I am sooooo tired Mommy:)
We love you Phoenix friends! See you in the fall in the "view!"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Giving Thanks

Weeks ago I performed a swallow study on a precious 6 month old baby. She had a list of medical problems longer than most ninety year olds I see. Tears stream down my face just thinking of her and her precious mother. Her 5 year old son was there protecting his little sister by asking many questions of me and my job. He told me all about his little sister that he was quiet proud of. The Mom handed over her sweet baby into my hands with trust. I felt her tense muscles and constant twitches, her mother explained that she had severe epilepsy and the twitches were considered pre-seizure activity. Epilepsy was still on the minimal end of her extensive medical history. Most six months old would sit on Mom's lap or in a high chair for this procedure. This precious pea wasn't even close to attempting this. I used a positioner and prepared her bottle before starting her xray. Her little mouth had no concept of the usual "suck, swallow, breath" pattern that occurs with natural development of even a newborn. The material eventually spilled into her mouth and down her throat into her windpipe without even a cough. She aspirated everything we attempted. I explained to Mom what was happening and I could see her logging it away into her list of "abnormalities" that encompassed her daughter. Of course her first question to me was, "how long will she have to have a tube and when will she be able to eat?" I graciously told her that with time and therapy hopefully the muscles in her throat would get stronger. Given the child's history and presentation, I knew that there was very little chance that this sweet girl would ever eat normal. She was sobbing and talking on the phone to her husband while I spoke with her doctor who of course gave me orders to admit her into the hospital for placement of a temporary feeding tube until she could be transferred to Dallas. After all was taken care of, I walked into an empty xray room and began sobbing. 
As a new Mom it was unfathomable to imagine my child in pain or incredibly delayed or sick. It made me sad when Abbott was teething or had a cold. The sweet baby from the swallow study has been on my mind for weeks. My heart breaks for her and her mother. We take so many things for granted. I squealed with joy when Abbott rolled over, sat up, crawled, cut her first tooth, and the list goes on. We go through our everyday routine of normalcy sometimes without thinking twice about the mountains that others face. Please pray for this sweet baby and her family. Mountains don't even begin to describe what they face everyday. I am so thankful for Abbott's, health, smiles, laughs, cries, and the perfect miracle of a tiny human's working body.  

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Springs or bust!

We headed to Hot Springs this weekend to meet up with Aunt Clare, Uncle Kyle, cousin Mandy, cousin Sarah and her hubby Grant. We had so much fun, as always when with his family! It was a beautiful weekend. We headed downtown and ate a Rocky's! It was one of mine and Adam's favorites in college! We walked downtown and did some shopping and sight seeing! Saturday night we headed to Fisherman's Wharf for a yummy dinner! Mom,Dad, and Ms. Cathy babysat at the condo. It was so good to see everyone and we are going to make a point to get together as a group every year in different places! Sounds like a plan:)

How do ya like my shades?!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Home Again:)

Abbott and I headed home to Crossett a few weeks ago when Adam was in Montana visiting Uncle Charlie. I love being in Mom and Dad's house. I love the smell, the look, and the comfort of being where I grew up. Yes....I am such a sap when it comes to memories of growing up. I think it's sweet that Abbott can sleep in my room in "Our Crib". It has now been used by Hud, Mer, Mason,Me and 9 grandchildren:)
    We spent precious time with Memaw and Granddad. Anyone who knows my Grandparents, knows that they are truly the most loving, loyal, giving, and devoted people you will ever want to meet. I am so blessed to have them in our lives and so thankful that Abbott gets to spend time with them. In my job I see so many people who have no one to take care of them. They will be in the hospital for weeks without one visitor. This breaks my heart and I am constantly reminded of how blessed Adam and I are to have such amazing families. Mom and I were able to spend a whole week together. I love how much she loves Abbott (and 8 other little beings:) Anna Kate kept close tabs on Abbott. She is such a "little Mom" she wanted to be with her every second! It was precious. Grace was still figuring her out considering that Abbott pulled her hair and tugged on her every time she could get close enough. We went on several walks with Aunt Amber and helped Nana paint AK's room:) Fun was had by all......

Abbott, Checking Dedaw out:)

Pretty Girls!
Anyone else think Nana and Anna Kate look so much alike in this pic!!! 
Can I borrow your paci Gracie??
AK loves Miss Abbott!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


We turned our breakfast room into a playroom for Abbott last weekend with Nana's help!! Abbott loves it!( she told us)
I bought this book shelf in Hot Springs last year. Got the bins from Target ($6.99) a steal!! The little plaques at the bottom are painted with chalkboard paint so you can label the bins!
 We painted the canvas and then rubbed it with stain. Those were plain white letters from Hobby Lobby of course, that I painted then stained and attached them to the canvas and waalaa.....
More fun letters from HL that I painted and put on a canvas.....
Painted chalkboard paint on the wall and hung a frame over it! Mer was the brains behind this idea!
Turned out so cute!
 Little tin sign ($3 bucks) at HL, hung it over a canvas that I painted. I also bought one that says "his" just in case it's needed later in life!
 Found this sweet little "happy" sign and couldn't resist it! If you had to describe Abbott in one word it would be a BIG red HAPPY!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


We are one up this week with the Gman moving in. His folks took an adventure to Colorado Skiing with the Girlies:) No need to worry he is in good hands. We've been going non stop and he has certainly taken care of Abbott. His question of the hour is,"baby Abbott otay?" He has been talking his little head off. 
Grab a Toy:)
Hi Mommy:)
Headed Home!
Tired baby...

Garrett and Baby Abbott
Hee Hee Hee
No words....
The Gman last year during ski trip, I detect a pattern:) I was 3 months pregnant with Abbott.

Have fun on your ski trip, hello to the cousins and see you soon!

Em, Adam, Abbott, and Gman!!