Thank you, Ms. Streep

So I have this fantasy that I will one day meet Meryl Streep. In fact, I had a dream last night that she was at a book signing and I had a one-on-one conversation with her. She asked me what I do with my music degree, and when I told her I teach voice, she gave me a big hug. I literally woke up with a smile on my face! She is my absolute favorite. Yes, she lights up the big screen and is listed as the greatest actress of our time, but I love how she is a Mom. I've seen her give interview after interview and, although she has a passion for acting, she looks at it as her job. That's just what she does. Yet, when asked about her family, her demeanor changes. She becomes gentler, there's a little sparkle in her eye, and her smile is oh-so-natural. I've never seen her talk about her family in a "ho-hum" sort of way, like she sometimes does when she answers the same monotonous questions about her latest movie. You can tell that she's passionate about her family and never tires of talking about them... yet she doesn't exploit them. In fact, she had this to say about the millions of dollars given to those like Brangelina and JLo for the first pictures of their newborns:

"One thing I learned very early on is when you’re famous, you lose your right to privacy. And, if you promote your children, if you have them photographed, then they lose their rights. But, if you do not have them photographed and (do not) sell them to OK! magazine, they have the right to… privacy and citizenship."

"They (paparazzi) can follow me, take a picture, whatever they want to do. My kids, no."

Now, I'm not exactly a celebrity in any sort. But I love my child and I appreciate any mother who loves and respects their children. I appreciate Meryl Streep for her talent, her natural beauty, her passion for her work, and her love for family. I sure hope I get to meet her one day. Here's to you, Ms. Streep:)



October pictures

Now that it's 4:45 am, blogger is finally uploading my pictures. I hope I don't have to make a habit of insomnia just so I can post pics of our little man. He's totally worth it, don't get me wrong, but I do prefer to SLEEP:) However, since I'm awake (against my will), here are some pictures from last month:

I was washing bottles one morning and had Gabe on the counter next to me (I know you're not supposed to put Bumbo's on the counter, but he stays happier for longer when he can watch me). One minute, he was smiling and watching me. The next minute, I see this. He was OUT!
Being a baby is hard work!

This was on Gabe's blessing day. We had pictures with Taylor, Lara, Caden, Catherine, and Julia as well, but I love Gabey's smile in this picture! Ross's mom Theresa is on the left, and my parents are on the right.
This little kid is loved, lemme tell ya!

Okay, so my two favorite things about this picture are 1.) Gabey's cute little smirk and 2.) those LEGS!
Oh, I could just eat 'em up!

We got his outfit from some dear friends of ours at my baby shower in Utah, and we all thought it would be the cutest Easter outfit for him. Little did we know that this kid would be a monster, so here he is wearing it in October... NOT April.
(Also, please note the french manicure. These are MY nails! I've officially stopped biting my nails, and I'm so proud of the outcome!)

Is he NOT the cutest little Tin Man you've ever seen?!? This outfit was a very last minute idea (hence the scotch tape), and we had about 2 1/2 minutes to get it on him and take pictures before his wiggles ripped it to shreds. I love how he has this look of "what the heck are you doing to me?" on his face. Priceless:)

Well friends, I think it's time for Mama to hit the sack. It's now 5am, and I'm hoping to get at least 3 hours of sleep before Gabe wakes up. Hope you enjoyed the pictures! Good night!



i know, i know

Yes, it's been almost 2 months. I know this. The only thing I can say about my blog inactivity is that we HAD 2 functioning computers. We had an older Mac G4 that was my mom's, which is what I used while Ross had my computer, a newer MacBook. The G4 is now taking a sabbatical, and our MacBook is with Ross ALL DAY LONG. He's taking 16 credits and working 3 jobs, so he's gone a lot. Therefore, I have no computer access. And I am NOT about to take my 4-month old with me to the local library just so I can get on the computer. Swine flu is not a joke anymore, so the fewer public places I expose my child to, the better. The end.

Now, on to bigger and better things! Speaking of bigger, Gabe is huge. He's well over 17 pounds now and his head is bigger than every other infant's head in our ward. He is such a fun baby! My sister-in-law, Lara, always told me that her favorite baby age is around 5 months, and now I know why! Gabe loves to smile and his belly laughs absolutely cracks us up. We've started him on rice cereal, and he averages around 8 hours of sleep a night (after about 8oz. of formula plus 1-2 Tablespoons of rice cereal). My favorite thing to do is walk into his room in the morning and peek my head over his crib, in turn to see him smiling and cooing back at me. I've heard that colicky babies turn into the happiest babies, and I agree! He loves his mommy, but he'll go to anyone and we don't have to worry when we leave him with a babysitter. And all Moms out there know that this is a plus!

Two weekends ago, we had Gabe's blessing here in Rexburg. Although he was almost 4 months at the time, it was the first opportunity we had to get everybody together on a Fast Sunday. Ross' mom and youngest sister came out from Virginia, and my parents came up from Alpine with Taylor, Lara, and Caden. It was such a wonderful blessing, and Ross invited my dad, my brother Taylor, Randy Kempton (music teacher at BYU-I), and Brady Hodgson (Ross' good friend and fellow musician) to join him in the blessing circle. Ross said that Gabe was smiling and looking around during the blessing, and he wasn't fussy at all. My Grandma Van Leeuwen made Gabe's blessing outfit out of material she had saved after making my wedding dress, and Ross' mom made his blessing blanket. My mom took a ton of photos that day, so here are some of our family and our darling baby boy:
Well, just kidding. For some reason I can't post photos right now. Dangit! They're really cute, I promise! I'll keep trying. Anyway, baby's in bed, Daddy's home from work, and now it's Mama's turn to relax. Well, by "relax" I mean SLEEP. But before I hit the sack, I'll pat myself on the back for doing Pilates 2 days in a row:) And I have another date with Pilates tomorrow at 11:30. Go me.

Life is fabulous.



we're baaaaaack!!!

I'm realizing that it's been 4 weeks since my last post... and that's too long! In my defense, however, we've had A LOT going on. We've moved 4ish times, depending on how you look at it, and we're just now settling back down in Rexburg. Just after my last post, we were kicked out of our apartment because there was a mess up between Pinnacle and our apartment complex in Indy. Pinnacle had leased all of the apartments until the end of August... except for ours. Supposedly our apartment's lease was up as of August 4th, and a new tenant (who wanted nothing but a view of the lake) was moving in the following weekend. We had about 7 hours to pack up our apartment and move everything to a downstairs apartment, where we ended up staying for less than a week. I flew to Utah with Gabey 4 days after the surprise move, and Ross's office moved to Bakersfield, CA 2 days after that. On his way to Cali, Ross stopped at my parents house to unload all of our stuff before driving the 10 hours to Bakersfield. It was so nice for me to finally be with family again, although it got kinda crazy at times because we had such a full house. My brother's best friend is living with my parents because he's working with/for Taylor (my little bro), my sister Maddy, Bryce, and their son Britton were visiting since Bryce's brother got married, Taylor and Lara and their son Caden are living in my parents basement, and then Gabey and I showed up! Did ya follow all that? It was fun to have all the little boys together for the first time, even if Gabey just sat there and the other two played together. I missed Ross like crazy, but instead of being gone for 3 weeks (like originally planned) he called me 5 days after arriving in Bakersfield to tell me that he was coming back. The office wasn't doing as well as they'd hoped, so they were sending the guys home. SOOO, Ross packed his stuff back up, came to Alpine for a few days, and now we're FINALLY HOME in Rexburg! It's so nice to be here. We missed our friends, our house, our awesome ward... we just missed everything! And it's so nice to be settled. We're still unpacking things, but we're so happy to have Gabey's room set up. When we were in Indy, we borrowed almost everything from friends who had baby stuff (thanks Hiram and Alanna!)... a Pack'N'Play, a rocking chair, a bouncy seat, even baby clothes. But now, Gabey has his own stuff and it's awesome! Mom and Dad helped us get everything up here in Dad's massive truck, and the boys set up the crib and changing table while Mom helped me get things organized and decorated. We love being in our own home, that's for sure! And Gabey likes having his own room and crib:) Here are some pictures from this last week:

Gabey LOVES to be held... which makes it hard when it comes to naptime because he usually doesn't sleep during the day unless he's being held. We're trying to break him of this, but there are lots of tears. Any suggestions?

We put this little duck on the handle of his car seat and he LOVES it! He'll talk to it and laugh and smile, and he stays entertained for quite a while!

Our friends, Brady and Chelse (and soon to be Baby Logan, due in 3 weeks), came to see us when we got home. We MISSED THESE GUYS!

Mama and Baby Gabe. It's hard to believe he's 11 weeks old already!

I LOVE his sweet face. He has stolen our hearts and he makes us smile every day. WE LOVE HIM!

Sorry for the long post, but there was a lot to catch up on! Overall, we're happy, healthy, and blessed beyond measure!



7 weeks!

I can't believe my son is 7 weeks old!  Gabey is growing every minute, and it kinda makes my heart twinge when I look back on his newborn pictures and remember how small he was.  Now he's a total chunk who just keeps eating!  As he's growing, we're starting to hear from more and more people that he looks like a mini-Ross with my chin.  At least my genes popped up in there somewhere!  All of these are from my phone, so the quality isn't great but the pictures sure are cute!
I love this sleeper and matching hat.  I remember when it devoured him, and now it's getting too small!

No, I'm not holding him while the car is in motion.  We went to Target and he got REALLY hungry, so we fed him in the parking lot.  He passed out as soon as he had a full tummy, and we just had to take a picture of his cute face (I have a similar picture of Ross making this face after he fell asleep on the way back from Prom back in 2001 (and NO, Ross did NOT fall asleep on my chest). Like father like son, I guess!).  

I find myself stripping him down to his diaper so often now because he spits up and gets his cute clothes all smelly.  This is Gabey's "little Buddha" picture, with an attempt at a smile.  I tell ya, this kid's a CHUB!

He's been pretty fussy still with his colic and gassiness, and I wanted to document him in a peaceful moment.  He was so content just sitting in his chair, but 10 seconds after I took this picture he started crying again.  Oy ve.

I just love this little boy.  He really is sweet, even with the fussiness.  We love him to pieces! 

And now that I've finally found a moment to update my blog, I have a crying baby to feed.  Our lives have definitely changed, but it's been for the better!  




I know, I've been bad at posting since we brought Gabey home.  He's dealing with colic and gas problems, so we've had some rough days this last month.  He had his 1 month appointment on Monday, and this little chubster has gained 3 pounds in 3 weeks!  At least he's eating well!  We got a prescription for Zantac for him, which will hopefully help with his upset tummy.  Now, I need some advice from moms who've dealt with this before.  Baby Gabe has pretty bad baby acne that started about a week ago.  It's gotten worse these last few days, and I don't know what to do.  I'm actually not sure if there's anything I can do, but there HAS to be a mom out there who knows how to at least lessen the severity of the acne.  I know it doesn't hurt him, but when he gets angry or impatient, he has a bad habit of clawing at his face... and with all the acne, he's made himself bleed a couple times (no worries... they're tiny little scratches).  I try to keep his nails filed down so he can't scratch himself, but he still finds a way to scratch his face.  I feel so bad because there's not much I can do to help his colic, and the anti-gas drops don't help his poor tummy.  BUT, if there are any of you who have any pointers as to what I can do to help with the baby acne, do tell!  I'll do anything at this point!  Muchas gracias:)



today WAS the day

I woke up this morning (after another long night of minimal sleep) and realized that today is July 5th.  What a realization, right?  Well, today was my due date.  Today was the day that has been marked on every one of our calendars for months now.  Yet here I am, holding my sweet son who is now 15 days old and growing cuter by the minute.  It seems like just yesterday that we had the ultrasound that determined my induction, so it's crazy to think that it was over 2 weeks ago when we packed our bags and headed for the hospital.  Gabey is a great sleeper, although he sleeps better during the day than at night (much to our dismay).  He's a good eater too, even though I'm having to pump because he refuses to latch on (I don't think any men read my blog, which is why I have no problem sharing this tidbit of info...).  And what I LOVE is that he hasn't lost any of his hair!  He still has a good head of dark hair, which I was told he might lose so I didn't want to get my hopes up.  He's already been to church, a barbecue, the movie theater (if you haven't seen the movie "UP", you NEED TO SEE IT!), and he's a pro when it comes to doctor's visits.  His jaundice got pretty bad the first week home, so we had to take him back to the pediatrician EVERY STINKIN DAY so that they could do more tests.  Thankfully, after lots of heel pricks and a few days on the biliblanket, Gabey is doing just fine.  Even without the added measure of color from the jaundice, he's still much darker than his mommy and proving to take after his daddy's coloring.  Of course, after dealing with a lifetime of sunburns, sun spots, and SPF 70, I'm okay with him having Ross' darker skin:)  No matter what, this is one cute baby!!!  Here are a few more recent pictures (although he's changed even since these were taken while my mom was here). 

Okay, lemme explain.  We went downtown to the canal walk and Mom was snapping some photos.  This has now become one of my favorite photos because Ross sneezed RIGHT when my mom took the picture and she caught the moment perfectly.  I laughed so hard when I saw this the first time that I almost peed my pants... really... 

Oh, our sweet little man.  He still had jaundice in the pic, but just look at how much darker he is than me!

What can I say?... he loves being close to his mama :)

He does NOT like to have his arms tucked into a blanket.  Even when he was just a few days old, he would wiggle his arms out of it.  His hands are always by his face, whether he's sleeping or awake.    

This is the sweet face I get to look at every day.  This little man has completely snatched up my heart, and just like my dad said to me the other day, "there is no greater love than that of a mother for her son."  I love my son more than I ever thought imaginable, and our lives have truly changed for the better.  

Other than the severe lack of sleep, Ross and I love being parents.  I couldn't imagine doing this without the constant support and help from my sweet husband, who gets up in the middle of the night to help with Gabey EVEN THOUGH he works and stays busy during the day.  Ross changes diapers like a pro, offers to feed Gabey so that I can have a break, and will watch him (when he can) so that I can take a nap.  We've grown closer as a couple, and it's such an amazing feeling to know that we are a forever family.  And this is only the beginning!  

Life is good!



The many faces of Gabey

We all know how much newborns can change in their first few weeks of life, so here's a picture update of Gabey.  Like most new moms, I'm seriously sleep deprived and I don't plan on making a novel out of this post, but I just had to share a few photos of some of the faces Gabey makes.  
This is the "mama's little angel" face

And this is the "dreaming about the next feeding session" face

And here we have the "FEED ME NOW!" face 

And finally, the "quasi-smiling, full tummy" face

Assume the position!

I love this last picture because it explains perfectly the reason for Gabey's new nickname.  He has pulled into this position since the first time I held him, so we rightfully call him our little Tree Frog.  Doesn't he look like one?!  Note his right hand behind his head... he did that on his own.  I'm so glad my mom is here to get pictures of all of this.  I'm so preoccupied trying to remember which side I last nursed him on that I probably wouldn't have all of these darling pictures.  I am so in love with this little boy that I can't think about it too hard or I'll start to cry.  He is the sweetest, most lovable little tree frog on earth, and we are blessed to have him!



Baby Gabe

Proud Daddy

He is a lot cuter now.  (Less cheesy).  Like his Dad, he cleans up nice.

I can't believe I am posting this.  Proof that real men cry.
Mommy did so well!!

Just some pictures from last night I copied from grandma's Facebook account.  We will be posting more HQ pictures later on.  This should stave off the needs of all you hormonal women out there!
Daddy Ross
PS Happy Father's Day to me!

Gabriel Ross Graham

We would like to welcome the newest addition to our family. Gabriel Ross Graham, born June 20th 2009 at 11:06PM.  Weighing in at 7 lbs.. 7.7 ozs. and 21 inches long.  Baby and Mommy are healthy and happy.  He is really cute and has features of Mom and Dad, Dad's dark complexion and Mom's nose and chin.  We will see what his hair color will turn out to be,  it is dark now but may get a lighter, it also has a little wave to it.  What a great Father's Day present for me.

Pictures will be coming shortly, or check out facebook.

Posted by Dad.


a SLIGHT change of plans...

So I went in this morning for my weekly check up with Dr.Beckwith, and she had scheduled an ultrasound for me before our appointment.  Ross and I were so excited to see our little Gabey again, so we eagerly watched as the ultrasound technician (Rita) put her magic wand up to my belly.  His heart looks great, his little toes are cute as heck, he's weighing in at about 7 pounds... and I'm being induced tonight!  My amniotic fluid level is low, which could cause stress to Gabey when I'm delivering him, which increases chances for a C-section.  SOOO, my doctor said that since he's measuring just fine and I'm past the 37 week mark (I'll be 38 weeks tomorrow), she has no problems inducing me early!  I was a little nervous about his lungs, but Rita pointed out to us that she was really pleased with his breathing.  I wasn't sure what she meant, but then she pointed out his little diaphragm and sure enough, he was breathing!  Or at least practicing breathing, which helps to strengthen his lungs.  And every time she would go back to his lungs after that, he'd still be breathing.  She said she was usually happy to see a baby do it once or twice during an ultrasound, but for him to do it the whole time was awesome!  We knew our little man would have strong lungs! 

Anyway, please keep us in your prayers over these next 24 hours.  We'll post pictures as soon as we can!



yet another picture update...

It's been a while since I've posted new pictures, and believe me, THINGS HAVE CHANGED.  Well, I guess I should say that I have changed more than anything... this belly's getting H-Y-U-G-E!  I measured my belly tonight for the first time and I was FLOORED.  I can't believe my body can stretch and grow like this!  It makes me so grateful that the Lord created women in such a perfect way.  Now please don't think that I'm claiming to be perfect in any way, but it amazes me that we have the ability AND the opportunity to carry and protect and grow our babies inside us for 9 months.  Babies are such miracles.  Even with the nausea, back pain, and swelling (and so on and so forth), I know that baby Gabe is so very worth it.  Even when he's sticking his feet in my ribs, I simply smile because I can feel my son moving inside me.  It amazes me that Ross and I already love him SO much, and we haven't even seen him or held him yet!  Man, we're so excited!  

Anyway, on to the pictures:)
Outside the Louisville, KY temple. It was small but beautiful!

Ross and I planned a special date night to the Melting Pot.  It was delish (yet a little expensive for our liking...)

Here's a nice shot of downtown Indy and the Canal Walk.  We spent part of a Sunday evening walking around and enjoying the artwork and scenery of this beautiful city. 

Like I said, I'm huge.  This is Mama and Gabey at 37 weeks.

And one more 37 week shot, just for kicks.  C'mon Gabey!!!

Hopefully it won't be long before we post pics of our little man.  I've known several first-time moms recently who've gone into labor early, so I can only hope I'll be one of them!  Of course, my family genes aren't exactly conducive to early labors.  Mom delivered all of us a week late, and my sister and sister-in-law were both induced a week after their due dates.  Oy ve.  We'll just have to see what happens!  Until then, we'll enjoy our restful nights:)




Okay, I was going to post about my little vacation to Virginia and Kiawah Island, SC, but my mom and sister took so many pictures that I'd basically be copying their blog posts.  So really, if you want to see pictures of last week's adventures, just go to bretandingrid.blogspot.com (this is totally the lazy way out, but Mom and Maddy already have most of the pictures posted).  I was just so relaxed that I didn't take a lot of pictures (shame on me, I know), but I don't have a baby to take pics of yet and I'm so pregnant that I don't necessarily like being the subject of pictures:)  In a nutshell, the beach was beautiful, my baby shower was a blast (thanks to Maddy, Theresa, and Debbie for hosting and planning, and thanks to all who came!), it was so fun to go "home" and see everybody, and my favorite part was when Ross decided to drive down from Indy and surprise his family.  It ended up being a VERY good thing that he came with the car, because we got a lot of great baby gifts and there is NO WAY I would've been able to take it all home on the plane.  And it was just fun to have him there with me:)  All in all, this vacation can be classified as a complete success!!!

Anyway, now that we've got about 3 weeks left until Baby Gabe comes, I'm curious to see what y'all have to say.  I've posted some pictures of Ross and I when we were little, and it's obvious to see that our physical features are totally opposite.  It'll be very interesting to see who and what Gabey (and the rest of our kids) look like.  Ross is olive-skinned while I'm quite alabaster, and his dark hair is the opposite of my strawberry-blonde locks.  My eyes are big, round, and bluish-grey, and his are smaller and change between hazel and green.  His Graham nose is much more pronounced than my little button, but my square-as-heck jawline is, well, much more square than his longer, rounder face (it's hard to tell in these baby pics, so just trust me).  I like to tell Ross that he has "grub worm" lips because they're plump and juicy:)  Mine, on the other hand, are pretty thin and the opposite of anything having to do with Angelina Jolie.  We do know that Gabey will most likely have big hands and feet (he'll probably just be big all over), and we sure hope that he loves music as much as his mommy and daddy love music:)  As my sister says, "his first cry will have vibrato."  We just have our fingers crossed that this little guy can sing!

So, take a gander at these pictures and let us know what you think... will Gabey come out looking like a Ross Jr., or will we have a fair-skinned carrot top on our hands?  Either way, we already love him to pieces and can't wait until he's here!!!


23-ish days to go!



Lil' Miss Daisy

This post is completely random and has nothing to do with our lives at present, but I'm being nostalgic at the moment and remembering back to my sweet friend Daisy.  So please bare with me for the next few minutes as I have a little mission moment:)

In October 2006, after serving for 6 months in Anaheim, CA, I was transferred to Santa Ana, CA.  It was heartbreaking for me to leave the ward I loved so much, but as all missionaries know, that time comes sooner or later.  Santa Ana is literally Little Mexico... the population is 98% Latino, and there are some areas that can be so dangerous that Sister missionaries don't serve there.  But our area was wonderful and we always had plenty of people to talk to on the streets.  One sunny day after I'd just moved there, my companion and I were street contacting and we ran into a beautiful woman who I would come to know as Hermana Flores.  She was the Relief Society President in our ward in Santa Ana, and she sweetly invited us over for lunch that very day.  We had an appointment soon after taking with her, but we stopped by a little later so that I could meet the family and we could have a late lunch.  While we were there, I not only had some of the best Mexican food EVER, but I met the 4 Flores kids.  The 2 oldest boys are 11 months apart ("what was I thinking?!" Hermana Flores always says), then Elizabeth, and then Daisy.  Well, this is where the story really begins.  Daisy and I became close friends during the 7 months I spent in Santa Ana.  We even had a little "handshake" so to speak, and whenever she saw me she'd run up to me, wrap her arms around my waist, shake my hand, and then we'd pound fists.  This was our "huuuuug, handshake, BONES!" ritual:)  Daisy was 7 when I served in that ward and she always talked about how excited she was to get baptized.  Unfortunately I was transferred before her baptism, but she has been the most excellent penpal!  She even writes me letters to this day, and to me, Daisy is the purest example of childlike innocence and love.  Here let me show you:  (this was a letter she wrote to me last month)

 "Dear Hermana Van, 
I miss u. The first day you came in our barillo (ward) I was scared of you because you were very tall and giant.  but as time past we became friends and I was not afraid of you. but now that I knew I thought If the blue sky is as beautiful as you and the birds sing as beautiful as your voice than that's the perfect person for me. and today that I saw the sun, sky, birds, and beautyness of the world it reminded me of you. I am always so cyriouse about what god created because it's so beautiful. and now that the bees are being ex tinked I grow a much bigger garden so they could come and live.  I love you!!! 
- Daisy"

Well, if that didn't completely melt your heart I don't know what would.  It's people like Daisy that make a person cherish their mission memories so much.  I met so many incredible people on my mission, and I rank the Flores family at the top of my list.  Daisy is now 9 years old and it's been over 2 years since I served in Santa Ana, but there's still a connection between my sweet little friend and I.  In her letters and phone calls, it's like I never left and we just pick up where we left off.  She's 16 years younger than me... she's still in Primary!... but our spirits touched and that's all we needed to start what I hope to be a lifelong friendship.  Oh how I love my sweet little Daisy girl:) 

Me and the Familia Flores on my last Sunday in Santa Ana.  L-R: Elias, Hermano Flores, me, Daisy, Hermana Flores, Isaias, and Elizabeth. What a beautiful family!

This is one of my favorite pictures.  Can you tell how much Daisy and I love each other??

Ahhh, it feels good to be a little nostalgic.  It's so wonderful to think that I could literally hop in a car and drive to my mission if I wanted... and be there in a day!  I know so many missionaries who hope to travel back to their missions at some point during their LIFETIME simply because they served so far away.  Vina del Mar, Chile (where I was first called to serve) is a distant memory, and maybe I'll go there one day.  But for now, I'm forever grateful for the people I met and the incredible experiences I had as a missionary of the California Anaheim Mission - "the happiest mission in the world!"



a lil' glimpse of Indy

Ross got a new camera for his birthday (thanks padres!), so we finally have some quality pictures.  Our other camera was just about to give up the ghost, so we are loving this new one!  Mom ordered it online and it came just before Ross left for Alaska.  It was PERFECT timing because Ross took some amazing pictures during his 2 weeks on tour.  And now we're able to document our new life here in Indy, which will be OH SO IMPORTANT once Gabey comes:)

Adenture #1: Chuck E Cheese lunch with all the technicians.  Now I know why our parents never took us to this place growing up... it is TOTALLY overpriced and the food isn't even that good!  But the boys sure had fun playing the games and taking pictures with Big C:)  

This is Chris (Ross' brother) and his sweet glasses.  Hiram, the lead tech, gave everybody 10 tokens as we came in.  Whoever played the games and got the most tickets from those 10 tokens got to cash in EVERYBODY'S tickets for a big prize.  Chris won the competition and decided to go with these amazing straw glasses and a big bag of cotton candy.  All for only 700 tickets... like I said, overpriced.  

Me and Gabey at 32 weeks... only 8 weeks to go!  Ross bought me the dress as part of my Mother's Day gift, so I just had to wear it to church!  When I woke up that morning, he had made the same DELICIOUS strawberry and ricotta cheese crepes that he made me for Valentine's Day.  There was a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me on the kitchen table, and then he surprised me with a fun new summer bag, 2 CD's, and 2 Mother's Day cards... one was from my sweet hubby (it made me cry), and the other was from Baby Gabey (whose handwriting looks an awful lot like Ross' handwriting... and it still made me cry!).  I have the most wonderful husband ever.  He is SO GOOD TO ME!

The view from our balcony is awesome!  Ross took this just after the sun had gone down. 

This is our view of the sun setting over the lake behind our complex.  We have several geese, a cute pair of ducks, and a crane that hang out right by our apartment.  One pair of geese has 3 fuzzy little goslings that have hatched since we've been here and they are so stinkin' cute!  The parents aren't very nice, but the goslings are fun to watch:)

I'll hopefully get Ross to write all about Alaska sometime soon.  He's at his 2nd install for the day, which is SPLENDID, and we hope he stays busy this week!  Working as a tech is a lot less stressful for him than selling, and although he's had some late nights (and will continue to have late nights), as a whole he's able to spend more time at home.  It's been great spending time together, but it will be a HUGE blessing to have him home once Gabey's here.  And from the sound of it, we'll have lots of help!  In his first month of life, he'll get to meet his Grammy and Poppy Van Leeuwen, Aunt Maddy, Grandma and Grandpa Graham and Aunt Julia, Uncle Chris, Aunt Lara and cousin Caden.  The more the merrier, so let us know if you're in Indy!

Life is great, the weather is beautiful, the birds are singing, and the trees are green.  That's all we could ask for!!!



We're HERE!!!

Well folks, we are SO HAPPY to finally be in Indiana!  We left last Monday (4/27) to drive down to my parent's house in Alpine, UT so that we could see them one last time before heading East.  After spending the night there and eating breakfast as a family, we left Tuesday morning for the first leg of the trip.  It's about 1600 miles from Alpine to Indianapolis, and Ross really wanted to cover about 1,000 miles the first day.  I figured that he would be driving most of the way anyway, so I let him do what he could do.  We ended up pulling into Salina, Kansas around 1 am and we were SO TIRED!  It took quite a bit longer to get there because we started losing air in one of our tires and had to stop several times to fill up the tire.  It was stressing both of us out because we thought the leak stemmed from my accident a while back (sliding perpendicular across the highway wore down my tires a bit...).  Ross woke up early the next morning to take the car to a shop (thank goodness for GPS!  We were in the middle of nowhere!), and they were able to fix the tire because we had only run over a nail.  PHEW!  We were VERY happy that it wasn't anything worse than a nail, although the guys did tell Ross that we should replace all 4 tires, and it would only cost us $650.00.  I DON'T THINK SO!  The tires might have been worn down a little from the accident, but we definitely did NOT need to replace all of them.  I think those guys were just bored and wanted to make a quick buck.  Anyway, back to the journey...

We left Salina after Ross came back with the fixed tire, and we hit a torrential downpour just outside of Topeka.  It was scary!  We turned the radio on to listen to the road report, and they were calling for flash floods in the exact area where we were driving.  There was standing water on the freeway simply because the rain was coming down so fast and so hard that it couldn't drain off the road fast enough.  We drove through the rain for about an hour, but after that we enjoyed rainless weather for the rest of the day:)  The only detour we made was to Independence, Missouri.  We hadn't ever seen the church historical sites there, and since it was so close to the freeway we decided to stop.  It was fun talking to the Sister Missionaries at the Visitor's Center, and I actually ran into a few who know some of the same people I know.  There were quite a few who spoke Spanish, so I took the opportunity to practice my Espanol.  And there was one Sister whose younger sister is leaving next month for her Spanish speaking mission to Anaheim, California!  My mission!  It was awesome to feel their beautiful spirits, and it was by far my favorite part of the trip:)

We finally pulled into Indianapolis around 10:30 on Wednesday night, and I was SO ready to get into our apartment and SLEEP.  HOWEVER, our apartment had been used as the "back up" apartment for when others had arrived and their apartments weren't ready yet.  I didn't really care that other people had stayed there before us, but because the keys had been passed around so much between several people, nobody knew where the keys were... THUS, we couldn't get into our apartment.  I wanted to cry.  BUT, our friend Chris (the sales manager) reserved a hotel room for us nearby and we were able to get some rest Wednesday night.  It felt GREAT to sleep in and take our time getting ready Thursday morning, and by the time we got back to the apartment complex, the leasing office had made us a copy of our key.  We have an awesome 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with a balcony that overlooks a lake.  It has a washer and dryer in a separate utility room right off the kitchen, and a cute little fireplace and mantle:)  And now that we have the internet set up in the apartment, life is pretty much complete!  I don't have pictures yet, but I will soon!  Ross shadowed some installs for the first 2 days, and now he has a few of his own installs under his belt.  It's amazing the stuff he's learning!  He'll be able to wire just about anything by the time this summer is over with!  As for me, I've been setting up house and getting things underway for having this little baby boy of ours.  There's an awesome hospital called St.Vincent Carmel Hospital, and not only is my insurance accepted there, but it is highly recommended in this area.  And it's less than 10 miles away!  Ross' manager's wife is a friend of mine, and she wants to go with me on Monday to take a look at the facility.  I have a good feeling about it, so now I just have to find a doctor!  Gabey is growing and his kicks are getting powerful enough that they sometimes throw me off balance.  He still gets the hiccups multiple times a day, and when he stretches I can feel pressure on both my bladder and my ribs.  It isn't the most comfortable thing I've ever felt, but I just love this little man!  I love feeling him move inside me, and we can't wait to have him with us.  Ross and I think that Gabey will look like his daddy, but that he'll have my eyes.  It's just a guess, but we'll know for sure in 8 short weeks!  The time is flying by and we can't wait to hold our little Baby Gabe!  

We are loving Indiana and it reminds us so much of our Virginia home.  We're having to re-acclimate to the humidity, but we are L-O-V-I-N-G the green lushness of this area!  Overall, life is good and we are blessed!  



1 down, infinity to go...

I can't believe it's been a year... time flies when you're having fun!  Here's a glimpse back to some memories from April 19th, 2008:

Today has been a wonderful day of reflection as I've thought back on the memories of this last year.  Ross and I were married a year ago today, and the time has FLOWN by.  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were sealed in the temple for time and eternity, and now we're here... 2 apartments, 1 house, 6 jobs, and a pregnancy later:)  Baby Gabe has the hiccups (for the 3rd time today) as I write this, and I wish I could say that my sweet husband was sitting next to me with his hand on my stomach.  However, Ross is 3,000 miles to the northeast, sharing music and the gospel with the people of Alaska.  He is with BYU-I's Collegiate Singers, and they left last Monday for their choir tour.  They'll be gone for 2 weeks, so I have another week to go before Ross comes home.  But he's been extra wonderful today, calling when he can to wish me a Happy Anniversary and just to talk.  In fact, as soon as they finished singing at a youth fireside tonight, Ross had a bunch of the Young Women from the Wasilla, AK stake yell out to me "Happy Anniversary from Alaska!".  It's been hard to be away from him (especially being pregnant, celebrating our first anniversary AND his birthday apart from each other, and trying to prepare for our move to Indiana next week), but I know that he is having some amazing experiences, seeing some beautiful sights, and sharing his wonderful musical talent.  Thank goodness Verizon doesn't charge extra for roaming when calls and texts are in the same network!  I made sure to clear that up before he'd been gone too long... we definitely didn't want to end up with a horrendous phone bill at the end of the month! 

Anyway, here's to our First Anniversary:)  I love every day that Ross and I are together.  Like Ross said to me, "we've had some good times, but we've really had some GREAT times."  Every day I learn from his optimism, his pure heart, his thirst for knowledge, and his caring and forgiving attitude.  He truly makes me a better person, and he is the absolute light of my life.  He doesn't just make me happy... he fills me with joy.  I am forever grateful for his patience (that has been 18 years in the making when it comes to dealing with me), his hard work, and the sweet love he shares with me, his eternal companion.  We really were meant for each other.  

So babes, Happy First:)  I miss you.  Te quiero mas que las estrellas de los cielos.