Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas!

I can't believe Christmas has already come and gone! On the Saturday night before Christmas my dad called me and said: "Hey, come on over real quick.  I want you to see something we got for Christmas."  Considering it was so late I figured he wouldn't call unless it was important so we drove over there and opened the front door and these boys ran and jumped into our arms!



Christmas could have never come and I would have been as happy as if it had!  For those of you that aren't aware, my oldest brother and his wife and kids live in Minnesota.  We don't get to see them nearly often enough and haven't spent Christmas with them in 4 years so you can imagine how excited we all were when they surprised everyone and showed up at my parents' house on Saturday!  Because of missions and family living out of state, it was the first time since 2006 that my entire immediate family was together for Christmas and and it was fantastic!

We spent Christmas Eve with Logan's family this year and had a great time.  There was quite the crowd at his parents' house so it was a lot of fun catching up with everyone.  We had a White Elephant gift exchange which is always hilarious and exchanged gifts with Logan's siblings.  The younger kids got to open a few presents which, in my opinion, makes Christmas so much fun.  I love watching the kids get so excited as they open everything.  After our Christmas Eve festivities wrapped up we headed home to prepare for Santa to come!

Christmas morning rolled around and we were up pretty early to get ready for the day.  We opened stockings and presents from each other which is always so much fun even though there's only two of us.  I feel like we're creating our own traditions that we'll have one day with our kids.  As always, Logan spoiled me and I think (hope!) he enjoyed what I got him as well.  



We opened our door to throw away some garbage and found a gift waiting for us.  I read the card and was so excited to see that it was from one of the amazing SCID moms that I've become friends with.  I couldn't believe the time and effort she put forth to make this for us.  Look how amazing!

They look exactly like the boxing gloves that we hung over Eli's crib!
This wonderful lady lost a baby of her own this year to SCID and continues to serve others before herself.  I feel so blessed to know her.

Our first stop of the day was to the cemetery to visit our little man.  I expected it to be crowded or at least to see other people but there was no one in sight which was actually nice.  We spent a few minutes talking to him and wishing him a merry Christmas while enjoying the peaceful feeling that was there.  I was never a fan of cemeteries before all of this but now it's one of my favorite places to be.  We felt such a special spirit and know Eli was there with us.



My family always does a Christmas brunch so we headed for my parents' house first.  To say their house was wild is a definite understatement.  The cousins get so excited to see each other since it only happens a couple times a year and they get a bit crazy.  We had a great afternoon eating and hanging out and loved being all together!


Logan's family does Christmas dinner so we headed for their house later that evening and enjoyed yummy food and played games with his fam.  Thanks to our amazing families we had a wonderful Christmas and couldn't have asked for anything more!  

Logan and I were both able to take the day after Christmas off which hasn't happened since we've been married so we decided to go skiing for the first time this year.  We had a ton of fun but I haven't been in a couple years since I was pregnant last year so I could barely walk the next morning.  I clearly don't work out enough!




I typically leave my Christmas things up until around New Years but we got home from skiing and I had a sudden urge to take it all down so that's what I did!  It didn't take too long and a couple hours later we had our house back to normal and everything put away so it was definitely worth it.  

We had a wonderful holiday and are so grateful to everyone for all of the love we received.  It could have been much tougher than it was so we are very thankful to everyone for all of the support!  We hope everyone has a safe and happy new year!

**SIDE NOTE**
Before Eli was in the hospital I had never donated blood consistently but because he needed nearly daily blood transfusions I became very grateful that the blood was readily available whenever he needed it.  After we got home from the hospital I promised myself I would donate as often as possible and have been able to do so a few times now.  I always feel so happy after I leave knowing my small donation could potentially make a big difference for someone.  If you ever have the opportunity to donate, please take advantage of it!

There's something so rewarding about doing this!
















Sunday, December 8, 2013

Festival of Trees

What a week!  I fantasized about the Festival of Trees since the moment I knew Eli was going to have a tree and it turned out better than I could have wished for.  There aren't words to explain my feelings of this event or how I felt when I saw Eli's tree for the first time but this picture does a pretty good job:



I was quite emotional and know Eli was there with us.  This is definitely a moment I will never forget.

Everything about Eli's tree and everything around it is absolutely perfect.  Although the fantastic ladies who put this all together never met him, they captured Eli better than even I could have.  I'm sure he was helping them along the way :) For those of you that weren't able to make it to the festival, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.








Logan and I have gone to the Festival of Trees every year for awhile but this year was different so I made sure to be there every night.  It was so fun to be there each night with different friends and family.  

Wonderful Co-Workers
Fantastic High School Friends
The Lovely Cynthia

Because of these wonderful people, Eli's tree gets to go home with me and Logan!


Thank you, thank you, mom and dad for this Christmas surprise!  Logan and I are so grateful Eli's tree will stay in our family.  Maybe one year we'll let you put it up in your house... ;)

I loved going to the festival each night to see Eli's tree but it was definitely a welcomed sight to see it delivered today!  Its home will be my dad's office this year before being moved to mine and Logan's casa for next year.



If it weren't for these two incredible ladies, none of this would have been possible.  Dana and Melanie, all of it was perfect and we are so grateful you provided our family with this wonderful experience. You will forever have a special place in our hearts.  

I sure love these ladies!
In other exciting news...Eli's headstone was finally installed!  There was quite a bit of drama trying to get it so we couldn't be more relieved to have it figured out.  The cemetery told us they would continue installing headstones until the snow came so we were nervous it might not happen.  It ended up getting put in on Monday and the snow came on Tuesday.  What a blessing!

We are so happy with how it turned out!  It was definitely worth the wait! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mi CumpleaƱos & Thanksgiving

The amount of love I was shown on my birthday was truly overwhelming and meant more to me than anyone could ever know!  My family, friends and of course my amazing husband treated me too well this year!  People often tell me they feel bad I have to "share" my birthday with Thanksgiving but I love it.  This is my absolute favorite time of the year so I can't think of a better time to have a birthday.

As our family has grown it has gotten harder and harder to celebrate everyone's individual birthdays so we just celebrate once a month now.  My dad and I share November so we went to dinner with the fam a few weeks ago and, like always when we're together, had a great time!  


There's definitely nothing I love more than spending the night with just me and my wonderful Logan!  We went to dinner at my all-time favorite restaurant--Tsunami.  We both love sushi so it was heaven!


Thank you, thank you to everyone for the kind posts, messages and phone calls that made me feel so loved!  Your love and support brightened my day as we thought of our little Eli who left us just over 6 months ago.  Miss you more than ever, little man!

I love simple pictures like this one that remind me of his tube/cord free days
Yes, those are socks on his hands :)
Thanksgiving was a wonderful, relaxing day.  We were with Logan's family this year and had a great time celebrating with both his mom's and dad's side.  What's better than two feasts?!  Logan played football in the morning while I slept cozily in bed and then it was off to our parties for the afternoon/evening.  Logan loves looking through all the Black Friday ads but we're not too into all the shopping.  I went for the first time last year and that was more than enough for me.  I'd rather spend a bit more money and avoid all the crowds while hanging out with the fam!  I was awful with my camera and took virtually no pictures but the three "Fs" sum up our day best: Family, Food & Football!

Like many other people, I always spend the day after Thanksgiving putting up Christmas so that's what happened today.  I always get so discouraged thinking about pulling everything out of storage but I'm always so happy with how it turns out!


Last year we bought Eli a stocking that matched ours even though he wasn't due until January so unfortunately he never got to use it but I pulled it out today and was so grateful we have it.  It makes me so happy seeing the three of our stocking hanging up together!

I have been looking forward to next week for so long and am so excited it's almost here!  The Festival of Trees has always been a favorite tradition of ours but I know it will be extra special this time around.  I've only seen tiny glimpses of all the work that's gone into the tree so I can't wait to see the finished product!  I hope many of you can go and support the hospital and all the work that goes into the Festival!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Happiness

I was hanging out with a few friends last week and we were having one of our many wonderful conversations about life when someone said to me: "Liz, you always seem so happy.  Is it a front you put on around people or is it real?" Without hesitation, I responded: "It's real.  It's absolutely real."  Although I'm sure she already knew what I said next, I added: "It's amazing what the gospel can do for you as long as you allow it to bless your life."

From the time I was little and attending primary I remember being taught by my family and church leaders that the gospel would bring us peace and comfort during all phases of life and that the gift of the spirit would be one of the greatest blessings we would ever receive.  What I don't remember learning is that we would have to allow the peace of the gospel into our lives--it would never force its way in.

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this but I don't think I fully understood the concept of allowing the gospel to bless my life until recently.  Logan and I had received the heartbreaking news of Eli's diagnosis, we were living in a hospital and we had told our family and friends that in order to keep Eli as healthy as possible we didn't want any visitors coming to see him.  While we knew this was the best decision for his health, it was very difficult isolating ourselves for so long.  The staff was incredible and I care about them more than they'll ever know, but I desperately longed for the life I imagined we'd have when I got pregnant.  

While I knew those thoughts were only natural, I hated that I was feeling and thinking that way.  I wanted to wake up each day excited about my life and anxious (in a good way) for what was to come.  I told myself that in order to genuinely feel those things, I needed to first pray and ask for those blessings and second, prove to God that I had the necessary faith in his promises to bring me that peace and happiness I wanted so much.

Many things in life are much easier said than done and for me, this was one of them.  I knew I needed to give up all fear and doubt so I could prove that I trusted in God's plan for Eli and for me and Logan but that was so difficult when so much was at stake.  The best example I can compare this to is when you are asked to close your eyes and fall backwards and someone promises they will catch you.  You stand there with your eyes closed, often for awhile, before reluctantly allowing yourself to fall.  Fear and panic rush through you and you're sure you're going to hit the ground hard when at last someone catches you.  There's no better feeling, is there?  That is exactly what I experienced, but 100x better, when I finally stopped trying to do things on my own and allowed God to truly take over.

Rather than celebrating milestones parents typically look forward to, we found joy in things like successfully taking 5+ oral meds in one sitting, bravely completing a dose of chemo, not fighting the nurses too much when a new IV was placed or mouth care was done and most importantly: doing all of the above mentioned things plus much more with a smile on his face!

I would be lying if I said things were never difficult after that because boy they sure were but I am still amazed to this day at how much love, peace and comfort I felt and continue to feel every single day.  Logan and I experienced a parent's worst nightmare yet the happiness we feel is almost tangible and we know that has come, just like we were promised in primary, because we allowed the gospel to work miracles in our lives.

Life couldn't be more different right now from how Logan and I imagined it would be yet it's still wonderful.  My heart aches to hold Eli and watch him grow up and not an hour goes by that I don't think about him and long to see his all-telling eyes stare up at me with all the confidence in the world but I know my time to experience those things will come sooner than I can imagine and I would hate to miss out on this incredible chance at life I have been blessed with.  While I am tempted at times to ask god: "Why?" I instead thank him for the perfect guardian angel Logan and I now have and offer all the gratitude I can muster for catching me before I fell.   

~My Perfect Baby Angel~

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Festivities

We have officially reached my absolute favorite time of the year.  Don't get me wrong, I love Summer but there's nothing better than the holiday spirit and spending extra time with family.  The weather has been perfect so I hope it stays this way for awhile before the snow arrives!

Logan and I had our annual Halloween party with our friends from high school last week.  It was our turn to host this year but due to the fact that we have a tiny abode, we crashed at my parents' house. Thanks, mom and dad!

Everything was planned last minute but it turned out great and we had a lot of fun!  I don't love spending a ton of time coming up with clever costumes so we typically find whatever we can in the closet but it's always fun seeing what everyone else dresses up as.


Logan's guy friends will appreciate this belt buckle


Logan set the timer on the camera and had it take like 10 photos so everyone started having fun after the first one.
Reverse Charades was included in the evening and oh my goodness, it was hilarious!  I spent most of the time laughing at everybody else rather than participating like I was supposed to. Some of these candid shots show you how much fun we were having.


 


Logan had an online test on Halloween night so I walked around the neighborhood with my friends from Tangled.  


Lily turned one the day before Halloween and her mom had these adorable pictures taken of her:




Lily and Eli are going to be best buds one day.  They were only 2 months apart and every time Lily sees a picture of Eli she gets the biggest grin on her face and talks non-stop. Happy Birthday, Lil!

Only four more weeks until the best holiday of the year!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Random Happenings

October has flown by and life continues to treat us well!  I absolutely love this time of year.  I hope we get to keep this perfect Fall weather around for awhile before the snow hits!  Can there possibly be a prettier sight than this?



Last weekend Logan and I went with some friends to the worst movie I've ever had to suffer through.  I typically love Sandra Bullock but oh my goodness, Gravity was SO boring!  It's crazy how many people have really enjoyed it that I've talked to.  It seems to be a love it or hate it kind of thing.  Last Saturday Logan and I were given tickets to the BYU game.  I love that my Ute fan husband will accompany me down to Happy Valley for a few hours!  Despite what Logan may tell you, we had a great time :)





Logan has loved having the past week off for Fall Break.  He finished all of his homework last weekend so he didn't have anything to worry about the entire break.  We celebrated his final night of freedom last night by going to see The Saratov Approach.  Mormon or not, it's a must-see!  If you haven't seen the trailer, check it out HERE.  The movie was very well done and more than worth the money spent.  

I was looking through the pictures on my phone a little while back and came across this gem.  Oh how I miss the days of chillin' with Eli on my lap and playing all day.


Finally...October is a busy birthday month in the Rowley fam!  Happiest of Birthdays to Staci, Klara, Cheryl, Nate and Lily as well as Olivia in the Jorgensen fam!

**We currently have a couple friends with kiddos up at Primary Children's for various reasons.  Please know that we're praying for you!**

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

~Eli's Christmas in Heaven~

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved the Festival of Trees.  There is such a neat spirit there and the money goes to a wonderful cause.  Logan and I have gone every year and look forward to to seeing all of the trees decorated in honor of so many incredible people.  You can imagine our excitement when I received a call a few weeks ago from one of my sister-in-law's cousins asking if she could decorate a tree this year in honor of Eli.  Logan and I were so humbled that these women thought of our little family and we told them we would be thrilled to have them put together a tree in his name. I've heard the ideas these ladies have for the tree and can't wait to see the finished product! The theme they decided on is "Eli's Christmas in Heaven".  I know it will be perfect!  Many, many thanks to everyone who is helping!  

For more information about Eli's tree, please visit the link below:


My oldest niece got baptized on Saturday.  It was so fun to spend the day with her while we celebrated her baptism and birthday.  I'm so proud of you, Mady!  8 sure is great! Have fun in Disneyland this weekend!


In other exciting family news...for those of you that didn't hear the announcement on Facebook: My oldest brother and his wife recently found out that they are expecting their 5th boy!  Can you imagine?!  Talk about a wild and crazy house!  I have to admit I'm slightly jealous they'll have their very own basketball team.  Congrats, Paul and Cheryl! Can't wait to come visit all of you and that new little peanut in a few months!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Genetic Testing Results

Shortly after we learned of Eli's diagnosis (SCID, specifically Reticular Dysgenesis), Logan and I were told that although there was a slim chance Eli happened to develop a random mutation, it was much more likely that Logan and I are genetic carriers of this condition and any of our future children would be at risk of being affected.  We put all of our energy and focus on Eli's health and knew that once we left the hospital we would have our gene mapping done in order to verify whether or not we are SCID carriers.

After Eli passed away, Primary's was incredibly helpful and told us to take as much time as we needed and that when we were ready, they would be happy to help us get our genetic testing done.  Not knowing how long this process would take, Logan and I decided to get it going right away.  Our blood was sent to a doctor in Boston that is studying Eli's specific type of SCID and we received the results this week.  While we couldn't help but have a little bit of hope that the results would come back negative, we were told exactly what we expected to hear: Logan and I are indeed carriers of Eli's type of SCID, Reticular Dysgenesis.  The chance of having a baby with this type of SCID is about 1 in 3 to 5 million.  In the case of Eli's SCID, if one parent is a carrier but the other isn't, he wouldn't have been affected.  Both Logan and I had to be carriers in order to pass it on.  It's a good thing we don't gamble because we have the worst luck ever! ;)

Our next step in this process is to meet with a specialist regarding our options which will probably happen in a couple months but we have a basic idea of what our future likely holds.  There is a 25% chance that any future babies we have will be affected.  While we know that one option is to "roll the dice" and get pregnant and hope we don't have an affected baby, that isn't an option Logan and I are willing to consider.  Fortunately Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or Embryo Selection through IVF would allow us to test the embryos before implantation to determine which ones are unaffected allowing us to only implant the healthy ones.  Logan and I know that our journey to having another baby will be long and have many obstacles but we couldn't be more grateful that there is a path available to us that we are comfortable with.

On another note...just like the rest of Utah, Logan and I watched the big "Holy War" last night with some wonderful friends.  I may rethink watching it with the same people next time because there's nothing worse than being surrounded by a bunch of obnoxious Utah fans and feeling like you're the lone Cougar fan.  Although most people are sad they won't be playing each other for a few years, I think I'm happy about it because now I won't have to watch BYU's losing streak continue!



Thanks for such a fun night, everyone!