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My daughter loves to dance.  If one were to pick a single activity that this almost-two-year-old loves more than any other, I think dancing would top that list.  When she hears any type of music, she can’t help but move to it.  Whether it’s the Hawaiian music at her friend Ty’s baby luau, or the various Putamayo Kids albums we play (not just for kids, btw) or even gettin’ down to Jasan Mraz’s Beautiful Mess (I know, not exactly music for two year olds – she loves it though), she can’t keep her body still when she hears anything even remotely resembling music.

When Ellie dances, she works through a whole repertoire of moves from hip-shakes to little toddler jumps to endless spins.  She looks so happy and proud as she moves around but I notice she looks to us to make sure we notice that she is doing well.  Ellie is not perfect, she has a strong will and doesn’t mind rebelling, but she is definitely innocent.  She dances with all her heart and might because she loves to and because her mommy and daddy see it and encourage her and she is proud of that.  No one has ruined her innocence by telling her she’s bad or she’ll never be a dancer or whatever other ‘realities’ we tell kids, and so she dances with all of who she is.

We adults have a great responsibility to our children.  They are looking at us, watching to see if we notice they are doing something and are trying hard and are having fun.  They are waiting expectantly to hear that they dance or draw or sing beautifully, or that they run fast or build so well, or think so creatively.  Too often we fail them, we give them the truth, when they need encouragement; we give them realities when they need care; we knock them down when we have the greatest chance to build them up.  We have such an important role and we must work hard to build up children when they need it most, and trust that they will realize the realities later (or maybe we’ll realize that those realities really aren’t that important).  I dread the day when someone breaks my little daughter’s heart by telling her she can’t dance, but til then (and probably long after) I will keep watching her dance with a father’s pride, and I will keep telling her how beautifully she dances and I will keep playing the music for her.

It feels like so much is going on in my world right now and the last thing I have time for is writing.  Additionally, I feel like so much of what’s going on has created in me an inability to shape these thoughts cohesively to present to others.  We wrapped up 2009, one of the hardest years I can remember and moved into 2010 with one final crotch-kick from 2009 as Annie, Ellie and I all spent the First week of 2010 cooped up in our house with the stomach bug from hell.  We are recovering now, though it is still taking a long time.  As I previously said, I don’t know how to formulate these coherently so its going to come at you in a sort of bullet-point-stream-of-consciousness form.

  • The disastrous tragedy in Haiti is incomprehensible and has caused so many to question how a “Good God” can allow such tragedy and destruction.  It has also caused some to proclaim God’s judgment and many others to explain why we can still love and trust God in the midst of this, I have been encouraged by the latter and encourage any and all who read to check out some of these links, as well as to be God’s body here on earth to this nation through prayer and compassion giving.  Here’s Ben Wintherington III, Donald Miller/ Mark Stuart, Adam Mclane, and Andrew Jones
  • One of my Christmas presents from Annie was Donald Miller’s most recent book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  It took me 3 sessions and 3 days to read it.  The book is fantastic and the best he has yet written.  I was moved nearly to the point of tears multiple times and the book’s message has given both Annie (she’s now almost finished it) and me a gut-check that is helping to shape and change the way we live even now.  I don’t want to ruin the book for any who want to read it, but the premise is that if we look at our lives as stories, then we will live them differently.  I highly recommend this book with the caveat that you should not read it if you don’t want to be challenged and inspired (and disturbed, as Rob Bell reviews in the liner notes)
  • Ellie is growing and changing so much.  She has been doing things more and more like a girl and less and less like a baby.  She has become sort-of compulsive about cleaning and now insists on clearing and wiping her own tray after meals and she can regularly be seen wandering around the house with a paper towel or wipe or rag cleaning away.  She’s also talking much more.  She has been babbling and speaking in full sentences to us (in her own nonsensical language), even gesturing and changing her facial expressions while she looks us in the eyes to communicate some great truth.  The the other day, she took it to the next level by speaking her first real, unprovoked, non-parroted sentence; “I like food,”.  This has led way to others, notably today saying, “I(‘m) a baby,” to which I replied, “Ellie, you’re not a baby, you’re a big girl!”
  • My mind has begun wrapping around the idea that we  have two children and particularly two girls, I can’t really express it yet, but I am (and have been) very excited to be a family of four and the father of two girls.  These are uncharted waters for me, I am a guy and grew up in a house full of guys (and my poor sister had to deal with only brothers) and I honestly am about the dumbest guy when it comes to girls.  I don’t understand how they think and other things like that, but I know that God isn’t putting me in too far over my head, so I know it will be good and I will learn a little more about how to understand and relate to girls.
  • With gift money from my last birthday and this Christmas and a little I had saved on my own, I was able to recently buy an electric guitar and amp.  I have had a blast jamming and practicing scales this past week.
  • We are beginning a crown financial ministries study this month with a couple other young couples and our friends the Metcalfs.  Craig has taken these classes and is an instructor so he is graciously leading us through this study that will teach us how to better handle God’s money.
  • It’s an El Nino year and the surf has been so great this whole winter on the north shore.  It has been much bigger than my feeble abilities can handle and everywhere else has been too small for my large size/feeble abilities.  They even ran The Eddie, Quicksilver’s big wave competition at Waimea Bay.  I have had a surf drought and it’s no fun.  I miss the ocean and surfing.
  • My weight loss and workout plan is progressing pretty well after the holiday hiccup and time off for stomach bug.  This has been a good week of workouts and my eating habits have improved (and probably my appetite decreased). I weighed myself Tuesday and weighed 252lbs, which might not sound great but then I realized it means I have lost 15lbs since I started in late September and am about halfway to my goal of 235 (251 is technically halfway).  It has also been great to see some of my strength coming back as I continue to push myself in the weights.  I typically go in an start with 20 minutes on the elliptical, then move on to a fast (45 minute) weights session where I alternate between working back, legs,  shoulders and biceps one day and chest, legs, triceps and shoulders the other, and I finish with a quick but grueling ab workout that takes 5 minutes or less.  The leg and shoulder exercises are very different so I won’t develop overuse injuries.  It has also been fun meeting new people at the Y, as well as seeing more of others that I know from church and from when I coached football.

Well, I think that’s all I have for now, hopefully I can further delve into some of these topics in future posts as I have more time and clarity to do so.  Aloha from Hawaii.

This past weekend I caught a powerful bug and spent 3 days in my bed. Wondefully, Ellie caught said death-bug just in time to begin her funk as I said aloha to mine. So she has been sick for the past 2 or 3 days and has been miserable. Our family has also, therefore, shared in Ellie’s misery. It has been a rough couple of days and the really sad thing is that she is not being nasty or mean or anything like that, she has just been miserable and we all feel so sorry for her in all this.

Anyway, Ellie was supposed to have her one-year-old appointment at the doctors. I overheard today that this is called a “well baby appointment”. These are the terrible appointments where the babies are checked and vaccinated and kept well, I guess. Apparently they aren’t kidding around about the name. I just also over heard our wife canceling said doctors appointment due to our daughter’s cold.

So I guess nowadays you can’t come to the doctor if you are sick. Unless it’s for a” sick-baby appointment” or something like that. In the midst of my grouchy, sleep-deprived stupor I found this pretty funny.

Well, Elianna is one year old (this is a couple days late). What an incredible year it has been. She is growig so much and is becomming a sweet little girl. When I returned from my trip to the Philippines she started taking her first steps. A month later she walks everywhere. She seriously doesn’t even really even crawl anymore. She just toddles around everywhere. She is talking and communicating more and more. She says words like dad, mom, dog, duck, woof, ok and probably more that I forgot. She also signs pretty effectively signing thank you, more, finished and she’s working on others.

My life has also dramatically changed over the last year. You show me how selfish and impatient I am and can be. You have made me into a father, rather than being just a guy who has a daughter. We are growing together, all three of us. Your mommy, you and I are growing as a family and we love having you in our lives. We love this journey we are on and we can’t wait for all the other things that come. It’s been a great year. Thanks for making it so great.

It seems my life is starting to get back to normal after I had to spend a couple weeks away from my ladies.  It makes life a little crazy to be by yourself and try to maintain things that it usually takes two people to maintain, let alone trying to do that without your support system.  Well, I am back with my family and we are struggling through this week a little as Ellie is having a hard time napping and pooping for some reason (she’s even crying in her crib right now, just like she has for much of the last 4 days).  We think she’s adjusting, maybe she’s also teething and getting ready to pass some other milestone or marker in her life.

She does love being back, though.  When I first saw her Sunday night, she seemed like she was still trying to remember  who I was, though she was happy to see me.  I am very thankful for technology, because with ichatting and speaker phone, she was able to remember much better.  But since then, more and more she has grown attached to me and has been babbling “dadadadadadada” all the time the last couple days.  Nothing could melt my heart more than this little one army-crawling close to me on the bed in the morning saying, “dadaddadada”.  I love it.

I am also sorry that this blog has not really been operational too much lately, I am just super busy.  I know that’s not an excuse really, but I am also being spiritually focused on diving into the gospel of Mark in every part of my life.  I am working to create a second resources blog/page where I can post my thoughts and reflections and lessons from Mark and hopefully open it up to discussion and constructive criticism.  Thanks to all the loyal readers who I dissapoint with my posting infrequency. More to come (hopefully)

JD

This week was such a huge and wonderful week of milestones in our world.  We have seen so much happen; Annie has come back to work and this was her first week teaching high school sunday school by herself (which Ellie celebrated by having a blowout poop in a cloth diaper for her Aunti Stephanie!).  Anyway, to start earlier in the week, we hit some milestones in the beginning of the week when we we hit the milestone of great surf returning to Hawaii’s south shores and tha meant awesome surf that I was able to catch on Monday and Tuesday (AWESOME and BIG, and the first swell since father’s day).

Then, we saw the most amazing this on Thursday night.  Ellie loves to be swaddled and she usually can’t fall asleep without it, however, thursday night, I put her down in bed and she fell asleep unswaddled.  Now mind you, she had totally waken up from a diaper change and her nightly goodinght moon reading, but she totally fell asleep unswaddled!!!!! It is so exciting for us that she is doing this, and she has continued doing it most of the nights since then.

Thursday night was also incredible because it was the first time Ellie rolled over from her back to her stomach!!!!  So this was all in the same night, and we were so excited!!! we loved seeing our little daughter unswaddled, in footed-onsie pajamas, and rolled over onto her stomach.  We love it!!!  well, thats about all for the updates, more to come soon…

Ellie has gas. What created a big problem the first month or so of her life has become a wonderful joy in my life. Ellie doesn’t burp too much, she’ll usually give us one or two per session, but for the most part, Elianna gets rid of her gas the other way. So when she was brand-spankin-new this was a painful process for her, and we could tell (she let us know) and so it was painful for us to. She now has very little trouble passing that gas and it is just hilarious. She will squirm a little and grunt some and then you will hear some little baby barking spiders. Ellie, of course, reacts as is nothing even happened; it’s the most natural thing in the world for her to be tootin’ her horn. And that makes it even funnier. We love it. She takes after dad and is gassy, and it brings us so much joy. We’ll see how she feels about it 13 years from now, but for now, we will keep loving how gassy our little girl is.

It has been pretty busy for me getting back into the swing of work since Ellie was born.  It is really a combination of things: we planned activity gaps around Ellie’s due date but before and after we have stuff going because it’s the summer, I haven’t gotten as much sleep, random ministry convergences happening in the next few weeks.  I think I am doing a pretty good job of not being stressed by I am definitely feeling crunched.  Today, Thursday, I have a short breath from pressing matters at work, and I needed to run some errands, and do a couple other things.  The things I am doing are getting ready for our high school surf day on Friday.

Yesterday, at around lunch my phone was ringing like crazy.  One of the people trying to call me was a friend and fellow youth minister Rob Jenner.  I couldn’t hear his call because he is on Molokai (a small island in Maui county), and Molokai has, I think, 1 cell tower total (this is my sarcasm, but it really doesn’t have good cell coverage).  Anyway, he called again and left a message letting me know that he is speaking at a camp over there and had lined up worship and speaking for his youth group’s midweek program tonight, but it fell through.  So he asked as a last minute, last ditched effort if I could help out by leading worship and speaking.

My heart immediately knew the answer. Of course!  My friend needs a favor and I have the time and ability.  My emotions however, weren’t as cooperative.  I get really stingy with my free time, especially when I am busy at work.  So I was a little sulky for a while until I decided to suck it up and call him back to tell him I would help him out.  So in preparation for that I was trying to sleep in a little and then get right to work and have a full working day.

I woke at 5:45 this morning to Annie asking if I could burp and change Ellie after her early morning meal.  I said I would and then did, and in the process, took my milk-drunk-nearly-comatose daughter and made her wide awake and chipper.  Now, it was awesome and she was all smiles and so I really enjoyed that.  I saw her yawn so I swaddled her and put her to bed, only to hear her fussing for a while.  At 6:30 her fussing turned to full on crying and I gave up any hopes of going back to sleep.  I told Annie I was going to spend time with my daughter.

I took her out to the living room and sat in one of the recliners and we rocked and cuddled for another hour.  I put on some music partway through (my mellow worship playlist) and finally at about 7:45 she fell asleep (no matter that the next time she is supposed to eat is around 8).  I cannot say enough how beautiful a start to my day this was.  In a time when I feel like I ask God for more patience daily, and during a whirlwind of busyness, I get a beautiful, quiet morning with my daughter; rocking, and cuddling to some soul soothing worship.

Ellie smiling in a pretty dress

Ellie smiling in a pretty dress

Sorry for the ridiculously long absence, but I have been trying to get back into my swing of things with work and fatherhood and all that.  Just to update from here at Casa De Groves, it’s now just the three of us and that’s a little weird, but Ellie is  growing and developing daily and it is so incredible.  She is sleeping in 4-5 hour chunks at night, moving and shaking, she has rolled a couple times, and she gives little itty-bitty smiles (and 2 or 3 big wonderful smiles).  So I thought I would throw a couple photos up of her and also point you all to my wife, Annie’s Blog, because she is way better than me at giving the ol’ baby updates.

Mom and Daughter Napping Together

Mom and Daughter Napping Together

I did take a couple pictures of my girls and thought I would post them.  I found Mom and the little girl napping one morning so I snapped a picture of them, and then I took some pictures of Ellie on Sunday morning before we took her to church in a really cute dress that our friends Greg and Kari Ray gave to her.  Greg and Kari have three daughters of their own so they know a thing or two about picking out cute little girl outfits, (and they gave her quite a few of them).  The picture of her beautiful smile on the pink blanket was taken by Annie one day while I was in the office and she’s being so stinkin’ cute.  More to come as I am getting my schedule a little more under control.

Smiling on a Blanket

Smiling on a Blanket

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