Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wishing A Happy Birthday...

To my sister Heather Feather
and brother Andy Dandy (nicknames from back in the day;)  We hope you have beautiful birthdays!  You've both been on my mind since I woke up this morning and I wish I was there to help celebrate.  I am so lucky to be sandwiched between the two of you in the birth order.  You both have taught me so much. Lots of love!  XOXO, Jess

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baby Chub and Other Things We Love...

Late night walks with our camping lantern bungeed to the front of our stroller
Rissy rolling all over
Early morning Saturday trips to Costco
New Disney movies on Netflicks
Oatmeal packed with walnuts and brown sugar
Neighbor across the street bringing us a chicken dinner as condolences for John's dad
James starting primary at church
Going shopping in the men’s section at Macey’s with John
Rissy’s chubby legs
How soft 100 percent humidity makes your skin
The crackle sound as the heavy Heron land high up in the trees
Spring time blossoms starting to bloom
Jogs behind the temple
James pausing his play to give me a quick kiss on the lips
Rissy sleeping six hours straight at night now
The constant streaming of Don't Worry Be Happy Radio playing on Pandora
A fellow church member who is kindly helping us do a huge home repair
Butterflies doing fly-bys as we lay on blankets in the backyard


Friday, January 25, 2013

If States Were Flowers, I'd Pick...

Hawaii (hands down;)...But Houston is also pretty high up there....

Even the animals were enjoying the lovely eighty degree weather today.  Any takers???  We'd love to have you come our way:)!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Are Happy Now...

Now that we're together again:)
Rissy sleep smiling after cuddling with her daddy.  
Cinnamon buns to celebrate.

 Feeling content:)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January in Numbers...

John on Daddy duty before he left
39:   Times we used the nebulizer on Rissy.
10:  Days straight John has been gone on a business trip.
1-ish:  Times I washed my hair this week.  EEEk… I am calling it a deep a conditioning treatment.
42:  Hours John spent on planes and trains in Romania and the UK on his trip. 
102+:  Tissues I blew James’s nose with.
3:  Sizes my heart grew taking care of my sick kiddos.
30+:  Calls and texts I made to my mom, sisters and friends when I was about to go to bananas. 
6:  Hours (too many) I spent catching up on the Bachelor.
5:  Minutes it took me to consume a humongous salad my friend Jackie left on my back doorstep.
7:  Boxes of junk I packed up for goodwill when I went on a cleaning spree.
3:  Pictures I took this week.  I felt like having a break, but I am ready to get back to it:)
0:  Medicine administered to either of my kids today.  Rissy is back to being my happy smiley baby!
 Numbers don't lie:)  I have a new appreciation for healthy kids, and all the help my husband is!  Can’t wait to have him come home today!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles...

When it rains it pours...literally and figuratively thus far this new year.  A few days after the funeral Rissy came down with RSV.  She has had a high fever and trouble breathing since we returned home.  It has been deja vu from our first week of December, but this time she is much worse.  It is heartbreaking and the most stressful thing in the world to see your baby sick.
We have to use a machine to help with her breathing.  She has to do this every four hours for the next couple of weeks.  This week I've gained a new respect for motherhood and it being the hardest, most tiring, yet rewarding thing I've ever done.
They are not really blistered, but James does have red fingers from playing so much Lego Star Wars on the PlayStation.  What can we say, we are on survival mode trying to keep him entertained until his sister stops wheezing.   Believe me, he doesn't mind!
When I was close to exhaustion yesterday, Chinese takeout showed up on our doorstep.  Ordered from my mom in Utah.  It filled our tummies and raised my spirits before an another all-nighter.  According to my cookie (and Al Roker) we have brighter days ahead.  Thanks for the kind cards, comments, and facebook messages about John's dad and Rissy.  Love, Jess

Monday, January 7, 2013

Remembering Michael K. Gregory by John Gregory

With younger brother Terry

Senior in High School

John's Wedding Day

Matthew and James's Baby Blessings

With grandson James

With granddaughter Layla

Even in illness still playing ball with grandson William

 Grandchildren (7 of now 13) L to R:  Layla, Jacob, Ashur, James, Matthew, Annmarie, Alex

Clarissa's Baby Blessing


Michael K. Gregory, 63, died at his home on December 28, 2012, after a long fought battle with cancer. He was born on May 29, 1949 in Binger, OK to Arthur and Eva (Cannon) Gregory. He attended Newcastle High School and Central State University, earning a BS in Accounting. He went on to become a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He worked during his career as a manager for the IRS. He was a proud husband, father, grandfather, and brother. He will be greatly missed.

Michael is survived by his wife Carla Ann Gregory, his daughter, Leah Jeanne Gregory, his sons, Seth Michael Gregory, MD and wife Caroline, Jarom Arthur Gregory and wife Sophia, John Cannon Gregory and wife Jessica, and Timothy Chris Gregory and wife Catie; 13 grandchildren, and his younger brother, Terry Chris Gregory and wife Lydia.

A funeral service to remember Michael will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with burial to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

My Commemoration Shared at Dad's Funeral Service

The Telegraph, a newspaper in the UK, recently reported that a survey of children's typical lists for Santa Claus has shown many have more serious concerns than toys.  A study of 2,000 British parents found that despite generally material requests the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a "Dad".

I don't enjoy public speaking but I really wanted to let my kids, and my nieces and nephews know what Grandpa meant to me.  As I was preparing to express my appreciation for Dad, I started a list of fond memories of him or with him throughout my childhood and as an adult.  Honestly after a couple of pages, I decided I better keep it short and narrowed it down to a few of the more choice memories.  Of course in that list of memories are family vacations, like to Nauvoo when I was young, of which I wrote a book in elementary school, to cabins on lakes, or even Boy Scout camp activities but most of that list consisted of everyday or near everyday activities that made him my Dad.  That exercise of creating the list helped me better understand the survey results that I shared earlier.

I used to love waking up on Saturday mornings to the smell of a big breakfast, usually biscuits, eggs, and sausage, and Elvis blaring on the stereo.  Something was wrong as a kid if I didn’t get to start a Saturday off with a full belly and some good tunes.  Dad loved listening to Elvis.  He didn’t care if it was young Elvis or fat Elvis.  As a kid it seemed like Dad was either listening to Elvis on the stereo or watching Blue Hawaii or Jailhouse Rock.

I think food has meant a lot to me because those are some of my clearest childhood memories.  Not just Dad on Saturday mornings but also on regular days making breakfast.  As long as I can remember, Dad was an early riser and hard worker.  He would get up and be at work by 6:30 if not earlier.  Well occasionally he would make breakfast for us before going to work as well.  Yes it was typically an early breakfast but it was a good, hot breakfast.  Also it usually needed to be early because his kids would have early morning seminary to attend.  I remember one morning Seth ate 40 pancakes!  I’m not trying to encourage binge eating or just plain overeating but, at the time, I thought Seth was awesome.  I still think Seth is awesome but now as a father I appreciate more that Dad was there, or took the time, to make breakfast for his kids.  I typically rush out the door for work.

I also enjoyed our family home evening activities and scripture study.  Some of the family home evening activities that I enjoyed most were sports-related.  As a family, we would go to the park and play softball.  Dad could hit the ball for a mile.  That was a situation where I thought my Dad was awesome!  Even to this day, I don’t know how he could hit the ball so far.  He was quite the ball player.

 In addition to softball, I enjoyed playing pool volleyball, basketball in our driveway, and a gospel-oriented quiz game called Zion.  Of course a big part of our family home evenings was gospel study.  We actually did a good job of family scripture study and prayer.  I clearly remember sitting with Mom taking turns reading scriptures with my family.  The reason I would sit with Mom is because I didn’t know all the words and she would coach me through the verses.  Tim took that position when he was learning to read as well.  I’m sure it was painful for Seth and Jay and Leah to wait on their little brothers to read – it got a little painful for me waiting on Tim.  During our study, Dad would give us the inside scoop on the scriptures by reading to the rest of us out of his Gospel Commentary book.

As I mentioned many of the most endearing memories of Dad involved everyday activities that I probably didn’t appreciate as a kid or even as a young adult but have begun to appreciate them as a father.  More of those activities worth mentioning are having consistent family meals; seeing Dad’s support at little league football, soccer, and baseball games and on into junior high and high school football; camping both as a family and also during father and son campouts and enjoying his dutch oven cooking – I loved his Guadalupe chili; spending time at the cabin at the lake either boating or playing board games; playing Mario Bros with my dad as a little kid and knowing that was definitely one thing that I was better at; and one-on-one racquetball matches with my dad as a teenager.  He was quite an athlete – even when I was a young and fit high school athlete, we would trade victories.

Well I have touched briefly on the everyday moments but I don’t want to leave out some of the bigger memories either.  One fond memory was watching Dad compete in the Camp Cherokee Rodeo when I was about 13 or 14.  The leaders were asked to compete in the pig in a blanket relay race.  It was fun to watch him laughing uncontrollably as he was passing back and forth a squealing piglet in a blanket.  I got to see Dad’s competitive as well as fun-loving side that day.  Another fun experience I had with Dad was the opportunity to go to Nauvoo with just him and Mom.  We went the summer of 2000 just prior to my leaving on a mission.  It was a fun experience to have both Dad and Mom’s full and undivided attention.  I got to attend the Nauvoo temple, prepare for my mission, and grow closer to him in the process.  As an adult I have enjoyed the opportunity to have Dad and Mom visit me in my home, both in Salt Lake and Houston, and have a little feeling of life as a child brought into my home.

One of the more clear experiences in which I really appreciated Dad was the opportunity to be involved in the road-trip to take Seth to BYU for his freshman year of college.  In 1993 Dad, Seth, Tim, and I set off to drive about 20 hours to BYU in a little, bitty Toyota Corolla.  It was quite the adventure!  We slept on the side of the road on our way, slept in motels in Provo, ate Burger King Whoppers, hiked to the Y on the side of the mountain in Provo, and just had an all-around good time.  Other than it being an adventure for a 12-year-old, I also remember Dad’s emotions in leaving Seth, his oldest, at school for the first time.  Dad really loved his children.

As much as all the fond memories I have of Dad, I appreciate his leading by example in making ethical and moral choices over his lifetime.  As I mentioned, Dad was very hard-working.  He also had a great love for the gospel and his Savior.  I know that he reveled in the opportunity he had to bring so many to Christ.  That includes his family and through his family to others around the world.  I often ask myself if I was not born into the covenant (church) would I have found the gospel.  I’m not sure I have the spiritual sensitivity to accept the gospel as an investigator as he did and am grateful to him for doing so.  Of course I have spoken almost entirely of Dad but I would be remiss not to mention Mom.  Dad really did have a strong moral and spiritual compass and that compass was heavily influenced by Mom.  I want to thank Mom for all she has done to participate and encourage all these great memories.  Also I want to thank Mom for her patience and strength through recent difficult times.  I also want to thank my brothers, Seth and Tim especially, for being there for Dad as well.  They have provided me comfort in that I haven’t had to worry as much about Dad with them around.  Finally I just want to state that Mom was number 1 for Dad – that was clear.  

Well even though I am feeling selfish and wanted Dad around forever I am certain that Dad is in a much better place.  I’m sure that I cannot even comprehend Dad’s recent physical and emotional anguish.  I know that he is with his Savior in heaven and I look forward to seeing him again someday.
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