We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Monday, December 31, 2007

We have arrived...

I just wanted to let you all know that we have arrived in Florida - very close to on time and with all of our luggage! (The one time that I am totally prepared with three days worth of clothes for the whole family in one carry-on... you gotta love Murphy...)

Because of a previous airline malfunction, Kathy was upgraded to first class on one of the flights, and she generously offered her seat to me! So my flight from Minneapolis to Orlando was spent in style. The man next to me didn't speak to me AT ALL, and I was wined and dined in comfort! I actually read a whole book yesterday. I'm not sure when I have done that last! The only down-side to the whole thing was that once I was finally alone, with nothing to do, the past couple of weeks kind of piled up on top of me all at once. I didn't exactly sob into my gourmet meal or anything, but there was this horrible, heavy "OH MY GOODNESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED, and why on earth are we going back to the place where there are so many memories?" kind of moment. The moment eventually passed, and now I am thankful to be here and looking forward to spending time with family and friends.

Thank you all for your prayers for Ethan. He seems to be doing pretty well, but he has made a few comments that show me how fragile he still is. While still at the airport in Montana, Ethan said "we are going to Ellie's world... you know, where our old house is. That's Ellie's world. My world is my bedroom (in Montana)." Then in the airport bathroom in Orlando he said "You know, I'm an idiot sometimes. (Something that he picked up from a movie and he's not supposed to say.) I hurt my Ellie sometimes." He had gone through a difficult stage about two years ago when he had a hard time being gentle with his sister, and was remembering it as our steps took us closer to that past life. I carefully explained to him that it happened a long time ago and that he had been so gentle and careful with Ellie since she has been sick, and particularly before she died. The poor little guy is feeling the same kind of trepidation that we are when it comes to re-visiting old haunts. I am hoping that it will just all be part of the grieving/healing process for us all. Please pray that we will have the wisdom to lead Ethan through this time while the grief is still so fresh for us. Thank you.

I will probably be offline for some days now, but you never know... Sometimes the mood just strikes! Feel free to leave comments as you wish, and when I am taking breaks from the computer, know that Loretta is still checking and will post all comments. Then I will read them later.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hi all...

Thanks for your patience... it's been a long week. The memorial service yesterday was wonderful. It's kind of weird how something so painful can also be beautiful and special. I believe that the service painted a very true portrait of Ellie as she was, with all of her adorable quirky ways. We darkened the room and lit it with twinkle lights, and just celebrated all that made Ellie... Ellie. Larry Brown, who married us over 13 years ago, flew to Montana and did Ellie's service. His encouragement to us all was so comforting. Loretta even agreed to get up and speak about Ellie and she did such an amazing job providing the sweet, endearing, and often funny details of Ellie's life. We also had a slide show, which encapsulated Ellie's nine years. All in all, the day was just exactly what it should have been - a day to remember and honor Ellie, and a day to give thanks to God for the nine years that we enjoyed her.

At present, I am exhausted. I have spent the day sorting Ellie's things. I suppose that there are many ways to do such things, and I imagine that there is no wrong way... but I had a very strong need to do it now. I am so afraid of waiting until the job is unbearable. I also wanted to bring some things to Florida for Ellie's friends. I know that it's what Ellie would have wanted, and seeing her friends enjoy the things gives me such pleasure. It's hard to explain, but it's somehow very comforting.

Thank you all for your prayers for us - for continuing to understand how much we need them! We fly to Florida tomorrow, but the weather conditions across the country make it very unlikely that we will arrive on schedule. The Florida memorial service will be held in the Orlando area on Tuesday, January 15 - I will get more details to you later. We will be in Florida until January 24. I have been so pressed for time this week, that I've been unable to contact my friends and family in Florida, so I was wanting to use this forum to send out a kind of "mass message" if you will... We really want to see everyone, but we hope that you will bear with us as we take some time to relax and decompress a bit. We plan to take some time to settle in and then John and I will be taking a couple of days and nights to spend time alone together. During the upcoming days, we will not even be answering our phones, so please don't feel badly if we don't make contact until around January 5. Those of you who know how to contact us will be able to leave messages if there is a pressing need. Thank you so much for your understanding! We hope to emerge refreshed and ready to enjoy your company.

And to those of you who will be checking the blog regularly, please don't worry if you don't hear from us for the next week. No news is probably good news. We are doing well for the time being. The grief come in waves sometimes, but there have also been some happy moments. Thank you, as always, for your love and support.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Prayer Request...

I can't believe that I forgot one very important group of people when asking for prayer the other night! All of the other children with NB and their parents. I so remember the pain and terror of learning of another child's death. Please pray for these parents as they grapple with the possibility of losing their own child. And also for the children as it can be so scary and confusing to be in the middle of their own life-and-death fight and hear of another child losing the battle. There are so many families, but some specific names come to mind right now: a little girl (with a different serious cancer, who was such a good friend to Ellie) named Lia who will likely lose her fight; a little boy named Zachary who has just relapsed; and Courtney, John, Carson, Talia, Dylan, Eli and Jack. Thank you for praying for them as well!

Montana Service

I just wanted to get back with you about the Memorial Service here in Montana. It will be held on Friday, December 28 at 1:30 p.m. at the following address.

Little Brown Church
125 Swan Highway
Bigfork, MT 59911

Thank you all so much for the encouraging comments and emails!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thank You!

Thank you all for the beautiful comments and emails. We are overwhelmed by your support and love! I cannot even describe to you the comfort that it gives me to see how God would cause one tiny little light to shine so brightly in the hearts of many.

I also stand amazed (although by now what God does shouldn't really surprise me anymore) by how many of you were praying for us yesterday - praying specifically that Ellie would go home quickly. I am convinced with my whole heart that your prayers were the reason that Ellie only had one terrible day. In the world of slow deaths, ONE terrible day is a miracle.

Since last night we have cried many many tears, but we have laughed just as hard. Thank you all for your concern for our little Ethan buddy. For days we have been talking to Ethan about the fact that Ellie was not getting better and that she would die soon. All day yesterday we allowed Ethan into the room with Ellie for short visits when things were peaceful. When he needed us, he could come - but then we made sure that he spent more time playing outside of the room. At one point, when Ethan was watching Ellie sleep, he said "I just want Ellie to die now and go to Heaven." We assured him that it was also what we wanted. (Children have such a special way of zeroing in on the one thing that the adults never have the nerve to admit!) We sat down in the rocking chair and prayed that God would take Ellie to Heaven very soon so that she wouldn't feel anymore pain. Ethan promptly skipped off to play. In the evening, after Ellie was gone, and the harshness of our sobbing had softened, I went out to the living room and carried Ethan into the bedroom. On the way, I told him that Ellie had died. He was quite interested and perplexed over that, so I deposited him into John's lap on the bed. As Ethan sat there in his daddy's arms, he began to touch Ellie's face. He kept repeating "Ellie's dead? She's dead now? Right now?" He tried to open her eyelids. He kissed Ellie's face and hugged her head a few times, but would continue his exploration of this new and terribly quiet sister. He yelled in Ellie's ear and poked her mouth trying to get her to communicate with him. He then lifted her hand and dropped it to see if that would elicit a response. Nothing... so back to the eyelids to see if he could get a reaction. Finally, after exhausting all attempts to find any sign of life, Ethan lay his head in my lap and sobbed. We held him and cried with him as we told him that we were sad and missed her too, but that Ellie no longer could feel pain. Ethan continued to cry much longer than I would have expected, but the sound of it was beautiful to me. Had he not discharged that much emotion, we would have seen it come out in other ways over the coming days. Somehow, in the midst of all the pain, what I witnessed in that room was a beautiful thing. He fell asleep like an angel last night. Today Ethan has been playing with Ellie's toys and has claimed (at my urging) a number of her stuffed animals as his own. Every once in a while Ethan will say (in a rather chipper little voice) "I miss my Ellie." And tonight Ethan said "Mommy, I was sad when I was looking up at the stars because I was thinking of Ellie. So I asked God to send her back. He said no, and that made me sad." We know that there are many hard days to come. We know that Ethan will push all of the limits of his boundaries and that his grief will take many forms. But we know that because of your loving prayers, our son has had the best possible beginning and understanding of an unthinkable situation.

So... how are we doing... really? I honestly don't know. I guess we are normal - which pretty much means crazy and unpredictable. For the moment I am mostly in the zone of feeling more relief than anything. The pressure and buildup have been un-bearable for me as we have been living in limbo, and so the whole relief of having it over has taken me to a new place of peace... for now. I fully realize that the worst of it is yet to come for me. I tend to break down over something, or when talking on the phone from time to time, but then my tears will dry and I will feel peace and joy again. I have not yet reached the place of despair - the gut wrenching "I-don't-even-want-to-live-anymore" place that we all know that I will need to dip into before time begins to soften the edges... John, on the other hand, has been true to his nature and is grieving with all of the intensity that I have grown to know and appreciate in him. The beautiful Bible story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears has taken on a whole new meaning for us, as Ellie's feet were quite literally and lovingly washed with her daddy's tears. I believe that as of this moment, John has shed enough tears to have washed her entire body. I don't think that I will ever see anything in this life that will compare to the grief of a man for his child. I feel as though I have witnessed something so sacred and powerful... and it has given me a never before seen glimpse into the heart of God. To lose a child is unbearable, but for God to have willingly and purposefully chosen to send his only Son to this world to die a horrible death for me... there are no words...

All those in this house are wrung out with grief and exhaustion, but I would ask you for your loving prayers tonight for our sweet Loretta. She has fought valiantly and tirelessly for a whole year and a half. Ellie has been her full time job, and La has done things for her that no one on this Earth would have been able to do. Loretta has not allowed herself to go to the place of grief in order to stay in the moment and fight along side of Ellie in a way that even John and I have not been able to. In these end weeks, we have been able to walk away to cry and let go... to prepare. But La would not look into Ellie's eyes and see death. Until that last moment, Loretta saw life - she fostered that life, fanned the flame of it, and then watched it go out. She identified with Ellie in a way that I was unable to. I was "Mom" - helping and watching from the outside, but Loretta took Ellie's suffering on in a unique way. She felt every sensitivity, took it on as her own, and then learned how to soothe it. There is a lost and bereft look in Loretta's eyes that is breaking my heart. Those of you on the other side of the world, who pray us through our nights - please pray Loretta through this night. She has been so sleep deprived that now she's having trouble sleeping as she deals with the full weight of this grief.

Also heavy on my heart tonight are the children - Ellie's cousins and friends. I would ask you to please surround these precious children with your love and prayer. I cannot even fathom dealing with the loss of a friend at such young ages. I would like to give you the names of Ellie's closest friends and ask that you please pray for wisdom for their parents and comfort for their hearts, as well as for their siblings. In Florida: Ellie's cousin Alex; Aubrey; Alexandria; her cousin Megan; her cousins Mady and Libby; and Ryan. (There are so many more that I am not naming - from school and church - who feel such loss as well! There are also her little cousins who are too young to fully comprehend the loss, but are affected nonetheless.) And in Montana there are three wonderful new friends who have blown us away with their ability to love Ellie despite the imminent danger of losing her. They are so special and are hurting so much. Hennessey has never met Ellie personally, but has been such a part of Ellie's life with her sweetness and friendship from a distance. And Bailey and Codey. These two loving friends at first soothed the hurt in Ellie of missing her friends, and then built friendships with her that are true and wonderful. They gave her times of play and laughter... time to be a child again. Thank you for surrounding these young ones with your prayers as they struggle to navigate the confusion and pain.

Thank you as well for your continued prayer for our families who are not here with us. They are hurting so very much! Ellie's grandparents: Gary & Nancy Hamm and Stan & Pat Skees. Her great-grandparents: Jim & Jean VanDelinder; Lois Mankins; Irene Trout; Agnes Skees. Ellie's aunts, uncles and cousins: Russ and Ginger Harris (Maddie); Chad and Janeene Mankins (Elijah and Zeke); Jim and Jenn Fowler (Mady, Libby and Emma); David and Tricia Hamm. Ellie also has so many great aunts, uncles, and cousins. We love them all and cannot wait to be with them to wrap our arms around them. They loved Ellie with all of their hearts, and she loved them in return. Please, please ask God to comfort and hold them as they grieve.

I guess I've given you a whole lot to pray about this time! I love how God impresses people in different ways to pray for specific things. I know that you are all doing that already. I just wanted to give you as many specifics as possible. I know that there are grandparents out there, thinking of their own precious ones who will be holding our parents up this night, or others who lost a friend in their childhood who will know exactly how to pray for the little children. I am so grateful that you are such willing hearts to lift up our burdens before God. Thank you is just not enough at a time like this. At one time I imagined all of the beautiful jars and bottles of tears - your tears - that God was collecting for me in Heaven, but I have decided that it must now be a swimming pool. I can't help but smile as my eyes of faith are watching Ellie taking a nice long swim right now! She loved to swim. As always, I have taken comfort in your tears. I know that they are of great value in God's sight, but I want you to know that they are priceless in mine as well!

Now for the plans and details... We don't have all of the details lined up and nailed down, but I want to try to get preliminary information out for those who are wanting to come to a memorial service for Ellie. We have decided to do two services in order to allow as many people to come as possible. We will have one in Montana and one in Florida. I just don't have the exact dates - I'll have to give you the ball-park for now... The service in Montana will be in Bigfork on December 27, 28, or 29. I will try to have an answer on that tomorrow, but I'm hoping for the 28th. We will fly to Florida on December 30 and will stay for three weeks. The scheduling for that service is a little trickier, but it will probably be in the third week of January. There are a number of reasons why having that service sooner is impossible. I will try to have much more specific information available as soon as I can. (Including lodging information for those traveling.) Most importantly, I want to make sure that you all know that if you want to come to either service, we want to have you there. If we have never met you before, we would love to meet you. If Ellie has touched your life in any way and you are able to come remember her with us and celebrate the amazing nine years that we were blessed by her - we welcome you to come. We want to hug you and thank you in person!

And so, tonight, I pray that God will bless you abundantly and fully for all that you have done for our family. And I pray that He will comfort you as He has comforted us!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Angels are Singing Tonight!

As of 7:45 p.m. Mountain Time, Ellie has been dancing in Heaven! She stayed asleep until 15 minutes before and then it wasn't exactly peaceful, but true to form, Ellie was fighting to the end. John and I were both with her at the end. I silently begged God to take her, and then said "run to Jesus, Ellie... run!" and it was over. I will have more to write later, but for now, please know that your prayers have been answered - it was unbelievably fast. Thank you all for your love!

The latest...

Thank you all for the wonderful comments. We feel your love and prayers surrounding us like a blanket. I am not able to go to much length for now, but things are happening fast. Two hours ago, I thought that it would be over by now, but Ellie continues to hang on... if only by a thread. She has been nearly un-intelligible and her breathing is beginning to be affected. There have been some times of intense pain, but also of sweet peace. She is sleeping at the moment. Actually, just waking up now. Please please pray that this will be mercifully quick for our sweetheart! We love you all.

Another day...

Just wanted to check in and let you know that Ellie still continues to decline day by day. She is now at the point where sitting up or even lying down propped up hurts her back too much. Ellie spends her days completely in bed, and does not even have the energy to watch movies. There are brief moments in the day when we can talk and interact, but she tires quickly even of that. She has the desire to do small projects, but then puts them off to do later. Watching Ellie like this is heartbreaking, and we have begun to pray that it will be over soon for her. Thank you so much for your continued love and prayers. We could not make it through the days without them!

Friday, December 14, 2007


I'm sorry I haven't been on in some days. Things haven't changed much... I thought I'd show you a picture of Ellie that was taken today of her opening a gift from her Uncle Dick and Aunt Gayle. She loooooves Egypt and has been wanting a calendar for her room, so it was a perfect gift!

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You can see that Ellie is really starting to retain fluids in her face and neck now, and her coloring is completely pale. Ellie is still on miraculously few drugs - and low dosages. One is a steroid (thus the fluid retention) and the other is a narcotic. Together, the two manage Ellie's pain, but keep her lucid and happy. Ellie is not on IV fluids AT ALL. All she needs to hear is that we can access her port and hook her up to fluids, and Ellie will start guzzling water like it's going out of style! Our day today has been fairly quiet, with most of the excitement and anxiety revolving around bathroom issues. For Ellie it is a side effect of the narcotic, and for Ethan it is a side effect of being... Ethan. The two were frighteningly similar today. Oh well.

I seemed to fight off the cold I thought I was getting until last night. I now have a small cough and have gone hoarse. So I have kept my distance from Ellie today, and have worn a mask for small visits. I'm hoping to beat this thing very quickly and not pass it on to everyone else in the house.

Thank you all for your encouraging comments and emails. We appreciate all of the love and support so very much!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

If it's not one thing, it's another...

Well, we've had a busy couple of days. On Friday it was discovered that John's grandma had the shingles. There is a whole lot of debate about the contagion factors, but given Ellie's weakened immune system, not to mention the cancer, not to mention the stress levels effecting our immune systems... It is a fact that shingles can give someone chicken-pox if they've never had it, but Ellie's immune system has been shredded since her outbreak. Her body may not have the antibody to the chickenpox anymore. So John's aunt Belinda and uncle Michael flew in yesterday to move Grandma down to our new house. Michael is setting up things like TV and computer and Belinda will live at the house with Grandma. Needless to say, it's been busy around here.

And this morning I awoke with those beginning tinglings of a cold in the back of my nose! It is just at the very beginning stages, if it's one at all, so I'm staying in my room and doing every form of preventative measure known to man!

Ellie is still in good spirits, but continues to weaken every day. She now stays in bed all day - only getting up to go to the bathroom. Yesterday we carried her to the tub and let her soak. After getting out and brushing her teeth, Ellie was completely exhausted. She is very pale and has unusually full cheeks (a side effect of the steroid). But when I hold her hand and look at it while listening to her sweet voice, I can still tell that it's the same Ellie. It's just a little hard for me to see all of the changes in her face.

Today Ethan has been sad. Even though I was trying to be careful with what I said, I had been on the phone in Ethan's presence a couple of times today. He is so smart and intuitive, that he often picks up on things that are disguised. Loretta has had tremendous wisdom about what is going on with Ethan and what he needs, and she gave me the heads-up that something was brewing with him. I asked him if he was worried about Ellie and he admitted that he was. He said "you know, sometimes a person gets very sick and the doctors can't help them and their family can't help them get better." I said "what happens then?" He said "then they die." I asked if he was afraid that Ellie was going to die and he said "yes." Ethan hung his little head until his chin touched his chest and asked "is Ellie going to die?" I said "she might, buddy." His head popped up and he exclaimed "she might?!" I went on to tell him that Ellie would be in Heaven where she will have no more pain and she would never feel sad again. I told him that we would all be sad because we miss her, but she would be with God and she would also get to be with my dad. I told him that he and Daddy and I would still be a family and that we would be ok. He said (after methodically counting to 20 on all fingers and toes) "In 20 days I'm going to cry really hard. I'm going to be in my bed and I'm gong to cry so hard that you and Daddy and Ellie will hear me from the other room." I assured Ethan that we would come and comfort him. After our talk, Ethan was able to talk freely about it with Loretta. In general Ethan seemed better, but he started being rude to Reni - not wanting her to come in the room or talk to him at all. Then La had a wonderful talk with him about being scared and sad and how easy it is to push people away when we are scared. Ethan immediately pointed out how he had been pushing Reni away and was so relieved to hear La say that she sometimes does the same thing. She reminded Ethan that he is safe and everyone here loves him and will take care of him. Ethan has been much happier since then. La and I laugh sometimes about the fact that together we manage to make one whole mother. It may be sad, but so true!

As I type, I'm looking out the window and it has started to snow! I had forgotten how wonderful it is when snow falls. It has happened a couple of times already since we've been here, but it never fails to take me by surprise. I'm beginning to love snow days as much as rain!

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and emails. We are still seeing the hand of God at work. In many ways we are ragged with stress and emotions, but not to the point of despair. We continue to see God work and move in the smallest of details. I often imagine that it is in direct response to your prayers for us. I told Ellie the other night at bedtime that there were people praying for her while she sleeps because where they are it is daytime during our nights. She was so tickled over that thought. It brought her such peace as she drifted off to sleep. So... thank you. Thank you all for persevering with us to the end.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Birthday...

...to Ethan! Our little guy is five years old today. He knew that it was his birthday when he woke up, but was amazed when I told him that he was actually five years old already this morning. I'm not sure when he thought that the magic moment was supposed to be... ahhh the wonder of it all! I cannot believe that the years have passed so quickly. We love our little guy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Yesterday Ellie was given a shopping spree at Best Buy by the Make A Wish Foundation! They sent her a generous gift card as well as a gift card to a restaurant. We kept Ellie in a mask and stroller in the store, but she had a blast picking out wonderful electronics, movies and games. The store also gave Ellie some special gifts! We then went to the restaurant, where we were able to get a table in a little alcove away from the general public. Ellie even spent a good amount of that time in the stroller. At the end of the night, she said "this is the most fun I've had since my birthday!"

Despite our best efforts, Ellie did pay for the energy expenditure and excitement. She had a difficult night and a day spent lying down. Her pain has been worse today, but if you ask Ellie, I'm sure that she would tell you that it was worth it! Now she can just hunker down and enjoy her new toys. :-)

Thank you all for your sweet comments and emails! I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. I wish I had done better putting them out sooner - thanks for your patience.

As always, thank you for your continued love and prayers! They mean more to us than we can express. Thank you for sticking with us through the days with no news. Sometimes it feels like we are in a time warp - days go by so quickly even when it doesn't seem like we have done anything at all. The remedies have been working in an almost miraculous way, but it takes a lot of time and energy on Loretta's part to study and pick the right ones. Melanie has been great to have here to administer medication and access Ellie's port to give fluids. I wish that I could give you a sense of what the days are like... so much time is spent discussing each and every move that we make - medicine, nutrition, homeopathy. When an unexpected variable comes up, we talk some more - hashing out all possibilities. Most days I feel exhausted when I'm doing absolutely nothing - even when I get a full night's sleep. I have more help than I could possibly even wish for (I don't even have to cook, as Reni takes care of that!) but I still seem to wake up tired and go to bed just as tired. Both kids are kind of clingy in different ways right now (understandably so). Loretta keeps Ellie at night, which works out well for all of the remedy dosing, but I always snuggle with Ellie before she falls asleep. Unfortunately Ellie doesn't go to sleep until midnight or 1:00 a.m., and Ethan wakes up around 7. John's work schedule is working out wonderfully! He works from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - and then has four days off! We love that. It has been wonderful to have him around so much. His days off go fast, but his work days go by even quicker!

For those who are reading this tonight, please pray that Ellie can sleep well with little pain. Also, as you pray for all of us, please lift up Loretta specifically. She lost pretty much a whole night's sleep last night. Another specific request is for all of us to remain healthy. We have heard that there is a bad flu bug in the valley right now. Having to quarantine any of us (particularly John, Loretta or myself) would be difficult and heartbreaking in the extreme. I guess it may sound a little odd to be so concerned about sickness now that this seems to be the end for Ellie, but we are clinging to each and every day that we have with her. And then there is that ever so tiny little ray of hope that we still carry in our hearts. I suppose that it doesn't make any rational sense... but as long as Ellie is alive, we can't help but live with that barely discernible hope. Which is why we wake up every day and do the same things that we have been doing all along to bolster her immune system and fight this cancer. All we know what to do is to keep fighting, even while we let go. I know, it really doesn't make any sense... but then somehow, it does.

As always, through the fog of exhaustion and raging emotions, the grace of God is always present... and always enough.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Photos... finally!

I have finally had the time to gather a bunch of photos of the past few weeks (plus a few of Ellie's birthday that I had promised you). Reni has been doing a wonderful job of keeping her camera handy to capture all of the special moments for us so that all we have to think about is living in the moment!

I have been receiving requests for our address, so I'm going to post my email address. Please email me if you need our address and I will get it to you. I don't want to post our address on the blog. My email is: seskees at hotmail dot com (replace the at with @ and the dot with . and run it all together) Thanks Trent for the tip on how to post an email address in a way to avoid getting slammed with junk mail!

Ellie's birthday party

All of the princesses and the archaeologists (aka Maddie, Ellie, Bailey, Ethan and Codey) in special costumes made by the creative Aunt Gingie:

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The beautiful Egyptian cake:

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Princess Nefertiti and the mummy (or in this case, the daddy):

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I decided to blow dry Ellie's hair to see what would happen...

Ellie with her turtle:

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Ellie with her turtle just before it decided to attack Aunt La... (Aunt Sharon, you have to tell me if I'm crazy, but I see a litte bit of Shasta in this photo - back when she was an impish little grade-schooler...)

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Family fun!

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Upside down on the couch:
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Uncle Chad's visit!

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A day out, showing Chad around town:

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Learning some new skills from Aunt Melanie:

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Our Hospice nurse, Lori, brought her ferrets to see Ellie:

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Ethan... well, he's not too sure!

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Christmas Parade:

The Humane Society invited our family to ride in the Christmas Parade! What a wonderful night - we waved at the crowds from a nice safe, warm perch with a wonderful chauffeur, Tom:

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Special Thanksgiving day moments:

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Ellie's Thanksgiving craft - each place setting around the table looked like some variation of this (they were each unique):

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Miscellaneous Memories:

Ellie was given a Webkin (stuffed animal) by a neighbor girl, Hennessey. Ellie was so excited that she wanted to make her new pet a house. So one day we got out a box and some paint, fabric and yarn. Voila! A lovely little home for Kayla.

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Ellie's happy place... amongst her furry friends (and Loretta):

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We finally got a little snow, but not enough in the yard to do anything fun. So we spent all day preparing, and an hour and a half driving to spend 20 minutes sliding down a very small hill! It was wonderful. John carried Ellie up the hill, and then pushed her back down - over and over. And Ellie finally got to make a snow angel. She was thrilled! After 20 minutes Ellie was exhausted, but it was oh-so-worth-it. Ethan had a blast as well.

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Last night when John got home from work, he was exhausted. He lay down in front of the fire and fell asleep. Ellie promptly hopped on his back for a nice warm snuggle!

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