Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Gilmores reflect on 2007 blessings, usher in 2008

Our Gilmore Gazette has evolved from paper to this more interactive, tree-saving blog. We thought it only appropriate that we take a few minutes today to reflect on some of the blessings of 2007 and share with you some of the adventures of our year. We'll give you the highlights and feel free to click on the links for more in-depth coverage and photos. (And feel free to leave us a comment so we know who is reading!)

We kicked off January 2007 with a bang at the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena. The second week of January we were blessed to host three precious Ugandan girls and the choir director from the African Children's Choir in our home. That Sunday, we celebrated Meilani's Dedication to God at The Bridge church. We were excited to have family and close friends supporting us on our journey as new parents.

Every February our church focuses on one country in the world and spends time learning about that culture and raising money for a dynamic missions project. We volunteered many hours as Missions Committee members to help communicate about the needs in Rwanda and raise funds for The Wellspring Academy. Dorina edited a magazine and helped with drama and other communication for this project while Ericlee helped with speaker panels.

Dorina's second children's picture book, A STONE IN THE SOUP: A HMONG GIRL'S JOURNEY TO THE UNITED STATES was released in March. She signed books at several Central Valley locations throughout the spring. She continues to send out picture book manuscripts in hopes of finding new publishers and perhaps an agent in 2008.

At the sound of the gun, the Track & Field season at Fresno Christian High School started in March. Ericlee served for his 7th season as Head Coach; Dorina was the women's head coach. Meilani helped out at practices and learned to walk (at 8 months!) while hanging out with the athletes. The season was a winner with several school records broken. The girls' team just missed first place in the championships and we were proud of them.

We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary together on April 13. Later that month, Ericlee threw a huge Birthday dinner party for Dorina's 30th on our deck. She was blessed to be surrounded by so many friends and family from different seasons of her life.

In April/May, we celebrated with many of our friends through baby and wedding showers at our home. We threw a big birthday luau in our yard for Meilani's first birthday! Of course, the party was more for the adults but she loved having so many kids in the pool. Uncle Paul even set up a snazzy waterfall.

In June, Meilani experienced her first camping trip as we met up with our friends Doug and Brenda Round and their little one, Liana. Meilani also got to strut her stuff in her first wedding as she walked down the aisle with Mama and Daddy for Mary Bybee and Antonio Andrade's wedding. She continued her round of "firsts" as we boarded an airplane right after the wedding for our seven weeks in Roanoke, Virginia, where Dorina is working on her master's degree in writing children's books at Hollins University.

Daddy tried on his skills at home while Mama strapped on her backpack and headed to class. We moved three times in seven weeks, which was a bit of a challenge, but we're raising Meilani to be flexible. Daddy and Meilani checked out the wildlife, visited parks, played in the rain and spent lots of hours in the Hollins U. pool.

We spent Fourth of July in Roanoke with our grad school friends. We even took a study break to see the Jazz in July festival and explore the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains for a true Appalachian experience. We perfected our use of the phrase "y'all" and relished the lush, green compared to our Fresno dry heat. What a great adventure to live in the South (and still be able to return to our California paradise at the end of the summer.)

When Dorina finished up her final papers and classes, we headed to Baltimore to visit with our friend, Shawn Young, and tour Washington, D.C. From there, we drove to North Carolina to hang out with Ericlee's cousins, Sean and Amy Bennett and their son, Whitaker. After seven weeks on the road and living out of suitcases, we were relieved to return home to the grandparents who eagerly greeted us at the airport.

Ericlee returned to teaching at Fresno Christian for his eighth year. He was excited to continue as an elementary P.E. teacher, but he was sad to give up his high school leadership class since it didn't fit into his schedule this year. In September, Ericlee started the first high school cross country team in 20 years and his athletes (boys and girls) won second place in the league with one girl qualifying for the state championships. We did a little running of our own with Meilani cheering "GoGoGo!" from the jogging stroller. We participated in the annual Cross City Race in September and later in the Trail of Two Cities Half Marathon in November.

Another significant new adventure for our family has been the start of a "healthy living journey" this fall. (You can read more details about it by clicking on our healthy living tags at the right.) You might say we’re on a “food journey.” But it’s more than a road trip down the latest fad diet lane or culinary trend. We are changing our lifestyle to embrace healthy living - in all areas. Of course that includes a diversity of topics, including how we care for our bodies, what we eat, how we exercise, how we raise our children, what we believe about medicine, how we recycle and give back to the earth, how we invest our resources, how we live in community and even how we live out our faith. In short, we read a book called, WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING by Dr. Rex Russell, and made some drastic changes. Ericlee has used his influence at Fresno Christian to help the school consider healthy options, distribute a Nutrition Newsletter, take soda out of vending machines and form a Wellness Council. We'd love to dialogue with you more about this journey if you're interested.

This fall, Dorina taught one journalism class at Fresno Pacific University. Most of her time was spent with Meilani as the two took field trips with friends to places like the library and pumpkin patch, cooked up new healthy recipes together in the kitchen and delivered food to friends with newborn babies and cheered for Daddy's basketball team in San Francisco. Dorina attends a women's bible study on Tuesday mornings and hosts a monthly Cooking Club for 10 friends (and food for the hubbies & kids). She enjoys a new pace at home and once in a while squeezes in time to work on her creative thesis - a young adult novel about a girl from a multicultural heritage growing up in a Chicago pizzeria.

This December, our greatest gift was quality time together with family and friends. As Meilani grows, we treasure the moments we can read, walk, pray, giggle and dance together. We hope you have fun viewing our slide show of family photos here in on the blog. We anticipate hearing more about your life adventures and visit with you in 2008. We do feel truly blessed.

Happy New Year to each of you!


The Growing VM Family said...

Look how much Meilani has grown this year and how richly you have been blessed in your travels and activities! I have enjoyed reading your 2007 recap and being a part of your year. Happy New Year!

Love, Jen

Parm & Kate said...

What a year have you had! It is inspiring how you and your family live your life, thank you for sharing your journey! Happy New Year!


Michelle Bueno said...

Thanks for sending me your blog link! I so enjoyed reading it. Many blessings to you in 2008!
Warmest wishes,
Michelle Negron Bueno

The Moes Family said...

Just found this in our bulk folder! Great update. Nice to hear about life in Fresno. Almost makes us miss it! (Almost.) We do miss all our friends, though, for sure! Love the photo feature, too. We'll need to use that next time we post an "album."