Here it is folks. Four years have passed since Tonia went home and this last one has been as full as the rest. I am not sure where to begin with the thoughts of this past year. There has been so much happening and so many times I have stopped to consider what did Tonia teach me to do in moments like these and what would she be feeling or saying.
For instance just last week Kristi and I got to proudly watch RileyJohn graduate from his army AIT training as a cavalry scout. A great moment in his life that I know she would be as happy for him as we were. He is now stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. We also have SageRyann all but graduated from High School. 2 more packets and she will have completed a great thing in her life as well. And she is now 18! Brady and the other kids are doing good in school with he and Chance working hard to be on the Honor roll. Brady will be a senior next year. Time just rushes forward ready or not.
Terikk is growing good and running around so much he won't even stop for a good snuggle unless you get him tired enough to fall asleep. And now we have another grandchild on the way from Brook and Ross! The baby is due in September. Grandma and Grandpa are excited!! And Brook is now teaching at the BATC cosmetology school.
Payton and Britney are now stationed at Fort Riley after Payton finished his year in Korea just last month. Dax and Kaya are both 15 and freshman already! Almost sophomores! There is so much growth and change that Kristi and I are often in need of Tonia's influence to keep up. The year has had its downs as well as ups but I will not be going into details of those. Suffice to say Austin is doing better in health and has found some more work. He and Kortney are in Roy. Kristi’s health is mending and she is doing a great job as a mother, grandmother and wife. She would not always agree with me on that but what great women would?
As I said in the beginning and middle Kristi and I have found strength from Tonia's influence and we believe she is there for the kids as well. Our Father in Heaven has certainly blessed our family very much and after another trip to China this past October and our trip to Atlanta for the graduation last week I can really see how he has. I do get a kick out of listening to people talk of their big families of 2 to 3 kids just to tell them we have 9 and see the shock go thru them. Then when they find out we adopted 5 they just dont have much left to say. At least not much they want to say in front of us as I am proudly displaying a picture of the family. I do want the kids to know that they are in fact doing some good things in their lives that I feel Tonia would be proud of and while we all have things to improve on they should know they are doing good in many ways as well. Tonia has always wanted happiness and good health for her family and I know that has not changed. She understood that we must do good to have that and strived to teach both the children and I this basic principle of the gospel and therefore of life. When we are doing good for ourselves and others there is peace and happiness to be found even in troubled times. This is one thing I remember Tonia teaching in word and example. That and do your best. It may not be perfect and often isn't but it will be enough if we do the best we can at that time trusting in Jesus Christ to help where we may fall short. And in doing so our best will keep getting better. Thanks as well go to all of our parents that have taught Tonia, Kristi and I how to be parents ourselves.
Tonia my dear Elfette, we wish you another happy 26th birthday and hope we can continue to know of your love and influence in our lives. May we all strive to be with you again one day. Love Ryan (Elf)