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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Minot Fall

We are so excited that fall is in full swing up here in Minot.  It looks like we are going to have pretty, but cold fall.  We love fall almost as much as we love Christmas.   We find all sorts of fun stuff to do around here.  For those that say Minot has nothing to offer, you are SO wrong.  People are always asking how we find so much to do...I am not sure exactly how, but we just look for fun things around the area.  But I decided to compile a list of what we have found when it comes to fall. These are just the things that we have found along with a short review for each one.  They all have websites you can check out if you google them. They are all very affordable for fun, family events, most of them costing less than $20 for a family of four.  We enjoy doing all these fun fall festivities when it just starts getting colder out, usually in early October, before it's freezing.  We want it to feel like fall and wear cute fall outfits, but not freeze our butts off.

Stuff to do:

Papa's Pumpkin Patch   Bismarck, ND

Max Corn Maze  Just south of Minot, ND

Berry Acres Farm  Minot, ND

Angelic Gardens  Minot, ND

Papas Pumpkin Patch.  Even though this is a 2 hour drive, we have gone a couple of the years we have been here.  It's a huge pumpkin patch with lots to do for kids of all ages.  It's really pretty and has lots of good photo ops!  Weekdays are quiet, but there isn't as many things to do there.  Weekends are crazy busy but they have the most activities and stuff to do going.  We probably won't make the trip out of this again.

Max Corn Maze.  We have only been to this once because we just found out about it last year.  It only takes a few minutes to get to from town.  It's pretty basic....there is only a corn maize, but it takes at least an hour to get through with kids.  The girls have fun getting lost in there and we pretty much let them decide where to go until everyone starts getting tired and then we help.  When we went they had a small concession stand, some hay bales to play on, and a little barrel train for younger kids.  It's a fundraiser for the FFA so the money goes to help support that program.  Planning on going here again this year.

Berry Acres Farm.  We have only been here once as well, a few years ago when the base chapel had a family day here.  Last year it flooded pretty bad, and this year they opened back up.  It has a cute little store that sells produce and homemade goods such as breads, treats, and jams.  Outside they have lots of pumpkins and a smallish corn maize.  It's good for something close by.  Probably going to check it out again now that it's open.

Angelic Gardens.  We found this place last year.  We organized a "family night" where we got a few other close families together and all went together.  They have a nice garden area, and a pumpkin patch where you can actually go pick the pumpkins.  Their prices are amazing on pumpkins too.  You can do a group reservation and do a hayride around the farm areas and then come back to a bonfire with hot drinks and treats.  We loved it because we were the only ones there, because it's pretty much by reservation only unless you are just picking veggies.  The kids could run and have fun with no worry of getting lost (it's not huge so you can see everything).  We are doing this again this year.

On top of all of this stuff, there is lots going on when it comes to Halloween too:

Base Trick or treating night

Trick or treating at the base clinic
(perfect for all ages, inside and warm!)

Downtown Pumpkin Walk
(For preschool and younger, it's during school hours. Downtown businesses hand out candy inside their 
stores. Jordyn loved this the last few years)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The pain and the joy

ugh...I do not even know where to begin.  This post has been a long time coming, and it has changed a few times along the way before I finally decided to actually publish it. It started out as something completely different than it is now.  This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  This is pretty big, and not many people know about any of this.  Just family and very CLOSE friends.  I am sorry if you didn't know, but we chose to keep this information private for many reasons, because it is very personal, and well, it's our choice :) 

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it physically hurts?  Like EVERYWHERE?  Your heart mostly, but also your actual body as well.  That is what I felt for the last 5 years.  And the pain has increasingly gotten worse and worse.  I thought eventually it would fade, but no, it continues to worsen.  I feel like a part of me is missing.  Not necessarily that I am incomplete, but that part of me missed something.  I am sure that doesn't make sense to most of you, but that is the only way I know how to describe it. So here goes....


I know, this isn't a shock to anyone. But it's more real than most people know.

As most of you know we have two BEAUTIFUL miracle babies.  We know how blessed we are to have these girls and we thank God for them every single day.  We had a very long, bumpy journey when it came to bringing both of them home.  8 weeks combined NICU time. I am not going to SUCKED. BIG TIME.  I would never wish having a NICU baby on anyone.  Because two out of two babies I gave birth to had medical issues at birth, we decided almost instantly after Jordyn was born that we needed to be done. No more babies.  The thought of this broke my heart into a million pieces, as I have always wanted a BIG family.... but my head rationalized it was what needed to be done.  Pretty much right away, I regretted this decision.  And the older the girls got, the more I felt I was missing a part of me.  A mommy part of me that I missed out on.

About 8 months ago  I finally realized the pain of NOT having more babies was far worse than would COULD happen if we did have more.  Geoff knew I always wanted more, and he did too, but one day, I finally told Geoff how I had been feeling, and how this feeling wouldn't go away...I tried.  It just wouldn't.  Within a couple of days we decided to do something about it, started researching and making phone calls and do what needed to be done in order for us to start trying to have at least one more baby. It WAS possible.  I needed to at least try...and if it didn't happen, then it wasn't meant to be.  But I couldn't fathom living the rest of my life with regret and thinking What IF? 

The fear set in.  The fear of all the things that could possibly go wrong.  Before Abbygail, I went through two miscarriages.  The first one, I was almost 11 weeks, and the 2nd one, I was about 6 weeks.  And then we had our perfect Abby.  I had a horrible sick I had to go into the hospital a few times to get hydrated.  Yes, I am one of those lucky people who has "morning" sickness 24/7 from the beginning until a few days after the baby is born.  Born at 34 weeks and 4lbs, she was this tiny, perfect baby.  She was in the NICU for 6 weeks, 6 LONG weeks for prematurity reasons.  Two years later, our precious Jordyn joined our family at almost 2 weeks past my due date.  She got stuck in my birth canal and was taken emergency c-section.  She was born not breathing and full life saving measures were used to bring her back.  She was born with an APGAR score of 1.  If you know anything about the APGAR scoring, you know that is BAD.  It was probably the most terrifying moment in my life, hearing them working on her, trying to bring her back to life. She suffered some major brain injuries and all sorts of complications.  The first few days, we didn't even know if she was going to make it, but  she made it home with us after only 2 weeks in the NICU!  So most people understood when we said we were DONE. 

 I felt like I was robbed of both of my babies first few weeks of life, that most people will never understand, so I will try to describe it:

I have never had a baby instantly handed to me after being born
I have never had a baby in my hospital room with me.
I have never been able to nurse my babies within the first 48 hours even.  There were always so.many.tubes.
My phone calls to family after birth were always filled with tears of sadness, not tears of joy like most new moms.  Those phone calls SUCKED, and I made my mom and Geoff do most of them.
When visitors came to see me in the hospital, they always walked on eggshells...not there to sit and hold a brand new baby, but to sit and pray with me that I would bring my babies home.
I had to ask to hold MY own babies.
I didn't get to hold Jordyn til she was 4 days old.
I had to "scrub in" every time I wanted to even go look at my babies.
I had to feed my babies when I was more, no less.
I had to see my babies with a million wires and tubes coming out of them everyday.
I had to tell my very excited two year old that her baby sister was very sick and wasn't coming home with us.
Telling her that was one of THE hardest things I have EVER had to do.
I had to leave my babies every night.
I had to be alone as soon as both girls came home, because Geoff had to use all of his leave and then some when they were in the NICU.  He had to go back to work right away.  My mom's plane tickets expired before either of them came home, and had to leave while they were both still in the NICU.

And on top of all of this, I have such tainted views of pregnancy and the horrible things that can happen at any given moment.  Living in fear that I could lose the baby every single day.  That fear ruins almost any of the joy.

But even the worst of times can be forgotten when there is so much joy from what came of it.  That pain gets put on a back burner and seems so minuscule when you take a step back and look at what is really important.  Our girls are worth every second and more of the pain we had to go through to have them in our lives.  I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to.

In April we took a big step in order to start trying again....Geoff had his vasectomy reversed (This is probably TMI for some of you, but oh well, I figure you care enough to still be reading this at this point).  The surgery went very well....and....

Well somehow, we managed to get pregnant in only 3 months!  3 months!!!!  The average time for couples in our situation is 12 months or more, so we were completely shocked.  To me, 3 months seemed like forever as it was longer than the other 4 times we were trying.  It seemed too good to be true.  Right around this time we found out we got orders to Colorado Springs for next summer, our first choice of assignments.  There was just so much awesomness going on. But that fear.  The fear of knowing how easily something could go wrong.  It makes it so I can't even enjoy being pregnant, at all for the most part. I so wish it wasn't there.  But it is, and it always will be.  I would give anything to not have it. To not know all that I know.

When most people find out they are expecting, they are over joyed with the thought of bringing home a baby in 9 months.  They broadcast to the world their good news.  But with me, that isn't the case.  I know that there is a chance I WONT be bringing a baby home in 9 months, or at all.  It hurts, and I hate it.  It makes it hard to be excited, because I feel like as soon as I get excited, something will go wrong.  We were completely thrilled that we were expecting, and prayed that everything would go smoothly this time.

A couple weeks later, things came crashing down. We found out we lost the baby at almost 7 weeks after a trip to the ER.  We thought this time would be different.  I was having lots of pregnancy symptoms which we took as a good sign. We figured we had two healthy pregnancies since my two miscarriages, and that we were going to be okay.  We had hope  But God has a different plan for that baby.  He or she is in heaven with his or her two siblings experiencing joy that we can't even imagine.  And I can't wait for the day that I finally get to meet them.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

The emotional and physical pain of a miscarriage  SUCKS.  And, it doesn't get easier each time.  If anything it gets harder, because you start to a little lose hope each time.  You start to wonder how many more times is this going to happen before I get the joy? I hate admitting to that.  I think this time might have been the most emotionally painful one for me.  Not exactly sure why.  There are no words that can take that pain away.  We know it happened for a reason.  We know this wasn't the right time.  We know all of the stuff that people trying to help tell us.  It doesn't help, and it doesn't make the pain less.  That is the main reason I chose to not talk about this with anyone.  People have good intentions, but don't realize it's not helping in any way.

It brings so many questions of WHY?  Why did this happen to me again?  Why am I the ONLY one in my family to not only go through miscarriage, but also a premature baby, NICUs, emergency c-sections, babies needing emergency living saving treatments,  and traumatic births?  Everyone else in my family (and most of my close friends even) have never had to deal with any of those why have I had to go through ALL of them? WHY? I will never know the answer to this, so I have to just trust that God has a bigger plan than what I can see.  There is a reason why we have been through all of this, we just don't know why, except that so far, he has given us two precious gifts on this earth, and now 3 in heaven.  If dealing with this pain is what I have to do to bring us another amazing child to our family, then that is what I will do.  I pray for trust.  I NEED to trust in HIM if this is ever going to happen.  I need more trust and hope that he has this amazing plan for our family. 

We do not know exactly what lies ahead.  We pray that it is in God's will for us to bring another miracle into this world....maybe this time a healthy one that comes home with us right away!

The fact that we DID get pregnant gives us so much hope.  So much.  We know now that it is possible, and we might be blessed with another baby (or babies).  And what we have right now, these two amazing girls, is more than enough.  Geoff is the most amazing husband I could ask for, and my girls....they bring me more joy than I ever thought possible on this earth.  I am so incredibly blessed.  

Please know, I did not write this because I want people to feel sorry for me.  I don't want that at all. I decided to lay it all out and write this because I NEED prayer....and support.  I need the strength to not give up. We have been through to much to give up.

Like Clay

Like clay in the potter's hands
Mold me, mold me
Like a child in her father's arms
Hold me, hold me
Like a sparrow afraid to fly
Raise me, raise me
This is just between You and I
I love You, I love You 

Let this song be an offering of my love for You
I lay myself down upon Your throne
For whatever You want me to do 

For whatever it takes
And whatever the faith
I trust You
For whatever the cost
And whatever is lost
I love You
I love You, Lord 

Let my life be an example of Your love for me
I give this world just to carry Your cross
And to be what You want me to be 

If we call out Your name
We should see our face
If we sacrifice our lives
We will see that grace