Surrender

Well here I am… 2 years have gone by without a post. Which tells me I am both busy and lazy. In my mind I have written a hundred posts in that time, because that is the way my mind thinks: in post format. The problem with that is the anxiety it causes to keep all of those thoughts to myself without ever taking the time to write them down. Now whether or not to actually share them with other people, that is the question. But today I need to talk about what the Lord is doing in my heart. This season of my life is all about Surrender. In this case, not just giving things up to the Lord, but having them taken away and trying to trust the Lord’s goodness in that process.

Since I last posted, I have had a baby girl, Gwen, who is a beautiful miracle and makes all of our lives better. She is an answer to prayer and the puzzle piece to our family that I never knew was missing. She will be turning 2 on Halloween and I cannot believe how quickly this time with her has gone by. Some time soon I will post about her birth story, if nothing else, just so I have it written down like I have for the Twins. But I praise God every day for bringing my baby girl into the world. And I now appreciate her presence more than ever before.

There was a very significant day that occurred this past week: Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day. Some people posted about their tragic losses and memorialized their angel babies in the most beautiful ways. Some people did not share about their losses,  because how do you begin to express the very specific and personal details about your loss, with the fear that others would just not understand or even be able to sympathize. But today I want to share about our loss than happened earlier this year. It’s something that we have shared with a few close friends, but chose not to share publicly until now. Many of you who have followed our Infertility journey know that when we did IVF, we ended up with 3 embryos; we had 2 implanted, which turned out to be our twin boys, Reed and Rory. The third embryo we had frozen in a cryobank and planned to use a few years down the road. Then Gwen was conceived unexpectedly 2 years later and we pushed the embryo plan down the road even farther. When we found out we would be moving to Japan, we talked a lot about what we should do with our family plan. I was almost of “advanced maternal age” and the embryo was reaching the expiration date on it’s usability. So we decided to proceed with fertility treatments again and go ahead with the final embryo implantation. In January I started taking all of my fertility medications and injections to prepare my body. We went through our same fertility clinic and flew down to San Antonio, TX to have the procedure during the final week of March. The procedure went well and everything seemed to have gone as planned, so we were hopeful and confident that this would be a successful pregnancy and we could finally add the final puzzle piece to complete our family. But as we know in life, not everything always goes as planned. Sometimes fertility treatments work. And sometimes they don’t. And for us, this time, it failed. We lost the embryo. We lost our baby. We were devastated. Ronnie and I cried together, prayed together, mourned together for what seemed like a very long time. We don’t know if I was every “technically” pregnant. We do know that when I went in to get blood work a week after my procedure, that my progesterone was low. So there was a possibility that the embryo could have implanted and I miscarried due to a hormonal imbalance. Unfortunately we will never know (in this lifetime) whether or not that was the case. Regardless of what others deem a “pregnancy,” to us, this loss was just as real and just as raw. We saw our baby as an embryo. We heard the fertility technicians tell us that they couldn’t even get the embryo into the instrument because it was moving around so much BY ITSELF in the petri dish. I remember laughing thinking about what kind of personality and energy this child was going to have. I don’t care what scientists tell us about when life occurs, we know that this embryo was a life and this life was our baby. It was precious to us, and now it is gone. The emptiness I felt after I took my negative blood test, was the most empty I have ever felt. I am sure many of you can relate.

Here is the thing about our loss… it is different from other losses. It is unique. It is our story. It changed us. And it will always be a part of us. But it is no less than other losses. After many months of counseling, I feel validated in my loss and in my grief. Yes, I am thankful for the 3 beautiful living children I have. These 3 children that I never thought would exist. When I thought I would never have the chance to be a biological mother, look at what God blessed me with. But I lost a baby, too. And that is incredibly painful. There is the wondering… What would he be like, who would he look like, what would he have added to our family… Of course we have no way of knowing that right now. All we know is that the baby would have been due in December. And as I see other pregnant women, especially those in their third trimester, I am reminded of how empty my womb is, and how I desperately wish I was having a baby in 2 months. Then when my children act crazy, which is most of the time, I think, “How could I ever have possibly wanted another child to add to this craziness?!” But even in the chaos that is my life, I still wanted, and still want, this baby. But that is not to be.

If you think of us, especially in December, please say a prayer for us. While we are moving on and healing, it is still difficult to think about the milestones, especially what would have been our birth month. And while we still grieve the loss of our baby, the pain gets less raw with time. We believe that he is safely in Heaven and that we will see him someday, so there is some comfort in that. And for those who have miscarried, had a stillbirth, or experienced infant loss, I am so very sorry. That is a pain that no mother should ever have to experience, but for some reason, so many do. Please feel validated in your pain, even if it looks different from other’s situations. Your story is your own and I pray that the Lord comforts you as you continue to grieve your losses. Please know that there are people there to listen if and when you decide to share your experience. If no one else, then I am here.

I remember when we found out we were coming to Japan… I was not happy about it. I honestly would rather have gone ANYWHERE other than here. I had little kids and I just wanted to be close to family and feel settled for once in this transient military life. But we started making fertility procedure arrangements, and I just remember thinking, “As long as I can have this baby, I will be fine. I don’t care where we go or what we do, because I will have this baby to look forward to.” And I also specifically remember thinking, “If we have to go to Japan, and I lose this baby, I am not going to be okay…” Well, here we are. We still had to go to Japan, and I lost my baby. And for a while, things were not okay. My sweet husband lovingly encouraged me to go see a Counselor, and I knew that this, on top of many other traumas that occurred in my life, was something I needed to seek professional help for. And without getting too much into it right now, I just need to say that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my adult life. I found a Christian Counselor who was truly a God-send and helped me on the path to healing. I still have a long way to go, and I know I will never truly “arrive,” but I have a lot of tools to help me as I process my losses, my traumas, and my grief. I can honestly say that I dearly miss my sessions with her and am so thankful for those 4 months that I chose to reach out and allow someone to help me. There is no shame in going to counseling, therapy, 12-step programs, or whatever resources you need to help you deal with life. There is amazing freedom there, friends, if you are brave enough to seek it out.

In addition to the loss of our baby, we have had to say good-bye to both of our dogs in the past few months. You may think, “They are just dogs.” But these dogs were our babies and we had them for a decade. They were my fur-children when I didn’t have children and then didn’t think I would ever be able to have children. Cyprus and Zia were truly the best dogs we could have asked for and we miss them terribly. Zia had to be put down because of Doggy Dementia, and Cyprus developed Lymphoma and went downhill quickly. Having to lose a baby and your 2 precious dogs all within a matter of months has been hard. Really hard. Oh, and throw in an overseas move into the mix as well, and you have a great recipe for deep loss, intense loneliness, and complete bewilderment.

While I would have never chosen to come to Japan, I know that God sent us here for a reason. He has literally stripped us from all of our previous “comforts” of home and country and brought us to a foreign place where we are COMPLETELY dependent on him. He has allowed precious things to be taken from me and then required that I surrender these things to Him. Did I want to do that? Hell, no. And in fact, I have been pretty angry about it. And that’s okay. But I still lay those things down, open my hands up to him and surrender. Because what else can I do? I can’t change anything that has happened. It’s too toxic to play the “what-if” game and replay unreal scenarios in my head, wishing I would have done things differently. I can’t force the military to move us somewhere else. So I choose to say, “Here am I Lord. Send me!” I don’t want to be here, but here I am, so God, please reveal what you have in store for me here. I have little to no idea why he decided that we should PCS to Okinawa, but I am trusting that His ways are higher than my ways, and His plans are bigger than my plans. So no matter what happens in life, where we go, or what we lose along the way, I surrender my will to Him. I know that He is a GOOD Father and I will choose to love and worship Him with every breath that is in me.

 

The Surprise of a Lifetime

So I’m pregnant. This is something I never saw coming and didn’t think was possible. In fact, Ronnie and I have gone to countless doctors and had numerous specialists tell us that the likelihood of us conceiving on our own was pretty much impossible. For those of you who don’t know our history, we went through Infertility for about 6 years and conceived our twins through In-Vitro Fertilization. It was a last-ditch effort for us after years of other fertility treatments that had been unsuccessful. We were so thankful when we found out we were pregnant with twins! And we actually still have one embryo left that is frozen in a cryobank back in Texas; we plan to use it someday down the road. Waaay down the road :). So when Ronnie and I found out we were pregnant back in March, we were in a state of complete shock. Don’t get me wrong, we were thrilled with the news and happy about it, but we just couldn’t wrap our minds around the fact that we had naturally conceived a baby.

Around the time we discovered the pregnancy, Rory and Reed had been sick with a stomach bug. I figured that I just got whatever they had because I was also feeling under the weather. But then my stomach bug never went away and seemed to be getting worse. I began to have a few other weird symptoms and my jeans began feeling tight whenever I tried to button them. This was especially discouraging because Ronnie and I had just finished an Advocare 24-Day Challenge and I had lost weight, so I was upset that I was seemingly gaining it back. I remember telling Ronnie, “You know, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that I was pregnant. The way I’m feeling is exactly the way I felt when I was newly pregnant with the twins. But since that’s impossible, I just wish I could figure out what is going on with my body.” Well, what was going on with my body was that there was a human being growing inside of it. After my cycle was about a month late (which is not unusual for me), I decided to just pick up a cheap pregnancy test at Target while I was there getting a million other things. I can honestly say that I thought nothing of it when I picked it up and put it in my cart. Anyone who has dealt with Infertility can tell you that after a while you just go through the motions. You buy pregnancy tests, you take them “just to be sure,” they are always negative, and then you throw them away and move on. So when I got home, I casually took the test, set it upside down and nearly forgot about it as I washed my hands and began to walk out the bathroom door. Then I saw it out of the corner or my eye and thought I’d give it a quick glance and just toss it, knowing exactly what it would say. So when I looked at that digital pregnancy test and saw the word “pregnant,” the world seemed to stop turning for a moment. I couldn’t breathe. My heart began to race. I got all shaky. And I just stared and stared and stared at it.

I didn’t know what to do next. I opened the bathroom door where Rory was standing there, greeting me with a smile. So I handed the pregnancy test to him and told him to go give it to Daddy, who was hanging out in the kitchen. Rory decided to listen to me and took it straight over to Ronnie, who gave him a weird look, clearly not recognizing what exactly he was handing to him. When Ronnie finally held it in his hands and he read the same word I had just read a few minutes earlier, he just looked up at me wide-eyed, also in a state of shock. We just stared at each other until he finally said, “What does this mean?” I shook my head and said, “I don’t know. But I think it means I’m pregnant…” We just stared at each other for the longest time and then just began to laugh saying things like “Seriously?” “What?” “Is this actually happening?” “Is this real?” It was so much to take in and we didn’t know how to process all of the emotions we were feeling inside. We sat on the couch while the boys climbed all over us and continued to just stare at each other, not knowing how to react to this news. Of course, we were excited, but we were just so surprised that we didn’t know what to do or say. The rest of the day is kind-of a blur. I had taken the test right before we were supposed to leave the house to go meet up with some friends. Terrible timing, I know, but you don’t think about timing those situations right when you think you know what the outcome will be. So we gathered up the boys and drove to meet up with our friends, kind-of dazed and just floating through the motions. I do remember the drive into town… it was a beautiful chilly, sunny evening and we kept looking over at each other, smiling, and sharing our feelings about the news we had just learned. It was an authentic reaction to overwhelming news, and I love that we just got to share that experience with each other. We confirmed that I was pregnant through some blood work on base the following day and quickly got set up with OB appointments and began to go through all of the motions that pregnant women go through. Even though I ended up getting Pre-Eclampsia in my last pregnancy, for now I am not high risk, so that is definitely something to be thankful for. Although, it was fun to get all of the extra sonograms and special attention from the docs with my twin pregnancy ;). Now I’m just “one of the masses,” which is really quite okay.

We kept our pregnancy a secret for quite a while. Part of the reasoning, for me, is because when you don’t think you can have children naturally, there can be a strong fear that something is going to go wrong. I still struggle with this fear, thinking, “You were never able to get pregnant naturally in the past. Surely something is wrong with your body and something is going to be wrong with the baby, or this might not end well for any of us.” I imagine a lot of previously infertile women struggle with these same thoughts and emotions. Of course, in my heart I know these words are not from the Lord because He does not give us a spirit of fear, but honestly, it’s a daily process to try and drown-out those negative lies. Ronnie and I also just wanted to keep this to ourselves for a while because it felt special to have that secret that only the two of us knew. It was amazing how much closer this pregnancy brought us and helped us to feel so much more connected to each other in the midst of a season where previously we had been experiencing some disconnect. I don’t know, it may have been the whole “parenting twin toddlers” thing… But this has been an exciting new season for us as a couple and as a little family. After a while, we felt like we needed to share our news with our closest friends here in Alaska, because the pregnancy quickly began to take over our lives. I became really sick, really quickly. Like, 10 times more sick than I was with the boys. Like, throwing up 10 to 15 times a day sick. It was difficult to get out of bed and function, much less follow through with commitments, spend time with friends, do play dates, volunteer at church, etc. I was beginning to experience a sort of pre-partum depression because my sickness became all-consuming. I also began to show more quickly than I expected. We decided to share the news with our friends here so we could have some support and also explain our reclusive behavior. The positive and excited reactions we got from all of our friends were more of a blessing than I ever could have hoped for. None of them had walked with us through our previous journey through infertility, and they have only known us as parents. But they did know about our past and were so gracious in sharing this miracle with us. That helped me feel so much more joyful in a time where sickness was really taking its toll on me emotionally, mentally and physically. And thankfully my OB was able to give me some meds that helped me at least function and be a [somewhat] decent Mom to my boys.

I am feeling much better now and only occasionally get sick. It’s amazing how much more alive you feel and how much brighter life becomes when you are not spending your entire day hunched over your toilet. The twins keep me so busy, that I even forget that I’m pregnant some days until I can’t sit in a certain position or get a dizzy spell. As challenging as the beginning of the pregnancy was for me, once I had my first sonogram, I really fell head over heels in love with my baby. That appointment was really a special time for Ronnie and me. He sat next to me and held my hand, and we got to look at our precious little one on the screen for 45 minutes while measurements were taken. There were a lot of smiles and a few tears from both of us. I think it really just hit us that we were becoming parents (again), but in such a miraculous and unexpected way. And yes, there is just ONE baby this time ;). We have our ultrasound picture hanging on our fridge and as I look at it numerous times a day, I am reminded of God’s mercy and abundant blessings in my life.

We were so excited to finally share the news with all of our family and get to see the shock on their faces as well as the excitement they felt for us. This baby is already such a joyful addition to our entire extended family and I know it is dearly loved. Once we shared the news on Facebook, it made my heart almost explode to see how genuinely thrilled everyone was to hear about our news. Thank you to everyone who sent us well-wishes and who has shared in our excitement. We are thrilled and so thankful for this new little one, due to arrive around November 3rd. We find out the gender of the baby at our 20-week ultrasound in less than 2 weeks, so we will be sure to let everyone know. For now, I am just enjoying the daily little kicks and flutters I am beginning to feel in my womb. I am also trying to cherish this time I have with my boys before their entire world changes. I am honestly a little terrified about having 3 children ages 2 and under, but I know that others have done it before, and somehow we will figure out how to survive. I wouldn’t have planned having children this close together, but I am continuing to learn that God’s plans aren’t always our plans. His plans are better and I trust that He has an amazing purpose for this baby’s life and for our family.

And I will leave you all with this Doxology hymn, which floods my heart every time I think about this new little life… “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Oh Praise Him, Hallelujah; Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Oh Praise Him, Oh Praise Him, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” 

With Love,

Heather

#yesIwanttotalkaboutleggings

My blog is fairly new. The original goal for this site was to keep my family and friends informed about our lives and happenings. Overall I really wanted to keep my blog lighthearted and family focused, but there is just something that has been on my heart that is causing heaviness, and I just have to share it with you all. I have noticed that with so many blog posts, articles and stories going viral over social media lately, that readers’ comments and view points have gone viral as well. In this country we have numerous rights and freedoms that many countries do not. We have freedom of speech, which encourages many people to say whatever they want to say, whenever they want to say it, to whomever they want to say it to. And I think many of us don’t stop to think that just because we CAN say something, doesn’t necessarily mean that we SHOULD.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding a woman named Veronica Partridge and her blog post, stating why she would no longer choose to wear leggings or yoga pants. She got instant backlash and intense criticism from people, both Christians and non-Christians alike, for her personal stance and viewpoints. One Christian blogger even went as far to write a counter-post in which she talks about how there are much more important topics in the world to be concerned about. She even encouraged people to tweet or post major world issues and problems with the hashtag #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings. This gets my blood boiling for a number of reasons. Yes, there are major problems out there in the world. Horrible things happening to innocent people every single day. And as Christians, we should be concerned about them. We should talk about them. And we should speak and act against the injustice being done in our world. But we should also be equally concerned with things happening right here, in our own country, to our own family members, friends and neighbors. This includes having a discussion about leggings because it goes SO much deeper than leggings. So. Much. Deeper.

There is an epidemic in our country. It is a disease of the mind, body and soul. It is called lust, and it destroys the men we love from the inside-out. If we think that this is any less important than anything else going on in the world, then we are choosing to be blind to it. We need to stop trying to pretend that this isn’t a major problem in our culture. Yes, I can be saddened about starving children in Africa. And I can be infuriated with terrorists who are burning innocent people alive. And I can be devastated over the thousands of children in our country who are orphans and trapped in the foster care system. I can also be passionate about our husbands, brothers, fathers, sons and friends who feel overtaken by lust and sexual addiction. And whether we want to acknowledge it or not, what we wear and how we act as women either feed or fight that addiction.

If anyone actually took the time to read Ms. Partridge’s original blog post, they would see that she made her decision because she felt convicted that wearing leggings out in public could possibly be a stumbling block for men, particularly men who struggled with lust. She is not insisting that everyone else follow her lead. She is simply stating how she began to feel convicted in this area of her life. She spoke with her husband about his opinion on the matter, and he admitted that it was challenging to look away when he saw women wearing leggings out in public, because they accentuate a woman’s body. And Ms. Partridge didn’t say that she was going to stop wearing leggings completely; she said she would only wear leggings as long as she had a shirt long enough to cover her backside. Speaking as a woman with a husband that struggles with lust, I am thankful that there is at least one other woman in our country that cares about him enough to dress modestly. Yes, men have the choice of whether or not to look at a woman in form-fitting clothing. And yes, we can wear whatever the heck we want to wear. But here is my point… just because we can, doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. After you read this, you can decide whether or not to wear leggings as pants. You live in a free country and are able to make your own choices. But let’s stop crucifying someone over social media because she made a personal choice regarding a personal conviction.

There are a lot of “cans” and “shoulds” in life. Can I let my babies watch Elmo all day? Yes. Should I? Probably not. Can I eat an entire bowl of brownie batter by myself? Yes. Should I? I guess not… But it would be yummy. Can I trash-talk someone on the internet? Yes. Should I? No, although it is okay to respectfully disagree. Can I go see 50 Shades of Grey with my friends for a girls’ movie night and learn more about S&M? Actually, no. My husband says no. Can I publish a cartoon that I know would be incredibly offensive to a particular religion? Yes. Should I? I would argue that it might not be the best idea to blatantly disrespect others’ religious leaders. Can I make a satirical movie about assassinating the President of another country? Yes. Should I? Well, we would be pretty mad if they made a movie about assassinating our President. Can I wear leggings that hug every curve of my body without a longer top to cover up my lady parts? Yes. Should I? …

Last Sunday my Pastor gave a message regarding Honor. It was very convicting to me, as was the “leggings post,” and I took away some great applications that I hope will make a difference in my own life. Ultimately, honor is about love. And I think if we took a little more time to speak value into people and support those who we are walking through life with (especially fellow Christian brothers and sisters), there would be an outbreak of love, which I think our world needs quite a bit more of. Even Jesus showed dignity to the undignified and honor to the dishonorable. So whether you agree or disagree with this post, or the leggings post, or the counter-leggings post, or anything else that anyone else says, let’s show each other a little more honor, a little more grace and little more love. That is something we all can and should do.

I know I am going to be sitting down tonight, thinking about what else I could have written in this post, knowing that I may not have gotten my point across as clearly as I wanted. But hopefully you can extend me some grace and see that I am just trying to share what is on my heart. You may still see me walking around in leggings, hopefully in a somewhat-modest fashion. And if you choose to wear leggings and/or yoga pants out in public, I will not judge you or harbor any ill will towards you. But if nothing else comes from this, I am simply thankful for Ms. Partridge’s post because it opened up conversation about a subject that I feel is important… just as important as other global issues affecting our fellow human beings.

And I leave you with this… “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

-Heather

*For more information about the post I refer to in my blog, please visit http://www.veronicapartridge.com.

Family Photos

Two years ago was a big day for our little family. We went into the hospital early in the morning and had two of our three thriving embryos transferred into my body. There are no words to describe that experience. You hope and you pray that at least one of your embryos will implant and grow, but just as with everything else in life, there are no guarantees. As I lay on the table after the procedure, Ronnie and I sang and prayed. I still remember the words of the song clearly… “Oh my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength, Always. I will not fear. His promise is true. My God will come through, Always. Always… I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord.” It was such a peaceful moment and I am thankful for that experience with my husband. At that point we had done all we could do and all that was left was to surrender. We were hopeful that our IVF procedure would work and even took this picture to document our “first family photo”…

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Not many people get to see their babies as embryos, and I am so incredibly thankful that we got to watch our boys grow, literally from the beginning. As those of you who know us can testify, clearly the procedure worked for us and both of our embryos survived, and here we are as a family of four. We still have one embryo that is frozen and waiting for us. We are trying to decide when we will be ready to go through all of this again, continuing to hope and pray for another successful transfer. The entire IVF process just reminded me how fragile life is and what a miracle my boys truly are.

Unfortunately, just the day after our transfer, my Uncle Ken unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack. It was a devastating shock to our family and he is missed every single day. However, shortly after he passed away I found out that my IVF procedure worked and we were pregnant with not only one, but two babies. I like to think that God knew my family would need a reason to be joyful in the midst of their sadness, so he blessed us with Reed and Rory. It was interesting to mourn the passing of a loved one, yet rejoicing simultaneously for the conception of our miracle babies. In September of that year the twins were born, and two weeks later, on October 6, my Grandma Mary passed away. This was also a devastating blow to our family and still makes me tear-up every time I think about her. Once again, it was amazing to walk through the grieving process while also reveling in the joy of being a new Mom to my boys. I believe that the timing in both of these scenarios was in no way a coincidence, but that the Lord gave us these children at just the time when our family needed them most. Our boys are such a blessing to us and our extended families. Here is a current family photo…

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Thank you Lord for blessing us with these two babies. You are always faithful in our time of need. Always.

-Heather

That Time I Had Peanut Butter on My Sleeve…

…That was last Thursday. I had fed the boys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that afternoon, which, of course, turned into a peanut butter nightmare. It was all over my house. And I thought it had even gotten on me during one of the many hugs and kisses my boys gave me during this whole fiasco. But I examined my clothing and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I thought I was good! I went along the rest of the day, welcomed my Huz home from work and headed off to worship practice at church. When I got home, one of the first things Ronnie said to me was, “What is that all over your arm?” It was peanut butter. ALL over the back of my sleeve, just out of my line of sight. No one at worship practice said anything. Maybe they didn’t see it! Or maybe they did. Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s just peanut butter. And it’s a beautiful picture of my life. I am now someone I never thought I’d have the privilege of being… a Mom 🙂 Which means that sometimes I am going to go out in public with peanut butter on my sleeve. And you know what? That’s okay.

But just as a final side note, I will never ever ever again feed my boys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches unless they are restrained in their highchairs. 😉

-Heather

A Happy New Year

It appears as though I completely forgot about my blog over the Fall and early Winter, so to the 3 people who actually follow this blog, my most sincere apologies. Christmas is over and it is officially 2015. One of my (few) resolutions for the new year is to update my blog on a weekly basis. I don’t know how realistic that is, but it’s a goal I will strive for. I love to write. And at least 1 person told me they enjoy reading my blog and wished I wrote more. So even if it’s just for myself and this 1 other person, I want to put my words out there. I’m hoping that something that I post will make a difference in someone’s life, or at least put a smile on someone’s face.

The twins are now 15 months old and a bundle of joyous energy. They are toddling around everywhere and on the verge of running. As soon as they can figure out how to get their little legs to move faster, they’ll be even more challenging to chase around :). They are also into everything and climbing on top of every piece of furniture that they possibly can. Reed is the more quiet of the 2 boys, but when he speaks (or screams), it is for all to hear. He loves to push buttons and is obsessed with remote controls and phones. He enjoys playing peek-a-boo and keep away, and absolutely loves splashing in the bathtub. Reed has his Daddy’s brown eyes and I melt every time I gaze into them. He and his brother both love to read, which makes me incredibly proud. Rory enjoys making animal noises (particularly quacking like a duck) and he loves to ask for something to eat by calling everything “nana.” He uses baby sign-language for “please,” “more” and “food.” But most of all, Rory keeps us on our toes. Aside from being incredibly accident-prone, he is the biggest baby goofball of all time and loves to tease everyone. He is quite the naughty little boy and loves to get a rise out of people by disobeying and then laughing about it. If I didn’t know any better, it’s as if my sister, Holly’s, mischievous spirit was reincarnated in my son. Regardless of his antics, we love this little guy and all that he adds to our family. Enjoy these pics of my favorite little men…

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Recently we spent Christmas in Northwest with both of our families. We were able to spend some time with my family in Vancouver, Washington, and were able to spend an entire week in Salem, Oregon, with Ronnie’s family. It was so fun to see the twins run around and play with their cousins, some of which they hadn’t seen in over a year! I wish these get-togethers were more frequent, but we will continue to cherish the limited time we have with our families and soak it in as much as possible. We were able to get updated family photos, which hasn’t happened in about 5 years, and I will post those as soon as we get them back from the photographer. We also took the boys to the Salem Riverfront Carousel for their first carousel ride. They were pretty hesitant during the ride and were crying to get off by the end, not to mention Ronnie and I were both sick to our stomachs, so we opted out of a second ride 😉 I still don’t know how I used to ride the Scrambler and the Tilt-a-Whirl over and over as a kid, and now I can’t even go around in a circle without feeling dizzy and nauseous. Anyway, it was great to spend some time in Salem as a little family of 4. The time there was very nostalgic for Ronnie and I, as it had been exactly 10 years since we had gotten engaged. We drove around West Salem looking at Christmas lights and drove past Green Villa Barn, our beautiful wedding reception site, out in Independence. We had some great quality time and conversations with our sisters and brothers-in-law, and were able to spend quite a bit of time loving on our nieces and nephews. During the course of our trip, we drank a lot of coffee, beer and wine, ate a lot of Wallery’s pizza and even enjoyed some delicious cake from Konditorei. One of our favorite nights was an adults-only late-night trip to the Deschutes Brew Pub in downtown Portland. I so love our families and already miss them terribly. But I am thankful for the memories made… those are the things that I will hold close until we can all be together again. Here are some of my pictures from our Christmas vacation…

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I don’t know what exactly this year is going to hold, but I am just enjoying each day as it comes. I just want to be mindful and thankful of the blessings I have been given… I have 2 beautiful babies and a wonderful husband who I truly love more dearly with each passing year. Ronnie and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage this July, which means that I have spent 1/3 of my life with him. Wow. I am honored to call him my husband and so blessed to be able to spend my life with him. Here is a picture of just us… 🙂

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Happy New Year to you and yours, from me and mine.

-Heather

In the Summertime

Over the Summer we were blessed by many visitors, family and friends alike. Ronnie’s parents and sister were the first to visit and we had some wonderful quality time together. I loved watching my parents-in-law interacting with the Twins, whether reading to them, feeding them a bottle or just plain lovin’ on them 🙂 We took them up the mountain tram at Alyeska for a true “Alaskan” experience and had a reunion with a bunch of their family members who live in Wasilla. They happened to be here during the JBER Air Show, which was definitely a site to see! They were also here to celebrate my 32nd Birthday and treated us to a wonderful dinner at a brewpub in downtown Anchorage. Our time together was so special and, as always, went by much too quickly. Here are some highlights I was able to capture from their visit…

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After the Millers left, we welcomed the Lamberts to Alaska! We enjoyed having Ben, Kelly and their adorable kiddos here for a week. We were able to give the twins some great quality time with their cousins and did quite a few trips to the park so the kids could play. We even enjoyed a date night out (sans children 🙂 with Kelly and Ben at the delicious Glacier Brewhouse, our favorite restaurant. That was one of the most enjoyable evenings we’ve had in a long time and we’re so thankful we got to spend it with family. Here are some photos of their visit…

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After the Lamberts left, we had a few down days then welcomed the Loniewskys! They were here for 10 days and had a lot of adventures and day trips. Amy and I spent a lot of time just sitting and talking (our favorite thing) and even squeezed in a coffee date and pedicure! Ronnie and Rob spent a lot of time fishing and did a deep-sea charter down in Seward. Hooray for a freezer stocked with salmon, halibut and rock fish! Everyone was having so much fun that we didn’t actually get a lot of pictures taken together, but we managed to get a few before they left. I think between them and Ronnie there are many more (hopefully some of Amy and I together…), but for now here are a few I happened to have on my phone…

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Our last expected company (my Mom:) comes next week and will be here for the Twins’ First Birthday! We had a fun and busy Summer, are currently enjoying a beautiful Alaskan Autumn, and we are looking forward to hunkering down for the Winter. Thank you to all of our family friends who made it a priority to visit us! We hope to return the favor soon…