Unanswered Prayers

Img70317For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom.  I dreamed of a little tribe of mini-me’s and all of the wonderful adventures we would have.  Holidays would be the best kind of chaos, family trips would create memories for a lifetime and our house would never have a dull moment.  So, when my husband and I found out I was pregnant after one short year of marriage (SURPRISE!!), I was thrilled that my dreams were coming true.  After a very healthy pregnancy and delivery, we were parents to the most beautiful little boy in the world!  William had arrived and just like that, we were a family of three!!

Chaos definitely ensued, parenthood was more than we imagined it to be and we were totally ready to keep growing our little family.  After a few years, with total confidence, we started planning for our next baby.  We carefully chose when we’d start trying and based on round one, we were sure it’d be just as easy.   I remember thinking, “this family planning stuff is a breeze!”

Well, round two did not go as planned.  In fact, after a year of doctor visits, we were shocked to learn, baby number two wasn’t actually going to happen.  Confirmed by every doctor and specialist in the state, I was not going to have another baby.  To say I was devastated is an enormous understatement. You know that type of sadness that literally hurts your heart and paralyzes you with depression?  That was me.  I was wrecked and deeply mourning the family I never had.  But lets not get into that.  That’s not what this blog is about.

So, after some time, my depression turned into anger.  Then, thankfully, my anger turned into motivation and that’s when I decided to get to work.  We actively researched and prayed about growing our family.  We explored our options, weighed the pros and cons, etc.  We were not going to give up on baby number 2.  So….we decided to adopt!!!   It was a whole new approach, but we were sure it was the right one!

After months and months of planning, meetings with lawyers, approvals, training, etc.,  it finally happened! Someone had picked us!!! I remember getting a note from a young woman telling me she had just had a beautiful baby boy and found our family profile on an adoption website.  She asked if we were interested in meeting and of course we cleared our calendar for whatever worked best for her.   She was kind, well-spoken, funny and full of love.  She had been through so much and still, was only worried about what was best for her baby.  I was so impressed with her selfless approach.  After a long conversation, I remember her letting me hold her baby for the first time and I immediately fell in love.  Like the first time I held William, it was a true, honest, unconditional love that happens so rarely in life. After spending quite some time together, James’ biological mom made what I can only imagine would be the most difficult decision of her life.  She asked us to be his forever family!
2013 holiday card james perf smile And just like that, there he was.  Baby number two.  He was more than we could have hoped for and the perfect person to complete our family.  James had finally arrived and we were a grateful, humbled, complete family of four.

There is SO much more to this story, but you get the point.  I purposefully kept many details out because, quite frankly, much of the story is just too sad.  And also, I want to protect our family’s privacy and the privacy of James’ biological family (who, by the way, are truly amazing.  We love them dearly and still have a wonderful relationship).  However, the reason I decided to share just enough of our story was because I know everyone has their own version of this story.  We all have that moment in life when our dreams are shattered or when depression gets the best of you.  Nobody is immune to heartache. So, I told my story to offer some hope, to whatever gets you down.  Because my darkest moments brought more love and joy than I could have ever dreamed of.  The adoption process reminded me to expect the best from others, not the worst.  James’ biological family proved that there are indeed incredible, selfless, loving people in this world.  And when I was on my knees begging God for a baby, convinced he was ignoring me, little did I know, sweet baby James was already in the works.  I am so thankful that my prayers to get pregnant and have another baby were never answered.  Had they been, our family would be missing a vital link.  James isn’t just another person, he’s the perfect person to complete our family.   It really is true
….some of God’s GREATEST gifts are unanswered prayers.

Family

With hope, gratitude and love,

Erin

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What’s a Hoosier Anyway?

Last week my family and I set out on our longest road trip to date. Minneapolis, MN to Bloomington, IN.   I can’t believe I didn’t discuss road trips in my earlier blogs . . . isn’t this the season dedicated to hours in the car eating junk food, listening to the radio and counting cows?! I feel like it’s a rite of passage for every American child, and mine were totally up for the challenge.

Backing out of the driveway, my hubby had ‘Holiday Road’ blaring from the speakers (all great road trips must pay homage to Nat’l Lampoons Vacation, whether Aunt Edna is with you or not) and both boys were armed with their favorite movies, headphones and snacks for days. I planned to use these hours to catch up on email, sort through photos on my phone and make sure our family calendar was on point when we returned. But, as always, motion sickness set in half way through my first email and in lieu of being productive, I counted cows.

I feel like when we travel, we throw all rules out the windows. Bed times, nutrition, screen time, all take a back seat to accommodate the road trippin’ timeline. So, when we made our first stop in Chicago, already past the boy’s bedtime, it was fitting that we entered the lobby of the hotel to some serious bass, dark lights and a bar full of 20-somethings in their finest “I’m looking for a date” fashions. The lobby bar was a total club scene and there I stood with my family, covered in chip crumbs, ice cream spills and backpacks full of stuffed animals and dinosaurs. (Parenthood Erin blog 3 fireworkssure does change a Saturday night.) We definitely cramped the cool-kids weekend vibes and found immediate refuge up a few levels in our room. My kids were thrilled to be up way past their bed time, ordering pizza in bed and watching the Olympics. And if that wasn’t good enough, just like in a movie, outside our huge picture window, over-looking Lake Michigan, a fireworks show erupted right in front of us and for the first time in 8 hours, we were all silent, staring out the window. What a treat!! I could get used to this. But all good things must come to an end and all good kids must hit the hay (as my dad would say), lights were soon out and we were all happily in bed.

Erin blog 3 Chi2The next day, we had breakfast in bed, went swimming in the rooftop pool and took the boys on the Navy Pier ferris wheel before packing back up. Next stop: Bloomington, IN. The home of Indiana University, my husband’s Alma Mater. He’s a third generation Hoosier and couldn’t be more proud. By the time we Erin blog 3 ferrisarrived on campus, he was already plotting out what fraternity our boys would pledge, where they will live on campus and how to get the best seats at Assembly Hall for a little IU Bball. (Side note: I really love his love of his school, but grooming our boys this early in life is just not fair to me and my hometown University of MN Golden Gopher pride. Not to mention, I’ll never stop crying if my boys move that far away from me. A counter plan to keep my boys in MN begins now . . . I’ll keep you posted on the progress.) We quickly jumped out of the car and did a walking tour Erin blog 3 IU familythrough campus. Even though IU is a rival Big Ten school to my U o MN, I have to admit, that campus is beautiful!!! After a dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, my husband took the boys to the book store to load up on all things Hoosier red and white. Outfits, posters, stuffed animals (are you kidding me?? This is too much), my boys emerged from the store looking like the newest freshman recruits. We checked IU off our road trip list and got to bed, the next day we were taking off for destination number three.

Erin blog 3 hoosier bothErin blog 3 hoosier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Wawasee, in Syracuse, IN is where my husband spent every summer of his childhood. Leaving IU and driving north to Lake Wawasee, my boys were already in their swim trunks, sunscreen on, ready to dive into the Erin blog 3 slidewater as soon as we arrived. Pulling into the cottage my husband spent weeks at as a kid, we made this insanely long road trip, worth every minute. The lake is clear and clean, there are boats and jet skis and toys for everyone. And the cottage is a perfect setting to enjoy the final few days of summer.

Erin blog 3 dock goproErin blog 3 lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

My oldest, William, has a brand new Go Pro that he proudly wore as he jumped in the lake and sped around on the jet ski. James, our baby (fine. He’s almost 5, but will always be my baby) worked up the courage to make the giant lily pad his stomping grounds. We swam, boated, ate and repeated for 36 Erin blog 3 jetskihours! It was mostly marvelous, with just a few minor meltdowns. I mean no family of four can go 36 hours without a few meltdowns over whose turn it is anyway and who was really responsible for dropping the brand new Go Pro and letting it sink to the bottom of the lake . . . right? Right. Other than a few minor mishaps, we returned each night to the cottage a brand new shade of tan (even though we wear a lot of sunscreen) and a whole new level of exhausted.

It was bittersweet packing up for our final voyage, not only because I simply adore time with my three boys, but also because Syracuse, IN to Minneapolis, MN is no joke. About 10 hours, with stops and a nasty rain storm, to get back to home sweet home. But on our way home, there was definitely a sense of pride from all four of us. The kids were thrilled with the new adventures and are already plotting ways to permanently eat breakfast in bed. My husband was beaming with pride that his family had a blast in his favorite state. And I, to be real honest, am thrilled that I was able to keep this family unit in one piece, without massive meltdown for a total of 1000+ miles across the Midwest. Phew.

Erin blog 3 kiss

Thanks for taking this road trip with me! Next stop: Vancouver with my college roomies . . .

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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Here goes nothing . . .!

When I first learned I would be writing a blog, I immediately knew I’d dedicate the entire blog to fashion. It’s my not-so-secret obsession and playing dress up every day sounds like heaven to me. But in the spirit of summer and truly introducing myself to you, I have to start at home. I have to start with my sweet little family, otherwise known as, Team Newburg.

erin collageTeam Newburg

erin boatAs much as I adore the sunshine and energy of summer, when you’re raising two boys, a husband and a German Shepherd, summer is also a time of insect collections, bug bites, melt-downs, wrestling matches, dirt and bizarre smells.  I mean, seriously bizarre smells.  The boys literally never stop moving.  Even though I’ve been known to have a bit of energy myself, keeping up with these variables (a.k.a. my kids) is no joke.  For erin bikeexample, yesterday was a fairly basic day for us.  We went to two parks, took a bike ride, had ice cream, baseball practice, hockey practice (it never ends!), and played on the trampoline…then the boys asked, what’s next?  Next???  Give a girl a break.  I was thinking a glass of rosé on the patio was a great next…Instead, the boys had to undress outside and get hosed down before I’d let them in the house.  By the time their bath was over,erin ice cream ‘dinner’ was served (we’ll get to my culinary skills, or lack-thereof, later) and bed-time rituals ensued. When they were both finally asleep, so was I…..

erin poolAh, summer. It’s here in all of its glory!  I learned many years ago to throw in the towel of any sort of order in our home and surrender to the chaos. It’s way more fun for all of us and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

From the pool to the bike trails, boating to vacations, sports to the BBQ, our summer game is on!!

erin trampoline

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here goes nothing!

 

 

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