Thursday, January 17, 2013

a birth story; my sweet wesley

i am the typical girl when it comes to babies; i "oo" and "coo" and "woo" and get all mushy and happy when i'm holding a baby, especially a newborn baby.

on May 6th when i found out i was pregnant, i couldn't have been more shocked or surprised, but once that wore off the joy and anticipation for what was to come was more than i knew what to do with. On august 16th when we found out "it's a boy"  and we picked the name 'Wesley' i didn't think i could be more thrilled. On January 9th when i knew the contractions were "real" and not just a cruel trick to get my heart pumping, i couldn't imagine what the next 27 hours would be like; after years of reading birth stories online and watching "a baby story" on tlc it was finally my turn...

I went to bed at 10pm on Wednesday January 9th with mild contractions that had been coming off and on for a few hours, but i wasn't getting my hopes up, i was 2 days past my due date and had already gone through a couple bouts with false labor. almost as soon as i was in bed the contractions started coming at a very consistent rate. i kept glancing at the clock and thinking "man these feel quick...". after half an hour i got up and grabbed my phone off the charger and started using my "contraction timer" app. Dean came to bed at about 11:30 and my contractions were averaging every 6-7 minutes and lasting 45-65 seconds... and they felt completely different than any contractions i had previously experienced. I tried to relax and go to sleep, but sleep wouldn't come...only contractions that seemed to get more painful each time... after tossing and turning for another hour i got up and went in the nursery to sit on a yoga ball and try to let Dean sleep. 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am.... i climbed back in bed at 4:30am after hours of non-stop contractions and every imaginable position a yoga ball and rocking chair can offer... i contractions started becoming less frequent, but not less intense, every 7-10minutes but lasting 65-70 seconds. I got up to pee at 5:45am and could see the dawn trying to peek up out our bathroom window. I prayed for sleep. I got back in bed and the next thing i knew i was waking up to Dean's alarm and another contraction at 7:30am...i had slept! Not incredibly restful, but sleep it was! Dean asked if i was still having contractions and when i said "yes. right now!" He said he wouldn't be going to work and we both snuggled in and tried to sleep for another hour and a half. We staggered out of bed at 9 and tried not to be as tried as we felt. I had my 40 week Doctor appointment scheduled for 10:30 and figured we could wait until then to figure out if it was false labor or not... we packed up the car with the hospital bags and car seat just in case...
just before leaving for the hospital. 40weeks 3days

By the time we arrived at the clinic for my appointment my contractions were pretty inconsistent, but not any less painful. my (incredible, amazing, awesome) Dr checked me and i was 3cm and 80% effaced... she said it was safe to say (based on the night before) that i was in active labor!!! Woo-hoo! she called Labor & Delivery and they had no patients and said i could come over and get checked in! Dean and i made our way from the clinic to L&D with small talk and both secretly wondering what was ahead for us that day... baby time?! now? really?

We got checked in to our room and answered the nurses questions as she hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and contraction monitor. Dean was a week overdue for a hair cut and since Dr Goodwin said it would be an hour before she could come check me and see how things were progressing i sent him off for a haircut and to grab a couple random things from home!

He came back with a nice haircut and my laptop... we needed to watch a video to get "in the mood" for what was ahead...

Now, i have always been and advocate for "natural child birth" and had recently watched the documentary "the Business of Being Born" and it only fueled my confidence in my body's ability to have a low- no intervention child birth experience. I wasn't afraid of the pain, i knew my body was created to have babies and i was fairly confident that i could push through and handle whatever was around the corner.

 Dr Goodwin came to check on me and as irony would have it... i hadn't had a contraction in about an hour... so we decided to break my water and get things moving... my husband is a bit of a comedian and decided that was called "pregnancy soup"... sure enough the contractions started up again and we walked the halls and sat on a yoga ball while they progressed. Another hour went by and my dr came back to check me again... no change. 3cm 80%. we decided that starting a low dose IV of Pitocin wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, with my water broke i couldn't go home and didn't want to be at 3cm forever...

Everyone says that Pitocin contractions are more painful and intense than without it, but my contractions had been painful (on a scale of 1-10 i was at a 8) from the start on Wednesday night. Pitocin just made them more frequent... and then started hours and hours of contractions that were 1minute apart and lasting 60-70 seconds every time. walking helped, but the contractions had me nearly on the floor. the yoga ball was comfy, but my legs would nearly give out each time. the tub was the best and helped me relax, but i needed something more to hang on to and Dean felt too far away when i was in the water. the bed was my worst enemy. no matter what position i tried i was nearly screaming in pain if i was on the bed.

Dean was the most incredible coach. He constantly reminded me to breath slowly and not to get into panic breathing patterns. i had a hard time following those directions... not having a break in between contractions made it really hard for me to focus on anything, much less breathing slowly.

The hours came and went and i was thinking that i must be having some sort of progress.... 5pm finally rolled around and my Dr came to check me... 4cm 80%. i almost fell over. i couldn't believe i was only at a 4! The next hour was a bit of a blur, but at 5:30 when i was checked again i was at 5cm 90% and that felt like a major jump... however i was nearly in tears with every contraction... my back felt like someone was throwing bricks at it and my lower regions felt like a cat was clawing at me! my Dr asked what i wanted to do... at this point i had nothing for pain and "pushing" seemed like years away. I was still determined to go with out an epidural and felt like i would be "failing" at the perfect birth if i gave in. "Just a while longer". i was determined. another hour went by slowly, with each contraction making me want to scream. Dr Goodwin came back and checked me again and nothing had changed. I was on the verge of tears! Why was it taking FOREVER!?!? We determined that i needed to RELAX... and the tub had been the only way to make that happen, so the (awesome) nurse (Laura) started the water and i bared through a few more contractions. my Dr said "i'm going home to have dinner with my family and (nurse) laura will take good care of you and call me when things change...let's try 20 minutes in the bath and then go from there. make little goals." I got in the tub and the next contraction felt ten times more intense! and the next one. and the next one. each contraction was feeling insane and the pressure in my pelvis had me writhing in pain and nearly biting my husband! I made it 20 minutes in the bath and got out and ready to be checked at 7:30. 8cm 90%. praise the Lord! i was SO relieved to have made a jump and so tired from hours of intense contractions. I powered through a couple more contractions weighing out my strength to keep going with no pain meds or get an epidural and take a break. I decided that i didn't know how long it was going to take to get to where i could push and i didn't have any energy already, and thinking about pushing sounded like climbing a mountain after swimming across Gull Lake. The (amazing) nurse Laura reminded me how long it had been and that i didn't have to be a hero... and that she rarely saw women go as long and hard as i did without begging for an epi. That was enough for me. i asked for the epidural.

By 8pm the anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself and told me "only about 20 minutes and you will be getting some relief".... well, then we got started and he discovered the curvature in my back and i could tell by his voice that meant it was going to take a bit longer. The contractions kept coming every 60 seconds and getting the epidural meant sitting in the most uncomfortable position and baring each contraction while trying to sit still and not move. i tried to keep my cool, but there was definitely a few yelps and screams. because of my spine curvature and constant contractions the anesthesiologist had to try a couple spots with the needle and catheter. After an hour, 3 needle tries, one hitting a blood vessel, hitting a nerve twice and sending when felt like bolts of lightning through my right leg the catheter was in and i had my first trial dose of the epidural... sweet relief! I could have cried from joy! The pain was gone! I still could feel every contraction, but the cat-clawing, brick throwing pain was gone! i relaxed for just over an hour and took two, mini, fifteen minute naps. my sister Carissa and our dear friends Trevor & Anna were in the hall waiting by the time the epidural was in place, so they came in and we chatted for a while. At one point i looked over at Dean, who was sitting down on the couch for the first time all day and said "oh wow, it's kind of like you got an epidural too!" He hadn't sat down to relax in over 8 hours and had been such a strong support to me through every breath and contraction. It made my heart smile to see him relax! Trevor had brought some food, so they all ate "dinner" and we talked about nothing. 

10:15pm Dr Goodwin came back to the hospital and came to check me and see how things were going! She reminded me that taking the epidural didn't mean i failed or had let anyone down. She is a huge advocate for "low intervention" births and told me i was a champ for lasting SO long! She said contractions of that intensity and frequency have the average patient lasting an hour or two... not 8.... that was encouraging. We sent the crew out to the hall so i could be checked and see where we were at. 10cm 100%. ready to push!!! hooray! We did a few practice pushes and scaled back the epidural drip so i could have more control and feel more of the contractions and when they peaked and fell away.

11:00pm I was feeling each contraction much more and was ready to meet my son. the amazing Laura coached me and Dean stood by my side and the pushing began. Laura was INCREDIBLE! She had a bunch of secrets up her sleeve to help me with muscle control and pushing... i know that might sound silly, but i'd never pushed out a baby and discovering muscles you didn't know you had was kind of crazy! We tried a couple different positions for pushing and just kept with each contraction. push for a 10 count, breath and push again. I was getting 3 pushes per contraction and was hoping it helped. Dean kept checking the progress down below and would give me updates on baby's head. He was pretty interested in the whole process. At about 12:30 my Dr came in with full scrubs and glasses on... i knew this meant she wasn't leaving and i must be close! Within a couple contractions and pushes i knew he was crowning and felt the infamous "ring of fire" that i'd heard so much about! Ouch! With each push i thought for sure it was the last one and his head would be out, but not so much, everyone just kept coaching me on my breathing and telling me i was doing awesome. Dean looked at me and said, "babe, his head is RIGHT THERE and it doesn't look very big, you can do this!" He didn't know that was just the top of his head and there was a lot more to come. push. push. push. I knew i had to be getting close... between one set of contractions i put my head back to relax and could hear Dean praying under his breath. I put my hand on my belly and said "common baby, we can do this, common baby!" push. push. push. Laura was on my left and Dean was on my right each helping hold my legs and coaching my breathing. Finally  Dr Goodwin looked up at me and said, "ok girl this is it, you've got this." I knew she was right, but i was feeling so overwhelmed. Laura must have sensed my fatigue and said "ok Cass, let's meet Wesley ok? let's meet your son." That was all it took. With the next contraction i pushed and felt the release of his head! I opened my eyes and saw this little face staring up at me! He was sunny-side-up! No wonder my back labor was so intense! Dr Goodwin wiped off his face and pulled the cord from around his neck. I took a huge breath and let out a victory cry/scream and with that my boy was born! 1:13am. 

 i didn't know if i should cry or laugh or what! My boy was here and my heart was SO full! 15 and a half hours after getting to the hospital for my appointment my sweet Wesley was here! i couldn't believe it. The hours of pain seemed like the blink of an eye and 2hours and 13 minutes of non-stop pushing felt like nothing.
 When they put him on my chest i couldn't believe my eyes. i just looked at him and said "we did it! we're awesome!" He shook and cried and his tiny little lip quivered in this new, cold world. i told him that we lived in Minnesota and that it was cold for most of the year. :)
 He was perfect.

 Dean cut the cord and they took him to be checked over and weighed. I told Dean that i was fine and he should go watch... Wesley was crying and wailing on the warmer. Dean walked over and put his finger in Wesley's hand, "it's ok Wesley, i'm your dad!" with that Mr Wesley stopped crying and gripped his daddy's finger.
 7lbs 6oz ~ 20inches long

proud daddy

his poor little head had been rubbing against my pelvic bone for 3 weeks and during delivery my pelvis didn't open too much so he had a bit of a cone head and some nasty scraps and bruises from the delivery.

me and my boy

Dr. Goodwin! SO AMAZING!

 After an hour of stitching me up (2 lateral tears and an episiotomy)  and putting me back together it was after 2am and we had visitors!
auntie cari
Trevor & Anna

we think baby looks good on them and that Wesley needs a friend ;)
When it was all over i couldn't be more happy and proud. Going in thinking i would have a "low intervention" birth and coming out with pitocin, an epidural and an episiotomy definitely changed my perspective, but i couldn't be more thrilled and happy with my first birth experience.

We stayed at the hospital until Sunday January 13 and were pampered and taken care of my the MOST INCREDIBLE nursing staff!

”BTLU”Thank you everyone who prayed and came to visit, we feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing friends during this exciting time!!!

*** 4-24-13:: want to read more uplifting birth stories? i'm participating in a linkup at Redeeming Childbirth . com  ”BT”

Saturday, January 05, 2013


13. it's supposed to be an "unlucky" number. not really sure why or who started that silliness, but i do know this: 2013 is going to be my favorite year yet... or at least close to it.

13 ingredients to make sure 2013 is top notch:

- Wesley Dean Goossen, you are due to make your arrival any day now and i am eagerly anticipating all the things that come with being your mom. i can't wait. you already have a nickname and i don't think it's going anywhere wes. i'm so curious about all the things you will bring into my heart and life that i haven't expected or imagined and i'm excited to share adventures with you as you grow and learn.

- take a risk or two; live in a place where faith beyond what you know makes each breath more wonderful and each step more free.

- love like i mean it. beyond what is safe. beyond what is comfortable. more than i've given, more than i've got. why hold back in love?  to love relentlessly has got to be better than to never have loved and always wonder it's joy.

- restore. take something that is broken and make it new. better. not a better version of what it once was, completely re-done for something greater than it's originally thought purpose and goal.

- awaken hope. find the embers in the closed up places and hearts and start a fire that cannot be stopped.

- sing in front of people again. it's only been 7 years.

- don't let fear hold me back. it's not worth it. ever.

- be a wife to love. i married for love and am so glad i did. i married a man worth more than i know and more precious to me than any other person the least i could do is be a wife worth loving. serve his heart. look for secret ways to make him come alive. search out the desires in his heart. believe in his dreams. sit in the front row when he preaches. affirm what an incredible leader he is. be a wife that is no burden to love.

- be teachable. i don't know it all. i don't have it figured out. i want to always be learning more than i'm teaching in order that i won't come to a place where i think i have more to offer than people want to hear.

- be soft. not to touch, but in my continence; be approachable and kind.

- go to a different country. it's been too long. take in a culture and embrace a people.

- write a letter to a friend far away. on paper. in the mail. with a stamp.

-  take in each moment with as much joy as a child on Christmas morning... eagerly anticipating what's under the wrapping, not worrying about if it was on the "wish list", but just thankful it was there waiting to be unwrapped.

cheers 2013. cheers to you. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

re-post wednesday

recently it seems like my words do not fall together in the rhythm they once knew. not only in my like of writing but even in my speech. it might be all in my head, but it's the truth. the desire to write is there, the words just seem to be falling flat.

june 2010 was an interesting month for me, and now being a year away from it, i love it very dearly. i love what God did in me. i love the challenges i faced, as bizarre and unexpected as they were. i love all that has happened between then and now. i love that water under the bridge and time under a band-aid heals wounds. it's a marvelous thing to be able to look back; especially when your vision has been sharpened, your heart has been massaged into something softer and your perspective has gained some altitude.

today has been that kind of a day. a looking back day. the last 6 months. the last 8 months and the last year and a half. perhaps it's because i have a unique ability to remember things in extreme detail and remember dates with an uncanny quickness or perhaps it's because because the summer of 2010 will not quickly be forgotten. whatever it is, i decided to venture into the blog roll from last summer to see what i saw then and how i see it now.

the following post made me cry. it made my heart skip a beat. it made a funny "i remember that" smile cross my face. and then there was a sigh. a deep, long sigh... as if to say "thank you Lord that you never leave us where we are when we say Yes to you, but instead you pull us forward."



un-worthy. truly thankful.

this last week has been interesting. i have been overwhelmed by one thought:

i am not worthy to receive this grace or love, yet i can't go on without it.

through a series of rather unexpected events and crazy conversations i have had an intense week. the deepest part of my soul gave way and i feel my depth of understanding has deepened.

have you ever com face to face with the ugly truth that you are not perfect? as much as i know this fact and have known this fundamental truth that no one is so, i sometimes get caught in the comparison game. i think that because i have not done "this" or "that" i have earned the right to stand taller.

i sin.

it's the plain truth.

we all sin.

however after years in the church and years of knowing my salvation i had somewhere along the way lost sight of the fact that i am (always) in desperate need of grace and forgiveness. i don't know if repentance became routine or if my sin somehow seemed smaller, but somewhere along the way i lost the depth of the cross.

it seems impossible. it's the cross. it's the foundation of my salvation. it's the emblem of my faith. how could i have lost that? as crazy as it sounds the depth of the meaning of the cross got lost somewhere in my pursuit of the One who hung on it.

this week something happened inside me. it felt like an odd combination of a swift kick in the rear and heart surgery.

i have work to do! i have a calling and a purpose that is greater than i know or could imagine! i have work to do! what makes me worthy of the anointing i desire? what makes me able to GO and DO what God asks me to do?

as much as i can't earn anointing or favor by doing good things or praying over X amount of students, i can control the contents of my character. the content of my character must be able to hold the weight of an anointing and the power of Christ in me.

a while back i wrote a this post about grace. the grace of God has been something that i have been searching out, reading about, listening to messages about and talking about in a pretty huge way for about nine months. this week i experienced that grace in a way i can't remember experiencing any other time up until now.

the grace of God is meant to compel us to righteous living not give us a reason to continue in sin. (Romans 6)

that is something i have "known" in my head for a long time. i do my best to pursue righteous living. i strive to seek first the kingdom of God. i also try not to be a repeater of sin. i said it yesterday like this;

sin is a swamp. icky. stinky. gross. at any point i can be in that swamp by the choices i make. at the edge of that swamp is a meadow or righteous life. it's beautiful green grass blowing in the warm summer breeze. it smells like something sweet is about to happen there. if i am in the swamp the grace of God does not come from the meadow, stand at the edge of the swamp and shout at me to come get it. it does not come into the swamp for a moment so that i can taste it and then run back to the meadow as if it was teasing me. it does not stay in the meadow and ignore the swamp. the grace of God comes into the swamp and envelopes me right where i am at. and it stays with me. it does not like the swamp. it does not justify being in the swamp. it does not encourage me to come back to the swamp for a visit in the future. it compels me towards a righteous life. it compels me to come back to the meadow with it, not looking back at the swamp. grace, it encourages me to strain my neck and look at the golden sun setting in the far off horizon of the green meadow.

this picture has been so vivid in my mind this week. i can't pin-point the moment it became as clear as it is now, but what i do know is at the recognition of this picture came a flood of tears. because in that swamp i can do nothing. in that swamp i cannot be good enough for grace to get me. i smell as bad as what i am sitting in and the sweet smelling grace of God comes to me. i can do nothing but welcome and receive it with open arms. the worst i could do is to stay in the swamp and invite grace to join me. the worst i can do is to justify how i got there and why i choose to stay. the worst i can do is deny the compelling life grace has to offer me away from the swamp.

of this i am un-worthy. of this i am truly thankful.

without the cross there is no real grace. without real grace there is no real life.

i have work to do! i have an anointing and calling! i have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me ready to use me to change my generation! i cannot do these things and live the life i dream of sitting in a swamp. my character will be strengthened in the walk from the swamp to righteousness. my character will grow through the difficult situations i face. the content of my character will grow when i can stand in humility and say "i was in the swamp, but NOW i choose righteousness."

my prayer is that i will never take for granted the work of the cross. my prayer is that i can walk in the anointing. i can embrace the calling. i can operate in the power. my prayer is that through grace righteousness would compel me again and again away from the swamp.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

it's a new word.

closer-ish. (noun) a describing word. closer in proximity. closer in countries. closer in time zones. the new distance that two people are physically from each other.
Cassie is so happy that her sister is now closer-ish.

This word and definition actually apply to both my sisters in this picture...

...however today i am especially thankful that my sister
(the one to the right of me) is closer-ish.
She just arrived home from Argentina; it's been entirely too long since i have seen her!
(the one in the pink) is currently in Denver CO with YWAM...
which also makes her closer-ish to my current location.


Yup, i'm still here.
Sometimes silent in the blogging world, but alive and well; shivering my way through the
Minnesota Spring and praying Summer comes soon.

Monday, March 07, 2011

minnesota when.

i've been writing this post in my head for 2 months now, it's time to get it out there.

you know you live in minnesota when...

- you become an "old lady" within the first week of living here because you use a heating blanket and humidifier every night.

- you go for a drive with your fiance and see 10,000 (literally) people standing on a frozen lake in a competition ice fishing tournament.

- it's -36* on the said day of the ice fishing tournament.

- across the highway from the said ice fishing tournament there is another frozen lake... with rows and rows of parked CARS/TRUCKS/BUSES & SUVS from the said 10,000 people who are fishing on the other lake.

- one day it is 31* and while out for a drive you say to your fiance "it makes me so happy that it has warmed up enough for the kids to play in the snow."

- you get to work and can't find a parking spot close to the door because there are 100 snow mobiles in the parking lot. the drivers/riders are all inside having dinner.

- snow mobile-ing is not just for sport in minnesota, it's also a means of "normal" transportation and NOT uncommon to see them at the grocery store, the tanning salon, Wal- Mart, Dairy Queen and parked along the street in front of people's houses.

- by some miracle of Jesus the second week in February the weather warms up to 45*, this for "normal" minnesotians is the que for SHORTS, FLIP-FLOPS, T-SHIRTS and leaving the house without a fuzzy hat & scarf.

- a week after the 45* weather it's a blizzard outside and you insist to your fiance that it's not that bad and you can make it the 18 mile drive home just fine. you promise to go slow and proceed to take off into the pitch black and snowinglikecrazy night. 48 minutes later you make it home. On the way you realize your fiance man was right and it was CRAZY to try and drive in weather like this! here's why;
A. the wind was whipping so hard you were certain you were going to take flight.
B. the snow was blowing in EVERY direction (Up, Down, Sideways to the Left and Right) making it nearly impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead of the car.
C. on the 9 miles of county highway between "town" and your road you see exactly 1 other car, no snow-plows, no snow-mobiles, no big trucks, nothing. (this is VERY rare for this hwy).
D. you realize multiple times that you can't tell where the side of the road is... on either side, and due to the fact that traffic is non existent you decided that driving down the middle of the road (or what you hope is the middle) is the safest bet.
E. Once you turn onto your road you realize NO ONE has driven on this road since the blizzard started 5 hours ago. Once again you decide the "middle" is your best bet.
F. the normal 2 minutes it takes to get from the hwy to your drive way takes nearly 15 minutes.

- the ground under the hwy freezes to deep/hard/insanely that the road actually "buckles" causing a "speed bump" effect for 3 miles.

- it's your dad's birthday (March 6th) and you realize you have never seen so much snow on the ground on this day in your life, and just when you think "that's insane!" it starts snowing. and doesn't stop for 12 hours.

- contrary to popular belief Hockey is actually a sport and people play it, follow it, drive hours to see it and keep track of what teams are doing well. weird, i know.

- also contrary to popular belief Hockey is something people start playing when they are 5-6years old, kind of like t-ball where i come from. They play the regular season, get on select teams, travel all over to play it and spend way too much money 0n gear.

- tanning is a hobby. it's something to do when there is nothing else you want to leave your house to do. everyone tans. grandma's, grandpa's, chef's at high end restaurants, the verizon guy, the starbucks manager, the bass player in the band and the 13 year old girl (with her mom's consent of course). everyone is tan. always.

other random facts about living in minnesota,
- it hasn't rained once in 3 months since i moved here.
- i NEVER leave the house without a coat, gloves, a scarf and sometimes a hat.
- i also never leave the house without starting my car at least 15 minutes before i have to leave.
- i sat in an indoor/outdoor hot-tub one night. My hair froze. i didn't even stick my head in the water and my hair froze.

that's all for now, but i'm sure there are more. i'll write the Summer edition once i've lived past this LONG, LONG winter!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

love. life.

so this is love? i'm so blessed.

it's been awhile since posting about my fantastic engagement.
life has had it's ups and also some downs.
i find it hard to write when i don't know how to feel.
not having consistent internet did not help either.
so here i am at 1:52am on a thursday night,
dusting off the blog and being determined to tell you all about the exciting life i live,
and the glorious things God is doing!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

thank you?

I'm ENGAGED and here's the story....

Monday December 27, 2010

The day started with sleeping in and yummy breakfast....

Wait, back up a minute... Dean and i had been planning for weeks that Monday would be the day we went out on our "hot" date! For weeks I had been going back and forth in my head answering the looming question "when is he going to ask me?". By the time Monday arrived I had pretty much convinced myself that he did not have the ring and that he was not planning a Colorado proposal.

We ate breakfast and headed out on our adventure; I was excited to experience Colorado Springs from his perspective and see all the sights that i had heard so much about. We started the day by stopping at a frozen lake and walked out on the ice to a gazebo...i was freaking out because it was 45* outside and we were walking on ice!!!! After i had freaked out and we had explored the park near the frozen lake we headed down the mountain. Next stop was a trip to the Focus on the Family head-quarters; I have been looking forward to visiting "Whit's End" for as long as i can remember and i was like a little kid anticipating Christmas. We mosied around Focus on the Family for a while and once my childhood dream seem fulfilled we headed out for lunch and the next stop.

I have seen pictures of Garden of the Gods for many years and with my love and longing for Smith Rocks fresh in my head i was delighted to see all the sights and take a million pictures of the big red rock formations. Dean grew up visiting the Garden of the Gods all the time and shared so many memories with me :) We had so much fun! As we left the thought crossed my mind, "goodness we have been to a million beautiful places today... you would think..." I decided not to get my hopes up and enjoy my date with my man!

As we continued to drive around my heart was so happy listening to my man tell so many stories about the city he grew up in! The sun was setting and the stars started popping out as we drove up a hill to the middle of the city. Dean had played pranks with friends at the park on the hill and i was cracking up listening to him relive his teenage days. Again the thought crossed my mind, "this is so beautiful..." Just as before i shook the thought out of my head and focused on my man!

After star-gazing and admiring all the lights of Colorado Springs Dean said he wanted to take me one more place before dinner. After a bit of a drive we headed up into the mountains and into an incredible canyon filled with Christmas lights on display and elves taking donations to view the sights. As we parked the car i casually asked Dean if he thought i would need my camera he replied with "you might regret it if you don't bring it." i was CLUELESS to the hidden meaning of the statement! As we walked up the hill full of beautiful lights i was aw struck by the cliff face and magic of the season. We headed up an elevator to an observation deck overlooking 7 amazing waterfalls! Not only do i LOVE waterfalls, but i also LOVE Christmas lights, so the combination was incredible! I was taking pictures of everything i saw and was totally ooblivious to my increasingly nervous boyfriend! After we had frozen our noses sufficiently we walked into the gift shop to look at the cheesy overpriced things gift shops sell. I found a fake diamond the size of my fist and proceeded to joke around about it being my engagement ring. Dean took pictures of this silly girl being a dork with a fake diamond, totally oblivious to what was about to happen. When nothing else looked interesting enough to ponder, Dean insisted that we go back out and find someone to take some pictures of us with the waterfalls in the background. Amazingly, we found a real photographer who actually knew how to use my camera. He was more than happy to snap a few photos of us and when i switched some settings he asked if we wanted a few more and Dean replied "will you take a couple more?". Evidently that is man code for "i'm going to propose" because the guy figure out what was about to happen and happy took pictures of what unfolded next.... Dean stepped back into frame and instead of smiling at the camera he looked at me and said, "Girlfriend. Remember the day you asked me out? That was the day i realized i never wanted to live another day without you." With my mind whirling and my hands shaking Dean got down on one knee and asked the question every little girl dreams of hearing, "Will you marry me?" He proceeded to pull a ring from his pocket and slip it onto my freezing finger. I was in complete shock. It felt totally surreal and magical. I said a very quick and excited "yes!" and with that Dean stood up and planted a very romantic smooch on my quivering lips. I didn't know what to say or do, so i looked at him and said "Thank You?". We laughed and the 25 people standing around to witness our happiness proceeded into a resounding "Congratulations!". Our new photographer friend handed the camera back to me and with a congrats. He proceeded to tell Dean that he figured out what was up and was ready for it! :) After i put my camera away i realized it was dark and i couldn't see my ring... I grabbed Dean's hand and rushed for the elevator platform to i could check out the bling. Needless to say, i was IMPRESSED! The ring is EXACTLY what i wanted... stunning and shiny!

The next two hours were spent in total bliss. We went out to dinner but were both so excited it was hard to eat! After dinner we called family and friends to tell the great news; WE'RE ENGAGED!
(pictures coming soon!)