Thursday, June 22, 2017

Camping with my Mr. North Dakota

I recently had my very first camping experience. Yep, that's right. I am 25 years old and it was my first time camping. As you probably know, I am from the desert. And although Vegas has nice parks and great hiking spots, the snakes, scorpions and 100+ degree temperatures don't really make for an ideal camping situation. I was so excited that I even let my husband do most of the packing because he was the expert of the two of us. Jake wanted us to have the "real" experience which apparently meant having no extra blankets or an air mattress. That's right, I had a sleeping bag, pillow and the nice hard ground! As you can imagine, that night was rough. It was quite chilly too. But as I woke up, I loved feeling the warm sunshine and hearing the birds chirp that beautful morning. And, although my body was a little sore from sleeping on the ground, I knew I couldn't complain. There are people who sleep on the ground every day because that's all they have. It was uncomfortable, but it was a fresh perspective and a chance to be greatful for the something I often don't think twice about- my bed. 

Sometimes the simplest of moments can remind us of the blessings we often overlook.

The next day, we went on a bike ride with our dog, Koda. Last year we trained him to run beside our bikes as we rode around town. So, this year, we were thrilled to take him on a real bike trail. After a good long ride around the lake, we headed for the trail. By this time, Koda was pretty tired, and as we slowed down our pace, we noticed the cutest couple riding their bikes in front of us. They were stopping every few minutes to look at the trees and take pictures and just simply enjoy nature. As we caught up to them and passed their bikes, we noticed that they have the EXACT same bikes that Jake and I had and even the same colors. As I saw that, I had a thought of our future. Someday I hope we will be like that couple that isn't too old or bored with life to go on a bike ride and simply enjoy nature together. 

At my age, things are always busy. Getaways seem few and far between. And when you have kids, they become your life (or so I've heard). But after the kids are gone and I am a cute old person (that has aged very gracefully), it will just me and Jake again. 

My prayer is that as the years go by, my husband and I remember to love each other like we were young, appreciate the simple joys in life, and always go on bike rides together. 

My first camping experience turned out to be a great getaway and a chance to reflect on life. ❤

Until next time,
Turning Moments Into Movements

Angelina Yarbrough 
Mrs. North Dakota International 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children-all of our children-a better world.  Even if it’s difficult…That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents.  We try.  We hope.” –Barack Obama
As Father’s Day approaches, I have been thinking about my dad and the “leading men” in my life that make it all worthwhile.  Sometimes it easy to overlook all the things that dads do. The things they do are often intangible and done quietly and in the background.  To the men that love, encourage, and inspire, thank you for making a difference and Happy Father’s Day!
A story from my childhood that I will always remember is my first theatre experience, when I was about 3 years old.  My dad took me to Annie at Sleepy Hallow Theatre, in Bismarck. On the way in to the show, I tripped and fell. I cut my chin and it blead a lot! I actually still have a small scar to show for it.  We never made it to the show. I know that night did not turn out exactly as he had planned, but I so appreciate that he wanted me to see the show and spend the time with me. I am grateful for love and support, over the years. I am sure he is happy that I have gained the poise to attend most events, without needing a paramedic!  
My Grandpa has also had a huge impact on my life.  He has an incredible zest for life and his energy is contagious.  He has been a source of constant teasing and endless support.  We always spend the holidays together and we always play a game or have some sort of challenge.  My grandpa is super competitive, but what he loves most is to see his kids and grandkids laughing and enjoying the company of one another.  
I have been fortunate to have the encouragement and support of some amazing men, who have played a part in shaping me into the person I am today.  You have certainly made my world a better place! Happy Father’s Day again to my dad and all the other dads who go the extra mile for their kids.   

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I don't take the time to express my thankfulness towards you and all that you do. 
 Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work. Growing up, I saw you get up early every morning and come home late at night. You showed me that in order to be successful, you must strive for greatness. I 'm so grateful for everything you have provided for our family through your hard work, and sacrifices. 
 Thank you for being patient. Whether it was teaching me how to ride a bike or listening to me explain my car trouble, you always tried to be calm and collected. But most importantly, thank you for remembering of the fact that I am still a kid and I will make mistakes. Your understanding when I mess up has shown me that it s okay to have imperfections. 

Thank you for your constant support. Although, I may not always keep you in the loop with my life's activities I know I'll always have a cheerleader in my corner.
 Thanks for your love and affection. Even though it is few and far between, the moments of hugs and "proud of you" mean that much more.
 You deserve way more than just a day for all the things you do for myself and our family. So for this Father's Day and every other day, thanks for being you and making those sacrifices to get me where I am today. 
 Forever and Always,
Siam Simpfenderfer
 Miss North Dakota International 2017

The man who always knew I was royalty

This Father’s Day, I want to recognize the man who saw me as royalty long before the crown was placed on my head.

My dad never fails to call me his “little princess”. I recently got to see him when I traveled to Las Vegas for my brother’s graduation, and even now, he still calls me that! I don’t think this trend will ever stop. Even though I am an adult and technically a “queen”, I am still a princess in his eyes. Through many seasons of my life, I didn’t really like that reference. Growing up, I was a total tomboy. My daily outfit consisted of a t-shirt, athletic pants, tennis shoes and a bandana on my head- seriously. In my first neighborhood, there were only boys to play with, so I learned to dig in the dirt, skateboard on the sidewalk and spend the afternoons tossing a football and racing back and forth down the street. When I moved to a neighborhood of girls or “girly girls” as I would call them, I always felt a little out of place when they wanted to play with makeup, dolls and listen to Backstreet Boys. So, naturally, when my dad would refer to me as a princess, I thought he was calling me a girly girl, which I obviously didn’t like. As I got older, I started to realize what that actually meant and the depth of his words to me. My parents taught me that God was not only the King of Kings, but he was also my heavenly Father. My dad would remind me that I was God's child and his child at the same time. And that’s what made me royalty, being a daughter of a King. I began to realize that being a princess had nothing to do with the clothes I wore or the activities I chose. It was about my position as a child of God. 

When my dad calls me princess, he is reminding me that my value comes from who I am and not what I do

My dad loves me no matter what, that is one thing I am sure of. His love is an example of God’s beautiful love, a love that is entirely unconditional. So, now, when my dad calls me princess, it is a sweet reminder that I am loved through all things, in every season of life.

And so are you.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” {Jer. 31:3}

Happy Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!  I hope you all had a great day, and made tons of fun memories with your families!
            I think that my mom should be North Dakota’s Mother of the Year! If you knew my mom, you wouldn’t even have to ask why! She is so sweet and I can’t thank her enough for all that she does.

            Whenever I am sad, my mom is the first person I talk to. And on the rare occasion that I forget to do my homework, she doesn’t get mad, she just helps me – even if it’s late at night.  I love my mom more than words can say!
In my opinion, my mom is like a superhero. Here are some of the reasons why I think that.
            First of all, she helps us clean our house. Well…she actually does ALL of it! :)  Most of the time, when I go to feed my cat CiCi, I find that it has ALREADY been done for me! 
            Second of all, she helps to keep me and my brother in line. If my parents weren’t home, Aiden and I would probably have started World War 3 by now! :)

            She also drives me to wherever I need to go. Whether it is pageant appearances, a dance competition or anything else, I can always count on her to get me there. 

My mom is also a great photographer. I know I say that I don’t like it when she is ALWAYS taking pictures, but one day when I am older, I will thank her for seeing her world (and mine!) through a lens. I will have photos documenting my entire life and all the special moments in it!!! 

I have so many reasons why I think my mom is a superhero, but now I want to move on and tell you about our Mother’s Day celebration. We hosted it at our house and my grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma came to celebrate. We ate hotdogs that my dad grilled outside because the weather was SO nice! There was a smorgasboard of food, but my favorite was the chips and fiesta dip! My kitty, CiCi, even got dressed up for the occasion! 

            That was my Mother’s Day celebration. I hope that you had a wonderful day celebrating your mom and other special women in your life as well!

Alexis Thompson
Junior Miss Teen North Dakota International 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dear Fargo South High School

Dear Fargo South High School,
“Beginnings are usually scary, and endings are usually sad, but it is everything in between that makes life worth living.”     –Bob Marley
This quote seems especially poignant now as my junior year is ending.  In so many ways, this has been the best year of my life.  This year had an especially scary beginning as I decided to leave my former school behind and transfer to a new school. I think back to all the unknowns of that first day, in late August. I remember pulling up to my new school, taking a deep breath and saying to myself, “well, here you go!” I will never forget how my “Bruin Ambassador” friends welcomed me with clapping and cheering. Fargo South is like a family and I was very happy to finally feel like I had come home.
I think that coming to a cross road in life can be such a blessing.  There is a certain sense of urgency when a decision must be made, to continue on, or choose another path. One direction promises what is comfortable and the other direction leads somewhere unknown.  It is sometimes difficult to know what is best and what is just comfortable.  One of the lessons that I have learned this year is to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I know that next year will be easier for me to graduate and choose a new path because I have done this before.
“This is my life…my story…my book.  I will no longer let anyone else write it: nor will I apologize for the edits I make.”  -Steve Maraboli
The thing that makes Fargo South feel like home to me is the amazing students and teachers.  They are the heart and soul of the school.  I will always be grateful for the profound impact that Mrs.Lichtblau, Mrs. Brandenburg and Mr. Kennedy have had on me.  They have encouraged me, believed in me and given me the opportunity to grow and shine.  I have so much respect for the teachers who give so much of themselves to kids, on a daily basis. I am not sure if they will ever fully understand how much I appreciate all that they have done for me.
My amazing school counselor, Mrs. Medinger is leaving Fargo South at the end of the year to begin a new job. She has been like a mom at school, to so many students. It will be hard to see her go.  Mrs. Lewis is just finishing her first year of teaching AP English, She was the best teacher I have ever had for a core class.  I will never forget how important it was to her that her students did well in her class. 
My senior friends are having their graduation parties, as their time is high school is ending. It will be especially difficult for me to say good-bye to my senior friends in the theatre department.  I am going to miss their beautiful daily presence in my life. I know that they too are both hopeful and sad, as they look to the future. I wish them every happiness and more success than they can imagine.
So… As one thing ends and another begins… I treasure the lessons, memories and friendships of this past year.
Yours In Harmony, Payton Hausauer Miss Teen ND Intl 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

You can be the ONE that helps

Do you ever just wonder how you got where you are in life? It's like you took a blink of an eye and all of a sudden there was a 180 in your entire life plan? I know that feeling all too well. If you would have asked me a year and half ago where I would be today, I wouldn't have an answer, and I absolutely would not believe I would hold the title for Miss North Dakota International, but everything happens for a reason and I have learned from my own mistakes that life can and will get better. 

Summer 2016 - I was living life in a way to just get by. I was drained, irritable, and I only wanted to sleep or go out for a night of drinking with my friends to get my mind off of my own pain. I remember getting off of work and heading straight to my room until I would cry myself to sleep, and wake up and do it all again. This summer was different for me. I felt completely alone, abandoned, and lost. I realized I was behind farther in school after I switched majors, I had moved towns, and recently ended a very long relationship. It was like life wanted to push me down on purpose to see how I would react. 
I had my own family worried, and whenever they would call I would laugh and say I was fine. I was living life recklessly. I was on several medications to prevent my blood from clotting, as that spring I had developed several clots in my heart and lungs, and other medications that definitely didn't mix well with alcohol. But, I did what I wanted and if it made me feel good for just one moment I was looking for my escape. I was on a fast track to disaster. 
Come end of June beginning of July, I met someone. I met a friend, someone who just lit this fire inside my soul. Someone who indirectly showed me that life could be more, and they would love me for all of my flaws. This person doesn't know that I owe my 180 to them, and maybe they never will. 
I visited my primary care physician and got serious about my depression, I told her how I was coping and she just giggled and said, "Sweetie, that isn't coping. You're a strong girl but sometimes we all need a little help." She gave me several natural methods to reduce stress and handle my depression but also prescribed and anti-depressant. 
I was embarrassed for the longest time of admitting I had to take a "happy" pill. I was always an upbeat soul and had a hard time getting down. It was a shock that I needed some thing to balance my own chemicals in my brain to help me function. It wasn't until I was asked during a seminar while visiting my own highschool sharing suicide prevention and awareness, I was asked, "do you struggle with depression?" I was taken back, no one had flat out asked me about my own mental health. My first reaction was to say reply with a no, but then I caught myself and I decided I was feeding into the stigma of mental health. I was going to be truthful and honest. I told that entire gym on how I met with my PCP and how she explained that depression is a chemical imbalance, and it's like when you're physically sick you take medication to get better, and sometimes your brain gets a cold and gets thrown off and needs to hit the reset button. 

So, still today with life going better than I could imagine. I struggle with depression. But instead of reaching for the bottle I talk to my friends and family about my struggles and they lift my spirits right back up. They let me know that I wasn't alone and I had a shoulder to lean on. 
For you who maybe trying to find an escape from your problems with an unhealthy behavior I urge you to talk to a friend or a family member and get the right help you deserve. I couldn't imagine where my life would be if I had continued down that strong path of disaster. 

Forever and Always,

Siam Simpfenderfer 
Miss North Dakota International 2017