Taking the Plunge

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As I sat on the floor of the small aircraft with my feet dangling out of the open door and the wind tousling my hair at 13,000 feet above the earth, I glanced over to my husband, shouted (possibly for the last time), “Love you honey!” and rolled out of the aircraft straight to the earth below.

You see, last year at this time, we reached our 5 year anniversary, and we wanted to do something a little fun…adventurous…exciting.

Something at least one of us has never done before.

Sure, we entertained the idea of tandem skydiving for our previous anniversaries, but as the years faded and we got older…and wiser…I didn’t think the idea of skydiving would resurface…and I was fine with that!

I was no stranger to skydiving.

Ten years earlier, I experienced skydiving for the first time in Queenstown, New Zealand…and I loved it!  Shaking up my stagnant life is what I was in search of, and so naturally, falling out of an airplane was the perfect remedy…as was tossing myself off of a bridge!

Years later, when my husband and I married, he said that one day, he, too, would love to experience the thrill of skydiving.

“Maybe for one of our anniversaries?”

I thought it might be fun, but the yearning for a thrill of that magnitude wasn’t at the forefront of my bucket list anymore.

Gentle adventures are what I craved.

But alas, we made our reservations to take the plunge for our wedding anniversary knowing that this might be the last chance we get to do something exciting insane before our adoption dreams came true.

That early August morning, we enjoyed a relaxing drive to Oceanside where Tsunami Skydivers (now called GoJump Oceanside) awaited our arrival.

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When we arrived at our destination, apprehension replaced excitement especially when we were requested to sign our lives away!

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After filling out our paperwork we-won’t-sue-you-if-there’s-an-accident waiver, we joined the other participants in the outside waiting area where we watched a group ahead of us get briefed, rigged up and filed into the tiny aircraft.

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About 30 minutes later, we watched the van return with the newly invigorated jumpers, eager to recount their adventures in the air!

At long last, our time had come, and we met our assigned instructors that we’d be flying  falling-out-of-a-perfectly-good-airplane with.

For an additional charge that we were happy to pay, our instructors would also be our cameramen using their GoPros to capture videos and photos of
the moments before, during and after our jumps!

DCIM100GOPROSure, we’re laughing and having a good time here…

DCIM100GOPRO…but we’re shaking inside!

After being briefed & harnessed, we boarded the aircraft and were packed in like sardines.

Counting the skydivers in our group, I realized that I was the last one to board, and quick deductions concluded that I would be the first to jump.

Gulp!

Those before me got to sit on benches, but me…I got prime floor seating with a soon-to-be stomach-churning view!

And with that, we were off!

As we ascended higher into the sky, Joe, my instructor, scooted closer to me and attached himself to my harness.

He then started to open the roll-up aircraft door, but for whatever reason, he needed some assistance.

“Jen, can you help me open this?”

Umm, what?!”

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As we worked on opening the door, I clenched anything I could on the floor of the aircraft with my free hand to prevent sliding out accidentally.

I looked over at the indicator light on the door. It was red.

Phew!  It was NOT time to jump!

I tried to enjoy the view, but the gaping void one foot to my right was at the forefront of my mind!

Joe asked me if I saw a camera on the floor by my feet. Being too nervous to care or wonder why he asked me that, I scanned the floor, reported that nothing was there & then quickly refocused on the matter at hand.

Participants were shouting and having fun in the back, and Joe kept documenting my reaction. Sure I had fun with it, but there were times when I was in no mood for witty banter.

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Suddenly, the indicator light turned GREEN!

“It’s time.” 

My stomach churned and my mouth instantly rivaled the California drought.

Joe began to scoot us toward the gaping hole in the aircraft.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!”

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I grasped the sides of my harness thinking that would somehow protect me from my inevitable fate.

Everything he told me about a proper dismount vanished.

My feet were now dangling over the ledge.

I said goodbye to my fellow jumpers and turned to look at my husband.

Realizing these could be the last words spoken to him, I shouted,

“Love you honey!” 

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Random thoughts filled my head including “What the heck are you doing?!”,  “Have you gone completely mad?”,  “What if the parachute doesn’t open?” and “SH*T!!!!”

When I looked at the earth below and the beautiful scenery all around, I was still paralyzed by fear, but a sense of excitement swept over me.

Adrenaline was at maximum capacity!

Sometimes you just have to give it up to God…and so I did.  And with a loud scream, we exited the aircraft.

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And let me just say – that first step is a doozy!!!

But what a view it was!

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Free falling at 13,000 feet is the most exhilarating feeling I have ever experienced!

For almost one minute, the loud, powerful wind rushed by us at 120 miles per hour.

With an ocean view all around, I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy every second!

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I even managed to blow my hubby a kiss!

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The two things I forgot from my first skydiving experience though was the immense pressure in my ears and the difficulty I had breathing!

You’re supposed to breathe through your nose & keep your mouth shut.

Well, that didn’t work for me!

I tried various ways to breathe – through my nose, through my mouth, through my teeth, creating “o” shaped funnels with my mouth and even sticking my tongue out…lol!)

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But before I passed out (LOL!), the parachute deployed and we were pulled upward to the sky and were soon gliding through the air in pure silence taking in the California coastline below!

I let out a huge sigh of relief, took a deep breath and squealed,

“Oh my God!!!”

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Joe kept asking how I was doing & what did I think…and all I could say was “Amazing!!!”

We glided above Oceanside and the Pacific Ocean for a few minutes.

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Joe helped me remove my face-squishing goggles to enjoy the scenery below.

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He then asked if I could hold his GoPro.

“Huh?”

Apparently he lost the camera portion of his GoPro and was only getting video of me this entire time. Hence his earlier request for me to search for his camera on the aircraft floor.

Because he had to navigate with two hands, he needed me to hold this expensive piece of equipment thousands of feet above earth.

“Don’t drop it!”

The hand-off of his GoPro to me was probably more nerve-racking than the jump itself because I was visualizing it falling right out of my hands and possibly onto somebody’s head!

Luckily, that didn’t happen, and it was back safe and sound with Joe after he finished his maneuvers.

A few more minutes of quiet peace, breathtaking views and smooth gliding, and we were headed for the drop zone in a dry field.

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I must say, this landing was far better than my first 10 years prior!  I literally just put my foot to the ground and took a step!  No rear slide-in landing for me this time.

Hubby landed before me since he did some turns & tricks that brought him down faster.

We ran to each other and hugged…happy to be on earth, still breathing and intact & able to celebrate the rest of our anniversary!

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Would I skydive again?

Maybe, but not until our little boy gets much older so he can join his crazy parents if he wants to!

(We’ll just see if our bucket list has room for another skydive adventure in 20 years or so!) 

As for my husband, he had a BLAST!

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You would never guess that this was his first time skydiving.  You can see both of our videos in my silly montage below.

I’ve been asked what the worst part of skydiving is for me. I must say, it’s the anticipation…the waiting…the random thoughts of doom entering my head…the seconds before leaving the aircraft…the feelings of utter panic, fear and numbness.

But once you take that leap of faith…all of those feelings vanish!

And if you’re wondering…yes, Tsunami Skydiving gave me a credit for the photos that I didn’t get from my skydive. Luckily, I was able to capture stills from my video.

If you’re ready to shake up your life with an adrenaline rush unlike any other, I highly recommend Tsunami Skydiving (now known as GoJump Oceanside).

You won’t regret it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Reminder…

IMG_3326Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so live life to the fullest, do something you’ve always wanted to do, always tell the special people in your life how much you mean to them, and find the bliss in every single day!

In the Blink of an Eye

June had arrived, and it was just a few days before our inaugural out-of-state flight with Sam.

We spent those last hours compiling lists…and more lists…and double checking those lists.

How much formula can we bring on the flight? 

Where do we check in the stroller?

How do we entertain Sam for almost 5 hours?

How do we ease the pain of popping ears…and what do we do if he starts screaming on a crowded airplane?

The day had finally arrived, and we just agreed to not stress too much about it. We prepared as much as we could, and there was only so much we could do.

IMG_5158Sam ready to fly!

Well, I’m happy to announce that our 5 hour-long flight (including layover) to Washington state was smooth and pleasant!

IMG_5187Sam enjoyed a nice nap after take-off.

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He got some light reading in.

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Look Mama! I have a tongue!

IMG_5206 2And one more nap!

Sam was a happy boy, and he entertained the people sitting around us with his coos, laughter and curiosity.

It was beyond what we hoped for, and we felt like pros!

The visit with my sister and her family was wonderful. Sam got to play with his cousins, we attended my niece’s graduation, and we all shared some quality time together.

Our short weekend was over before we knew it, and it was time to head back home.

Our departure date had arrived, and unlike a few days earlier, we felt confident for the flight ahead.

It would be a short jaunt to Seattle and then another two hours to L.A.

As we settled in by our gate, Sam began to act really fussy which was strange because we just fed him and changed his diaper. Hubby walked around the waiting area multiple times trying to soothe him, but he was still unhappy.

On the flight to Seattle, it seamed like no position was comfortable for Sam. We tried laying him down on our laps, holding him on our shoulders, sitting him up, and putting him on his belly.

Nothing worked.

We even tried feeding him again, but he jerked his head to avoid the bottle.

On our layover, I had Sam in his baby bjorn, and we walked quite a way to get to our connecting flight. As we took the tram to our gate, Sam started screaming.

It wasn’t just a scream…it was a painful scream.

Other travelers glanced over at me with disapproving eyes. “Did you feed him?” asked one obviously annoyed man.

“Yes I did.”

I focused on Sam and avoided all eye contact.

When we approached our gate, they were already boarding, so there was no time to waste.

Sam screamed at the top of his lungs as we waited in line. I could feel everyone’s eyes burning into me. My hubby began to apologize to people in line. When we found our seat, again, he apologized to everyone around us. I just held onto Sam reassuring him everything would be ok.

I took the window seat with hubby in the middle and a friendly older lady on the aisle.

“Sorry about this,” said hubby.

“I understand. I’ve been there.”

And so began the longest two hour flight imaginable.

The screams continued followed by soft moans. Sam twisted and writhed in pain.

And then began the vomiting.

First on hubby. Then on me. As we passed him back and forth to clean ourselves up, he would throw up again.

The odor filled our section. We apologized to everyone again.

We tried to figure out if it was something he ate, but all we gave him was formula and some baby apple sauce, and everything had been sterilized beforehand. Then we thought it was some bug he caught in Washington.

A strange rash began to grow on his left cheek. It was bright red, and it grew quickly.

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Sam was exhausted and moaned in pain. There was no ways to comfort him.  The situation seemed hopeless, and the hours couldn’t go by any slower.

At long, LONG last, the pilot announced our decent. A wave of relief washed over us.

At this time, Sam was burning up, so we rushed home.

Hubby went to the store to pick up some children’s Tylenol, and I proceeded to cool him down.

His vomiting appeared to have stopped, but he was still in so much pain.

Before cleaning myself up, I put him in his crib and noticed that he quickly grabbed his feet and pulled them close to his chest before falling asleep in that position.

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While I was in the bathroom, he screamed painfully again, so I dropped everything and ran into his room.

Vomit covered his crib mattress, face and hands.

He looked up at me with exhausted, innocent eyes as if to say, “Help me mama.”

I gently picked him up, washed him down and held him close.

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After speaking to my parents, they suggested we contact an on-call nurse to see if this was possibly something more serious.

The nurse advised we take Sam to the ER asap…just in case. 

So we grabbed a few things and rushed down to the ER.

Sam was given anti-nausea medication once we were seen by the nurse. The general diagnosis was that he had a viral illness known as Fifth Disease, otherwise known as Slapped Cheek Disease…hence the rash on his cheek. After being diagnosed, he was given Pedialyte to prevent dehydration. Once he showed signs of improvement, they discharged Sam, and we made our way home around 1:30am.

Sam was still uncomfortable, but he eventually fell asleep.

The next day, he was still in obvious pain.

Soft moans and cries filled his every breath.

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That morning, my mom and I took him to his pediatrician for a follow-up appointment, and she, too, diagnosed him with Fifth Disease and a viral disease that caused the vomiting. She told us to continue with the Pedialyte and Children’s Tylenol for his fever and to watch for any blisters in the mouth which comes with Fifth Disease.

That day I spent monitoring him, consoling him, cooling him down, giving him his medication, hydrating him, and holding him.

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He didn’t seem too interested in the Pedialyte, but thankfully, he did take small sips.

We noticed that his diapers were quite dry and thought it was due to the dehydration.

That night, hubby and I took 3 hour shifts so one of us could take care of Sam while the other could get some sleep.

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Hubby took the first shift, and around midnight he woke me up.

“Look at this.”

Sam had thrown up blood on his burpy cloth.

Without hesitation, we were back in the car heading straight for the ER.

We checked in, and while the admitting nurse took his vitals, she looked us up and down, and with a judgmental smirk on her face said,

“Started late, huh?”

I was numb. We came in because our baby threw up blood (a quite serious problem if you ask me!), and she had the audacity to judge us for being older parents.

If I wasn’t so tired, I probably would have called her a *you know what*, but instead, we both explained that we were adoptive parents and were very blessed to have Sam in our lives.

And she just looked down and said, “Oh.”

We were sent back to the waiting room to await our turn.

After 3 hours of Sam filling the waiting room with soft moans, hubby returned to talk to the *you know what* and reinforced the fact that Sam was not doing well and needed help.

He was finally taken into an actual hospital room where, for the entire evening and morning, was monitored, given an IV to keep him hydrated, had blood and urine tests, given Tylenol, and had his temperature taken twice.

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The night wore on, and Sam continued getting IVs. The nurse said I could lay next to him on the bed, and so I did while rubbing his arm and kissing his forehead.

By morning, there was still no improvement, and the night doctor said that he wanted him admitted for more observation.

Hubby and I noticed that his diaper had the blue “indicator” line noting that he was wet, so when we opened his diaper, we noticed that there was bright red blood in his diaper.

We grabbed the first nurse we could find and asked, “What is this?!”

She briefly looked at it and said, “Oh it’s probably a broken blood vessel caused from the thermometer being inserted too hard.”

Being somewhat relieved, we continued to comfort Sam and sit by his side. More liquids were given to him for another hour or so, and our assigned nurse said his diaper was wet again, so she proceeded to change his diaper.

A large, bright spot of blood marked his diaper.

We explained to her what the other nurse told us about it being due to the rough insertion of a thermometer causing broken blood vessels.

“That is NOT the reason for this!”

She quickly grabbed Sam’s new doctor now on duty and explained his symptoms.

I could see the doctor’s mind working overtime.

“Sam needs an ultrasound asap. It might be intussusception.”

“Wait, what is that?!”

“An intestinal blockage caused when the intestines telescope in on each other.”

“What does that mean for Sam?!”

“If it’s the worst case scenario, surgery.”

Blood rushed out of our faces at the mere thought of the severity of the situation.

I quickly called my parents and friends letting them know what was going on.

We rushed to the ultrasound department with Sam in his gurney, and after close examination, it was confirmed that Sam did have intussusception.

Back in his hospital room, the doctor explained what was next.

“We’re going to try a barium enema first. If that doesn’t work, he will need surgery asap.”

A barium enema is when they take an X-ray while injecting fluid and air into the rectum and into your colon to try to correct the intestinal blockage.

“Is this fatal?” I asked the doctor.

“It can be, but we caught it in time.”

Hubby was asked to sit in the gurney holding Sam as they quickly wheeled him to the x-ray room.

Only one of us was allowed into the room. I asked my hubby to go because I was already an emotional mess.

From the waiting room, I could hear Sam scream…and howel.

“We need more tape!”

“Hold him still!!”

“More towels…get more towels!”

Sam’s screams grew in intensity.

It felt like an eternity before the x-ray door opened. I sat in the gurney this time, and Sam was placed in my arms.

“Did it work?”

“No, even though all of the backed up debris was flushed out, it didn’t correct the problem. He still needs surgery.”

Sam nuzzled into my arms as they wheeled us directly to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where a staff of nurses stood ready to care for and prep Sam for surgery.

As they carefully took him out of my arms, I noticed his entire diaper was saturated with blood.

“What happened?! He’s bleeding!”

“That is from the enema”, the nurse explained.

Hubby looked at me. “I’m glad I was in the room and not you during the enema because you would have either thrown up or passed out. It was horrible!”

The nurses cleaned Sam and put him in a fresh hospital gown.

At this time I learned that the rash on his face was not from Slapped Cheek Disease. It was actually from the stomach bile that accidentally rubbed onto his cheek after he vomited on us and brushed his cheek on it.

I was so happy to see my parents enter through the PICU doors. Even my dad, who is going through his own personal health battle, came to shower Sam with love and support.

It didn’t take long before the surgeon entered Sam’s room to explain the three things that could happen during his laparoscopic surgery:

  1. He could pull apart the intestine segments and it could correct itself.
  2. If part of the intestine died due to lack of blood flow to certain segments, it would be required for him to remove those sections and reconnect the intestines.
  3. After removing part of the intestine, depending on the severity, it might be required for Sam to have an ostomy bag.

It was time to move Sam into pre-op. Hubby and I were allowed to go with Sam where we met another surgeon and the anesthesiologist who further explained the next steps and how depending on the surgery, it could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

After kissing Sam goodbye and saying a prayer for him, we went into the waiting room where we found my parents and best friend full of love and support.

The hour crept by with still no update.

Finally, our surgeon arrived and summoned us into a conference room.

“It went well, and he’s resting comfortably.”

The surgeon explained that part of his small intestine slipped into his large intestine causing a blockage, and so due to the lack of blood flow to these parts, they had to remove the dead intestine portions consisting of 25% of his large intestine, 4″ of his small intestine and his appendix.

We couldn’t believe what our little boy had just gone through and all the suffering he endured for over 24 hours.

IMG_5358Sam recovering peacefully.

IMG_5337Sam’s wonderfully loving and supportive Grandparents.

But thank God his intussusception was discovered early on and that Sam had an amazing medical team helping him every step of the way!

For the next week, Sam recovered in the PICU and had the best of care from a professional and compassionate team of nurses and doctors.  Sam also had so many visits from family and friends that meant the world to us!

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IMG_5366The staff did everything they could to make Sam (and us!) feel as comfortable as possible in our new home for the next week!

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Sam was what they called a “hard pick”, meaning that after they exhausted all the available veins on his toes, ankles, wrists and fingers, they gave Sam a PICC line as a last resort. The insertion of a PICC line is a very delicate procedure where an IV gets placed in his scalp and gets threaded all the way down his head and neck and into the large vein that enters his heart. The nice thing about a PICC line is that once it’s in place, it can stay there until it is no longer needed.

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IMG_5379Sam’s first hair cut due to his PICC line.

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Every day we hoped to hear “bowel” sounds. That would indicate that things were healing nicely, and he’d be ready for nummies!
A few days later, the long-awaited sound occurred, and the next day, he was allowed to have small sips of Pedialyte. We monitored Sam closely to ensure he kept it down.

IMG_5394And he did!!!
What a happy day to have Sam out of bed, in my arms & eagerly drinking Pedialyte!

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IMG_5520We were moved into a private room where Sam continued to heal and where his fun personality started to re-emerge!

IMG_5463On the day before we left, Sam gave us a small smile telling us that everything was going to be ok.

IMG_5502The day had arrived, and there was one last order of business –
the delicate removal of the PICC line!

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IMG_5514Free of tubes and IVs! Sam is ready to go home!

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IMG_5538Finally we got the good news that Sam was free to go home!

We lovingly placed him in his car seat, said goodbye to the awesome nurses and staff, took one last look at what had been our home for the last week, and walked out the door!

IMG_5543Grandma and Grandpa surprised Sam with quite a homecoming! Colorful balloons and a huge sign welcomed us on our porch!

IMG_5546Someone is happy to be home!

Looking back, it’s like a bad nightmare…that actually happened!

What we took away from this experience is that if anything doesn’t seem right with your child, parent, you, or anyone you know…don’t hesitate to seek medical advice!  You never know what it could be, and time could be of the essence! We had never heard of intussusception, but now we are pros on the subject and know more than we ever wanted to know!

Another thing is that life is precious and can come and go in the blink of an eye.  Savor every moment, and make the most of the time you’ve been given with your family and friends because tomorrow is not guaranteed!

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One month later, Sam is happy and healthy and recovering nicely. He’s getting close to crawling, enjoying new foods, laughing and enjoying life!

Seeing him smile again means everything to us, and now whenever he cries for the umpteenth time, wakes me up early, or disrupts my at-the-moment plans, I don’t get upset. Rather, I just hold him a little bit longer and thank God for this precious gift He blessed us with.

IMG_6025Mommy and Daddy love you Sam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Years in the Making

It’s not your typical birth story.

There were no 2 happy lines staring back at me from a pregnancy test.

There was no 9 months to prepare for your arrival.

There was no crossing the days off the calendar until we saw your face.

There were no weekly or monthly photos showing my expanding belly.

There were no kicks telling me “Hello, I’m here!”

There was no morning sickness, swollen feet or exhaustion.

There were no interesting food cravings.

There was no cute maternity clothing.

There was no ultrasound photos to share with family and friends.

There was no “Gender Reveal Party.”

There was no wondering whose features you’d have.

There was no birthing class.

There was no baby shower in anticipation of your arrival.

There was no epidural, labor pains or contractions.

There was no bond so close that can only be experienced by an expectant mother.

But here’s what there was:

A yearning so strong for someone we never met.

Years of waiting, praying, tears and hope.

Tons of paperwork, social worker visits, background checks, fingerprints, home studies, profiles, meetings with lawyers and draining bank accounts.

A pain in our hearts that lasted for 4 years.

A test in patience, trust and faith.

Wondering who God had chosen especially for us.

The glimmer of hope when our adoption laywer called.

Utter disbelief and happiness when the birth parents chose us that very same night to be your adoptive parents.

Less than 24 hours to prepare for a new addition to the family!

Our world turning topsy turvy overnight!

Knowing that we had one last night of solid sleep, but being too excited to care!

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Pulling into the hospital parking lot the next day knowing that our lives were about to change forever.

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Knots of anxiety in our stomaches as we walked up to the hospital knowing our boy was waiting for us.

Trying to wake from a dream as we prepped ourselves by washing our hands and arms in the nurse’s station.

Feelings of weightlessness as we walked down the hall into the NICU.

A floodgate of pure bliss when we saw your sweet face and held you in our arms for the very first time.

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An immediate bond that was undeniable!

A mandatory hands-on crash course in caring for a preemie.

A feeling of immense gratitude for 2 very special birth parents who gave us such a precious gift.

Staring in awe as you were carefully placed in your car seat knowing that you were coming home with us.

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The inability to wipe the smile from our faces as we drove you home.

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Finally realizing that there was a reason why it took 4 long years for our dream to come true!

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Knowing that this was all God’s plan, and all those questions we had vanished –
you were made for us!

As your 5 month birthday approaches, I still can’t believe the happy, bubbly little sweetheart you are!

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You have grown so much from the 4lb 15oz preemie you were to a strong, healthy boy!

You bring us so much joy, and I honestly can’t picture our lives without you!

Since then, Sam has been showered with so much love and joy, and he charms the pants off everyone!!!

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All I can say is what a blessing you are Sam!
Your Mommy & Daddy love you!

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Now that’s bliss, baby!

Happy New Year!

Wait, what?

I can’t believe we’re in 2016 already!

2015 just started, didn’t it?

I can’t believe how quickly 2015 has come and gone, and I can’t believe what an AMAZING year it has been!!!

It really is true how life can change in the blink of an eye.

Here are just a few of the highlights from this unforgettable year:

Caribbean Cruise!
If you’ve read my blog, you know I LOVE travel, and part of my travel bucket list was to do a Caribbean Cruise with my husband.

Well, at the beginning of 2015, our travel dreams came true!

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We boarded the Carnival Valor and took to the seas to soak in all of the wonder and breathtaking beauty of the Caribbean!
It ranks right up there as one of my favorite trips!

Check out our adventures here!

Taking the Leap into Wedding Anniversary #5!
My husband and I celebrated our 5th Wedding Anniversary in August.

Ever since we were married in 2010, we talked about doing something fun for our 5th, and we threw around some ideas…you know…like a romantic road trip, or wine tasting…or exiting an airplane and freefalling 13,000 feet above the earth!!!

As our 5th anniversary approached, hubby brought up the idea of skydiving again.

Even though I skydived over 10 years ago in New Zealand, I wasn’t sure if I was daring enough to do it again. I mean, I was younger, single, and taking an “adventure” tour of the island with likeminded people. I went to New Zealand seeking out the thrill of life.

10 years later, I’m still adventurous, but in a different way.  Falling out of an airplane wasn’t really something I needed to do again..but hubby hadn’t experienced the thrill I always raved about.

Well, as the date approached, I decided that life was too short, and this opportunity may not come around again, so after 5 years of wedded bliss, we decided to take the next big step!

Stay tuned for an in-depth review of our thrilling anniversary!

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Home Sweet Home!

At the beginning of summer, my husband and I decided that it was time to start looking for a house. We lived in our 1 bedroom 1 bathroom cozy condo for over 5 years, and it was time to find something a little bigger because we knew that eventually, our adoption dreams would come true, and we would need an extra bedroom.

What an adventure in home buying it was! Who knew it could be so difficult! It seemed like we weren’t the only ones in search of a new home, and these buyers meant business!

Our first offer was on this beautiful home in a perfect neighborhood…it was a dream house!  We made an offer at asking price confident that we would be homeowners soon!

To our dismay, there were several other offers made that were way above the asking price. The owners countered our offer and requested $20,000 MORE than what we offered!

WHAT?!

Talk about rude awakening! Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet their offer, so with a bitter taste in our mouth, we continued looking.

What we soon realized was that if the house was a family trust, then they don’t really care who you are…they just want the biggest and best offer, and that’s that!  Even our “About Us” letters that we sent to the families did nothing in swaying their decision. Every family trust offer we made was outbid by other buyers, and we lost out on all of them. Very disheartening.

The months dragged on, and every weekend was spent with our patient realtor searching for homes – everything from houses in almost perfect condition to houses that were still stuck in the 60’s!

After walking away from a house we made an offer on only to discover the myriad of problems, we came across 2 houses that we knew we couldn’t pass up.

House #1 was in a nice neighborhood across the street from a quaint school and walking distance to a mall. It wasn’t move-in ready and needed lots of work, but we could see ourselves there. And it wasn’t a family trust – bonus!!!

House #2 was a beautiful ranch style home in a quiet neighborhood. It wasn’t located near too many stores, but it was almost ideal in every way. The only thing I didn’t like was that the back fence backed up into an apartment complex.

After waiting anxiously for an answer, our offer on house #1 was accepted, and we happily made the decision that yes, that was our home!

We decided not to wait on an answer for house #2, and in mid November, we officially made this cute house our home!

home sweet home!

 

Boy Oh Boy!

Five days after getting our house and 2 days before Thanksgiving, we got a phone call that we’ve been waiting for for over 4 years…and it changed our lives overnight!

And I mean overnight!!!

Our adoption lawyer informed us that there was a newly born baby boy in the hospital who needed a home…by the next day!

Usually adoptive parents meet with the birth parents a few months before the birth, but in our case, little Samuel had already arrived!

So with much excitement, we met with our lawyer and the birth parents that night, and after a positive, yet emotional evening, the birth parents chose us to be Samuel’s parents!

Early next morning, my mother and I raided Target and filled our carts with everything Samuel needed!

What a thrilling morning it was!

At noon, my husband and I arrived at the hospital, and by 3:00pm, we were holding our new son in our arms!

Talk about a Thanksgiving to remember!!!

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Since November, it has been a nonstop roller coaster of new house renovations, packing and moving into the house, adjusting to instant parenthood, rearranging our lives and finding balance between it all!

Now that everything is falling into place and we’ve adjusted into our new normal, it’s nice to sit down, take a few minutes and just marvel at what an amazing and blessed year it has been!

I look forward to writing about the new adventures ahead: Adventures in parenthood, home ownership, owning my own business, balancing life, and yes, traveling with our bundle of joy!

I hope you join me for this exciting ride into 2016 and beyond!

A Thanksgiving Blessing

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Conceived in our hearts 4 years ago, and brought home with nothing but love.
Welcome to our family Samuel, the greatest blessing of all!

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The last day of our Caribbean cruise was upon us…and so was Valentine’s Day!  

We couldn’t think of a more perfect place to celebrate than on the dual-nation island of St. Martin/St. Maarten!

Half Dutch and half French, there’s no shortage of delicious food to savor, duty-free shops to discover or turquoise water to swim in…
but for us, the order of the day was toes in the sand and drink in the hand! 😉

IMG_6065There was no rushing off the ship for us…
we were in relaxation mode from the beginning.

IMG_6049Our port of call, Philipsburg, on the Dutch side, St. Maarten.

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IMG_6073I love their logo! So colorful, cheerful & fun!

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Upon disembarking the Valor, you can take a water taxi to downtown Philipsburg, or you can do what we did and enjoy a 20 minute walk to the very popular Great Bay Beach.

Brightly colored umbrellas dotted the soft sand while plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels lined the boardwalk.

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IMG_6208If you want an easy day without going too far from the ship, this is it!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking down cobblestone alleyways, there was always something around the corner…like this courthouse…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…or this quaint Roman Catholic Church, St. Martin of Tours.

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IMG_6202And don’t get me started on the many amazing shopping opportunities!!!

After a fun morning of exploring the island’s Dutch half, St. Maarten, it was time to take our $20 one-way taxi ride to the French side, St. Martin!

On our Caribbean cruise, I experienced many gorgeous beaches, but I must admit, there was one that left my jaw in the sand.

IMG_6193Say “Bonjour” to Orient Bay Beach!

For me, Orient Bay Beach is the quintessential Caribbean beach!

Soft white sand?  Check!
Crystalline turquoise water?  Check!
Bountiful rays?  Check!
Sweeping views all around?  Check!
Nudity?  Check!

That’s right folks, if you forgot your swimsuit (or if you’re in a daring mood)…

you’ve come to the right place!

The right side of the beach is clothing optional!

We opted to remain clothed, but if you want to let the bountiful rays give you a head-to-toe overall glow, pass the short rocky divider (see below) and feel free to roam “au naturale!”  That little divider didn’t do much in keeping those tanned bodies in their section though!  Don’t be surprised if that picturesque photo you’re taking is suddenly photo bombed by a full moon! ;)

IMG_6120Yep, that’s the rocky divider!

There’s lots to do on Orient Beach!

A variety of shops, restaurants and resorts line the 1 mile beach, and a plethora of water activities like parasailing, windsurfing and jet skiing are available for the more adventurous!

If lounging the day away in paradise is more your style (like me!), you can score 2 beach chairs, 2 umbrellas & 2 beverages for $14.00 – not bad!

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IMG_6134Tis the life!

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What I loved the most (aside from the view), was that you can walk out into the water for what seems like an eternity & not worry about the ocean floor dropping out from under you. You can just let the water gently lap over you as you float, wade or swim to your heart’s content.

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With our time in St. Martin coming to a close, we decided to head back to Great Bay Beach and stop at Dirty Sanchez’s for some nachos & refreshing beverages. They allow customers to “graffiti” their names on the wall, so my hubby (Crispin) did the honors…can you spot our names?

IMG_6215With our relaxation mission accomplished, it was time to go back on the ship & enjoy our last night on the Valor.

IMG_6252We decided to have our Valentine’s Day dinner in the main dining hall…and might I add…every dinner we had here was AMAZING!

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Adventurous hubby tried frog legs for the first time..and yes…he’d have them again!

IMG_6257Usually you can select your own dessert, but instead, they created a special Valentine’s Day dessert!

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As the ship pulled away from St. Maarten, we looked back at the wonderful memories we made and promised eachother that this wouldn’t be our last time in the Caribbean!

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