Sometimes your dreams are just beyond the horizon!
*Inspiration provided by this glorious Lahaina, Maui sunset.
Sometimes your dreams are just beyond the horizon!
*Inspiration provided by this glorious Lahaina, Maui sunset.
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.
When we arrived at our destination, apprehension replaced excitement especially when we were requested to sign our lives away!
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.
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.
Sure, we’re laughing and having a good time here…
…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.
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?”
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.
Suddenly, the indicator light turned GREEN!
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!”
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!”
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.
And let me just say – that first step is a doozy!!!
But what a view it was!
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!
I even managed to blow my hubby a kiss!
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!)
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!!!”
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.
Joe helped me remove my face-squishing goggles to enjoy the scenery below.
He then asked if I could hold his GoPro.
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.
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!
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!
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!!!
Tomorrow 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!
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!
Pulling into the hospital parking lot the next day knowing that our lives were about to change forever.
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.
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.
The inability to wipe the smile from our faces as we drove you home.
Finally realizing that there was a reason why it took 4 long years for our dream to come true!
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!
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!!!
All I can say is what a blessing you are Sam!
Your Mommy & Daddy love you!
Now that’s bliss, baby!
Happy New Year!
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:
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!!!
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!