Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Learning to Breathe

If a few months ago we were standing on the edge of yikes, getting ready to jump headfirst into becoming a family of six through the adoption of our two daughters, I think it's safe to say we have now jumped, survived the initial shock of being in water way over our heads and are now learning to breathe.

I didn't say swim because we sorta already know how to do that; we're just modifying it for these waters.

That whole breathing while swimming thing, especially, takes practice as we navigate these waters of adoption and parenting, attaching and connecting.

Because did you know pretty much you can hyperventilate while trying to swim? Or even forget to breathe?

It's true. In real-life swimming and in metaphorical-life swimming.

I think I've gone back and forth about a dozen or so times (per day) between rapid, panicked breathing and forgetting to take a breathe. Some of my friends who have larger families say this happens a lot, adoption-specific issues and trauma-related issues aside. I've come to think if parenting many children is a lot like swimming through a choppy ocean then it would be safe to say that parenting children who have endured trauma is a lot like swimming through that same choppy ocean with occasional (and sometimes often) bursts of intense storms. And sharks. Yeah, don't forget the sharks.

At first I was taken aback at the complexity of parenting four children and also the extreme range of emotions that occur when the family dynamic changes suddenly and rapidly and in a not-so-usual way. Add trauma in ... and that's where the breathing correctly comes in real handy.

We've been home for about seven and some weeks now, and we spent a month in the girls' home country getting know each other and bonding, so I often have to remind myself that we haven't been at this for all that long when I start struggling to stay above water.

Of course, like every journey in life, there is joy along with the hardship. Mounds of it, in fact. This journey is no different. We've seen God do amazing things to bring us together, and we've also seen Him work in insanely intricate ways in each of our lives during the last several months.

In fact, while we were in the girls' country and reading court documents we began to realize just how many mountains God had to move to bring us all together ... most would say that it was a nearly impossible situation to have them legally freed for international adoption.

But in order to see all of that, any of that we had to stop swimming for a little bit, take a breather and rest long enough to reflect and see above the waves.

Perspective and all.

It's like that, you know. In real-life swimming and in metaphorical-life swimming.

So we're enjoying the beauty of the journey more and more, and, by the grace of God, we are learning to breathe.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Share the Love: Don't Forget Date Night! (#giveaway for @ShorelineSights cruise tickets)

Before we left the country for a month at the end of May to bring home our daughters via international adoption, we made about two dozen lists of things to do and bring and pack.

One of the things that made the "must do" list before leaving the country was a date night. A real date, at that. Not one of those dates in disguise we sometimes like to do out of shear convenience, ease and desperation. (Going on a Target date always seems like a good date idea ... until you get there and realize it's just a glorified grocery shopping trip with less whining, less cart tipping and more time spent in store resulting in a larger haul of stuff that's alot less grocery and a lot more questionable because that's what happens when you don't have to get in and get out, people!)

So anyway, we realized we really needed a real bonafide date that included adult conversation, perhaps mental stimulation and also maybe leisurely enjoyment of food, drink and maybe the great outdoors, if we were going to get fancy about it.

When Shoreline Sightseeing invited us to take an Architecture Tour on the Chicago River, I sorta hesitated a bit to do this for date night. We'd previously been on a different company's architecture tour along the river, and it was, um, kinda boring for me. Hubby on the other hand had mostly enjoyed it because he really really likes history and information. (When we first met in Egypt, he wanted to spend some time at the Cairo Museum and after FOUR hours spent looking around was shocked when I told him I was ready to leave because!)

So I'll be honest: the only reason I'd agreed to make this into a date night is because I really, really, really love my husband ... and we had two extra tickets, and I figured I could talk with my girlfriend during the tour while he geeked out and feasted on information.

But we didn't even have the chance to occupy ourselves! From the moment the cruise started, we definitely were engaged by the crew and our tour guide. Our tour guide Ben was born, I think, to give architecture tours. As if memorizing information and then making the history of architecture interesting isn't a great enough task, our guide did it with humor, a bit of sarcasm and poise. You guys, I literally laughed out loud several times. He made such a huge difference in our experience. I also learned things. Yup, that's right -- I learned that Art Deco is my absolute most favorite of building styles in the city.

And we got some fantastic views of the city at sunset. So that's a win, too. My compliments to the captain for pausing for a good long while to enjoy it. We'll definitely do it again if the opportunity affords itself to us!

Wanna go on a date-night cruise, too? Shoreline Sightseeing has kindly offered one reader four tickets to be used this season. Simply enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. No funky logins required. Easy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway