Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Summer Getaway

After working ten + years to build our family, it's recently been on my heart...a feeling of the Holy Spirit whispering, "You've worked hard to build this family, now go make memories."

And that we did. Last Thursday, we packed up the car (enough for two weeks, it seems) and we drove across the state to the west coast for some fun and family bonding time on the beach for the weekend.

It was so needed...

The kids joyously embraced the journey. They packed their suitcases together. They bonded over plans of childish mischief. The most important part was that they bonded. Miss Lulu seemed to grasp the concept of "vacation" somewhat as we attempted to communicate our plans. At the end of every explanation, she replied, "Home-uh?" And we would reassure her that home was, indeed, at the end of our journey.

I can't say that our drive over was uneventful, thanks to torrential Florida downpours that terrify me. Poor Jimmy. That's all I can say. When we arrived in Fort Myers, we were hungry and in desperate need of something to erase the stress of the ride, so we made our way into the town center and found a cool spot to decompress (which equals beer, and in my case a margarita or two) and some late lunch. The timing was perfect since check-in was at 3:00. We made it to our hotel right on time.

The kids loved exploring the new weekend digs--a cozy two bedroom unit with a kitchen and living area plus a nice patio. Joey even said that he would like for us to live there.

We hit the pool first, much to mom's desire to head beachside. Kids will be kids. But we made a deal for sunset to take place at the beach, and the family stayed true to that. A beautiful swarm of dragonflies escorted us to the beach. There were a hundred of them. It was quite heartwarming given that Jimmy's mother LOVED dragonflies and they remind us of her presence. Sadly, I have no pictures of the amazing and colorful sunset that evening, but boy did we have fun soaking in Mother's Nature's pool. And the littles, as I suspected, thoroughly enjoyed digging in the sand together...teamwork at its finest.

The next morning, we decided to hit the beach first. I had successfully convinced the kids that searching for seashells was as much fun as hunting for treasure. We found a live baby sea star! Jimmy and I discovered, through the day, a fear of the water in Joey and uncovered that he's watched a few television shows about sharks--enough to keep him out of the water. This too shall pass, I'm sure (or I hope!) Madi and I noticed a wispy cloud formation over us that looked like an angel. It hung out for about an hour.

I went back to the room mid-morning to grab a few things and went to check the time in the kitchen. The microwave read 2:22. I knew it was wrong (it was actually 11:09 a.m.) but it was too coincidental (friends who know our adoption story and how Ephesians 2:22 became our adoption verse will understand). I should've snapped a picture but the lighting wasn't right, and once I pressed a button in an attempt to increase the brightness, it was gone. Crazy. I headed back to the beach in awe. When I got back, I found Daddy down in the sand with the kids digging their way to China. Not kidding. Jimmy had practically dug a sink hole in the earth. The kids were stoked. And thankfully no one fell in!  

We heard thunder after a while and decided that it was time to head up to the room. As we made our way, we couldn't help but notice the rainbow formation in the clouds. It felt like another beautiful sign of the "Built Together" day it was shaping up to be. 


We took in a game of Left, Right, Center played with Skittles. Charlie was the big winner but, in typical kind-hearted fashion, shared the pot with his siblings.

You might remember the "Petro Princesses" who've showered our children with special surprise packages dating back to Daniel's hospital stay. I've blogged about them before. Well, the Prince of the house paid us a visit for dinner Saturday night. It was such a treat to spend time with him and for the kids to meet him too. Lulu loved Uncle Tim instantly.

Tim was able to tackle the impossible and successfully snap a desperately wanted family photo of all of us--finally together--and wearing our Built Together adoption fundraising shirts. 

We made it just in time because then the rain came down, so we headed back up to the room for a painting project and visiting.




Then we had some bubble fun on the patio. It was such a perfect day.

The week of our trip, I'd reached out to a long time friend from Ohio knowing that they have a vacation home in Fort Myers (but not knowing the exact location). Jimmy went to college with her hubby. And it turned out they were there in town and only seven minutes away! These friends? Y'all...we were engaged at their wedding. Yes, they were selfless enough to allow us to share their special day with us. That was twenty-five years ago. And this weekend? We were reconnected with them in such a beautiful way. We got to hang out with their family and they finally got to meet ours.



The boys loved having "big kids" to hang out with. And Madi got to go on a jet ski for the first time. She was terrified at first (and maybe I was slightly nervous, too) but I knew she was in good capable hands with Daddy. They were gone for a while and her facial expression was priceless when they got back. She thoroughly loved it.

After soaking in hours of sun and fun, we headed back to our place to eat dinner and hit the sack. The kids were wiped out. Of course the vacation wouldn't be complete without some sort of sheer craziness, and that came in the form of a fire alarm just as we were all in our pj's and ready for bed. It took me several screams to wake up Madi, who was already passed out from the events of the day. Fun, fun...definitely something to remember!

The next morning, Lulu and I woke early and headed to the beach for a last-minute visit before check out. The whole drive back, Lulu repeatedly asked, "Home?" and we repeatedly confirmed her greatest desire--to go home. When we finally hit the nest, these kids (all of us, maybe) faced a little post-vaca emotional breakdown. But mostly the flood of tears came from Lulu, who was just obviously so relieved to come back to the place she's come to know and love so much in these couple of months--her home. And our summer getaway was the perfect family experience to show her that we always come back...

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