Tag Archives: Travel

Peace in the Waiting

My goodness it has been a while since I’ve blogged here! I’ve had an uptick of followers though and thought I ought to say hi! So, hello there! I am a little better at blogging on my new site: https://www.arkansasbirthphotography.com/blog (well, not all that much better…ha!)

Since my last post here we’ve just been living life and adjusting to our new perimeters. Slowly. Ha. We arrived back from Crete mid August and at that time I started pursuing my photography business in earnest (since I can legally work in the states!) My passion for documenting the stories of women/childbirth/babies/family has certainly kept me busy since!

I also applied and was accepted as a volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I had always been convinced I wouldn’t know how to deal with people going through a season of grief, but I felt an unmistakable pull towards these particular families who must say goodbye to their tiniest members. My nerves peaked right before my first session but after entering the room and introducing myself to the parents I felt nothing but peace. It is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, this certainty that I have been empowered specifically to give this gift, that I am EXACTLY in the place and time where my creator wants me to be. I find such incredible beauty and rest in the presence of these sleeping angels. There is no fear or sadness in doing my job: I know they are back with the one who knit them together in the first place, for a purpose – however obscure it may seem to us here on Earth. The incredible honor of being one of the few people to meet these precious little souls is not lost on me and I think about them daily.

In other news: my hubby transitioned from active duty to the reserves upon arriving back to the states but has been on active orders almost the entire time. It has definitely been an interesting transitional period, especially with starting a small business and a volunteer commitment thrown in the mix. We have dealt with a few separations but in all it hasn’t been so bad. We are still waiting for a more permanent feeling situation in career and housing but we did upgrade to that mini van we wanted just before we found out about Europe! Cici is a lovely Toyota Sienna and is such a joy to drive. We just returned from a three week road trip where we tested her out and scratched our travel itchy feet a little ❤

Our boys are doing great and we look forward to getting more settled so that we can move in the direction of becoming foster parents, which has been a dream of ours for years.

Many situations in our lives may still be in flux but along with my village’s support and commiseration, I am doing better at finding peace in the waiting.

 

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Finding Center

1BL_3779I sit sweltering at the kitchen table. The temperature has been reaching up to 106 degrees this week and our house has no ac. I lean my head against the wall and notice that from this vantage point the church in our tiny village is exactly centered between two of our porch columns. I vaguely wonder if it would make a good photo. My camera is all the way across the room though and it’s just too hot to move. I feel a bead of sweat slowly trace down my cheek. So I sit and think about the little village church. If you are native to Kathiana it is the church you would attend every Sunday and every holiday. How very different that is from my own church hopping experiences back home. I briefly ponder where we’ll make our church home if we find ourselves moving back to Arkansas. Neither is a given, the move or the church. It’s been a long time since we had a church to call our own and it would take consideration to choose the perfect one for our family. As sunset approaches I watch beautiful golden light bathe the whitewashed village church and I think about the people who worship there. Is it the perfect church for them? Probably not. But all the same they go. They join their family, friends, neighbors, enemies and even the guy who ran over their chicken week after week and they make it work because it’s their home.

As we wait to find out where we will be moving next – these reflections on “home” sit heavily upon my chest. I’m well versed in platitudes on the subject: “home is where the military sends you,” “home is where the heart is,” but platitudes bring me no peace in this period of transition. Nevertheless I move on day in and day out, making lunches, changing diapers and doing all the normal things that can sometimes feel even more a burden during times of limbo. But I’ve been surprised to find that this time the burden doesn’t seem too heavy and I’m mostly able to be at peace in it: in the small moments of every day life and in the assurance that all things work according to a higher plan. In the next couple of weeks we will be set upon a new path and I pray that we will walk it with equanimity, grace and above all, faith. Because while we may not have been born into a small close knit village with a default church, I know that there is a plan and a place for us; be it putting down roots this time or more short term stops along the way. And like that little church, centered and bathed in comforting golden light, I will carry on content in that knowledge.

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Spring in Italy

I like lists. I’m also short on time and assume you are as well, so I’ve decided to run down our Italian adventure in bullet points 😀

Itinerary:

  • Venice: We flew in on Thursday morning. The goals (that we met) were to tour the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Aqua Alta bookshop, the Jewish Ghetto (the original ghetto), to get lost on back streets, eat lots of gelato, chase pigeons, ride a traghetto to the Saturday morning fish market, count lions (the symbol of the city) and have no one fall in a canal.
  • Rome: on Saturday  we took the night rain to Roma termini station, without incident. Our (met) goals here were to take a general bus tour of the city, step foot in Vatican City, tour the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, traipse about famous squares and fountains, and to have Daddy and Rowan take a gladiator training course. We adored our apartment, enjoyed the vibe of the city and would love to return someday to the eternal city!
  • Naples: Tuesday afternoon we grabbed a train down to the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. We had a packed itinerary for the two half days scheduled here that mostly went not-as-planned. We were tired, opening hours weren’t clear on the subterranean city tour and on our way to one of the castles some delinquents threw glass bottles over a ridge, landing close to Rowan and scaring him near to death (we skipped the castle, grabbed some pasteries and went back to our apartment). We were able to visit the museum where most of the artifacts from Pompeii are housed, eat at a famous cafe, see some famous squares/shopping centers, eat some famous deserts, and of course eat pizza in it’s birthplace! We were also able to have a couple of very thrilling metro rides (I have personally never experienced anything like them, nor probably touched so many strangers all at once…except that I did engage in mosh pits as a teenager I seem to remember, so maybe I came close?) and upon getting lost and waiting ages for an airport bus, we hailed a taxi for one last wild adventure (I was panicked and asked him to “hurry.” This was effective and incredibly terrifying.)

Brags/Things that went right:

  • We managed to pack for a week in only carry-on bags!
  • No one fell in a canal!
  • We didn’t miss a single train or plane!
  • We didn’t lose a single kid
  • We saw most of what we wanted to see.
  • We ate lots of gelato
  • We weren’t pickpocketed
  • Our apartments were all very nice/as advertised. In Venice we had a canal view and in Naples we had an incredible 10th floor view of the city and Vesuvius.
  • We worked together to overcome obstacles and bonded on an awesome learning adventure ❤

Things we learned for next time (yes, even with all the travel we have done with kids we still make plenty of mistakes!):

  • Bring sun hats – always. Yes, even when the spring forecast is cool and rainy because it might actually be warm and sunny the entire time.
  • Maybe purchase attraction tickets in advance (although the ticket purchase line at the Colosseum was shorter than the advance ticket line and we were glad we didn’t pre-purchase for the Vatican museums because by the time we were supposed to go, our hearts were not in another museum visit with toddlers…so mileage may vary here).
  • Don’t bother with restaurant recommendations like the ones I painstakingly pinned – we just ended up eating takeaway pizza and supermarket sandwiches anyway – much less stressful than sit down meals with loud, messy, off schedule tots.
  • No markers. I’m sure the train seats/pastel toddler pants will thank us next time.
  • Remind husband extra times about putting color sucking laundry sheets into mixed loads. Or do the laundry myself.
  • Don’t leave the elderberry immune gummies in the car. Although I’m sure we still would have caught colds (because toddlers and public transportation).
  • Leave stroller intact instead of stripping snack tray and sunshade for weight reasons. See above about weather forecasting. Also, it would have spared a few unbelted toddler spills. Oooops.
  • Agree on souvenir and treat prices ahead of time so the kids know what to expect (or not to expect).
  • Accept the lack of early starts.
  • Accept that you’ll cut 1/4 -1/2 of your itinerary.
  • Trains are not scary. Hop on and enjoy the lack of airport uptight-ness.
  • Make time to pee/ get snacks before getting on the train instead of being so uptight about being there and waiting 45 minutes for a gate to even be announced.
  • Conversely: Either give the airport shuttle bus a huge lead time or just take a taxi (instead of frantically hailing one from the bus stop and eating the bus tickets). This could obviously vary by city, but Naples transportation was a crowded, under construction, disorganized nightmare. And…cue the pictures!
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