We had such a great weekend, filled with good news and good times. We found out last Thursday that our Illinois Home Study was approved! This means we are just waiting to receive our notarized copies in the mail, and we can finish our dossier. Essentially what happens next is we apply for our NBC Immigration appointment (get fingerprinted one last time to be approved to bring a child into the country), have our doctor write up our final medical evaluation, get everything apostilled in Springfield, and mail off our complete dossier to be translated and sent to Bulgaria. Then we get added to the Ministry of Justice’s waiting list and wait……for 18-36 months. 🙂 But, every step brings us closer.
After the exciting news of our approved homestudy, we set off in our 1972 AirStream for a family camping trip to Giant City State Park, IL. This was Cora’s first time camping with us, and we knew we’d be in for barrels of fun with her. (Insert a small amount of sarcasm here.)
Andy was able to take a day off for some much-needed family time. We parked our ’72 next to a brand spanking new, shiny Airstream with tinted windows, and called ourselves home. We spent the first day getting settled. Abe and Cora made it their mission to collect every persimmon they found on the ground, which occupied about an hour of their time. There is something so beautiful about watching kids fill an empty tub with “treasures.” Addy is at the age where all she wants is to be allowed to ride her bike like a “big kid” around the camp, so she scoped everything out for us.
After lunch, we geared up for a 1-mile hike….this is no small feat with 3 kids under 6, but they all had SUCH a blast! They are natural explorers so caves, creeks, and climbing are right up their alley. A couple of times we had “bad guys” following us, so we always had to be on the lookout with our guns locked and loaded.
At the kids’ request, we visited the “Lookout” which is a tall water tower with a lookout deck attached at a scenic area in the park. We braved the massive amounts of wasps and somehow made it to the top without anyone getting stung. It was a beautiful, brisk day with blue skies and a forest beginning to transform into the color of flames.
After a long, eventful day we headed back for supper, and I have NEVER seen such quiet, hungry kids at the dinner table. They devoured everything on their plates and anxiously awaited the opportunity to make s’mores!
Addy and Abe were asleep before their heads ever hit the pillow, but poor ‘ol Cora just likes her routine of bath-book-bed-shut the door. She hasn’t really ever slept in the same room with us much, so this is not what she is used to. She was so tired, but didn’t want to give it up without a fight. After we got her calmed down, and she realized this was what was going to happen, she stopped trying to climb out of her pack and play, but that didn’t stop her fun. I laid with my back to her, so she wouldn’t try to convince me to get her out. She kept standing up and patting my back, and Andy would say, “Cora, lay down,” and she would drop like a sack of potatoes and giggle. Repeat this twenty more times and she finally dropped and didn’t get back up again, but it took everything in us not to crack up at her.
So, I need to let you in on a little secret: We are not expert campers. (Gasp.) Andy and I did many tent-camping trips before we had kids, and we have done numerous camping in the backyard experiences with the kids, but we haven’t taken the AirStream out many times,and we certainly don’t always remember to pack everything an experienced RV camper might take….like a tarp. We knew it was supposed to rain that night, but keeping up with the kids all day wore us out, so when it got dark all we could think about was getting everyone to sleep. Around 2:30 AM it had been lightly raining for a few hours when Andy leaned over and said, “Bethany, our shoes are all outside.” Ugh. Cora’s pack and play was in front of the door and there was no moving her without waking her up…which, as any mom will tell you, is not worth it. So, it rained all night and in the morning we woke up to 40 degrees, wet shoes, and wet fire wood. Luckily, we are able to see the humor in these situations and the memories that are being made, so we reluctantly loaded into the truck and I squished into the nearest Wal Mart to buy new shoes for everyone. Whoever said camping is an inexpensive activity ismore intelligent than we are! You live, you learn…..
With dry shoes, we headed to the state park’s lodge for a big breakfast, and then we were ready for another day of hiking and playing. We did a 1/3 mile trail called the Devil’s Standtable, and while exploring a cave and carrying Cora I rolled my ankle on a rock that was out of view. Abe came to my rescue, and announced, “Mommy, I want you to hold my hand. I’ll keep you safe.” He did not let go of my hand for one second on the rest of the trail, and led me and pointed out all the rocks on the path. The boy steals my heart sometimes.
We continued to have fun, make memories, and eat heartily until it was time to go home. When life gets crazy and the load seems too heavy, it always seems to do a heart good to spend time with the Lord away from the chaos. Granted, we take 3 little chaos-es wherever we go, but there is rest for the soul in the rustling leaves and the rain tapping on an aluminum 1972 Airstream roof.