Wednesday, January 27, 2016

another year, another little human!

So, Curtis told me it's been a year since I last blogged. Geez. I had such high hopes for myself. Ha! But in typical fashion life happened and other things took priority, namely, growing a human pretty much all of last year, and gosh, it wasn't exactly a cake walk and on top of two (or three, depending on who's counting!) needy people - it was a year of exhaustion. But now, a year later I have the pleasure of holding the fruits of my labor -- literally! Judah Lee is here and he's the most perfect addition to our family. So hello 2016 & hello to another year of beautiful exhaustion!!! See you next January...haha...but seriously...!!! ;)

Monday, January 26, 2015

ooooh, two posts in one week, it's your lucky day! (and by your, i mean, Curtis')

Soooo, the main reason I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging is because my husband misses it. 

He says because I'm an internal processor, when I write on here he gets a glimpse of the side of me I can't really reflect through just talking. Not even to him. I guess that might be true.  

It's just how I was wired. I don't talk to process information. I write. And lately I haven't made the time to just simply think and write to process my life. I have just been living. No longer simply in survival mode, but just plain old living every day life mode. 

But even with our head above the water, the last year or so has been somewhat of a blur. 
Days often go at the speed of mud while months whiz by in a blink. It's funny how having kids (or is it just growing older?) does that to a person. 

I'm not big into resolutions.
My thought is, if you want to change something, start something, end something, learn something, then just do it. It doesn't have to be the first of the year or even the first of the week to just start whatever it is you've been meaning to start. 

But there is something about a fresh new year, a new calendar, like a fresh journal that gets my mind going a million miles an hour. It gets the to do lists going, gets the gears in my mind winding. 

Really, I'm just trying to be more cognizant of using my time wisely. Mostly because I know that soon nap time won't include all the little people of the house between 1:30 and 4:30 where every little human is sleeping. Pretty soon Micah will grow out of naps, and I may not have that chunk of uninterrupted alone time I do now. I mean, i'm intending on instituting some quiet time into our afternoon routine, but i'm sure it won't be as long as they nap now. So I want to use this time i have now well. And with that, for me at least, comes using my creativity and all that encompasses wherever and whenever possible. 

In the ways I keep my hands busy while watching tv, 
in how I study the bible, 
in activities I do with my kids, 
in the meals I prepare. 

Creativity is not only given to us by God, but creativity has a heck of a way of making the daily grind just a wee bit more fun and a little less, well,  grind-y. 

So, hopefully, unless I fall off the blogging wagon again, I'll be back to share a little peak into what I've been up to and how we've all been keeping busy lately.

There's a lot of growing happening in our home right now. Not only in kids' heights and ages, but in the skills they're learning, in the words they're using (for better or worse) and in so many other areas of our life, where we're all learning and growing. 

So hopefully it won't be another six months before I come back to this little virtual space, because I really do like it here. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

i guess you could call this my quarterly recap

i just randomly opened up my abandoned blogger account and saw this post, written gosh, in august probably, sitting in my drafts folder, wildly outdated but oh well. i haven't posted in some time so i figured i'd start back up with this - so pretend fall is just beginning and this is my catch up from the summer....

life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
-f. scott fitzgerald, the great gatsby

oh the start of fall - how i love thee.
i'm sure i've sang falls sonnets many times on this old blog, so instead of repeating myself, i'll tell you how much i loved this summer. 

the last i wrote here the summer had just begun. and yesterday officially marked the end.
every last day of summer i find myself singing that little dashboard confessional tune, 
"so long sweet summer,
i stumbled upon you and gratefully basked in your rays"

this was one of our most fun summers by far - definitely the best we've had as a family of four.

with too many pool trips to count, we got tan lines, (yes even nyla) and freckles (everyone but nyla did) and ate enough ice cream to last us until next summer.
the boys did a backyard "man only" camp out 
and we took a family vacation to Seabrook Island near Charleston, SC, 
we visited Chicago through Labor Day and drank enough iced coffee to last me through the cold months to come, when only the hottest coffee will suffice. 
we watched fireworks and hosted bbq's and went to the zoo (a lot) and made smores and took a family bike ride and watched a movie in a tent in the back yard, we went to the beach and strolled through the farmer's market and went swimming after dinner until our fingers were like raisins just in time to go to sleep. 

Our kids are at that perfect in between stage where even our littlest is less of a baby and more of a kid, at almost two years old - they're both old enough to skip the occasional nap or push bedtime back an hour or two when there's more fun to be had. and although we do all function better, and are all around much happier when we stick to a schedule, there are times, when long days when the summer sun sets well into the evening call for bedtime walks for frozen yogurt or an extra book or four on the sunporch is more important than some extra zzz's. 

nyla is getting so big and every day she is learning new words and phrases to help her keep up with her brother who never leaves space for any quiet (just like another man in the house i know - and love!) more and more her gibberish is becoming intelligible thoughts and it is so cool to get a peak into her mischievous, hilarious, rambunctious mind. one day a few weeks ago she walked up to me while i was lounging and grabbed the bottom of my shorts and took a little peak and said with a little grin, "you poop mommy?! pee-yew!" she thought that was the funniest thing in the world and because i cracked up she spent the next 15 minutes checking my fake diaper for stinky poop.

me and micah like to play this game where we are babies and we both fake cry for our "momma nyla"and then watch how she mothers us both. she'll bring us blankets and stuffed animals and give us tons and tons of kisses until we both stop crying. then she claps - a job well done. she's gonna make one mean momma one day. she's the craziest mix of feisty and delicate. she is rough and tumble on the outside but her emotions are as delicate as an orchid, the drop of a hat will cause the biggest sob fest, when it doesn't make me crazy, it's the most endearing, funniest thing you'll ever see...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

:: them ::

I have never seen two kids so smitten with each other. It's exactly how I hoped it would be when we thought about adoption and siblings. There are countless times throughout the day I think to myself, "yes, we're doing this, maybe now's a good time to add another tiny human to our family, I've got this."

The part that i overlooked is the intense way, at only three and 17 months, they fight. The biting and spitting and hitting and screaming. It's overwhelming at times. I knew it was coming but man oh man, it came with a vengeance over the last few weeks. And left me, shell shocked and exhausted. It's in those moments I think we must be absolutely insane to consider baby number three. 

And although the good days mostly outweigh the bad, I'm learning and trying to not score my days by the tears and bite marks. I'm trying not to keep tallies of the good and the bad moments, to not sit at the end of the day weighing if the day was a success or a failure based on our actions and attitudes, or how many spankings I had to give. On a good day I can recount to Curtis the foibles of the day and laugh. On a bad day I want to curl up under the dining room table by dinnertime and cry. 

I'm trying to give and show grace. And accept it too. And I'll be the first to admit, most days it's a fight to make the right choice. A minute by minute battle. But as I understand it, it's a battle worth waging. And we'll be waging it with two kids or more, so maybe this shouldn't be my deciding factor in determining whether we should make the leap from two to three. 

Just yesterday Nyla spit at me out of anger at something I told her to stop doing, Micah then looked at me and said, "mom, I think Nyla is spitting cuz she needs a hug."

The wisdom of my three year old. 

And I think he was right. 

Maybe we should all just get in the habit of dog-piling and group hugging each other whether we want to or not. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

:: schoepfle garden ::

last sunday after church we and some friends discovered the beautiful Schoepfle Garden. 

we took a picnic lunch, let the kids run free and enjoyed our crazy, loud group of little friends (I think there were 12 kids in all). There was even a children's garden complete with hidden tunnels and slides and an old school merry-go-round that actually worked. we all took turns getting dizzy as the kids rode on horses and pigs and chickens and waved to those watching. 

these are just some of the shots that our friend mike took of our little family. I think we all enjoyed the feeling of roaming the grounds with a ton of friends, everyone looking out for each other's kids and getting in little bits of conversation here and there.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

coming up for air

i just found this post in my drafts folder, but in re-reading it, it still seems pretty relevant:

whew. i feel like i'm just now barely catching my breath for the first time this year.
like 2014 has held me underwater, like a weight around my ankle, pulling me under
as i frantically used up all my air struggling to the surface to try to gulp another breath.
that's what this year has felt like so far.
trying to come up for air just to gulp down another mouthful of water instead.
but now, i think it's finally safe to say i might have caught my breath. i hope i'm not stating that prematurely. i've come up for air and i hope to keep my head above water for a while now.

i might be making the first few months of the year sound worse than they were.
or maybe not. it's funny how seasons of life can knock you down like a wave, but while in the water you can find yourself floating and happy in the midst of it all.
that was the past few months. or maybe the last year, if I'm being honest.

the last year was hard, so hard in some ways.
so difficult, yet so completely good.
i cannot imagine our life pre-nyla, nor do i want to,
however, this past year has not been void of struggles. both externally and internally.

and the idea of more weeks, or years even, of this new normal of changing vomit-soaked sheets once, twice and even thrice a day and this not napping and screaming without end routine was almost too much to wrap my head around. and the idea of adding a third child to our family, although that's what we wanted, was beyond what my mind could even consider.

and it's funny, just when i felt like i was losing my mind and being swallowed up in self-pity and anger - that was the point when i let God loosen my grip on the idea of needing a healthy, perfect daughter to contemplate the future.

i gave up my right to nap time.
don't get me wrong, i love me some quiet down time during nap time, but i made a choice that whether i got a 20 minute break or a three hour break, my happiness was not dependent on the latter. my love of my children wasn't dependent on whether they gave me a break. and that's easier said than done. i could have a good day even if i cleaned up lots of vomit and my daughter screamed in lieu of sleeping.

let's face it, we are learning about our daughter and all the ways she is unlike our son.
all the things she reacts to differently than he did, her emotions, how she digests food even.
how she reacts to pain and frustration. it is just so completely different and in some ways so foreign to this heart of mine. and everything in me wants to hold my love over her head, over his head to be dangled like a treat - so they get it if they are good and i hold it back if they aren't.

but that's not how love works.
i can only love them because God loved me first and that's not the way God loves me.

he loves me. he just does.
when i rock my kids to sleep or let them scream it out.
whether i give grace or lose my temper.
he just loves me, and because of that, i'm learning to love like that too.
without threatening to withhold it, without using it as leverage, without demands.

so, in the midst of months of barfing and migraines and feeling like i'm drowning,
the Lord, pulled my head back up above the water.

and in the midst of my heart change, nyla has slowly begun to change too.
it's funny, soon after i gave up my right to nap times, she slowly began to sleep again.
and just when i stopped cussing under my breath as i wiped vomit out of curly hair and hardwood floors and sheets, she has begun to vomit less and less.
we've gone weeks, and daresay even months now without wiping vomit from lips and shirts and sheets.

i'm not saying there's a correlation, but i see the grace in it all.

and in the midst of the moments of where we felt like we were sinking, there were many moments in between, lungs full of air and breathing steadily, hopeful and ready for whatever's headed our way...

Monday, November 25, 2013

it's almost been a year

i'm already thinking about nyla's first birthday.
not about a party or gifts, but of all the emotions that were encompassed in that week - almost a year ago - the week of her birth.
the day she was born - december 16, 2012 - i didn't even know she existed in this world,
that thought alone is enough to bowl me over and lose it.
i know some families miss so much more than a child's birth and first week of life - weeks, even years, but for us, the hours that fit into less than six full days felt long, so long.

our girl was born on a sunday and we came to know her on a wednesday.
we came to love her on that wednesday too.
not because we could see her, or smell her milk breath or touch her feather-soft black baby curls,
but because someone on the other end of the phone told us she was ours if we wanted her -

and oh - we wanted her.

from that moment on wednesday morning until the moment we first laid eyes on this tiny girl in a big carseat, dressed in red velvet and a white headband - we were obsessed with her.

that's the only way i can describe it. obsessed.

every thought i thought for the next three days was about her. what she was doing, how she looked, how much she would weigh in my arms.

i'm not exaggerating when i tell you that between wednesday morning's phone call and saturday morning i couldn't stomach more than a bite of food at every meal, more than a sip of coffee before nervous, excited, anxious jitters would consume my appetite, my mind, my entire body really.

sleeping pills were the only thing that helped me sleep those three nights when all i could do was stare at the one picture we'd been given of her - a closeup shot of her little face, fast asleep with a baby hat on.

but now, when i look at her, i don't see that baby everyday - i honestly don't even think about that week all that much anymore - now all i see is my daughter - my feisty, spunky, cuddly, emotional, stubborn beautiful daughter.

my brown-haired, brown-eyed, brown-skinned beauty and i barely remember the fact that i wasn't there on the day she was born, or on the day she was released from the hospital or there to rock her on her first night home, or to give her her first bottle.

i don't think about it much anymore, but today i do.

today, i remember and thank God for the firsts we do share. our first time hearing her name and seeing her picture on my phone. the first time we laid eyes on her in the flesh and the first time they handed her to me.

the first bottle i gave her in a columbus barnes and noble

and the first night she slept in our room.

there is so much to be thankful for amidst the loss that's also mingled with our gain. and it's thanksgiving week so now is as good a time as any to start remembering, right?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

worth sharing: a hard week in review

*despite the hard week, these two still make my heart beat fast and furious with love

last week most of my energy was spent frustrated, exhausted, angry, resentful, and just plain pooped.

Micah has hit a whole new level of insubordinate disobedience, rebellion, and anger. At some points last week i felt like i was being abused, all his emotional energy, frustration and anger was targeted at me. the yelling, hitting, screaming when not focused at his little sister, was spewed directly in my direction. It took all the energy i had not to explode right back at him during his outbursts. I admit i failed on more than one occasion. spankings were given, prayers were said, but day after day it all felt like one big ball of parental failure.

lunch with my mom and grandmother ended in me sitting with him outside the restaurant while they ate.

a bible study/playdate with a girlfriend was peppered by temper tantrums and tears.

by sunday i didn't even want to go to church. my energy - physical, emotional and spiritual felt zapped and drained. the well was dry, i felt empty to my toes. only in retrospect do i see that that is just the place God likes us. desperate, empty, pleading - no begging - for mercy, like the weakling in an unbalanced arm-wrestling match. that was me.

so despite wanting to stay in bed, buried in blankets we went.

and just like i should've expected both our kids were ridiculously crazy. nyla was trying to squirm out of my arms, only wanting to crawl on the ground, crying when i wouldn't let her roam free. micah wanted to stand "like his own" next to us but from experience he just wanted to find another miniature co-conspirator to his anarchy against sunday mornings. So in Curtis' arms he yelled and screamed to "get down" until he had no choice but to take him to the back. Eventually i was left there, in my seat, butt down on the chair while everyone else was standing and singing, and no doubt judging out lack of control with our mere two kids when many of them have oodles more, all well-behaved, singing along and honoring their mothers and fathers. (yeah, i know that's not what was actually happening, but it always feels like it doesn't it, when in fact, all the other parents of littles are probably in the same boat as us, thinking the same self-depricating thoughts as i) but either way, i was annoyed at my kids, annoyed at God for bringing us all the way to church to do this - discipline. crowd control. but definitely not worship. what was the point?

When we finally got both kids settled in their respective sunday school classes (the nursery for Nyla) we both breathed a sigh of relief. the sermon began by our friend jonathan, and it was good. on a passage i had never understood, so i read along and took notes.

not five minutes after it started i got a tap on my shoulder. Nyla was inconsolable in the nursery. i sighed. of course she was. as i was closing my bible to get up and get her, Curtis said, "you stay, i'll go get her." and so he did. and i stayed and listened.

the sermon was great, but it was something he said, almost unrelated to the passage but relevant to his application points at the end that hit me hardest. he said, "we've come to believe that we can't worship unless all our preverbal and preferential stars are aligned."

and then i was convicted. in that moment i knew my preferential stars were my kids. whether it be obeying, behaving, napping, being quiet, listening when i spoke, when they are none of those - even now and as i type and nyla cries - Jesus is calling me to worship despite all these seemingly out-of-my-control stars. when they aren't aligned but falling, and falling fast.

And then it was over. we got our two crazies and we went home, the sermon still swirling in my head.

Then a book i had ordered the week before came in the mail. It's called Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. this is what the first page said,  it was merely part of the intro by Annie Keary (1825-1879):

"I think i find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hinderances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one's work. Then one can feel that perhaps one's true work - one's work for God - consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one's day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted  to think, it is the most important part of the work day - the part one can best offer to God. After such a hinderance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it."

then mere hours later i read this in a book Curtis is reading that i just happened to pick up later in the day:

"How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still long enough to learn from them [...] the seed of God's word won't grow to fruitfulness without pruning for rest, quiet and calm." 
-from Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung

Since Micah was born i haven't been a reader like i was pre-children, but this week God knew not only that I needed to read, but also what i needed to read. Case-in-point, like these verses in Colossians during my (helter-skelter) bible study with my friend Katie yesterday morning (while surrounded by our four kids, all 2.5 and under - hence the helter-skelter part):

It said: "May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light [...] continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard..."
-Colossians 1: 11-12, 23

John Calvin said the human heart is "a thick forest of thorns," and i have found that to be true in me. over and over and over.

Elisabeth Elliot goes on to say:
"Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Savior and Helper delights in quieting us [...] The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances."

Amen and amen.

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure [...] The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance."
-Psalm 16:5-6

so maybe among the many thorns last week, a bud. i know it's not spring but it feels like somethings growing. and with growth, growing pains are inevitable, but definitely not a waste of time.

"It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted  to think, it is the most important part of the work day - the part one can best offer to God."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

and it is FINAL!

at 3pm June 24, 2013 (yesterday) we met our lawyer, stepped into this little courtroom and waited for the judge to rule the finalization of Nyla's adoption.

the questions started off easy, are you Jessica Penick? yes. Is (this) your current address? yes. Is this your signature on this form? yes. Then the questions got a little less straight forward. Were you convinced or coerced in any way to adopt this child? no. do you realize that after today, nyla will be your legal daughter and any costs associated with her, including medical fees, will be your responsibility? absolutely.

after a few more questions the judge looked at Micah who was sitting on Curtis' lap and said, "You must be the big brother. What is your name?" to which micah nervously and shyly started biting on his fingers. We responded for the court record, "this is Micah David Penick." The judge then asked, "Micah, how do you like being a big brother?" It was at that moment that micah smiled, turned to Nyla and said, "I love Nyla!" It was the perfect response to what each of us was thinking and feeling. She is our daughter and has been since the moment we heard she was ours on December 19, 2012, three days after she was born.

After the judge was through with his questioning, our lawyer asked us a list of questions, mostly yes or no, for the record. It was an interesting, but also a surprisingly short hearing for how monumental it felt for us.

At the very end he pronounced that Nyla Grace Penick's adoption was officially final. She would be given a social security number (instead of an adoption ID number) and her original birth certificate would be sealed and she will be issued a new birth certificate that has our names on it under mother and father. How amazing is that. On paper (and in our hearts) it's as though she was biologically born to us. so awesome!

We then took photos with the judge, which you can see above. Our lawyer took the shots as Curtis made a passing joke about her photography fees costing $750 like her services did.

Then we left with our friends who came to support & celebrate with us and headed out in the blazing heat to celebrate with ice cream.  then we said our goodbyes and headed back to Cleveland to start our new post-finalization life together.

And that my friends is the end of Nyla's adoption story. She is no longer our adopted daughter. She was adopted. Now she's just our daughter.

Monday, May 20, 2013

catching up. well, not really but i just found this cute update in my drafts folder.

i wrote the following right after i ended my series on the story of nyla's arrival. i guess in foggy mommy mode, i forgot to hit the publish button. it's funny how a few months can change so much...

we celebrated christmas as a new family of four
curtis turned 30
we rang in 2013 in bed, catching our zzzz's between feedings
we got into a new rhythm of normal (albeit a sleep-deprived, crazy type of normal)
we were up a lot in the night with no rest during the day
but now... oh, we've reached a good normal
our girl is two months old and she's been sleeping through the night all week
last night she slept almost 10 hours straight 
micah will be two years old on monday
and we have reached a new, steadier, normal with two kids

HA! now Nyla is 5 months old and Micah is well past 2. 
Curt's been 30 for months now and i'm 4 days away from 31. 
Nyla and Micah both sleep 12 hours a night and their afternoon nap gives me at least a couple hours of peace and quite.
It's a good life we've got - today after our second to last (!) social worker visit we spent the rest of the morning in the backyard, micah splashing away in the baby pool while nyla laid on a blanket under the shade of the umbrella. and i, well i sat close enough to nyla to entertain her while still getting my legs in the sun and close enough to micah to throw helicopter seeds at him in the pool and to remind him to stop drinking the water in the pool. 
It's going to be a fun summer with these two - not a lot of r&r, but as soon as i figure out the best way to take two kids to the city pool alone and we'll be set.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Don't be crazy, be happy.

a few Fridays ago we went to lunch with Nana (my grandma).

On the way there i told Micah that I wanted him to behave.

From the backseat he then asks, "behave means mommy?"

Instead of answering him I asked a question right back, as i've started to do a lot lately because his answers are both hilarious and usually spot on.

So i asked him what he thought behave meant:

He said, "don't be crazy, be happy."

Yup, that pretty much sums it up kid.

love these two

if you can't tell I love these little rugrats. like love LOVE them. 
for all the hard moments there are a hundred amazing, hilarious, endearing ones. 
they are awesome & make every day exciting.
sometimes during naptime or after they go to bed at night I look through the pictures of the day on my phone and just smile. 
or we'll lay in bed at night and I'll show curt the funny little videos I took. 
when the sleep I'm always glad for the break, but I gotta admit, sometimes I miss them. 
but when I do I can just sneak a peek at them on their little webcams in their rooms and watch their peaceful little faces as they snooze away. 

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