Monday, June 30, 2008

And then there were three... or is it five...

Our third little bundle is set to arrive in the beginning of February. Everyone is quite excited.

And even though we're only eight weeks in, it seems like my belly's already starting to change. Still, the midwife's confident it's only one little person in there. :) So far my continued nursing of Penelope has seemed to ward of some off the more undesirable first trimester symptoms, though I am tired. Very. Tired.

Tired and excited. Feeling very, very blessed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Annabella was born four years ago today at 6:28 a.m. after sixteen hours of exhausting labor. The midwife, whose voice ushered me to the other side of my worst contractions, said it was a beautiful birth; she told me, "Dance your baby out..." as I swayed back and forth by candlelight, her voice and my mother's touch the lights at the end of what seemed an infinite tunnel.

When it was over and we could see this little girl with a head full of dark brown hair, I knew for the first time what it was to have all my best hopes, wildest dreams, and most vulnerable parts of me balled up and placed inside this tiny, fragile person. I had a whole new set of fears now that her fragility housed everything I knew to be Good. Having her placed on my belly (after a few moments of trying to convince her to breathe) was like walking through a door into a world I knew nothing about, whose possibilities I could not comprehend, whose challenges I could not anticipate. Among the few things I did know that have proven true was the fact that I had never loved like this before--a love that was overwhelming and true, but twinged with pain, because I could never fully protect this little life again now that my womb was no longer her home. She would feel cold, she would know hunger and sadness. And reality has only broadened those possibilities: she now knows what it is to be teased, ignored, disliked, written off, inaccurately defined; she's seen hatred and cruelty, despite my best efforts to keep her from them. And all this makes me see so clearly what a privilege it is to be able to be the place these little people--this little person--can land. Her home. Her always-and-forever-family. What a huge, terrible responsibility, and what an honor. I would be negligent, of course, if I did not say that those things I long keep from her will be brought into her life in the timing that the Lord has forseen and allowed. In this, I have no complaint; instead I thank Him for His Spirit to guide and the wisdom He imparts when this mother needs it most.

Today, on her fourth birthday, I am amazed by her. She aspires to be a professional soccer player-ballerina-archaeologist-marine biologist-mommy. She's fascinated by insects, dinosaurs and sea creatures, particularly those of the predatory ilk. Playing dress-up is a favorite pass time, as is being read to, wearing dresses, drawing, making things for those she loves, taking baths, picking flowers, riding her bike, playing with makeup, collecting and digging for coins/treasure, going to church and playing with friends. The help she provides me is truly a gift; her spirit is kind and encouraging. She adores leaves, and loves to make natural collections of all sorts: rocks, bugs, pine cones...When she prays, she has an honest, open, and grateful heart before the Lord. She's learning new things that surprise me quite regularly. This week, for instance, "That's a whirligig beetle, Mommy. You know because it has black wings, black all over." That was after a severe thunder storm last week that caused us to lose a few very large branches from our Norway Maple, and Annabella collected fallen sticks to "make a burnt offering. Just like Abraham."
To our sweet, big girl: we love the person the Lord has created you to be. Your quirks are the special markers of our little girl; your gifts, our chance to revel in God's handiwork; your challenges, opportunities for the Lord to reveal more of His character; your grace, our pride.

Happy birthday, Annabella Jane Joy. Happy, happy birthday.

Before we met you:

Brand new (day 2):

Two:Three:Four. Birthday picnic breakfast:

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Year Ago Today

Penelope Mae Joy came into our lives in earnest at 1:02 a.m. after a short, intense labor from which I emerged energized. My sister didn't make it to the birthing center in time to see the delivery, even though that had been our plan and there was only a 90 minute drive for her from Charlotte, NC to Greenville, SC. When I arrived, my midwife alluded to the fact that the baby was imminent, and I was irritated because I thought she was getting my hopes up prematurely... but when she asked if I wanted her to "check" me (ie: my dilation progress), I was "complete" (birthing-speak for the whole banana--"you've done the hard part, now push, sister!"--a VERY rewarding thing to hear). It was, by comparison, a very easy delivery, and it was only an introduction to the joyful ease with which this beautiful daughter would fit into and fill our family.

I remember after my mom and sis had left the center and the midwife, my tired husband and beautiful baby had all fallen asleep with the fatigue of the hour, I lay awake for at least an hour, the praise bubbling inside of me, so overwhelmed by the gift of this child. The thought was too wonderful for me. I couldn't stop thanking God for the perfect little person nestled up next to me, breathing softly, so peacefully ours.

We got up and cleared out of the center by mid morning. Penelope was nursing well, and considering, I felt great. We went home, to my mom's, and were greeted with balloons and oodles of pink gifts...we shared a meal...

Which brings me to today. The gifts and the meal, that is. Because today, that tiny baby is a walking, talking, growing little person, and it's hard to believe. I was honestly having a hard time with it all until today came; I'm finding it much harder to watch my baby achieve milestones, because this time around, I have a sense of how fleeting it will indeed be. I didn't know with my first one. And when I say walking, let me state for the record, that this little girl has a great sense of timing (future comedienne, possibly?): she saved her first steps, her first real walking, for today.

Enjoy a brief overview of our darling's first year...

Moments old; not even cleaned up yet:

Week One--sleeping with Mama:

One Month--with Daddy at new home:

Two Months-- Northern Michigan vacation:

Three Months--napping at the park:

Four Months--last warm day at the lake for '07:

Five Months--baby cow:

Six Months--Christmas morning, crown and all:

Seven Months--out in the cold:

Eight Months--enjoying a bath:

Nine Months-- Easter:

Ten Months--the beginning of spring:

Eleven Months--big enough to REALLY love the park:

And finally, First Birthday-- celebration picnic:

We love you, Precious Penny Joy! Happy Birthday!


Just as I am currently denying that today is Penelope's first birthday, I will deny that I haven't posted a blog in over two months. If you will kindly buy into this convention with me, everyone will be happier. O. K.

The last eight weeks have been jam-packed: family visits; many local adventures with our little clan; SPRING in full glory; the painting/continued decorating of several rooms in my house; pulling up of oodles of carpet to find our old hardwoods; growing babies; reading lessons; cutting of new teeth; growing out of a first "real" bicycle; trying so hard to learn to walk; being accepted to MSU for grad school (Jake, not me); and lots and lots of bike riding.

In the interest of brevity for all you loyal (and surprised... "wow--she's still alive!") readers, I will post pictures with captions only.

These two precious ladies visited:

Nana was thrilled to get to spend some time with her girlies, and the elder one, in particular, was thrilled to have her Nanable around. There were lots of baby walks in the stroller, and even a date night or two for Mommy and Daddy, for which we were very grateful.

Ain't Sayrah at an Ethiopian coffee shop. During her visit wonderful, wonderful sister-catch-up-time ensued, as well as all sorts of auntie silliness. Man, are we glad she's home and can talk to us on the phone! And we're also glad she brought Mommy the new favorite earrings that she's been wearing at least 5 times per week that were bought at an African market, and that she was around to take pictures like this:
Beautiful, golden locks went from this:

To this:
We purchased the long-awaited bike trailer, which has given us hours and DAYS of recreational thrills,

going places like this...

to do things like this...

and playing so hard, this happens.

Oh, yes, she has been doing this if we look the other way... and trying even when we don't.

And now that it is finally creeping up into the 80's, Joys have been been seen doing beach-like activities pretty regularly.So, now that you remember what we all look like, I'll fill in the gaps. Jake was accepted to MSU to begin the Master of Arts program in Public Relations starting at the end of August. He will be one busy man, but we're all very proud of him, and know he'll do a great job. He's also devoting much of his energy to growing out his hair.

Annabella's reading lessons are going well! Teaching her is one of the most fun and rewarding things I've ever done... even when her attention span is that of, well... her age. It's been a great adventure, and it's so fun to see her writing her letters and sounding things out with such pride.

Penny Joy is our constant delight. She loves to entertain, say fun new words and make animal noises (my personal favorite!). She also has a new-found interest, no, passion for shoes. Daily she goes to find her shoes, attempt to put them on, and when she fails, she'll bring them to me with a whine on her face, asking for help. When they are put on for her, she is always very satisfied.

I have been gearing up for a new position as the Special Events Coordinator for our local chapter of MOPS, which excites me greatly. My first steering team meeting is tomorrow, and I can't wait! I've also been serving in our children's ministries at church quite regularly, in addition to picking out new curtains and paint, furniture and wood stain. Ooooh, so much fun!

Now that we're all caught up, you can expect birthday photos/sentiments to be posted in the next few days... even though I'm not yet willing to admit that there's actually a birthday to document. Not yet. ;)