p.s. I am alive over here in newborn land. There is a reason why people disappear during their child’s first three or so months of life. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done feeling the most euphoric I’ve ever felt. I am happy. I am busy. I am tired. I smile big often and shed tears every few days. Being a mother is a dream come true, but being outnumbered by babies is quite the marathon! xo
Upon waking up from her nap I greeted Charley with her “bayee” Lola and laid her down on Charley’s beloved pillow pet. And, like the strongest magnet in all the world she immediately dropped down to link their cheeks together. Lola smiled, Charley laid still and I was able to capture an image I will cherish forever.
Well, we’ve been home a full week and it’s been a beautiful chaos. I packed a suitcase on January 5th and drove to Knoxville, TN for a weekend away with 6 of my best girlfriends. I returned home almost three weeks later with a newborn.
I am still processing it all and am anticipating it taking a good month more to grasp all that happened in January of 2012.
This afternoon has been the first afternoon it’s been just me and the girls at home (my mom left this morning). I put Charley down for her nap and made Lola a palette in the bathroom so that I could enjoy a nice, warm shower. I was thinking through all the things I am most grateful for this past week …
- Although we paid more than we would have liked I am grateful Lola and I were able to fly home on a direct flight and have a very sweet reunion with Corey and Charley at the airport. I had no idea how Charley would be, having not seen me minus FaceTime for almost three weeks, but she ran to us and I cried like a baby.
- I am grateful Lola, like Charley, loves the Moby. The Moby, as many of you know, is the one baby item I could NOT live without. Literally, I would be handicapped
- OMG, Melatonin is the best vitamin ever! I did not have any jet lag because of 1, tiny little pill. Every night I’ve taken it and within 15-20 minutes I am fast asleep. And, since it’s all natural when I get woken up 2-3 hours later to feed the baby I am not the least bit groggy (at least not from the medicine).
- The weather this week has been ridiculously amazing! Like in the 50′s and 60′s everyday AND sunny. And, we live in the Midwest. Best gift Mother Nature could have given me!
- I am so very relieved and grateful that Charley adores the “baby.” She is very concerned about her, always coming to get me when she hears the slightest peep and has freely shared everything – her food, her blanket and even her lovie (which is HUGE).
- Prepared food in the freezer is the ultimate gift when you have a newborn. I cannot be any more grateful for food. It’s just not possible.
- Since we had absolutely not time to prepare for Lola our house was a total wreck upon returning home. Mom and I worked furiously (and my mother-in-law cleaned the house all day the day we flew home!!) getting everything organized and put back together. Lola is officially settled in our room and the girls’ stuff is all organized in their room. To celebrate I bought myself a $5 bouquet of flowers.
- Beautiful weather, my girls, the Moby and an afternoon at the zoo was fun and refreshing. We finished off the night at A Tavola eating delicious pizza and drinking an amazingly refreshing beer. Their seasonal butternut squash pizza was to die for.
- My mom. What else can I say? When she drove away today I had a 5-second anxiety attack. She is so intuitive and so helpful and I could NOT have made the transition home without her.
- Gifts + friends. It has been so sweet to be showered with so many thoughtful gifts and to also have friends so eager to come over and meet Lola. There is nothing as sweet as your friends thinking your baby is as amazing and beautiful and perfect as you do.
- When you are forced to get up a couple of times in the middle of the night it is so nice to have some reading materials so that you don’t fall alseep (which is not really an option when you’re bottle feeding). I have been catching up on my blog reading during those late night feedings. One night during a feeding when I was in CA I accidentally did a screen capture of my phone. I decided to keep it as a reminder of the season we find ourselves in.
- And, of course Lola. She is so beautiful and sweet and minus some bits of fussy-time she is very laid back, an excellent eater and sleeper. She has always done the “gas” smiling, but today when I was talking to her she smiled twice in a row. I am so excited for those days! They make the sleep deprivation all the more worth it.
Corey’s brother and wife and son (who is only 3-months younger than Charley) are coming to town tonight. Although Corey is working all weekend (boo) I am looking forward to this weekend together, eating at Hofbrauhaus and attending our church’s famous Superbowl weekend service (which feels like a mini-Superbowl!). On Sunday, some of our friends have offered to take Charley to the museum for the afternoon and I plan to take a nap. I hope Lola wishes to do the same. ; )
Dearest readers and friends,
I am so excited to finally be able to share why I have been missing these past few weeks …
Tuesday, January 10th I was sitting in a movie (Twilight – during “the scene” no less!) when I noticed my girlfriend’s phone lighting up. I looked over to see Corey’s number on her screen. “That’s Corey’s number!??” So, she quickly handed me her phone and in that moment my heart sank. Something awful has happened, I thought to myself. “Have you not seen your phone blowing up?!?,” he asked. “Well .. NO! What!?! What is it?!”
And, in that moment I found out that not only had we been matched with a birth mom but the baby had BEEN BORN! “She’s full Korean, a girl, two days old,” he told me.
I was shaking.
And, thus started the most beautiful, harrowing, tiring, confusing, most natural 14-days we’ve had … well .. since Charley was born. This experience has been so similar in so many ways and so different in others.
Nevertheless, with all papers signed we are over-the-moon excited to announce the newest addition to our family!
Lola Hasun (named by her birth mom; Korean for “God’s gift”) Cudzilo
Born: January 8th at roughly 8:20 p.m.
The girls will be just a bit less than 18 months apart. I pray they are each others very best friend, very biggest fan and confidante. The Lord has written their story so beautifully and similar and somehow we find ourselves humbly (and nervously!) accepting the Lord’s gift and challenge to give them the very best life possible. We desire only that they would know Him deeply and intimately and know that they have both been written a story so very special.
Truly we are overwhelmed with God’s kindness. In the midst of despair we clung to Him and with a big fight eventually surrendered to a story only He could write for our family. What an adventure that has been! Truly the best adventure I’ve ever experienced.
I will write more about Lola’s story someday soon. For now, I am still in California (just the two of us) while we wait to get the green light from Ohio that we can go home. I am SO grateful to be able to be at my sister’s house (I’ve never been so happy she lives in California in all my life!) as we wait, but I am also missing my dear husband and firstborn more than I’ve ever missed anything in all my life.
Taken the day we got the call, the night before we flew to California …
As you can imagine, I am more than ready to have the four of us under the same roof.
Thank you for letting me gush. I truly feel like I’ve won the lottery again.
p.s. And, in case you’re curious to know the nursery looks just as it did here. At least I have a rug. ; )
ETA: During a routine blog update many of your comments did not transfer over, but know that I read all of them and am so grateful for each of you!
This time last year I shared my 2011 goals/dreams on The Creative Mama. Their website is currently being updated so I’m unable to link to my article, but I was able to find the list still living on my computer. I’ll admit, I revisited the list practically never after February, but surprisingly I kept to about 80% of it (highlighted in blue):
- Get new carpet.
- Turn the basement into a family room where we can all hang out, play and rest together.Turn the dressing table into a desk for Charley.
- Move the TV (somewhere, anywhere!) from the main level – create a space where family time does not have any electronic interruptions (minus music).
- Continue to create a space that is free of clutter and full of an invitation to live simply.
- Find and buy large galvanized buckets. Grow a garden. (Our spring got so busy so fast we decided to skip growing a garden this year.)
- Build drawers on casters to hold magazines, books and toys under our bed. (HGTV took care of this for us.)
- Refinish and paint the stairs. (I’ve been working on these super slowly all year, but I’m 90% of the way done. All that is left is to paint 1-2 more coats of white paint on the risers.)
- Create a unique way to display photos leading upstairs to our bedroom.
- Turn my 7-10 year old photography workshop into a book that families can do together during the summer months. (In the works!)
- Brainstorm the possibility of hosting a workshop live so that I can meet some of the 300+ students I’ve had. (I definitely brainstormed, but with many things with 503 I had to scale back more than I had planned this past year.)
- Formulate a marketing plan to book more senior photo shoots.
- Collect more recipes and be better at planning a week’s worth of dinners so that we’re not always trying to think of something last minute (I definitely took steps in the right direction, but this is something I need to continue to work on).
- Create a photo book of black and white headshots of every single person that plays a significant role in my life. (Woh. This is a HUGE one and honestly one that might not happen – or take years to do. But, it’s something I’ve dreamed of doing for so long and I’ve decided to just add it to the list.)
- Get family photos taken of us and create a 2010 book of memories.
- Return to the city where Charley was born and take pictures documenting the weekend during her birth, adoption and coming home.
- Care more for others – make unhurried visits, mail gifts, write cards, drop off food, etc, etc. (I will always be a work in progress on this.)
- Spend more intentional, unhurried time with God. (I will always be a work in progress on this as well.)
2011 was a HUGE and, for the most part, really good year for us. We had so many milestones it seemed (with house updates, finalizing Charley’s adoption, HGTV, Charley turning one, Taking better care of my body by eating better and working out, saying goodbye to Chili, Corey finishing residency and starting his fellowship, Charley turning into a toddler, tons of traveling, deciding to adopt again, and so much more.
As 2012 approaches I am feeling so excited and optimistic about life. I will never hesitate to exclaim when life feels this way because I surely have never hesitated to exclaim when life hasn’t felt this way. It’s just nice to feel like I am in a place in life where I really feel like I’m thriving; as a child of God, a wife, a mother and an entrepreneur. I am seeing more so now than ever before the Lord’s kindness and grace. I am a hot mess, people! So it’s freeing for me to feel confident with the strengths God has given me and humble in my weaknesses (which feel like they outweigh my strengths most days). I don’t have quite as long of a list for 2012, but I definitely have some high hopes and goals for myself and my family.
- Finish stairs (just do it already!)
- Paint and re-install railing
- Paint chest of drawers in babe #2′s room
- Learn InDesign
- Design kid’s book
- Research finding office space outside of home
- Build and launch —— (it’s a secret ; )
- Connect in-person with more photographers (starting in just a few weeks now that I’ve talked my web-only-for-now-friend, Gail, in to coming to hang out in Cinci for the weekend! ; )
- Organize our lives so that less “multi-tasking” takes place*
- Take an adventurous trip!
- Become a family of 4 (eeeek! sigh … hooray!)
- Remind myself more often that I am nothing without God and that I make really terrible decisions when I don’t consult Him first. These two things always fuels my fire to spend more time with Him.
*I’ve realized just recently that our daily schedules aren’t really working out for us right now. This past year from about January to September being a work-at-home mom was incredibly difficult. Now, it’s completely impossible. I can sort of make it work when Corey gets home at a decent hour (i.e. 6′ish). That way we can enjoy dinner together and spend a moment together after she goes down and then I can work until midnight or so without feeling guilty. But, these past few months – with his fellowship in full force – he hasn’t been getting home until 7:30-9:00 (9:00 for two weeks straight!) and I’m feeling more pulled and stretched then ever. So, I’ve been spending some intentional time thinking and processing and praying on how I can make some changes in our life to make life work a bit better. I don’t have it all worked out, but I’m on the road. This, right now, is my first priority for the New Year: figuring out how to do less “multi-tasking.” I loathe spending time with Charley and hopping on and off the computer. I want to work well and efficiently and then I want to mother well. Doing the two simultaneously is kind of ridiculous to even attempt.
I started this post nearly a week ago now. Such is life in this season I’m in. I sort of snickered when I read over the part where I wrote about how excited and optimistic I am about life right now. It’s true that I am. But, still I had a quick flash to last night when I had to call our friend (who is a pediatrician, Corey was of course working) nearly in tears to come help me because Charley had a 104.2 temperature and the Tylenol wasn’t working. She came armed with Ibuprofen and reassurance that she was going to be okay.
Then, I asked Corey, as we were brushing our teeth, when this rather dreadful month (and schedule) would be over. He said – quite casually – “well, there will be a bit of repreive at the end of the month and then February is gonna suck and then March is gonna be pretty awful with two weeks of night call.” I finished getting ready for bed, walked out of the bathroom and into our bedroom, took one look at him (who was already in bed, on my side to warm it up) and burst into tears.
Sometimes life just sucks and it feels silly to feel that way because we have a roof and food and the sun shines and everyone is healthy (healthy meaning no one is terminally ill) and we have each other. But, then sometimes I dip down into my bucket and I realize it’s only got a few drops of water left and then I realize that even if nothing tragic is occurring things can still be tough. And, that’s okay. We’ll of course make it through (we’re in our 9th year of this for crying out loud!) and we will be stronger. In the meantime I’m reminded that I’m not as strong as I think I am most days. Luckily I have a God who is happy to step in and fill my bucket overflowing. I need it more than ever these days.
This morning I read the excerpt below from here and I sighed in relief …
The funny thing about New Year’s resolutions is how they can overinflate our self-image, making us think it’s up to us to make it a better year. Maybe we pledge to lose weight, quit drinking or volunteer more. And while none of these are bad, they’re typically rooted in the false assumption that we’re strong enough to do it on our own. We figure if we can just do a little more, be a little better, than we’ll earn ourselves a happier year. Exhausting.
But there’s an alternative. We can drop the whole resolution bit and step into the flood of God’s grace. We can say that today, January 2nd, we’ll rely on God’s power, not our own brute strength or good effort. We’ll believe in His love for us and quit trying to earn merit badges. We’ll be calm and open-handed, knowing we can trust Him to work through and around us. Then, instead of egos and exhaustion, we will find his freedom.
Happy January 2nd.
Perfectly said. Happy January 2nd, dearies,
Christmas this year was extra special because the entire Cudzilo family got to be together. When you have 5 boys, 3 wives, 3 different cities, babies, jobs and more it’s incredibly difficult to all be together. This is especially true when one of the brothers (the one I’m married to) works most holidays. But, not this year! He was not only able to get the weekend off, but Friday and Monday, too. It was such a treat! Last Christmas was also special since it was our first Christmas as a family of three, but we didn’t see him on Christmas until almost 5 o’clock. This Christmas I loved being woken up by a kiss and a “Merry Christmas, Babe.”
The chaos was in full-force and, although all of us experienced some level of over-stimulation at some point, in the end it was a perfect way to wrap up a very busy and beautiful year (more on that later).
One of my father-in-law’s greatest loves is to document our lives with his cameras. Most of all of our lives in his presence is documented either in pictures or video. As you can imagine this role that he plays in our lives is one we all are so incredibly grateful for. There’s nothing as special as revisiting dear moments from your past by looking through pictures and watching videos. Truly, you cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time he spends preserving our pasts in the most beautiful of ways. And, because of this I take my role as our immediate family’s photographer much more serious. I want my own children (their future spouses and children, too!) to be able to be as blessed by old pictures and videos as we have been by my father-in-law’s diligence in freezing moments in time.
Typically, when I know my father-in-law is going to be the same place I am I leave my camera at home. This time I brought it along and took a few random snapshots. I’ve become sort of obsessed lately with not killing the clutter. You know how when you learn basic principles of composing a picture one of the things you learn is “killing the clutter?” Meaning, move in close, eliminate all that distracts, strive for simplicity in your photo, etc. I definitely think there’s beauty in those types of photos, but recently I’ve become more focused on capturing rooms as a whole. Even if this includes the laundry basket in the corner or the toys on the floor. Even if this means taking a picture of the stockings hung with a diaper bag on the floor and a bunch of computer wires. Yes, even if this means the dog’s head who walked right in front of your camera as the shutter snapped. I’m just wanting to – more than ever before – capture moments without manipulating them. Whatever happens happens and is captured as is. Mess, clutter, chaos, poor lighting and all. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for now it’s totally mine.
(How’s that for a title? Ha! ; )
I still receive comments from the teaching series I did for MCP last summer (6 steps to go from a hobbyist to a professional photographer (which can be read here, if you’d like)). Just this morning I received another comment and I clicked over and read the very first post I wrote for the series. I hadn’t read it since it was published last summer so it felt new. Reading the post was so very timely.
I have ideas and dreams for myself, my family and the industry I’m so blessed to be a part of. And, I find it’s so easy with a little bit of stress and a little bit of tiredness to start second guessing myself. I did it just this morning. I have a list of things I have written out to accomplish by the end of January and today I woke up feeling a bit tired (even though I got good sleep). I laid in bed, listening to Charley roll around, and wondered if I should shelf some ideas. But, immediately a part of me aches thinking about it. And, the ache is enough to let me know that anyone with ideas that are lofty and risky is going to second guess themselves at times. It’s only natural. So, reading the words I wrote to and posted for MCP last summer just an hour or so later was – like I said – so very timely.
It’s understandable that you’re terrified, doubtful and insecure about where you are. You desire something you think you want so much, but what if … what if it doesn’t work? You’ll look like a fool, you know? So, your only other option is to play it safe. Don’t pursue the dream that’s keeping you up at night. Get a job you’ll love almost as much and tell yourself that things are better that way. Save yourself the money, the late nights, the risk. Dreams come and go. This one will die, too.
Or will it? What if it doesn’t? And, you cage it? All because you feared taking a risk and failing! Do you really want to get to your 50’s and realize you wasted the best years of your life because you were scared of failing? By then it will be too late to do all that is swirling around in your head right now.
You have to do it. At least try. Otherwise, you’ll only be left with the “what ifs.”
Mark Twain said it best … “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Now go. You will never regret it. Yes, even if it fails.
So, I’m reminded this morning that it’s not about doing it without any sense of fear or hesitation, it’s not about doing it all in one day and it’s definitely not about doing it without mistakes. It’s simply about doing it. One grace-filled and intentional day at a time.
How about you? What is that one thing you can’t stop thinking about?
I found this on Pinterest a few weeks ago and I tagged it with the line “just do it or let it go.” There are things I need to let go. Dwelling on them only wastes mental energy. Then there are other things that I need to start doing something with.
And, of course the words so many of us have read from Steve Jobs:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone elses life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
So, this week I plan on revisiting this post on a daily basis and reminding myself that …
1. Even if it fails at least I know I tried.
2. I’m going to put some of my thoughts to rest and others into action.
3. My intuition exists for a reason.
Would love to know your thoughts on all of this, sweet readers …
I realized this week that family is the strongest unit in all the world. That none of us could be or do or even exist without family. That many of us make sacrifices every day to serve and love and simply be present for people we call family. That hours spent scrubbing dishes and cleaning floors, rocking a sick baby back to sleep, taking deep breaths when a teething toddler is throwing a temper-tantrum, driving kids to school and sports, making lunches and prepping dinner – yes, all these things we do for our family. And, no it’s not easy. It’s hard and trying and tiring. And, if we can all just be honest for a minute it’s pretty thankless. Of course none of us would ever say we do anything for our family to receive a thank you, but at the same time we all do things that no one will ever notice unless of course it doesn’t get done. And, we do it without thinking too much about it. We don’t have to. Loving our family through action is a no-brainer because love is the driving force.
So, as they were curled up on the bed together winding down from the first part of their day and prepping the kids for nap time I had an overwhelming realization: This is what God intended when he created families.
It’s the little moments that don’t typically get talked about, blogged about or even caught on film. But, it’s those types of moments that tell our next generation they are loved and valued and worthy. It’s those moments that tell our next generation that the world isn’t always an easy place to exist, but they will always be safe and cared for and loved at home. It’s those types of moments that tell our next generation that they are capable of changing our world for the better.
Media tells us every single day that our world is going to hell in a hand basket. I don’t know if they’re right or they’re wrong, but I do know there is all sorts of Godly strength and perseverance, beauty and progress found in homes around the world and those are the families I want to make more photographs of.
Have a blessed weekend (loving your family) …
p.s. Corey is working so ridiculously much right now I think I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for my own family to be together. (Translation: being the wife of a doctor 9-years into his 11-years of training is really really hard.)
p.p.s. I’m planning to share more pictures from this session next week.