Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Pain and Your Pain, NOT My Pain VS. your Pain

I have been fighting for over a year now with something and it didn't hit me until JUST NOW, while reading THIS BOOK, that I have been going about it all wrong!

As many of you know, last year I said goodbye to two of my dearest friends/sisters as they packed up their families and moved to Uganda and Haiti, saying "yes" to God.

Then the posts started coming in of their lives (and hardships) as they fought to find a new normal for their families.

I remembered our very short stint living in Uganda...
the spotty electricity
the cold water
the climate
no air conditioning
no fast food
no familiar faces or smells
optional use of clocks ;)
the sickness with no medical care

But here I sat, in my air conditioned living room, on my powered laptop, after getting a long warm shower while dinner sat cooking in my crock pot, feeling guilty.

Guilty for being able to live with these pleasures and conveniences
Guilty for having a tough day
Guilty for feeling worn down or tired
(BTW-THEY never made me feel guilty...EVER. It was my own doing. My own thinking. My own comparison of my own life to theirs.)

In my head I told myself, "what right do I have to complain about MY life!"

But then I read this quote by Christa Black today: "Pain, is pain, is pain, is pain."

What right do I have to compare my pain with others?

And I think it is imperative to add, the thinking goes both ways. (It's very easy to fall into the victim mentality, thinking that nobody else's problems could ever be as bad as ours, leaving no room for compassion for others and what they are going through.)

I have no right to compare my child's sickness to the sickness of someone else's child.
I have no right to compare my bad day with someone else's.
I have no right to compare how I feel with the way someone else feels.

Likewise, I have no right to compare my hardships with those of my acquaintances who don't seem all that difficult (to me).

Because they are INCOMPARABLE.

You can't compare apples and oranges.
You can't compare pain with pain.

Yes, there should be a healthy dose of perspective,

but if your child is sick, they are sick and it doesn't matter what they have, you are a mom fighting through the pain with them

and if you are a mama, it doesn't matter if you have 1 kid, 3 kids or 8 kids, being a mama is hard work. Sure, it's a different kind of hard work, but the struggle is real in every case.

Your pain is your pain.
It sucks and, at times, it feels as though you may not see the end of it.

My pain is my pain.
And it sucks.
And many times I feel as though I may not see the end of it.

So, let's encourage each other through this journey called life, no matter how petty and silly we might sound to someone else...

because "pain, is pain, is pain, is pain."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Generation That Instigated Social Anxiety

I believe there are truly people who are born with anxiety issues.
Believe me, I'm one of them!

That being said though, I also believe that this generation, with social media and self-serve options bombarding us at every corner, is feeding into the very thing that seems to be trending among young Americans today.  We are becoming anything BUT social, hiding behind our screens so we don't have to actually make a phone call and talk to a real voice on the other line or heaven forbid, go out in public and make eye contact with other people.

I talk about my anxiety triggers often because I believe that if I can at least target those consistent triggers (sometimes they are less conspicuous and completely unpredictable), then I will be able to stop the anxiety in its tracks or at least minimize its paralyzing effects.  After lots of thought, I realized that one of my main triggers is computer time or screen time.

I'm not saying YOU can't handle all the different social networking and options for messaging, but I know my limits and I am learning when I need to step away.

For example, if I'm reading a recipe off of the computer I am way more likely to snap at my kids in the kitchen than if I am reading it off one of those cute little recipe cards with the picture of the chubby chef in his fat white cooking hat taking a steaming hot loaf of fresh baked bread out of the oven *sigh*.  See, just talking about it gives me a smile and a slight skip in my step:)

Or if I'm writing a hand-written letter (have you ever gotten one of those?  Ah-MAZ-ing, right?!) I am way more prone to giggle along with my kids antics than if I'm trying to reply to an email or a Facebook message.

And then there are the constant texts that come streaming in on my phone throughout my day, demanding to be looked at, glanced at, read, replied to, and that's not even mentioning trying to find the perfectly appropriate Emoji that goes along with the banter back and forth.

And the "push notifications" that tell me every time a person "LIKES" something I post or comments about how cute my kids are or how awesome of a person I am, because I like to post the better parts of my day over the ugly-cry parts or the not-so-good mama moments.  Those aren't so picture perfect (although I do try to keep it real).

So this past week I let it be known to most of those around me that if they truly needed me they could call me, I wasn't going to be keeping up with texts.  Yes, pick up the phone and CALL me.  And I would, in turn, actually answer my phone (instead of panicking when it rings and quickly turning it upside down to deal with it later).  Long before last week Josh and I had made a decision to take the notification sounds off of all texts so we don't hear the constant sound when texts come through.  BEST decision of my life!  But I was still noticing myself checking my phone way too frequently to see if I had any texts (it's hard with your family is out of state and half-way across the world!).  And seeing as my kids were starting school and I was about to start a whole new life with just one child and changes scare me and give me anxiety (another trigger!) I decided that I didn't need to add the texts to my anxiety as well.  I decided to use my phone as a, well, PHONE.

I wasn't tied down.
It was so freeing.
I didn't feel as though I missed out on anything.
I felt like I had the control, not being controlled.

For me, I am seeing a downward spiral toward a society of people so addicted to avoiding real-life people that they are actually anxious around them (me included).  From the drive-through worker who we only have to say "thank you" to or request "more ketchup please", to the ATM machines so we don't have to interact with a real banker, to the self check-out at the grocery store.

Fight the machine, don't let it dictate your personality!

Pick up the phone and make those phone calls (I prefer to do it first thing in the morning when I am ready to conquer the day).
Be spontaneous and meet a friend for coffee and leave your phone in the car or in your pocket book.
Keep posting those pictures of your sweet babes, but make sure that you drop them by to play with mine (I'm still working on getting out of my house more often, ha!).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I'm Touchy But She's Not

Josh and I have pretty much pin pointed Alethia's love language.

Oh sure, she loves receiving gifts just as much as any other kid in the world, and she loves to hear that she looks beautiful or that she is doing a great job, but this girl CRAVES physical touch.

I, on the other hand, am not a physical touch kind of girl.
I have a rather large personal bubble, er, um, I tend to be a rather touchy individual...there I said it!

I need my space.

So, often times our two worlds collide.
My first instinct is to give her a quick rub on her arm, kiss her forehead while I whisper "I love you", and send her on her way.

She never puts up a fight...on the outside anyway.
But I can't imagine what that has been doing to the inside.

We've noticed her moving in even more closer lately.
Sitting almost on top of us on the couch
or scooting her chair right up next to ours at the table
or laying up right next to us to cuddle, so close that I can feel her breathe on my face
or hanging on us, where she has almost knocked me off of my feet at times.

Maybe because she has started school and is getting even less of the touch she longs for.
Maybe it is because she is in such "touch deficit" that she is trying to even her levels back out.
Who knows.

But I've realized that the days where I intentionally fight the urge to quickly move her along
or make myself hold still and call her over to read a book in my lap
or allow her to hang on my back while I make Cai's LEGO Batman car again

she is much more content.

She carries herself with confidence.
She plays better with others.
She doesn't have such an attitude when I ask her to do something for me.

And most likely, you'll have to work at it too.
And then you'll have another kid, and have to figure out how to love them!

Don't allow your own safeguards to be an excuse not to open up to the kind of love your child needs.
It will be SO worth it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Defining Moments

Monday I posted an Instragram photo of how crafty I was being in the kitchen while the majority of my kids were at school.

Not 30 minutes after posting that photo the kids got in from school and 3 out of six of them would have nothing to do with my yummy after school treat.

And then, just minutes later, I smelled something was dinner.

I froze.
I literally couldn't think of what to do next.
My planned out, home cooked meal, with all it's healthy benefits and monetary savings, went right in the trash can.

I picked up the phone and called Josh in tears.

I know, it's a silly thing to cry about.

But my body was emotionally tired, and that's all I could do.

I've been working so hard on feeding this family within a budget, and with certain healthy limitations.

I had failed!
What kind of mom was I?
What kind of home keeper am I?
And I only had 2 kids with me all day.
What is wrong with me?
Now Josh is going to pick something up on his way home (we NEVER do that)!
That means using money we hadn't planned on using.
And most definitely not in my realm of healthy eating I'd been striving for.
I had failed.
I am a failure.

These are the thoughts that swirled around in my mind as Josh talked me off the ledge.
(what a sweet, level-headed husband the Lord has blessed me with)

We are in a country that has fast food
(thank you Jesus!)

And what's a few kids with tore up tummies for just one more night of their lives, right?
(nothing a little oil can't fix, ha!)

I'm sure NONE of you can relate to my petty little breakdown, but don't be too quick to judge.
Everybody has a breaking point and some days they come quicker than others.

You were planning on hanging out with some friends (or another family), but life got the best of you and something came up.  You have to choose what your priority is going to be, so you have to cancel at the last minute.

You can't seem to get everything organized for a family and you miss an important game or recital.  Or maybe it was the end-of-year report your daughter was giving on the digestive system that you promised to be at.

Or maybe you decided that you were FINALLY going to...
start getting up on time
eating healthy...
and you mess up one day.

You can't seem to get your home as clean as ________, or bathe your kids as often as __________, or get your body to look as good as ___________.

These are all defining moments.
Don't let thoughts of failure define who you are!

I am NOT a failure just because I burned dinner one night.
That has nothing to do with the kind of mother I am.  I was striving to make a good dinner for my family and my plans just needed to change.  (maybe I needed a little lesson in flexibility)
This also doesn't need to define me as a junk eating, junk feeding, frivolous spender.

You see how silly that all sounds when I speak truth to myself?

You are NOT a failure as a friend just because you can't do everything your friends do or expect you to do.  We are all in seasons that require us to be different places and different things and it is ok to say no sometimes.

So you missed one of your kids' million activities.  It happens and you can be sure to love on them, apologize to them for missing it, and then graciously ask for grace because mommies are not perfect and just forget things sometimes.  This does not mean that you are a failure as a mother or prove that you do not love your child.

You are not destined to be lazy if you can't get out of bed one morning, or to be a fat slob if you can't find time to get that workout in, or a junk food addict because you pick up McDonald's to eat every once in a while.  Nope, life happens, and one day CANNOT define who you ARE!

And don't even get me started on the comparison of other women and the way THEY keep their home, how often THEY bathe their children, or what THEY look like!  You are who Christ made you, with your own unique form, characteristics and gifts.

Let's not let these defining moments scream failure!
Speak truth to yourself and give yourself the grace you need to pick yourself up and try again:)

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Salsa and Guacamole

I have two recipes that I make at LEAST once a week and I'm always having to look it up, so instead of having to click all around cyberspace for these two favorite recipes I decided to put them on here for my own convenience, and to hopefully make some new converts to the joys of dipping:)
one day I'll figure out how to take enticing photos of my food, but until then this will just have to do

~I got this recipe over a decade ago in seminary and have been loving it ever since!~

1 small onion
1 jalapeno pepper 
(I'll add a little more if I'm really feeling like spicing it up)
1 cup of loosely packed cilantro
(I'm not a big fan of cilantro so I ALWAYS substitute parsley in recipes)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of grape tomatoes
(I usually just use 2-3 medium tomatoes)

Put it all in a blender and pulse it until well blended but not too juicy.

~I used to hate avacados, but NO MORE!  
Lately I can't get enough and this recipe ensures that it gets completely consumed within at least 48 hours!  Until I get my hands on my friend Heidi's recipe, this is my favorite!~

3 avocados - peeled, pitted and mashed
1 lime, juiced
(I always substitute lemon juice if I don't have a lime on hand)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup diced onion
3 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
(again, I substitute parsley for the cilantro)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
(often times I omit this ingredient because I don't have any on hand, even though the tomatoes help your body absorb the good fats from the avocados)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
(I usually double or triple my "pinch")

Monday, July 14, 2014

Colony Thoughts On Essential Oils ~ Part 2 (Peaceful Child Blend recipe for ADHD included!)

*You might want to go back and read Part 1 to see if it answers any of your preliminary questions.*

I thought my previous post was getting a little lengthy so I decided to save my favorite recipes for a separate post.

NONE of these recipes are my own.  I have searched around the internet and talked to many friends who have given these to me, so I'll try to add links when available.


most of a 14 oz. jar of unrefined, organic Coconut oil
***She used regular, not fractioned Coconut oil. It mixes right together.***
1/2 of an 8 oz. box of baking soda
10 drops of essential oils
***Rita used Geranium but I didn't have any on hand. 
She said you could also use, tea tree, lavender or citrus oils.  
I chose Lemon because I love the scent, it is great for troubled skin and I had it on hand already.***


Fill 8 oz. spray bottle 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
***She adds 1/2 tsp of vegetable glycerin, but not only did I NOT have that on hand, 
but I don't even know what that is, ha!***
Add 30-50 drops of desired essential oil. The more oil, the stronger the repellent.
***She suggests using Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon or Eucalyptus.
I swear by Edens Garden "Pest Defy" blend, so that is what I used.***

Helps with ADHD, emotional trauma, fear, stress, anxiety and insomnia

***I have been given this recipe from SEVERAL resources and I LOVE it!  I use it on Zeke every morning and night and every once in a while in the afternoons.  We can tell a huge difference in his anxiety levels and attention on tasks if we don't give him his vitamin and oils consistently! 

I bought my first batch from HERE.  Zeke LOVES the soothing scent and how relaxing it is when I put it on.  I place it on the bottom of each foot, over his heart and on the sides of his spine.  The bottle didn't last very long so I ended up getting the recipe and making my own refill.  I will definitely be buying the original again though!

85 drops Vetiver
30 drops Ylang Ylang
20 drops Frankincense
15 drops Clary Sage
10 drops Margoram
30 drops Lavender
10 drops of fractioned Coconut oil as a carrier oil

Mix together in a roller bottle.
Rub on bottoms of feet, over heart, sides of spine and wrists 
first thing in the morning and right before bed.

My friend Stephanie gave me this resource, from DoTERRA oils, that is incredible as well!

Jude's eczema can really get out of hand if we don't keep a constant eye on his diet.
But oil helps significantly!

I have found that Evening Primrose is a great carrier oil for skin conditions.
I mix it with Lavender, which is also great for eczema.

***simple but VERY effective***

I wrote about a rinse I make to get chemicals and dirt off of fresh produce HERE.
Now I add a 5-8 drops of Lemon essential oil to the mix!


These are my everyday favorites that I wanted to share.

It's easy to find what oils are good for what on Pinterest and Google.
Go ahead and dive in.
I promise it'll be worth it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another Transformation ~ the birth of a desk

Josh is going back to school in August.
But he has papers and reading...LOTS of reading...due on the first day of class.

After watching him try to get work done with Colony kids climbing all over him (ear buds only block out sounds and Colony chaos, NOT lap crawling, pant pulling or anything of the sort) I decided I was going to do something about it.

I called up a few friends with treasure at their fingertips, thanks Amber, and made my way over to pick up the pallets.

And here is what happened next:

Josh helped me unload the crates

 and then he temporarily UNgrounded me from the kinds of tools that put holes in the walls in the girls bedroom...I promised to stay outside;)

I had a plan in my head but I wasn't quite sure how it would actually look.
I measured my space and began taking a part the different pieces.
This is BY FAR the hardest part of reusing crates and pallets!

then I started putting the different pallet pieces together

trimmed it to size

I recruited a few helpers along the way:)
Josh cut the legs for me because power tools still scare me.
and put the pieces together.
I found the screws we needed and the stain was already in the shed from the previous owners!

a quiet space for Josh to work ~ PRICELESS

It may not be the sturdiest piece of "furniture" in our home, but it'll get the job done I think.
This is one of my funnest projects to date,
but my ENTIRE body is feeling it!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Colony Thoughts on Essential Oils - Part 1

Oh Essential oils.

The "magic" that is supposed to happen when applying these oils to different parts of the body sounds too good to be true.

But the more I learn about them
and the more my friends teach me about them
and the more I see the first-hand results from them
the deeper in I get.

I am FAR from an expert on them, and I don't think I'll ever know all that I need to know, but I am now a HUGE fan!

I've been getting lots of questions about them so I am going to answer some of the top questions I get in this edition of Colony Thoughts on Essential Oils.

What brand of oils do you use?

I mainly use Eden's Garden essential oils and LuSa Organics.  I have several friends who are DoTERRA representatives as well as several others who sell Young Living essential oils, which are also excellent oils as well.

I love the Eden's Garden Essential Oils.  Not only is it excellent quality but it is affordable.  Our family couldn't do essential oils using many of the other brands because they are so pricey.  That being said, you can often find oils much cheaper on Amazon, so I'm not just partial to the Eden's Garden brand, I'll look for the deals too!  

Let me know if you are interested in DoTERRA or Young Living and I'll put you in touch with a representative for those wonderful oils!

Which oils should I get?

The first oil I got was the LuSa Organics Sleeping Potion blend to help my overly active children calm down and sleep.  And, YES, it works!

After a while I began hearing more and more about the benefits of essential oils and started doing a little more research (and heeding the advice of super smart friends) and purchased Lavender, Lemon Peppermint and Tea Tree (Melaleuca).  I'd also suggest finding a "Four Thieves" blend from a trusted brand.

I have now slowly weeded out just about everything in our "medicine cabinet" and switched to the alternative essential oil "medicine".  I can't remember the last time I actually gave my kids medicine or even took them to the Dr. (hello NO co-pay!)  I take that back, I gave Jude some Pepto last week, but it didn't do much and switched to a ProBiotic and  then a peppermint/ginger blend for his terrible tummy. And after 4 days on this regiment I am happy to say that Jude's tummy is FINALLY back to normal!

Start simple and work your way up.  You don't need tons of oils for it to be beneficial!

How often do you use them?

Every day!
And it only takes a few drops at a time!

I diffuse them throughout my house all day and I'm constantly rubbing something on somewhere, ha!

What do you use them for?

Literally everything.

Tummy aches
Motion sickness
Muscle aches
Hormone balance
Washing off produce
Making homemade cleaners, skin care products, laundry detergent, etc.

You name it, there's probably an oil for it!

What are your favorite blends?

These are some of the Eden's Garden blends I use, but you can find the equivalent of these in many other brands as well.

FOUR THIEVES ~ natural immunity booster
HEAD EASE ~ for headaches
RESTORATION ~ a digestive remedy for tummy issues (I just got this one and am excited to see how it works)
CLEANING ~ I make a lot of my own cleaning solutions with this.  I also like to diffuse it after I spent a long day of cleaning.
STRESS RELIEF ~ one of my absolute FAVORITES to diffuse throughout the day!
CALMING ~ calms nerves and mental stress
BREATHE EASIER ~ helps to combat cold and flu symptoms
EXHALE ~ helps with respiratory issues
PMS EASE ~ hormonal balance and easing PMS symptoms.  I diffuse this in my girls' room every night, ha!
PEST DEFY ~ to make my own bug repellant 

*I've heard WONDERS about Young Living's M-Grain for migraines as well!*

If I use essential oils will I stop getting sick?

Well, not exactly.  But they will help with prevention and aid in a quicker, more healthful recovery.  Added with proper eating exercise and chiropractic care your health will be drastically different!


I had so much to write about that I decided I needed to divide it up into segments.  So make sure you come back for more information like recipes to make your own blends and switching out your own medicine cabinets!

DISCLAIMER: This information is based upon my own personal research, information, and experience:)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Things I'm Gonna Miss (and words worth remembering)

Cai:"Hey Alethia, you wanna play the fishy game where I'm the fishy and you're the 'get me'?"


Cai:"Mom, can you get down the snow glubs?  I NEED snow glubs for my spidoman costume."


Cai:"Does a genius mean 'awesome', cause I think I'm genius."


I'm sure going to miss the sweet way Cai says things.
And the way he sings his own theme music while playing by himself or getting dressed or running around in the yard, or coloring or...

I'm going to miss seeing Alethia help her baby brother tackle obstacles and complete tasks.
And the way she help me with absolutely EVERYTHING around the house.

I'm going to miss hearing them play so cute together.

But you know what makes it easier?

Hearing Rainy and Zeke give step-by-step instructions on how to buy a lunch, or where to go in the hallway, or how to get to the "walker's" line.  They talked well into the night, the experienced informing the wide-eyed, upcoming littles of the things facing them on their very first day of school.

The excitement was brewing before we even opened their bedroom doors to get up.
They were all in the car, waiting on me and daddy to get our act together and follow suit, each adorning their overstuffed book bags full of school supplies and homemade lunches (packing 4 school lunches is NO JOKE!), before the first school bell even rang.

Zeke took full responsibility of his two siblings joining him on his hallway.  He made sure I told their teachers that he would be picking them up after school.  He tried his hardest to encourage Cai and help him be brave as we made our way out of his classroom (don't worry, we were assured Cai only cried for a few seconds after we left).

It's going to be a good year.

The quiet will necessitate some getting used to.
And more importantly, figuring out the "quiet" that simply means a content little boy playing quietly by himself, or the "quiet" that means that he has tracked down a stool and carried it across the house to my bathroom in order to reach my contact case which still housed my contacts, except for the one that was scrunched up on his cheek...

But it WILL be a good year.