Friday, September 26, 2014

To Give A Girl A Home

I simply can't go through the fall season without remembering anymore.

Gosh, as soon as I see the end of September drawing close the excitement, the fear, the uncertainty, the unknown, the memories...it all begins unconsciously creeping in.

I didn't know what the next 4 months were going to hold for us.  When I say it, in light of the length other people's adoption time tables, it doesn't seem all that long.  But looking back, we had no CLUE as to the difficulty and politics and misinformation we would have to get around just to give a girl a home.  So many things were up in the air.  It felt like the entire system was falling a part around us.

But it's all over now.

I can't believe how much has changed over the past 3 years.

I can't believe how much SHE has changed over the past 3 years.

Her hair is so long now. And I actually know how to do more than little puffs around her tiny head:)

Her smile still the same although she now has 4 gaping holes where teeth once resided.

She no longer pushes us away with that Ugandan shoulder shrug.  She'll downright scream in defiance now, ha!

The protective wall she would put up in conflict isn't so thick now and can be talked down much quicker.

She has found her place in our family and is often referred to as "queen" among other Colony members.

She shows some food aversions now, whereas she used to eat every.single.thing on her plate and lick it clean.  AND she'll let us know if she doesn't like it now too, which used to NEVER happen!

She is getting SO tall.  She still has those long elegant arms, but her body is growing into them now.

She isn't so prone to cling to my side like she used to.  Don't get me wrong, she still stays close enough to know where her family is at all times, but she will actually go out and play with cousins and friends when they are here now.

She loves parties!  LOVE parties!

She isn't scared to tell someone they are wrong, even when they are right, ha!

Not only has she found her place in this family, but she is finding herself in this great big world she resides in.

***

I'm sure some of you are tired of the constant recollections of our past, but isn't that what mamas do?  We see where we are...and then look back.  Remembering the looks, the smells, the moments of sweet cuddles and the embraces after consequences, the silly little sibling squabbles, even the tough moments that bring us to our present...

because, how can we see how far we've come unless we allow ourselves to look back and see where we used to be.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rearranging Your Home ~ The "Why" behind it

I love to rearrange things in my house.
I'm not sure if Josh knew just what he was getting into when he married me, ha!

Things don't stay put for very long around here before growing legs and relocating.  And many times my family doesn't even know what hit them until I am running errands and they go to look for something and it is no longer in its designated "home".

"Why in the world would someone enjoy doing something so meaningless."
"What a waste of time."
"Why can't you just keep things in the same place?"

Let me give you a few reasons why I, and other's like me, may tend to move things around so obsessively.

  1. MAKING A HOME ~ I take my job as a homemaker very seriously.  I love creating spaces and environments around my home and sometimes things need to be moved to enable the current "project".
  2. EFFICIENCY ~ Sometimes rearranging my home is out of necessity to make things move or work more efficiently.
  3. DEEP CLEANING ~ Often, the urge to purge and a quick rearrangement of a room (or 3) tend to be simultaneous.  I begin to go through a closet and get rid of things and I find "treasures" I could use somewhere else in the house, which means I am most likely going to have to switch some things around to make it work.
  4. NEED FOR CHANGE WITHOUT SPENDING THE "CHANGE" ~ Contrary to popular belief, the Colony is not wealthy, and we can't just run to the store and get the latest and greatest decor for the home on a whim.  So when I become discontent with my surroundings I am faced with a choice.  I can either sulk about the things I don't and can't have OR I can walk around the house full of blessings and make it feel fresh without spending a dime.  By moving the couch around to the other side of the living room, switching up the bookcase angles, even changing the basket that holds the dishtowels or placing the fruit bowl on the island instead of the counter, has a way of making things feel fresh and new.
  5. THERAPEUTIC ~ My anxiety makes me feel the need to do something.  My fidget is organizing and rearranging things.  It helps ease the tension in my hands and body and gives me a sense of accomplishment in the process.
  6. CREATIVITY OUTLET ~ It has become almost a game for me to figure out things to make, made out of things we already own or have laying around, without having to spend a penny!
I decided that it would be fun to write a post about HOW I go about rearranging my house.  So come back tomorrow to get some tips on how I make my eyes and heart oh so happy:)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Words Worth Remembering

Cai:"Mom, Alethia said that I was...wait, hold on.  ALETHIA!  WHAT  DID YOU SAY THAT I WAS?"
Alethia: "I did't say that you were bragging!"
Cai:"She said that I was bwagging but I was NOT."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My mom:"...and I was just thinking, 'whoa, that's TYI'."
My dad:"? TYI?"
My mom:"hahahaha...I mean TMI!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cai:"I still don't know how God started the worwed (ie.world)."
Me:"Well you wanna read how it happened from the Bible?"
Cai:"But I don't know how to read!"
Me:"I'm gonna read it TO you silly."
I begin reading the created account in Genesis 1
After day one...
Cai:"But how did it happen?"
Me:"God just used his words and everything obeyed what He said.  It's pretty amazing, huh."
Cai:"So He just said it and it happened?"
Me:"Yup."
...continuing on.
Then I got to the creation of the sun and moon...
Cai:"But how do we have sunshine and Uganda and the moon all at the same time?"
I went on to explain the orbiting process.  I thought I did a fabulous job!
Cai:"Can I go watch TV now?"

I suppose it's the little planted seeds that count, right?:)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Me:"What in the world am I going to do after I finish reading this book?"
Zeke:"I don't know, eat some chocolate or something?"

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Josh:"Cai, is mommy awake yet?"
Cai:"She's still in bed but her face is awake."

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Areyna:"I wonder if people who have punch buggies punch their kids all the time."

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Cai: "I get some more of that chicken?"
Me:"What chicken? We didn't have chicken for dinner."
Cai:"The chicken that's in the fish."

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Rainy:"Oh wow! Look at all those cows! Are those wild cows?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My mom while telling me a story:"...and what did she call it?  I think she called it her 'baby daddy'."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zeke singing:"Sweeeeet home of the Llama."
Me:"Um, Zeke, it's 'Sweet home ALABAMA"
Zeke:"Well, that doesn't make sense! What in the world is that?!"
Me:"It's a state, like NC, silly.  It's a song about that state being a home to the singer. The place where he lives."
Zeke:"...Oooooohhhh..."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Just Because I'm On Vacation...

…doesn't mean that I'm completely silent;)

Join me over at KIDS IN THE WORD for details on our weekly
Colony Devotional Visuals.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Sweetest Act Of Selflessness

The Colony heads out to the Lake for our annual Via Vacation tomorrow afternoon.  Josh left with a long list of things he needed to get done before he can mentally check out from work, and my list was growing and growing as I work my angle of closing up shop around here on the home front.

I started the day with a gazillion little things to do (they'll get done easy enough) and two pretty hefty projects; mow the grass after the monsoon we just had and Alethia's hair...need I say more?!

After the breakfast mania died down I headed out to mow the grass.  Now, we have about an acre to mow and the time varies on how long it takes to mow it depending on the amount of pre-yard cleanup (sticks, lego houses, scooters, stray shoes and socks and children;).  Then you have to factor in if Josh and I are going to tag-team the yard or if one of us can run interference with the colony.  Or if we forgot to fill up the gas can...all to say, it can take anywhere between 2-6 hours.

And today I was prepared for the full six hours.  With all 5 kids at home, the riding lawn mower broken down and Josh gone, it was bound to take a huge chunk of my day.  But I was prepared.

I set out on my first stretch of yard.  I got about 1/3 of the way down before being interrupted by Zeke who needed something.  Then a few yards back in and Jude stubbed his toe and needed a bandaid.  The hill I was working on was kicking my butt but it's just part of the job.
Then out of nowhere I saw something miraculous come whizzing by.  It was a bird...no a plain...no...it was our 85 year-old neighbor, Lois, on her riding lawnmower!  She had totally stopped what she was doing in the middle of one of my multiple interruptions, hopped aboard her mowing machine and took off to the largest part of our yard.  After about 20-30 minutes she had completed the entire front yard, waving to Jude around every turn, and then quietly puttered her mower back home to resume what she had been working on before.

She didn't ask if I needed help.  She could SEE it.
She didn't stop for a thank you.  She just left.
She saw a need and selflessly served our family in a HUGE way.

I can guarantee she isn't going to blog about her kind heartedness or post a status of how helpful she was to the struggling mom next door for a pat on the back or the rush of accolades that would surely follow such a post.  I thought for a second I saw her taking a selfie of herself on the lawnmower, but then quickly realized she was just waving again to the 2-year-old who is enamored with trucks, machines and trains.

My eyes teared up and my heart was definitely overwhelmed and humbled at the selfless act of kindness from a woman who tenderly tolerates my kids, even though they misplace the gravel in her driveway, trample her tulips and interrupt their evenings with deliveries of homemade cards and cookies.

I couldn't help but thank God for the blessing of my neighbor, and wonder what kind of homemade "thank you" we can interrupt her evening with tonight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summer Reads

After my Hunger Games reading frenzy earlier this summer I kind of took it easy in the reading department.  Add in the pallet wood that NEEDS to be made into something fun and FREE in my home, and the sympathy purging that goes into helping a friend(s) move from house to house, I've been busy in other ways.  Oh yeah, and I have FIVE kids, ha!

All that to say, I've had some people ask for book recommendations.  Two of these I've completed, 1 and am re-reading from years ago and the other is just something different to add to my quiet time in the morning.


"Say Goodbye to Survival Mode"
by Crystal Paine

Excellent, fun, easy, practical read on re-prioritizing your life, time finances and goals.


"God Loves Ugly"
by Christa Black

This book was a little heavy and brutally honest, but so needed in this culture and for all generations.
Deals with fighting through addictive behaviors and thinking, getting past your past
and becoming comfortable in the person God made you.


"The Power of a Praying Wife"
by Stormie Omartian

There is definitely some cheese in this book, but how can you deny a book that can get you praying for your husband.  Saved or unsaved, our husband needs our prayers and this book lays out a plan focusing on 30 different areas to pray for our husbands about.


"Holy Spirit Power"
by Charles Spurgeon

I've never read any of Spurgeon's writing, but I am certainly a fan now!
This little book is chalk full of little nuggets to tuck away or meditate on.
I am going to be reading some more of his writing soon!

And that, my friends, is all I've got, but I'll be diving deep into some new reads this fall
and will share them with you soon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Day Rainy Found Out That Adults Have DRAMA Too

The other day I overheard a conversation between Alethia, Rainy and Zeke in the kitchen.  I'm not sure what the circumstance was but I heard Rainy give a little pep talk to Alethia and then Zeke inquiring about the details.  Rainy just turned to Zeke and flippantly replied; "Oh, it's just little girl drama".

As I was returning some dishes to the kitchen I made a quick reference to the fact that "little girl drama" was just as important as "big girl drama".  I was then quick to add that it was also just as important as adult drama.

Now THAT statement stopped Rainy in her tracks.

"Big people have drama too?!"
She asked this question with a sense of dread in her voice.
Like she had just realized that she was going to have to work at this conflict between friends thing for the rest of her life.

"Yup.  Unfortunately adults have drama too.  Drama with friends, just like you do.  Drama with family, just like you do.  It is just over different stuff."

I went on to explain that she will get older and figure out healthier ways to get through confrontations and hurt feelings, and that God is always the guide through it if she will allow it, but that drama is just something that is inevitable.

As she began to process this information internally, I began thinking about how hard relationships really are.

Living life openly with other people is certainly not for the light hearted.
Life  gets messy and feelings get hurt and circumstances get blown out of proportion and things are said and acts are committed and words are taken out of context and people, yes adults, begin casting blame and pointing fingers and wanting to give up on relationships, because they are feeling too vulnerable to face the situation head on.

Don't give up on those relationships that God is nudging you to mend.  Even through the mess and the sweat and the hurt...God can make it beautiful again.

We were not created to do life alone.

I'm pretty sure Rainy walked away from that conversation with new insight, but a little more leery of the adult world just around the corner.  I don't ever want to paint an unrealistic expectation of life for our kids, but I do always want to include the HOPE that God has to offer through the hardships we are sure to endure.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Five

Band: Radiohead

Song Title: Little By Little

Timer set on 5 min.

GO!

It's 10am and I've already been up to the kids school 3 times.  The teachers in the hallway joke around about getting me my own badge so I can come and go as needed without having to waste their "visitor" stickers and having to constantly sign in and out!

The first visit began at 7:45am for Rainy's teacher conference.  She is doing EXCELLENT!  So good to hear.  In fact, my conference lasted all of 9 min, ha!  I'm used to Zeke's teachers needed to allow 3X's the allotted conference time for his evaluation:)  Although, Zeke's conference was so very encouraging earlier this week as well.  Two more conferences on Monday and I get to track myself out of Sanford creek for 3 lovely weeks!

After my morning conference I came home, did the breakfast thing with the kids and then loaded them up and took them to school.

The last stop was for Zeke's "Writing Celebration".  He had been planning on his friend joining us his parents wouldn't be able to make it.  How sweet is he?!  We actually ended up having 3 extras in our group.  One girl wrote about the first tooth she lost and get this, her mom gave her $10 for losing her tooth!  That's not even inflation, that's CRAZY!  I'm sticking with $.25 a tooth.  We have a cheap tooth fairy;)

Rainy is a sleep walker.  It is quite comical to hear her wandering around in the middle of the night in the dark.  Even if nobody hears her, there is always evidence.  This morning the kids bathroom had undies and jammy pants strewn on the floor and she woke up with a living room throw blanket and different jammies on, heehee.

I can't wait for...

Timer off.

PUBLISH

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"She has your smile"

I posted a photo on Instagram Sunday afternoon of me and Alethia.

She had been a little bit upset about something so I "bribed" her with some cuddling on the couch;)
Because FOR HER, a little cuddling goes a L-O-N-G way.

After a few minutes we were both asleep.

I woke up before she did but I didn't dare move.  I wanted this moment to last as long as it could!
It brought back memories of when we first grafted her into our family in Uganda almost 3 years ago.  She was always the first one awake so almost every morning I would wake to her staring at her new mommy and daddy until we made sleepy eye contact giving her the ok to come crawl in the bed with us.  She would never just lay right next to us.  She would literally crawl on top of us, sinking in deep as she laid tummy to tummy.  Many times she would fall right back asleep, other times she would go into her habitual humming of the songs in the babies home.

These are sweet, sweet memories that I hope I NEVER forget.

Anyway, after posting that photo I had a friend who commented; "she has your smile".

I read that sentence.
And then I re-read that sentence.
Over and over again.
Glancing up at the picture of me and my daughter, carefully examining the curve of our mouths and the creases around our cheeks as we smiled.
Then back to the comment below.

I have done this more times than I can count now.

There is something about finding those little similarities that grows this mama's heart in a way that nothing else can.  Knowing that even in her birth mother's womb, God was thinking about her future.  Her forever family.  Giving her something that connects her to us.  Even in some of her physical features.

So in times when one, or both, of us is feeling a little disconnected we can always remember that there is a resemblance.  That we were meant to do life together.  I mean, we can both curl our tongue, even when nobody else in the family can.  And by golly she has MY smile!