Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spotlight On The ColonyShop - Black Friday Sale

Beginning today and running through Sunday evening
theColonyShop is giving $3 off every order of $15.00 or more!

Go get your 2014 Keepsake ornaments
personalized jewelry and keychains
for a gift that means something special.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Words Worth Remembering

Zeke:"Dad, if you've noticed, but you are dripping sweat everywhere."

(a few minutes later)

Zeke:"Dad, can you PLEASE take a shower after this?"


Rainy:"Hey guys, can I join your conversation?  But if I do, can we CHANGE the subject because I don't know anything about cars."


Me:"Cai, I'm going to ask you a big boy question.  Zeke is going to spend the night up with Ezra and Eli.  Would you like to do that too?  You have to be simmer and quiet and just go straight to sleep."
Cai:"But I don't think I can do that."


Jude:"I wan some mo hot chokan"
translation:"I want some more hot chocolate."


Zeke:"So when are we gonna have that meeting?"
Rainy:"What meeting?"
Zeke:"THE meeting!  You said to go outside so we could have our meeting!"
Rainy:"YOU are the one that said that, Zeke."


Cai:"Guyyyys. I'm not kidding me!"


Jude:"I show Cai I nakee!"
translation: Wait dad, don't put my jammies on yet!  I wanna show Cai that I'm naked!"


Zeke: singing I'm to sexy in true Zeke form "I'm too 60 for my shirt. Too 60 for my shirt. Too 6-0 yeah."


Cai: "Dad, slimy poop comes out quick!"


(Cai oversees Zeke writing our last name)
Cai:"Zeke, my name is that too!!!"
Zeke:"Cai, ALL our names are that."


Cai:"Can Satan be invisible?"
Cai:"And God can be invisible?"
Cai:"How do you know if you can't see them?"
Me:"The Bible tells us about the spiritual world all around us that we can't see."
Cai:"But God is super powerful and Satan is only a little powerful."
Me:"Yes.  Satan only has the power that God has given him."
Cai:"But how much does he have?"
Me:"I can't really answer that."
Me:"I mean, there really isn't an answer to that question."


Jude:"Mommy pways da bidamin"
translation:"mommy plays the violin"

Monday, November 24, 2014

31 Ways To Keep The CRAZY Out Of Your Marriage This Holiday Season ~ A Challenge

Oh the holiday season.
The hap-happiest season of all.

Except for the stresses that seem to accompany so much of that hap-happiness.

memories of a sad holiday from the past, shopping for the perfect gift(s), wrapping, parties, missing people who can't be close this year, class presentations, church programs, community outreach, traditions that can't be missed, food that can't prepare itself, obligatory relative visits, holiday drama, the greed, the lack of finances to get it all done, spending the finances that don't exist just to get it all done...

It makes my heart race just thinking about it.

And what is the one relationship that often suffers when we get stressed?
The relationship closest to us.
The relationship with our spouse.

So I decided I'm gonna step it up this year and I want you to join me!
Because it's the holiday season and stress is inevitably going to rear its ugly head, I am committing to love on my bae every day, even if I don't feel "in the mood."

Here's the challenge:  

  • Download and print off the chart HERE.
  • Place it somewhere you often look so you won't forget but preferably somewhere your hubby won't see
  • Choose an activity a day from tomorrow until Christmas (or if you start later you could just go right on up until the New Year)
  • Take pride in checking something off a list, even if it's not the bon-bons that are complete, or the 4th child's BIG present that was purchased
  • Watch your man smile, it'll feel even better than checking something off of that holiday list

You will see the activities listed below in a little more detail because there really isn't that much room in those little squares on the chart and I tend to be a little wordy, ahem.  I'll have to "code" some of them on the chart and you may need to look back here often to figure out what I'm referring to.

Alright, here it goes....

1 - Write a lipstick message on the mirror (make it flirty ladies!)

2 - See how many times you can squeeze his bootie throughout the day before he turns his frown upside down

3 - Text him an encouraging message sometime between lunch and when he gets home

4 - Pray for him in the morning and then tell him how you prayed for him

5 - Bring his coffee to him in the morning while walking like you are going down the runway at a fashion show

6 - Warm up his towel in the dryer while he is taking a shower

7 - Give him the most passionate kiss while he is walking out the door to work.  Neither of you will be able to get it off your mind for the rest of the day.

8 - Pick on each other's cute little habits that you love (this is NOT the time to bring up things that BOTHER you!)

9 - Try to notice something he regularly does around the house and see if you can do it for him before he can get to it. *For example - I'm pretty good at regularly washing our bathroom towels, but not so good at replacing them, so actually replacing the towels would be huge for my man!  I feel the need to embellish on this for a second though. It's only because I hate to use the brown ones in our bathroom because they don't match and we only have one set of gray ones and I can't have mismatched ones, and we have a slow dryer and sometimes the kids get home from school and dinner has to be made and bedtime comes and Josh is walking around with a wet face and hands searching for a towel before I even realize I forgot the dryer went off...what can I say, I've got issues...)

10 - Write a love note in his parking spot with sidewalk chalk that he can see when he pulls in after work.

11 -  Text a selfie to him and tell him you can't wait until he gets home.

12 -  Plan an at-home date night.  We love these!  And if you have a Colony like us you really can't afford not to have these, right?  You can save dinner until the kids are in bed.  Watch a movie or play a game.  Get creative.

13 -  Give him a shout-out on social media about an amazing quality that you admire and respect.

14 -  Stick a love note in his briefcase, or in my case, a guitar case, so he sees it sometime that day.

15 -  Initiate intimacy at an inconspicuous time.

16 -  Try to remember one of your fondest memories together and remind him of it.

17 -  Put the spatula down, look him in the eyes and sincerely ask him about his day when he walks in the door.  Greet your man when he gets home for goodness sakes!

18 -  Go by his office just to deliver a kiss.  If your schedules don't allow it, send him a virtual kiss.

19 -  Slip a list of his top 10 qualities on his dash that he will see when he gets in his car.

20 -  Every time he pops in your head throughout the day, tell him.  You could call and just say "I was just thinking about you" and hang up, or just text him every time.  I promise he'll love it!

21 -  You remember email?  Well, write him a sexy (or sweet) email that he'll find the next time he's bogged down with cleaning out his inbox.  What a pleasant surprise.

22 -  Choose one day not to argue.  Just one day ladies.  If you feel the urge, just "shake it off" and move on.  I understand it is very difficult to live with some of your men, but do it for them, just this once...I actually just prayed for you right now.  I believe in you!

23 -  Hold hands as often as possible throughout the day.

24 -  Figure out what his love language is and apply it.

25 - Give him a special stocking full of fun things for the two of you.  You can wait to give it to him  on Christmas night or find another quiet evening to give it to him.  I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy it whenever you give it to him.

26 -  You'll have to be proactive on this one.  Write him a LETTER.  You know, in the mail.  You might need to google the address and figure out how to address an envelope again, but it'll be fun.

27 -  Leave Post-it notes all over the house for him.

28 -  Ask him what his favorite meal is and attempt to make it for the family that evening.  You read that right, at least attempt it.  You can laugh about the disaster together over pizza if it doesn't go as planned.  It's all about making memories together!

29 - Kiss him like you mean it.  Every time you kiss your man today.

30 -  When he gets home allow him to unwind for a few minutes.  Try not to give him any honey-do's until he has mentally entered back into the "family man" from the "business man".  If it doesn't happen today then let him off the hook.  Just today.  You get to check something off YOUR list by giving him grace on HIS.

31 -  Find a night to make out in front of the Christmas tree.

OK, my list is done.  Let's get to printing, checking off and loving our way through this holiday season:)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Free-For-All

Not 3 minutes after getting the boys out of their room this morning, were they commanded to report back to their beds for a restart.  Every single one of them was whining and crying about something!  Talk about waking up on the wrong side of bed!

I have had 7 kids this week.  My ears were literally ringing yesterday with only one kid in the house and nobody to argue play with.  It was so quiet...

I am happy to announce that the ColonyShop now offers personalized Christmas Ornaments.  Go get your order in before it gets too cold in my shop to feel my fingers.  I think the shop's next big purchase will be a space heater, ha!

How in the world is Thanksgiving next week?!  I can't even wrap my mind around that.  Because that means that the Colony tracks out in 2 weeks for Christmas, which means I have a lot to get done before they are home 24/7.

I am super excited about my Monday post.  I'll give you a hint what it's about.  It will last for 31 days. It's a challenge.  And it'll make you warm and fuzzy inside:)  Can you guess what it is?

This week, even with 7 kids, our experiment is still on track.  Cai asked about something, but after being reminded that it was part of the experiment he quickly changed directions and found something else to play with.  When Alethia asked for her desired object that had put away, she did cry for a couple of minutes, but was quickly distracted by the other playing kids and didn't think twice about it.  We are still hearing less complaining and grumbling and more "thanks mom"s and "can I help you do anything"s.  It's been so refreshing!

I know this is short, but Josh and I have some bundling up to do for our weekly Friday family jog.

Happy Friday ya'll!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Back To The Basics Of Parenting ~ KITW

I'm back over at KidsInTheWord today with a post about our role as the mama.

I think a lot of times we, as parents, make parenting more difficult than it needs to be.
Hear me out.
I’m not saying that parenting isn’t difficult. I’m not saying that it won’t stretch you to a point where you feel like you may break. I’m not even saying that there’s a quick answer to each battle of the wills or hardened heart.
I’m not saying that at all!
Nor am I saying that I am an advocate for UNparenting. I am nowhere NEAR that way of thinking! But I’m going to let you in on a little secret...[Read More]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Force Quit and Restart ~ A Lesson On Gratitude

I don't know what it was about Saturday, but SOMETHING was off.  Something was TERRIBLY off!

Josh and I were trying to quickly get ready for the day in order to herd the Colony to the local Dollar Tree to shop for our Christmas Shoeboxes.

But instead of the smiley, happy-hearted kids preparing the boxes that you see on those Samaritan's Purse commercials, picture a bunch of kids (5 to be exact) who cannot keep from greedily bickering and fighting over their own multitude of toys, how to play "spy" the RIGHT way, and how long it will take to get a turn with the desired toy.

It wasn't even just the kids.  I had been asked to get my Christmas list together for the extended family.  In my mind I was all, "I don't need anything.  I'm not going to ask for much.  I have so much stuff."  But as my list kept growing I realized just how greedy I was!

The last straw was when we checked out at the $1 store and the nice cashier gifted each of our kids with a brand spanking new marker of their very own.  Not one for the community Colony art center in the dining room, but for their own use, for whatever the heck they wanted to use it for (minus the walls and furniture of course, ha!).  But, Mr. Cai got in his head that he was entitled to a green marker, instead of the other 5 colors that had been freely given to us.

The commotion that followed was more than embarrassing and resulted in one marker in the trash and a tear-stained Cai-bo with nothing to color with.

Josh and I had had enough of the ungratefulness.
Enough of the entitlement complex.
Enough of the greed.
Enough of the selfishness.

Last year I read a book called "7" which dramatically impacted my life.  I had been wanting to implement something like this for a long time with our family.  With Josh reading a book along the same vein called, Freedom of Simplicity this semester with school, he was beginning to feel the same way and NOW seemed to be the perfect time!

On the way home from the Dollar Tree we began mapping out our plan.

We decided to stick with the "7" theme.

I mentally began going through the things in our home and wrote down the specific things we were going to sift through.
the family meeting...BEFORE the tears
We talked about how we were going to present it to the Colony.  It was NOT supposed to be a punishment, but an act of sacrifice in order to get our hearts and attitudes right.  It was going to take some teamwork from all of us to choose the things that were the most practical for our family.  In the beginning of this me-centered season I struggle through every year, we couldn't have picked a better time for this.

Here are the rules for our experiment:

  • we have to do this as a family
  • we have to use teamwork to choose the items to keep
  • Girls got to choose ~ 7 Barbie items (whether it was the playhouse, dolls, car, pony, furniture or the dolls themselves), 7 baby dolls/stuffed animals, 7 baby doll items (clothes, diaper bag items, etc.), 7 toy items (costumes, tea set, rainbow loom, etc.)
  • Boys got to choose ~ 7 costumes, 7 cars, we kept the entire train set out for Jude since that's his only real toy, 7 superhero items (laid out like the girl's Barbies), 7 stuffed animals, 5 toy guns (one for each kid)
  • Josh ~ whittled down his clothing to five button up shirts, 2 pairs of pants and a few T-shirts and sweaters
  • Tasha - whittled down my clothing (but I'm still trying to look sexy for my husband and I've been working on my accessorizing.  That probably sounds ridiculous, but I am no fashionista and this is a goal of mine.  For example, I've been wearing the same earrings since 10th grade!), 7 social media checks a day (I do a lot on social media for theColonyShop)
  • 7 dinner meals to choose from
  • 70 minutes of TV a week
  • In addition to getting rid of the excess we are adding things like reading times and a thankful tree
This experiment will run from now until after Christmas.  We promised to keep everything stored away.  This is not to purge and throw away all our stuff, but more to help us realize how much we really do have and how desperately we are blessed!

We are fighting as a family against feelings of entitlement and greediness. 

I'd like to say that our kids were happy to oblige to the experiment and all that it entailed, but that would be a lie!  One particular Colony member was devastated.  He could hardly contain himself.  It was downright miserable hearing and watching him that afternoon, but we stayed calm and kept encouraging him.  The girls had quite a time picking out their favorites that they could agree on.  Oh, the tears were flowing on Saturday.
"someone" running away to hide from this madness:(
I'm happy to say, though, that 4 days in and there are no more tears.  The kids haven't asked once to get any item down from the attic.  Cleanup around the house is a piece of cake at nighttime, and the kids have spent hours running around the house imaging and pretending, when they aren't playing with the trains and 7 cars:).  I've heard much more cooperation and "thanks mom".

I've decided that I'm going to keep a record of our experiment progress for you all to read.  I'd love to hear of anybody else doing something similar.

We don't have to give in to the consumerism and entitlement that seems to be handed out here in America.  We can fight it.  YOU can fight it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Playing Favorites With Your Kids ~ KITW

~I'm over at Kids In The Word Today~

I am a momma of five kids.
5 kids.
FIVE kids.
It doesn’t matter how I say it, or the number of times I say it…I still have five kids.
To me, that is a lot of kids.
Some families have many, many more children, and I also realize that some people don’t have that many kids at all, but at the end of the day we are all tired mamas. Mamas who feel like...[Read More]

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Often Than Not

Yesterday marked Alethia's sixth birthday.

She has officially been a part of our family for more days than not.

She was just shy of 2 years old the first time she jumped into my arms and I knew she would be mine forever.
She was just shy of 3 years old when we flew our family of 5 over to Uganda in hopes bringing her into our family for good.
She turned 3 just after being denied her VISA, but just a few months later she was able to enter into America and that is when we would really see her begin to graft into our family.

The first couple of years were hard.
Maybe I'm different than every other picture-perfect adoptive mother out there, but this "love your adopted child as your own" thing didn't always come so naturally to me, and I can guarantee that the "love this stranger calling herself my mama" thing didn't always come so naturally to her either.

But 3 years in and things seem to be like they should more often than not.

More often than not I see her just like the rest of my kids.
More often than not I forget that I even have a brown-skinned daughter.
More often than not I know how to (patiently) wait for her strong walls to break once they go up.
More often than not I am aware of what it is she is trying to say through the emotional breakdown.
More often than not I believe I am the mama she needs.

It's not perfect.
But what family is.
What MAMA is?!

And with each passing birthday it becomes more evident that I am hers and she is mine.

Happy birthday sweet Alethia Grace.
I am so thankful that you are mine forever!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Transformation ~ of the fireplace variety

After almost 5 years of this...

we finally lightened up our living room with paint
but that didn't fix our fireplace "problems"

after 2 inspections and lots of work we fixed all the issues with our fireplace
which included the removal of the wood burning stone
(apparently it wasn't installed properly and had lots of years of damage to the chimney to prove it,
including, but not limited to smoke damage, chimney fire damage,
water damage, cracked sealant, closed damper...)

after the work was complete we went to town on the paint job
we put a primer down and then chose a warm latte color
and finally figured out how to install the mantle that had been in our storage since before we moved in
(thank you baby!)
I suppose I should have gotten a better photo but I was tired
and the iPhone was closer
and the fireplace was beckoning me:)

Another job complete.