Monday, June 29, 2015

Dare To Be Different: A lesson in confidence ~ KITW



The other day my oldest daughter, Areyna, came home from school with a pretty long face. I could tell that something was wrong but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what area of her life was being affected simply by looking at her body language.
I quickly began running through the list of questions in the “Mommy Guide Book” that every mother to preteen girls receives when their little girl becomes a tween and…wait, I still haven’t gotten mine! Have you?
I really think we mamas should get shipments with tools and guidebooks to help us get through major life adjustments and seasons, don’t you? I mean really, what mom couldn’t benefit from one of those light thingies you put in little ears...[Read More]

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Fun Survival Secrets ~ aka THE EMBRACE

You may remember our track-out bucket list we made over the long Christmas break.  We had a great time brainstorming the ideas together and a blast checking them off on almost a daily basis!  I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we had the "best time ever"!

And here we are again, in the middle of another track-out of the much hotter variety.  And I thought I'd share some of the things that have gotten us through these dog days with ease...

ok, so maybe we haven't had the smoothest of track-outs this go around but we should definitely get an "E" for effort!  My anxiety has stayed under control (which is a miracle in and of itself!), but I can't say the same for the attitudes of a few unnamed colony members.

First we scoured Pinterest for fun ideas and made a list of supplies that we went and racked up on at the $1 store.

Our first "project" was to make this boredom buster jar with several activities in 4 different categories.  When we are getting antsy or bored we just pick a stick from the appropriate category and have an instant fun idea to tackle.

I have quickly learned that I have raised several checklist masters!  They love making lists and checking them off just like their mama (don't be too jealous, ha!).  Every evening before I go to bed I write a list with the next days activities so that they know what to expect.  It motivates us all to get through our chores quickly and get to the fun outing or "secret" activity on the list.

Here are some of the things we've done so far:
The KEY WORD this month for survival is ~ EMBRACE

Lots of swimming in our 3-tiered  two-tiered 1 1/2-tiered blow-up pool (the size actually depends on the time from immediate blow-up, ha!).  We have embraced our ghetto pool with 5+ kids in it at any given time.  And I will eventually embrace the astronomical water bill (as soon as its paid off.)

Playdates with friends (embrace the chaos and welcome the extra play buddy for the kids)

Obstacle course - all you need is yarn and painters tape (embrace the imperfections of the design and the competitive spirit that seems imminent with every activity we find to play lately)

Balloon rockets ~ balloon with a straw taped on the top.  Lace the yarn through the straw and race them down the string (embrace the tears because the technique is tough to master among the Colony members)


Paper plate tennis ~ staple a popsicle stick onto a paper plate and play tennis with a balloon (embrace that once-again surfaced competitive spirit, and the fact that the set-up for these activities actually takes longer than the game itself sometimes)

sleepover on the trampoline ~ (embrace the never ending trips between the house and the trampoline for every freaking toy, pillow and blanket in the house must-needed items that will make mid-night clean-up that much more difficult)

Lots and lots of card games (war, uno, old maid...) ~ this one is an "embrace-free" activity!

forts, forts and more forts (embracing the mess is the most difficult thing for me.  One day I'll understand why the best place for a fort is in the family room or hallway...you know the places where we NEED to sit, walk or just "be".  At least it's usually not in the kitchen, ha!)

Crafts ~ my mom is awesome is oh-so-many ways, but she found these paint activities that are no-mess, no-fuss and require no-mama!  I typically have to embrace the mess of crafting and creativity, but this one has literally led to hours of fun for every colony member!

Marble Racing ~ race marbles through swimming noodles (embrace the fact that you will most certainly "lose your marbles" by the end of this one)

Character Games ~ after hearing some ugly words between colony members, daddy came up with a way to help encouraging words take over.

*****

Now, before you begin comparing yourself to the Colony and all our awesome track-out activities;) let's put a few things into perspective...

1 - I am not this creative on my own.  Some of our activities I've just thought of, but the majority of them have come from Pinterest and other resources.

2 - I love to hang out with my children just as much as you do but sometimes my activities do require the kids to just be by themselves and let me have a minute (or 60) to breathe (or do a quick workout video...and SOMETIMES even a shower!).

3 - Just because I have a plan doesn't mean it gets executed as planned.  And it certainly doesn't mean that I have grateful, excited children who jump around in anticipation, high-fiving through the games and rejoicing for the winner.  As a matter of fact, almost every activity we have done has ended in tears for AT LEAST one kid.  Whether it was the fact that the balloon wouldn't go down the string quick enough, or the game is "boring" or "she got the noodle I wanted to use", we have all had our moments.

But we are pushing through and I am determined to keep praying for creativity, patience and as of today, a little more sensitivity for the little emotions inside are running just as high as the temperatures outside.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015 ~ Story In (unedited) Pictures














I must say, this year's daddy day photo session went so smoothly that, besides Jude just being done and walking away on me;), we really didn't have any "outtakes"!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Permission Just To Be

Seriously, can this kid get ANY cuter?!
I had a really motivating and creative post on the tips of my fingers today.  I was going to write about how we were getting through this triple-digit heat during track-out.  I was chalk full of fun ideas and positive parenting moments (maybe that post will come later)...

but then this week happened.
Actually, it's ONLY Wednesday night!
The week hasn't even finished happening yet and I'm already waving the white flag!

The first three days of this week have been filled with putting out sibling brawls spats, trying to tame the beast of a toddler little monster named Jude, cleaning up mess Annie's Gold Bunny and toothpaste concoctions in the bathroom after mess apparently running water in stopped up bathroom sinks for the Lego guys to swim in is  acceptable after mess I now know that my toddler can open sealed essential oil and that fennel smells like licorice for days and melts lego pieces together, trying to instill grateful hearts while pointing out greed and unthankfulness, and still trying to keep a happy heart in the process...

all while Josh crams in final reading and writing for his Monday deadlines for school, on top of his normal work load for Journey.

I am literally about to lose my mind!

For some reason, though, I feel like I'm not allowed to post these kinds of things, because I might have a reader who is a woman unable to have children and she might think to herself, "What I wouldn't GIVE for a day of putting up with sibling rivalry or cleaning up pee stains from the carpet.  This mom just isn't grateful and can't even see the blessings she has been given."

But believe me, I see the blessings.
I see every last sweet, cuddly, sinful, heart-melting, disobedient, chocolate chip kissing part of them.
On a daily basis.

And I'm here to tell you that it's been ONE OF THOSE days weeks.

I'm not saying that we should be allowed to complain about our unruly children, but within limits we should be free to just be.

Free to be authentic
and open
and raw

Free to accept the crappy days and feel pissed off at the sin that ravishes these little humans, knowing full well that we are right there with them, as sinful bigger humans in the same fight against the flesh.

Knowing that we can't stay frustrated.
No, we have to keep pushing through.
Putting every ounce of faith in the promise that each morning brings new mercies (praise the Lord).

But we have to be allowed to just have a hard day.

I was talking with a friend of mine who is in a literal fight for her health.  She was in the fog of treatments on a particular Sunday, not feeling really well at all, but knowing that the fog would most definitely lift within a few days.  She had several friends and acquaintances come up and ask how she was doing.  One particular lady friend very genuinely asked how she was doing and so she gave a little more detail than the "I'm alright" or "hanging in there".  She was just recounting her weekly journey and how this was close to the day she would finally get out of the "fog".  She wasn't complaining or stating anything to portray that her life was terrible because of this trial she was walking through.  But you know what that woman's response was?  "Well, when my kids are having a hard day we play the 'glad game'."

The "glad game", where you try to recount all of the things you can be happy about.

Really?!

Aren't we allowed to just have an off day
or a bad day
or a downright crappy day
and just say it out loud without the "glad game" police coming around demanding that we find all the things to be happy and thankful for?

Just because we are having one of "those days" doesn't mean we think God has forgotten about us, or isn't stretching us and molding us.  It doesn't mean we are being ungrateful and unable to see beyond the struggle.

I know it's all a matter of the heart and the attitude.
I really do.
And I know there is a very real temptation to get stuck on the negative and the circumstances and the season...

But today I'm going on record saying that I have had a pretty crappy week.
I'm grateful for the little blessings wreaking havoc on my mental state;)
I'm even grateful for the lessons I have and will continue to learn through this process.
But that doesn't mean that I'm not ready to have a different kind of day!
And it certainly doesn't mean that I have to pretend like it doesn't hurt.

Growing hurts.
It always hurts.

And I am now giving myself permission just to be.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ear Candy From Over A Decade Gone By


Josh came home with an old CD player that he found.  The boys quickly claimed it for their nighttime music listening pleasures, but it has also been accompanied by hours and hours of fun.

Josh and I have always loved underground ska, punk, emo and screamo bands.  If you know anything about our story you know that we fell in love in a mosh pit and spent the majority of our dating relationship going to late-nite shows in sketchy neighborhoods:)

So when Zeke came across our rather large CD collection from college (and before) his eyes grew bigger than saucers and quickly began sampling the "ancient" tunes.




Today's hits are a compilation of:
     Josh Via's ~ "Funny Looking Cape" (limited edition;)
     Delirious
     Nathaniel The Grublet (this one got me through the hospital days when I was a little girl)
     P.O.D.
     Switchfoot
     HUM
     Andy Hunter
     Thursday (Zeke's personal favorite so far!)
     Engine Down
     the Juliana Theory

It has been so fun to hear these songs and remember the memories that are associated with them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Having A Happy Day Among The Sad Ones ~ A Story In Pictures


Josh's Great Aunt went to be with Jesus last Sunday.  She was a grandmother figure to Josh and his siblings all growing up and then to me after I married into the family.  The Lord was gracious enough to lay on our hearts that we needed to take a last-minute trip into Roanoke to say a "goodbye" to Aunt Velma less than 48 hours before she passed away.  Josh and I brought our instruments into the hospital and played hymns for nearly an hour with her.  My mom said that we "sung her into the threshold of heaven".

So after being at my moms for a week during a chemo treatment and then 2 back-to-back trips to VA, our kids were in desperate need of some family togetherness.

The adventurous day began by hiking and sliding down the waterfalls at Roaring Run.

followed by a mandatory picnic in the car to let the downpour pass;)

Next up was the Roanoke star.
This is an all around favorite.




We walked around the "flower garden" to take in the sights






Then, because many of Josh's childhood stories that he tells the kids are 
wrapped around this very spot...

...we went to the old farm house where he grew up.

He's told a story of a rock wall near the outskirts of the land where he wrote his name as a kid.
So naturally we "needed" to stop and see if his name was still there.

Unfortunately it had weathered away after time.
But don't worry, now in its place you will see the names and initials of his entire Colony!




I'm still not sure if the kids were more worried that we were "breaking the law"
or excited that we were making memories that will be passed on to their own kids one day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Words Worth Remembering

Jude:"Mom, can you help me take my shoes off?"
Me:"Why? I just put them on you."
Jude:"Because I'm going outside."

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

Rainy:"Cai, what are you doing?  You know you can't bring your gum to school!"
Cai:"I'm just getting a piece for Jude so he'll stop following me around."

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

Zeke:"Cai, you know you should really try to go to college when you grow up because they have really cool water fountains."

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

Jude:"Can chickies wide bikes?"
Me:"Nope."
Jude:"Awe (frowns)."
Me:"It's ok, because God made them with wings so that they can fly!"
Jude:"Can I get wings on to fly too?"

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

Alethia:"When we play family I like to be the mommy because I get to tell everybody what to do."

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

Cai:"Zeke, I wish we could have a clean-up robot so we didn't have to clean up all our stuff."

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

Jude:"Zeke, I ate your gummie!"
Zeke:"No you didn't. Daddy found it on my desk and I ate it!"
Jude:"No you didn't Zeke!  I ATE IT!  LOOK, see it in my tummy?!"

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

Zeke:"Sometimes it's cool to have pimples."

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

Jude:"I'm so proud of my pee-peein' in the potty."

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

Cai:"Can girls have beards?"
Me:"Well, kind of, but not like a guys beard."
Cai:"Alethia, you know Andrew?  He said his mom has a beard! heehee."
Alethia:"I want a beard!"

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

Jude:"Isaac, I'm wearing big boy undies!  I'm just gettin' SO big!"

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

Jude:"I can't find my mow-da-gwass."
translation:"I can't find my lawnmower."

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

Josh:"Cai, tell us something good about your day at school.  How was your day?"
Cai:"I took my green jacket off and my long shirt and only had my one-sleeved shirt on."
Josh and I look at each other with smiling eyes and both tell him how proud of him we are for stripping down some of the layers in the 90 degree weather at school, ha!
Cai:"Well actually, my teacher made me take them off because she said I was making HER hot."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Treasures From My Parent's Barn

one of my favorite pics of my parents from 1968

Every time I come to my parents I get giddy thinking about the treasures I might find from the barn to bring home and recreate with.  This time has been no different!

Josh has learned not to ask if I am going to be bringing something back to add to our eclectic Colony home, instead he just smiles and says, "I wonder what you will be coming home with this time".

I've already begun a small pile by the barn door that consists of some fencing, window shutters, random pieces of wood, an old crate box thing and a planter.  And I'm sure I'll find some other fun things to add to the pile (if I can fit them in the car, ha!).

As much as I was looking forward to scouring every nook and cranny of their huge red barn for any treasures I've missed the other dozens of times I've been in their, I have found something even better to treasure at my parents home.

Every other time I come (minus the last time I came for my mom's mastectomy) I have had my multitude of children with me.  I love them, but they can make conversation, um, how should I say it...nearly impossible rather difficult.  So getting to a point in a conversation beyond surface can be a bit of a challenge.

But this week it is just me and my mom.
I have found this treasure in my mom that I don't think I ever took the time to realize, or maybe just had the opportunity to find.  But with all this time on our hands as we wait for the effects of the chemo to run their course we have had a lot of time to reflect and just enjoy each others company.

What a treasure it has been to just sit and be with my mom.
To remember my childhood.
To learn about hers!

I would ask her something that would lead to a story or fact that I had never even heard of about my mom (she had a nervous breakdown as a schoolteacher one time as she worked tirelessly to figure out the best way to teach this difficult class she had been assigned to), which would lead to another story (she had a wig in the 70's so this new "do" of hers isn't her maiden voyage!) and another memory (she has a "short green mini skirt" that my dad she loved that always comes up in conversation;)...another little bit of my moms past that I get to store away to share with my kids one day.

Oh the things I've learned!

The places she's lived
The memories of her childhood
The children she taught
Her memories of her own parents

What a treasure these stories have become.

Life is fleeting.
We are not guaranteed another day.
Take advantage of the time you do have with the people you love and listen.
You'll be surprised at the things you'll treasure in your own heart from the things they share.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Remember The Hard Stuff To Give Hope For The Future Stuff ~ KITW



Isn’t it funny how certain smells and tastes, and even songs, can take us back to a certain time in our lives?
For my husband it is the scent of Bath ‘n Body Works “Sweet Pea” lotion that brings him back to our wedding day and honeymoon. Certain songs bring me back to soccer field warm-ups in college or high school trips to the beach when I lived in Charleston, SC.
This past week I was spending some time with my mom after she had undergone a procedure for breast cancer. I would wake up in the mornings to join my dad on their screened-in back porch, coffee in hand, windows open, listening to the birds and other critters in the surrounding fields and pastures. Every couple of minutes a rooster would crow and EVERY SINGLE TIME it would rush me back... [Read More]