Friday, August 31, 2012

Going To Grandma's

This week was spent in Marion, near the Asheville area, with my parents.  Josh had a gig about 40 minutes from their house so he dropped me and the kids off to play:)  They live on one of the most peaceful yet exciting pieces of property ever!

flowers were picked

creation was observed
birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, chipmunks, bunnies, horses, goats, chickens, etc.

hoolahoops were mastered

tea parties were had
King G-daddy made a special appearance

records were listened to

bikes were raced

watermelons were enjoyed

when your G-daddy is a scientist
and your favorite subject in school is science
microscopes will be put to good use

slip-n-slides were occupied

and teeth were lost!

Hope your week was full of as many adventures as ours was:)

Happy Friday ya'll!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Secret To Contentment

Usually when I have a "night off" it is because I desperately need some quiet time alone.  Sometimes I make the initiative and call Josh at work, asking if he would be willing to let me go away to clear my head for a couple of hours when he gets home.  Sometimes it is Josh who takes the initiative and demands me to have a "time out":)

Regardless, this alone time is mostly out of necessity.

But last Monday afternoon Josh texted me out of the blue to ask if I'd like a night off.

I told him I needed to pray about it, ha! (j/k)

It hadn't been an abnormally rough day. I, I mean, the kids, hadn't had any major meltdowns.

You better believe I wouldn't pass up this opportunity though!

I prepared dinner and we all sat down together to eat.

Then Josh looked over at me and said, "Now, get out of here!"

I had the perfect plan!

I needed a new journal, and we all know that finding the perfect journal can be time consuming:)

Then I went to a restaurant with an outside eating area and ordered a dessert to eat ALL BY MYSELF.  As I indulged I put in my earphones and finished the book I was reading and then...

...I couldn't really think of anything else to do.

So I hopped in the car, turned the radio off, rolled down the windows and enjoyed my last few minutes of blissful alone time.

When I pulled up the driveway I could see in the windows.  It was already getting dark, and there was a 50-50 chance that the kids would be in bed, but as I pulled into my spot I could see Alethia sitting at the kitchen table with Jude, making silly faces at him and feeding him a late-night snack.  I stood outside the carport window and watched for several minutes.  It was such a sweet thing to watch.

Then, instead of walking in, because let's face it, bedtime is so much more fun to WATCH than to DO, no matter how much you love your kids, ha, I walked around the back of the house.  Areyna and Zeke were twirling around in their own make-believe world and Cai was putting his cars "nite-nite".

I decided that I'd just hang out on the trampoline with Pandora and the stars watching the kids enjoy their daddy time before bed.

That moment is when I realized that I was content.  Like really soul-fulfilling content.

I believe it started in Uganda last fall.  Somewhere along the way I lost interest in trying to gain my self-worth in trying to be like my friends and trying to do what worked for them and their families.  Not that I don't ever struggle with comparison anymore, but that constant nagging that would continually leave me feeling empty, worthless and never good enough...those feelings are gone!

I have finally not only embraced this season of life that I am in but I am daily choosing to OWN it!

Now, don't go painting a picture in your head that parenting never completely exhausts or drains me and don't you dare think for a second that I have mastered the art of being completely content 100% of the time.  This mama is STILL going to need her time-outs locked in her bedroom and her nights away from the chaos of kids.

But when I think about the word EMBRACE, I mentally picture wrapping my arms around something.

One step farther is to take what I embrace and OWN IT!

When I hear "OWN IT", I mentally picture determination of the action being embraced.

For me, right now, I mentally picture myself wrapping my arms around the fact that I have 5 children (when growing up I honestly questioned whether I ever even wanted kids).  I am a stay-at-home mom (when if fact, I always pictured myself working outside the home in some capacity because I LOVE being active).  I provide for my family by feeding them (and not in a 5-course-meal kind of way either), teaching them and encouraging my kids to be thankful for their daddy's hard work to financially provide for our family.  I homeschool, a road I NEVER thought I would be going down.

These are the things God has called me to, not necessarily the things that I would have planned my future to hold, but in this season I can choose to be bitter, resentful, bored, complain about my kids and their on-going antics or the lack of emotional stability in some of their lives (*sigh*), or embrace this season as an adventure that God has blessed me to be a part of and own it!

I have never felt as content in my calling as I do right now!  I am committing to daily choose to own it (knowing that days will come and go where I will fail tremendously, but I'm committed to try anyway)! To run this race with Christ as my navigator and motivator, not in search of someone else's race and calling.

What season are you in?

Are you just trying to survive through it or are you going to work faithfully, as unto the Lord?

Do you exemplify contentment and ownership of your children or do they constantly overhear you complaining about them to your friends?

I'm a work in progress, but I believe that the days where I choose to own the things God has given me to embrace, those are the days I find contentment in them.

Choose to embrace YOUR calling.

Choose to OWN IT!

And smiling through it is never a bad idea either;)

Then, if you are truly following after God's own heart,  I promise you will find that contentment.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Little Misunderstanding(ish)

Zeke: "Mooooommmmmm! Mom!  This is really bad!  Reeeaaaly bad!"

Me:"Zeke, what in the world happened?"

Zeke: "Cai rolled his car down the driveway."

Me: "Well, I'll just walk down and get it."

Zeke: "No! It's broken!"

Me: "Did a car run over it?"

Zeke: "Yeah!  It's in tiny pieces!"

Me: "Alright everybody, don't cross your line on the driveway.  I'm gonna go down and see if I can get it."

My investigation began...looking in the little ravines on either side of the road and down the hill by the farm across the street.

No little car anywhere.

No "tiny pieces" of car anywhere.

Me: "Cai, did you roll the car down the driveway."

Cai: "Yes."

Me: "Why did you do that?"

Cai: "I want it go fast!"

Me: "Well, where did it go?"

Cai: "I show you."

He begins leading me down the hill.

We carefully cross the street and head down the hill toward the farm.

Me: "I don't see a car anywhere buddy."

Cai: "Right there!  There's the horsies!!!!!"

Me: "Yes buddy, but we're looking for your car."

Cai: "The ponies are RIGHT THERE!"

Me: "Ummm...alright, let's go back up with the rest of the kids."

Me: "Zeke, I thought you said the car was in tiny pieces.  Did you see it get hit by a car?"

Zeke: "Well no.  I just didn't see the car anymore so I thought it got run over."

********* 2 minutes later*********

Zeke: "Cai. Your car is here in the shed! Let's go ride!"


And these are the kind of circumstances that occupy my days:)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's Good To Remember

Josh and I just spent the last 45 minutes recounting one of the darkest times in our marriage.

Not because we were feeling sorry for ourselves.

Not because we enjoy thinking about those hard times.

But because we can now see how God orchestrated those dark times to bring us to where we are today!

If we would have never gone through that time, even though we suffered greatly during it, we would have never come to Raleigh when we did...

...we would have never introduced Josh's brother and sister-in-law to Journey...

...they would have never started attending there...

...and for sure wouldn't have begun working there... we wouldn't have ever begun coming in to lead worship there... begin the relationship we have with this beautiful display of Christ's church...

...later calling this body our home!

It's good to remember where we have come from.

Even the darkest of times.

It's good to think of the things we have learned along the way.

Because the darkest of times is when we tend to absorb the most!

It's good to see the place He brought us out of.

To bring us to a place where we can bring Him the MOST glory!

It's a humbling path, this Christian life is.

But oh, the Joy it brings along the way!

Don't just build up those Ebenezer's and forget them.

Remember them and speak of them often.

Share them with your children.

The Ebenezers are the landmarks for your life story.

For YOUR GOD has orchestrated them to make you who you are today.

The View From Here

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Free-For-All

Jude became the proud recipient of his first two teeth this week!  They are so stinkin' cute:)  One of these days he'll let me get a picture of them.  But this is what I've got so far, ha!

My kids have had an absurd amount of interest in burping and flatulence over the past week or so.  It's not like we ever talk about it all that much to make them think is SO funny.  After reaching my limit of songs made up about burping and farting I decided to take the scientific approach and explain just what burps and farts really are.  Apparently "air bubbles in your bootie" aren't exactly going to cease the eruption of laughter from the back seat as quickly as I had hoped...

My brother, Andrew, and his wife, Dana, dropped in for a quick visit to meet the two newest members of the colony.  It was by far the most fun visit with them yet!  Dana read books to the kids until her face turned blue and they LOVED every minute of it!  Andrew brought his cello and he and Josh played the night away:)

Cana and Karis joined us for a day as we decided to expand the sandbox capacity to 6:)

An hour before Andrew and Dana arrived Alethia found an ant bed to hang out in.  By the time Josh arrived at the scene there was only 1 ant left on her, but it was imbedded in her foot.  She was clearly in pain, but I honestly didn't think anything of it...until she showed me her foot.  It was really swollen and hot, then her eyes began to swell shut.  Very quickly she began to whimper, saying it hurt to breathe and her whole body was covered in softball sized welps and hives!  We called the pediatrician and they told us to come in immediately.  It was really scary.
We are now the proud owners of...

Tonight is going to be an amazing night of worship at Journey!  We'd love for you to come on out and join us.

Tonight, August 24th  ~  7pm
3500 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh, NC 


I'm headed to the pool!

Happy Friday ya'll!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

When Life Isn't Urgent

Between the highness of the mountaintop

and the lowness of the valley

there is life in between.

I've found that life is just as hard to live in the in between.

Coasting can be hard.

The quietness can be even harder.

And staying consistent and far from complacency can feel impossible.

Anticipation of the mountaintop can be exhausting.

Recovering from the valley can be paralyzing.

So how do you live life in between these two extremes,

wanting to be aware, yet trying to stay guarded from living life in fear of the next impending disaster.

Wanting the thrill of hearing and feeling that oh-so quiet voice, yet knowing that it's unrealistic to expect to remain in that high forever.

I don't exactly have the perfect answer.

I'm still becoming, a work in progress.

But learning to become still, and being content in that still, that is when we prepare...

That's when we breathe.

God is always at work.

We aren't always in a season where He shows Himself greatest through our pain.

Neither are we forever in a season of continual exuberance.

Sometimes He seems distant and quiet.

But He is always at work...preparing...tilling...molding...waiting for our obedience and/or action...

Just breathe.

The storms will rise and the mountaintops will be breathe-taking, but be content in every season.

Even when life doesn't seem so urgent.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Just LOVE To Laugh

Passing On The Legacy

Josh and I are musicians and it would be such a tragedy if we didn't pass that on to our kids... least that is the pressure that I feel sometimes a lot of times.

But over the course of the past year and a half Josh and I are slowly realizing just how short this life really is, it is a mere vapor, and just how differently God wires each of us.

We want our kids to enjoy the world God has created around them and enjoy the gifts that God has instilled within them, not the skills He has blessed their mom and dad with.

I wouldn't be surprised if Zeke and/or Alethia, and even Cai for that matter, turn into fabulous musicians.  Music runs in their veins.  And if and when they show true interest in this area we will go the next step and find an instrument and begin to sharpen the skill.

But after a year of piano, which she was really pretty good at, we have realized that music just isn't Rainy's thing.  She shows some interest in violin, but her heart is more into dancing, creating with her hands, catching critters, and wanting to grow up and be a beautician.

There is such a fine line between a parents' encouragement to "stick with it" and "work diligently, no matter how tough it can get", with a parents' push to excel in an area that the child simply has no passion in.

It was a real battle when we decided to call it quits with piano.  She enjoyed her teacher and he really was great with her.  But she had no desire or drive to learn the piano, so practicing was an absolute battle almost 100% of the time.

The last thing I want is to be the family that just gives up on every endeavor when the child loses interest, or skip around from one activity to another.

Our goal is to try out different things our children show an interest in and see which one(s) they excel in and then begin to teach them that even the fun things in life can get difficult, but we are to work hard at them as unto the Lord.

When I take that pressure off of myself, and the kids, it frees us all up for the adventure that is sure to come!  I don't want them to live in our shadows and dreams, I want them to see that they can do ANYTHING God leads them to do with the dreams that He himself births in their hearts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Perfect Swing Number

Some people have the perfect sleep number
to ensure the perfect sleep experience

we haven't quite got the perfect sleeping experience down...yet
but the perfect SWINGING experience?

that one we have perfected!

each colony member has the perfect swing number
ie. the number of links to hang the swing

to ensure the perfect swinging experience

Areyna is an 11

Zeke hangs out at a 9

Alethia is a solid 5
Cai is close behind at a 3

and Jude?
well, he's not picky
he's a perfect 10 no matter what number he swings on:)

~mommy prefers a 12, but shhhh, don't tell anyone she snuck out there to figure that out!~

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Until Next Year - Part 2

we headed up north for the annual Via Family Vacation.
All 18 kids (7 and under) and 16 adults in one house!
We learned how to turn this brown-skinned beauty white if the need ever arrises, ha!
Just a little sun screen and sand:)
Sand Castles and stories were a favorite
Wave jumping and fist bumps were plentiful
Cousins were bountiful
And you can't have a Via get-together without celebrating a birthday...
Zoe turned 1 ~ Ilijah turned 4 ~ Cai turned 3

Oh the fun we had.

Now it's back to real life,
and real life is good too:)

So, goodbye beach, until next year...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Until Next Year - Part 1

We have a family at Journey who lent us their beach house for the weekend.  It was the first time JUST OUR FAMILY went away together, sans instruments or ministry.

We unplugged from the world for 2 entire days of family togetherness.

It was lovely!

Jude ate sand, watched his siblings and slept

Rainy played in the waves
She even caught some awesome air with her boogie board!

Cai enjoyed the sand and the sights

After our own mini-vacation we headed north to the Via Vacation
Since it was a 5 1/2 hour trip we decided to make the most of it
We stopped for ice cream
and found a ferry to split up the trip
It was SO much fun!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Free-For-All

It's Friday.  SWEET Friday!  SWEET Nothing-But-Family FRIDAY!

The more I speak yesterday's verse over myself, the harder I work throughout the day.  Which makes for one tired mama by the end of each day.  It's the good kind of tired though.  Kind of like the feeling you get after double-header soccer games during a tournament.  Your body aches and hurts and feels like it just can't go any more, but you just lay in your dorm room bed and smile, because you know you gave it your all.  OK, so that example was a little dated, but I still remember that feeling;)

Anyway...I'm just excited for family day, that's all!

I just read one of the best books.  It is going to be my go-to resource to tell families about who are dealing with attachment issues in their adoptions!  It's called, "The Forever Child: A Tale of Anger and Fear" by Nancy Clark and Bryan Post.

Thursdays are chiropractor days.  I'm not normally a shorts girl, but yesterday I was.  I try to steer clear of shorts and dresses on chiropractor days for obvious reasons, but I forgot while getting dressed yesterday.  I had to apologize to my chiropractor saying, "Sorry, I shave for NOone but my husband" and occasionally my OB, ha!

Cai's new nickname is "The Destroyer".  At least he doesn't lie about it, though:)  On vacation he snuck into the 2000 piece puzzle sector of the vacation house and completely destroyed the 3 days of work that the family had done, leaving no 2 pieces connected.  Uncle Baikes very quickly became aware of any time "The Destroyer" got closer than 5 feet from the table.

Yesterday I kept hearing a snapping noise from the preschool classroom.  I looked over and Cai was breaking crayons in half.  Instead of yelling, "NOOOOOO Cai!  STOP!" like my typical response causes me to do, I walked over to him, and calmly asked him, "Buddy, why are you breaking some of the crayons?"  He told me that he was just breaking all the crayons with super hero paper wrapping on them because the bad guys on them were being bad, ha!  I don't think ALL of his destroying tendencies are meant to be mean.

But then there are morning like this morning.  Zeke comes running into the room, "Moooooommmmmm!!!  Cai just destroyed my batman lego house!"  I quickly beckon Cai into my room to get to the bottom of his destroying frenzy.
Me:"Cai, did you destroy Zeke's toys."
Me:"Why did you do that?"
Cai:"Because I hit the computer"
Me:"Um...why did you hit the computer?"
Cai"Because I spank Jude"
Me:"You spanked Jude?!"
Me:"Well, why did you spank Jude"
Cai:"I done hit him with a book too"
Me:"OK, go tell Zeke and Jude you are sorry and PLEASE BE NICE."


Our mailbox has been the recipient of its last late-night banter with the "you-shouldn't-have-a-license" fantoms.  He has been hit many times and made a beautiful comeback, but last night was he breathed his last:(  The only thing Zeke was worried about was the fact that "Now, my last birthday present can't come in the mail!!!!"

And, if this face isn't the cutest face you ever did see...

Well, I'm off to enjoy my day!

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Every Season

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a record.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Colossians 3:23-24

"Whatever you do,"
    wiping bottoms, unloading the dishwasher, getting to the heart of yet another melt-down, 
    doing laundry, picking up toys, unloading the dishwasher, fixing meals, matching socks, 
    making ice, running errands, instructing and correcting my children, unloading the dishwasher...

remember, "It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

It's easier to do these things with a happy heart when I remind myself WHO I am really doing them for!

Puddle Jumpers

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beginning Our Firsts

Alethia has been home with us for 7 months.  But even more mind-boggling is the fact that she has been a part of our family for nearly 11.  That's almost a year, folks!

All that to say, we have almost reached all those first-year firsts.

You know, the first:

time coming home
meal as a family at the kitchen table
time running the halls at church
fast-food drive-through
hospital visit
sibling squabbles
"this time last year" memories...

But we still have a lifetime of firsts that we get to experience with our Alethia Grace.

One of the firsts that I was so excited about seeing was the first time Alethia got to experience the beach and the ocean!
This is the first picture I took.
The sand was captivating to her!

She was a little timid of the waves at first...

...but it didn't take long before she was running around in the surf with the rest of the kids.

But her favorite thing was still the sand.

FYI: Ethnic hair + beach sand = BAD IDEA!

P.S. No comments from the peanut gallery about her hair!
I know it looks terrible in the pictures.
In fact I almost didn't post them.
But we had a SUPER busy week, a long car ride
(and she has a bad habit of pulling her hair bands out!).
Besides, I HAD to document this proud-parent occasion.
And if you are still thinking those "poor-white-mama-can't-do-ethnic-hair" thoughts
you can rest assured that we fixed it up right that next morning and I stayed on top of it
the rest of vacation;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Open For Interpretation

We have quite a hodge-podge of words that circulate between Alethia and Cai.

There is the typical "Toddlerese" mixed with a Ugandan accent, a little "Lispish", topped off with some Luganda.

It is a beautiful language I quite simply call "Toddlerlulispigandish", the term for an American and Ugandan toddler learning to speak English together:)

Here are a few of my favorites:

e-bee-u-dee = everybody

white = the color, the opposite of black

white = not wrong. correct.

bee-i-ll-ed = spilled

tu-gen-go = tugende (Lugandan for let's go)

be-ack = the color black

yell-come = your welcome

Buzz yite-yurt = Buzz Light-year shirt

quinky = squinky

Super Hero Squadstumes = Super Hero Squad Costumes

***I'd LOVE to hear some of the cute things your kids say!***

Monday, August 13, 2012

Story In Pictures

Photos courtesy of THE sexy Josh Via
(for some reason his wife kept hitting snooze and missed the whole thing.
Ya snooze ya lose!)