Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Free-For-All


I have the privilege of being the guest blogger on "We Are Grafted In" today, a support site for adoptive families.  You can read the post HERE.  I continue to pray that our story will be an encouragement for other families.

Alethia loves dip.  Let me rephrase that.  Alethia LOVES dip.  So much, in fact, that she dips everything in dip.  If it's ketchup for nuggets, she'll even dip her apple dippers in the ketchup.  I caught her dipping her strawberries in her ranch that was meant for her cucumbers.  It's rather hilarious.

Jude is getting his 8th tooth. EIGHTH.  Ouch!  That's all I'm gonna say about that.

Today is Zeke and Rainy's last day of school before track out.  They have off the entire month of December!  We were just getting in the groove of things.  All of us. Preschool was going GREAT! In fact, we only have 9 more days until WE track out:)  I was getting all caught up on life.  All those things in life that I had just been juggling to "get by" before were all beginning to settle into a routine.  Zeke was no longer having to be wrestled out of bed in the mornings to get ready for school and Rainy was no longer begging to Jesus to hear her prayer to be able to be homeschooled.  They were actually beginning to enjoy school.  It'll be good to have them home for a while, but I feel like it's gonna be tough to track back in.  Oh well, it'll be good for them. Right?

CVS"ing" has made a return to the Colony household.  When Josh and I realized that we were about to have to pay FULL PRICE for our first tube of toothpaste in 5 years we decided that it was time.  My CVS sabbatical was over.  I have had two successful trips to the great land of free toiletries, and it is wonderful:)

Part of Zeke's anxiety is being afraid that he isn't going to be able to hug and kiss someone goodbye.  So, he has become obsessed with telling us bye "in case I forget to see you when you leave".  I was headed out the other night and I swear he came and told me bye 8 times before I was even done getting ready to leave.  This morning alone he came to give me goodbye kisses 3 times before heading out the door for school.  In fact, he gets so worried about it that he somehow blocks out when we DO tell him bye and insists that we do it again.  I don't know whether to think it is super sweet or be concerned:)  My sweet boy just loves to love!

Well, it's time to go take advantage of free childcare at the gym!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Music To My Ears : A little ear candy for a cause

Oh yes, I have some great ear candy for your listening enjoyment!  Our friend, Andy, tweeted about this album and the purpose behind it and man am I glad he did.  I don't personally know this family, but I feel instantly connected to them for a couple of reasons.  They are a family following the call for adoption AND they are musicians AND they have combined the two to help raise awareness (and funding) for their adoption.  Sounds very familiar:)





Here are the details you need to go get your own copy of this beautiful music:
First, I'd encourage you to read about their adoption HERE.

Then, click HERE to download their album.
Help them bring home their sweet child from Ethiopia.

Finally, stick your earbuds in, because this isn't just for those sleepy kids who still reside in your closet:)
...ahem.

Your gonna love it, I promise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

That'll Preach

Preaching doesn't only happen on Sundays around here.

As a matter of fact, it happens on a daily basis...at least inside of my mind anyway.

Let me explain.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, my mind likes to play tricks on me.
More-so than the average person.
For someone with anxiety one tiny thing can turn into a massive snowball within seconds!
And that "one tiny thing" can turn into "a dozen tiny things" by lunchtime.

It's never-ending.

I begin replaying events and scenarios, most of which haven't even happened (yet), until I've worked myself into an emotional basket case.

I'm grasping at false realities and reacting as though it is truth.

I am in a constant battle with my mind and spirit.

Scripture tells me to dwell on things that are TRUE and PURE, but my mind wants to dwell on made-up realities that may or may not even happen!

When we are commanded to clothe ourselves for battle I take that literally in every sense of the word.  This battlefield in my mind can be an easy target for Satan and if I give him any ground you better believe that he'll run with it.

So how in the world do I fight this fight that is not of flesh and blood?

I have to constantly preach truth to myself.

All. Day.
Every. Day.

It is exhausting, but at the end of the day I KNOW that I KNOW what is truth and what are lies from the deceiver.

You'd be surprised where those little seeds of doubt or rehashed conflict come to surface.
In the shower on an early Sunday morning.
In the aisles at Target.
In the car.
While I'm trying to meet with my Savior in the morning.

It never ends.

It's exhausting.

But God has equipped me to preach (to myself anyway;).
It's not a luxury for this girl.
I will not survive without the truth constantly being spoken.

Reminding myself of the facts.
Sans emotional sways.

It's worth the fight.

Maybe you are like me and need a constant preaching-to throughout the day.  You may not even struggle with anxiety but there is a situation that continues to haunt you.

It might do you good to memorize these verses with me:

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, 
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue 
and if anything is praiseworthy - meditate on these things."
Philippians 4:8

Now, that'll preach!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ugandan Mentality / American Home

This day last year I was stepping off of an airplane.

I had 1 child rapidly growing inside of me, 2 children walking beside me, one waiting to see his mama for the first time in weeks and another with her daddy, in Uganda, for an indefinite amount of time.

~I know I post this picture often, but it depicts EVERYTHING I felt at that moment~
As I walked through the airport with all the holiday decorations I felt so torn.
I knew God had our story in the palm of His hand, but the unknown made life feel so stale.

So cold.
So unfair!

I hated the hustle and bustle of the holidays buzzing all around me.
The blaring media screaming for all that one needed.

What is a "need" anyway?
The people in Uganda primarily live meal to meal with just the clothing on their backs.

It was nauseating...literally.
I remember crying with my Pastor's wife (you may remember that they had been there for a couple of weeks as well) as we tried to process these two realities.

The demand for cheer and thanksgiving were almost unbearable.

I wanted nothing to do with it.

"What do you want for Christmas?"
The question kept banging on my door.
What did I want?

The hope of knowing that my daughter would be able to come home.
A VISA for my daughter!
Assurance that it would all work out.
That's it.

Life was FAR from urgent and there was no "fast-paced" anything in this house.

I hated going anywhere.

Besides all the uncertainty of our circumstances and the hormones raging inside my pregnant body, there was something that had switched in the mentality of our entire family.

Perspective.    Urgency.    Priorities.

These things were all so fresh to me.  The ONLY things that felt real.

The Christmas parties, the gift exchanges, the festivities, the perfect holiday cards...all the things that cause so much stress to the average American, held no value to me in the least.

**********************************************

Two months later our daughter was granted her VISA and DID make it home.

But that perspective continued to linger.
We wanted it to!
We craved the simplicity of life in Uganda.
We longed for the freedom of perspective.
We never wanted to forget the eternal priorities that were so fresh.

There is something to say for the joy and peace that the Ugandan's have that Americans simply cannot grasp because of the distractions that cloud our perspectives.

Their lives are built on relationships.
Gifts are a blessing.
Education is a privilege.
Belongings are few.
They don't have to keep a calendar of events for everyone's extracurricular activities, and certainly don't feel pressured to have all of their children in music lessons or sports.
They didn't seem to fret over the little details of life.
Hard working, for sure!

Josh and I often discuss our lives and compare it to our time in Uganda.  We know life is just different in America.  It is what it is.  But that doesn't mean that we have to succumb to the pressure to get more, make more, do more...

We continue to fight the battle within our hearts to keep that mentality that so-often collides with life here in America.  But we're gonna keep fighting.  Because that is a priority.  It helps keep perspective and makes the urgent, not-so-urgent...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Voices From A Storyteller

When I read stories to my kids I like to give the characters a vocal personality.  I'm not so good at it, but Josh or my mom?  They are truly gifted in that area.

I've caught myself using these same vocal inflations (in my head, of course) while reading books to myself.

And even while reading texts, emails or messages.  I'll give that annoying person on FB a sassy, know-it-all "voice", while giving another person a "voice" like Mary Poppins. I know, it's sad, but true.

The humbling thing is when I catch myself delegating personality traits through these "character voices" in my head to people I've never even met before.  And the "voices" I give them are preconceived ideas of what I THINK they are like.  It's NOT even factual.

It's always hard to communicate through words on paper (or computer screens) anyway, but we can help soften its blow if we read the content in a neutral tone, as if every word were written out of grace and love.

I know, this doesn't work ALL the time, but I promise that it will help with cynical and judgmental ideas of what a person is saying if we try to give them the benefit of the doubt, instead of the voice of the evil step-mother!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Free-For-All / Things To Click On

So, we just finished week 3 of school for Areyna and Zeke.  Overall it has been a good experience, but after the initial adjustment and then the "honeymoon" week, I'm pretty sure it is setting in that we are, in fact, sticking to this new normal...and it's been a bit rough this week.  Let's just say that we are SO glad that it is Friday, and that they get 2 days to regroup before heading back for another week.

I know it's a process.
It's always a process...

Oh my goodness, the amount of post-adoption paperwork seems never-ending.  There is always some fee to pay and some other form to fill out!  So worth it, but man, does it make me feel on edge that I'm going to do something wrong.

We went and got our pictures done for our christmas cards, ie-we called my sister-in-law who is a professional photographer, to come over before Alethia's birthday party, and snap a few shots of us all looking, ahem, presentable:)  They turned out SO good!
Just ONE of my favorites
I was lovingly informed that I was doing Alethia's hair wrong.  See, I told you I was NO expert and I am VERY teachable:)  Instead of rubber-banding the root of her braids, I will now be trying THIS.  It seems easy enough, and much more gentle on her hair and scalp.  Thank you Sunny!

This weekend is Josh's first weekend home in a month!  We are SO excited to have daddy here for our weekend so we can relax and have some much-needed family time. Can I get an "Amen" for bedtime routine help!

I have some friends of a friend who are really in a tough spot.  Tricia is fighting for her life, literally!  She has been battling CF her entire life, has already endured a double lung transplant, cancer, giving birth at 27 weeks to a now-healthy, beautiful little girl, and is now waiting to get back on the list for a second double lung transplant in order to save her life.  The odds are against her, but we know a God who can conquered death!

They need prayer.
They need encouragement.
They need a miracle.

You can read a summary of their remarkable story HERE.
You can pray.
You can encourage.
You can help be a blessing.

My friend, Patience, is hosting a trunk show and 100% of the profit will be going directly to this family to help provide for her critical medical care.
You can get all the information HERE. You have from now until Dec. 8th to shop online.

I have been completely and utterly overwhelmed and burdened by the goings on in Israel today.  There is something stirring in my heart...

Believers should be a praying people.
So, pray for Tricia and Nate.
Pray for Israel.
Pray for your family, friends and leaders...

and have a GREAT weekend!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIY - Ethnic Hair Extensions


I will NEVER claim to be an expert on ethnic hair
but I AM learning!

Alethia LONGS for long hair.
(did you see what I did there?:)

Ahem...

and as soon as I saw a friend tweet pictures of her new "do" I just had to try it.

So, I went to Wal-mart and bought:
black yarn for about $1
art/craft beads for about $1.50
and I already had the rubberbands (under $2)


I cut the yarn into 8-9" pieces

Then I divided her hair into little sections
(just like I do for almost every other hairdo I try)

I took 3 strands of my pre-cut yarn and rubberbanded it to the root of each little section of hair.

I divided each small section of hair into 3 sections.
One for each strand of yarn.
Then I braided it all together.

The trick was to make the braid tight at the root and loosen as I go
so it doesn't look half the size once the hair runs out and only yarn is left.



Then, at the end of each braid I added a bead at the bottom.
Pulling the very end of the (yarn) braid through the hole and folding it up to the top of the bead.

The last step is to add another rubberband over the bead.


Then all you have to do is play around with different styles by adding ponytails and hair clips!
Because we all know that a hairstyle is only as good as the smile being worn with it:)


This took me about 5 hours on and off.
I know, a little overwhelming to think about, but I haven't had to touch it in almost a week!

I guess all those years of playing with My Little Pony hair is finally paying off!

P.S. She walks around bobbing her hair all sassy-like now that she has "long" hair...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Not Me Monday (Not ON Monday) - Numb

I do NOT have problems with oral hygiene while pregnant.

Nope.

I would NEVER go a week (or 3) without brushing my teeth because of the gagging that it would cause.

That's just gross.

Likewise, I don't have a sweet tooth.

Nope.

I always eat organic vegetables.

Yup.

Always organic.

Always vegetables.

Never cookie dough, brownie batter, and the kid's halloween candy.

Mrs. T does that, but NOT me.

Oh no.

Because if I did go that long without brushing, spending the majority of that time in Africa and I did have a "problem" with sweet, sugary, chocolaty food, I might get a cavity...or two.

And I am 33 years old, without EVER having a cavity.  And 33 year-olds don't get cavities.

Nope.

At least NOT THIS 33-year old!

But if I ever DID get a cavity I would certainly not THOROUGHLY ENJOY the Nitrous Oxide because life would, in fact, feel as though it was on pause, making THIS POST much more attainable, ha!

~and just so we can all remember not to take ourselves too seriously~


Just Do SOMETHING

For some reason I just can't get "life" to pause for even a split second for me.

Nope, it just keeps moving.

And the speed just keeps picking up pace.

Life has been so crazy here lately.

So much transition.  So much change.  So much...

We keep telling ourselves that this is just a season.

A crazy season.

But even when we finally get through this crazy season
we're going to be in the beginning stages of trying to navigate a brand new season.

We're ALWAYS in a season.

I tried to sit down and write out all my anxiety "triggers".  They were all just normal mom things.  Just a laundry list of to-do's.  Little to-do's.

But all the little to-do's pile up into an "always-doing-to-do's" and it gets just a bit overwhelming.

So I have had to resolve to the fact that life, in fact, is NEVER going to stop.
Never going to slow down.
Always have to-do's to do.
So, so many to-do's.

But I can't just freeze!

I just need to do SOMETHING.

So, I'm just gonna grab ONE thing from the life spinning all around me and work on that ONE thing today.

It may not get done.
It is NEVER done.
It always just keeps going.

But at least I'm moving.

Moving and praying and striving to thrive in the life God has given me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Alethia Grace - Story In Pictures


Alethia turned 4 today!


The weather was PERFECT


 The food was simple


The hugs were super sweet


and the friends and family were in abundance
always in abundance:)


It's crazy to think back about our journey with her.
And the birthday we spent with her last year in Jinja!


~HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET ALETHIA GRACE~

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jude Warren - 9 Months

 Jude Warren ~ 9 Months
21.4 lb


This boy loves life!


 He doesn't hold still for very long anymore

He is the owner of a total of 4 teeth

He still eats very well
He's even beginning to eat some of the more bland things we eat

His sleep had been interrupted by a terrible sinus infection
but after a round of antibiotics he decided sleeping through the night was WAY better:)

He has pretty bad allergies, but he remains pretty happy through the snot bubbles and drainage


 He became a crawling pro

as well as beginning to bear crawl

and climb up on small objects around the house

AND

as of 3 days ago, he has started pulling up on furniture


We all know it's just a matter of time now...


our adorable, disobedient children just keep growing up!

A Few Of My Favorite Things:
I love how he eats and eats and then begins blowing raspberries to show us he's all done.
He chews on EVERYTHING!
He playfully kicks his feet when he's happy.
He said "mama" for the first time. (not at me, but at least I heard the sound:)
His nickname around the Colony has become "Juju"
He loves to play games.
Everything makes him laugh.
Loves to wrestle!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Moves You


Music.

Music moves me.

It can well up every emotion imaginable within seconds of the first chord.

The words, beautiful words, worship through words.

The melody, beautiful melody, worship through song.

Smells.

Smells move me.

One breathe of a familiar smell can bring me back to any point in time.

Sweet Pea, our Honeymoon.

Pumpkin Spice, our adoption process in Uganda.

A certain restaurant, one of the darkest moments in my life.

Written words.

Written words move me.

Words of encouragement, hope, heartache, perseverance.

Words written by my love, by my children, by my Father.

Writing.

Writing moves me.

Thoughts captured on paper.

Colors.

Colors move me.

The colors of the sunset, the turning leaves, the dark green grass, my children.

What things move you?  What makes it impossible for you NOT to feel SOMETHING?

Monday, November 5, 2012

In Order To Thrive


Josh had coffee with an old friend several weeks ago.

He came home refreshed and motivated, as he typically does after a good catch-up with a friend.

One thing just really stuck out to Josh that his friend, Ed, said.

Ed's family had made some big life changes for their family and the reasoning behind it was to help their family thrive!  Not that their prior choices were sinful or wrong, but because they needed to make a change for the better of their family as a whole.

That got Josh thinking about our family.

Things have been a bit tense around here lately.  The dynamic in our household tends to be stressed and we don't want that for our family.  With a mother who struggles with anxiety, and a son who is following all too closely in her footsteps, not to mention the added stresses of attachment issues with another and many learning issues...something needed to give.

When we first began to homeschool it was out of necessity.  We were traveling so much that our children would flunk out of school solely based on lack of attendance:)

Then, the adoption stuff happened and we were forced, again, to just stick with the plan.

I really struggled with homeschooling at first.  I didn't feel very qualified and had to force myself out of my own comfort zone to be the teacher my kids needed.  Plus I knew NOTHING about homeschool.  I went to private and public schools my whole life, so I felt like I was going into it blind.

Josh was homeschooled from middle school on so he was very positive about the decision to homeschool, but never made me feel like that was the only option.

This year rolled around and we decided, once again, to give homeschooling a go.  I was really beginning to get the hang of it and was actually ENJOYING teaching my kids.

But this year proved to be more than I could handle with all of the special attention Zeke needed.  Not to mention that my school had doubled in size!  He was happy being at home, but he wasn't THRIVING and we were determined to get him the help he needed.

I felt like I couldn't catch my breathe most days.  Having a child with special needs is exhausting because you have to be SO consistent!  Even more so than the average child.  I'm not complaining, I'm just stating the fact.  So I felt spent, drained and like I just had nothing more to give.  No time to "fill back up" in order to overflow onto my family.  I was not THRIVING.

And you know what they say, "If the mama ain't happy...".

So, Josh, after this new-found insight came to me very lovingly and released me from homeschooling.  Not that he was holding me back at all, but I just needed to hear, from him, that HE believed in me and that it was okay to put Zeke in school.

Not many people go from homeschooling a child with learning disabilities to actually putting them in school for help, so it was quite a process, but we did it.

I'm not going to lie, part of me felt like I had failed in some way.  Like I was giving up by just handing them off to the public school system.  But on the other hand I felt freedom in letting go, in order to try something that may be even better!  It sure doesn't seem like it now, but Zeke and Rainy are going to THRIVE at school.  Zeke's TA is a believer and so is his special resources teacher.  They are trained at what they do and I am anxious to see them help my boy THRIVE!

Now, a week in, and I get excited to go pick Rainy and Zeke up in the afternoon, I have special time with the 3 littlest colony members, I have a naptime to get work done around the house again AND running errands only takes a fraction of the time with 3 as opposed to 5, ha!

So, for now, in this season, this is what we needed to do to thrive!

Is there something you need to change in order to help your family thrive?  It's not easy letting go of the idea of life that is in your head, but something BETTER could be waiting for you just around the corner...

Friday, November 2, 2012

The View From Here



Friday Free-For-All

Well HELLO November!

Josh has been sick for weeks and FINALLY went to the Dr. this week.  He had some kind of lung infection...but is on some meds to knock it out.  As of yesterday HE IS BACK!  As in, he's out of that "sick haze", he is no longer exemplifying "a walker", and he is beginning to retain information that I say, again:)

Also, Jude is on the mend.  He has slept 3 consecutive nights in a row...which means that I have slept 3 consecutive nights in a row.  Hallelujah!

My entire being has been consumed with school this week.
It's Friday, which means that we made it through an entire week!  That alone is progress in my book.  It was definitely NOT pretty, but it.is.over.

Rainy is already into the swing of things.  Zeke...not so much, but I have complete faith that he'll get there.

It's been SO quiet around here without Rainy and Zeke!  I've decided that I need to write out some goals to accomplish during each day or else I just wander aimlessly around the house wondering what to do next.  I know that sounds weird.  I have 2 less kids in the house, yet am completely lost, ha!  I'm SURE it won't take long to adjust:)


Alethia, Cai and Jude, on the other hand, have had NO problem adjusting to their new roles of ruling the roost. I can't get over how well they all play together.  They play family ALL DAY.  The only thing I have to watch is that the entire house's contents don't end up in their "fort home".

Josh is headed out to another weekend retreat.  So thankful for work for him.
I had 2 Barbie Princesses, Captain America, Spiderman, Batman and Flash
Oh yeah, Happy Halloween!  When Rainy came home from school holding a "craft" she made that was a dead person's finger and told us she learned about "The Day Of The Dead", Josh and I just stared at each other as if to say, "wow, here we go...".  We felt a little better after looking up what the day stood for, but geez!  I guess Halloween week is a bad time to transition your kids from the sheltered homeschool life to public school, haha!

Alethia wasn't quite sure what to make of her first Trick-or-Treat experience.  She sure looked cute though.  We went with our friends the Mayhugh's.  They have 5 (1/2 - she's pregnant!) kids.  Needless to say, after each of our kids raided a house they had to immediately go restock.


Jude and his BFF, Isaac.  They had a fun time rubbing each others backs to sleep and sucking on their sister's suckers:)
Hope you have a GREAT weekend!
Happy Friday ya'll:)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finding His Happy Place


One of the best take-aways we've gotten from Zeke's therapy for his anxiety is our "Cozy Couch"

We've created a physical "happy place" where Zeke can go to cool down.

It's kind of like a time out, but completely positive.

You are sent to the Cozy Couch, not for isolation, but to regroup.

Everything associated with the Cozy Couch is intentional.
It is created to train his mind to switch from the emotional, irrational side,
to the more rational side, by the use of different sensory objects.


bubble timer - he knows to turn it over to start the time and to come out when time is up
It isn't a place to go chill for 30 minutes, but instead a timed event

calming things to look at

magnets to concentrate on using touch

smelly markers, a cuddle blanket and animal, silly puddy, stress ball
When this idea was proposed by his psychologist I was like,
"yea right, he's just gonna act out so he can go play with those fun toys".

BUT

It has worked wonders in this house!

It hasn't been abused and he realizes its effect and will go to it on his own to calm himself down!

If you have a child with anxiety, or other sensory issues, and have questions about the cozy couch technique please email me!  It has really made a big difference in the atmosphere of our whole family.

tasha @ joshviamusic .com