Monday, December 29, 2014

How To Determine the BEST consequences for your kids ~ KITW

I am the worst at spurting off a consequence for a particular offense before thinking all the way through it.
For example, yesterday my highly emotional 8-year-old was having a very anxious morning. I mean a R-E-A-L-L-Y tough morning.
At some point during the morning he had gained full control over the step-stool from the kitchen and was carrying it around so nobody else could use it. Not that anybody else truly NEEDED to use it, but seeing as it was deemed “untouchable” by all but said 8-year-old, the war was on!
Enter mom...[Read More...]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Peace In The Chaos

It's not easy to find peace during this time of year.

visiting family
making memories

and all of these are just some of the funner ones!

But what about when you are surrounded by the constant reminder that Christmas is just another day.  A day with a bitter reminder of the sinful world we live in, except today its just wrapped up in shiny paper and tinsel.

Nothing is really different during this time of year, unless we can stop and remember that God sent his one and only son.  
For you.
For me.

for the hurting
for the couple whose marriage is crumbling
for the family who lost their sweet baby
for the woman struggling to find peace in the chaos of her world
for the diseased and the sick
for the financially unstable
for the family missing loved ones far away
for the one who just lost his job
for those battling depression and anxiety at a heightened rate

This season can be so much more than frenzied parties and activities.
It  is a reminder that there is ONE who gives us a reason to stop, in the middle of the chaos called "life" and remember who He is.

The only ONE who brings peace and hope, and even JOY, in the midst of it all.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace in believing, so that by the power
of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Romans 15:13

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Recipe For Family Togetherness ~ Wassail

His love for wassail began the first year he spent Thanksgiving with my family.  My soon-to-be husband grabbed his coffee mug and poured his first cup. It was love at first sip.  

Now we bring in every fall season (and keep it going all winter long) with a pot of this juice blend that warms the heart, soothes the soul and makes you just want to sit on the couch with loved ones (and magically makes the people you don't really want to be sitting next to not seem all that bad) and watch the embers in the fire glow...okay, okay, maybe that's going a little too far (I was just kidding people), but it really does taste good!  And it really is the perfect drink to snuggle up next to loved ones with.

Here is my recipe:
64 oz. of apple juice (or cider)
3/4 of a large can of pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
2-4 sticks of cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp of whole cloves

bring to a quick boil on the stove
reduce heat to low and sip on it the rest of the day!

Monday, December 15, 2014

How To Make The Choice To Homeschool Or Not ~ KITW

I grew up as a teacher’s kid. I have such fond memories of roaming the school hallways early in the mornings, pinning bulletin boards for my mom, grading papers at night, and cutting out laminated items for hours. I loved it.
So naturally, when my husband (Josh) and I got married, I envisioned waving to my future children as they climbed on the school bus to head to school.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Gratitude Experiment ~ Over 3 1/2 weeks in

My kids have been super busy today.

Actually, it started yesterday.  Rainy came to me and asked if I had any magazines that she could look through to find some "fun stuff".  I reluctantly handed over the year subscription of my Real Simple magazine I had gotten as a birthday gift a few years ago.  I like to decorate with them.  The covers are so simple, with the perfect seasonal splash of color, so I've hung onto them as they resurface every so often in different places around our home.  Like in a basket or under a bowl or propped up against a vase.  The possibilities are endless.

But she asked so sweet...

And here is where she has been ever since.

It began yesterday afternoon and carried on through the evening as she bagged them up for Journey rehearsal night.  Then, as soon as breakfast was over she even reigned in the boys and they got back to work.  They have cut out people and outfits for their "dolls".  They have cell phones and makeup for them.  They even cut out display pages that they have taped to a box to make a house for their little people!  It's been so fun to watch.

I've been watching and listening.

They are working together.
The girls will scour the magazines for inappropriate photos to rip out so Zeke doesn't see them.
They are being creative.
They are sharing.
They haven't turned on a single appliance (besides Zeke's early morning superhero drawing movie he made with the iPad).


Josh and I continue to be shocked at how productive we have all been and how creative they have gotten in their play, even with track out and cold rainy days.  They haven't missed their toys at all!


Personally I have realized just how much I grab for my phone.  It is absolutely ridiculous how much I rely on it for mindless activity.  Like those few minutes I am standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting on the kids to finish up a task, or between activities...

I am having to mentally train my brain to shift during these idle moments.  Shifting them to focus on the Lord in prayer, gratefulness and thankfulness.


We have been fixing the same meals every week and I'm beginning to forget what we have had each night, as it tends to feel like we are eating the same things every night, ha!  But have the kids complained one time about eating the same things?  Nope.  Not once.

In fact, food is Cai's thing, and he continues to ask God every day to be grateful for the food that we get to eat every night and to not complain about our snacks.  It is so sweet:)


So, yup, we are in this experiment for the long haul, and don't have a single regret about it!  Less is more in the land of contentment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Gift Bigger Than The Perfect Gift

I can be such a slow learner sometimes.

I've been a mom for almost 10 years.
That's almost a decade of learning how to be affectionate, patient, creative, balanced in discipline...

But I still miss it.
A lot.

And apparently us parents never really master it.
It's something that will continually be cultivated over time.
I get that.

But I love those moments when God allows us to get glimpses of the big picture.

I got a tiny glimpse when I got the idea to make our bucket list of things to keep us occupied over our winter track-out.

But last night I got more than a glimpse!  I got a wide-open-door look into what my role as a mommy is.  I got to just stop and stare.  I got to see what the long-lasting effects could be.

I had been reminded, on Pinterest of course, of these yarn dolls that I used to make when I was a kid.  I thought that a family of these little cuties would make the perfect gift for Alethia this Christmas!  I went out and picked the yarn for a family of 7 colorful people and couldn't wait to get to work.

Josh had a late-night rehearsal and I was all caught up in the ColonyShop.  It was the perfect time to make Alethia's gift.  It didn't take long for my hands to remember how to fold the strings and tie the pieces together.

I REMEMBERED making these dolls.
Sweet memories.
Alethia is going to LOVE these.
I bet she'll want to make some too!

I got about half-way through with the daddy before I realized that she could enjoy this more than I had thought.  I finished the daddy and the mommy so she would see what a boy and girl yard doll would look like, and intentionally left the rest of her gift unmade.

Because SHE would have fun making them.
With me!
Just like I remember my mom showing me how to make them.
It will MAKE ME stop what I am doing and spend time with her.
And that is even MORE of a gift that a ball of yarn resulting in a cute little dolly.

So often I feel like I need to keep the kids occupied and out of my hair when they are tracked out or home all day.  But this time I'm actually going to try to spend the time WITH them.  The other things will just need to wait.

I'm a work in progress.
Then again, aren't we all.
Kids, moms, dads, wives, husbands, teachers, SAHM, working moms...we are ALL a work in progress.

Imperfect progress.
We just have to be willing to make those steps that keep us moving forward.
And in my case, it is one unfinished Christmas gift at a time this year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Morning With Cai-bo and His Questions

Cai has got to say the cutest things EVER!  It's not just what he says, but the way his voice so innocently asks the questions.  And his cute little voice and the way he still talks with a lisp.  I love the whole "experience".

So, yesterday, with a whole day all to myself with him because he was feeling a little under the weather, I got to enjoy the questions and answer them in detail.  We spent a great deal of time getting to the bottom of how this crazy world works.

Here are just a few of the random questions his mind rested on yesterday morning as we worked tirelessly to solve the world's problems.

Cai:"My tummy just growled.  Why does tummies growl, mommy?"

Cai:"I see birds mommy.  How do birds land on the ground mommy?  Maybe they just don't flap their wings."

Cai:"How did the world start with nothing and then a God baby?"

Cai:"How is there different kinds of colors of grass?"

Cai:"Have you ever heard of a fire stone? Are they for real?  How are they firey?  What if they were not hot?  Maybe they could just be warm."

Cai:"Tomorrow we don't have school.  Because it's track out.  It's just weekend now.  Weekend is two days and track out is lots of days.  How many days is track out mommy?"

Cai:"What if I lose a tooth but I'm sleeping and it's lost and I can't find it and then it's gone?"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter Track-Out Bucket List of 2014

Today is my kids last day of school!  The winter track-out season has arrived!  Just in time for the holiday craziness to begin.  My anxiety can quickly overtake me on cold, gloomy, winter days so I needed a plan to navigate the days so we aren't stuck inside putting out sibling squabbles all day.

So in an effort to keep mommy sane and ALL the children alive savor the excitement of the season the Colony sat down together to come up with a "Winter Track-Out Bucket List".  

Winter Track-Out Bucket List of 2014

go shopping for cousins Christmas presents

go to the science museum

find a new park

$1.50 movie outing

a hot chocolate tea party

sing songs around the Christmas tree

fireside game night in the living room

make fun Christmas crafts

string popcorn (and maybe eat a little too;)

field/snow sledding

wild onion fight (a fun family tradition)

hallway races/bowling with superheroes

go to the library

pullen park

a trip to go see the Hambrick's

play family

write a letter to someone

make some goodies and take them to ________________
(we can't very well give our surprise away!)

find a new place to explore

everybody give $1 and buy a blanket and give it to a homeless person

play hide-n-seek

have a dance party

make fun nature creations from things only found outside

spend a morning/afternoon at Lumpy's IceCream
(the owner has befriended our family and told us to come with games and packed lunch
and we could take over the shop to get out of the house one day:)


We might be adding to the list, but we will most certainly be checking things off beginning TOMORROW!

PS - How is everyone's 31 day challenge going?

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Ultimate Giving Guide For Christmas 2014

Well, it's not exactly the ULtimate list.
But it is a list none-the-less.
And a list of real gifts, for real people, with much less than us, in a season where we are bombarded with thinking about ourselves and all our wants and desires, as if we actually deserve something.

So, in an attempt to think outside of our pretty little bubbles, I thought I'd share some of my favorite ministries and some opportunities they have to give a gift that will bring hope and life to others.

We have friends in South Africa serving a community through Ubuntu Football, using soccer to spread the love of Jesus.  Make sure to check out their story and see how you can join them in their ministry.

Arise Africa will always be near and dear to our hearts.  It is the ministry that saved our Alethia girl's life and brought her into our family.  There are SO many ways you can join them in their ministry, but here is a link to their "Christmas Gift Catalog" that lists out so many awesome opportunities for you to give from sponsoring a child in the Babies Home or a pastor in one of their church plants or an African missionary.  You also have the option to plant different fruits and vegetables or buy animals for milk and eggs.  What a cool way to help ward off hunger plus giving eternal hope and life through the spreading of the gospel!

Not only do we have family in Jinja, Uganda (who, by the way can always use your support as well;), but we are about to send another family of ours to Haiti next spring.  It is such a bitter sweet (only bitter because we'll miss them being down the street) thing to send loved ones overseas to serve, but how cool is it to see a family walking in obedience, even if it means to "the ends of the earth".  Josh's little brother, Jacob, are raising money to get to Haiti and YOU can be a part of it.  You can give directly through their sending ministry OR you can purchase a Christmas ornament that is helping them raise funds to get there.

These are our personal favorites, but there are also larger ministries our family has also supported, that do great work that we would recommend as well such as World Vision, Compassion International, and Samaritan's Purse.

My friend co-writer at Kids In The Word, Shawna, shared 3 other organizations I wasn't familiar with, but am anxious to look into called Heifer International, Advent Conspiracy/Living Water International and Feed My Starving Children.

Now it's YOUR turn to share!  If you have any charities or legitimate organizations that are near to your heart please share them in the comments section below so we can all go check them out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't PRETEND To Fight

I love that Josh lets me proofread his papers before he submits them to his professors.  Mostly because we always joke about how I never used to proofread ANYTHING I wrote.  I would write a paper in college and submit it as soon as I placed the final period at the end of the last sentence.  In fact, in my early days of blogging I used to do the same thing.  A few years ago, Josh admitted to going behind me and making the needed changes for me without my even knowing it, ha!  What a sweet husband he is:)

And now here I am, red pen in hand, anxiously waiting to find that one single mistake that he may have missed.  Partly because Josh is such an excellent writer that I can't ever find anything wrong with his writing, but mostly because he values my input and involvement.

So there I was, proofing another paper on Monday evening.  The paper was so good!  I was learning so much!  I began to wrestle with things I had never even though of in a paper about true discipleship and a close, intimate walk with Christ.  And then I read this sentence: "...pretending to be in a battle that I am not actually in...".

This partial sentence hit my heart hard and the conviction slapped me in the face.

How often do I reference this battle, this fight, going on all around us that we can't see.  The spiritual battle.  Good vs. Evil.  The blood, the sweat, the sacrifice...pretending to be smack dab in the middle of it, as I carry on with my pretty little SAFE life on the sidelines pretending.

I want to get dirty in the battle.  I don't want to just pretend like I'm part of it, scurrying around doing acts of service, or half-heartedly making mental lists of how I can help God out.  I want to love God so bad that it hurts.  I want to be so dedicated to His cause that it envelopes every fiber of my being.

At the end of my life I want to feel that good, satisfied exhaustion that I gave it my all, that I didn't hold anything back, like after that soccer game that went into double over time and I've got the aching muscles and scars to prove it.

He is so worth it.  His Son lived a life like ours.  Died a painful death FOR US!

Stop pretending.  Grab your sword and get in the battle!  Let's not just pretend to fight anymore.  Let's make our fight WORTH IT!

~Thanks for going to school, Josh, and letting me be a part of what you are learning.  You are a great writer, but more importantly, you are on the front lines of this battle and I'm so proud to fight next to you!~

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Day In The Life ~ Story In Pictures

Jude lives quite the extravagant (and predictable) life.

I've done these posts before where I lay out my day in pictures for you all to see,
but today I wanted you to view a day from Jude's perspective!

The pictures are blurry, fuzzy, un-staged and un-edited
just like the rest of our crazy life.

He wakes up every morning ready for bwetwest (ie-breakfast)
asking for cereal by saying some word that I have no idea how to write.

As soon as he finishes his last bite he climbs down from his seat and begins the rest of his morning ritual...laying around on the couch begging for someone to "sit on da couch and cuddoe wit me"

most mornings I am scurrying around getting the rest of the Colony their breakfast
while finishing up the touches on their lunches and snacks for school while calling out
for them to get their shoes and socks on, put their jammies away
and "don't forget your book bag Cai!"

But then, THEN I get to sit on da couch and cudoe with my cutie:)

We begin with sweet cuddles while talking about the day ahead
followed by a Praise Baby and Daniel Tiger while mommy gets the house in order

And then it's time for a stroll/jog

which usually ends with a stir-crazy Jude who wants to walk and push his own stroller

snack time with "Cookie Balls" is next on the to-do list.
(Yup, that recipe will be posted soon.  It's a weekly Colony favorite!)

Followed by a few errands to pick up milk from the local "creamery"
where we have to support his NC Agricultured ice cream efforts

and most of the time Jude weasels his way into my heart for "a bite of yoes"

He is my little shadow.
He can now start a load of dishes in the dishwasher himself,
get his own lunch items out of the frig
bring me the next load of laundry and help me get it going

and is always up for helping me get dinner prep going 

after a hearty lunch we head out to the ColonyShop to work on some orders

play with trains

or run around naked on a warm fall afternoon

shortly after his bare bootie shenanigans you will find him hiding in a corner from me
as I search for him to put him down for a nap

A couple of hours later he emerges as the sweetest cuddle bug EVER

and hits up a few selfies as we wait for the time to go get the kids from school

then the REAL fun begins!
He LOVES to play with his brothers and sisters!

Then its back to work in the kitchen to get dinner on the table

The rest of the evening consists of a whirlwind of homework,
cleaning up dinner, putting our house back together, chores and family "commotions".

You'll find him rocking and chanting himself to sleep to the sound of daddy's music late into the night.

Another day complete in the life of little Jude.

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.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Favorites ~ with lots of things to click on

We introduced Zeke to this wonderful contraption called the Neti Pot.  It has absolutely rocked his world!  In fact, Cai came out the other night asking if Zeke could "please use the Neti pot because he is sounding so gross with his nose!"

My life has been transformed by a new site I found called, Fooducate.

Alethia is actually sounding out, stretching and reading words!  I love seeing her light turn on as she sounds out the word and actually gets it.  She is doing excellent in school!

Nothing will get you moving on those half-completed home projects like inviting 100 or so people over for a get-together for Journey.  I push-mowed our 1 acre lot for the last time this year (thank God!) and raked until my fingertips were numb (I have weird pinched nerves from playing the violin for 30 years) and my hands could hardly grip the rake any longer.  We also FINALLY finished our fireplace.  I'll post the results next week!

Rainy was accepted into a special art program at school.  It meets at 8am on Fridays before school and she is SO pumped to start this morning!

Did you know Christmas is just 47 days away.  And here is a great resource (with a giveaway) to help get you and your family in the right frame of mind as you start preparing for this time of year.

Speaking of Easter Christmas, I know a great resource to give as a Christmas gift!  You should go check it out;)

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's back up to the much sooner holiday that is quickly approaching...Thanksgiving.  My friend, Jenn, wrote a fabulous blog about instilling an attitude of gratitude into your children.  You should go check it out.

My sister-in-law sent me a link to this post with this photo...and Holy Cow, if that doesn't looks almost identical to my Cai-bo!  How CRAZY is that?!

Jude can almost fix his lunch by himself now.  I'll ask him what he wants to eat and he will actually give me a legitimate answer as he scours the refrigerator and pantry for what his pallet has a hankering for.  It is too cute watching him walk around and think about the perfect meal for his afternoon.

And lastly, but definitely not least(ly), theColonyShop monthly feature is the adoption charm/bracelet/necklace/keychain for Adoption Awareness Month.  It is by far my top seller on Etsy, and a great gift for the adoptive/foster mother/guardian as well as anyone playing a part in the restoration of a child.

Well, I've got go complete one more project before the multitudes arrive!

Happy FALL Friday ya'll!