Humbled By Lincoln Logs

A few weeks ago, the kids and I ran around the neighborhood to a couple garage sales. Not that we needed anything, it was just a beautifully crisp yet sunny morning and I thought it'd be fun.

{photo taken by little Laith. I promised him I'd include it}

As we walked up the sidewalk and through one beautifully manicured lawn {& clean garage...jealous}, a beautiful girl {ok, woman...but that just makes us sound old} greeted me and asked if I was "that mom with the beautiful blog." Doubting she actually meant MY blog, I said "no. I don't think so." She assured me that I was the right person, and that she recognized my children from all the photos I post.

Whaaaaat???? I have only lived in Denver for a few months, so going anywhere and seeing someone I know is a complete delight and surprise, let a lone this girl telling me she reads my blog! Turns out I know her neighbor and by the end of the conversation, I want to be friends with her {hi courtney}.

We did leave her home with several goodies {and thanks anne for imani's tap shoes!}, one of them being lincoln logs. I remember learning in one of my Design Classes in college that John Lloyd Wright {son of one of America's most famous architects, Frank Lloyd Wright} created them. 
Always thought that was cool.

During quiet time, Anton & I had such fun using our imaginations and creativity as we put together his new toy...ok, perhaps this is the new "green" recycled version of lincoln logs, but never the less, they are fantastic.

Later in the day I was playing around on my blog and for the 1st time ever, looked at my stats. My blog shows that I have 26 followers & I figured perhaps a few more read my blog without officially following it. But I was COMPLETELY shocked when I saw that consistently over 700 individual people visit us per month. 

Who are you people? I'm so glad you're here! 

{mud fiiiiiiight!}

Armed with that knowledge, I began to pray where the Lord wanted me to go with my little page. Not long after, one of my favorite blogs {Jones Design Company} announced they were opening up a Blog Class. Wow. Confirmation? Ben sure thought so!

I have since spent countless hours on my new blog, which will be released soon. I'm thinking probably the beginning of July. I have learned code, design, and what rss, plugins, and feedburner are. And what on earth Search Engine Optimization means.

And CATEGORIES! I've had so many people tell me they can't find things in past posts.

Though we'll still be Hugs & Punches, I'll have a different address.

Bear with us as I try and figure all this stuff out. I've been getting up at 5am every morning to work on it after doing my Devotions. My brain is fried. But I'm so excited!!!

Stay Tuned for the big reveal!

{take joy}


a daddy yesterday. today. and forever. {and printable}


Though our 4 kids came to us through different ways {biological & adoption}, meeting each of them was so very special and emotional. 

{traumatic birth for anton. i love this photo of ben praying for him as they met for the 1st time}

{emergency c-section for laith}

{meeting baby imani in her orphanage for the 1st time}

{ezekiel didn't even know we were his parents yet}
more on this here

How is it that my children are blessed with the most amazing daddy?  
Thank you Jesus, for the father you gave me...and the father you have given my children. 

Happy Father's Day, Benny. We sure love you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


After making a pancake breakfast {I will admit, Ben did the cooking} we 
decided to set out on a little neighborhood adventure. 

Well, not so much an adventure, as Ben stealing the kids skateboards and proving to them that 
"I still got it."

Even Imani was impressed at daddy's mad skilz. Or perhaps she was laughing at him because he's 40.
Nope, I'm sure it wasn't that. 

What a completely ridiculous & goofy family we have. 
We're stuck with 'em...might as well enjoy ourselves.

We were at Nordstrom the other day and Ezekiel really {reeeeealllly} wanted to get Ben a pair of designer underwear {I think they were $40 for one pair} for Father's Day. Sweet buddy. 

I tried so hard not to laugh at this hideous pair of fluorescent boxer briefs and encourage him that daddy doesn't care about us buying him things. He just wants us to show him we love & appreciate him.

He was skeptical, but loved the idea of doing this:

I love this Fathers Day printable. Wish I could take credit for it {via}

Ezekiel's was less funny than the little guys 
and was much more thoughtful, showing his sweet heart.

My favorite parts are: 
"My dad's job is to...take care of kids" & "My dad works hard at...taking care of mom"

{Ben, you're doing a great job showing us what's important to you}

Imani thought Ben reading hers was hilarious

I'm not sure who liked the gift more. The kids or Ben. We all had a lot of laughs at the answers. 
Like Anton saying Daddy was "157 years old"

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We spent most of the day out at Ezekiel's soccer tournament. Yes, another one. 
{and yes, his team won the entire tournament...again. yay!}

After coming home and having naps, 
we decided to fly kites in the park across the street from our house.

Unlike the soccer field, sadly the park had very little wind. But try telling that to 4 very excited kids.

Laith had an especially rough time. 

First, every time he ran with the kite, his shorts would go to his ankles...

...and then he ran r.i.g.h.t smack into a pole. Can you see that huge bump? 
Thankfully Nana flew in today. Grandmothers make everything better.

Luckily it was the memories we were after, more than the wind.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

and forever...

I'll leave you with these two photos from my wedding day. 
They say the main reason a girl needs a dad is to show her not all the boys are like the ones who break her heart. I think that's cute, though it just barely scratches the surface.

Daddy, you are honest, faithful, kind, and loving. You & mum have taught me how to love and have a beautiful lifelong marriage, and so much more than I ever could have learned at school. 

God entrusted me to you, daddy...and you have done a fantastic job. I love you.

{take joy}


Teaching Our Kids Through Sports

The past few weekends Ezekiel has had soccer tournaments {and another this weekend}. 
He l.i.v.e.s soccer. If we let him, his entire existence would revolve around it.

I didn't grow up in a sport-playing family so all this is completely new to me. I'm learning a lot.

Ben and I laugh that we're like a pair of high school kids and talk about EVERYTHING. Therefore, we've had {lots of} really good conversations about sports and competition, knowing that having 4 kids, we likely have years and years of games. tournaments. recitals. plays. etc.

One thing that I love is we intentionally make it a family affair. We are a package deal. 

We certainly cheer on our team...but I'll be honest, there's a lot of goofiness that goes on during the games.
{this picture will haunt Laith forever}

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Until becoming a parent, it never really occurred to me how much our kids learn through sports...

. Teachability . 

Humility and respect for authority is an essential part of life that we must teach our kids. When Ezekiel's coach makes a decision he doesn't agree with or a referee makes a bad call, he is learning to deal with the frustration in a positive way. 

Learning this on the soccer field will translate into respect for other authority figures such as Ben & I, his teachers, police officers, and someday even his boss. 

. Respect . 

There is so much "trash-talking" in sports these days - sadly even in kids games. 

When the pressure is on, our kids may be tempted to put another player down or maybe say something cocky about themselves. It's vital that we teach our kids to show good sportsmanship even during the most intense parts of the game.

As a family, we need to redefine what "winning" means. 
If they win a game but are disrespectful to other players, that is not winning. 

. Positive Attitude . 

The attitudes of my children {and yours} will determine how far they can go in life.  
Similarly, a coach knows one player can bring down the entire team. 

We need to remember to praise our kids for a positive attitude and challenge them with the idea that one optimistic person can set the tone for the entire team. 

Ezekiel usually plays forward {and rocks at it, by the way}. He's on a new summer league team however, and the coach played him in a different position. I'm so proud of him for taking it in stride. 
He was disappointed, to be sure {he of course loves to score!} but he continued to encourage his teammates as they won as a team.

{ok stop. side note: see Ben over there by the outhouse? One of our children was in there for over 30 mins. Mhm, yep. Ben got to watch from the stinkiest part of the field. hah. love it.}

. Perseverance. 

In life and on the field, we all need to learn how to deal with disappointment.  

Whether our children are trying to get into college, a job, or competing for 1st place in a tournament, we need to be mindful that we teach them how to deal with failure in a positive way.

This is something that I still struggle with today. If I don't catch onto something right away, it gets too hard, or I constantly fail at something...I quit. This is something that I'm very open with our kids about and I'm being very intentional about working on.  We've had a lot of really good conversations about it and am hoping that Ben & I are able to teach our children that perseverance learned under pressure especially, will help prepare them to succeed both in sports and so many other areas of life.

. Integrity. 

Modeling is the key to teaching our kids integrity. No matter what I say, it's my actions that they will actually remember. Our integrity is reflected in the way we cheer at their games and the way we talk about the team and game afterward. 

We need to be asking them questions about whether or not they would stretch the rules in order to win, or perhaps whether or not they would give back a victory in order to do the right thing.

I read that Martin Luther King Jr. used to talk about an "11th Commandment" that prevails in America:
"Thou shalt not get caught." 

We must call our children to honesty & integrity. What a perfect opportunity to learn within the realm of sports....it'll be something that their spouse, friends, and employers will thank you for later.

And yes, excited to say his team won the entire tournament. 
{crazy to think a year ago he was playing street ball on a dirt road in Ethiopia}

I  love that he's found something he's passionate about.

{take joy}


a lot of color...and a bit of organization

After months {and months} of renovation...we've finally moved!

Ben & I have lived in 6 houses in the 6 years of our marriage. Crazy. I know.

We found out on our honeymoon that we were moving from Seattle to San Antonio and since then, every home we've lived in has been with a goal of investment. 

Therefore, neither of our personalities have really been shown in them. It's been mostly for resale. 

{so...2005 Ezekiel was born. 2006 we were married & moved to San Antonio. 2007 Anton was born. 2008 Laith was born. 2009 was apparently a boring year. 2010 Imani was born & came home to us. 2011 Ezekiel came home to us & we moved to Denver. 2012 we're in love. and tired}

This is house #6...and I have NO desire to move for a long, l.o.n.g time.

As you may recall, we've been renting a house 3 doors down from the home we've been remodeling. 
{I'm sure our neighbors stood at their windows and laughed as we moved our things down the street}

Here's a reminder of what it looked like before. Ugh.

Still wondering what's up with that random island in the middle of the breakfast area. 
Did they not sit down to eat? 

There are lots of questions lingering in this house. 
For example, why are there 20 security cameras on the exterior of the house? 
Paranoid? Doing something illegal? Creepy. Did a lot of praying in the house before signing all those papers.


What an amazing transformation, right?  Can you believe these are Ikea cabinets? 
Our budget for the entire interior of the house was $30K. It may sound like a lot, but anyone who has done any remodeling knows it's nothing. A kitchen alone can be that much. 

I'm proud & excited to say due to a TON of research and creativity to stay within budget 
and because my incredibly talented husband did almost all of the work, we did it. 
{and I still got my Viking fridge}

{Oh and please ignore the h.u.g.e Mac screen in the corner. Like I said, we moved only a week or so ago and most of our house is still full of boxes. Our beloved computer doesn't have a desk yet} 

I desperately wanted all glass front upper cabinets. Crazy? Some thought so. 
"It will show all your clutter!" Some told me. "Who wants to see your plates??" Others asked.

Well...if Anthropologie can make plates & cups look cute, why can't I? 

I so wish you could see this in person. I'm just not the most talented photographer. 
It doesn't even remotely show how cute this looks.

{totally off subject but do you have this book? If you have kids, you need it. today.}

I mentioned in a previous post that I had looked everywhere for a white porcelain {single basin} farmhouse sink. I could NOT find one for less than like $900. No. That's insane. 

So, I found this stainless one on clearance. New. In box. From $1500, marked down to $400. 
And it's the biggest sink I have ever seen. I can wash party platters, with room to spare. 

Sigh. What silly things I get excited about these days

You'll notice we still have things to do. Painting trim. Doing the backsplash.

We knocked out a wall and now have a perfect little {pseudo} butlers pantry as you enter from the kitchen into the dining room.

Ben & I have vowed to each other that we would take our time unpacking and get things ORGANIZED! 
With 4 kids, our lives are chaotic enough. We need us some organization.

This was my project the other night. 

I was inspired by the blog. "I heart organizing
& within the next few weeks, my pantry{s} will look like this!!!



Go to the link above for some free printable labels and here is her etsy store to purchase others.

. . . . . . . . . .

{on to the adjoining family room}

before. and obviously not our taste.

and after...but not finished.

wondering why I have paper in a chevron shape taped to my fireplace?

Lets just say I have a project stewing.

Here's a little hint:

Yes, I know it's awesome.

The paper is just my template. 
A tutorial will follow. Soon.

I think Target & Anthropologie are my favorite stores in the world. 

Still unpacking into the shelves.

I still love the kid's "Spend, Save, Give" money jars. 
Here's the tutorial if you missed it a few months ago.

The reading nook is obviously still very undone. I have lots and lots of fabric though! 
I just need a little free time to work on it!

Free time. huh. what's that?

I am one happy camper.

See this smile? I can't wipe it off my face.

{take joy}