Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019..

I never planned on writing this out- not on purpose, but mainly because this year quite literally flew by. But as December 31 rolled around it was just on my heart to stop my day to day tasks and reflect on what all this year has brought. Not really with intentions of sharing it with others, but more to just sit and reflect on what all God has done in our life. To start, let me just say I couldn’t wait for 2018 to get here. I was so ready to kiss 2017 goodbye. The only positive thing I have to say about 2017 is we received one of our biggest blessings, Harvey- other than that it sucked. My marriage completely crumbled to dust and I didn’t see how I could pick up all the pieces to move forward. I watched an interview from my favorite author, Lysa Terkerust, and she was talking about how our dust is the perfect recipe for the Creator’s hands to form into clay to make something new. At the end of 2017 God laid the word “Restoration” on my heart. I was expectant for restoration in our marriage, family, and finances. Why I’m sharing this on the blog, is because 1. I have sucked with keeping up with this.. I know, so sorry guys. I actually wrote a post about why I broke up with blogging & then never got around to posting it. Yes, life is that busy around here. 2. I hope that the one person who needs to read this will read it and see there is hope on the other side of heart ache if you give your dust to God, along with control, and let Him do His thing! Hope you enjoy.

-End of 2017, God whispers “what if you move into the Airstream full time?”

-End of January 2018, Zach quits his temporary job, takes a leap of faith and starts to work full time on finishing our Airstream to live in. We then come to the conclusion Zach is going to go back to school for Aircraft Mechanic out of state, so we would live in our Airstream to cut costs. We found a school, a place to stay, etc. All we needed was a finished Airstream & a tow vehicle since my 4Runner wouldn’t cut it.

We started to look for a bigger car & settled on a Ford Expedition because we thought we outgrew my 4Runner since we had two car seats and a double stroller in the back. We went to a dealership and found the perfect used one, which by the time we traded in my car we would walk away note free. It seemed like the perfect idea. Zach and I were blinded by new car love, so we asked my dad to come along and look for anything we were missing. Luckily he did and the deal didn’t seem so grand anymore. Luckily we walked away and didn’t let our flesh take over, because God obviously had other plans.

-Beginning of February, we decided to list my car online and if it sells we would then find a new car. My car sat and sat with no bites.

-March rolls around and at this point we are second guessing Zach going to Aircraft school. We would take on a lot of student debt, which is something we aren’t comfortable with and along with full time school Zach would have to get a job so we could live, LOL and that would mean we’d have zero family time, which we were NOT okay with. And my car is still for sale.

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-Beginning of May, God whispered to me, “What if you sold your car to fund a new project”?! Around lunchtime that afternoon I told Zach, “hey, what if we sell my car and use that money to fund a new airstream project. We’ll just both use your truck and not have two vehicles.” Zach said-“Absoustley not, I’m not making you give up your car.” And guess what?! Right after that conversation- 9 minutes to be exact, I checked my phone and we had an email from a couple 1.5 hours away offering us exactly what we wanted for our car. We said “Well, this must be exactly what God wants”. We wanted to continue to live a debt free life so this meant we could reinvest this money and not take out any loans. They came to pick it up two days later, on our wedding anniversary that we didn’t think wed make it to.




A week later we found our next project, Magdalene. Zach and my dad drove to Quitman, TX to pick it up. Then we also acquired a second Airstream project from someone in Little Rock that we couldn’t pass up.

-June, We officially get rid of all our stuff & become a member of the tiny living club. All Zach’s hard work pays off and we get to move into our new (tiny) home. We don’t get any down time after that because now the clock is ticking on our new project to flip.

We work, well, Zach worked his booty off on restoring Magdalene.

We started a Youtube channel to keep up with progress and post videos of hikes or well, anything really.

Our living set up had us hooked up to the hanger/shop with our airstream. Which was super nice because Zach could wake up before us and get an hour or two of work in before the boys and I woke. We’d eat breakfast together then he would get back to work until the sun went down. It was a very busy season.

BUT, Fall rolled around and I reminded Zach while on a walk that we couldn’t keep the water on in the Airstream because the hanger wasn’t insulated, so on cold nights we had to cut the water off, which in turn would cut our water to the Airstream off. We started brainstorming on what to do. We’ve always wanted to travel, but 1. We don’t have a tow vehicle. 2. We don’t have a way for us to “make money” on the road.

Celebrated HJ’s 1st bday

Then in July we celebrated Ezra’s third birthday!

End of September/Beginning of October I heard God whisper, “What if you sold the Airstream you’re living in”

I told Zach what I heard and he said what?! No way we worked too hard on this and we just moved in. A week later we came to terms with what I heard and said “Well, if its really God’s plan lets list it for what we want and if it doesn’t sell then we’ll know it wasn’t meant to be”. We listed it on craigslist, airstream classified, and eBay. We didn’t really have any bites so I decided to list it on our IG page. Two days later someone from Houston, TX contacted us asking if they could come look at it. We were so nervous. We didn’t really think it would happen and we didn’t have the next plan for IF it sold. She came to look that weekend, and when she walked in she said I want it, I just wanted to make sure it was real and looked like your pictures. haha. We knew from the second she walked in that she was the new owner. We told her that we didn’t name the Airstream yet, because we couldn’t come up with one we liked. She said don’t worry I already have one, “DeeDee” it was my grandmother’s name. As soon as she said it Zach and I looked at each other and knew, “wow, she’s the one!” She came and picked it up the next week. I won’t lie, we both cried tears of bittersweet. That airstream taught us so much about life, each other, etc. It was apart of us. Before they took it home, they spent the night in it one night to get a feel of how everything worked and when we walked in the next morning to see them and they had all their belongings in it now, instead of ours, I just felt supernatural peace. I wasn’t sad anymore it felt like this is exactly how it was suppose to be. Watch the video if you want to see our last day in the Airstream & what our kids thought about it. Ezra still asks daily for “his airstream”.

-So now, it’s the end of October and we don’t have a “home” and we are at a loss of what to do. Zach was almost done with Magdalene, so we debated about moving into it, but we’d run into the same problem with the cold temps and water at the hanger. So through this all we both have the most amazing supportive parents anyone could ask for. We moved into my parents rent house until we finished our next project.

-Beginning of November, Zach finishes Magdalene and we tossed back and forth two ideas. Buy a tow vehicle and travel around in Magdalene OR buy a cargo van and sell Magdalene to travel. We prayed and prayed about which was right and at the end we both got that those were both good options, it just depended what we wanted.

God also put on my heart to turn this website into just my blog (which I haven’t done yet) and start a new website that featured all our projects, travels, and a blog to showcase other tiny living people and their story. -> steadystreamincashios.com

-So we’ve always wanted to do #vanlife and figured it was now or never since our kids bodies are still semi small! Zach flew to Chicago & picked up our VAN! -> Link to video

Most of November and all of December have been full work on van mode.

-And here we are the last day of the year, wow. When I look back so much has happened, but yet it flew by and I’m thankful I decided to write this all down so I can look back in the years to come. I encourage you to journal what all 2018 brought you, good or bad. Its part of your journey and it’ll be nice to look back in the future.


Biggest lesson in 2018:

Colleen- Trust God in the big and little things and everything in between. I know that sounds so easy to say, but if you trust Him on the every day small disappointments, it’s a lot easier when the big disappointments come around.

Zach-  If you’re considering a lifestyle change and are nervous, take a weekend or week to adjust and once the time period is done reflect on how you felt. Did you miss any of the items/activities/etc. that you cut out? Minimalism is very refreshing and you will notice a significant attitude change with yourself by not having to stress about so much. 

Best thing I let go in 2018:

Colleen- unrealistic expectations in motherhood, being a wife, in life.

Zach- So, this one is kind of a funny/weird let go than most people would expect to see here, but it’s what came to mind when Colleen asked me this question. Hats... yes, me the hat-hoarder is fine with letting go hats. Turns out, that when I let go of like 20 hats and downsized to about 5 I noticed I didn’t wear them as much. It could also have been that I was working much more and had no need to wear a nice hat when you’re covered in dirt, sweat, and aluminum polish! Now, that still doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t mind new hats. I eye some hats here and there, but I know I have no room for them at the moment. My hat game is on a temporary leave at the moment. 

What we are hopeful in 2019:

I can’t fully share all of our details yet, because we are currently letting God have the final edit, but I’m so excited and can’t wait to share. I will say a portion of our year will include travel in our van. Then we’d like to find somewhere to place roots in and continue our journey of renovating vintage trailers. We can’t thank you enough for loving us through this transition of life and for all the support. 2018 was hustle hustle hustle and we hope 2019 has a little bit more rest in-between the hustle. Zach and I haven’t written blogs like we wanted to, but we feel like 2018 was our year to heal and recover. We can’t wait to take time during our travels to sit still and write and share more with y’all.

How to keep up with us:

Obviously this website is where we hope to write more content to share about our journey and what all we’ve learned walking through our hard season. Sovereigndesigns.net

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/steadystreamincashios 

IG: https://www.instagram.com/steadystreamincashios/

Facebook:https://m.facebook.com/steadystreamincashios/

Other Website: https://www.steadystreamincashios.com



2018 Travels:

Branson, MO: https://youtu.be/E3kCUCmnvHs

Natchez, MS: https://youtu.be/UO8XPP0FvvQ

Mountain Home, AR: https://youtu.be/84nJKj_Zsmw

Gulf Shores, AL: https://youtu.be/4ttn9qpjeRA

Memphis, TN: https://youtu.be/4bxpDZZpyVo

Mountain View, AR: https://youtu.be/QDVraONu2-o


















A Letter to God..

Lately, Ezra has been talking about God & Jesus a lot. We really try to cultivate a lifestyle with Him in the center. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6. Throughout the day God is mentioned, we let Ezra lead in prayer at night, etc. Just about every night it is the same, somewhere along these lines… 

“God help my bumpy.

God help momma.

God help dada, sissy, baby, grandy, paw paw and poofy.

God help my aunt Chris.

God help my dinosaur.

God help Ezra.

God help my Dino noodles.

God help the baby deer.

God take the monsters away”. Ezra says his peace then goes to sleep, well after asking for water 4 more times. lol

toddler mom and me fashion lifestyle blog

But tonight he wanted God. He kept saying “I need God here” “I need Him in our Airstream.” We asked him, “Well where is God?” He then said, “in my heart”. We said “Exactly He’s in your heart, so that means He is always with you”. Then he felt everyones chest in the bed to make sure Jesus + God were present in everyone’s hearts. He was satisfied and went to sleep.

As we laid there, I totally understood what he was yearning for, because I yearn for the same thing. I need to hear God, I need to know that He is right here with me. Most days I'm too busy to feel His presence. Sometimes I need to hear from Him in that exact moment & all I hear are crickets. But, I have to lay my hand on my chest & feel my heart beating. Then I know that He is right here with me always. I have to trust Him in these quiet seasons that He hasn’t left, that He hasn’t jumped shipped. But, just like my toddler I have to call out to God + have peace that He’s here and drift off to sleep. It’s amazing the lessons our kids are always teaching us. Then I read my devotional tonight + it said this..

“Receive My Peace. It is My continual gift to you. The best way to receive this gift is to sit quietly in My Presence, trusting Me in every area of your life. Quietness and trust accomplish far more than you can imagine: not only in you, but also on earth and in heaven. When you trust Me in a given area, you release that problem or person into My care.

Spending time alone with Me can be a difficult discipline because it goes against the activity addiction of this age. You may appear to be doing nothing, but actually you are participating in battle going on within spiritual realms. You are waging war- not with the weapons of the world, but with heavenly weapons, which have divine power to demolish strong-holds. Living close to Me is a sure defense against evil.” Jesus Calling Devo

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I wanted to share what I journaled tonight writing to God. Maybe you’re going through a similar season & this prayer can work for you too. I never thought I’d be sharing what I wrote in my journal, but here it goes…

“What’s up God,

Long time no talk. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions lately. Rushing from one thing to the next, spending way too much time chasing after things on my to do list. God, am I chasing something that isn’t meant to be chased? Am I taking some else’s dream + path and running with it? God, I want what you have for ME. I don’t want what you have for someone else. Strip me of desires that aren’t Your will. Fill me with dreams & desires that are from You. God, I want the best in life, but I only want it if you’re giving it to me. Thank you for giving me the ability to dream. Help mold my dreams into your dreams. I don’t mind the work, but I need to know I’m running the race You have for me. I need to know I’m going in the right direction. I’m tired of chasing this dream alone. Go ahead of me, if this is my flesh & not your desire close the door completely. If this is just the enemy trying to stir chaos because it is your will for my life, calm the chaos. I want to follow your steps. I want to hear your voice. Help me to not be cluttered with worldly things. Help me to have a clear heart & open mind. Reveal to us your next phase for us. I’m lost without you. I need you. I love you.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen. “

XO Colleen


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 ESV


Thanks Sydney for these amazing family pictures, ill cherish them forever! Click HERE to go to her page!


My Breastfeeding Journey

Side Note: I completely understand not everything I write is for everyone. If breastfeeding isn't your cup of tea I recommend skipping this post. With that said, I'm just shinning light on my story in hopes to maybe reach that one person needing encouragement. Thanks for reading this with an open mind. -Colleen

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. My mom breastfed my sister + I and I always remember not thinking anything negative about breastfeeding. While this post is about breastfeeding, I am not putting down on any moms who decided to formula feed for whatever reason over breastfeeding. This is just my journey with it.

I went to class, I remember learning about the “breast crawl” and how babies just bob their head on your chest until they make it to the eating zone. I remember when my magical moment happened + while it was so cool both my kids did the same exact thing coming out of the womb, it was still painful. I'm so thankful I had my mom as a cheerleader because I remember crying for 5 weeks after having Ezra. Every time he would latch, it hurt so bad. But my mom kept encouraging me to push through it. Come to find out he had a lip tie which made it more difficult for him to feed. My goal was to breastfeed until Ezra was 2. This is from the World Health Organization, who recommends breast-feeding until 2 years of age + beyond. “Breast-milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6–23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast-milk is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness, and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished.”  click here

(Side note: mommas I highly recommend getting a friend or someone to take pictures of your breastfeeding journey! I remember feeling super awkward asking my good friend Liz to take these during our maternity pictures, but now I am forever grateful for them!)

I found out I was pregnant with Harvey when Ezra was 16 months old + I remember crying so hard because I’ve always heard your milk drys up once you become pregnant. I was not ready to quit breastfeeding. My doctor of course recommend I stop right away, but Im happy to report I successfully breastfed through my entire pregnancy. (Each person/pregnancy is different, always do what is best for you + recommended by a doctor or midwife) I won't lie though, it was hard. Around 18 months I weaned Ezra from night time feeding, because my nipples were so sensitive that I would have tears in my eyes each time he’d feed. During the day I could distract myself with something, but at night it would keep me up because I would be completely woken up for each feeding. Every doctor check up Harvey seemed fine in the womb so I decided after praying hard about it to keep trying until Ezra seemed not interested. Well, that day never came for Ezra. In the hospital after having Harvey I wasn’t sure how it was going to look having a newborn + a toddler. The lactation consultant told me to keep feeding Ezra especially during this transition time to help him cope with his new sibling. 

Not many, well anyone I personally know have experience with tandem breastfeeding, so I was very thankful for google! It wasn’t as hard of a transition as I expected! The lactation consultant recommended that I let Harvey eat first then let Ezra finish on that same side, so we knew HJ was getting as much as he wanted!

I thought Ezra would lose interest after his second birthday, my original goal…but that wasn’t the case! Ezra is 3 now + still asks about 4-5 times a week to breastfeed. Some times I can distract him with something else, but sometimes I can tell its just a true comfort need. People can be very judgmental to breastfeeding moms, because I think formula is just as popular of an option as breastfeeding. Breast-feeding is no walk in the park. It’s hard, painful, frustrating, time-consuming, etc., but it is so rewarding! I always encourage moms to stick it out for at least 6 weeks. The first 6 weeks are the worst, but then it normally gets easier from there! It’s really hard not to roll my eyes when I see others say comments like “she should cover up” or “doesn't she know I can see her boob”.. For real….. has anyone turned on the tv lately? Some commercials show more cleavage than a mom breastfeeding! I was so strict on myself when I had Ezra. I would retreat to the car, the bathroom, the other room, etc. But after Harvey I just became so relaxed with myself. Being at the beach last week I saw more boob than I have ever shown feeding my kids in public. 

Zach snapped this picture of an early morning feed for Ezra while on our beach trip.

Zach snapped this picture of an early morning feed for Ezra while on our beach trip.

At the end of the day we should be proud of ourselves for however long we choose to breastfeed + feel empowered by our bodies for being able to sustain life! It's a really magical gift! I know some will judge me for posting this on the internet, but my hope is it reaches that one mom struggling with everyone around her judging her! Keep your head up, feed your baby however you choose.. just feed your baby <3 

Lots of love,

Colleen Cashio

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HARVEY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY

Wow, Harvey is a year old now! I've never thought life moved fast until having kids! I am so blessed to be Harvey's mommy. Here's some pictures of our fun day celebrating HJ's birthday!

First we drove to our favorite creek in Mountain View. The boys and ourselves can spend all day here. They love to fish, play with the rocks, + hunt for tadpoles. This is our favorite family retreat because it's so relaxing + there's no cell service..aka no distractions!

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Then we came home + went to take birthday pictures of Harvey. Don't even ask how that went...everything that could have gone wrong with location, decor, etc did. Zach + I were ready to give up, but we still managed to pull it together and get a few cute shots. Next time I'm hiring my favorite photographer, Sydney. https://www.facebook.com/sydneyslighphotography/ 

 

 

Pregnancy + Harvey's Birth Story

Harvey Joseph

Let me start from the beginning, after having Ezra we decided that we were done having kids. Birth, postpartum, and the first year of Ezra’s life was HARD. We were perfectly content having one child + being done. I still worked after having Ezra, which made things even harder. In November 2016 we went on a trip to Jasper, AR + I felt car sick the whole time. I blamed it on how curvy the roads are in Jasper. When we got home I just couldn’t shake how tired I was, but blamed it on Ezra still waking every two hours to eat at night! I found a random pregnancy test in my bathroom and decided to take it. It was the cheap kind that didn’t even have a label on the side to say if it meant pregnant or not. I took it + waited. The next thing I know I saw a plus sign..I was pretty sure it was not suppose to have a plus sign. I quickly called Zach into the room freaking out + he was like no plus sign means not pregnant. We argued back and forth about it then decided the next best thing was to Google. (always) Google told me plus sign meant pregnant, but google told Zach that it meant not pregnant. So at 10pm I made Zach run to the store to get another test. I cried the whole time Zach was gone, I knew in my heart I was pregnant + I was not mentally prepared for it. Zach hurried home + I took 3 tests. They all came back pregnant. At this point Zach and I both broke down. Now, let me just state. I know that children are a blessing from God + I’ve walked with friends through infertility. So what I’m about to write next is hard + I’m sure you’re going to judge me, but I’m sharing a real season of life we went through. With that said, excitement was the last emotion on our list when we saw pregnant on the little stick. Ezra was almost 16 months old + life had finally gotten to our new normal. Work was going smoother. Ezra wasn’t crying (all the time). I had officially lost all my baby weight. Our budget for money was going smoothly. Basically life was good + we had no room to add another baby. I was still traumatized from birthing Ezra. We couldn’t afford health insurance for another baby…can I get an amen from self-employed peeps?!.. Health insurance is ridiculous folks! Our routine now was perfect. We both sat on the bathroom floor crying. Zach tried to comfort me + told me I’d be okay. I actually even texted my mom, “I know you wont believe this, but somehow I’m pregnant.” I’m pretty sure her response was.. “are you sure?” In that moment I felt so helpless. This was not planned + for this control freak it sent me over the edge. This all happened about 60 seconds after all the pregnancy tests I took. Then out of NO WHERE, Zach’s phone goes off. It made a noise we’ve never heard. A few months before Zach started an Etsy page, but he’s never had any sales. The noise that went off was a notification that Zach had just sold something on Etsy. I immediately felt God’s presence + Him say “Don't worry about money, I will come through, even if its in strange ways”. I should have felt immediate peace + started to feel joy, but I didn’t.

I struggled for the first half of my pregnancy with negative thoughts. I totally let the enemy steal my joy. I went to my first doctor’s appointment thinking I was 8-10 weeks pregnant. She hooked up the ultrasound machine + at this point I am still thinking maybe the test was wrong + she’ll tell me I’m not pregnant. Nope! She said “wow, this is a big baby..you’re 17 weeks pregnant!!” Do you want to know the sex?” Zach + I’s jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe I was that far along, I think God almost intended it that way so I had less time to think about things. Well now its time for me to have Harvey. I was dreading delivery. With Ezra I was 8 days late + induced. I went in the night before to have Cervadil done, which is so painful + we found out the next day it did nothing. Then the doctor broke my water + started the pitocin. I had my birth plan in my hand ready to conquer this natural labor with no epidural. HA! As soon as pitocin started I cried for an epidural. Two warnings from the doctor that I would probably need a section because my body wasn’t progressing + one round of nurses walking in scrubs handing Zach scrubs to go in for a section + I was a mess. I did not want a section at all. I cried and begged the doctor to check me one more time. I guess my body went into fight or flight seeing everyone in scrubs. She checked me one last time and said I had progressed all the way to a 9! At this point I had almost been in labor for 24 hours. Once pushing began I pushed for 3 hours. It was pure hell. Ezra’s head got to a point + had gotten stuck because it was so big. She was concerned they’d have to push him back up + section. He finally came + I tore h-o-r-r-i-b-l-y. Needless to say, my birth experience went exactly how I didn’t want it to. Oh man, I completely forgot to mention a big reason I didn’t want to be pregnant again after Ezra.. I had “PUPPS”, google it. 1% of women have it in pregnancy and it is PURE HELL- like I have seen what hell is like and I don’t want to go to that place. Basically it feels like poison ivy is all over your body + there’s nothing you can do until the baby is born. The doctors don’t know much on it and theres nothing for them to do besides steroids. And being the non medicine freak that I am, I decided to suffer through it. It is suppose to magically go away after you have the baby + mine got worse. I really contemplated asking if I could go into a medical coma until it went away. From what I've researched your liver can’t break down all the extra hormones from pregnancy making your body have the reaction to say ‘hey something is wrong'. (If you have PUPPS, msg me + I will tell you the only thing that worked for me + what I wish I would have done sooner) So maybe that's a peak into another big reason I didn’t want to be pregnant again.. + spoiler alert, I totally had PUPPS again with Harvey, but this time I started taking milk thistle to cleanse my liver as soon as the itching started and stayed on it my whole pregnancy. (Wahoo for herbal medicine, but hey i’m not a doctor.. always check with your doctor before trying anything!) 

So here I am, 9 days late from my due date with Harvey.  I told my doctor there was no way I’d be induced this time, because I couldn’t go through what happened last time. She kept checking me + said baby and I were healthy enough to stick it out. I woke up at 3:45am on June 25th with contractions. (this was my second scare with them.) I txted my mom at 5am letting her know that they were finally constant and she needed to come over. They rushed over, but now its 6am and my contractions have spread apart. I was so upset + felt awful for making them come to my house so early. They kept encouraging me to go get checked at the doctor, but I knew any false alarms she’d probably make me go to the hospital. So we decided to go grocery shopping + run some errands.  Through the day my contractions were up and down, but nothing I needed to go get checked for. My mom encouraged me to go get checked before bed since we lived an hour away. Zach wanted me to also, so we decided to drive to Conway and eat dinner. We ate at Market Place and my contractions were 9-10 min apart, but I wasn’t dying. Then we sat in the hospital parking lot debating if we should go get a hotel room or go check in the hospital to see how far I was dilated. We sat there for a good hour before we decided to go in. When they checked me in triage she said I was only at a 3, but since I was so many days late and lived an hour away they wanted me to stay. I said I would only agree if I still had the freedom to roam, because I really wanted to try to have this baby natural and not be stuck in bed laboring. They agreed + here's where the fun began. Zach + I walked the halls of the floor all night long while my contractions got harder and harder.

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The nurse told me I was lucky to do this through the night, because during the day they don’t really allow people out of their rooms. I labored all night into the morning + when they checked me in the am I was at an 8. My doctor asked to break my water at 7:30am June 26, and ya’ll if you want to go natural I do not recommend letting them break your water. Contractions were a breeze all night. I could talk through every one of them. The nurses were so impressed with my pain level and thought I was crazy for not wanting an epidural. But, once she broke my water my contractions literally went 984571948357134 times worse. I cried for an epidural!!! But the anesthesiologist was in a c-section and couldn’t get to me in time. I kept asking the nurses at what point do I start pushing and they said since I didn’t have an epidural I would just feel a push come on, and I was so confused by that. They also said you might feel like you have to poop. So, I got the nurse to check me every 5 minutes because I couldn’t tell if that was the feeling or not. Then all of a  sudden, boom! My body started to naturally push. I had no control over it, I just felt a contraction come on and it was like my body pushed on its own. The nurse told me to hold on while she got the doctor, but if you’ve ever had a baby naturally you know there is no holding on. LOL The doctor got there right in time and I only had to push for 30 minutes before our sweet little Harvey was born at 8:36am. I immediately felt as if God had redeemed my view on birthing. I felt so empowered by my body naturally pushing a baby out of me. I tore so little I didn’t even need stitches. I was up and about right after delivery. I remember telling Zach, ok if this is what birthing can be like, I can totally have more kids! If it’s God’s plan for us to have another biological baby we really want to go the midwife/home birth route. 

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After having Harvey I realized he was the missing piece to our puzzle we didn’t know was missing. God’s plan is always bigger + better than ours, even if our circumstances cloud our vision for the moment. Harvey was never in my plans, but I’m thankful God’s will always prevails. And here we are one year later. We survived mentally, physically, + financially. God has always come through, even if its the midnight hour. I hope this post encourages you to trust God’s plan even if its scary + seems impossible. 

My favorite pictures of introducing Ezra to Harvey. From left to right - "ok put him in my lap" -"omg, what was I thinking?!" -"take him away mom, take him away"

Hope you enjoy some of Harvey's birthday pictures below!

XO, 

Colleen Cashio

Who Are You Pursuing?

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So lately, Zach + I have not been on the same wavelength. Such as- we fight constantly + are basically living the life of ‘I don’t like you + you don’t like me’. We’ve been walking next to each other like pissed off roommates because someone didn’t do the dishes on their night. I’ve been struggling with my pride of not wanting to say sorry when I should. I feel validated because my feelings seem legit.

If I had to say what this all stems from, it would be stress + lack of time. Since the end of January we have been eat, sleep, breathe Airstream renovation and for the past 6 weeks we have been SUPER frustrated because we’ve missed every deadline + honestly for a control freak/timeline girl/master planner, I am just not okay with this. I had a plan…Why did it fall through? Zach is working his butt off, but we still keep coming up short. We mark one thing off the list + 3 things get added. Our patience is thin. We haven’t made time for a date night + most nights we go to bed feeling like we’re drowning in our ‘to do list’ for the next day. If I add in the chaos the kids bring to the picture we look like an episode of Jerry Springer.

The other day I was trying to talk to God about my feelings, because Zach is obviously not understanding me + doesn’t care about my feelings- (insert the rolling eyes emoji). I was trying to reason why I am so frustrated with Zach. There are many reasons that are all surface level; Airstream not complete, no us time, etc. But the main one under the surface was I don’t feel pursued. And for me that’s a sucky feeling. Watch any chick flicks and the girl always wants to be swept off her feet + given those butterflies in her stomach. She wants to be {pursued}. Zach is so stressed + I’m a professional nagger so I wasn’t really pursuable at the moment. Add in that I’m a control freak and nothing is staying on plan. I look like a hot mess trying to keep it all together. My poor husband is probably like “why in the world would I want to pursue the wicked witch of the west”?! HA! And it’s not like you can control someone pursuing you, so my mood is obviously funky and I’m acting like a teenage girl going to God spilling about how awful my husband has been. And wanna know what He said to me………?

God-“Colleen, when is the last time you pursued me?”

Me-“Seriously God, do we have to make this about you?! I’m trying to throw my pity party.”

God-“Well, have you been pursuing me lately?”

Me-“…...No….”

God-“Hm, well how do you think I feel when you don’t pursue me??

Me-(*crickets*)

That seriously was our conversation.  I try to put it behind me saying that God didn’t really say those words because I was still on the ‘poor Colleen bus’.

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Then as always I got to thinking + in the last month our schedule has been nuts + I’ve been putting my Jesus time on the back burner because I’m trying to juggle too many things. And it was almost as if God slapped me across the head and said “Why would your husband ever pursue you if you aren’t pursuing me?”. And it is so true. I’m much happier when I’m pursuing God. I have more joy, peace, and positivity. You name it! When I’m not pursuing God I’m grumpy, entitled, and honestly just a (b)wi*ch. I don’t know who would want to pursue me when I act like that!

Our God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want to be put on the back-burner. He doesn’t want an idol or in my case my ‘to do list’ put in front of him. So me going to Him complaining about not being pursued was like the pot calling the kettle black since I haven’t been pursuing God.

I was listening to Air1 today on the radio and they asked if you’ve been praying for the person who rubs you the wrong way or if you’ve just been complaining about them. They said you could not change a person by nagging them… you can only pray for them. I almost changed the station because I hate being wrong + really didn’t want to hear that truth nugget. Right then I said “okay God, I can’t make the Airstream go by any faster by nagging so I’ll pray. I can’t make my husband pursue me, but I can pray about it”. And that’s all I can do, is pray. And I can get back to pursuing God so I’m a much nicer person to be around + in return things will smooth out.

I hope you don’t read my blog posts and think I’m trying to air out my dirty laundry, because trust me- nothing about posting these blogs are easy. Who wants to share their weaknesses + when they fall short… not me! But I feel there is a purpose for this space + if God wants me to share my weaknesses to help others then “here I am God, use me”. If you were stuck in a negative headspace lately, just remember I was/am right there with you! Try to seek what is under the surface that is causing the problem and how you can address it!

XO Colleen Cashio

"You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you." Exodus 34:14

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belongs to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Testing the Waters..

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Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in the mud? Like you keep splashing in the same puddle over + over? If you have ever been to my house after a rain you know my backyard looks like a swamp. For any mom that is a nuisance, but for a little boy it is a treat. Since the weather hasn’t been miserable we have been trying our best to enjoy as much time as we can outside. The fresh air + sunshine are my sanity during this season of sleepless nights. The other day it rained really hard + Ezra couldn’t wait to go play in the puddles. So off we went with our rain boots to splash in the puddles. Of course the first thing he grabs is his lawn mower. We joke that cutting grass will be his first business, because he is pushing his mower every chance he gets. Starting out the water was crystal clear, but as we continued to walk the same path over + over the water became a big muddy mess. It made me think of my prayer life. Sometimes I bring the same request to God over + over again. I go back + forth walking my line reasoning with Him on why I need Him to answer this request + how I want it answered. In the Bible it clearly says to always pray + always be thankful. But sometimes I think I go overboard with the same request; like God didn’t hear me the first time. As if He doesn’t know my every thought + what’s in my heart. I think God wants me to bring every request I have + lay it at the cross. Give him every worry, every fear, every trial + totally give it to Him. Walk away + trust that He has my best interest ahead. I don’t think He wants me to repeat myself a thousand times. I think He wants me to say “Lord, here is my request, thank you for listening to what I want; but more than what I want, I want your will to be done.” For control freaks like me that is really hard. Subconsciously I try to micromanage everyone around me, even God. I try to fit Him into a tiny box. When I focus on ‘my prayer request’ I miss out on the true requests I need to be lifting up to Him. I love how God speaks to me using everyday situations. Sometimes I’m too distracted with everything going on to notice His whisper. In this season of life God is realllyyy working on my control issue. He has clearly shown me I am not in control + the best way forward is to sit in the passenger seat while He drives. It is a very scary thing not knowing what tomorrow holds or trying to control what will happen tomorrow. But slowly.. And surely, I am focusing more on receiving His peace + letting the puzzle pieces fall together; even if they are coming together slower than my preference.

When Zach + I sit still and beg for a response from God every time we hear, “I will show you the next step right when your foot is about to go down on that step.”Which is super scary, because basically we are walking down the stairs waiting on the next step to come + hoping that we aren't going ahead of God + skip a step all together + fall on our faces. Because trust me that has happened too many times. I love my husband, I truly do, I love bouncing ideas off to him. I love that God has made my mind the way he has, but sometimes I think it can be my worst enemy. In hopes to speed up our next step, I will make 1001 plans from beginning to end. You know the ones where you stay up half the night thinking how each thing will play out. Get your hopes up, like wow God this has to be it. This has to be what you've been waiting to tell me. All to find out the next week that brilliant plan won't work, am I the only one who does this? Hopefully not!

Just like this week, Zach + I felt God tell us to finish the airstream and I’ll show you what is next. So not only did I give up my salon + work because he told me to become a stay at home mom, but now that means Zach has to quit his job to devote finishing the airstream. It’s not just a weekend project. If we want to finish this; it’s a full time job. IT. IS. SO. MUCH. MANUAL. LABOR.

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So, as happy as we were that we heard from God, we were also like what? No? Not possible? We can't financially afford this. We have kids, bills, responsibilities, etc. So to our human nature we said ok God, sure we will do what you say. Gosh, I could dedicate a whole post or maybe a book to all the crazy ideas/dreams we came up with of what direction to go in once the Airstream is complete. I’m sure our friends are tired of hearing us talk about life, because we always have something new! The most solid idea I will mention was Zach going to Aircraft Mechanic school. Long story short, we said YES, this must be what God meant.. finish the airstream, and we will live in it so Zach can go to school + we can conserve money. We went as far as reaching out to multiple schools, reaching out to RV parks, locations. We made our budget + found where Zach could work part time after school. We had a game plan! We had it all figured out! We were so relieved. The only downfall was my car couldn't tow the airstream, so we were still looking for a car to trade in for mine that would allow us to not have a note since we knew we couldn't afford it. We settled on a used Expedition. (just keep this in mind for later on in the story) We figured out everything- how much Zach could make after school, what connections we could use to find him a good job, etc. But then it didn't feel right. We didn't feel settled about this grand epiphany we just had. Student loans from schooling meant debt and school meant very few hours for work, which meant slim to none for family time.. Then we noticed an Aircraft Maintenance Internship. BINGO! So Zach applied and waited. He even called directly to the company trying to speak with the Supervisor explaining his resume and things of that nature. Eventually an email was sent that the position was filled. There goes that idea. So, we kept tucking it to the back burner + kept reminding ourselves what we heard from God was "Finish the Airstream + I’ll show you what’s next" (In a James Earl Jones voice, so Zach says). This was in the middle of January + now we are at the end of April. And God still has not shown us the next steps. As I write this all Zach has left on the airstream is, grouting the tile in bathroom, backsplash, + we need to make cushions for the couch. And my dad has to do one thing for the electrical, but that is it. We are pretty much done.  Now we are grasping at the end of our rope, because we don't know what is next. Travel? Redo another airstream? Flip houses? We are at such a loss + God is quiet. Our plan was to move into the airstream, but now we are questioning it. Do we sell it so we can make money to reinvest in a business of flipping RVs. Do we see about getting a line of credit or loan? Zach + I strive to not live in debt; we absolutely hate it. The thought of us going to get a loan stresses me out to the max, probably because we have always been self employed + while I love that, its also a curse because you never know exactly what you'll make that month. Another way God likes to test my reliance on Him (que the eye roll). So, as we sat + talked at the kitchen table our options were, sell the airstream to have cash or get a loan. We left it as that, because toddlers + babies don't make talking about life choices the easiest. 

Then an idea came to me. Sell my car + we will have enough money to scrape by paying our bills, buy an airstream + flip it. Side note: we have had our car for sale since January and no bites, only 1 low offer. Also we haven't found an expedition we want. (And Zach knows every expedition on the market, because he is constantly looking). So when I said to Zach, let's sell my car, use that money + share a car for the next few months, his response was heck no. He didn't want me going without a car + he didn't want us to downsize our vehicle that much. He said well it really doesn't matter, because no one has bought our car. Well, guys...We talked about this at lunchtime on a Sunday. I felt complete peace about selling my car and downsizing to one car. We checked our emails later that evening + he got an email from someone interested in my car. The price we were comfortable selling it for also. Oh, and she messaged at 1:09pm...right after our discussion. Now if that isn't ironic I really don’t know what is.. It's exactly like what God said.. Finish the Airstream + I’ll bring the next step. The couple came to pick up my car two days later. We would have never come to the conclusion to sell my car and use the money last month, because we were so stuck on getting an expedition for more room and more towing capacity. If we would have gotten a halfway decent offer on my car we would have taken it and settled for an expedition. We would have been stuck with what God didn't want. That’s why He didn't reveal our next step till it was literally in front of us. Now it all makes sense. Things don't always work out where they make sense, but this time it did. God always has perfect timing. We may try to rush it along, but all we will do is have restless nights trying to control our next step when our Creator already knows the ending of our story. 

Have you ever gone through life thinking where in the HECK am I going? What am I doing? Who am I becoming? Mhmm been there and I’m probably there now. Am I wasting God’s potential because I put my gift of hair on the side to raise kids? Am I even doing my kids justice as a mom? Because at the end of most days they have worn me out to the max. Zach and I are in a crossroads of what to do next?! It feels like we have been walking the wilderness into the deep deep woods for the past four years of marriage. But, maybe that’s exactly where God wants us. He wants us to lose everything to find Him and His purpose for us in life.

I’m letting you in on these parts of our life, because I think it’s best to not stuff them in a box, on the top shelf in my closet. I want them out in my living room for our guests to see. So they can see there is hope when you feel like giving up. To understand how to not take life so seriously; no one gets out alive anyway. I encourage you to write down what success means for you. Are you and your family heading in the direction you want to go? In the direction God wants you to go? It’s never too late to do a 180 and turn things around. Maybe God has had you in the wilderness like us. Don't give up hope, wait on Him!

XO Colleen Cashio

(PS, that's not dirt on Zach's upper lip...it's a mustache he tested out.. Next time you see him, ask him why! + Please look at HJ's face!)

(PS, that's not dirt on Zach's upper lip...it's a mustache he tested out.. Next time you see him, ask him why! + Please look at HJ's face!)

 

* This is our life update some think we’re crazy, we think God has a sense of humor.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God. And at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
— 1 Peter 5:6-7
“O my people, trust him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”
— Pslams 62:8
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all cirumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Begin the Search

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Do you crave adventure or do you seek thrill? Ever wanted to hop in the car and take a drive to places you’ve never been before or places not listed on a map? Towns that are still stuck in the “slow-times” era? {think back to the movie Cars} Finding hip coffee shops, craft beer breweries, or some quirky, off the wall shop? Places where the road is less traveled? Dirt roads that look like they lead to nowhere? I cant wait to share with you this book I found from Roger W. Thompson, “We Stood Upon The Stars.” 

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Because “You have to take the dirt road when you can. Someday it will be a multilane highway”. (pg 22) Where peace and serenity will swallow you up among the freshness of the outdoors.. I crave that adventure in myself. I want to be able to take my family on trips like that badly. Find a nice spot to park the Airstream and unplug from reality. With only the sights and sounds of the wilderness. And probably kids crying and screaming and maybe Colleen saying there’s too many mosquitoes or bugs…lol. But doesn’t that sound like a fairy tale?! Well it doesn’t have to be! We weren’t created for working our butts off to spend our money paying bills and accumulating crap that sits in our garage or storage buildings that we rent. Stop saying “Well when we have enough money saved up my family and I will take that trip” or “buy that RV we have talked about”. YOU WILL NEVER HAVE “ENOUGH” MONEY!! “Work always wants more of your time. It always demands more attention”. (pg149) Quit making excuses as to why you cannot take a trip now. “There’s a long list of justifications. We’re trying to get ahead”. (pg149) Every time you choose an excuse over an adventure you are losing precious family memories. We were created to explore and have adventure. I’m talking about true adventure. Loading up the car/RV/van/bus whatever you have and go searching for a spot to unwind. Those are the places where you can soak up all the beauty that God created for us to enjoy. “We are not meant to be tourists in this life. We are all travelers, like those before and those after… We know we’ve been somewhere special because we are forever different as a result of it”. (pg142) “This land and time are gifts. If we stop long enough, we might hear in the wind the voice of the Creator. We don’t have to search for it…We just have to listen long enough to remember the language”. (pg 143) These National forests and desserts and streams were not made to be labeled on a map. They were made for you to use them. For you to hike them. To fish. To camp. To explore. To make memories. There are so many places that I want to visit. And I hope one day soon my family and I can experience them. These places are where I think we could best get to know, sense, and hear our Creator. After all, He did CREATE them. And He created you, to enjoy them. The sun wasn’t created for just giving us light to work during the day, nor the moon to make it dark so we can sleep. The sun was made so we can venture and explore and see things we have never seen before. The moon- made for seeing constellations and shooting stars and hearing strange animal noises that make you get uncomfy(then realizing it’s your stomach because you forgot to pack extra food while you’re “off the grid”). I have always had these cravings of adventure. I have always wanted to visit every state and see what each has to offer. And of course, I have always wanted to visit every MLB stadium (especially now that I have 2 boys). But just recently I came across a Bible plan on my YouVersion app that caught my attention. It was titled “We Stood Upon Stars”. The photo with a VW van in a remote scenic highway caught my eye. And I am glad I started the plan. Because that eventually led me to buy the book “We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places”. This book hit home with me. I couldn’t put it down. Roger W. Thompson hits the nail on the head when it comes to adventure. He knows how to have a good time. And I can’t help but agree when he says “A campfire is like truth serum”. I can remember telling stories to friends that I would have never told to anyone else, and it was because something about that fire makes you want to open up. It might have dealt with one too many cold ones also, but don’t get off topic. It’s also where I met my wife. Men are made for thrills. Roger has obviously been through one or two in his lifetime. From white-water rafting in a Costco special canoe to the ole Vanagon breaking down here and there. But he also knows how to be close to our Father. I can only imagine what it feels like to be that close with God in a setting as vast as snow-capped mountains overlooking a steady flowing stream. “The Wild is God’s scent. The deeper we travel into it, the more we’ll smell his presence”. (pg211) I know that just being in nature here in Arkansas takes my breath away and I can experience God. My family and I are searching (and hoping) on where our first big adventure will be. “We are all searching for something.. Some searches are only about the search. They reveal something about who we are or who we are meant to be.. We are not made for the cages we’ve erected around ourselves. We are meant for freedom. Where trees and mountaintops point to the stars and where the canyons echo and waters cool and where wind is scrubbed clean by prairie grass. Those are the lost places where we go to find God”. (pg220-221)

Are you searching in the right places?

1 Corinthians 7:23-  “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Of course while reading this book I continued to be hard on myself for living in the town of Heber Springs, AR where we have some of the finest fly-fishing around, on the Little Red River, and not learning how to fly-fish in my 5 years being here. But Roger has ignited a new fire inside me to learn the art and teach my boys. This blog could have gone so many different ways. I could have easily focused on parenting and raising boys, or what men need to feel like they’ve “made it in life”, or how your past shames only makeup who you are right now. Roger goes into detail on many of topics. I encourage each of you to get your hands on the book soon. You won’t regret it!

Cheers,

Zach

Mary, did you know?

‘Mary did you know’ is a popular Christmas song. Listen above. But honestly, can you imagine? You’re a virgin, but now an angel tells you you are pregnant. Not just pregnant, but you will give birth to the most important person to walk the earth. Can you imagine what she went through mentally? The stares + awful insults alone. Fear that Joseph would leave her, because back then what guy would stick around. She didn’t tell the angel “I actually have my own plans of life going on right now, + this just doesn’t fit in.” “Can you take this away from me?” I’ve tried to put myself in her shoes to have a glimpse of what her thoughts or actions were like. I can’t, its impossible.

My life has been a lot of unknowns + unplanned paths, but I’ve had freewill to make choices that lead me to paths. Mary however was innocent. I knew who my doctor would be + the hospital I would deliver in. Mary had no clue. And if she did make plans they got ruined because they had to travel to Bethlehem for a census. She was in Nazareth, which was around 70 miles away. Just to put that in perspective. If I walked from Heber Springs to Little Rock its 63 miles…Can you imagine walking to Little Rock?! Ladies can you imagine being in the homestretch of your pregnancy + know you have to travel that far? No big deal if cars were around, but they weren’t. Ezra has this cute Christmas book called “One Small Donkey” by Dandi Daley Mackall. In the beginning the book states that no one knows for sure if she walked or rode on a donkey, but some assume she rode on a donkey. The story acts as if she did ride on a donkey. This donkey was hoping he could be important like the big, strong stallions. Little does he know how important his job was; the significance of whom he was carrying. So if this is true that Mary had the ‘luxury’ of riding on a donkey + not walking the whole way, can you imagine that bumpy ride? Riding a horse for any amount of time can make your bottom sore. Let alone being at the end of your pregnancy. Being pregnant you are already sore down there with no help from riding a donkey. And if she walked the whole way she took “walk that baby out” to a whole new level. I wish I could read her journal from back then – “ painful Braxton-Hicks contractions the whole way”. Just kidding, she probably didn’t complain. I would have complained the whole way. Honestly I would have probably tried to talk my way out of even going on the trip. But she did it. Now she’s in Bethlehem + there’s no hotels. Oh I would have been yelling from the rooftops until someone felt bad enough and let me sleep in their bed.  Also cue the questioning to God – “Why did you do this to me? Don’t you see I am pregnant with YOUR Son that I didn’t ask for?!” Not Mary, I need some grace + faithfulness lessons from her.

Now she’s in a smelly, dingy, dark stable with nowhere to put her newborn. I was in a hospital with the comfort of air control, the choice of medicine, the safety of doctors + tools. I had choices, Mary did not.

Mary did you know exactly who your son would be-

What he would achieve-

What his purpose was-

Now as a mom I can imagine some of those thoughts. I often think about whom my kids will grow up to be. Who they will marry? Will they follow God’s path for themselves? Will they change hearts for God? Luckily I have open communication with God + have the pleasure of putting my prayer requests at the cross.

But can you imagine what her prayers would have been like?

Her Son was the Messiah. She had no idea what his birth would bring. She had no idea about his death + what his death would mean. People loved or hated him. Wanted to worship him or kill him. There was no in-between. Can you imagine the constant fear she was in? I truly can’t fathom. I would want my kids to live in a cave.

If you are feeling lonely this holiday season you aren’t alone. They say holiday season, even though it’s suppose to be the most joyful time of the year, can actually be the worst for some. Death of family members or broken families. Guilt. Shame. Regret. The list goes on.

The world tells us how many gifts we are to give, how much Santa is supposed to bring our kids, + it is never enough. Each year the list grows + the meaning of Christmas shrinks. They tell you, you’ll never have enough money, enough time, or enough joy.

I just want you to remember…Jesus is ENOUGH. We will never need another gift outside of him! The latest, hottest gift will never trump Jesus.

This holiday season your kids won't remember:

The gifts you got or didn't get them

The food you cooked or didn't cook

If your house was clean or unclean

But, they will remember the mood you're in + how you made them feel. So don't sweat the small stuff, just be joyful + give love.

JESUS was + is our gift. He is a gift that keeps giving.

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Our favorite way to explain this to our kids is making Jesus a birthday cake. We sing happy birthday to Jesus + Ezra blows the candles out. It’s my favorite tradition.

XO Colleen Cashio

"You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus." Luke 1:31 NLT

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 NLT

 

I linked the book I referred to about the donkey – cute kids book

+ our favorite Christmas movie explaining Saint Nicholas.

VeggieTales: St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving
Starring Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, Gigi Abraham

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Trumpeter Swans

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Each year more than 100 trumpeter swans migrate to Arkansas. The waterfowl usually do not come to this region of the country.  They are in large numbers in Alaska + Wyoming along with other western states. It is speculated that the first swans showed up in Arkansas after a severe storm forced them southward. The numbers have increased steadily during the past 15 years and are now over 100. Swan hunting is not allowed in Arkansas. If you don’t go for any other reason, it should be to hear them. Their voice is amazing, especially when the lake is full of them. It’s so neat to watch them interact with each other + when they take off and land! The trumpeters traditionally come around mid-November and stay until late February.

Each year our family loves going to visit the swans when they come to town. We are really so blessed to live in the area we do. We take many things for granted. I wanted to share some of our pictures from our time there this year + encourage you to go see them before they leave again! Years ago they use to always go to this private lake and it was so neat to see them, but the lake was fenced in so you could only see from afar. Animals are unique + for the past couple of years they have been picking this new location. I honestly love it though, because you can go right up to them + throw them corn. Whoever owns the property is gracious enough to have deer corn feeders for everyone to enjoy. One of Ezra’s favorite books is the ugly duckling, so last year we referred to the swans as an ugly duckling + he was over the moon! He was so mesmerized by seeing his book come to life. This year though he was more interested in the corn feeder at first, ha-ha boys! He is a brave little guy though, he went up to one swan and threw corn for it to eat. That swan felt threated by him + started to warn Ezra to back away, I thought it would scare Ezra, but it didn’t seem to phase him at all. Below I put some interesting facts + directions!

XO Colleen Cashio

Cool Facts

·       Trumpeter Swans are impressively large—males average over 26 pounds, making them North America’s heaviest flying bird. To get that much mass aloft the swans need at least a 100 meter-long “runway” of open water: running hard across the surface, they almost sound like galloping horses as they generate speed for take off. 

·       Starting in the 1600s, market hunters and feather collectors had decimated Trumpeter Swans populations by the late 1800s. Swan feathers adorned fashionable hats, women used swan skins as powder puffs, and the birds’ long flight feathers were coveted for writing quills. Aggressive conservation helped the species recover by the early 2000s.

·       Overhunting of muskrats and beavers may have harmed Trumpeter Swans, too: the swans nest on their dens and dams. As the rodents’ populations recovered, breeding habitat for the swans also improved.

·       Trumpeter Swans form pair bonds when they are three or four years old. The pair stays together throughout the year, moving together in migratory populations. Trumpeters are assumed to mate for life, but some individuals do switch mates over their lifetimes. Some males that lost their mates did not mate again. 

·       Trumpeter Swans take an unusual approach to incubation: they warm the eggs by covering them with their webbed feet. 

·       The Trumpeter Swan’s scientific name, Cygnus buccinator, is from the Latin Cygnus (swan) and buccinare (to trumpet). We humans have a buccinator muscle in our cheeks—we use it to blow out candles and to blow into trumpets and other instruments. 

·       A “voiceless” Trumpeter Swan named Louis was the main character in E. B. White’s 1970 children’s book, The Trumpet of the Swan. Louis courted his partner Serena by playing a trumpet. 

·       Although awkward on the ground due to short legs set behind their center of gravity, they can walk more than a mile at a time, even when traveling with cygnets less than a week old.

·       The oldest known Trumpeter Swan was a female, and at least 26 years, 2 months old when she was identified by her bank in the wild, in Wisconsin. One captive individual lived to be 32.

Cool facts from  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/lifehistory#

Directions to Magness Lake (the one with the fence)

To view the swans, drive east on Arkansas 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 and 25 just east of Heber Springs. Go 3.9 miles from the intersection to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, marked with a white sign. Turn left on paved Hays Road; the road sign is very small. Magness Lake is about a half-mile down Hays Road.

Visitors can view the swans from a public road with parking space available in an S curve. Shelled corn is the only recommended feed. Chances of seeing numbers of the trumpet swans are best in late afternoons. During the day, they roam around in small groups, feeding in spots sometimes miles away. But they return to the lake before dark. A few of the swans usually hang around the lake during midday, too.

Directions to the new location

Drive east on 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 + 25 just east of Heber Springs. Take a right on Hiram after you cross the bridge over Little Red River. Drive a couple miles; you’ll think surely I’ve passed it by now. No you haven’t, just keep driving there is a sign that says “Water for sale” on your left. Turn on that dirt road + boom you’re there! If you come to the intersection to go to Searcy you’ve gone to far.

The Explorer

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Am I the only one who doesn't want my kids to grow up? When Ezra was a newborn I wished that stage away. It truly was an awful experience. But when he hit 18 months I was praying I could freeze time. It is the best age. They are so sweet, so curious, + like a sponge soaking up everything. It’s also a bonus because they think mom knows best. Now Ezra is two and a half years old + I still love the age he's in now. But I won't lie, I can see slivers of himself changing + evolving in his boyhood. It absolutely breaks my heart. I think most moms would agree at some point we've thought about experimenting with freezing time and living in an age for the rest of our lives; I have at least. 

I have been reading "Wild Things the art of nurturing boys" + y'all, honestly I've debated about stopping after chapter 2. It is going through explaining the different stages in boyhood: what to expect, how to help, etc., etc., etc. And I literally thought to myself, maybe if I stop reading time will stay still and I won't need to prepare for the next season because we can just stay nice + comfy right here. Sighhh… I know that's not true or possible. This book is so helpful though; I wish I heard about it before Ezra turned 2. I come from a family of all girls, so I knew nothing about boys. Which is why I had a mild panic attack when I found out I was pregnant with a boy. Y'all, boys are so different than girls. Reading this book has helped me in understanding boys better + help change some things up that I am currently doing. 

 

Ages 2-4 in the book are labeled as ‘explorers’, which is so Ezra. This child is so curious + it makes my heart skip a beat. I love just watching him play + talk. I wish I knew everything that was going on in his head. At this age though it can be frustrating that all they like to do is wrestle. Literally, it's all we do. Especially if you're in a compromised position like bending over to pick something off the ground, he uses that to his advantage and pounces! My mom jokes that every time she leaves our house she has a new battle wound. But rest assured the book told me that this is totally normal + good. Haha, well that's a relief! It's also hard that they can't sit still. Like ever. The only time we are able to get Ezra still, well semi still is in church. If you know me you know I am SUPER anal about what my kids eat. If it's not homemade + healthy you can pretty much forget about it. (I am a grandparents worst nightmare, sorry not sorry). But on Sunday mom sneaks him Cheetos + m&ms. It really bothered me at first, but he started sitting still in church, so bribery at its best I guess! This is also totally normal in the explorer stage. After reading this chapter I really realized I was putting too much pressure on him + myself in this area.  

Is there anyone else guilty of expecting too much from kids? Sometimes though I can tell Ezra just isn't mentally ready for things. Once I finally let go + give him time he totally gets it on his own. Key though- on his time frame, not mine or what textbook says. I have to constantly remind myself that each child, boy or girl, develops at different times. Growing up isn't a race. In fact, it’s not even about reaching the finish line. It’s more about enjoying each step and not dwelling on the imperfections. Example; Ezra was a slow talker. Which made me worry + made our lives frustrating. He would get so frustrated that he couldn’t communicate exactly what he was thinking, which ended in a temper tantrum. At his second birthday I was still really worried that his words weren't like his other friends his age. We tried flash cards. The WHOLE Shebang. My friend, who is a speech therapist, reassured me to just give it time. So I trusted her + thought his words will come whenever he was comfortable. Well what do you know! One day he woke up with a whole new vocabulary + we are constantly amazed at how good he can talk now. (Which sometimes doesn't work in our favor - it's a lot easier to tell kids ‘no’ when you cant understand them).

 

Here is a snip it from the beginning of the book, I think most boy moms will totally be able to relate! –

         “What’s Normal?

For as long as we have been working with boys and parents of boys, we have been asked the question, “Is this normal?” hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Usually, what is behind the question is a deeper, scarier concern that parents have: “Is my son normal?” Most often, the answer is yes, and much of the parents’ fears and concerns can be allayed by good information and education. But whenever boys are in the equation, you may have to broaden your definition of normal. (This is especially true for women.) Once you have a boy in your life, things you never dreamed of become normal.

With boys, you will find yourself saying things and hearing things that you never thought needed to be said or heard. Like the night my (Stephen’s) wife had to insist to our two-year-old twins that “sixteen times is really enough washing to get your penis clean.” Or the one-day my sons screamed from the bathroom, “Guys! Come see how big my poop is!” As a caregiver to boys, you will be blown away by how many thousands of times you will have to say things such as, “Please keep your feet to yourself” or “Don’t lick the floor” or “Hey! Farting is for private.”

Boys are quite their own creatures, yet there’s much about the way they respond to their environment, themselves, and others that can be explained by the various stages of their development. Understanding how boys develop is foundational to our worries and concerns as our boys pass through the different stages. (It also can help us sound really smart at PTA meetings.)“– Pages 4&5 in Wild Things the art of nurturing boys by Stephen James and David Thomas

 

At the end of each chapter they give you tips if you have boys in this age group. I can't wait for Zach + I to implement some of these things and see how it works for us. While keeping in mind some things that might work for some kids might not be the best fit for others. Dealing with boys is unlike anything I’ve done before, but now I feel so blessed to be a boy mom. It is such a huge responsibility. The boys in our beds now will be someone’s husband, someone’s father, + someone’s grandfather in the future. The prayers we pray now will impact future generations. Pretty neat if you really sit and ponder the seeds we are planting. 

XO Colleen Cashio

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
By Stephen James, David Thomas
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Oh, Christmas Tree

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Our Christmas tree this year is unlike any we've had before. Our family tradition is to go to this cute little farm + have one cut down. But this year after Thanksgiving we decided to go into the woods and let Ezra pick one for us. He picked this small, cute, round ‘Charlie Brown’ cedar. It was so small we thought it would be perfect for his playroom. When we got home + put it in our living room we knew it was going to be our main tree. When Zach and I were engaged + newly married we always got 9 foot trees. Then last year we decided to get a smaller one around 6 feet and realized that was our new favorite height. As I look at our 3’ tree the word humble comes to mind. This past year God has humbled us. For the best; He has stripped things from our life + shown us what life really means. We have been pressed on all sides of our life, but we have persevered. We have had some really high mountaintops + really low valleys.

I was talking to a friend a while ago and I was explaining how I feel like God is taking everything out of my life that I put over him or rely on more than Him. I am a visual learner. I have to act things out to learn; sometimes I think this can be a downfall for me. Just some examples of things that have been removed to help God mold me into the person He wants me to be. Keep in mind this is for me, not everyone. I do not think I am better than anyone because I am trying to remove these from my life. This is just something I was putting in a higher place than God. Each person may have something different than me. My sins might not be a sin for you. Coffee; I rely on that hot liquid gold to wake me up and help me make it through the day. Wine; I rely on this cold liquid goodness to help me some evenings when I am stressed out or my anxiety is through the roof. I have a glass and things level out. I think it is just for a season, but who knows maybe God’s plan is for me to give it up for a couple of seasons. I was relying on those things instead of relying on God to give me strength to get through my day. Maybe that's part of the refining process though. Being stripped bare to be made beautiful again. I have never felt like I was a lonely person, but Zach and I are going through a transition stage in marriage right now. While I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, it still has left me feeling lonely. It would be very easy for me to turn to things of this world to try to fill those voids in my life. But luckily I have friends + family around me that help me stay grounded in Jesus + not this world. I bought Lysa TerKeurst’s book 'Uninvited' + let me just say this by far is one of my favorite books of hers. I wanted to share this part with you about an olive tree. I had no idea there was so much involved with making an olive edible. How she compares it to us is so beautifully written I had to share.

 ‘“The final thing I want to consider about the olive is the best way to preserve it for the long run. It must be crushed in order to extract the oil. The same is true for us. The biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

But what about 2 Corinthians 4:8, where it says, “we are…pressed…but not crushed’? Lets read verses 8 and 9 in the King James Version: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in a despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

This was one of the biggest aha moments for me while standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn’t the olives end. Crushing, rather, is the way of preservation. Its also the way to get whats most valuable, the oil, our of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed… pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

---

The olive tree is such a beautiful reminder that this isn’t how its going to be forever. On the other side of the process of being broken and waiting is a useful heart free of bitterness. On the other side of being pressed and crushed is oil…the most valuable part of me set free to emerge.

On the other side of every hardship is a resurrection.

We must believe that what God has said He will do will be done. Don’t focus on the problems. Instead, have the resurrection mind-set that holds fast to Gods promises. Good is coming!”” pages 200&201 Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

 

Then sometimes it's not God taking things away from you it's the broken world we live in. Porn/sports/hunting stealing the husband away, comparison/busyness/rejection stealing the mom away, or hard times stealing the joy away. Every relationship has a story. There are good + bad parts to everything in life. We are always a work in progress. Someone once told me this statement, which hit me to my core…

marriage isn’t about being happy it’s about being holy.”

I probably would never come to that conclusion on my own. The past couple of months Zach + I have been working really hard on being intentional in our marriage. We are praying how/when we can share some of our walk with you soon.

 

Maybe feeling lonely is exactly where God wants me. He wants me all alone…with Him. He wants me to turn to no one or thing, but Him. My husband, kids, friends, family, nor anyone will be able to fill the voids in my life. If I try to shove them in each of my holes that only God was intended to fill they will fall out. They might stay around for a while and everything looks great on the outside; but they're like a volcano waiting to explode. People + things will fail you at some time or another. I have failed many people in my life so how can I not expect someone to fail me? God is the only person who will never fail me. He is the only person who will stick around on my worst day + pick me back up. He is the only one to walk beside me in the hard seasons of life, so why do I push him aside and try to use others around me to fill those voids. God’s love is perfect. If I wake up everyday and decide “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24 NLT), do you know how much better my days would be if I carry His joy with me throughout the entire day? If every time I feel rejected + lonely I turn to him to build my spirit up I will be in a much better place. 

Even on our worst days there is always something to be thankful for. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what God is not doing in my life I miss everything He IS doing. I have to be so intentional about focusing on what He is doing. If we focus on everything we are thankful for, our joy will spill over to everyone around us. The day we went to find our Christmas tree I was thankful for a healthy little boy who was able to run around and pick out his tree, who could see the vibrant fall colors in the woods, and one who helped his daddy chop down the tree he picked out. (Don’t worry his hatchet had the sheath on it, but shhh don’t tell him)

 

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Looking at our humble tree now gives me hope. I know God is working on our family + we will be in a much better place than where we first started. My eyes have been opened to so many things around me that I would have totally missed before. So many lessons God was trying to teach me, but my heart was not prepared or able to understand it before. Going through a lesson is never fun. But my prayer is I will always have a teachable heart, not a callused heart from the world. If anything bad has happened to you, I promise God can use it for good. We just have to have open hearts to let Him work.

XO Colleen Cashio

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know Gods will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” Romans 12:2 NLT

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 NLT

 

 

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Good for my Soul

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Spontaneous road trips are good for my soul. Especially when they involve my boys.  Our original Saturday plan was the same as every other Saturday. Drive to Tannenbaum where the airstream is located + let Zach work all day. Well, at the last minute we decided to change things up and head to Conway. We ate at one of our favorite places, Taziki’s. Ezra double-fisted his grill cheese + devoured his fruit. My greek salad never disappoints + Zach got his usual, a basil pesto chicken gyro. After we finished lunch we decided to head to TarJay(Target in a french accent), our other love in Conway.  After we shopped we ended with our favorite birthday cake pops from Starbucks. Since we gave up coffee last month Zach tried something new + got an iced snicker-doodle hot cocoa. Umm, do yourself a favor + go try it! Make sure you look at Ezra's pitiful picture after we passed the toy aisle. His room, every area in our house, + my car are overflowing with toys, so we skipped the toy aisle. He was not too happy with us.

Then we decided to go downtown for their Illuminate festival. Our first stop was at our favorite backdrop. I love taking pictures with my family. I love documenting our time together to look back on. Everyone says it, but kids really do grow up too fast. I love all the in-between memories, like Ezra picking up every leaf in the alley and throwing it on dad. Growing up I always wanted just one girl. I had never been around boys + they just were not my thing. Now having boys I can’t imagine anything else. I love how dirty they get, how much they love to wrestle, + how tender their love is. I also love how kids make you stop + breathe life in. We're always late to everything, which can make my husband super frustrated. But normally it’s because Ezra is making us stop to do something that will make a memory. And I'm always thankful for that. Two is a hard age, but at the same time it is so rewarding. Ignore his cowlick on the side - life can't be perfect so sometimes you have to roll with the bedhead look. But really, how good does my hubby look?! I am a sucker for white tees.

We started to head towards the big ferris wheel, but heard a train in the distance. If you know Ezra then you know he has an obsession with trains. Zach swooped Ezra up + ran to go find 'Thomas'. If you aren't a parent yet I'm referring to Thomas the train. Just wait - you will know all his songs by heart soon. Ezra giggled with excitement the whole time running dow