Intentional Journey

As my standards get higher my circle gets smaller.

If you become friends with me as mother I know you are in it for the long haul. More grace is needed as I learn through my imperfections. You are joining me on the journey with my children as they learn, grow and work through the challenges of this world too.

I began filtering out the people who were takers in our relationship when I was pregnant with our first. I became more aware of how low my standards were and quickly realized I don’t want my child thinking these kind of relationships are normal and healthy. I want my children to value themselves and I had to set that example. As a believer I thought I had to be friends with everyone. When in reality boundaries are good and healthy for my family and myself.

When we begin to value ourselves we begin to value who our friends are.

My friends encourage, push, allow me to be vulnerable, and take me as I am through the battles of my grief, and challenges of motherhood. They are my iron sharpen iron and for that I am thankful.

Proverbs 27:17 ”As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

A Completely Different Women

It almost stings when I look in the mirror at how much I’ve physically changed since having children. 

I’m looking a a complete different women. Some days I grieve it; some days I nod with pride of the privilege to carry life, twice. The women with more squish to her, permanent dark rings under her eyes, way less hair, hair that has darkened and beautiful stretch marks engraved in her legs has a more clear mindset. She walks in a more confident light. Less physically attractive to the world but her character is softer and more beautiful each day as she steps forward into motherhood embracing what truly matters. 

The Creative Baby and Toddler

I’m excited for this post to be my last for 2021 sharing most of the activities and crafts I did with our children for the whole year. 

Please click the links showing how to do them and share! 

New Years poppers:

Tissue paper, Glitter glue, Fun things like cut up tissue paper or sequence for popping and toilet paper or paper towel rolls.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CJaKWtjBj2L/

New Years party hats:

I took a paper plate and cut right through the middle and made the triangle pieces stand up. 


Icicle drop: 

Pipe cleaners. Cute holes in top of oatmeal box.

Puzzle pieces Valentine canvass: 🌟

This one was tricky! The babies painted the puzzles then I traced a heart and hot glued them. Each babydid their own color. 

Mess free chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day:
Ziplock 
Then one straw berry at a time 
Let them shake it with the dipped strawberries and sprinkles inside.


Pepper clover stamps:

Take a real Pepper and cut it up, then use it like a stamp with green paint. 

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CLn8v_mhl8_/


Rainbows: 

Baby hand prints by Logan and cotton ball color matching by Jason. 


Easter Potato egg stamp:

Cut the potato in half, then cuz the design you want the print to be. Dip in paint and use it like a stamp. 
https://www.instagram.com/reel/CMsxM4pBe-I/

Shaving cream Easter egg dying with babies:

Use a ziplock it’s seriously my best friend when I want to include baby brother or don’t want a crazy mess. 

Shaving cream, a few drops of food coloring, boiled egg all in the bag. Then I’d take them out to air dry. I did not let my kids eat these. 

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CNBnXQphfLt/


Dandelion collection:

We grabbed a piece of cardboard and went picking.

Earth day globes: 🌟

Use the back of a cereal box or cardboard to teach about recycling. I love using the back of cereal boxes for many crafts we’ve done. Then I would cut our circles and let them free paint. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CN837pihsQ-/

Mother’s Day flower dye gift:🌟

This one was so cool! He got to use a medicine syringe to dye white flowers for my gift. I used water and paint and he had the fun! 

And then of course I wanted little handprint flowers.


Poker chip drop:
🌟

This one is one of my favorites cuz of how long it has lasted and how strong it is. I cut a slot of a pretzel container and let them drop the chips in for fun. Like I said before I like using things around the house if I can. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CO6qR1OBt25/

Cut and paste Sun: 🌟

I still can’t believe he’s only two in this video. He loves cutting. This one was so fun to make! 

Father’s Day Fish: 🌟

Using bubble wrap for the bubbles and their hands for the fish these turned out so cute! Just don’t press down on the wrap like I did for the bubbles. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CP_kRUmhyT-/


My love bugs lady bug: 

Aaah yes the classic paper plate lady bug. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CQok2ODhYf8/

4th of July Pretzel cookies: 

Can you believe we made these in a hotel? 

I’m doing the video right on a bed. So the ziplock did not work well for this. It’s best to dip myself and let them sprinkle. I did a few in the ziplock so our youngest could feel included. We made these for Christmas too. 
https://www.instagram.com/reel/CQ4wCb4jSo1/

Color Science: 

We did this outside or it’s great in our farm house sink on rainy days. We used baking soda over a color of dye and Jason spray warm water to reveal the color. It’s fun to add vinegar too to have it fizz. I like this one for learn about colors or seeing what the primary colors make. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CRkkdazh95N/



Walking bubble wrap:

I had been wanting to do this one for a long time. And I finally got around to doing it this Summer. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CRxQbTQhF0j/


Ice cube painting: 

Here I show the steps and the activity where they paint egg carton caterpillars.



Pull tape signs: 

These look so cute and were the perfect finishing touch to their play room. I love this one for so many paintings we’ve done. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSDcjlQB5Po/


ABC spoons:

I did this one years ago and now I get to do it with my kids. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSNDSA2h-Hi/


Animal cracker shadow matching:
🌟

I thought this would be a cute on the go activity. Trace the animals on flash cards, then to keep the cards for the next time they have snack. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSqJRtOn89q/

Dino fossils: 🌟

This one I am crazy about! I have been wanting to making these for years and finally got to do them this summer. I thought they’d be a fun addition to a sensory bin and the kids can dig them and match them with the dinosaurs. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSzv9yyhOI7/


Dino egg hatch with play dough: 

Get some mini dinosaurs and hide them in play dough and let the kids open them. My boy loves this one. It’s fun to put them in Easter eggs too. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CS-wCjzHRaM/

Pumpkin cut and paste 3 D:

This one is so fun for practicing cutting and gluing. He loved adding the glitter glue on top. I like how simple and cute this one is. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CVd3L1-hh7v/

He loves glitter glue


Leaf pull activity: 

This was our fall sensory bin and he was pulling the pretend leaves out of the ball and car. 


Lego corn paint:

I’ve always wanted to do lego painting with them and these were a perfect fall craft. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CWhq7iKF2vB/

ABC wipes cover matching:

I used the top of the sensory bin and saved these. It took a while collecting but there are so many fun ways to use these. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CXNPr-0BJX2/


ABC wipes cover matching:
I used the top of the sensory bin and saved these. It took a while collecting but there are so many fun ways to use these. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CXNPr-0BJX2/

ABC find:
I saved my bottle dry rack for activities like this. We’ve done a garden and put little veggies in it too. I also think it would be a cute way to do seasons doing pretend leaves or cotton balls. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CXmaMJdl3MR/



Santa letters:

Foam sticker letters and green and red paper.


Cookie cutter stamp: 

This simple cute one is so great for decorating presents, cards or making a home made gift. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CXo0hKAF7Ji/


My favorite part about these is looking back is seeing how much fun our boys have. They love it as much as I do. The ones with stars are ones I’ve thought up myself and the others are full credit to Pinterest. Happy Crafting!


Christmas Letter 2021

I want to talk about all the fun things and happy things when I start writing these letters. But this year was not one of those years. We were filled with challenges that we did not ever think we would face. Starting with losing our sister in law unexpectedly in the Spring, and ending the year with losing my grandma in the fall. 

The summer was filled with stressors of Peter on an awkward work schedule that did not work well for our family and not having water in the kitchen most of the Summer due to our kitchen project. So we would buy it. As I reflect I can still count the blessings of having two healthy boys, my colorstreet group growing, and friendships growing and being formed by a play group that was started over the Summer. Jason started going to a private preschool, and Logan is learning to talk. God has given us these gifts and blessings and we are humbly privileged as we are constantly learning, renewing our minds as raise our sweet boys. 

Merry Christmas and blessings to you all,

Echols family 

Peter, Mihaela, Jason (3), and baby Logan (19 months) 

Playdough and Emotions

If you take different colors of Play-Doh, Label them different emotions and mix them all together That is how I would describe my week. But I would take those pieces and make it into a shape of a heart because despite all the big emotions God is giving me a sense of peace throughout this week and I have still been able to give my kids the best version of myself.

With it being Jason‘s birthday, and my brothers anniversary and combating grief missing my sister-in-law. My friend lost her baby and it hit home for me.  And also being excited for my other brother getting married on Halloween. Going through the bitter sweet emotions of my baby turning three and having a very active busy week way more than usual. There was pajama day at school and Jason had show and tell and snack one day and we had to get his cake and balloon. Then we are celebrating Halloween and a few different trunk or treats. So these were added things that we normally don’t do. I’ve definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone. But isn’t it amazing how I can feel all these big emotions and still have peace?

Emotions are crazy and yet even when I’m both grieving and excited I can feel both and with being real with God allowing him in on the tough times to help me to stay focused on giving my babies the gift of a mom staying in tune with them. 

What Is A Mother

I was asked to write down what a mother is. Not who the moms were in my life but to simply define it.

Immediately scripture flooded my mind as I sat to jot down what a Mother is.

She moves in a slow rhythm about her day. She basks in the sound of her children’s laughs, and the feeling of their tiny arms squeezing her around her neck. She embraces her children’s differences and gifts they can carry into the world. She invests beyond their basic needs, dismissing the amount of children there are recognizing her role she took on when she became a mother.

She’s not surviving.

She’s living.

She seeks them.

She seeks them figuring out how they operate: their learning styles, their passions, fears, and insecurities. She knows her children. She navigates a lesson so her children can push through, not around the fears and insecurities the world has to offer. She then feeds encouragement into those passions, and desires. She ignites purpose in their hearts.

She ignites purpose in their hearts.

Her character is watched by her audience as she reacts to situations and those around her.

She practices the fruits of the spirit being filled with love, joy, peace, patience and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

She imitates her maker. Philippians 2:1-5

She practices the meaning of love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “

When she does fail she immediately apologizes.

When her children rebel she disciplines but doesn’t punish. She doesn’t punish for mistakes.

She humbly seeks wisdom through scripture, prayer and godly friends in all seasons.

She doesn’t allow her past to haunt her.

She is rooted in her identity making her role as a mother present.

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You Made Me A Mother

Baby Boy.

You made me face fears I never knew existed.

Climb mountains I never saw myself climbing

Dismiss what I once thought was meaningful.

Ground myself in God’s truth because I want to give you the best even when it hurts me, because sometimes healing does hurt.

You’ve seen me at my worst and best.

You’ve been patient with me as I learn this foreign journey.

You made me a mother,

and for that I owe you my best.

If You Knew Her You Loved Her

If you knew her you loved her.

I remember when I first met Laura she was open and genuine. She really wanted to take the time to get to know all of us and build a relationship with all of us before taking the next big step with Jordan. She was the girl Jordan was txting the night before our wedding so I knew this girl was special. She quickly was welcomed with open arms and at almost every family event.

And if you knew her she would have wanted a genuine relationship with you too.

Although she had a hard life, she was still the most genuine, kind, encouraging, and understanding person. Through her struggles she knew the Lord’s strength would get her through hard seasons her and Jordan had faced. She never asked for much because she knew prayer was enough.

To the girl who I want to send the silly pictures of today’s adventure, the one I could always vent to and never be judged. The girl who I prayed for for my brother. The girl who loved him more then anyone I’ve ever known encouraging him to be better and loving him for who he is. What I would give to see you saw this post. What I would give for another sister to sister chat. What I would give to hear her call my boys name over face time. To see her. To hear her laugh. To see my phone go off and her name pop up. She was more then I could ever have asked for in a sister in law. I had the privilege to watch her grow in her faith over these past 5 1/2 years. I had the privilege to call her sister, the auntie to my children and friend.

I just want to txt her silly pictures as if it were yesterday. I miss you and love you sister.

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She had such a heart for children, especially her nieces and nephews.
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Her meeting our youngest last Summer.
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Auntie Laura sharing Jordan’s childhood cars
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Two years ago meeting our first baby.
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The day we first met! we went on a fun date to a pumpkin patch. Jordan climbed the hay and we were worried and Laura started laughing out of love.
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Walking back after this light house picture I asked them what was taking them so long for getting married? I knew they were in love and she was absolutely perfect for Jordan.

Cool Connections

Foster care had it’s imprint on us both great and not so great connections with fellow families. We either liked one another or I found myself in the position of reporting other foster parents. Making enemies very quickly. But through the mostly thick and thin it was worth the connections we’ve made. We’ve made friends in trainings, groups and through doing respite care. Although we are stepping back, we are continuing to invest in these friendships.

Three years ago our youngest baby we had was adopted this month. He turned three two days after his adoption day. Now our boys get his cool toys he’s outgrown. As our boys enjoy their new toys it is our reminder of the small part of another child’s adoption journey.

As far as our journey goes, we are stepping back for a few years and working on a solid foundation before re-evaluating entering the possibility of doing foster to adopt. Our original plans have changed, but in the best way. This does not mean we have stepped back from supporting those who are doing foster care and adoption.

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Our youngest’s new toy!
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Our youngest (9 months) enjoying the four wheeler for big brother.
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3 week old (our youngest baby)
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Snuggling with 3 week old baby.

We Celebrate Love

While most people think of romance when they think of Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love.
Our boys are little now but we want to teach them early the fun they can have with it in all seasons of their lives. I have always loved Valentine’s Day. Even in my single season. My focus was not on the hall mark advertisement it was on the word love. Each year they make something special for Grandparents and for me and Peter to hang up. I love decorating the house with their little heart foot prints too
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As they grow older we want to teach them different ways to show people they care about how they love them. This is where teaching love languages begins: acts of service, words of encouragement, physical affection, and time. Love is taught year around and celebrated and reflected on more in our home as we approach Valentines day.


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Jason’s foot and hand print at 3 1/2 months 2019
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Jason and Logan’s hearts (logan 8 months red, Jason 2 pink) 2021
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Jason’s foot 14 1/2 months old 2020
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Logan’s foot 8 months old 2021