Just Like Mom

I’ve heard “Just like mommy” and “minni me” even with my first two children for years, but I think this little girlie girl takes the cake. She is full of spunk and personality, but can be quite shy. It all depends on the vibe she gets off of people. I’m the same way.

She loves all things sparkly, all things clothes, all things girly, but then again Alexis, my oldest, used to be that way too, lol. So, I will enjoy this while can!!

I just had to have this shirt that I found that Target carried from Cat & Jack. I’m still a little iffy about the whole turtle thing though because we’re far from “slow”, but they are cute and glittery, haha!!!

She is a doll. See the OOTD and read the details below!! Always keep an open mind about saving in different areas for your family! Pride will only hold you back from great things.

bentlie blog14

She was so antsy to get up and play!

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I had to be very quick to snap a pic before she slid off the chair to run around.

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This is how our sessions go, but I manage to snag a few cute pics each time. We’re getting better at it!!

ABOUT THE OUTFIT:

Top: Cat & Jack: Dirt Cheap- $1.00 NWT

Shorts: Park Bench Kids: Dirt Cheap (part of a 2 piece set)- $1.00 NWT

Headband: By BowPosh

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Let your love shine

Let your love shine, always, in everything you do!!

We are doing our best to teach our kids this, and as we head back into the school year this is even more important!! We are, of course, anti-bully- having been the kids that went through that in school, even into some high school. We believe that everyone is unique, and just because they are interested or like something that someone else doesn’t, that doesn’t make them non-friend worthy! We can learn so much from each other.

Our kids have done a phenomenal job at making others feel comfortable and being their friend even when others see things differently.  I pray that they continue to show this love to everyone, giving them the chance they deserve even as adults.

Now that our oldest two (13 and 11) are going to be in high school soon, we didn’t expect to have another to experience these things, lol! I think she will be just fine as well <3.

This shirt was absolutely perfect and we found it at Target on clearance a few months ago, in March I believe.

We usually buy a size up for Bentlie so she can get some extra wear time because she grows so fast. Now that the other two are slowing down, its becoming easier with their sizes.

Let your love shine

Bentlie sitting in her great grandmothers chair in the formal living room. So sweet! She even let me paint her nails. Now, she gets upset if I don’t paint them when she hands me he nail polish, haha. Girly girl!

Let your love shine

These gold bows just MAKE the outfit!

Let your love shine

This shows how the skirt was NWT! There were two available at 18 mo but unfortunately, I only needed one, lol.

Let your love shine

Those eyes though!!! This photo was taken for our OOTD (outfit of the day) we did a few months back around her birthday month :). The leggings have little gold flowers so it went great together!

Let your love shine

This was when she first got this outfit. The hearts on the leggings are half black and half gold :). Funny story about these leggings coming in another blog! Stay tuned.

About the outfit:

T-shirt: Cat & Jack: Target clearance- $3.49

Bow skirt: No brand (has snowflake/star symbol- Regular price $4.97 at Walmart online): Goodwill NWT- .99 cents

Bow headband (in first photo): BowPosh by Laura C Cole & Co. (made by me, can be found in our shops at http://www.lauraccoleco.esty.com).

 

 

About the other pieces:

Black leggings: Forgot brand: Goodwill- $1.99

Heart leggings: Cat & Jack: Target sale- Buy one get one half off (regular price $6.00).

Bow headband (in next to last photo): BowPosh by Laura C Cole & Co. (made by me, can be found in our shops at http://www.lauraccoleco.etsy.com).

Funny story about the heart pants coming soon!!!

 

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Love my family. Love my life. 

Love, The Family Coleition 

Feel free to post photos of your amazing finds!!!

Be sure to look back at our other cuties.

 

 

Staying UPbeat during the LOWs

A few years ago we were in LOVE with deals and all about finding new things or nearly new things for nearly nothing…in price. It was a game, and a fun one my kids got into which made me thrilled that they were learning about saving, and budgeting. We didn’t take away from trends, popular toys, the “lit” things everyone had or brands that were already loved, but we did learn and teach about priorities.

During our last stream of blogs about saving, no one knew that we had ended up homeless. I continued these blogs through that time and after. Now, why would someone homeless be talking about clothes, and saving when they were in such a womp womp situation? Well, that’s exactly why. We never think that WE will be in that situation until its knocking on our door. One thing led to another and then we were standing underneath a landslide of things. We turned those situations into POSITIVE situations for our family, and looked at it as obviously a way to start fresh because there was a reason we went through everything.

keep your head up

We didn’t look like we were homeless. We didn’t look like we were in a shelter for 9 months. Even when we were back on our feet in another home, no one knew what we had just overcome.

the struggle today

The point of those blogs was just that. No one has to know what you’re going through. No one has to know you’re homeless, and you most certainly don’t have to look like you are…even if you’re not!! I’m not judging anyone but I do pride myself in having a decent family no matter what we’re going through. That is how I was raised, and that is how I will raise my family. Don’t talk about the struggles. Don’t look like the struggles. Is that fake? Absolutely not. Its pushing through and knowing you can make it without having a pity party or expecting one from others.

strength comes from struggle

Do people still think we are crazy because we budget or scour the internet until we find something at a better deal than our friend got? Absolutely, but they don’t pay my bills either. I say that in the most bubbly, and most polite way possible!! Even if I don’t have to search for a deal, I do because there are some pretty important things coming up in our lives that I want to put money away for. Extra cars, school, school trips, outings with friends for the kids, college, and so much more for 3 kids.

Even though I have found a fabulous opportunity that will help with much of the financial portions and am building an empire with my own dream business, it is so they will be prepared for their kids as well. I’m not here to impress anyone intentionally, but to live happily on my terms, with my family, help others, and live for no one else but God and fam.

she is clothed in strength

 

Struggles haven’t disappeared but how we handle them has improved tremendously. That’s the key in everything….now we are thriving through life!!

What I love about this group of photos is that it shows a small timeline of where our lives were in different situations, but in my opinion, there is no hint that any tragedy fell anywhere between these lines. Id say our family did very well and is very strong. I am blessed to have them by my side.

The family photo on the steps in coral was a family photo taken by a passerby while we were out walking in downtown Fort Myers on Easter of 2014. At that time we lived in the shelter (the photos before that one were from that time period). The next family group photo in pink and black was one from family photos we had taken after we moved into our home in 2015 (the ones after that photo are from that time period). This was our baby girl announcement! We were blessed with our 3rd child who was born in 2016!!

It took a long time to talk about what we had gone through and even now, only some things are mentioned, but we get stronger by the day. Talking about these things will not only help others who may be experiencing similar situations, but it also helps the person talking about it heal in numerous ways.

I have no doubt that we are destined for great things, and I am grateful for every trial that God has pulled us out of. I look forward to the future, for what he has in store for us, and how he will allow us to help others.

Have a blessed day!

 

Poppin tags…at Goodwill. Say it ain’t so!!

Fashion on a budget.

Aaaactually, its fashion below a budget…for when the struggle is real.

During this….we’ll call it….a transition or phase. Phase is a good word. During this phase that my family has been going through for the past few months, it has really taught us about saving, being thankful, being grateful and it has definitely taught us about pride.

I grew up (in grade school and the first half of high school) not having the top name brands because my parents were on a modest, retirement budget. They also did not see the point of purchasing what they called over priced, cheap clothing that I was going to outgrow soon. Jason grew up pretty much the same way. I had a couple of outfits in elementary school that came from a store called Rainbow Repeats in Lehigh Acres, FL. It was what we’d call a thrift store where you could consign clothes as well. I told my mom that someone asked me where I had purchased my outfit and I told them. She said, “Laura, you don’t have to tell people where you get your clothes or how much they cost, it doesn’t matter (not that she was embarrassed, but so I would not be laughed at. Kids can be very cruel and because like she said, it just doesn’t matter)”. Later on I started buying my own clothes, but I still didn’t have a lot of money to buy Abercrombie, Ralph Lauren, etc. unless they were on clearance. For whatever reason I felt a bit embarrassed to shop on the clearance rack with a weird fear that people would know, lol. So silly I know, but hey, I was like 17-19 years old and just wanted to fit in and had the biggest fashion dream of any person on the planet.

Anyway, I got to where I didn’t mind the clearance racks, especially for my children’s clothes because they DID and DO outgrow them so incredibly fast. Mom was of course right, but I still had a fear of thrift stores or Goodwill stores. I was so embarrassed to walk into Goodwill as a child. I have always been drawn to really nice things, incredibly fancy things, but that doesn’t mean that my budget has been able to match my taste. My parents always talked about my taste being over the top.

So, back to the phase. About a month ago, I received a voucher to get clothing. I was told to treat myself to some clothes; not to get the kids clothes, but just me. Once you have kids (and I have had mine for 8-10 years now), it is really hard to do this- get something for only the adults. I said, sure, I guess it can’t hurt since I never go shopping for myself anymore. For the past 12+ years, I have picked up pieces at Marshalls, Ross and some other less expensive stores or hit up some amazing clearance racks at my favorite stores here and there. I was handed a voucher to Goodwill and was told to go get some nice clothes. I looked at my husband, Jason with what I hope was a blank look and not a twisted face. I wear some pretty crazy facial expressions but I tried to do my best to look normal while speaking with this woman.

Goodwill. Seriously??? I have always hated this store. I itch when I go in there and I just don’t feel like spending time sifting through such a mess of sizes and colors and oddly shaped clothing. Oh my goodness.

My husband and I decided to go in and just browse around and see because according to this woman, she had sent us to “the nice Goodwill”. The Goodwill where “rich” people drop off what they don’t want. This made me laugh and I said c’mon, lets make the most of it.

I found a very small section that had some……Juniors clothing I guess I can say because I’m still a size that does not fall into petites, misses or woman’s sizes. I found a couple of things that weren’t too bad and then I found a skirt that still had the tags on it. What?! This is still here? On my arm. I found a couple of other pieces that I figured I would try on. Then, I went to the small section of pants that were in my size range. I found a pair of maroon skinny pants. Hmm…not bad. Express. Looked new. Really?! On the arm. I went back around to the shirts and found a couple that could do. One was Arizona brand (JC Penney)…with the tags! Omg, I’m starting to get a bit excited here. The idea that I had to have this voucher sent over and then have the employees get it out of an email and hold it at the front counter had left my mind. I was in the zone now. This shirt just so happened to go with the skinny pants. I tried them on, and kept a nice amount. Score.

I wondered over to the kids section (I am not so sure it could have even been a section) and got Alexis, my daughter a pair of shorts from Justice (her favorite store) and a purple tank with bows on it that still had the tags on. I broke the rule.

During this “shopping spree”, I was talking with my husband about how I had been such a snob toward these places when I literally had no right to be. At this point, we had gone from having everything to having nothing and though it may seem silly, it really opened our eyes to certain ideas and judgments.

Mom was right. No one has to know. If they do ask, you know what, Ill tell them because cliques and groups don’t matter. I got a great deal and by golly, I’m going to be proud of it. If you don’t like me because of how I save money, then you are more than free to find someone else with a different mindset. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having amazing name brands and top designer tags, because if anyone knows me, they know I LOVE them, but sometimes it just isn’t the best way to spend those hard earned dollars.

Here are a couple of things that I got and the prices for each. My apologies if it’s hard to see the detail of the items, but you get the idea that they just weren’t that bad :). Also, some were taken on the spur of the moment and I was not prepared, hence the lack of makeup. Please excuse any typos found since my kids are dying to leave!

Bold words are my recent thrift finds.

goodwill_1

Shirt: Arizona- Goodwill- NWT- 3.99

Skinny pants: Express- Goodwill- 5.99

Sandals: Roxy- Old- Ross- 7.99

goodwill3_1

Fitted T-shirt: Random brand- Old- Ross- 4.99

Skirt: Random brand- Goodwill- NWT- 3.99

Leather sandals- Clarks- Old- Ross- 27.99 (the most expensive sandals I have left and they still look new)

I go once a week now so I have a few more to post when I can catch a decent photo of the pieces, but this is to show that we don’t need to be snobs about these things. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it and no reason to be ashamed. Just because someone shops in these places does not mean they are scum, or poor or any less of a human being than you or anyone else next to them. It is all about how you carry yourself. No one knows where I get my clothes, well, didn’t, and now, I don’t care. I have told a few that have asked and they are stunned, especially when they see the skirt. It is a super cute skirt and I am proud of this find. It got me to go back again without the bribe of a voucher and each time, I have found some awesome pieces!! I’ll post photos of the kids pieces that I find as well. I found a pair of brand new DC shorts for my son, DuGrei on my last trip. There was also a -like new- Aeropostale jacket with a fur trimmed hood for 5.99, but it was a large (one or two sizes too big, bummer!).

I pray that no one turns their noses up to those that find themselves in tough situations and do what they have to do to keep their families heads up while saving money. One day these decisions will pay off and the lessons they learned will lead to rewards.

Happy shopping, no matter where you go, what rack it is hanging on or what the price tag says. Each week Goodwill has a new color that is half off. Better believe that I look for those colors. It is a big game for us now, and we’re getting pretty good at it :). Jason also finds clothes with tags so it makes it such a great competition between the two of us!

Love my family. Love my life.

Love, The Family Coleition ❤

Feel free to post photos of your amazing finds!!!

Where to start

Coalition:
a union into one body or mass; fusion.

From the late latin Coalitus:
to unite.

Coleition:
a coming together of four individuals in the same family group, known as the Cole family where nothing and no one can separate them. joined together by a force to be reckoned with to spread altruism wherever they may go.

I became a Cole in 2003 after I married a man (I had to delete boy and write man because he saw it- haha) I had gone to kindergarten with in 1988. Some know that story and it will come around again later for those that do not. It was sad leaving the Larson name to start my own family but I would not change a thing. Everything J (Jason, I just call him that because….well, theres no reason. I just call him that) and I have been through has brought us even closer instead of tearing us apart to become a statistic. While we may be a part of many, we have managed to divert away from the divorce stats which has formed a bond between us that only death could break. I say that with confidence and in time, you will see why.

This is just to introduce the blog as a place or a starting point where we will share our story (a collection of stories), loving, heartwarming, sincere, tragic, depressing, humiliating, humble, funny, crazy, life lessons and more. In our continued journey, we hope that our story will touch others and help them in some way. We plan to speak at different events about our experiences and lessons learned to show others that it is possible to overcome harsh obstacles and that its okay to hate running ;).

Thank you for joining us in this leap of faith and for being a part of our story!

Sincerely,

Family Coleition- The Cole Family- Jason Cole | Laura C Cole | Alexis Cole | DuGrei Cole

St. Patrick's Day family selfie

St. Patrick’s Day family selfie

12 years together and we still do not have a professional shot of the two of us or the family!! We are a photogs worst nightmare!