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A Conversation with Teresa from Hugs & Punches

I am not sure how I stumbled upon following Teresa on instagram, but I have been encouraged ever since. She is a wife, Mama to 6, blogger, and author…and she is just super sweet! I hope you enjoy this interview, and her helpful tips.

Teresa Swanstrom Anderson

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a girl living the life I never thought I wanted. My Plan was to get my doctorate, and live as an art curator somewhere glamorous and international (preferably Italy). I never wanted kids, didn’t like kids (and they didn’t like me). But I realized one day that I had never actually consulted God on my plans and completely and wholly gave them over to Him. From there my heart changed, my “plan” changed, and I’ve been running to keep up with the exciting path Christ actually designed me for ever since!

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2. You are a mother of 6, and passionate about adoption…tell us a little about your family, and how you came to adopt.

Years ago, my husband Ben and I attended a fancy black-tie auction in Seattle where we first laid eyes on a black and white photograph of a little boy in Malawi praying. It spurred all sorts of conversation and we knew (though we weren’t even engaged yet) that God was calling us to a life out of the ordinary, and one day we would adopt. I became pregnant right after getting married (oops!) and again when baby Anton was six-months old (what was I thinking?!). After little Laith was born, we felt The Lord urging us to begin pursuing adoption in Africa. We fell in love with Ethiopia and brought baby Imani home nine months later. While we were in-country, we met six-year old Ezekiel and brought him home four months later. As we settled in as a family of six, we moved from San Antonio to Denver. We finally felt we could take a deep breath and relax when God suddenly made it clear that 13 year old Abreham was our son and we needed to bring him home. Then while we were waiting for his paperwork to be completed, God also made it clear Elsabet was to join our family as well! Seven houses, two cross-country moves, and six kids in eight years of marriage! Whew!
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
4:15/5:30am – Three days a week, I wake at 4:15 and head to Starbucks to work on my book and have quiet time, away from distractions around the house. The other mornings, I stay home and sleep in ’till 5:30 (I know haha, that’s SO not sleeping in) so Ben can do early morning workouts, while I have quiet time, do my devotions, and work on my blog before the kids all wake and the craziness begins!
6:00am the kids are up and getting ready and the school-day begins! I typically make (gluten free) muffins the night before or cook up bacon and eggs for breakfast.
By 9:30am all the kids are off at school, aside from baby Elsabet who goes down for a nap.
While she’s sleeping, I work around the house cleaning, doing laundry, returning emails, and am always in the middle of some sort of home-project (we are currently moving out of a house we’ve remodeled and into another that needs to be!).
11:00am – Elsabet and I have lunch together and run a few errands or head to the gym before picking up Imani at preschool.
2:00 – Then home again for afternoon naps and I’m often in the kitchen baking something yummy for the big-kids when they get home from school.
4:00pm – After all the kids are home, it’s homework time and then off to sports practice.
5:30 – During the school week, we do our best to all eat around the table together, but depending on what sport is that day will depend on if I do a crockpot dinner or not…we probably eat as a family 5 nights a week.
7:30 – Bedtime!! (a little later for the Bigs…but we’re taking advantage of the fact that Abreham (now 15) still hasn’t figured out that kids his age often stay up super late, haha…plus he loves his sleep).
8:00-9:00 – Ben and I clean up the house until about 9:00 and sit down for a show or read cuddled in bed together until 10:00. Thats when Ben wants to go to bed so we get enough rest for it to repeat all over the next day!
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4. What helps you stay organized?
I’ve found through the years that the more kids we have, the more organized I have to be! I know what you’re thinking… “ummm obviously.” but what I mean is there’s so much craziness, mess, and busyness around here these days that if things aren’t organized, put away, and streamlined, I have a bit of anxiety. It’s the perfectionist in me…something I’m working on, for sure. One thing that has been HUGE is actually implementing chores & creating a chore board for our kids. They know exactly what is expected of them and mornings have gone from me yelling at them to do this and that…to them simply referring to the board. After school it’s the same (though the little kids still need a little guidance)! They also know that by doing more around the house, there’s more time for mom and dad to actually play with them. Win-win!
This is a different type of organized, but we really try to organize our kids attitudes with sayings. One we use all. the. time is: “You can be mad, sad, or angry…but you may not be rude” (more on that here). We have tons of these sayings so our children know exactly what our expectations are and have a healthy way of learning as they grow.
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5. You often blog about your home, and your love for decorating. What tips do you have for making a family friendly home that is also beautiful?
I strive to have a home that’s playful yet grown-up: We use outdoor lights inside, book pages on the chandelier, and have a yellow front door. A bold chevron print is painted on on the fireplace and yet it somehow feels sophisticated paired with a beautiful white mantle full of gold lanterns and vintage books. We are home-people. Whatever home it is God has given us for the season we’re in (like I mentioned earlier, we’re on house number seven in eight years!).

One of the biggest things for Ben and I is our love of celebrating our family, so we try to have a home that reflects that. I always keep my eye open for party decor on clearance to toss into our Party Bins in the basement so we’re ready to throw a little party at a moments notice. It’s not just celebrating good grades…though we do that, too. If one of the kids learn to tie their shoes by themselves, we celebrate. A first good hit in baseball? Party! The first snow of the year or or simply because it’s a Wednesday? Get out the party hats. Breakfast parties are huge in our house. It doesn’t take more than decorating a kitchen table and hanging a few streamers for things to feel festive.

Anton & Laith (ages 6 & 7) are in a tiny room that wouldn’t even fit their dresser. So when we decided to take the doors off the closet to fit the large chest-of-drawers inside, I thought I’d add a little fun by painting the closet walls with chalkboard paint. The walls are now covered with notes from friends and family-members who love on and celebrate our boys.
Abreham and Ezekiel (ages 9 & 15) love running and are in 5k’s all the time. We have a place in their room to celebrate not the wins (though they often do), but instead a place for their bib numbers…similar to a memory wall, where we can celebrate their hard work and dedication, no matter what their finish time.
I believe it’s important to celebrate everything…even the seemingly typical or mundane. Because God is good and He’s given us another day with these amazing little guys…and I want mine to look back and think, “my mom was fun, and boy did she make me feel special.”
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6. What is the biggest thing God has been teaching you this year?
God has been teaching me so much lately. That things don’t have to be perfect all the time (must reads:confessions of a raging perfectionist and the nesting place) and that God’s timing IS perfect. I have a tendency to plan everything out and want things done yesterday. God doesn’t really like when I do that, haha. I’m learning that there’s so much beauty in the journey. So much to learn through it. I found this quote a few years ago and hold it close to my heart as we go through joy and rough times with our adopted kids and life in general…
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen. {Elizabeth Kubler Ross}
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What are your daily must have products?
 1. Besides, Jesus…coffee is my first thing of the day. My Nespresso machine is constantly humming, pouring and frothing me up the perfect lattes. The machine is so easy even my kids make them for me!
2. Ben used to have a job where we’d be spoiled and pampered at a conference every year. At one of the spas, I came across The Lip Slip by Sara Happ…the most luxurious lip gloss ever. I now order it on Amazon and feel pampered every time I smooth it on.
3. I’m a sucker for ambiance and the five senses so I always have mood music and lighting here at home: 3a. I love Pandora because it’s free and because I have every genre at my fingertips. If I’m fixing tacos for dinner, I’ll put on Gipsy Kings Radio or at the end of the day as I’m pouring a glass of wine, I’ll click on the Andrea Bocelli station. And sometimes we have dance parties to the High School Musical or Taylor Swift channels.
3b. I always have a candle burning, typically Pink Citron by Voluspa or something yummy from Anthropologie like the Capri Blue Iridescent Jar candle. There’s just something about a house that smells like Anthro.
3c. Ooh I almost forgot…fresh flowers! Every time we’re at Costco, the boys buy me a bouquet (of their choosing) as a treat for me. But I also often search the clearanced or “managers special” flowers at our local grocery store. If I time it right, I’ll find a beautiful bunch for $3.99 that looks just as fresh as others triple the price! And I always separate the flowers up into mason jars, candle holders, or even just water glasses from the cabinet. I rarely use a conventional vase. (and ahem… I’ve been known to carry said flowers from room to room, wherever I’m working. I never claim to be normal,
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