Thursday, September 6, 2012

There are days...

when you don't need words.

When all it takes is a simple picture to make you realize the blessings of this life.

Today is one of those days...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homework Bliss!

So, I'm going to let you in on a little case you don't know me OR in case you do know me but have been living under a rock for years, let me just clue you in...

I have a sickness.

On most days, I like to think that it's a gift, but the simple fact is that it's probably more of a sickness than a gift. 

I heart decorating.

Wow, that hardly does it justice...


I love ALL things decorating!  I spend hours during summer break pouring through potterybarn, storage solutions, better homes and gardens or any other thing that remotely resembles a decorating magazine.  I dream of the day when my little universe will one day again collide with Disney World...I mean, IKEA; and I find walking down the aisles of TJ Maxx to be cathartic...I know, it's a problem...

However, when my decorating OCD collides with my Organizing OCD, you're all in for a real treat!

And so, today, in honor of 'Back To School', I present you with our tested and approved homework organization center!

Let me first take you in my time machine to visit my lovely kitchen 2 years ago when we moved in...

*Warning* The following image may be harmful to some viewers...

 Yup - there she is! Aint she prrrty!!  In all of her 1950's charm mixed with partial white cupboards, cherry wood wallpaper and a GINORMOUS cupboard shooting right out into the middle...oh, she was love at first sight!
But alas, the day came when we knew we needed to part ways with our lovely Blue Bertha so we slowly but surely made the changes that our crazy schedule and even crazier budget would allow...
And now we bring you to today...
Ignoring the obviously poor picture quality, our updated kitchen is a MUCH better fit for our family.  We shook it up a bit, moved a few cupboards and appliances around and were able to add in a nice long counter for me to cook on...but I had big plans for one area in particular...
Isn't that just lovely?? I'm ashamed to admit that I never even painted under that counter.  4 kids ya'll...4 kids, 1 husband, 1 full-time job and I didn't paint under the counter.  Judge me if you must...I can take it.                                                     
However, of all that I have yet to learn about raising a wild little brood, one thing I have figured out is that if you don't stay organized you'll be run over by the pack.  And so, last year I began assessing how we could best handle that horrible homework and school paperwork issue.  I thought of bins and strolled down the aisle of Target looking for them, but I kept running into the issue of counterspace to store them all.  I had already tried a hanging wall file system but once the kids got out of kindergarten, I seemed to have too much paperwork to neatly fit in those...
But then I came across this beauty (with the help of my amazing Mom-who also raised 4 kids!)
Yikes!  DUST!  Mental note...NEVER EVER take another picture of my house using the flash!  Another gentle reminder...this is a happy place - no judging.

And here you have the catalyst for our homework system that has revolutionized organization amongst my crazy little crew.  For the sale price of $22 at Target, I packed two of these puppies in my minivan and drove off.  I had a mission and I could feel the thrill!

Of course, a little assembly by the studly hubby and I watched as the shelves slid perfectly underneath my countertop...LIKE A GLOVE! (You can barely even see them in there)!  You can also NOT see the gorgeous unpainted wall behind!!

However, this would not do...we needed more organization and I needed aesthetically pleasing vibes.

I waited until Target had a sale on their large milk crates and then I scored 6 of them for $10 each. A little pricey for my taste, but SO worth the expense.  And then we were at this point...

SO CLOSE NOW!!  Can you feel it?  Of course; each child needed to know which cubby was theirs so I picked up a few adorable tags from- where else, (Target of course...small town you know...options are limited).

and then I made name labels from the templates over here at Better Homes and Gardens...

I simply taped the name labels to the back of the storebought tags and tied them onto the baskets.  With the extra two baskets, I used my templates again to create a 'junk' label and a 'school lunch' label to help with some overflow in those areas.

And, so was born our organizational bliss! 

Each day, I make sure the labels are switched to the side with the child's name on it.

When the kids come home, they simply empty the contents of their bag into their bin.  They then do their homework and once they are done they place it on top of their pile and flip their label so the name is no longer facing out. 

When I get home from work, all I have to do is look at each bin to see if any names are showing.

If I can see a name, I promptly scream and yell (just kidding) to find out why said child has not yet done their homework and left it for me to correct.  I can then go through the rest of their papers at my leisure (still wondering when that day will come)!

And there you have it!  Bliss in a basket!  And it makes my OCD heart VERY happy :)

 What 'Back To School' organizing have you been up to?  Let me know!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

September 1st.

I can hardly believe how quickly time flies!  One year ago today, I was sweating profusely, showering with a bucket and using more bug spray than any person should probably ever use (that may account for the slight twitch in my neck). 

The exact spot where we had met "Prince" (Asher) 2 years earlier
We were on the adventure of our lives (and oh what an adventure it was!)  Through major obstacles and intense emotions, we spent countless days in African Governmental offices and prayed more than I've ever prayed for our little Asher to actually be able to board the plane to come home with us.

Brothers from Day 1
On September 1st, 2011 the plane finally touched down in Atlanta, Georgia and, for the first time, I allowed myself to cry.  With the screeching of the tires and the dinging of the seatbelt sign, a reality finally hit me.  My African Prince was finally home and we were finally a family of 6.  We were on US soil, Asher was seated safely next to me, and he was officially a US Citizen.  After two and a half years of seeing his life pass me by through long distance pictures, I was finally holding his hand as we made a memory together.
The very moment the plane landed on US soil
And so, the months have passed by at Mach 5 speed and life has settled into the new norm of 4 children, crazy sports schedules, 2 full-time working parents, a crazy ministry schedule and the occasional, "GO TO YOUR ROOM" moment "Gee whiz, you're a great kid" moment!

The first time we ALL met
And this weekend we celebrate!

We celebrate that for exactly one year we have journeyed together and made memories we used to long to make.

We celebrate that for one year we have learned to read together, write together, play soccer together and put-hotsauce-on-everything-we-eat together! (Yes, I believe I just made that a verb of some sort)

We celebrate a little boy who has shot up 3 inches and grown out of two pairs of sneakers (well, maybe we don't celebrate that as much)!

And We celebrate that we no longer have to look to the sky and wonder if our little boy is safe...

But, above all else, we celebrate that we serve a God who is still in the business of miracles. 

A God who led us on a missions trip that changed our world and broke our hearts. 

A God who kept our little guy safe during terrifying raids and famines that I can't even begin to comprehend...

A God who broke down political barriers that were keeping us from being with our son...

And A God who knew at the beginning of time that our family would not be complete without the four precious gifts He has given us.

Thank you Lord for September 1st and thank you for the gift of family!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Allowing God To Reinvent Me...

Sometimes I feel like I've lost it...

Like it's a part of my being that I said goodbye to so long ago.

The things that used to come so easily to me, now seem buried so deep inside my soul that I'm not sure where to look to even dust them off. 

The truth is...I think I'm just scared to begin.

I used to have a simple life that I took for granted.  I spent my mornings at story hour with my kiddos or leading women's ministry at my church.  I created peanut butter and jelly lunch masterpieces and tucked my little ones away to nap land while I retreated to the world I had grown to love.

The world where I could express my soul.

The world where my words seemed to make sense of life and

The world where I felt like me.

I'm amazed when I look at the last time I wrote on this blog...over a year and a half ago.

Life has changed so much since the days of PB&J and blog posts that seemed to make sense...

Our home has moved

Our ministry life has taken on mach 5 speed

Our family has grown

Our roles have changed.

The days of playdates and new recipes were replaced with budget meetings, conference calls, PTA leading and fitting in the ministry that I loved around everything else.  The more my life took on this new role, the more the old Cyndie screamed to make sense of it.

Where am I?  Where is the crazy, stupid writer and speaker who made light of life's disappointments and took pictures of God's amazing provisions?

Well, it's time for some changes to take place.

I may not be able to control our circumstances or the way in which God has chosen to provide for our family so that we can serve Him in ministry...

I may not be able to control the way it feels to miss one of my precious kiddo's school events because I have a meeting I can't reschedule...

And, I may not be able to sneak away mid-afternoon to sip a coffee and script a bit of my heart on a page...

BUT, I can do something.

I can shed the fears and embrace the fact that life is no longer what it was. 

In all honesty, life is better. 

It's harder, It's chaotic, It's much more messy, It's tear filled, It's not always exactly how I would have planned it;

BUT, it's the center of God's Will.

And so, I am shedding the fears.  I will no longer give into the fear that God has taken away my gift of writing.  I will no longer worry if I can't post thoughts every day.  I will no longer allow Satan to deprive me of who God has made me to be. 

I am Cyndie.  I am a Wife.  I am a Mommy.  I am a Business Woman.   I am a Christ Follower and I am a Writer.

Today, I am allowing God to reinvent me.  No fears...both feet jumping right in...

It may not be the way it used to be...

but maybe...

just maybe...

It will be even better!