Sunday, November 28, 2010

Packing times Six...

I get a lot of random logistical questions when people find out that we have four children. The most recent topic has been packing since we are going on The Surprise Trip. We sometimes get a wild hair and drive down to Georgia for a long weekend on a whim so I've gotten quite efficient.

First, I keep running packing lists on my computer. I have several. One for when Brandon travels for work alone, one for when we travel as a couple, one for when we travel with our children, one for when the children travel without us and one for hospitalizations. Now I'm not reinventing the wheel for each trip.

This was an evolving project, I started with just a list for all of us together. But remember when I was hospitalized for preterm labor? We thought we were just going in for monitoring. Brandon ended up coming home and packing the children to go to our friend Nikki's house and packing things for our hospital stay.

I sat down and typed each list in check list fashion when I wasn't stressed. The key here is to not be in a hurry and stressed. Then I let it sit for a few days and looked at it with fresh eyes.

When we get ready to travel I print the list I need and make any event specific additions. (Master copies can also be found in a notebook I call "Mom's Brain.") I cross out things that don't apply such as a coat for a July trip to Georgia.

Next, I start my staging area. I lay out whatever suitcase(s) we are using and start to pack things in the suitcase. As I put items in the suitcase I put a check next to the item. I don't worry about packing them efficiently at first. This is just for collection.

As the trip gets closer, I grab my stash of 2 gallon ziploc bags. I buy them at the dollar store but can often reuse them. If children are going on the trip with us, I put four complete outfits in the ziploc bag- one for each child. This includes hair bows for the girls, socks, underwear, and clothing. That is one days worth of clothes. I do this for all the days.

This is an example of a bag I recently packed:

I also bag up our toiletries in these 2 gallon bags and pack one extra bag in case the toiletry bag doesn't last. When Brandon travels, he has his own toiletry bag that we leave partially stocked for his business trips.

Why bags you ask? Well... I apparently am the Master Outfitter in our home. Brandon becomes paralyzed when he looks though a suitcase to choose things for our children to wear. This way I can quickly set out a bag and jump in the shower, dry my hair, nurse the baby, or one of the other many things I do to get us ready and dressing can continue. It's amazing and works beautifully!

Also, with five people (excluding Solomon for now) rummaging through suitcases, things can get messy very, very quickly. Organization can become chaos in about 3 minutes flat.

Once I have collected everything, I sit down and put things in the suitcase more efficiently. For flying, I divide our clothing into at least 2 different suitcases. I used to work for a company that handled lost luggage claims so I'm very mindful of the possibility.

Then I tackle our "To Do List for Going Out of Town." More on that later!

How do you pack? I'm always looking for tips to improve the process.


PS: Please be in prayer for Brandon and I. We are discussing some long range goals and some future possibilities for our family. I'll share more as I can. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taking a Break...

We have company for Thanksgiving! My aunt has driven up from Georgia.

Here's a picture from breakfast this morning. Solomon isn't too sure he's supposed to be on top of the table.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Searching for Annalise

I've been quiet on the blog... things have been very fast paced around here. I'm not complaining when I say that, I'm stating the well... obvious! And I love every single second of it. All I've ever wanted to be since I was a little girl was a wife and mother. I can't imagine my life without Brandon and each one of my special blessings.

The call to adopt again has gotten stronger and stronger in my heart. I've read until I can quote facts and statistics. I've researched until the wee hours of the morning when I can barely hold my eyes open any longer. I've looked over photolists for waiting children so much that I can tell when they change the order or someone disappears. I can pick out the faces of children that are placed on the list as new additions. I've looked at several special needs and researched resources here in the Richmond area. We have amazing resources here!

Some nights I get a handful of hours of sleep before I get up to tend to the children we already have in our home. Some nights I'm laying in bed with my eyes closed but I never drift off... I pray for our Annalise often... now we just have to find her.

My dream last night had me so disoriented when I woke up. I had to walk through the house to check on the children.

In the dream, Brandon and I were walking down a long hallway. We could hear a little girl calling for us "Mama... Daddy?" over and over. Sometimes her voice was very loud and other times it was very muffled. Brandon and I walked down this corridor trying to open doors. Some doors opened easily, but our Annalise wasn't behind the door. Some of the doors opened and revealed another corridor with more doors. Some doors were locked. Still Annalise called to us. And we became more frantic the longer she called. We started running down the hall checking doors while we called out "Annalise!!! Talk to Mama and Daddy! Hang on, we are coming!"

I started crying out to God to show us where she was and finally the right door opened but the light was so bright we couldn't see her. And then I woke up, shaking and disturbed.

Brandon and I will continue to cry out to God, asking Him to show us where we can find our Annalise. In the meantime, we continue to save and earmark funds to bring our girlie home.

We are coming,