Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finding the Good

For someone whose natural inclinations are to be in control, care for her family, and care for her home, the last week has been completely out of my comfort zone.
After being sick for a few hours last Thursday evening, the sickness came back along with a great amount of abdominal pain late Friday evening. I spent several hours in the emergency room having blood work and tests done, which resulted in being told I need to have my appendix removed. I had the surgery Saturday morning and was back at home by noon on Sunday.

Before being discharged Sunday morning, the surgeon came in one last time with instructions and final thoughts on my surgery. His words “you should be back to 100% in 10 days to two weeks” were not what I expected to hear. Now, the only surgery I’ve ever had in my life was a tonsillectomy when I was three years old. I don’t remember much about that recovery except for ice cream and popscicles! I have heard enough stories from others to know, though, that I will need to follow the surgeon’s instructions or else I will be sorry.

As I’ve spent much of my days recovering in the recliner, I have had plenty of time to reflect on the events of the past week and to realize that even in the midst of unexpected adversity, I am truly extremely blessed:

• I have an incredible husband who has done an amazing job of being Dad, Mom, nursemaid and more. He has served me with such a willing servant’s heart, and I am so thankful for all he has done for me.

• I have two sweet, sweet kids who have been so thoughtful and kind to Mommy as I have been unable to do much of anything for them this week. They have helped me when I needed it with a smile on their faces and without complaining.

• I have an enormous and loving support system of friends and church family who have helped us this week by providing abundant meals each evening, helping to care for the kids, and doing anything else for us that might be needed.

• I was very fortunate with my surgery in that my appendix was not burst or perforated, and the surgeon was able to remove it laproscopically. It could have been so much worse and more complicated.

So even though I have not been in a position to do those things that I am normally used to doing and life has felt a little—no, a lot—out of control, God has reminded me Who is truly in control and has blessed my family and me beyond what we could have even asked under the circumstances.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Organizing Christmas

I'm always looking for better ways to be organized and efficient, and I think I've hit the jackpot in organizing my Christmas decorations!!  We store all of our Christmas decorations in plastic totes, and they sit on shelves in our garage.  To give you an idea of how many decorations we have, I'll confess that it takes about twenty plastic totes to store it all!  I have small collections of nativity sets and churches as well as decorations for practically every room in the house.  (I also store much of what we have in its original boxes, so that takes up a bit more space--but it also keeps things packaged safely so that when the time comes for us to move, we don't lose anything due to breakage.) We LOVE Christmas and obviously go all out with our decorating.  It's certainly not Southern Living-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but we do love spreading holiday cheer all over our home during Christmas!!

With that many decorations, it easy to see how the process of decorating and undecorating could be pretty overwhelming and stressful--especially when you are a recovering perfectionist to boot!  Last year I decided to get really organized with storing my decorations in order to make the process easier and more enjoyable (after all, who wants to be stressed out over decorating for Christmas?).  Here's what I used:
  • plastic totes (Use the normal sized ones and not the extra super large--I learned that lesson the hard way.  The extra super large ones are impossible to carry once filled!!)
  • clear packing tape
  • index cards
  • paper and pen/marker
I began packing up the totes in a room by room or area by area manner, rather than willy-nilly pack-it-however-it-will-fit-in-the-tote, as I had done in years past.  As I packed a tote, I also noted on an index card what all was going into that tote.  Once the tote was packed and everything noted on the card, I labeled the tote and the card.  I used "C-A", "C-B", "C-C", "C-D" etc.--the "C" designating it as Christmas (because this is also how I store other decorations, paper goods, etc, that I don't have room for in the house and therefore must be stored in the garage, and I don't want to get the different totes mixed up), and then the A, B, C just as my method of labeling.  You could also use numbers if you'd rather (I use numbers instead of letters for the boxes of income tax records and other financial records that I have to keep stored.)  In the top right-hand corner of the index card, I would write "C-A", and then on two pieces of paper, I would write "C-A".  The two pieces of paper then would be taped to two sides of the totes--on one end and on one side, so that no matter which way the tote sat on the shelf, I would be able to see the label.  Here's what the finished product looks like:

Tote with labels on side and end, and index card labeled in same manner with contents noted on it.

Close-up of index card

Finished produce on shelves in garage (you can also see the brown u-haul storage box with the "1" on it--that is box #1 containing financial files...which also has an index card in my file that notes exactly what's in there!)  You will notice that the boxes are not placed on the shelves in alphabetical order.  My sweet husband is the lucky one who gets to haul everything to the garage and get it put on the shelves.  I don't stand there demanding that they go in alphabetical order--but you can if you want!  :o)

Once you are finished with the process, you will need a place to keep all of the index cards.  I keep mine in a plain file box along with the index cards for the boxes of financial records I have stored and for the other totes of "stuff" that I have stored.  That way they are all in one place and easy to find.

The process is a bit time-consuming to set up, but it's oh-so-worth-it in the end.  When I was decorating right after Thanksgiving, it was so easy to get out one tote at a time and know exactly what was in it and where I wanted it to go.  For instance, I wanted to start out with the mantel and living room area.  So I pulled out my index cards and flipped through them until I found which totes had those particular decorations.  And since I packed things up last year in order by where those particular decorations go, I was able to bring in one tote that held everything for the mantel.  That was so much better than having to bring in 12 different totes all at once and having to search through them to find what I needed.  It simplified the decorating process by making it less stressful, less messy, and much more efficient.

The putting away process has been much easier this year as well.  I haven't had to guess at what goes in which tote.  I've just pulled out my cards, started with one tote, found everything that belonged in it, packed it up, and then moved on to the next tote.

If you are needing some organization help for your Christmas decorations, I hope you find this beneficial!  And if it's clear as mud and you need some clarification, just leave me a comment and I'll do my best to make it more clear!!