Thursday, September 26, 2013

For the Love of Being Organized...

There is not much more I love to do than organize! It is great stress relief and makes my heart so happy once it's done.  With four kids, our morning routine before school would be extremely difficult and there is no way that we would be on time anywhere if we weren't prepared.  

 I have learned that if I sacrifice just an hour extra on Sundays, it makes our week so much smoother. I (or Rusty) spend that hour making 13 sandwiches that we bag and then freeze. I make PB&J and meat and cheese sandwiches with mustard/mayo, place them in Ziploc bags and then FREEZE them for the WHOLE week...It is definitely more cost effective over the Smuckers sandwiches and I already have all the stuff out, so why not be time effective too! My kids have never made one comment about them tasting any different. My kids love them so much that they never ever eat at the school cafeteria. 
This is the assembly line...Paxton is the only one that is picky so on his meat sandwiches I put a P on the Ziploc in the freezer so I know which ones are his.

Then for the fruit - I pre-bag grapes with oranges and put them in a container in my fridge. My kids also eat apples (which I don't cut up), pre-cut cucumbers, and pre-bagged pickles. 

This is in my fridge...I wanted my kids to know these were not part of a regular snack, they are only for lunches.

Then I pre-bag chips (I do a variety) and cookies (variety here too) and keep them in bins in my pantry.

These are also off-limits snack buckets (only for lunches) that sit in the pantry. They are low enough that the kids can help:)

So everyday when the kids get home, they put there lunch boxes on the counter and while they do their reading, I grab all the things they need and re-fill the lunch box for the next day. So quick and so easy!

 Who doesn't love a random pic of a baby who has been organizing her moms purse and found the lipstick!

What are some of your time saving ideas for the school routine?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Blessed Journey

There are a few things I remember saying when Rusty and I first got married...I specifically remember saying that I wanted a big family, but any more than 4 kids was when it went from a cute little family to cargo van driving, home schooling, and mom clothes. Boy does God have a sense of humor. Now here I am documenting Rusty and I's journey to adoption and freedom from our own plan and doing our best to follow God's plan.

A couple of years ago I met Jen Coco who was on her way to get precious Molly from China.  I thought out loud at the time to Rusty as I lay on bedrest with Neeley, " I would do that", "I think that it is really awesome to be able to do that for a child"...I think if Rusty could have killed me with his eyes he did and he specifically said, "Yeah it's neat if you only have 2 or 3 kids." He also said "I am not against adoption, I am against 5 kids." That was the end of that discussion.

Throughout the next couple months to years we have met several other friends who have adopted and it grew to be something that I was more interested in and of course Rusty would have to listen. It was nothing more than a fun "what if".  But something started to change in my heart -  I thought about it a lot as though it was something that was a real possibility. But I had 4 children already and a husband who was not into it at ALL. So I did what everyone woman does, I nagged him to death about it! Rusty told me to stop and said that he would pray about it and see where it took him, AKA go away, stop talking about it, and maybe this crazy thing will go away.

We let it go and didn't talk about it for a few months. One day I sent Rusty a picture of a girl who was an orphan in the CPS system. He came home from work with a troubled heart and admitted that God too had placed something in his heart about orphans. He said that everywhere he looked and every scripture that he read was about our call to the orphans as Christians. He also said that the morning before when he was doing his quiet time that he prayed God would give him an answer. God had told him to read James because it was the lesson that we would be studying at church. He read James 1 and the last verse is, "Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Rusty said it was one of the times he felt like God was directly speaking to him.

For the next couple months we sought Scripture, prayer, and friends and family counsel. I remember something that Brenna Stull (coach mom/ how can you not LOVE her) said that really stuck with me.  "By adopting, you are demonstrating to your children that you believe EVERY word of the Bible and the call we have to take care of orphans." It was there that it hit Rusty and I that the most important thing in our lives is that our children love the Lord with all their hearts and be sold out, radical for God.  How can we turn our eyes to the millions of orphans that long for a mom and dad and TRUE love.

In the beginning the process was all about "saving a child" but now it is so much bigger for Rusty and I. We prayed long and hard about whether to stay domestic vs international. I have no real answer other than China felt right, required the least travel, and required Rusty and I to have BIG faith in our finances. I think that is the one of the biggest lessons for us...maybe one of the main reasons he has brought us here. We all try to be good stewards of our money...we certainly don't go spend $30,000ish dollars when we don't have it! I think for the first time I have let go of putting pressure, time lines, and expectations on God. Rusty and I truly understand what it means to trust God in our finances. Rusty calls it "sacrificial living"...we are trying!  He has called us here, he wants good for our family, and he will show us great and mighty things through this.

I think that the biggest thing that we have learned has been to realize the extreme love and sacrifice God has made for us from a real life prospective. We are already in love with this little boy and we don't even know him. Our whole family (even extended) is willing to leave/watch our kids while we travel to this foreign land, sacrifice money,and  help with us having 5 kids. It's absolutely crazy! God loves us so passionately that he took us in - so undeserving, so dirty, with our own special needs, with all the baggage...and loved us sooo unconditionally. He has adopted us as His own.  There is nothing special this boy is doing to earn our affections, he doesn't know us and we don't know him. Just like us and Christ. We can't make Him love us more. He even goes one step further to give us things he knows we love. Just like the moment that we find out who our boy is - Watch out orphanage for all the care packages. And don't think he won't have fun new clothes and shoes to wear when we get hold of him. Orphans and us are so much alike! God made the ultimate sacrifice for me...I think for the first time in my life through this adoption we are somewhat understanding of what this looks like in our life and the ultimate sacrifice that God made for us.

So when you see our crazy family, our "China boy" and our tired eyes, please know that the Cox family is on a journey! We don't know where God will lead us but we are loving being uncomfortable, being free, and learning about undeserving grace.

Aggieland a Bucket List Experience

This weekend was filled with such great memories. If you have never experienced a football game in Aggieland it should be on your bucket list! Rusty and I were so excited to show our kids a little slice of Heaven for ourselves. As we entered College Station,  Rusty played the Aggie War Hymn. I have so many great memories of college and it was so exciting to see the kids loving it and talking about the future when they get there.

Paxton bought into everything Aggie hook line and sinker. True to his over-analyzing self, he was already stressed about what grades he needed to get into school there and how many people get turned away every year. Mackey on the other hand decided that although she wants to take care of Reveille she will not be able to do so because she doesn't want to be in the corp (good choice Mackey, I don't think that is your thing). And Kirby was dressed so cute that all the sorority girls kept talking about her and of course she loved it! And Neeley...well Neeley was just Neeley...into everything.

We are so blessed to have the Wall Family live in College Station! We love you for more than a place to stay Tiff and Ben. We are already planning a baseball game and a girls soccer match. Thanks Aggieland for never disappointing!