To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Time to Spend the Evening Together

God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to
 enjoy the light of life. ~Job 33:28

The kids are tucked away in their beds, fast asleep. This is always a welcome time for Ben and I...we finally get to spend some time together. We do different things but tonight is a night unlike any other. As I finish up wrapping gifts 

This is what Ben is doing
I don't know if you can tell but there
are waffles in the iron and pancakes
on the griddle!
Do I really need to say anymore?

A Time for Snow

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be
 whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7

We finally had our first snow of the season. Everyone is excited to be outside sledding...if you can call it that. It is more like sliding on leaves as there isn't enough snow to cover the ground but the kids are having a blast. I'm really excited about the possibility of a White Christmas. After that if we don't get another flake of snow that will be alright by me! We hope that you all have a Merry Christmas. Spending time with family, exchanging gifts, lots of food & singing, beautiful trees and lights. All these things are a wonderful part of the holiday season. But we would encourage you to take time during your celebrating to think about why it is we celebrate and what Christs birth signifies for you. For us, we remember that the babe in the manager, our Saviour, was born to die. It's such a special time of year and we trust that as we find our way into the New Year that each and every one of you would discover the peace from God that passes all understanding! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Time for Christmas Parties

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a 
buckler to all those that trust in him. ~Psalm 18:30

Jan is on the left
Yesterday we had our Ladies Missionary Group Christmas Party. This is something we do each year and I think all the ladies really look forward to it. Each year I have to find someone who is willing to give a devotional. Not as easy a task as you might think, as many ladies don't feel comfortable serving in this way. This year my dear friend, Jan, came to me and told me she had something on her heart so if I hadn't found anyone else she'd be willing. This is a friend who has been such a blessing to me in the short amount of time I've known her. She is a lady who loves the Lord, studies his word, and is full of wisdom. She's also one of the most talented ladies I know! All the decorations you see were done by her and her mom...aren't these quilts amazing!?
Kathy arrives-another remarkable
woman in my life!
Her devotional was about "Being in God's Way". She highlighted 6 people who were around during the time of Jesus' birth and the blessing they would have missed out on had they not been willing to "be in God's way". When she spoke about the shepherds, I really started thinking. The angel of the Lord comes to the Shepherds who are tending their sheep and tells them that the Savior of the world is born and where they can find him. She pointed out to us that they didn't question whether or not they would lose their jobs if they left the flock and went to Bethlehem to see Jesus. They didn't hesitate about whether or not they should go. They knew that God had sent them the message from the angel for a reason and that they NEEDED to go see Jesus. It really made me stop and think about my own life. I really feel like I allow myself to be in "God's way" praying about His will being done in my life and being obedient to His word. But do I hesitate when I hear God asking me to do something that doesn't make sense to me? Am I willing to go, without hesitation or thought of what might happen, when God says, "go"? I can't say that I have an answer to this yet. It's still something that I need to pray about and allow God to show me in time. Both Ben and I are cautious people. We don't tend to make hasty decisions that lack thought. We're not impulsive when it comes to big things like jobs, major purchases or decisions regarding our kids. We take our time to think things out, weigh all options, pray, pray, pray and pray some more. While I believe this is a benefit to us and has prevented us from making big mistakes I also feel that maybe at times it has prevented God from doing even better things in our lives then He already has! My sister-in-law made a comment to me a little while back that really stuck with me. She said, "we expect our kids to obey right away, the first time yet do we do that with God?" And it's so true. I do expect my kids to obey right away, all the way and with a happy heart but do I do the same when it comes to MY Father and what he is asking me to do? There was so much in her devotional to think about and am so thankful she allowed God to use her in this way.
Sue taking Jackie's gift
Then we had our traditional Yankee Swap. This is always a fun time and it's so funny to see the ladies personalities come out when playing this game. We have one lady, Denise, (who couldn't be there last night) who just loves this game and will make it quite clear which gift she likes and make you feel really guilty if you even think of taking it from her, haha! You have some who are just content to keep what they chose and don't need the distraction of other options. You have some like me who don't feel bad at all, I mean, that IS the point of the game isn't it?? Then you have a dear kind soul, like Sue, who gets the number 1 and is allowed to go around after all the gifts are opened and choose whichever one she'd like. She knows what she likes but feels bad taking it away from the person so she kindly says, "will it break your heart if I take this from you?". Who could say yes to that? Well...Denise could!
Jan's beautiful creations!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Time for Traditions

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye 
have been taught...~2Thes.2:15

I love traditions. There is a sense of nostalgia about traditions that just gives me a good feeling when I think about them. I didn't really grow up with a lot of traditions. My husband, however, did and so since they mean so much to him we've adopted some of them for our own family and come up with a few of our own. I hope that when my kids are older some of these things that we're doing to make occasions special and memorable will stay with them.
Each Thanksgiving we spend with Ben's family we like to try and set aside a time to meditate on God's word and remember all that He has done for us and all we have to be thankful for. This year, we wanted something that would get the kids involved since some of them were old enough to participate. I found a tree made of card stock online and made some leaves. This would be our "Thankfulness Tree". Each of the kids decorated leaves and we all took one and wrote what we were thankful for this year. Then we went around and shared with everyone and put the leaf on the tree. I think everyone really enjoyed it and I believe this will become one of my families new Thanksgiving traditions. 

One of Ben's Christmas traditions is decorating sugar cookies. Each year his mom would make a bunch and they'd all ice them and decorate them together. I never did this until I married into the family. It's so much fun and the kids just love it. It was a little early to do it at Thanksgiving but we had most of the cousins and siblings together so I thought it would be a fun activity for "Black Friday". As you can see, everyone had a great time!
Then there's the Christmas tree! Growing up we were NOT allowed to help decorate the tree. But, we did have our own little tree in the basement that we were allowed to decorate ourselves with all the old and hand-made ornaments. When I've told this story to people who were allowed to help with the tree they often gasp and think what a horrible thing this was and how sad it must have made us. Really it didn't. We didn't know anything different plus we got the colored lights!!! Now as a grown-up I see where my mom was coming from. It is a tad bit annoying to have so many little hands around trying to touch everything, begging for colored lights (which now I hate!) and just not understanding the system! BUT...I also know how special these times are. The memories we make with them now will last a lifetime and them having memories of helping with the tree far outweighs any memory I'll have of the perfect looking tree. So, while I still can't bring myself to allow just any ornament on the tree, I do let them put the "acceptable" ones on wherever they want! Even if I have two of the exact same snowflakes right next to each other! This is progress for me folks! This year I only had the older two boys to help me as the younger ones are off making memories with Matante Tina, Uncle Adam & their cousins. I hope you and your families have traditions that make the holidays special for you. I'd love to hear what they are...who knows, I may like it so much that I'll start doing it myself! 
Despite the look on their faces, I think they had fun!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Time for Rocks

A foolish son is a grief to his father...~Prov.17:25

You know, sometimes finding something to write about on this blog takes some thought. Other times, the material just falls into your lap without even trying.

At approx. 1:30pm Ben received a phone call from the school, informing him that Noah had a rock stuck in his ear. But don't worry, he wasn't in any pain. Seriously??!! At first we thought Noah would need to be taken to the ER to have this taken care of because that is what the school was telling us. Once Ben saw Noah, and could see the rock in his ear, he decided to try and do it himself.

 Noah understands now that putting rocks in our ears is just plain foolish, no matter how fun it seems!

A Time For An Update Part II

Delight  thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. ~ Psalm 37:4-5

The kids listening to Daddy tell a
Bible story.
Everyone has different desires in their hearts. I could possibly be the only one who has spent so much time in prayer hoping the Lord would take away our bed wetting woes! As I've shared before, it has been a long year in this area. He wets through pull-ups and the re-usable, washable kind meaning he requires a bath and sheet change EVERY MORNING. We've tried everything. Every trick, every product and nothing has worked. The alarm I would recommend for parents whose children are light sleepers but he would sleep right through it. We'd have to go in and turn it off for him and bring him to the that point he no longer needed to pee. So after talking to the pediatrician, she confirmed that he does, in fact, have Enuresis and he is now on medication. He's been taking it for 3 nights now and has been completely dry. We are all so excited and I'm finally caught up on laundry. She said that every child is different as to when this stops so we'll do this for awhile then stop the medication and see if his body is ready to stay dry at night. For now, this is a tremendous blessing and I'm so thankful the Lord has answered this prayer.
I forgot to mention in my previous blog that we also had a nice visit from Ben's uncle Phil. This was his first time coming down to visit us and the boys really enjoyed it. Ben and the boys took him on a walk in the woods and they found feathers. Ben and Uncle Phil say they are Hawk feathers but I think it's more likely they are Turkey feathers. Whatever they are, the boys thought they were very cool so when they got home we made them headbands and gave them all Indian (or Native American, whichever you prefer) names. 

Yes, that's chocolate on
Gabe's face!
We were recently at BJ's (shocker, I know!) and Ben saw Gingerbread House kits. He may have had a coupon for this, I don't remember. He and I both had never made gingerbread houses that we could remember so we bought one for the boys. These are a lot harder then they seem and it's nearly impossible to make them look like they do on the package. I think Gabe had the most fun. He spent the whole time eating the decorations. He loves food and can smell it from a mile away. He can hear the sounds of jars, bags and packages being opened no matter how noisy it is in the house. It was a challenge to do this project with him because we were always telling him to stop eating! :) I guess it is a pretty big temptation to expect a 3-year-old to resist!
Gabe is coming off his sugar high!

        We couldn't get the walls to stay up and the whole thing collapsed. It was yummy to eat though and a fun time.

I also promised a picture of Noah wearing his glasses. He is still loving the fact that he needs them and taking good care of them. Owen is now convinced that he can no longer see and needs to get glasses!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Time to Update!

But Martha was cumbered about much serving...Luke 10:40

Well lately I feel so much like Martha and not so much like Mary! October proved to be an incredibly busy month for us and November is turning out to be also. Every year Ben and I finally find a moment to sit down and assess our calendar and see what we can eliminate and each time we do this it's the month of Oct!! For some reason fall is so busy for us and it's usually with things we need to be doing or feel the Lord leading us to do. Then after the holidays things slow down and we are able to catch our breath. I've struggled with finding adequate time to study God's word...not just read it and go, but really study it. Hence, my Martha-like feelings. 

Our computer started giving us trouble at the end of Sept. It kept kicking us off the internet after 5 mins. or so. Everything else worked fine. Not really having time to really figure out the problem (or enough knowledge about computers) we decided to swap the hard drives. A friend had given us her old computer and the hard drive worked perfect...only problem is there is no Word program or any sound. I didn't realize how much I relied on Word or sound on my computer until I was without it! :) I also have misplaced one of my most valued camera. I'm just praying it's in the house somewhere. :( So many pictures from our Oct. adventures are on there and have not yet been downloaded including pictures from Will's 2nd birthday!

Our Sweet Will turned 2 in October. His most favorite gift was from my sister, Jenny. I had asked her for the book Corduroy and it came with a little stuffed Corduroy bear. He LOVES this bear and now carries it around with him everywhere and sleeps with it. I think the days of "pig-pig" are gone...they were really gone the day he lost the original pig-pig. He just couldn't bond with the new pig-pig, which was identical, but apparently not the same! 

Jena is now 6 months! It doesn't seem possible, the time has just gone by so fast. She is still the most happy baby. She sleeps 12 hours at night and naps great during the day. We are so blessed. She is refusing to eat solid foods, which at first concerned me. After her Dr. visit last week where I found out she is in the 60% for weight and 25% for height, I'm no longer concerned! The pediatrician said this happens and to not worry about it. She now gets up on her knees and rocks back and forth so I'm thinking any day now she'll be crawling. I'm in no hurry as I like my babies stationary as long as possible. :) She loves being in the jumper and swing.

Gabe keeps life interesting as always. He's still full of energy and cannot be trusted alone for very long. When I said, "Gabe you can draw at the table quietly while I clean the bathroom", this happened :
Then when I said, "Gabe I need you to sit at the table quietly while I finish doing the dishes", this happened to my neatly piled stack of napkins:I guess I need to re-think leaving Gabe alone at the table!

We also celebrated Ben's birthday recently. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted me to make I expected him to say one from a store since I am HORRIBLE at making cakes. No, instead, he wanted me to make Kathy's chocolate cake. So I got the recipe from Kathy and just prayed it would turn out. And it did! Ben's favorite birthday gifts were from Joyce & Dave. Ladder Ball and Washers! We haven't stopped playing these games since.

I recently went to Parent/Teacher conferences with Noah and Owen's teachers. Both are doing great in school. Owen's teacher said he has adjusted great to kindergarten, is making good friends, and really wanting to learn. She thinks he is a fantastic artist. Noah continues to do well. His teacher says he is a friend to everyone, which really makes us so happy. She said he is so kind and thoughtful and doing really well academically. Noah also just got glasses!!! He is so cute in them too and so excited about them. I'm thinking the novelty of them will wear off and in time he'll grow to not like them just like the rest of us who have to wear glasses. He only needs them for reading and it's only for one eye. He's been doing great keeping them in his case when he's not wearing them. When I think to take a picture of him wearing them I'll post one.

That's pretty much the highlights of what's been going on around here! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Time for Anniversaries

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord ~ Gen. 6:8

Going into surgery
I keep a memory box for each of the kids. In it I put whatever I think will be fun to see again when they're older. A little bit of baby things, a little bit of art, etc. The other night I was putting something in Owen's box when the boys asked me what that red one was. I took it down and showed it to them. It's Noah's memory box from his open-heart surgery. He was only 3 when he had it and next Weds. marks 3 years since he had to have it. I've never gone through this with him before and realized, now that he's reading, I should take some time and let him read all the cards and letters people sent him during this time. I pulled one email out that we had received from Pepere. I read one line and burst into tears and had to stop. You would think that something that happened so long ago would not affect me so much anymore but it still does. I keep asking myself why. I mean, he's fine now, totally fine!
Noah after surgery
When each of our babies is born, Ben and I pray and give them to God. We know that, really, they belong to Him. God has given them to us as a gift, to raise for Him, until He decides he wants them back. We are not guaranteed to have our children for the entirety of our lives...some of you know that reality all too well. It's so easy to believe you have given your child to the Lord until He brings you through something that makes you realize you really hadn't. That is what this trial did for me. God was showing me that I needed to let go and trust Him to care for my children. God had to bring me here to show me how weak and helpless I really am to protect my children. Definitely there are things He wants us as parents to be doing as far as raising these children He has given us. But ultimately, HE is in control and HE is the one who will take care of them. It was such a hard lesson to learn. To realize that I really hadn't given my kids over to God. I would give them, then take them back. The months leading up to Noah's suregery I had to get to a point where I could accept the worst. I had to be able to say, "Lord if it's your will for Noah to die that's ok. I give him to you". I had to be prepared for anything and I had to know that whatever God's will for Noah's life was, I could still love Him and trust that He only wants good for us. And what a gracious God I serve. Not only has He allowed us to keep Noah, there was so much peace the day of the surgery in my heart. Of course I was a little scared, of course I cried...I'm human after all. But God's word was so comforting. And He gave Ben and I two special friends who were there with us the whole time in the waiting room. These two people are so precious to us and they were exactly what we needed that day. God was providing for us what we didn't even realize we needed. Early on Ben claimed the verse above. And God answered...Noah did find grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Ben prays with Noah
I think the moment we saw Noah for the first time was the hardest point for me. God had one test left. Do you really trust ME. Noah was in the room straight ahead as we walked into the PICU. Normally the surgeon would meet you at the door, explain to you what to expect, how the surgery went and then bring you to your child. He was on the phone so we had no idea what to expect. All of a sudden we see him, tied to the bed, yelling out, "mommy help me, it hurts." Any parent reading this knows the pain in our hearts at that moment and even now thinking about it. Then Ben passes out! The rock that I was depending on to get me through seeing my child for the first time after the surgery had just crumbled and I was alone? No, I wasn't. God was there reminding me that HE is all I needed in that moment. HE was going to carry me through this. I had a decision to make. I could feel sorry for myself that I was alone and there wasn't anyone there to take care of me or I could turn my eyes upon Jesus and believe that HE was there to take care of me. So I left my husband on the ground (I really did) while the nurses took care of him and went to my baby. Ben quickly came to...passed out again upon seeing Noah and then was asked not to return to the PICU for a few hours! I don't say this to embarrass Ben at all. I really think God used that to show me how to rely on Him and Him alone.

Noah in better spirits!
Noah came through the surgery just fine, praise the Lord! His cardiologist said it is amazing how well the surgeon was able to repair the hole, given how large it was. She said looking at his heart now you would never know that he had ever had a problem. Only God can do that! The recovery period was incredible...he was up and playing just days after. He had limitations of course but not as long as you would expect. God was so good to Noah throughout all this and we just continue to praise Him for that and thank Him for each day he gives us with Noah.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Time for Bisquick

 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither
poverty or riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
                       ~Prov. 30:8

 Yes, you read that right, Bisquick! We have enough Bisquick in this house to last us 5 years! I'm not even a big fan of the stuff and am still not really sure how we ended up with so much of it. It definitely has something to do with my husbands recent addiction to BJ's and coupons that can be used at BJ's. I don't remember exactly, but there must have been some really good deal on Bisquick and now I'm left to try and figure out what to do with it all. There's only so many pancakes and waffles you can make. Usually when we cook pancakes or waffles we make several batches and freeze them. I'm not a fan of making pot pie with Bisquick and I never think to make biscuits with it. This morning I found myself with a lot of apples that needed to be consumed soon! I decided it was a good day for baking and since I was already making banana bread, why not one more thing. I came across a recipe for Apple Coffee Cake. As I'm reading down the ingredients I find that it calls for BISQUICK...and lots of it! It was hard to contain my excitement. It has 3 steps to it but it's really very easy and calls for common ingredients that everyone has in their pantry....except maybe the Bisquick.

Apple Coffee Cake (from Betty Crocker)
Streusel Topping (below)
2 C Original Bisquick
2/3 C milk
3 Tb. sugar
1 lg. egg
2 medium cooking apples (2 cups), peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tb. chopped nuts (I did not add)
Glaze (below)

1. Heat oven to 400. Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 9X9, with shortening.*
2. Make streusel topping; set aside.

Streusel Topping
2/3 C Original Bisquick
2/3 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 C firm butter or stick margarine
Mix Bisquick, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter, using pastry blender until mix is crumbly.

3. Stir Bisquick, milk, sugar and egg until blended; beat vigorously 30 secs. Spread half of the batter in pan. Arrange apple slices on batter; sprinkle with half of the streusel topping. Spread remaining batter over apple slices; sprinkle with remaining topping. Sprinkle with nuts.
4. Bake 20-25 mins. or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 20 mins. in pan on wire rack. Drizzle with glaze.

1/2 C powdered sugar
2-3 tsp. milk

* I made a double recipe and put into a 13X9 pan and cooked for 30mins.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Time to be Reminded

Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. ~Psalm 63:7

What would I do without God's word to comfort me? What would I do without good friends who bring me to God's word and remind me He is there to take care of me? There isn't anything I'm going through that God doesn't understand, even if those around me don't understand. It's hard for me to rely only on God. I seem to want so badly for those around me, particularly those in my home, to understand exactly what I'm going through and be moved to compassion. This is my self-centered nature coming out. My pride is wounded as I write this but I also think it's necessary for others to know that, though it seems like I have it all under control, I have days where I really struggle. Satan knows when I'm weak...he is after all a "roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour" is he not? The past few weeks have been challenging for me. It's that way when you have kids. Just when you think you've conquered one hurdle...another one appears. It's never ending and in our house, there isn't usually a break in between challenges!

We have two children who are really fighting nap time. I find all my kids around 2 years of age tried to do this yet I always forget its coming! One of them likes to scream at the top of his lungs and one is convinced that he doesn't need sleep-ever! So the 2hrs in the afternoon I'm used to having to get things done is being very rudely interruped!  I also have one boy who still does not stay dry at night. He pees through everything, which means a bath and sheet change each morning. My husband says its a good thing its me dealing with the bed-wetting issue and not him...I say it probably is. I'm at the point now where the only thing I can do is laugh. This is advice a good friend, who also has 5 kids, gave me. She said sometimes you just need to laugh at things, otherwise you'll always be crying! Don't get me wrong. Each morning my inner rage wants to burst out screaming...but thankfully, the Lord helps me get my emotions under control, and we press on. My husband and I were talking about this one day and he says half-joking, "oh yeah, Lord, thank you for this!" We know the Bible tells us to give thanks in all things (1Th.5:18) but sometimes this is a hard thing to practice. After giving it some thought I said, "well, I guess I am thankful that it's pee and not poop." And I am! We also have one resisting potty training like nobody's business keeping us with 3 in diapers and 2 little boys who are constantly fighting over everything! There is never a dull moment in this house and all these "little" things keep me very busy but also very weary. Someone has to train these children how to play well together, how to use the toilet, how to obey, how to be responsible,how to love God and his word, how to exhibit fruits of the spirit, etc. and that someone is me. If I forget to go to God's word for encouragement and refueling each morning then my day is going to go very badly! I need to be reminded that God loves me (1Jn 4:10) and wants to take care of me (1Pe.5:7). I need to be reminded that I am to lay my burdens at his feet and not carry the weight of them myself. (Ps 55:22) I need to be reminded that it's in His strength, not my own, I get by. (Phil 4:13). I also need to be reminded that God gave me my children as a gift and its my responsibility to do all these things. (Prov.22:6)
Recently someone said to me, "God must have made you a special kind of person to do all that you do". As nice and encouraging as that comment was to hear, I really don't think there is anything special about me. I'm human just like everyone else and most of the time I wonder what God was thinking trusting me with so much responsibility! The only thing that sustains me, the only thing that gets me by, is my faith in God. It's that simple. Yes I have an amazing husband and we make a great team. Without him I would be lost. But God ultimately is the one I need to lean on because even my amazing husband will fail me. Just like I fail him at times. So anytime you are wondering how we do it the simple answer is because of God. If ever you wonder how YOU do it...remember it's only because of God. He gets all the credit and the glory in my heart and I hope it's that way in your heart too!
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. ~ Rom.16:27

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Time for Baby Favorites

Nobody likes spending money on a product that they are going to regret. That's why I love when people make suggestions to me on things they have purchased that they love. Even if I can't use it, it might make a nice gift for someone one day. I have my own list of personal favorites when it comes to baby items. We've spent so much money on things that, had we known we wouldn't have used or liked we wouldn't have bought. A swing is one of these things. Many people love baby swings and say their babies love them also. None of my babies liked the swing. By the third baby I finally gave it away because it was just taking up space. So while this list has been a great list of products for me, it might not be for you. If you have any favorites, please feel free to let us all know!

Melissa's List of Favorite Baby Items

1. Gripe Water. No nursery should be without it. I was introduced to it with baby #2 and love it! It helps with digestion, colic, gas, hiccups, acid reflux, etc. You can also buy a Numimed pacifier to dispense it with on this site and I highly recommend that too.

2. White Noise Machine. In a busy house like ours the phrase, "be quiet the baby is sleeping", is non-effective. These noise machines have been so worth the money since we have light sleepers! I use Marpac Sleepmates.

3. Lavendar Baby Wash. You have to like the smell of lavendar to use this. I love everything about lavendar. You can find a variety of brands from giant superstore brand to organic and natural brands. I have been using one put out by Bee-ewe-tiful Baby. It's a Maine based company, which is a plus!

4. Lullaby CD. Since Noah was a baby the one we have used and really love is one done by Bob Carlisle called Butterfly Kisses & Bedtime Prayers. It's so pretty and soothing.

5. Huggies Wipes. They are durable and just about the same price as store brands, especially if you have coupons. I hate feeling like my hand is going to tear through the wipe at any moment and with Huggies you don't get this feeling!

6. Double Stroller. Anyone who has children close in age (2 years or under) should own one of these...if you like to leave the house once and awhile!  I never leave home without mine. We wore through the first one and are now onto our second one. Many will recommend a jogger stroller but since I don't have any desire to go out jogging with 3 kids following beside me and pushing 2 more in a stroller, I go for the Graco Quatro Tour. It meets my needs, it's narrow (for a double stroller) to fit between aisles in stores and has a large basket underneath to put quite a few items. There's also a  lot of patterns you can choose from.

7. Playtex Sippy Cups. There's lots of debate on this one too. I heard rave reviews about the Nalgene ones so I bought a couple. I was told that the kid could pretty much do anything to it and the stopper wouldn't come out. This has not been the case for me. The only sippy cups I own where this does not happen are my Playtex ones. I've always thought they were the best and I continue to think this. Believe me, we've gone through a lot of sippy cups over the years!

8. Pack n Play (play yards). I don't think I've put mine away in 6 years! We've always had two actually since I always have two in cribs. When we travel they come with us but I also use them as a safe place for the baby to play during the day. It's especially helpful to train them to have "pack n play" time when they start crawling. It allows you to get a task or two done, knowing the baby is safe. The most I can usually get is 30-45mins. but it's so worth it!  I think it's helpful also, to have your child sleep in the pack n play at home once in awhile to get them used to sleeping in it. That way when you have to travel or leave your child with grandma, they are already used to it. It makes going somewhere much easier and more enjoyable.

10. Etsy. This is my new favorite addiction. There are so many cool things on this site. And many of the products are really affordable. From hair accessories for babies to hats, burp cloths, bibs, etc. There is something for everyone. I have been buying a lot of my baby & kid gifts from this site because you can find something different that you can't find in stores locally. If I had any talent at all, I'd make stuff myself, but since God did not give me any of these abilities, I thank him for leading me to Etsy!

11. MD Moms Baby Silk. These products were created by pediatrician moms and is all natural. I especially love the liquid baby powder and the sunscreen towelettes. We all know how hard it is to put sunsreen on a squirmy baby and these towelettes make the job so much easier! You can cover a 2-year-old from head to toe with one towelette.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Time to Learn a Few Things

The oak tree had awesome acorns, very
different from the ones we have on our
trees. I had the kids find some to bring
Let all things be done decently and in order. ~1 Cor.14:40

Have you ever had one of those days where you just can't seem to get it right? Like showing up to a birthday party a week early? That happened to us. Normally something like that wouldn't be a big deal. But when you have 3 kids you have to wake up early from naps, pack a diaper bag, load everyone into the car on a Sunday afternoon after's a big deal! Not to mention it was a surprise. Thankfully the birthday girl was not home so we didn't ruin anything. Now the time comes to make a decision. Come up with something fun to do with the kids since we're all out anyway or head home and deal with some cranky, sleep deprived children. We chose to do something fun. We decided we'd find a park or walking trail to take them to. First Ben decided we should stop at Rite Aid a get the kids a snack. He goes in. I inform my questioning children that yes, daddy went in to buy them candy. He comes out empty handed. He tells me that he has to pee and the line is too long and there's no bathroom in there. Sorry kids, daddy has to potty first. Onto the 7/11 down the road. Owen has to pee too so we decide all potty trained children must get out and go in with daddy. It took 10 minutes to get everyone out of the car and 2 minutes to find out this place had no bathroom either. Everyone get back in. Onto Subway. 30 minutes later all have used the bathroom and instead of candy, cookies. Now to find a trail. On the way I hear this conversation:

Owen: "We are going to a lot of places aren't we, Noah?"
Noah: "yup"
Owen: "First we went to Mrs. E's house, then left. Then another place, then left. Then another place, then left. I wonder where we are going now?"
Noah: "I don't know. Just don't worry about it."

 We drive around and decide to take them to the walking trails in Sanford/Springvale. Trying to find a parking spot we see a group of teens & man-children dressed up like medeval soldiers pretending to be in some sort of battle I guess...I've never seen anything like this. The kids can't believe it...this is like the coolest thing ever to them. So we park and find a spot on the hill above them and watch. Thankfully we're used to days like this so there's always a blanket in the back of the truck to sit on. We munch on cookies and watch this very weird and poorly reconstructed rennaissance scene underneath the most beautiful oak tree. We conclude that this is a very cool place we'll be coming too again...only next time more prepared and not when it's about to rain!

All in all it was a good day. I learned it's probably in the best interest of my family that I make sure I have the right date to things we are invited to. That it's best to not tell the kids daddy is buying them candy without first making sure daddy has gone potty. That some people have way too much time on their hands and I need to have my camera on me at all times to prove this statement. Subway cookies are really good. Not all oak trees have the same kind of acorns. My family is so much fun to be with!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Time for a Little Girl

Thou has given him his heart's desire, and has not
withheld the request of his lips. ~Psalm 21:2

"What is the difference between having a boy and a girl?" This is a question I get asked a lot. I'm sure it's because after having 4 boys people expect me to have a long list of differences. I don't though. Is that weird? So far, a baby is a baby, regardless of gender. She is fragile like the boys were. She has the same needs they had and she acts like they did. Jena is very strong. All our babies have been. I guess that's one of the reasons I never had a problem letting them sleep on thier stomachs-yup, I said it! Our babies hated to sleep on thier backs. All they would do is cry. But flip them over and they slept great. They also all came home from the hospital being able to hold thier heads up and turn it side to side. One of her favorite things to do right now is be on her stomach on a blanket on the floor. This is the best way for her to observe her brothers. She loves watching them play. When they start getting extra excited and running around you can see her little legs start to kick like crazy. Ben says she's ready to join them. The only problem is that there isn't a blanket big enough to contain her. In about 3 seconds she is off and onto the hardwood floor. That's ok. In a few weeks she'll be crawling and that will bring it's own set of challenges. So far she's just like our boys were. I find her just as active as they were. Only time will tell what her true nature will be.
How is she different? Well she does have this special place in my heart, and in daddy's heart too, I'm sure! She is this sweet little girl that God gave us as a special gift, knowing before we did how much we really desired her. She has the best smile. You don't have to see her face to know she's smiling because her whole body lights up. It's awesome. Even her brothers know there is something special about her. They just adore her. Noah is the most sensitive. It really bothers him when Jena is crying and I don't attend to her fast enough. Owen will stop what he is doing just to come over and talk to her. Then go back to what he was doing. Gabe is very sweet. He doesn't have the sensitivity Noah does to want to take care of her problem. And he's too active to ever stop long enough to talk to her BUT he is very good at letting us know that she is crying or that she spit up and then delegating someone to take care of it...I have no idea who he gets that from, haha! Will is funny. He knows what belongs to Jena just by it's color...PINK! Whenever he sees a rattle or burp cloth or piece of clothing that belongs to her he immediately picks it up and brings it over to her yelling, "GEEE". That's what he calls her right now. 
We're all still getting used to having a girl in the house. There's more pink in this house than I ever thought there would be...I'm a well-known pink hater. But after 6 years of blue it was time for a change and I'll happily admit my attitude on the color has changed. There's way more accessories with a girl. The bloomers, tights, hair ties, etc. She has way too much hair for me to manage. I can barely do my own. But we're getting there. It takes me twice as long to get her dressed as it does the boys but it's way more fun.
So to answer the question I guess I'd say that for the most part there aren't too many differences between the boys and Jena. Ask me again when she's 16!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Time for Pretzels

I'm hooked on spicy pretzels! I was introduced to them earlier in the summer by a friend. Each time I've served them I've gotten lots of positive feedback so I thought I'd share. I'm not sure if this is exactly the recipe she uses but I believe it's very close. They're a great snack-perfect for football season!

Spicy Pretzels
1 (15oz) bag pretzels-I prefer Snyders Snaps
1 C oil-I use canola
1 envelope Ranch seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. In a bowl mix all ingredients except the pretzels.
2. In a deep baking dish (I use a pampered chef stone dish) spread out pretzels.
3. Pour mix over pretzels. Stir to coat.
4. Bake in oven @ 200 for 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Let cool before serving.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Time to Be Encouraged

This blog post is one that I wrote about 3 years ago now. I had just had Jena a few months before and was needing encouragement. God sent it my way just when I needed it most and I wrote it down here. This is one of the things I love the MOST about having a blog. I can go back and be reminded of what God has done. Having again, just had a baby, and feeling some very similar feelings I was feeling at the time I wrote this, it was timely that I came across it again. These stories encouraged me just as much now as they did 3 years ago so I'm sharing it again with the hope it will offer someone out there the same encouragement. I don't say it often enough how thankful I am that even 1 person reads this blog. I'm humbled that God is able to use me at all and my prayer is just that he would continue to allow me to be a vessel in his hands that he can use for His glory. Thank you for reading and for all the times so many of you have encouraged me with your words!

Who hath saved us and called us with a Holy calling, not 
according to our works,but according to His own purpose, and grace which was given 
us inChrist Jesus before the world began  ~2Tim 1:9

If I haven't said it already, then I'll say it again, "GOD IS GOOD!". It was a hard week for me this week. I won't bore you with the details. It's not anything "new under the sun". We all have weeks like this. What I am very thankful for is a God who knows just what you need when you're having a rough time. What did I need? To receive two very encouraging emails of how God is using me.

One was from an acquaintance that I don't know that well. To keep her anonymous, I won't give details. She was emailing me about a comment I made on Facebook regarding free formula. I made this comment a few months before Jena was born so we're looking at about 7 months ago or so? She has been unable to nurse her newborn baby. She remembered me saying that I was not able to nurse my babies and that the Lord had put me on her heart the night before and so she decided to write me and share her struggle. It brought me to tears. If you've never been faced with not being able to nurse your baby, you have no idea the heartache and disappointment that goes along with that. I knew her pain, I knew her struggle and my heart went out to her. It's difficult for two reasons. It's difficult because as a mom you want to be able to provide food for your baby. It's the way God designed us and is seemingly what is best for our baby. When you can't it makes you feel like a failure. And people around you have the tendency to support that thinking. Which leads me to the second reason it's hard-other moms! I really believe that moms would be much better off and happier if they didn't have all the opinions and ideas that bombard us daily in magazines, books, TV, blogs, Facebook, etc. I had people say to me that I didn't try hard enough, I wasn't patient enough, I supplemented too soon, I should have drank special tea, used a better pump, it goes on and on. When you are able to nurse and it comes easily to you, you aren't able to understand what a mom who can't is going through. Well meaning comments end up being more hurtful than you can know. And that is what my friend is dealing with. Well intentioned people who believe the natural way is the only way hurting her feelings and making her feel like she didn't try hard enough. For years I have struggled with understanding why God did not allow me to nurse. I still don't know why, and I won't this side of heaven, but I do know that because of it, I was able to help this girl. I'm the only person she knows who has been through this. I am able to understand her grief and her feeling of inadequacy in a way her other friends can't. For that I am so thankful and reminded to not question God. Even something like this He has a purpose for!

The second email came from a young lady we have known for a few years now. We just love her family. Her mom is a constant source of encouragement to me so it does not surprise me that this young lady is following in her mother's footsteps! She sent me an email on a day when I was questioning whether or not I was an effective witness for Christ. Was I honoring Him in all that I do? Was I raising my children in a way that pleases him? I was just feeling very defeated. Then this email came:

My mom actually had just given me the link to your blog, so I have been checking it out just this week. You are doing a wonderful job with it. I like how you are setting it up as "seasons." The kids are getting so big! Your entries are very encouraging and Christ-honoring. I want you to know that you are a wonderful encouragement to me, and I appreciate your heart for the Lord. Although God has gifted me with singleness right now, your family is a family that inspires me and gives me a vision for a family of my own, should the Lord allow. Thank you for your shining testimony!

Jena Bean
It's never when we think we are doing our best, and it's not when we think we are saying such wise things that the Lord uses us. It's when we are weak and He is allowed to shine through us that others are able to see Christ in us. I'm just praising God at the end of this week for reminding me who is really in the drivers seat of this life. It's Him and it's only because of Him I can be used.