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

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.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Time to Decorate

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. ~ Isa 33:6

The idea of "treasure" is different for everyone. What is a treasure to me may be junk to you and vice versa. Treasure doesn't need to be valuable it just needs to mean something to you. To most people, Ben and I don't possess any treasure, if we're talking about things. Our house is not filled with expensive things and we don't wear designer clothing nor do we drive fancy cars. If you ask us, we'll tell you we're blessed beyond belief. And the best thing about is that the LORD provided it all for us...some of you he used to meet our needs. I love how our God works. I love that even the little, seemingly unimportant things, matter to him.

Sometimes I look around our house and I am overwhelmed. Not because I think I have such nice things. It's because just about every item in my house I can name a person who gave that item to us. It AMAZES me how God has provided. When we first bought the house I just remember thinking, "How are we ever going to fill this place". That is where I was wrong. WE weren't going to fill it, HE was. Ben had been wanting a piano for years. He had finally saved up enough money to buy the one he'd been wanting. It was a Yamaha something-or-other, full keyboard, portable. I remember going to music store after music store looking at pianos just thinking what a waste of time this was because I knew he wouldn't buy one. Even after he had the money saved he STILL didn't buy it. Then one day, not long after moving into the house, he is looking on ebay and finds a baby grande piano for sale. $300 and in MA. He prayed about it, bid, never expecting to win it at such a low price and WON! He was so happy and we just thanked God for providing it. Our grande is not like the shiny new ones you imagine. It's wood, old and not shiny at all...but it's perfectly rustic for our house and sounds great! That moment was such a lesson to me. God provides if we are willing to wait on him to provide and usually it's better than we expected. I can go on and on and on. A few months after moving into the house I became a Southern Living at Home consultant because I loved the product and figured I would try it out. I was able to decorate our home for basically free. The Lord allowed it to be a profitable venture for me just long enough for me to make our home pretty. Seriously it goes on and on. I won't bore you except to explain what promted this blog. My aunt and uncle are selling thier home in ME. They had a lot of things they were not taking with them and needed to get rid of. These things were by no means junk and they could have easily tried to sell this stuff. Instead, because they have always been so generous, they offered my sisters and I first dibs. Ben and I had been wanting outdoor seating for years now and were tempted every fall to buy a set on sale. We always hemmed and hawed over them but in the end decided that since we'd managed perfectly fine all summer without one we could do without it. Well wouldn't you know that my aunt and uncle were giving away more outdoor seating then we ever thought of buying. I now own a wrougt iron set, a wicker set and a beautiful wood picnic table that has benches and chairs. I've also been wanting a deacons bench ever since we moved in but just couldn't justify spending the money-I'm like that. There is not a new bureau in the house! All have been hand-me-downs because I just feel it's a lot of money we don't NEED to spend. And the Lord provides everytime. My aunt gave me a decons bench with matching hutch and it's much nicer than anything I would have been willing to spend money on.

I don't say this to brag. Rather to encourage you to WAIT on the Lord. Just because we want something doesn't mean we should run out and buy it. It's ok to have used things in your house. We figure, why spend tons of money on nice furniture that the kids will beat up over time. Why not spend less on ourselves and have more to give to others. Sure I would love to drive a nice vehicle that at least has A/C (that's right folk-no A/C!) but the story behind our suburban is another good one and it's what the God provided us. If it's what God wanted us to have then it's good enough for me. It's so easy to get carried away with having the newest of everything...don't even get me started on cell phones, haha! I love the verse above because it's a reminder to us that GOD is the real treasure. Our trust in Him, the hope we have in Him and the promise of eternal life-that is the true treasure. I love decorating and I love seeing how God provides for us without us having to spend tons of money to do it. But more importantly I love that through my decorating and as I look around I am reminded daily of God's goodness and the people he has used to bless our family.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Time for "Firsts"

 Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings...  Psa 17:8

Some of you know how much we struggled with whether or not we should start Owen in Kindergarten this year. We prayed about it for months but once we made the decision to start him we felt such a peace about the decision. Now, having seen him go for a full week we are so confident we made the right choice. He LOVES school and we are so happy for him. The adjustment has gone very well for him. He has the same Kindergarten teacher Noah had, which we considered an answer to prayer because we just love her. Noah started FIRST grade! He really likes his teacher, Mrs. Gilly. He and his kindergarten class all moved up to first grade together so he is with the same group of kids. This is a great thing as all the kids in that class are super. I was talking to Noah and Owen one day last week asking about recess and what they played. Noah said to me that he was looking for Owen at recess because he really wanted to play with him but couldn't find him. Owen says, "you were looking for ME? You wanted to play with ME?" and then, after Noah shakes his head yes, he turns to reveal a huge grin on his face. You just can't beat a moment like that when you see the friendship your kids have developed and see how much they love each other. I pray they never lose that!                                                                                                   

Ben was on vacation this week and we were able to get a lot of projects around the house completed. I've been wanting the shutters put up all summer but we had to paint them first. Of course you can't do that without cleaning them and apparently you can't clean them without a pressure washer so Ben went out and bought his FIRST one so we could do this. We also had to paint the front door cranberry to match since it was blue.
Shutters are up, gravel is down
so I could start planting!
Ben preparing our house for the "death
angel", haha! (if you're confused
read Exodus 12)
And finally Will got to go apple picking for the FIRST time. This was the first year we go that he is old enough to do it himself. All the boys had a great time. We have gone different places but this year found a cute place in Berwick called, "Pine Hill Orchards". The people were very friendly and allowed us to lay a blanket down in the middle of the orchard and have a picnic while we picked apples. It was a beautiful day for this and we all enjoyed being able to take our time and relax.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Time to Celebrate

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. ~ Psalm 16:6

This past weekend we celebrated Owen's 5th birthday! My mom and uncle also have birthday's in Sept. so we decided to do one big birthday and celebrate them all together. One nice, last minute, surprise was that my grandparents came also! This was their first time meeting Jena. Jena is their first great grand-daughter so this we a pretty special meeting.
My grandmother is one of the best cooks I know. We all love her cooking and agree that there's just something about Memere's cooking that makes it special. She makes a homemade stuffing that I have loved since I was a child. I had not tried to make it myself even though I've had the recipe for years now. I guess I know I won't be able to make it as good as she does so I haven't bothered. Since she was here I asked her to take me through it step by step. It was a lot of fun and a memory I'll have forever.
Memere's Stuffing
6 med. potatoes, cooked, mashed
Bell's stuffing mix
Bell's seasoning
Sauted onions & celery
Gravy master
Chicken broth
Bake @ 350 degrees

With memere there's no measuring involved!
I feel very blessed to still have both my grandparents alive. They are in their 80's and show no signs of slowing down, praise the Lord! Just about anyone who meets my grandmother likes her. She has such a fun, energetic personality that you can't help but love. She's taught me a lot over the years about cooking. I remember one time I tried to make fried rice and it didn't turn out. I called Memere right away and she tried very hard to understand what I might have done wrong. Finally she said, in french of course, "Milly (it's what she calls me), did you cook the rice first?" Me: feeling very stupid said, "oops! no, I didn't". We laughed about that. Thankfully, for Ben, I'm a much better cook now then I was at that time!
I wish I could spend time with my grandmother everyday but since I can't I'm very thankful for the time I do have and try to make the most of the time when I'm with her. Each day we have really is a gift!