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

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Time to Be Organized: In the Kitchen

Last year I posted different things I do to stay organized with things like laundry and cleaning and menu planning. Now, I thought I would share a few things I do in the kitchen.
One thing that's important to do when you have a lot of little ones is to try and delegate some responsibilities to them when they are old enough to have some. Setting the table is one of these tasks that I was anxious to get the kids doing. When I started my dishes were in a cabinet up on the wall.  They couldn't reach them so I still had to get all the dishes down for them. I decided that as much as I hated the idea of having my dishes in a bottom cabinet, it was the best solution. This way they are all able to reach the dinner dishes and can set the table themselves. It's also a great way to practice counting! I thought I would hate this but I'm so glad I did it and the boys like being helpful in this way.

Another tip I have is to keep one drawer in the kitchen that is OK for the little ones to play in. I have one drawer dedicated to just plastic cups and each of my kids as a toddler loved going in there and playing. It keeps them out of the other drawers and gives them something to do while I'm busy cooking.

My last suggestion for the kitchen is a snack basket. With 4 boys who are constantly asking for food it often feels like all I'm doing is getting people food. I made up a basket of snacks that I don't mind them having so that when they are hungry and want a snack they know they can either go to the fruit drawer in the fridge, grab a yogurt or go to the snack cupboard in the cabinet. These are all options that are low enough for them to reach and since I am the one who chooses what goes in the snack basket I'm not worried about what they are choosing to's already "mom approved"! And they really like seeing what's in the basket that week. When they receive candy from grandparents, etc. I don't let them eat it all right away. I usually give them one piece then put the rest away. From time to time I will put candy in the snack basket as a treat and they love it when they are surprised with candy as an option!
I would love to hear the ideas your family uses to make things more efficient and organized in the kitchen!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Time for Cats

What's been going on with us? Well, we've "adopted" a family of cats. Usually we're writing to tell people that we're adding a new child to our family but not this year! This year it's a family of felines. The mom, dad and their 3 babies who were born under our shed this past spring. 

I have mixed emotions about this. Growing up we had cats always and most of time 4 at a time. I really loved cats. Notice the past tense? Since having children I wouldn't say my love has gone away I just no longer have a desire to have any as pets. I think the Lord has done this work in me because my husband is allergic and it would probably be really disappointing if I wanted one and couldn't have one.  All I think about are fleas or worse, ticks, which are in abundance here.  So watching this family from afar suits me just fine.

I admit that we've all had fun watching these little kittens grow. We feed them just about every day so they know they can get fed here, which means they are ALWAYS here. They are wild and very afraid of us. We can't get near them. At least now they will see us in the kitchen and still eat but if we move too fast or go to approach them they run away. Our hope is to be able to catch them and try to get them adopted by someone else before they become some animals next meal. The two you see in the picture are the only two that still come around regularly. I haven't seen the mom or the other yellow baby in a couple months but I did see the black baby last week. He ran into the woods when he saw me and hasn't been back that I've noticed. 

Growing up we had this tradition that all our cats names started with the letter "M". We had Maverick, Muffy, Merlin and Morgana. In keeping with tradition I've named the gray/brown one Mocha. I can't get the kids to understand the concept so the yellow one is not named yet...any suggestions?? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Time to Answer Question One: How are you able to stay home?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches

in glory by Christ Jesus. ~ Phil.4:19

There are a few questions we get asked often. Whether by complete strangers in a store or people we know. One of the more popular questions is, "How do you manage to get by on one income and raise 5 kids?" We live in a time where the majority of families have both mom and dad working. The majority of families I know are this way. With the cost of just about everything rising I understand why people ask this question and there are many times when I look around at all we have and stand amazed at how God has provided for us. So in an effort to answer this question here are some things we do in order for me to have the blessing of staying home and taking care of my family.

1. No consumer debt. This is a big one. The only debt we have is our mortgage and Ben's student loan. If we want something we pay cash for it. If we can't pay cash for it then we save and buy it when we do have the cash. So far the Lord has allowed us to pay cash for all our vehicles. This is a huge blessing. We sacrifice having what we really want and having new vehicles but this sacrifice has prevented us from spending more than something is worth just for the sake of having it "now" or having it "new". When it came to buying our home we bought a home well below what we could afford. There are no guarantees in life and Ben may have a great job now but that might not always be the case in the future so we wanted to make sure that if anything did happen then we could afford our house on a smaller income.

2. We buy second-hand and are willing to take hand-me-downs from clothes to furniture to toys. We have been so blessed by other's "junk"! It's really quite unbelievable. I feel as though every time someone is at my house and says, "oh I love that" I am always saying, "Oh, so and so gave that to me". And almost all the clothes that my kids wear are hand me downs or from thrift stores. Is it because I don't care what they wear or what I have? No and just ask my husband. I have really expensive taste. But when I put things in perspective and look at what is really important in life, I realize that having the nicest of everything  is not at all important, especially if having those things would mean I would have to work outside the home. Remember too that when we die, we can't take it with us so how important are all of those things really?

3. Buy food on sale and in bulk when possible. The grocery bill is probably one of the hardest areas for us to stay in our budget and as the kids grow this will become even more challenging. We have two chest freezers in the basement. I generally only buy meat when it's on sale. I also buy extra of our staples like bread and freeze it so I'm not always running to the grocery store. The less time I spend at the store, the less I spend. We also don't eat out a lot or eat prepared foods a lot. Making your own meals can be a real money saver!

4. Don't get caught up with the latest & greatest. This can be one of the more challenging areas for me. In particular, cell phones. I think it is amazing what cell phones can do now. I still only have a tracphone for emergencies and Ben's phone came with his job. I definitely have days when I wish I had  a "cool" one but again I have to put things in perspective. The only thing I really NEED a cell phone for is when I am out in case the school needs to get a hold of me or when we're traveling. So to spend hundreds of dollars on a phone, and the plan seems really foolish. Yes we can afford it but that would mean that I would have to sacrifice in another area because let's face it...we can't have it all. At least I can't! In order for us to continue doing what we do we have to be willing to sacrifice some things and decide what things are really important and what things are not. Staying up to date on the latest and greatest is just not something we have categorized as important.

These are just a few things we do. When we have chosen to wait on God to provide something instead of running right out and buying an item we needed or wanted, He has always provided better than we imagined. I could fill a book with all the the things He has given us that we never thought we'd have. With God's help I really believe it's possible for just about any family to live on one income (there are of course situations that it's not possible) if it's something they really want to do. It just requires a willingness to make sacrifices-and as I think about it-I rarely feel I'm sacrificing because I'd give up just about anything to be able to stay home with my kids-it's just THAT great!

A Time to Organize Kids Art Supplies

This idea is the best one I've come across in a long time! We have a lot of art/craft supplies because it's great to have on hand for activities for the kids. The frustration I always have is how to keep it organized. I basically had a bin for all the paint stuff that I had in one spot, then a tin for all crayons and that was in another spot and a place for papers, etc. It was all organized but not in one place. This idea keeps it all in one place and I am just so happy with this system!
Ben bought me the tool caddy (I think that's what they call them) at Home Depot and we have dozens of 5-gallon buckets because that's how I buy my laundry detergent. Just  slide the caddy over the bucket and voila! Then you can start placing things in the many dividers and pockets. I did two, one for the kids drawing and card making stuff and another for their paint supplies. 

Inside the bucket for the drawing supplies are the tracing, drawing and construction papers, container of crayons and coloring books. On the outside I put markers, pencils, pens, tape, pipe cleaners, tape, stickers, rulers, etc. For the second bucket of paint supplies I put the painting smocks I make the younger ones wear and the paint cups (everyone with kids should own these! I love them!) with bottles of refill paint. On the outside I put the brushes, paper, more paint bottles and glitter paints. 

This had been working really well. I store the buckets in the bottom of the closet and then when it's time for one of these activities just pull out the bucket and it's all there. So easy, and so organized! I think the caddy cost about $6 so it's inexpensive too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Time for Thankfulness

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. ~Psalm 100:4

November is the time of year everybody (well most everybody) starts thinking of things they are thankful for, leading up to Thanksgiving. It's all over Facebook, with status' each day of something one is thankful for. So I decided because consistency is not my greatest strength that instead of each day posting one thing I'm thankful for (because I know after 10 days I'll forget, or lose track) I instead would just make a list of 30 for each day of the month!

I am thankful for:

1.First and foremost I'm thankful for Christ dying on the cross and forgiving me of my sins. I don't want to think of who I would be or where I would be without HIM. 

2. My husband. I am amazed every day that God gave me such a good man. He is my best friend and loves me unconditionally...good days AND bad days! I love him so much and am so thankful for him.

3. Five healthy children. WOW! With so many stories lately of children who are sick I am thankful each day for how God has blessed us in this area.

4. For Noah. Everyone needs a Noah. He is a love and could sit and chat and hug all day. He is  just so thoughtful. He is a good friend and so good to his siblings. He makes me laugh because he is as awkward as I am and he frustrates me because we are so much alike!! But I wouldn't change anything about him.

5. For Owen. He is so much like his dad, I love that. He's our goofball and always knows how to put a smile on my face. He is determined and hard working but loves making everything in life fun!

6. For Gabe. Gabe is all boy & all personality. He never stops thinking, or talking or moving. He's our most exhausting one but always makes life interesting with his unpredictable ways. He's a born leader & strong willed and so interested in the world around him.

7. For Will. He's my "sweet william". He is so kind and gentle. He is the first one to pick something up if you've dropped it. He's also very organized, always making sure things go where they belong. He loves to laugh ,even if he has no idea what he's laughing about! I can't imagine our family without him.

8. For Jena. I am so thankful to have a girl. She is everything I imagined a little girl being and I just can't get enough of her! (daddy can't either!) 

9. For the fact that I can be a stay at home mom. There are many challenging and tough days but there are more great and rewarding days and I'm thankful I'm able to be home with the kids.

10. For my husband having a job. In this economy the fact that he has a stable job cannot be taken for granted. 

11. For friends who are unbelievably loving and supportive. I'm so blessed with so many great women in my life. 

12. For family. My kids are blessed to have all their grandparents and 3 great-grandparents, lots of aunts & uncles and cousins. 

13. For coffee. It has to be said! I'm thankful for very, very strong (preferably Starbucks) coffee. 

14. To be an American. 

15. For the Bible and for the freedom to own as many as want, read it whenever I want without fear of being thrown in prison or losing my life.

16. For our home. It's warm and safe and full of love. It's a place where there is always an over abundance of all of life's necessities-Praise God!

17. That Ben and I are healthy. It sure makes taking care of this family a whole lot easier!

18. For modern conveniences! Life is a lot easier today with things like indoor plumbing, electricity, dishwashers, cell phones, computers, etc.! 

19. Believe it or not...our suburban. (This is for you Ben!). It's old, has no air conditioning or a cd player and I complain about it a lot. But when I put things in perspective I remember that there are a lot of people who can't afford to own a vehicle, even and old one, and it was paid in full without us having to go in debt for it, runs great and fits our whole family in it! 

20. For Facebook. That may seem like a strange thing to be thankful for but when you stay home taking care of a lot of little ones it's hard to get out and F/B has helped me feel connected to people. So many of my friends have been a huge source of encouragement.

21. For nature. Mountains to climb, trails to hike, lakes and oceans to swim in, animals to watch. God's creation is amazing!

22. My treadmill. With no "kid-free" time to go to the gym on a regular basis the fact that I can get on the treadmill each day is a huge blessing to me. And thankful for the friends who gave it to us when they moved! ;)

23. I'm thankful that Ben's parents give us beef each year! Sure helps our grocery budget!!!

24. I'm thankful for how God has gifted Ben with so many skills & talents-have I mentioned how just plain awesome I think my husband is??

25. I'm thankful I have eyes that see and ears that hear. This is definitely something I take for granted, and shouldn't!

26. I'm thankful for things like make-up, hair color, hair straighteners, and nail polish. These may be frivolous things but they  are things that are sure to put a smile on my face when I'm feeling frumpy and less than pretty!

27. Music!! I love that there is music for every mood and occasion. I especially love the way it can prepare our hearts to worship God and express our love to him.

28. Clocks and  calendars. I like to be organized and on-time (preferably early). These two items make doing these two things so much easier!

29. Fire. Not only because it heats a home and cooks food but because of the way it brings people together to talk and laugh around a campfire eating s'mores. This is one of my most favorite family times!

30. The fact that I woke up today and so did my most precious gifts, Ben and the kids. Each day is a gift and I'm thankful for each one of those we've all been given!