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 5, 2012

A Time For Sanity at the Dinner Table

Sitting around the dinner table is something we do at every meal. We try hard to limit our evening activities and so far since the kids are little that has been easy. It's very rare we are not all together for supper. Lately though, this has been a time that I dread. It had become quite loud and more than I could handle after a full day of taking care of kids, especially lately with a newborn. So one afternoon I decided that I was going to bring the sanity back to the dinner table. 

I first created a list of "Table Rules". There are some things our kids do really well at the dinner table but then there are other certain things they do that drive me crazy so those were to be the rules we would work on. For instance, one rule is, "No interrupting. If you want to speak, wait your turn." With 5 speaking children who are all excited to tell you their tales of the day and a mom and dad who haven't spoken to each other all day it was getting difficult for everyone to be heard. There are only 5 rules so it's not too overwhelming for them. We figure once they master these ones, if there are more things we need to work on we can change the rules over time.

Next I created a "Rewards System". Don't get too excited, it's actually quite simple. If they obey all the rules during the meal they get to put a star on the chart for that day. At the end of the week if they earned 4 stars they get to pick a candy from the candy bowl. If they have earned 5 stars they get to pick a prize from our rewards list. We only use this system Mon-Fri. Weekends are for having fun and practicing the rules without the pressure of earning a star. Plus most weekends we're busy doing stuff and don't always eat at home. 

For our prizes we came up with a list of rewards together. Some of the suggestions were vetoed such as Noah's suggestion of "doing Math for 5 hours". He's so NOT my kid, he loves Math!!! But some fun ones we kept like, "staying up 1/2 hr later then everyone else on a Fri. or Sat." and "20 mins. of Wii alone". The alone part is important because in a house full of kids it's rare anyone gets to do anything alone. Alone is a luxury! So is doing anything one on one with mom or dad so there's also "wrestling with dad" and "watching a movie with mom" as a prize.

I wasn't sure how this was going to work but I have to say that after 4 weeks of doing this it is amazing the results we are seeing. They are all so mindful of the rules and really work hard because they want to earn a prize at the end of the week. The great thing is that all of our prizes on the rewards system are at no cost to mom and dad...bonus!! I am enjoying our meal times so much more and feel like I am actually getting to have a conversation with each one about their day because we are spending less time disciplining and dealing with poor behavior at the dinner table. 

In fact it has been so much fun that Ben and I wanted to get in on it too so we created a list of  "rewards" for each other. Each Friday we get to pick one. The only difference is we get to pick a reward just for being mom and dad! The favorite prize for me would be the "I will do anything you want me to for 1hr"....a lot of cleaning can get done in 1hr!!! There's also fun stuff like, "I'll watch the kids for the evening" and "I'll give you a massage" and my second favorite, "I'll bring home Chinese food for supper". In a time in our lives that has been very stressful and crazy busy these rewards at the end of the week have been fun to look forward to!

So if your meal time is in need of some change or just some fun, I recommend trying what we've implemented. It's been a huge blessing to us and the kids are really loving it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Time for Blessings

O taste and see that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusts in Him. ~Psalm 34:8

We always have so much to be thankful for but lately it seems the blessings abound and I am compelled to share. God is so good always!

When I was pregnant for Tess I never imagined that I would face the health issues I have since all my pregnancies and deliveries for the most part went great. I had no reason to think it would be otherwise. I have had blood pressure issues in the past but it has always resolved itself after delivery or at least very shortly after. This time around has been different. Along with adjusting to these new health issues (which I'm being told will likely be a lifetime issue for me now) we've been adjusting to a new baby. For some reason every 3rd baby, for me, is hard. I remember having a very hard time adjusting after Gabe was born, swore I'd never have another (haha). I have always said that more than 3 is just one more and adjusted so well with babies 4 &5, it was a breeze really. Tess is a great baby so it's not even that she's hard. It's just the dynamics of having older kids (they're not always easier) school to contend with and just being plain old tired and yes, a little emotional. Throw in the heath issues, which have been scary at times & medicines that have harsh side effects and you've got one mess of a mommy. Here is where the blessings come in...

Not having family close can make it challenging when things like this come up because there isn't a grandma or aunt & uncle to call to come watch the kids when mom suddenly gets admitted to the hospital. It really can be a juggling act to figure out how we'll make things work at times. How many of you have a friend who shows up at your house at 9am delivering  food for your family and who, knowing you were up sick all the night before because your blood pressure was through the roof, forces you to call the doctor and insists on staying with your 3 younger kids so your husband can take you? Well Ashley, I give you a shout out because you deserve it! The blessing it was knowing that my younger 3 were in great hands while I was in the hospital was incredible. She stayed till Ben got the older 3 from school. And then the blessing of knowing that Ben & the kids would eat well because another friend was delivering a meal that night. Then one friend called Ben consistently throughout the evening to make sure he was fine and when he mentioned being out of milk sent her teenage son over to deliver some to him-Blessings!! To Anita, another shout out has to go out because she has been so amazing, offering to watch my kids. Ben was able to drop all 5 off with her today since there was no school, so he could come be with me at the hospital and has also offered to come be with me during the mornings when Ben goes back to work if I need to rest. Another blessing? We had Tess two weeks ago Thursday and the meals have not stopped coming! Our friends are just incredible and we are blessed beyond measure. I had 3 emails waiting for me when I got home of people wanting to know when they could bring a meal, one email had a list of people already lined up through Saturday. And the last blessing I'll touch upon (there are so many more!) is the blessing of an amazing husband. He has taken such good care of me and the kids while I have been dealing with these issues. A lot of men would dread the task of taking care of 6 kids alone, one being a 2-week old, doing night feedings and all but he assured me before leaving the hospital that he was okay with it, they would be fine and I just needed to focus on getting better. I had wanted Tess with me at the hospital but the Dr.s insisted it was in the best interest of my health that I allow her to be taken care of by someone else for the night. I prayed all night (the migraines that came with the first med I was on and that resulted when I was switched to a different med were excruciating) that Tess would go long stretches between feedings for him and she did...5 hours!!! Praise God for answered prayer. I am so lucky to be married to a man who takes care of his family and does it happily and willingly. He gets the biggest shout-out!! 

I really am so thankful to all of you who have been praying & sent us your loving thoughts. You are too many to mention by name but we don't take you for granted. The love and support that our family continually receives from those around us truly is overwhelming and we consider you all among our greatest blessings. God truly can be trusted and He has shown us time and again that when the need is there He will provide the help...We have tasted and seen first hand that HE IS GOOD! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Time for Tess to Arrive

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down
 from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or 
shadow of turning. ~James 1:17

She is finally here! Tess Lucille came fast and furious on October 18 weighing 9lbs, 9oz, our biggest baby yet! Of course she has the full head of hair our babies are famous for-almost ready for ribbons and bows! 

With my past pregnancies, delivery has taken 12+ hours so we expected the same with Tess. Even with being induced the Dr's fully anticipated it would hours before she would make her arrival. When we realized we forgot our camera, the nurse told Ben he had time to go home and get it. For some reason I didn't like that idea and I instead called my friend who lived down the road and she brought us her camera. Good thing too because Ben definitely would have missed the birth had he left-she came that fast! The epidural I wanted never came because there wasn't time, which was fine, it wasn't my first delivery without it, although it would have been nice!! :) From start to finish the entire process took 90 one was expecting that, not even the Dr. When I told her I needed to push she told me it couldn't be, that it just felt different because of the pitosin. She was wrong, I was right and things moved swiftly once they saw for themselves she indeed was coming! 

I love our hospital, love the staff, love the doctors. We get such amazing care so when they wanted to keep me an extra day to monitor my blood pressure, which was alarmingly high, we had no complaints. Thankfully Ben's mom had come down to take care of the other 5 so we knew our kids were in good hands. After trying different medications that didn't work to lower my blood pressure they have finally found one that is helping. My doctor was really great at explaining to us everything that was going on, and was very gentle when he told us he didn't recommend more pregnancies because he doesn't believe I'll survive another one. We appreciated his honesty but also his compassion in giving us this news. We have much to pray about and consider but more importantly we have a lot to be praising God for and thanking him for. I came close to having a stroke yet he spared me from that and He has given us 6 beautiful, amazing, healthy children and for that we are so grateful! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Time to Freeze

It's time to freeze some meals! A new baby, no matter how seasoned you are in welcoming them into your home, adds it's own busy-ness to life and there's always an adjustment period. This is when I appreciate having some meals frozen in my freezer, on those days that seem insanely hectic  or I'm just too exhausted to cook. I will say that our friends and church family are amazing at providing us meals when we have a baby. They are so generous and a real blessing to us. But once the meals stop coming and real life sets in, I am always thankful that I took the time to be prepared. 

I just tried a new recipe from a recipe book I didn't have during other pregnancies. It's called Fix, Freeze, Take & Bake and it has so many really great recipes, perfect for making ahead and freezing. One that I just tried, and what we are having for supper tonight is so incredibly good that I had to share. No fancy pictures, or step by step instructions. Just a really great recipe. Don't forget to double it so you can get dinner and a meal to freeze! Actually if you are a small family you can easily get dinner and a meal to freeze with one recipe. 

Chicken Tortellini Casserole
2 1/2 C. small frozen cheese tortellini pasta
1 1/2 C. frozen broccoli
2 C. cooked, diced chicken, fresh or canned (I used fresh)
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 C. white sauce (see recipe below)
2-2 T. butter, melted
2/3 C. bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

In a medium pot, cook tortellini according to package directions. Add broccoli for final mine of cooking time to allow it to thaw and warm. Drain and rinse in cold water. In a medium bowl, toss together tortellini, broccoli, cooked chicken, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a greased 2-qt casserole dish (I used a disposable aluminum pan for freezing). Pour white sauce over all and stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, bread crumbs, basil, parsley and oregano. Sprinkle mixture over top of casserole. Cover and freeze.

To Prepare: Preheat oven to 375. Lightly cover and bake frozen casserole for 30 mins. Remove cover and bake an additional 20-25 minutes. 

White Sauce
2 T. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 C. milk
2 T. butter or margarine
** I added granulated garlic**

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Time for School

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose
under heaven. ~Ecc. 3:1

If you spend any amount of time with me then you have heard me refer to, "this season of life" several times. When I am overwhelmed is especially when I try to remember that most things are only for a season. That was one of the main reasons I titled the blog the way I did. The other reason is because these particular passages of scripture are my husband's favorite. 

This year we had three of our kids start school on the first day. We now have one in 3rd grade, one in 2nd grade and one in Kindergarten. This seems so crazy to me because I really feel like we just started having kids. How can we possibly have 3 already in school. But that is how fast time goes. The past couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about when I had all my little ones at home and no one was in school. At the time that I had Will Noah was not yet 5 so I had all 4 boys at home. Will came unexpectedly and very quickly following Gabe's birth. It was a really overwhelming time for me. I didn't leave the house often, only when I absolutely had to...for the first few months anyway. I remember at the time thinking that things will be a lot easier once Noah starts school and I "only" have 3 during the day. Then Noah started school and I was so surprised how that didn't seem to lighten my load any, it actually made our lives so much busier. And that has been the case following all the other's starting school. Now looking back I have the perspective and wisdom to know that I shouldn't be wishing away the time I have with my kids or hoping they would grow up quicker. Because it doesn't get easier just because they get older. Of course, the day I am all done with night feedings, diaper changes and potty training I'm sure I'll be thrilled but in my experience...those are the easier days! And you never would have caught me saying that 3 years ago. 
Life before early mornings of getting kids ready for school, laundry HAVING to be caught up because your kids are in public EVERY DAY (haha!), making lunches, helping with homework, extra activities like soccer and Good News Club, school fundraisers, field trips, etc. And if you are in my same season of life you are doing all of that on top of raising some toddlers at home.  And those are just the activities of life. I haven't even touched on the character building that comes with age. I am just so thankful God gives wisdom liberally to those who ask!

Why have I been thinking about this so much lately? Because I'm about to have a baby and this is the first baby I will deliver right in the middle of a school year. Jena has been my only baby born when I had one in school and at that time Noah was in Kindergarten and it was right at the end of the school year. Most of the extra activities were done, homework wasn't coming home as often and we had the whole routine down pat. This time around, school is just starting which means our load is heavy. The 3 boys are in soccer, we start Good News Club, it's our busy time at church with different ministries starting up, there will still be lunches to make and homework to help with (x3) no matter how tired we are. And no matter how little sleep I will have gotten the night before I will still have to be up at 5:30 to get everyone ready for school. No matter how fussy the kids were, there are still things that will HAVE to get done, like laundry and grocery shopping. Life cannot be put on hold for a "season" like we have relied on in the past. That overwhelms me a bit but I know that with God's help we will be able to do it. And I also know that once we are doing it, though it might be hard, we'll be pleasantly surprised that it's really not as bad as we thought it was going to be. This is a new "season in life" for me and I'm excited to meet our new little girl and see what God teaches me through it. For now I am unapologetically enjoying my last month with just two little ones at home and trying to spend as much time with them doing things that were harder to do with 5 home before the baby comes. It's a sweet gift I have and I intend to appreciate it to it's fullest!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Time for Camp Good News

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. ~Deut. 6:7

If you are not familiar with Camp Good News click on the link and see what it's about. Ben grew up going to Camp Good News (a CEF ministry) as a kid and then when he was a teenager attended CYIA (Christian Youth In Action). This year was the first year that we had a child old enough to be a camper, which starts at age 8. Because Ben was a counselor in the cabin and Owen had an older sibling in the cabin, they let him be an overnight camper too. They all had such a great time. Ben really loved being a counselor and Noah and Owen had a great time...although the very busy schedule was a lot for them to get used to at first. Each camper gets to choose a "skill activity" they want to participate in for the week. Each day they have 1hr learning that skill with an instructor. Owen got Rifelry with Ben, he was the instructor for that skill. Noah chose archery. They were both really happy with what they chose and had a blast. 

Each week camp has a camp pastor who does all the chapels. The kids attend a chapel service each evening after dinner. In the mornings after breakfast they attend song time, then afterwards they go to their cabins to clean up and do their "extra duty" for that day, which is different each day from cleaning the bathrooms to sweeping the chapel. Then their day starts with the skill activity, cabin time, swimming, etc. Each day everyone gets 1hr of rest time in their cabins after lunch and I'm pretty sure ALL the counselors look forward to this!  The kids are kept very busy but they have a lot of fun too all while learning God's word and spending time with other kids their age. Ben had the opportunity to lead two of the boys in his cabin to the Lord while one boy dedicated his life after chapel one evening. 
My responsibility at Camp was to be one of the Kickapoo counselors. The Kickapoo cabin is made up of all the staff kids who are not old enough to be campers. While their parents are serving, we are watching them. This year there were 9 and 6 of them were either my own children or my cousin's kids. It was fun this year because I had a lot of family there the same week. My aunt and 3 of my cousins and their families were there. In total there were 11 cousins as campers there this week! While Ben slept in the cabin he was the counselor for, I slept in the Kickapoo trailer with the 3 younger kids. We shared the trailer with another family &  the wife was the other Kickapoo counselor for the week along with the help of 2 Junior counselors. I don't have a picture of the Kickapoo's because I was being careful to not take pictures of other people's kids but trust me when I say, we stayed very busy!! 
Along with having family at camp we were also joined by a few others from our church who attended and from all reports they had a great time too. 
One thing that is great about Camp Good News is how affordable it is. But they also have a policy that they will not refuse any child who wants to attend even if the parents cannot afford to pay the fee. God has always blessed and provided for these campers through generous donors who sponsor campers each year. Also, if as a parent you serve in some capacity at camp the week your child is there, one child per parent serving goes to camp for free. The other thing that I think is so cool is that each camper has someone who commits to praying for them. At the end of the week the camper has an opportunity to write to that person and thank them for praying for their week at camp. 

Gabe and is cousin, Seth
So for our family camp was a really fun and great experience. I'm not saying we did not come home tired, we did, but we're looking forward to serving again next year and Gabe is VERY excited he'll be old enough to be a day camper! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Time to Answer Question 3: Do you believe in...

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
 ~Psalm 127:3

I have held off writing this post because I really didn't want to offend anyone if this topic is uncomfortable for them. But over the past few months I feel I've had to answer this question for a lot of people and am at the point where I would like to set the record straight so that people stop thinking we've got goals of becoming the next "Duggar Family". YES, we believe in birth control. I know, you wouldn't think so many would ask me this but I have to answer that question A LOT. I don't mind when it's family & friends, it doesn't offend me and I'm not so private that I feel uncomfortable answering it...especially if our experience can help another couple. But when strangers in the grocery store are asking, that's a little frightening. And trust me, they do! When I was pregnant for my 4th I was in Rite Aid and I had the 3 kids with me and an older gentlemen with his wife stopped me and asked, "you know they sell stuff to prevent that don't you?" and pointed to my very pregnant belly. I was so annoyed that I said, "Really? I had no idea, where can I find that stuff?" Then I walked away. It wasn't the most gracious response and to this day Ben and I have yet to come up with a clever way to answer strangers when they do this to us.
But when it comes down to the question, "Do you believe in birth control?" or "Does your religion believe in birth control?" then I am always happy to put the mystery to rest. First of all my "religion" is the word of God, the Bible. Period. In our years of prayer on this matter and a willingness to do whatever God asks, Ben and I have not been persuaded that it's a sin to use birth control. The Bible is not clear on the subject. And there are many people that I respect and look up to that are on both sides of the issue and I do not think one is right or wrong, we are just persuaded differently. Ben and I believe this is a decision that each individual couple must come to together after meditating on God's word and prayer. No church or Pastor should be making that decision for people. That's just my opinion. 
We always have to chuckle when someone just assumes that because we have 5 kids then we must not believe in birth control because who in their right minds would WANT 5 kids. Haha. I won't lie, we have had 3 "surprises"  and when I say that I mean they were surprises to us but definitely not to God.  He will have His way regardless of our efforts but I do believe there is wisdom in a little bit of planning. Our decision to use birth control the times that we did were not without prayer on the matter. When you have 5 babies in 6 years, that's overwhelming. It's mentally and physically challenging and especially when you live far away from family and don't really have a lot of help. After Jena was born we were so thrilled with our family but at the same time felt that we had a lot on our plates and the wisest thing for us to do was to take steps to prevent another pregnancy. I don't want to take any credit or glory away from God. He is faithful to give us what we need each day and we are so reliant on Him to help us raise this family, but that does not mean it's wrong of us to want a break from having babies. Our hearts have always been willing to raise another baby if that is what God wanted from us. I don't necessarily think the issue is whether or not couples use birth control but rather where their hearts are at in regard to what God will ask of them. 
So there you have it...the mystery is solved. And to answer the question that almost always immediately follows the birth control question...."will you guys have anymore?" our answer is, "only time will tell". Because in our efforts to "plan" our family God has done better so at this point we will continue to make decisions as wisely as we can with God's will in the forefront and a heart ready for Him to change our plans if that is what He chooses.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Time for Our Story

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Cor. 13:4-7

Thirteen years ago today, Ben and I started dating! It sounds like a long time yet feels like it was just yesterday. Since this marks a special moment in our lives I thought I'd share our story...and even if no one else is interested, at least our kids will enjoy this someday! We always joke that anytime anything significant is going on in our lives we have extreme weather and it's kinda been true. Ben and I had been friends for a couple years before we started dating. His best friend, is my cousin, and that is how we met. The day I knew he was the man I was going to marry was when at a get together at a friends house he saw I was sitting on the floor and he offered me his comfortable chair...he didn't have to do that since tons of other people were sitting on the floor but that gesture showed me what a gentlemen he was and how different from the rest he was. I was smitten! About a year after that happened he showed up at my apt. after work one summer day. I was sleeping but he told my roommate to wake me up. He told me he wanted to show me something and could we go for a ride. It was pouring rain outside. He drives to a park and stops the car and tells me there is something in the trunk he wants to show me. (the fact that I actually got out shows how much I trusted him...because lets face it....that sounds a little creepy, haha) He opens the trunk and in it is a single rose. Then the rest is history. Most of our dating relationship was long distance as he was in school in Texas and I was in Maine. So we had lots of time to talk on the phone and write letters and emails. We each have a binder full of the letters we wrote each other during those 2 years. Three years after we started dating, we got married. In January. On the worst snow storm of the year. We were supposed to have 150 guests but because the storm was so big and was all over the state of Maine through to MA only about 50 were able to come. You would think this would have bothered me but really it didn't. The only thing I cared about that day was marrying Ben and I did! I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have been the one God choose for him. We've had an awesome 13 years with lots of blessings. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Time for Summer:Camping, New Additions and a Pig Roast!!

Summer here in Maine (this part anyway) has been beautiful. We've had such great weather so far. My only complaint is how fast it is going...why is it summer is always the fastest and winter seems to take forever? We just don't have time to fit in everything we want to do. We did take 4 days to go camping with friends up at Glen Ellis Campground and had such a great time. It was a really nice campground, so nice in fact that Ben and I joked about how living where we do is more wilderness than that campground was! But there was a lot for the kids to do and it was right on the river which was great to swim in and very cold. Perfect for a pregnant lady dying in the 90+ degree weather we had while we were there. 
Pretty much our whole summer has been consumed with finishing our addition. Not that we haven't done plenty of entertaining and spending time with our friends but we made a point this winter to set aside as many weekends as possible to be home working. I look at the finished work and am every day amazed. You know how sometimes you do something and you have to sit back and wonder, "how did that even happen?" or "where did the money come from to do it?". I've had a lot of those moments regarding this project. It was really important to us that we not go into debt for this so really our thought was we'll do what we can, little by little, and patiently wait till it's complete. I honestly thought it would be 10 years before we were able to have our new bedroom! God has been so good, and I am so thankful. I'm thankful for God's provision to keep us out of debt, I'm thankful for the helpers Ben had because he never could have done it in this little time without help, and I'm thankful for a wise husband who made very good decisions along the way and worked so hard. He puts in long days as it is, and just our home with 5 kids is a lot, then to work till 10/11 at night on the addition when he is up at 4:30 every day was amazing to me. But we now have a new living room...something we never really had because the space we had was a dining/sitting area and it wasn't very big. This new room is perfect for all the entertaining we do and the kids love it too. And a new bedroom, which we didn't know we would need so badly....but God knew! Now the girls will have a room big enough for them to grow into and I'm really excited to start painting and setting it all up. The only thing left to do is get some closet organizing done, which will be makeshift for now and we'll complete it the way we want it at a later time. Then the bathroom. The plumbing is all there we just need to buy a pump (or something, haha) and a shower but that project will wait  for a later time too. Then this winter Ben can putter around with trimming up the doors and windows. Have I mentioned how thankful I am??? 
So with so much work to do inside our outside has suffered. I
love working in my gardens and being outside but this summer has been different in that I haven't had a lot of time or strength to do it. It's been a harder pregnancy than I usually have so that has been hard to get used to. But like I keep saying, you can't do it all when you are raising a family and this summer the yard is one of those things that I've had to say, "I can't do it this year". 
Next on our agenda is serving a week at Camp Good News. The kids are really excited about it. Ben will be a counselor in the cabin with the older two boys and I am going to be the "Kickapoo" counselor with the younger 3 and any other staff kids that are there that week. We know it will be a hard week but also a blessing. We're thankful for the opportunity to serve in this way and look forward to our first year serving this way as the first of many years to come. We are also excited that others from our church are going this year too! Then when we return we have our 1st Annual Pig Roast on Pork St. to get ready for. It may sound strange but I am SO excited! I've been asking Ben if we can do this for years now and he finally said yes! I grew up having a pig roast at my grandparents camp every summer around the 4th and it was my favorite thing all summer. While my dad was here last month we went and ordered our pig and he'll be ready for us labor day weekend. My dad is bringing down the pig roaster and will cook it up for us. I can't wait!
Then before we know it, the kids are in school again. Gabe just turned 5 last week so he's going to be going off with Noah and Owen this year. We don't know who his teacher is going to be yet but we're really hoping he has the same one Noah and Owen had because she's just fantastic! Then soccer for the 3 older boys and the baby arrives!!! Crazy that Tess' arrival is only 3 months away...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Time to Suffer?

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution
~II Timothy 3:12

The verse above has been a very one sobering one to me the past couple of days. Sunday we had one of the missionary families our church supports present their ministry in Papua New Guinea. During the challenge the husband made a comment in reference to this verse that if you are in the Lord's will it is normal to face suffering and persecution. He was speaking from his own experience with suffering, which they have handled so gracefully. That statement never left my mind and when we got home I asked Ben what he thought about that in reference to our own lives. I was in a place where I didn't really know what to think because I was familiar with this verse and believe it to be true and I also feel that as a family, Ben and I are in the Lord's will and have heart's that are ready to be used at any moment for anything He asks of us yet I don't feel I have had any suffering or persecution. I mean yes, when I made the choice to become a Christian I did lose some friends. But to consider that! Have we faced some difficult moments in our lives, yes, but to consider that real suffering like some! Ben shared a different opinion. While he agreed that yes, we are in the Lord's will and "living godly in Christ Jesus" he disagreed that we have not had suffering or persecution. It strikes me as funny that two people who are living the same marriage and raising the same family, living the same life have such opposite perspectives. Maybe it all comes down to ones own assessment of what suffering and persecution actually then you really would have differing perspectives?
 Late last evening I was reading an email update on a man who I've never met but his grandfather was a member of our church who passed away a few years ago. This man has been battling cancer for 16 years and he and his wife just celebrated 16 years of marriage. Did the same thing strike you as it did me when you read that. For their entire marriage this woman's husband has been sick and battling cancer. For their daughter's entire life she has known her dad to be sick. Do I suffer? NO!! It's when I read stories like this that I ask God, "why have you allowed us to have such an easy life, when we are so undeserving?" I am not begging God to suffer but it does make me stop and be incredibly thankful for the life He has allowed us to have. And what is even more incredible is to read these stories and see the joy of the Lord these individuals have through their suffering. They are not bitter toward God but rather praising Him! It is such a blessing to see and an encouragement that IF God chooses to send us down some of those difficult paths, HE WILL provide us with the grace to get through it. The saying, "The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you." is so true and evident in the lives of some, including the missionary family we had on Sunday.
So this week I am so incredibly thankful for the life and family God has given us and the blessings that have come with it and I have been challenged to live a life that is even more "Godly in Christ Jesus" because even if we are in the will of God there is always more we can be doing for Him. Take the time to read the stories of the families I put links to. I guarantee you it will bless your heart and cause you be thankful.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Time for Cats: Here we go Again!

Remember last year when I posted about our adopted family of cats? Well of the 3 babies born that year, one survived and has been with us ever since. We named it Muffin. This grayish black cat in the picture, we thought was the dad, but were surprised to find out it's actually the mom. She had babies in our wood pile this year so now we have 2 more mouths to feed! At this rate we may find ourselves on a cat plantation. 

The kittens (there are 2 of them) are already big enough to be coming up on the deck and eating like the bigger cats. They are the cutest kittens ever, way cuter than last years batch! There's an all black one and a black and white one. The kids have had a lot of fun watching them play and visit with us. They are very comfortable living on our property and hanging out on the deck but we have yet to be able to get close to them.  They run away when we open the door. But they know exactly when meal time is at our house and are here, rain or shine! These are the kind of pets I can handle in this season of life. The kids get to feed them and watch them play but I don't have to deal with house training or them bringing in ticks or fleas. It's the perfect arrangement...unless I find out these two kittens are girls! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Time to put the Supermom Myth to Rest

I can do all things through Christ who stengthens me.
~Philippians 4:13

In trying to find new and creative activities to keep the kids and I stay busy over summer vacation I came across this blog that had some cute ideas. As I was reading a little bit about the mom behind the blog she had this quote from another mom and called it the "supermom disclaimer" and it reads as follows:

"Doing projects with your kids is NOT what makes someone a good mom! I just happen to find doing crafts with my kids one of my favorite things to do! But many moms don't. That's OKAY. Some of the best moms I know don't enjoy it either. Big deal! They are still amazing moms."
She went on to say in response to that quote:

"I've come to realize that no matter how creative, how fun, how organized, how crafty, etc....
I may be, there is always going to be a mom somewhere in the world who is more anything & everything --- than little ol' me."

And I couldn't have said it better. I have often been given the compliment of "supermom" and while it's a really nice compliment it also makes me feel like a fraud because the last thing I feel like is a supermom. I look around me and see so many amazing moms that I admire, who are so talented and it really makes me feel inadequate. Do you ever feel that way?

 Well one thing I know for sure is that God has made each of us differently with our own set of abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, weaknesses, etc. so that our parenting is going to be so different. While there are the moms that make all their food and clothing and toys from scratch and stay away from modern medicine and know what each and every herb's name and function are there are also the moms who take their kids hiking and camping and to the beach every weekend and do all the yardwork and love gardening and exercise 8 days a week. There are the moms who are more comfortable at home and fill their children's minds with information & books, they homeschool and always have just the right thing to say for any given situation and know all the greatest games and crafts to do with their kids. Then you have the working mom who is also raising kids and on the PTO and lets her kids do any activity their little heart desires because she doesn't think twice about being on the road all day, who also throws the biggest and best birthday parties, and is the first to volunteer in the classroom or for the fundraiser. Or maybe you are like me and you are none of these but rather a modge podge of each, a little of this a little of that and hoping you don't mess up too much along the way. I admire moms who sew because I can't. I admire moms who have a technical mind to build things because I don't. I admire moms who are creative and have the best birthday party themes and ideas and make it so fun for the kids because I struggle to pull this off.Then I realize that even if I could do many of the things that I admire in others it doesn't mean I would have time to do them because with 5 kids and one on the way things are busy here and I have to be very organized with my time if I want to get anything done. In this season of my life there is very little room for "extras". Maybe that is one thing you admire about me, I don't know. I am organized, I can say that, and it is something that comes naturally to me and I believe it's a gift I've been given of God. Good thing too because when Ben and I started out on this journey we never thought we'd be having our 6th baby. But God knew, because He knows everything and over the years He has helped me to develop the skills I would need to handle a family of this size. And He's still teaching and molding me because I have not arrived. I am daily finding my "superpowers" in God's power. My strength and ability to function comes from Him. I find it in His word, which refuels me every day and I find it in the power of prayer, knowing that with each joy, trial, and challenge He is right there waiting for me to cry out to Him or praise Him, whichever the moment requires. Without God I could not face each day with the joy and peace and willingness to raise the family I have. My human flesh is too weak. So if that is what makes me a "supermom" then okay, I guess I am, but I'm only super in God's power....Praise the Lord I have it available to me.

So the next time you find yourself comparing your self to other moms, or judging other moms for not raising her kids the same way you are or finding the same joy and excitement you are while doing it, remember that you can only "do things through Christ" because He is the source of our ability, strength and power,and He alone gives peace and joy whether you believe it or not. Do what I do and try to find within yourself the gifts and abilities God has given you and realize those are the exact things God wanted you to have and all you'll need to do what He's asked of you... He is not asking you to be like "so and so" He's asking you to be who He created you to be. And if you find season's in life where you have time to learn some new skills well then that's just an added bonus! But know that God's intent was for all of us to be supermoms, we just need to know where to go to get our power!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Time to Reveal the Gender

He has made everything beautiful in his time; also
he hath set the world in their hearts... ~Ecc. 3:11

Ben and I came to an arrangement on the name. We could not agree on the same name for either gender. I really had my heart set on Tess for a girl and he really wanted John for a boy. So I suggested that if it is a girl, I get to name her Tess and if it is a boy he would get to name him John and he agreed. 

So come on or around Oct. 24 this is what our family will look like:

If you can't read the cards well the name is Tess. We found out today that we are having a girl and while any healthy baby was a welcome addition to our family we couldn't be more thrilled that Jena is going to have a sister! We will name her Tess Lucille after my grandmother. It makes me so happy to have the chance to honor her this way. 

***A little background on these cards...I found them at a little shop on River St. in Savannah when I was just there. Usually I see stuff like this and barely even glance because they never have our kids names, not all of them anyway. When I happened upon "Jena" and it was spelled the same way we spell our Jena's name I knew it was worth the effort to try and find all our names. And I did. I just love these cards and plan to frame them and hang them up in our new living room once the addition is finished. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Time for a Vacation

Joyce & Dave's pool/pool house
At approximately 2:30am on Tuesday morning I will be leaving my home, heading to the bus station that will take me to Boston so I can catch my flight to Georgia at 7am. I am so excited! 

Ben offered to take a week off from work using some comp time he had earned from a trip he took earlier this winter so I could go visit my aunt & uncle. He is actually really looking forward to having this time to spend with the kids and I'm really looking forward to some time to just relax. And this is pool  is where I plan to spend a lot of my time! Believe me when I say this is not something I am taking for granted. I know exactly how lucky I am to have a husband who would take on something like this. A time of refreshing is so important for everyone but especially during the season of child rearing. These are some of the most exhausting and challenging years and I'm thankful to have a husband who understands that and is willing to allow me this time.

If you think of us in the next 8 days, say some prayers for Ben that things would go smoothly for him at home and this extra time he has with the kids would be a blessing and pray for me that my travel would go well. I've never flown alone so I'm really nervous about it. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Time for pregnancy and it's related issues

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus concerning you. ~I Thess. 5:18

It's not always easy to be thankful for everything...even though it's what we are told to do. Even though I know that I need to just be thankful I'm pregnant and not complain about the not so fun parts because there are so many women out there unable to have children doesn't mean I'm not prone to dislike certain parts of pregnancy. 

Yesterday I took my glucose tolerance test and with not much hope in passing, was still praying for a miracle. I have had gestational diabetes with all 5 of my pregnancies and had no reason to think that this one would be any different...and rightly so since I just received the call informing me I failed it. Normally a woman would have to go back for a 3-hr. tolerance test but with my history, there's no need for that. So tomorrow I meet with a diabetes consultant who will review diets, carb counting, & meters, and test strips, etc. since the last time I was properly educated was when I was pregnant for Noah-8 years ago. I'm sure some things have changed.

If you've never been faced with G.D. or are not informed about it then you likely are thinking, what's the big deal. I know that's how I was with my first pregnancy. Please understand that I am in no way trying to say that having G.D is anything like being diagnosed with Type I or Type II diabetes. I understand the differences and am not trying to give the impression they are the same. I merely am speaking from the point of view of a pregnant woman who is hungry, has cravings, and unlike most other pregnant women, is not able to give into those urges and cravings...ever! It's also very difficult when you are already so busy with 5 kids to pay attention to the time when you eat then exactly one hour later have to draw your blood and write down your number...three times a day. No, this isn't hard, it isn't even that bad really it's just an inconvenience I would rather do without. 

My 1st pregnancy
With my first pregnancy because I was young and uninformed I was not doing a good job controlling my numbers with diet so I was on insulin. That meant injecting myself before each meal and once at bedtime to control my numbers when I ate breakfast. For the following 4 pregnancies I learned and was able to control my numbers with diet and exercise and have not had to take insulin since. I'm praying I can have the same discipline this time because I really hated having to deal with taking insulin. 

So while I am so disappointed with the test results I am trying to have a positive outlook and just take it one day at a time. If you have the kind of pregnancy where you are not having to think about each and every bite of food that enters your mouth then be thankful and don't take it for granted (and eat a donut or two for me since that is what I mostly crave EVERY pregnancy!). Having had to deal with gestational diabetes has given me so much more understanding and compassion of what those who are diagnosed with type I or type II go through. Of course the statistics are that if you develop G.D. then you have a 60% chance of developing adult onset diabetes but that percentage can be reduced with proper diet and exercise. So Lord willing, I will not be faced with it. 

Our next big pregnancy milestone will be our level II ultrasound in Portland to make sure the baby's heart is healthy and developing properly. I should also at that time find out the gender...I am SOOOOO anxious for this. Thankfully I'll have a week in the Georgia sun to distract me while I wait!

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Time for the 100th!

Through wisdom is a house builded; and by 
understanding it is established.  ~Prov. 24:3

I noticed recently that the next blog post I did would be the 100th one. That seemed like a lot of pressure, like the 100th one should be really great and exciting. So I've been putting it off because I've not felt inspired much lately and didn't have anything great and exciting to talk about. Then I thought about how my family is great and exciting to me and since I started this blog as a way to let family and friends stay current with us then updating you all on what has been going on was the most appropriate  "100th" post I could do! 
I receive a lot of the following questions: "what have you been up to lately?" or "what's new with you guys?". There is nothing wrong with these questions it's just most of the time I just say "nothing" because well it's a lot of the same old stuff. With 5 kids pretty much all your time is consumed with playing with them, training them, cleaning them, cleaning up after them, or pulling my hair out because well, let's face it...some days are rough! And there's very little time to be doing new and exciting things. But for the sake of this blog post and to fill you all in here's what's going on...

Noah is finishing up 2nd grade. He is 8 now and yes, it amazes me that I already have an 8-year old!   He is doing very well in school, enjoying reading & writing the most. He writes very detailed and creative stories, which impress his teacher. He can spend hours at the table just writing and drawing the pictures to go with the story. He currently has a love for dogs. He wants one so badly and I really think he would do great with a dog but selfishly the last thing I want is a dog. They are a huge responsibility and there is a great possibility that Noah is like most kids who, once the novelty of the dog wears off, will get tired and not want to take care of it anymore. When that happens, it will fall on me and the last thing I want is a dog to take care of on top of the many bodies I already have to take care of. So he gets his fill from other people's dogs and I let him have as many pictures of dogs as he wants in his room. I did make him one of those fleece blankets that you tie together using dog patterned fleece I found and this has made him very happy. I'm really proud of the boy Noah is turning out to be. He truly has a heart that loves God and wants to please Him. He has a desire for his friends to know about God and his teachers continue to tell us that he is a kind boy who is nice to all his classmates. This makes us really happy. 

Owen is 6 1/2 (the "half" is very important to mention!) and finishing up 1st grade. He has done very well in school. Owen's strengths are math and drawing, just like his dad. I had a concern that Owen's speech delay would affect his ability to read and write but that has not been the case and he really excels in both these areas. He continue's to receive speech therapy in the school twice a week and thankfully he doesn't miss any important classroom time to accomplish this. Both his classroom teacher and speech teacher have been excellent at making sure his therapy doesn't interfere with his academics. We are so blessed to be in the school system we're in. Owen's love currently is boats and ships and he has a particular interest in the Titanic right now. If my printer was working I'd scan a picture of one of his drawings of a ship because it's quite remarkable. Owen is on the shy side but once he warms up he's a fun kid, always joking around! His teacher told us at the last parent-teacher conference that she really appreciates Owen's humor! 

Gabe will be 5 in July and has so much personality it's hard to explain the extent of it through writing. You have to have met him to understand. While I love his personality and know that God has designed him just perfectly for how He intends to use him, Gabe also continues to be my biggest challenge. Ben tells me we are exactly alike, and I can't really argue and I know it's why I find him hard to parent. He challenges me on a daily basis in several ways. Gabe loves the world around him and everything in it. Everyday something new excites him. He is interested in learning more about anything he doesn't know enough about and honestly starts the day asking questions and ends the day asking questions. In between he is talking about anything and everything and to anyone who will take the time to listen...and if no one is listening he's talking anyway. I told Ben I need to keep a journal handy at all times because so many funny things come out of his mouth and by the time Ben comes home from work I can't remember them anymore! He loves to play games, especially the card game, war. I also recently taught him to play Po-Ke-No, which was one of my favorite games as a kid and he loves it! He has his kindergarten screening next week. I'm amazed it's already that time but I am truly anxious for him to start because I know how much he is going to thrive in that environment. He's really looking forward to starting school. The teachers are excited too because one of them commented how all three of the boys will be in the same school next year...and this is the only year that will happen so it will be fun to have them all there at the same time! 
    Will is 3 and just a real sweetheart of a boy. He is FINALLY potty trained! Not completely at night but fully during the day and I'll take it. This is the first time in 4 years we only have one in diapers...not for long but for a few months anyway! He is also in speech therapy and we really love his therapist. We had to say goodbye to Heather, who he liked so much and we all really miss her! But services change when the child turns 3 so we take him to his current therapist and Karen is also the one who was Owen's therapist. We are so happy with the fact that she is in our lives again because she was so great with Owen and we know Will is going to do just as well. He gets really excited on Monday's when it's time to go to speech and loves the fact that he has "homework" to do during the week. Being a big boy is really important to him because he see's his older brothers doing all kinds of things and he wants to be just like them. Will is pretty much into anything his brothers are's cute to watch him want to be like them. And if they make a joke he laughs the hardest...he adores them.

Jena is 2 now and very busy. It's rare that you see her not moving around if she is not contained in her booster seat. She is curious about everything and quick to find herself into mischief. I have found it very difficult to get things done while she is awake. The only reason I am writing this blog right now is because I gave her a bowl of water and some dishes to pretend to wash. She loves to play with her brothers, especially outside. Currently she is into clothes and accessories. She likes to have A LOT of hair bows in her hair at one time, loves bags & purses, and changes her clothes at least 3 times a day. I will be making lunch and the next thing I know she has been in her room, gotten out a new outfit and changed herself! Yesterday I was putting away laundry and in the 10 minutes it took me to put away Noah and Owen's clothes she had gone into her room, found one of her nail polish bottles (which was on a high shelf but she dragged a chair over, climbed up and got it), gotten it open and had painted her legs and hands with it. Thankfully it didn't get on her clothes (she was kind enough to take those off before she started) or the carpet and came off her skin easily. So needless to say, she keeps herself occupied. 

        As for Ben and I, well we spend each day just trying to survive being outnumbered! No, God in His goodness gives us the grace and strength each day and honestly we couldn't imagine our life any differently. As hard as some days are and as tired as we get, the blessings of our family far outweigh the challenges. Ben has been doing great at work and thankfully is very busy. We're blessed with job security right now and that is something we don't take for granted. He also has been working on finishing the inside of our addition. All the drywall is up except for the garage ceiling, which he can't finish until he finishes the plumbing. This is the part he is up to now. He's never done plumbing before but is up for the challenge and I have no doubt he'll do a great job. He also keeps busy teaching Good News Club on Fridays in the kids school. Today wraps up our third year being a part of it. Ben has a gift for teaching kids and they really enjoy being taught by him. He is also a board member for CEF of Southern ME and he is thankful for this opportunity. It's a ministry he grew up with and loves so it's fun for him to be a part of it in this capacity. Then of course he plays piano at church. How he does everything he does and still manages to be a huge help and blessing at home amazes me. I don't think I need to tell you how I stay busy...if you've read this post, you know! I am finally over the morning/day sickness this pregnancy gave me. It was challenging to take care of everyone and the house and all our responsibilities while being sick but it's amazing how God sustains us through those difficult times. Now I feel great! We have a level II ultrasound scheduled for June 4th to look at the baby's heart. Since we had one child with a heart defect, they have checked all our babies since. I'm almost positive we'll learn the gender of the baby (Lord willing) at that time and I'm so anxious!! I also have my glucose tolerance test next week. My hopes are not high that I will pass...I've had gestational diabetes for all my pregnancies. One highlight and "new" thing for me coming up is my trip to Georgia to visit my aunt and uncle. Ben has traveled quite a bit for work over the past few years so now it's my turn to get away and have a break and I am so grateful. Ben offered to take a week off from work to watch the kids so I could go. I don't know too many men who would take care of 5 kids alone just to be a blessing to their wife...AMAZING. 

So hopefully this answers any questions you have about what's going on with us or what's new. For a lot of people this kind of life would not be considered exciting but when I look back at all God has done and what He will continue to do, I get excited! We are blessed beyond measure!