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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Time to Adjust

The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his 
people with peace. ~Psalm 29:11

Emma Michelle has made her arrival and not a moment too soon. Weighing in at 10lbs, 10 oz I was thankful she came a little over 3 weeks early! All the kids were so excited to meet her and beg me all the time if they can hold her. We are certainly feeling blessed. 
But you know, blessed isn't the only thing we are feeling. We are feeling outnumbered, overwhelmed, tired, and weak. Does this surprise you? People keep asking us how things are going, or how we are doing and then seem surprised when we don't say that things are going excellent and we've got this all under control! I realize you expect that with baby 7 things are old hat to us but really this has been a rather hard adjustment.The fact that we have two babies in the house is a big factor in our feeling like we don't have this under control. Tess is still a baby at 10 months so we have two to give bottles to and feed and two who don't walk, and two who can't verbalize their needs and two who can't really do anything on their own yet. Not to mention the other 5 that still need us for things! This is a new experience for us and the closest to having twins either of us ever wants to be! Before this our closest two were 14 months apart and honestly that was nothing compared to this! Of course if God had ever seen fit to bless us with twins we would have been happy but right now, we are glad they have come one at a time! We are relying on Gods grace and strength to get us through each day and we know He will...this is just going to take some time!
My Irish Twins-10 months apart!

Emma is also dealing with jaundice. They did discharge her from the hospital because her numbers were borderline at the time so we were told to keep an eye on her. Yesterday at her check up her numbers had gone up into a zone that could present some dangers. So we had more lab work done this morning to see if her numbers went down...but they didn't. The went up. If her number gets to 20 she will have to be hospitalized and put under the bili lights. This morning she is at 17. So we have been told to keep doing what we are doing which is feeding her every 2hrs (or less if she wants...yes, exhausting!) and having her sleep in the sun. Please pray that her numbers would decrease without the need to be hospitalized. We are thankful that she doesn't present any of the other symptoms associated with jaundiced such as being lethargic and not wanting to eat. Those are danger signs that we need to be keeping an eye out for. Otherwise for a premie she is doing great. The Dr's are really happy with how she looks and we are so thankful!

There are so many things I am thankful for in regards to Emma's pregnancy and delivery.My health is one of them. Up until a couple weeks ago my blood pressure and sugars remained right where they needed to be and I know that was the power of all your prayers at work. My BP took a turn for the worst last week. I was put on "bed rest" but realistically we all knew that was impossible so I was to do as little as possible and not leave the house unless I absolutely had to. Even with doing those things and resting as much as I could my BP still got dangerously high. I was sent to the hospital a couple times to be monitored when the decision was finally made the best thing for me health wise was to induce me and deliver the baby to get my blood pressure down. We saw Gods hand in this delivery everywhere we looked. That day the Dewhurst family, whose daughters have been babysitting for us lately, were able to come and watch the kids for us since we had no child care. They arrived in lightening speed and even spent the night so Ben could stay with me at the hospital after I delivered! We are so grateful to them! Also, when you've delivered as many babies as I have at the same hospital ( a small hospital) the nurses come to know you very well and we know the nurses well. I have my favorite nurse. I have loved her since she helped deliver Gabe and then Will. She was the nurse on duty that day and I was so thrilled. She's amazing! And the icing on the cake was that my favorite Dr., the one I request to only be seen by, happened to be on call and delivered Emma. I was on cloud 9 really with my medical team! It doesn't hurt my Dr. is originally from Madawaska! God just blessed over and above. My blood pressure remains stable, not great, but not terribly high so I don't need to be on meds this time around and we are praising God for that. 
So long story short we are all doing well, we are happy and blessed but also tired and overwhelmed. All the meals our friends are providing are a saving grace right now, we are so blessed by wonderful friends. Bear with us as we slip off the radar for a few months and get to know our new addition and adjust to life as we know it now! Your prayers and love and support mean so much...we know how blessed we are!
Our 7 amazing kids!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Time to Get out of the House with Little People

I am asked often how I manage to run my errands with all the kids. I constantly hear, "I don't know how you do it". I actually don't think twice about it anymore because it has been a way of life for so long but, to those that do wonder, I thought I'd fill you in on some of my tips and tricks that make going out manageable. 

I will say I have it easier now than I did in the beginning. When Jena was born I had 5 kids, ages 5 and under so those days were more challenging than they are now. With 3 kids in school, getting out of the house is "easy" during the school year. Although in a few short weeks I will again have 4 kids, 4 and under at home so the challenges will be there still as far as getting out of the house goes. Thankfully I have had a lot of practice over the years so the thought of it isn't nearly as daunting as it used to be. The following are things I do to make being in public manageable and I don't think you have to have 4 or 5 kids to implement this. These are all things I also did when I had 1 or 2. 

1. Train them at Home: This is really important. If you don't expect obedience at home, don't expect it from them in public. Take the time to teach them to obey right away, all the way and with a happy heart! When they are playing outside in the yard is a great time. Teaching them not to stray and obeying boundaries at home will help you while you are out. Generally speaking, if they are in the habit of obeying you at home they will be able to do it in public.  I always cringe when I see a kid run away from their mom. It may seem harmless when it happens in the yard but change the scenery and this is happening in a parking lot and it's an accident waiting to happen. 

2. Have a plan: Ok yes, by nature I am a planner. I plan everything and feel passionately that plans are good, necessary and bring order to the world. I also understand that we are not all made this way. Some of you can wake up in the morning not having a clue what you will do, what you will eat, what you will clean and it works for you. That's great. But when it comes to having multiple little ones to get in and out of a vehicle in a busy or even non-busy parking lot you NEED a plan if you want to keep everyone safe. Hopefully if you've done tip #1, you aren't too worried. I teach ALL my kids, yes even my 8 & 9 year old to keep one hand on our vehicle as I am getting them out one by one. No one is allowed to walk around the car, run off, etc. They have to stand still keeping one hand on our vehicle. If your child has a hard time obeying then practice this in the driveway at home and then test it out in a parking lot you know is safe and not busy. I also park next to the cart return, when possible so that the ones that are going in the cart can be set in it right away and it also makes getting into the store and returning the cart easier. When it's not possible and I have to wait till I get in the store to get a cart then I delegate one little to each of the older two boys. They have to hold their hand as we walk into the store and usually I have a couple I'm carrying, or helping into the store. 

3. State expectations clearly: Don't assume that your children know what good behavior is. Make sure they know and understand what your expectations are. Expectations will vary from errand to errand sometimes. I usually take a couple minutes before we arrive to our destination to remind them what I expect of them, what they will do while we are there and what responsibilities, if any, I have for them. The Dr.'s office is a tougher one for me than the grocery store. At least at the grocery store they are walking around (most of them) and moving. At a Dr.'s office there is a lot of sitting and waiting and that is understandably hard for most kids. But they CAN do it so again, practice at home if you have to. I have in the past set a timer and made my kids sit and read a book without moving or talking till the timer went off. Don't expect perfection but do expect a decent effort. I have some that sitting still is not a problem and who needed very little training. Then there are others who just can't seem to sit still for more than 2 minutes no matter how much training they get. If I see them making an honest effort to obey that is when I am pleased. As they age you can raise your expectations but its important to be realistic and understand that not all kids are the same. 

4. Be Prepared: This pregnancy I have been seen weekly by my OB from the very beginning, which means we have spent A LOT of time in the Dr's office. The nurses and Dr.'s are amazed at how well my kids do and comment about it often. And honestly sometimes I'm even amazed! But I do go prepared. With my OB I cannot always plan my appts. at times that are good for our schedule. Because I am there weekly, I have to take the time I can get and sometimes that has meant in the middle of nap time or lunch time. I bring snacks if I have to, I bring my ipad if I have to. I don't typically allow the kids electronics in the Dr.s office because I feel they should be able to sit quietly and talk with each other or read books without needing electronics to behave and be quiet. But when I know we will be there during a difficult time of day then I do allow it. When I do have more control over when a Dr. appt. will be like our well-child visits for example, then I am mindful to choose a time that fits in with our schedule well so that it's not interfering with nap time or meal time. That usually means I am at the pediatrician early in the morning. 

5. Balance Rewards and Consequences: Don't expect your kids to obey and meet your expectations if there are no consequences for not doing it. At the same time, be reasonable. Some errands are more difficult on kids than others and understanding that and being willing to reward good behavior in those times will go a long way. I don't reward good behavior for the errands that are a part of our everyday life like grocery shopping or well-child visits. Although on a side note. When we are at the grocery store my kids LOVE going to see the lobsters in the tank. It takes extra time, sometimes time I don't have but it is a nice incentive for them to behave. If they've been behaving then when we get to the tank we stop for 5 or so minutes so they can watch them. But during those time when it's an errand that is out of the norm and may be more challenging for the kids then tell them in advance that if they behave and meet your (reasonable) expectations then they will be rewarded. Recently we had a Dr. appt. at Noah's cardiologist. This is not your typical Dr. appt. as it's very long...2-3 hrs long to be exact. I had all 6 kids with me. They did fantastic and they were rewarded. Always follow through with your rewards and consequences. 

These are ways that have helped our family manage out of the house with all the kids. The more you do it the easier it gets. There will be kinks to work out in the beginning and there will be those days where they just don't want to cooperate. It happens! Don't get discouraged or think you're doing something wrong. Try again next time!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Time to look Outward

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, 
even as also ye do. ~I Thess.5:11

Earlier this spring I wanted to come up with a way we, as a family, could reach out and minister to some folks in our church. I wanted it to be an activity that would be a blessing to not only the receiver but also us, in particular the kids. In this season of life many things we would love to do are challenging things to do. I wanted whatever we decided on to be something that was easy enough so that we would have the desire to continue with it and not look at the activity as a chore. 

What we came up with has been a really great activity and so I want to share it with you. As a family we committed to praying for and writing/drawing cards and letters of encouragement to one person each in the church throughout the summer. With no suggestions or prodding from Ben and I each of the kids, including Jena, chose one person who is in our church to write to. Ben and I also did this. The kids made their own cards and those that could write a letter did that as well, letting the person know how they were praying for them. Often Jena would pick a picture from one of her coloring books to color for her person. The response we have received from those getting our cards has been awesome. But what I love most about this activity is that it has been a way for our kids to feel more connected with people in our church and remind them that God can use them too to be a blessing and encouragement to others.

My kids would never have come up with this idea on their own. But once the idea was
established and we began putting this plan into action I did not have to force them or convince them to do this. They were very excited when the time came to sit at the table and make their cards...this was a blessing to my heart. They have also been so mindful to pray for their person. They all take turns at dinner time praying and each time they have not forgotten to include their person in their prayers. 

We are so glad we made the decision to do this and I do believe this is something that will become a summer tradition of ours. Soon enough even Tess will be joining in!