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

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Time for the Nap Time Battle

The other day Jena was pretending she was a princess and came up to me and asked me to read her the pretend letter that I apparently had written her. I played along and made up some things that could have been in the letter. I ended the letter by saying I hoped she would have a good nap that afternoon because it's important for princesses to get their rest. She stopped me and asked me to change the ending because she was not a little girl princess, she was a grown-up princess. I changed my ending to instead say that I hoped she would take a good nap that afternoon because grown-up princesses need to get their rest too. She was not at all amused by this and proceeded to rip up the pieces of paper, which contained the pretend letter, and throw it in the trash. I laughed so hard.

Jena does not like nap time. None of my kids have liked nap time after the age of 3. Before that age, most of my babies have been very good sleepers and done well at nap time. For some reason though there comes a point where they no longer feel they need sleep to function. Ben and I are night owls so it makes sense all our kids are. I'm also someone who does not need a lot of sleep and a few of our kids definitely take after me for that. Regardless of genetics though kids need sleep whether they think they do or not. If not sleep, then definitely some quiet, down time....this I am a firm believer in.

We can't force kids to least I haven't figured out how yet. What I can do is try as best I can to keep them on a healthy sleep schedule and hope that in time their bodies will adjust and that they will learn to relax and enjoy the time of rest. Sleep training babies is so different than toddlers. If you are at all interested in learning about the method I have used for all my babies then I recommend reading the book Baby Wise. For now I just want to share with you how I have dealt with the tireless toddler who fights nap time.

First, nap time isn't really nap time anymore. I call it rest time. Even if the child tells me they are not tired they have to go down for rest time. I require this of all my kids until they start school. It is at the same time every day, typically. I allow the child to listen to a CD and look at books quietly. They are not allowed to get out of their bed and they are not allowed to make noise. The noise part isn't so much an issue with the girls but it really was with my boys....there is always noise coming out of a boy! Then set a time limit. Our rest time is 2 hours.  If they don't obey those rules there is a consequence. This is something you have to decide for your child. Whatever your consequence is for disobeying in other areas, should be the consequence for disobeying at rest time.

Some of my kids did this very well and others (ahem, Gabe & Jena) not so much. The key is to remain firm in your expectations and be consistent. There will be some days (or weeks) that you spend the entire rest time going up there and reminding them to obey and getting them back in their bed and you will be exhausted! I promise if you remain firm and don't waiver on what you expect from the child they will get it and when that moment happens you will be so happy you made the commitment to train them to have rest time. It is amusing to me that it is usually the child who fights it the most who ends up falling asleep!

Now if I could only train myself to take naps, we'd be golden!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Time to Freeze Rice

I feel like all I've been focusing on the past few weeks is how to simplify things, how to make things easier and how to do things as efficiently as I can. I need more time saving tips and tricks....freezing sandwiches for school lunches....AMAZING! I'm still in awe that I never did this before!

A year or so ago, when I had just had Tess and found out I was pregnant for Emma I was a bit overwhelmed....just a bit. A friend of mine was so thoughtful and brought me a meal to put in my freezer to help me! In that meal was a bag of pre-cooked rice that had been frozen in a freezer bag. All I had to do was thaw it in the microwave. It tasted amazing and what a great time saving tip to freeze rice! I always meant to do this myself and just never got around to it. Till now!

I don't know about you but we eat rice a lot here. At least twice a week. It goes with everything...stir fry, stroganoff, fish, and this crock pot dish I'm making for dinner tonight: Crockpot Shrimp Creole. Rice is not at all hard to make but on a busy night, when you don't have a minute to spare, it can seem like it's a torturous task. I'm thinking that I am going to love being able to go to the freezer and just grab a bag of already cooked rice and pop it in the microwave!

Here is how my friend did it...its so simple you'll be wondering why you didn't think to do this yourself!

Step 1: Cook your favorite rice as you normally would. I use Basmati and I made 20 cups of rice, which will give me about 5 meals worth of rice, not counting leftovers.

Step 2: Let it cool.

Step 3: Place in freezer bags in the portion size you need. I did 4 cup portions.

Step 4: Put the bags in the freezer.

When you are ready to use the rice all you have to do is take it out of the freezer, vent the bag a little and put it in the microwave for 3 or so minutes.

That's it! So easy and it tastes great too. I am savoring every tip and trick to save time these days and this one is by far one of my favorites! From the reading I have done, it seems rice will keep in the freezer for up to a month. Making rice once a month compared to twice a week sounds much better to me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Time for School Lunch Madness!

School has begun and with that comes school lunches. I have always sent the kids to school with a lunch from home with the exception of last year...two babies meant I just couldn't handle the extra work of making lunches so the kids got hot lunch. Paying for school lunch adds up though and it is cheaper for me to make them a lunch. I haven't done the math of what I spend but I know I don't spend $200 a month, which is what paying for school lunch for 4 kids would cost me. Plus my kids prefer cold lunch to hot lunch and with cold lunch I know there is way less waste because I'm sending them with food they like.

This is the first year I have 4 lunches to make and I know it shouldn't seem like that much more work but for some reason it is. I have felt the need to be way more prepared then I have in years past and I have found I need to give myself more time to prepare the lunches. I was reading a blog post I found on Pinterest, (which I didn't save and can't find now otherwise I would reference it), and her tip was to make sandwiches ahead and freeze them. She does this with her kids and they said the sandwiches taste just as good. I thought this was genius and so I have started doing this. It doesn't require a whole lot of time. In an hour I was able to make 24 sandwiches. I made sunbutter & cinnamon, PB & J, and PB & Honey with Cinnamon. I wrap them in freezer plastic wrap and then label them. I also made some Ham & Cheese sandwiches to freeze. I have given the kids these frozen sandwiches for a week now and they don't even know they've been frozen! Not one complaint that they taste weird or the bread is soggy or anything so I'd say this is working for us! Thankfully we have two chest freezers in the basement so I am able to devote a good amount of space in my refrigerator freezer to keep the sandwiches. In the morning I pull it from the freezer and throw it in the lunch box. By lunch time it's thawed and ready to eat.

Then there is everything else to think of. They need a snack and other items to round off the lunch. In order to save my sanity in the mornings I pre-package all the snacks, chips & crackers for about a 2-week period so all I have to do is grab the bags in the morning and throw it into the lunch box. I have three separate baskets (I got them at the dollar store) that I use for school lunches (these are separate from my home snack basket, which you can read about HERE). One is for snack time items, one for chips, crackers or pretzels to go with the sandwiches, and one is for dessert. The snack basket has items like almonds & peanuts, cheese & crackers, applesauce, granola bars, rice cakes and graham crackers. My chip basket has bags of chips, cheez-its, pretzels, wheat thins, etc. Then the dessert basket has animal crackers, fruit snacks and any homemade cookies or brownies we have at the time. This system has been such a life saver. My kids also know to save all their baggies so we use them again and again. When it comes to the fresh fruits and veggies I don't pre-package those because I don't really have the room to devote in my fridge right now but also because at the start of school I bought these divided lunch box containers that I can just put the fruits and veggies into without pre-bagging them. These came in a pack of 4 and are great quality. Another thing I like to do is buy the bulk size blocks of cheese and cut up slices ahead of time. This makes putting together a cheese & cracker snack much easier.

Do you have any tips and tricks that help you get through the busy morning rush when it comes to making school lunches? What are some of your kids favorite school lunches? I know Pinterest is loaded with ideas but I like hearing from you!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Time for Essential Oils

And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick,
and healed them. ~Mark 6:13

I have recently entered the world of Essential Oils. I will admit that I tend to be on the skeptical side when it comes to things like this. I am by no means a natural, make-it-all-myself kind of mom. You will not hear me talking down doctors or hospitals because I do not believe they are bad and I don't believe that all medicine is bad. We are so fortunate to live in a time when there is so much available to us. So many lives are saved because of what God has allowed men and women to achieve in the world of medicine. When my 3-year-old needed open-heart surgery you better believe I was thankful for the skilled & compassionate surgeon we had to repair his heart and for the advancements that have been made, making this surgery possible.

My interest in EO's started about a year ago when I became very sick with high blood pressure during the end of my pregnancy with Tess, which continued for months after she was born. The medicines they had me on to bring my pressure down, while necessary and life saving, came with some pretty severe side effects, including depression. It was a really difficult & scary time for Ben and I. Once I found out I was pregnant with Emma I had to be taken off the medicines and God was extremely good to me and allowed my blood pressure to come down to a safe number throughout my pregnancy with Emma. I did, however, start reading up on some natural ways to help high blood pressure in case I would develop the same issues once I neared the end of my pregnancy because I did not ever want to go through what I did before while being on those medications. I was still very skeptical though and never pursued EO's any further until I found out my friend was not only using them with her family but also selling the oils. She came to my house, taught me about them, answered my questions and helped me purchase some.

After a little over a month of using only EO's to treat our family, I am a believer. I can't say Ben is as convinced as I am but he is getting more so every day. Just today he asked me if I had anything for a sore throat (we have a nasty cold going through our house). I wasn't sure what he meant so I said, "well...I have an oil for that". I made him a gargle and when I asked him to tell me honestly how it worked he said it made the sore throat go away. (You have to know that it was very hard for him to admit that to me!) I've had him gargling a few times today and it's helping him a lot. Here are a few other ways we have had the opportunity to use Essential Oils in our home over the past couple months:

1. Bee Stings: it just so happened that shortly after receiving the oils two of my kids got stung. On both of the stings I immediately put a couple of drops of melaluca and a drop of lavender on the sting and both the kids said the pain went away almost instantly and a few hours later you couldn't even tell where they had been stung.

2. Snoring: Someone in our house snores and it keeps me awake. I will not say the oils have cured the snoring but it definitely helps. The snoring is not as loud or as prolonged. He will snore for a minute or two then stop. I can now tell which nights he uses the oil and which nights he doesn't. What I did was filled a roller bottle with 20 drops of Thyme and filled the rest with Fractionated Coconut Oil (a carrier oil). He rolls this on the bottoms of his feet at night (targeting specifically the big toe) and it truly helps! I also make a rub of doTerra's Breathe oil blend with some coconut oil and massage that into his chest.

3. Headaches: This is what sold me completely on the oils. I suffer from headaches. Really bad headaches and almost every day. I had been taking a lot of Ibuprophen and suffered a lot with headaches during pregnancies when I couldn't really take anything except Tylenol, which doesn't work for me. When I feel a headache coming on I put a drop or two of Peppermint oil on the back of my neck and rub it in. Then I use what is left on my hands and massage it into my temples. In 20 minutes my headache is gone. I haven't taken any over the counter medicine for a headache in a month and I am someone who took something on an almost daily basis!

4.Earache: Last week one of the boys got sick with a bad head cold and was complaining of an earache. I put a couple of drops of melaluca and lavender on a cotton ball and had him place it on his ear for 10 minutes. I also put a few drops of lemon around the outside of his ear and throat. I repeated this 3 times that day and by the next day he no longer was complaining of any pain and even his cold had improved significantly.Oregano is also supposed to be really good for this but his earache never got worse so I didn't need to use it.

5. Immune Building: I have been having the kids rub doTerra's oil blend, On Guard, to help keep them healthy this school year. I can't say for certain yet how much this will help or work since we are only a week into school but I have confidence we will see results. My friend uses this regularly on her children and has seen results.

These are just a few of the ways we have seen results with EO's so far...and we are only a couple months into it. I'm still learning as there is so much to learn. Finding which oil works best for you for a specific ailment also requires a lot of research since there is usually more than one oil or combination of oils you can use to treat something. One website I have found extremely helpful to me is the Everything Essential website. Click the link and learn about how you can treat some of the ailments you are experiencing with EO's. While I am a believer in the oils I also believe that there will be some things that oils cannot treat. I just wanted a way that I could treat my kids naturally, without running to the Dr. for everything. If you are at all interested and want to learn more I would be very happy to put you in contact with my friend who sells doTerra oils, or you can do some reading and shopping on your own! I just purchased the book, Modern Essentials, which my friend
recommended I do because of all the valuable information it has in
regard to EO's. I can't wait for it to come in!

***One note I will make is that not all essential oils are created equal. Do your research before purchasing. I was curious for myself if I could get the oils for a cheaper price and ordered one oil made by a different company. The quality was not comparable. Compared to the lower priced oil I bought, doTerra was a superior oil. In most cases, you get what you pay for.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Time to Share a Big Struggle!

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ~I Sam.16:7

I try, I've tried, I'm trying to get back into shape & eat healthy but it has been a real tough road for me. I know I'm not alone. The fact that I have had 7 babies has nothing to do with the fact that I have not lost all my baby weight. I refuse to use that as an excuse because I am the only reason I'm not back in shape. I am the one who makes the food choices I do and I am the one who chooses how to spend my free time. I and I alone am responsible for shedding these extra pounds I have. One of my biggest pet-peeves is people who make excuses for their circumstances and behaviors...just ask my kids! The pressure I feel is the time frame in which I perceive others think I should be in shape by. A few weeks ago I overheard a couple of ladies talking. They didn't know I could hear and I was not meant to hear this but one said to the other, "Is Melissa pregnant again or is that just left over from the last one?". Wow. Yeah that hurt. For the record, I am not pregnant. I do however understand why she asked her friend. If you know my history, the time frame would be just about right for another baby to be on the way and I have really struggled after having Emma to lose that baby belly that keeps me looking about 4 months pregnant.

I do want to lose the weight. I do want to make better food choices. I do want to exercise more. What I can't do is everything .There are a lot of things I want to do but I just can't right now. The fact that I have 7 kids, 2 of them under 2, is not irrelevant. I'm busy and I'm tired...exhausted actually. The last thing I have the energy for is exercise. I know that I will get the extra weight off because I want to. What I have to allow myself though is time to breath. I am in a very busy season of life that doesn't allow me much free time at all. What I know for sure is there will come a day, a season in life when I will have more time on my hands, I will be more rested. My kids will grow up and I will be able to do a lot more of the things I want to. This is not to say that I have given up trying in this season...Jillian Michaels and I have become good friends. It just means that it's going to take me longer than other's think it should for me to get back to where I was before I had babies....or at least some semblance of that. And that has to be okay. It just does because there is only so much of me and so many hours in the day and way too many little ones needing me for it to be any other way.

If you struggle like I do then I want to encourage you and I want you to know I understand! I know how hard it is to try and raise little ones AND take care of yourself. It's hard to find a balance. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom to know where you can fit in some time for yourself. Ask your husband to pray with you and share with him how you are feeling. I'm one of the fortunate ones who has a husband who understands my need to have time to exercise so he is willing to watch the kids for an hour so I can fit in an exercise class or do a video at home. I also have to pray a lot and ask God to give me the will power to make healthy food I love my sweets!!! Ask a friend to be your cheerleader or accountability partner...this helps so much! Most importantly though you need to understand that these things don't happen over night. It takes time to get back into a routine of exercise and finally seeing those extra pounds come off...especially when you've just welcomed a new life into your family! That's okay. Give yourself a break. Just keep trying...."little by little, inch by inch!".