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, June 18, 2014

A Time to NOT Have a Bucket List

Summer vacation is finally here! I think it is just me but this year did NOT fly by. It was a tough year for our family, adjusting to two new babies so maybe that is why I found I struggled to get through this school year and felt it dragged on. Whatever the reason, summer vacation could not get here fast enough.

 You hear talk a lot about "bucket lists". I'm not really sure where the idea or term comes from but everyone seems to be making one. I like the idea of a bucket list for your life, things you'd like to do before you die. It's a nice way to motivate you to accomplish some of those things before time slips by and it's too late. What is very new to me and something I certainly never experienced as a child are the "Summer Vacation" bucket lists. I guess you ask your kids what they want to do over the summer and then proceed to try and cross them all of in the short 2 months you have off. I don't know if there are boundaries to this? If a kid says, "a trip to Florida" does that get written down? Is there a budget? Is there a limit as to how many things can be written on the list? If we only have 60 days of summer vacation but there are 120 things on the list (easily done if you have several kids writing things down) is it a mad dash to fit in two things a day till the end of vacation?

I'm not judging you if you do it. Every family has to do what works for their family but for mine...this is not going to happen. My idea of summer vacation is to not be as busy or busier as I was during the school year. I look forward to summer vacation because I want to relax and move at a snails pace if the day allows. I want to be able to wake up and not be rushed in the morning. I have to imagine that it can get pretty stressful to fulfill all the items on those bucket lists. I also don't want to deal with the disappointment that might come. I'm sure some kids are very reasonable and understand if some things don't get crossed off but there are also some that must get pretty disappointed if time runs out before they are all completed. I don't want that kind of stress hanging over me. I don't want my summer vacation to be a race against time trying to cross everything off a list...a list filled with a child's fleeting desires. My experience with kids has been that they can desperately want to do something one minute and then two seconds later they have moved on to something else. I don't want to spend my summer trying to fulfill fleeting desires all while depleting my bank account!

I also do not want my kids to look forward to summer vacation because we have something planned every day. I want my kids to look forward to summer vacation for the reasons I be home! I looked forward to being able to play outside with my friends everyday, riding my bike, spending time with family at the camp and seeing cousins I didn't get to see the rest of the year. My summers were so simple. We woke up and we didn't always know what the day would bring but by the end of it we had some new adventures to talk about, a new secret hiding place, a new tree we found that was perfect for climbing and maybe even a new neighborhood friend we had made that day. As we got older there were several beach days and usually a trip to go visit family for a week or so but still the rest of my summer was simple. It was waking up and not really knowing what the day would hold. I want my kids to wake up and find new adventures on their own, without me "entertaining" them. I want them to get creative with each other and do things like explore our woods, find animal tracks, create their own secret clubhouse, ride their bikes and just play a game of soccer in the yard. I want them to have enough down time that they can get lost in a book or two or three. I want to have enough time with them at home so I can teach them some things that I don't have time to during the school year like cooking or doing their own laundry or how to use pruning shears and show them that work can be fun if we are working together. I want my kids to get excited about the little things and not find them boring. I want my kids to understand that real life is not always getting to do everything we want and then teaching them that that is okay because there is so much fun and joy to be found in the simple things.

That being said ,we do have a few fun things planned for the kids but when I say a few I really mean a few! We have 3 young kids who have never been to Storyland but our older two have. We will be taking the three younger ones in a couple weeks while the older two and the babies stay home (with our super fun babysitters!). This is a birthday gift for our July birthday boy. This might sound mean to some of you parents but trying to keep a watchful eye on 7 kids (At a theme park where rides are involved!) and having two in diapers is not the way I want to do Storyland. So we take them in stages. Everyone gets to go at some point and mom & dad are way less stressed...we're pretty outnumbered! We will also get to stay at my families camp on the lake for a week. I am so excited about this. I grew up spending most of my days at the camp and this is where the majority of my summer memories were made. They are to this day, my favorite memories. I am so excited to share this with my kids and am so thankful I have been given the opportunity to do so. Then we end our summer with Camp Good News (click on the link if you are not familiar with's a blast for kids and so affordable!) Ben and I will be staff workers that week and the three older boys will get to be campers. As a family we love camp so it's a great way to end our summer fun! What will do to fill in all that other time? I don't know! That is the beauty of summer vacation...not knowing what memories lie ahead and the stories we will have to tell at the end of it. I am looking forward to a great couple of months and I hope you are too!

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Time for another Persuasive Letter

Remember last year when Noah had to write us a persuasive letter in school? He was trying to convince us we should get him a dog. If you didn't read Noah's persuasive letter, click the link. It's great! This letter was my favorite thing any of the kids have ever done at school.

This year Owen has the same teacher Noah did last year. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what his persuasive letter would be about. His letter made me laugh too...not about what he's trying to persuade us on but because of what he says to persuade us. Owen's  reads:

Dear Mom and Dad,
One of the reasons I would like a new bike is the bike I have always has a flat tire. I think the reason it always has a flat tire is because I'm too heavy. Or a different reason, I don't know. 

I would like a new bike because the one I have is too small and Pepere even put it up higher. So I've totally grown out of it. If I have a new bike, it will be the right size. My brother Will, will be able to ride my old bike. 

I would like a new bike because the one I have now, Will is always riding. If I have a new bike I could ride that one. You wouldn't have to put air in the flat tires all the time.

I would like a new bike because I would ride it more often. It would also be the right size. If I get a new bike I will mow the lawn, wash the dishes, and I will put the bike near the shed more.


Fortunately for Owen we do not have the same aversion to bikes as we do to dogs!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Time to Say Goodbye

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life
or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ~Phil. 1:20-21

Some of you might remember the post I wrote about a summer project our family started last year. If not, you can read it here (click the link). What our family did was choose someone in our church to commit to praying for over the summer and send them notes/drawings, etc. This ended up being such an amazing project. Every single one of us received a blessing from this. We decided this would become something we were going to do every summer. What started out as a "summer project" turned into a year-long project because the kids did not want to stop sending notes to the person they had chosen and they never stopped praying for them. We just recently chose our person for the coming summer/year but the kids were adamant that they did not want to stop praying for and writing to their previous person so now they are each praying for two people! It's just awesome.

Why do I bring this up again? Well, because there is a very special lady we have been praying for because she is the person Gabe chose last summer to pray and make cards for. Because of this, Mrs. E and Gabe have developed a very special relationship. He truly loves Mrs. E and is very sad that she may not be with us much longer. Even as I write this it is hard to hold back the tears. Mrs. E has cancer and is not expected to have many more days here on Earth. Mrs. E and her husband Mr. E have been a part of our families lives from the first day we started attending the church we are at now. It's has been 8 years. They were one of the first and few families who have invited us over for meals, shared their maple syrup with us, brought me meal upon meal every time I had a baby, they gave us raspberry bushes from their abundance and picked apples for us when we didn't have time to do it ourselves. Mrs. E has been such an encouragement to me. She was always making sure I knew she appreciated the things I did and reminding me I was doing a good job as a mom. She herself had 6 children and was always so happy for us when another baby joined our family. We have been thankful for their friendship and encouragement. But for Gabe, because he was praying for her daily and because he was writing her cards, he developed a closer relationship with her than any of the other kids have and he is truly sad that she is so sick. 

The other day the kids had a 1/2 day of school and I had "my girls" here helping me so I took the opportunity to only bring the older kids over to Mrs. E's home to visit her. She is unable to get out of bed now, can barely whisper and is no longer eating. I warned the boys that it might be a shock to see her this way. I admit they were much stronger than me. I couldn't stop the tears. Mrs. E is in her 70's and up until last year she moved quicker than most of us. Ben and I always say that we hope we age just like she and Mr. E have because they are in amazing health and shape. They don't stop! So to see Mrs. E this way was hard. Mr. E picked up Gabe and brought him right over to her bed, sat him down next to her so he could give her a big hug. It was such a sweet moment. When we were driving home Gabe said, "I really wish she could have talked to me" and "I don't want Mrs. E to die". It was the perfect opportunity to remind the boys that while we are sad and will miss her very much we are only saying goodbye here on Earth. God promises life everlasting to those who believe in Him and we know Mrs. E loves God and has trusted Him as her Savior. We will see her again in heaven and that is such a precious hope that we as believers in Christ have. (John 3:16; John 5:24;)

While we were visiting, Mr. E wanted to make sure we knew that they wanted Ben to come visit too so on Saturday Ben went over with Gabe. Before Gabe walked out the door he said to me, "I really hope she can talk to me". Well God is good because she was strong enough to whisper a few thing to him and he was so happy! It's a bittersweet time for sure. I praise God for Mr. & Mrs. E's testimony and genuine love for God. They have served so faithfully and are a shining example of what God expects from his "senior saints". If you could take some time and keep this family in your prayers. They have a very big family and they are all there with Mr. & Mrs. E now but they need strength and comfort during this difficult time. I know they would covet your prayers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Time for Family Movie Night

We recently started having a "Family Movie Night". Partly because now we have enough kids that are old enough to actually sit through a movie, partly because we finally got a TV and no longer have to crowd around a computer screen but also because we just had two babies in less than a year. By the time Friday comes we are wiped and need a low-key relaxing activity that we can do with our older kids while we are also taking care of two babes. Now that the girls are getting bigger (18 months and 8 months now...crazy!) and it is a little easier to get out of the house and do things we will do this less, especially for the summer, but the kids have enjoyed movie night a lot! Especially since there is a "no tv/video game" rule on school nights!
The challenge with movie night we have found is finding appropriate movies. We are careful with what we allow the kids to watch. It's also challenging to find something that will be interesting for our 8-10 year olds AND the 4, 5 and 6 year-olds. Since subscribing to Amazon Prime we have been able to find a lot of great old movies to rent. If you find yourself in a similar situation, having trouble finding good family movies, here is a short list of some we have enjoyed recently:

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Follow Me, Boys!
The Sound of Music (surprisingly ALL my older kids loved this movie)
Swiss Family Robinson
Shakiest Gun in the West (we are big Don Knotts fans!)
The Apple Dumpling Gang

Of course every good movie night comes with yummy snacks! Thankfully my kids were thrilled with popcorn because there were a lot of movie nights I barely had the energy to do that much! I pop it on the stove, I don't buy the microwave kind. Sometimes I pop it in coconut oil and that makes it really yummy!  I did find a really great recipe for "movie night" popcorn and my kids beg for it every time. If it wasn't sooooo sugary I would. Here is the recipe and it's worth making:

Movie Night Popcorn (click the link)

Then there was the night I made salted caramel pretzel bark (click the link). It's out of this HAVE to make this stuff. It's incredibly easy and I promise you will not be able to stop eating it! 

A few weeks ago I was tired of popcorn and didn't have time to cook something but wanted to do something different. This is what I came up with and it turned out to be one of the kids favorite movies night snacks! 
 Basically all the ingredients for S'mores were staring me in the face when I opened the cupboard. Since it was a cold, rainy night and we couldn't make a camp fire I thought maybe the kids would be okay with just the ingredients for s'mores. I was right, they loved this!  I served it in coffee filters so the clean up was easy too!

There you have it. Throw in lots of pillows and comfy blankets and you have yourself a pretty good movie night!

 I'd love to hear your family movie night suggestions for movies AND snacks!