Thursday, June 22, 2017

Affording Such A Large Family: Clothing Edition



Our kids must all be wearing clothes with holes in them and ratty shoes. There seems to be an idea that clothing children is expensive. And, yes, I guess it could be. That depends on you. We chose to shop yard sales, thrift store, clearance aisle and totally accept hand-me-downs.

Yard sales are great to find mostly springs and summer clothes. At least around here, you don't find a lot of pants and long sleeves a lot. But you can find crazy amounts of shorts and t-shirts and the occasional new with tags shoes. I buy our clothes here as well. Two of our kids are in "teenage sizes." I do have trouble finding trendy young men clothes at yard sales but that's where thrift store come in.

Thrift stores are awesome for finding non clothing items as well, but that's not what we are talking about. I find handbags, shoes with tags, teenage boy clothes, junior miss clothes for me (too young to wear misses and too old to wear juniors... the struggle is real!), I have even found make up that is still seal and in date.

Clearance items are amazing. I don't have a lot to say about this but use coupons and store rewards to make it last.

Hand-me-downs. I am very lucky to have some amazing friends who pass their kids out grown clothes on to us. We do the same in return. We hold the outgrown clothes out until the next kid can wear them and when DS4/5 out grow them. We see if we have any friends who need them. After our friends pick through them the rest we put in a yard sale and what doesn't sale goes to Goodwill.

Gifts. We ask family and friends for Christmas and birthdays to please not get the younger guys clothes because they honestly have so many. For the bigger guys we ask for gift cards so they can buy their own clothes (they are at that age).

On average we spend about $200 clothing and shoes.
Here are a few of my tips:
  • Find a good stain remover!
  • If stains don't come out or the idem cant be fixed, throw out, repurpose or compost if you can.
  • Fix small things like missing buttons.
  • Vacuum bags are amazing.
  • Repurpose clothes into cloth grocery bags, cleaning rags or even family cloths.
  • Look for events at local thrift stores... a couple times a year our thrift stores will do free or donation "fill-a-bag" events. We each get a bag to fill so we often end up with more than we can use so we donate it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An Open Letter To My Sons' Future Girlfriend

To my baby's future girlfriends,

I know there will be two types of girlfriends coming into my sons' lives, the ones I like and the ones who don't matter because I don't like you. I'll address the ones who don't matter first, so we can go ahead and get past you... you won't be around long.

I see you with that little I'm hot shit attitude. You think that you are his number one, that you are important and that you'll be around for a long time. You are snotty and demanding of my son. You don't appreciate that they were raised to respect you and treat you like a queen, not that you deserve it. He's my child and I have taught him to have respect for himself and he won't put up with it long. If you get to comfortable being around, don't. I allow my children to make their own decisions but they also respect mine as we have a good relationship. So I won't be quiet.

To the ones I like. I know he's a handful but he such a good young man. He's his own unique person and you like that side too. You are your own unique person too and I promise to help you nurture your passions. He will always treat you with respect and if he doesn't you'll have my number and I'll deal with him. Treat him equally as well or I'll be a nightmare for you.

My ultimate wish is for my children to be happy and to make someone happy. If you are good to him, I will love you forever. If you go on to marry my son, I will gladly take a backseat to someone who treats him right.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How To Survive A Road Trip

We have to travel a lot as we have family scattered all over the country. Here is my family's favorite tips to save your sanity on these trips.

1. Travel DVD player- We have a built in dvd player in our vehicle. I hit up thrift shops or yard sales in the weeks leading up to the trip and buy a ton of kids dvds that my kids don't own. I put them aside just for the trip. I also bring the kids dvd book so they have their favorites.

2. Each kid gets a travel bag with snacks and drinks and a few entertaining things: Coloring book with colored pencils, a mini puzzle, I bring cookie sheets that they use as lap desks.

3. Mini games. We have a small version of scrabble, hungry hungry hippos and yatzee. These are great to keep them entertained.

4. I charge the electronics the night before and they do not get them until we are at least half way so I don't have to deal with the whining long if they die before we get there.

5. Playing Ispy will buy you 15 minutes of quiet.

6. Play the game of concentration. It is a clapping game where everyone goes in turn listing things in a category but you can't break the clapping rhythm. We play it like this *pat right thigh, pat left thigh, clap, snap right, snap left, repeat* "This is a game of concentration, with no repeats or hesitation. I go first, Brad goes second the subject is (animals, colors, pokemon)" This buys us about and hour.

7. We run parking lot races when we stop for bathroom breaks or to get gas. Everyone has to try to pee when we stop.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Importance Of Family Meals

My children adore eating dinner as a family. We do not have a big enough table for all of us. So here is what we do.

We cook together. Little guys might tear lettuce for a salad, while big guys chop veggies and Brad and I cook the main dish. We set the kids at the table and Brad and I turn the couch to face the table so we can be apart of the discussion. The kids say grace and we eat. While eating we talk about our peaks and pits, one good thing that happened and one bad thing that happened.

Family meals are so important in the age of technology we live in. It's rare to have time where no one has their nose in a screen and we just can sit and talk. We learn so much about our children this way and they learn a lot about us. Our family is no where near perfect but we are super close to our kids and I believe this to be the reason.

Even when we eat meals at someone else's house, they ask to eat together with the other family at their table, which is not always feasible. We do try however. There are so many reasons to do this:

1. Research shows that children are more likely to learn better nutrition this way. Kids are more likely to try their veggies when they see a parent or sibling eating it. It has also been said that families that cook at home have less fried or sugary foods. It is a win-win.

2. I remember reading somewhere that children who eat with their family are more likely to graduate high school.

3. It's just a short period of time to spend time together in this busy world. Take the time to turn off cellphones, TVs and videogames and just enjoy each other. My father in law used to do this at family meals and as a young adult I was rather annoyed by it. But looking back now, he was more right than I knew.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Baby Sitting Co-op

Babysitters are so expensive for a family our size. We have came up with a solution with a group of friends to rotate sleepovers at their house. So while that family host sleepovers with all the kids, the other sets of parents go out on a date night. We do the rotation about once a month so everyone can enjoy their partner one night most months.

When we host, we try to do fun and creative things to wear them out so they will sleep. We usually have them decorate their own pizza or build a taco. Then we take them outside and do silly string fights and run races. Then we come in and eat popcorn and watch a movie and then bed time.

We pick the kids up before breakfast, so the host family only pays for dinner and snacks. It really is beneficial for everyone involved. It is incredibly important to always keep a focus on your relationship and this allows all of us to do just that.

Would you do a babysitting co-op?

5 Creative or Favorite Dates

We have to make the most of the time that we get together. Here is a list of favorite date.

1. Go to the lake in the late afternoon for a picnic and swim. We like to schedule these dates when there is meteor showers.

2. Penny date. Choose a number and flip a coin that number of times. Heads left tails right. Turn that many times and that's where your date is.

3. Hiking. We love just being out in nature and AWAY from electronics.

4. Learning something new. Cooking class, ballroom dancing, Frisbee golf.

5. Sporting events.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Affording Such A Large Family: Food Edition

So I have recently touched on how to feed a large family on a budget. Honestly there is so much more to it. I probably should have (and may) do a series on it. As previously said, we believe that God will provide for us. Often, we are in prayer as we do our monthly budget. Our sons eat like horses! I have never known children that eat as much as they do! Where do they put it? I have prayed for ideas to help manage the food for our house and have received answers. I have been sent a group of friends with equally large families and they have blessed me and I them with our shared ideas. Here are a few more thing that I have discovered that has helped it tremendously:

1. Make snack packs: Left to their own devices, my children will go through 4 cans of Pringles. DS2 and DS4 proved this last week. I have bought sandwich bags and filled them with the "snacky" foods and they are allowed to get ONE... at snack times. Any more than that requires approval from one of the parents. We filly baggies with: pretzels, chips, mini muffins, cookies, kale chips, half sandwiches, crackers, etc. We also have a fruit bowl. I also will buy cereal in large quantities when it is one sale and fill small plastic containers with the appropriate amount. Plastic containers are also filled with: homemade pudding, jello, applesauce, sliced fruit, veggie/cheese "tray." Portion control is EVERYTHING with our kids.

2. Car snacks matter: How often do you get in the car and hear I'm hungry/thirsty. So often I would pull through and get one of those nasty dollar burgers or stop at a gas station and pay dang near double the price with my first. Four kids later, I carry a thermal backpack with water and some snack that wont melt. I hate when the kids eat in the car because of the mess, but sometimes it is just easier than hearing the fussing.

3. Bring snacks to events (as allowed): We will pack a tote full of snacks when we go to the lake, festival or the drive in movies. They offer concession but do not mind you bringing your own food... so that is exactly what we do.

4. Freezer cooking: I will buy groceries every two weeks and cook according to our meal plan. Then I will put them in the freezer and if there is a good sale, I will make a double batch (which is awesome to keep on hand for if we are invited to a potluck or need to bring a meal to a friend). Freezer cooking has eliminated our "need" to go out to eat. I will lay the meals for the next day out when I am doing my night time routine. Then pop them in the crockpot the next morning (when I can, I love the crockpot. Its energy efficient and honestly I can put it in and forget about it) or in the oven.

5. Again take up on free food offers: We have had Bible school all week and our church has offered a free dinner to all the kids and parents each night this week. It has been a wonderful budget saver and time saver. We are Methodist and we love to eat-- haha. So we often have meals at church. We have the opportunity to eat on Wednesday nights for $35 but we just can't rationalize that recurring expense in our budget.

6. Split meals with friends: We often go to my best friends' house for game night. We let the kids play and we have adult conversation and it's great. We will split the cost of the meal and usually buying larger quantities saves all of us on the cost per meal.

So that is how we feed them...budget everything. And as you can probably tell from our chunky guys they are fed well.

DS1 and DS2 not shown for privacy reasons.