Thursday, July 20, 2017

Affording Such A Large Family: Vacation Edition

When you have a large family, vacations can be crazy ridiculous. We don't always go on vacation as our family has grown but when it was just my biokids and me, we'd travel multiple times per year. We are actually working toward a cross country trip for next year. In the mean time, here are a few of our vacation trips and "how we afford" them.

Staycations: Family time is the whole point of vacations for us. Luckily, we live very close to a tourist town and in a decent sized city in a good location for make day trips or overnight trips. We are close to Nashville, Asheville, Atlanta. We are in a good location. We like to sleep at home to save money on food and lodging. We will go to semi-local water park, amusement parks, museums, concerts or attractions. We will sometimes have themed days: back yard olympics, Mountain pay, lake day, lazy day. These vacations are fun.

Travel: We do travel with them too. My biokids have been to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. But how do we afford it? Below are a few of my tips.

1. Plan In Advance: We plan everything from destination to plan activities and dining. This way we know how much to plan to spend.

2. Go in the off season. During non peak times, there are many discounts available.

3. I bring my crockpot! We may eat one or two meals out and the rest of the time we eat in our room.

4. Look online for coupons.

5. Stop at the visitor center and get coupons and discounted tickets.

6. Haggle. You can argue the prices of lodging at the time of booking and it's great. I have been known to get beachfront pent houses for $1000 a week.

7. Check out goosgle for free activities and events going on at your destination.

8. Get a gas app. Lower priced gas makes a difference.

9. Coin bucket pays our way. We pay cash for everything. All change and $1 bills go in the bucket.

10. If flying, take as little luggage as possible by packing several kids together.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Affording Such A Large Family: Baby Edition

So recently in a budgeting accountability group I asked how much money we should put away before having our "ours" baby. There was a unanimous decision that babies are only as expensive as you make them. From my experience this is true. As I have said before, we believe that babies are a gift from God and that He will bless us for having them and He will provide for them. Here are a few things that are helpful to know when having a baby:

1. A crib is not a necessity. We bed share with our babies. No, I am not up for debating this issue.

2. Buy a good car seat. Car seat safety is everything! I prefer to buy new, just because you never know if they have been in a wreck.

3. Breastfeeding is free. I know that not everyone can breast feed, but local mom groups are great to donate milk as well as WIC will help supply formula.

4. Babywearing is a lifesaver. I don't buy strollers. They just get in the way. I can throw a baby on my back and do chores or go for stroll and have hands free for the other kids. I have never needed a swing either, however, we have always been gifted one.

5. Even if you don't have a shower, people will gift you items. Being a parent is like a fraternity. We are all in this together and know the struggles. You will get hand-me-down everything from half packs of diapers to I only used on scoop out of this formula or she doesn't like the peaches and we have 20.

6. Cloth diapers are cheaper.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Affording Such A Large Family Fun Edition

Feeding ducks at the duck pond.
I actually got them in order by age too!
That NEVER happens.
What do we do for fun? You name it! No, we don't have a lot of money but we are super creative. I love researching and finding free events in our area. Facebook has made this much easier.
We attend a bunch of free activities. Barnes and Nobel does story and craft times on Saturdays. Lowes and Home Depot offers building workshops. The gyms sometimes do family swim and movie night. There is always some kind of free festival going on downtown.
We go into nature. We live near the lake so we love to go swimming. We will go hiking and do a picnic. We feed the ducks (PSA: Bread is bad for them). We go on bike rides. Shaving cream fights out side. Side walk chalk. Bubbles. Races. Trampoline. We have even done backyard Olympics. Camping. Bon fires.
Family Movie Night. We have Netflix movie night with popcorn or we will go to the drive-in ($30) when they are having a double or triple feature. We look for Redbox codes. Our will just pull out an old favorite or a movie from our extensive collection. We buy movies by the box at yard sales. Unfortunately, we get a lot of scratched movies due to little hands.
Family cooking night. We will do ice cream sundae bars. We will do build your own taco bars or make your own pizza.
Game Night. We will do this as a family or with friends. We have even found an organization that will allow you to do a game (video, board or card) as a marathon fundraiser. You get donations just like you would if you were running a 5K and that money goes to our local children's hospital. We taught the kids chess, which is actually apart of their third grade curriculum, and they have excelled and kick our hind ends.
We are even go on vacations. We are currently planning a trip across country. We will travel the upper US to the west coast to visit family. Go down through California to Disneyland. Come home via the lower half of the US and visit the Grand Canyon, The Alamo and New Orleans and end with a weekend at the beach. We are saving for this trip and couponing. We will be tent camping at KOAs across the country to save on lodging. We will cook our own food, except at Disney, well because DISNEY (everyone needs a Dole Whip in their life). We are actually looking at taking a train from east to west and then renting a car to drive back (but I feel like we will miss out on stuff that way)!
In February, I took the three younger guys to the beach. Though it was to visit a dying family member, so not really a vacation or happy time, but we still made some great memories.

Check out more from this series:
Affording so many kids: school edition

Monday, July 3, 2017

Chicken and Dumplings

This is a favorite at our house! Plus it makes so much that I can feed us all for at least two meals or have left overs to send Brad for lunch for the week!

2 boxes chicken broth or about 5 cups bone broth
4 chicken bullion cubes
Chicken breasts
2 cans of carrots
8 cans biscuit dough

Season broth to taste. Boil chicken in broth. You can cube it before or after. I do after because I don't like to handle raw meat. Tear biscuits and roll into little quarter sized balls. I put them in a separate bowl until all are ripped. Add to broth. Cook on medium for about 25 minutes. Add carrots and cook another 5 minutes.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Organizing Our Closets

Wonder hangers are on of my favorite things! They free up so much room in our closets! With three boys in different sizes sharing a room (with one of the tiniest closets I've ever seen) it helps to fit all of the clothes in there. I plan to color code them but haven't done that yet.  They are fairly affordable and I've had luck finding them at yard sales for quarters! I honestly don't know what we would do without these wonderful hangers!

Thursday, June 29, 2017


This past weekend DS3, K, and I had the greatest time at FanBoy Expo! We were so happy to have just a mama/son date. Brad was working. My mama kept the younger two guys. K really wanted to cos play but I didn't have time to see costumes. Maybe next year we can! There was so much to do and see. We saw the original Green and Pink Power Rangers. We saw Chris and Joey from *NSYNC, Wally from Leave It To Beaver, two Star Trek guys, several wrestlers and the rock god Gener Simmons!!!

There were vintage and collectible toy vendors. There were some amazing cos players. Did I mention Gene Simmons!? K's favorite part was seeing R2D2 and buying legos. My favorite was *NSYNC and Gene Simmons.

After leaving, we went to lunch and shopping at JCP's $10/10 coupon sale. I got two pillows for $3.27!!! Then we went to Old Navy for $1 flip flops and I may have bought a pair of shorts and a new dress.

Then we met up with nana and the brothers for free video game day. Each one of us got a free XBOX360 game! It was such a good weekend!

How to help a mom under the weather

This week I have found myself in a flare up. I have psoriatic arthritis (PSA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). What those million dollar words mean is that I have an autoimmune disorder (well 3 actually). When I have a flare up, I find myself bedridden and unable to perform my daily tasks. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I am forever blessed to have a large family and group of friends, that jump in to help me when I am down. We've been dealing with my conditions for a while and have a game plan in place, but it got me to thinking about how to help other moms when they fall ill. We all need some help at times. Here are a few ideas of ways to help based on my wonderful support system.

1. Childcare- Having smaller children makes it harder. Luckily mine are old enough to play alone at times. Having someone to come sit with them or better yet pick them up and watch them helps greatly.

2. Run errands- Offer to go to the grocery store. Take children or mom to doctors appointments. C, my 5 year old, does multiple therapies through the week and we have had to miss risking him getting put out.

3. Meal trains are wonderful. I am unable to cook for the kids. I have had family order pizza and bring stuff for lunches and breakfast that the kids can make themselves.

4. Offer to clean- my kids can destroy the house in a matter of minutes. This creates a huge fall risk for me. For example, one of my little lovelies knocked over the trash can earlier and is refusing to pick it up. We are waiting for Brad to get home from work but he is on call this week and won't be home for at least 6 more hours.

5. Pet sit- it would be a lot less worrisome if someone had Scooter the wonder hound! Plus his barking and me having to yell at the boys to take the dog out or feed him is stressful.

6. Bring something to keep them busy- my last flare up lasted 5 months! 5 months I could not walk. I had someone bring me painting supplies and crocheting supplies. I made two blankets. I've had people loan me books and movies. Which really does help. There is only so much judge Judy you can watch!

7. Offer your services-  I have a friend who is a massage therapist who has been coming over and working on my back and it's helping wonderfully.

What are some other ways to help a sick mama?