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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

When should kids get their first phone?

All of the kids are insistent that they need a cellphone. Why? They are 11,9,8,6&5. They don't drive. They don't go hangout with friends. They are always with a parent. The older guys don't know it, but I think they are going to get iPods. They only want phones to play games on. I like the idea of them being able to text me while they are with their other parents or with friends. But when should they get a phone?

With as many kids as we have I don't want to raise our phone bill by 5+ lines! That would be crazy expensive. The solution we found... We will get iPod when they are old enough to be responsible for them. We will get a landline for them to use to make calls, because really who calls anymore? If they find a way to pay for their line consistently, then I will add them to my plan. I want to teach them work ethic so they will be getting jobs as soon as they are old enough.

When should kids get a phone?

Monday, June 12, 2017

My Go To Stomach Bug Remedy



So after last week's Bible School and nonstop running, DS5 ended up with the stomach bug. While camping with my parents, he got very pitiful. We brought him home and gave him some activated charcoal caps. He slept all day Saturday, but woke up yesterday feeling 100%. To keep the rest of us from getting it, we have all been drinking grape juice three times a day. It's a hack we saw on Facebook, but I swear by it. When the bug went around last time, none of us got it but the one kid who started with it.

We all started taking the activated charcoal, as well as diffusing thieves oil. Of course like with most illnesses, hand washing is key! We only do soap and water, because I have little faith in hand sanitizer and some germs are good for you. Unfortunately, it looks like the bug may have a long incubation period and we might have spread it to my friend's family. I feel horrible.

What do you do to keep your family healthy?

Disclaimer: Although I am a licensed nurse, I am not a doctor. This post is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any illness and is not guaranteed to work. This post is intended to state what works for our family. Seek medical attention as you would with any illness. If this is a life threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Food Waste Friday

So I didn't get a picture this week of food waste Friday because I am simply horrified. This week we had a full trash bag of items thrown out. We had half a watermelon, a whole cantaloupe, 4 heads of cauliflower, two chicken legs, half pint of strawberries (because the raw chicken leaked on it), two onions, two bulks of garlic, 6 apples, a container of beans and rice and about two cups of mac and cheese.

This is ridiculous and I am so embarrassed. We have to do much better, but at least our compost is banging this week.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Affording Such a Large Family

Aside from the glances and sheer curiosity that having a large family causes, large families are often questioned as to how we can afford our kids. You stay at home with the kids while your husband (soon to be for me) works? How do you contribute to the family? Kids are expensive how do you afford all of them? I can only imagine how much food you'll go through when they are teenagers?

I like to think that these people are well meaning and not just being jerks. Are we wealthy? Hardly! Do we struggle? Sure who doesn't. We believe that children are blessing from God. In fact, in the Bible, we are instructed to multiple and are told that our children are blessings:

Psalm 127:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.
 
Now, I know that this scripture has been linked to a famous large family and the quiver full movement. Let me make this super clear that we are not associated with that movement and do not tolerate the structure of this movement. I personally feel that the husbands role is abusive and controlling. Brad would laugh at the thought of me controlled. Also, blanket training is cruel and leads to robot children who have no sense of trust and to me is abusive. Who hits a child let alone a baby!? But I digress...
 
We believe that by following the Bibles teaching that we will in deed be blessed by our children. Every time that we face a financial struggle, God ALWAYS comes through and we receive an unexpected check or are gifted something that we need.
 
We believe that if we use our money (God's money) wisely that we will benefit from that. We also use our time and resources to bless others and in return we are blessed beyond measure.
 
Over the next few weeks we will talk about my tips for affording our children and how we plan to afford future children.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

One on One Time


It's rare that we get to take a kid out on a one on one time, despite our best efforts. Well tonight, we had to skip out on Bible school. This little guy didn't feel well, and though we are 99% certain that it was due to over eating, it is against the rules to bring a sick child (as it should be). So while brothers were are VBS we went to IHOP.

It was such a good experience. The server was from a large family (the oldest of 7). So she understands what dining with children is like and was super attentive.

We had such a good time. We just talked and laughed. He told me he wants to be a WWE Superstar one day. He even has a plan to eat right and get in shape to achieve his dreams. I hope you see him on the TV one day.

We value this one on one time with our children. It isn't often that we get to do much of it. We may stay up late with an older boy or two and play a game or watch a movie, but the little guys don't go well being up that late. He was so happy for this 2 hour break without sibling and just mama time.

It got me to thinking, which is a dangerous task, about how to fit in more one on one time with the kids. In the past, we have had a rotation that once a month would be date night and that child got to go. The following month would be the next. But with as many kids as we have now, how do we go five months in between one on one time?

DS3 gets a lot of one on one with Brad and I. Brad takes him to Trail Life and I do all of his school stuff. The others don't. We are going to start a weekly rotation. The kids can run and errand with us or choose to go do a small activity (go for a walk or play a game).

How do you fit in one on one time with each child?

Chores

We are often asked by random strangers, usually, how we manage to keep our house standing with so many children. Usually, I have some sarcastic answer to reply, because most of the time the people asking are judging us for having a large family instead of being genuinely curious. But we do have friends and family tell us "I don't know how you do it."

The brutally honest answer from my stand point is... how does any parent do it?
The truth is 1 kid or 10 kids being a parent is hard, but for us when we have all of our kids with us life goes smoother. They keep each other entertained. But we also make even the smaller children do chores! They live here they can help.

Here is an example of how we divide chores:

2-3 years
Help older sibling set the table by doing spoons and forks
Match socks
Help dust
Wipe baseboard with soapy rag
Help pick up trash
Help pull weeks
Scoop dog food

4-7
All things on list above
Make bed
Pick up toys
Bathroom every other day alternating with the big guys
Put away laundry
Clean and Vacuum/dust mop bedroom
Vacuum or Dust mop living room
Bring laundry to laundry room on assigned days
Set the table
Help put away groceries
Help harvest garden
Clear and wipe table and chairs after meals
Mop every other day
Help cut coupons

8-12
All things on lists above
Clean your room including vacuum, dust and make beds
Bathroom on assigned days
Wash, dry, fold/hang up/ put away laundry on assigned laundry day
On laundry day strip linens and wash them and remake bed
Dishes
Help cook during assigned meals
Feed/Water/Walk and Bathe pets
Mow the lawn during your week
Rake the leaves
Help with the garden
Carry in groceries from the car
Help coupon, meal plan and shop

We do not "pay" for chores. If a child wants to earn money they can do that a variety of ways: straight As, bringing grades up, being kind when its hard to be, extra chores.

Another way that we keep things decluttered is to throw away toys when they are broken and can't be fixed or dvds that are scratched. There is no need to hold on to junk. Clothes that are too small are brought to the give away box when they are tried on and don't fit. If they wore an outfit that no longer fits right, they put it in my laundry basket and I know that it does not fit. I will wash them and either put them in the give away box or in a storage bag to hold on for the next kid. If we no longer use items they go in the give away box or yard sale box.

What chores do your kids do?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Garden

I am very excited to say that I finally have some plants of my own that I am growing! I have wanted a garden for as long as I can remember. Needless to say, living in a home with no yard makes that a little hard. So urban gardening it is!

A while back Brad built me some planter boxes. I found some starter plants at farmers market and decided that they would work great in our small area. I get 4 tomato plants, a leek plant and a chamomile plant. I already have some herb plants and a citronella plant.

When we eventually move we will be buying enough land to have a garden. I think that this is great for the kids to learn. It is skills that you are not really taught in school. Everyone should know how to grow their own food and preserve it and should be taught hard work and responsibility.

What do you grow in your garden?