Large Family – Small Bathroom

Having a large family, it seems like someone is always needing access to the potty in a bathroom. Our large family, small bathroom scenario at home is very manageable even if it is inconvenient.  But the fact that some one always needs to use the bathroom means that I am very well acquainted with the bathrooms around town.  I know which ones are generally clean, how many stalls they have, the proximity of their location in the building of an establishment to the area I want to shop in.  I will even not go into stores or restaurants solely based upon the fact that I don’t like their bathroom facilities.

Being heavy on girls, and light on boys makes a difference in our public bathroom habits too.  I prefer the men’s restroom to have one hole, that way I can send only my son in to the men’s room, and know he is alone in there and safe from any would be predators.  On the other hand, where my girls are concerned, the more stalls the better.  There are a lot of us, and it can take a very long time for everyone to have their turn.

Today,  we went to the big city for Strawberry’s ophthalmologist appointment.  Following the appointment and a trip to the zoo, we searched out a restaurant to grab some grub.  As I don’t reside there and infrequently dine in the restaurants of this city, I was unaware of potty facilities in the eating establishments nearby.   I was completely disappointed when we got there to realize there was only 1 mens and 1 women’s, and we had to go outside to utilize those.  So, what’s a family to do while they wait, and wait, and wait for the bathroom to free up?  We took pictures. A lot of pictures.  I will share just a few. Enjoy.

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Do you have ideas for ways to pass the time while you are waiting for everyone to have their turn in public restrooms?

Grocery Challenge Update

I completely failed this challenge.

But with every goal set, regardless of if one hits the mark or not, there is good that comes from making the goal.

I’m not even sure how much I actually went over my challenge because fast food happened, Hubby grabbed a few things from the store, I made a quick dash to pick up somethings.  When I did the shopping for the camping trip, I spent over $200.  So, I know that I was way over what I was hoping to spend.

However, doing this challenge required me to be more mindful about what was happening.  I realized a few things in this process.

Purposeful Planning Days are Essential

We started having purposeful planning days for me in January.  This is the time for me to quiet my mind, plan school, plan food, make lists of top priorities.  Hubby and I were both noticing such benefits from this time for the 4 to 5 weeks that I consistently held to having this time.  But then I missed several weeks in a row of this time.  Some of those missed where because I was sick.  Apparently, something else interfered with the other weeks, though its like grasping to hold air in my mind as I try to place my finger on what caused the interruption.  Nonetheless, it serves my family and me well to have a few hours of quiet to collect my thoughts and make a plan for what needs to happen in our home.  I am more grounded as a result of having this time and have a better idea of what steps to take in a week.

I need to let some things go or rearrange the timing of activities

The end of the week for me is crazy.  On Fridays we have a homeschool co-op that we go to.  Thursdays is the day of preparation for Friday.  We get bags packed, homework finished to turn in, I finalize my preschool lesson for the week and gather all the materials and toys for the preschool class, we pack snacks, pack lunches, come up with a grab and run breakfast. Thursdays are just hectic.  That is followed by Thursday evenings which either consist of AHG and TrailLife meetings or Women’s Fellowship Time.  Our entire family attends AHG/Traillife meetings.  Hubby is a Traillife leader.  I am an AHG leader.  The 2 older girls participate in AHG while Sweet Potato is in TrailLife.  The 3 younger girls run between hubby and me and the nursery.  We finish up at those meetings late generally getting up at 8:45-9.  If we are having a good night kids are in bed by 10, but there have been many nights where they are all still up at 11.  We then finish up with lunches and gathering supplies.

Women Fellowship Night is much calmer than AHG/TrailLife days, but I am still generally not home till 10.

Fridays are busy days with coop.  It ends a bit after lunch.   Then on choir days (generally ever other week) the kids have practice from 1:30-3:30.  Every week , I pick up veggies and milk from a local farmer, which about an hour process.

When I get home I’m spent.  Sometimes I manage to get dinner on the table.  More often than not we end up with leftovers or take out.  These are the times I most resent Fibro. I feel like I should get so much more done.  But I just crash.

I then feel like the rest of the weekend I am running to keep up with all the things to do on during that weekend.

All of these things are good.  But it is so much packed in to a few days.  This is where money gets blown on food eaten out.

So I am realizing that I need to let some things on my calendar go in order for us to meet our financial goals, along with other goals for our family. Or I need to spread my activity outside the home out through out the week.

Gather At The Table

This is written as part of 5-Minute Friday, where brave writers assemble together online, to share 5 minutes worth of written word on a given topic put forth by Kate Motaung.

This Weeks Word: gather

 Come, Gather at the table.

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You will find us here much of our day.

We gather at the table for breakfast and to soak our teeth in on wisdom from Proverbs.

School happens around our table.  Math, history, drawing.

Conversations happen, gathered at our table.  Laughter, tears.  We see it all.  Gathered at the table.

We work on teaching the children to put others first.  Chew with their mouths closed.  We teach the practical while sitting, gathered at the table.  

Spiritual connections are made, formed, deep into their little  minds and souls. As we gather at the table, to share our victories, frustrations, thanksgivings. To raise our voice to the Lord.

All this, while gathered at the table.

 Click on through to read other great pieces around the theme of gather.

I would love to hear in the comment section about how you find yourself gathering around the table.

 

Yummy Food – Grocery Challenge Update

I apologize for being late on getting out these posts on our meals and grocery challenge update.  The end of our week was pretty packed tight.

On Friday I bought two dozen eggs from our farmer friend.  Cost $5.  I have a balance of $95 to make it with till March 14th.

Also, as those of you who are THM followers will be able to tell, I’m not doing the best at getting back on the diet.  I’ve had lots of Crossover meals and other just plain cheat meals. But it’s all been yummy food.

On another note, we have used all the money allotted in our eating out fund for the rest of February.  If we eat out or have take-out during this time, it has to come from my grocery budget.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal (E)

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: homemade pizza using homemade pizza crust that was in freezer

Thursday

Breakfast: Cheese Omelets (S)

Lunch: leftovers & oranges

Dinner Chicken chili (E)

Friday

Breakfast: Cheese Omelets (S)

Lunch: Turkey Roll-ups, chips, dried fruit, apple

Dinner:  Dinner out on the town courtesy of a kind individual who gifted everyone in family with a burger, shake, and fries.

Saturday

Breakfast: Dutch puff (kids), smoothie (Hubby), 7.2 shake (me)

Lunch:  leftovers

Dinner: Swiss chad pie(S) and Pakistani Kima from Wellness Mama Cookbook (an affiliate link (CO)

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Sunday

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Pancakes (S)  7.2 shake (E)(me)

Lunch:  We joined church members for pizza at local pizza joint.

Dinner: Beans, rice, Mexican crockpot chicken

There are affiliate links in this post, if you click on them and make a purchase through them, I will earn a small amount of money through your purchase at no extra cost to you.

2014 unexpected

This is a continuation from 2014 Didn’t look like we thought it should.

Our family was ecstatic about the move and all the changes that we would get to go through as a family.  Friends and family were notified. Doctors informed as we gathered paper work. Decorating plans were made. Hubby’s truck, that had been his grandfather’s was sold because we didn’t think it needed to make the drive to the new city.

With this job opportunity, came a salary increase. For the first time I finally saw the potential to finally make good progress on getting out of student loans without having to go back to a beans and rice type grocery budget.  We’ve always said that without the burden of student loans, so many things are opened up to us. Ministry.  Adoption.  Giving more.  Vacations with our kids. Extracurricular activities for the kids. All things we’ve discussed being open to if the Lord calls us to them.

We then experienced the 2014 unexpected happening, that changed everything.  Our dream of leaving this town burst.  The job fell through.  Three weeks from closing on our new home.  The same day, we saw that in fact our chance of moving on and out was gone, our house received two offers on it.  Two good offers.  Since we had been planing on selling previous to the job change, we went ahead and sold our house. Leaving us without a home, without a plan.  Confused and lost.  However, Hubby still had a job where he had been working before.

We already knew what was on the market in this town.  Nothing came close to comparing to the house that was going to be.  We didn’t want to buy a house towards the top of our budget and still be disappointed.  But we realized that would be the case.  We also were unsure as to if we were going to want to stick around in this town.  The opportunity for a job in a new location had really opened up that desire in us to leave and explore in other places.

We explored the option of renting, but in our city it would cost us far more a month to rent than it would for us to buy and  put money into a house.

So we gave our realtor very clear instructions.  We wanted a property that we could easily turn around and rent or sell within a short amount of time.  It had to be in a state which needed very little work and was on the low-end of the price spectrum.  The last criteria was that our dining room table that Hubby built had to fit in the dining room.

There were six houses to look at in the city with those criteriums that came up on the MLS. However, upon visiting these homes, only one was in good condition with the possibility of it being able to rent it or sell it quickly do the locations.  Our dining room table fit in this house.

We had a closing date of three weeks later, with two-weeks of rent back in our current house so we had time to move. Kids were sick, while I was trying to pack and move. Originally, we were going to have movers help with the moving.  Then with the new job opportunity we had movers scheduled to come back us up and move us.  But, as result of costs incurred from house hunting in the new city, we ended up not getting movers to help us.  Hubby was also going to have some time off from work to help me with the logistics of moving when the move involved a new city.  But staying in the same city did not afford us this luxury.  He ended up with about two days off total and the move drug out for a few weeks.  We spent weekend and evenings trying to load stuff into our van and moving vans. That was a long few weeks. Thankfully, we had a few friends and family members who assisted us in moving and brought us some meals.

We moved into our current house in February of 2014, just a year ago.

Truth be told, those were hard, dark days.

We knew God had a purpose in this. What that purpose was we weren’t really sure.

I wondered, did we miss God? Silly questions, such as do I even know His voice?  Lots of why?  I was humiliated.  We had told people after all.  I was angry at times. I felt like we stepped out in faith on a road that God was opening for us, and then He allowed the door to be slammed in our face.  I feared what people thought.  This was also a rough patch in our marriage.

But it wasn’t just us and our hearts involved.  We had made promises to our kids.  Our kids had dreamed too.  We had told the older two that they could have a room together and for the first time we would let them choose some of their decorations and paint color.  Sweet Potato was going to get a room with boy decorations in it, something we had not ever really done.  Grape was going to get a room with polka-dots.  We had told them that we would get them all bikes to ride.  Up to this points our kids had other people’s cast off bikes, and there were never enough to go around for our family.  But, we had told them that since we would have a garage and a bigger home, there would be a place to keep bikes and side walks to ride them on.  Plus, since they all saw the house in the new city, they were anticipating a pool, space to get ready in bathrooms, and a craft room.   But we could no longer keep these promises to our kids.

That stung hard. Not so much that they couldn’t have the material stuff, but more that we promised them something.  But we couldn’t keep that promise.  We’ve always tried hard to only promise them things that we were able to actually follow through on. They tried to make the best of it, even so there were complaints, tears, and frustration from the kids.

We still are not entirely sure the why’s behind the job falling through.  But we trust that He has multiple purposes for anything He does. We know that He is working on His plan that we can’t see.  I heard a quote somewhere, I believe it was credited to John Piper, that said that for everything that happens, God has a thousand reasons.  If we can just see one of those reasons, consider it a blessing.

One big positive that resulted from this crazy year was the ability to now make a large progress towards student loan pay off.  In 2014 we were able to pay off about half of what we started with after graduation in student loans.  We were hoping for a bit more, but our electric bill in this small house was still considerably more than what we thought it would run, as well as a few other unexpected expenses came our way.

2014 Didn’t look like we thought it should

Seldom in life have things turned out to be what I had envisioned.  That was 2014 in a nutshell.

But to get to 2014 we have to back up a bit.  I’d mentioned in 2012 about our kitchen remodel as a result of the great laundry flood in our home.  We designed a kitchen that we loved with 2 sinks (every kitchen needs 2 sinks).  I really enjoyed  the flow of our house once the walls came down and we had a more open floor plan.

Original Kitchen Layout

2nd view of original kitchen

2nd view of original kitchen

 

Walls removed to have an opened kitchen.

Walls removed to have an opened kitchen.

Hubby mentioned to me at some point after renovations were done, that this would be the best time to sell our home to gain the most profit, since we had a newly renovated kitchen.

This was a view from the old dining room.  We removed the wall to open up the kitchen.

This was a view from the old dining room. We removed two walls to open up the kitchen.

I was not so keen on the idea, but as a few months passed, I started to see the wisdom in this plan. There were several reasons we had for deciding to move, but there were two main ones.

We added a kitchen island and a 2nd sink.

We added a kitchen island and a 2nd sink.

Our bedroom situation was not working out the best.  We had a 3 bed 2.5 bath home, with fairly big bedrooms.  But when we bought the house we had no way of knowing that we would have 5 girls and 1 boy.  It just really was not fair to all the girls to pile them in to one bedroom while our son had a room to himself.  Since all the kids were still young, we knew we still had a few years before we had to separate the boys and girls, but we knew that we would eventually do this.

Our remodeled dining room.

Our remodeled dining room.

The more pressing reason was my health issues.  I had always had some issues with driving visibility at night, but the Fibromyalgia seemed to only exasperate the problem.  We lived out-of-town, on a dark road, and often I could not see at all to drive.  Therefore, any activities or social engagements that we wanted to participate in required Hubby to escort me to them.  Whereas, in town where there was good lighting I could drive as long as it was not raining, I was always dependent upon him. Grocery shopping could be difficult with 6 young children, so I would prefer going at night, but then again I could not drive at night, so often Hubby would drive me into town, and sit in the van with the kids while I shopped.

We remodeled the bathroom with new flooring, paint, and a utility sink.

We remodeled the bathroom with new flooring, paint, and a utility sink.

We determined that moving into town, closer to things would be less of a hardship on our family since some of these health issues where largely impacting the quality of family life.

Our family room after the stagers with the realty company came and did their magic.

So, in September of 2013 we put our home up on the market.  We averaged about 2 showings a week, with a lot of positive feedback, but no offers.

The house we brought 3 of our babies home to.

The house we brought 3 of our babies home to.

In November, Hubby was approached with a new job offer for a company in a different city.  We spent time praying about the offer for several weeks, and we had great peace with moving forward in this opportunity.

We had our bedroom painted while painters where in the house for the kitchen remodel.

We had our bedroom painted while painters where in the house for the kitchen remodel.

We were excited about moving to a new location, because we never intended to be in this city for so long.  This was just were he had gotten a job after college and we had never left.  We were thrilled with the idea of exploring a new city together and starting again in another place.  We loved the friends that we had made here and had a great homeschool network, but we were aching for adventure.  We also had so much fun looking for homes in this new city.  There was a marked difference in the type of homes available.  We also found that our dollars went so much further in this new city for the type of home you could purchase.  We were looking for a home that could comfortably accommodate our large family, have a designated area for homeschooling, a room for the boy, and 2 rooms for the girls to divide, plus a guest room.  This was easily doable in the new town, whereas it had been hard to find in our current town within our budget.

Our new house in new city

Our new house in new city

We found a beautiful 5 bedroom 3.5 bath home, with a game room, office, butlers pantry, and 2 extra huge bonus closets – one of which was going to be the craft room that we have always dreamed of.

A great pool to enjoy as a family.

A great pool to enjoy as a family.

The backyard had a section already fenced off for a dog (the girls had been promised a dog once we moved) and it had a beautiful pool with a slide, surrounded by flagstone decking.

Open kitchen, dining, and living space in new home.

Open kitchen, dining, and living space in new home.

We were set to close and move in mid January of 2014.

to be continued……

 

 

Tandem Bikes and Marriage

We feel in love with tandem bikes leisurely riding through the streets of Key West, on our honeymoon.  Hubby drove, I was seated behind him awe-struck, drinking in the sights of this beautiful island covered with colorful flowers, giant shrubs.  We enjoyed the quiet conversations, the nearness of one another, the team work and trust required to ride together on our tandem bike.  Admittedly, those first few minutes riding together was a bit of a learning curve, but the awkwardness was quickly replaced with smooth journeying through a paradise town.

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Our honeymoon ended as real life started. We had tasks of finishing college and working. Precious children began being added to our family.  But during quiet times of reflection over our honeymoon jaunts through Key West, we continued to dream of how one day we would love to own a tandem bike.

Twelve years and six kids later, all of our children were requesting bikes for Christmas, with the exception of Blueberry. She wanted skates.  Aware that there would be wheels speeding all through our neighborhood, attached to our kids, whom we are tasked at keeping up with, we knew bikes for us would be in order.  But why get two, when we could just get one?  The perfect Christmas gift for one another, a tandem bike.  A dream realized.

Our first ride together was delightful, despite a few times of one of us leaning to far to one side.  A bigger challenge was when Hubby gave me the front row seat. He had a bit of trouble letting me drive at first. We will just say, that he was not as trusting of my steering capabilities, so he would overreact and would overcorrect his balance, causing a very wobbly ride for us.  After a few minutes, he got much better of trusting that I was not trying to run us into a vehicle.  Over all, he prefers being in command of the bike and I prefer riding in the rear following along.  I do a lot better following than he does anyways.  I just prefer a heads up before he takes a sudden turn or stop.

This past weekend we went for another ride together.  It wasn’t quite as smooth. Our two littles are still a bit slow riding their bikes. We have unsuccessfully been on the look out for a used bike trailer to pull the younger ones in for family bike rides.  After looking for 2nd hand one for over a month, we went hurriedly out to buy a new one this weekend, as we wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather.  We couldn’t find a store with them in stock.  However, while in one store, we found a seat that mounts behind the bikers seat. We decided to give the seat a whirl for Dewberry, our youngest, as we really wanted to take advantage of the warm sunshine.

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Adding a child’ seat to the tandem bike, made riding very challenging. Dewberry loved riding. She delighted herself in tires spinning, leaning over to one side the majority of the ride. We fought the bike for our balance – and hers, trying to correct for her perch.  We were not only facing a disequilibrium to our riding, but comfort was downgraded considerably. Upon mounting the child’s seat, the back rider was forced to inch forward to the front of their seat, making adjustments for the positional change by turning ones knees out as they peddled to limit their knees smacking on to the handle bars.  Knees were still smashed, which further knocked us off-balance..

In addition, our little Strawberry was meandering along on her bike. Our goal was to stay behind her as we rode.  Most of our bike ride, Hubby and I had our feet tip-tapping the ground, balancing the tandem bike, Dewberry leaning over to gaze at the tires.  Once Strawberry would get far enough ahead enabling us to move at pace fast enough to keep balanced on the bike, Strawberry’s eye would catch hold of some glorious wonder ripe for telling us about. Other times she would believe she had  left us behind and moved too far ahead. So, she would stop.

Balance. Stop. Balance. Stop.  Through the neighborhood we went.  Our older kids riding much further ahead.

We laughed practically the entire mile of bike riding. Commenting as we repeatedly balanced and stopped, on the similarities of  marriage and tandem bike riding.  A little shaky at first, until you learn how to lean in to it, trust each other, and communicate.

Oh, but then come kids.  The balance is disrupted for a while.  The ride gets a bit slower in some ways. More stressful for sure.  Much patience is needed.  You learn to make adjustments, as you determine to work together to go from barely moving and staying up to thriving.

In our particular case, we determined the kid seat goes back to the store and we will order a bike trailer, in hopes of smoother riding times.

 

I am linking up to Marriage Monday on www.yestheyareallours.com

Memorizing God’s Word

I meant to post this over a year ago and just found it in the draft section of my blog.  

I have tried many methods over the last few years to actively hide God’s Word in my heart.   In highschool and college it was easy.   In highschool when I would finish the assigned work given in class, then I would pour over the Bible.  I learned many scripture passages  by spending hours a day in the Word.  In college whenever I got bored with listening to the lectures (which was quite a common occurrence), I would flip through all the index cards that I had written the verses on which I wanted to memorize and read through them.  Then I would spend time writing the verses repeatedly.

But once I had kids I found it very hard to memorize scripture.  My mind was always busy……with interruptions of a child who needs a drink of water, or a diaper that needed changed, or a fight that needed to broken up. You get the idea.

About nine months ago I read about a family who has a file box for memorizing scripture.  I decided that might just be the key to helping the kids and I to do hide God’s Word in our hearts.

I have been amazed at the amount of scripture our kids can memorize following this system.   I have also done a much better job of memorizing.   I am very thankful to this family for sharing their method.

We also use this system to memorize poems,  and catechism.  After lunch we stay at the table and go through our memory box.