If you have followed us for long then you know were are a very outdoorsy family. We love being immersed in nature’s goodness which ultimately means wrapping ourselves in God’s beautiful creation. We love to hike in the woods, camp under the stars, and dig our hands in the dirt. Camping embodies all of this. I grew up camping so it means even more to me. It is a connection to my childhood and stirs so many amazing memories within me.
Now we are the parents and want to share that with our small army. And we want to do it NOW. Not when they are “older” or when they can appreciate it or enjoy it more or when it’s easier for us. NOW. Because ultimately #nowisNOW and why wait?
We almost fell into that rabbit hole of thinking last year. We took almost an entire year off from camping, albeit I was pregnant for most of that year, but still. We were in between having our old pop up camper and dreaming toward a bit larger rig for our growing family, and we put it off. WHY? Because of indecision. We didn’t (and still don’t) know what type/size of camper to get. We didn’t (and still don’t) know how much we wanted to spend on it. We even thought about replacing the van to pull it. And in confusion of the flow chart of “what about this” we didn’t step forward in anyway to make it happen. And that sucks.
Then we snapped out of it. We decided that while we wait on our decision, our budget and God’s blessing on a (quite large) purchase we wouldn’t just stop dead in our tracks. We would enjoy camping with our family and make it AWESOME until we had a clearer picture of what we should invest in. Because, in the end, the memories aren’t dependent on what kind/size of camper we get or the features it has in it. It is ONLY dependent that we GO and make those memories together.
Who else is a camping/hiking/nature family? How do you make it work?
If you’re interested in seeing what we ended up getting to use until we decide about campers, here a video that shows how we are going to get 10 people comfortably in tents!
My day in the life during summer break with 8 kids + a friend!
I have been in love with this product now for over 2 years (right after I was first introduced to it by another YouTube mom), so when Mommy Necklaces offered to allow me to review one of their new designs I was jumping out of my maternity shorts to do so!
Mommy Necklaces are beautiful, stylish necklaces designed not only to be a gorgeous accessory for moms, but also an engaging necklace for distracted little ones. Made in the USA (in Michigan) from baby safe materials they are an amazing tool to keep little hands busy while nursing/feeding and are the perfect length for doing so. One new feature that I LOVE is that the “donut” can be ordered in a soft silicone teething style for older babies to sooth their gums on.
My original purchase (almost 3 years ago) was a dangling donut in the color “Caribbean”. I don’t think this style/color is available anymore but there are SO many gorgeous color combinations on their site.
Ezra and then Cora seemed mesmerized by the colors and slight sound and feel the donut made while sliding against the beads of the necklace. I got SO many compliments on the style and when other moms realized it was also a teething/nursing necklace their eyes went wide and they asked where they could get one. I don’t think there has been a time I have worn it that I don’t get some kind of comment of its awesomeness!
My newest style, “Promises”, doesn’t disappoint. It has all the same features as my other beloved dangling donut (break away clasp, breakage guarantee, baby safe materials) with the added bonus of coming with a soft, flexible teething donut.
GORGEOUS, isn’t it? And if you know me I am TOTALLY into everything rainbow!
As a kick off and celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, Mommy Necklaces is going to GIVE AWAY a nursing necklace to one of you! If you would like an opportunity to win a “Promises” necklace just like mine, click on the Mommy Necklaces button below and look through their amazing line of products.
Pick your favorite design and then comment on my YouTube review (posted below). I will randomly pick 1 YouTube comment on August 7th (announced on the 8th) to be sent the same “Promises” necklace that I have. I am so excited to bless someone with an opportunity to try out their gorgeous necklaces!
Sleeping arrangements and room assignments in a family our size are topics I get asked a lot about. Room sharing, while something that used to be commonplace, is not as common today in the world of 4 bedroom houses coupled 4 person families. In bigger families or families with small homes room sharing is something that needs some consideration. We have recently changed up our room arrangements and thought we’d share what has worked over the years.
In the first video HERE I discuss the evolution our house has been through starting from a 3 bedroom home holding a family of 4 to a 3 bedroom house holding a family of 9 and how we made it work. I also discuss adding rooms and eventually having a home with 6 bedrooms that will hold our family of 10 in the next couple weeks when our little Cypress joins our family and run us into the double digits category! Here is a short recap of how we made it work (all in the same house):
When we moved in we had one boy, one girl and a 3 bedroom home. Our children each had their own rooms and we were SPREAD OUT!
Then when our third child was born (a boy) we moved him in with his brother.
Two more girls were added when baby #4 and #5 were born and we had a girls room (3 girls) and a boys room (2 boys).
We got the surprise of a lifetime when we found out our 6th child would join us and he joined the boys’ dorm with a total of 3 girls in the girls room and 3 boys in the boys room.
When our 7th child (our 4th girl) showed up we originally thought we would add her into the girls’ room and just figure out how to make the small closet work more efficiently.
But before she was ready to move in (most our babies sleep with us for 6-12 months) our home school room in the basement was loosing its luster because it had slowly become too small of a space to contain 7 kids all doing different things. I decided to move the school room upstairs and convert our formal dining room into a dining room with a dual purpose. Since we now had a fully finished room where our home school room used to be we decided to utilize that as a room for our older two boys and move our oldest daughter in with our youngest son and leave the little girls room head count at 3 (our youngest 3 girls).
Fast forward to 2016 and we are expecting our 8th child and our older kids are now teens/tweens. Converting the office and finishing off the basement sounded like a good move so we went for it. Hopefully this fall we will have our final (6th room) finished and our oldest 3 kids will have their own room and our youngest 5 will share 2 bedrooms. The shared bedrooms will be set up as follows: 1 “little boys room” with Ezra and Cypress and 1 “little girls’ room with our youngest three girls: Faith, Georgia and Cora.
Now, if that didn’t make your head spin I don’t know what will. You can click on the video links (hyperlinked above to see the previous set ups) to hear the story in part 1 and see a bedroom tour of all the rooms in part 2.
With the aftermath of any tragic news story involving a child I feel like every single parenting decision falls under a highly critical lens of public opinion. Instead of rallying around parents in the aftermath of a tragedy we lie in wait ready to attack every minuscule parenting decision they have every made and then ascertain why it certainly led to the tragedy that ensued and how it could have been avoided if the parents where only more like themselves – perfect.
The fact of the matter is we live in a fallen world and some accidents are just that – ACCIDENTS. Some with favorable outcomes. Some with life changing and gruesome outcomes. And in most cases the parents didn’t intend or foresee the harm that crept in and engulfed their family.
Imagine if we surrounded and supported families in their time of need. Imagine if we were confident enough in our own choices that we didn’t feel the need to pick apart others’ choices. Imagine that instead of looking down our noses on top of our high horse in our glass house we stepped out in love and showed those grieving families compassion and transparency. What if we let them know that we are not perfect either. We have all made mistakes and even small ones made within the perfect storm of events could have tragic outcomes. Most don’t, thankfully, but to some it is their constant reality. The stones thrown at people on a public, worldwide forum (internet – thrown mostly by those that DO NOT have all the facts) for any real or perceived lapse in judgement is a hail storm of evil like no other. And NOTHING is safe. The size of our family or lack there of. Our choice on how to birth our baby. Our choice on how to nourish our baby. Our choice on WHERE to feed our baby. On what sunscreens to use on them, where they should sleep, how they should sleep, when solid food gets introduced, when to allow them to use a public bathroom alone, how to educate them, when to front face them in an automobile, how long to keep them in a booster, whether or not to use kiddie-leashes, whether or not to feed them added sugars, or GMO’s or additives or food coloring. THE LIST IS ENDLESS and most decisions that we pick apart are superficial like these!
I am ready for moms to start rallying and becoming the voice of ENCOURAGEMENT to other moms. To inspire moms to share their lives, experiences and struggles with others instead of having everyone so scared to have REAL, RAW relationships in fear of being shamed by others for perceived “parenting fails”.
I made this video a couple of weeks ago and I hope it blesses you in your parenting journey!
Above is a short explanation of our Blue Ribbon Point system. It is used to reinforce positive behavior in our homeschool, but it would be easy to adapt to a family that does not homeschool as well. Feel free to download the printable below and use them in your own home/homeschool!
BLUE RIBBON PRINTABLE
I simply printed these out on cardstock on my inkjet printer and laminated them with my laminator. After cutting them apart I store them in a pencil box like this.
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FOOD HAUL DISCLAIMER
(for my videos and any other channels that you watch)
Please remember in this (and other) food hauls that each family’s diet and lifestyle is unique. Please be understanding that what is best for one family (dairy free, gluten free, non-GMO, organic, vegetarian, etc) is not always best for every family. Also note that the contents of each haul may not be the ONLY thing that particular family is eating. A lot of people buy fresh produce at farmers markets, grow it in their own garden or take from a stock pile of canned food in their pantries to supplement their purchased items. For some reason food choices and diets have become sacred ground on the internet and opinions are cast out like deadly judgement stones. We are all trying to do what is best for our individual families with what we have. Please be graceful and kind in the comments to one another.
This was my haul from Walmart last night. I purchased a lot of non-food items that drove the price up a little bit, but I also didn’t have to purchase too many veggies and meat which probably negated that. We had several meals worth of meat and veggies here at home so this was a scant week in those areas.
And the price breakdown in the receipt below.
So Mike made the comment that my loyal YouTube subscribers probably thought that I had a “make believe” husband since we seemed never to be around in any videos. Well, that prompted me to put him on the spot and do my very first husband-focused vlog. Enjoy meeting my husband!
Last month we took the kids to Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Although I suffered several my-kids-are-going-to-fall-off-a-cliff heart attacks on the Garden of the Gods hike it was a blast. Here are some highlights.
Setting up camp
Garden of the Gods
Ferne Clyff State Park:
Cave In Rock State Park:
Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a large family home? Well, here is your chance! Now that the GoPro set up is here and I am playing around with it a bit more to figure it all out I thought I would try to post more regular “Day In The Life” vlogs. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in seeing on a more regular basis and how often (weekly, monthly, here and there?). I absolutely love doing them because they are so fun to look back on. Life is such a blur sometimes with 7 curtain crawlers that it’s nice to freeze some moments in this very precious and fleeting time.