34 Weeks Pregnant with 8th Baby

SIX more weeks, folks! ONLY 6! Although, the days where my feet are sore and my back is achy and I look in the mirror at night and see THIS HUGE thing….

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…I think more along the lines of SIX more weeks? REALLY? Can my body realistically get ANY bigger?

This weeks update vlog touches on quite a few things:

My weight finally decided to budge. It hasn’t moved since before 28 weeks and it looks like I have gained 2-3 pounds in the last 2 weeks. Normally I gain like a girl training for a hot dog eating contest in the third trimester so this is new for me.

My 32 week ultrasound (2 weeks ago) revealed a 4#8oz baby that still happens to be a very proud to show us each and every time he is in fact ALL BOY! Today’s appoint also revealed that he is growing like a weed, as I am measuring 37 weeks instead of the 34 I am. But, come on now, LOOK at those cheeks!

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Braxton hicks contractions have been strong and frequent and I have a slight feeling he may come earlier than my other 38-39 weekers.

I am planning on doing my first ever belly cast using this kit from amazon.

It has rave reviews and has EVERYTHING I need. I picked up some plaster strips from Hobby Lobby but realized when I got home to check the amount I would need that 3 rolls (all they had) was not sufficient for the cast I want to do. I plan on returning the rolls to Hobby Lobby and will be using the kit I  mentioned above. Hopefully we will be doing it sometime in the 36th week.

I have been a busy bee planning my homeschooling out To. The. Max. I mean things cut out, copied, bound, precise lessons and page references because I am a bit panicked about the fact that my oldest is separating from the heard which means 2 COMPLETELY separate programs (his and the one I will be doing with the 4 younger ones) all while chasing 2 crazy toddlers and nursing a newborn around the clock… .*insert crazy Exorcist type head spin minus the vomit*.  Preplanned and grab and go will be my friend next school year. Or so I am telling myself while staying up until the wee hours of the night pumping out notebooking pages, pinning free resources, organizing books, making list, and lesson planning until my butt falls goes numb from the cheap desk chair I am using.

Plan on getting inundated with homeschooling information, resources and vlogs soon because that is my whole life right now. Well, that and busting out another crop of Nicci Lynn Handmade orders, partying through FIVE birthdays in a month and taking care of a good size (sometimes disgruntled) army of small people.

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Friday Viewer FAQ 7-8-2016

I started doing these FAQ segments a month or two ago and they are a really fun way of getting to answer your questions! The questions topics range from one end of the spectrum to the other. Here are a list of what is covered in this week’s Friday FAQ:

  • Would I allow kids to hang out with friends that are not Christians?
  • Tips for getting a toddler to allow you to brush their teeth
  • What is my ethnic background?
  • What insurance do we have?
  • What do we drive? (Van tour linked)
  • How difficult was it planting in our B2E garden?
  • How do I maintain a personal relationship with each of my kids?
  • How do I deal with toy/messes? (house tour linked)
  • How do handle a new baby without feeling like I am neglecting the other kids?
  • What is my approach on late talkers?
  • How have I handled negativity about nursing in public?
  • Would I consider tubal ligation?
  • Will we have more kids? (Birth control convictions video linked)
  • What do the kids do while I am in labor?
  • How do I maintain patience while homeschooling?
  • How have I trained my kids to sleep through the night?
  • Does my extended family help with the kids?
  • What are my thoughts on medicating ADHD?
  • What is my least favorite homemaking duty?
  • Am I an extrovert or introvert?
  • Do I take any supplements after I have a baby to restore my body?
  • What is my method for disciplining toddlers?
  • Are my kids allowed to go to the movies/events with other kids?

Large Family Home Tour: Bedrooms

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.

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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.

 

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Encouragement to Mom’s in an Overly Critical Culture

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!

 

My Tribe!

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THIS👆🏽. This right here is my #tribe, y’all. My beginning. The people who made me ME!

These are the women who have surrounded me and built me up. Mother, grandmother, sister, aunts, cousins. We’ve giggled together, got in our fair share of trouble together and probably fought like the best of them. They have walked along beside me and instilled confidence and boldness deep within my soul. They have encouraged me when I was down and knocked my butt to the ground if I got overly arrogant.

And those men: dad, grandpa (although not in this picture as I have been missing him for over 15 years…), brothers, uncles, cousins. The men who have been in my life from day one and have set the bar HIGH for any men entering into this sacred circle of family. The men who have lead their families well and have always been there for them.

The older I get the more I realize the family I have is the exception and not the “norm” in this culture. My grandparents’ legacy is so MULTI-generational and I don’t for one second take it for granted.

And you know what, they WERE NOT perfect parents, perfect spouses or perfect people. But they were real and honest. Grace and love flowed from them like a faucet and spilled on each and every one of those people in that photo (and many more). I feel like we live in a world that values Pinterest perfection more than honest, raw and real relationships. The come-as-you-are, love-you-where-you’re-at, not-gonna-put-on-a-front type of soul connections are so lost in today. Find that. Seek it out. Nourish and sustain it. This flesh family of mine and the one I have built within my tribe of friends (…you know who you are…) are #PRICELESS to me. Offer anything you want and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. #real #true #familyandfriends #amen

 

Slow Cooker Meatballs and Marinara

marinaraYears ago when I was sitting at the stove stirring a batch of my homemade marinara I got to thinking, “Couldn’t this be done in the crock pot?” I figured the least we would be out was one meal if it didn’t work and I’d throw everyone a PBJ and toss the sauce.

BUT. IT. WORKED! Beautifully, at that. The sauce turned out great and no stirring and it could be prepared before the dreaded “witching hour” and be ready when we were! SUCCESS!

Below is the video tutorial I posted several weeks ago that shows me (yes, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen – and with a toddler hanging on my leg…) making it. If you want the recipe ingredients scroll a little farther down and I will list them for easy access.

Several of you have commented that you tried it out and it worked brilliantly for your family as well! Thanks for the feedback. Comment below or in the YouTube video and let me know how your family liked it! I love hearing from y’all.

Marinara:

  • one yellow onion, diced (You may substitute 1-2 T. dried minced onion)
  • olive oil (2-3 T.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. oregano
  • 1 t. rosemary
  • 1 t. thyme
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 2- 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2- 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1-2 cups of shredded zucchini (optional)

Saute the onion in oil for 5 minutes on med. high heat. Add the garlic and seasoning and warm for flavors to mingle. Turn off heat and set aside. (If fixing in the morning or crammed for time you can skip sauteing the onion/seasoning without it affecting the overall flavor too much) In slow cooker add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, zucchini and onion/garlic/seasoning mix. Stir up and set on low for 4-6 hours.

If you want meatballs….

Meatballs:

  • 2 pounds (lean) meat (beef, pork or a mixture of both)
  • 1-2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t. each
    • black pepper
    • salt
  • 1 T. dried minced onion (or about 1/2 of a raw onion, diced)
  • 1/4 c. milk

Mix everything thoroughly and shape into balls. If you are having kids help yet still want evenly shaped meatballs check out the tip I share HERE in the video. Meatballs can be cooked in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes (or longer if they are large – check internal temp) or can be thrown into the crock pot with the sauce to cook in the sauce (WAY easier and SUPER tasty). If you are doing this I would suggest cooking on high for 2 hours and then turning it to low for another 2 hours. You can experiment with your slow cooker and see what works. Just be sure to check the internal temp a few of the top center meatballs.

ENJOY!

 

Baby Buys: Garage Sale!

I really thought taking 7 kids on a Saturday (sans husband) to a garage sale that was almost over was going to end up in a bust, but BOY was I wrong. I scored some MAJOR deals and was happy to support a local women’s charity. I got 48 pieces of clothing for  TEN dollars, y’all! TEN BUCKS! At that price it makes the clothing work out to be less than $0.21 a piece. Below is a video on what everything I picked up.

 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Rice and “Peas” Recipe

Mike and I honeymooned in Jamaica and it was amazing.

The beaches.

The sun.

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And, YES, the jerk chicken!

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But finding something even remotely close in the states was a bust. While there is food truck in our area that serves amazing Caribbean cuisine it is pricey for all 9 of us to eat. Not to mention having to go 30 minutes to go get it. (Because it takes 20-30 minutes to get ANYWHERE when you live out here!) So here is my favorite go-to Jamaican jerk recipe complete with rice and “peas”. I say “peas” and not just peas because traditionally that is what the dish is called but the “peas” are what we Americans call kidney beans. I prefer black beans so that is what I use, but I am sure you could use whatever bean you’d like in this dish.

What you’ll need:

Dry Rubbed Chicken:

5 lbs of chicken (whatever variety you’d like – wings, drums, breasts)

3/4 allspice

1-1/2 T salt

1 T. garlic powder

2 t. sugar

1/4 t. ground cloves

1/4 t. dried thyme leaves

1 t. black pepper

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t0 2 t. ground cayenne pepper (depending how hot you like your jerk)

Mix together spices and sprinkle evenly over all sides of the chicken pieces. Grill as normal until done.

 

Caribbean Rice and “Peas” (made in this rice cooker)

1-1/2 c. white rice (not the instant kind)

1 can of coconut milk (look in the Asian/International aisle)

3 green onions, cut up

1 yellow onion, diced

1 whole poblano pepper (you may use 1-3 jalapenos if you prefer it spicier)

2 t. dried thyme leaves

1/2 t. ground allspice

1/2 t. garlic powder

1 t. black pepper

1-1/2 t. salt (in the video below I cut the salt and only added 1 t.)

1 t. brown sugar

1 can of cooked beans (kidney or black)

water

(see video for rice directions)

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Review of Aroma Rice Cooker:

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Buys – Consignment Clothes

I had a little credit at my local consignment shop and decided to pick up a couple of things for baby Cypress. Here is the price break down on what I spent:

Onsies (6):

Rock Star – $1.00

Orange striped – $1.00

Illini football – $2.00

Pirate – $1.00

Little Man with a Big Plan – $4.00

Older chicks – $1.00

Subtotal: $10

Shorts:

Jean – $3.00

Blue/orange plaid – $3.00

Aqua/black plaid – $3.00

Subtotal: $9

Polos:

Car – $2.00

Boats – $3.00

Subtotal: $5.00

Sleepers:

Blue sleepsack – $3.00

White/sports – $1.00

Blue baseball/#27 – 2.00

Subtotal: $6.00

One piece outfits:

Carters blue/navy striped – $4.00

Brown/orange striped – $2.00

Subtotal: $6.00

GRAND TOTAL: $36.00