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.


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.




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!


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.


  • 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….


  • 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.



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.


And, YES, the jerk chicken!


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)


(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


Jean – $3.00

Blue/orange plaid – $3.00

Aqua/black plaid – $3.00

Subtotal: $9


Car – $2.00

Boats – $3.00

Subtotal: $5.00


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


Grocery Haul and Menu (5-11-2016)

Our weekly grocery haul:

Aldis: $184.26

Meijer: $71.85

Total: $256.11

Detailed Price Breakdown:



Weekly Dinner Menu:

Dinner 1: Salmon fillets, roasted asparagus (from the garden), rice and salad

Dinner 2: Eating out to celebrate my dad’s birthday

Dinner 3: Jamaican jerk chicken, Jamaican rice and peas and salad

Dinner 4: Bacon cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato and onion, baked beans, salad and corn

Dinner 5: Fettuccine Alfredo with peas and salad

Dinner 6: Subs with meat, cheese, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, banana pepper, bell pepper and mayo, yogurt and fruit and probably some crackers

Dinner 7: (our one meal Sunday): Chili with cornbread or grilled cheese and salad

Blue Ribbon Point System

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!


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.

(This link contains affiliate links)