Tuesday, January 13, 2015

So You're Thinking About Having a Large Family

Maybe you're just starting out on the journey of parenthood or maybe you already have a few children or maybe you're a young woman just thinking that you'd like to have a family above average in size, either way this post is for you.  I had someone ask me what are some ways a couple could prepare for having a slew of kids.  Well, here are some things that came to mind.  Some of these I wish someone would of told me when I was pregnant with my first few.  I always knew that I wanted a large family, but when we first got married my husband agreed to 5.......well that doubled! Anyway here goes......

1. Make sure that you are healthy.  Start taking vitamins and watching what you eat. Not that you have to be a health fanatic but you want strong bones, good immunity, and healthy iron stores.  

2.  Start exercising, if you don't already.  Nothing too intense because intense exercising can decrease fertility and increase risk of miscarriage.  But do begin to do some form of exercise just about everyday.

3. Be at a healthy weight.  Not too thin but as close to your ideal weight as possible.  Believe me, gaining 35+ pounds 5 or more times, then nursing which makes you starving, can wreck havoc on your weight if you are not careful.  I'm glad that I started this whole process of having 10 kids (actually 15 pregnancies) technically under weight according to my doctor's chart.  

4. If you are not an organized person, read some books and try to get your house, daily schedule and life pretty organized.  No one need be a fanatic, but you need some order and routine.  Your house should basically have a place for everything and everything in it's place, as they say.

5. Have some savings in your bank account.  Of course, there is no amount of money that some people ever think is enough and then because of that they don't have children.  But I do think when a couple first gets married they should live on the husband's salary and bank the wife's.  This achieves 2 things, you get used to only living on 1 salary and you grow a savings account. 

6. Make sure that you and your husband are close and able to communicate well.  I remember that my husband and I went on a few marriage retreats and couple's seminars with our church and they were invaluable.  You think that you will have time to do this later in life, but once the kids come it's harder and it's just wise to lay a healthy foundation. 

7. Learn how to cook. Nothing fancy, but practice making healthy meals and learn to like it.  A large family mom is basically running a small diner.  Take a cooking class, get some cook books, practice on friends, whatever but get to the point where it's second nature.  Read up on nutrition while you're at it too : )

8. Make sure you know how to do some basic sewing and mending.  Most young women now-a-days never learn to sew.  It's great to be able to mend things, decorate your home on a budget and even sew clothes if you're really brave. 

9. Think about where you are currently living and if it's the best place to raise a family.  Living in large cities is glamorous when you're single or even newly married but it's hard to raise kids there.  Start to think about how you want your kids to be raised.  Is it important to you for them to have green grass to play in and build forts or is being near a fancy art museum more important to you. 

10. And really probably the most important, be involved in a church community.  Nothing is more special, helpful and fulfilling as living along side a group of like minded people.  It's so great to have other young moms around as well as older people, singles and college age adults to help and encourage.  You want your marriage and family based on the Lord.  Raising a large family takes His strength, believe me!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas.....The Most Wonderful/Busiet Time of the Year!

Shopping, shopping and more shopping, but really that's not what this season is all about, right?  It's about cooking, baking decorating, cards, events, etc,.....Well, no that's not it either.  It's about memories....good and bad.  It's about family, yes that's the real reason. Actually, no that's not it either......I think it's about Christ.  It's about giving and making memories.  I'm so glad that I have good memories from my childhood in regards to Christmas.  I also do love to give and shop and give and shop some more.  I feel so blessed to have so many to shop for but I have to work to keep my peace and not to try to be perfect.  You know how us moms do.....perfect decorating, perfect baking, kids in perfect matching Christmas outfits, etc.  Well, this holiday season I have really made an effort to get out of the materialism and perfectionism and keep Jesus the center of this Advent Season.  I bought a new and nicer Advent candle holder and we have really been celebrating Advent every night at dinner time......well, just about every night that we have a family dinner.  When my husband and I were out of town recently, but older son led it.  My daughter even videoed it for me and sent it to me.  It's was kind of funny but really great that they were doing it even though we were gone.  I purchased 2 books from Amazon that I would really recommend.  Here is the first.......

It's great for a family with young children.  The devotionals are just long enough and we all really like that they include a Christmas hymn/carol to sing together around the table every night.

I purchased this one for myself to use during my devotional time and it has been great. It's by John Piper. I feel like I am learning so much about what Christ's coming really was all about.  

I do love Christmas and look forward to this time all year long.  Here are some Christmas time pictures that we've recently taken for you to get a glimpse into our "crazy" but fun Christmas season here with a family of 12. 

We get our live North Carolina tree at the same friend's farm each year on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We have to go at night so the kids can play tag in the trees. This year we had some cousins with us too.

This year, I chilled out and let the kids do just about all the decorating.  So, it's not perfect but it's great having older kids that love to decorate and younger kids who are so eager to "help." I sat on the sofa and drank spiced tea : )
My darling Caroline has a December birthday and this year for her 12th bday we had an artist friend come and do an art party.  It was wonderful and they all did so well!

I had to include this picture of my mom in her Christmas sweater from the 80's.  She's a treasure to us!

Patrick got to sing on stage for his preschool Christmas production.  He was so cute......tears in my eyes and he's definitely not one of my shy children.

My little guy loves to help me shop but talks me into buying way too much junk!

My husband had a conference in New Orleans so I was able to go meet him there and see my sister as well.  There is nothing like New Orleans at Christmas time.  It is beautiful and the food is as wonderful as I remember as a child.  There is also nothing like laughing with your sister and spending some time away with your husband. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What My Kids Have Learned From Team Sports

My kids have played team sports now for over 17 years.  

These sports include soccer, football, swim-team, lacrosse and I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two.  
In response to a question from my last post, I thought I would write a post about how beneficial team sports have been for my children, especially my boys and especially playing on Christian teams.  Even though all the teams have not always been Christian.  God has used us as a light and witness on neighborhood/secular teams as well.  In writing this list I was particularly thinking of football since that is the season we just finished.  And while I love individual sports such as running, wrestling and tennis, there are many many things learned on a team sport that can't be learned in individual sports.  The hard work and dedication in any sport is a wonderful lesson in self-discipline and commitment.
So, with my husband's and children's help, here is my list:

 How to work with other people.  This means people who are different from us, who my have special needs, etc.  In a nut-shell, how to work on a team.

Brotherhood, diligence, sacrifice of your body and pain for the benefit of others. 

 Submission to authority. Being teachable and open.  Able to accept criticism. 

 Laying down your life for team mates and endurance.  

Willingness to accept pain. 

 Commitment even when you are losing. Learning the lesson of loosing in life.  Being able to accept loss and move on to the next battle.

Continuing in practice and commitment, even when you may not get to play. 

 Giving to others.  Showing up even when you don't feel like it. 

If our children were able to learn these things at a young age, particularly with Christian coaches, they will be set-up for success in the future. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Never A Dull Moment

Notice anything different about my Matthew?
My little darling had an accident on the neighborhood
playground and lost a front tooth!  He tripped and amid a good bit of blood and his sister freaking out, the tooth was gone.  I was pretty upset about it too.  He will be 6 in a few months, but with having Down Syndrome, I don't think he'll loose his baby teeth for awhile.  I had to just give it to the Lord, knowing He let it happen for a reason. My natural mind was worried that it wouldn't help his speech situation and that his adorable little smile
was going to be less one tooth for probably a good 2 years.  
In a family of 12, there really is never a dull moment.
But in the mean time..................football season is in full swing!  Let's hope we don't have any more teeth injuries for a while. With 2 boys playing on top of everything, life has been busy, hence why I haven't blogged much lately : )

Christian is in 11th grade playing Varsity and Luke is in 8th grade playing JV.  

Luke is so happy to finally be playing football after watching 3 older brothers play for the past 9 years.  He scored a 2 point conversion on his first game.

The sisters and I love cheering the boys on!
I'll have to do separate post on all the lessons my boys learn playing football.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

FIT TO BURST.......book study

This summer a few moms and I did a book study on
the above book, Fit to Burst, by Rachel Jankovic.
It is an awesome book for mothers with young children.
It is a sequel to her first book, Loving the Little Years.
I would highly recommend both books.
I was leading the book study and I looked online for
maybe some study questions to do together as a group and I found none.  So, I  made my own.  I thought maybe
other moms may be doing this book as a study at their
church, with a MOPS group or even just casually with friends.  Here are my questions that I came with for each of the chapters.  I hope they will be helpful to anyone thinking of doing this study in a group.  Here is a little except from the book, just to get you interested : )

"When we do the dishes, when we correct the children, when we mop the floors, when we sort out the clothes and clean out the basement.  When we do all these little things full of gratitude, we are making a difference in the kingdom of God."

There are 18 chapters in the book but they are all pretty short.  The whole book is only 128 pages and a very easy, yet encouraging and challenging read.  I'll post the chapter titles too.

1. The Paradox Perspective
    When and where do you find it the hardest to give and sacrifice?

2. The Unbaked Biscuit
     Do we do things for our children, or others, out of "mommy guilt"?

3. The Mean Boss
     Do you complain to your husband? Are your expectations too high? Are you a mean boss?

4. Panning for Gold
     What do you think is the best way to lay down gold in your children's lives? 

5. Discipleship of the Mundane
     How is this "snapshot" culture affecting our mothering? What bothers you the most, the mundane or the change?

6.  When the Milkshake Runs Low
     When do you feel the most like you are being zapped of energy or "yourself"?

7.  The Time is Now
      Is there something in your life that you want or need to be doing now?

8.  Home Fires
     How do your feel like you are doing communicating your husband's love to your children? How can you better do this?

9.  A Table Served
      How can you make your family meal time better and more memorable?

10. Well Eating
       Is there any way we are too consumed with food or using food to separate us from others?

11. Faith Grows
      Are you worrying over the spiritual state of your children or not taking their faith seriously? 

12. Ungraceful Parenting
      Do you lean towards "all law, no grace" parenting or "all grace, no law" parenting? How can you find the balance?

13. Judgey Pants
      Are we too busy judging ourselves and others to be learned from and learning from the people around us? 

14. Wound Up
       Which of the 3 stresses do you most frequently deal with?

15. A Little Morning Rugby
      When is it the hardest for you to stay "clear and calm"? How can you change this?

16. Popping the Weasel
      Are you able to laugh at your life, your children, their mistakes, etc. and still discipline sin?

17. The Long-Term View
      Do you have a problem keeping the long-term view when you are stuck in the everyday mode?

18. It Ever Shall Be
      Do you struggle with discontent instead of being grateful, particularly in your mothering role? 

Friday, August 1, 2014

10 Things That "Experts" Won't Tell You About Pregnancy

About 39 weeks with baby #10.

I'm doing this post in response to a post done by The Huffington Post called "15 Things That Experts Won't Tell You About Childbirth." 
Above is the link if you'd care to read it.  
That post went pretty viral around social media, especially in the young 20's crowd.  While most of it is pretty accurate, it does seem to paint a somewhat gruesome picture of childbirth to those women who've never had a baby.  Part of me wanted to discuss each point (the RN part of me and also the "natural" mom of 11 childbirths part of me) but I thought I would just do my own list.  
So, I'm not sure who these "experts" are supposed to be, but here are some things that most people don't know about pregnancy.......the good, the bad, the easy and the hard.

1.  You can have a few negative pregnancy tests and still be pregnant.  Wait until your a day late at least to test....I mean, really : )

2. Morning sickness is not just in the morning, in fact I think mine was worse in the afternoon and don't do the crackers thing.  Protein is what helps, not simple carbs.

3. And the above queasiness does not magically leave at month 3....in fact, mine hung around until about week 16. It seemed like I had a good day, then a bad day and then the good days started to out number the bad days.

4. With your first pregnancy, you will probably not show till about 20 weeks, even though you may feel bloated.  With subsequent pregnancies you will begin to show the day you get a positive pregnancy test!

5. Yes, you do need maternity clothes, but maybe not as many or as soon as some people think.  Forget though trying to get by just wearing baggy clothes or your husband's shirts.

6. You will not necessarily get stretch marks.  It really just depends on your skin.  I have had 11 full term babies and I have no stretch marks.  I am an avid lotion user though.

7. Having a baby does not make you fat.  You make get a little pouch or some stretched skin, but really I know many women who are over-weight and have had no babies.  Plus I have 3 friends who have had 7 babies each and they are all tiny.  Seriously, like a size 2!

8. Breastfeeding is not that difficult but takes some practice, patience and being open to feeding the baby whenever he or she wants, at least in the beginning.  

9. Childbirth is your birth of your baby!  Not your midwife's or doctor's or Douala's or the RN at the hospital, or who ever.  Just remember that you are in charge no matter where you have your baby.  Do your research and trust your instinct.  Don't let them boss you around. 

10. God gives us women childbirth and pregnancy amnesia and you really forget all the horrible because it is so worth it when you hold that precious newborn baby!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Importance of Vacation Traditions

For the last 5 years, we have taken our summer vacation at the same beach in NC.  Prior to this we took a few summers off doing other vacations instead of the beach. Then before that we tried different beaches trying to find the best one for us.  In the winter, when it's time to reserve a beach house, we always discuss maybe doing something different.  The kids quickly get upset and say, "no, we have to go to the beach."  It's the same when we try to go to another camp in July than the one we have been going to for 20 years now.  Children, and even teens, love tradition.  They love the memories.  Even if everything is not perfect, they will remember the good times, the funny times, the silly times.  Even if the car breaks down on the way there, you don't have enough room for everyone, the house has mice or roaches, kids fight, it rains the whole time or whatever (actually all these things have happened to us at some point), your family is making memories.  These are memories that will be with them forever.  And God really made our brains to remember the good over the bad.  The family bonding is so important too.  So, save a little money through-out the year and don't let a summer go by without a family vacay.  Here's some pics from our summer beach trip-2014.

We always try to rent a house on the beach side.  But the island we go to has a good bit of green natural space so there is a wooden boardwalk to the ocean. It's a nice peaceful walk and we see deer, rabbits, and lots of birds.

The only family picture we got this year.  Ben, my second son, was working at a camp in Colorado so he was unable to be with us.  Will was on leave from Ft. Bragg so was able just to come for the weekend.

We had some good friends come for a few days.  We squeezed them in.  We always try to get a house big enough so the kids can bring a few friends. 

My oldest daughter and I playing in the surf.  There is something so therapeutic about playing in the ocean.  I love swimming out deep with my older kids too.

My little crazy guys loved the ocean.  They could of played in the surf and sand all day.  

The morning we left, I took the little ones down to the beach super early.  It was so nice and quiet and we were all sad to leave.