my tribe

my tribe
my tribe on our recent beach trip, but minus #2 son who is working at a Christian camp in Colorado

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.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

25 Tips from 25 Years of Marriage

My honey and I just celebrated our 25 year wedding anniversary this month....hard to believe.

So I was asked by my niece to do a "25 tips from 25 years" post.  My husband said, "Wow, that's a lot of tips.  Will anyone even read that?"  But since I am a numbers person and since I've been given the challenge, I'm going to do it! Feel free to stop reading at anytime, but I'm going to make them short and sweet, with no or little explanation, in the hopes that you will keep reading.   I also want them to be simple and practical and I in no way want to come across as "preachy" because believe me, I still have a very long way to go and much to learn.

1. Say "I love you" a lot!
2. Leave each other notes, nice notes : )
3. Make each other's coffee in the morning.
4. Don't try to be better than the other.
5. Pray together everyday.
6. Don't nag, instead make a sweet honey-do list.
7. Have a date night at least once a month, preferably once a week.
8. Plan a vacation away with no kids (unless it's a nursing infant) at least once a year.
9. Never say "no" to your husband (you can read between the lines here.)
10. Play together, like a sport or hobby or game, etc.
11. Make his favorite meals.
12. Always greet him with a kiss when he comes home from work.
13. Put a little lipstick and perfume on before he walks through that door after a long day of work.
14. Never forget a birthday or anniversary.
15. Give each other space.
16. Shop together and pick out each other's clothes.  
17. Compliment and encourage each other daily.
18. Forgive quickly and never hold a grudge.
19. Also ask for forgiveness quickly.
20. Go to church together.
21. Establish healthy boundaries with in-laws and extended family.
22. Don't get a pet without asking your spouse : )
23. Talk openly about money and don't establish separate accounts.
24. Sow into your marriage with healthy books, seminars, conferences, etc.
25. Laugh together and don't take life or each other too seriously. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Laying the Crib to Rest After 23 Years

It was kind of a sad day last month.  We took the crib down!  For the last 23 years, this precious white crib has been up in our house with one of my little ones sleeping soundly in it.  It was a bittersweet day.  We've moved a good bit, so my husband has taken it down and put it back up numerous times (and it's not one of those easy cribs to tear down and put back together) so I think he was kind of glad to take it down one final time.  I would love to know if any of you "moms of many" have had the same crib for 10 or more kids or had the same crib up for 23 or more years.  My in laws bought it for us when we were expecting our first.  Well, let me tell you, we definitely got our money's worth!  I'm sure it is not "code" anymore so my wonderful sister-in-law suggested that we make it into a bench.  My brother-in-law knows how to do this, so I think we'll enlist his wood working skills.  I think I would like to put my children's names and birthdays somewhere on the bench too since they all slept in it. We do have another Ikea crib that is a little smaller and easier to take apart and move. It's in better condition and "code." We will save that one for grand babies or who knows, wink wink.  
But it was time to move my two little guys into toddler beds.  We haven't been sleeping quite as well since we've moved them out of the cribs but it's getting better.  You know what they say, "the only thing you can count on in life is change."  That is so true, especially in this parenting journey.  And while I did shed a few tears when my husband took it down, I don't miss lifting my boys' heavy little bodies over that bed rail anymore. 
When I put this up on my facebook, here are some of the comments I received.........
No Way
For Real?
You'll probably be pregnant next month!
Oh, that is sad....
You husband looks happy!
It's not the end, but rather the end of the beginning.
One anointed crib.
OMG, you should bronze it!
Don't be too hasty, you never know : )

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Energy Synergy

Just about daily I get questions from strangers or acquaintances.  Questions of shock and disbelief when they find out how many children I have.  You know, 100 years ago having 10 children was not that rare. Actually it wasn't a big deal at all.  But I here are some frequent questions....."Where do you find the energy?  How old you?  I'm exhausted with 2 kids, so how could I have more?" There is a common thread here, so I thought I'd so a post on synergy : )

Here my husband and I are taking a selfie after he beat me in tennis, but it was really close and I didn't have a good racket with me or I would of beaten him : )

Synergy, in a nut shell, means working together and the energy that comes from team work (these are my own words so feel free to look-up a "real" version)

One of the first things that helps a couple pull off having large family successfully in this day and and age is working together!  Team Work! 
My husband and I don't try to compete with each other about who has the hardest "job" or who is pulling their weight more around the house, or who is helping the most with the kids, etc.  We just DO IT!  
This explains #1 and the others are pretty self explanatory. 

1.  Work together as a couple.

2.  Each of you have different strengths and weaknesses so using those effectively is a key to getting things done and having a household run smoothly.  Even your children will be better at different things and more eager to help in different ways. For example, I love to cook but hate to I cook and my husband organizes the kids and they work together to clean up after meals.

3.  Get adequate rest.  Resist the temptation to stay up late reading, watching TV or your smart phone, etc.  You will pay for it the next day.  I aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

4.  It's OK to take a much needed rest in the afternoon.  Nap, or at least lay down and read, while the little ones are napping and the older ones have some down time too.

5.  Take your vitamins and eat healthy!  I'm a firm believer in this.  You can see some other posts on this if you want.

6.  Learn to say "no" to things.  "No" really is a holy word!  Don't over commit or say "yes" to things that others can do.  Even church activities can zap energy and don't we all feel guilty when we say "no" to something related to church?  Well, that's not right, so let the guilt go!

7.  Oh and coffee and tea and chocolate help : )

I'm not a super woman so I know that these things above work.  If I can raise a large family with joy and energy, really anyone can with the Lord's help!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

God Has Been Faithful

My oldest graduated from Basic Combat Training and now Airborne school.  Here he is getting his wings! My husband and second oldest son got to be there to see his last jump.  God was faithful and watched over him.

Earlier this month I flew down to Louisiana for my high school reunion.  Here are some pictures of my high school BFF's with me.  I had so much fun and was amazed at God's faithfulness to me, through thick and thin.  

This is a picture of me and my pastor, and for a time principal of the Christian High School that I attended.  He just turned 81 and is still working, pastoring and such an encouragement!  

This is my sister and my Della, who taught me how to cook!  I owe them both so very much.  My mother was very sick for most of my children and these 2 basically raised me.
Going back home, particularly where one has grown-up, is really a good way to marvel at the faithfulness of God.  Time goes by so quickly and I marvel how He has a plan for our lives and it is much better than any plan we could ever dream up!  Never stop trusting in the One who made us, knows us completely, and loves us more than we can ever imagine. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Disney for the Large Family

And we were off!!!
Yes, we took 7 kids to Disney World for our spring break so there was 9 of us total. My older 3 were not able to come and to be honest, they said, "We've done Disney Mom.  It's really OK for us to miss."
Now I love Disney (more than my husband does and I think even more than some of my kids : )  I had a plan and it involved getting up early and go, go, going.  Believe me, when we returned home, we were saying,"I need a vacation from my vacation!"
I know there are million posts out there with Disney tips, but I thought I would give you some of mine, particularly helpful if you have a bunch of kids in different age ranges.  I won't give the usual or obvious tips, such as.....bring your own snacks and water bottles, go when it isn't so crowded, etc.  But instead some things I've learned over the years in bringing more than the average number of children to the "Vegas of the South" as I call it. But first a few pics........

We thought we actually got a complete family pic in Norway at Epcot (my husband is Norwegian) but the older gentleman that we asked to take our picture didn't get Matthew who was in the stroller!

Then this great pic taken going back into Future World was photo bombed by some crazy stranger!

Well, here's the tips..........

1. Get the book "The Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld."  It's a great book and it will give you a plan.  They print a new one each year.  I've been using these books since we first went to Disney as a family 15 years ago.  I got mine at the library this time. 

2. If you have little ones still that don't sleep too well in a hotel room, stay off site at a condo that has transportation to Disney.  We did that this time and even though it took longer to get to the actual parks than staying "in the world" we slept much better and saved a ton of money.

3. Rent a stroller from them.  Don't bring one.  I promise I have tried both ways and really the Disney strollers are awesome.  As you can see from the picture below, you can easily fit 3 kids in it and you don't have to worry about lugging your own around.

4.  Like I said above, get to the park as soon as it opens or at least as soon as you can without getting too stressed out.  We were there during a pretty busy time of year, but we never waited longer then 20 minutes in any line due to getting there early and also having a plan.

5. Don't stress about doing it all.  Chances are, you will be back in your lifetime.  Do what appeals to most of the ages in your group and leave the rest for another time.

6.  Have pairs that are responsible for watching each other.  Also, have a team that wants to ride the more crazy, fast, scary rides and be prepared to separate as needed.  We did this a good bit.  My husband doesn't really like roller coasters and I do.  So I would go with the older kids sometimes to ride the crazy stuff.

7.  Fast Pass has changed some in the past year.  Get your fast passes from a FP site right when you enter the park.  I would have my husband take the kids on a ride or walk around while I got the FP for everyone.  It takes a bit of time if you have a large group, but it's worth it in the end. 

8. Right when you get home, write down what you did each day so you can put it in a scrapbook.  Also, ask each child what was their favorite thing they did on the trip.  It's so funny to hear their responses and write it down too!  It's so cute to look at years later. 

9.  Dress in layers.  Don't carry too much stuff with you.  Have a back-pack that small enough to take on rides with you (not a giant diaper bag) and have everyone wear comfortable sneakers.  Bring sunscreen and band aides and charged cell phones.  But think light!

10.  And just be prepared for melt downs.  We saw so many children having melt downs and temper tantrums, particularly in the Magic Kingdom.  It was actually kind of funny because it was a constant thing.  My husband and I started calling Disney "The Melt Down Capital of the World."  And I'm not just talking about kids here : )

We also spent a day at was great but it rained that day so some things were closed.  I was surprised that SeaWorld is just as expensive as Disney.  Was not quite prepared for that.

Here we are at Seaworld in the new Artic exhibit with real penguins.  It was 32 degrees in there!

A cool pic in Animal Kingdom.  This was some of my kids favorite Disney park.

We could easily fit 3 kids in the big Disney strollers (Seaworld had them too) but most of the time the little boys didn't want to share. 

This was a typical afternoon for my husband.  The little boys took naps in his arms or in the stroller since we were too far from our condo to go back for official nap time.  They were pretty tired by the end of the day. 

One of the few character pics we got.  I'm not a fan of standing in line to get a pic with a person dressed up.  We saw many characters around the parks, particularly in the parades.  My children don't care too much about that and kind of feel the same way as me.

Patrick's favorite thing at Animal Kingdom was feeding the mallards and brushing the goats in the petting zoo.  These were 2 things we could of just done in NC!
It seems that kids don't appreciate so many things at Disney which is why we only go about every 5-6 years.
Happy Vacation!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Little Guy....#10 is 3!

My precious baby is 3 years old!
So very hard to believe.  We all love and enjoy him so very much.  He is the "life of the party" at our house.  I also tell people his is 3 going on 13 because he wants to be so big like his siblings.  Sometimes I just want to scream, "Don't grow-up so fast!"  We all cannot imagine life without him and I feel so very very blessed.
For a boy, he is super talkative and sometimes we even tell him, "Patrick it's time to stop talking." 
For his birthday we just had a family party that evening, since our family is like a constant party : )

But during the day we went to the park and even though it was rather chilly, we got some good pics.

This past 3 years sure have flown by and as I get older I cherish the time with my littles more and more.  

Love this little guy so much!
One thing I would say to young moms out there is......
don't rush it.  Don't always be looking for the next milestone to be reached or for things to get "easier."  Really they don't ever get "easier" as a parent, just different.  Enjoy where you are right now with your children, embrace it.  Be content, and yes, I'm talking to myself here too : )