Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The ULTIMATE List of Christmas Printables!

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I hope you enjoy your time here.

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Looking for some fun activities for your children
to do over the holidays??

Then look no further. 

Today, I'm sharing a list of top notch printables
for you to peruse.

The only problem will be in limiting which ones you want
to have!




Sunday, December 11, 2016

5 Tips For SAVING MONEY At Christmas Time!

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we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

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Christmas time is when our budgets are already

under so much pressure!

Usually, year end, there are extra bills, and

with all the shopping for kids, parents, in-laws,

teachers, spouse, friends, bosses, work parties, you name it...

It can really add up!


5 Tips To Save Money
At Christmas Time

1) Simplify Things.

The biggest money saver is to
stop trying to buy it all and do it all...you can't anyway!

As a family of nine now, I find that Christmas time
is super busy no matter what, however, there are ways
we can streamline our lives.

Here are two examples:

Keep your shopping list simple & limit who you buy for.
Focus on relationship building get-togethers over gift-giving.

Why complicate the holidays with uber long gift lists & trying
to buy for everyone you know??

Have people over. Go to the parties.
Host the dinner(s).

BUT, at every occasion, try to keep it as simple as possible.

I.e. potluck style OR appetizers instead of a huge elaborate feast!

2) Plan Ahead of Time.

Last minute shopping typically puts you under the gun,
and makes the entire experience altogether stressful.

& MORE stress = more likely to spend more!

I've done it the stressed out way, and let me tell you,
planning ANY shopping excursion out beforehand
can save your dollars and sanity.

Try mapping out your total purchases needed (via a list) & then
plan where you'll peruse.

I try to shop for my major purchases online while still searching out the bargains.

I also like to have things like candy boxes, chocolates, teas,
spices, etc. on hand for teachers, last minute hostess gifts,
or a gift prize game (love those at our ladies' small group party!!)

Sites like Groupon, WagJag, and swap groups
can also be unconventional places to scour...

Just do it ahead of the game.

3) Shop Online.

This doesn't always work out, but by quickly
comparison shopping at a few major sites, you
can indeed snag some good deals.

For me, it saves us the time & gas of having
to lug our kids out OR get a sitter.

A few weeks ago I heard about a major
toy warehouse event being held in our area.

Some major deals were going on!

However, I simply searched out their website, found
what I was looking for, and boom-done.

I had to pay shipping, yes, but the time it took me to
buy the gifts (and for SO cheap!), it was worth it
for this busy mom.

Always remember that time is really like money....
you only have a limited amount of it, and it can
usually be used on better things than spending oodles of it
shopping for the holidays.

4) Consider Combining Gifts

If you're buying for a family with children, consider
something that the whole family can use (and save yourself
some money in the process!)

What about a fun movie & popcorn snack pack?
What about a pass to the local recreation center or children's museum?
What about a gift card to put towards something the family is saving for?

Consider combining couples (depending on their relationship of course),
or groups of people that could mutually benefit
(i.e. like covering the coffee run one morn for your co-workers)

5) Check Out Less Popular Shopping Venues

Thrift shops often (surprisingly!) have new items stocking their shelves
for much less.

Holiday "bazaars" (depending on vendors/locations) are known for their
fantastic bargains.

Liquidation shops have been my FAV go-to for many a year when I could
get out more easily. You'd be surprised what you find there!

Swap or online purchasing groups.

Sometimes simply stating what you're looking for on Facebook
can solicit PMs with people willing
to part with new stuff they never ended up using.

PLUS, many times people will mention affordable shops off the
beaten path...


Question on the blog: 
what is your number one
money saving time at Christmas?



Sunday, November 27, 2016

10 Signs You May Have A Larger Than Average Family!

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Did you know that the average size of a household worldwide
is just above 2??

Here's the link if you want to see for yourself: DATA

In our house, we know that we are clearly above
the worldwide median.

With baby number seven on his way, (HE'S HERE!)
we feel that we're now officially a "large family".


Ten Signs You May Have A Larger 
Than Average Family!

1) You are never completely "DONE" with the laundry.

Laundry is no longer a once a week chore.
It's not even a once a day chore for us!

Laundry multiplies like rabbits around here,
and when something breaks down (like our dryer did two weeks ago),
then it means a big trip to the laundry mat to catch up :)

2) Eating a meal or two may utilize your entire cupboard's worth of dishes.

Even though we own quite a lot of dishes,
it doesn't stop us from being able to dirty them all
in one day!

Cutlery usually goes first, followed by the cups...
and the bowls, then the plates.

In times of crisis, we skip using real dishes altogether & improvise
with some fine dining paper plates from our local Dollar store.

3) Grocery shopping is an all out affair.

No one can throw down grocery shopping quite like a large family.

Whether it's a fairly large Costco run...
Or a full week's cart of menu items.

And we cannot forget the small runs during the week
for the things that always seem to run out!

4) Your very presence in public invites unsolicited comments on birth control...

I am not sure why some people feel the need to inspect our private lives in public.

What if us large families reciprocated??

"So, you just decided to stop at two...was that part of the plan?"

"Too much TV for you guys eh, and not enough time together?"

"You guys sure do well at that birth control thing."

Sounds pretty rude, doesn't it?

No worries; I've forgiven anyone who has done this unknowingly :)

5) Going out is a special affair complete with planning, packing & executing your mission.

Most evenings, I am already planning my next morning...

Most Sundays, I am mentally plotting out our upcoming week...

A few times per week, I am writing on & checking out
 our large family calendar on the fridge.

A large family cannot thrive, or in my opinion SURVIVE, without taking the 
time to plan...

Although with some of us it's only a mental plan, but trust me, it's happening.

6) Your children always, always have someone to play (or argue!) with.

My children don't often get bored. 

From the time the first one arises in the morning (usually around 7am or earlier),
we have a loud amount of noise until the last ones (usually the teens)
hit the sack in the late eve.

It is non-stop action for our whole household!

Although the typical sibling arguments are commonplace in our home,
more often than not I hear them playing, talking & laughing.

Right now one of them is singing and trying to make their younger siblings smile...

7) Multitasking is no longer an option for you. It has become a way of life!

Nursing a baby, listening to a teen share their peer problems, thinking about the next meal, and
trying to text hubby about when he is going to be home this eve.

I find there is almost always someone that needs my attention, and
something that needs doing...

It's actually a reality for ALL of us Mamas (& Papas!), but, as you can imagine,
it's usually multiplied in a larger family.

8) Shopping "thrifty" is not simply an environmental trend.

Thrifty is great for the environment, of course, but for us,
it's become a way of life!

I used to buy lots of new clothes for myself as a young teen/adult.

Now, I find great joy in pursuing the "deals" for everyone. It's not that
we don't purchase new (for special situations we do, say like family pictures, or
dance classes, etc.), but $100 at a thrift store (especially when
they have those 50% off days!!) goes much farther
then at a new store, even a "Walmart"...

9) You may not have your whole entire family invited to all the "things"

This one makes me sad, sometimes, but honestly, I get it.

Who wants to invite 9 people into a teeny home or apartment??

Usually, when we get our entire family together with another family, we opt 
for a neutral location (say a park or McD's), or we have them here.

However, some people aren't able to OR aren't comfortable making the accommodations.
It hurts for any person to feel left out, but I've learned to be thankful for the friends
that we do have. Lifers :)

The reality is, not everyone will support your choice to have a large family.
They may not agree with you, or your life's journey.

We have to be okay with that.

10) You'll be living the wildest, most joy-filled rewarding adventure you could ever imagine!!!

More than you could have ever dreamed of.

Life will definitely be full.

"Children are a gift from the Lord..." ~ Psalm 127:3

Life has definitely become FAR more interesting since
adding more children to our brood.

I am challenged in ways that I never thought possible,
yet I find peace in knowing that He has a far greater purpose
than simply surviving the chaos :)


Question on the blog: 
which point can you relate to the most?




Monday, November 14, 2016

The "Official" Welcome To Jeriah Luke

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The "Offical" Welcome
Jeriah Luke

You may have wondered why this blog has been quieter lately??

Well, the baby is here & thriving!!!

If you don't know the backstory, you can find it here.


It had been a crazy busy pregnancy.

Even though the days seemed long,
looking back, it really did go by quickly (in hindsight only! Ha!)

This pregnancy had a few surprises as well:

Extra ultrasounds for a fibroid & fairly large cyst.

A fast growing baby
(measured 8 lbs. 12 ozs. by 36 weeks!!)

So, in the end, we decided to induce at
38 weeks & 3 days.


Labour Story In Brief

We arrived at the set date for induction, bags packed
& ready to go.

Not sure what to expect, as the last two inductions were
polar opposites of each other (#5 was long & very hard at 18 hours; #6
was shorter & more intense at around 6 hours).

I finally got hooked up to the drip around 9:45 a.m.

The contractions started to pick up in their intensity
by lunch time, so I mulled it over (albeit briefly!!)
and decided that with the factor of baby's LARGE size in the mix, let's go
for an epidural PLEASE & THANK YOU!!

The epidural took four attempts and two doctors (ooy!)...I
was in tears by the end of it (like bee stings...just kept
telling myself soon I won't feel any of this!)

Finally, when it 'took', I was so frozen that I was ready to "nap"...

I rested for a bit, when my midwife "interrupted" me.

How dare she?! (wink, wink)

She was only letting
me know that the readings were showing that baby
was ready to be pushed out.

I sorta argued with her (I mean who doesn't like their rest?! Lol..)
and then she reminded me why we were all there ;)

Not long after that, I did some moving around to help baby turn around,
and within a short time it was only a few quick pushes, and he arrived!


We knew he was large just by looking at him, but he
wasn't chubby or overly "huge" looking to me.

Finally, we weighed him.
What a surprise when the scale registered him in at 10 pounds & 3 ounces!!

I was shocked...well, sorta.

The pain I had been in for the last number of months
indicated he might be a beastly size.

He was quieter than some of my other babies, but alert.

Feeding went well right from the get go (thankfully!).

Very dark blue eyes, so we're still
not sure if they'll change to brown or hazel
(both of us have siblings with darker eyes).

I then got settled into the hospital and thus began our journey into
parenthood with our brood of seven....


Friday, October 21, 2016

Seven Thoughts On Raising 7 Children!

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Seven Thoughts
On Having 7 Children!

Life has been incredibly busy these past few weeks...

In case you missed the announcement on my Instagram, Jeriah Luke
has arrived!!!

That takes our kid count up to seven now...

And boy, oh boy, what an adventure it's been :)


The other day I started jotting down notes to myself.

I've been battling incredible fatigue since
having this baby, but I find writing and sharing
very cathartic.

So, without further adieu, here are my thoughts on life
since having our seventh child...

1) I am never bored.

I slightly recall that feeling of boredom one
experiences when you don't have anything fairly interesting to do..

It still creeps in from time to time from the pure monotony of
the day to day life of a "SAHM", but otherwise, boredom has been cured!

(in other words, if you're bored...get married & have some kiddos! ;) )

2) I appreciate sleep and quiet as treats
that I used to take for granted.

Sleep used to come in huge buckets as a young person
without kiddos (many moons ago).

Now, I'm lucky to piece together a few chunks of it a night...

I savor sleep when I get it, and quiet is a sign everyone is either
sleeping (but me), or has disappeared for the eve...

3) I am learning "on the job" all the time.

I learn from homeschooling my kids for sure, but mothers can learn from 
simply being a parent.

Children teach us much; do we as parents want to listen to what they're teaching us?

Listen to them.
Hear them out.

Children have a unique (and often seemingly innocent) way of looking at life.

4) I love children.

I've always loved being around children.

Working with them in kids' church. Volunteering with them.
Having my own day care. Etc. Etc.

Being with children at home 24/7, I realize children have an
amazingly infectious joyful disposition.

They're incredible blessings to be around. (yes, even on "those" days that
we all have...okay, so for real on some days you want to sell them on Ebay, but those
days are usually far & few between!)

5) But I miss (sometimes) adult conversations.

Okay, true confession.

Facebook and Twitter are not sufficient in this area...

I do often miss when I used to freely converse with people
my own age on a regular basis...probably the main draw back
of raising my brood.

6) Kids are the future I'm investing in.

Hey, I'm an imperfect mother raising imperfect kids.
I struggle to get it and keep it "all together" on most days...

Yet, I realize that this "job" of mothering is incredibly important
and eternal in value...

I thank Jesus that He's so gracious & patient with me.

7) There is NOTHING I've ever done that is as
rewarding, interesting, adventurous or as 
challenging as raising kids!!!

NOTHING in my life has been as interesting...
nothing so adventurous, and 
for SURE, nothing as CHALLENGING as raising children!

But I love my family. Each and every one of them.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.


Question on the blog: 
what are some of your recent thoughts
on raising children?



Sunday, August 28, 2016

Five Easy Cleaning Hacks For Busy Moms!

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Keeping your home organized is hard when you have a child,

I admit I'm a bit of a neat freak.
My teen son says I have "Mom Cleaning Disorder"
because I don't have a cleaning day (like I used to...more 
on that later), but I clean in small snippets throughout
the day.

Every single day.

Today, I'm going to share my top five tips
on keeping your house (somewhat/fairly) organized.
Even if you have a whole bunch of kids, are
really busy, and find it hard to keep on top of things.

And no I don't follow a legalistic chart system (been there,
done that!). It's just five easy tips that'll help you keep
your head above the water.


Five Easy Cleaning Hacks
For Busy Moms

1) Every time you enter a room, do ONE thing.

I don't have the time or energy to devote a whole or even a half day to
cleaning. There's just too much to be done!

So, instead I make it my motto to clean while I go.
If I come into the bathroom, after I'm done,
I pick up the garbage on the floor. Sometimes
clean the sink.

In the kitchen, I may rinse some dishes, wash the counter, etc.
In the bedroom, pick up and fold some clean laundry.
As I walk throughout the house, simply pick things up that
are strewn around.

You get the idea. Clean as you go.

2) Your motto needs to be: "All Hands On Deck."

Hubbies sometimes need to be "taught" how
to help as well (depending on how he was raised of course).

On most days, for us, this is about 10-15 minutes
of simple chores after a meal. Each child and adult
doing one or two things (i.e. dishes,
clean up floor, stove/counter, living room, etc.)

And lastly, with this thought, keep cleaning
supplies readily available.

I usually have white vinegar readily available (great
for young kids to use for mopping!).

Or a natural cleaning spray on the counter.

Mop & broom are right where (hubs) and kiddos can see them.

3) Do what you can, on the days that you can.

Some days I can't do much cleaning or organizing at all.
I have to be okay with that.

Most days I just do what I can, when I can.
Here's another "secret"...

When cleaning gets really really overwhelming
(like when I'm pregnant or sickness is in the house for
a long period of time), then I do pay or trade a friend
to come in & do a few hours of cleaning.

I do this about two or three times per year, but it 
always lifts my spirits to see the house clean
without my toil & sweat!

Find someone you can afford, budget it in, OR offer 
to trade one of your services.

The less things you have, the easier this gets.

I get our kids in on this too, but basically we always have
a giveaway bag/box on the go (once full, I take it asap 
to the local thrift store), and regularly throw away
broken or no longer useable items.

Some clean outs are seasonal (i.e. before Christmas, before
or after a person's birthday, spring cleaning), but if you 
make this a lifestyle habit, you'll find cleaning
MUCH easier than before.

If you're overwhelmed and don't know where to start,
set a timer daily. Start with five minutes, and work up to
15-20. During that time your goal is pick
one drawer, one corner, one closet, etc. and 
sort. Get rid of anything you no longer use.

5) Have a place for everything, & keep everything in its place.

The biggest battle is knowing where to put something.

Have a place designated for everything,
and ensure the whole household knows where
that place is.

Every once in awhile sort through each "place" (like number
4 suggests) and get rid of outdated or no 
longer needed materials.


Question on the blog: 
what is your TOP organizing tip?





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