Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big families

oh, this is a topic we know a little something about.  I personally do not consider ourselves a big family but apparently, we are.  I guess the average per American family is around 2.1 kids still.  Umm, we're skewing the average.  I know I get questions all the time.  Biggest one we get all the time is "how can you afford it?"  And this is not adoption related.  They are just referring to the # of kids.   Simple answer:  we budget.  We live modestly.  We don't have fancy cars or furniture.  There is no marble in this house.  How could there be?  They'd break it.  We find many deals.  The girls and I have fun going to yardsales in the spring and fall.  Just the girls.  I try to take just one at a time.  Sometimes, 2 go w/me.  We have found awesome deals, unique toys and had lots of fun in the process.  Their friends do not know nor does anyone else whether those clothes are brand new or came from a yardsale or second hand store.  Ironically, we always see at least one of their friends out yardsaling as well.  We save money by not having to have all the latest electronics.  Save money by having Warren and Max fixing everything whenever possible.  That helps a bunch.  Warren cuts a couple of the boys' hair.  It's the little things that add up and we just budget very closely.  Our biggest expense, aside from the mortgage, is our grocery bill of course.  However, we happen to have the coupon queen who lives a few doors down.  I'm serious.  She lives in this neighborhood & now has her own segment on the news.  It's great.  Our grocery bill used to be around at least $1000 a month.  I've gotten it down to around $800 a month but it is more expensive to try to do organics or eat healthy.  But, that's what we're trying to do.  Not for everything as I have a cake sitting on the microwave right now waiting to be iced.  And you can be rest assured that there is NOTHING organic about that cake--LOL!  It's baby steps we're doing but does cost a bit more.  My salad dressing is one of those things.  Lots of fresh fruit & veggies.  Anyhow, I am hoping to get it down to about $600 a month next.  That is for 9 people to eat 3 meals a day all month long.  Not bad.  I think this month I got it to about $700 for the month.  So, careful planning for sure and lots of couponing.  Faye would be proud.  No ordering pizza at the last minute.

Another question we get is "where do they all sleep?"  I explained that in a previous post.  Yes, they do all have their own beds.  We add to the house when needed and make adjustments.  We don't go out and buy a new home.  We make this one work.  For the next set of kids, "Cutie Pie," Alyona and "Little Bit" will all sleep in what will be a large room w/ a catwalk around the top where the beds will all be.  It will have a slide in the room as well.  This room is currently the garage.  It is a room we don't talk about.  Don't ever want to open the door to b/c we're so embarassed.  However, I'm going to show you a peek. This garage below will become the girls' room with all pink in it.  Alyona wants to paint it bubble gum color.  Fine.  We let our kids pick their own colors for their rooms and decorate the way they want to.  And boy do they ever.

For eating, we have a dining room table that seats 12 people.  Just enough when the other 3 arrive.  Right now, we have it set up for seating for 10.  Not a big deal.  The kitchen does have two fridges and two sinks.  There are 3 bathrooms in this house, however, one of them does not have the shower hooked up yet.  3 bathrooms seems to be enough.  For now.

We of course have a big van for transportation.  We would have loved a Sprinter Van but they are out of our price range for sure.  Would save us on gas though.  The van is pretty plain.  Nothing fancy but gets us from point A to B.  We purchased this van through Ebay as well.  It retailed for $40K just a few months before we picked it up for $12K.  Again, a big family has to be great at bargin hunting.  The van was practically new.  Has been great so far.

Many of our outings are done for free or at least at a discount.  When we went to Myrtle Beach, SC this past Christmas, we were able to get $250 rooms per night for $35 per night.  We also pack our own food or go to a local Walmart when we arrive.

In other words, it is not kids that cost you the money, it is the lifestyle you live.  Yes, we could have stopped at two kids.  Warren and I would have been able to have more expensive cars or a bigger home.  But really, I think that home would have been too quiet and too empty.  Just doesn't work for us.  Plus, there would have been 8 other children w/out a family to love them, w/out a home, and some of them...w/out life.  So, we'll take our big family anyday.  Okay, so today has been a rough one.  But we really would take our big family anyday over the alternatives we were presented.  I must say this life is not for everyone.  You have to let things go a lot.  Your house is not ever going to be spotless.  Your home will never be quiet.  Your pantry will never be full.  Your vacations are no longer plans to the Bahamas.  Yet, your life is full.  You are grateful and happy for what you have.  Our door is always open.  We always have room for more.  Though, 10 kids is it for us.  I don't think that is too many.  I think it is just perfect.  We may not be the best dressed family on the block but I can guarantee you the smiles are genuine.  I would have never thought years ago I would become the mother to 10 children.  It was just too "big" to phatom that.  Now that it is going to happen, it just seems, well, no big deal.  We have a routine that works for our family.  Does it work all the time?  No.  We have learned to be more understanding as the parents of a big familiy.  We have learned tolerance.  We have learned patience(don't you all laugh as you know this is my weakness).  We have learned to laugh at ourselves.  So many lessons come w/ being the parents of a big family.  I think in the end, it really does make us better parents.  Not sure what grade our kids would give us though.  Just want what all families want whether big or small.  To have happy, healthy, well-adjusted childrne that grow up to be productive members of society.  So, do you think our family is too big??  Or just right. 


  1. I have 2 - one bio, one from Russia. Sometimes it feels like 2 too many, sometimes I think it feels lonely around here. It's hard to say. The laundry with 2 is enough for me. My kids don't do any chores, so that would help if they did something now and then.


  2. You are such a GREAT family, Stephanie! We can only strive to have the love and fun that your family has! We feel exactly the same way as you do in this post! Were you reading my mind ...again? We have 5 children and everyone gives us such a hard time. We are not on Welfare,we take care of our family, we work our behinds off! We like our big family - so much that we want it to be bigger! All we have can be described as "modest" I think. Modest home (needs to be bigger but we compromise)modest van (also needs to be bigger, working on that one) modest wardrobes, modest meals, etc.... I like it this way. You tell it like it is, Mama!

  3. Stephanie,

    You are the best! I know you do it for all the right reasons and you do it well! You are truly an inspiration!


  4. I have been following your blog and I love it! We have 8 kids 4 biological and 4 adopted and we are praying about adopting number 9. I think the perfect size family is whatever your heart can hold even when your arms can't hold them all at once or even when the purse strings are stretched to the max! Big families bring craziness, blessings and joy we wouldn't trade ours for the world-well most days anyway lol Most of ours are teens! God bless you. Rhonda