Friday, November 11, 2011

Family Pictures!

I Love Fall For Family Pictures! Our family headed over to the arboretum at the local university a couple weeks ago to have pictures taken. As you can imagine, getting decent pictures of so many little ones is never an easy task. When we got out of our van I told the gals taking the pictures, "the goal is as many pictures as possible as fast as possible". LOL, that gives us the best chance at getting at least a couple good ones. Our friends had three cameras going at all times and we did get some really great pictures in the end! Thanks Girls!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Encouraging Right Behavior

I saw this idea on the u-create website and LOVED it so much I made it the very same day! Its a "caught you being good" chart!

(Do not be impressed by Georgia. She's been lapped several times LOL. Have I mentioned she's two? :p)

All I did was print out a list with each of my children's names, mat it, and put it into a picture frame. I made little flower rosettes to make it prettier! The way it works is super easy. When you catch your child making good choices, showing a selfless attitude, going out of their way to help another, making sacrifices for others, etc you give that child a mark because you caught them being good! Use a dry erase marker on the glass makes it super easy to wipe away. When you need to add another child, just print a new sheet and put it back into the frame.

I always make a big deal in front of everyone when I give any child a mark. Asking for a mark means no mark for sure! For the bigger kids the prize is ten marks equal a buck. In our allowance-free house one buck for just putting others first is a big deal! For the little kids they get a small treat like a piece of gum or mini candy bar immediately when they earn a mark.

This Salad Brought To You By...


That's right! This salad was made entirely from our garden (well minus the black olives, we do live in North Idaho afterall, and I'm pretty sure olives don't grow here). The Family dream is a homestead, but for now we are happy with our small vegetable garden. This year my husband built a raised bed that measures about 4 ft wide by 24 ft long. We planted squash, zucchini, beets, corn, carrots, lettuce, onions, brocolli (total waste of space), sweet peas, strawberries and lots of tomatoes!

Golden Sugar Tomatoes. SUPER sweet!

We've had TONS of lettuce!

There is something so Amazing about growing your own food and serving it to your family!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Abigail Grace

It seems like I am spending most of my time these days protecting our newest addition, Abigail, from her eye-poking brother! :)

Baby number seven, Abigail Grace, made her debut earlier this month. We are all in love with her! We feel so blessed!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Books I'm Reading

I always love to see what other Christian women are reading. I think because I was not raised in a home where Biblical femininity was taught I am always trying to learn as much as I can about what the bible says about women and our roles. Here are the books I am reading or have recently finished.

John MacArthur Study Bible.
I love this Bible! I've had other study bibles in the past and was not super impressed by them. The notes all seemed really liberal and circumstantial. But this one seems to be really good. My husband bought it for me because he liked his so much.

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
This book is so helpful and encouraging! I'm loving it. It's one of those books that causes you to stop and pray constantly.

Large Family Logistics
This book is great for large and small families. The jist is to organize and set up systems that are logical and efficient so that you're not burned out and floundering.

Created to be His Helpmeet
I love this book. I have read it at least once a year, usually twice, for the past 5 or 6 years. Whenever I feel like I'm losing focus or forgetting the reason that God created Eve I read it. I can honestly say it has helped to change our marriage.

She Shall be Called Woman
This is actually a 9 part audio set by Victoria Botkin. It is AWESOME! She is so logical and helpful. I finished all nine hours during a long road trip and am ready to start from the beginning again!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World Domination and Ramblings

I think all large families find joy in coming up with ridiculous answers to the questions we constantly get about why we have sooooo many children. Most of the ones my husband and I have come up with are inappropriate to share (in my opinion...he doesn't seem to have such high standards :p ).

It's interesting though because you can tell by the way the person phrases their question or comment whether they are thrilled to see a big, happy, smiling family or if they are appauled by such "irresponsible, ignorant, uneducated people" overpopulating the earth.

It is usually pretty easy to tell which category a person falls under. For example, when you hear, "Boy, you sure have your hands full", or "Well thats quite the herd, isn't it". Those people are usually not people who are fans of large homeschooled families. I think my new response to these people will be "Well we figured dozens and dozens of children would be our best shot at world domination. Muahahahahaha (My five year old has a pretty serious evil villain laugh so I think I will train her to do it on cue)!"

On the other hand when you hear, "Wow, its nice to see children who are so well-behaved" (clearly they caught us at a moment when my two-year-old was either sleeping, eating or at home), or "That's a good looking group you've got there". Those are the people who like children and are happy to see smiling faces.

Recently I saw a bumper sticker online that said, "No they're not all mine. I gather all the neighborhood kids then go grocery shopping". I was dying because seriously we CANNOT go to the grocery store without someone asking

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bake Shoppe Birthday Party

Last week we celebrated my oldest child's ELEVENTH birthday. I know I am not the first momma to feel like time has flown by (and that I am WAY too young to be the mother of an eleven year old!) and my "baby" is growing up too fast. We try to make every birthday special, but given how may people are in our family we do not throw a party for each child every year. Sydney has not had an actual party for a few years so we wanted to something FUN! We saw the idea for a Bake Shop party on a blog and Syd LOVED it! We had tons of fun planning, decorating and having her party. The MOST fun part for me was that she is old enough now to know what she wants to do and has lots of great ideas, and I got to help her accomplish the party that she planned (for the most part)!

My girls made up about half the party.
Lexi, on the left, is giving me her "best
look" . LOL Three-year-olds are GREAT!

We sewed coordinating aprons for all the party guests. Here are my girls showing off their aprons before the party. The aprons were a huge hit and it was really fun to send all the girls home with a unique party favor.

Sydney showing off her cupcake, Lexi
in the back eating her gobs of icing.

For the cake, we made BIG cupcakes and filled bag after bag with different colored frosting and added different fun tips so all the girls could decorate
their own cake. They all LOVED that! I wish I had a picture of Aleyna's (5) cake with five inches of frosting. YUM!

At a side table we had other baked goods as well as jars of CANDY! Each girl had a little blue bucket to fill with her candy choices.

Sydney and I made "Sydney's Bake Shoppe" labels for water bottles and buckets of cotton candy. That may have been my favorite part of the party, so cute and it really made it Syd's party.

And the BEST part of the party was the next morning when all the guests went home, my child hugged me and thanked me for all my hard work on the "best day of her life"! Tears... (pregnant girls can't handle that kind of thing).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Those" People

I cried the day Dave bought me a minivan. I was 23 years old. We'd been married four years and recently had our second (and last haha) baby. We were both still students at Washington State University, for crying in the night! Clearly, I was far too young to be driving a... mini van...

My how things have changed. Now expecting baby number 7 (clearly the "I only want two children" claim didn't stick), we are officially VAN PEOPLE. Not minivan, but VAN People (we are THOSE people, lol). Over the weekend we made the two-hour trek up to Spokane and purchased our very own fifteen passenger van. And to tell you the truth, I am so excited. I'm not excited to have people point and count as we pass them in town, but I am excited to be able to travel with friends in ONE vehicle! I'm looking forward to making day trips to parks and out to the mountains for hikes with more than just our family in tow. I'm excited that my 10-year-old will not have to be wedged in between two HUGE hot pink carseats in the back row of the Burb. I'm excited that the children can all be an arms' length from each other ( possibly the single most exciting aspect of being van people! lol the two-year-old is a hair puller).

Funny how the Lord changes us, isn't it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Six Girls, One Boy!

We're having a GIRL! That's right, baby number seven appears to be a girl. The ultrasound tech didn't have to say anything. I've seen enough ultrasounds to tell. So when she showed us I yelled, "ITS A GIRL!!!" and then both my husband and I burst into laughter. Six girls and one boy is just hilarious to me!! I keep thinking, "Poor Jack, he needs a brother". But, the Lord knows what each of us needs. Not to mention he really doesn't seem to mind all the motherly attention thus far...granted he is only 8 months old :p Dave says, "That's why we have a big garage, for man-time."

Suprisingly, we may have a name that we all like! The last three girls haven't had names until shortly before or after their birth! We're shocked and feeling so accomplished at the possibility of having a name already (well, at least a first name).

I got out the newborn girl clothes the other day and of course we were all dying and you would not believe the amout of "awwww, cuuuuuute" that day. Even Georgia, who isn't quite two, marveled at the cuteness of all the itty bitty pink stuff (that was after trying on everything and realizing nothing fit her).

Praise the Lord! Babies are the best! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why We Chose to Homeschool

Our Family The Year We Decided to Homeschool

There are a lot of reasons that people homeschool. Here are a few of the reasons our family made the decision to homeschool.

1. In Deuteronomy we are commanded to teach our children the ways of God constantly. We do not think that is possible if they are surrounded by people who don't know the Lord for most of the day.

2. Ultimately, we will be responsible for the education of our children before the Lord. It will not be their teachers, sunday school teachers or anyone else. We will be held accountable.

3. Children spend about 7 hours per day in a classroom, but are only give an average of 2 hours of instruction. At home we usually give 4 hours of instruction and plenty of time for the kids to explore their own interests, without being required to sit at a desk. My children are learning to sew, bake, cook, crochet, play piano and so many other things that I never had the opportunity to do because I was always in school or involved in other school activities.

4. Our oldest did go to public school for K and first grade. She seemed to care more about her friends, even at that young age then she cared about her family, especially her sisters. Within a few weeks of pulling her out of public school we noticed a marked difference in how she treated her sisters and the rest of her family.

5. Being at home has given my children the opportunity to learn to be social with people of all ages, not just children their own age. They are able to play with little kids and kids older than them. They also know how to interact with adults and love spending time with elderly friends from church.

6. The best colleges in the US hold sp0ts specifically for homeschooled kids. Apparently homeschoolers are better at problem-solving and thinking outside of the box.

7. There is no need to "filter" what our children are learning or undo what they've already learned. The truth is, when your children are surrounded by ungodly children all day, that is who they're being taught by.

8. If we don't trust the government with our money, our health care, foreign policy, or ...well , anything really...why would we EVER trust them with our children?

9. Homeschooling is fun! PLUS I have personally learned more in 3 years of homeschooling my own kids than I did in 16 years of public school. That's right, even through college! I was schooled, not educated.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

About me, Mandi

Random information about me, Mandi!

1. I LOVE MY HUSBAND! He is my favorite person in the whole world and I still cannot believe the Lord let me marry him!! We started dating when I was in eleventh grade and got married two years later.

2. I believe being a mother keeps me close to the Lord, it is also extremely entertaining! Kids are so fun!

3. My favorite drink is a no-whip mocha frappucinno from Starbucks.

4. I LOVE my red house!!

5. My dream is to become a Titus 2 woman, who is able to teach younger women what Biblical womanhood looks like.

6. I never really planned on having children (this still makes me laugh).

7. I am very scatterbrained and forgetful, always have been.

8. I love building, even though am I really just learning.

9. I love sewing, and I can sew a straight line like no bodies business (hoping to expand on those skills.)

10. In theory, I am an extremely organized person...If I could just find that darn list I made :p

11. I love to get rid of junk!

12. Our family dream would be a small farm.

13. I love living in Idaho, although I would consider Alaska.

14. I'm not crazy about baking, but I love to cook.

15. The Lord is teaching me to be a godly wife and mother, however, I am a very slow learner.

16. The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year (when I can shop with my bff, anyway).

17. I REALLY LOVE garage sales, having them, going to them, helping with them, whatever!

18. I do not prefer one season over any other. I love them ALL!! I love living in an area where we really get to see all four seasons!

19. I always want to decorate for every holiday but just can't seem to get it done.

20. I like listening to sermons online and I love worship music!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Five Girls, One Room.

Some would say we have a pretty small house, especially for the size of our family. It is a little over 1600 square feet, but it is space well used. Suprisingly there are four bedrooms. One is downstairs and acts as our guestroom. Three are upstairs. I like to keep all my people on the same floor, so the three upstairs bedrooms hold all of us. Dave and I have the medium sized room. Jack has the nursery, which is supposed to be a den because it has no closet, but it is a great size for 1 (or 2) little guys. The girls, all five, share the master bedroom.

Most people who come to visit our house want to know how we fit all the girls into one room. Here is the answer!

We removed the doors from one end of the closet and it was a perfect place for a little princess crib. Our one-year-old, Georgia sleeps here.

Our ten and eight year olds share a bunk bed.

Hallee, our eight-year-old has the bottom bunk. We hung a little planterbox-type shelf for all her treasure and curtains for her to close.

Sydney, 10, has the top bunk. She also has a shelf, plus a corkboard for pictures, drawings, etc. We recently put this little set of drawers up on her bed for anything else that needs protection from tiny hands.

Leynie and Lexi, 5 and 3, have toddler beds opposite the bunkbeds.

We have one dresser in the girls' room for the bigs. It is old and hard for the littles to get the drawers open, but not a problem for the bigs. PERFECT!

You may be wondering where all the "stuff" is. Well, for starters we try to keep our stuff to a minimum, especially because we have a total lack of closet space in our house, but there must be SOME stuff.

We keep all the clothes for the three little girls in our room (when they were in their room every drawer would be emptied every day. ARG!). Our 5 and 3 year-olds wear the same size so they share a drawer, plus the small drawers for tights, leggings, etc. Our one-year-old has her own drawer in the same dresser. The drawers are really big and have plenty of room for all their clothes that do not need to be hung up.

We hung a second bar in our closet for the little girls hanging up stuff. This GREATLY decreases the clothes thrown on the floor, not to mention broken hangers.

For Christmas I made this dress-up bin for the little girls dress-up clothes. The bottom holds, shoes, purses, hats, etc, and the top holds the dresses and aprons. It fits perfectly just outside the closet.

The second half of the closet in their room holds the big girls' hanging clothes, a bin for American Girl stuff and a bin for other doll items. It also hold all the American Girl furniture, and doll house furniture.

Between the bunks and the wall was a bit of spare space. We made it into a playhouse for the little girs, since the little cottage we have takes up too much space in the room.

All the toys that have pieces, Playmobil, Legos, Little People, etc. are kept in an armoire in the Living Room and can only be accessed upon request. Moving all that stuff downstairs has really made it SO much easier for the girls to keep their room tidy. The toys they can use in their room are limited and do not have a million pieces, so they are easy to pick up quickly.

I HAVE to mention my favorite part of the girls' room. The bedding!! I REALLY wanted all the beds to be coordinating once we moved them all into the same room. I had a gorgeous crib set, handmade! And I found some cute duvets from Pottery Barn that I knew I wanted to use for the bigs' beds. So I bought a set of coordinating sheets from PB and some minky and mailed them up to Alaska to my extremely talented friend who had made the crib set. She used the new fabrics plus some of the fabrics from the crib set to make duvets for the little girls' beds. Voila!! 5 coordinating beds! LOVE IT! Then I used fabrics with similar colors to make a curtain for the window, the curtains for Georgia's "room" and the curtains for Hal's bottom bunk! The girls' love their room, and so do I!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Decluttering my kitchen.

One of my mottos is "Manage your stuff or manage your people". That's how I remind myself that if there is too much stuff for me to manage it's really hard to manage the people. Sometimes I do a better job than others at holding myself to that idea. The issue seems pressed at the moment seeing as how we are expecting baby number 7 at the end of the summer. The last couple weeks I have been purging our house one room at a time. Last week I took 3 boxes and 3 big garbage bags to the thrift store! Shockingly most of it came from my daughters' bedroom. Their are five of them sharing a bedroom, and at least two show packrat tendencies (they keep garbage, actual garbage as in wrappers and other junk they want to look at!!). They must get this from their dad because I LOVE to get rid of stuff. I love gettting rid of stuff so much that I sometimes get rid of stuff I probably should have kept. My husband has been known to tell me, "you can get rid of that, but we're not buying another one in a year", in attempt to make me stop and think before loading a bag of "junk" into my car and hauling it off.

It's so much easier to organize and stay organized when you just don't have as much stuff. This morning I tackled my kitchen. I decided I was not going to keep more than I have room to store. I am tired of throwing something into a cupboard and closing it as fast as I can hoping to avoid an avalanche (like my freezer). I drug an empty box into the kitchen and pitched in everything I haven't used in a year. Somethings I thought, "I might need this if I ....", or "well, I would really like to start..." But I am good at talking myself out of that. I pitched my popcorn maker (we always microwave, to my best friends shame), my hand mixer (which I have not touched since I was given a stand mixer), and dozens of other odds and ends that were just taking up space. The junk drawer was the worst. I think I almost lost my life in their a time or two, but I pulled through in the end! The end result makes it SO worth getting rid of all the crap! :) Tomorrow, the guest room...maybe.

The End Result!!

See, I'm not even hiding junk over here!

I am blessed to have this hidden corner where all the uggo necessities live.

The Junk Drawer!! Serious transformation. Turns out the "junk" was mostly my kids' garbage. Good Riddens!

The avalanche cupboard. See that, even extra room!