Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hello New House

The closings went off without a hitch, and so now I can finally show you where we are living. 

Welcome to the Big Ugly House Barn! (Yes, it really is a converted barn, and while I love it, there are more than a few things about the decorating that allows us to retain the Big Ugly description of our home. Plus, we've become rather attached to it.

This picture was taken a few months ago, so the trees have a lot more leaves on them. I also have been spending every waking moment trying to sort out the mess of what we brought with us, and have not been terribly diligent in taking pictures. That will have to wait for future posts.

Speaking of future posts. I am currently sitting in the Town and Country Library in Elburn (which is very nice, by the way), where I went to make use of the free wi-fi, and get a library card. I'm not sure the librarian took me quite seriously when I said I 'needed' a library card, but it was absolutely true. I now have a happy stack of books sitting next to me, and life already feels a bit more settled. But all of that to say that we still don't have wi-fi sorted out at the house, yet, which makes it difficult to do much of anything these days. If you need me, call my cell phone, and cross your fingers that a) I hear it b) it has money on it, and c) it is charged. (Yes, I'm going to break down and get a smart phone. J. is working on figuring out the best way to take care of phones and internet.)

The littles returned from camp, and all had a spectacular time. They are adjusting to the new house, but I don't think it will take too long, given how much they have already played outside. Now TM and D. are off to boy scout camp. They miss the fun of living in one room of the house while the floors are redone this next week. 

All in all, we are doing well. We have no idea where anything is, and are still figuring out how to use appliances and things. But I think it is all going to work, and that this house is going to fit us very well. I am really quite in love with both the house and land. The land in particular is so beautiful. I keep feeling as though someone has let me live in a vacation house, and then has told me that I don't have to go home. 

One of the best parts so far, is that M. and B. were able to join us at the new house on the first night, so all 14 of us were together in our new home. It just seemed right. And since the P. Family mom was a big piece of making that puzzle work, she was there the next day, too, so got to see it. And take a family picture of all of us in front of our new home.

This is the good one, here is one where only one person is actually looking at the camera.

If you are curious, this is the drive that goes from the road, down the side of our house, to the parking area. There are big maples all along the side of it, and a big garden in front of the house on the other.

So, hello new house! We are so excited to settle in and make new memories together!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Goodbye old house

I'm not sure I would recommend spending one's 26th anniversary doing a final packing of one's home. It was definitely the most stressful part of the week, and even with some amazing packing on J. and TM's part (and an extremely full trailer, van, and two cars), we still had to leave some for the P. Family to bring to us on Saturday. But we did it, and are now settled in our hotel with five children and four animals.

Last night, our older children started out having some fun wrapping siblings up in the leftover packing plastic wrap, which then devolved into a whole family dodge ball game in the empty dining room. I just want to go on record as saying that it is hard to compete against children who have years of dodge ball practice at church and Boy Scouts. (Besides the fact that my husband and children paly a far different version of dodge ball than I grew up playing. I think it is the difference between having gyms verses having PE class on a field all year long.) It was all crazy and fun and an extremely perfect way to spend our last night in our house.

Tomorrow we hang out in the morning while the old house closes (and around 10 am, I will finally start breathing again.) Then at noon, we will get our children and animals settled, and go do our final walk-through for our new house. The closing will follow afterwards, and we will have a new home. This new home currently does not have wi-fi, so I have no idea when I will be able to update with news and pictures. I will do so as soon as I can.

So, good-bye Big Ugly House. You gave us some fantastic memories, and allowed us to bring home five children from Vietnam and China. We will miss you. (Though we won't miss the stress and the taxes.)

It also seems fitting that we are starting a brand-new chapter of our lives on our anniversary. Off to a new adventure.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

No where to sit...

except on the floor or a few folding chairs, which are not so comfy. It's probably a very, very good thing that our little people are not here this week. The past three days have been fairly crazy, and that combined with there being nothing in the house would probably have proved to be too much for them. And for us dealing with them not dealing with things. Last night big people grabbed a sleeping bag and pretty much chose a random spot where ever on the floor. At least two slept in the kitchen because it, at least, had a rug. Not so tonight.

The haulers spent the day here, today, and everything we are not taking with us is gone. Another very good friend came over this morning and helped me pack all the food. It was a good thing she was here. Not only does she have amazing visual spacial skills and is thus very good at packing, but more than once, I found myself just standing and staring with very few thoughts running through my head, except the vague notion that I should be doing something. We then enlisted all the big kids, and while my friend packed, they carried out a van load of stuff to be driven to the storage locker. I think we should be able to get the last things in the cars, van, and trailer tomorrow when it is time to pull out.

TM rode out with me to the storage locker this afternoon, and we got all the stuff stashed inside. I took the opportunity to drive by the house another time. After all the moving and removing, I kind of needed the reassurance that it was still there, and that it was as beautiful as I remembered it being. It was on both counts. It was a bit reassuring as we face another 24 hours of an empty house before we close the door for good.

I'm excited for the new house, but am also feeling more than a little melancholy about leaving this one. I don't like change. Just as I want the go back button on my children to make them small again every so often, I also kind of want to the button that puts us in all the places we have previously lived. Just to visit every so often.

Other than throw the last few things in laundry baskets (we're out of boxes and I refuse to buy any more), we're set. I have crossed off all the items on my massive lists, including taking cuttings of the wisteria and lilacs, and thinning the iris to take with us.

Less than 48 hours, and we start a brand new chapter in our lives.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

7 Hours, 8 Guys, and 3 Trucks Later... or what happens you take all the chairs away

Look carefully, and you'll see D. lying on his back there at the end of the kitchen.

A., who seems to be ready for bed, and R.

Living rooms... these look even bigger without the furniture in them.

Dining Room

The movers were great and fast. Tomorrow the removers (the people taking away all the stuff we are not keeping) show up, and we play this game again, though a slightly different version.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Camp and boxes

Yesterday we took a day off from packing and delivered our five who were going to church camp. 




G., Y., and L. are all in the same cabin.

K. gets to have best friends and a cousin in his cabin. It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Today, we slept a little longer than we meant to. Without those five who were dropped off at camp. the house is very quiet for a very long time in the morning. We made up for it though. There are still a few things left to do tonight, but I think we are about 99.9% done. (A huge, huge thanks to the P. Family mom who spent all day here helping out. Without her help, we would be getting a lot less sleep tonight.) Here are a few pictures of what the house is looking like these days.

This is my favorite box tower. That huge box on top is actually very light, and is our big beanbag chair. That is an extra large box, with its flaps still up, that M. constructed a new lid for it.

The tricky thing about all this is that we are not taking everything with us. We have piles in nearly every room of things that are going on the moving truck and things that are not. One thing we did today was to organize those piles a bit more. We also went down to the lawyer's office today and did our portion of the signing of the closing papers. There are a lot of closing costs to pay in this area. City and County all get their pretty significant cut of the proceeds. The good news is that we will be done with this house financially, but I'm not sure how much of our remodeling plans for the new house we will actually be able to do. Everything just adds up so fast. I know I'm currently living on the corner of physically and emotionally exhausted, so will try not to think about that too much at this given moment.

Hey, as a complete aside and distraction, do any of my faithful readers have both a husky and a cat? How is that? Is is working? What did you do to make it work? I'm eager to hear your stories, so don't be afraid to comment.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Birthday celebrations

Last night everyone (!) gathered together and we celebrated the June birthdays. (Have a mentioned that my family, when all together is loud. Very, very loud.) It was perhaps the most low key celebration in all the history of low key family celebrations. We'll do more next year. It was also the last celebration in this house. (Sniff.) Here are some pictures from the evening. (You'll notice the higher quality. M. had the camera and took some pretty good pictures.

L. blowing out her birthday candle

A. and G.

G. blowing out her birthday candle

The whole crew

B., J., and D., who is waiting for his candle

This little series was too fun not to share the whole set. I only had one '2' candle, so they were making due with on to make the age 22.

The cats enjoyed the party. In their own cat-like way.

L. was thrilled with the guide to bugs and slugs.

G. got a panda lamp.

D. received a book he wanted.

B. asked for money for groceries (the joys of being an adult), and Y. made him a birthday card.

And we threw Father's Day into the mix as well. Here's J.'s new t-shirt.

And now off to pack some more. I would like to be 99% done by tonight. I think we can do it. I think....

Friday, June 16, 2017

For your convenience... or feeling easily irritated

I seem to have hit a wall. Actually I hit the wall about 11:30 this morning when I called J. at work and burst into tears. (Lucky man.) I managed to get the bills paid (painful), and a friend came over and together we packed some things I wasn't quite sure what to do with. I am feeling a little better, but am avoiding looking at any boxes at the moment.

I also realized that I had yet to fill out a change of address form at the post office. Now, those of you who have moved recently are laughing at my thinking that I had to actually go to the post office to do this. The last time I moved, you really did have to go fill out the little card at the post office. That was 16 years ago. I discovered you don't have to do that now. Conveniently, this can all be done online.

If my version of Blogger that I use was updated enough, I would italicize the word 'conveniently' in the above paragraph. But I've learned the hard way that if I italicize words, they disappear. So pretend it's in italic. Because it's not all that convenient. I was already at the post office for goodness' sake, and quite willing and ready to fill out the little card. The little card which would cost me no money to drop into the mail slot.

So, discovering that I couldn't do what I went to the post office to do, L. and I went back home, and I pulled up the USPS web page. Well, I pulled it up after I completely had to reboot my wi-fi, because our wireless stinks and no one's devices which use wi-fi can hold a signal with it. So, I'm already at about 8 minutes for this 'fast and easy' method. But I get on and find the form. I fill out the information and click through the pages until I get to the page which asks me for credit card information.


I just want to change my address, I don't want to buy anything. What's up with that? Well, it would seem that by making the change of address form so quick and convenient, they realized that someone might change another person's address who wasn't allowed to. So, to verify someone's identity in this new, quick and easy method, you now get the privilege of paying $1.00. I looked, both at the post office and on the web page, and there are no other options for changing your address. You need computer access and a credit card to do so. (Apparently the only people who get mail have both these things. I don't think I really believe that.)

I realize that $1.00 is really not that much money. People routinely give my children much more than that when they are selling 'drawings' at their art sales. It's the fact that none of us really has a choice about it. We cannot choose another company to deliver our mail for us. We can't look to see who has the better service and better rate. We just get to accept whichever 'convenient' system they come up with which they tout is for our 'benefit.'

As you can probably tell, I wasn't happy. Since I tend to write kvetchy emails to businesses I'm not happy with, I did the same this time. Their response form is another multi-page fun fest. As I was reading through my rather lengthy message, I noticed a typo. Since I was at a page that was not editable, I did what any normal person would do and clicked the edit button.

And it sent me back to the first page, erasing everything that I had filled in and written, so that I could start all over again. Thus, you get a blog post.

I'll go back to my packing now. Since my bills are paid, it's time to pack up desk, filing cabinet, and fireproof safe.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday, G. and L! Happy 22nd Birthday, B.!

Yes, because we don't have enough going on, we also have a ton of birthdays in the next two weeks, starting with the three today. We are going low key this year, and celebrating these three officially tomorrow night, and D. as well since his birthday is after everyone heads to church camp and the day we move.

It's all craziness.

Today I had two very good friends come over, and between the three of us we packed nearly everything in my kitchen that we won't need for the next two weeks. It was about 20 boxes. I couldn't have done it without them.

There's lots about our move that's fun. New house, lots of land, a new adventure. There's also a lot about moving that's not fun, especially at this point. The endless packing, not knowing where anything is, the feeling of being perpetually unsettled. As someone who likes nesting and feeling settled and organized, this is not comfortable. I cannot wait to unpack. Actually I cannot wait to be past the packing. I think we may make it, and not have to stay up until 3 am to do so.

Tonight, though, we're done packing for the day (mainly because I've run out of boxes and packing materials), and we'll do a little celebration with the three birthday people tonight.

So, B., G., and L. I love you all. I love watching all three of you together. I love the people you are and are growing into. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

If I only had a brain...

This is the song that keeps running through my head. It shows how marginally functional I am currently feeling. It's as though I cannot hold two sequential thoughts in my head at the same time. Now, I realize this is pretty typical for a mother, but this version is far worse. I've even started talking to myself to help me remember why I entered a room. Several times, children have asked me what I was saying to them, and I've realized I was talking out loud. This is my long explanation as to why there could possibly be a significant decrease in blogging over the next week or so.

Here's our timeline:

Sunday, we drive H., K., Y., G., and L. up to their week-long church camp. My goal is to be done by then.

Monday is any last minute moving van packing, and sorting each room into discernible piles, to make it easier for the movers to know what to take. J. and I will also wander down to our lawyer's office and sign all the papers for the closing of this house.

On Tuesday the 20th, the moving vans pull up and cart away almost all of our possessions. Tuesday night, we all sleep in sleeping bags on the floor of this house.

Wednesday brings the people who are hauling out everything we are not taking, and who will also sweep. I met again with my contact person, and am feeling a bit better about doing this, because instead of the junking everything they take away, they actually find homes for most of it. While they are doing this, I will be packing up everything from the kitchen that we will want with us before the moving vans return, as well as washing all the bedding that came off the beds the day before. I may also need to make a trip out to the storage locker if the pile of stuff we are moving ourselves looks to be too big for a single load.

Thursday is another day of getting ready to actually vacate the house. I will finish any last minute laundry (and for a few hours of my existence everything will be clean at the same time.) We will also start packing up the van, car, and trailer with everything that we are taking with us. After D.'s acting class that he is taking, we will do the final look around, load up all the vehicles, and close the door on the Big Ugly House for the last time. (That still feels very unreal to think about.) We will head to a pet friendly hotel where we will all spend the night.

Friday we will have a leisurely morning while the closing of the first house happens without us being there. (Yeah. This is for the best for oh, so many reasons.) Then in the afternoon, we will leave big people and animals in the hotel, no doubt rotting their brains with cable TV while J. and I go to the closing of our new house. (Somehow, we don't think anyone would be thrilled with four children, 1 dog, 2 cats, and 1 quail appearing to help sign papers. I think that at this time, A. will be driving back to Evanston to pick-up B., and bring him back. When we are the new owners of our new house, we will go to the hotel, pick-up people, animals, and trailer, and head to our new house. We will then quickly unhitch and unload the van so that B. and A. can go drive up to church camp and collect the campers. We will then all spend the night in our new house, in sleeping bags on the floor. (Do you see a theme here?) I need to find a name for the new house... it's going to grow old calling it, 'the new house.'

Saturday will be free, and on Sunday, J. will get up very early with TM and D. and drive them back to Evanston so that the boys can leave for Boy Scout camp.

Monday brings contractors and flooring guys who will spend the week taking out a wall and old flooring and putting down new. They are pretty sure they can get it all done in five days. In the meantime, we will be sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor each night.

Finally, the next Monday, July 3, the moving vans arrive and our furniture will join us at the house. Then we will find out exactly how much more stuff I should have gotten rid of, because I'm a little afraid that once everything is in, we will not be able to move around.

So there you go. It will be sad and exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. I cannot wait to stop having quite so many balls in the air at a time, and plan on spending the rest of the summer leisurely unpacking boxes.

Lastly, for the two people who tried playing my guessing game, as of last Friday, the number of boxes that had been packed was 303, so Carla was closest. I believe the new current tally is in the 340's, and I still have to do two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bunch of framed pictures. (Framed pictures have become my single least favorite thing to pack. I really dislike doing it, and am putting off doing the rest.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quail Mansion

A good friend came over and spent the day with me and we dug out packed up all the third floor playroom toys. We even got to K.'s room, which was really just a continuation of the toy packing. And she made me a really yummy salad for lunch. It was the most fun I've had packing yet.

And then just as she and her children were leaving, a great big box arrived. (It says a lot that I was as excited about the size of the box and the bubble wrap inside than the item that was packed in it.) It was the giant rabbit hutch that I ordered. No, we are not getting rabbits. It's for Q. (Who may be going to turn out to be a boy after all. We're still not sure.) Of course, everyone insisted that we OPEN IT UP and TAKE IT OUT and PUT IT TOGETHER. RIGHT NOW! Delayed gratification is still a developing skill for some of these people.

Here is what we ended up with. It's as though Q. started out in cardboard shack and suddenly found himself in a penthouse. He wandered around making worried and hesitant chirps for a while. Here he and the new house are.

Isn't this a cute picture? I didn't take it.

Here's the whole thing. It's made to house two large rabbits, so our one little quail has plenty of room.

A very cool feature is this lid that lifts ups. It is so much easier to get inside than his box was.

One happy, and vaguely confused, quail.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Belated birthday gift

In our family, girls at age 13 get to have their ears pierced, if they so desire. H. did, so that was one of her birthday gifts a year and a half ago. Since her birthday is in the middle of October, I was waiting until her sisters could join us to make it more of a party. And then the holidays hit. And getting ready to travel for Y. and R. And the whole next year, where she turned 14. Every so often she would ask, and I would mentally put 'get H.'s ears pierced' back on my to-do list. Where it sat. And sat.

This morning, the H-S Family was back in town on their way back to the west coast, and I was asked if we would like to come be part of the party when MY H-S got her ears pierced. I said, yes, not only would we like to come, we would join the ear piercing party. So this afternoon, H., P., and A. and I headed to the store to join our friends to have a little piercing done.

H. before she got her earrings. This look is saying, you say this will be OK, but I'm not so sure.

Getting her ears pierced. (She did great.)

New earrings! (She chose little, sparkly, multi-colored flowers.)

MY H-S and H. with sparkly ears.

I may not have packed a single box today, but I did say good-by to all of my piano students and check a major to-do item off my list. I think it still counts as a productive day.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Friday Bullets, June 9, 2017

I needed to sit down for a few moments, so I thought I would write a blog post.

  • Last Saturday, J. took TM to the Enrique Iglesias concert. TM loved and, and J. ended up enjoying it, saying it was a good show. J., however, turns out not to be a fan of Pit Bull. I'm sure there is no big surprise there.
  • Poor Q. has really outgrown her box. I finally ordered her a bigger home in the form of a large rabbit hutch. It comes in a few days. Until then, she is just going to have to be cramped. We discovered she really loves crunchy lettuce and celery, so we've been giving her that to make up for it.
  • People keep asking me what we are going to do for the week we are having the floors redone, since we cannot really be in the house while they are working. I am actually greatly looking forward to that week. I won't be able to do a thing, so my plan is to sit on the lounge chair (which we will take ourselves so that it doesn't end up in storage), and read some books (which I haven't had much time to do) while the children play. Sounds idyllic, huh? We'll see how it works out in real life.
  • If anyone who reads this blog actually lives in the far western suburbs (or knows someone who does), I will be looking for new piano students and would be able to begin teaching again once my piano returns at the beginning of July. I've even ordered new business cards. Please pass the word along.
  • Hold onto to your seats. I think this move is finally going to push me over the edge into getting a smart phone. (Yes, I fully expect the world to stop spinning at any moment.) My children and friends will be thrilled that I have joined them in the current century.
  • Part of the reason is that my new, non-smart phone is designed in such a way that it seems to be punishing me for my lack of technological desire. I handed it to TM one day in the car and asked him to reply to a message that just arrived. Even he could not figure out how to make it work! It's not just me. It's just a fantastically rotten phone.
  • Inspired by our reading of Swallow and Amazons, D. has decided to sign up for small craft sailing at Boy Scout camp in a few weeks. Sounds fun, huh?
  • My older children are perpetually showing me pictures of puppies which are available for new homes. Can you imagine having a puppy in all this craziness? It would push me over the edge. They seem to think it would just be fun. 
  • Kenzie and the cats seem to be increasingly nervous as the boxing up continues. Poor things, I wish I could explain in a way they could understand that they all are coming with us.
  • My children have watched for more movies in the past week than they usually do. I dug out our little VCR player and they have been working their way through our stack of VHS tapes while they have the chance. (They tapes are not coming with us.) It does make for easier packing.
  • L. also continues to be filled with imaginative ideas which the others are happy to join in on. Recently L. has been playing bank. I'm not entirely sure what is involved in playing bank, except that it seems to require boxes and many pieces of paper. At one point, L. comes to me and asks what time it is "because my bank does not have a clock." I asked how she knew when the bank opened and closed. I was informed it opens when the sun comes up and closes when then sun goes down. In the summer, this hardly counts as banker's hours.
  • K. continues to spend nearly every waking moment building with Lego. One of the movies they have watched is the first Star Wars movie (that would be the first in the story, but the fourth made, as opposed to the first made, but the fourth in the story.) He has now recreated the pod races in Lego and I thought they were pretty amazing. Of course, they were then dismantled before I could get a picture of them. He is currently working on building the Millennium Falcon, and is finding it a bit more frustrating.
  • Remember I'm giving away bunches of homeschooling materials on Tuesday afternoon. Pass along the message to anyone who might be interested, and email me for my address.
  • And finally, I have a game for all of you. Yesterday I mentioned I might have packed 100 boxes already. Out of curiosity, I went around and actually counted today. Wow, did I woefully underestimate. So, who can guess what the actually tally currently is? We are moving 12 people who lived in a 6500 sf house. We have quite a few books, and I also have a little sewing habit as well as an evident china addiction. I have no idea what I will send the winner, but I'm sure I can dig something up. Guess away. (And the answer will be based as of this moment, not some ever growing number as I continue with the packing.)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Stating the Obvious

I've just gotten home from an appointment that is 1 1/2 hours away, but took me 2 1/2 hours. Bleh. I really feel as though I just want to go curl up in bed. If only...

As I was driving home two staggeringly obvious thoughts occurred to me. At least they should be staggeringly obvious, but are more of the category of not something you think about unless you are in the midst of it.

The first is that having a long commute is really expensive. I mean, I knew we would have higher fuel costs and such with J. doing this crazy commute, but I guess I didn't fully appreciate what that would look like exactly. I couldn't figure out where the extra money in the paycheck from his salary increase was going. If anything, it seemed as though we had less money by the end of the pay period. So I added up all the commuting expenses. The gas, the tolls, the stops to get some caffeine and snacks in order to stay awake. The total was eye-opening and pretty much negated and then some the extra pay. Here's my advice if you are thinking about taking a job with a long commute and no expected end date. Do the math. I cannot wait to stop paying all this money to the gas companies and the IL Tollway.

The second is that moving is expensive. (Yes, there is a theme here. I feel as though I am hemorrhaging money at the moment.) The boxes... the tape (endless rolls of tape)... the slightly more expensive food because all you are doing is putting things into boxes.... the padding so that what you are packing doesn't break. It all adds up ridiculously fast. I've been diligent in keeping notices out of people giving away packing boxes, and of the hundred or so (this is a total guestimate) boxes I've packed, I've only had to actually spend money on ten. I have a bad feeling that this will end next week when my stock is used up and I still have rooms to do. And this doesn't even include the movers and such.

I... and my checkbook... will be so much happier once we are on the other end of all of this.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

True costs

I'm taking a break from packing the butler's pantry (packing crystal and china is fairly tedious), to celebrate my birthday by hopping up on one of my favorite hobby horses. (Look! Real content!) And today's favorite hobby horse is... the real cost of a large family.

We've all heard it. Raising children is expensive. This idea is supported every time one of those reports comes out that tells us exactly how much we spend per child to raise each of them. It's an extremely high number. A number that cannot be even remotely correct because I'm pretty sure J. and I have never made that amount of money and we have raised a couple of children to adulthood already. They each seem to have survived, so I'm feeling pretty good not believing the numbers.

Let's look at the costs of raising a larger family realistically, shall we? Of course if you have more children, you will be spending more money. It would be silly to argue the reverse. It's just that it's the degree of how much that I think surprises people. Two things happen when you start adding children. One, you realize that adding one more child does not cause that much of a bump in a budget. The second is that as you add children, you realize that you don't spend money on things you used to, often just because of the sheer logistics of how life works with more.

What does cost more?

Food. Aside from health insurance, this is our single biggest monthly outlay. I currently spend approximately $200 per week for food. We get by with this number because I make a lot of food from scratch, we limit the amount of processed snacks we buy, and many of our staples are bought in bulk. I also do not go out of my way to buy organic products. I realize that that is somewhat akin to saying that I feed my children wallpaper paste on a regular basis, but I cannot afford it with this number of people to feed. (Please save the comments. I'm OK with it, and you telling me how I will offset our high doctor's bills by eating organic food won't do much to change things. Our high doctor's bills wouldn't change with diet. I get tired of people shaming others for their food choices.)

Insurance. We are blessed with very good health insurance through J.'s job. I purposefully don't look at the total amount of the paycheck which vanishes before I see it every month, because it would be too depressing. Instead, I look at what we do have and focus on that. I realize that not everyone is in such an enviable position, and this is a valid concern.

Shoes. While our clothes often come from thrift stores, hand-me-downs, and what I make, shoes, especially as children's feet grow, are harder to find that way. Sometimes we will handed some shoes that work, but usually I have to buy them new. I will admit, this is painful, and I try to spread the new shoes out over the course of the year. I also use a credit card for convenience, which has points, and will often use those points for new shoes for people. I do hand down shoes which are still intact, but these are usually dressier shoes which don't see as much wear.

What doesn't cost more?

Utilities. More children do not use up more heat or air conditioning. They may use up more electricity if they are prone to leave the lights on, but I just spend more time turning them off. They may also use up more water, if you have multiple people in the 'perpetually showering' stage. (I'm really looking forward to having a well and not paying a water bill each month!) But in general, these are things you are paying for regardless of the number of people who live in your home.

Electronics. There is no divine decree that says children and teens need small electronics. Sure, mine have them, but most of those were purchased with their own money that they earned. Sometimes one would be given as a gift, but small personal items are usually self-purchased. This is also true for any high-priced ticket item strongly desired by a child. If you want it, earn money for it, or wait for a gift-giving occasion where it might be a gift.

Lessons and classes. This falls under that 'things I don't pay for anymore' category. The more children we had, the less we signed up for outside activities. I know if I were to leave that there, it would sound as though we were horrible, selfish parents who don't care about the well-being of their children. We do sign children up for things, but we are very picky about what those things are. They must fit several criteria, and older children take precedence over younger ones. Believe it or not, young children do just fine hanging out and playing at home with friends and family in their free time and every second doesn't have to be filled with an organized activity. I personally believe it is actually better for them. It is certainly cheaper.

School supplies. For traditionally schooled children, this could be a huge cost . But, this is where homeschooling comes through for the win. Every fall, I read the list of school supplies friends are purchasing for each of their children. I cannot imagine doing this times 9, which is the number I currently have in school. I'm not sure we even use as much as one list's worth in our day-to-day learning existence. Yes, I buy curriculum and supplies for them, but for everything... books, workbooks, activities, supplies, lab equipment... my total is usually around $2000 spread out over the course of the year. That's for nine children. For everything. Once again, we reuse a lot, and I avoid consumable books if I can.

And the one thing everyone wants to mention...


I'm shouting that because I have lost track of the number of times someone will tell me they don't have a large family because of paying for college. Ask any mother of a larger than normal family, and she will tell you it's a 'thing', this business of a stranger of acquaintance explaining to you why they don't have more children. No, I don't know why this is. It's odd. One of the biggest reasons people use is this college one.

Let's think about that for a moment. A family is willing to not have a life long relationship with a potential child because of four years out of that child's life. It's a little crazy, if you ask me.

Yes, college can be important. Yes, college can be expensive. But not all children are going to go to college. And there are more ways to 'do' college than the traditional, go to the expense university, live on campus, and rack up the student loans route. If a person really wants to go to college there are ways to do that even if their parents cannot foot the bill. (And frankly, with the cost of college these days, what parents can afford to send even one child to school?) Living at home, going after scholarships, taking a part-time load while working, doing community college classes for part of it, ROTC programs, colleges which are lower cost than the 'big' names, are just a few of the ways college can be made to work. Books have been written on the subject, so I'm not going to do more here, but once again, this is something any family with a child will face, it is not a unique problem to large families. We just get to face it more than once.

Raising many children can get expensive, and there really are things we don't do because of the number of children we have. (Disney World is one that jumps to mind.) But like with so many things, there are trade-offs. We happen to think that the trade-offs of getting to raise these funny, loud, crazy, and utterly lovable human beings far outweighs what we miss in the checkbook.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The beginning of the good-byes

This is the part of moving that I do not relish, not that packing is much fun, either. On Sunday afternoon, a friend threw an enormous good-bye party for us. It was fun, though J. and I still feel as though it warrants a move of continents instead of the other side of the Chicago area. We decided that we were a good excuse to have a big party where lots of people could see old friends and have fun. And it was fun. It was great to visit (if briefly) with people whom we don't get to see a lot of. 

We were also blessed with some lovely gifts. A friend made this lovely platter. If you can't read the words which surround it, it says, "If you can't fee one hundred people, feed just one --- Mother Theresa." 

Other friends brought us back a scroll from their last trip to China. This is 1 Corinthians 13.

And finally, the children's ministry director gave us this. Yes, it's a shepherd's crook. Here's the story. J.'s mother is the one who started the Christmas pageant at our church when J. was a child. Every year she wrote a new introductory story which was then followed by the actual Christmas story. Yes, shepherds, and their staffs, were a part of it. When she died, J. took over her role as director. This staff (which could very well have been made by J's father), was given to us in recognition of the years of Christmas pageant service, plus the number of children we have both shepherded over the years. (Her words, not mine.) She then had as many people as possible sign the staff. It will definitely remind us of all the wonderful friends we have here.

All three of these gifts are so meaningful, and I look forward to seeing them in our new home. Thank you. If only we could move all of you with us....
In tangentially related packing news...

I am not taking a significant portion of my homeschooling resources, books, and games. Instead of them just ending up where ever, it seems best to offer them to the people who can use them most. If you are a homeschooler in the area, I am having a give-away day. On Tuesday, June 13, from 1:00 to 3:30 pm, come on over and shop my little free pop-up homeschooling resources store. Contact me if you need the address, and tell other homeschoolers. I'd love for all this stuff to get used. Everything is free, though there will be a donation jar for anyone who feels so inclined. The proceeds will go to my good friend who works with aged-out orphans in China.
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