large family organization part 3

large family organization series

Our large family organization series takes us to our dining room and hallways.  We have the same table that we have had for a few years now.  It is a heavy duty, commercial style table.  That  means that it can take its wear and tear from our large busy family.


We have used this table for:

  • all of our meals
  • cookie roll out and decorating
  • playdough playing
  • my husband’s woodworking, when he needs a large flat surface to paint on
  • a holder of towels when we fold towels during the week
  • a painting table for the children
  • our homeschooling area
  • a place to stack all of our meals when making our market meals for the tailgate market
  • a place to play family games
  • a holder for groceries when our once a month trip unloads
  • a play table for lego creations
  • a place to draw pictures
  • a place to sit and have coffee and talk
  • a gathering place for friends

We use our table for all kinds of activities.  I had my husband make us benches for everyone to sit on.  They take up less space and are real quick to wipe off.  I could not imagine sticky fingers and dirty chair rungs that I would have to wipe off each week. I absolutely love it!

IMG_20150629_140630I also love that we have wood floors throughout our home. It makes clean up a breeze.  I would never trade in any other type of flooring.  This works great for our rough family.  My favorite is when our youngest will ride his bike in the home and people look at me like “Did he just ride a bike through here?”  Fun, fun!  Probably would have never allowed that with the older children—but as you get older, you get a little more lenient and not so strict on everything—well at least I did:)!



Our walls hold all of our family and friend memories.  I started making these Modge Podge photo collages and now it has become an addiction.  I will never just throw photos on a CD to be left in my hope chest again!  Every year, I go through my photos and choose some to be printed off.  Then we adorn our walls with them.    IMG_20150629_140640

This is my favorite—because it is kind of a conversation starter.  Let me share the story.  When we moved here, we did not have sufficient basement space.  We need our large freezer and we had to put it upstairs.  Unfortunately I love the old style ones that will last and last and last.  This has been in rotation for probably 30 years or more.  But it is full of rust and not so pretty looking.  We were going to paint it, but I would need to remove the food and take it back outside to paint it, something that was more hassle than anything.  So I decided to adorn it with my photo collages.  Every person that comes over is like, “Is that a freezer?”  So fun.IMG_20150629_140647

It is a fun thing to look at, good memories!  On top we hold our baskets for the tailgate market.  We do this every Thursday and it holds our money change, our signs, and all of our paperwork that we take.  It is out of the way so we keep it here.  IMG_20150629_140655

I have our clipboards that we used Modge Podge on in our dining/kitchen area as well.  I hold our chore lists on it now and any other important paperwork for the children. As school begins, I will give each child one so that any reminders can go on it.  IMG_20150629_140744

The  hallways hold our photo collages.  We made a simple wood frame out of wood slats from Lowes and painted them black.  Inexpensive and easy.  IMG_20150629_140758I told my husband  in our next home, I want long hallways or one big room dedicated to my photo collages.  How neat that would be to decorate the entire wall with family and friends? Hmmmm just an idea.

Dining room and hallways are simple.  Up next we will tackle the children’s bedrooms.

Homeschooling our large family for FREE this year part 2

I put together a video of how we are going to be homeschooling our large family completely free this year.  Watch it and see how I organized and put the information together.  You can do all the same stuff—using the resources here and from your local library.  Be blessed!



Here is a PDF of our schedule this year:

Download (PDF, 243KB)

Homeschooling 5 children completely FREE this year!!!part 1

ID-100302886I have been homeschooling for a long time.  My oldest was in 2nd grade when we decided to begin our homeschooling adventure.  She is in her final year of college getting her Bachelor’s degree.  That makes me old.  But I tend to look at it and say that it makes me experienced.

I used to anticipate getting all of the homeschooling curriculum magazines and I would pour over them to view all of the new products that they had to offer each year.  I would circle each that I wanted, and start writing out my long list of items.  Things looked promising, I had high hopes of filling up an entire day of doing schooling.

Things were good till about halfway in to the year.  We grew tired of doing some of the work.  We realized that a lot of it was repetitive, especially going from year to year.  There were so many “extras” that consumed much of my time as a mom.  By the end of the year, I had started reselling my items on and went looking for the next best thing.

This cycle repeated itself every year.

Then it happened, my husband was laid off of work and it was time to begin a new year.  I had 4 children that I had to do schooling with and no money to do it.  Meanwhile I had 4 little ones under 5 years old to tend to during the day.  What was I going to do?   I wasn’t an internet person at all.  Had never even heard of a blog!!!  But I started looking for cheap ways to homeschool my children.  I was amazed at all of the FREE resources that were out there if you were willing to take the time to look.  I had my printer full of ink and started printing worksheets.  That was our first year of FREE.

The next year rolled around and I had the opportunity to buy curriculum and I did.  After spending $500 to get  complete programs for all of the children, I was a little disappointed in myself, but went with it.  We had a good year, but all the while, I thought that I could have saved our family a huge chunk of cash for some time searching.  I vowed to do it the next year.

That is what I did.  But I also started a blog.  So I did online schooling for my children and put it on my blog for others to use.  This was all great for us and it helped out many others but, I realized that the internet is changing so much, and so many people are using advertisements on their blogs now and that can lead to children viewing inappropriate things.  What was a good alternative?

Offering a completely FREE printable curriculum so that you would have no need for internet access each day.  This was perfect for our family.  We have 5 doing school this year and there would NOT be enough laptops to go around. It was going to be the answer.

But it took some time to do.   I spent about a month writing entire years worth of curriculum based on the scope and sequence for each grade level.  I know it works because we have recently moved to a state where you have to test your children and my children have all passed their grade levels by doing the curriculum that we offer.

It takes some time to print everything off and then some time punching holes, but well worth it.  We spent hours, punching holes and putting them into folders for the year.  I made a folder for each month and put all of the papers that they were going to do in order and hooked them in. I made my own homemade workbooks just like the ones we spent $500 on in previous years.


Here is one of the first grade folder sets.  I made one for each month and wrote the months on the front.  IMG_20150712_201456

For first grade, I didn’t punch holes in the pages because I didn’t know how many pages my child would complete each day. IMG_20150712_201518 The first couple months are easy, only doing a few pages each day.


I have on the printable pages, how many you are supposed to do for each day.  That way you know which days your pages start and end.IMG_20150712_201628

As the year progresses, worksheets increase.  This way if your child cannot get them all done in one day, you can do them over multiple days.  IMG_20150712_201647I wrote inside each folder, how many days per week and how many weeks per month to work.  Helps a busy Momma keep track.

IMG_20150712_201734_editHere is Autumn who will be doing her first grade folders.


This is what my living room looked like as we were putting the pages in order.  Lots of paper dots everywhere.  My children enjoyed playing with the “snow.”  IMG_20150712_114556

I put each month in order and handed them to a different girl.  Brooklyn put all of hers in her folder.IMG_20150712_114559Jadyn did her’s too.  We were tired.  We did 50 folders that day!!!  Our backs were sore!!

Click here to view all of our FREE schooling resources. Keep reading for step by step instructions on how we did schooling completely free for 5 children this year.


Up next……….step by step instuction


**I must disclose, I did have to pay for paper, ink, and folders.  I bought a case of paper at SAMS club for $12 and ink cost me $10 by buying them online,  and the folders were like 12 cents or something ridiculously cheap!!  So technically it wasn’t FREE you have to pay for those items, but $28 divided by 5 children is like $5 each.  I think it is safe to say its FREE. Most of us will spend $5 on a Starbucks that lasts for a few moments.  This will last for 180 days worth of schooling—-definitely a deal!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Do I really have to love others????

All right we’ve all got them. You know those people that we try and “control” in our lives.  Some it might be our friends, for others it could be those “no-good” husbands or  those drive you crazy teenagers!  You know those people that are constantly doing wrong and we need to fix them and make them perfect so that they don’t screw up their lives?  Yeah we all have them.  All those people that we need to “fix” and make better.

But did you know it’s not about US fixing them?  Did you know that we as small, infinite tiny, human beings can never do as much as God can do in a situation or person’s life?

Our lives are not about making the “perfect scenario” around us.  Sure it would be great to have things go so well, all of the time, that we never have anything to worry about.  But then we would never exercise the gifts that the Lord has given to us.

Did you know that God wants us to love?

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Some of us can quote this scripture quite easily. But have you ever taken the time to go through each verse line by line? There is much meaning inside each of these words.

“Love suffers long and is kind”

I wonder how many marriages would be saved today if husbands and wives would make love suffer long, instead of giving up as soon as they “suffered?”   How many teenagers would turn back away from rebellion if they had just ben shown love instead of anger and contention?  Or what if we traded in our meanness and spitefulness for kindness?

“love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;”

If we truly loved, we wouldn’t envy what we don’t have. We wouldn’t walk around, especially to our unsaved spouses or children that we are better than them. We never would have to think that we “knew it all.” We would just be content knowing who we are in Christ and where we were in our walk with Him.

“does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;”

Sometimes we are more prone to treat strangers better than our own loved ones. Things that we would never say to a stranger, we blurt out almost haphazardly to our own. We must think about what words are coming out of our mouths. The bible says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Whatever types of things are in our hearts, proceed out our mouths. Even if it is a slip up. That just means that deep down, there is still a root of anger or bitterness towards something. When we don’t seek our own agenda’s we will walk in love. When we seek God’s agenda and we trust him and have faith in Him, we don’t feel the need to “control” things, we let God do them. Even if we think we know what God’s agenda is for someone else –smile.  Evil is the opposite of love. If we are supposed to walk in love and truth, according to the bible there should be no evil in our hearts.

“does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;”

We as Christians should never rejoice when someone else sins. Seems easy enough right? Sometimes when someone has hurt us or has done wrong to us, deep down we may have that root of bitterness in our hearts and think that “they are gonna get theirs!” But we shouldn’t be rejoicing that way, we should be hopeful that those people will turn from their ways. People are lost souls. They have closed their ears and shut their ears to hearing God’s truth. They know not what they do. Jesus tells us to “forgive them.” We should pray for our enemies that they would see the light and God’s truth. Guess where a good place that is to start with… you!

“7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”

Seems the Christian way has to put up with an awful lot

  • Bearing all
  • Enduring
  • Believing
  • Hoping

But if you look to the non Christian they could say that they do the same things…….they bear all their problems, they believe and are hopeful that what they do can change things and make them better. They try and endure things in their life. But that sounds like an awful lot of stress and pressure to put onto one person. Aren’t you glad, that we as Christians have someone whom we can believe and hope for while we endure things? How much better is it to know that we have someone whom we can turn to in times of trouble? When we recognize that God is love and that we are to be like Him, we won’t have to worry about things of this world. God promises to never leave us nor forsake us. That is a powerful truth!
When we see that love is the way we are supposed to respond and act in this world, we will  stop our need to control everyone around us and start doing what God has called us to do…………….LOVE OTHERS.

large family van organization

I have never  had a van organization before, I just always had a diaper bag packed full of the items that I needed.  Where we used to live, I was never too far away from getting help so I didn’t need to  pack the van with supplies.  But since living here, we do a lot of driving to various areas and that could lead into a host of different problem scenarios.

I started out this summer with a large cloth duffel bag filled with items that we would need while we were out.  I had this sitting under the bench seats of the van and then I picked it up one day and realized that it was completely wet–from who knows what!!  I then had a few open plastic containers that I kept in the van, but it seems that I was always trying to shove them under the seats, because they didn’t fit properly and there was always dirt accumulating in the bottom.  This was not working.

I decided to properly measure,find out the amount of space under my bench seats, and then head off to the store for containers that would fit.  IMG_20150713_154930These were great, heavy duty with waterproof lock tight lids.  Just what we needed.  IMG_20150713_154916This box will stay stored in the van at all times. It contains things that I know I have not had and thought to myself that I should keep a stash in the van. I put it under the first front row bench so that I can access it quickly while traveling. It includes the following:

  • a thin fleece blanket—sometimes children get cold after swimming all day, even if it has been 100 degrees!
  • An extra outfit rolled up for the little boys—I chose a larger sized shirt, shorts, and underwear so that the 3 and 5 year old could use it if need be.  Eliminates the need to have an extra outfit for all of them.
  • An extra outfit rolled up for the little girls—Again I chose a longer dress and underwear so that either little girl could wear it if needed.
  • a couple extra pull up diapers
  • a package of wipes—-we use these all of the time.
  • bug spray—because we might end up exploring the woods
  • sunscreen–because we could end up at the river
  • hand cleaner—an extra one, I keep a smaller one on the console at all times.
  • motion sickness pills—never needed these before in my life—we drive on lots of curvy mountain roads–a necessity!
  • a map of our area—in case GPS does not work or phone dies—has happened numerous times–smile.
  • a bag of granola bars–in case of food meltdown—another scenario that has happened many of times–smile.
  • travel size pack of shampoo and lotion—you never know if I need to wash someone.  Sometimes children can get very dirty.
  • mini plastic cups—for passing out snack mix or crackers while driving
  • scissors—for anything–sometimes we cut our $5 pizzas with it to make slices thinner for little ones
  • plates–to make eating in the van easier—yes we do this a lot!!
  • a bag of quarters—in case we need to fill our tires with air and don’t have quarters.
  • a container of our healthy snack mix–it includes dried fruit and wheat cereal.  This works well for me, while traveling to get over motion sickness.
  • a first aid kit—contains Neosporin, Itch cream, bug bite stick, and bandaids.


These are the plates that I picked up at Walmart for $.77 each.  They are toddler sized ones—perfect for van travels.  We do a lot of eating in the van.  I know most large families won’t eat in the van because it makes such a mess and I get that, but sometimes it is easier to eat while driving.  We almost always pack a  lunch or dinner when we go places.  If I don’t make the sandwiches before hand, I bring the material along and make it in the car.  I used to do paper plates, but food sometimes rolls off and if we have something like watermelon that can get all the bread soggy–yuck!  These plates will do well.  Before I pass back each child’s plate, I always state the rule—DO NOT THROW FOOD OR WRAPPERS ONTO THE FLOOR!  You would be surprised at the amount of pepperonis that I have found on the floor because a child does not like them!IMG_20150713_154938

In my next container, stored under the 2nd row of bench seats, contains more of the items we don’t always need each trip.  It includes:

  • extra water—a necessity when traveling and hiking
  • Fix a flat—-a lifesaver in case you have no cell phone service up on a deserted mountaintop!
  • electrical tape—it was the only extra tape I had around–figured it would work well if we ever needed it!
  • a flashlight
  • a pocket knife
  • screwdrivers–because my husband asks, “don’t you keep a screwdriver in your van?”  We have needed one before so I grabbed it
  • a roll of kitchen size trash bags—these are great for wet clothing, vomiting clothing, or just trash for a large family
  • an extra towel—this was the towel that a woman gave to me when I fell and gashed my face on the waterfalls.  I figured maybe I will be able to return the favor by providing an extra towel to someone someday.
  • blue bag—filled with car games.  It has magnetic drawing boards, magnetic tic tac toe, magnetic hangman, magnetic checkers—stuff we never play with, but in an extended van trip may come in handy.


Here is under our first row seat along with a vomit bucket.  Who keeps a vomit bucket????  We do ever since moving here.  An ice cream bucket with lid is great to pass around to whoever needs it.  IMG_20150713_155602

Here is our 2nd row of seats and where we keep the extra box.  We also ALWAYS keep a potty chair in the van.  This has been a necessity for our family.  We use it all the time.  We will end up at parks, rivers, the woods, and have no place to use the bathroom.  Boys can go easily, but girls???? Have you ever had to try and get your preschooler girl to go to the bathroom in the woods?? Not gonna happen.  So we have learned to always keep this in the van.  We have had children use it while we were driving down the road.  Even I have used this many times, it has been a lifesaver.  We have had a potty in the van for about the last 10 years.

The potty chair sits inside of a plastic dish pan.  We go to the beach and rivers a lot.  We always have wet clothing and towels or dirty shoes.  This container is where I put all the children’s bathing suits after I strip them down and put them into clean,dry clothes.

I have a couple gallon jugs of water in the van as well.  We have used this to wash children off after playing all day and have used it to drink. You never can have too much water.

We have the traditional white, Ford 15 passenger van.  I think it is the staple model for most large families LOL! I like ours because it is the commercial, heavy duty version.  Everything is sturdier.  I think that is a MUST in our family.  There are no frills inside.  No extra compartments for sticky food waste to go in.  No drink holders in the back to get ripped off.  No material seats to get stained with food. I like it.  It was very plain when I first saw it, but I have learned to love that it cleans off easily.

The seats are leather or fakey leather–vinyl?  I don’t know my materials–smile.  All I know is that you can wipe them off easily and that is nice.  The floors are rubberized matting.  I keep a hand broom under the passenger front seat for sweeping out the van.  Usually a quick sweep after a trip and the van is clean.  We head to the car wash twice a month and do a vacuum to get in the cracks and crevices that the dirt accumulates.  Once a month, we wipe down the floors with Simple Green and water.

Up front in the console, is pretty empty.  I keep a hand cleaner in here all the time and we spray everyone’s hands every time we  get in the van.  I have my sunglasses which stay in the van—a necessity since we moved here–lots of sunshine.  There are also 4 cup holders.  Every time we go somewhere, I always take a drink.  My water bottle with green tea bag is my staple drink.  I normally take a cup of Kombucha or some coffee. I have eliminated the need to stop and grab a drink by taking my own.  We also have a small open compartment on the bottom but it is empty.  I keep these areas cleaned out because we almost always fill them up when we go somewhere.  When our entire family goes, Dad can store all of his items in here–wallet, phone charger, phone, etc.

I have a dash holder for my phone with charger.  That way I can use my GPS while driving and not have to look down at my phone all of the time.  The cord is built into it so no one accidentally takes my charger out of the van.

Up in the visor, I keep our car papers like insurance, registration, towing and our car pass for South Carolina parks.  It is held on with a clothespin.

In the trunk, normally there is a 4th row seat, but we don’t need it so we keep that seat out and stored at home.  This way we have a nice big trunk space.  I don’t store stuff in here all the time, because our trips vary each day.  On the floor of our van are the holders for our bench seats and they stick up.  It can be annoying as you are trying to fit items in the trunk, because they get stuck on those holders and don’t slide in perfectly.  I had my son cut a piece of plywood and we set that in the trunk area.  Now we have a nice smooth, flat surface to store things on.

We have no need for a stroller here–all the children can walk and hike fairly well!  Depending upon where we go we usually pack our trunk based on that.  My husband is an explorer and he will say we are hiking, but we might end up in a river playing.  I have learned to be prepared and take all that I need.  On the weekends we usually goto Table Rock State Park for swimming, fishing, hiking, and food.  On those days I would take the following:

  • A laundry basket holds all of our swimming tubes and foot air pumps.  We take 10 tubes and 2 foot air pumps.  Each time we go we pump them up and deflate after use.  They are stored in the laundry basket at home so we just grab them when we head out the door.
  • A laundry basket filled with 10 towels, all rolled up and on top we set a Queen size flat bed sheet for beach sitting.
  • I grab an ice cream bucket and fill it with a few sand toys.  I have found that my children and other children at the beach usually like to play with the “odd” beach sand toys.  I save laundry soap lids, heavy duty plastic food containers, and cups.
  • My husband grabs the fishing poles
  • I have each child grab an extra set of clothes to change into after swimming—they wear their bathing suits and flip flops to the lake.  I roll each outfit and then set it in a tote bag.
  • A bag filled with tennis shoes –in case we hike.
  • fold up flat wagon—we received this as a gift and love it.  We now put all of our items into the wagon and roll it to the beach or the picnic area and sometimes we have put children in it to carry them.  Love it!  The best part is that it folds up flat and does not take up much space in the van.
  • cooler–filled with everyone’s water bottles
  • cooler filled with our meal—-a typical Sunday dinner will be leftover chicken from lunch, tortilla, cheese, lettuce, and ranch—we make wraps with it.  Watermelon cut up, veggies and hummus, bag of chips or crackers, and a dessert.  Easy for me.

If the children and I were just going out for a quick trip,  I always have them fill up the waters and we put them in the small cooler.  I then  grab something for a snack in the van.  It might be graham crackers, snack crackers, apple slices, or granola bars.  This eliminates the need to eat out while we are driving.  My trips aren’t usually too long with them, so I don’t grab a diaper bag anymore.  We can pretty much go out and return the same way!!

Little ones, usually grab a small toy to take with them while traveling.  Sometimes it is a small lego man or a matchbox car.  The girls might grab their purses filled with paper and pen or small baby.  I don’t take anything to entertain them.  We used to take tablets to keep them busy, but we don’t anymore.  My children have enjoyed to travel—or maybe they are just getting older.  They love to look out the windows and see the mountains.  My daughter Autumn, 6 says “Mom, do we have to go back to our old house anymore?  Because I like it here in the mountains!  They are so pretty to look at!”  Makes me smile and I would have to agree with her.

Have I missed things?  Probably.  I don’t think I could be prepared for every situation, but I am preparing for what I know I haven’t prepared for before.  Live and learn that is what we do.  Be blessed today.