Okay, hopefully you have read my post about what it’s really like to have 7 kids. But maybe you also want to know some random facts about large families. And the funny moments of it. Because really, it IS a rich life – full of laughter and chaos and quirks that people with ‘small’ families probably don’t get. So here you go:
We easily go through 5 gallons of milk a week. Probably more. And we don’t eat cereal for breakfast. About once a quarter I go to the nearest big city and stock up. And it’s nuts! I buy black beans, tuna fish, soup, crackers and even peanut butter by the case. Last time I went the bill was nearly $500. I about died. But, that food lasted well over a month and we didn’t buy much locally, so it is worth it. But it still hurts when they say, “your total is $486.29.” Yikes!
We buy beef by the half cow about once a year. (This year Daddy got a deer and an elk too. The kids love the wild game; I’m learning to eat it. I don’t love the venison but honestly the elk doesn’t bother me much.) I have gotten pretty picky about the chicken I want to serve my family and eat myself, so I wait until the first week of the mont when Safeway puts out a coupon for $10 off my $50 purchase and I buy $50 worth of chicken. It’s not organic but it’s close and I’ve read too much about arsenic in chicken to feel comfortable eating the cheap stuff.
I buy eggs from friends who have chickens. I get free range eggs for $2.50-$3.00 per dozen. Again, it’s a good deal. We have chickens too but ours have all but stopped laying. Daddy’s answer – chicken fricassee! We haven’t done it.
In the summer I can often connect with a guy from Idaho who runs a gleaning program and I can get huge quantities of produce for cheap. It’s a haul though, so I get orders from other people in town and drag the kids and my big ark up there and get the fruit. And then I come home and can or freeze or dehydrate it.
The other stuff I buy at a local restaurant supply store. I buy oranges buy the case (88 oranges for $14), butter in 30lb boxes, romaine lettuce in packs of 5 heads and sweet peppers in packages of 6. Carrots in bags of 10lbs, potatoes usually in 50lb bags and onions in 25b bags. I buy flour in 50# sacks and sugar in 25lb sacks.
We generate about 3 loads of laundry a day. (I don’t have an exact count because truly, I don’t do laundry. See my post about making a chore system that works.)
The dishwasher gets run 3 times a day. That is if I don’t bake breakfast for a week or bread for a week. Or prepare a bunch of freezer meals. Then it’s more, of course.
Most of our activities are local to our little town so we don’t drive a lot of miles a week. Our 15 passenger van chugs gas the way my daughter chugs milk, so this is good. We go about 3 weeks between fill ups.
We eat beans and rice for dinner just about every Tuesday by choice. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and the kids love it. I used to think I would never eat frijoles because they’re gross. Watching my kids devour them at a Mexican restaurant sent me searching for a good recipe and now we eat it every week. And the best part? My almost 10 year old loads it into the crockpot before we leave for sports and all I have to do when we get home is puree the beans. She even knows what to substitute if we are out of something. Easy peasy!
Random bits of large family life you might not have thought about
- Yes, we are a large enough family that if you go to a restaurant that charges gratuity of 12% for parties of 8 or more….well, that would be us.
- A 3lb roast, served with potatoes and a vegetable, should be enough to feed the brood, most days.
- 5 lbs of cottage cheese lasts about a week.
- When we’re on a yogurt kick we go through about a quart a day. (Have you ever made yogurt? Super easy! And a huge money saver too.)
- We take up the entire pew at church.
- According to some research I did at the end of 2015 there are only about 20,000 families in the US with 7 kids. We are definitely a minority!
Several years ago I pulled the car around to the front gate at the Henry Ford Museum outside of Detroit. (Side note – this is one of my very favorite museums ever and the best part is going to Greenfield Village in the summer. Go on the weekend and watch a baseball game played by 1867 rules. We still get emotional thinking about how much we miss the Village and it has been almost 5 years. Seriously, it’s that fun, especially for kids.) Anyway, Daddy was bringing the kids to the gate and I pulled the car up. A woman walked up to my window and asked if this is the shuttle to the Marriot hotel. No, ma’am, it’s my family car. She shook her head in disbelief.
Yesterday I was filling up the gas tank and the attendant asked if we had just been at the church convention.
“Yeah – I know lots of churches have vans like this.”
“Nope, this is my family car.”
I grinned. We all giggled.
It’s SO fun!!
And the most memorable moment of being a mom to 7 was this one:
Usually when we walk in a restaurant they sit us way in the back and you can almost hear the waitress take a deep breath because there are just so many of us. And of course the kids are going to make a mess and yell and scream or whatever. You know people are watching you. Counting the number of kids. Are they all yours?!
Older couples tend to be in one of two camps: they look grudgingly our way fearing the kids will be loud and rude and ruin their meal OR they look sweetly our way seeing us fill up so many seats. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.
One day we were on our way home from Portland and stopped for lunch at a little diner type restaurant. It’s one of our favorite places to eat when we go to the western part of Oregon. Daddy was gone, so it was 7 kids and me. We didn’t get sent to the back corner (not an uncommon occurrence) and we filled up most of the bench.
There was an older couple seated across the aisle from us and the man kept looking my way. He sort of smiled, and he seemed okay with us being there, but I couldn’t tell. It is not uncommon for people to come tell me how well behaved my kids are and when the couple left I half thought he would say something like that. He didn’t, and that’s fine too. I don’t expect people to come over to me. My kids aren’t perfect and they sometimes spill their water and they don’t always want to wait for their food – and I train them from a young age that they are guests and they need to behave. But I digress.
So the older couple finished their meal and left. No big deal. But a few minutes later his waitress came over with a gift bag and said that the man had bought these two huge cinnamon rolls for the kids. What?! I think my jaw dropped. He gave these to us? I asked her if the man was still in the restaurant to please, please tell him thank you. Thank you so much. I have never had that happen before or since and it totally blew my mind.
Well the story gets even crazier.
About 10 minutes later, the manager came over. She said that an older man bought me a $25 gift certificate and the restaurant gave $10 more. WHAT?!?!
I was totally shocked. Why did he do that?! I told her no, he just bought these cinnamon rolls, this can’t be right. But it was. He paid for more than half of our lunch and provided breakfast for the morning. It was the craziest moment I have ever known as mom of so many. I still can’t believe it. It totally touched my heart. And I’m still in shock.
What else can I tell you? It’s nuts, but I love it. I love my ark, I love my kids, I love my life.