Currently 20 weeks and counting...EDD 2.19.15. Maybe a Valentine's Baby??
We are always getting questions, and honestly, I really do love when people genuinely are curious and want to know about our family and what makes us tick. I realize that our family is unique - isn't every family?? My family is my favorite thing to talk about! Unfortunately, it's the condescending questions that leave me feeling misunderstood and hurt. So...to make this post more fun, here are a few questions we have heard...and the answers we might have given (in no particular order).
1. "Are you excited?" ...Yes, of course we're excited! The kids can't wait to add another sibling to our sometimes crazy chaos. It's the stuff that makes life fun and full of love and laughter! Besides, how many kids get to grow up having "real, live baby dolls"? (Forget those Toys R Us versions that only give a weak cry and pretend to wet their diaper - this is much more fun! ;) )
2. "How many are you going to HAVE?" or "Are you going to have any MORE?" ...Hey, when you already have 9 kiddos running around, that's a valid question - I totally get it. For the record, we plan to have as many as God wants us to have. No, we don't use birth control, ovulation kits, or natural family planning. We realize that we are blessed we don't have to use those things. We trust that God, the Creator of everything - from the Universe to the mitochondria in each tiny living cell - knows best.
3. "How do you AFFORD all those kids?" ...Well, Gregg has a wonderful job that he loves with a very good company, making a good salary. But, we have basic cell phones without internet, we don't have cable television, we don't have car payments, we don't eat at restaurants as often as many families b/c we can eat much cheaper (and healthier) at home, we never turn away hand-me-downs, we buy quality items from yard sales and consignment shops, we rarely buy items that aren't on sale or clearance...you get the idea? We make what some people might call "sacrifices", but when I look around our home, and watch my children growing, I don't feel like we're sacrificing at all.
4. "You must really like being pregnant, don't you?" ...I'm going to be completely frank here. There are parts of carrying a child that I REALLY love - like feeling Baby kicking around inside of my womb. That has never gotten old to me! I love feeling my older children rub their hands along my tummy and give it a hug in their anticipation for a new brother or sister. I love the wonder and miracle of birth. It awes me every time. ...But, honestly, I don't enjoy the morning sickness, the migraines, the 50-60 lbs. of weight gain I typically experience, the aching back, the relentless fatigue, the swollen hands and feet, or the struggle with my prenatal and postpartum body image. Pregnancy isn't easy for me...but it IS absolutely worth it!
5. "Do you know what causes that?" ...We get this question ALL. THE. TIME. I get a kick out of total strangers thinking they are being original and funny. Gregg usually comments, "Are you asking because you honestly think we don't know...or because you need us to explain it to YOU?" I've recently started to simply comment, "Yes...and we really enjoy it!" I don't think we've heard a really good comeback yet. ;)
6. "Aren't you afraid something will go terribly WRONG, especially now that you're older?" (Yes, people have actually said this to me.) ...Pregnancy and childbirth have their risks. But, it is a very natural part of life. I was a Biology major in college, and I know how to do my own research. I have yet to see any convincing data that shows that a healthy woman shouldn't bear children during her child-bearing years. The risks of "something going wrong" are there for women of all ages. Gregg and I choose not to base life decisions on fear of what "might happen."
7. "How do you DO it? You must have a lot of patience!" ...I never quite know how to answer this one. It's like asking a mechanic how he rebuilds an engine, when I have hardly any idea what's even IN an engine. He'd probably tell me he rebuilds it "one step at a time." ...Or like asking a surgeon how he performs a quadruple bypass. He'd probably tell me "taking one moment, one step at a time." I guess that's how I "do" it, too. Each day is different. I take "one step at a time." I don't always say the right things or do the right things. I've learned from trial and error...and just when I think I have it all figured out and I'm so proud of myself, my next child throws me a curve ball. I was not born with enough patience...but, thankfully, I've developed more over the years. God gives me grace...and so do my children. It's part of being a FAMILY. Over the years, I've been learning that there are some things more important than others. It's been a delicate journey learning what to let go and learning what battles I must fight.
8. "How much do you spend on groceries?" ...This year, we have budgeted $850/month for groceries. This does not count approximately $2000 in beef/year as we purchase our beef "by the cow." (we have a "cow" line item in our budget - how funny is that?) Groceries include food items (of course), paper products such as toilet paper (see #9!)/paper towels/paper plates/napkins, cleaning products, and hygiene products. (It does not include eating out, as we currently budget that separately at $150/month for our family of 11.)
9. "How much toilet paper does your family use?" (Don't laugh - I've heard this question!) ...I have no earthly idea! :) It's a necessity...if it gets low, trust me, I buy more! I absolutely do not have time to accurately document that one, but I can tell you, we have a lot of rear-ends to wipe. ;)
10. "What kind of car do you drive?" ...Our current family vehicle is a 2008 Ford F350, 15 passenger van. Gregg drives the "little van" to work - a 2002 Chevy Venture mini-van.
11. "How many bedrooms do you have and how do you place that many kids in those rooms?" ...
We have 4 bedrooms. One bedroom belongs to the 5 youngest sons (ages 2-10). Gregg designed and built a set of quintuple bunk beds for them this summer. They LOVE them! Our only issue has been keeping them from frolicking late into the night - it's like having a constant sleep-over with your best friends!
Another room belongs to the 2 girls, where they share a full size bed. The room is painted pink. Thank heavens for some pink! ;) We also keep the baby's crib in this room.
The 3rd children's room has a set of full-size bunk beds that Gregg built years ago. Currently, our 16 yr. old claims the top bunk, and our 17 yr. old claims the bottom bunk. The room contains things like antique records and radios...and baseball trophies.
And, finally, the 4th bedroom is the master bedroom - that would be ours. :)
***SPECIAL NOTE (in case some of you are wondering): We have 2 bathrooms, which is usually enough. But, let's just say that ONE advantage to having lots of boys is that they don't mind peeing OUTSIDE ;)...and the girls almost always use the master bathroom.
12. "Do you think you are better than other people who don't have as many children as you?" ...Ok, I'll admit, this recent question stunned me. I'd never really considered that thought. If we have conveyed that in some of our responses over the years, I openly apologize. If we did, it was probably b/c we felt like you looked down on us b/c we had "so many." We've been around the block long enough to realize that everyone is different. We also realize that we do not know or understand everyone's circumstances or decisions. Some people wish they had more children, but they couldn't or felt they shouldn't...some wish they didn't have as many...and some consider themselves to have planned their families just perfectly. We don't look at a couple with 2 children (or any number of children) and think we are "better" than them. Not everyone was created to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a musician. By the same token, not everyone was created to have a "large family." We're just being obedient to what God has called us to do with our lives. It's ok to be different. We respect you. We expect you to respect us, too.
13. "What are you going to do about college?" ...It's called planning. We know it's coming, at least 18 years before it actually does. When each of the kids is around 6 weeks old, we open them an account. We save. If they get scholarships, guess what? They get to use the money we've saved for them for something else. It's a good educational motivator. ;)
So, yeah, we get lots of questions...and some funny looks...and some rude comments.
But, we often get some of the sweetest compliments and sincerest questions, too.
We can appreciate and handle both. ;)
Life is what you make of it...and HERE WE GO AGAIN! :)