Large Family Question #2

The girls named these the “joyful plate”, “happy plate”, and “gleeful plate”.

I enjoyed reading the responses many of you sent to my first question that was posed by a blog friend who is adjusting to her recently enlarged family. I have a new question from her, but first I need to answer Question #1.

What are some of the things you have chosen NOT to do as a large family?

What are some of the thing you have chosen to do as a large family?

1. We don’t leave much to chance. We have a large family calendar on the refrigerator that keeps track of the family events. I send emails to my five oldest to keep them apprised of upcoming events. We have family meetings approximately once a month when we lay out the schedule for upcoming events, plan fun activities, and talk about whatever is on our minds.

2. We make family dinner a priority. Most nights you will find anywhere from ten to fourteen of us around the dinner table. I try hard to make meals that everyone enjoys and have dinner on the table by 6:00. I am not always successful, but I do my best. We light candles, pray a blessing, pass food, and try to have conversation. It is improving now that Little Man is getting older and not screaming through dinner each night. We also recently moved Eby to the other end of the table because Russ and I were spending our entire meal cutting food, cleaning up spilled drinks, and generally feeling scattered. Now Russ has Little Man on one side of him. I sit to Russ’ left with Boo to my left. Eby sits between Sweet Pea and Mimi, when they are here, so the workload is spread out a bit.

3. We don’t travel much, but when we do it is by car. We try to go to Whidbey Island for a week each summer and we have a family reunion at Russ’ parents each July. We often make the trip to Seattle for medical appointments and use the opportunity to visit family and friends. Several years ago we took an American History trip which we prepared for in our homeschool studies. We drove to Washington D.C. and then up the East Coast visiting friends along the way. We especially loved our visits to Cape Cod (even though it was freezing cold), Ithaca, NY (where we used to live), and Maine (where we enjoyed visiting old friends).

4. We take pleasure in the small things of life: candles on the table, garden flowers on the kitchen island in spring and summer, homegrown tomatoes, colorful Fiestaware plates that delight the children, chocolate chip cookies, white lights on the front porch all winter, fleece blankets in a basket in the living room, flannel sheets, music while we cook and clean, crockpot dinners, and family photos decorating our walls.

5. We rely heavily on hand-me-downs and buy very few clothes for the kids. The oldest four like to buy clothes for themselves, but we have been abundantly blessed with hand-me-downs for all of the other children. I am amazed at the wonderful clothing we are given and very happy to only be filling in the gaps of my kids’ wardrobes.

6. We love to read aloud and are great lovers of books. My Mother instilled a love for literature in me when I was a young child and never complained about the huge stacks of books I hauled home from the library each week. I have always enjoyed reading to my children and rarely put the little ones down for “Quiet Hour” without reading a Bible story and at least one other book. Currently, Russ is reading Caddie Woodlawn to them at bedtime, and soon we’ll begin reading The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L’Engle during dinner clean up.

7. We homeschool our children. I could write many, many posts about homeschooling and why we have decided to do it, but for now, I’ll just say it is part of the fabric of our family and the way we have lived our life since Sweet Pea was four years old. It is not easy and there have been times when I have not been confident that I could continue, but my older children exhort me to press on and give the younger children all that they were given. Their confidence in homeschooling and the joy they have in their own experience is the greatest encouragement I could receive.

8. We pray with and for our children. For many years we had family worship as part of our school day and we loved it, but somehow that has slipped away and as I am typing this I am wondering how it happened. We pray with our children at meal times, as they have needs, at bedtime, when we depart on trips, and many other times. I pray for them throughout the day, especially for the older ones who have exams or important things on their minds.

9. We love to celebrate holidays, birthdays, the beginning of the school year, the end of the school year, and best of all, the Lord’s Day each Sunday when we worship, eat, relax, and enjoy our favorite day of the week.

10. We “Cover it with love”. With the number of people we have in our family, we are bound to fail, say unkind things, and generally be the sinners we are. We do our best to keep “short accounts”, to seek forgiveness, grant forgiveness, and generally let love cover over our failings.

Here is Large Family Questions #3:

What is your system for cleaning your home?

I look forward to sharing your answers. Please email them to me at or put them in the comments of this post and I’ll share them in a post at the end of the week. Thank you everyone!

Encourage one another.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Laurel
    December 2, 2008

    Our Chore Chart seems to change about every 6 months, depending on which big kids are living at home, and which ones are out on the mission field.

    When we had more big kids at home, we had a chart that worked for several years. We had 7 big kids at home, we divided the house into 7 sections (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc…); and there are 7 days in the week. So, the rotation schedule was very easy: everyone had a different job on a different day of the week.

    Now, we have a couple of big kids, and a house full of younger ones. Our 3 older ones at home (ages 12, 15, 18) have a meal rotation schedule, along with Mama. I create a monthly schedule with every breakfast and dinner planned out and shopped for. So, the kids know exactly what they need to help with for breakfast or dinner prep. The younger ones (6, 7, 8, 10, 12) rotate on washing dishes, mopping floors, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc…

    Mama does laundry for Papa, Mama, and 2 little guys (who have a bedroom across the hall from us). Hosanna (age 12) does her laundry, along with the laundry of the 2 younger sisters that share her bedroom. Josh (18) and Ben (15) do their own laundry, along with Jacob’s, who they share a room with. Most of our children have started doing their own laundry at age 12 or 13.

    Yes, we have one 12 yo who is a “big kid”, and one 12 yo who is a “younger kid”. The “younger kid” 12 yo arrived from Ghana this year, so he does not have the background that our 12 yo bio. daughter has for meal prep. We are slowly training our 3 Ghanaian children to do the things that our other children have had years of training with. They love to work, and begged to be included on the chore chart shortly after joining our family.


    mama of 13

  2. ACK
    December 3, 2008

    I wanted to say that i have been reading your blog for awhile now. I came across it by coming across Lisa from little did i know. that i came across from a fosterhome group that i belong to. I like your blog. I used to have a blog through msn but decided that i was switching over to blogspot when i recently moved. I like what your kids named the plates.

  3. Lori
    December 3, 2008

    In recent months my cleaning system seems to have gone on strike and is in desperate need of restructuring. However, one tip I’ve used for many years now (probably since starting Sonlight) is to have the kids fold the laundry while we have our devotional and reading time together in the morning. I haul out the baskets of clean laundry from the previous day and have it waiting for them when we begin our day together. Now if I can just get them to cart it all to their rooms once it’s folded we’d have it made!

  4. Lori
    December 3, 2008

    P.S. Tell Russ I’m reading “Caddie Woodlawn” right now as well!!! I love it when our lives overlap. I’m also re-reading “Alphabet of Dreams”.

  5. Signe
    December 3, 2008

    This is one area that is sort of discouraging to me. I really have to keep on top of things just to keep the house picked up. I do laundry every day. The kids each have jobs that they are supposed to do each day. We also do a “morning inspection”. Before they leave for school they are supposed to have their clothes put away, beds made and their school bags ready to go.

    The deep cleaning never seems to get done. I squeeze it in if we are having guests, but it isn’t as deep as I would like. I try not to worry about it too much. If there are clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of I consider it good enough. The problem is I live in the same town as Lisa, and her house is really clean and organized all of the time. It sets a high standard, I guess I have to have something to shoot for.

  6. Ann
    December 5, 2008

    I clean by way of incentives for myself 🙂

    I can’t have my morning coffee until I’ve put in a load of laundry.
    I can’t log onto check my e-mail until I’ve made sure these areas are clean and tidy (yes, that means, Under Control 🙂
    1.) entryway/shoe bin
    2.) kitchen
    3.) bathrooms
    4.) bed made
    I also need to know what I’m making for dinner

    My kids start their day with what is called “five fingers”–hair, teeth, face, bed, dressed. It is so much easier to ask them if they have their “five fingers” done than go through each individual thing.

    Same for “check-off list” at bedtime including items such as laying out the next days clothes for school, having backpack by the front door with homework signed. They have to also do a “house sweep” at bedtime which means going around the house and picking up anything that is theirs. They have to do all of this before they can have a bedtime snack.

    The kids do a chore everyday and then on Saturday, everyone works for an hour on the Hour of Power–cleaning the house, garage, working on the yard etc. My husband and I then do our ten hours of power. LOL!

    Even with all of this, my house seems to always need something done somewhere and never seems to be clean–at least not for long!

    I just try to remember that someday my house will be perfectly clean all the time and I will wish I had some mess-makers around!

    Blessings, Ann


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