Saturday, March 28, 2009

What number of children makes a family large anyway?

Even though my blog is called "Larger Family Life", and I claim to blog about living life the larger family way, I really am not sure whether I have a large family or not. I mean, how many children must you have before you are classed as a large family?

I suppose one indicator is thinking back to when people chose to become more vocal with their comments and opinions. I've been trying to pinpoint when the comments started. Perhaps when we had Harry who is the fourth child, I think it may have been.

When you are parents of a single child you may find yourself often asked if you'll be having any more, along with "only child" comments. Two children seems to be society's accepted number of children, moreso if you have one of each as you are then considered to have the perfect family set-up. Three children is where you're starting to step over the line. I mean, why a third when you already had the "perfect" two? Surely this has got to be it, right? So if you do get to four, well, that has got to be it.

It just does.


Anyway, I digress. Like I said, the comments, I believe, became more noticable after number four. But when Eddie was born we seemed to have stepped into new territory, where the remarks would begin to come through thick and fast. And when we found out we were expecting number six, when Eddie had only just turned four months old, we were officially labelled insane.

I'm not going to go into the comments side of things too much in this post. I'll be saving that for you for another time so you have something to look forward to, you lucky, lucky people ;-). My reason for this post is to say that personally to me, seven (or eight) doesn't seem particularly large. I know of several families much larger than my own. I feel like a bit of a fraud when I write out my posts on this blog, which claims that I'm blogging about living life the larger family way because, quite frankly, it doesn't feel like I do. The Duggar's with their eighteen children are a large family but us, we'll we're tiny in comparison.

Even with the whole family in one room it doesn't feel like we're all there. It feels like someone isn't there. Always. And not just to me, but on different occasions and at different times one of us will comment on how "It feels like somebody's missing!".

Yes, we'll count heads. Then we'll count again. And go through the names. But it feels like there are fewer people present than there are meant to be. To us, a real large family isn't us. It's more than we have in our family. We don't feel particularly large, but we are to others because that's the reaction we get from people. The comments, the looks, the people trying to discreetly count how many of us there are as we walk or drive by all indicate that we're a little... unusual, for want of a better word.

I'm sure that when I had two children, or even three for that matter, I would have thought that any more would have definitely been classed as a bigger sized family. I knew someone who had five children and saw the "How many?!" reactions she would get, and even that I had given myself when I found out. That was certainly a big family in my eyes and something I couldn't imagine myself being a part of. Until I got there. And then it didn't seem such a big deal. It didn't seem any kind of a deal actually. It was just my family.

What is the magic number then? How many children would a family have to be considered a large family? What do you think?


This has also been posted at my blog Larger Family Life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Let's Do Lunch

Let's do lunch.....

*30 million children a year participate in their school's lunch program.
*83% of kids say that they bring their lunch once a week.
*55% of kids say that they bring their lunches up to 5 times a week.
These are the statistics that I googled, the most up to date numbers that I found in my quick search were from 2004. So I would guess that those percentages are lower now. Meaning I believe that there are more than likely many more kids who buy school lunches exclusively. My intention is not to debate whether or not school lunches are healthy, or that bringing a lunch is in some way better than buying. Though I do have some views on the matter the truth is that if I could justify the expense of my kids eating school lunch everyday, the sheer laziness inside me would go for it! Maybe.
Let me break down the numbers for you in just our house.
4 kids go to school -3 all day 1 half days
3 kids need a snack and a drink everyday
2 kids need lunch at least 4 times a week
1 kid needs lunch when she feels like it
1 husband, who is almost obsessive about not eating out at work, needs lunch 5 times a week.
That adds up to:
15 school snack and drinks per week
13-18 lunches to be packed up per week
These numbers do not include lunch for myself, the baby and the kindergartner. If my kids were to all buy lunch everyday it would cost me $34.00 per week or $136.00 per month. And that is only feeding 3 of them. The rule here is that when you go to Junior High you have the option of eating lunch at school. But she doesn't always want to do that, she likes to bring her lunch most time, weird right?
To save time in the mornings and the stress of having to come up with lunches everyday here are some of the ideas that we use to get us out the door on time and with lunch. Most of the time Bri and I do this on Sunday nights after the kids are in bed.
1. We purchased Thermoses this year. At least 2-3 lunches per week can go into a thermos.
-left overs
-pasta salads
2. If I am doing some kind of pasta salad I will make up a big batch on Sunday. Usually spagetti salad or Chicken Noodle salad (yum).
3. For sandwiches we figure out how many approx. we will need for the week, usually around 14. We will then make those, all 14, cut them place them in baggies and label them. Then we stick them in the freezer! Yup, that's right the freezer. This is great for a number of reasons. First, I think making sandwiches is tedious. Second, when they come out of the freezer it helps to keep your whole lunch cool until it's time to eat. And they are always thawed out and ready to eat even for my earliest lunch eaters. Third, if you have lunch meat that is good on Sunday but maybe won't be so good on Friday now it will be. It works, I swear!
4. I will make up little snack bags of oranges already cut up, or grapes or carrots with a little container of dip. Etc. to be sure that my kids are also bringing fruits or veggies.
5. Then I go to the boxed snacks, we rarely by the individuals sizes anymore unless it is granola bars or nutrigrain bars. And I will make up baggies of these that go into a bowl on the counter for easy grab.
I'm sure that it sounds like a lot but between the 2 of us we can usually accomplish everything in 30-40 minutes and it really helps out with the morning rush when so many people are leaving at different times. The 3 school kids know that a lunch should consist of a "main", a fruit or veggie, something crunchy or a yougart and a drink. Any more than that and it's not getting eaten.
Snacks can then be grabbed from either the bowl or the stash of ready to go fruits or vegetables and stowed in their snack boxes. Ta-Da done.
Now there are way less mornings when I give up and just reach for my checkbook or wallet. I feel better knowing that we are sending them off with something good for them (mostly). But the best part is the Napkin Notes, those you just can't put into a school lunch, a quick "I Love You" can really make your kids day.