Wednesday, October 04, 2006
About big families...
Here are some cute pictures from summer of Dominick and cousin Keller... the "Hi We are SO PHOTOGENIC boys"... They make me smile so I thought that I would post them. I wanted to write a bit about big families in general and about our family mostly. I had so many people reply to my puzzle about Isaac, I was impressed with how many people are reading the blog! Thanks! Feel free to leave comments or email questions to me about anything. (Our lives are pretty much an open book or I likely wouldn't have a blog for the general public to read, so please don't worry about offending me!)
These are some of the questions from this week:
1. How much does it cost to adopt from Haiti?
The costs varies as far as the "adoption fee" goes. Some organizations charge a monthly fee for caring for your child until the adoption is complete, and others do not. So I would average the total adoption cost to be about $10,000-$15,000 (Depending on specifics esp. the travel costs which can vary greatly depending on your plans.) Now this cost is broken up into things such as the actual adoption fee, home study, USBCIS costs for fingerprinting, INS costs, travel costs etc. Feel free to email me if you want more specifics and I can direct you to the right places. I had heard from someone the other day that mentioned that they are saving up the money before they start the process, which some families do. For us, that isn't practical and we want to be finished before our paperwork expires. Most org's that you can work with do have the fee broken up into payments such as ... X amount of dollars are due at this point and so and so forth. (This may not be every single adoption program in Haiti, but for the ones that we looked into this was true.)
2. How do you raise that many children financially?
Day to day costs are great, but manageable on our income. It's when we have extra costs such as big medical bills and adoption fees to pay for... vacations etc. that we have to tighten the budget a bit to get those extra things covered. We live off of my husband's income and anything I make covers the extras, Christmas gifts, weekend getaways, adoption fees etc. are covered by my work. We do have credit card debt and I count on a good sized tax refund each year to cover and pay off those costs. It is our dream to live debt free and something that we have talked about working towards after our adoptions are done. We don't have a huge savings for our retirement, we are counting on at least one child to become wealthy and care for us in our old age... LOL... just kidding. We do go to the movies (all of us together) and we eat out sometimes too... these things can be cut back if needed to cover extra things. We have really good cable TV and enjoy watching programs as a family. We also do a lot of "free" things for recreation (which my degree is in so I am fairly creative in that area), such as hiking, camping, going to the park, swimming etc. I try to resale shop as much as possible but I do have a small issue with Gymboree that I am currently working on getting under control. :) The thing with buy clothing that is better quality is that its able to be passed down and it lasts longer. (There's my justification.) I do buy gymbucks off ebay (if you are a gymboree shopper you know what I am talking about.) We do our own haircuts too... see below about freecycle.
3. The food bill... It's our biggest expense. Sad to say. At the beginning of the year I was spending about $2400 a month on food alone. (This is almost shameful to talk about.) That does include toilet paper, cleaners, laundry soap etc. I have some really great woman that I know that also have large families, some larger than mine, that spend MUCH less than that. If I got serious enough about cooking (I am NOT a good cook) I could potentially wipe out our credit card debt and car payment fairly fast... but it would require me to actually spend a good deal of time each week cooking. We do try on Sunday's to cook a couple meals ahead for the week and this has helped. So with baby formula and diapers added we are at about $1900 a month for food. So we are getting better! (***Disclaimer: This is breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of us. My husband and two adult children pack their lunch everyday. If anyone has any tips for making lunches cheaper that isn't PBJ, let me know. Also I need ideas for produce, we spend a ton on fresh produce.)
4. Is your home huge? Followed by how do you keep organized?
No our home isn't huge. We have 3200 sq ft. which is a good sized home for living in the Pacific Northwest... but we moved from a house in the midwest with 6000 sq ft. so our house feels small to us. All of the children share a bedroom... the bedrooms that are downstairs (3 of them) are HUGE and each of them have three children in them, and then upstairs we have three smaller bedrooms, 2 with 2, and one for Angeline and soon to be Isaac. (When they get bigger we will likely have moved our built a new place by then.)
We keep organized by cleaning everyday and getting rid of things weekly. I try not to have a lot of knick knacks, stained clothes go on the table in the garage for goodwill run once a month etc. Everything has its place and we have lots of "junk drawers" that cleaned out once a season. Our house is clean, tidy and I wouldn't be able to sleep if it wasn't! :) Saturday is super clean day where we all (dad too!) spend the morning doing a super clean... wiping walls etc. (we have to keep germ free, keeping Angeline from getting sick is KEY!) we love disinfecting wipes and magic erasers, and once we are done cleaning we try to take some of the kids with us to run the weekly errands. Since I started homeschooling avoiding the weekday run to the grocery store is really important... then we go for ice cream... and Sunday is the pray and fun day... Each of the children has a "room" that they are in charge of cleaning during the week. Everyone capable rotates doing dishes... so it is only about once a week... and sometimes we split boys up, girls down, everyone outside to clean just to change things up a bit. My children have had to keep their rooms clean (beds are made each morning!) So doing jobs, and helping out are just part of normal life. :)
5. About FREECYCLE... if you aren't a part of the freecycle community on yahoo groups, go and join! Most places have freecycle and it has been a great way for us to "get rid" of stuff, and to find things that we need. Plus you get to meet some really great people. :)
That's all for this weeks Q and A.