Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I’m excited to give you a glimpse into our daily life. Large families seem to be a bit of a mystery to some people. I get questions like, How do you do it all? Do you have a big house? What do you drive? How many bedrooms do you have? Are you super organized? So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce myself to those of you who are new around here and give you a tour of our three bedroom trailer, affectionately called the Meadow Cottage, and share how we live comfortably as a large family in a little house.
A Little History
I’m Audrey and I’ve been married to my web developer husband, Josh for almost 15 years. We have four biological sons, one biological daughter, and three adopted daughters from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They range in age from 4 months to 13. Two years ago we only had three sons and were in the process of adopting three sisters from DRC. At the tail end of our adoption we were shocked to discover we were pregnant after seven years of infertility–Annie was born August 6, 2014. In October 2015 God confirmed to us that our years of infertility were indeed over as we found out we were expecting baby number eight.
When Annie was born we lived in a 2,000 sqft ranch that we had been in for almost ten years. Our ultimate goal was to buy land and build a farmhouse for our great big family but not until we were debt free.
Where are we now?
In February 2015 some dear friends generously invited us to move onto their 250 acre farm and live in a 3 bedroom trailer rent-free while we paid off debt and continued to make large monthly payments ($1500+) to our adoption agency. We sold our home of ten years and moved without ever looking back. One month later we were finally able to bring our daughters home. Seven months after that we discovered we were pregnant with Charlie. We are now living as a family of 10 in a three bedroom trailer on a beautiful farm, surrounded by friends and the great outdoors. Lots of friends (and some family) have asked how in the world we’re living in such a small space with such a large family. Ironically, the answer is, “Quite easily, actually!” It’s only the American dream of the 21st century that tells children they should all have their own bedroom and more than two siblings is just far too many. When my mother-in-law’s mother found out she was expecting twins, bringing them to a grand total of nine children, did she and her husband pack up and move to a bigger house? Goodness no. They moved some furniture around and made do. The truth is, we have absolutely loved living life in a smaller home, regardless of our growing numbers. Our oldest sons have said more than once, “We’ll gladly stay in this trailer forever if it means we can stay out here on the farm!”
Looking to the future
Our priorities have shifted and our children are living a life many only dream of–minus the trailer. I doubt most people’s dreams involve a double wide–LOL! One of the many wonderful things that has come from living in a small home as a large family is that it has allowed us to examine what’s most important to us in a home. We have a growing list of things we can live without and things that will most definitely go into our farmhouse. For example, Josh and I do not care about having a large master suite and the children’s bedrooms don’t need to be huge. However, we do need plenty of storage space and 3 1/2 baths. Two bathrooms is cutting it mighty close with ten people and having a half bath would remove my fear of making guests use the kids’ bathroom! Yikes.
So here we are, loving our trailer life. It’s a beautiful step in our journey to financial freedom, even if my dining room table shakes like a mild earthquake when my washing machine is on the spin cycle.
In case you missed the sneak peek post, here’s a picture of our meadow cottage.
We don’t actually use the front door. We park on the left side and use that door as our main entrance. That’s where we’ll start the grande tour. When you walk in the door the laundry area is in a nook to the right.
First you see our large upright freezer. Without it, I’d have to go to the grocery store twice a week and would never be able to put meals in the freezer or stock up on items when they go on sale. This freezer was given to us by a friend when we were foster parents many years ago. It has served us well and been such a blessing, like when our friends who have an 800 acre dairy farm surprised us and showed up at our house with 250 lbs of beef! To the left of the freezer are three charcoal containers that perfectly hold my 20-25 lb bags of sugar, rice, and flour. When you turn the corner on the left you’ll find the washer and dryer, laundry hamper, and top shelving that I use for food storage.
Laundry for the masses
I do 2-3 loads of laundry every single day. When I skip a day it takes me 2 or 3 to catch up.
I go through seasons of frugality when it comes to laundry products. I always have what I need to make my favorite homemade laundry powder:
2 cups shredded pink Zote (a bar of Mexican laundry soap that smells pleasant and keeps my light clothes bright)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
Blend well in a food processor and use 1/8 cup per load.
However, sometimes I just want convenient, good-smelling, chemical-laden laundry detergent! Right now I get Tide Pods from Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. I also use OxyClean because I have yet to meet a stain it couldn’t remove and Downy fabric softener. If I’m going to be folding laundry all the live long day, I might as well love the way it smells! Our dryer is 15 years old. We bought it brand new for $200 right before we got married. It’s on it’s last leg but I utilize the clothesline out back several times a week and we’re putting away for it’s bigger, better replacement when the time comes.
Little changes make a big difference.
See those two little Rubbermaid containers sitting on the left side of the dryer? That’s where I keep the big girls’ socks. Sometimes it feels like unmatched socks are the bane of my existence–know what I mean?? Well, my solution to the girls’ early morning before-school routine was to have them get dressed in the laundry room so Annie doesn’t wake up before the crack of dawn. Keeping their socks out of their room just made sense and has solved 99% of my sock woes. I put them in the bins and I take them out for them in the mornings. Once a month whatever socks are still unmatched in the little basket in my room get tossed! You heard me right–I THROW THEM AWAY. You should seriously try it; it’s liberating. Even with my monthly sock purge, I only have to buy new socks for the kids once a year and that seems pretty normal.
I love that very top shelf that’s far too high for daily access but houses my lobster pot and pressure cooker perfectly. The shelving stays relatively organized so I can easily take a weekly inventory of what’s left and what I need for the current week’s menu.
I think that’s about all there is to say about the laundry room.
Up Next: Mud Room and Kitchen