VLOG: how we fit three kids in one bedroom. (Q&A)

Here are the nitty gritty details regarding how we make a single bedroom work for three kids of different ages and genders!  In this video, I answer the questions you asked on Facebook and Instagram, such as:

How do you put them to bed?

What about differing bedtimes? Differing routines?

How do you keep them from playing with one another at bedtime?

What age did you start them sharing a room?

What age are you comfortable with them using the top bunk?

Do you do mixed gender?

How do you manage decor?

How do you navigate them keeping each other up, or waking each other up?

How to juggle wake up times and expectations?

Do they all sleep through the night?

How do you navigate nap time? Hope it's helpful!

room tour: three kids in one bedroom.

Some people prefer reading posts like this, other people prefer watching stuff like this in video format... so I thought I'd do both today!  Here's a quick tour of our upstairs kids' room.

Penelope, Laurelai, and Rocco all share one room.  It is also the only room on the main level that houses any toys, so it has to accommodate a lot without feeling like a sardine can.

Basically, we have a twin bed for Penelope, a crib for Rocco, and a toddler mattress for Laurelai that trundles under Penelope's bed during the day to give the kids plenty of room to play.

When the kids wake up in the morning, it's their responsibility to make their beds - which, for the girls, means tag-teaming to get Laurelai's bed pushed under Penelope's, and putting both girls' pillows and blankets neatly onto Penelope's bed.  (Rocco's bed usually just stays messy.  Oh well.)

The toys we keep in here are kitchen/toy house items, as well as dolls, Barbies, Little People, and My Little Ponies.  I find it makes it easier for the kids to keep everything organized when there are clear categories for things - we don't have many straggly toys that don't fit a clear category, if that makes sense.

The bin to the right of the kitchen holds toy food and toy brooms; the baskets on top hold Barbies and Little People.

These bins are kept in the closet, out of the way unless they're actively being used for play.

We also keep a couple of bookshelves in here for kids' books and special items.  The two wicker baskets on the bottom shelf are for the girls to keep their special 'treasures' in - anything that is special to them that they'd like to keep out of reach of the other kids.  I think it's important when sharing rooms to give them even just a small space that is intensely personal.

And that's the official tour of their room!  You'll get a much better 'feel' of the space if you watch the video.  Tomorrow, I'll be answering your questions about the logistics of room-sharing with this many kids: bedtimes, wake times, routines, and whether they wake each other up in the middle of the night.  Stay tuned!

ask me: how we fit three kids in one bedroom!

We are no strangers to piling lots of kids into small spaces.  In our last house, we had four kids in one bedroom, so our current set up with only three of them sharing a single room feels down right luxurious!  Currently, Penelope (almost 8), Laurelai (4), and Rocco (2) all share a room, and it can get crazy - they all need different amounts of sleep, and have different sleep patterns.  (Laurelai likes to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn; Penelope would probably sleep until 8:30 or 9:00 if given the chance.)

It has taken us a lot of trial and error to figure out a room-sharing system that works... well, one that works well enough, anyway.  I'd love to share with you how we navigate fitting lots of kids into a small space without it feeling completely claustrophobic or overwhelming.

So tomorrow, I will be posting a tour of their bedroom, and later in the week, I'll post a Q&A video answering any questions you might have on the topic - so make sure to ask!

what's up weekly.

It has been a long stretch for us.  Two weekends ago, Todd was gone at a retreat for our church elders.  Then, because of class load, our babysitter wasn't able to watch the kids for Connection Group on Tuesday night, so I stayed home with the kids.  Last weekend, Todd taught at our church's Men's Retreat, and was gone again.  It was an exhausting week and a half.  Luckily, I got a much-needed nap in after church at the end of it all.

I thought the nap was for the purpose of catching up on some of the rest that I'd missed out on over the previous couple of weeks, but it turns out that it was God's preemptive grace - I was needing to rest up for the next stretch because on Monday, Rocco came down with the stomach flu.  I did pop out for a bit that evening, because it had been nearly two weeks since I'd gotten out of the house without the kids in tow and I needed a break.  Then on Tuesday night, I was quarantined yet again because Rocco was still sick, so I canceled our Connection Group sitter and stayed home.

Tuesday night, our main kitchen drain started backing up into the basement, which sent me into a meltdown.  I could go on and on and on about all the things around the house that seem to be broken at the moment.  Plus, I'm in a weird season of life where I think my hormones are starting to gear back up after being in 'breastfeeding only' mode for the last ten months. Plus, the two-year anniversary of moving into this house is looming, which is stirring up all kinds of emotion about where we are, where I thought we'd be by now, etc.  I'm just kind of an all-around wreck.  It's been unpleasant in general, and watching dirty water just pump itself all over my basement floor was just one more thing to stir the pot.

We got a plumber to come over the next day, so Wednesday was really full for us - a trip to the Amish, a visit from a friend, school, speech therapy, grocery shopping, and a service call.  Luckily, it was the one day this week that no one was sick!

Yes, that's right.  Rocco's bug was not an isolated incident.  Yesterday morning, I was awakened at 4:50 a.m. to the sound of a barfing Laurelai.  We moved her bed into our room for the rest of the morning so I could rest in between the times I needed to help her, and so she wouldn't wake up the other kids who share her room.  Around 8:00, Atticus came in to tell me Finneas was throwing up in the basement.

Those two spent yesterday totally strung out.  Laurelai spent literally all day on her mattress in the living room.  She only got up to use the bathroom or to throw up, and then would lay back down.  Even being in the middle of the busiest room of the house, she still managed to take two really long naps.  Finneas preferred resting in our bed, and also took two long naps.

They watched a lot of Daniel Tiger and WordGirl on the laptop.

By the end of the day, they were still tired, but they were in better spirits, and they had enough appetite for a little bit of plain yogurt.

Once they were on the upswing last night, of course Callista started vomiting, which in a weird way turned into a mixed blessing:  I had started painting her ceiling last night, and was worried I wouldn't get it finished before she went to bed.  But since she was sick, we put her to bed in our room, leaving her room free for me to work on later in the evening.  So that's what I was doing with my free time last night... maybe that was a stupid choice?

As of the writing of this, Atticus is currently complaining of a stomach ache.  Penelope is the only kid who hasn't been touched by the bug (yet).  Knocking on wood that we're coming to the end of this sickness cycle soon, and that neither Todd nor I catch it - Todd is preaching on Sunday, and obviously neither one of us wants to miss it!

Here's to hoping that next week is an absolute non-event.  No, I take that back.  I hope that the biggest news I have to share with you next Friday is that I got an amazing margarita at some point in the week, and spent some time in the garden, and actually got some face time with my husband.  I will consider that a really great week!  So, fingers crossed.

i'm listening to music again.

One of the books I'm reading this week is "The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction," by Alan Jacobs.  Timely.  I was struck by this passage quoted from Charles Darwin:

"My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive.  A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use.  The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature."

Oh, how that resonates with me.  So I decided to start (volitionally) listening to music again more regularly.  Todd's good at cultivating an atmosphere of good music in our house, but when I'm alone, I rarely want to fill my own time with more 'noise.'  But I used to enjoy music so much!  (I was a professional dancer for a very short stint, and even went to college on a piano scholarship; did I ever tell you that?)  So I'm starting small and with something so easy to enjoy: Copeland.  One of my all-time favorites.

What else should I be listening to?


Turns out, Rocco was sick.  Who knows why.  Who knows if it will spread to anyone else.  All I know is that he was suddenly sick - really sick.

He was acting totally fine throughout the day on Monday, eating and playing normally.  Then I laid him down for nap, and when I went to get him up later that afternoon he was just covered in vomit and running a fever.  So baths and laundry and Daniel Tiger on a mattress on the hardwood ensued.  (I take rug protection very seriously in these parts, in case you haven't noticed.)

It had been a long couple of weeks for me, so I kind of just broke down a little at the prospect of having the flu in our house again.  I took a bunch of activated charcoal to preemptively ward off any sickness in myself, and then I ducked out of the house for an hour or so to catch a breather.  I picked up library books.  I wandered around the fancy grocery store.  I went to the less-fancy grocery store and bought a chicken.  You know.  The kind of things people do in their free time.

Rocco ended up sleeping in our room overnight, and was waking up pretty often to throw up.  But then around 3:30 a.m., it stopped, and he was able to keep water down.  Yesterday, he was still running a fever and sleeping a lot, but he had an appetite and was able to keep everything down.

This whole thing was just the weirdest.  I wonder what caused it?  I'm really, really hoping it doesn't spread to any of the rest of us... knock on wood.

good, cheap, quick salmon patties that even kids will eat!

"Good, cheap, and quick" are my cooking trifecta in this season of life.  I want to spend as little money as possible at the store, and as little time as possible in the kitchen, with as few fights-slash-bribes as necessary when trying to get the kids to eat what I make.  If it's healthy, that's a bonus, too.

I've always kind of had to be a budget cook.  When Todd and I first got married, our weekly grocery budget was $30 per week.  Every two weeks, we treated ourselves to a takeout meal, but other than that, it was on me to feed the two of us on less than $5 per day.  I clipped a lot of coupons and we ate a ton of Hamburger Helper.

Our budget has obviously had to increase as our numbers have increased, so I've had to get creative with ways to keep it reasonably low - especially since I don't really do Hamburger Helper-type meals all that often anymore.

A few years ago, I came across a recipe for salmon patties.  I honestly hadn't ever heard of them, and was equal parts intrigued and disgusted by the idea.  I ran it past Todd, who said his mom used to make them a lot growing up, and he always really liked them, so I figured I'd at least give it a shot.

And you know what?  They're really good.  Like, really good.  My kids don't even fight me on them.  Plus, they're crazy-cheap.  A can of salmon at Aldi is less than $3, so I double this recipe in order to feed all of us, and it still only costs me about $7 for the whole meal, including sides of steamed broccoli and rice.  That's a HUGE win.

So here's what you'll need to know:

Salmon Patties
Total prep/cook time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4-6 salmon patties


1 (14.5 oz.) can of salmon
1 egg
1/4 c. almond meal or bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. paprika
Fresh green onions, chopped (optional)

(Feel free to mess around with seasoning quantities, or add or take out any as you see fit.  I'm not really a measurer of things, and usually just throw in whatever I have on hand that sounds good, and they always turn out fine.)


1.  Drain salmon and mash it with a fork.  You could pick all the bones and skin out, but there are some really great nutrients in those - things like calcium and Omega-3's - and honestly, once you mix it all up, you can't even tell they're in there.  I recommend just leaving it all in there and mashing it well.  It'll be our secret.

2.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

3.  Heat about 1/4 c. cooking oil over med heat.  (I like to use bacon grease, but whatever you use most often will work.)

4.  Using your hands, form medium-sized balls of the mixture, and then flatten into patties (just like if you were making burgers).  When oil is hot, cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the outside is crispy and the inside is cooked through.

To serve, I like to mix about 1/4 c. mayonnaise with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice as a dipping sauce, or as a topping if serving these on buns.

what's up weekly.

This week has seen us trucking along towards the end of the school year.  I could not be more excited.  Granted, we do year-round school (and love it!), so it's not really like I'm chomping at the bit for our term to be over.  But there are only four more weeks of the university year left, at which point the college students will disperse for the summer and my weekly schedule will suddenly look a lot different.

I will be taking the opportunity of a slower pace to get started on potty training Rocco.  He is so ready - he's at the point where he requests to sit on the potty before he pees or poops in his diaper, so I know he's mentally 'there'. ("I poopin'!  I sit potty? MOMMY, I POOPIN' NOW!")  But we just do not currently have the available time to hunker down and really focus and set him up for success, so I've been trying to get him to hold off a bit longer.

In other news, we've been playing a lot of charades lately.  For Christmas, the kids got Todd a boxed set of family charades, and it has been so fun.  Laurelai is absolute gold.  You should have her do her T. Rex impression for you sometime.

This week's weather was really weird.  On Sunday, it was snowing.  By Wednesday, it was 82 degrees out.  On Thursday, in temperatures pushing 90 degrees, the girls and I planted potatoes and a second sowing of peas.  I'd picked up the seed potatoes and some onion sets up at the Amish on Wednesday, and I'm hoping to have enough decent weather to get the onions in before it starts snowing again this weekend.  Seriously schizophrenic stuff.  I just hope we don't get any tornadoes as a result of the wacky temperature swings - I don't tend to be an anxious person at all, but I'm legitimately terrified of tornadoes.

Um, let's move on to talking about something else.  Todd shaved his massive beard this week.  I think he was pretty sad to see it go, but I'm really liking having his face back, even if only for a little while.

And lastly, this little girl has been making the funniest faces and doing the funniest things.  She has figured out how to wave, and how to bob around when music plays, and is so close to figuring out how to clap.  I am so dang smitten with her.

I've been trying to do more reading this week than I had been lately.  So there have been lots of nursing-slash-reading sessions.

And, in case you missed them, here are this week's vlogs:

Have an amazing weekend you wonderful people!

morning quiet time with the kids.

I've kind of been slacking on my 'quiet time' routine lately - it had been the case for a while that I was really consistent, but then I fell off the wagon.  Chalk it up to a combination of things: Callista is still an inconsistent sleeper at night, so the exhaustion caught up with me; I started spending my morning time making breakfast for myself and Todd before he headed to work instead of reading; I eventually got pretty far behind in my Bible read-through schedule, so I got discouraged and lost motivation; yadda yadda yadda.

Combine this with the fact that we hadn't really instated any kind of structured Bible time for the kids, and the guilt was hitting me pretty hard.  The kids weren't reading their Bibles.  Like, ever.  I wanted to change that for them, and I also wanted to be setting a better example.

So when I put together my visual schedule, I decided to add in a routine Bible time for all of us, and so far it has been working!

So, basically, the way it's been happening has seen me getting up around 8:00 or a little after to make everyone's breakfast.  Now that the kids can tell time, I've told them to plan on cleaning up their rooms at about 8:20, so we can sit down at the table around 8:30.  We read until 9:00ish, and then I put breakfast on the table.  So far, the start time hasn't been as ironclad as would probably be good for us, but it's at least a jumping-off point.

The biggest two kids, being fluent readers, are required to spend time in the Word.  The younger ones are given the option of either sitting with us to look at illustrated storybook Bibles, or continuing to play until breakfast.  Rocco just kind of wanders around, making a bunch of noise and generally being as distracting as possible.

Is it efficient?  Absolutely not.  Some days I only finish about a chapter... in thirty minutes.  Every other word, I'm interrupted.  It's frustrating at times.  Do the kids love it every single day?  No.  And that was hard for me at first - I didn't want time in the Bible to be seen as a chore.  But then I had to realize that, just like anything that's ultimately good for them, and anything I hope they would eventually choose for themselves, I have to train them.  Self-discipline begins parent-directed discipline when they're young.  And honestly, once they're sitting down and reading, they do enjoy it - they just need the little external nudge to start.

So, there it is.  It's simple, but it is a step in a good direction, and I'm feeling good about it!

an age-old question, answered.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about a very hot topic:  Cake Versus Pie.

I would like to clear something up: the winner is Pie.  It was never not Pie.  Those who would tell you there's even an argument to be made in favor of Cake are just trying to lead you into darkness.

First of all, Cake is essentially just flavored dry bread.  Would you want to eat a piece of cake without frosting on it?  No, because cake is gross without frosting.  But I bet you've eaten frosting without cake.  I bet you didn't even really miss the cake when you were scooping plain frosting out of the bowl with your finger.

So really, if you say you like cake, what you really mean is that you like frosting, and are open-minded to having some crumbly bread attached to it.

Second of all, it's not even a contest.  Pie just wins.  Case closed.