How to Pay for College [Large Family]

One of the most common questions we get in regard to our large family is “how are you going to pay for college for all those kids?” Our answer was simple: We aren’t. We never considered paying for our kids’ college our responsibility and we always figured we would cross that bridge when we came to it. Well, my friends, we are now at that bridge. Judah is in his first year at Central Washington University and we are just now being faced with the reality of how expensive a university education is.  I’m going share with you our own story on how to pay for college with a large family.

How to pay for college with a large family.


1. Community College. We all know community college is vastly cheaper than big universities. Here in Washington we have an amazing program called Running Start. High school students in grades 11 and 12 are able to take college classes and earn college credit. The best part? Homeschool students are able complete high school and their Associate of Arts degree simultaneously. Adalia and Judah graduated earning both a high school diploma and Associate of Arts degrees (at 18 and 17). Tilly will graduate  at 17 next month with both. This alone has saved us thousands of dollars. Judah in his first year at Central is actually in his third year of college. 

Making the jump from homeschooling to university

2. Grants and Scholarships.

Grades in high school matter! Volunteer work matters. Community involvement matters. Make sure you track these activities for their scholarship and college applications. My kids all qualified for College Bound scholarships when the were in 7th and 8th grade. This is through  our state and is income dependent. While we qualified as low-income at the time, last year when Judah was filling out his financial aid, Chuck made too much money to qualify so we got nothing (but we have still qualified our younger kids, we don’t know what the future holds). Judah ended up with $4000 in scholarships this year, and will have scholarships next year as well. Some of those are good for four years and he is still applying for new ones.  

3. Financial Aid

When we filled out the Financial Aid forms for Judah, we found that he only qualified for loans for himself and we qualified for parent loans.  We were disappointed to see that Judah didn’t get any actual money toward college. This meant we had to be even more resourceful when it came to financing his education. But, for many large families, Financial Aid can make a huge difference. One of my friends (with 15 kids!) has two in university this year, and Financial Aid is covering the balance of their tuition!

4. Work Study

Judah is currently working in the office of the psychology program at Central. He loves this because they are very flexible and guarantee work hours that are compatible with his classes. He also does not need to leave the campus, which is great since he doesn’t have a car. The money he makes at this job he is able to use for books and supplies; keeping his loans down.

boy playing guitar

5. Student Loans

Judah was really hoping to avoid these entirely, but there was no way to do this and still allow him to attend university this year.  We encouraged him to go head and take the loan, but to work as much as he could and not let those loans pile up! College Avenue Student Loans has launched a brand-new parent loan. With College Ave parents save an average of $1000 over other loans. Not only that, parents have the option to begin paying back this loan right away, or limit the monthly payments and choose repayment terms from 5-12 years. Another option is to deposit $2,500 into the parents’ bank account to pay for books, dorm rooms, etc. You can use this simple College Ave qualification tool to see if you qualify. 

We chose not to take out a loan to cover our portion, but have been making payments each quarter, while Judah contributes as much as he can. 

6. Summer work

Judah is already looking into training and job opportunities. He is hoping to get a job in the construction field so he can make as much money as possible this summer and take out fewer loans next year. Chuck and I have been so proud of him. Not only does he have a work/study job, but he worked at his old job as parking monitor over Christmas and over spring break.

Judah knows the value of hard work and it doing his best to come out of university owing as little money as possible. Since he has already completed his first two years, he only has just over one more to. At that point he will be too young to be in law enforcement (he will only be 20 and he needs to be 21) so he will have another year to work and hopefully pay off any remaining loans.

Do you have a college savings plan for your kids? How did you pay for college? 


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Pacific Northwest Hiking [Macro Lens]

Post contains affiliate links.Pacific Northwest hiking, Bellingham, WA

I went hiking with a friend yesterday. A friend. One. Uno. 

No children. No strollers. No diaper bags or sippy cups or blankies. We walked for two hours straight without once needing to tie someone’s shoe, doctor a scraped up knee or break up a fight. 

The only stops we made, in fact, were so I could photograph slugs. 

We didn’t see any impressively big ones, but we did see a variety of colors and species. 

 Pacific Northwest hiking, Bellingham, WA

I have hiked this trail many, many times with my kids. I could not believe how much easier it was without kids! I am not a fast hiker or runner, but I am a steady one. For me, its all about the pacing and not stopping, and that just does not work with kids. Being able to walk at my chosen pace without stopping was a game changer. It was relaxing, exhilarating and fun all wrapped up in one. The sun was shining, the birds were singing…Pacific Northwest hiking, Bellingham, WA

I was able to soak up some vitamin D (which is sorely lacking in our part of the world) and breathe in the fresh air…It was in the 70’s here and that’s quite balmy here for the first of May. Our path was shaded so it was comfortably cool, but not cold. Pacific Northwest hiking, Bellingham, WA  

I took my camera along with my macro lens.  I love this lens and it’s ability to capture the tiny details in nature. I bought it for food photography and capturing those closeup details on newborns…but I have found it to be quite versatile. Aside from using it for food, babies and nature shots, I also enjoy using it as an outdoor portrait lens and at births. I have switched to using two cameras at births, so I can capture exactly the images I want without needing to switch lenses. Pacific Northwest hiking, Bellingham, WA    

I don’t always take my camera when I hike, but I am so glad I did yesterday. I am pleased with my pictures and they stir in me happy memories. I struggle terribly with fatigue and these photos remind me of a near-perfect day. Pacific Northwest hiking, Bellingham, WA

I didn’t feel well when we started out, but the fresh air and beauty did wonders for my body and catching up with a friend did wonders for my spirit. 

What is your favorite outdoor activity? For me it is simply walking or hiking through a beautiful area. No special equipment needed…

Mother’s Day Gifts Moms Actually Want

Forget the flowers, here are the Mother's Day gifts moms actually want.

In case you didn’t know, Mother’s Day is coming up in less than a week. I realize that all of you are so organized, you probably already have a gift: selected, purchased, wrapped and sent. Or not. Either way, I’m here to help with a list of Mother’s Day Gifts Moms Actually Want. 

1. A good night’s sleep.

This is what moms actually want. But if that is too much to ask (and we all know it is) how about 3-4 hours of sleep alone, in a bed. With clean sheets (or at least ones that don’t smell like vomit, dirty feet or urine). A bed with no soggy diapers, no action figures, no snoring husband, no feverish child, no dogs or cats or wilted dandelions. Oh, and husbands, skip the rose petals. Those would only make a mess and more laundry for mom.

2. A full cup of coffee. Or tea.  

Oh, I don’t mean just a cup full of coffee. Any mom can pour a full cup of coffee. I mean a full cup* for her to drink. Without interruption, without being spilled, without worrying about a baby scalding his/her hands while s/he tries to fish out his teething toy. Or LEGO. Or ball of lint which “accidentally” fell in. Three times. A cup of coffee that mom can sip without once needing to: breastfeed a small human, change a poopy diaper or be Elsa from Frozen.

*Bonus points if she gets to drink out on an actual mug instead of a sippy cup. 

3. Clean Clothes.

Ones without spit-up or strained peas or organic soy milk or snot or Goldfish cracker crumbs or kitty litter or play dough or poop or “washable” marker. Clothes that have been actually laundered. Once.  Not washed three times because she kept forgetting them in the washer and they started to smell. Not ones that have been spot-cleaned with baby wipes. Not “clean” because they were on the top of the dirty laundry basket or on the floor beside her bed. 

4. A trip. [to the bathroom] Alone.

Very likely before that special lady became a mother, her fantasy of TRIP included the beach, or mountains, or sailing. It probably did not include sitting on a porcelain chair taking care of business. I guarantee you, however, that any mother with a child under age of 10 fantasizes about this. About a trip to the Ladies’ Room alone. A trip with no frantic knocking on the door. A  trip where no one is shoving notes under the door asking for more cookies. A trip where children don’t answer the phone with “my mom can’t talk right now she’s pooping”. A trip where her son does not stick a Matchbox car through the crack, then scream when she don’t return. All she wants is a trip to the bathroom to relieve herself. The relaxing kind of trip dads have because we all know children don’t follow dad to the bathroom…only mom. 

5. A home cooked meal. That wasn’t cooked by her.

Who doesn’t love a home cooked meal? A mom, that’s who. A mom who has to plan the meal, prep the meal, cook the meal and clean up after the meal. All the while hearing about how little Augustus is going to die because a pea touched the mashed potatoes, Johnny can’t eat the meatloaf because he just discovered it comes from cows and “cows have faces” and little Prunella only eats cold mac and cheese and baby carrots dipped in ketchup. 

6. An equal number of sippy cups and lids. 

Remember the dreaded story problems in math class? And how everyone hated them and how you always wondered when you would need to use them in life? Well, here’s another one for you:

Q: If Sally buys six sippy cups and six lids, how long will it take before she has three cups and nine lids…none of which fit on the cups? 

A: 18.6 minutes. 

How does this happen? No one knows. Just as you will never, ever end up with the same number of socks you started once you open the package, you will never, ever have the same number of sippy cups and lids. It’s just not possible. 

So there you have it, the perfect Mother’s Day gift for every mom! 

What would your perfect Mother’s Day gift be?

Parenting Victories

These days my parenting victories seem few and far between. I used to be an awesome mom with polite, obedient children. This didn’t happen by accident. Oh, no. It happened through hard work and consistent discipline. Consistency is the key, remember?!

These days? It feels like my parenting victories are few and far between. I have a kindergartener that doesn’t sleep though the night. I have kids who roll their eyes and think a few chores are torture and live in constant fear that they might do more work than…

…a sibling. <— this is apparently a fate worse than death.

Sometimes it feels like my parenting victories are few and far between...

But recently I’ve had a few victories. If, by victory, you mean I’m-still-alive-my-kids-are-still-alive-and-no-one-was-hurt. Let’s be honest, my idea of parenting victories have changed over a whole lot in the past few years. 

Recently I had an issue with a child at school…after having a very bad evening, wondering if progress with ever come, the child apologized appropriately and made things right. Even better? The issue was just as much the fault the other child, as my child. This inequity in the past would have met with, “why should I apologize? He needs to apologize to me!” And while all of that may be true, my child handled themselves with maturity and decorum.

Sometimes it feels like my parenting victories are few and far between...

Sure, ten years ago I could never have dreamed of being in this situation to start with…But my perspective has shifted and the victory is in my pride and joy at seeing this situation be resolved. 

But don’t be too discouraged! It isn’t all sunshine and roses, like I just described. I’ve decided recently (again) that I have no business volunteering for anything. Ever. 

Two weeks ago I got to go as a chaperone for Jubilee’s choir class. It was so much fun and I totally enjoyed being able to spend the time with her friends and teacher. It seemed, then, that it would be no problem to go as a chaperone for Tucker and Avi’s field trip this week.  

And it wasn’t.

Until my phone rang ten minutes into the performance (don’t worry, it was on vibrate).

And I had to answer because it was the school.

Calling to tell me Apollo was sick and I needed to pick him up.

Of course…because I had just ridden the school bus, half an hour away, to the theater.

And had no way to leave.

Thankfully Tilly was finished with her classes for the day and I was able to call her. She had to leave Walmart, drive home, pick up the van keys, drive to the school, get Apollo, leave the car and take the van (because it had Apollo’s car seat) then watch him until I returned. 

You win some and you lose some, am I right?


1 2 3 4 468