Sunday, January 31, 2016

courtney a. smith

This is a bit of a repeat from my previous blog (apologies to my faithful followers), but why not? it's all still true! so here you have it, an introduction (modified from the original version) to me (Courtney)!

Hello! I'm Courtney. Talking about myself is probably my least favorite thing to do, buttt for the sake of this blog and those who may not know me, I'll release some personal information ;) you're welcome!

My wonderful husband, Dave, and I will be married 15 years (not sure how that went so fast) this summer. We graduated high school together, started our family a smidge early, and never looked back. You could say we beat the odds. We have been blessed with 8 beautiful children (yes, eight) and could *not* be happier. I know it's cliche and annoying and most of you are going to gagggg... and it's okay if you don't believe me... buttt we're best friends and he makes me the happiest every single day. He's my everything. Forever and ever.

Okay, okay... sappy enough! moving right along to the frequently asked questions, aka what you really care about ;)

How do you do it/how do you keep it together?

I have a secret... I don't. I do *not* keep it together. I have nothing together. I struggle with organization of household chores, schedules, routines... DAILY. I try again every day - over and overrrr - to balance everything. I've come to the conclusion I can't have and/or DO everything all the time. And I'm okay with that. I've been delegating more these days and it's a slow, painful process for me. I like to do it all. All the time. Daily struggle.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

lazy - boring steady consistent - unorganized

Casey's response when I asked her to describe me: "consistent/boring - fertile - lactative - calm - quiet outgoing"

What's your favorite part of every day?

Some days I love the mornings, enjoying a cup of coffee before everyone is up. Other days, it's hands down nap time.

If you had the opportunity to have a guaranteed 30 minutes of free time (pretending kids didn't affect what you do), what would you want to do with that time?

I could change the answer to this daily. First 30 minutes... I could use more like 3 hours. But today I would probably read if I had some spare time. Just sit quietly and read a good book.

So. You have eight kids. Eight. Tell me more about that.

Well, I'm not sure what to say about this. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have eight kids. Before I had kids, I always... okay, before I had kids, I never thought about having kids. I was 17 when we got pregnant with Peyton so having kids wasn't even on the table yet. But when we had our third, I knew 4 wasn't my number... as we had loosely discussed. When we had 5, I was scared... that's how 8 happens. We're at 8 and I'm *still* not sold on 8 ;)

You do photography, right? Of what? Whom? Any specialties?
Indeed, I do dabble in photography. I'm attempting to steer away from weddings and specialize in maternity/newborns/children. Mostly, I want to transition into lifestyle photography.

Aren't you a certified EMT? How do you fit that into the whole eight-kids-and-a-husband thing?

another indeed, I am a licensed EMT. I've been an EMT for almost 13 years. I took the class when I was pregnant with Lia, our second. Funny story: my mom said I couldn't, so I had to prove her wrong. Mom won't remember this. I remember. ;) How do I fit this in? Well, it is difficult with being pregnant and nursing 80% of the time. BUT I do my best. I sign up for 10 six-hour shifts a month and pick up calls whenever I'm available. A lot of the time it's "34 is unavailable." Many thanks to those who cover my unavailables.

What kind of meals do you have?

I married a wonderful butcher so there are very few meals we go without meat. I'm *beyond* thankful for this. Sometimes our meals are just meat. No joke. Watch for another post about this. I think this deserves it's own post. Don't get too excited though, we tend to rotate the majority of our meals :\

How do you discipline?

Discipline... this is a touchy subject for a lot of families. This question is a tough one for me to answer as there is *so* much controversy. I don't think our way of discipline is the only way, but I do think it is the right way  [for us]. ;)  I've tried just about everything you can imagine. Different kid, different attitude, different discipline. I enjoyed reading Patti's post regarding this topic. A few things: Dave and I are in charge. Period. The End. We don't take no shit from anybody. We don't take no prisoners. No... we don't take no for an answer. 
Kidding...had to throw some Tommy Boy in there ;) Back to the point: There are some zero tolerances, and the kids are well aware of those. We don't like to tell you something twice. Sometimes you're not told once. You should know better. And mom *will* get up from a seated position, newborn baby attached, and get you. Beware. She's not afraid. All that being said, we say yes. We are strict, but never short on fun. There are dance offs in the kitchen. Tickle 'fights' at the drop of a hat. And movie nights with sleepovers in the living room. I think we have a pretty reasonable balance. 

Would I like less of the next question (see below)? yes. 

Do I think my children are perfect, or myself for that matter? no. 
Do we work *really* hard at raising disciplined, polite, kind, honest, serving children? hell yeah. 

I will be the first to admit I don't think we're doing everything right. After 8 kids, I still have moments where I look around and say to Dave "I don't know what I'm doing!" and then we reevaluate and start over in that moment. Usually Dave reevaluates, has a pow-wow with the kids, and I angrily stir supper, completely ashamed of myself and convinced I'm failing as a mother. We're doing a lot right and a lot wrong and it's totally working for us (if you ask me) ;) so probably none of this answers the question... another good read. I love *everything* Dave Ramsey has to say about raising children so if all else fails, we're pretty old school.

Do you yell?

I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT YELL. I don't necessarily like to use the word "yell." It sounds so mean AND LOUD. I like to say "raise my voice" or "talk sternly" or "be in charge." Just recently I realized I've been wasting my voice for almost 15 years. I can whistle. Loud. They respond very well to my "stern" whistle. 

Do you rotate baths to not run out of hot water?

Some shower, some bathe. While there is an infant in the house, I give that one a bath. Dave bathes the middle ones. The older ones shower. We only have 1 (yes, ONE) bathroom in the house. Let me say that again... one bathroom. one shower. one sink. one toilet. You do the math. There is a flushable toilet in the basement buttt the kids will only go down there in pairs for "emergencies" because it's scary. Use your imagination. 

Back to the point: our landlord (my father-in-law) put in a big dog water heater when we moved in so this bad boy must know how to get his job done - the water heater, not my father-in-law. Most bath/shower nights, everyone gets clean. Usually youngest to oldest - ish.

Can you video getting ready for 8am mass?

If I could video that chaos, I'm not sure you would like me any more. Kidding! Mass starts at 8am. We should be up getting ready by 6am. We're lazy Sunday morning-ers. The house is usually up between 645am and 7am, realistically. From there, it's a dead sprint. The oldest 5 are very good about getting themselves ready and helping with the little ones. Bathes are almost never done Sunday morning so that's out of the way. I'll get little girls clothes ready, get myself ready, and then come back to them to do hair and put shoes on. Then the bigs help with coats and getting the littles out the door. Dave's great about managing everyone while I'm frantic. Sometimes I forget someones hair. Or my deodorant. And only once have we discovered a shoe-less 2yo at church. BUT we're at 8am mass. Occasionally before the bells. Praise Jesus.

When is everyone in bed? How long does it take to get everyone in bed?

Bedtime...ahhh, bedtime. To say this is interesting around here would be an understatement. I don't do well with bedtime. I know this is an extreme mom fail. I'll work on it. Tomorrow night. ;) Our routine is still quite a bit like this, just add 3 kids. And we haven't taken vitamins in years. Add these to that list as well:

* I forgot I had homework!

* It's fictional character day tomorrow. What am I going to be?!  :|
* Nash peed in my bed.
* Can we go back to Florida?
* Do we have school tomorrow?
* What time is it?
* How long until we go to Oregon?

Do the kids do chores? What chores?

My kids do chores. Daily. Okay, honestly. They're supposed to do their chores daily, but they struggle. Daily. And so do I. So it is what it is. We try our best every day with them. We've tried many things with the kids. These kids do these specific chores. The other kids do other specific chores. We swap chores. Everyone does alllll the chores. We do a little of all of that. But one thing we have done that seems to work well - we have a dry erase board in the kitchen. Every day I write chores. Every day they are to do the chores. I don't care who does what, all the chores get done. Kitchen is assigned to the three biggest. Bathroom is assigned to the fourth biggest. Littles help with toys and tidying blankets and pillows. I'm in *love* with this family's routine. We just get lazy at managing. In my dream world, the kids would just do their chores and I wouldn't need to hound them, but I think that's unrealistic. I'm just hoping these small steps daily will create some hard working kids and adults some day.

This about covers everything you need to know about me. If we're close friends, you may know more. Very unfortunate few! ;) and for those who are close friends and see my counters weekly, I'm sorry! :) 

thanks for joining in on the chaos and reading this entire post. goodness!
all family photos courtesy of the extremely talented husband+wife teamJames Stokes Photography


  1. I love reading about your family and getting to know more about them! Having taught 4 of them I've learned a few things, but I learn a lot more when I read your blog!!! You guys are a gray family Courtney!!

    1. thank you, Amy! thank you for being so great with my kiddos!

  2. Love this! Excited to see where this blog goes, regardless of who posts more;).

    1. thanks, Renee! we're excited as well. it may just be a bunch of gibber! ;)

  3. I'm still amazed at Caseys potty mouth ;-) courtney, for someone who doesn't enjoy taking about yourself this post is great.

    1. never fails! ;) and thank you, I really don't like talking about myself! and I have my reserves about sharing too much about our family so we'll see where this leads :)

  4. So THAT'S how it's done!! You and Dave are a great example of "grace under fire" Love you all.

    1. well, thank you! we love you (and miss you) too! :)

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