Big Katy Families: Feeling Thankful in Full Houses

KATY MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2018

by Natalie Cook Clark

 

Family is everything. They know the very best of who we are and have seen us at our worst. From birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and funerals, your family is there through it all.

 

Every family is special with a strength unique just to them. For some families in Katy, that strength is found in numbers. These "Big" Katy families show a community how they make it work with juggling schedules and budgets all while staying flexible and never losing sight of their love for each other.

The Leggins Family

Shantania (holding picture of Kayden Leggins), Kendrick Leggins Sr., Karsyn, Kennedy, Kendrick (KJ.)

 

Angel Baby

Shantania and Kendrick Leggins are high school sweethearts originally from New Orleans. After fleeing their home during Hurricane Katrina they found their way to Katy. "It didn’t take us long to decide that this would be a permanent move," said Shantania. "When we moved to Katy we had two kids, what I called my perfect pair - a boy and a girl. Our family was complete or, so we thought. Thirteen years later, we are now parents of five and wouldn’t change it for the world." The Leggins have a senior and a freshman at Seven Lakes High School, and a fourth grader at Kilpatrick Elementary. The Leggins also count and honor their second son who watches over their family as an angel. Kayden was born in 2011 after a normal pregnancy and delivery. The morning after he went home to join his family his mother found him in what looked like a deep sleep. Sadly they lost him to SIDS and to this day honor his memory. They moved on to have a beautiful angel baby. 

 

 

Making Plans

“I didn’t plan any of them, we wanted kids but they had to come at the perfect time," says Shantania. Both Kendrick and Shantania are from five sibling families. While they loved the idea of having a large family neither of them saw that in their future. "We had our perfect one of each pair and I had this idea in my head that having kids after 30 was a no-no for me. Isn’t it funny how we make plans and God laughs?" Four of their children were born after 30 for Shantania.  

 

Managing it all 

"Sometimes I don’t feel like I am managing it at all," says Shantania, who says that following a schedule is the key to wrangling their busy lives. "Not only do we have many kids, each one is at a different stage in life. When the older two were in elementary school together and the little one at the time was home, it was busy, but it was still calmer then what the last few years have been in terms of schedules." Times change and Shantania believes that her kids are much more active and busier than she was at their age. Despite their crazy schedules the Leggins eat most of our meals at home together as family. "It’s non negotiable!" Stresses Shantania.

Family Responsibilities 

Everyone is involved in making their family work. "Once they hit junior high they are responsible for their laundry and fixing their lunch. "We love sports, so we’ve always seen our family as a team and everybody plays a role. We constantly remind them that if you don’t play your part, no matter how big or small that impacts the team winning."

 

"There's nothing wrong with asking for help and don't make such a big deal about everything." "It’s totally okay to let the kids figure some stuff out on their own. I don’t have to have the answer for everything because I really don’t have the answer for everything," says Shantania. "And have fun! Some of the best lessons learned and best memories made are the ones I have gotten on this journey of Motherhood."

The Parsons  Family

The Parsons: Karter 3, Khloe 6, Kaden 11, Kolton 12, Kaleb 16, Becky and Kevin

 

Becky and Kevin Parsons met through a mutual friend. Becky always wanted a big family so after they were married and expecting their first child they relocated to Katy knowing it would be a great city to raise their growing family. "Of course I had no idea we'd end up responsible for five lives, and we haven't ruled out number six," says Kevin. 

 

Deciding to be Stay at home Mom 

After Becky had their first daughter Khloe, they decided for her to stay home and that has worked out well for their family. "We manage it all by dividing and conquering," says Kevin. "We use calendar appointments for reminders and the kids have a routine. "We try not to deviate from that routine, but as you can imagine something always happens. Flexibility is a must and we usually are very easy going. This is definitely the most challenging year of raising kids, with a sophomore at Katy High, one at Woodcreek junior and two at Bryant and one in preschool."

 

Strong Community 

Having a strong community helps the Parsons manage their crew. "I advise moms to get involved in bible studies, story times, mommy and me play dates. Some of our best friendships have been made through youth activities and it makes Katy feel like a small town," says Becky

The Guzman Family

The Guzmans': Back row- Ashton 17, Cayde 14, Ace , Ace Jr. 17.  Front row- Cash 14, Christie, Will 17, and Brooks 13.

 

Strong Katy Roots

The Guzman's family has strong Katy roots with both Ace and Christi being from Katy as well as their parents and grandparents. Their love story starts in kindergarten when they both admitted to having a crush on one another. They dated in junior high and then went their separate ways in high school in college. After both being married and having kids, they found each other again.

 

Six Teenage Boys 

"I knew I always wanted boys, never really said how many I wanted, just that I wanted boys," said Christi. "God knew what he was doing when he put Ace and I back together because between the two of us we have six boys!" The Guzman children are Ace Jr. 17, Ashton 17, Will 17,  Cayde 14, Cash 14, and Brooks 13. Four of the boys play football at Katy High School.  “I love it! I would not change it for the world!” says, Christi.

 

Recharge Your Battery

Managing such a crew is a lot of work but the Guzman’s have learned what works for them. Football season is especially busy with going to four football games a week. “Meals are like a choreographed dance and we take advantage of the older boys driving,” said Christi. No day is ever the same at their house and everyone is responsible for their own laundry.  “My advice is that you have to be organized. Keep a calendar for everything going on. Delegate and ask for help when you need it, and remember to take time to recharge your battery,” advises Christi.

 

The Cannon Family

The Cannon Family, Kali, Cadence, Charles, Simone, Charlie and Merae. 

Two Become One 

The Cannon family is another blended family fairy tale. When Charles and Simone met she already had three daughters, but Charles was used to a bigger family having been raised the oldest of four siblings. So the Cannon's had two more children making them parents to five kids; Kali 15, Merae 13, Charlie eight, and Cadence six.  "While it can be challenging at times with juggling the lives of the kids and their activities, we wouldn't have it any other way," says Charles. 

 

Managing Time

Charles also stresses the importance of scheduling downtime for the kids. With so much going on that can be something that gets overlooked and shouldn't. "The best way to manage is to have everything on a calendar so we know where the kids are supposed to be at any give time. Also, it helps to have family and friends that can help when the kids have activities going on at the same time," Charles explains. "The best advice I give other families is to stay as organized as possible. Also, let the kids be kids! Allow them to make mistakes so that they learn from them."

The Hodges Family

 

Jonathan, Adalee 1, Aviva 2, Phyllis, Savannah 11, Shelby 12, Even-Ezer 6, Korban 4, Eliana 9, Emmanuel 15. 

 

The Adventure Begins

Jonathan and Phyllis Hodges have been married for twelve years and they have eight children; Emmanuel 15, Shelby 12, Savannah 11, Eliana nine, Even-Ezer six, Korban four, Aviva two, and Adalee one. Jonathan grew up in Katy and originally wanted two children just like his family had growing up but  has found having a large family to be a great learning experience. “Every day is an adventure,” says Jonathan. Phyllis’ childhood was different as she grew up with four sisters and they traveled all over with their military family.

 

One Size Does Not Fit All

The Hodges manage their large family life by taking things one day at a time. No matter how hectic life gets they focus on loving their children and their unique personalities. “We have found that there is no one size fits all approach to raising kids,” explains Jonathan. “What works for one doesn’t work for another and that does make for some interesting dynamics especially with a large family!”

 

Family Meetings

“As the family grows and needs change, we adapt. Our family meetings are a constant in our lives where we discuss important topics and events as well as give our children a safe space to voice their opinions,” says Jonathan. “ At the core of it all is a deep love for our family with some fun sprinkled in.”

 

“My advice for any mom is to breathe,” says Phyllis. “Don’t allow yourself to believe you are failing because of what you think you should be doing. You are enough!”

 

The Holleman Family

The Hollemans', Ty 10, Ashlyn 16, Kohen 4, Joshua, Marie, Kaison 5, Jayden 14, and Rylan 11

 

Fire Fighter Family

Marie and Joshua Holleman met in college. They moved to Katy when Joshua got a job as a Houston Fire Fighter. While he would have been fine with a smaller family Marie wanted a big family since she came from a family of eight kids. “The hustle and bustle of it all feels normal to me,” says Marie.  The Holleman’s have six children; one girl sixteen and five boys fourteen, eleven, ten, five and four.

 

Let it Go

“In order to manage it all we let a lot of higher expectations go. Things that once mattered don’t matter anymore,” says Marie. “Luckily each of our kids have found something that they love but it isn’t all sports. So we aren’t running around like crazy.” Marie is a stay-at-home mom with a photography business so that also helps with maintaining a schedule.

 

You Are What Your Child Needs

“My advice is to not play the “good enough” game. Every mom is doing her best. You have exactly what your kids need,” says Marie. “Motherhood isn’t glamorous. No one is waiting to tell you you’re the best. It’s a constant balancing act, but connecting with your kids and listening to your heart will lead you to doing your best.”

The Strong Family

 

 

The Strong Family: Cooper 7, and Cole 13, Tiffany , Camdyn 6, Carson 10, Carrigan 3, and Paul 

 

A Unique Blend Makes This Family

The Strong family has a unique situation. Paul and Tiffany both wanted kids when they got married but Tiffany felt strongly about having a large family. First they had two sons; Cole 13 and Carson 10. Then they decided to adopt but before that worked out Tiffany found out she was pregnant again, with a son Cooper seven. While still hoping to adopt the Strong’s opened their home to foster kids. They had many kids come in and out of their home but when they med Camdyn, they knew she was the one. She was 21 months old when they met her and had been abused so badly that she nearly died. When they had had Camdyn for six months they learned that her mother was pregnant again and that brought them Carrigan. The process took around two years and was very exhausting but worth it.

 

Organization is Key to this Working Mom

“I’m a highly organized person,” explains Tiffany. “I have to be when juggling a full-time job and five kids and all that comes with that.” Tiffany advice's moms to not put too much pressure on them to be the perfect mom. “That is one thing that I had to learn. I grew up with a very involved mom. She gave me a basket of goodies at every holiday. She made my costumes. She decorated my room and even cleaned it for me. I have learned that she only had two kids that were seven years apart. I had to learn to let go and enjoy life. My kids won’t remember the dirty dishes in the sink but they will remember them reading a book to them.”

The Mills Family

 

The Mills, Joshua 16, Abigail 13, Ryan 15, Carrie, Samuel 15, Hannah 10, and Rick 47

 

Four Kids Under Three, but They Weren't Done

"Dressing up as a mom almost every year when I was younger for Halloween I assumed I would have a family one day," said Carrie Mills. "God gave life and gifts to us that we did not anticipate, plan or even imagine and prepared for, but with His grace we press on to raise Athletic, energetic, polite, respectful Christ followers." Yet when Carrie married Rick neither of them would have ever thought they'd end up having five kids. Carrie and Rick got married in 2001 and had their first son, Joshua in 2002. Six months later she found out she was expecting twin boys! Two years after that they had their first girl. That put them having four kids under three! Three years later the Mills family was complete with the birth of their fifth child, another girl.

 

"Having a family of five children sixteen to ten, can be, and is expensive, busy, and hard work. It is also full of love, energy and happiness. Organized chaos is the key", explains Carrie. "Keeping the communication always open to everyone even to the youngest. That being said my boys just got cell phones in high school so they have a calendar of events. I have a calendar on phone and in kitchen and the girls room."

 

Accept Help

Another important key to help Carrie manage the house is always accept help. "Allocate daily tasks to all members of the family," says Carrie. Maintaining a budget with a large family is very important. "This helps manage the chaos so we can enjoy or time and not stress so much on the "business" of life. I have learned to pick and choose what we can and can't do. Now that four of them are in school, I have to coordinate their seasonal sports."

 

Patience is also important. "Which I am still learning. WE are a Team!" says Carrie. Along with this it's important to know when to say no. You can't do it all so learn to pick your battles. "And don't forget to laugh, laugh, laugh! It will all be fine!"

The Martin Family

 

The Martins: Jordan, Crystal , Sierra 20, Addison 11, Kaiden 16, and Jordynn 5.

 

Small to Large Family

Crystal Martin never saw herself as being a mom to a large family. “I wanted one or two kids and being a single parent for a few years didn’t help me change my mind until I met my husband,” says Crystal. “He was from a large family and the stories and memories he told were absolutely amazing.” The Martin family consists of a twenty, fifteen, eleven and five year old.

 

 

Meal Prep Together as a Family

The Martin’s thrive on routine. “I meal prep on Sundays and involve the entire family. We have different schedules but we make it a priority to spend Sunday together along with having Sunday dinner with my in-laws,” says Crystal. She finds strength in her husband. “He is the reason I’m able to have a fitness business and be a very active mother and wife. He is my backbone.”

 

“Don’t ever think twice about doing something for yourself,” says Crystal. “You deserve to have time to do something you love. Workout, girls night, date night, shopping, etc. It will create a happy you which will create a happy home.

The Vyvial Family

The Vyvial's, Elgin 2, Adam, Tess 4, Nancy 6, Caroline, and Pearl 3 months.

 

A Baby Every Two Years

Caroline and Adam first met in Katy during high school at church, but they really didn't talk then. It wasn't until after college when they ran into each other at a concert that their story truly started. "Both of us came from very close knit families and the huge importance of family is something that we shared," says Caroline. "Two years after being married we had our first daughter and after that we pretty much had a baby every two years, she laughs. We now have 3 girls and 1 boy and love this crazy life."

 

Lots of Laughter

How do they manage it all? "Teamwork and lots of laughter," says Caroline. "Adam is my true partner in this and really helps carry the load. He helps with everything from carpools to baths and bedtime and everything in between. We also have quite a system down in our house.  Every Sunday I meal plan as well as look at ahead at the calendar to organize what we have going on that week."

 

Caroline advises fellow Katy moms to not be shy in seeking help. "In addition to the help of grandparents, I have a few close mom friends who I can truly rely on for help when I need it and that is gold!"

More Big Katy Families

 

The Coronis Family

The McCaffrey Family

The Hartt Family 

 The Wentland Family

The Larch Family

 The Sheppard Family

The Haynes Family

The Morris Family

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