Did you pack the cooler?

We know a wonderful Cape Cod family who have had more than 100 children. Most of them are grown now but even though they're edging up on 60, Bill and Marilyn still have the requisite 6 or 7 kids in their house.

As you can probably guess, Marilyn and Bill do foster care, at least some. They prefer to do guardianships and are on a first name basis with the judge who does adoptions. Last year , after three years of planning, they took more than 30 of those (mostly adult) children on a cruise. Bill earns a good income, he's our dentist, but you don't take 30 people on a cruise if you let money, as they used to say, "burn a hole in your pocket."

All the kids are involved in after-school activities and the family goes camping every summer. There are also no small number of appointments, school conferences and shopping trips. They are well known at BJ's, a trip they make monthly. The family travels in a full-size van.

When my sons were young and I didn't know what to do, I called Marilyn. Once you've raised 70 or 80 kids there isn't much you haven't figured out. I also try to notice what she does.

There is always a cooler (and you can be sure it isn't a small one) in the van. 100% of the time, Marilyn carries pre-packaged snacks -- juice boxes, peanut butter crackers, trail mix, etc. She doesn't have to think about it when she's getting six kids out the door because filling the cooler is a regular part of the routine.

It's not only less expensive than fast food. It's faster and of course, cheaper.

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