Primarily written by Adrienne, a homeschooling mother of seven, ages 10 and under. She chronicles life, laughs, struggles, and lessons learned as she raises a larger-than-most sized family and tries to figure out what she's doing day by day.

With occasional posts, Alexandra, Adrienne's older sister, writes of her ranch life in Nevada and raising four sons, ages 5 and under. Life is never dull and her boys have given her some pretty awesome stories to tell.

Stick around awhile, and you're sure to laugh, nod, smile, be encouraged, and see what life is like with a big (little) family.


Today’s numbers:

Ruby weighed 30 lbs.

Charlotte weighed 21 lbs.

Pierce weighed 14 lbs. 12 oz.

My back disagrees. Charlie and Pierce weigh at least 20 lbs. more. Each.


We’ve talked about my girls’ penchant for getting sick in the car before. Here. And here. And here. It is, unfortunately, one well-discussed topic. Thank you, Charlie, for bringing back what was becoming a distant memory. Ruby’s getting better at asking for a window to be opened, Eden’s good, and we haven’t had a mess in the car in a good six months.

No longer. Twice this week, three days apart, Charlie’s been dead on with her aim for her car seat. I’m getting good at taking it apart and putting it back together. Gingerly, so as to avoid the cream of wheat.

Cream of wheat makes one very big mess.

I’m getting better at packing an extra outfit for her.

Out of all the things they could have picked for genetics compliments of Blaine, this was not my first choice.


Just once, I’d like to have everything crossed off my to-do list.

Before breakfast, I bathed three babies, given two hair cuts, stripped two beds, cleaned up one major diaper blow out, cursed paper diapers for their inability to contain such messes, washed two loads of laundry and swept four floors.

Now, to add to my list, it is nearly 3 pm and I’ve washed five loads of laundry and researched hard water and diaper rashes so that I can go back to my beloved cloth diapers that contain the above mentioned blow outs. I’ve washed three antique cream cans and dreamed of where to put them, nursed a baby (I don’t know how many times), filled a woodstove, planned supper (but not made it), put (clean) couch covers back on the couch, folded two of the five laundry loads, and sent five kids out the door to enjoy the day.

Whew. I feel better now. Some days, when it feels like I’m spinning my wheels and not accomplishing what I’d like to, writing down what I have done makes it (somewhat) better. I’d planned to just take one day of school off for Christmas. But vacation right now sounds like a much better plan.

I’d planned to sew today. My machine is still packed away. But the laundry room floor is emerging once again. The Christmas tree is in the goat pen and quickly disappearing, Christmas gifts have homes and inviting a friend in to sit and visit is no longer a gross proposition. (See clean couch mention above.) Next up: swapping out Pierce’s clothes for the 6-9 month size. Baby’s a moose.


Merry Christmas!

The girls have had a great time lately putting music on, tutu’s on, and dancing their little legs away. They put a CD in the DVD player today, tried to turn the TV on, and the universal remote wouldn’t work. Several tries to reprogram it later, Liberty asked if maybe the TV was tired from being on yesterday. That must be it. We got it to work.

Grandma left today. Man, was it nice to have her here. An extra pair of arms that Charlotte loves made church so much easier. Blaine’s an elder in our church and often called away from us for various reasons – no help with the kids is often the norm for me. Charlotte won’t go to strangers willingly (or quietly) and neither will Pierce. Cooking, cleaning… help was awesome! We had so much fun together. At least I had fun!

Favorite gifts in our house:

Ruby loves her bubble gum and tulle skirt.

Sterling loves the remote control helicopter best.

Eden loves the embroidery paraphernalia (and promise of lessons).

Liberty loved her nail kit (clippers, fingernail file, etc.) best.

Play Doh and a zoo pass were also big hits. It’s amazing to me how the simplest gifts are their favorites – except for the helicopter. Sterling is convinced he’ll be a helicopter pilot when he grows up and Grandpa had fun encouraging the dream. Smile 

Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels, and Bartholomew’s Passage are our favorite advent books. Highly recommended!

Merry Christmas!


My week in review.

The other day, I sighed at finding yet another mess made by the very mobile Charlotte. Liberty and Eden both stopped and stared at me.

“That’s the noise you made when you were having Pierce,” Liberty said.

“That’s what I was thinking!” Eden agreed.

Perfect. Just what I wanted them to remember. I really would love to have grandkids someday!

I teach manners class for the 2, 3, and 4 year olds at our homeschool co-op. When I was going through the lesson on please and thank you, the lesson referred to them as magic words. I asked the 4 year old class if they knew any magic words, and I got more than I bargained for. One little boy, in a conspiratorial tone, whispered, “Disappear.”

Yes, I guess that would be magic!

We went ice skating with Blaine’s department at work for his Christmas party. The kids had never been. Liberty was all over the ice, Eden fell in the first few minutes and gave herself a black eye and broke her glasses, (Yes, we bought the insurance on them!) then recovered and had a blast. Sterling held my or Blaine’s hand with a death grip but loved it, and Ruby was Ruby. She tore up that skating rink with the best of them. No fear, lots of tumbles, but she informed me it didn’t matter. Since the back of her jeans were slightly frayed at the bottom, she told me they are working jeans and she didn’t care if they got dirty and wet on the ice. Charlotte wanted desperately to have her chance on the ice… but I thought walking would be a good accomplishment to master before we stuck metal blades on her pudgy feet. Having spent many, many hours on the frozen slough at my grandparents’ as a kid, it was a lot of fun to skate again! Turns out, it is rather like riding a bike. You don’t forget. But you may pay for it, as your muscles do forget…

We started Christmas vacation from school this week. Ah, the reprieve is wonderful. Last night I was up until midnight working on my sewing machine, making gifts. Fun stuff. Ruby and Charlotte will have doll slings matching the one I use for Pierce, and Charlotte has a doll blanket and a flannel pillow with her name embroidered on it. Still brainstorming what else I can make.


Baby baby!

Charlotte and Pierce 3

Each of our kids, around 6 weeks old or so, have a photo shoot with Daddy. This time, there were two babies. So sweet.

Pierce: 9 6/7 weeks

Tiny little man
(with more than one chin)
tolerated his very first haircut today.
And then
he took a nap.


Baby hairs…

Frizzy baby hair, complete with bald spots, drives me crazy. Four girls later, I’ve smoothed and sprayed and tolerated – and gone with a hat.

Sterling got a buzz cut when he was 2 weeks old. I finally did not have to leave it alone, let it grow, wait for it to fill in.

Pierce is 9 weeks old. Still, he has his fly-aways. He has a bald spot. The back curls over his collar.

Why can’t I bring myself to cut it?

Next post: Pierce’s haircut. Just as soon as I get the nerve.


Deep thoughts. Confused, but deep.

Ruby asked this morning if the thief on the cross next to Jesus that loved Him went to South Dakota.

Grandpa and Grandma’s ranks right up there with Heaven in Ruby’s world, I guess.


One big day.

This little man


had a big day.



This little girl



decided she needed a bit limelight on herself


and took some very calculated first steps today.


Fun day!



I so knew better.

Tomorrow we’re having a Christmas Ladies Tea at church. I’m “hosting” a table and am responsible for setting the table I host. It’s been a fun reason to dig out the silver tea set and china Blaine bought me from his grandmother’s estate when we were first married. We’ve been shining silver and washing china all morning.

I also need a table cloth. Having not used one for several years, (Since kids got old enough to make a giant mess. So not worth it.) I had to dig a bit to find one. I found a lovely red one, threw it in the laundry with my white napkins and a few clothes that are rotating through every load, trying to get stains out, told Eden to never wash whites with reds, and proceeded to do it anyway.

Shouldn’t have. My pink napkins are now soaking in bleach, hoping they return to their previous color. Sterling is very not impressed with his pink shirt and Ruby asked that her newly pinked shirt remain out of the bleach. She likes it pink. My white ring sling that I threw in there so I wouldn’t have to put Pierce in my pink one anymore? So much for that idea. Now I have two pink slings.

I so knew better.

P.s. Shout’s color catcher sheets that they sent me to sample? I haven’t found it yet, but I’m sure it’s pink too. Not impressed with it’s catching capabilities though. Or maybe I just overkilled with it. Either way – not impressed. I also poured vinegar in the load. I’d heard that keeps colors from running. I beg to differ. It did no such thing.

Conversations with Sterling

“Mom, Pierce isn’t really asleep.”

“He sure looks like he’s sleeping.”

“Nope. He’s just faking it.”

Really. I didn’t know.


Christmas tree, Charlie Brown style.

Last year, I wrote this post about our back pasture Christmas tree. (Click on "This Post".)

Yesterday, we headed up the hill to see if we could find another one. Turns out, the trees grew substantially this year. It’s still very Charlie Brown, but this year’s tree is quite a bit fuller than last year.
We had Blaine along this year, and last year it was Charlotte in the sling. Pierce took her place in the sling this year. Charlotte was pretty happy to have her Daddy. We even found an antler in the grass up there.
Blaine had grander ideas of what “chopping” means. My handsaw and I were out of business.
The top is too soft to hold up the star, and the ornaments hang more from the lights than the branches, but oh, we had fun. And this one, unlike last year, does not smell like a cat used it as a litter box. Merry Christmas!


Caution: Flying socks (and other dirty laundry). Literally.

We bought an old farmhouse. It continues to surprise us.*

Turns out, the laundry room floor, when removed, sits up 8 inches off a slab foundation. Long story short (and eliminating a few ((wet)) details) the floor is now removed and it’s back to the slab.

An 8 inch step-down from my kitchen into the laundry room now exists. Perfect.

Now, if I could just remember that when I’m carrying a basket of laundry. I’m going to pad the far wall pretty soon. At least then I’d have a softer landing.


*Let me (try to) keep my optimism, please.

A few more adjectives, if you please.

About two months ago, Blaine picked up a new broom for me to use in the house. With all hard floors, brooms see a lot of use – and abuse – around here. Today, that broom has more bristles pointing anywhere but down. Unimpressed, I ordered a new broom. I went for Rubbermaid, since I’ve had good success with their other products. When I couldn’t find one in the stores, I ordered one online. It was labeled “lobby broom”. That was all the description Ace had on it. Fine. Industrial strength, perhaps?

When I got the invoice in the email, I worried just a bit. 36 inch lobby broom. Just what exactly is 36 inches?

And then it came. All 36 inches of it. I had ordered a broom the height of my three year old.

On the bright side, my kids have never been so excited to clean the floors for me before.


What a way to start the day.

Ruby climbed into bed next to me this morning. I was feeding Pierce and she was talking on and on about how she’d learned at co-op that “thumbs up” means yes and “thumbs down” means no. She turned away for a second and I stole her “birdy pillow” (a pillow covered in birds I made her for her birthday. It came with her into my bed.). She looked up, saw what I’d done, then silently gave me a famous Ruby frowny face and thrust her fist up in a vigorous “thumbs down”. Oh my, I laughed. What a joy this baby girl is, in all her fiery glory.


Pierce: 2 months.

I dropped the ball on getting photos of Pierce today. I’ll delete that line and add photos if I get my act together soon. He’s two months old today and we visited the midwife for one last checkup, so he got weighed and measured. Baby’s big! He weighed 13 lbs. and was 26 inches long. That would be why I had to get out 3-6 month clothes for him. He’s been much happier than he has been up to this point, but he has definite ideas about where he should sleep – and it’s not in his bed. He’s gone through three sets of batteries in his short little life and is insistent it’s the swing or Momma’s arms.

Baby’s loved. Baby’s growing. Life is good.


Thanksgiving trip, chaos style.

Monday morning it was decided that the kids and I were heading home to South Dakota for the week. We left at 1:00 pm Monday. It is not easy to pack for seven spur-of-the-moment in 5 hours. The only things I forgot: my pillow and my camera. But I didn’t forget any children!

We came home Monday this week. Four hours from home, we hit a jagged rock in the middle of I-29 and put a gash in the sidewall of a tire. Perfect. I’ll change it myself instead of waiting for AAA. Ever so thankful the tire is under the van and I don’t have to unpack my over-full trunk on the side of the interstate. Can’t get the tire off the underside of the van. Fine. Call AAA. Got “flagged” as urgent when the lady found out I had kids in the car. She told me they were behaving so well. Wondered how she knew. Decided she didn’t, since one look inside the van said all six kids were climbing over seats of the van having a great time not having to be buckled in for a moment. Sterling and Ruby were using chicken nugget packets from Burger King as hymnals and bulletins and singing the same two lines from Rock of Ages over and over and over and over. It was utter chaos. Worshipful chaos, I suppose, but chaos.

Big burly tow truck driver had to use a sledge hammer to get the tire off. Feeling less-bad that I couldn’t get the tire off. Driver says I need a new tire, can’t drive home on the donut. Ok… and I was cranky at the kids if they took too long at a stop to go to the bathroom. So much for our ten-hour drive home! Headed to Wal-Mart for a new tire. Waited for just shy of two hours, found out Blaine had bought the road hazard insurance when he bought the tires (my hero!) and replacement was free. Walked out of Wal-Mart, having wandered for two hours with six kids, with only a $.50 Frisbee. Giggled when I got to the car and remembered I’d forgotten to warn the tire guy that we’d left the dog in the van. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall right when she’d appeared. (I had tied her to the backseat of the van. Big mean six pound Yorkie-Poo Brady can’t do too much damage, but still. It could have been funny.)

So, we’re home. One soccer-ball sized rock caused a four hour delay, and I learned something.

I need to practice my swerving skills.


A new favorite thing:

Homemade Hazelnut Lattes.

I'm at my parents for the week in South Dakota. Mom really likes hazelnut lattes. We decided to see if we could make a homemade version. What we came up with:

Brew 1/4 cup strong coffee. Pour into a coffee cup.
Heat 3/4 cup whole milk but don't scald.
Put milk, 2 tsp. sugar, 1/8 cup hazelnut coffee syrup and 1/4 tsp. vanilla in the blender. Blend about a minute, until milk is frothy. Pour into cup with coffee. Play with the foam at the end and see if you can make the fancy designs the coffee shops make. So good!


Realization of the day:

Pierce will take a nap in the car seat, sitting in the living room. A really good nap.

He slept for two hours. I woke him up, fed him, put him back in it, and we’re almost another hour later. It’s amazing. It’s the longest he’s gone without crying while not in my arms in weeks.

Dear boy, my sewing project pile thanks you.

I made him a new pouch sling while he slept. The pouch sling I bought material for in January – for Charlotte. Didn’t make it when I found out days later I was pregnant with Pierce. Babywearing and pregnancy just do not go well together in my world.

Next up: curtains. Sweet!


Oxygen deprivation and other short musings.

Yesterday, in the middle of changing Charlie’s diaper, Pierce started crying. That’s the way it goes most of the time these days. Ruby volunteered to cheer Pierce, and the next thing I hear is his garbled, muffled cry. I hollered not to cover the baby’s mouth, plopped Charlotte onto the floor and ran for the (other) baby. What I found: Ruby, shirt pulled up to her chin, chest to face with Pierce. She figured it works to calm him when I do it, so why couldn’t she? Pierce wasn’t impressed. I think it was the lack of oxygen provided.

Today, I put Charlotte down for a nap before lunch. It’s now 1:43 pm and she’s entering her third hour of nap – without lunch. I have no good solutions.

Liberty got me a big jar candle. We lit it yesterday, and she watched with fascination as the wax melted. When she asked what the wax puddle was, I gave her the rundown on how candles work. But when I told her we needed to blow it out, she was disappointed. I told her we’d relight it today. “They’re reusable?!” Somewhere, as the cost of things went up, the number of children we have went up, and my budget got tighter, we quit buying all things unnecessary. Candles were one of those things. And now I have an eight year old that has no idea how candles work! Wow.

Pierce is in 3-6 month clothes. He’ll be 7 weeks old tomorrow.

Sterling is starting kindergarten math. The preschool stuff just isn’t cutting it, he wants to learn to read. So we’re doing math. Makes sense, right? (Or maybe it’s be avoiding the inevitable fights that learning to read and write will cause with Sterling. Because he already can count to 130 and knows the days of the week. Let’s build on that.) Oh, and he wants to learn to tie his shoes. It feels like a lifetime ago that I taught Eden that. Where do the years go?


Plan: failed.

Charlotte needs a nap every day. Right around 11:00 am, she gets crabby. We’re always in the dilemma: lunch first or nap first? When she naps for 3-4 hours, that’s a really late lunch if we wait.

Today, I aimed for an early lunch.


Fail. But she did finish her lunch first!




Inexplicable hunger pangs…

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. We had a great time. Henry the hippo put on a show for us, the warthog and zebras and cougar came right up to the fence, and the giraffes ran across their pen – all so fun to see. The lions were up and active, the mountain lions looked like they were waiting for supper – and we would suffice just fine, were they given half a chance. Someone even left a bunch of goat feed for the kids to feed at the petting zoo. (Because I refuse to pay $.50 to hand-feed someone else’s goats. And the kids looked at me like I was nuts when I suggested they simply head to our barn, hand-feed our goats. It hadn’t occurred to them.) Charlotte is getting old enough to enjoy herself there too. Pierce did great. But all afternoon I kept wondering why I was so hungry.

Found my lunch on the counter when we got home. Cooked. Untouched. Cold.

Sidetracked, ya think?


Think the animals will mind?

We’re in the thick of colds around here, starting the uphill climb – I think. Then Sterling lost his water yesterday. (In the kitchen, in the moments following Ruby losing something else entirely, also in the kitchen, but that, my friends, is a story best stopped there.) So we’re skipping co-op today. Something about that lesson I recently taught in manners class about keeping sneezes covered – it seemed like I ought not be the one spreading germs. But do you think the animals would mind? It’s 67 degrees, no one has lost anything today, the tissue consumption has dropped dramatically, and we’re all antsy to get back to life.

We’re going to the zoo.

Shoot the messenger.

Pierce has been increasingly fussy for weeks now. The swing is his happy place, if he isn’t eating. I cut out onions. No improvement. Garlic. Nothing. Then, my sister suggested it was the coffee I’m drinking that’s been bothering him.

Please, oh please, don’t mess with my coffee.

For three days now, I’ve left the coffee alone. The headache – oh, the headache. And I took a nap for the first time since Pierce was born. The kids would tell you how pleasant – or not – that I’ve been.

But Pierce just hung out last night, slept in my arms all evening. No crying. No fussing.

I’m not sure I like my sister very much right now. Shoot the messenger.



I took 20 shots of the kids together like this yesterday.


In 9 of them, Sterling did this:IMG_3020

Dude! If I hadn’t gotten this one, without the shrugFamily 11

he’d have been in trouble. Or I’d have kept it for that so-fun wedding slide show he’ll have 20 or so years from now. I think I should start a file of those for each kid. You know, blackmail so it’ll be easier later.


Name that photo.


Getting six kids to all look in the same direction can be difficult.


I’m going to miss this.

I decided to can the tomatoes littering my kitchen yesterday. Before they froze, buckets and bowls were filled with green and half ripe tomatoes. Making green tomato salsa with the green ones, we were left with those that were ripening. I’d never made spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes before, but in the end, we have a whopping five quarts of spaghetti sauce canned. Not nearly enough to last a year, a ton of work for five quarts of sauce – but not a bad experience. According to me. Ask Liberty, you’ll get another story. She was a little disturbed by textures of peeling tomatoes…
As I was tripping over plastic stools strewn around my kitchen for short little legs to get a boost, I grumbled how I wouldn’t miss the day that we didn’t need those stools anymore.
And then it hit me. I would miss it. Because no stools means no toddlers and while the face plants those stools have caused me – and there have been many – haven’t been pleasant at the time, I know there will come a day that I miss these moments. When babies are crying all at the same time, a cup of vegetable oil gets spilled on the tile floor, the toilet overflows from too much t.p., when laundry gets deposited in the laundry room right after the last load heads to the dryer, when eggs get dropped on the kitchen floor – those are the moments that make life right now feel absolutely out of control. But today, I’m reminding myself that these are the best days of my life. I’m going to miss this when they're grown.


Family Photos: Outtakes


Pierce did not appreciate his introduction to grass.


Charlotte: she’ll cry if she wants to.


If Ruby can almost pull off sultry at the age of three, what’s next?


Sterling’s fake frowny face. As opposed to his real frowny face. It’s much, much crabbier.


The worst one I could find of Eden. She’s getting pretty good at this pictures business.


Fun, but Liberty’s resembling an opossum these days…


Ramblings of a tired mind.

In the last eight years since I became a mother, I’ve learned just a few hopefully a lot of things. I’ve relaxed about a few things, come to conclusions about a few things, and ran into lots of brick walls in my venture towards what really is (and isn’t) important. In no particular order, a few things:

Shoes can be mismatches if you like. You can even wear them on the wrong feet. Knock yourself out. If we’re headed to the store, I might try to find two that match. Or not. Unless Daddy’s taking you. Mismatches cannot happen if Daddy’s around. He’s not too tired to care yet. Give it time.

Outfits worn at home do not have to match. If we’re headed out, I reserve the right to change any article of clothing on any of my children.

Hair must be combed. Every day. This is not an option. Neither are teeth; they must be brushed.

Princess dress up shoes, affectionately called “clip clop shoes” in Ruby’s world, can also be worn to the store.

If clip clop shoes are worn, bring extra shoes for Ruby. She, like most girls I know, can only tolerate heels for so many miles. If you forget the comfy shoes for her for when blisters begin to form, you will be carrying her.

Muttering at me in an unclear and quiet voice when I ask a question is disrespect. I will tolerate it no more.

Putting on my earrings constitutes dressing up. My kids always know we’re headed somewhere on the days I put earrings in.

Pajamas are completely acceptable anywhere – if you’re under the age of one. Otherwise, we dress to shoes. And yet, my kids giggle when I don’t get Pierce dressed all day.

Children get less work from Momma on teaching them colors, numbers, letters, and the like the more children I have. Yet my younger children know far more than my older ones did at their ages. Turns out, the work the older ones require rubs off on the youngers ones. Thus, the reason my three and four year olds are driving me nuts with the states and capitals song.

The wood trim in my house needs to be painted a dark color. No matter how often I wash it, the area four feet tall and lower is always dirty. Always. I’m not convinced I want dark colored trim. And yet…

I’ve had the same ficus tree since I was in college. It’s nearly as tall as me. It’s moved ten times. I thought it was just because I was really good at growing houseplants. Turns out, all the dead plants I’ve killed through the years are mocking me. I just read ficus trees are  really hard to kill. Ruined my pride.

Charlotte likes to eat the dirt out of the ficus tree. She shakes her head at herself as she does it. Does that constitute as self-discipline?

My writing typically gets funnier as I get more tired. I should be pretty well on my way to hilarious from where I sit.

I forgot Pierce the other day. A friend held him for me, and I was ready to go on my merry way, forgetting I have an infant. Just when I think I’ve got it together, that I really can do this, something like that happens. Turns out, pride cometh. And falls cometh. Feeling a bruised tush right about now. And always.

Speaking of Pierce, he weighed 11 lbs. 4 oz. today. At one month old, baby’s grown. So glad that pregnancy wasn’t 45 weeks long. Baby’s looking round.

The van: the battery was dead! Crazy. Still don’t know why, since it’s run well ever since Blaine jumped it with the pickup. Counting blessings upon blessings with that one.


Well, then. The timing of that could definitely have been worse.

Monday, I got my van inspected and relicensed for another year. Friday, I went to take the kids to the zoo and my van won’t start.

Bummer. Who knows what that means. (Hopefully dear husband Blaine does... and it’s not expensive.) But really, the timing of this is interesting at best. We weren’t headed anywhere terribly important. And we aren’t down to the wire, inspection due, van not starting.

I’ll count my blessings. The kids really enjoyed their picnic on our front sidewalk. The promise of a walk this afternoon alleviated the disappointment of the loss of an afternoon with friends at the zoo. Breaking down on the side of the interstate (Driving older vehicles… it’s not happened yet, but it’s bound to.) with six kids in the car is on my list of what constitutes as a very bad day. The driveway was a very good place to be when breaking down occurs.

But that code that my Service Engine Soon light is flashing -if it knows what’s wrong, it could just self correct as well. Wouldn’t that be great? Yeah, I know. Wishful thinking.


We’ve fallen apart.

After a new baby is born around here, for a little while, everyone is enamored with the baby and jealousy waits. And then, it all falls apart for a little while.

We’ve fallen apart.

Charlotte doesn’t want Momma to hold the baby, Ruby’s the most obstinate three year old I’ve met, and tears abound from the older three. Life’s so interesting right now. You just never know if there’s going to be a meltdown when you say it’s time for supper, or if a shirt won’t stay tucked in, chores need to be done, or if it’s time to change a diaper. Or, or, or…

Hold on. It’s a bumpy ride and Momma’s low on sleep. Aren’t you glad you don’t live in this house right now?

So glad that’s over!

Yesterday, I went to the DMV. And it was fastest, easiest stop of my day. How backward is that? After a dentist appointment for four kids and waiting in the waiting room with the two babies for two hours, going to get the van inspected, only to find out the inspector went to lunch, going back at the appropriate time and finding out he still wasn’t back from lunch, then finally waiting for the inspection… it was a very long day. I’m not sure if it’s really the sheer number of us or the blond hair/blue eyes the majority of my children sport, but next time we head to the store, I’m counting the comments. We were a good 3 dozen or more in yesterday. I got called crazy, a saint, and numerous other (mostly pleasant) comments in our ventures. Even Ruby finally asked why everyone kept talking to us. I’ve (quite briefly) considered sewing Amish cape dresses for the girls and I and putting the boys in pants with suspenders… everyone seems to leave them alone. But when I show up for vehicle inspection and then the DMV, my disguise might be blown…

Ah, the DMV. While our DMV does not have the one in western SD beat for courtesy and efficiency, it was a close second. We were in (with all the necessary papers – first try!) and out with stickers for another year in hand in about 5 minutes. After I had to answer the “Are they all yours?” question and give names and ages. Followed by an insanity test to be sure I really should be driving… it was inconclusive. Winking smile


Pierce: 3 weeks.

The littlest man around here


is three weeks old today.


(And drooling milk on his vest.)


He’s a super focused sleeper,


not so sure he likes his picture taken (or maybe it’s just my flash),


and his pre-sneeze face could have so many different funny captions.


Baby’s growing.



Life around here is starting to settle into a new normal. Sleep is more plentiful than it has been with most of my others as newborns – something I’m so thankful for. I’d forgotten how hard it is to get anything done with a newborn – and how often I am forced to sit down and feed the baby. My very clean house from my endeavors during pregnancy is slowly falling apart – or not so slowly. Laundry is full steam ahead at a whopping 17 loads so far this week – but it’s caught up. Diapers account for three of those loads, and my checking account is thankful that those diapers we went through were cloth and didn’t require immediate replacement. Wow. I haven’t had two in diapers at the same time since Sterling and Ruby.

Charlotte loves Pierce, but she’s vigorous in her affection. She tried to eat his ear yesterday. I caught her before she chomped down with her 8-plus-an-emerging-molar teeth. He wouldn’t have appreciated her affection right then, I’m thinking. She’s been in the shower more mornings this week than not and seems to be thoroughly enjoying her “momma time” without any others around – unless Pierce sleeping on the bathroom rug counts. It’s the only way I’m getting a shower these days.

Sterling is in love. He’s plotting and planning for the things he’ll teach Pierce – and the ages he’ll need to be when each thing can be taught. The latest plan: teaching Pierce to pee outside, as soon as he can walk. Oh, joy. It’s a good thing we live in the country.

Charlotte is crawling well these days and cruising along furniture. It’ll be a great day when she learns to walk. Carrying two babies wears me out.

Pierce does not like sudden loud noises. He didn’t when I was pregnant with him either. He jumps and startles and more often than not, he cries. There are a lot of sudden loud noises in this house. You would think he’d had something/someone land on him from his reaction – but I’m quite certain nothing (yet) has flown in his direction to invoke such a reaction. It’s a preemptive reaction, knowing what life is like around here, I’m thinking.

Ruby thinks she’s the only one who can hear Pierce crying. I get a frantic “Momma! The new baby is crying!” anytime he fusses. She loves him. She cannot, however, remember than the “new baby” has a known gender and name these days.

We are done with meals from friends in church, I think. Two weeks off from cooking was wonderful – and it limited grocery shopping needs as well. It was almost fun to get back to planning/cooking after the break. Our church blessed us so much in that way. Now, to start writing thank-you cards…


Errr… was that a compliment?

“Your belly looks squished, Momma.”

“Is it so much smaller?”

“Yep. Lots.”

I think Sterling was trying to compliment my recent rapid weight loss. I’m taking it as such, anyhow.

Potatoes for lunch–or peels?

I set my bigger girls to peeling 20 potatoes for a dish for potluck tomorrow. Half an hour later, one dear daughter asked the question of the day.

“Momma, do you need the peelings, or the potatoes?”

Maybe I need to have them peel potatoes more often. Around here, skin stays on more often than not. Maybe that’s it. Just when I think we’re getting somewhere in this ‘How to Run a Household’ instruction, a doozy like that comes out.

Yesterday, I washed the sheets on my bed. It had been far, far too long. Today, I’m washing our sheets again.
Not cool, Pierce. Not cool. You could have at least waited a week to do that.

*Edited. For those grammar geeks...


Pierce: 12 days old.

Just in case anyone was wondering, Ruby has gotten over the arrival of Pierce instead of Quincy.


She’s just going to dress up Pierce instead.


He’s slightly skeptical though.


Really, can you blame him?

F for failure.

I took all of the kids to the grocery store by myself yesterday. We went to a small-town small store. How hard could this be?

Setting myself up for failure, I know.

Right about the time I thought I was doing all right, I heard a voice. Loud and getting louder, Ruby was in a panic. Two aisles over. Perfect. I’d lost a kid and didn’t even know she was missing.

I thought maybe it would cure her of her new habit of wandering off. It didn’t. But at least it cured me of not watching her every second. We didn’t get very many groceries after that.


The joys of the English language. So confusing.

My kids love playing with old gift cards, etc. Sterling has a Subway card – and fond memories of the pepperoni sandwich he ate, purchased with said card. He brought it to me yesterday and asked if we could use it again and go to Subway. I told him we could not; there wasn’t any money on it anymore.

Today he brought me the Subway card. His thumb was holding a penny on the top of it. “Now can we go to Subway? There’s money on the card now.”

Oh, my dear, literal boy.


Lumpy cereal: apology necessary or intentional mis-cooking?

As I’m apologizing to my children for this morning’s lumpy cream of wheat after trying to make it while nursing Pierce and finding the inability to stir and pour at the same time produced some massive lumps, I was met with a strange chorus.

They love the lumps.

Well, then. I did that on purpose, children. Enjoy.


It’s the Baby Bug.

We went to the farm show today. An older gentleman and younger gentleman stood looking at me for several seconds. Pierce was in the sling, I was pushing a stroller with three kids in it, and two more were walking beside it. Blaine had headed off to look at a tool booth.

“Look at that.” – Older gentleman

“Wow. Okay, it’s time to go.” – Younger gentleman

The older gentleman turned to me. “He’s afraid it’s contagious.”


6 days old.



Being a baby


in a busy house


is a lot of work.



Where I come from…

Ruby was waiting for her lunch, playing with her fork.

“Just don’t comb your hair with your fork after you put it in your food,” I told her.

Blaine started laughing. “What some people would assume was a given…”

“Nothing can be assumed with Ruby,” I said.

“The funny part of that statement is that you didn’t tell her not to comb her hair with her fork. Just not to comb her hair with her fork after it was dirty. We’re so civilized.”



Pierce Allan

This little guy:
made this little girl:
IMG_2890 a big sister.
And this big brother:
is the happiest brother in the world.

Introducing Pierce Allan. 9lbs, 0 oz., 22 1/4 inches long, born October 1st, just before 7pm. He beat the midwife here, Daddy caught him, and it was perfect – and perfectly unbelievable. Birth story to follow, posted up with the others on the top right, as soon as I digest it all.

P.s. The older girls are thrilled too. But Ruby’s slightly peeved – but only slightly - she thinks she doesn’t have enough female playmates. Silliness.


Yet to be announced…

I wish I had an exciting “It’s a _____! Named ___________  __________! Weighing ___lbs. and ___oz.. (I can only imagine those will be big numbers. Because while my belly has seen better days, hosted many babies at this point, it’s not usually this large.) If I didn’t still look (and feel, I assure you) this miserable:


I’d have some news for you. But… Baby #6 is now later than all but one of it’s siblings, due 3 days ago and giving me little indication to say when it will decide to grace us with it’s presence.

But I’m told this can’t last forever.

Mr. Pot and Miss Kettle

“Would you stop asking so many questions, Ruby?” says Sterling during her typical Ruby-style the-same-questions-asked-20-different-ways interrogation during lunch today.

Sterling has a similar style.

It’s a pot and kettle situation. You just never realize how annoying you can be… until someone else does it to you. Huh.


Car seat jigsaw puzzle

My minivan seats 8 people. But not 6 car seats. Thankfully, Liberty is, at the ripe old age of eight, old enough to not require one by state law – so that leaves 5 car seats to fit into 6 seats. So yesterday, realizing that this baby will eventually come and should we need to go anywhere shortly after, my body might not like playing the car seat jigsaw game (Because it does now, for sure… if I could just fit between the rows back there!) and Blaine’s skills are lacking in the car seat installation process (and I’m fairly certain it’s a self-decided and self-imposed handicap) we installed another car seat and moved and shoved and at one point I found myself sitting in a car seat, knowing that if my currently oversized body couldn’t get it to fit, it wasn’t going to, no how, no way.

They are all in. In the only way we could get them to fit. No one will be riding on the roof. Eden might have permanently skinned knuckles from reaching in the hole next to her seat to buckle her booster, but she’s agreed to take one for the team. I didn’t know what else to do.

Now, we wait. Because, in Sterling’s words, this baby is taking a looooooonnnnnnggggg time to get borned.



When trying to teach your almost-one-year-old to blow out a flame with a lighter, use the utmost care. When they dive, watch the hair. Singed blond baby hair smells really, really bad.

We’ll try again when she turns two. That was a dismal failure.


Happy birthday, Charlie-girl.

Charlotte is one year old. How crazy is that? The year has flown. She’s been one of my easiest babies – once we got past not nursing (because #6 was on it’s way) and what to do about that. She’s happy, smiling, and always excited to see her daddy. She’s learned, in the last year, to sit up, roll over, sit herself up, do the splits, (Pretty sure this is due to my expanding waistline that she loves to sit on!) do the funniest belly-crawl I’ve seen, and now, just this week, she’s pulling herself up on things to stand up. She loves to eat – dirt included – and hates conflict. I can’t scold another child in her presence or I have to comfort the baby. Tender-hearted baby girl, she’s the most popular one in the house for all the other kids. She has constant entertainment and getting her belly laugh going is everyone’s goal. I’m amazed how she’s just fit into the crew of kids – including taking Liberty “Bitty” as her second momma – a fully acceptable substitute when Momma is busy.

She’s a love. I can’t wait to see who she becomes as she grows. Happy birthday, Charlotte Serenity.


Yes, folks, I’m still here. Still pregnant. Still quite miserable, thank you very much. I’m assured this cannot last much longer. A week seems like an eternity right now, but each day has to be one less before I meet this baby. At least that is what I keep trying to remind myself.

And with that, I’m off to hibernate some more. Because the questions I get from perfect strangers assure me that I’m really as huge as I feel. One lovely little child asked me what the baby is doing. I told her the truth. Baby’s growing. I spared her any of the uncomfortable details of how I know this. She’d be scarred for life and I’m certain her mother would love to be a grandmother some day and wouldn’t thank me for ruining any chance of that.


Nice try.

I’ve started a new thing lately – making oatmeal/cream of wheat and then getting the kids up to breakfast already made. They get up faster than ever before and we’re well on our way, right away. This morning, though…

Ruby’s usually the first one up. She’s usually “helping” me make the oatmeal most mornings. But today, she slept. When I hollered that breakfast was ready, she slept. Only Liberty and Eden came down to eat, and ten minutes later when Ruby woke up to Liberty on her favorite chair (the turn-y chair - thanks Wendell and Bunny!) she was irate. She announced that Liberty would not be getting any oatmeal if she didn’t move… and was informed that the bowl in front of said chair was Liberty’s. That Ruby’s was still in the pan. That she was at Liberty’s mercy if she wanted her cereal dished up… That was a moment.

Ten minutes back in her bed resolved that attitude. Let’s try this again.


Three is a very funny age.

“Ruby! Don’t color on the baby!” – Liberty

“Momma, why do you have boobs?” After explaining about feeding babies and broken record syndrome, compliments to the age of three, had her asking three more times, I turned the question on her.

“Why do you have boobs, Ruby?”

“I don’t yet. I just have freckles.”

“I don’t like the new baby very much. It’s taking a long time to come.” – Sterling

“Ruby, what is that smell I keep smelling on you?”

“My toot.”

(I found out it was my conditioner in her hair that I kept smelling. But it was nice to get a warning about the air condition in her vicinity.)


You’re so… weird.

Monday I did five loads of laundry. That caught me up. When I mentioned this to my sister, mother of three, she commented, “So that means you’re caught up until tomorrow, right?”

Um, yeah. Of course. There’ll be at least two more loads by tomorrow.

I didn’t do those two loads yesterday. Today, I’ve done four loads. I have one left. Apparently that’s not normal. It hadn’t occurred to me. Then, of course, I started thinking. Pretty sure I was more content before I started thinking. Less than 15 laundry loads a week? I cannot imagine.

But then I looked at the baby… Charlotte was laying on the floor. She’d gagged herself with a toy and lost her toast. Everywhere. Pity party over… throw the baby in the tub, and her pj’s in the laundry. And know I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Ok, I could have done without the regurgitated toast. But it comes with the territory.)

Stuff worth losing sleep over. Or not.

When I’m pregnant, I wake up in the middle of the night. A lot. Things that don’t matter and certainly cannot/should not be changed before morning suddenly become front and center in my overactive brain that apparently has nothing bigger to worry about than whether I remembered to get stewed tomatoes at the store or if I mailed something or where on earth one grey croc shoe could have possibly landed. You know, important stuff. Certainly stuff to lose sleep over. For sure.

So that’s why I’m so tired today. Perfect sense. I saved the world – one ridiculous thought at a time – from 12:57 am until 5:23 am. But at 7:26 am, when I needed to be up and going – then I was finally asleep. Perfect.


Quotes from today:

“Oh, Charlie. Oh, Charlie. Oh, man. Charlie!” – Ruby, as she found the puddle Charlotte was making bigger by the millisecond.

“Mom, just pick her up. I need to mop there.” – Ruby, as she gleefully cleaned up the lake Charlotte had made.

“I am going to be sooo handsome! Daddy won’t even know what to say he’s going to like it so much.” – Sterling

“Is one pickle enough or can I have another one?” – Eden (I said no. We were three pickles away from going through an entire jar - in one lunch. Sometimes, I numbers stagger me. And my grocery budget.)

“I would stay inside and take a nap if you would let me.” – Sterling

“You said the baby would be born after my birthday, Momma. I’m three. How come it isn’t borned yet?” (To which I replied, “It will come any minute hour day week month now, I promise. I’m told it has to end eventually.”)

“Say ‘scuse me, Charlie. You have to say ‘scuse me when you do that.” – Ruby

“I’m done, Momma! I did it al…nevermind. I forgot to do spelling.” – Liberty, at almost the end of her school day.

“Get all the frowning done now, Charlie-girl. Look at me like that in a couple years and you won’t get laughed at. You’ll get into trouble.” – Momma


Hello, Contractions.

The only times in my life I’ve wished for pain is the last three weeks of all six of my pregnancies. Contractions are regular and constant for me at the end, more so this time than ever before, and all I can wish for is for them to get harder. More painful. End this adventure. Bring on Baby. I go to bed hoping to wake up to labor – in spite of never having gone into labor in the night before – and every morning, I’m still breathing normally. I. hate. the. end. I rather hate the pain of labor as well, but I love meeting Baby.Can we just get this over with, please?!

Besides, I’m tired of trying to find anything that fits. If you see me in the same outfit for the next how-many-ever-days this drags on for, just assume it’s the only thing that fits. Or the only thing that’s clean, if my belly is sticking out. Sterling really, really enjoys telling me that my belly is sticking out from his underbelly perspective.

Come on, Baby.


It’s gonna be a great day.

I got up early this morning, made oatmeal, and got the kids up – in record time, since oatmeal is a favorite and being told it’s waiting is a huge incentive around here. My plan: getting a lot accomplished today.

Half an hour later, Blaine was leaving for work, and Sterling was crying, unable to find the clothes he was looking for, Ruby was crying over a bug bite she’d scraped open, and I was in the bathroom, losing my I-haven’t-even-eaten-yet when Charlotte’s dirty diaper was too much to handle, while Charlotte was hollering on the changing table because I’d posted Eden (ie. the first child in the vicinity tall enough to do the job) as guard when I ran for fresher air… and a sink.

Oh yeah. These are the days.


Labor Day

I have to admit, I had high hopes that I’d spend Labor Day laboring. And I did. I mowed the yard – that produced nothing but the desperate need for a shower and a lot of inhaled dust from crispy dried-out grass. I cleaned the house. Major bonus there, but no laboring effects. I made cookies… I’m sure those would be beneficial to some poor starving child, but my expanding waistline doesn’t need such a benefit. I set up the crib for Charlotte so she can migrate from the pack ‘n play to the crib. (Compliments of a borrowed mattress – since we already have two –and Sterling and Ruby have them in toddler beds. I refuse to buy another crib mattress.) So Charlotte is a crib now, the pack ‘n play is (very, very briefly) packed away, and Baby will have a bed too… but it seems quite content to remain right where it is for another day - or up to 5 weeks, I try to remind myself. Horrid thought.

Oh well. It was worth a shot. Now, I have to hope I don’t go into labor tonight. I’m exhausted!


TMI and other quips from my day.

Eden learned of horizontal, vertical, and oblique in math today. When asked which way the rug lies, she replied, “vortiblique”. Does that mean an automatic correct answer – all bases covered?

Tomorrow Ruby turns three. Oh, the excitement in my house when the kids saw the gifts wrapped and ready to go. On the menu: sticky buns with lots of cinnamon (Ruby really stressed on the cinnamon), pizza with NO macaroni (pepperoni), and chocolate cake with no frosting, just ice cream and hot fudge sauce. And banana bread and banana chocolate chip muffins - just because those are some of her favorite things and she couldn’t commit to which one she wanted.

Ruby fell face first off of the little three-step high plastic slide onto the concrete patio while I was gone two weeks ago. These things always seem to happen when I’m gone… I’m not going to dwell on that one, but still. She landed on her nose (I’ve gotten that phone call once before) and I’m pretty sure she broke it. For the second time. She does not recognize her abilities, or, um, lack thereof, and she really lacks landing skills – but I digress.

Fast forward two weeks of blood in her nose that hurts enough she doesn’t want me to touch it – but she let a pool worker clean up willingly when they didn’t want her in the pool like that – and she finally got it out on her own. She was so proud of herself. Yep, folks, Momma encouraged the girl to pick her nose. Lovely, right? But the conversation afterward was the funny part. “I got it out, Momma! See it? It’s really big, Momma. That is gross and disgusting. It’s stinky and gross. I wouldn’t want to eat it! Nope, that’s gross.” And she got up, walked to the garbage, and threw it away. Thankfully. I’m still a little amazed it didn’t land on the floor. Taking care of her own messes is not exactly her strong suit. We’re working on that one. Expect progress on that – after I re-teach her to keep her fingers out of her nose…

My midwife appointment Wednesday revealed dilation to 3cm and a raging infection in or headed for my kidneys. That back pain last week? Yeah. My only symptom, at least now I know I’m not a total wimp. I’ve never dilated this early or this far before labor. We’ll see what happens. Due date is three weeks way.


Dear Baby,

It’s naptime. Give it up.



That’s amazing.

Liberty has been working with a dictionary a lot lately for her English. Today she asked me if 1 Corinthians is in the New Testament. When I said it was, she asked why the Bible isn’t listed in alphabetical order.

I made baked oatmeal for breakfast this morning at Sterling’s request. Ruby said she doesn’t liked baked oatmeal and was being just generally crabby at not getting regular oatmeal. I finally got to the bottom of her issue of me adding cinnamon and an entire cup of brown sugar to her oatmeal though.

“I don’t like the salt.”

“What’s wrong with putting the salt in?”

“It’s too spicy for me,” says the girl that wants salt and pepper on everything she eats. Says the girl who wants to try every spice I use – plain. Says the girl who ate a palm full of pepper last night when I was making supper – and then asked for more.

Somehow, though, she managed to choke it down. All of it. And ask for more.



Ruby’s new word – you know how that goes. She picks a word and says it. A lot. Every time she gets even close to in-context, out it comes. This week, it’s “uff'-da”.

And I love it. Because it’s evidence of where I come from and it’s proximity to a whole lot of Norwegians… and the tiny bit that runs in my blood stream and therefore Ruby’s.

Or maybe it’s just evidence that she spends way too much time with me.

Either way, I’m cool with it. And I’m hoping it replaces the “Yeah, but…” that she is also currently stuck on. Because ‘uff-da' is way funnier to hear coming from a 3-days away from 3 years old baby girl.

And that story warrants this one:

Charlotte came fast at the end. I went from 5cm and begging for an epidural to 10cm, ‘baby’s crowning; get away from my back so I can birth this child’ in 20 minutes. It was intense and a lot unbelievable. As the doctor – who got into the delivery room in time to deliver the 2nd half of Charlotte – introduced herself to me, congratulated me, and walked out of the room, apparently, I said “Uff-da”. The situation certainly warranted that – and a lot more. But Blaine burst out laughing, said he’d never heard me say that before, and told me that every once in a while my background – and it being so very different than his East coast upbringing – shines through.

But, whether Blaine has heard me say it before or since then or not, it would seem I say it often enough for Ruby to pick it up as her new favorite word-phrase.



Ruby posts, revisited.

Originally titled, “Ruby, sometimes I like you better when you are sleeping.” Posted 5/4/09

Dearest Ruby, emotional roller coaster that she is... She'll be smiling,


happy as can be....


and turn into something out of a bad movie all within the same minute. Really, what will puberty be like? Run and hide, my friends, run and hide.



Huh, imagine that. Not much has changed.