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.


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.

An oldie, but still a funny–to me, at least.

Revisiting some of my blog posts (made elsewhere) lately, this one made me laugh. In honor of the birthday girl, turning three this weekend – but 7 months old at the time of this post… Originally Published 4/14/09.

My Dearest Ruby,


Yes, you've slept much better these last three nights. But pooping on my sheets twice in one week isn't exactly fair payback. Check the rules. If they must bend, aim for your own sheets. They're smaller.



Broken clotheslines and dust bunny disposal.

Due in four weeks, I’m feverishly cleaning the house. Planning a homebirth puts a whole new spin on nesting. Pretty sure it’s more panic cleaning than nesting – but either way, my house is benefitting. Baby now has a dresser, a bed, and it shouldn’t sneeze the moment it enters the world for the dust that formally resided in our bedroom.

I pulled out a handful of tiny outfits and pj’s in both gender’s colors out of the shed and washed them so I have some clean clothes for the baby without having to haul them out right away after baby’s born. They were strung across the clothesline in my traditional excited pre-baby washing when the clothesline broke. I can remember hanging up the freshly washed baby clothes of each of my children save Eden – hers hit the dryer since it was January – but the vision of tiny cloths hanging to dry is one of my favorites. It was short lived though. My clothesline broke. My string of teeny clothes was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back. Talk of a new clothesline rope had been in the works for weeks, but I’m pretty sure the vision of baby clothes, pinned to a clothesline and strung across the yard on the ground is not going to escape memory anytime soon. I’m sure it’ll be funny -next week.


I’ll be so cute.

None of my kids have walked early. Ruby was on time when she took her first steps on her first birthday, but she set a new record in doing so.

My latest walker walked at 19 months. Another walked at 17 months, another at 14 months.

Charlotte is 11 months old today. She wants to move. But she hasn’t figured a reliable method of movement yet. She can scoot a little bit on her belly or behind – but she doesn’t get anywhere purposeful this way. She can hold onto something (for dear life) and stand there, but she doesn’t trust herself to move her feet.

She hates to fall. Hates to bump her head. Not the “Ow, that hurt” kind of hates, but the “I am never, ever, ever doing that again, because that scared the living daylights out of me and I learned my lesson,” kind of cry. She’s kind of like her brother. The 19-month old walker.

Sterling and Ruby are 15 months apart. I carried them both for four months until Sterling found his feet and decided to trust them. Now Charlotte, with another baby following close behind, is following in big brother’s oh-so-carefully-placed footsteps.

Usually, I try to switch which arm I choose the carry the baby car seat with so that I don’t end up with one arm stronger than the other. Strange, but true. This time around, I’ll be switching arms so I don’t end up with one arm stronger than the other. But in the opposite way. 20lb baby… 10 pound car seat + 9 pound baby. Never mind. They’ll even themselves out.

I’ll be the one with Brawny’s muscle man’s arms. I’ll be so cute.


That was easy.

Tried something new last night.* I went grocery shopping at night. With only Eden.

It was amazing.

7pm on a Tuesday = a great time to be at Aldi. Only one kid = a great time to be at Aldi.

We were in and out in less than an hour with the better part of two week’s worth of food, spent more than I usually do with 5 kids with me – still trying to figure that one out. I think prices are just climbing. A lot.

Not one time did I have to tell anyone to stop touching or that no, we cannot buy that or to get out of someone else’s path. It was pretty incredible. And groceries fit in my not-the Grand-version caravan a whole lot easier with four less kids in it.

The best part = Blaine was home to help me carry in the groceries.

I’ve always taken all the kids with me. Adamantly. They need to experience what it takes, in what we do, how to compare prices, and what’s beyond the confines of our 5 acres, after all. But lately, with school and pregnancy and trying to keep up with the house, errands take far too long and something falls behind. Usually it’s the house. Nothing fell behind this way. I didn’t spend two hours at the grocery store. I wasn’t crabby and tired when we got home.

Amazing. Going to have to try that one more often.

*I’m laughing at the irony of this post following this post. But sometimes, that’s just how life goes. And not once did I get the hands full comment. In fact, people ignored me. It was like I was normal. Or something.


(Some) comments unwelcome.

I never realized having (a lot of) kids (in a short period of time) required a thick skin.

Turns out, a thick skin – and the ability to bite your tongue - is quite useful.

We get lots of comments. Always. There is no such thing as anonymity anymore. But when people act disgusted - then what do you do? And why do people care how many kids anyone else has?

At my ripe old age, they assume I’m hard of hearing. I haven’t broke the news that I’m not to anyone yet. But today, when I heard (and certainly not for the first time),

“Did you see all those kids? And she’s pregnant! Oh. My. Gosh! That’s insane! She must be crazy! Doesn’t she know what causes that?" I was sorely tempted to speak up.

I didn’t. But the comebacks? They are still coming to me, hours later.

I could have joined in and pretended I’d seen someone else who had fit their description. That might have been fun.

I could have jumped in and asked them if they knew what was causing it. Because maybe, just maybe, that would have embarrassed them.

But I doubt it.

The first thing that comes to me is “You do know I can hear you, right?” but I never go there.

I have looked people in the eye though. That always invokes an interesting response. They usually look away.

The thing is, about 90% of the time, my kids are not the ones melting down in the checkout line.

That’s usually the kids of the commentators.

But the little old ladies – the 85+ year old ladies – they reminisce about their own 6-10 kids and tell me I’ll never regret this when I’m old. I love them. And the one who said she’d had 6 kids that I met the other day – she was so proud to have beat me out in how fast she’d managed it.

She’d had 6 kids in 5 years.

Now those comments had to have been even more interesting than the ones I get.

If you ever, ever hear me tell any mother of any number of kids that her hands are full, feel free to slap me. No one actually needs to be told that they are busy. It’s usually pretty obvious to them. The reminder that this is a lot of work isn’t necessary.

I got 10 hugs at bedtime. (Because two hugs allows for procrastination, you know.) And that makes it all worthwhile.

Poor boy.

“Ow, I don’t like this house. I keep tripping on things!”

Said by Sterling – as he he tripped over toys. His toys.

Poor boy.


Five weeks to due date. Yesterday, I wasn’t sure I was going to live that long. You know that “Never felt so good as when you’re feeling better after feeling bad” feeling? Yeah, I have that today. So thankful to have that – because yesterday, I don’t know what it was, but I could barely walk. Sciatic nerve, ligaments – I don’t know. I spent most of the day sitting with a heat pack in 95 degree weather. But today, stiff and sore that I am, I feel wonderful. I could dance. Except I cannot see my feet. Probably shouldn’t dance. Singing probably isn’t a good option either. I’ll just waddle along, and be glad I can do so with limited pain.



Just a disclaimer. All the posts below were featuring pictures while the well pump was being replaced. Probably not the best time for a photo shoot. Read: very dirty children. No baths for days. No ability to clean laundry. We did, however, find some rainwater to brush teeth with. Because dirty is one thing… but clean teeth are a must.

Liberty and Charlotte

It’s pretty hard to find


a single photo


of these two




It just doesn’t happen.

Eden Rayne

No one has ever


dared to call


this girl




She’s just about


as outgoing as they come.


Handsome little boy


loves to see himself in the camera.



But he gets a little shy


and wishes I would go away


when I keep pointing it at him.


So silly.


Ruby’s not shy.


She’s opinionated though.


And if you bother her with the camera


when she is busy


she will tell you


exactly what she thinks.


Thoughts for today… tired style.

My sister had a boy this morning! I’ll spare you all the less-than-ideal occurrences that have my blood boiling at hospital staff in her area and just be proud to have another nephew, healthy and doing well.

My kids shared their colds with me. They share colds better than anything else. They seem to have shared with Charlotte as well. Such kind and generous siblings.

Co-op starts in a couple weeks. I’m due at the end of next month. I’m so tired of aching. Scared to see what six kids and two not walking will look like, but it has to be easier than this. I think.

Eden gave me my first “Does one of my kids need the ER/stitches?” scare today. Decided no. Note to self: take out the garbage a.s.a.p. myself when broken glass happens. Or buy really thick garbage bags. Broken glass happened twice in two days. We’ve broken more glass in this house than all other houses (9 if I’ve remembered them all) that we’ve lived in since we’ve been married. It’s gotten so routine that after the crash I asked Ruby if something had broken and she nonchalantly said “Yep, a glass on the coffee table landed on the floor and broke.” No panic. No request for help. I’m not certain she was even planning to tell me had I not asked.

Sleep calls. Nights are rough these days. All of my kids are sleeping through the night – but I’m not.


Rice pudding, anyone?

It’s been a day. Certainly not so difficult as last week, when we had no water, but, well, I have the biggest pot of rice pudding any family of seven ought to have – on accident.

First of all, I’m craving rice pudding. And bread pudding. Not usually a huge fan of either, Blaine’s just glad I’m not stirring in pickles. The first batch of rice pudding had to be baked, (last week – good, but the house gets awful hot when the oven’s on) and today’s version didn’t. I read the recipe three times because it said two cups of rice and two cups of milk made enough for four servings. We make everything in double and triple batches around here, but two cups of rice feeds everyone usually. Oh well, measure out the ingredients and off we go. And then… I read the recipe. Again. And it said 2 cups of cooked rice. I made a triple batch – with 6 cups of uncooked rice. Oh. Dear. I’d almost made a quadruple batch. So glad I didn’t.

Rice triples in volume when cooked. And my pot won’t hold it all. Bring out the stock pot. I already had the rice pudding ingredients simmering with uncooked rice. Way, way too much uncooked rice.

So now, my 12 servings is, um, 36 servings. And tomorrow is not potluck Sunday.

What’s for supper at your house? We’re eating rice pudding. All week. If anyone finds my brain, I’d really like it back. My family would appreciate it as well.


Took me a while to figure this one out. Ruby loves parmesan. But she’s a little confused. She calls it parmidge. And when she wants some, she asks for some “parmidge on.”

Oh, to be two.

Read that Larry the Cable guy has a new movie airing next year. On the History Channel. Does that mean he’s a thing of the past?

I managed to burn my belly with boiling-over malt-o-meal this morning. It’s blistered. That takes talent. Or something.

Tried to take a belly shot from my perspective. It looked like a big round blob. Then again, that is pretty accurate from my perspective.

We’re a good 20 degrees cooler these days than we were two weeks ago. 80 degrees actually feels cold. The kids are begging for their feeted zipper pj’s to be dug out of the tote in the shed. The flowers have decided to bloom again. Liberty announced it must be fall and was disappointed to not have used her free pool pass yet – because 80 degrees is far too cold to swim in. Oh, how strange! Pretty sure I won’t feel cold for a good six months yet. Too much heat reserve.


Your perspective is… interesting.

We went to the zoo today. Last Christmas, we bought a zoo pass for the kids. Best Christmas gift ever – no clutter and year long enjoyment. So today we dropped school for the afternoon (and will likely make up tomorrow, because I’m just not a rule breaker like that. Can’t do it.) So first up, the reptile house. Sterling and Liberty and Eden got into an argument over the name of one particular red frog that Sterling insisted was a “mato frog”. Many “yes it is” “no it isn’t’s” later, I read the sign. “Um, girls, read the sign.”

“Tomato Frog. Oh.”

I love that we’ve been to the zoo so many times – and it’s been lots of times – that Sterling remembers the name of the red frog in the reptile house. That’s awesome.

We got the ”You must homeschool” comment again. It’s become the new “You’ve got your hands full”. That comment directly followed Ruby getting blasted in the face with water by a little boy who unknowingly turned the fountains on while she looked into them. They were apparently impressed at her nonchalant reaction. I was just glad she hadn’t decided it had been intentional. She’s pretty impressive when she’s defending herself. They would have gotten a different view of homeschooling and parenting many small siblings.

Then, we heard the turtles. What on earth? Turns out the giant old turtle still has it and was out to prove himself. And while I never want to be one of those moms who usher their children away rather than answer questions… I ushered them away. As we left, Liberty announced she was pretty sure the larger turtle had been a boy from the anatomy she’d seen, and Sterling was attempting to make noises similar to those he’d heard from the turtles. Oh, dear. I just don’t know. When you don’t know… run!

From there, we saw giraffes. One baby is in their exhibit, and after oohing and ahhing over how tiny he is, the girls began the discussion of the stillborn giraffe of a few weeks ago. I’ve taken to reading the zoo news with the kids – it makes the animals tons more fun. But Sterling was stuck on the word dead. A zoo worker in a golf cart with a one foot square cardboard box drove past later and he asked if that’s where the stillborn calf was. That led to a discussion on dead animal trucks. Then Ruby insisted that it was not a brown and a black bear in that display, but a black bear and a hippopotamus. Then the actual hippo was an alligator, and she named the donkey Wackey. On that note, we headed home. Three hours of walking and answering questions… exhausting.


Water has never been so expensive.


Or so valuable.

Three hundred fifteen feet of galvanized pipe down, one 33 year old well pump gave up the ghost.

Four days of no water makes the bill to pull it up and replace the pump and pipe so much easier to swallow.

Water’s flowing again, the dishes are on their way to clean, the diaper pail will get washed as soon as I can bring myself to dump it in the machine, and the shower is the most popular place to be in the house.

So. Much. Better.


I like how he thinks.

“I like God. He knew we didn’t have water from our well so he made it rain today so we could catch it.” – Sterling


For a few lovely hours, the water worked great. And then… we’re back to where we started this morning.

Water would be good. But I’ll settle for a night’s sleep and hope things look better come daylight. Ugh.

I’ve been caught.

I sold a Johnny Jump-Up of sorts on craigslist after I bought a Jumperoo, since most of the doorways in our house don’t have trim around them – and those that do are around stairs. Not so good. Anyway, in meeting the woman who bought it, we started talking about goats. They have some too – and four kids. Then she asked if I homeschool, because I fit the “mold”. Oh dear. Certainly not an insult since we choose to parent this way, choose to live this way, but funny nonetheless. I’ve been caught.

Largely pregnant, not barefoot but almost, definitely not in a blue jean jumper, a van full of kids… I’m not sure what tipped her off – except she too homeschooled – but it was a moment. After this kind of morning, I’m not sure I want to know what it was. I’ve gotten that question a few times from people who’ve visited with my kids, but she hadn’t. I’m still curious!

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

I went to make supper last night and found out we had no water. No water in the bathroom, no water in the kitchen, no water at the outside faucet… this is not good. I cringed and called Blaine. Nope, definitely not good. Making supper without water = hard. Cleaning up = even harder. And while visions of bad well pumps (whatever they look like) and dry wells (again, not sure what that would entail, but you get the point) went dancing through my slightly panicked brain… it would seem, thus far, the solution is far more simple. One electronic control part – far cheaper—and easier to install than a new well pump (and a day’s labor from Blaine) later, the water is back to it’s ever-flowing normalcy and Blaine’s off to get a new filter to make it taste back to normal too. So much better than it could have been. And now that last night’s supper is cleaned up and I’ve showered, I’m coming to realize everyone has their limits. Slightly varying from person to person, but we all have limits. I can handle no a/c. Crowded houses and vehicles. Raising children close together in age. Even no hot water. I do my best not to complain. But running water at least somewhere on the property is pretty much required.


The Mall Baby

We don’t venture to the mall very often. It’s all the way across town and with five kids… it’s just usually a get-in-get-out venture to smaller stores. So yesterday, when we pulled into the mall parking lot with a friend following us to do some shopping, Ruby asked “Momma, what’s this place?”

“It’s the mall, Baby.”

She then asked why my friend wasn’t going to the Mall Baby. And giggling ensued from those of us in the vehicle who knew the difference a comma makes.

Sterling got new sunglasses at the mall. He wore them out of the mall, into Target, out of Target, and started shrieking as I was backing out of my spot at Target. He couldn’t find his glasses. They were on his face.


Liberty’s milked for me six times now. That’s more times than Blaine has total since we got the goats in February.

If she’s not careful, she’s going to have herself a full time job. Because six times this week, I haven’t had to milk goats.


Science experiments and statements of the day.

It hit 108 degrees today. Not on my little thermometer that might (I don’t think so though) have sun hit it, but the news said so. My inside thermometer said it was 98 in house. So in the name of good humor and trying not to cry… we broke an egg onto the concrete of the patio to see if we could cook the egg in the sun. I thought it would be a photo op… but you do not want to see what it looked like… before Brady ate it. It was pretty nasty – but cooked, although the whites didn’t whiten so well. It was a fun experiment. Can we call that science?

The kids have been subjected to a few meals served by Daddy lately. Tonight, Sterling’s prayer over dinner was “…and thank you that we didn’t have to have cereal for lunch or for supper.”

Eden made rice crispy bars tonight. Ruby announced that she was going to clean the pan so I wouldn’t have to wash it. And then she proceeded to do her best at licking it clean. Perfect. When I told her she needed to be done, she told me she was going to have a rice crispy bar for breakfast. Somehow I think the marshmallows nix out the benefits of the cereal – but I’m guessing that would be one cereal meal Sterling wouldn’t mind.


Number games.

Sterling: “How old is Grandpa?”


Ruby: “I’m two too!”

“Fifty-two, Ruby. Not just two.”

“Oh. I not fifty-two. I just two.”



Teaching Sterling to write 2’s and 3’s has proved to be a challenge. And then, I said something I’ve never needed or had opportunity to say during the handwriting process.

“Pretend it’s a car, Sterling. He starts here at the top, drives around the one-way to the dotted line to park, then realizes that spot is too small and has to back up and head around the other one-way for the bottom solid line. He parks there. Two’s a smarter car. He drives around the one-way all the way to the bottom line and backs into his parking spot.”

Sterling loved my analogy. He still struggled with dexterity. But it was worth a shot.

Pictures of a few moments around here…

Yesterday, Sterling got a box of clothes given to him from a friend from church. He was in his glory, sorting through and looking at everything. I told him to sort what would fit now and was summer clothes, and put everything else into a box to head for the shed for later. This is what he came up with:


He sorted. He folded. He’s so excited. And he’s not a bit like his father, orderly and neat. Nope, not a bit.


This is what sheer exhaustion looks like. One of my dear daughters would fall asleep at meals on a regular basis. I’m fairly certain this is Ruby’s first time. Ever.


This is the photo I got of the girls when I told them to get together so I could take a picture of them together.


This is the photo I got when I told all of the (awake) kids to pile onto the futon for a photo.

And these:




…are what Sterling and Ruby gave me when I told them to sit together for a picture. That sounds about right.

And for those who care to know, the blue wall is one of those painted on the 4th. I love it.

On potty training.

I’ve potty trained four now. Mostly successfully. If we had neighbors close enough to see, they’d likely tell you of the occasional toddler bed sheets gracing my clothesline. Accidents happen. Around here, fairly often.

I cloth diaper. I’m convinced this is a huge benefit to me when it comes time to train them for better things. Like underwear. When I inform them they will be wearing, um, nothing on their bottom, that nothing will contain anything any longer, the whole concept of what it feels like to go isn’t new to them. The running down their leg – that’s a new one. But things move quickly and within a few weeks, my 18 months to two year old is potty trained.

For my first two, I had a pretty set way of doing things – and they worked. I still do them that way – but my four trained children are proving themselves, amazingly enough, different from each other. Imagine that. My once-you-are-trained-diapers-are-gone-24/7 mentality worked well the first two times around. I didn’t wash so many sheets. These last two kids are giving me a run for my money. For almost two years now, my laundry line has been graced with at least one, often two toddler bed sheets. Every day. It’s getting a little old. I’d given in and put them both in paper diapers for a bit, just to get a break. But they were telling me they were dry in the morning – and their droopy diapers were saying something else entirely. So I put them in cloth diapers at night. That made them both beg to sleep without a diaper again. Something about feeling the wet against their behinds was not so pleasant. Imagine that. So back we headed to try it again. And for many months, I washed sheets. Every day.

#2 on Sterling and Ruby’s morning routines:

Put your pj’s away and make your bed. Unless you are wet. If wet, put them in the laundry room. Strip your bed and put anything wet or stinky in the laundry room.

Someday we’ll change #2 on their lists and it won’t say anything about wet laundry. They’ll have moved past this stage and everyone tells me it will be sad. I’m not sure I’ll miss the smell that regularly hits me upon entering the laundry room though. It’s just not that pleasant.

In the last month or so, only one of my dear younger children have been contributing to the line’s load. Most of the time. And that’s getting less and less. Whether my persistence has paid off or they are just finally getting past this, the concept of getting up to go is finally sticking. And now I know. One size fits all parenting doesn’t work. At all. I’d realized this about discipline. About schooling. About my expectations for them. But potty training joins the list. And one day, when I’m old and the tables are turned, I’ll remind them of all the sheets I washed for them.

And they’ll make me strip my own bed, sort out what’s wet and stinky and haul the wet laundry to the laundry room. Because that’s what I did for them.

Oh dear.