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.


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.