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.


Tilled garden and grades completed. What a day.

I’ve been sewing. Determined to make a sling for Pierce that will get me hands free again after he outgrew my tube sling, I found a pattern for a Mei Tai and went to work.

Hello, land of the living. Sling’s finished, and Pierce took a nap in it ten minutes after I tied him onto my back. Sweet success. An hour later, my back didn’t hurt yet. Sweeter still.

Remember the post about our neighbors? Blaine went over to meet the ones closest to us today. We want to put a fence along their fence line for the goats and wanted to make sure they didn’t mind, and Blaine wanted to ask if they would use their tractor to till our garden for a fee. Ten minutes later, they were pulling into the yard with their tractor. They refused payment. How awesome?! Planting sweet corn this year. :) I’m not sure why they’ve been so quiet for so long, but they were nothing but kind!

Eden Rayne is the second person in history to finish 2nd grade at A Big (little) Family Academy. Liberty has two weeks left. We’re winding down our school year. It’s a beautiful thing. On my list for April: painting the school room. I think they call this spring cleaning.

And… back to my sewing machine. Curtains for the bathroom, then I’m touching up paint and painting the vanity. New towels and shower curtain and rug are in my sights. I’m on a roll and loving it. Tired, but loving it.


Well, hello.

The neighbor from half a mile down the road pulled into the driveway as we were outside this afternoon to introduce himself and welcome us to the neighborhood.

We bought the place and moved in just shy of two years ago.

Friendly place.

In all fairness, we’ve certainly not experienced any unfriendliness. People just leave people alone, I’m thinking. Or at least, that’s what I’m calling it.

How rude.

Charlotte’s a little mimic. Her new word? “Rude.” It’ll break any tense moment when I’m scolding someone for being rude when her little one and a half year old voice pipes in and says “Rude!”.

Guess what we’ve been talking a lot about lately?

Paper Underwear?

We were given a set of encyclopedias on Sunday. The girls are in love with all the knowledge at their fingertips.

Today, Liberty was telling me of people who wear paper underwear held up with rubber bands to be modest.

She can’t remember what entry she was reading.

Charlotte got tipped over in the shopping cart on Saturday. Talk about a heart stopping moment. Charlotte was in the cart, Ruby stepped on the side, and over they went. I watched from the other side, diving for a falling cart that I couldn’t catch.

You’ll never guess what they landed in.

Lawn mower blades. A dozen or more lawn mower blades crashed to the concrete store floor all around poor Charlotte. Store employees came out of the woodwork at the sound of metal and concrete colliding – and my baby girl’s head. She escaped mostly unhurt except for a cut behind her ear that’s healing well already.

Ruby jumped out of the way. She learned firsthand why we tell her not to climb onto the side of the cart.

No one told us we had well behaved children in that store.


The case of the runaway eyebrow curler.

I was doing my makeup when Sterling asked if he could use my eyebrow curler. I handed it to him, explaining the difference between eyelashes and eyebrows. He nodded, smiled, and went on to attempt to curl his eyelashes.


Next thing I know, he had the curler, handle side down, opening and closing it and saying it was a thief “running as fast as it could away from the imaginary cops.”

That, my friends, perfectly encapsulates the difference between a boy and a girl. It’s the case of the runaway eyebrow curler.

Sounds from the kitchen.

Sterling is saying “Hi Poopy Alexandra” over and over again to Ruby.

I have to say, when we named Ruby I’d feared the rhyming nicknames, but that’s not the name I was fearing.

Oh dear.

Happy Half Birthday to you...

Happy half birthday, Charlie girl. Your siblings are thrilled that you are one and a half now.

You're walking and running and jumping and talking in two and three word phrases these days. You wore your hair in a tiny braid for the first time yesterday, but you still prefer it down. You inhale bananas and down coconut milk like there's no tomorrow, but you'll eat most anything else I give you too. Your shudder at pickles cracks everyone up, but you love them.

You have 12 teeth and those eye teeth don't seem to be in any hurry to complete your smile. I'm sure the toothpaste you insist on eating keeps them oh so clean though. You make funny faces and are the clown of the family - you love to make us laugh. You frown at strangers and refuse to talk or smile if they aren't part of our family.

You use sign language, talking all the while. I think you do it just to be sure we understand. No means yes and no in your world. It's up to us to decide which you mean.

You're quite the love. Your kisses and hugs are the best.

I love you.



Oh where, oh where, oh where?

We spent two hours looking for my keys yesterday. We pretty much turned it upside down, looking.

The problem is, after exhausting all places that I would have put them, I have to put myself in the place of a one year old. And a three year old. And a four year old. And then we about have all the options covered.

This is why I moved the stove. Found a Melissa and Doug piece that had been missing and bugging me for months. Found a headband in Blaine’s lunch box. You know, in case Daddy needs to pull his hair back at work. Found a weather chart that one dear child failed to tell me was missing for her math. Found my missing chapstick.

All I knew about my keys was that I’d given them to Ruby and told her to put them in my purse. Big mistake.

After two hours, having searched the house, the garage, the basement, the shop, and the van multiple times, I found them. Ruby had climbed onto the step stool and put them into my old purse. The one I don’t use when I have babies in diapers because it’s too small to be helpful. (That’s been a year and a half now. So why is that purse even still on the coatrack???) Then, for added safety, someone hung a coat over said purse.

When I found them, she started giggling and remembered what she had done. Now if only she could remember without the visual reminder when I’m pulling them out of their hiding place.


Worth it?

I worked and cooked for several hours to produce one awesome pan of lasagna tonight. It's a lot of work, but fun to spend some extra energy to make a nice meal once in a while. Everything I make is from scratch, but we eat a lot of stir fry or meat and potatoes. Quick, easy, cheap.

Turns out, quick, easy, and cheap is preferred by my dear middle children who have extremely sophisticated taste buds.

How you can eat peanut butter sandwiches, tortillas with only miracle whip, and hot dogs with relish but turn your nose up at 5-cheese lasagna is beyond me. When Sterling, trained to be polite, told me the meal was good with his nose scrunched up, I told him you cannot say a meal is good while frowning. It's either good or it isn't. He, in all seriousness, replied, "It isn't."

So glad I worked so hard. I threw out there that those finishing their food would get ice cream. Suddenly, Sterling's food looked a whole lot better.

Ruby opted for no ice cream. I cannot win them all.



*Sterling picked out a new sun hat yesterday. Momma cringed and went with it. I do love hats… but I’m not so certain I love that hat. Pierce’s sun hat is leftover from years past… when I got to pick out the one that I liked – but Pierce rather likes his pj’s.

Dear Daddy,

We’re cold. It’s 63 degrees in the house, Momma refuses to put a fire in the stove and says to put more clothes on. Ruby’s version of more clothes:


A t-shirt, a fleece, a tank top over the fleece, sweat pants, and pajama pants over the sweat pants. Oh yea, and flip flops.

Problem solved.

Come home soon.


the kids

One classy girl.

I love hats. I wish I looked better in them, but I love them just the same. Eden’s in the same boat. I’m not certain if it’s just to please me – she swears it isn’t – or if she truly loves them as much as I do, but she wears them often.

Yesterday, we found this one. While I had been looking for a hat for me, (Without success. $32 for a sun hat?!) I found a hat that screamed ‘Eden’. Judging from the comments she got in the stores after we got it, it’s as classy as I thought.


Too fun. Now if I just had a smaller head. Little girl’s hats are significantly more reasonably priced than those in the ladies section!


Brought to you by Eden Rayne.

Eden saw something with a “Since 1942.” label on it.

“Momma, were you alive in 1942?”


“Wow, that really was a long time ago!”

Blaine is out of town for work tonight and Eden asked why he wasn’t coming home. I explained the whole working thing and got an incredulous,

“So he’s staying in a motel in town?”

“Yes. No. Motel, yes. Our town, no. Farther away.”

Eden’s on a roll today. But she did pick out a super cute hat today. I’ll get a photo tomorrow. She was so excited about it she wanted to sleep in it.


Dearest Pierce,

We all know you’re a crank. Since day one, you have let the world know of your displeasure, loud and often. We all ignore it to some extent, cater to it to some extent, and look forward to the day that you decide we didn’t do you such the disservice as you seem to think we did.

But when your three year old sister asks what your problem is, you know it’s bad. She’s heard your cries for the last five months with barely a notice. Today, though, she asked why you are so cranky.

Today was worse. I didn’t even know that was possible.

You’d better be getting teeth. Or maybe it’s growing pains. No diaper pins are sticking you, your belly is full and your diaper is dry. You’ve napped and are headed that way again because I’m out of ideas. In the meantime, it’s a good thing we love you, screams and all. Feel free to cheer up though. My nerves are wearing thin.



Mmm, chicken.

We got 12 broiler chicks last Saturday. At the moment, they are in a giant wooden box (thanks, Dad!) in the garage. Sterling and Ruby have taken to running down about once per hour to check on them.

“Momma! They have blood on them!” Oh honey. That’s their behind. It’s supposed to be pink. No blood.

“Momma, they’re growing!” Perfect. I’m not certain I’m convinced that you can tell that just since you checked on them 10 minutes ago, but ok.

“Momma, they need more water!” How far is it down? About an inch. 7 more inches to go before it’s empty. I’ll get right on that.

And my favorite, “How come they aren’t big yet?” We told them they’d grow fast and four days in, darn it, they aren’t full grown yet.

Dear Charlotte,

I appreciate your attempts to be thrifty. Adding water to my face wash was a nice touch. It’ll stretch so much farther now. I’m not sure I like the new consistency, but I’m sure it’ll pour grow on me.

The eating toothpaste habit we must discuss. I’m about to make everyone use baking soda to brush with. I’m sure that will cure you of your habit, but I’m pretty sure your siblings will not appreciate your causing change.

If you need to snuggle at 2 am, could we lay side by side? Insisting that you lay flat out on top of me is not so comfy for me.

I know you’re a budding horticulturist, but, as you’ll find out should you study the topic further, leaving the dirt on the seeds Daddy planted is the best way for them to grow. Leaving the dirt on the floor isn’t good for Momma’s sanity.

Your frown is priceless. It’ll get you into trouble one day, but for now, it makes me laugh. Just know the day is coming that we’ll need to revisit the topic. Frowning at Momma when you don’t like what you hear isn’t acceptable past the age of 1.

We’ve made so much progress in the coloring department. You’re only coloring on paper these days. Now, to clarify: coloring on math books and Curious George books don’t constitute as coloring on paper. Yes, but no.

And in the words of you, ‘I, YOU!’. You refuse to say love… but we both know what it means. Your kisses and hugs are the best.



Dear Grandma,

Thank you for the potato salad idea.




Cereal confessions.

Charlotte eats Cheerios. A lot. This morning, the first box I found suitable to pick up with her fingers was chocolate cheerios. (Insert here that I did not grow up with sugar cereal. Not once that I can recall did we get cereal with sugar already on it in the box. I’m pretty sure I haven’t recovered… we buy a lot of sugar cereal. Both my dear husband and I… and now our children… see the value in honey nut cheerios over anything so plain and dry as the regular ones. Honey Bunches of Oats. You know, healthier versions than Lucky Charms. Most of the time. Some day I’ll grow up. Maybe.)

So back to Charlie. As I dumped chocolate cheerios (On sale, and I defend myself to say that I’d never gotten them before – or will I again. Not so great.) onto her tray for breakfast, she saw the darker color and says “Ooooooohhhhh!” like I’d given her the greatest gift. Needless to say, she finished and hollered for more.


Just call me ‘Raccoon Eyes’.

If you forgo the sunscreen, also forgoing the sunglasses would make for a far more even and less raccoon-like burn. Just so you know.


Dear, bickering children. How’s this one going to play out?

In the middle of putting another coat of polyurethane on our new stools, the kitchen table is covered with newspapers as a work area and out of use for eating at the moment. When Sterling and Ruby asked where they could eat lunch, I suggested one of them take the high chair. Sterling said he wanted to, and Ruby decided to one up him and ran to get to the chair first.

They make their own lunch. She hadn’t made hers yet.

A good three or four minutes into her little chair stealing session, she realized she doesn’t have any food. She’s still sitting there though, fearful of losing her place.

Sterling was moping until he realized Ruby’s predicament. Now everyone’s laughing at Ruby’s pleas for someone to make her lunch for her. This ought to be interesting.

Blessings, regularity, and bugs that I could do without.

Yesterday’s tick count for this family: 9. That, added to the one I found on Charlie on Monday would indicate that it’s going to be an itchy spring, I’m thinking.  Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl.

Charlotte woke up dry this morning – it’s happened a few times lately. Plopping her on the potty, she was so proud to do her business. Then she got up and more business puddled on the floor instead. Back to the potty, knowing regularity would indicate she had another sort of business to attend to. She sat for a bit, got up, and wouldn’t you know it, there was that darned old regularity we’d been waiting for. Good thing I hadn’t mopped yet.

Mr. Pierce, at the ripe old age of 5 months, went into 12 month clothes this week. And I thought having two boys born in opposite seasons was going to be an issue when it came to hand me downs. Pretty soon, they’ll just wear the same size. Never before have any of my children been more than one size bigger (and more often, smaller was the norm) than their age dictated for clothing. Bizarre.

Yesterday we were blessed by a dear family coming again to help with several of our many projects. My friends, they helped with fencing. Exactly. Rocky Missouri soil, t-posts, woven wire, and other tools I cannot even name were used to begin our task of fencing around our pasture. Awesome. With our list of to-do’s is far longer than days off allow for, this was huge. Did you know that driving a t-post into a rock bounces the ground just where the rock is, so you can see how big the boulder you are attempting to put a hole into is? It’s wonderful. If I were really, really ambitious, I could dig all those boulders up that are causing fencing problems and I’d have the rock garden I’ve been dreaming up for the front yard. Or not.

You know that wonderful feeling of a freshly scrubbed floor on bare feet?

We so do not have that going on right now. The bottoms of my feet, awake for two hours, would indicate it’s time to mop. Hello springtime.


Name that photo.


Words cannot explain.

Like mother like daughter. Sort of.

When I was about 16 and suggested to my father, he told me if I did that, I had to put a ring in it and then he could pull me around by it. Point taken. No nose ring at 16. So I waited 9 years, until I was 25 and mother of four, when my husband gave his consent and then I pierced my nose… with something considerably smaller. Ever since, my dear daughters use the fake earrings on their noses. Or baby linking toys. You know, whatever. And when they are 25 AND have produced four grandchildren for me, then they can get the real thing. Smile


Blaine says you can tell we have a lot of kids by our reactions these days.

Sterling was in the kitchen eating when he started crying. I ignored him. It wasn’t an “attention necessary” kind of cry, ya know?

Blaine one upped me. He hollered, “Is there blood?” and then went back to what he was doing when someone said there wasn’t.

So not our first rodeo.


Who’s who? w/answers.

IMG_2823 croppedCharlotte
I realize this was far more fun for me than for anyone else save, perhaps, Grandma, but if you care to guess, who’s who? Some are more obvious than others… and some fooled even my own children.

Sisters, ya think?



Liberty Skye, cooking enthusiast.


This eight year old girl fails to hit the limelight very often. She’s too predictable, too even-tempered, too behind-the-scenes. Lovely, edible, tasty scenes like the fudge cookies she made this week. Twice. Or the beer bread she mixed up and baked for a side to our soup the other night. Or cooking up a pot of oatmeal for breakfast. She’s quite the little chef these days. One of our chore cards says “Supper Chef’s Assistant”. Pretty sure I’m going to get that one in my pile one of these days. Got a recipe? She can handle it.


Grocery shopping, revamped.

Once every week and a half to two weeks, I go grocery shopping. Almost always, I go during the day with all the kids. We have a good rhythm, and things usually go fairly well. Lately, though, I’ve been less than pleased with how things have gone. Kids asking me to buy stuff, hiding in the clothes racks… it’s exhausting to keep all of that under wraps and still buy food for the week. So tonight, I took Sterling and Pierce and went after Blaine got home from work.

I left my Aldi bags at home and was left trying to contain cans and bags and randomness in one very wide open van. Without a trunk or anything to stop things besides the seat anchors, a can of olives can soar from one end to the other, multiple times, with some simple braking. It’s enough to make you cringe when the funnel from the back that was formerly next to the windshield fluid comes sliding and lands squarely at your feet in the front seat. Groceries need bags. Boxes. Both.

At Walmart. I needed deli meat and a key cut. Both counters close at 8pm. It was 8:05. Perfect. Got the other stuff on my list, got to the checkout… I’d left my wallet in the van. Really? I can do this with six kids with my eyes closed, but two kids has me thrown and unorganized?

So was the trip really worth not taking all the kids? I’m not convinced that it was all that much better, but Sterling and I had a grand time together. I bought him a little cherry pie, and he’s convinced it was the world’s best and biggest cereal bar and I’ve been holding back one of life’s pleasures.

Baby’s got skills.


He’s not so sure he’s impressed with the upright world quite yet, but Pierce joined the land of all things vertical this week.

Go, Baby Boy.

Next up: The land of wearing pants during waking hours. It’s overrated.

Goat naming.

The goats have names. Hezekiah, Lamentations, and Pearl join Snow, Coffee, Cream, and Munch in our barn of friendly goats. Those babies are the highlight of the day for the kids. Goat chores just got longer. Pretty sure it’s not just work that’s being done up there.

I picked the names Hezekiah and Pearl. I’m not sure where Pearl came from but Hezekiah is mostly just to hear Ruby try to say it. It’s stinking funny. She even giggles at herself.


Expert goat chaser, at your service.

The girls go to co-op early for dance practice. So as we’re on the porch waving good-bye as they drive away in a friend’s car, Ruby announces, “The goats are out.”

Really? Now? When the girls are gone and I have to take all four kids ages four and under up the hill to chase some stinky goats? After my shower, when I’m in good clothes? Of course. When else?

Sterling held Pierce (and then Charlotte knocked him over, so he’s laying flat on his back, hollering for help because Pierce was on top of him and he couldn’t get up. That was a sight.) and I started the foolish process of catching a goat that doesn’t want to be caught. One’s tame as can be, caught and back in his pen. The fence is fixed, and then, doing what I’ve found to be the best way, (because goats really like to get out, so this is a common occurrence, unfortunately) I chased the doe toward the big hay bale. In one giant leap, she’s on the bale, cornered, and all I have to do is grab her, pull her down, and put her away.

I’m starting to get good at this. That’s sad.

Rescue Sterling for his cloud gazing position on the lawn, tear Charlotte away from the new baby goat she’s determined to love on, and we’re back to normal. You know, our normal. I have a feeling we’re anything but everyone else’s normal.

FYI: The bed under the bed worked beautifully, and my handmade pull-ups are fully leak proof. Life just got a whole lot easier and my house gained 12 square feet.



As a kid, I’d have said I was organized. My bedroom was always clean, just as my mother. I was good at keeping things picked up.

My children are good at putting things down. While some of them have neat-ish tendencies, give the lot of them ten minutes and a whole lot of mess can occur. No matter how hard I try, I do not have enough hours in the day to keep the house as neat as I’d like. School takes priority, and at the end of the day, while school is always done, the house doesn’t always speak well of our other accomplishments.

I’m on a cleaning binge. I’ve done the once, twice, three, and four times over, trying to find things we don’t need. Eight people in 1200 square feet fill it quite full, but there has to be a better way. Scrounging for blogs of people who have done this and thrived instead of succumbing to the clutter, I’ve found some great ideas. Today, after cleaning out my laundry room, we reorganized the kids room. For a while there, Sterling and Ruby were getting worried because neither of them had a bed left in the bedroom, but now…

Liberty’s in the top bunk. Charlotte’s in the crib. Eden’s in the bottom bunk. An extra mattress for Sterling and Ruby slides under the bunk bed during the day, out at night, and the room just grew by leaps and bounds. I lost two beds to store things under, so please don’t look in the closet just yet, but we’ve gone from a crib, two toddler beds, a set of bunk beds, and five dressers in a 12’x12’ space – and yes, it can be done, but it becomes strictly sleeping space at that point – to now, one set of bunk beds and the crib (and still five dressers) and a whole lot of floor space. It’s a beautiful thing.

Oh, and the changing table is in the laundry room. Formerly by the front door, I’m sure it greeted more than one unannounced visitor with eau de Charlotte. No more. I’m making progress!

What we found in the barn this morning:


One baby girl


and twin baby boys



makes three new baby goats born in our barn this morning – from two different does.


So, so fun! So far, Eden named one of the baby boys Lamentations. Charlotte just thinks they are a real live snuggle blanket.


This one’s for you, Dad.

After a discussion with my dad during which I realized I’ve done roughly 300 extra loads of laundry this year. About a year ago my two middle children quit wearing diapers – and I started doing laundry. Now, with plans to rearrange furniture… details to come… Dad suggested I make pull-ups of sorts. I haven’t bought them for various reasons, so I’ve just washed sheets almost every day for at least one dear child.

My latest project of the day:


Yes, I just posted photos of underwear on my blog. But tomorrow, when sheets are dry even if children are not, it will all have been worth it.

For the record, everything involved I had. Extra PUL for waterproofing, flannel scraps for the lining and soaker layer, and Blaine’s old t-shirts for extra absorbency. I didn’t use a pattern, and the first is rougher than the second. If they work well though, I’ll make a couple more. Talk about frugality!

Time’s up. Time in. Time out. Or something.

Our new chore cards are working wonderfully. The house is maintaining better than ever before. A good half hours’ warning is politely requested before dropping by… but we’re making progress. Overheard this morning:

“That’s your 10-minute speed clean, Ruby.”

“Well, Sterling, I call it my time-out.”

Ruby really likes the speed clean. Can’t you tell?