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.


Paper towels, broiler chicks, children’s antics and projects complete.

Today was a marathon sewing day. I was making another Mei Tai for my mom to give as a baby gift, and it needed to get done asap.

Whew. It’s finished. I made Sterling and Pierce matching little black belts while the machine was still out, washed seven loads of laundry, and worked on potty training one 19 month old. She’s doing great. She tells me she has to go. I’m doing less great. I do not get her from wherever she is upon pronouncement to the potty in the mere seconds before the waterworks begin.

Her new Hello Kitty panties got more than they bargained for. She even managed to get my foot once.

We’re going through a lot of paper towels and Simple Green these days.

Blaine hurt his back on Friday. He was home today, still bent over and walking like a very old man. I’m quite tempted to call him “Bob”, recalling a great neighbor we once had that walked the very same way.

I told Charlie “Goodnight, Baby” tonight and she replied “Na-night, Baby” before she realized what she said. Oh, the giggles. She’s so much fun these days. I love the age that she’s at.

Pierce’s age… well, I’m trying really hard not to wish it away. Mr. Crabby Pants suits him quite nicely. He’s the most temperamental kid I’ve had yet. He has me most curious to find out what his personality develops into. So long as I survive the wait. He’s going to do me in.

We butchered our old laying hens on Saturday. With those and the goats gone, things are pretty quiet in the barnyard. We still have some broiler chickens until they are ready in June, but the yard is eerily quiet out there.

That’s about all my news. We’re still on school break, but I’m not sure what happened to the “break” part. Crazy busy weeks!



Meet Belle,


Pierce’s new best friend.


He thinks her skin is looking a little tight though. He’ll help her out with that.


Hold still, puppy. It’ll only hurt for a minute.


There! So much better.


Recipes we’ve enjoyed lately, complete with commentary:


Oatmeal Beer Bread

2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups oatmeal

1 T baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 T brown sugar

2 T honey

12 oz. beer

1/4 cup melted butter

Grease loaf pan. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients, pour honey over dry ingredients, then beer over all. Mix just until blended. Pour into pan, pour butter over batter. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes (or more, in my oven) until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Makes one loaf. Different beers will make a different flavor. We like this one so much I bought a box of Milwaukee's Best just for bread. Cheap. Good. Liberty can make this one start to finish alone in about 1.5 hours. She’s a little slow, but she has more time than me so she can go at it. Liberty cooking and me sitting around eating bon-bons doing something else is a major bonus.

Caramel Creams

1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans. (Or not. Why ruin a good thing?)

1/4 tsp salt


2 1/2 T butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

2-3 T heavy whipping cream (I used 1/2 and 1/2 with good results.)

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Combine flour, pecans, and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Shape into two 10 inch rolls; wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. Or forget about them in there for longer. They won’t mind. In fact, make some for next week while you’re at it. Two birds, one stone. They are good enough you’ll wish for more anyway.

Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices. (Getting too thin makes crunchier cookies. We liked the ones that were thicker. Stick to 1/4". My 2 cents.) Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks and cool completely. Slap at fingers that attempt to snitch cookies. Break several cookies in the downward motion when small hands are faster than large ones. End up feeding them the cracked ones since making those into sandwiches is a crumbly affair. Inform them they aren’t being rewarded for cracking the cookies. But they are. But they aren’t. They aren’t getting frosting. So there.

For filling, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from heat; add powdered sugar, vanilla and enough cream to achieve spreading consistency. Spread on the bottom of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. (Oreo style.) Repeat “Do not lick your fingers until you are completely finished making and touching the food” over and over and over. Resist the urge to disobey your rules. At the very least, wait for them to leave the room.

Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies. We really liked them. Three dozen cookies lasted two days. In a house that cookies don't always go over so well, even B ate these. That's something. They aren't terribly sweet. I'd never intentionally browned butter in my life, but it was good. :)


Stepping back.

Yesterday, I posted an ad on Craigslist to sell our goats. After holding onto them long past needing them, it was time. I’m stretched thin with too many things to do and not enough time to get it all done, and milking goats was not real high on my list of things I wanted to have to do when few of our family members even like goat milk.

So, yesterday, an ad. Today, I posted about wanting to be done with them on Facebook.

This afternoon, they drove away to a new home. They’ve become pets, so it was a bit sad, but I guarantee you no one was sad tonight when they didn’t have to go do goat chores.

I can’t even tell you how much weight was just lifted off of me. Awesome.

Dear Pierce,

They make these contraptions called binkies. They can be there when I’m not available.

You know. Like All. Night. Long.

You should try it sometime. One night soon, you’ll be on your own. That new habit of grunting at me to roll over every two hours so you can get a fresh supply? It’s not so funny, Dude. I love you, but I need sleep too.



Thought for today.

When your dear daughter, age eight, finds the recipe for the 9x13 pan of bars she’s been asked to make and she asks if she should make a double or triple batch and acts surprised when informed a single will be plenty… is that when you know your family is approaching the big side of normal?

But all that doubling and tripling has given her some awesome math skills.


Potty tales.

Scene 1: Took Charlotte’s night diaper off of her this morning. Told her she had to go in the toilet today.

Took her potty. Over. And over. And over. Nothing. No accidents, but no successes.

Nap diaper: soaked.

Over. And over. No successes.

Find her in her bedroom piling every clothing article on her puddle. Perfect! I needed another load of laundry to do.

Scene 2: We’re up milking goats. She announces she needs to go.I drop everything finish milking and take her down. She sits. She gets up. Nothing. Five minutes later, she brings me the potty chair. Full.

Who’s training who here?

Oh, Charlie.

Someone thinks it’s fun


to pick price stickers


off of the groceries


and decorate herself with them.

Sure glad that’s over.

We’ve had quite the week around this little farm.

One day last week, right after the raccoon incident, the goats got out. Since they are, umm, goats, that was no shocker.

Upon chasing them back in and heading up to do chores, Blaine found a bloody mess. They’d ran through the barbed wire outside of their pen and, well, barbed wire and a goat with a new endowment she’d never had before… not a good thing.

Salve, feeble attempts at doctoring, and many shots of penicillin later, one of which I decided to indulge in myself (or the goat jumped and I got stabbed, twice – I’ll never tell.) dear goat Coffee is doing well and I was able to milk her out of the injured half once more last night. Since I thought she’d be done in one side and infection was a real possibility, I’m pretty happy with that.

In the meantime, the favorite barn cat acted funny one night and was gone by morning. We found him in the tall grass and had a long talk about life and death.

We planted the sweet corn and the green beans, Pierce broke his first tooth through and it promptly disappeared again by the next morning, and I learned to use a weed eater.

Charlotte learned she really does not like large animals, Pierce learned he does, and Sterling found out he’s not afraid of the big bad wolf big nice dogs.

We borrowed some friends’ Bull Mastiff for a bit while they are away.

Brady, meet the dog you think you are.

While Brady thinks she’s big and tough, Belle has, in one glance, informed her that she’s not as big as she once thought.

The kids love her. Except for Charlotte. At first I thought she was scared, but I think she’s just mad. She swings her little hand in a “shoo” motion and babbles on at her about the injustices of big dogs being brought into her humble home. It’s comical.

Blaine had Belle outside while I was up doing chores. Munch, our buck, backed away from the fence like he’d seen a lion. Having never seen that goat scared of anything, that was impressive.

Funniest yet is watching Belle eat inhale her food. When she finishes, she stares at you like she’s still starving.

Yep, we’re easily entertained around here.


Hello, Random.

Ruby put a blue Hi-Ho-Cherry-O up her nose and announced she had a nose plug. It was beautiful.



Three of my daughters cooperated with my photo-shoot idea the other day. One didn’t. Betcha can guess which one!

…and in case you thought this was random, you’d be scared to hear my thoughts these days. Attention span per thought: .34 seconds. Scatterbrained?



Guess what we made yesterday?


In an extraordinary and unusual display of self control*,


the kids saved chocolate bars from last fall to make s’mores.


Yesterday, we fired up the grill and indulged. Yum.

*That may or may not have been encouraged along by having hid and forgotten it about until recently.


This is my crabby face.


Alrighty, then.

I know that they say kids can sleep anywhere


but this one takes the cake.


I guess her science book was a little tiresome.

one bright sunny day…

I am proud to announce that we no longer have any plain white walls in this house.

Whew. It was really weighing on me.

Mom’s here, and a post with photos is forthcoming. We’ve been busy. In the meantime, memories of yesterday’s bright sunny day (and playing with Mom’s new camera)…










Save the marshmallows!

I became Sterling’s hero tonight.

After hearing a raccoon in the shed growling at the dog and kids several times today, I finally caught sight of it. Since I had thoughts of children’s safety and the chickens we’ve been raising and the others than lay eggs… Sterling’s comment as we walked back down the hill, .22 rifle in hand, threw me for a minute.

“It’s a good thing you killed him, Momma. You just bought marshmallows!

Sterling had heard the story of our camping trip in the summer of 2009. Blaine and the kids were asleep in the tent and I was reading by the fire. A raccoon came over and climbed up on our picnic table, where our bags of food still sat. I shooed it away, and it came back. I grabbed two of the three bags and headed for the van, turned back to the picnic table to see a raccoon on the table, headed off with a bag of marshmallows. I grabbed the food (less the marshmallows) and turned back to the van to see a raccoon in the van, dumping the groceries out onto the ground.

I got it all under control, got the food wrapped up, and walked away feeling like I’d waged war with a bunch of savages – and lost. Sterling just knows of the lost bag of marshmallows he’d been counting on roasting.

So today, when all was calm again, he was thankful that the bag of marshmallows was safe. I was thankful that nothing happened; all was safe and I’d remembered how to aim properly. You know, three shots later. The first two were just practice rounds. Blaine, however, seems less than thrilled at the prospect of having a raccoon to dig out of the shed and bury.

I draw the line at digging the hole. I have to maintain some sense of femininity.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.


Yesterday Charlotte climbed to the top of the Little Tykes slide, slid down, and landed nose to bench with the big wooden picnic table.

There was blood.

If you ask her about it, she’ll tell you. She was pretty devastated that her fun was ruined in a ridiculous amount of pain. So, so sad.

a big (little) Academy is now closed.

Yesterday the last school book closed on the school year 2011-2012 for a big (little) Academy.

What to do with today?

When we started this homeschooling venture 5 years ago, I knew that it was all or nothing. My kids shudder when they hear “all or nothing” because we dive in, head first, and looking back comes with threats of pillars and salt.

Liberty’s finished third grade. Eden’s done with second. Next year’s books line the shelf, and I have three weeks before we jump into those books. Starting the second week in May, we’ll start a new schedule. We’ll work five days out of every two weeks in the summer, then jump into three weeks on, one off come fall. I’m thrilled with the possibilities of those one week breaks and the field trips we’ll take during those weeks.

Today, I’m taking all the full workbooks up to the shed. Grandma’s on the way for a visit. It’s a great day.


Fried Chicken, big (little) style.

I’ve been reading a lot of food blogs lately. I’ve tried a few new recipes. They’ve all been really good. I’ve roasted garlic for the first time. So far, so good. So last night, I ventured out on my own. Now, I just need to take those photos to give step by step instructions and I’ll have a food blog of my own. And maybe a kitchen makeover since my countertops are most definitely not made of granite. But no photos. Pierce was on my hip for the majority of supper prep and the camera thought didn’t cross my mind until now. So use your imagination and picture this:

I cut up a whole chicken, dipped each piece in milk, dipped it into this all mixed together:

(about four cups for us and one 5 lb. chicken) flour

(2 tsp.) seasoned salt

(2T) fresh basil

(2 tsp.) garlic salt

(1 tsp.) onion powder

Then I dipped it back into the milk, back into the flour mixture, and fried it at medium temp in hot oil.

It was good. Really, really good. Good enough for Blaine to request that I write this one down.  Now, it is.

Score one for momma. The kids think that chicken was better than chicken nuggets. Ruby ate leftovers for breakfast.


Hard parenting moment #5,978:

That moment when you walk into the kid’s bedroom to find your three year old on the top bunk, poised to jump onto the mattress on the floor.

It looks like fun.

It looks like she could get hurt.

I paid a lot of money for that mattress.

It looks like fun.

Then, upon finding out that the four, seven, and eight year olds have all done it too, you have to shake your head that the four year old actually did it, without fear, when heights are most definitely not his favorite thing.

I’m impressed. But you’re still in trouble.

Sheer exhaustion. Or perhaps stupidity. You decide.

Last Friday night, after a disastrous trip to the park that ended in me carrying two babies and one 12” bike a mile… that was a mile in my shoes no one would care to walk, let me assure you… I got home, exhausted. Knowing I still had a coat of paint to put on the bathroom vanity and wondering how I was going to muster up the energy, I didn’t even make it in the house. I sat on the front steps and watched the kids play.

And then. Staring at the dirt coating my new van, I decided I’d just hose it off. But when the water pressure proved to be less stellar than the existing dirt, I got out a bucket and a rag. Half an hour later, all that was left was the top.

My van is really tall. Not too tall for drive-thrus, thankfully, but tall nonetheless.

How to wash the top?

I hiked up my skirt to borderline indecent, glad for our little place in the country, and plotted my course up the windshield.

You know your vehicle is tall when it invokes a certain fear of heights where there has never been one before. Something about high and wet and soapy and concrete below doesn’t exactly speak of safety.

Right about then is when Blaine came around the corner. Just from the look on his face, I could tell he was really, really impressed with my creativity and ability to scale large objects in a skirt.

Or not. After a minor argument (which I won, since I was the one on the van) about which path to take to get off of the van, I made a supremely graceful (insert sarcasm here) though slightly fast descent and considered it successful, since it did not include any broken bones.

Once again, I was exhausted. The vanity still needed another coat of paint, it was 7pm and I hadn’t started supper yet, and there were still goats to milk and kids to put to bed. I’m not certain that that was the best use of my time and energy, but my van looks great.

How was your day?


Which consonant do you need?

As we were headed out the driveway this morning, the conversation in the backseat was quite intriguing. Ruby commented she’d seen something in the yard.

“It’s not a cow and it’s not a horse. I think it’s a doose.”

Sterling replied, quite confused, “A doose?!”

“No, a doose. Da Da Da Doose! Or a deese. It can be either one.”


“No! Da da da deese!”

“Geese, Sterling. Goose.” I said.

“Oh! Geese and goose!”

“That’s what I said!” Ruby argued.

Oh, and by the way, it was a turkey.


She’s almost done. I’m done in.

After wanting to paint this vanity for two years, I’ve finally done it.
Oil paint and pregnancy don’t mix, and since I’ve been pregnant for all but 9 months of the two years since we bought this house… and apparently those nine months were not enough time to get this accomplished… you know.

But I did it! Picture it with brown stain, chipped wood, mismatched side cabinet. Ugly.
I started Wednesday. I touched up the orange walls, made a new window curtain that pulls up into a blind, repainted the trim, and sanded down and put one coat of primer and three coats of paint on the vanity and cabinet.

I’ve had paint in my hair for days. Throw in there a shower (ok more than one shower, but one particularly desperate one) with hair scrubbing desperation when I couldn’t find my driver’s license and thought they’d take another photo to get a new one. I got the paint out. They didn’t take another photo. Imagine that.
I digress.
When I’m finished completely, the red ladder will have red and brown towels to match the red and brown in the window curtain. Preferably the turquoise one will not be present either. One could hope. Blaine had a lovely idea and I’ll put a strip of fabric matching the curtains on the shower curtain to pull it all together.
I’m having fun. A panoramic photo of dandelions or kids or some such thing above the toilet… toilet barely pictured, but I assure you it’s clean and present… and I’ll really be done.

Just for the record, I’ve never, ever lost my driver’s license before. It has me baffled. Now that I have a new one, I’m waiting for the old one to turn up. So far, it hasn’t. Baffling. When the DMV lady asked if I still weighed ***. I said, “Um, no, but I just had a baby. It’ll go back to that. Just leave it.” She looked at Pierce, weighing over twenty pounds, wearing 18 month clothes and looking very much not like a newborn, and nodded, smiled, and left my weight what it was three and a half years ago. Yes, thank you. Wise woman.

I should have told her that I was down to 97 pounds. I always wonder how they would react to such ridiculousness.

And now, since the clock that I just photographed tells me it’s ten twenty-six, I’m going to bed.

Child labors


If your behind is still small enough to fit comfortably in your sister’s high chair


are you too young to peel potatoes?


Oh, and Sterling got a new hat. Isn’t it cool?


Wedgies, take 2.

Blaine tells me I need to finish the wedgie story.

Ruby had complained of her panties bothering her, saying every time she readjusted, they defied gravity again. I told her they must be backwards.

She argued that they weren’t, the tag was not in the front. I checked, and said, “You’re right, they aren’t backwards. They’re sideways!”

“But I’m right mom. You’re wrong and I’m right.”

Compelling argument, Ruby girl. I’m not sure if that counts.

Welcome to her world.

One of the risks of being super-skinny:

You find out, six hours into your day, that your underwear are on sideways.

It’s a dangerous wedgie of a proposition. Just ask Ruby.

Because this definitely does not happen to me.

Eau de ewww.

For the last three weeks, we’ve been raising  broiler chicks in the garage. For the last one week, I’ve been smelling the broiler chicks in my house.

It smells like a barn in here.

While two in diapers are other random children leaving messes in other random places, my house doesn’t always smell so rosy. It often smells like bleach (or Simple Green Lemon, my cleaner of choice) from cleaning up those messes.

I cannot bleach away the scent of the chicks. It is time for them to move to the barn, thankyouverymuch.

It took some convincing to get Blaine to believe me that it stinks in here. Then his stuffy nose unstuffed and I won that discussion, hands down.

When the eau de chick poop overpowers the eau de oil based paint I’m using on the bathroom vanity, something is desperately wrong.



I’ve been cleaning. Call it spring cleaning, or whatever you will, but I’m determined to find ways to organize better, clean things up, help this house maintain on it’s own.

Today, I was working in the bathroom. I touched up the paint on the walls, repainted the trim, and took all the doors off our ancient ugly vanity. Until the day comes that we can replace it, I’m painting it white. It’s the same style vanity that my parents had when I was a kid. Not so fancy anymore. I took everything apart and handed drawers and doors to Eden, Sterling, and Ruby to take up to the shop for me to sand and paint them up there.

Ruby took the drawer and looked at me with a confused look on her face.

“We don’t need these anymore either?”

Apparently I’ve gotten rid of enough things lately. Nothing is safe.



During a discussion regarding the mockingbirds that are taking up residence in our trees lately, Blaine told Sterling that they copy whatever they hear. He demonstrated with a whistle, and he and the mockingbird had quite the interlude.

Sterling, however, was confused.

“But how can they copy it? Do they have copy machines?”

My kids are rather technologically illiterate compared to most these days. I thought.

That was funny.


Yesterday, we went grocery shopping. We needed bread – I buy that about every 5 weeks – and a week and a half worth of groceries. I hate taking all the kids these days, but that’s what yesterday needed to be.

Five hours in, ready to go home, worn out from dealing with kids and people and car seats and prices and hearing people say how full my hands were, I bought butter.

Thrilled that the price of butter, at $1.40 a pound, was cheaper than I’d seen it since fall of 2010, I bought butter.

I failed to remember the 20 loaves of bread sitting in the van that needed to hit the freezer too, thought I had plenty of freezer space, and bought butter.

32 pounds of butter.

Did I mention it was a good price?

Oh dear.


Time for some vocab. After I finish laughing.

Eden’s doing a report on Thomas Edison for our homeschool co-op. A voracious reader with a seven year old vocabulary, she was telling me about what she’d read.

“A bear he’d caught in town and tied to a tree broke loose, blundered into his lab, and wrecked hay-vock. What’s hay-vock mean anyway? And I don’t know what blundered means either.”

Wreaked. Havoc.

She’d read it a week earlier.

I need her memory. She needs a dictionary.


Happy half-birthday, Mr. Pierce.

These little toes,


these baby blues,


and this sweet smile


first made their appearance


six months and forty minutes ago.


Quite the little man he’s becoming.

He’s working hard to sit on his own, still all gums and no teeth, blond as can be, and quite opinionated. Nursing between two and six times, every night, growth has not been an issue. Rolling both ways, but, seeing no need to be on the floor long enough to try crawling, he’s still mostly immobile. Temper tantrums he’s perfected, drooling is his hobby, chewing on anything he can grab is his favorite past time. Other than, ahem, eating. He’s not tried anything besides milk thus far, but the end of that one is coming. He’s quite curious about all this eating he sees happening around him and feeling left out that he’s not involved.

Happy half-birthday, littlest man.