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.



While her older siblings got to ride horseback, one little girl never took her eyes off of them.


The most fun they’ve had all week. Or month. Possibly year.


A stable just down the road from us gave homeschoolers riding lessons today.



I have four very pleased children who are now desperately wishing for their very own pony. In Ruby’s words, “I want a horse and some cows for my birthday.”

I’ll get right on that.


My very first giveaway!

Two people commenting on this blog or on a big (little) family’s facebook page here will win a coupon for a free bottle of Purex Triple Action laundry detergent.

I’ll announce winners tomorrow night.


Use lots of soap.

I finished weed whacking last night and told Blaine I was getting into the shower. Four shocking words left my love’s lips and we both stared and sputtered.

“Use lots of soap.”

Completely aware of the reality that I hadn’t showered that morning, had spent two hours mowing and another half hour trimming, all in 90 degree weather, my normally loving and understanding husband had shocked me speechless. I had used deodorant. I couldn’t smell myself. Surely it wasn’t that bad. Then, he started backpedaling.

“That came out wrong. That’s not what I meant. I just meant…”

I knew what he meant. This great state we live in has nasty blood-sucking and flesh-eating insects that are kept at bay by a good scrubbing. Bearing the scars of more chiggers and ticks than I can count, my husband said this in love. But wow, did it sound insulting.

And we laughed. And laughed, and laughed and laughed.

I love my husband.


Define: Chastisement

I printed off an “If/Then” Chart from here this morning. Having heard of them many times but never pursued finding one, I decided to try it. It’s a lot like how I already parent, but perhaps we will find it helpful. I walked the kids through the list, stuck it in a page protector and hung it on the fridge.

This afternoon, coming in from having spent the last two hours on the lawn mower and finding Charlie still in her nap diaper instead of having been put back into panties, I asked why she was still in her diaper. Liberty said she’d forgotten, and I swatted her behind, completely in jest, as I walked past her.

“Hey! Why are you giving me chastisement? That’s not on the chart for forgetting to take a diaper off!”

Perhaps we need to look up the remedy for a smart aleck.


Outtake #1. Almost more fun than the good ones.

One nasty virus has hit our house. Five loads of laundry down, the laundry room no longer smells of vomit. Back to the humor of it all… just as soon as the bleach dries. In the meantime, one family photo outtake, taken just hours before the first stomach pain hit:

outtake 52612

Blaine’s not even in it. Eden looks like those stomach pains were already present, Sterling has an itch in his ear, Pierce just wants to eat the grass, Liberty’s being a typical 8 year old girl, and Ruby is pulling a Ruby. But the dog is cooperating and even Charlotte isn’t doing too bad. Discussions of just how much photoshop will be required to cut and paste a good shot of each individual has been happening.

Happy Memorial Day. I’m hoping your day is puke-free and has at least one good story from or about a soldier in it.


Pierce 7 months.

Pierce 7 months

Somebody feed that boy. His cheeks are nearly sunken!

Really though, ever had to powder a neck because of the rash the rolls can cause? Yeah, we’ve got that going on here.

My funny for the day.


Sterling got his first Lego set for his birthday. Guess what I did this morning? I built everything in the book so his little farm would be complete.

Guess what Ruby did? Took them all apart. *Sigh.*

Then, much to my chagrin, Sterling did this:



You see, living where we do, where tie down straps are often viewed as a time-consuming inconvenience, I’ve seen some sights I never hoped to see. Like a tree, under a cow, under a horse, on a trailer headed to town. It’s possible, and if you get there in one piece, you’ll have saved so much time.

Have I ever told you about the bed I had to swerve around on the interstate? Oh yes, bed. Frame, mattress, the whole bit. Tied together… but not down, apparently.

Welcome to the state of Missouri. Great place to live – but watch for flying debris.


A letter.

Five years ago tomorrow, I woke up with a start at 6:30am. I wondered if I was possibly in labor, dinked around our apartment, showered and wondered if it was The Day. 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I was afraid to get my hopes up. I called a friend at 9am, she said she was even in town and that she would take my girls. Managers of an apartment complex, we had an appointment with the constable to do a lock-out on a non-paying tenant that morning at 11am. Surely we had time.

By the time the constable was finished and gone, I was quite certain it was going to be a birth day for our third child. We headed to the hospital an hour away, stopping along the way to get bagels, sure it was going to be a long (food-free, once admitted to the hospital) day. While Blaine was in the bagel shop, the first hard contraction hit and I was suddenly quite glad we were on our way. We got to the hospital around 1pm, and about three hours later, our first son made his appearance. At 9 lbs. 2 oz., there was a lot to him.

At 7 months old, we found out he was to be a big brother. At 12 months, he crawled for the first time. At 19 months, he began walking. At 4, he got a little brother. Always careful, waiting to be sure of himself, he’s quite the boy. He dresses to match his daddy, desires real tools for his birthday – none of this plastic stuff he’s been dealing with up to now. He’s recently discovered tree climbing, loves fences and fixing things and excels at math.

He loves to blame things on his sisters and defends them when someone else tries to pick on them. We’re working on his habit of leaving household chores up to his sisters. It’s a slow process. He leaves his shoes everywhere and always seems to think I should know where they are when he wants them. He loves to talk his sisters into doing his jobs. He’s pretty convincing. He wants to be a helicopter pilot when he grows up. He also wants to grow sugar. He really likes sugar.

My oldest son kissed me tonight, the last kisses he’ll give me as a four year old. After confirming that I love five year olds too, he told me not to be too sad. Someday he’ll be forty, and that has a four in it too. He promised me he’ll still kiss me when he’s fourteen too. I told him I was going to write that down, so he wouldn’t forget. He says he won’t, but I’m writing it down anyway.

Happy birthday, dear son. I love you more than life itself.




Does is matter?

Sterling asked me this afternoon why bugs don’t like to die. We got into a discussion about the fight for life God gave each of us.

“But we all have to die, when we’re old, because we sin,” Sterling said.

Contemplating this heartbreaking reality from a mother’s perspective, I sat there quiet for a minute.

“But Ruby sins the most.”  Earth to Momma. Quiet ponderings over, I laughed. And laughed. And pondered instead the story of whose sin is greatest and why it doesn’t matter, since sin is sin. By the time I’d figured out a way to explain this, Sterling was off and gone and the moment was over.

I’m still laughing that he thinks Ruby’s the biggest sinner of them all.

Modified English.

Teaching simple subjects and simple predicates to a somewhat confused Eden this morning, the conversation went something like this:

“My dress is pretty. ‘Dress’ is the simple subject, the noun. ‘Is’ is the verb, the simple predicate” I said.

Ruby was listening in, and she piped in, “My dress is pretty. Dress, pretty, and thank you for making it, Momma. That’s what you should say, Eden.”

That’s exactly what I was going for, Ruby. Exactly. Great English lesson.

Hair Dilemma.

Two of my dear daughters,


one who apparently wants to remain namelessIMG_3603

stood in line for my scissors yesterday.


The face painting was not of my doing. I am not that talented.


Ruby wanted her hair as short as Sterling’s.


Um, no. But how’s a couple inches?


Liberty wanted hers cut too. I made her wait a few days because she’s been working on growing it out for so long. She changed her mind. Since she combs her own and doesn’t get food in it, long is ok with me. Eden’s hair always does what I want it to, and she’s always game for whatever I want to try. Ruby – Ruby gets a lot of food in her hair. Or hair in her food. Three is a messy age. Maybe a short cut like Sterling’s would have something going for it. But, no. Girly is good.


Is it still an accident when she forgot to pull up her dress and pull down her panties but sat on the potty and peed through them?

I’m saying no. Another accident-free day. Charlotte is my hero. You know, as much as an easily potty-trained kid can be a hero. She made my life easier, and I needed that right now. A lot.

Number of times I heard a blood-curdling scream today: 13.

Number of times I saw blood today: 0.

The boy who cried wolf doesn’t have anything on my kids.


Potty Talk

IMG_0464 (2)After a couple weeks of working on this at home, this sweet baby girl just completed (without accidents!) her first day as a diaper-free 19 month old in public. Hooray!

Just in case though, we took four pairs of extra panties for Charlie, three dresses for Charlie… and a clothing change for momma too. I am happy to report none of our luggage was necessary.


A berry (counter) productive picking.


I decided to pick mulberries from our tree this morning


and I had a hardworking crew of four to help.


Some pickers,




were counterproductive.


Lesson for today: take the ones who don’t care for mulberries.


More berries land in the bowl that way.


Oil, meet water. Let’s just try to get along.

We had a case of girl bites boy today. Having just discussed with friends biting and thinking back to the only other time I’ve had to deal with the issue, I told boy to bite girl back.

When teeth marks were evident but tears weren’t, I asked if he was sure he’d bitten her as hard as she bit him.

“Yeah, she didn’t bite me very hard.”

Alrighty then. They hugged, kissed and went back to their outdoor adventures.

Really though. Why do children bite? I don’t understand the desire for babies to want every gross thing in their mouths and I don’t understand the decision to put someone’s arm in your mouth and chomp down on it just to see what happens. Both are just gross.

Bet I don’t have to tell you nail biting has never been a habit of mine, either.

Help, anyone?

There is a dear family in our church that is up in Kansas City right now, waiting for a liver transplant.

The owners of Belle, the bull mastiff we loved on for a couple weeks, are waiting, day by day, for the call. While they wait, they stay in a Marriott hotel. With special diet requirements requiring kitchen facilities to be available and an end date no human knows, they wait. If you have the ability, Marriott points and gift cards are a gift they would love to receive, covering the cost of their stay.

If you can help, click on over to my Facebook group and message me. I’ll get instructions to you just as soon as I get it.

A great article about it was written by a friend and fellow church member here.


No news is good news.

I’m amazed my husband answers the phone when I call him at work any more.

He’s gotten some doozies. Topping the list would be when I called to tell him our gas lines had a leak somewhere between the tank outside and the water heater inside.

I’ve called with little things, like asking where his wrench set is. I always get the “Whyyyyyy?” when I ask for tools.

I’ve called to ask how to use the sander. I’ve called to tell him the van wouldn’t start. I’ve called to tell him I’ve gotten a flat tire – four hours away from home. I’ve called for directions because I was lost so many times I cannot begin to count. Dozens, I’m guessing.

I’ve called when I needed to put gas in the weed eater and didn’t know which to use. I called back when I couldn’t get it started. When he answered, I hear in the background, “Uh oh. She couldn’t get it started.” I’m so predictable. But tell me, why, when I get on the phone, can Blaine always fix it even from 10 miles away, when half and hour of trying on my own resulted in nothing but the need for yet another phone call?

Yesterday’s phone call was more of the same. I’d love to be so stinking self sufficient that I don’t need to bother him, but I’m failing. The lawn mower wouldn’t start. The conversation went something like this: “The lawn mower won’t start.”

“Is the blade on?”

“No. The key is turning hard and nothing happens. It’s like the part the key goes into is stuck.” I’m so technical. He often has to tell me to knock it off with the big words and use layman’s terms.

“Does it have gas?”

“Yes. I’ve tried everything.”

“Did you use the choke?”

“Again, everything. I even have a blister on the last knuckle of my first finger to prove how many times I turned that key.” Did you know that’s where the key hits? After trying to turn a key 100+ times, a blister forms. You learn something new every day.

I gave up. Blaine came home later, took the, ahem, ignition switch out. Today, I visited Mr. John Deere, got a new ignition switch, put the lawn mower back together and it roared to life. Does that mean I get to claim having fixed it?

Why didn’t I call Blaine when I got it going? Because then he’d get that sinking feeling. It’s rarely good when I call to bug him at work. But he always answers anyway. Love him.

Then… now.

When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I didn’t plan on this one room schoolhouse with six grades going on.

When I was little, I wanted a big family when I grew up. This business of being raised with just one sister was for the birds. I wanted three. Maybe even four.

Then I wanted to be a missionary. Live in some exotic place, learn new languages, tell everyone I met the gospel. Turns out, you don’t need another language, or exotic, and telling people is harder than I thought. But I start small, with my kids, and go from there.

When I was in high school, I read a book about a hostage negotiator. I changed my mind. That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, instead, I’m the one taking hostages. “You may leave. As soon as: 1. Your chores are done. 2. Your peas are eaten. 3. Your bed is made. 4. Your clothes are folded and put away.” You get the idea. There may be no survivors.

I was gonna marry well. I like shoes. Lots of shoes. Nice ones. Now, my dress code is flip flops. 60% of the shoes in my closet are flip flops that cost less than $5. No shoe in there was more than $30, save one pair. Those, wait for it… were $50. And those were a major splurge that I debated over for a really. long. time.

My children were going to be perfect. I knew everything. Now, I know how little I know. But speaking the gospel and wading through my imperfections seems to be working a little, and the chasms I leave in my wake are filled by Christ.

But I haven’t grown up yet.


Something you never wish you heard:

“Mmm, yum, boogies. I like boogies. Only, not squishy boogies, just the giant ones.”

My stomach’s churning at the thought. Only fair that yours is too.

Such wisdom I’ve imparted.

Ruby brings me the bathroom garbage can.

“Mom! Smell this! You have to.”

Me: “I don’t want to smell a garbage can!”

Ruby: “It smells like poop.”

Me: “Then scrub it.”

Ruby: “Eden, where’s the spray to make this smell better?”

Perfect. I’ve taught them so well. Why scrub when you can simply mask the odor?

Love, true love.


Nothing says love like a man on his knees, planting strawberries for his wife.

Ordinary. Just ordinary.

My kitchen got a little more ordinary today.

With a black fridge, a white stove, and a stainless steel dishwasher that had a personality all it’s own, my kitchen was the epitome of class. Which class, I’ll let you decide.

When the stubbornness of the dishwasher won out and the game to see who could get it to start became a losing game, it joined the pile for the metal scraps and a new one took it’s place. Turquoise, yellow, and pink were all viable options to keep the kitchen in it’s current state of mismatch, but alas, no. It’s replacement is black. Now resembling the colors of the non-comic page in the newspaper, we’re stuck with black and white. So boring. The colors, the games… we’re all back to ordinary.

Not for long though, rest assured. We cannot possibly stick in the ordinary category for long.


It’s all in the numbers.


IMG_0459 (2)


IMG_0466 (2)

not three, but four.IMG_0486 (2)

Four dresses, two days. One midnight, twenty-four pleats and eight ruffles finished in record (for me) time. Three opinionated girls, one opinionated but not on fabric choices, and one big brown button when the reason for those snaps on infant clothing became quite clear. Rippingly so.

Two boys are waiting their turn for something new. One impatiently.

Fun. So fun.


Our dishwasher is complaining. It has been for a while. It runs great, cleans the dishes great, but it has buttons. Oft-pushed buttons. So now, when pushed, they typically ignore you all together. No go, not gonna do it. It’s become a game to see who can get the dishwasher to start. If we all lose, we have to wash the dishes by hand, so it’s a vested interest on all sides to conquer the tired electrical mechanism and get it to go.

Add to this that two of the buttons have started speaking back in the form of electrical shock to any who dare to push them, and things get quite exciting. Visitor beware, “Spray” and “Rinse” will bite back.

Lately, Blaine’s even gotten into the thick of things. Last night, even he couldn’t get it. I stared at the overcrowded drawers of dishes that had been rotting in the spring heat for a day and did what any good woman would do.

I closed the door and decided to try again in the morning.

This morning, after fiddling for several minutes while the thing mutely sat there and ignored me, I offered up the job to Eden. The alternative being wash them all herself, she jumped in with ten fingers, ready to push buttons with vigor until something decided to go.

She got it. It’s washing. It’s also dinging. One ding per second kind of dinging. Perfect. Two hours of this and our ears will all be dinging for a week. So long as I don’t have to wash them by hand.

Dishwasher recommendations, anyone?


Pay attention, please.


Sterling Blaine, talented child that he is, can put an umbrella pole through the top of his head and take it out of his mouth.


Or something like that.

What a dirty bunch.

One hot summer spring day


we passed the (root) beer around


threw in some ice cream


a whole lot of littles


and a kiss, for good measure.



Caught blue-faced.


She’s been accused of cookie thievery. She’s pled not guilty. The evidence, however, says she’s lying.


When frowning and denying the truth didn’t work, she went for the clown act. I refuse to admit say if that worked or not.