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.


Groceries... large scale.

Potatoes were on sale at a store I don't often get to tonight. I bought 90 pounds. I already had twenty in my kitchen. Chances are quite good we'll go through all 110 pounds of them within a month. I remember the days of buying 5 pounds at a time, because 10 spoiled before we finished them.

I also bought 50 pounds of oatmeal. That'll take a few months.

I'm scared to know what our food consumption will be in a few more years.



Early yesterday morning, before anyone had emerged from bedrooms, there was a crash.


The tree that had been standing tall for over a week fell over. No one was in the room, it had never threatened tipping before, but there we were, drenched gifts and broken ornaments strewn across the living room.

I headed for the kitchen to make Blaine’s gift. Without a clue what else to get for him, I decided to try my hand at the very Dutch pastry banket, or butter letter. Not being a stitch Dutch myself, I had yet to try making it, but my completely-Dutch husband grew up with it, loves it, and has hinted many times that I ought to make him some. After a thorough search of my city’s grocery stores, I found one that carries almond paste, and we were in business.

The filling melted out of the dough EVERYWHERE. Every single one I made leaked. My dear husband assures me this is relatively normal, but after the tree, an imperfect gift for my husband was not what I’d hoped for. Frustrating. From his consumption of his gift, I’m thinking Blaine’s less than bothered.

While the butter letter baked, I had one of my girls mix up the pumpkin pie. The oven sat hot and empty for over an hour before I found the pumpkin pie batter in the mixing bowl, pie crusts sitting empty, oven sitting empty. There went my target time for dinner. We didn’t eat anything beyond fruit for the first time yesterday until 1:15 pm. It wasn’t the meal I’d planned. Our big meal was supposed to be a late lunch. It was supper. We didn’t open gifts until 3:00.

We ended up eating three hours after I’d planned. Charlotte dropped and broke her brand new ornament. Several of the dolls made by dear friends for my girls took a bath in Christmas tree water. Pierce peed on his new truck. Ruby decided to take the paints out of her new paint by number and Pierce opened the lavender and painted the floor, Ruby’s new skirt, the couch, and the paint by number package. I found out said paint washes off of wood floors and leather couches and skirts well when wet. Charlotte’s new sock has a small seam in a place where a seam ought not be from the scissors she used to open the package. The Christmas tree was down and out of the house before supper when it threatened to fall again after we cleaned it all up and straightened it once. The kids loved their Lincoln Logs, played heartily, picked them up and filled an entire five gallon bucket with them before bed, and Pierce helped them out by dumping them with a crash during devotions.

Sitting back last night, exhausted by the day and reminiscing on years past, I couldn’t help but think. Things were not like this growing up for me. It was just my sister and I, life was organized and quiet. Traditions were upheld. Yelling over the noise never happened. I remember exactly zero toppled Christmas trees. We took the tree down when we wanted to, not when it forced us to. We always opened gifts in the morning. The living room didn’t look like a hurricane had hit after gifts were opened.

Was that better? What am I complaining about? It was less stressful, to be sure. Things were more organized. There wasn’t chaos. It was quiet.

My kids weren’t complaining. My husband wasn’t complaining. It was me. It was my picture of the ideal way to celebrate Christmas that was being skewed.

Jesus was born in a barn, my friends. He left a perfect world to become man, to dwell among us, to save us from our sins. He humbled himself from God to baby. A not-talking, not-walking, helpless infant laid in a hard, stinky, dirty manger, a baby sent to save. And I’m complaining that there’s chaos in my house, that things aren’t happening when I wanted them to, how I wanted them – on a day that we celebrate Him.



Christmas preparations.

I finally finished Christmas shopping. I had to sew a few things, and got those made tonight, and everything wrapped. Whew. We don't get the kids a ton of gifts by any means, but half a dozen gifts per kid still means I wrap 36 gifts. I'm finally excited about the things we found, but it took a bit of creativity to figure out what to get. I sewed Charlotte and Ruby mei tai slings for their dolls, a maxi skirt for Liberty with a matching scarf, and a pillow for Charlotte. She found a remnant of polka dot minky that she grabbed and declared she need a new pillow with it. She really did need a new pillow, so I can't wait to see her reaction. That was the extent of my homemade gifts, but it was fun anyhow.

My seam ripper is missing. The pressure that creates when such a key tool in my sewing box shows up missing... I felt like I was a newbie at sewing all over again, scared to make a mistake. Funny thing is, I have had the same seam ripper since high school. I decided it was dull, bought a new one, and days later Liberty broke my old one. And now, my new one's missing. Funny how that works.

I asked Blaine's opinion on my boots this morning. When I questioned his choice because I didn't think they were dressy enough, he told me they were fine - but even if they weren't, who's going to argue? I'm pregnant. In his words, "No one who's smart!" I laughed. Poor man has lived with a pregnant wife just over five years now - nearly half of the time we've been married. He's learned how to keep peace with me when my hormones are in overdrive, apparently.

We're on Christmas break this week. Blaine only works one day this week. It should be fun. Christmas is never as fun as seeing it through the eyes of my children. Pierce remembers his birthday well enough to be thrilled at the sight of gifts. He was told one in particular is his, and he keeps trying to convince me to let him open it. Not until Christmas morning - but I can't wait either.



Persistence, pain, and learning personal hygiene...

Today was the Christmas party for the kids at co-op. It was exhausting, long, and now... It's over. Whew. Co-op is done until January, we start our break from schooling next week, and it feels like I've passed the first leg of surviving homeschooling for the year.

Tonight was my 27.5 week midwife appointment. Baby's head down! After one breech baby resulting in a c-section (Ruby), I was relieved to hear this baby is doing its part in cooperating. As achy as I've been lately, everything looks great with baby. Enduring the next twelve or so weeks could be interesting. Heartbeat's consistently 140. If I guessed, I'd say girl... but I'm rarely right. Just often enough to say "Yeah, you have a fifty percent chance of being right."

Yes, I accidentally scheduled my midwife appointment on co-op party day. Not the smartest thing I've ever done.

The four older kids got their free pizzas from Pizza Hut on the way home. Small town, I sent them in together to get the pizzas I'd called in. The young server asked if they'd be dining in. Four kids, ages five to ten, without an adult, dining on Book It pizzas, alone. I know it's a small town, but is that something they've had happen?!

Tammy, bless you for mentioning swipe on kindle. I had to Google it to find out what it was, but wow, has that made this process faster. I think it might even be faster than typing. Amazing.

Charlotte told me this morning that she'd put undies on already so I wouldn't have to tell her to cover her bottom. Progress, my friends. One of these years I might not have to remind them of these things. Right?! I finally told them I was starting a cavity fund and fining them a quarter each time noon rolled around and their teeth weren't brushed. None of them have yet to have a cavity, but I'm not sure how. My nagging skills have been finely tuned, and my pet peeve of such things is quite over it. Strangely enough, I have yet to collect anything for my cavity fund. Funny how money talks.

The kids managed to chop down the tree they were working on the other day all by themselves. They brought it to the house, recruited Blaine to set it up, and decorated it all by themselves. The light strands hang in clusters and the ornaments only cover the bottom two thirds of the tree, the star won't stay on the top because the branches are too soft and bend under pressure, and most of the ornaments have to hang from lights. But oh, the pride in the job they accomplished all on their own, together. This family of mine, with all of its interesting moments provided by many small children, is so different than the way I grew up - but I love it. Independence and teamwork are lessons built in if I just stop back and let them figure it out. Priceless.



Blurry lines…

Guest post by Alexandra…

I don’t allow the cats on the beds or the couch. They get put outside if I catch them on said furniture. With the weather turning so cold, they have decided that this lesson is worth learning. They curl up on the boys little chairs, any clothes or blankets that have fallen onto the floor, but rarely (anymore) do I catch them any place they are not allowed.


What category does an open dresser drawer fall in?


Fiction, Christmas Trees, and Grandpa

"I know jackals are real. They are in Jotham's Journey and in Chronicles of Narnia." Eden lives in a world of fiction. The fact that Blaine had showed her a photo of a jackal a day earlier meant nothing. It's in a book. That's all that matters.

Charlotte was eating her soup at supper when apparently it was too hot. She grabbed her forehead as if it were going to explode. That launched a whole discussion on York Peppermint Patties and how Grandpa told them that the flavors would explode your tastebuds and you're wise to hold onto your head during the eating of said candy. I'm pretty sure every kid believed it to be true.

What Grandpa says is gospel. If I didn't believe it before, Ruby proved it this week. I started singing "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." but Ruby finished the line for me. "But Grandma's kiss is so delightful..." We've been over this before, but when I giggled and told her that's not really how the song goes, she argued. I lost that argument.

The kids went up to the pasture and worked on cutting down a cedar tree tonight. Apparently they ran out of steam before they got it cut completely down, so now they have plans to head back there tomorrow with Daddy and reinforcement: the chainsaw.

It's never dull around here.


Routines on the ranch

Guest post by Alexandra...

Gus and Brent are learning the days of the week and the months of the year. December and January are the beginning and the end and they have several important birthdays. February and March is when the cows are calving. April cows are going out on the mountain. May is branding season. June, July, and August are fun times since the tractors are all rolling with the hay season in full swing and the horses are always in with riding and moving cows constantly. September is more riding and weaning calves. October is spent checking and doctoring on any sick calves and then in November the calves get on the trucks for a ride to their new home. Then it is (My favorite time of year!) 2 or 3 weeks of slower time before we bring all the cows home off the mountain and start feeding them hay everyday.

Obviously life on a cattle ranch has a certain rhythm. We are feeding cows everyday now. One of the 2 older boys is enlisted every morning to help feed. Matthew needs a driver so the pickup doesn’t run off into the creek or through a fence while he is on the back pitching hay off. Oh, the arguments that we have every morning…. The rules are that boys must be dressed and have made an effort at making their bed before leaving the house. And the latest rule? No one is allowed to get up before 5am! We seriously had boys showing up in the middle of the night fully dressed and with a made bed, expecting that they should be able to go start feeding. Ugh. Matthew prefers to feed in the daylight.

We have a new addition to our family! Hold your seats everyone, its NOT what your thinking.  His name is Zeb and he’s about 4 months old, since we apparently just really love dogs around here. (Adrienne's note... I thinks this makes five dogs for them. It makes my little zoo with the dog and the stray rooster sound lame.)


I guess for that matter we probably love chickens, horses, cats, and cows too, but dogs just have a special place in our hearts –and our couch- around here. I mean really, how can you not just fall in love with something that can so exuberantly love, lick and chew on you all in the same 30 seconds?! –And then turn around and leave his mess on the floor and think you should scratch his belly for it? The first morning after we got Zeb, I opened the door to let him into the house and watched him go bounding over to the couch, that was loaded with 3 out of the 4 boys, and land right smack in the middle of them. That was funny, to watch that heap try to untangle themselves!


Random, I’ve got.

Blaine’s been off from work this week. We didn’t take a vacation this year, so he was left with time off that had to be taken before the end of the year. Darn it anyway… it’s been awesome to have him home. I’ve decided he should work from home. Of course, I’m not sure how much work he’d be able to get done with no enclosed office and six children who seek him out on a constant basis, but… it’d be fun for me!

With him off, I’ve gotten a bit of Christmas shopping done. Some of it’s been fun, but most of it’s been frustrating. Somewhere along the line, we hit the point where they have need for little, space for none, and nothing in my budget seems like it’ll make it to the new year. Eden and Pierce were the easiest, and I have Blaine’s statement that he’ll take care of Sterling’s gifts, but the other three girls have me stumped. I have a few things for them, but nothing that thrills me overly much. Frustrating.

My house is being taken over by winter clothes. Towels spread with mittens, hats, and scarves to dry, times six (if they put them away as they dry…) makes for a big mess. Coats that don’t get hung back up, eight pairs of boots in front of the door… I’m starting to think I’ve been spoiled with this non-wintery state in which we live. I couldn’t handle this mess long term. We’ve upped sizes in puddle boots to make space for extra socks, nearly left a hat on the grocery store shelf, and, miraculously, not lost a mitten yet. I’ve been accused of not liking the snow because I’ve only ventured out to play in it one time in the last week. I have to admit, it’s prettier from the window. It’s hard enough to move this bulky body even remotely gracefully without walking through a foot of snow. Something about a coat that won’t quite button in single digit overnight to 20’s during the day doesn’t quite scream warm.

I got a Kindle Fire! I can’t stand it I’m so excited. I need to get faster at the one finger typing, though, or blog posts suffer. I found a grocery list app and another app for a calendar… trying to make it less toy and more tool. So far, the kids have watched from afar – except for Pierce, who doesn’t fear Momma’s wrath nearly as much as he ought and wants to try this screen swiping business out for himself. I’ve wished for one for over a year now, and am having so much fun with it.

I’ve begun my third trimester. Baby kicks often, but goes crazy when I eat something with sugar. I’m pretty sure I’m waddling when I walk, have nearly outgrown my winter coat, and can’t wait to see who this baby will be. Names have yet to be discussed, I waffle on whether I’m guessing boy or girl, and Pierce loves to lay on my belly and get kicked.


Liberty’s Snow Slushi

Liberty decided to use the snow to “cook” up something. Here’s her recipe:

1/2 tsp lime juice

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp water

2 T sugar

2 cups snow

food coloring (optional)

Mix together: lime juice, lemon juice, water, sugar, and snow. Add drops of food coloring according to the food coloring box. Stir it up. Add a straw and spoon and ENJOY! :)

Momma’s note: something tells me, from the amount of sour and sweet going on, her estimates of lime and lemon juices and sugar were a little low. Or a lotta low. Or, if you ask Pierce, not even on the chart low. He couldn’t get enough. Judging from the amount of lime juice left in the fridge… it was closer to 1/2 a cup per serving. The first batch contained a ridiculous amount of real vanilla as well. I found myself explaining the benefits and drawbacks of vanilla with citrus… all agreed it was better omitted. My vanilla stash and frugal side appreciated their omission.

I made three batches of soap yesterday. My house smells like a lovely citrus/clean cotton/Barber Shoppe combo. It’s interesting. Christmas, it would seem, is the best time for soap sales. I’ve sold 2-3 times as much as I did last year, and I’m scrambling to make more. Fun times.

Charlotte swallowed a penny. She’s my first to try this tactic – some of the others put coins in their mouths, but none of them were chewing gum at the same time and somehow swallowed both down. Her biggest concern: the coin came from the school money we use during math and she can’t put it back, so she stole it. Love that girl; she has a conscience that won’t let her get away with anything. Anyone have experience with this? What next?

We ended up with about six inches of snow. The kids are having a blast. Sterling remains king of the cold; he’ll stay out there for hours, loving it. Pierce wants to be out there but spends most of the day going in and out, not handling the 20 degree temps so well.

Pierce is trying to talk like crazy. Now if I could just understand him. He gets so frustrated when he has to say things three times before I get it.

Some Guy’s Rooster isn’t thrilled with our snow. Neither is Brady. Wimpy animals don’t know how good they have it.

Liberty asked if we could just lay three twin mattresses, side by side, in the bedroom and get rid of all the beds. She thinks each set of buddies could sleep on one mattress, they could stack up the mattresses during the day, the bedroom would stay cleaner and she’d never have to clean out from underneath beds again. Um… no.


Oh the weather outside…

IMG_4993It’s snowing. For the first time this season, the weather is in the 20’s and it’s snowing enough to stick. Slightly. Ruby went out to help her older siblings gather kindling this morning before the snow (might, just maybe, if she’s lucky) covered up the ground, but she was so top heavy she was fearful she might go headfirst when she bent to retrieve sticks from the ground.

I, of course, laughed and took a photo before I sent her on her way.

Just for the record, this climate is nothing like I grew up in. They have –30 degree wind chill temps.

We were at the zoo yesterday. In t-shirts. It was 62 degrees.

The kids are hoping it snows enough to sled in. This whole southern living business is pretty odd, I tell you!


Thanksgiving 2013

Mom and Dad are gone. It’s the moment I dread from the moment I know they are coming. We hadn’t seen them since June, and now Thanksgiving is over and my house is quiet again – and the mess that it is is all from us and my not having really cleaned in four days. Hello, Laundry.


We took photos this morning, after ignoring cameras for the entire visit. Good grief. Everyone scrambled to get dressed before Grandpa and Grandma left. It would appear that stripes are the choice for shirt of the day.

Today, we’re back to school. Blaine’s back to work. I’m three loads of laundry deep and have four more left. Supper tonight: Turkey Pot Pie. It’s 56 degrees outside and as soon as the babies wake up from naps, we’re headed outside to play for a bit. This somber mood is killing me.


Random thoughts from a moment in my pie-making procrastination.

Judging from the activity level coming from my abdomen, the baby agrees with me that lime Jell-o is definitely on the list of favorite foods.

If Skittles hadn’t changed their green from lime to green apple, I bet baby would agree that those are also fantastic. Sadly, we’ll never know.

My parents are coming tomorrow for the weekend. The excitement in my house is amazing. We haven’t seen them since early June.

Charlotte colored with pencil on the coffee table. She was instructed to clean it off. Half an hour of half-hearted scrubbing, she had it clean. She told Liberty afterwards she would never, ever, ever do that again. The words of sweet success.

Brady (the dog) tried to go home with the delivery truck driver yesterday. He was unimpressed.

The two kittens found a new home. I’ve never missed anything less.

Pierce had his first potty-accident free day on Monday since we started potty training mid-June. Not one to lead anyone on, he was sure to poop in his zipper pj’s, without a diaper, first thing Tuesday morning. Glad we’re clear on that accident free day not being a new habit or anything.

I’ve scrubbed my house above and beyond it’s regular maintenance three times this week in preparation for my parents’ visit. I’m starting to think I should wait until about noon tomorrow, and send the kids with Blaine somewhere until Grandma and Grandpa get here. This repetitive cleaning business is for the birds.

We took the week off of school this week. I’m amazed at how much more I can accomplish when I’m not devoting 5-7 hours each day to schoolwork with the kids. The deep freezer got defrosted and cleaned out this week, my friends. I cannot remember the last time I did that.

I found two beef roasts, a chicken we grew/butchered a year and a half ago, a pound of ground deer meat, and 10 pounds of cranberries I didn’t know were in there. So glad I had just stocked up on 8 more packages of cranberries on sale for Thanksgiving days earlier.

I cut a bunch of fabric off of the couch we just replaced. The look on Liberty’s face when I told her I’d make her something and she could know she’s wearing the couch was priceless. It has to be something like wearing the drapes on Sound of Music. Who knew embarrassing your children could provide such entertainment? Ruby didn’t see the irony of wearing the couch though. She just started making plans for whatever it was I might make.

I asked the kids what they’d like for Christmas. The list consisted of boards and nails for Sterling, a planner calendar with note-taking space for Liberty, socks and maybe a cute silver ring for Eden, and chapstick and a bag of the little “cutie” oranges for Ruby. Charlotte and Pierce don’t have a clue. Entitlement attitude, meet my children. Or rather, don’t. I kind of like them like this. A lot.


IMG_4976I was contemplating two of my children this morning and made some observations to my husband.

We have buddies around here. Each of my children has a buddy – a littler person who they are willing and able to get things for, help dress, take potty, etc., when I am unable. Eden’s buddy is Charlotte. Eden’s been compared to a bull in a china shop more than once. She takes life in stride, plows through where she ought tread lightly, and tends to be a bit… blunt. Charlotte, on the other hand, is calm and quiet, shy, one to let her emotions get the better of her. The two together make an interesting team. Sometimes it’s really, really interesting.

Pairing up with Charlotte has smoothed a few of Eden’s edges. It’s taught her compassion, gentleness, understanding. Charlotte has taken Eden in stride for the most part, and it’s been amazing to see the relationship between those two grow. Lately, Charlotte has been sleeping with Eden. Charlotte had been on a trundle of sorts, but she kept rolling off her bed and ending up under Eden’s bed in the middle of the night. Nightly for a good while, I’d stumble in to her hollers that she was stuck once again and pull her out from under the bed. Finally, she started sleeping with Eden instead, and the under-the-bed mid-night rendezvous stopped.

This morning, though, Charlotte told me, “Eden pushed me off the bed again. But this time I didn’t hit my head!” Poor girl, I never knew. I commented to Blaine how good Charlotte has been for Eden, and how Eden apparently has a learning curve in sleeping next to another.

He told me it sounded like Eden and I have a lot in common. Charlotte

The first few years of marriage and attempting to share one sleep space were interesting. Apparently Eden comes by her rough edges honestly.

Sobering thought. How easy is it to see my daughter and wonder why she can’t slow down, do things carefully, watch her words, be gentle? Is that how I am?

I’m thankful for Blaine. For the man who stood by me and helped smooth out a few rough edges without complaint. Who lives with the rest of them, never saying a word – being glad “it didn’t hurt – this time”. Those personality differences in friends and spouses and children can be difficult. We just don’t understand some people. But how often are those the ones we learn the most from?

Sobering thoughts to start out my day.


The desires of your heart…

I married a handyman. Over the years, Blaine has fixed water pipes, gas lines, changed brakes, took apart a dashboard to solder an electronic component that kept shorting out and sending the dashboard dark, and refinished a table and church pew for our dining room furniture. He’s built rock wall flower beds and changed vehicle belts and a host of other things. Last Saturday, he had my lawn mower torn apart, trying to figure out why it kept revving to a ridiculous speed. (Carburetor, I’m told.)

All that, for this story. A month or so ago, we agreed a new couch was in order. Ours was given to us several years ago, and was a huge blessing to us, but a year and a half ago we wore completely through the arm fabric and I recovered them. Last Christmas, we bought a slipcover for it because we’d gone through the seat cushion too. Now… it’s not so comfy anymore. On a search for a used sofa that didn’t cost a lot but would serve our family, my first choice was leather. I’d heard so many people say how well it wipes clean and dreamed of not washing slipcovers and the messes these children of mine can make.

I looked at hundreds of ads by people wishing to sell their sofas. I came to one conclusion: even used, leather is too expensive.

Then… I found a blue (not my first choice, but it’ll do) leather sofa. $50. Missing the mattress for it’s hide-a-way bed. (Sofa bed hadn’t crossed my mind… but it seemed like a great addition for our small house that doesn’t offer much space for company!) I agreed to buy it, and went home to do research on what it would take to find a mattress. Ouch. Those things are expensive too. Then I found a couch listed for sale for $35 with a sofa bed. I called on it. I kid you not, I asked if she still had the sofa bed and the lady said…

“It’s really in rough shape. It was my aunt’s, and her dogs tore it up. But if you wanted it for the mattress inside…”

Wow. She didn’t even know what I needed it for. So yesterday, we went and picked it up. She took $20. So we now have $70 into two couches that I plan to combine into one and Blaine has agreed to demolish the leftovers. (Dear, dear man. He didn’t even bat an eye when I told him my plan.)

We started combining couches, but quickly learned the sofa bed mechanisms on my blue couch were less than straight. Blaine went to work, taking out the entire sofa bed mechanism from the ugly couch, putting them into the leather couch, and the only modification was the couch needed to be 1/2 inch taller to accommodate the folding of the bed frame. He fixed that, and we had a complete couch, with perfect mattress and sliding mechanism, and we’re out $70… less than we ever thought we’d have to spend.

The amazing part? Water spilled on my new couch last night. A quick wipe up later, we could still sit on the couch… and not shift around uncomfortably.

I know this is a long story. It could have ended very differently. The mechanism could have not fit in the leather couch, the mattress could have been to thick to fit… but in the end, we got exactly what we’d hoped for at a good price and I can’t help but think: Does God care about the little things? Like a couch that we can enjoy and use that takes less work to maintain – that’s comfortable to sit on too. I’m rather inclined to think He does. If you all have been around a few years, you’ll remember this story about Sterling and the desires of his heart. Amazing.


Pregnancy: 23.5 weeks

23.5 weeks

While I’m not big on pregnancy update blog posts - or photos of me to remind me later of the misery – I thought it might be time to post one. I’m 23 5/7 weeks along, baby is growing and measuring well and stubbornly breech, and stretching the bounds of my larger maternity clothes.

Since I can’t seem to get my act together and get a photo when I’m dressed reasonably well, have makeup on and hair done, and Blaine’s here to do it, I took one this morning, after I had my makeup on. And then I turned off the flash so I didn’t blind all of you and squinted to take a photo and I realized if I just go for hair done and dressed I’d be golden either way.

We don’t know what we’re having and have no plans to find out until baby’s born. Sterling and Ruby were the only two that we did find out, and while that was fun, not knowing is more fun. Since my shed houses all baby clothes not worn to shreds by previous babies, we have clothes for both genders and, while the boys want another boy and the girls want another girl, I’ll be happy with whoever this baby turns out to be.

We plan another homebirth, hoping for a midwife in attendance this time… although I think I’d take another half hour labor again without complaint.

We don’t have names. We haven’t even talked about names. I have my favorites list, and just as soon as Blaine comes to the realization that my belly is going to take over the entire bed and one of us is going to end up on the couch - or I hit 40 weeks and labor is imminent, whichever comes first - he’ll decide it’s time to discuss names. Really, why rush these things?

This concludes pregnancy update #1. Update #2 will likely be when I’m 40 weeks and looking wider than I am tall. Likely.


Contentment–in THIS life.

Every mother has struggles. Or, even broader, every person has struggles.

How easy is it to say, “Mary has it so easy. She doesn’t struggle with not having enough money like I do.”

“Joan has it so much easier. Her children are so much more compliant and easier to parent than mine.”

“Marge has easy pregnancies. She’s so lucky.”

I could go on and on. It’s so easy to look at other lives, pick out the part that they aren’t struggling with quite as much as we are, and think their lives are better; God’s blessing them more – and end up in a disgruntled, envious, unsatisfied mess.

I’m here to tell you, dear friends, it’s not as black and white as all that. I’m preaching to myself lately, because my tendencies are to look at others’ lives and think that they have it so much easier than I do.


The things she struggles with are things I cannot fathom. Different stresses. And chances are, she’s looking at my life and seeing the things that I have easier and thinking the same thing. If we could combine mine and fifty friend’s lives and all the best parts, we might, just maybe, end up with a perfect life.

But probably not.

We live in a fallen world, tainted by sin. We’ll all have struggles, until the day that we die. I’m so thankful, as I preach this message of contentment to myself, that I don’t have all the problems of me and those fifty friends. God is gracious, giving us what we can handle so that we can learn, grow, and become more like Him.

That’s something to contemplate as we attempt to rest in contentment in our own lives.


Redneck practices, old age, road kill supper, and one stupid move.

Low point of yesterday: preheating my flat iron for 9 1/2 hours, then laying my brand new glasses on them when I went to bed. The smell of burning plastic several minutes later jogged my memory. Ugh, stupidity.

Tomorrow, I turn 30. I face the number with mixed feelings. I’ve always been one of the young moms. I always wanted to have my children when I was young, but getting older never really crossed my mind. Suddenly, I’m hitting thirty and am not quite sure what to think about it. My kids keep telling me they don’t want me to turn 30 because then I’ll be old. Sterling is all but mourning my death already. I remember as a kid thinking 30 sounded old. It kind of still does – but here I am. Strange.

We were given a deer to eat. Early one morning, one of Blaine’s co-workers calls and asked if we’d eat it if he brought it over. Thinking of deer meat and the creativity required to make wild game edible and the rising grocery prices I’ve been seeing, I said I was up for the challenge.

It was a road kill deer.

Turns out, Missouri has a whole program/list of people who are waiting for freshly pulverized bounty, and we can put our name on such a list to receive notifications of such events.

Tell me I’m not the only one who has never heard of or considered indulging in something hit by a car at a high speed? And yet. Freshly dead, this buck weighed somewhere in the vicinity of 200 lbs. A little while later, Blaine’s coworkers were hanging the animal in the shed to gut it… but the shed rafters protested, and the meat ended up straight in my house, no hanging necessary. I washed and trimmed and froze the meat, and we’ve had two lovely meals of Ree Drummond’s Beer and Paprika Beef Stew, venison style since, with many more meals’ worth left. Entirely edible, free, and it’s filling my freezer at the moment. Everyone liked the stew, and free meat made it the ultimate in cheap. The same week we got the deer, we got a receipt in the mail saying they knew and approved of our consuming one dead road kill deer.

I just can’t think about the road kill part. It’s just a tad redneck. Wow. I have yet to put my name on that list. It’s like I’m embracing the weirder practices of this strange state we now call home. It’s just… wow.


I never imagined this.

These days are hard. School seems to drag on forever, co-op has become a stress like no other and keeps me awake at night, it’s all I can do to keep up with the house somewhat and laundry, Pierce is tearing the house apart as fast as I can put it back together and refusing to take naps many days, and my belly is bigger and causing me more pain than it’s ever been at just shy of 23 weeks.

It’s funny, as a kid, picturing motherhood didn’t include absolute exhaustion. It didn’t include frustration or anger or sticking to the floor when I stumble into the kitchen after consoling a child with growing pains at 3am. It didn’t include repeating myself over and over and over or searching for lost objects that I didn’t lose or potty training a single child for six months with limited success.

Strangely enough, I pictured lovely children, well-behaved, without all the work. I imagined clean, pressed (HA!) and smiling children. This just wasn’t what I imagined.

Messes. Oh, the messes. The laundry, the mountains of work without the energy to climb anything more than the path to the couch. The pure exhaustion and achiness that pregnancy brings. The unending meal preparation and the inability to feed my children one helping of anything that fills them up.


I didn’t picture the discussions either. The talks of sin and Christ’s love. The discussions of those painful growing up moments that are inevitable.

The laughs. Oh, the laughs. The hilarious things that a child comes up with. The heart stopping moment when you find your two year old standing high in the air, perched on a tiny patch of instability. The baby kissing “his baby” in Momma’s belly, loving someone so unconditionally that they’ve never met, don’t fully understand, and who is taking up more and more of “their” lap space.

The different personalities. The ones I see myself in clearly, and the ones I don’t understand in the slightest because they are so unlike me. The ones who are word oriented and the ones who crunch numbers like nobody’s business. Outgoing. Shy. Energetic. Quiet.

If I had to describe them each in a word…

Liberty… perfectionist

Eden… scattered

Sterling… mathematical

Ruby… passionate

Charlotte… imaginative

Pierce… hungry

Yeah. I never pictured any of this. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The hardest thing I’ve done, and the only thing I can’t quit. Day after day, new struggles face me in the lives of these children. I never imagined this. But I’m having the time of my life – on the good days and the bad.


TOS Review: At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

Billed as “an unforgettable story of one family’s attempt to live an authentic life”, I’ve had the chance to review At Home in Dogwood Mudhole by Franklin Sanders as part of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew. When the review first came up, I thought it sounded intriguing. It sounded like something I’ve lived through, somewhat. Franklin Sanders, the author, is father to many, having been concerned with Y2K and the preparation for what might have happened, a city-dweller desiring to become a farmer, as the biography begins.

I was nearly halfway through the book of comical stories, written in letter form - as they came, originally, in form of newsletters authored by Franklin Sanders and published in his The Moneychanger newsletter - when I started to make a connection. Y2K was a real concern to my family, and preparation for it was rather forming to my teenage years. Our friendships were, more often than not, with families who were likeminded, and it was a threat we took serious enough to feel that preparation was wise.

Franklin Sanders owned a money changing service, exchanging paper currency for precious metals. In high school, this was something I did a little bit of. (You know, in those days where money came easy. Or easier – and stayed around longer, without children and homes to maintain…) Franklin Sanders’ children attended the Christian Worldview Student Conference in Newport News, Virginia a few years before I attended the same week-long conference. I finally called my dad, thinking all of this was sounding too familiar. Turns out, Mr. Sanders’ newsletter sounded familiar because it had regularly arrived in my childhood home for a season. His business was one I used, once upon a time. His name was one I remembered, once I had it in context.

Small world?! I suppose so. This book took on a new fascination for me, as I felt like, strangely enough, I knew a bit of this family. One-sided, to be sure, but it was a fun connection anyhow. My dad had talked to Mr. Sanders on the phone in the time leading up to Y2K. Coincidence or otherwise, it was fun to have a bit of knowledge of the author as I read.

Obviously, Y2K didn’t turn out worst case scenario. Life changed, moved on. The story of one family’s life as they hilariously work to get out of the city, join the ranks as farmers, and lose a ridiculous number of chickens to dogs who take on a place in their family with personalities of their own (and medical bills that make you cringe) was a fun one to follow. As a northerner by birth and now a southerner of sorts, I particularly enjoyed the chapters with Mr. Sanders’ perspective on what he considers to be the very un-Civil War. While I’d never consider myself a Yankee, the War was a far more personal thing to the people fighting for independence in the South, and, as a result, their descendants as well. My home state was still a territory during the War and I get the picture that people there were just fighting to survive winter for the most part. The War isn’t something talked about there. Ever. It wasn’t something we talked about or dwelled upon. Still, I rather appreciate the perspective, explanations, and patriotism Mr. Sanders writes of and shares with his readers. I’m beginning to think it’s something we should talk about more.

Whether you read this book as a like-minded reader or a passive observer or something else entirely, it’s sure to entertain, teach you a few things, and make you shake your head at how life can turn out. With a list of places worth stopping Mr. Franklin discovered in his travels, it becomes travel guide, chronicling life in Tennessee for the Sanders family. They have a story no other, and reading it was fascinating.

With 379 pages and composed of mostly short chapters (Something I, with my limited quiet and busy house of full of children appreciate – never mind my pregnant tendencies to fall asleep whenever I sit down for a few minutes…) At Home in Dogwood Mudhole: Nothing That Eats is volume one of a three-part series. It is available here for $22.95 for paperback or $16.95 for various e-versions. Volume one is shipping now, Volume two is shipping November 15, 2013, and Volume three, I can only assume, is in the works. I look forward to reading them all.

The read the rest of the Crew’s reviews on At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, head over to the Review Crew Blog.


Mr. P.

My dear youngest son is giving me gray hairs.


Last night, he asked for a banana. Sure. He chewed it up and spit it, systematically, all over the kitchen floor.

This was after he went grape stomping. All over the kitchen floor.

I set to mopping up his mess, and sent him to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Bedtime needed to happen. Soon.

I found him, minutes later, sitting in the bathroom sink. The water was running and he was drenched – clothes and all.

Near tears in my exhaustion and frustration and anger at this point, I sent him to bed.

I don’t typically mop on Sundays. I was left no option. Entering the kitchen wasn’t an option until the whole thing had been scrubbed.

Today, he dumped the crayon box. Then he dumped his milk – that he’d gotten out of the fridge and poured himself - on the mopping job of yesterday, of course. Then he played in the dry oatmeal and ate it. Twice. He dug through the candy drawer in the fridge. Twice. I was running from one disaster to the next, unable to keep up or slow him down.

You know those kids you see in the store, and you wonder why on earth his mother isn’t DOING something about his behavior?

I have one of those. I’ve DONE a lot of things about his behavior. Some days it helps. And some days, I just count a few more gray hairs at the end of the day and wonder what lesson God’s trying to get through my thick skull that I’m not getting.

The only sacred place is his bed. For now. I get approximately one and one half hours a day to catch up on the messes he’s made before he’s back out, feeling like a new boy and ready to go again.

I’m worn out, huge pregnant, (and keep getting comments about being due any day. I’m 22.4 weeks.) exhausted, and praying my stubborn streak outlasts his.


Start them young.

Mashed potatoes: It’s what’s for supper.


I invested in enough potato peelers for the whole crew last year. Best investment ever.


Pierce was feeling left out. I’m not sure how productive he was… but he tried. Ruby started him out, and he aerated the potatoes for us.


I love having my kids help in the kitchen. I don’t love tripping over them so much… but they’re turning into fabulous helpers who jump at the chance. The supper crew lineup made me smile tonight.

TOS Review: Apologia Chemistry and Physics

At the beginning of this year, I got to review Apologia’s Anatomy and Human Physiology. It was amazing. When another Apologia review was offered, I all but begged to do it. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew obliged me, and so here I am, for your reviewing pleasure, reviewing another Apologia homeschool science curriculum. This time, I got to review Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. Sounds like pretty heavy stuff, but it’s written for all the elementary grades, and like the other Apologia science I did, this one did not disappoint. I received to review the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal to use with Eden (age 8 and 4th grade) and the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal to use with Sterling, age 6 and 1st grade.

First off, my experience with Apologia is limited to these two sciences. I’ve heard of them in the homeschool world, but never used anything else they’ve published. That said, my experiences have only been good. I love how everything in the science world is tied to creation, with Scripture and all, and how well it’s all been explained, with one God, Creator and Ruler, creating an orderly and amazing world. I’ve read Apologia’s curriculum catalog and been thoroughly impressed with the company philosophy and would love the opportunity to use them in any subject.

The suggested experiments range from easy to somewhat complicated, and my shopping list has grown to accommodate a few of the suggestions as we’re able to do them. I particularly like the experiments that have ingredients I have on hand, and there’s quite a few of those. Missing an experiment, at least for a time while I round up ingredients, hasn’t been an issue. With lesson plans just two days a week, it’s been an easy schedule to keep up with and if you could see the hubbub that is raised when the kids see me grab the books – the excitement is fun. The kids love it when I read to them, and all four of my elementary kids (ages 5-10) have listened and been involved in the discussion. Charlotte (3) and Pierce (2) enjoyed the experiments too – even if they didn’t understand! All of the four older ones study what must be a similar curriculum at our co-op, because many of the things we’ve discussed they already had a basic knowledge of. Since science is something that often falls by the wayside for us, knowing they do it at co-op and “it’s not math or reading” (poor excuse, I know) it doesn’t always become a priority in our homeschool. Judging from the kids excitement over knowing this is a review that Momma “has” to get done each week – we need to make it a priority.IMG_4953


If you’ll ignore the dirty kitchen – because around here, it’s either clean or do fun science experiments, unfortunately - I’d be grateful. (If you’d kindly ignore Charlie’s boots on the wrong feet too… she dressed herself. If you couldn’t tell.)

All told, we loved this science, and with this brood, this book will be well-worn through their elementary years, to be sure. We’re learning about God’s creation, how awesome that creation is, and how awesome our Creator is. There’s so much to learn, we’ll be covering this book multiple times in the next years. The experiments we did for Anatomy and Human Physiology are still talked about from the beginning of this year, and remain highlights of our school days. This book is providing more of the same. I love it.IMG_4952














The hardcover Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics, designed for grades K-6, is $39.00. The Notebooking Journals are spiral bound and $24.00 each. The Junior version is for early elementary grades with less writing requirements, and the other is for the upper elementary grades who have mastered handwriting and are a bit more capable. Sterling was right at home in the junior version, with wide three-line (with the middle dotted line, for early handwriting learners) places for notes and more opportunities for drawings than writing. It does have cursive for the copywork, and Sterling is still learning cursive, so I had him use manuscript. It’s been an interesting venture in learning how well he can read cursive though! Eden is a proficient reader and writer, and she was quite capable to use the regular Notebooking journal. While the notebooking journals aren’t necessary to benefit from the curriculum (and I really appreciate the book’s suggestions for using your own notebooking should you not have the journal), if your budget at all allows, this makes it far easier for student and teacher and really helps the curriculum a lot.

To read reviews on this curriculum from the rest of the Crew, head on over to the Review Crew Blog.


I was so on the ball this morning. I sat and did science with the kids first thing, since it tends to be the thing that falls by the wayside when the day gets too busy. I got some pictures for a review I need to finish, finally. The day had promise!

I took a nap. I woke up to the kids having finished or nearly finished their schoolwork I’d started them on. I cleaned up the kitchen, started the very last load of laundry. For a few brief seconds, not a single dirty item remained in my laundry room.

I sent Ruby out to the van with a pair of sunglasses to put in the tote we keep out there. She returned saying there was a cat in the van and the cat had locked the doors. I grabbed my keys and headed to get the cat out of the van.

Turns out, the cat had been in the van for 16 hours at that point. A cat, confined in a large van, poops. Many times. On spare clothes for the baby, on the floor… thankfully, I haven’t found any on the seats. Yet. I am unimpressed. Cat’s life is threatened. Eden volunteers - or is volunteered, that part is unclear – to clean the evidence of the cat’s night in the van. I have a brief moment that I’m thankful for cool weather and that it wasn’t 100 degrees out during cat’s extended stay in places she doesn’t belong.

I head back inside, on a track to accomplish great things for the day. I need to make another batch of soap. Turns out, I’m out of coconut oil in jars. All that’s left is in a five gallon metal pail with an opening approximately one inch in diameter. Coconut oil solidifies at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Our garage is cooler than that at the moment, since the heat isn’t running. So here I sit, while my canner heats a pail of coconut oil on the stove, plans for soap making postponed, thinking I should be cleaning something.

But, here I sit. Contemplating another nap.


A bully, an icy creek, and a big giveaway from Elisha Press

Julie And GenevieveElisha Press, a publisher of Christian novels particularly suitable for homeschool families, is launching a new title this week. Julie: The Redemption Of The Backyard Bully is an all-new spinoff on The Reunion by Rachael McIntire. Both books are recommended as read-aloud material for the whole family. Solo readers of Julie should be twelve or older.

Fans of The Reunion may remember Julie Greene, the Gladstones' troublesome neighbor who almost drowned in the creek. This new novel - longer and illustrated - tells Julie's story before and after that incident, through the now-aging eyes of "Grandma" Greene. How can a sullen bully learn to be a selfless friend? How can a jealous young lady learn to be grateful and contented no matter what life brings? What does it mean to follow Jesus in the practical work and play of daily life? All this and more is waiting for you within the pages of Julie.

Author Rachael McIntire says that many elements of Julie are based on incidents from her own life.The Quartet Growing up in the 1960's, she experienced firsthand the challenges of that tumultuous time. Though the sixties are now long gone, the principles of God remain the same eternally. It is her hope that some of these principles may penetrate young hearts and minds through the story of the backyard bully and her redemption.

As part of their launch event, Elisha Press is giving away one autographed copy of Julie every day this week. By entering once, you'll have a chance to win each time. This is a 183-page softcover book with 19 black-and-white illustrations like the example shown here.

The sooner you enter the giveaway, the better chance you have to win - so don't wait! Click here and put in your email address to sign up.


Just when I think we’re making progress…

The UPS delivery truck pulled into our yard Friday. When the kids went out to get the package from the driver, he’d already put it on the porch and left. They came back in, telling me there was poop on the porch. The man had walked around it to deliver the box.

I asked them to please tell me it was rooster poop. No such luck.

My son pooped on the porch, and the delivery driver walked around it to get to the door.

Complete personal mortification, complete.

Potty training Pierce score: Pierce: 235, Momma: 0.

In other news, I’m doing far better after my week and the kidney infection. Our church had a ladies retreat this Friday/Saturday, though, and I found out I’m not exactly 100%. Staying up late, going for a walk, and I’m wiped out and sore. Slowly, things will get back to normal. I hope.


TOS Review: If You Were Me and Lived in…

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew has been reviewing four books from Carole P. Roman with Away We Go Media. As part of the review, I received If You Were Me and Lived in… Mexico…, If You Were Me and Lived in… South Korea…, If You Were Me and Lived in… France…, and If You Were Me and Lived in… Norway… all in paperback form. These are stated to be ideal for ages 10 and younger, particularly young elementary age, but even I learned something in reading them.

We read these aloud together. My kids range in age from 2-10, and everyone was interested. The kids all sat at my feet… for a few minutes. Then they couldn’t stand themselves. They crowded around to see the colorful drawings that illustrate the story. Much discussion followed, and we had to find the countries on the map. The kids were particularly fascinated with the book about France, since Blaine lived there for a year. They were thrilled to learn that ‘doll’ in French sounds like 'poopy’ in English. They rushed to tell their daddy when he got home that night, only to find out that he already knew that. Good use of a bachelor’s in French, to be sure! :)

Talking of routines and common words and phrases for things an elementary child might encounter in each different culture, these books were easily relatable by most of my children. (The younger ones were listening… but I’m not sure how much they understood at ages 2 and 3. They liked the pictures though.) I love opening my kids’ world a bit, and these books were a great way to do that. If you were planning to travel to any of these places, this would be a fantastic way to introduce the things they’ll encounter – and if you can only travel on the pages of a book, these were pretty fun books to read, again and again. They never get tired of hearing the name of a doll in French… sigh. Once we finally clarified that, while I don’t know what it is, #2 has a different name in French and they aren’t exactly referring to beloved baby dolls with the same word as the gift the rooster left on the front porch this morning, all was well again. This opening the world to them a bit is interesting business!

Each of the paperbacks has about 25-30 pages and is quite easy to read in one sitting. It was a great way to show my children that the world is just a little bit bigger than them in our little corner of Missouri. Reading about language, culture, and more was fascinating to them, and they learned a bit in the meantime. The first three books in this series are available at Amazon in Kindle format for $.99 each and in paperback for $8.99 each. If You Were Me and Lived in… Norway… is $1.99 on Kindle or is listed for $10.79 in paperback.

To read the rest of the Review Crew’s thoughts on the “If You Were Me…” series, head over to the Review Crew Blog and check out the linky there.


Angus and the… small mouthed peanut jar.

One dear kitten has apparently lost a few brain cells in the booting-out-of-the-house process it insists on completing multiple times a day. The kids were cleaning out the van, throwing garbage out in a pile, and Angus decided to check things out.


She’s stuck. She didn’t even seem to mind. She just kept cleaning out the peanut jar.


She’s also fine. No kittens were harmed in the taking of these photos. She got herself stuck. Liberty got her unstuck. After I took a photo. Priorities, after all.


There will be pain.

After a crazy day that involved an ER visit and getting to know my midwife a whole lot better, I’m home, having convinced hospital personnel that I can recover from a kidney infection at home. I’ve never been so thankful for midwifery care, the ability to get a hold of my midwife in the wee hours of the morning, and her willingness to pick me up from home, take me to the ER, and be an advocate for me as I walked the maze of possible labor threats and renal ultrasounds. Not to be confused with rectal ultrasounds, which is what I heard. I had a mental conversation of “You’re going to do what?! Where?” Let’s be clear: all is external, and the kidneys are no where close to… that. Whew. I was just a bit out of it. Apparently. No drugs involved. Give the midwife her due: she barely laughed when the nurse left and I asked for clarification. Oh. My. Word.

So thankful for her. And dear friends who delivered dinner so that I could come home and not worry about cooking. And dear friends who prayed while I freaked out, fearful this baby was in grave danger. Thankful for a baby who’s heart beats strong and who decided to move far, far more than normal this stressful day, reassuring me all was well.

What a day. So thankful for God’s care, clearly displayed so many times today.


Update: Saw my midwife the next day. No signs of infection. Zero. Amazing. Sometimes, antibiotics are really, really good things.



  • Pierce threw two new rolls of toilet paper into the toilet.
  • Someone left the toothpaste, uncapped, on the bathroom rug. Charlotte stepped on it.
  • The rug’s in the washing machine. Fourth load for today.
  • I took the kids grocery shopping at two stores and to the library.
  • A random man asked me when I was going to be done having babies. I sputtered but remained polite.
  • I found out Liberty had a huge amount of homework to do for co-op. Due tomorrow. It’s still half done. Three maps to color and label takes a long time.
  • I found out Eden had a report on Laura Ingalls Wilder to do, among other things. Also due tomorrow.
  • I remembered once again that I’d rather homeschool than deal with daily homework.
  • I took the kids to the library. I’d borrowed Courting Cate by Leslie Gould and liked it so much I went to see if she had other titles. None were there. Read Courting Cate if you like Christian Fiction. It’s really good.
  • I didn’t have to throw even one kitten out of doors. They seem to be learning. I took Theodore Roosevelt’s advice to speak softly and carry a big stick to heart.
  • Floppy rulers qualify as big sticks.
  • I counted four gallons of milk in the fridge when we got home and sighed, realizing we’re not going to make another week. I thought we had six.
  • I sprayed the tub down with Comet spray at 9 am.
  • I finally got the tub scrubbed at 9 pm.
  • The tub soaking for that long doesn’t help out anymore than soaking for three minutes.
  • Pierce made it to 8 pm before he pooped in his pants. I was just thinking that we’d had an accident-free day.
  • Sterling couldn’t remember what lines of symmetry means on his math assessment. Seconds later, he informed me that 22 x 10 = 220. I don’t know what to do with that boy.
  • Ruby maybe, just maybe, has caught onto reading. She’s getting faster. It amazes me what personality and a little bit more time means at the ripe old age of five. Thinking back, the older the child was, the easier it was to teach them to read. The oldest one was 5.5 years old. That beats 4.5 any. That’s nearly a quarter of their life difference.
  • I stayed up way too late typing this, because I walked into the bathroom and saw the two rolls of tp in the garbage and it was just enough aggravating to write about.

TOS Review: Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns

I’ve been reviewing Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns with a one-year access to their Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns. Designed for ages 8 and up, Liberty (10) and Eden (8) both fall into this age range, but using the sewing machine is something I’ve done only with Liberty. She watched many of these videos, but with a mother who sews… it’s easier to show her than watch the videos for her. We worked on the patterns together, but I did most of the sewing when Liberty got sick on sewing day.

I was excited to begin this review. I’ve made dozens and dozens of things, beginning to sew with my mother in my teen years, and since making many more things, learning the hard way at times. Doll clothes have been something I’ve worked on quite a bit, but clothes so tiny are not so easy to work with. With my sewing experience, though, I watched many videos before I learned something new – but I’m thrilled with the new things that I did pick up! Hems, fabric choices, elastic, stitch types, and more are covered in this beginner sewing course that lasts 6 weeks with a handful of videos for each week lasting 2-15 minutes long each. There are over 130 videos in all - it starts out super simple and builds skill as you go along. The videos live stream – there’s nothing to download. I watched several videos in a sitting. Well done with decent quality but nothing fabulous, the videos loaded well for me and my fairly fast internet.

This isn’t something I’d just set my daughters loose with. The course has many how-to videos, but then you jump into sewing and simply refer back to the videos for instruction should you need it. My sewing machine is one of my more important, more expensive, and favorite tools, so perhaps I’m a bit overprotective, but I’m not prepared to set them loose with my machine quite yet. This did, however, provide us with a fun thing to do together. Liberty loves to sew with me and has visions of making her siblings Christmas and birthday presents, so she was a very willing participant in this review.


I chose to make the Summer Nightgown and a pair of doll panties. Super simple, to be sure, but I found the directions rather confusing. I searched and searched to find out how much elastic of the 20” required was for each leg and the waist of the panties, until I finally figured out they weren’t cutting it, but marking where to cut it, using that length, then cutting it and taking the leftover to the next leg, etc. I’ve never found a pattern that does it this way, and found that part frustrating. The patterns for the dress were simple rectangles, but I found myself pasting the two pages together to make the pattern that could have easily been instructions to cut a rectangle x inches by y inches. I’m sure this was to keep the beginner confident, but the extra steps with the patterns seemed unnecessary. My items turned out great, although, live and learn, I found that I was out of blue thread except for one bobbin. I thought I could get away with it since the mismatched color would be on the inside, but the t-shirt I cut apart to make them wasn’t so thick that the thread didn’t show through. Dolly doesn’t care, but it looked less than neat because of that.


Overall, the video course is great for beginners. It clearly explains and shows steps required for sewing, and I learned a few new tips even as one who sews quite regularly and has made a multitude of doll clothes for my four daughters. The patterns I made I was rather disappointed with how difficult they made something that was truly simple. I think, perhaps, it’s to be super clear for those that have no experience, but I couldn’t help but think it could be a bit more clear in the directions and make it sound far less complicated in the process. Most of their patterns are available on their website for an additional cost, I only made two of the free ones that are offered as part of the video course.

The course includes 8 free patterns. There are many other patterns for sale on the website, but the free ones include the ones pictured on the dolls above:

  • Sport Shorts
  • Crop Top
  • Sarong
  • Halter Top
  • Summer Nightie
  • Hat
  • Pumpkin
  • Underpants

All come with PDF pattern pieces and basic written instructions and step by step videos on how to make the outfits.

Access to the lessons for one year is $47.85 USD. Copies of the videos on DVD are also available. See their store page on their website here for more information.

To read what the rest of the Crew thought of Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns and her How to Make Doll Clothes video course, check out the review crew blog.

Dreams, projects, and the messes they can make.

I woke up with a start at 3:00 am with a dream. My dear son, having been potty training since June, still has a LOT of moments. In my dream, I was sitting on the floor folding laundry and he decided to relieve me of my chore, relieve himself on the laundry, and save me the steps of folding and putting away.

It actually made me jump.

While Mr. P has had accidents in a multitude of places, on clean laundry, thankfully, has not been one of them. But I couldn’t help but laugh. I got a three hour nap yesterday, went to bed at 9pm, so a total of 13 hours of sleep later, mostly uninterrupted, I was finally sleeping hard enough – and long enough – to dream. (Uninterrupted until 7:18 am when Pierce hit me in the face with a cheese stick and asked if he could have it. Hello, morning.) But what do I dream about?

This motherhood thing is getting to me.

We’ve had sick kids this weekend. It started Friday afternoon with Liberty, Eden started complaining Saturday, and today, they’re asking if co-op is still on for tomorrow. We shall see. From the sounds in the kitchen, Liberty’s eating real food again. Hooray for the small things. Eden never did get it very bad – I’m still not sure if she got it or she just wanted the opportunity to read all day. When I dictated it would be only toast and no books during her illness, she felt better quite quickly. Amazing recovery.

I spent Saturday sewing. I’ve decided that’s my spend-little-to-no-money method of not shopping when stressed. Of course, looking around the house and seeing my sewing mess and the mess made by many small children while I didn’t pay them 100% attention is enough to send my stress levels back up to where they were. But, for a little while… I sewed a maternity dress that turned out a little less fabulous than the photo in the pattern. I’m trying that again, a little differently. I shocked and amazed my children at my ability to twist fabric strips into rosettes. Sew for hours and make slings and dresses and blankets and doll panties? No big deal? Make a flower with a strip of fabric in 32 seconds? Now that’s amazing.

After that, I sewed doll clothes for another review. Liberty’s doll got two new items. Liberty joked her doll hadn’t gotten two new things in one day since the day I sewed a heart on her behind to patch the hole and sewed a patch nearby to patch an even larger hole. I love it – my daughter has quite the sense of humor developing these days.

Then… I looked at my house and had the brief thought that it might be easier to just move than to clean up the mess that had taken over every inch of my home. But, after an hour in the kitchen trying to find my tile floor under the dirt, and an hour in the living room, putting things away and cleaning that floor, it started to look manageable again. And then Pierce woke up from his nap. It was nice while it lasted.


TOS Review: VocabularySpellingCity

Many members of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew have received a VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership from VocabularySpellingCity to review. I received the membership and have used it with all three of my students who are studying spelling: Sterling (6), Eden (8), and Liberty (10). It’s appropriate for K-12, but since Ruby is still learning to read and not doing spelling in our home school, she didn’t use this.

Each week, I’d type up each student’s spelling words from their current curriculum, and they spent the week playing games, taking practice tests, vocabulary tests, and more, all with the spelling words I’d chosen for them. The possibilities were endless, but they soon each had a favorite game that they kept going back to.

Honestly, the biggest problem I had with this program was getting their words typed in there for them. We’re always scrambling for time, and I was forever forgetting to get them typed in there before Monday rolled around again and they started a new list. I think if we’re going o stick with this, I’d spend some time entering every word from all 36 lists that are in my kids’ spelling books, organize them by list number, and then I could step away from all responsibility beyond the occasional reminder for them to do it.

My only other complaint is that some of my girls’ lists are longer than the 51 word maximum we ran into. They are their review weeks, and I couldn’t enter in all the words on those lists into one practice section. That was a little frustrating, but we figured it out. Signing in for the kids was strange – it didn’t require a password for the kids so I didn’t use one, but I found out too late that because of this, it wasn’t recording any of their scores. Not critical for us since we just used it for practice on their words and I still administered a regular test on paper each week, but this could potentially replace the need for me to give a test at all, but it would need to be recorded properly. I’m sure it’s an easy fix, but I didn’t find it.

There are so many games. Liberty saw my screen shots on my review and had instant comments. “Oh, I liked that game. That game was hard. That one wasn’t my favorite…” All three of my kids loved playing on VocabularySpellingCity and begged to do a practice test each Thursday morning before I gave them their regular test. All of them recognized their scores much improved with a practice test first. The kids have been learning typing this year too, so the games that allowed them to type or had them searching for a letter quickly were particularly fun for them, since they got to practice their newly acquired (and still developing) typing skills.

Overall, this has been a great site for our family and the kids have learned and enjoyed themselves. Liberty in particular wanted me to mention how much she enjoyed it. Perfectionist that she is, she loved that she got 100% on every spelling test taken during this review. Eden scored perfectly the entire time too, and Sterling did almost that well. While they typically do quite well in spelling, this was a bit better than normal. In our house, a 100% on Thursday’s test means no Friday test and no words to write multiple times, so this was cause for rejoicing on their part!

VocabularySpellingCity offers a much more basic offering (less games/tracking/options) for free. Their premium price is $29.99 per year for up to five students. They also offer classroom and school-wide prices on their website here.

To read more reviews from the Crew on Vocabulary Spelling City, check out the Review Crew Blog.