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.


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.