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.


Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream TOS Review

My most recent review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew is for Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream by Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian. From Inspiring the American Dream and published by Ambassador International, it’s “Finally, a Children’s Book that Celebrates THE AMERICAN DREAM!”.

The book begins with Abraham in “the Great Recession”, hearing what, with the economy today, so many people are going through: his parents are laid off from their jobs and money is tight. Christmas gifts are out of the question. Abraham is determined to buy gifts for his family, but he doesn’t have any money for them either.

Abraham texts his friends, and then “magic” happens. An older man strongly resembling Abraham Lincoln appears on his screen and pulls Abraham into another world that allows Abraham to meet many successful people in American history and here and now. They each have a lesson, a story, and encouragement for Abraham to realize his own American Dream.

I had Liberty (age 9) read Abraham’s Journey and write a report on it. She enjoyed the book and had a lot to say about it (3 paragraph requirement turned into 3 pages from Liberty!) and learned a lot from it. As a family that’s not “technologically savvy” as some – and perhaps, most – some of it went over her head. There was still a lot to be gleaned from the story though, and it was well written and she understood the message. Perseverance, compassion, and sharing with others beyond the scope of his family were all themes of the story. These were well-communicated, and Liberty mentioned them in her report.

Eden (age 8) picked up the book (if you knew Eden, you know I’d have had to tie her down to keep that from happening) and also read it. She really liked it. As a more outgoing child, she’s seen a bit more in the world of technology from others and I think that helped her understand what the story was talking about. I got a play-by-play of the story from her, and she was able to understand the story pretty well. She was really enthusiastic about it – more than Liberty. Liberty much prefers literature with a firm grasp on reality, but Eden was more appreciative the fanciful aspect.

I think Abraham’s Journey would be a great book to read as the beginning of a unit study on the American Dream and what that really means, or as a beginning to a study on any of the people he “encounters” on his digital journey. At 40 pages, it quickly touches on Martin Luther King, Jr., Amelia Earhart, Bill and Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Abraham Lincoln, and Norman Rockwell as a few famous Americans who have pursued their American Dream. From here, I’ve assigned each girl to pick one of the characters and learn more about them for an oral report with visual aids. I think it’s important for them to learn more about culture and what the phrase “American Dream” means, and the famous people – what made them famous and what they agree/disagree about the causes they each championed. Abraham’s Journey was a great place to start.

Abraham’s Journey can be purchased at for $14.99. It was written for ages 7-12, but I think a few years younger and older than that can also benefit from reading it or hearing it read aloud.

Click HERE to read more TOS Review Crew Reviews on Abraham’s Journey.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed in this review are mine and my family’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.



Charlie wanted to sample the fried chicken as it was coming out of the pan tonight. I warned her it was hot. Seconds later, she informed me she’d fixed it.IMG_4295

Ruby thought her clever and joined in the fun – although it looks like she got a little napkin with her chicken!


Dear Pierce,

I love you. You know I do. But if you want a mother who is sane (and you do. You may not realize it now, but a mother who’s drooling and telling stories of your blow-outs and temper tantrums to potential spouses will make you wish you’d been nicer to me.) you have to slow down. Climbing onto the kitchen table and eating sugar from the sugar bowl, pulling pins from my sewing project, and eating toothpaste as fast as you can squirt it in your mouth is not going to lead anywhere good. Today’s box of Honey Bunches of Oats spread across most of the house was not cool. The dirt belongs in the plant, not on the floor or in your mouth. And for Pete's sake, leave your sister alone when she’s losing her lunch for the 36th time this week.

I’ll be embarrassing, I assure you. I can only handle so much, and you’re very nearly crossing that line.

You’re playing with fire, dear boy.



Poor girl.



Being sick is tough business.


She didn’t even make it out of the bathroom.

These are the days. Some are harder than other.

For the last four days, my house has been a sick zone. Charlotte, Ruby, and Sterling have all lost their innards more times than I can count. Eden complained of a stomach ache but I have yet to see the same symptoms erupting from her. (Being sick might just be a good excuse to curl up with a good book, maybe?) I’ve done so much laundry that the house sounds eerily quiet when the machines stop whirling. It’s been a sad state of affairs, and while they are starting to act like life isn’t so bad anymore, we’re not out of the woods yet.

Charlie, poor girl, makes a very funny sick child. Her amazement over what she never knew her body could do has been ridiculously funny. That banana she ate and lost mere seconds later? It was the banana’s fault, and maybe she should try another one. She’s gotten really good at making it to the toilet. Sad thing to be good at.

Ruby just lounges around whining every so often and Sterling is so sad that his body has betrayed him this way. He is usually the one to stay well, and when asked if he needed anything, replied, “I just want to be done being sick!”. He’s determined he will never ever eat again, fearful of it’s repercussions.



I finally gave in and did my exercise video when my husband was home. Something about doing all sorts of strange body maneuvers while trying to keep up with the lady on the tv who is pretending to talk directly to you is just awkward. I’ve held off, not caring to be observed in this strange ritual, but, with limited time yesterday, I finally just did it. Feeling embarrassed despite my gracious husband’s eyes being glued to the computer screen because he knew I didn’t want to be laughed at, I was glad when it was done. I got ready to leave the house, and headed out the door with bags and coffee in hand.

The steps looked wet. They were. Under the water was ice. I know this because down I went, four concrete stairs down, landing on my backside. Everything in my hands stayed there, but my coffee went splashing and I looked like I’d peed my pants.

Blaine saw the whole thing.

How is it that the man stood by me for six births, has seen me do countless stupid things in the ten years we’ve been married, forgiven me for all my faults, and this is so stinking embarrassing?


Purex Crystals for Baby

Purex sent me a bottle of Purex Crystals for Baby to try, review, and give away. (I won’t give away my bottle. Actually, you can’t have it. But I’ll give away three coupons for a 28 oz bottle, free.)

I thought “baby” meant baby powder, pink baby lotion… you know. Not so much. I don’t think it smells anything like any of those – but it does smell really, really good. I’d read of making detergent with Borax and adding Purex Crystals, so I tried it. Oh yes, this is good stuff. The homemade detergent with Crystals doesn’t smell as strong as adding it directly to the wash, but I’m rather hoarding them. It just smells so good.

I’ve tried Purex Crystals before, and I haven’t been disappointed with any of them. Hello, clean laundry smell. No static - impressive, considering we heat with wood and can typically play the static shock game anytime we desire to be mean. Try it, you’ll like it. (The Crystals, I mean. The shock game is kind of fun too… but not so nice.)

Want to try your own? Comment here, like this post on Facebook, comment on Facebook, be sure you’ve liked my Facebook page and I’ll tally the entries on Friday and make some non-biased child pick three winners for a coupon of your very own.

Exciting stuff.

Pajama Crew


That Tonka truck has provided more hours of entertainment,


more races around the living room, more “rides” than even my stroller, I think.


Silly children.

Dirty reflections.

I’ve always considered myself to be a non-procrastinator. I hate having things hanging over me. But today, my mop water told me I’ve been lying to myself.


I’d only mopped half of the kitchen floor when I took that photo. Ugh. Stark realities.


Today in short stories.

Certain to speed things along: A two year old knocking on the (only) bathroom door, announcing her need to relieve herself, being told to wait, and then hearing her song.

“I’m waiting, I’m waiting, I’m waiting, I’m waiting to PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

Oh dear.

Ruby asked Sterling if he’d like to play house with her.

“Sure. You can just pretend I’m the dad and I’m at work.”

He’s learned to cater to Ruby and get what he wants too. It’s a valuable skill.

Sterling just realized that all these reading lessons have been valuable. He’s finally picked up on the fact that he can read anything – not just his reading books. And the world was opened up…

My nine year old rephrased for me yesterday when I called a nakey (rash-healing) Pierce “Mr. No-Pants”. She called him “Mr. Anti-Pants”. When did she get old enough to figure that one out?

Charlie’s decided she doesn’t want to take naps anymore. I tell her each day she can skip her nap if she’s obedient and sweet. She’s never walked the line more carefully in her life than now. She’s turned into the most helpful child between the hours of 1 & 4 pm. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. It’s like she knows that the hours for napping are over and I won’t put her down later for fear of bedtime being a bust.

How on earth can one child who’s so bent on disobedience when it suits spend 14 minutes studying a picture, trying to decide if it’s raining, when all it needs is a story to describe it’s contents? How does one thing get so much concentration and the next is forgotten 32.4 seconds later?! These children act like children.

Pierce was told not to color in a book. Next thing I know he’s ripped a page out of the book and is coloring on it. While I realize removing the page means he’s not coloring in the book and is therefore, in some strange world, obeying, that isn’t exactly what I meant.


Confession: I had to restart the fire in the wood-burning furnace today. Twice. I started it, checked to be sure it went. It did. Went down (too many hours) later and it was out. Started it again. It lit. Went down (too many hours) later and it was empty and out. Again. But I fed all five six kids twice three times today.

I went through kids drawers yesterday. Chucked clothes in a “give away” box with wild abandon. Today, we sorted, folded, bagged, and put away the few that were simply too small. Drawers close. It’s a wonderful thing. Ruby is down to five pairs of pajamas. She started with eleven. Who needs 11 pairs of pajamas?! (Who needs five either, really?)

The UPS truck delivered a package today. I behind in the air, back to the window in the door, bent over and vacuuming the floor with the vacuum hose. Turning around to a knock and strange man in a brown uniform was startling. For both of us.

A most effective way for something that needs my attention to get it has been found. Leave it in the middle of the living room floor. One way or the other, I’ll get to it, just to get it out of my way. I’ll not mention who figured out this little trick… but I got the project done as requested within 18 hours. Amazing.

Diet update: I’ve lost 8 lbs. so far. Pretty happy with that. Still working on it, but it’s a good start.

TOS Review: Flowering Baby LLC

For the last several weeks, as part of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew, I’ve been using Flowering Baby, LLC’s Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 3 is for children ages 2 and 3, and Volume 5 is for 4 and 5 year olds. Charlotte and Ruby have been eager participants and have loved having their own “school” to do. Painting and coloring and reading and other “normal” household activities are abundant in this curriculum that can be purchased either as a download or as a CD with PDF pages that can be printed out. (I didn’t print it; using it from the CD worked well and saved my printer from 300+ pages of activities.)

Flowering Baby has recently developed curriculum for each age group, from birth to age five, to help your child to, according to their website, "develop his cognitive, language, gross motor and fine motor, social, emotional and self-help competencies". You can begin the program at any time, during any given year.

With several kids to homeschool, and several more to parent, life is pretty busy. My little ones are getting less formal “schooling” than my first few. I've felt bad about this often, but with limited time and the older ones requiring more and more of my time as they get older, (How is this? Aren't they supposed to become more independent? We’re not there yet.) this curriculum didn't require much extra time, and my girls loved it. Cooking next to me is one of the suggested activities. I can do that. I already do! There are often 4 little stools lined up during the supper prep hour, and two more children who are finally tall enough to stand on their own two feet. Being reminded to talk with them and discuss what we’re doing during that process was good.

We read books (and olders read them books when life got crazy) and made jell-o and discussed colors and shapes. Charlotte, I learned, doesn't know her shapes at all. She didn't get her colors right very often when we started, but now she’s almost always right. She really enjoyed all the time we spent together working on the activities. Making jell-o and eating blueberries and walking the sides of a square and putting toys above and below the chair to practice those concepts is quite thrilling when you are two! Music to listen to and books to read are all listed for the 20 lessons to do each month, separated by their age in months. (Charlotte is 28 months.)

Ruby worked with Volume 5 and worked on her penmanship and learning to assign one number to each thing she was counting was an improvement for her. When I asked her if she liked her schoolwork (Flowering Baby), she replied, “Yes, I liked everything. Except writing 2’s. I don’t like writing twos.” Well, then. We’ll work on those!

Ruby often feels like she gets left behind. As the oldest of the youngest, and the youngest of the olders… yeah, she’s stuck in the middle. Spending time with her working through the activities suggested (some, obviously, more fun than others!) was good for her. Since we were studying this while visiting my parents’ sheep farm in South Dakota, we picked the farm week to study. Talking about farm animals, getting some hands-on experience in the lambing barn, and discussing which animals produce which of our foods (Ruby’s hatred of milk became a full-blown discussion right about then! She agrees beef is good but milk is decidedly bad – unless chocolate is involved.) was part of that week. Charlotte and Pierce especially thought making animal noises was hilarious and even Blaine joined in our study, unknowingly, when he found videos online of cows and ducks mooing and clucking. What a world we now live in, now able to find videos for these noises instead of making complete fools of ourselves trying to sound like a cow. (Whether this really went on in our house that week, I’ll never tell…)

As with Volume 3, Volume 5 includes a great book list and also has website suggestions to go along with it’s themes and curriculum, which is sorted by month for Volume 5. Each month’s holidays are discussed and learning a bit of Spanish each day was fun for Ruby. Since Blaine speaks French, I’m tempted to switch that out a bit (since he’ll be able to take that farther than me and my one struggle of a semester of Spanish) but for now, Spanish is easy. I can count to ten.

All in all, as a fan of less book work and more life experiences, I was impressed with this curriculum. If you’re looking for ideas and suggestions to keep your young child learning in their play, this is a great (and economical, really!) way to go. I’m going to try to keep this up, since the girls have learned much and had a ton of fun with this. It took us about 20-30 minutes a day, and they begged for more. The book list is super, and the girls will be better prepared for formal learning when that time comes after making a habit of learning each day with Flowering Baby.

Volumes 1-3 are $30 each. Volumes 4 and 5 are each $38. The complete set of all five years can be purchased for $132.For a 10% discount on the curriculum, enter discount code BLOG10 at checkout.

To read other reviews from the Review Crew on this curriculum and the other age options available, click here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of these materials through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed in this review are mine and my family’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.


Homeschool experiment: fail.

Dear Person Who Keeps Leaving the Basement Light On:

You are skewing the results of our data.





Because that’s the kind of guy he is.

I have a tree.
I’ve had a Ficus tree since college. The thing is kind of old. It needed to be repotted, pruned… it’s looking pretty sad right now. Blaine and I looked at pots, but none caught my eye. I clicked over page after page on Amazon. (Thanks to a Amazon Prime membership, compliments of my sister-in-law, 20 gallon pots ship two-day free. Who would have thought?!)

Nothing. Then Blaine found one locally, bought it for me, and brought it home. He even got me purple. And then the (in)famous words were spoken.
“It’s not self watering. But I’ve been looking online, and I think I can make something.”
I nodded, smiled, and I’m sure my eyes got a little bit glazed over. Couldn’t we just put rocks at the bottom like my mother always did?

Oh, no. Certainly not. Yesterday morning I was called into the garage to see the product of all the bumping and scraping and drilling I’d heard.


I’m quite certain I did not make over the invention nearly so much as he desired. It’s a former goat-watering tub, my friends. Re-purposed. I cannot smell the buck’s eu de billy, so all’s good. But is this really necessary?


It’s a pot. With a pipe sticking out of it. That’s where the water goes, I’m told. He even put a stick in the corner of the bedroom so that I can check the water like I check he checks the oil.


I’ll be the first to admit. It' looks lovely. Ten times better. I still think the rocks at the bottom trick would have worked and been far less work. But then I wouldn't have been able to write this post, and all of you wouldn't understand, on a really small scale, the kind of guy I married.

Who am I kidding? I’m not sure I understand either. We’re opposites, that’s all I know. That, and he makes me look really, really lazy when he does something like this.


Review: Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Human Physiology

As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, Liberty and I have been using Apologia Educational MinistriesExploring Creation with Anatomy and Human Physiology for many weeks now. Liberty has been journaling in the Notebooking Journal and we’re been using the Anatomy and Human Physiology MP3 Audio CD as well.


I was thrilled to be chosen for this review. I’d long heard good things about Apologia and wondered if it was true. Could kids really be so excited to do school that they are asking for more?

Umm, yes. I've been asked every day since we started if we can do science. We've done an experiment “mummifying” an apple and saw the differences between the one submerged in salt and baking soda and the one left open to the elements. We've studied bones and discussed them at length. We've made a Jell-O “cell” with candy components.


You know what the coolest thing was? We went on our own little field trip to the Discovery Center and the kids got to do a science experiment. They got to scrape their own mouths to look at their own cells! After studying this the week prior, there was Liberty, naming all the parts of her own cells, remembering what she’d learned and being able to apply it. That was pretty awesome!

I tend to be pretty bare bones in the classroom. I’m so busy with all of them, if they can work alone, all the better. If I have to get too involved, I’m pretty unlikely to choose that curriculum again. This one, I wouldn’t have had to be involved too much. She could listen to the CD, read the book on her own, and I could provide the materials to experiment with and she would have needed little instruction.

But this has never happened before: I wanted to be there. I wanted to learn this stuff too! It was really easy to use, and before shopping, I just flipped ahead to see what we might need. Most of it was pretty basic and we had it on hand, but the Jell-O cell required a few extra things. I’d do it again in a heartbeat though. Liberty had so much fun and learned enough to be able to name cell components again the following week!

I plan to use these materials for science for all four of my older kids, who will be 5, 6, 8, and 10 in the fall. I’m sure the older students will get more out of it, but judging from the little chins I had to tell to back up for those Jell-O photos, they will still be interested and learn a great deal. Even I’ve learned a bunch! I have to admit, I love this stuff. That CD got less use than it would have in any other subject – I wanted to read it! On the busy days, it’s a great idea, but I really enjoyed reading this aloud on the days when I could make time.

The Anatomy and Human Physiology textbook is hardcover and is $39.00 on Apologia’s website. It is recommended for elementary ages and beyond, depending on each student. I think it could easily be done for all elementary ages - but the little ones won't get as much out of it. The notebooking journal is spiral bound softcover and lists for $24.00. It is for students with upper elementary writing skills, and they offer a Junior Notebooking Journal for those with limited writing skills. The MP3 CD is $29. If your budget is tight, I’d suggest getting just the text and you could use your own notebook and, with a bit more work, make a pretty good notebooking journal of your own. If you have the extra funds to be able to swing the notebooking journal, I’d highly recommend it. It makes remembering the information studied that much easier. The MP3 CD is a great add-on, especially if you have a student who struggles with reading and learns verbally better.

I love this curriculum. I’ll definitely continue this one and pursue their other sciences in the future. Any textbook that has them begging for more is worth a second look!

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of these materials through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed in this review are mine and my family’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.


It’s going to be a doozy of a week.

I’m two for two this week, my friends. I’m afraid to touch anything at this point.

On Friday I took my sewing machine to the repair shop. It’s been having issues for some time, and that was the last straw. I walked in with it, and within 38 seconds the lady told me I was using the wrong size bobbin. This may have – and likely has – caused all of the problems I’ve been having with it. I left it anyhow, since it’s 15 years old and has yet to have any repairs to it.

Friday night, we realized the new fridge in the garage was not cooling properly. I researched, tried a million things, took the back panel off and cleaned the coils, and nothing helped. I left the panel off and gave up. Yesterday the appliance repair guy came and couldn’t find anything wrong with it, except that it cannot run properly with the back panel off. He put it back on and it is working fine.

Turns out, one of my million repair tries actually worked. (I do know which one. It resulted from someone pushing buttons on the fridge. No child is fessing up. The child lock is now engaged. Grr.) And then I took the back panel off. I paid the guy $79.95 to put six screws into the back of my refrigerator.

Two for two. Ouch.


What a way to wake up.

I woke up with a start in the dark of night. The coin cup we use for math – a metal cup full of likely 500 coins – had crashed to the ground. It wouldn’t have fallen off the shelf by itself, so I was a little disturbed. Who on earth?! I crept to the doorway and peeked around, wondering what on earth I would find (and what was I going to do about it?! I didn’t even put my glasses on. I wouldn’t have been able to see anything anyhow!) and there were my daughters, attempting to do schoolwork by the yardlight beam coming through the window.

Today is Eden’s birthday, and they’d decided to get up early and do their schoolwork so they could have a fun day. I asked them what time it was. They didn’t know. It was 4:09 a.m.

I shook my head, sent them to work in the kitchen where the light could be on without shining into the bedrooms, and went back to bed. I’m not sure why, since the adrenalin rush from thinking we had an intruder in the house left me shaking and unable to sleep.

Eden finished her schoolwork at 5:09 a.m. (She’d started the night before. After a day that made me shake my head and wonder if those big yellow school buses that take them away are such a bad idea after all, I made her quit because I didn’t want to do school after 5 p.m)

Liberty finished everything but her spelling at 6 a.m.

On the agenda for today: naps, all around.