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.


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Our garden is producing well for us these days. I have piles of squash and green beans to do something with – soon. Tonight, Blaine came in with a pepper. He handed Ruby a bite. She begged for more. I told him he should have given her a spicy pepper. He had.

We aren’t spicy people. I’ve never bought cayenne in my life. One year we made green tomato salsa and Blaine insisted we should use at least some of the jalapeño the recipe called for. Last year, we made more salsa. We left the jalapeño out.

This year, we bought peppers. Green ones, red ones, yellow ones, orange ones. When we got home, we had two hot ones. Perfect. “Mildly hot” they were labeled. Yeah, we’ll see. I know someone who loves hot anything, so the peppers, if need be, become a donation.

Turns out, two more pepper plants were mislabeled completely. Those are anything but mild. So now we have four hot pepper plants. Perfect.

Tonight, he’d brought in one of the mild ones. Ruby’s first bite went well, so he sliced it up and all the kids except for Charlotte grabbed a piece.

Um… yeah. Mild, not so much. I had five kids crying and whining and drinking milk and crying some more. Poor Pierce was licking my dress and trying to wipe off his tongue. Even Blaine was making horrible faces. Thank goodness, he refrained from whining.

Either my kids are really, really wimpy – which, when it comes to spicy is probably true – or those pepper labels lie. Judging from the red clown mouth Pierce still has an hour later, I’m going to say it’s the latter.

I didn’t try it.


Remember the day I met my neighbor in Walmart? I made an update later and, well, nothing much has happened since then. I called to see if I could bring them a meal shortly after Christmas and was told, quite firmly, by the wife that they did not need my help. Uncertain what to do after that, I did nothing.

Last week, after six months of not seeing or hearing from them, the neighbor pulled into my yard with a bag of vegetables from his garden and the request that we take the rest of his green beans when they were ready. Awesome. Then yesterday he brought us 15 quarts of beans and asked if we could use a few things he’d found in his attic, asked Blaine if he could hire him (after vehemently denying that Blaine could do anything for them for free and insisting payment would be made) to wash his house. It would seem, after all that, the neighbor relationship is still there. It rather fell into my lap, but it seemed like it was for a reason. I’m thankful for the vegetables, to be sure, but I look forward to seeing how we can serve this elderly couple in the coming months. Pretty cool.


I’ll be eight weeks along tomorrow. I’m feeling better today than I have in a month. It’s good; I was starting to question if I could endure many more months without losing my sanity. I’ll have an ultrasound next month sometime. After my sister having twins, and twins elsewhere in my family history, it always eases my mind to see one little heartbeat. Why my belly has gotten so big, so fast has me a little worried, but since we’ve had six singletons so far, it’s probably just the, well, six singletons! Twins added to this chaos might just do me in.

Sterling got to work in this movie a few months ago. The trailer is out! Check it out, it’s pretty awesome.

TOS Review: The Homegrown Preschooler

Members of the Old Schoolhouse Review crew were presented with the opportunity to review two products from Gryphon House. I received The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live. Authored by Kathy H. Lee, homeschooling mother to seven and early childhood major, and Lesli Richards, homeschooling mother to five children, including special needs, this is a book to encourage you to see the world through your young child’s eyes, recognize the patterns and methods to their growth, and do all you an to encourage it to happen naturally in your own home.

I’ve reviewed a lot of products this year. Some I’ve liked, some I haven’t. But this one… I LOVE. I know. Love is for people. Animals. But this book… it’s totally me – with way more energy, creativity and time, I’d write this book. But since I lack all of the above, as well as the organization, motivation, and frankly, knowledge, I’ll just sit and learn from authors Kathy Lee and Lesli Richards. They share ideas, offer encouragement, suggestions, and more on making your home a place for learning to take place – naturally. With less seatwork and more hands on play, kids thrive and learn and make messes that you are glad to clean up. When your child has spent hours playing and learning, the messes matter less, I’ve found.

I live in a world where “supper chef’s assistant” is not only tolerated but encouraged. It’s a little harder, sometimes, but it teaches them so much. This book takes that idea and runs with it. The ideas are easy to follow, most of the ingredients for play are already in my kitchen, and they don’t require me to hover… they just let the kids explore with a little bit of encouragement. Skip the TV, there’s sand in the “sensory tote” to be played with. Forget the computer, we have bugs to catch, playdough to make and create with, life to live both inside and outside the confines of the house.


Inspired to try to do more with my kids, we, of course, went to the place I’m most comfortable – the kitchen. We picked a cooler day, fired up the oven, and made some pretzels. Now that I’ve properly clarified to my children that pretzels do not come only as crunchy objects in a store bought plastic bag, and I’ve indulged in my most recent pregnancy craving, the world is a better place. (Pierce agreed. He woke up from his nap in time to be handed a hot-from the oven pretzel. Life doesn’t get much better than that!)



Someone else suggested this ought to be part of the take-home package from the hospital. While I’m not sure the hospital would agree to the budget changes, it would make a great gift for any mother of young children. It’s pretty awesome.

The Homegrown Preschooler has 224 pages and is available here for $29.95. To read other Review Crew member’s opinions and experiences with The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live, as well as the other book reviewed, Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World, visit the Review Crew Blog.

TOS Review: BrainFood Learning

BrainFood Learning offered three different DVD titles to be review by the Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew. I received The Fascinating World of Insects for review.

When I was chosen for this review, I was pretty excited to receive Insects. I mean, living in Missouri, we’ve met a multitude of bugs I’d never even heard of before. Some of them I wish I still hadn’t (ie. chiggers!) but if you really pay attention, they are pretty fascinating. Those bees that are constantly in the grass and have stung more than a few of the kids this summer are also on the flowers – and that’s helping them grow and bloom! The kids watched the DVD about three minutes after it came in the mail. They were pretty excited about it.

With information presented and then lots of little quizzes, the kids were hollering the answers out at the TV with gusto. All four older of my kids (ages 4, 6, 8, and 10) worked together, agreed on their answers, and got “100%” on the quiz at the end and were pretty proud of their newfound knowledge. I’ve heard a lot of info from them since, telling me of all they learned. Every time we’ve come across a bug covered on the DVD, I hear more of what they’ve learned. We’ve read books in Science before on the subject, but this information seemed to have sunk in a lot better than the things they’ve read.

The one thing I noticed right off – and appreciated – was the none of it came off as terribly juvenile. It was written for ages 3-11 – a really broad range. It wasn’t written for toddlers, yet even Ruby (4) was glued to it and talks about it still. Some of it was over her head, but she never noticed. Because of that, though, even Liberty, 10, enjoyed and learned from it without complaining that it was written for a younger level. It was a hit in my house.

Covered in the DVD are: grasshoppers, ladybugs, rhino beetles, fireflies, mosquitoes, honey bees, water strider, ants, praying mantis, dragonflies, and butterflies. It doesn’t go into fabulous detail and I think perhaps it could have gone further into detail, but to keep the age range suggested interested, maybe not. Either way, the kids thought it was pretty fun.

Having sparked an interest in how insects live and move and grow, there’s something really fun about watching the kids realize insects are more than just creepy crawlies. Sterling wanted to know why the flies (prevalent this year!) have antennas, and today they found a “cross between a Japanese beetle and a ladybug”. While I’m certain it had it’s very own name, the kids are looking and learning and enjoying. Fun stuff. The one thing most talked of with interest is that fireflies don’t glow west of Kansas. I think I hear a need for more investigation…

The Fascinating World of Insects is 43 minutes long. It is $14.99 and available here. Free lesson plans to go along with what the DVD teaches are available here. To read other’s thoughts on this DVD as well as the other two offered The Fascinating World of Mammals and The Fascinating World of Birds, check out the Review Crew blog.


TOS Review: Preschoolers and Peace - Circle Time


I received a download from Preschoolers and Peace called Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day! by Kendra Fletcher as part of the Review Crew to read, implement, and review for you all. Kendra is a veteran homeschooling mother to eight children – so if she can do this, I can do this!

The concept is simple: setting aside a time, each day, to gather together and to have a plan on what to cover. Gearing it toward things all of your children do together (in our home, Bible, singing, poetry) your goal is to create a habit of planning this time together. With the full realization that it’s hard to get planned things done, but impossible to do unplanned things regularly, I totally “get” this concept. I can only assume I’m not the only one with this problem.

We began setting aside our time, working together as a group on Bible. Singing is my kids favorite thing to do, I think, so for a bit of added incentive, I added that. Big hit. The more we tried Circle Time, the more I thought of that we could add. History is a group subject in our house, so we threw that in. Five in a Row is one that I do with Sterling and Ruby, but if the others don’t all crowd around, it’s only because they don’t know it’s going on, so we added that to our Circle Time. In the end, I realized we rather had our Circle Time before – we just didn’t call it that and it wasn’t even close to organized.

I’m not sure where we’ll go from here. I’m not super organized. I’d love to say I’d like to be organized, but I rather like our go-with-the-flow approach. Setting aside time for certain things every day was fun, but it was hard for me to be consistent. Those things fall by the wayside sometimes – for a reason. Life is busy and if I do one thing, something else doesn’t happen. It’s just the way my life goes right now. I was feeling all guilty as we worked through our own Circle Time until I came to the end of the PDF. Just like that, my guilt was waylaid. Mrs. Fletcher’s own Circle Time ebbs and flows. Some years it’s better than others. I read that, took a deep breath, and realized in this season, with a kindergartener, first grader, fourth grader, fifth grader, a two year old, a one year old, and a new (nauseous!) pregnancy, a limited Circle Time for now is good. It’s right. And someday, as our family grows in age an maturity, we’ll have started out well with good habits that will build on each other until we can have a fabulous Circle Time each day. Mrs. Fletcher has some fabulous ideas laid out, worksheets that can be printed to give the reader more ideas and goals, and, my favorite, the lists of resources she recommends. I’ve found and loved several already, so I’m pretty excited to find the others and find more books to love and learn from.

To “sit at Mrs. Fletcher’s feet” and learn how a veteran homeschooling mother runs her Circle Time, you can find Circle Time as a 33 page PDF download available here for $4.99. There is a list of additional resources including book lists, music, and more that are recommended by the author available here.

Lazy summer days…


Ruby gets full enjoyment out of the swing.


You know, as opposed to the lesser enjoyment she gets out of other things in life. No, not so much. Life is full speed ahead and quite the fun game for Ruby. (And she wears this dress about three days a week. As in, every time it’s clean. It is, according to her, the cutest thing she owns.)


Sterling has been playing with wood lately. He asked me what I wanted him to make me. I told him I’d like another bedroom and bathroom added on to our house. He informed me he’d have to break a wall out to connect it, and he’d probably just build me a new house instead. Um… okay! He hasn’t realized the value of a good demo job. If current talk around here turns into more than talk, he might just get to try his hand at both demoing a wall and building. We’ll see!


Sigh. It’s such a rough life.


The garden is doing well. We’re eating broccoli, beans, zucchini, peppers, kale, and yesterday brought the first tomatoes.


This is (one of) my lavender plants. It’s the oldest. It moved in a pot from one place to another many times, before finally going in the ground when we bought our house. Turns out, planting it over the septic tank does good things for lavender. It’s huge!


Brady thought she needed in on my photos the other day. All 8.5 pounds of her, she’s much loved and believes herself to be human, I think. I haven’t found her eyes in a while, though…



Here I sit, typing a post that can’t be published for another two days – I hope it’s only two days, anyway. Life without internet seems strangely quiet. I rather expected to have a bunch more free time, but I don’t. I have a bunch more nauseous and tired time instead. Something about a rolling stomach doesn’t encourage a clean house. Shocker, I know.

Life moves on. Liberty has rather mastered the doggy paddle and is having a great time in the deep end. Fun skills to master. Eden remains the flailing octopus, doing her best to drown herself and anyone trying to keep her afloat. She’ll get there. Pierce though… he thinks he can swim. He kicks and swings his arms and I haven’t completely gotten the nerve to let him go, but it would seem that he might have some ability to keep himself above water. Funny boy. Sterling and Ruby and Charlotte love their lifejackets.

Ruby wants to know why she can’t feel the baby kick yet. Charlotte wants to know why it isn’t born yet. Pierce just wants to know why my belly is getting bigger. It’s rather fun to watch them look forward to the new sibling. As the youngest child of two, I never experienced anything like it. I’ve had fun watching them experience it. Watching Pierce become a big brother though – I’m a little scared of that. It’ll be interesting how he handles it.

Ruby came in from a trip to the outside garbage can for me. She was blowing out of her nose strangely.

“Is there a bead up my nose?” She sticks her nose in my face. Is this a trick question?

“Why would there be a bead up your nose?”

“Because I stuck one up there but now I can’t find it.”

Wavering between laughing and scolding, I opted for the latter. I plugged one side and told her to blow. Nothing. I told her to blow again. And with that, a pink pony bead flew out and hit me in the face. I’ll have to work on my defense strategy next time. Although, should there ever be a next time, we’re quite clear on the consequences.

I’ve never thought to tell them not to put things up their noses. I don’t ever remember encountering this problem before. I’d have thought that at 4 years 10.5 months, she’d have been past the point of seeing that as a good idea. Leave it to Ruby.

Sterling was told to get the clothes out of the dryer and bring them to me. I was halfway through folding them when an obviously food-clad shirt was drawn up for the folding. Then I found two kids cups in the load. Really? Upon questioning, Sterling wasn’t sure where the cups came from. But he was QUITE certain he brought me the clean clothes. He was sent to the laundry room to check. He came back empty handed, adamant they were the clothes he’d taken from the dryer. Liberty went to investigate. She came back with a laundry basket of clean clothes. They’d been sitting in the laundry room.

They were whites. All whites. My dear six year old son took all-white clothes out of the dryer, put them in a basket, then grabbed the basket next to his clean basket and brought me a basket of dark colored clothes instead. And he never noticed the discrepancy.

Oh. My. Word.

I was headed to a meeting the other night and the kids were all in the yard. As I drove along the front of our yard on the road, the kids were waving like crazy in the yard. What was a mom to do? I waved back, hand out the window, hollering my goodbyes. Right then a car was coming towards me, and he was waving like a maniac back at me.

Excuse me while I feel like an idiot. That guy must have thought I was the friendliest neighbor ever.


TOS Review: Couponing Made Simple

I’ve been reading and attempting to learn from Christi the Coupon Coach with her book Couponing Made Simple as part of the Review Crew. I’ve ‘couponed’ before, but never anything spectacular. I’ve had a hard time finding coupons for things that we’d normally buy – but I recognize that if I bought a different brand for a better price, it would replace what I normally buy and save me money in the long run.

I read the book, agreeing with a lot and learning some new things as well. I’d hoped when I got chosen for this review I’d have a spectacular table full of goods and an impressive receipt to photograph to go with it. I don’t.

I do, however, have more knowledge than when I started, and, armed with what I’ve learned, I think that I can eventually get there. I didn’t expect to get there overnight… but one could hope!

Coupon Christi had many tips, ideas, and suggestions for becoming a successful coupon shopper. She doesn’t make suggestions for specific coupon matching websites since they tend to come and go, but she did suggest what to search for to find what you need. She told how to do matchups on your own as well, but I have found in my own ventures that there is a world out there, free, that will walk you through which coupons and sales to match up at any current time.

Couponing takes time. There’s no getting around it. Hiring a babysitter for my brood of six isn’t cost effective to help out the grocery/personal care budget – it would be trading one budget category for the other. For me, it just isn’t an option. A lot of Coupon Christi’s suggestions aren’t quite feasible for what I have to do, and driving around with my big van has to be taken into careful consideration to make it cost effective. Because of these factors, I haven’t been super motivated to get better at this in the past, but after reading Couponing Made Simple, I think that even on a small scale, adding one more stop to our week would still save us plenty once I got better at this. She suggests one paper’s flier per household member, and while that would be fabulous, I haven’t found a cost effective source to pursue this that far. I’ve yet to be successful with the drugstore stop, but I’m encouraged I can eventually be successful. And so, I’ll persist. I can’t see myself ever being able to dedicate the hours per week that would be required to slash my grocery expenditures, unfortunately, but maybe with practice in a small area, I can make this work.

All in all, I really appreciated this book. It’s a lot of what I’d read before, some was new, but it was all in one place for me to read, glean, and learn from. Coupon Christi has a great approach – being a good steward of what God’s given her – and provides encouragement and help for the reader from a learned and experienced source. “Couponing” Christi Bassford and her husband Robert have a heart for helping others reach financial success and have created this and several other resources to help others on this journey.

Couponing Made Simple is available here or on Amazon for $18.00. To read others tales of their venture into couponing with Couponing Made Simple, visit the Review Crew Blog.


The story of us. Part sixteen: now.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Read part three here.

Read part four here.

Read part five here.

Read part six here.

Read part seven here.

Read part eight here.

Read part nine here.

Read part ten here.

Read part eleven here.

Read part twelve here.

Read part thirteen here.

Read part fourteen here.

Read part fifteen here.

When I started this Saturday morning series, I had no idea exactly how it would go. There’s things I’ve missed that I’ve remembered later and thought I ought to have added. Stories that formed who I am, who my children and my husband are, the people we’ve become.

I didn’t imagine what the last post might look like. Even I didn’t see this coming.

In March 2014, a big (little) family will get a little bit bigger, Lord willing. I am pregnant again, and, having passed the point of both miscarriages, trying to gain confidence that this pregnancy will continue, that I will get to meet this little one. I am thrilled to be nauseous after having not been for the babies I lost, I’m exhausted, and excited to meet this new little one. I don’t know where we’ll put it, I know I’d like another homebirth, and I’m not sure what mothering seven will look like.

But I’m so excited to find out.

Sterling is voting for twin boys to even things out. I’m wondering how much he values his mother’s sanity.

Ruby is voting for twin girls just to spite Sterling. The thought makes my head spin.

I’m praying for healthy, full term, and mild mannered. The world can only handle so many Pierces.


I hate stupid questions.

I took the kids out for ice cream this afternoon with a friend. She also has six kids. The cashier asked if all of those kids were mine. When I told her six of them were, she sputtered, and then, honestly, said,

“Tell me. How does that happen? I mean really, how does it happen?!”

Let me just throw out there that she was old enough to know how these things happen. I wasn’t sure what exactly she wanted me to say. If it was biology, I wasn’t going there with my children within earshot. Who am I kidding? I wasn’t going there anyway. Really now.

I should have said something clever about a stork or how it was raining children one day or how someone just dropped them off on my doorstep and told me to have fun. But I didn’t. I muttered something about wanting a large family and loving my children and left it alone.

But really. How would you answer that?!


TOS Review: Picaboo Yearbooks

As a part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew this year, I had the honor of making a yearbook from Picaboo Yearbooks to use their website, receive a printed copy of my 20-Page Softcover Yearbook creation, and then be able to review it for all of you.

I chose to do a “yearbook” of Pierce’s first year. Since our school year is well-documented in used textbooks and full planners but not so much with photos, not to mention Pierce had yet to have a printed photo for documentation of his first year… this seemed like a good option. I love that a little of that infamous mommy-guilt was waylaid as a result.

I went through my computer, created a folder of photos I wanted to use, and uploaded them. Since some of them were not JPEGs because my photographer-husband has an aversion to easy (ie. less editing options later) photo files, and my internet was fighting me tooth and nail at the uploading tools desire to actually make the internet work… this got a little interesting, but I got it done after much fighting with my computer and said files. I was beginning to think it was the Picaboo site, but one night, around midnight, my internet decided to cooperate, and I stayed up for hours playing with photos and making the book. I ordered it that night, and it came in the mail far faster than I expected. If I remember correctly, it was less than a week from ordering to receiving it. The website warns to order ahead by three weeks, but it didn’t take that long for mine. I was pretty impressed with their speed.


Once my photos were in proper format (my issue, not Picaboo’s) and my internet speed was up to par as far as uploading the photos and running their website (also my issue… soon to be resolved when another internet company finishes it’s install this week – hooray!) was figured out, putting it together was only as hard as my mental block made it. It had me separate each part of the yearbook in sections, and put photos into folders based on which section I wanted them in. I ended up accidentally using the same photo for two different sections and it didn’t holler at me about it – frustrating, but still user error. It would be helpful if it noticed when a photo was used twice anywhere, not just twice in a certain section. I chose a different font for my yearbook, and it kept switching back to the generic text option anytime I typed. I looked for a place to change it for the whole book, but I couldn’t find that option.


In all my playing, I put a photo of Pierce on the front, and it wrapped around to the back and was on both front and back. When I decided I wanted to switch that out because it was quite what I was after, I couldn’t get it to change it back, and I was about to contact customer service to figure it out when I decided I really did like it that way after all. Looking back, I think I should have contacted them anyway, just to be able to review how they were with customer service, but I didn’t think of that. If their shipping speed and the quality of the book, binding, and pages are any indication, I think they’d have been spot-on with their help as well!
The quality and ease of use was great. I had a few qualms, but they were minor and in the end, I have a beautiful book with great print quality with a price that makes doing this on a somewhat regular basis a real possibility. I really liked the option to write as much or as little as I chose around the inside of the book, and used the opportunity to tell Pierce of his younger self and encourage him towards what his future holds regarding his personality traits.


A 9” x 12” or 8.5” x 11” 20-page softcover year book is $8.49 plus $8.99 shipping and handling. There are many other options on their website regarding as bindings, page numbers, etc. Ebooks for schools and many options are all offered, making Picaboo a great option for schools and homeschool co-ops.
To see what others did with their 20 page softcover yearbook from Picaboo Yearbooks and what they thought of their website, visit the Review Crew Blog.


Hello, welcome, yes, and excuse me while I find some clothes.

The flag keeps falling off of our mailbox. In trying to fix it without making a sharp edge (ie. using wire) I used two bread plastic bag clips, clipped onto the peg of the flag that sticks inside. I haven't decided if it was clever or trashy - but it worked. Hello Mrs. Mail Lady. We're the people at the house with the giant white van, children who love to get the mail before you’ve even pulled away from the mailbox, and the bread clips inside our mailbox. Aren't you glad to know us?

I finally got Pierce to answer with an actual affirmative answer. For the longest time he grunted. It was anybody’s guess whether each grunt was a ‘yes’ grunt or a ‘no’ grunt. Now, he answers “NO!” quite clearly and “mmm hmmm” for yes. It’s just about cute. (Okay, not the “NO!” part. But neither was the screaming when we responded contrary to his desires. Getting a word – and a warning – is a good thing. It’s one step closer to getting the boy to conform. I think.)

The AT&T truck pulled into my yard this morning sometime in the 8am hour. They weren’t supposed to come until Friday. I wasn’t dressed. I was sitting at the computer, working on a blog post in my pj’s with less than appropriate underclothing in which to meet strange men at the door. I haven’t gotten dressed that fast EVER. I didn’t even know what I put on until after I looked in the mirror later. It took ten minutes AFTER I was dressed for my heart rate to slow down. After all that, they never came to the door. Instead, they opted to climb the pole in the yard. Whew. Talk about an adrenalin rush. Not nice.

I’m sitting at #3 in the Circle of Moms contest for Top 25 Big Family Blogs. I’d be honored if you’d click over here and vote for me. There’s been a lot of talk (ahem, me, begging for votes) on Facebook, but I know a lot of you aren’t on there. You can vote every 24 hours. I’d love to maintain my spot!

I found out yesterday, when I took Pierce in to see the pediatrician for a bug bite gone wild that there’s such a thing as “Chigger Weed”. Turns out, chiggers live in the stuff. Not being a native to the state, I had no idea. My children have been picking the flowers of the stinking thing and putting them in cups all around the house. It’s like we hung out a big welcome sign, inviting the bugs in to make themselves at home, and offered our bodies up as breakfast, lunch and supper. Perfect.

If you don’t know what a chigger is, thank the good Lord and pray you never find out.

TOS Review: 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us

For the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I’ve been reading 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us from Ed Douglas Publications. 25 Truths is a softcover book about 25 things the author has chosen to live out to be successful and happy. It was an easy book to read with 150 pages, including short bits about each “truth” and questions after to get the reader thinking and perhaps start a discussion among a group.

Some of the “truths” discussed are:
  • Utilize Compound Interest
  • Don’t Talk Negatively About Others
  • Get as Much Education as Possible
  • Don’t Hate – Instead, Forgive
- and 21 others.

Fundamentally, there wasn’t anything in there that was wrong. The whole premise of the book rather bothered me, though. It’s written by Ed Douglas, a professing Christian. He talks of his faith, but Christianity is talked about to almost sound like being saved is a motive to be happy and successful. The benefits he finds are likely to be true, since the moral Christian is likely to be a good employee, financially prudent, not prone to the bad habits that hinder us in life.


Christianity isn’t easy.

Following Christ isn’t about making me happy. It isn’t about making me successful. It’s about God’s grace being poured upon me, a sinner, and only for His own glory. So while I don’t have any qualms with being successful, it isn’t my ultimate goal. Financial success helps build the church – it’s good. But our own happiness and success shouldn’t be our ultimate goals in life. While I have no questions regarding Mr. Douglas and his faith, the book comes across as telling it’s reader that that is what they should be after.

All in all, it wasn’t a book contrary to Christianity – but I won’t be giving it to anyone not firmly grounded in their faith and the reasons for it. The “truths” are good, solid ideas for how we ought to live. Many of them are backed with Scripture. It just tends more toward the lines for a self help book than I had hoped when I read of this book before I was chosen for the review.

It was a bit disappointing to me that it didn’t put Christ in the focus and success in life as a great secondary thing to attain that can help the church and the spread of the gospel. It did have a paragraph and prayer at the end that laid out Jesus’ sacrifice and how to become a Christian, but it isn’t exactly a theme in the book. The “truths” discussed are good, many of them Biblical, but I’d rather hoped for a different perspective that taught why we ought to pursue those things, beyond simple personal happiness in this life.

25 Truths was written for grades 6-12, or for adults. The cost for 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and most Successful Among Us is $12.50 plus tax and shipping. To read what others on the Crew thought about 25 Truths, check out the Review Crew Blog.


There's a reason why the rhyme goes that way...

I made a birthday cake for a friend. She loves chocolate and is not a baker so what could be better than a homemade chocolate cake with chocolate icing for a chocolate loving friend? (If you are unsure still, there is a lot of chocolate in this cake.)

It was not a success.

I have made this cake, and many others, many times. I forgot to level the cake batter in the pans before I baked them. They weren’t level. My cake kept sliding off itself.

CT got on the table and took a handful out of each of the three cakes while they were cooling.

This cake needs to be refrigerated. It was almost 100 degrees at the park where I met my friend.

The cake melted.

My chocolate loving friend didn’t like the cake. Too much chocolate!
She sent it home with me.

I put it back in the fridge when we got home and as it cooled went to trying to prop it back up on itself with the icing as it slowly stiffened.

Then Brent decided he wanted a piece of the cake. When a 4 year old takes a triple layer cake out of the fridge, he does not grab it by the bottom base. I grabs it by the top where it is easiest to hold.

When I suggested that we throw it out and call it quits on the STUPID cake, he started crying, so heartbroken that he would be the last straw on the yummy, ugly, ahem, cake. I decided that since I had mopped in the last 24 hours it probably wouldn’t kill us. I put it back together again.


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

and when it was all said and done they gave up and didn’t put him back together again!!!!

The story of us. Part fifteen.

Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Read part three here.
Read part four here.
Read part five here.
Read part six here.
Read part seven here.
Read part eight here.
Read part nine here.
Read part ten here.
Read part eleven here.
Read part twelve here.
Read part thirteen here.
Read part fourteen here.

I kept waiting for Pierce to get easier. All of my kids are pretty even tempered, and while it feels like I constantly correct, obedience is something all of them are capable of. Pierce thinks he’s exempt from that expectation. He went through a phase of holding his breath when he didn’t get his own way. He’d crumple to the floor in a purple heap, so deprived of oxygen that he couldn’t even throw his fit anymore. We got through that one, and he started hitting his own head on the floor. One time he did it in the kitchen on the ceramic tile instead of the living room’s slightly more forgiving hardwood floor and that behavior was cured all on his own. He’s unlike any of my others, and has taught me that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But, we persist.

Pierce was born in October, and the following January Blaine went, again, to California. And when he came home, shock of all shocks, I did not have pregnancy news to share, as I had the two years prior. Life fell into a routine, and slowly, as Pierce got older and we found a new routine, things slowed down to a more manageable pace. Sundays are the hardest of my week, spent outside of the church sanctuary with a child who refuses to be quiet. Days at home though, life feels pretty normal.

Pierce walked at 14 months, and life got easier still. Still very high strung and now prone to biting, (Only siblings, thankfully. But still… I have one of those.) Pierce has changed my view on parenting. He’s humbled me, made me more compassionate to other mothers, and I have a challenge: to see who this little fiery spirit can become. He’s got loads of potential – if I can convince his that’s what he wants to have. It’ll have to be his idea though!

This spring, I found out I was pregnant, but just days later, I miscarried. Not long after, I found I was pregnant again, but again, I miscarried, this time a little bit further along. I’ve had friends who have mentioned miscarriages, and I have to admit, I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t possibly. Now, painfully, I know. My miscarriages were both early, and that seems easier than later on, but easier isn’t really a good word to describe any of it. It’s awful. It made me realize, all the more, how sacred life is. How privileged I am to raise these children I've been given, how incredible the time God gives us is. Hard, hard lessons to learn.

But there’s more. And our story is still being written. Next Saturday will bring my story up to now, and will be the final installment, at least for a while, of the Story of Us.


TOS Review: Badge of Honor by Susan K. Marlow

I received a copy of the paperback book Badge of Honor by Susan K. Marlow as part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. Book one in the Goldtown Adventures, Badge of Honor was published by Kregel Publications in 2012. With 143 pages, this book is geared for ages 9-13. In my home, it was read by my daughters Eden, age 8, Liberty, age 10, and I read it as well.

I asked Eden to read it first. As the fastest (and most dedicated!) reader in my home, I knew she’d finish in time for Liberty and I to get a turn with it. When I asked her what she thought of the book, her response was, “I liked it so much, I read it twice.” Um… yeah. She has the story all but memorized. When she saw me reading it, she knew right where I was in the story because of the drawing on the page. With simple black and white illustrations – I counted seven in all – obviously drew the attention of my ultra-visual daughter and added much to the story for her.

Liberty read Badge of Honor next and says she thoroughly enjoyed it. While she only read it once, she did request we get a copy of Tunnel of Gold, the next book in the series. The characters drew her in and the story line was nothing like other things she’s read. It opened her horizons a bit, I think. She had quite a few questions about different things mentioned in the story regarding mining and the practices mentioned.

I just finished the book. It was an easy read that took about 3 hours, and the story line was enough to keep me wanting to read… not just reading for y’all and the sake of the review. It was written for 9-13 year olds, but when we get the next book in the series, I’ll be reading that one as well – just because. “Wholesome” is a word used on the Susan K. Marlow website, and I have to agree. Wholesome fits this book perfectly.

While I think aspects of the story and it’s mining theme had to have gone over my girls’ heads, they didn’t seem to notice. They’ve never seen a mine or the tools used, so there’s no way they could have possibly understood the terms. It didn’t slow them down though, and the story moved fast and was pretty exciting. It’s about a 12 year old boy named Jem, short for Jeremiah, his sister, his cousin, aunt, friends, and his newly-named sheriff father. Jem is completely human, makes typical mistakes, has lots of 1960’s-time period mining-town mishaps and learns to trust God in spite of his fears. Nothing about it was boring, no part was “slow” and I didn’t find myself skimming even once. As a chronic skimmer of all fiction, that was impressive, at least to me!

We’ll definitely be on the lookout for more fiction by Ms. Marlow. She is a veteran homeschooler and author of this and several other series. I think she did a fantastic job writing this children’s book. As a mom always on the lookout for good books to keep my readers supplied with good books, this one definitely fits the bill. There wasn’t anything in it objectionable to me, my conscience, or my values, and the girls were highly entertained and even learned a little bit about history and life during the California gold rush.

Badge of Honor is available here for $7.99 plus $2.50 shipping and handling. It can also be purchased there as a set with the second book in the series, Tunnel of Gold, for $13.95 plus $3 shipping and handling. Sample chapters can be read at that link and the option to have the book personalized is also offered there.

For other blogger’s opinions on Badge of Honor as well as the second book in the series, Tunnel of Gold, check out the Review Crew Blog.


Oh, for dreams

 Edited by Adrienne to add: If you look at the title of this post and the post I posted yesterday... I laughed. We are sisters, after all!

This is what I found yesterday when I looked out the window.


Dreaming about the day when they will be able to bale hay on their own, I guess. Either that or it was the best entertainment they had for the day!

Gus hauled his first load of hay. He and Matthew were at a set of hay meadows about 15 miles away with a loader tractor and the pickup and flatbed trailer. Matthew was picking up bales and loading them on the flatbed and Gus drove the pickup and trailer around the field. –It was in 4 low and 1st gear though. All he had to do was steer it around following the tractor, and not take out any fences with the trailer. I wish I had pictures of that!


Oh, for cute.

Four new circle skirts


made from this pattern


slightly edited on the waistband for ease of knowing where the back is (and covering my sewing machine’s hatred for sewing two piece of elastic together)


and four new necklaces, made from matching fabric from this pattern,


made four very happy girls. Four very cute very happy girls.


With skirts that spin out like every little girl’s dream,


it makes my shorts/leggings under every dress/skirt rule very, very important!