Primarily written by Adrienne, a homeschooling mother of seven, ages 10 and under. She chronicles life, laughs, struggles, and lessons learned as she raises a larger-than-most sized family and tries to figure out what she's doing day by day.

With occasional posts, Alexandra, Adrienne's older sister, writes of her ranch life in Nevada and raising four sons, ages 5 and under. Life is never dull and her boys have given her some pretty awesome stories to tell.

Stick around awhile, and you're sure to laugh, nod, smile, be encouraged, and see what life is like with a big (little) family.


Groceries... large scale.

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Christmas preparations.

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

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

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

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



Persistence, pain, and learning personal hygiene...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Blurry lines…

Guest post by Alexandra…

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


What category does an open dresser drawer fall in?


Fiction, Christmas Trees, and Grandpa

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

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

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

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

It's never dull around here.


Routines on the ranch

Guest post by Alexandra...

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

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

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


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


Random, I’ve got.

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

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

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

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

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


Liberty’s Snow Slushi

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

1/2 tsp lime juice

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp water

2 T sugar

2 cups snow

food coloring (optional)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Oh the weather outside…

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

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

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

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

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


Thanksgiving 2013

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


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

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