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.


Maybe Oil and Water can mix, after all.

In a rare moment of sharing without finding a way to be upset with one another, Oil and Water were reading a look and find “Where’s Waldo” type book together the other day. I had to take a photo, just to remind myself that it can happen. They play together on a regular basis. They just usually find a way to fight about it too.



TOS Review: Mango Languages

For the past six weeks or so, three of my older children and I have been using Mango Languages and their Homeschool Curriculum for teaching languages as part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. For ages 6 to adult, I chose to do this review with Sterling, 6, Eden, 9, and Liberty, 10. Mango offers over fifty languages, so I chose French since my husband has a bachelor’s in French, has spent time in France, and his knowledge gave me courage to tackle a daunting subject. I’d thought we’d avoid it for a few more years, until high school, but when I researched Mango before the review, I couldn’t help but get excited.

Mango lived up to everything I’d hoped for.

The setup for Mango was a bit complicated, but once I figured it out, we were off. We do school four days a week, so we added this to our daily schedule and did it four days a week as well. The very first lesson, the kids met Blaine at the door after work with “Good Evening, Daddy” in French. When he responded in French… oh, the excitement. And we were off.

I found the lessons myself hard to absorb. Nothing to do with Mango and their teaching attempts, I’m having a hard time getting myself back into learning mode. My pregnant brain, plagued first by bronchitis, then the flu, and now a looming due date, does not want to absorb anything. It’s pathetic. The kids can talk me into a corner. Liberty and Eden have absorbed it pretty well, and while I do not expect them to be fabulous at French in the coming year, I am thoroughly enjoying listening to them learn and talk to each other and their Daddy with enthusiasm.

Sterling… that was a whole ‘nother story. He’s learned plenty, don’t get me wrong. He really wants to learn French. He gladly does his lessons each day. But. Getting him to talk to the computer was a little like pulling teeth, and once we got that far, I thought he was doing fabulously. One day, listening to him rattle off French from the next room, I thought he was making fabulous progress. Then I got closer and heard what he was really saying. With great French finesse, he was rattling off, “Blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah?” He even had the uptick question cadence.

Really?! Oh, dear boy. Once I got over my desire to laugh, I corrected him at his less than stellar attempt to copy the French speaker on the computer, and we’ve moved on. He’ll learn plenty this year, to be sure, but I don’t anticipate it will be as much as he could if he were a bit older. I wouldn’t say he’s too young, but he’s easily frustrated when he can’t remember phrases properly and, unfortunately, gives up his attempt to be accurate instead of trying harder.

When Sterling spelled “pass” on his spelling test “pas” instead, he blamed the French lessons. He claimed got confused at the spelling, since “pas” is a French word (Meaning nothing close to the English word ‘pass’ and pronounced very differently.) That time… I did laugh. Poor boy, trying to learn these crazy things Momma throws at him and actually expects him to stretch his math-brain further than numbers and multiplication.

While we’ve been thrilled with Mango and all that it offers, I found out recently that even more is coming. I haven’t had to try those things yet, but to sum it up, here’s a list of what’s there and what’s coming:

What is currently available on the site:
Over 60 different languages
Progress Assessments

Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
Collaborative learning spaces
eNote messaging
/chat rooms

Access to embedded/downloadable content

Support from other community members

Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

Over the next several months, they’ll be introducing other exciting features like:
Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring - including seat time (for students and parents)
Goals and Personal Lesson Plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)

Resume and Portfolio Builder

Mango Languages offers the following introductory pricing:

  • 1 subscription - $18/month or $125/year
  • 2 subscriptions - $28/month or $175/year                   
  • 3 subscriptions - $38/month or $225/year                
  • 4 subscriptions - $48/month or $275/year                 
  • 5 subscriptions - $58/month or $325/year
  • Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group.


To read more reviews from the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, check out the Review Crew Blog.


Oh, Baby.



Elliot has regained the weight she lost in her first week, reached her birth weight once more, giggled in her sleep, learned to really, really like being held, and outgrown the few newborn size clothes I own. She’s finished her first pack of diapers and made me exceptionally glad I have a stash of cloth diapers to go to next, and she nurses like a champ. You don’t keep these rolls without a bit of effort, after all.

I love her.

My mom is here for a while, I haven’t touched the dishes since she got here, but yesterday Ellie and I oversaw the washing of Grandma’s car and my van while the kids worked played at cleaning it. She’s an excellent supervisor, to be sure.

I’m drinking in the newborn baby, loving these moments. Far too soon she’ll be rolling and crawling and walking and running. I look forward to finding out who Elliot is – so far, she’s pretty amazing.


Elliot: 1 week

Elliot BW 2

Blaine took some newborn photos of Ellie. She already fights the newborn curl… she was adamant her legs be straight. Apparently she’s enjoying this newfound freedom.


5 days out: goodbye, routine. Hello, padded room.

IMG_5056Life is just a little bit crazy right now. Blaine went back to work today, and Ellie met the pediatrician and got checked out. She’s doing fabulously, had gotten down to 9 lbs. 1 oz. but was at 9 lbs. 2 oz. today so we’re climbing again. Her heart sounds perfect, she’s not jaundiced, and we couldn’t ask for anything more.

But. How do you take seven children into a doctor’s clinic smoothly? How do you take less than twelve minutes to get everyone into the van and buckled? To carry an infant car seat or to put baby in sling? Stroller – double to contain Pierce too, or single and have Pierce walk? All these questions, along with about a hundred more, have yet to be answered. Hello, overwhelmed. I managed to lose Pierce for about 30 seconds in a small store, (he was by the toys mere feet away, but that didn’t stop the moment of panic) forget to pack a few things we really wished we had taken, forget to change the baby’s diaper before the situation became desperate, and we didn’t make it to three of the stores I’d hoped to make it to. It was a lesson in what not to do, pretty much.


When the doctor looked at my kids and said he really wanted to know how I do what I do, how I have such well behaved children, I couldn’t help but think… “Show them what overwhelmed looks like it. Show them what craziness really is. They’ll all be so terrified Momma’s about to lose the last thread of sanity she owns, they’ll fall into line and act like perfect little ducklings. Who knows… she might forget to feed them next. Yep, better keep your act together, or she’ll lose everything entirely. Our lunch is depending on it.”

IMG_5047I’ve had seven babies. Six times before, I’ve sponge bathed my babies, cared for their umbilical cord stump, waited for it to fall off. This time? I totally forgot. I decided Ellie needed a bath, took her into the shower with me, and was mid-suds when I realized I was not supposed to get her cord wet. Seriously?! Where is my brain? To top it all off, approximately 36 hours later, a friend was over, after spending the last 36 hours cleaning her cord with alcohol trying to ease my regret in having bathed a baby when they tell you not to. I was chatting with my friend when I looked down to the shoulder that Elliot had been resting on moments earlier. There stuck her cord, sitting on my shirt like something entirely revolting. Oh. My. Word.

The best part was when I was relaying the whole story to the pediatrician, waiting for him to scold me and tell me what horrible things I’d done to the well-being of Elliot’s perfectly shaped belly button (that no one will ever see in her teen and adult years, to be certain) and at the end of the story, the pediatrician laughed. He told me to leave it alone, put the rubbing alcohol away, and step away from my mommy guilt… and take a nap. Because apparently I need one.

Sterling drew me an owl picture. When I giggled at his rendition, he asked what was wrong. I pointed to the mouth of the owl, lips and all. I think Sterling was a bit offended at my reaction – until he realized he drawn lips on an owl. Oh, we laughed.

Ruby’s new line: “I was accidentally out of my mind.” She first said, "Is it 'My brain is out of my mind' or 'My mind is out of my brain?'" Somewhere along the line, it’s evolved. I can’t bring myself to correct her. She makes me smile.

Comedic entertainment. It’s all that’s keeping me going right now.


Elliot Adelaide

Elliot Adelaide FalkenaElliot Adelaide made a grand and scary entrance into the world yesterday evening. Her birth story is here, should you care to read it.

She and I are recovering well, and the rest of the kids are in love. After minor disappointment that Ellie was not the gender he so strongly desired, even Sterling has to admit he’s happy to have another sister. Something about holding a newborn that snuggles right into you, I’m thinking. Pierce is determined to share all of his things with Ellie – so far, he’s tried to feed her an almond, an orange, and brought me the gallon of milk when I told him she just likes milk, informed me baby needed my “boo” because she was hungry (I’m hopeful that means attempts to feed her other foods are no longer threatened.) and shared his favorite blankets and his pillow with her within moments of meeting her. I’m thinking jealousy isn’t an issue. He’s her protector. Except when he tried to put the baby chew toy in her mouth… but he was trying to be helpful, I’m sure.