LOVE ONE ANOTHER

By Elana Carroll

As I drive down a long winding driveway I finally see the house. It looks like Snow White’s cottage — except instead of seven dwarfs inside, there are nine kids, their parents and as many as six babies on any given day. There is a small, plastic play house sitting in the middle of the driveway and various other toys scattered throughout the yard.

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The Done home located in Centre County, Pa.

I knock on the door. I hear scrambling inside, kids yelling, and finally someone jets past the door’s window.

“She’s here!”

I’m greeted by one of the older children, Mara, 18. She’s still wearing her dress from church but with an apron protecting it. Mara is small for her age, she doesn’t even look 18 but I get the impression that she takes over the mothering role when her mom isn’t around.

 There are family photos everywhere along with religious sayings and pictures or figurines of Jesus Christ scattered throughout.

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The entire Done family at oldest son Jacob’s wedding.
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A picture with words to live by in the kitchen.

Their mother Suzette is out of town helping with the birth of a new baby of an older daughter. There’s a small sense of disorganization with mom being gone. Everyone rushes around to get the house clean. I ask if they normally clean on Sundays and Mara says, “No, but I think Dad and I were the only ones that knew you were coming and Mom might not be happy to have the house photographed dirty.” We laugh.

Dinner that night was hash browns with scrambled eggs and cheese. I learned this is a Dad specialty.

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Dad, Craig Done, making hash browns, eggs and cheese for the family.

Craig and Suzette Done are the parents to Jacquelyn, Allexis, Courtney, Jacob, Hannah, Mara, Caleb, Joy and Bryce. They are in-laws to four others with a fifth to join in the next few months. And, they are grandparents to six children, ages four weeks to two years.

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Craig and Suzette Done, the dad and mom of all nine children.
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Five of the six grandchildren in the family, ages 10 months to two years.
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An ornament on the piano in the living room with all the names of the Done family in 2013.

It’s uncommon to have all 21 of them in the same house at the same time, but on one of my visits we came very close with 18 Done’s under the same roof.  There are rarely sibling fights or bickering, everyone helps out with the babies and meal times are a work of art.

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Adalyn, 2, does a puzzle with her aunt Joy, 17.
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The dining room table set for dinner. The table has 11 place settings on a normal basis.
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Lincoln, 11 months, being held by his grandma Suzette.

Whether there were eight or 18 people in the house, the key to having a big family became clear – a lot of hard work, communication and not taking anything too seriously. Loving one another is important too, and it is apparent in the Done family that there is no lack of love anywhere.

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Allexis, 26, kissing her youngest baby Peter, 10 months.
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Adalyn, 2, kissing her newest baby sister who was two weeks old.
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Lincoln, 11 months, being lovingly lifted upside down by his mom.
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Allexis, 26, cuddling with both of her sons, Jeffrey and Peter.

Having so many people builds a sense of imagination and creativity in the kids. It was a sunny Sunday and the outdoors begged to be played in. The older boys, Bryce and Caleb, were playing Frisbee when the game “Can-Jam” was brought up.

“It’s so cool,” Caleb said. “We should buy it!”

Before the thought of spending money on it went any further, Bryce found two big boxes in the garage and decided to make his own “XL Can-Jam.”

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Bryce, 16, and brother Caleb, 14, make a homemade Can-Jam game out of old boxes from the garage.

After the boxes were cut properly, a family game broke out in the lawn.

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Caleb, 14, playing Can-Jam with his siblings and dad.

“Having a big family is such a blessing from Heavenly Father and we are grateful every day for all our kids,” Suzette said.

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