story by Ashley Blue
Scotlyn Phegley, 2, comes out of the bathroom, pants around her ankles, wet. The big sisters come to the rescue and get some fresh clothes while the other little girls are at school in the dining room with their mom, Rhonda. Does 'giraffe' have a hard G or a soft G? Rhonda helps Brooklyn with grammar with her left hand while breastfeeding Dawson with her right.
"It may be one of those days, guys, everyone needs to keep their attitude in check," Rhonda Phegley of Henderson says after her eight children climb into their 15-passenger van.
Dawson, Scotlyn, Emalyn, Brooklyn, Gabriel, Justis, Malayna and McKenna.
"We're a big family." Rhonda and her husband, Darrin, have eight children between the ages of 8 months and 16 years. Six of them are home schooled.
"We didn't plan to have eight kids. We didn't plan in any direction," Darrin says. "McKenna was the only one we planned. From then on they just came, and we didn't stop it."
Despite working three jobs, Darrin spends more time with the children than do most fathers. Rhonda home schools the children, cooks, cleans and is family activity director in the evening.
Everyone has a job to do. The two oldest, McKenna and her sister, Malayna, 13, pick up a lot of the slack around the house. "Malayna does the hair and I find the shoes," McKenna, 16, says. They get the "little girls," Scotlyn, 2, Emalyn, 5, and Brooklyn, 6, dressed and ready to go every morning. They also help with their youngest brother, Dawson.
The glue that keeps the family together is their faith. The Phegleys have instilled Christian principles into their children.
"It's a God thing. I get up every day knowing that the list of things I have to do cannot get done by me. My whole existence is a prayer request," Rhonda says. "I wish I had been raised like this."
Though she won't ever allow her teenagers to date, Rhonda wants all of her children's relationships to be like the one she has with Darrin — along with lots of grandchildren.
"The best things are that there is more love, more joy, there is just more of all the good things. All of the good things about a family being together and laughing, there is just more of that," Rhonda says.