A couple who planned to have just a few children but went on to have ten offspring, have insisted that it’s the best thing ever to happen to them.
Cassanda, 32, and Jacob Morrise, 35, from Utah, who laughingly remember feeling they had ‘enough children to last a lifetime,’ when they reached two, revealed they kept changing their minds and only felt their family was complete when baby number ten was born in July 2019.
The couple’s huge brood includes two sets of twin boys, who were born one after the other.
And there is only one girl among all the siblings, their ninth child Lily, who was born in April 2018.
Entrepreneur Jacob has a business designing and selling household gadgets in 2018, meanwhile Cassanda is a stay-at-home mother.
The mechanical entrepreneur said: ‘I wouldn’t change having such a big family for the world. By baby number two we thought we’d had enough. But turns out we hadn’t, and it was the best decision we ever made.
‘At the end of the day, we’re just normal parents who happen to have 10 kids. Yes, the fact we have 10 might make us slightly less normal, but we love each and every one of them just the same.
‘We do get the odd comments like, “You’ve got your hands full”, or, “You must be some sort of day care center”.
‘And some people say we’re irresponsible for having so many kids, but we just brush the comments off.’
Raising Steven, 10, Christopher, nine, identical twins William and Ryan, both seven, non-identical twins Spencer and Max, both five, Thomas, four, Henry, three, Lily, one, and Peter, six months, efficiently, but with plenty of love and affection, has made Cassanda confident she has the experience to give fellow parents solid advice.
‘People just assume we’ve got a bunch of unruly kids who rule the roost, because there’s so many of them – but that’s just not the case,’ said Cassanda, who launched her blog with Jacob in June 2019.
‘Being part of such a large family is actually good preparation for children, as they have to learn how to compromise and deal with different personalities. It’s actually made our children better behaved.
‘The blog offers advice to other parents and also gives us a way to document all the memories we make.
‘I try and keep it real, but I also put a positive spin on every day and if one other mother can benefit from reading about how I stay on top of my laundry routine, then it’s worthwhile.’
The couple who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints faith, which permits contraception, but encourages big families, claim that having a big family can be easier than just having a couple of children.
Cassanda said: ‘I speak to people who have one or two kids and they’re like, ‘I have to entertain my kids and play with them all the time.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t.’
‘We’ve got so many children that they entertain and play with each other. We’re also really lucky because the older kids dote on the younger ones.’
Jacob and Cassanda met at Brigham Young University in Idaho in January 2008. They embarked on a whirlwind romance and tied the knot in August the same year, and have revealed having such a big brood was not their initial plan.
‘Cassanda was one of eight siblings and I was one of six,’ Jacob said.
‘We both loved being part of big families, but six children was always our limit.’
Then, after their first two, Steven and Christopher were born in August 2009 and February 2011 respectively, the couple thought their family was big enough.
‘Steven was a fine baby, but Christopher was enough to put anyone off becoming a parent,’ Jacob laughed.
‘His cry was louder than any other child I’d ever heard – and he cried a lot.
‘I just thought, ‘This is not for me – two is more than enough’.’
But, once teething was finished, Christopher came into his own and the couple changed their minds.
Jacob continued: ‘When Christopher mellowed out, we were like, ‘Oh, this is fun, lets definitely have another one.”
However they were still taken by surprise when they fell pregnant with identical twins, William and Ryan, born in August 2012.
‘I’ve got twin uncles and Jacob has cousins who are twins – but we never thought we’d have them,’ Cassanda said.
‘I have to admit, I did get to the point where I just thought, ‘How in the world will I ever cope with this?’ and, ‘How can I go on?’.
‘I said to Jacob, ‘I just can’t go on any more I need more help.’ But he turned to me and said, ‘Cassanda, I’ve got nothing left.’
‘But, admitting how hard it was made us stronger. After that, we both just got on with it. We didn’t need to find a magic solution.’
Once they had everything under control, the couple fell pregnant again, this time with non-identical twins. Instead of despairing, Jacob remembers them feeling ‘really chuffed.’
Speaking about the arrival of Spencer and Max in April 2014, he said: ‘The shock wasn’t nearly as profound as it’d been with the first twins.
‘We knew it would be fine. We had a stroller we could fit all the babies in, so we knew we’d be okay.’
But the couple were so sure they were ‘done’ once they had six children that Cassanda gave their old baby clothes and her old maternity clothes away, only to swiftly retrieve them when Thomas, now four, was born in November 2015.
Cassanda said: ‘I’m not sure why exactly we tried for another, but lots of people would ask us, ‘So are you guys done now?’ I think that put the idea of having another baby in our heads.
‘We’d start asking ourselves, ‘Are we really done?’ After a while it just felt like someone was missing.
‘Thomas was the best baby there ever was. He made us happier and made the other kids happier. He was such a lovely little baby, plus he slept through the night.’
Encouraged by Thomas’ good behaviour, the couple decided another baby was on the cards, so, Henry, three, came along in 2016. And in 2018, Cassanda and Jacob welcomed their first baby girl, Lily.
‘We were both ecstatic to be having a girl. As soon as we found out we went straight to the shops to buy a little girl outfit,’ Jacob said.
‘I was so happy I couldn’t stop laughing and Cassanda was so happy she couldn’t stop crying.’
In July last year, the couple finally decided that their family was complete, when baby Peter arrived.
‘By then we were 100 per cent sure we didn’t want any more kids,’ Cassanda said.
‘Before, we’d been unsure and we decided that if God wanted us to have more, then we would – but now it’s like, “Please, no, no, no”.’
Being part of a family of 12 has honed the couple’s diplomatic skills.
Jacob said: ‘When you’ve got 10 kids, it’s impossible to get everything done.
‘We live by the mantra, “When you can’t do what you’ve always done, do what matters most’.’
This is the kind of common sense they advise people to follow in their blog.
‘I write lots of tips about how to stay on top of chores and how to run a household with so many children,’ Cassanda said.
‘When it comes to mealtimes, I like to be organised and I make a monthly meal plan, so everyone knows what they’re getting in advance.
‘Our kids aren’t fussy, and they don’t have any allergies either, so dinner times aren’t so bad – we keep it simple and cook lots of soups, or pizza, enchiladas and salads.’
And the self-professed ‘thrifty’ shoppers only spend $250 per week to feed all 12 of them.
‘We’re savvy shoppers and save coupons or buy things on discount,’ Cassanda said. ‘Sometimes, people think we’re having some sort of party and always ask ‘Why do you need so many bananas?”
Also, the seven oldest children are expected to help with the household chores.
Cassanda said: ‘They have to do one chore every day.
‘They each get given a room they have to tidy. It shouldn’t take them longer than 10 minutes, because it’s just picking toys up or wiping down the sides – it’s not a deep clean.
‘Some of the kids are done within 10 minutes, but others can take half an hour, because they spend most of the time crying about how hard it is!’
But it is not all work and the couple are careful to write about the fun their family has in their blog, too.
‘During most summers over the last 10 years, I’ve either been pregnant or nursing a newborn,’ she added.
‘So, to be safe, we usually do staycations, where we stay at home, but we set aside some time for fun activities.
‘We go to museums, to parks or on day trips to different places – but at the end of the day, we all come home to our own beds.
‘Last year, we went camping in Yellowstone National Park and that was great fun.
‘Because our children are so little, all of us managed to fit in an eight-man tent.
‘We even invested in a portable toilet, otherwise the kids would’ve been in and out of the tent about 20 times a night.’
Now, while Cassanda is not even slightly tempted to try for baby number 11, Jacob admits he still loves tiny babies.
‘I do worry sometimes that whenever one of our friends has a baby, I’ll get broody and want another one,’ he admitted.
‘But, as much as I would say “Never say never” to more babies, equally I would say, “Probably not”.
‘Plus, it won’t be too long before we have plenty of grandchildren running around.’
In the meantime, the couple would not change their massive brood for the world.
Jacob added: ‘Having a big family is so much fun and there’s so much love flying about.
‘It’s lovely to know our kids will have so many people around them to love them and support them throughout their lives – we wouldn’t have it any other way.’