Big Family, Big Fun
By Debbie Lagestee • Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography
As a family of 7, the Coburn-Pape family are met with looks of shock and awe. Wherever they go, they make a grand entrance with 5 kids. Quite frankly, it is not what either Adam or Ali planned. They met 3.5 years ago as single parents. Adam had 3 kids, and Ali had 2 kids. Ali was very comfortable with her 2 kids, and she had a good handle on raising them. When she met Adam and learned he had 3 kids of his own, she wondered how she could handle more. Ali quickly realized as their relationship progressed, “Adam is the yin to my yang. We complement each other as a couple and in our parenting style. We have mutual respect for each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” They have two 12-year-old boys, two 10-year-olds, a boy and a girl, and an 8-year-old girl. Adam explains, “Having a big family keeps you on your toes.” All of the kids transitioned to one big family well. They created a natural hierarchy amongst themselves and have a great social structure together. They’re like a tribe with built-in friends. Adam and Ali find the key to their success in raising a big family is holding family meetings and having great discussions with the kids. Ali says, “I have more kids than I ever expected, but you grow from it.”
Adam is a self-taught software developer. He works primarily as an E-commerce developer and enjoys the freedom of working from home. Adam wanted to be an animator and a comic book artist as a child. He turned that childhood dream into a hobby by creating video games and comics, teaching the kids Arduino gadget programming, and stop motion animation development. It brings Adam great joy designing board and card games with the kids to play together as a family.
Ali has been in the Mortgage business for 18 years. She has worked in different positions and is currently a loan processor. Her type A personality and her love of finances and numbers make her career a perfect fit. She has worked with thousands of people over the years, including some neighbors in Carolina Bay! Ali loves all things home design. In complete contrast to her regimented work life, she likes the creativity of redesigning each room in their home. With Adam’s help, she tackles many weekend projects, from shiplap to building furniture.
Comic artwork by Adam Coburn
Keiran (12) is the oldest kid in the bunch, and he is the leader and top dog of the kids. Ali describes him as amazing since day 1. He is intelligent, mature, caring, even-keeled, and an all-around great 7th-grade student. Andrew (12) gets excited by so many things. He is in 6th grade loves learning about science and robotics, and want to be a meteorologist when he grows up. His favorite hobby is doing stop motion animation with his dad. River (10) is a tom-boy with a girly-girl side to her. She loves 4 wheeling, exploring, horseback riding, and long bubble baths. She is in the 5th grade. Asher (10) is a witty, old soul. He is also in the 5th grade, does well in school, and according to his teacher, he is a pleasure to have in class. He has a cool vibe personality, and he wants to be a chef one day. His favorite hobbies are cooking and baking. Ember (8) is the youngest of the bunch and is in 2nd grade. She is her father’s daughter and is naturally creative. She spends hours playing Legos dreaming up scenarios and movie plots for their stop motion animation.
All of the kids are enrolled in Mixed Martial Arts Training. They are all in the same class together and spar with each other. They are all getting pretty tough. Adam jokes, “Ali and I might have to enroll to keep up with them.” Kieran illustrates his leadership skills helps out at the studio with the younger kids’ class.
Two dogs complete their family. Louie is a 3-year-old German Shepard- Staffordshire mix. They added a puppy to their home, always wanting to push the limit to see how much they could handle. Huck is a 9-month-old Cockalier, a Cocker Spaniel and King Charles Cavalier mix.
Adam and Ali deemed Sundays in their home as a no electronics day. Instead, they spend their time together playing board games, cards, family feud, and their favorite, charades. They have over 100 board games and rotate playing all of them. They are all highly competitive, which makes for some high-intensity game days. The entire family loves to go camping and fishing. The kids like to walk across the street to the pond and throw their rods out to see
what they can catch. They have enjoyed summer days off-shore fishing on a charter boat. They hope to buy their own boat to explore the Charleston waters and fish for reds, tarpon, trout and fight the sharks. Fishing is the perfect family activity because the kids have so much fun and enjoy being outside. Family camping trips take them to the mountains along the North Carolina-South Carolina border. They seek out hikes and waterfalls that are family-friendly. In addition, they take summer trips to Ocean City, MD, and Fenwick Island, DE, where Ali’s family has a beach house. It is another relaxing way to spend time with extended family.
This spring and summer, they plan on being tourists in Charleston, visiting sights Ali has never seen. Ali has lived in Charleston only a few years, and Adam is a self-professed native since he has lived here since he was 6 years old. He wants to take her to see all the iconic places of Charleston, Magnolia Plantation, Cypress Gardens, Charleston Museum, Middleton place, and the Farmers Market, just to name a few.
The Coburn-Pape family moved into Essex Farms in Carolina Bay in August 2020. Their intention was to wait until the following spring; however, Ali’s job occasionally offers her some inside tips for real estate. Carolina Bay was at the top of their list when it came time to search for a house. When Ali learned of a home hitting the market large enough for their big family and close to the pond, they knew it was a perfect fit, and there was no point in waiting until spring. They love the convenience of the pools, biking riding on the trails, and trick or treating in Carolina Bay, “It is like more Halloween than you can handle,” says Adam. The neighborhood is everything they hoped for. It has a great community feel, and everyone was so welcoming. They made friends with many neighbors with whom they hang out regularly.
Adam and Ali don’t mind the awestruck looks they receive or the many questions about how they handle so many kids. Their hearts are full, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. They embrace their big family and the big fun that goes with it!