A Short Story

I’m not a very good story-teller. All too often, I lose the plot part way along, and if there’s ever supposed to be a punchline, I never do justice to the delivery. Usually, my oral stories take one of three paths: one that’s never just the ‘long story short’ but instead has all the bonus features and extra scenes, or I can hardly come up with multisyllabic words to use in the telling, or they end up being pointless.

Several posts back I touched on how I can write 10,000 words far better than I could say a 10 word sentence, which is why I appreciate the space on this blog to do just that. You’d still have to work pretty hard to convince me that anyone cares to read it, but my kids do seem to find what I write amusing. Most of what I write, though it may be better than the verbal version, is still severely lacking in its engaging descriptions or compelling content. Encapsulating the ongoings of the family through composition is a feat I’m not convinced I accomplish well. 

Have you ever tried to put into writing emotions evoked during a trip or conversation? Using words, can you accurately portray the most exciting or happy or discouraging event you’ve experienced to make it as real on paper as it was in person? How would you sum up your desires, worries, joys of parenthood in a short, yet interesting, and maybe even humorous, entry?

As a parent, you probably can understand the depth of feelings and thoughts you may have towards your children, especially during certain situations. It wasn’t just a car ride to the store; you were taken aback by the budding maturity that kid really showed while you chatted. It wasn’t just an evening in the living room; the hilarity with which the conversation was filled will bring a smile to your face long after the evening has ended. It wasn’t just an unfortunate event; it reminded you how essential it is to pray for your children. It wasn’t just a hug; it was your silent leap of joy at your teen’s show of physical affection. It wasn’t just a day of endless housekeeping and ferrying kids hither and yon; it was your privilege to provide for and watch over the offspring entrusted to you. It wasn’t just one sibling helping out another; it was seeing a servant’s heart and being filled with gratitude for the Lord’s blessing in their lives. It wasn’t just disobedience on the part of my child; it was a reminder that my sin is just as important to correct before I can model obedience and love to my Lord. 

Like Mary, I try to store all of these things in my heart, and like a pseudo-author, I feel like a fraud as I try to write about them. All this to say that our Thanksgiving holiday was as lovely (and tiring and joyful and yummy and busy) as anticipated and that’s probably a plot twist you didn’t see coming. Did I mention I’m bad at telling stories?    

An Essay Worthy of a Scholarship

Whew. What a week it’s been. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in college application nonsense and we’ve finally crossed the threshold of the worst part to the easy part. Feverishly spending hours writing recommendations, school profiles, filling in forms, answering questions, waiting for call-backs from the Home School Legal Aid helpline, and prodding Isaac along to complete his part has been about as stressful as you can imagine. I won’t bore you with all the details because I ‘m so eager to be done with it all and I’m anxious to share with you one of the funnier, light-hearted moments we enjoyed during this process. 

In order to be considered for scholarships, most of the schools require the student to submit an essay, either on a topic of personal choice or in an answer to a prompt the school suggests. While waiting….and waiting….and waiting….and waiting some more for Isaac to complete this portion of the application process, one of his siblings decided to write an essay for him. Though it pokes fun at Isaac, it is also a testament to the ready humor this sibling possesses and we all got quite a laugh out of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Isaac Allan (Just kidding, it’s Anna)

Oct. 22, 2023

Scholarship Essay

I am a great person. That is why you should give me a scholarship. One of the awesome talents I have is that I am really good at procrastinating. It might seem like this trait is not very helpful in my life, but I can assure you, it has helped. For example, this letter is being written by my incredible younger sister. A scholarship would help me very much, I think. I clearly do not have enough money to get into college. I am not implying that I would get into college with enough money, for I do not know enough about life to live on my own.

I have accomplished more in my life than just beating Legends of Zelda and sleeping in till 11:47 a.m. I work at a Chick-fil-a and earn $3.00 an hour. As you can see, this is why I must get this scholarship. 

I also enjoy symmetry. For example, if there is a spot in my room where you can see the floor, I immediately take clothes out of my hamper (I wouldn’t know whether clean or dirty) and spread it over the spot. 

One of my fantastic accomplishments is getting out of bed. It is an arduous and strenuous challenge. My mother typically sends one of my five siblings to wake me up (you can see why my life might need a scholarship once in a while). My earliest time of getting downstairs after the wake-up call is 34 minutes. That, in my book, deserves a platinum reward, such as sleeping 15 minutes later. 

I truly believe that with motivation, a scholarship, and some sugary candies, I can make it through this part of my interesting life.

Though Isaac is a fantastic writer, don’t you think this essay would add zest and color to the scholarship application’s office? 😄

Guess Which Season

This week’s post comes to you courtesy of one Ellie Allan, who is far more clever and creative than I’ll ever be.

Guess Which Season

Guess which season makes you smile
When you make a big leaf pile?
And to stay warm you hold a mug
Or share a cozy hug?

Guess which season leaves a spread
Of yellow, orange and red?
An in the crisp air you desire
A nice, toasty fire?

Which of the four makes days short
But brings forth the greatest sport?
A sport in which you bump and serve
And to face a spike takes nerve.

Which of the four do squirrels jump
To hide acorns in a stump,
As we store, or bundle, or play
We sense the cold at bay?

Have you made a guess or two?
'Tis autumn (you know it's true)!
Enjoy its glory while it's here
For frost is next this year. 

Facts and Figures

As you’ve probably correctly assumed, we have begun another school year, starting the last week of August. I meant to tell you about this then, mostly so you could send me flowers of condolences or supportive boxes of chocolate-y goodness. But now that we’re about to begin our eighth week of school Monday, you can send me supportive boxes of chocolate-y goodness or flowers of condolences.  In honor of this school year, here are a few stats* for you to glaze over:

14 years

126 months

567 weeks

2,835 days

11,340 hours

6 kids

1 teacher

Between mathematics, sciences, writing lessons, English, history, computer programming, finance, music, languages, phys ed, and many other minor electives, these are the numbers that represent our homeschool journey through time. *These numbers may or may not reflect field trips, time devoted to town sports, co-op days, or crying sessions because we “just don’t get it”. One might look at those figures and consider me an expert. One would be wrong. 

Actually, that’s not altogether true. I’ve become quite adept at showing up to school in clothing that looks suspiciously like pajamas. I can make judgment calls on whether or not to try out the next science experiment at a moment’s notice. (Not.) I’m excellent at forgetting I’d started a load of laundry in the morning and often have to re-run the cycle. I’m particularly known amongst local friends as having the ability to not know what I’ll be making with the meat that’s been thawing all day for supper half an hour before it’s time to eat. One of the areas in which I am most expert is taxiing the children everywhere. 

My skill set is clearly remarkable because all of my children know how to procrastinate, enjoy “second breakfast”, talk over one another, eat all the snacks, complain about what’s for supper (once I know what we’re having!), and beg to participate in even more organized activities. However, any of their actual talents and genius cannot be attributed in any way to my ‘expertise’ but to the One who loves them and cares for them and blessed them with their unique gifts. 

It truly is a joy to get a front row seat in my children’s lives. There’s not much that tops spending time with them, teaching, learning together, experiencing every ‘light bulb’ moment, answering every question–and boy have there been a lot of questions!– and watching the growth of fresh, inquisitive, and eager minds. I especially love observing the development of their passions and aptitudes, whether that’s in sports like volleyball or flag football, or in music on the piano, guitar, viola, ukulele or violin (fair warning: it’s noisy here!), or in artistry through sketching or painting, or even in creative papers that are written either for school assignments or fun. 

How fortunate I feel this way since I still have ten more years of this homeschooling stuff, Lord willing! Where are my flowers and chocolates?!

A Series of Unexpected Events

What rhymes with ‘long-anticipated boat ride up the coast on a beautiful weekend’? If you guessed ‘two sick boys and a missed adventure’, then you can pat yourself on the back in consolation and know that you’re just as bad at rhyming as I am. But I can try to tell you a story with an unfortunate beginning, a harrowing middle, and ice cream at the end. 

For weeks the plan had been to take a one-night family trip on the boat up to Camden, ME. It was to be our first true test of whether we had what it took for ocean voyages. We got tested alright, but not in the way we had hoped or considered. 

The evening before our departure, James and Caleb developed high fevers. It quickly became evident that they wouldn’t want me to go on the boat without them, so I had to do what all mothers everywhere have to do at least a few hundred times during their mothering career: eat chocolate and drink specialty coffee. Not quite a fair trade for not being able to realize my full potential as a sun catcher on the boat, but it was the caffeine lift needed to help me through my double overtime shift as stay-at-home nurse. 

After not getting any sleep that night, Danny decided to brave the open ocean anyway, and I’m not going to say that he ran out of the house right after Caleb threw up, but I am going to say that he quickly descended the stairs, opened the front door, and left. To be fair, it would have been a shame if nobody took the trip, and the girls deserved a reward for being awake by 7am, packed and ready to go. 

My day was then spent running up and down the stairs, burning off the coffee and treats, in my efforts to minister to the sick ones, monitoring their temperature and keeping them comfortable, hydrated, and medicated. While the medicine seemed to aid in the alleviation of James’s feverish symptoms, it didn’t seem to have any effect on Caleb’s ailments. For frustratingly unknown reasons, Caleb’s head pain worsens intensely when he is sick. It is so hard not having answers or a working treatment!

And if that isn’t distressing enough, here is the harrowing middle, brought to you by Ellie. 

As Anna and I were reclining against the comfortable cushions of Runtime’s salon, roughly an hour and 25 nautical miles away from our final destination, Dad pulled back sharply on the throttle causing the boat to lurch to a slower pace. Navigating the open ocean is easy… if you have a working GPS. Mid cruise, the CZone Touch 5 cord had disconnected, disrupting the signal to Dad’s screens. And if you can’t read the depth of the seafloor or detect other sailing vessels out on the open ocean, you could be in trouble. 

Thinking quickly, Dad placed me at the helm to continue our now very slow pace across the water and went to search Runtime for the source of the disruption. While trying to locate the mysterious and elusive beeping, Dad brought out his phone to text a technician from the boat company to ask for assistance. Mark F., who is usually on-call for incidents of any kind, supplied Dad with option after option, eventually finding a solution to bypass the system failure, allowing him to gain back the GPS.

Though the malfunction could have potentially made their trip a huge disaster, it was but a blip on their adventure radar. A large pod of dolphins encircled the boat during part of their cruise and basking sharks and a whale were spotted and that’s no fish tale! Touring the tiny town of Camden as t(w)eenage tourists was a unique and exciting experience for the girls. Shopping, eating out, each getting to sleep on a top bunk, soaking up the sun and salt spray, and hanging out with Danny surely made them miss their mother immensely. I mean, they were quite happy when they returned home. 😉

By the time the spunky sailors arrived home, the little boys were nearly back to full health. Knowing that our homeschool friends were hosting an Ice Cream Social that evening was key to their overall improvement, I’m sure. Despite the unexpected turn of events to our weekend, our mettle was proved, our iron was (hopefully) refined, and the ice cream was delicious.


I had an idea for a post I was going to share which would have been a tribute to being married for 21 years, as well as recount our wonderful time away in Portland and Camden, Maine. I was going to mention how amazing it was to be blessed with better weather than anticipated and how we got to choose when we woke up and where we would eat and what activity we wanted and none of it was dictated by parental duties. I wanted to wax poetic about revisiting our wedding locale, still finding it beautiful and special, and wandering coastal towns with the smell of salt on the breeze and boats of all shapes and sizes coloring the marina in nautical uniqueness. I thought of telling of the hundreds of thousands of steps we walked, up and down uneven brick walkways, in and out of brick buildings, within which were gorgeous paintings, homemade gifts, and one-of-a-kind antiques, purchasing commemorative trinkets from one store and refreshing ice cream from another. I had wanted to describe eating delicious food from hole-in-the-wall restaurants’ patios and chatting about everything and nothing without interruption. I was going to chronicle the growth in our marriage, expressing the ways in which Danny is the better half in this duo and what I’ve learned over the last two decades and a bit. 

However, I feel 1000% confident that you all will find what I am going to share with you instead far more exciting and worthwhile to read. Below is a text exchange I had with Jake while Danny and I were away for a couple of days this past week.

Jake: Umm, another update, there is a snake loose in the house

          Anna put one in her cage thing and it escaped earlier

          So yeah, there’s that

Me:    I’m not coming home until it’s found.

The next day….

Me:    Is there still a snake in my house?

After a phone call with Jake, who said he thought the kids found the snake…

Jake: Nvm, it’s still loose

Me:   Can they see the snake behind the desk? They know for certain that’s where

          it is?

Jake:  That’s where it was yesterday. But it had all night to get….anywhere

         Even…. upstairs…under a bed

You guys. There’s a snake. In my house. I’m not sure how much longer I can live here. I used to be just like you, not ever being able to correlate a memory of an anniversary with a snake. I miss those days. You can be sure this one won’t be forgotten any time soon! 🐍


“When the cat’s away, the mice will play,” as the saying goes and we sure did ‘play’ while the teens were gone last weekend! I’m sure they thought they were the ones having fun and enjoying a get-away, but joke’s on them because we thoroughly loved the quieter conditions in which we found ourselves. Having just the three youngest at home made certain adventures more doable than if our whole crew was around. It should go without saying that, as a mother, I will always love having all of my offspring under the same roof as much as possible, but only when I also have duct tape and zip ties on hand. Just wishing, I mean, kidding! Just KIDDING.

It all started with a BBQ supper Danny cooked up for us, the first of the season as there was finally a break in the rainy weather. Thanks to a Dairy Queen gift card Caleb received, we had the perfect excuse to go out for dessert. While the three kids worked off the sugar rush running up and down the hill behind the restaurant, Danny and I were able to talk uninterrupted for at least fifteen minutes and forty-five seconds, which was especially wonderful because he’s had to travel so much recently that getting in quality conversation has been pretty tough. 

The next evening the kids convinced (read: begged) us that a round of mini-golf and Go-Karting would be the best way to spend many of our dollars. The weather behaved, the kids mostly behaved, but the golf balls and courses most certainly did not! Whoever engineered the course needs a course in engineering. Those of us with even a small bit of talent saw our balls roll into corners crowded with everyone else’s balls and skip over the edges of the holes when we all knew they’d ordinarily have gone in, but fun was definitely had. Surprisingly, I won, but Danny got to hold the winning hand. 🙂 👫

Go-karting was short but definitely sweet. While Anna has enjoyed this activity in the past and remembers it, this was the first time she was tall enough to drive a car alone. James had also been a passenger before but did not remember the ride, and Caleb had never had the privilege in any capacity. Since James did not come in first, or second, or third, or second to last in mini-golf, we decided he should ride with Danny, considerably upping his chances of winning the race. Caleb would go with me, and Anna would experience a solo initiation to the world of driving. 

The light turned green and we were off—to a crawl. Caleb’s nerves got the best of him as he shouted for me to “slow down, slow down!” We were left in the proverbial dust as all the other cars whizzed around us, then lapped us. Like all good drivers should, I gave Caleb my phone so he could take photos or videos as we looped around the course at a staggering speed of five miles an hour. And I’m so glad I did. Because it’s the law, you guys. But also because the pictures in my phone are now some of my most treasured photos. I hope you enjoy the following photos taken by my seven year old as much as I do:

Since we’ve had more rainy days than not recently, entertaining the idea of going outside for an excursion on July 4 was more laboriously discussed this year, but I’m so glad we decided to go ahead and spend the day out. It was a warm, if not muggy, day and the sun played hide-and-seek for most of it. 

Though it means a lot of work for Danny, going on the boat is quickly becoming one of my most favorite pastimes. And though it’s not really meant to function as a family boat, we revel in being together on it. This day was no exception. I’m not sure I can properly describe the way the sky and water matched each other in their striations of shady blues and tarnished silver or how the straight line of the horizon was the only solid shape amidst the blurriness of the air above us and the smooth, dark carpet of liquid beneath us, but suffice it to say, it was so calm, so beautiful, and so invigorating.

(Pictures DO NOT do justice to the beauty.) 

The kids relished every seal sighting and I savored every squeal of delight, the wind in my hair, the peacefulness of cruising on open ocean without another vessel in sight, and my husband’s patience and selflessness in facilitating this opportunity for us. Something about being out on the water makes one happily exhausted and we were all in bed before the fireworks could light up the darkening sky. 

As another saying goes, “All good things must come to an end” and with the arrival of our teens, it did. It was back to the daily grind, but after such a refreshing weekend, my spirit was buoyed and these precious moments are now cherished memories. 

A Lot of Nothing

One might think there haven’t been any updates in awhile because I’ve been so busy, but one would be wrong. During this last month, I’ve been doing a lot of avoiding actually. Avoiding cleaning out the playroom, avoiding switching the kids’ clothes over from winter to summer (though with weather like this, sometimes sweatshirts and pants have been warranted), avoiding going anywhere I absolutely don’t have to go, avoiding any number of other chores, errands, excursions that probably should be accomplished, and avoiding updating a certain site. Through all the hard work of doing nothing, I’ve now become quite a pro.

While I’ve been busy with nothing, the kids have continued to ask me every single day, without fail, what’s for supper. They are keeping up their end of the family bargain of needing me as soon as I sit down, yelling into a room when I’m on the phone, and leaving as many reminders of their presence in every nook and cranny of the house as possible. They practice music before 8:00 AM, raucously conduct rollerblading hockey games for all the neighbors to hear, request rides for pool playdates, decide anytime after 10pm is the right time for a deep discussion, and some even have the audacity to say they need to be driven to work. 

If you think all of that sounds bad, here’s a short story that’s worse:

There had been a very emotionally and mentally disastrous occasion one evening with one of our children. This unexpected situation was so out of the ordinary and my heart was crying out to the Lord for grace and help. Going to bed with the situation not quite resolved was definitely one of the harder things I’ve had to do lately. 

The morning didn’t seem to bring any new mercies that I could see with my clouded vision. Not only was there no repentance, but now some of my other children were acting out and I was standing in my kitchen wishing for a tropical vacation for one.  Or a redo on parenting–about five year’s worth! Sometime mid-morning, there was a loud crash and then a sprinkling sound coming from the pantry door. Not wanting to immediately rush over to the scene of the crime, both for the sake of the guilty child and myself, I called out, “What spilled?”  

“This thing,” my littlest one replied, holding up my 12” cake pan, “fell over and now there are eyeballs all over the floor.” Naturally. If you don’t have candy eyeballs in the closet that can easily be spilled all over the floor, can you even see the Lord’s mercy in your life? All I could do was laugh and recognize that it was the Providential comic relief I needed in that moment. 

I’m happy to report an apology was issued by the child with the attitude and forgiveness given in return, but I’m leaving some candy eyes on the floor of the pantry. I’m bound to need the sweet reminder of God’s love and care to His own all too soon.

Now that I’ve updated this, I can go back to doing nothing. 

Caleb has been Updated

You hear the admonition, “get a second opinion”, a lot when it comes to medical prognoses. Since we listened to Dr. Google first, we figured it was wise to get advice from a real, practicing neurosurgeon before we put all our faith in search result #4. Which turned out to be a good idea because her perspective over the information, symptoms, and scan results was calm, conservative, and competent. 

While Caleb certainly has Chiari Malformation and while there is a bit of fluid around the tip of the spinal column, she isn’t convinced the headaches are caused by these issues. Certain positions of his head didn’t trigger on-the-spot aches in a way that they typically would if you were getting headaches from pressure caused by build-up of cerebrospinal fluid and the crowding of the area by the cerebellar tonsils. 

The doctor would like him to have another scan in six months to catalog any changes, this time with more detail of the spinal canal. Meanwhile, we are to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist to rule out sight issues and continue treating the symptoms on an as-needed basis.  I know I should be happy that Caleb doesn’t need surgery at the moment, but the waiting game is so hard for me. 

Generally, I’m not a go-getter, mission-oriented kind of person like my husband is (how did we end up together?), but now that I know there is a medical issue and my child is suffering, I’m ready to storm the hospital and lay him on the MRI table myself tomorrow. I need answers now and I need Caleb to feel better! I would like to stop asking him his ‘number’ (on the pain scale) every time he asks for medicine. I would like for him to get better sleep and not fall down all the time. I’d like to know definitively if he needs glasses or surgery. I would like to not go through tribulation to gain patience! Please pray that I can rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and continue in prayer and that Caleb will have a measure of relief from his maladies.


Kids. They keep you busy. They keep you guessing. They keep you humble. They keep you on your knees. And boy have we been on our knees this year.

The road to life and health has been bumpy, to say the least. Jake’s departure for university definitely put a kink in my emotional health, as I learned to navigate life without the lively firstborn around. I had difficulty calling any outing a “family” event since we were minus one. Wherever we were that required me keeping a count and close eye on where all the children were, my tracking would feel off because I couldn’t ever start from the top down: Jake, Isaac, Ellie, Anna,… My prayer life changed as I had to relearn to rest in the knowledge that Jake was (and always has been) in the Lord’s hands, not mine. Jake going off to college seems to be the beginning of a new stage of life for us that involves relinquishing our former role as “law and order” parents and becoming close advisors instead. How thankful we are that he still comes home to eat our food and use Danny’s car.

Following Jake’s exodus to Florida, Anna decided she needed some attention, so she broke her arm. In two places. We did not need to wait in the ER very long as they realized a person with an extra joint in their forearm probably needs immediate medical attention. A long evening was spent in the hospital while x-rays were taken, IVs were inserted, pain medication delivered, sedation administered, a radial bone set in place, and a splint created. The orthopedic surgeon said this type of reduction has a 75% success rate and to wait ten days when another set of x-rays would tell us whether Anna’s procedure fell into the successful category or not. Because Anna likes to be uniquely difficult, the alignment came in at a frustrating 26%.  At the surgeon’s suggestion, we agreed that surgery to insert a pin would give Anna’s bone the best chance of healing straight.

From a full-arm splint, to surgery, to a second splint, to a full-arm cast, to a short arm cast, to an extraction surgery to a brace, Anna spent the entire autumn with her arm protected and useless. Well, not quite. Though she couldn’t bend her arm at the elbow for many weeks, Anna was undeterred in her efforts to learn violin. The full-arm cast served as a prop on which to set the violin, and when her arm was in the short cast, she could just get her fingers to rest on the fingerboard, allowing her to bow several notes and tunes.

If Anna’s ER reduction, surgery to insert a pin, and then a second surgery to remove the pin seems like a lot to you, just wait, because there’s more. During the medical ordeal that was Anna’s broken radius and ulna, James made a very bold statement, “Come on, Anna, it can’t hurt that badly,” to which Anna responded by telling him broken bones were contagious. Modern words were never so prophetic because a month after Anna broke her left arm, James broke his left arm. Though it was his humerus, it wasn’t funny. Would you go out in public with two kids in casts?? James made sure to leave his imprint on our health insurance bill by taking his sweet time to heal. Instead of the quoted “three weeks in a cast”, his arm took a full five weeks to mend. In that time-frame, he had three different casts and I was earning frequent, yet unwanted, flier miles in the orthopedic office with our weekly visits.

When you have multiple children, you run the risk of having multiple gray hairs. Though we are so thankful for the complete healing of those three broken bones, a new concern has arisen. Caleb has been suffering from constant, chronic headaches since September ‘22. His journey began at the pediatrician’s office, moved along to a neurologist, and now he’s being referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon after the results of an MRI he had this past week. It seems his cerebellum extends into his spinal canal, where it clearly does not belong, dipping roughly 5 mm below the base of his skull. This condition is called Chiari Malformation.

Since our appointment with the surgeon hasn’t yet occurred, we do not have many more details about what will happen next, but we have asked Dr. Google all the pertinent questions, which is absolutely always the best idea. Oddly, its bedside manner is fairly poor and the information is confusing at best and scary at worst. In all of my reading on the topic, Caleb’s case is slightly unique given that this defect is more commonly found in women than men, typically discovered while a patient is being seen for other issues, is usually discovered in adolescence or adulthood, and a majority of people with CM are asymptomatic. Caleb clearly doesn’t fit the profile. As we wait for the next doctor’s visit, we value your prayers for clarity on treatment moving forward and for Caleb’s sustained health and comfort in the meantime.

There is encouragement in the fact that our Lord knit Caleb in the womb this way and being “fearfully and wonderfully made” is just as true for him as it is for everyone else. Our family is not the first to experience trials and tribulations, nor will we be the last, but boy do I ever feel like we have some unique children! Truly, these Limited Edition Allans keep us simultaneously on our toes and our knees.