I don’t know what Danny and I were thinking in September, but having back to back birthdays in March is tough. You’d think I’d have it down to a science now, but as a lifelong procrastinator, I can assure you that I do not. Seven years (well, six really; I watched Ellie’s 7th birthday from the computer screen in the hospital room while holding newborn Caleb) of planning two days of celebrations in a row, saving time beforehand for buying, then wrapping, presents and cake decorating, and hoping they each feel special enough on their own days leaves me wondering why I don’t have a personal chef or maid.

This year was rather different since Caleb came down with a fever the night before his birthday and was almost too sick for any type of celebration. Combining that with Danny flying home from a work trip that day, we had to split Caleb’s day over two days, which meant that some of his ‘partying’ stretched into Ellie’s day. He was allowed to open up the traditional meal time presents but opted to wait until Saturday to find out what the rest of the wrapping paper was covering. He also chose to have his cake on Saturday, when the whole family was together, which was fine because we knew Ellie wasn’t going to be home for supper on her own birthday and we had to push her cake/singing off to Sunday.

Since Caleb had to endure so much waiting, I thought I’d take him to Chick-fil-A for a midday treat. Once we reached the drive-thru window, the employee recognized me as Isaac’s mother and called him over for a quick hello. When Isaac saw Caleb, he shouted ‘happy birthday’, which caused several other employees in the area to yell out the sentiment as well. A manager who was standing there decided to gift Caleb with a free ice dream cup, drizzled in chocolate syrup. After pulling away from the hullabaloo, Caleb declared, “This is my second best birthday!” Imagine turning seven and you can already rate each birthday you’ve enjoyed?!

Though she is still a baby teen, Ellie says she doesn’t feel fourteen yet but is very glad not to be thirteen anymore. She helped tremendously in the cake decorating aspect of her birthday as she came up with the design, stenciled it on top of the dessert, and helped pipe frosting. Normally, I cannot creatively design anything and look to Pinterest for most of the ideas and then copy them. After Caleb requested a ‘surprise’ cake, which actually gives me more anxiety because of the whole ‘not being able to creatively design anything’, it was so nice to have Ellie’s idea come to life by her own hand. It took all the pressure off of me and I just did what she told me to do! Caleb told me, “She was the Pinterest for this cake.” 🙂 

Now that the birthdays are over, we have nothing between us and our much-longed for vacation. I have been in packing mode all week, and while we don’t need very much, it is still like trying to wrangle an octopus into a onesie! This kid has no shorts that fit, that kid has only one bathing suit, everyone needs laundry done, and where are the flip-flops you wore last year?! But the bags have been officially zipped closed and everyone is ready to go. I’ll close with an appropriate quote by James, “right here, it is like summer (we’ve had some milder weather again), but there I’m gonna get hugged by the sun!” Oh, I cannot wait for that hug!


Our winter has seemingly just decided to show up this last week. Previously, mini storms trickled through, interspersed by days of rain or unusually mild weather. Now we’ve just had back-to-back cascades of snow, which has been greatly welcomed by all the kids. Is it even winter if you aren’t trying to ski down your yard’s small hill or digging tunnels near the road where the plow piles up the most snow? I’ll even admit that the newly fallen snow is exciting because the contrast to our warm-destination vacation will be even greater. I wanted to say “better” there, but I know there are some people out there who prefer cold weather and winter to hot, glorious summer. To them I say, “it’s okay. Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.”

We are so looking forward to our vacation. Not a day goes by when our minds aren’t on the countdown to our departure date. Daydreaming about life on a boat for a week disrupts my sleep. Imaging running up and down golden sand, letting it run warm and grainy through my fingers, and laying on the sun-kissed surface invades my thoughts. Meals prepared by another and laid out in front of me gives me delicious anticipation while we wait out this last week to fly by. Memories are revealed by everyone at the dinner table with smiles and eagerness to have round two be as awesome as the first trip.

Whenever something big is about to happen in our lives, sleep is elusive. It’s silly, I know, but I lay awake, making to-do lists, calculating the pros and cons of the event or decision, predicting outcomes, and just generally stressing. There isn’t much to stress over for this trip, especially since we’ve experienced it before. The packing list is short and basically a redo from last time. I’d say the greatest concern is making sure everyone has bathing suits that fit them and trying to purchase said items that are still just out of season from the local stores. So, I lie in bed and overthink everything, while simultaneously thrilled for what’s to come. 

Last night was one of these nights. However, amidst the throes of the stress and excitement, I was struck by a thought that at first saddened me but afterwards I was thankful for the Spirit allowing it to cross my mind. Am I this enthusiastically elated and constantly contemplating the Lord’s return? Are my thoughts constantly turned to an eternity in heaven with Him? Where’s my excitement to walk on streets of gold? Do I consider the rest and nourishment I will get from the banqueting table that is set before me? Am I happy to ruminate on being in the Lord’s presence amongst thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, perhaps billions of faithful saints, praising the Lamb together?

Having your conscience pricked can be uncomfortable. In fact, it probably is always uncomfortable. No one likes being shown or told when they are wrong or their desires are misplaced.  But we know He gives beauty for ashes and grace comes in the morning. While I’m ashamed to admit that the Lord hasn’t always found me “watching and waiting for his soon return”, it is now my renewed pleasure and challenge to think higher thoughts of heaven and be more excited for the Lord’s return. But it won’t hurt to be able to do this from the bow of the boat!

“Oh Lord Jesus how long, how long
Til we shout the glad song?
Christ returneth, Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Amen.
Hallelujah, Amen.”

It’s Been Awhile

Ideally, this first post to grace the homepage of the rarely updated website would be about something outrageously awesome or spectacularly interesting, and while our lives are sometimes punctuated by amazing events, it is typically normal and generally boring.

To that end, here’s a glimpse into the lives of the #5 Allans. Danny, the hardest working guy I know, has endured more upheaval and discouragement at work then most should in his position. Despite the mental toll that takes on him, the commute from his office to the main floor of our house is all the change of scenery he needs to be surrounded by noise, dirty children, a jumping puppy, left-overs, and a disheveled wife and it really puts his work life in perspective. I won’t go as far as to say he immediately retreats back upstairs, but he’s usually on a whole other level than the rest of us 😉

Speaking of ‘whole’, Jake was just here for a quick visit, making our family complete again, though the homecoming this time was due to nostalgia and not homesickness. He wanted to be present for the NEACS basketball tournament in which his sister’s team and his former team participated. You may or may not know this about Jake, but he doesn’t ever need a megaphone, so whoever allowed him to bring one to the games needs their head examined. Despite his ability to outtalk everyone, Jake managed to allow the other fans opportunities to cheer along, following his lead through the bullhorn. It was great fun for all involved and his time home was too short– as always.

As a newly licensed driver, Isaac is now able to bring himself to work and classes at the community college without disrupting my day, which is wonderful for me for two reasons. One, I no longer have to leave the house each and every time he needs to be dropped off or picked up, and two, it causes me to be in prayer more as this rookie driver takes to the streets. His love of all things computer hasn’t died down and we never have to make sure his homework in gaming or programming classes has been completed. Often, he’s working on the homework while the class is still in session and he likes to show the professor more efficient ways to write code. His sense of humor is appreciated here at home, but his Public Speaking professor may need to dig deeper in search of that appreciation. When asked to present a speech that was either a toast or a eulogy, Isaac gave a toaster eulogy. If you want to hear it, ask Isaac for a recitation. Hopefully it causes a spark of joy in your life as you observe his appliance of humor and wit.

Ellie was on the aforementioned basketball team that made it into the tournament and it has been a real pleasure watching her grow into her own person outside of the homeschooling walls she’s been living within. Making friends, trying new sports, and starting up a new instrument has this baby teen busy and hardworking. When she’s not sleeping, she should be, but we have all learned to live with her, and for the most part, it’s a pleasant experience. The most recent challenge for Ellie has been to give up sleeping in on Saturdays in order to attend orchestra rehearsals. Having just picked up the violin this September, it was a real surprise that her audition into the intermediate level orchestra was accepted. Now the state champ hangs up her basketball shoes and picks up her bow in preparation of the May concert.

Anna. Oh, Anna. She’s sweet and sassy and silly and filled with a servant’s heart. Her current love is our puppy, Java, and it has caused Anna to add yet another potential career of dog trainer/breeder to her already dictionary-long list of possibilities. Her time is spent drawing, playing violin and with Java, collecting rocks and coins, rock and tree climbing, rollerblading, writing stories, hanging out with siblings and friends, avoiding school work, listening to music, and trying to keep her room clean, though sharing with Ellie makes that a nearly impossible task, yet somehow, she manages to find time to quietly help out around the house when no one is looking. Though her left arm was spent in either a cast or splint during the entirety of the fall, she was undeterred in all her pursuits and also made it into the intermediate level youth orchestra. Come listen to her and Ellie play on May 13th!

What do you get when you dump a load of optimism in a bowl, mix in a little bit of illogic, add humor, grate some strangeness, whisk in a dash of impulsivity, and sprinkle cheer over it all? James! He really is his own person who is trying to find his place in the world. While he’s certainly guilty of coming up with some pretty odd ideas, he remains unperturbed, happy, and generous to a fault. I get the biggest greeting and hug from James every morning when I come downstairs for the day before we both get plowed over by Java. He will be playing baseball for the first time this spring, so we’ll find out if he’s the kid picking dandelions for his mom or knocking them out of the park.

How it is possible that our baby is almost seven is beyond me. Caleb has been fun and adorable at every stage and is becoming a chatterbox like his look-alike older brother, Jake. If we could harness his energy, we’d be able to power our whole house and then some. While it can be exhausting being the mother of such an extroverted, energetic young child, I know that I’ll get rest one day. And that day may come sooner than I would have imagined, as I was told by him not too long ago that if he died and could bring one thing with him it would be me! That’s a lot of love right there, but I’m going to sleep with one eye open just the same.

If you aren’t too bored already by our boring lives, I’ll just finish off with a boring bit about me. I remain as ever a teacher, chauffeur, chef, cheerleader, laundress, hostess, librarian, personal assistant, nurse, secretary, friend, mother, and wife. I complete these jobs with exhaustion, ineptitude, naivete, and a lack of grace but I balance it with frustration, impatience, and stress just to keep things from being too boring.

Caleb Andrew

CalebHas it really been three years since the last post?  Three years?   I guess that means that it’s time to add yet another little boy to the mix as a brother for James.  It just wouldn’t do to have a lone little boy trailing two girls.  He needed a best friend and playmate to keep his parents awake all night long.  You would think we would realize the implications of adding another little one to the end of the family train – but somehow the precious little smiles and the holding of his parents fingers are enough to melt away all the objections and to keep everyone excited.  That’s right!  We’re a family of 8 now.

James Daniel

Are you my Daddy?So there is another little terrorist to add to the mix!  James Daniel joined the crew last week after keeping us in suspense for far too long.  You would think that by the time #5 came along, that timelines would be kept and there would be no waiting …. but no, James decided that he was going to be a little bit stubborn (familiar Daddy?) and stop the clocks.  Both James and Mommy are doing great and the kids are over the moon at a baby brother – which they all wanted.  Now on to the sleepless nights …