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. 


I’ve been contemplating the phrase “rejoice in the Lord alway” lately. I’m not sure why it’s taken me until my first 39th year anniversary to understand that I am to do this in both the good and the hard times. We jauntily sing the children’s Sunday school song when all are happy and willing to praise the Lord and believe, not incorrectly, that we are rejoicing right at that moment because we are singing. 

But what about the times when we’re not singing? What about the moments when we aren’t even happy? What about during the hard times? Do we rejoice in the Lord then? It’s not a wonder why the apostle Paul repeated the imperative: again I say, rejoice. Why would he need to reiterate the command? I’ll tell you why. Because of me. 

Because I needed to ruminate on rejoicing, even when I didn’t feel like rejoicing. I  admonish and encourage my children to do all to the glory of God but often don’t equate that I should be rejoicing in all that I do, as well. All too often I adopt what I think is a self-righteous attitude, “I’m the mom, I’m right”, but never are you more wrong than when you think you are right! Raising children certainly has difficult moments, but it’s my responsibility to model the outcome we, as parents, are striving for and the apostle knew that rejoicing in all things would not only bring glory to God but also change the mindset. The thing about rejoicing is that it takes your inward-focused thoughts and turns them into outward-focused praise. 

There definitely have been reasons to praise the Lord recently, not the least of which was the safe return of Jake (and Isaac) from Florida. No one told me a mother’s heart beats for her children long after they are grown and gone and stupidly I was surprised by how Jake’s absence affected me. With him back for the summer, we no longer fit around our kitchen table and if the whole family goes out, we have to take the Monster and the chatter has gone up tenfold and the laundry is backed up by one more kid jumping the line and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I need to account for all my children and their whereabouts, it’s easier to keep track of the NH Jake than the FL Jake, even if NH Jake is out with friends more than he is hangin’ at home. 

The girls participated in a fiddle workshop last week and were allowed to join the artists in their evening concert. Though this was an amazing opportunity for them, and though Danny and I got to sit in the audience during the concert and watch our girls fiddle, my favorite part of the entire evening was the ride home.

No, not because it was 10:30 p.m. and we were finally returning, but because of the way the girls’ enthusiasm and love for their craft caused them to bubble over with exclamations about the evening and the giggles were plentiful. It was infectious, joyous, and so wonderful to hear them gush about their performance, discussing how nervous they were backstage or when they thought they made a mistake or arguing over whether or not they were supposed to bow (only the principal is supposed to bow on behalf of the whole orchestra) and how badly they felt for the girl who dropped her cello bow partway through and now a love of fiddle music is burgeoning in their hearts. Listening to the girls bond over a shared love of music during the ride home on a dazzling moonlit night was especially precious and I’m holding on to that memory with both halves of my brain for as long as possible. 

It’s easy to rejoice in the Lord for giving these talents to our children and providing safe passage to brothers making a long journey home and for the health and well-being of our family and the warm weather that has finally arrived (for good, I hope) and a multitude of other small and big things.  However, when times are rougher, that shouldn’t stop me from continuing in my praise to Jesus, “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” (Psalm 63:7) 

“…rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Roman 5: 2-5

Ten Things about the #5 Allans

I’m borrowing Kristi’s idea from several years back, hoping you won’t notice that it’s a cover for the fact that I haven’t really had anything worthy to share lately. I figure some bullet points of our lives should suffice. And like the last time I did this for the email chain, I can promise you it will all be pretty mundane.

  1. By the end of this, I won’t know how to get out of the “numbered list” format. That is because I despise technology and it returns the sentiment. Danny and Isaac can never leave me. If they do, you’ll find me turning real pages, using a typewriter, and stuffing my money under the mattress.
  2. Juggling six kids is an act you’d be amazed to see in a circus. Good thing most of my children are too heavy to toss into the air, but it sure gets complicated, exhausting, and at times, fascinating keeping up with their schedules and emotional health.
  3. Ellie will begin her career at Chick-fil-A this week. It’s not quite the Allan McDonald’s dynasty, but we’re doing our part to give the chicken empire kids who’d rather do chores for money at work than at home. 
  4. The season for guests has possibly begun with back-to-back weekends of company. Unfortunately, neither weekend saw beautiful spring weather and we were forced to watch baseball. I mean, we were forced to watch it in the gray, dank NH April. Thankfully each set of guests were quite agreeable to walk beside us in our busyness and visiting happened more on-the-go than on the sofa. Hopefully our next guests will experience enough May sunshine to bring some with them on their return to Newfoundland.
  5. We will be back to a full house come this Friday as Jake returns from his first year away. Isaac is flying down to FL on Wednesday to participate in the challenge of “Will the Brothers Come Back Bonded or Bruised?” while they make the long drive homeward. Prayers would be appreciated.
  6. After putting in two more weeks of travel, Danny gets to sleep in his own bed for three weeks before another trip. Since he’ll be gone over his birthday, you can send me whatever presents you would have given to him. Just kidding. Unless….🤷
  7. “Anna, where are the snickerdoodle cookies you made?” I asked her, very sarcastically, knowing she hadn’t actually baked them last week like she said she would. Without missing a beat, she replied, “Oh, well, I separated out all their ingredients and put them back.” 
  8. Raise your hand if you loathe living in a tech world while you have children. I know this seems an awful lot like my first point, but that one was about my incompetence. This one is about the difficulties technology brings to our family, so stay with me. Now raise your hand if you are reading this from a device right now. See my conundrum? It’s good– until it isn’t. The kids need it, but so often it is misused or abused and the challenge lies in striking the perfect balance of using technology appropriately while leaving time for some fun stuff without the latter use overtaking the first. Who’s got the answers and why haven’t they shared them with me yet?  
  9. There’s nothing here because seven eight nine. Can you believe that the number of times my kids roll their eyes at my humor is exponentially more than the sum of times they laugh? My sadness is infinite.
  10. This last one is a fact we’re all learning together, since I didn’t even know about it until right now: James hates small spaces while Caleb seems to love them. That’s what Caleb just told me when I asked him what I should write about the two of them. I’m afraid to ask them how they’ve come to know this about themselves. Everyone deserves a little mystery in their lives, right?

And that’s a wrap.

Ups and Downs

Did you miss me? They say ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, but my motto is usually ‘absence makes the procrastination longer’. A non sequitur and one sentence later, I’ve been feeling a little bit like an ostrich lately. Heavy, flightless, and not good at making decisions. Due to the six circumstances that have given me the title ‘mom’, I’ve preferred to keep my head stuck in the sand this week.

Remember my advice from last time? ‘Don’t have kids’? Yeah, I should have specified by saying,  “Don’t have the female kind. Also, don’t have the male kind.” It’s not like I didn’t listen to those parents in whose footsteps I am happy to follow; I listened, I gleaned, I questioned, I prepared. But you really don’t have any idea until you’re actually in it for yourself, do you?

Having difficulties with teenagers is not new to anyone. It’s a tale as old as Cain and Abel. But how did we go from those sweet-faced, pudgy-fingered, elbow-dimpled toddlers we raised to these cantankerous, hormonal, teary-eyed parents they’ve turned us into? 

I have more questions than answers. I have more prayer requests than humorous stories. I have more roller coaster rides in a day than even a thrill-seeker would wish upon themselves. I have more kids that will someday become teenagers! 

Did you know that ostrich eggs are incredibly tough to crack? Any person weighing up to roughly 250 pounds wouldn’t even make a dent in the shell if they stood on top of it. A saw or some other hand tool is typically used to gain access to the prized yolk. I just think it’s so fitting that while it is hard for any of us to break open the shell, the chick inside has absolutely no difficulty whatsoever cracking the egg and hatching. It seems like there must be something here I can learn from this. If I can just pull my head out of the sand, maybe I can figure out what it is…

To pick up on the roller coaster analogy, there have been some ‘ups’ in the last little while. It’s a good thing, too. Normally I’m terrified of the ‘up’ on the roller coaster because it means that we have to come back down, and that’s the part I really don’t like! However, we don’t think like that with real life events, do we? If things are going well, we’re typically not walking on eggshells, waiting for life to fall apart (especially if that egg is an ostrich’s). Anyway, getting back on track here, Danny and I have been thankful for some successes and joys the kids have experienced recently. 

There have been very high marks on an important test and job applicant acceptances and first-time sports team players and dog-training developments and self-advocating-while-making-big-decisions moments. Yet despite all of these accomplishments and exciting events, none of these kids know how to change the toilet paper roll! Below is photographic evidence of a real scene I stumbled upon in my house, in which there are children, half of whom are teens who should know how to figure this out. 😑

If you need me, I’ll be the one with my head in the sand.

My Job Here is Done

Well, I’ve updated you on the mundane and the extraordinary, and you’ve gotten more posts in this one month segment than you have for the last eleven years so I think my work here is done. However the experiment is to see whether I can keep this blog from living up to its tagline or not and the only way to do that is to constantly update you on the daily shenanigans from the Allans #5, whether you like it or not. 

It’s scary, in a way, to put yourself “out there” on the internet. I can’t see your facial expressions, so I don’t know if you understand my sarcasm or lack of humor or if you are eagerly leaning in for more. There is no give and take in this relationship, not in a real and present way at least. I am giving you my words, but I don’t know if you care enough to “take” them, and I don’t want to bother you. Perhaps it’s the introvert in me that uses writing as a way to communicate, to be heard, without in-person interaction. In my head, I speak fluent English. When I talk out loud, I sound like a three year old for whom English is my second language. Thus the blog is a conduit to my boring brain and I can take all the time needed to poorly share the ongoings of our family.

But enough philosophy! You know what else is as elusive as theoretical thoughts on reality? Ninth grade science, and I’m in charge of teaching it at our co-op. Let me give you a free piece of advice: don’t have kids. Because if you do, they’ll grow up and eventually need to make their way through high school science and if you don’t speak up at your co-op planning meeting then you will have to teach the class no one wants and you will be totally out of your depth, but you know you can’t let the students see your fear or they will run right over you and you’ll develop an expensive habit of buying a drink from Starbucks before every co-op as a reward for dealing with the anxiety, so now you have an addiction on top of your incapabilities and it’s a good thing we only have five classes left. 

Meanwhile, Danny’s work continues to reward him with more airline points and time zone changes. He actually has a two week reprieve from the travel, which is good because he needs the time to detox his wife from pricey drinks. He is eager to begin his Best Buddies training again, racking up distances to make the 100 mile ride across Cape Cod in June seem like a breeze. 

You know what’s not a breeze? Spring in New England. Despite the date on the calendar, spring is the slowest season to fully arrive in New England and he’ll need to wait for warmer weather and the street sweeper before he can get in much outdoor cycling. There is a bright spot on Danny’s horizon though, and he may soon have another title to add to his name. Stay tuned for more on that later.

Also, the kids are fine. 🙂


How can I adequately describe our vacation in one post when each day deserves its own entry? In an effort to keep it short, I’ll share statements from the mouths of the babes, which should give you an idea of the kinds of attitudes we had to put up with. 

Jake: It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip that we were on for the second time.

Isaac: It was very warm and sometimes it was very wet.

Ellie: The beach volleyball, the beach, the waves, and pretty much everything about Soggy Dollar was amazing.

Anna: It was great. Everything. There isn’t something that isn’t [great].

James: It was awesome. Fun.

Caleb: I would recommend going there.

As you can see from their enthusiastic responses, this gives you very little insight about what we actually did and saw and experienced. And even though pictures don’t quite do it enough justice either, they’ll probably illustrate our vacation better than (any more) words can, so here are a few of my favorites: 

Sunny Evenings
A rising star was found
Solar powered
Second mate
Look on the bright side
Full hearts
Adrenaline junkie
Melody makers
Would you jump?
All In


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 was a tremendous asset 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 saddened me at first, but afterwards I was thankful the Spirit allowed 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 disinterested already by our dull 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 mundane.