It felt like Chloe’s tooth had been loose forever. When she first told us it was wiggly, we thought it would maybe be out in a week or so, but that rascally tooth just wasn’t interested in letting go. On one hand, I knew that there was no going back once that little baby tooth came out. Our sweet and sassy redhead’s face would never have that baby look ever again. But Chloe’s excitement over the milestone of having a missing front tooth was also contagious for all of us. Her brothers and sister all had advice for her on how best to wiggle it so it would come out quicker, and Todd gave it a couple “Dad tries” in an attempt to pull it out quickly. But it wouldn’t budge. It held fast, but continued to get looser and looser.

Here’s a picture of her when I first thought the extraction was eminent, just so I wouldn’t miss that “last day” of her baby teeth. (It was taken at least a week before it actually came out!)


Usually after dinner, we’d offer encouragement and a couple times Patrick even offered to yank it out. Andrew suggested a much more violent approach, as you can see in this picture.


She sported the Nanny McPhee look for several days, and although it looked a bit strange, it really didn’t bother her all that much. She wiggled it a lot, but no matter how loose it got, it showed no sign of giving up.


On the day of her 7th birthday, it seemed to be literally hanging by a thread! What was still keeping it attached to her gums was a mystery. She accepted some help in trying to get it out, and hopefully she won’t remember too much or be too traumatized by it. In the end, the tooth held firm. We wondered what in the world we all cared so much about it for…when a tooth is ready, it’ll come out!



The day after Ben and Chloe’s birthday, we were preparing for my parents’ arrival and she finally couldn’t take it anymore. She tried biting into an apple, but that didn’t work. She wiggled it by herself, but that didn’t work either. After exhausting her own devices, she asked Patrick to help her.

We gathered ’round to cheer her on, and finally, FINALLY, that pesky little tooth gave up the fight. Chloe actually pulled it out herself as she jerked away from Patrick’s grasp. She went one way, and the tooth remained in his hand. And “just like that,” it was out.


As usually follows after one front tooth comes out, the other front tooth is now also loose. It probably won’t be long before she is completely toothless–and just in time to ask for two front teeth for Christmas!–but for now, she’s enjoying the single-sided toothless look. When else in your life can celebrate that missing tooth grin?

And so…the redhead reaches another milestone of growing up….




The end…for now

The end of the blog-a-day challenge has arrived, and although I missed two days, it was an eventful month. It’s always tough to stick it out and complete the entire time period, by the end it feels like it flew by. I even have the feeling that maybe, just maybe I should continue the trend and keep writing every day.

Then I look at my calendar for the rest of the year, and that seems
like a ridiculous notion.

Perhaps the next time I take on a challenge, it will be more like an every-other-day commitment….

Thanks for reading during the NaBloPoMo October challenge!

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can wait two years to do…

It’s the 30th of the month, and after staring down a to do list throughout October, it didn’t look too promising that the list would be completed. I knew we wouldn’t have the satisfaction of crossing most items off the list way back when I wrote it all down, but seeing it in print sprawled across the giant whiteboard in the kitchen helps all of us know what’s in my head. Some projects were easy, like move crazy piece of furniture that has been sitting near the door for three months (DUH! What takes us so long to get that done?! Why must we all trip over something before just putting it away?!?). Others, like “take out carpet in boys’ bedroom,’ requires a lot more planning and action. (Needless to say, that item will be transferred to the November to do list)

Ah well. Between homeschooling, regular housework, CC work and prep, and extra things like taking certain children for X-rays and a cast, some days don’t have many hours left for extra projects. Frustrating, but reality.

So imagine my surprise when I came back from my walk this evening and one of the kids rushed by me.
“What’s going on?” I inquired.
“Oh, Dad told us to go downstairs and find 20 things to throw away, 20 things to give away, and 20 things to put away where they belong!” he answered brightly and quickly, and continued back downstairs.

Well, OK, then! I didn’t even ask for more information. I simply sat down and for the next two hours, fielded questions about whether toys or other items that the kids found were keep, give away, or throw away. It was fairly painless in that nobody started crying (I was worried I would at some point; I really have to talk myself into the purging process, and this time I had no preparation whosoever), and lots got done. The kids brought up a bunch of different categories, and threw away the garbage that had been scattered here and there. By the end of their time, they had enough to drive over to the donation center with Todd.

Woohoo! That’s not bad! I didn’t even have to motivate anyone and Todd had them all down there knocking out a project.

I’m not going to worry about the roughly 65,227 items that still need to be conquered in our house. Those seem to be quite content to wait for me to get to them. For tonight, I’m thankful that one more job was tackled by willing helpers who took the task on by themselves and worked it out. Progress indeed, and in more areas than I’d listed on my to do chart.

We shall see what tomorrow brings….

Despite what the weathermen are saying, it BETTER NOT BE SNOW…

Cast Liberation Day!

It’s been a busy three weeks since Andrew fell and broke his arm, and thanks to the blog-a-day challenge, it’s all chronicled in earlier posts. He was quite excited for this day to come, because even though he hardly complained a peep about his cast, whenever we asked him about it, he did admit that it was a pain and it itched every now and again. But anyone can live with the inconvenience of a cast for twenty-one days, right?

We had another quick trip through the process: didn’t wait long to be called back, only had time to look around the room before the nurse came in to remove the cast, X-rays quickly followed, and then a meeting with the doctor. He informed us that the bone was healing perfectly, and to continue the healing, he wanted Andrew to wear a removable splint for an additional three weeks. Hooray for removable! He only has to wear it during the daytime, and can easily be removed for a shower. Again I say hooray (and I’m pretty sure Andrew does too!)

Here are a few pictures from the process today…


Andrew listens while the nurse explains the process.

Andrew listens while the nurse explains the process.


It tickled!

It tickled!


How many times have I said that Andrew enjoys EVERYTHING?!

How many times have I said that Andrew enjoys EVERYTHING?!


FREE and feeling great!

FREE and feeling great!


And, as if Cast Liberation Day wasn’t enough, the kids had the chance to dress up for a masquerade at their church youth group this evening, and although they waited until the last minute, they managed to scrounge something together.   Patrick teamed up with his friend to be Thing 1 and Thing 2…


Thing 1 makes sure his hair is "just right."

Thing 1 makes sure his hair is “just right.”


One half of the Thing 1/Thing 2 pair.

One half of the Thing 1/Thing 2 pair.


Brendan used my scrubs from a past costume party to dress up as a doctor.  We had all sorts of fun coming up with Ebola-related names for him, but in the end, I only had scrubs–not a hazmat suit.  He liked that just fine, thankfully!

Brendan dressed up as "The Doctor," but he really wished he had found a duck mask so he could have been "A Quack."

Brendan dressed up as “The Doctor,” but he really wished he had found a duck mask so he could have been “A Quack.”

Ben went the extremely casual (and easy) route and wore this shirt.  It’s nothing if not clever!


Gotta love Ben, rocking the "costume, no costume" idea!

Gotta love Ben, rocking the “costume, no costume” idea!


Hannah went to a friend’s party and dressed up as a different “doctor.”

Hannah, Hollye, and Matthew pose for fun.

Hannah, Hollye, and Matthew pose for fun.


 It’s been a full and fun day!

I drove (in) the van today and didn’t look at the temperature gauge once…

Hopefully this is the end of the van saga, but when one drives a 2001 model of anything, one can never be entirely certain.  We picked up the repaired vehicle this past Saturday, and for the first few times I drove it, I was not convinced that it would survive.  After all, I hadn’t been able to drive it even 5 miles when it broke down the last time.  After all that drama and loss of years off my life, I trusted no part of the van.

But nonetheless, the guys at the shop called and said that all was well.  The final verdict?  A blown head gasket and a cracked header.  In mechanic terms, that oftentimes signals the end of an engine.  In our case, in a van with almost 180k miles contained an engine that probably wasn’t going to be any kinder to us.  Besides, the mechanic told Todd that adding new parts to an old engine sometimes doesn’t work out the way you might thing…or maybe it does work out the way you might think: badly.

I’m not sure why this guy was so helpful to us, but he really bent over backwards (I felt) to get us back up and rolling.  He found a replacement engine at a local place that only had 85k miles on it (a baby! just getting started!) and was willing to replace Ye Olde Cracked Header with a Side of Blown Head Gasket engine for half of what it would normally cost.  Now, lest you worry that this guy was feeding us a line regarding what half price on such a large repair really costs, we’ve been down this road before, and the full price number that he quoted us was almost exactly what another mechanic quoted a few years earlier.  I felt like that was confirmation on a number.  So, bottom line: they offered to replace our engine and all the extra stuff required therein (hoses, bells, whistles…) for half price.  Based on where we found ourselves and the prospect of trying to find another 8 passenger van in our price range quickly, this sounded like the best option. And what an amazing blessing that was for us!

So that’s what we did.  It took them about a week to do the necessary work in addition to actually driving it around and making sure the “engine transplant” was a success.  (Perhaps you’ll remember that Mike the mechanic back in Angola also told Todd that he’d driven the van around after his repair and said it was working…I wonder how that was even possible when I couldn’t make it limp for a measly 3.5 miles past the shop.)  I knew it was true this time: I checked the odometer.

I will admit that although it seems to be working very well now, and I can tell that the engine itself runs more smoothly than Ye Olde…oh, you know the one…I still can’t help but think that at any given moment…POW!  BOOM!  OVERHEAT!  I guess it’s mostly because of my nature, which I constantly have to fight and speak against.

Today, though, Hannah drove it to and from work and I am happy to report that I didn’t even think about the temperature gauge.  That may be because I was too concerned with sitting in the passenger seat with a teenager in the driver’s seat.   Yes.  That tends to trump all other concerns, I am finding.   But that is a story for another blog post, I believe.

And so, the saga comes to a close.  We tried to make it to Grand Rapids, MI, but didn’t make it any further north than Angola, and were snapped from the clutches of being stranded there by my brother and sister-in-law.   All’s well that ends well.

But I’m still watching that temperature gauge…as long as I’m driving.

Day 27 and I’d like to give up

It was rather unwise to commit to write a post a day this month, and although it’s almost the end of the 3- days, I’m feeling grumpy about having made the commitment. I’m tired of having to come up with something new every day to write about, whether or not anyone reads it.

But I did say I would write every day, and except for the whole weekend without a van (or a way home), I have so far.

Maybe I’m just tired. Mondays begin at 5:30 and don’t stop until late in the day. I didn’t have to plunge any toilets today, but I was running from the time we arrived at CC until late in the day. It’s amazing how quickly the morning goes, for one thing. The other aspect I couldn’t have prepared for is how physically tiring the job is on Mondays. That has really surprised me.

So maybe I’m just tired, and therefore let a little grumpy creep in.

I had the chance to speak tonight, and although I did bring up socks and toilets (and how they relate to kids), I hope I didn’t come across as too discouraging in my delivery. It’s a fine line to walk between being realistic and being a downer! Being a parent is sort of like living the Peace Corps commercial: “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” I do love it, and I hope that I was able to convey that tonight.

One other random thought from today: Andrew and his classmates learned that the capacity of the stomach can be up to 2 qts.


Because of this knowledge, some of the past puke-fests by the kids make sense now. While we thought they must have been vomiting food that they hadn’t yet eaten, we could have known the truth had we just had some basic knowledge of the human digestive system.

Yep, I’m just tired.

Speaking to a group of moms has me all in a tizzy

Tomorrow night I’m scheduled to speak to a group of moms and share some wisdom that I’ve learned over my tenure as a parent.  For one thing, I can’t possibly be old enough to have any words of wisdom to share…right? Aren’t I just starting out on this parenting journey?  The calendar (and my oldest child) tell me that I have been a parent, in fact, for 17 years and so therefore I should have some thoughts to offer.   Here’s the list I compiled that may or may not make the talk tomorrow night:

1.  If you have boys, your bathroom will most likely be gross.  And by gross, I mean, in the running for Worst Outhouses of the Year.   I have come to realize that this doesn’t necessarily reflect poor housekeeping skills.   Five minutes after your best cleaning job, one of those little people could have to go and their aim isn’t really great.  Or even a high priority.  I do the best I can, and keep hoping that some day they will too.

2. There will always be errant socks in the strangest places in your house.  Don’t blame the dogs; the kids are the culprits.  I have found socks on top of the mantel, on the island, and one just recently on the deck.  But the day I find TWO socks in any one place is the day I will probably fall over dead.

3.  Kids will pick the best times to get sick.  (Of course, is there *any* good time to be sick? NO.  The answer is always NO)  Beware especially of car trips, large family gatherings, and the night before abdominal surgery.  That’s when stomach bugs are the most vicious and children are especially vulnerable.  Oh, and whenever you are nowhere near a proper–or even improper–receptacle.

4.  Drinks usually spill on and dirty shoes traipse through any floor that was just cleaned.  I think they have radar for such things.

5.  You would not believe how many variations kids can come up with when placing a shirt on a hanger.  I have counted about 27 so far.

6.  Just when you think you’ve lost your mind with the lack of sleep, crazy schedule, and endless to do lists scratched on napkins or the back of your hand, one of those little people spontaneously wraps his or her arms around your neck and exclaims, “You’re the best Mommy there is!”


Then suddenly, of course, it all makes sense.  You don’t do it for the accolades (huh? Is Worst Outhouse of the Year considered an accolade?), and you don’t do it for the money.  You don’t do it so you can fight the urge to compare yourself to the other moms you know who you’re sure are getting this mommy thing down better than you.  You do it because those little people are your little people, and even though they may leave a trail of destruction behind them and make you want to pull out your hair some days, they are a lot like you: works in progress.

And you just love them.


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