Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island (MAK-in-aw) sits in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Most of the island is covered with trails, woods, and in them, you will find the limestone Arch Rock formation. Fort Mackinac was built in 1780 on a bluff overlooking the lake and was the site of 2 major battles in the war of 1812. In the 1950’s tourism took over but much of the island has undergone historical preservation including the village and Grand Hotel. The 3.8-mile island is accessible only by plane or boat and bans almost all vehicles with the exception of ambulance and fire. Transportation on the island is primarily by horse and carriage or bicycle.

In August we set off on a little family vacation with the first destination being Mackinac Island. We spent the night by the lake and took a ferry over in the morning. Our ferry crossed under the Mackinac Bridge on the 20-minute ride to the island. We were on the top deck of the ferry and of course that was much loved by Dakota.

The island is beautiful and well worth your time to visit! We all loved our day spent there and would have gladly gone back for the 2nd day of exploring.
There was something intriguing about all the shops, bikes, horses, and carriages in the little village.

If you didn’t want to walk, you could rent a carriage or a bike to get around.

The fort overlooking the village.
All the houses are quaint and beautifully cared for. Most of the houses in the village were for tourist lodging and the locals live up on top of the island.

The Grand Hotel.
We took a ride on one of these to get to the top of the island to do some exploring.

Our trusty guide always knew where to go and what to do next.

Probably the most beautiful spot on the island was all the way through the woods at the Arch Rock. The rock was so unique but the view over the water was amazing.

We spent some time at the fort and learned a lot of new things, most of which I have already forgotten, unlike my husband and children.

From the fort looking down over the village.

We had a small cooler along with snacks and water bottles so we took a little siesta on the lawn. Of course, the 2 that had previously been tired of walking were suddenly filled with energy and wanted to go for a walk around the lawn. I could have sat for a long time and just watched everything happening.

One of our drivers said there are 17 fudge shops on the island. There is only one doctor and he specializes in fudge overdoses. The driver also said if you would rather not buy the overpriced fudge, just stop at each one and have a sample.

We rented bikes to ride around the island. Due to all the horses, there were always road apples and piddles to dodge. We were warned not to step in any “water” because it had not rained for a while and therefore it was a piddle, not a puddle.

It was a beautiful 3.8-mile ride around the island and took us approximately 1.5 hours, probably because I made them stop all the time for another picture. Eventually, I got the hang of using my camera while biking, but I was better off not being close to anyone when I tried that.

The lake was clear and warm. The kids wanted to swim so very badly.

Everywhere you looked, every time you turned around, there was something beautiful.

Hours later we were happy and tired but not quite ready to leave.
Pack up your family and go for a visit to the island sometime.
You will love it.

Quote of the day: “We didn’t really waste (spend) much money today. We just rode the ferry, the carriages, the bikes and walked around.”

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Lo, How A Summer Doth Fly

And so it was in the eighth month of the year of our Lord,
in the midst of days of running to and fro,
that summer did wax hot and the days long.
But although the days were long,
the months were short and soon it was to be
that school was almost upon us.

And the mother of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan
did as Lot’s wife, and looked back.
With wistful thinking, she pondered,
“Why is it that so many things remain undone?”
What of my plans for teaching new skills,
of guiding and prompting the tribe along in wisdom?
What of the days of sitting upon the river bank
and the dangling of feet with not a care?
Behold, were there not picnics planned which happened not,
also days of relaxation by the water with castles of sand,
and surely, all manner of things most splendid
of which little was accomplished.
It would seem as though we did blink,
and lo, the summer was past and gone.

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And so it was that the mother of the tribe
continued to look back and ponder
all her hopes, dreams, and plans for the summer,
for she once had a great many.
What became of the days she wished to spend
teaching, training and instructing her daughters
to further their culinary skills,
so as to work herself out of a job?
For lo, time was running out, school was approaching
and it would seem she had gotten nowhere, swiftly.

Madison bakes

There were a great and many other things left untaught,
such as sewing of dresses, canning of foods,
and the proper sorting of laundry and such deeds.
Yet it would seem the interest of her daughters
did not lie in such things, but rather
they fell prey to things such as the baking of all things sweet
and of painting, brushing, etching and sketching.
“Have I failed them again, these few short months?”

Reagan's art

And as the mother of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan
stepped back to survey the past summer,
she did moan and groan in her spirit
and was grieved to find that her son
was no more of a proper gentleman then he had been
when summer commenced in the fifth month.
Behold, the burping, farting, and jumping
seemed only to increase in strength and might
as quickly as did he through the summer months.
His love of teasing and tormenting did far exceed
his love of all things proper and mannerly.

And so it was for days without end,
that the “Battle of Siblings” was fought in full fury.
And though they wearied, yet the skirmish ended not,
for lo, there was not one among them who would
give in, give up, forget, or forgive.
And fraught with weariness of mind and body,
the mother of the tribe thought to call
the father of them all and beg and plead of him,
“Come hitherto, and hold up these arms of mine,
for they are weary from the separating of your children,
for surely I am rescuing them from the death of one another.”
And behold, a fine word from the father of the tribe
ended the never-ending battle, for such as time as this,
because he did take his son along to work the next day.
But the Mother knew in her heart of hearts
that as sure as the dawn breaks the darkness,
so it would begin again shortly and she pondered,
“Have I not taught, have they not heard,
have they not retained any such things of which I speak?”

D&R

And as her mind was tossed to and fro,
she looked back to conversations of yore
and was once again reminded by the wisdom of the aged.
For it was said of them over and over again,
“Make haste and enjoy the day at hand,
for surely there will come a day when all the children
of men will be departed from your tents
and all the apron strings will be torn asunder.
And lo, it shall be in that day that you will sigh unto yourself
and looking back, wistfully pine for these days.”
And she puzzled in disbelief as to how it would ever be so.

Wise words of old she knoweth not,
yet one thing she doth know for sure,
“Lo, how a summer doth fly!”
And so she purposed in her heart
to forget the work that waiteth at daybreak
and to take delight in the short days remaining
until the time of school was at hand.
And behold, she girded up her skirts,
waded into the fray and listening
to the sounds of the tribe
she wondered if maybe one day
she really would miss it.

And A Little of June

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June, in all its glory, is a blissful month for many reasons. Warmth, sunshine, greenery, no school, water time, family time, birthdays, longest days of the year, no snow, fresh veggies, strawberries, raspberries, ball games, and a million blades of grass to mow. I won’t list all mine, make your own list of loveliness.

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Amazingly, they have become friends. He is more gentle with her than any of us. Not amazing at all is the fact that my relationship with him is still a little rocky. Days when he plays with the kids and they love it, I’m all cool with having him outside my door. Other days when I find half of the front porch chewed up in the driveway, I am not cool at all.

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As far as weddings go, this one was fun. I’ll now suggest a fun golf course with carts to any bride, so long as the men leave the clubs at home.

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We have formed our own little biker gang and we all ride together. Grandma’s lawn usually receives top-notch care until we get started, after that it just kind of looks like a race track. There are a few rules to the riding and so far everyone has stayed safe. The biggest casualty is running out of gas and having to walk back to the house.

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This is the spot where memories are made. There were sleepovers, fires, marshmallows, hotdogs, bike rides, stories, more stories, and lots of laughter and fun. Years from now I hope this little gang will look back and say, “Remember one time at the cabin when…”
My siblings and I grew up with a cabin and pond farther back in the field and we have lots of good memories playing there.  Although Tristan never lived to see this cabin, he is very much a part of us when we are there. Invariably when the kids all pile in for a sleepover and I am trying to get them to settle down, one will say, “Tell us stories, stories about Tris.” and so I do. We take walks down memory’s lane and recall all the things we did when I was a kid. My memories come alive for them and he lives on in them through me. Tell your children your stories, keep the memories alive.

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I do believe she wouldn’t mind having more than one birthday a year so she could dream up and create another cake. She spent the entire day doing what she loves, stirring around in the kitchen.

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Only go camping on the hottest weekend of the year if you have a huge fan!

There are times in a person’s life when events unfold that directly affect them, yet it is not their story to tell. Such is the case in my life right now. I have not told you, simply because it was not my story to tell.

Since Tristan’s death, you have followed along with my life and the journey of grief I have been on. What you are not partial to is the rest of my family and their journey, their story is not my story to share.

In 2015 our family lost a member, this year we gained a new one. It was a bittersweet day in June when Lisa married Laverne. The mixture of emotions is something that you cannot explain. There were tears for the past and what all we have been through, yet there were also smiles and joy for the present and the future. We are happy for them and we welcome Laverne into our family.

Our grieving is not over just because of these changes. Grieving changes along with you and hangs around for the rest of your life. In some ways the weekend was hard, we missed Tris so very much, yet we can also say the weekend was good.

Through all this, all my mind continually went back to a song I heard about God writing my story. “Is there room in my heart for God to write His story?” Am I willing to allow Him to orchestrate my life in a way so my story will bring Him glory?

Life may not turn out exactly as I had planned, but if I allow God to be the author of my story, life will turn out exactly as He has planned.

Of August

August, the month when we imagine everything will be hot and sticky.
Not so this year, the windows have been open most of the month.

August, the month when moms of all shapes and sizes flip flop back and forth in their brains on any given day, at any given moment.
They go from, “I can.not believe school is starting soon. I don’t want the schedule. I will miss my children!” All the while secretly thinking, “And who will help me work?”
Or at any other given moment, you might find them scrawling notes to the teacher saying, “Thank you thank you thank you for rescuing this child from my hands!!”

August is when you squeeze in one last day of swimming, one last trip to the park and think of all the things you were going to do but didn’t get done.

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August is when all the moms of toddlers think,
“It will be years before my kids are old enough for school.”
(insert loud buzzing noise here) 
Wrong. It will be tomorrow.

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In the photo above, Bryce is holding his ears because I believe in reading a book the way a book should be read. With all the noise and enthusiasm that is portrayed in a book.  He did not care for Bear’s loudness in the library!

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August is when you chop and dice everything in your garden, throw it in the pot and call it good. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, plus a whole lot more from the store!
It’s so pretty I actually wish I liked it.

August is for so many cherry tomatoes that in a fit of rage, you actually rip the plant out and toss it, much to your children’s horror. Hey, there are three more plants too many!

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August is for peaches. Combine angel food cake, a pudding mixture, a peach mixture and you have an amazing combo. Much better than the previous photo.

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August is for squeezing one last vacation in before school starts.

In the name of keeping all things honest and upright here,
no my children do not always appreciate having their photo taken.
Especially the little one.

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When August is as cool and cool can be, you sit by the fire and catch up.

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And when August pulls off a stunning solar eclipse, you tell the kids they will not miss this, they will go outside and take turns watching. And lo and behold, it turns out to be a whole lot more interesting than they thought it might be.
Or maybe it was just cool to use the welding helmet.

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And of course, the number one thing August is known for, school!
All three were ready to go back whether they admit it or not. One may have been slightly more excited than the others and one was very sad to be left behind.
But she and I, we are really doing great.
That thing called silence is just ringing in my ears!

Miss You Tris

August brings back memories,
the last time I saw Tris,
the last time I waved goodbye
and watched him walk away.
If only I had known…

Quote of the day:
“Did you know my Bible said Jesus undied himself?”

And for that, I am very grateful.

Summertime Goodness

It’s a cool summery morning. Plenty of birds chirping a song to go with my coffee back in these woods. I sat on the porch for awhile and then opened all the doors to the house. My children don’t appreciate that and crawl under blankets as if it were wintertime.

I love summertime. I like a cool morning but I also like a nice warm day. I know, if I worked outside for 8 hours I might change my mind, but being at home means the option of AC on those nice warm days so I still want them.
I’m also waiting for a summer that is not crazy busy. Maybe one that lasts for at least 6 months and has about 2 days a week with nothing to do but stick my feet in the pool. How long do you think I’ll need to keep waiting?

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This is some of the finest food ever.
Sweet and simple! Summertime at it’s best!

~~~
We went camping once. I’m good with that but my children think otherwise.
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It felt like a 10-day camping trip but actually only covered parts of 5 days. It was full of relaxing, good conversations, floating down the river, campfires at night, some rain, and of course cookies and hot chocolate early in the morning as you can see!

I was expecting to go home with Mt Rushmore of laundry but it wasn’t too bad. It probably helped that Dakota wore his swimming trunks all day long and then would carefully lay them out at night so he could put them on again the next morning.

The perfect s’more consists of a chocolate covered shortbread cookie, peanut butter, and a marshmallow. Try it if you haven’t ever.

~~~
No sooner than camping was over, my sister and her family came to visit and we had a busy weekend with them. Cooking, eating, beaching, bubbles, taking care of kids, settling fightings, talking, cooking, eating and having a good time.

Let’s just say after this trip….
kids & the beach
Yes! Pretty much sums it up! 🙂

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When I was a kid we spent hours riding around on something, bikes, dirt-bikes, 3-wheelers or whatever had wheels… our kids are starting out right.

~~~

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If you know of anyone who likes to play ball, my girls would probably even pay to have you drop them off to play with this kid!

~~~
We pretended to be a tourist the other day.

Now they want goats!

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And then on Sunday, we were at the neighbor’s for lunch and after a trip outside they decided they want goats AND sheep! Their Mother is not cooperating so very well! Running to the neighbor’s for a visit sounds like a good deal to her!

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After not getting her way in the game little one says,
“I wish we had never buyed this game!”

~~~

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So, tell me what else is on your to-do list for this summer?

~~~

This morning I read,
“So be careful how you live…
make the most of every opportunity.”
Make today count.

August, going once, going twice

As life would have it, some months just seem like they are out to get ya. If it’s not a rat race of leaving and going and doing all the time, it’s something emotional churning in the brain. There seemed to be no reprieve in August. I cut out everything I could, but a lot was unavoidable so we plunged head first in.

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We spent some time at Grandma’s in Aug. These girls jumped for the chance to help cook! Grandma was very patient and gave advice.

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One day while we were there, Shady Grove Bakery opened down by the creek. There were flyers taped to all the doors and trees letting us know the hours. We dutifully made a trip to visit and Grandma purchased some goodies. aka: all the junk food they could collect from the ladies living close by. 🙂

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This has to be one of the few places in the world that you come upstairs at 6:30am and they are eating ice-cream for breakfast. I didn’t argue, by all means, just filled my bowl and dug in too. It was leftover homemade from the night before and it may as well be eaten while it’s still good.

Tris had a love of ice-cream like few others do. We all like it, but none so much as he did. I think he would have eaten it for every meal if he could have. Now I stop at Dairy Queen occasionally and buy ice-cream and remember him with it.

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As usual, the bikes came out and they did some ramping. I’m sure when Mom designed their walk-out basement she had no idea this is what it would be used for.
We always miss Tris when they start driving bikes. He loved a good ramp and jump with the big ones or puttering around on the little ones.

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We had a day of fun with the big kids and some friends while we were in IN.
Kennedy stayed with Sarita for the day and we were all happier.

~~~~~~~~~

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Home again, home again and we were off to more dentist appointments. While driving through the parking lot at Walmart, Madison started yelling something about a mouse. We skidded to a stop and all jumped out to have a look. Imagine that sight!
He darted around here and there and we finally opened the hood to try to catch him, but he disappeared down into the motor before we got him. I know he looks like he is sitting still in this photo, but he really wasn’t… and who wanted to reach out and grab him anyway? If I was sure of getting the tail I would have, but I didn’t really want to catch that wiggly body in my hand. There is a now a warrant out for his arrest. The next time we’ll have a shoe ready for him.

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Our garden, or rather weed patch, is a sorry sight this year. It is an out of sight and out of mind kind of thing. When left unattended for too long, cukes grow to be the size of zucchini and the only things they are good for is creating veggie people and playing cooking shows. Cheap entertainment.

~~~~

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We went camping two weekends in a row.
Quite taxing for this girl who likes her comforts of home better then roughing it.
The first weekend could be summed up in a few words, mainly one: rain. We could add “good company” to that to finish it off, but rain was the main ingredient.

Any weekend we go camping in the rain, I always have to think of the one and only time my family went camping. It was either scorching hot or pouring rain the entire weekend. Tris’ tent got flooded and I think he strolled around the campground most of the night, investigating things and completely enjoying himself.

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Our next weekend was full to the brim of fun, games, late night laughs, dog shows, swimming and the works. We always have the best of times with this group.

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Good food was the main ingredient.

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The kids would have spent the entire day in the water if we would have agreed to sit and watch them!

~~~~~~~~~~~

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As usual happens with me, I hit a low and crash at some point. The constant going and stress finally got to me one night and I just stayed home alone.

This grief walking thing throws me for a loop over and over. I like my life neat and tidy with all my ducks in a row. Grief does not ask your permission for an entrance, but just interrupts at any point, making itself known.

Some of these moments I knew were coming, some were very unplanned. Some of the bigger things I was bracing for turned out to be insignificant, other small things brought on a crash of the mental state. It is perplexing to say the least when trying to figure out why you react the way you do to certain things.

~~~~~~~~~~

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This child!
Much could be said that is better left unsaid.
I fear my questioning of other parents
may have come back haunt me in this small form!

~~~~

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This amused a high number of people on Instagram for reasons I’ll never know.
From here on out, I’ll leave the Kitchen Aid and the baking to Madison.
If the picture is blurry, it was because of her excessive laughter.

~~~~~~

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And last but not least, if you live in Ohio (or even if you don’t), come to the Haiti Benefit Auction on Sat and buy this cute little Penny Farthing bicycle my brother Tyson made.
It is one of a kind and won’t be found elsewhere.

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Late Night Rambles

When life gets exhausting and there are too many things screaming for my attention, I feel this pressing urge to sit down and type. Get the stress or whatever it is, out of my system, venting by the pounding of the keys, you might say.

It’s times like these that it is very dangerous for me to write late at night and post it. The next morning when my regular, coffee-hyped brain is back on duty, I will be shocked with content of my post and wonder how in the world my stressed brain allowed that on the www. It is much safer for me to open Microsoft Word and start venting on that clean white sheet, instead of airing all my dirty laundry here.

The last few weeks have been full!
My mind almost goes in panic mode sometimes when I start thinking about how soon school will be starting. Who in the world invented these short summers anyway? I declare it was only a month ago that school ended. I was wondering what I am going to do without “the help” around here all day, but came to conclusion that with three of them gone all day, the house will should need a little less picking up. hopefully.

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Last week Madison baked cookies for days. The first batch of chocolate chip cookies, intended for someone else, turned out so well that this gang wolfed them all down.
So, she had to make another batch. She made a double batch of Chocolate crinkles and Mr. D was almost besides himself with wishing to eat them. She baked a few other kinds too, but most of these cookies went out the door to other hungry people in case you are wondering if we are waddling yet.

~~~~

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I made a trip to the big valley to photograph a wedding over the weekend. It was a two fold reason because I really wanted to see a dear friend who lives out there! It was worth the drive to spend time with her, although that drive by myself was no hardship, I tell you.
Peace and quiet for 5-6 hours?!
“Yes please, and I’ll have a coffee on the side, thankyouverymuch!”

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Lois and I go back to the teenage years and no matter how much time we spend apart, we pick up right where we left off. We talked as fast as we could and didn’t nearly get caught up! We have a lot in common, a lot of good memories and have plans to make more memories together.

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This little lady and I became friends right away and she was just the sweetest. It may be the fact that she is the only girl with 3 brothers to keep up with or she may just take after her mother.  She is one week younger the Kennedy and one week older the Kennedy’s best friend Josie. At any rate, Kennedy thought I should have brought her home with me!

~~~

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A stroll on the bike path was in order one evening.
Madison is at camp this week so these kiddos thought we needed to do something a little bit fun while she was gone! That may be due to the fact that their work load has increased with her being out of the house.

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Her latest thing is, “Mom, take a picture of us!” and so we do!

~~~

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Any donation, large or small would be acceptable after this trip!
I think we spent about two and a half hours in here filling tiny teeth and we are nowhere near done. I will be selling their teeth on eBay as soon as they fall out.

Please tell me my children are not alone in this matter of teeth. We brush, limit food groups and all that good stuff, but so far it has not helped on one single child of ours. In fact, the smallest child has the most cavities right now, an alarming amount actually.

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This brave one took a chance and went without being numbed while they fixed three small cavities. She said it didn’t hurt. No, probably not because my teeth were over here hurting for her.

Mr. D loves the dentist. No really, believe me when I say, he loves to go to the dentist. He had to have a tooth filled and 4 sealed on this trip. Reagan tried to convince him of all things bad, but he was quite sure about being happy to go. She even whispered about getting a s-h-o-t, but he calmly said, “So! It doesn’t even hurt!”
While he was stretched out on the chair, I heard the nurse say, “Dakota!” and I asked what was wrong? She laughed and said, “I think he was falling asleep because his hand slipped off the armrest and his head started to nod to the side!” This is the 2nd time he fell asleep while having a tooth filled.

I wanted to call Tris on the way home so badly. One of the things he hated the most in this old world, was going to the dentist! It was a literal terror for him to have to sit on that chair and have a tooth filled. I could only imagine his response to Dakota falling asleep. I’m happy for Tris that he no longer needs to face the dentist chair!

~~~

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A long river ramble was good for the soul one day.
If your kids are about to drive you out of the house or make you wish for school to start, find a river and turn them loose for a few hours. They will think you just spent a hundred dollars on them!

Are you ready for school to start?

Morning edit: not too bad for so late at night! 🙂

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