Happy New Year from the J Train!

 Twenty twelve is quickly coming to a close and leaves me feeling like I'm approaching a stop sign but my brakes are out.  I'm trying to take a breath and imagine the fresh start of a new year but it is easier said than done.  I feel a to do list pressing in.

I had every intention of sending out Christmas cards but when I could see that wasn't happening I decided New Year's cards would be fun.  I love the tradition of getting cards in the mail.  It is really the only time of year we get much personal correspondence in our mailbox.  I want to do my part to keep the tradition alive.  But I don't think it's going to happen.

I actually plugged some photos into a New Year's card on line last night.  I got everything uploaded and ready to go and then I tried to write our names at the bottom.  Before I got to Juliet, it told me I had hit the text limit.  It was rather frustrating.  But then I realized we are so blessed we have too many people to fit our family at the bottom of a card.  

This morning I literally just sat here scratching my head wondering how I could photograph nearly 40 families to help them with their Christmas cards yet I couldn't manage to get any done myself.  My kids wanted me to, they kept asking.  But there's always next year.  I pray we will have a happy and healthy year ahead to report on.  As you can see, I did manage to take a few photos of them and my family helped us get a shot when we were all decked out before Christmas Eve church.

I need a fresh start.  I have three days to wrap this year up and I feel unorganized and messy closets and miscellaneous paperwork and school stuff has taken priority.  So I'm going to say Happy New Year on the blog and move on. 

May 2013 make us all aware of God's grace and sovereign hand over everything.  I am vowing to simplify a little and do my best to never leave the house unless absolutely necessary.  Oh wait, I already do that.  And I'm barely here.  So I'm not sure how that's going to happen.  But that's where God's grace and hand come in I guess.

Here we are all are, and here's all our names.  Just to stick it to the Christmas card people.  Happy New Year from Jimmy, Julie, Jackson, Libby, Cash, Penelope, and Juliet!  We love you all!


I felt a funeral in my brain

Monday was my mom's birthday and happens to also be Libby's half birthday.  So it is always a fun day.  Libby and I ran into a poem by Emily Dickinson during her language lesson and looked her up only to discover it was her birthday as well on December 10th.  I have a book of a collection of poems by her and Libby and I enjoyed reading a little bit of it and talking about her unconventional use of capital letters and punctuation.  (We also expanded her vocabulary with words like recluse and introverted!)

I remembered that I did a drawing based on a poem by her I enjoyed reading over 10 years ago.  I found the drawing and read the poem with Libby.  She and I talked a bit about what it might mean.  I was reminded that I used have the time and brain energy to analyze things and sit in silence thinking about stuff.  And make drawings about vague poems.

I asked Libby to write a poem of her own.  It was beautiful.  So here they both are.  Emily Elizabeth Dickinson's first and Elizabeth June Alley's second.  Enjoy.

I felt a funeral in my brain,
  And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
  That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
  A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
  My mind was going numb

And then I heard them lift a box,
  And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
  Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
  And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
  Wrecked, solitary, here.


I Love some cake, I Love some cheese,
I Love a baby boy with ease.
I Love the sun, I Love the air,
I Love an apple and a pear.
I Love Na-Na and Pop-Pop;
My Love will never, ever stop!


Art Class Houses

I have been teaching an art class to home school students this semester.  It has been very enjoyable and great to watch their little creative minds work.  Yesterday for class we built and decorated graham cracker houses.  It always makes for some wonderful and colorful photographs so I thought I'd share some here.

It was quite the sugary and crumby mess.  Just the way I like art class to be.  Messy. 

Children have such innocence when it comes to making things.  They don't second guess themselves.  They are not intimidated by a blank slate of any kind.

They move forward at their own pace and most stay extremely focused.  It is inspiring.

The same day in the afternoon our pest control guy came to treat our house for insects.  It was as if we'd filled the floor with sprinkles, candy, and crumbs to attract them or something.  Hey dude, we just wanted you to see that we've been trying to attract bugs so you could keep your job...

No, but when he arrived I did start sweeping right away so he wouldn't think we were idiots who didn't understand why we had bugs while standing on a floor covered in insect bait.

I was very tired last night and went to bed early.  I had a dream about these Good N Plenty's.  I dreamed that they weren't really candy, but someone's prescription medicine.  I had to try and figure out who brought medicine and then who was crazy enough to take it out of the child proof prescription bottles and offer it to the children for their candy houses.  The house making experience obviously provided me with some really nice rem sleep.

Jackson got to come home from school early to participate.  He had quite the house but he loaded it with so much candy it collapsed.  I took a picture of the final product anyway.  I think this picture is funny.  It looks to me like his house is burning down.

It was hard to pick which pictures to post, I took a lot!  Merry Christmas Art Class!



This past weekend I had the privilege of taking photographs at a Christmas party given by Sarah Henning, a realtor Jimmy and I work with here in Tallahassee.

I was to capture the children on Santa's lap.  They were coming to the party to have cookies and milk, make reindeer food, and of course tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

Santa did not disappoint.  He was amazing.  When Jimmy and I were talking about it later, Jimmy said "I believe in Santa!"  If you were there, you would too.

This man was the complete package.  He had a real beard, rosy cheeks, a fancy red suit.  He brought some of Rudolph's bells with him to show the children.  They were old ones.  He told the kids he just got Rudolph some new ones.  He said he has 26 reindeer, but that most people only know the names of 9 of them.

When a child asked where Mrs. Claus was, he said, "She's home baking cookies of course.  She does that every Sunday night.  The elves get very hungry you know."

To almost every child he would say, "Wow! You've grown since last year!" and "What do you want for Christmas?  But you don't have to tell me...I already know."

A couple of times I heard him say, "You're four years old?  I love four!"  Every time he laughed he'd make sure he turned it into a "ho ho ho" at the end.  The guy was genuinely the coolest Santa I've ever seen.

And just when I thought he couldn't get any better, a little girl asked him about a Christmas song.  I didn't hear what she specifically asked, but he said, "I'm so glad you asked me that!" and pulled a harmonica out of his boot and started playing Jingle Bells on it.


All the kids who were there were decked out in their Christmas best clothes and looked super cute.

Jimmy and I and kids were invited to the party but since I was working Jimmy told me to scope it out first and call him if I thought it would be a good idea to bring the kids.  We don't reveal our crazy at just any venue, you know.

I texted him the following:  Bring. Kids. Nice clothes. Best behaviors

(I was holding my camera with one hand, give me a break.)

I really didn't think he'd come.  I had just come from photo shoots at a park so I hadn't been home in over 2 and a half hours.  Jimmy and the kids had been home all afternoon without me.  I really didn't think he'd attempt to locate nice clothes and shoes for everyone, dress them, comb their hair, and give the good behavior lecture.  But I thought it would be fun for my kids to see such a cool Santa.  And I could photograph them with him which never has and probably never will happen again.

But Jimmy came.  However, the texting of "nice clothes" didn't really seem to have the meaning I wished to convey.  How I could believe that what Jimmy thinks of as "nice clothes" and what I think of as "nice clothes" are even remotely similar, I'm not sure.  And there was no hair combing of any kind.

Not to slander my husband in any way.  They arrived whole and wearing shoes (sometimes we arrive places only to discover someone is barefoot) and had no visible food on their faces.  He did put a dress on Juliet but whenever she raised her arms you could see her sagging diaper below it.  I let it all roll.  I knew Santa didn't care.  He knows that my kids (and my husband) should get whatever they want this year because they are the best. 

I didn't get a perfect photo of them (Juliet wouldn't even sit with him...Santa had already explained to an older child that children between 18 and 22 months can be afraid of him) but I took a photograph of what was happening.  A picture of our crazy life.

When the night was over I went to Santa and told him thank you and that I enjoyed working with him.  He shook my hand and told me to stay on the nice list.  Anything for you, Santa.