The phone camera

Since I got the iPhone, I have enjoyed using the camera. Mostly because the only camera I've had for years is heavy bulky and expensive. So I am afraid of dropping it in water or can't really lug it to a place where I can watch it all the time.

Enter the phone camera. I can snap a quick pic of my kids without running inside and unzipping my puffy bag and making sure the right lens is attached. I appreciate being able to get the quick snapshot.

Mostly, I like the angles I can get holding out a phone at arms length or up from the ground or around my body- stuff I can't pull off very easily with my big camera.

And don't fall off your chair, but I am even writing this blog and uploading these photos from my phone... Jimmy is using the computer and usually I just wouldn't blog but there is no excuse now.

If you know me you know that this blatant use of technology will assuredly bring on the end of the world quite soon. Either that or you will see a few pigs flying out your window. But it is what it is. I'm all for writing and I'm all for photography in any form. I also love a baby in a tub. Who wouldn't?


What Home School is Like

With the start of a new semester and resuming school after a three week break, I am always a little overwhelmed and need to take a lot of deep breaths.  I get the feeling that the reality of my life is a little bit crazy.  As in, I must be a few notches off to attempt this thing called home school.

So I will tell you what it is like.  It is not denim jumpers and big bows in everyone's hair and matching clothes and singing hymns while we walk around the house cooking stew in the crock pot and winning every spelling bee we can enter.

It is me, living with some measure of anxiety/guilt every day of my life worrying that I am either not doing enough or I'm permanently screwing them up.  It is me, realizing that this is not true or healthy since my children are doing fine, then beginning to fear that my unhealthy anxiety/guilt is the very fuel that drives my teaching to an acceptable level and is therefore necessary to maintain my children's level of academic excellence.

(Deep breath.)

It is hard, mostly.

So I've been asking myself why I do it and what makes it worth it.

What I've realized is this:  The best part of being with them all day and teaching them is that I get to observe my children.  It is fun to see little Juliet putting her baby in a stroller when she doesn't know I'm watching.  To catch the kids pretending together.  To see an older child read to a younger one.  To figure out what method will make the math concept stick.

As their mother, I will be quite the influence on them for much of their life.  They will cry to me, ask me for advice, and rejoice with me during the triumphs in life.

To be there for them and be able to contribute something worthwhile, I need to really know them.

So this thing called home school is an education for me.  Hopefully in being their teacher I can learn about them.

Now I must get to things in the kitchen.  The girls are sewing new bonnets and snapping the beans.  Tonight we are churning our own butter and baking bread in the wood stove.  My boys are out back chopping wood.   Just a normal home school day at the Alley's!


Juliet is 2 and UFO sightings

Our sweet baby Juliet had her second birthday December 31st.  We had a wonderful lunch party with both sets of grandparents and Aunt Becky, three cousins, and a new friend.  I had asked Juliet what she wanted to eat at her party and she said "Apples."  So since that was all I had to go on, we just had an apple party.

Cupcakes, presents, fish tacos, mac and cheese, apples of course, and big brothers who want to be in all the pictures.  It was a good time had by all.  I can't believe my baby is two and it seriously hurts just a little but I am so thankful for her overall softness, cuteness, and even keeled personality.  We love you Juliet Hope!

To ring in the New Year later that night my other sister and family had arrived and all the cousins made hot air balloons made out of plastic trash bags, birthday candles, straws, and Scotch tape.  We have done this in the past and all get a kick out of watching them ascend into the air and stay lit for hundreds of yards as they drift through the sky.  We are hoping that somewhere out there is a crazy person who believes in extraterrestrial life and sees one of our balloons so we can add fuel to their fire and belief in UFOs.

Libby and Elise teamed up to create the S.S. Elizabeth.  This was actually their second balloon.  Both went super far!

We did have to save some of the balloons for the next night due to wind direction.  My mom is always worried about starting a fire and got in her car to try and track the balloons, but we all just stood there and watched them.  But they drifted out of sight before we saw the light go out when they burnt up.  It is always amazing to me that eight half size birthday candles can carry the bag and stay lit for so long.

 Cash teamed up with Aunt Becky.  Theirs burned up because they experimented and used a different size bag but he didn't seem to mind.  There were plenty that took off.

Birthday candles for Juliet, birthday candles for a hot air balloon, celebration of the New Year and 2nd birthday had by all.  Happy Birthday Juliet and Happy New Year crazy people who believe in UFO's!  We're glad we can do our part to help you celebrate.