Our Trip! Part Four

This post contributed by Cash Alley.

When we left Niagara falls we went to Rochester Hills, MI to see our friends the Bateys.
The first thing we did was eat pizza it was amazing.
Then we watched a movie called Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 and went to bed.
In the morning we ate bagels and went to a cross country meet for their son Cole.
After that we went home and ate lunch.
Then we picked apples and berries. This was probably the best part of the trip.
We picked a lot of macintosh apples.
And there were raspberries and blackberries.
When we finished apple picking we ate donuts!

                                                And here are the pictures................

Our Trip! Part Three

The following is an interview with myself (Julie) and Penelope (age 7) about the third leg of our trip, our time in Niagara Falls.

Mom:  Tell me about the first thing you saw when we got to Canada.
Penelope:  The toll bridge when Cash had to use all his money.

Mom:  Why did Cash have to use his money?
Penelope:  Because Mom and Dad didn't have any at that time.

Mom: Do you remember how much to cost to cross the bridge into Canada?
Penelope: $13, right?

Mom: No, that's not right.  We're going to move on. Where did we stay in Niagara Falls?
Penelope:  In a hotel.

Mom:  Did you enjoy your stay in the hotel?
Penelope:  OH YEAH!!

Mom: Could you expand on that please?
Penelope:  I had a lot of fun because I liked going to the pool and I liked that we had a big hotel room.

Mom:  Do you remember the first time we saw the falls?
Penelope: Yes.

Mom:  What was going through your head when you saw them?
Penelope: It was cool.  (Takes off her clothes and says, "OH these pants are so sweaty!")

Mom:  What was your favorite view of the falls?
Penelope:  I like the boat.

Mom:  Could your describe your experience on the boat?
Penelope:  It was very cool because we...it was awesome because it was very cool because....because...(giggling...) It was very cool because, um... (laughing...) because we got free ponchos and we got to ride on this boat and we got like 15 feet close to Niagara Falls.  It was cool because I found my own loonie.  It wasn't really a loonie, it was 10 cents.  Overall I found 35 cents because I found one 10 cents and one 25 cents.  I found my own coin under the falls.

Mom:  Moving on...What is "the strip?"
Penelope:  OH the Strip!  The Strip!  We call it the strip except without the "p".  It was the coolest at nighttime because all the lights were on.  It was so cool, it was like the best thing about going to Canada.  Oooooh.  Nailed it!

Mom:  Could you try to use to use an adjective besides cool?
Penelope: Good!  (laughing.) Sorry.  It was amazing.  And good.  And cool.  And it was way colder than it is in Tallahassee.  It was like boom!  I love the air!  I love the air SOOOOOOO much.

Mom:  (silence)
Penelope:  Ask me another question!  Hey, you're writing stuff I didn't say!  Stop writing stuff I didn't say!

Mom:  Okay, could you please think very hard and tell me one more thing you experienced at Niagara Falls that you will remember forever?
Penelope: OH! My pencil thingy!  I bought a pencil thingy and then I bought some gum.

Mom: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
Penelope:  I didn't like it that much because it wasn't in the United States but I loved it still.  THEEEEE ENNNND.

Our Trip! Part Two

This post contributed by Jackson Alley. Edited by Jimmy Alley

The third stop on our trip that we made was Piqua, Ohio. We stayed at Chad Spruance's house for a couple of days. Chad is my dad's cousin and when I say house, well I probably should say mansion. This house was so big you can get lost in it. It reminded me of the Addams Family mansion with all of its tall ceilings and infinite amount of rooms.

Me and Cousin Chad
Aunt Mary and Violet
While staying in this natural creepy mansion, we did a lot of fun things in Piqua. One thing we did was visiting this new library that used to be an old hotel. They kept most of the original architecture on the inside and outside of the hotel, and it was super cool. Another thing we did was we went to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. This was fun, for the first hour. It got pretty boring and tiring for me and my siblings towards the end. But this part of our trip was my favorite because of the weather and beauty of small-town Ohio.

                                                             My Dad and his cousins!

Another stop we made was Cleveland, Ohio to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was awesome!! One of my favorite parts was seeing this really cool prop used by Metallica during their ''And Justice For All'' tour. Overall we saw a lot of cool stuff and it was a lot of fun.

Our Trip! Part One

This post contributed by Libby Alley.

Our first stop was the Phillip's house, south of Nashville, TN.  When we got to the Phillip's they gave us a tour of their house. We got to meet their dog, Toto. The girls slept in the same room and the boys slept in another room.

After we woke up the next morning Mrs. Stacy had made us a delicious french toast cassorole.(it tastes as good as it sounds.) We played "Just Dance" with them on the TV after breakfast. After that, we decided to walk to their neighborhood pool and swim. It was very big, but it was also very cold. after we got used to it, we had a lot of fun! When we were done swimming,we went to the park next to the pool. There was a rock wall, swings, slides, and lots other fun things. Then we got some bread from our car and walked to the lake close to their house and fed the fish and the turtles. There was a big fish who every one in awhile popped out of the water and grabbed a piece of bread and when back down again. It was fun to watch him.

After that we went for a walk in a civil war battlefield for about 30 minutes to an hour, then we went home. The parents went to downtown Franklin and ate at Chili's and the kids ate chilli and watched a movie while Jackson babysat us. Then we went to leave the next morning.

The next day for lunch we stopped in Louisville, KY at Ms. Darcy, Madeliene, Nena, and Eloise's house.  We ate yummy sandwiches for lunch and played for a few hours.  We had a blast!


Yearly Update: 13, 11, 9, 7, 4, and 11 months

It's time again for our yearly update!  I wanted to get a shot of all six of them together looking their best, but that requires people not being in their pajamas and hair brushing and face wiping, and on top of all that remembering to take a picture of them when they might be put together as above, and that just hasn't happened in the last month.  But we are leaving on a big trip tomorrow and I want to post this before then.  So the pool photo is it.  And here they all are...

Jackson, 13 years...
Jackson is in 8th grade.  He's into music, friends, guitar, computer coding, reading, tv, youth group, and planning his financial future.  Jackson babysits for us a ton, masterfully motivating the kids to do their chores using the age old tactic of bribery (food and television as rewards).  He is always coming to me with dreams and ideas and his take on how certain things are going to turn out.  Jackson is slowly becoming more disciplined and has really gotten on board with home school.  (It only took 9 years, Jackson...)  I have enjoyed helping him with his Algebra so far this year.  Jackson is a pretty cool big brother, and will always be our number one.  He has been our buddy for a long time.  Jackson's head shot is a silly face (Uncle Rico) because I was doing head shots for our church and decided to do the kids at the same time...he helped me test the lighting but when I was actually ready to shoot them, he was off socializing.  Typical!

Libby, 11 years...
Libby is in 6th grade.  She's into drawing, reading, and creating.  She's doing piano and gymnastics. She also loves to help me.  It is wonderful to have a helper.  When someone comes and asks you if they can put their little sisters to bed, asks if they can read to the baby, the answer is a resounding, "yes!"  I don't feel bad at all, having her help with my mothering.  Because when I was 11, all I wanted to do was take care of babies and play with little kids.  Libby is a wonderful daughter and sibling.  She takes things to heart and we all love her very much!

Cash, 9 years...
Cash is in 4th grade.  My big smooshy marshmallow has turned into a smooshy boy who wears glasses and likes to read.  Cash never misses a thing.  He likes to sit right next to Jimmy at the dinner table, and will sometimes plant himself there at 4:30, intending to keep his bottom there until dinner begins.  (Which, let's be honest, in our case isn't that long...but he is usually forced to get up and do chores.)  He and Jimmy enjoy playing computer games together, and he loves music.  He and Jackson sleep with the radio on.  Cash is taking piano and playing flag football with his buddies, friends who moved down the street this past spring.  Cash is fun to be around, and is not afraid to speak up and contribute to any and all conversations.  We love you, Cash.
Penelope, 7 years...
Penelope is in second grade.  She is still toothless in the front, and we all remark about how weird it will be when she finally gets teeth.  Penelope is regularly seen rollerblading in the house wearing only her underwear, and other such antics.  Penelope is taking gymnastics and swims like a mermaid, going way down deep with her hair flowing behind.  Penelope is just a lot of fun.  She is a leader to Juliet and looks out for her sister with a deep love.  She still loves all things My Little Pony.  Every night I receive multiple kisses from her all over my face. She is just plain awesome, that's all.

Juliet, 4 years...
Juliet has started PreK at a preschool down the street.  Libby helped me (with illustrations, of course) make her a bedtime and morning routine, and she willingly follows it; preparing her snack and getting dressed and brushing her teeth, etc.  Juliet refuels by playing, pretending, drawing, or coloring alone.  Lately she has begun writing, and will put the first letter only of each word.  She brings me wonderful letters that say Y A D B M (You are the best Mom) for example.  She often has marker smudges all over her hands.  Love that.  Juliet is so compliant, and I do not take this for granted.  I am so grateful that she takes things to heart.  Juliet has four outgoing older siblings, and she has somehow survived and found her own voice.  The other day I was helping her fold her laundry and I left her there, came back, and said "How can I help you Juliet?" and she said, "I can handle it, Mom."  And that's Juliet.

Violet, 11 months...
Baby Violet.  Violet is smothered with love every single day.  I have to fight my children to open her door when nap time is over.  We all want to be the one to get her up.  To see her smiling face and pick up her baby cuteness.  Really, I hope she survives.  She is rarely not being held by someone.  I am often telling the kids to leave her alone, let her crawl around, teach her to play on her own.  They just want to run to her at any little noise.  She loves music.  If you give her a beat, she dances to it.  Right now it's "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys.  She asks for it..."bah bah bah..." Violet is our baby.  Forever and always.  An angel straight from heaven.  She gives kisses and is ticklish.  How much more could anyone ask?  Nothing but sweetness.  We all love you, Violet!

And some bonus photos:  Juliet on the first day of preschool and Cash's Uncle Rico pose.


Mr. Nobody is Somebody Too

I use First Language Lessons (Susan Wise Bauer) in my home school.  One of the poems that I read to the children is called "Mr. Nobody."  It's about the fact that when something is broken, neglected, or left a mess, everyone always denies responsibility, leaving all the problems caused by "Mr. Nobody."  It's a comical poem, and it is fun to explain the poem to the kids and see their eyes light up when they understand this literary puzzle of sorts. 

They are smart, they know that there isn't really a man named Mr. Nobody living in our house breaking plates and leaving the door open.  They get the message that it's a messy endeavor, raising a family and living together with all the stuff and activities that life brings.

But today I've decided that I might believe in ghosts, or the supernatural, or whatever category of crazy belief Mr. Nobody would fall under.  Because I'm here to tell you, Mr. Nobody makes his mark in my house quite often.  It happened twice today.  Someone moved the toy shelf away from the wall.  Jimmy wanted to know who did it.  There was finger pointing.  Emphatic denials.  Someone was sent to their room.  More denials.  More finger pointing.  Turns out, it was Mr. Nobody.  Then later, at dinner, I had left part of a hamburger for Violet on the counter.  I went to get it and there was a bite out of it.  I asked everyone who ate it.  Every single person said it wasn't them.  No one could recall taking meat off the counter.  Eventually, someone pointed the finger at Mr. Nobody and he is mute and unable to defend himself, so...

Despite his moniker, I'm here to tell you, Mr. Nobody is Somebody too.

Mr. Nobody
by Anonymous

I know a funny little man,
    As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
    In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
    And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
    By Mr. Nobody.

’Tis he who always tears out books,
    Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
    And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
    For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
    By Mr. Nobody.

He puts damp wood upon the fire
   That kettles cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
   And all the carpets soil.
The papers always are mislaid;
   Who had them last, but he?
There’s no one tosses them about
   But Mr. Nobody.

The finger marks upon the door
    By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
    To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill;   the boots
    That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
    To Mr. Nobody.


September One

Here we are, September first, in the year two thousand and fifteen. Whether we like it or not. Today baby Violet is eleven months old. When I get to this point of my baby's first year, I always think back to where I was one year ago. Pregnant. Hot. (Not in a sexy way.) Fat. Uncomfortable. Anticipating labor and having a newborn and all that entails. And like a blink, I'm past it. It happens to everyone with a baby. Yet the sting is real. You love every single day, and every day they get older brings more joy and adventure. But they grow without your consent and sometimes you can't keep up emotionally. 

I'm not crying myself to sleep or anything, but having the first year in front of you is like a promise you can't believe you've been granted. Having it nearly behind you leaves you feeling like that very promise ran at a much faster pace than you could ever keep up with and you want to beg it to slow down. And at the very same time you don't really want to go back--you feel grateful and blessed to have nearly made it through the first year with a healthy child. 

There, that's it. Even though I am still a month away from the first birthday, I've gotten my nostalgia and bittersweet musings out of my system. Today I have an eleven month old. And she continues to be a violet joy, a wonderful bundle of happiness that is the color of the bruises you bear as a parent. The joy with the pain, the laughing with the crying, the beauty in a dirty diaper. 

It's September One. I am content.