One, Five, Eight, Ten, Twelve, Fourteen

Here we are again.  Time for the yearly update.  I try to do this between Libby and Jackson's birthdays every year...and I'm just in under the wire- Jackson's birthday is in two days!

Speaking of Jackson, he is nearly fifteen and seems to be getting taller every day.  He has really joined my team in so many ways, helping me with chores, cooking, cleaning, watching little kids, and getting his schoolwork done without needing reminders.  It is life changing for me and I am grateful and relieved to have someone making my life easier around here.  Jackson is still into everything technology, he is enjoying his Chemistry class, is taking driver's ed, and tackling Geometry too.  When not doing school he is enjoying playing guitar at youth group and helping in the A/V booth at church.  Everyone loves Jackson and he is an extremely tolerant big brother and friend.

Here is Libby.  Libby turned twelve this summer.  She is still drawing, writing, and creating enough for a dozen twelve year olds.  Just yesterday she created lego sets and drawn instructions for both her sisters.  This week she read a book in one night- as I was falling asleep I heard her brushing her teeth a few minutes before midnight and I knew she had stayed up reading in the bathroom (the only place where she can turn on a light) to finish.  Libby continues to enjoy her baby sister Violet and they are excellent room mates.  Libby is tackling two virtual school classes and taking piano, gymnastics, and archery this fall.  I am always telling her siblings how lucky they are to have her for a big sister.

Cash Alley, age 10.  Ten!  I can't believe it.  What happened to my squishy marshmallow baby?  He's in there, just a little taller. What can I say about Cash?  Here's a Cash story...During the hurricane he stayed with a friend one night.  When we went to pick him up, the dad of the family came out and asked if Cash could stay longer, while Cash looked out the front window, watching us and smiling his Cash smile, waiting to see what we would say.  That is Cash.  Figuring out how to charm people and also figuring out how to get what he wants.  He continues to read a ton, lately he's been into Peanuts cartoons.  He is taking archery and piano as well.  He is very gifted at music, but doesn't like to practice.  It's frustrating to me, but I hated piano practice too when I was a kid.  Jimmy often urges him to play drums with he and Jackson in the garage.  He is very good for a kid who has never had a lesson!  Lately he has been getting his school work done quickly so he can go on errands and jobs with Jimmy.  That's a win-win for me!

Here is Penelope, at age 8, with her first yearly photo where she has front teeth since she was three years old!  They finally came in this year, and while it was a sad day, she is still our Pip and her teeth haven't changed her personality.  She is still full of spunk and life and enthusiasm for anything and everything.  She is often seen playing Lego Friends, Minecraft, or watching My Little Pony.  She is still in gymnastics, and has moved up quickly.  She is taking archery too, and her teacher called her out the first day in front of everyone and told them to watch out for her, that she was a good shot! This week she and Juliet started a cleaning business.  The sign reads: "Puliet'sJobCom.  Do It With Love.  We're in Town!  We dust! We srub! We mop! We wipe! We clean!" They are trying to save up for a huge Lego Friends set.  Penelope is fun, fun, fun.

Juliet is five and has started kindergarten.  She is super smart and always saying something witty that shows her sense of humor.  She came to me this summer, when I challenged her to read on her own during rest time one day, and said, "Mom! I read INSIDE my body!"  She meant that she read in her head, without saying the words out loud.  This was a great moment for me.  Not only is it wonderful when your child can read, it is even more wonderful when you're their teacher and so that means that's one less thing you have to teach them!  Juliet is rarely sad or upset, she is often found sleeping late...she stays up later than a five year old probably should, but it's hard to get her to bed ahead of her older sister.  Juliet is taking gymnastics too, and enjoys drawing and creating at her kindergarten kid table.  We all enjoy her a lot!

Violet.  Violet is 23 months- almost two years old.  It has been so hard to say goodbye to pregnancy and baby land.  But what a wonderful baby to go out on.  Violet brings everyone in the house joy and happiness, just watching her this last year learn how to walk and talk and discover so much has been a ton of fun.  Violet loves books, singing, and dancing.  She is very opinionated about her clothes, does not like to sit in her high chair, and is my pickiest eater.  What kind of child does not like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, peaches, peas...? She absolutely loves bananas though, so she eats at least one a day.  Violet is very aware of what's going on in the house, and today she answered me in a complete sentence when I asked her where her bowl of yogurt was.  "Jovie ate it."  This was because I allowed her to eat at the coffee table since she does not like the high chair.  She does get away with a lot, but that's her lot.  She is the baby.  Our baby.  And we all love her so much.

Thank you to our loving God for another happy healthy year!  Much love from the J Train!!


Summer 2016!

Well, today is the first day of fall, so I wanted to wrap up our summer season of 2016 with what we have been up to.  There is a lot to mention!

Here is Violet in her "Owl Stay Up Late" pajamas.  The was the first time she wore them and they have been a staple all summer- her getting better at saying "owl stay up late" as each week goes by.

Then we celebrated Libby's 12th birthday with a big party.  Libby wanted to invite lots of families to celebrate this year, and we made a "redneck water park" in the back yard and then headed next door to our beloved neighbors to swim.

Libby made flip flops to give to everyone as party favors (Nutter Butters with frosting) and Aunt Susan, Uncle Willie, Adam, Lincoln, Nana and Pop-Pop were in town to help!

Please Aunt Susan come visit all the time!  The girls and Jovie love you!!

 Of course we participated in Flip Flop Day at Tropical Smoothie and all got a free smoothie!  This is Violet's "brain freeze" face.  Also a star this summer, Violet's tu-tu, which she regularly requested as part of her wardrobe.

 We went back in the studio a few times, recording some new material and refining some old.  Michael has his space and studio up and running and it is nothing short of awesome.

Of course swimming was a regular event with all kinds of friends and fun!

We headed to my parent's house in Waldo for Fourth of July weekend- a summer must.  My sisters and their families were there, as every year, and it was full of fun and good food.

 This is Violet napping in my mom's crib.  So tiring having a ton of fun in the lake!

 Here are Jimmy and I and Violet, setting off in the kayak to get a photo of everyone jumping off the dock.  We rowed out and I hollered at everyone to jump!
And here they all are!  I love my family!  (I already blogged about this, I realize.  I'm not totally losing my mind.)

 Had Dad teach me how to drive the boat, only as you can see I've ended up in the passenger seat taking photos instead of actually driving.  No one can make those smooth curves like Slim.

The kids had fun catching small fish and putting them in a tank on the side of the dock.

This happens so frequently I was happy to get a photo of it.  Riding in the boat is fun and all, but can get boring!

And here are all my lovelies.  I agreed to buy them Old Navy shirts if they promised me a photo.  Yay!

 This is summer!

We celebrated Sam's 4th birthday.  Sam is a Harlacher, our friends who moved just three doors down last fall.  It has been amazing and a forever change to our kids childhood and our life in general to have friends who are neighbors.  We love it!

Libby took this precious photo of Violet while giving her a bath one night.

And then there was cow day!  Jimmy took the kids to breakfast while I was working on our bookshelf project (see previous post) and Violet had a major meltdown when she saw the cow costume.  So when we went back for dinner we made sure she had no run-ins with the cow and all was well.

My friend Darcy and her girls stayed with us for two days and the kids had tons of fun.  Here are some of the girls playing "Just Dance."

Jackson got serious about baking bread.  He is still at it, and this mom is NOT complaining!!

Violet has always LOVED bananas, but she discovered that banana and peanut butter is the best.  I took this photo of her at breakfast one day because she has started requesting that she sit like a big girl at the table and not in her high chair, and because she was saying "banana and peetah buttah" and it was SO cute.

Here is my living room after moving all the books to the entry way and painting and rearranging the room.  Though I was nervous as it was going on, I love the color!

This is what my house looked like most of the summer.  A revolving door of friends.

This summer Libby and Cash started to refer to themselves as "Clash."  And they call each other that.  It's pretty great.  They're pretty great!

On August 4th we took off to Ohio, to stay in Uncle Chad's epic house and attend a family reunion on the Alley side of the family.  Gary and Sharon and boys came from Israel which was of course a major excitement!

THE house.

Pip and Sa'ar were two cousins in a pod.

It was the first time we met Tsemah.

Gary worked on a family tree during the reunion.  Yes, my kids great-great grandmother's name was Sallie Alley.  The kids love that.

The Jerusalem Alley's and the Tallahassee Alley's.

Hanging out in cousin Chad's driveway.

After Ohio Gary and Sharon and family and Granny and Grandad came to Tallahassee!


I helped my best good friend Carey celebrate her 40th birthday!  It was a great evening.

Violet learned how to make different faces.  Happy, surprised, angry, sad.  Here is her pouty lip sad face.  I love how she is smiling through it.

And this was taken the night before we started school.  A last hurrah at the Hay's pool with our neighborhood buddies.  And all of a sudden, summer was past!  It was a good one!