Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Whole Truth

When a forward appears in an inbox, it rarely has an author. Some Joe Schmo is sitting at his computer, spouting off nonsense based on something he heard some dude saying at the other pump while he was at the 7-Eleven. He mixes that with something he heard from his crazy Uncle Bubba, and some news story he half-listened to while he had a conversation with his wife about the bills. He's not brave or stupid enough to sign it. And now half of the nation is devouring every word. Not only are they soaking up his half-baked ideas, they are clicking the forward button and sending these ideas off to everyone they've ever known.

Gossip sent by email or Facebook is just as evil as the gossip that comes right from your lips. But the fact is that most people hit the forward or post button and don't think twice about it. They don't care if it's accurate. It doesn't even cross their mind that they are creating an exponential increase in the spread of lies. They "don't have time" to research anything. Even if research just means going to Snopes and typing two words in the search box. Here's a quote from one of the researchers at Snopes:

"For a good many people, it's not important whether things are true or not. It reflects what people want to believe. It reflects a worldview. It's their way of passing along things that concern them. Things they're afraid of. Like it could be, 'I don't care if Richard Nixon really did this. It sounds like something he would have done.' A lot of people are unwilling to acknowledge anything that contradicts their worldview. So telling them it's false doesn't necessarily slow them down. That's how urban legends get started for the most case."

I've gotta get off my soapbox. I have dirty dishes to wash.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chicago--A Pictorial Review

Outdoor sushi. Yummy. Will being irritated that I am taking his picture while eating, making us look like crazy tourists.
Me, at the planetarium, looking like a total dork using the "Lunar Gravity Simulator." I have not personally been to the moon, but I imagine that this is not remotely similar.

Poor statue lady, getting shot in the face all day long by streams of water.
Proof that aliens have indeed landed.
The first of eight attempts to take a self portrait. The others were awful. Particularly the one where I decided to close my eyes until right before Will took the picture. I look like an alien.
This is the photo we texted Owen, just to let him know that we were still alive, even if Daddy was going to come home headless.
This photo does not do justice to the enormity of this fountain. I wanted to frolick in it. Since no one else was frolicking, I decided that was probably a bad idea.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Adventures

The first week of October was exceptional. Princeton defines exceptional as "Far beyond what is usual in magnitude or degree." I'd say that fits.

On October 1st, during quiet time, Owen filled a gallon-sized ziploc with water and carried it to his room--about four times. I'm not sure what the plan was. I think he was trying to create something. A moat? An island? A water park? Praise the Lord for the rubber-backed rug that was resting under his drowning block creation.

On October 4th, I was sitting quietly at my kitchen desk, writing. It was nap/quiet time. Owen appeared beside me. I did not speak to or look at him (because it's quiet time and I try to avoid giving him attention when he's supposed to be in his room). Finally he said quietly and with a note of trepidation, "Mom, look at me." All I could do was stare. He had given himself a haircut. A very BAD haircut:When I asked him what he had done, he handed me this:
We were about to leave for swim lessons, so there was nothing I could do. As soon as his swim instructor saw him, she laughed. She suggested I put some gel in his hair and get him in an emo band. By this time, every glance in his direction made me want to giggle. His daddy didn't quite see the humor in the situation when he got up from sleeping off his night shift. We immediately left for a family trip to Great Clips, where the stylist very seriously explained to Owen that in the future, he will need a license to cut hair.

October 5th: tree removal. The kids were both mesmerized by the equipment, workers, and noise. Here they are, literally hanging out of the window.

October 6th: camping in the backyard. I love camping. I love the night sounds, the cool weather that makes you snuggle down into your sleeping bag, the campfire. Since camping with a 20 month old is not the easiest thing in the world, we decidied to make use of our very own piece of the great outdoors. Charlotte went to sleep as usual in her crib, the monitor went in the kitchen window, and we sat by the lake, roasting marshmallows. Owen held the flashlight under his chin and told "scary" stories. He and Daddy spent the night soaking up the camping goodness, while I went back in to make sure the baby didn't burn down the house. I can't wait until she's old enough to come join in the fun.

October 7th: Dixie Classic Fair. Petting zoo. Pig races. Demolition derby (where Owen and Will got sprayed with dirt--does it get more awesome than that?). Fried candy bar. Cotton candy. Ferris wheel. I think I may start a countdown for next year.

Proof of Life

September was not lost. I did indeed manage to capture a few moments on camera. We had quite a few gorgeous days, one of which compelled me to drive to Bojangles and gather impromptu picnic provisions. What says a picnic like fried chicken? Charlotte can be seen here scavenging for bag fries:
Another fun activity: making a wooden car with your dad. Will is really interested in woodworking right now. And I adore watching him involve his little boy in that new hobby.
And here is the activity that consumed many, many hours of our month: Owen is now an incredibly capable swimmer for a four-year old. And so proud of himself. Driving 30 minutes every day for six weeks sounds insane, but it was absolutely worth it. Too bad Charlotte didn't love it quite as much as he did. This was the face that she made every single day:
This face was usually followed by the pitiful, Why Are You Torturing Me? cry. However, she now floats like a champ. I have no doubt that if she were to accidentally fall in the lake, she would pop up like a tiny, screaming rubber ducky.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's September, and I have not a single blog post or photograph to my name. What on earth am I going to put on my "2010 in Review" Calendar for the month of September? Tomorrow, the camera must be dug out from the pile of papers on the desk and used to prove that we did indeed exist during the month of September.

School has started, church activities are in full swing, the kids' six week (daily) swimming lessons are nearing their end, and hopefully we are finding a rhythm. Charlotte is not at all sure about wandering the house without her brother from 9 to 12 each morning. She prefers being out and about, as long as no one tries to talk to her. How is it possible to have two children with entirely different social dispositions? Since he has been able to sit in an upright position, Owen has been entertaining everyone who crosses his path. Charlotte, however, hides her head on my shoulder, in my side, the crook of my knee. But take the people away and out comes the personality--squeezing her nose to try to make snorting sounds, puckering her lips for kisses from her daddy, laughing hysterically at her brother, calling everything "silly." I almost want to store video proof on my phone, just to show people that she is not all solemn eyes and serious face.

Owen is loving school. He is convinced he is the world's greatest swimmer. And cannot get over his excitement at having a boy his exact age living right next door. He would ask his new friend to move in if we would let him. And of course he is still producing quotable moments by the bucketful:

Me: I'm going to go put in my contacts and then we'll leave for school.
Owen (after a pause): Then you won't look so weird with your glasses on.
Me: I don't look weird with my glasses on!
Owen: Well, I think you do.
Me: I like my glasses!
Owen (apologetic smile + shoulder shrug): Okay.

On a totally different note, if you find a Leapfrog globe at a consignment or yard sale and have any children, please buy it. We got one for Owen and I put new batteries in two days ago. You point the attached pen at any spot and it tells you the name (plus the population, area, music, etc if you are so inclined). He has been randomly pointing at places for a couple of days, off and on. I was pretty sure he was absorbing absolutely no info from it, until today. We were in front of a building today that had an outline of Mexico (with a man's face and body attached) drawn on a window. Owen looked at it and declared, "That man's made out of Mexico." Holy canoli! That was the best $8 I ever spent.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Fun

Our best friends from Norfolk visited a week ago. If I could make them move to North Carolina, believe me, I would. We had such a great time. If you are interested in the details of our fun weekend, she's already taken care of that for me here. But I believe the picture above won't be found there, and I just love the image of these two being hatched.
I found Charlotte in the den playing the other day, fireman hat perched upon her head. How can you not run for the camera? She's even color-coordinated.
Not only is Charlotte a capable firefighter, but she also takes home safety very seriously. Protection goggles aren't just for Bob the Builder anymore. Consider getting some for your children too. Forks are sharp.
And last but not least, the picture with a real story. Those spots on Owen's nose are not blueberry juice or dirt or stray boogers. No, those are battle wounds. I knocked him down. The weather has been really manageable over the last couple of days and we decided to take advantage of it after dinner on Friday. We put the kids in the paddle boat and floated off. We talked to the neighbors who were out in their boat, watched some turtles, looked for fish. It was great. Until it was time to get out of the boat. Charlotte and I got out first. Since I was having to run after Miss Look at Me I Can Walk Now, I didn't grab the rope to tie the boat down. Will finally got the boat back to the dock, and Owen pulled his upper body out, but decided it would be a fun time to just hang out there for a bit. The boat started slowly floating away, and Will began firmly telling Owen to get out. He did not oblige. In my desire to keep two eyes on the baby, I decided that I would make quick work of the situation and grab Owen's legs, assuming he would sort of wheelbarrow himself fully onto the dock. But no. That's not what he did. He face-planted into the wood decking. I felt awful.
The next day, he asked me somewhat out of the blue if I ever make mistakes. My answer: "Of course I do, everyone makes mistakes." His reply: "You mean like yesterday, when you and daddy made me fall and hurt my face."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


First, a pictorial update:
Will's new favorite activity
Charlotte's new favorite activity--she's about to stand (and is even walking a little now!)
Owen's new favorite activity

So many little stories...I keep thinking, "Must right them down." And then I get caught up in the grocery shopping, kitchen cleaning, butt wiping business. Better late than never.

We've been in our new house for a little over a month now, and that seems to have ushered in a new sense of independence for Owen. For about a year or so, Owen has been able to tell time. Not down to the minute, but the boy knows his hour hand. He had to learn because he wanted to get up far too early for my taste. I decided 7:00 am was reasonable, so that's the time I taught him, "Big hand at the top, little hand at the 7." For many months that meant that little feet slapping up the stairs of our old house were my morning alarm. Several months ago, he learned how to operate the tivo. He is allowed to watch two tv shows in the morning. That bought me another hour. Fantastic.

Upon moving here, however, he decided that he could do far more than turn on a few tv shows. He could make breakfast. A few weeks ago I came downstairs to the sight of a cherubic face covered in fruit juices. The half pint of blueberries...empty, container laid waste upon the floor of the den. A half dozen strawberries...gone. A dozen gigantic cherries...missing, save for the tell-tale pits lurking at the bottom of the cup that Owen had poised upon his protruding paunch. Virtually every piece of fruit in our refrigerator was consumed. That night I locked the fridge. The next morning I went downstairs, feeling smug. My son was not deterred. This time he examined the pantry for his breakfast options. And what did he find? A box of Cheezits and some raisins. Thankfully, he has not learned to operate the stove, otherwise he may have made himself a pan of brownies. We then started pulling the pantry tightly shut (it sticks, he can't open it). After a week or so we decided he had forgotten about his breakfast making skills, so we stopped locking away the food.

That was all well and good until a few days ago. The first thing I saw upon walking into the kitchen was THREE open containers of yogurt, lined up neatly at the edge of the counter. I peer down into them, realizing that they are all half empty...odd. I walk into the den and find Owen sitting on the couch with a cup full of yogurt and a very tiny straw. He looks up and says, "Look! I made Rainbow Yogurt!" I am surprised that he had not popped blood vessels in his eyes trying to suck yogurt through a tiny, swirly straw. I could do nothing but laugh and give him a spoon.

Unfortunately his free-wheeling days of independence will come to an end in a few weeks. Preschool will put an end to Mommy sleeping until 8:15. There's always Saturday.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strawberry Picking

I know, I know, strawberry picking season ended already. And these pictures are indeed two months old, but now that I'm feeling blog-motivated, I wanted to break out these photos that never made it on. Of course the battle of picking with the two little ones was two-fold: Charlotte only wanted to pick the tiny green ones and Owen wanted to eat everything he picked. We did manage to take home plenty, most of which are already long gone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beautiful Things

I've been planning on posting a picture of this chair for weeks, but it just kept getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Since I have about ten million boxes to pack in the next two weeks, maybe I should have pushed it to the bottom of today's list too, but I just couldn't resist. I'm so proud of my handy husband. He made this. I think it's gorgeous.
This is the picture that actually motivated me to post today. I was on the verge of tears (hypothetically speaking) watching her happily use her fork to put pieces of strawberry in her mouth. She also ate some green beans and a chicken nugget. Many of you may be reading this and thinking, "Who cares, my kids eat that stuff too." But for Charlotte, this is a BIG deal. We have a long way to go when it comes to meal time, but this is such a huge step in the right direction.
While Charlotte was busy slowly eating her lunch, Owen occupied himself in the dining room with his craft box. Now that he understands what, "Don't touch anything with your fingerpaint-covered hands" means, letting him create with paints is such a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon.
And my last beautiful thing...watching my children enjoy books. I love books. I have loved books my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in my great-grandparents' house looking at my books. I can almost smell the library that I used to go to as a kid. I can still remember the feeling of excitement at going into a bookstore, trying to decide what book or two I was going to buy with my meager savings. And now I get to watch my kids fall in love with books too.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Burglar

Owen and I were having a fabulous time pretending. We were riding an elevator that let us out on various themed floors. There was the one full of beads, the one filled with water, and the one with the ice cream machine. Unfortunately, on the last floor, there also lurked a burglar. He was in the bathroom. I did not become aware of his presence until Owen declared, "Oh no, there's a burglar." He promptly ran into the bathroom and made an "umph" sound. I knew that this was the sound of a burglar being tackled by a four year old. Herein lies a sticky situation. We have tried to teach Owen that fighting and hitting are not the answer to life's frustrations. However, were he to come across a real-life burglar in his bathroom, I would not particularly want him to try to explain to the burglar that it makes him sad when his house is robbed and his privacy is violated. This seems to be a more complicated conversation than I need to have with my four year old, so I decide to remain silent and expressionless over the attack on the burglar. Owen, on the other hand, rarely chooses the silent route. He marches back into the living room, looks at me with great self-assurance and declares, "There was a sign beside him that said you could knock him down."

Thursday, June 3, 2010


The post you've been waiting for, the one that makes you hate us for going to Hawaii instead of sending you. Two weeks ago Will and I went for our ten year anniversary, and it was absolutely wonderful. So instead of waxing poetic, I'm just going to post pictures.

Day 1: Settled in. Rented snorkel gear. Walked around Waikiki. Toured Pearl Harbor. This is Will right before he stole the submarine:

Day 2: Toured the North Shore (in a convertible). Side note: God does answer small prayers like, "Gee, it sure would be nice if they'd let us have one of those shiny little convertibles instead of the crappy economy car we're paying for."
Byodo Temple with the Ko'olau Mountain Range in the background:
Laie Point: Waimea Valley Audobon Center and the fabulous waterfall that you can swim under. That's me getting slammed by the falling water:

Day 3: Hiked to Manoa Falls. Like walking through another universe. Ferns as big as my house. Crazy vines wrapping around towering trees. Stunning. Later that day I got my Mother's Day massage. Sorry, no photos.

Day 4: Scenic drive on Tantalus Road. The lookout near the top was amazing. This is the view of Diamond Head crater: Spent the rest of the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The luau was made complete by a giant pit cooked pig. Mmmmm. Here we are with very full bellies:

Day 5: Snorkeling at Lanikai Beach. Followed by kayaking off Kailua Beach to Flat Island.

Day 6: Hiked to the top of Diamond Head. The view from the top is beautiful. I didn't really know the water could be so many different shades of blue:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Jumble of Thoughts

No, I have not given up on my blog. I'm still here. And I have lots of little things to say:

1. We are buying a house. As of today, we are officially under contract to buy a wonderful house in Lewisville, North Carolina. I am controlling my urge to mentally decorate.

2. Charlotte is my sweet baby girl, she is almost weined, and I might have to throw myself a dairy party. This is particularly relevant since I managed to eat something dairirific during the past few days and had a diaper-rashed, screaming little ball of fun on my hands for a few hours this evening.

3. Owen is hilarious. I have told this story several times during the past two weeks, so please forgive me, Will, for having to hear it again. I just need to write it down so I don't forget. We were headed into Roly Poly for lunch one day. There was a sign at the door that showed a man holding a briefcase with a big circle and a slash through it. Underneath it read, "No Soliciting." Owen asked what the sign meant, so I explained, "It means you can't sell anything here." We then went inside, the family sat by the door, and I went up to the counter to order. Soon thereafter, a man entered. He was just a regular guy, no briefcase. However, Owen immediatly looked at him and firmly stated, "You can't sell stuff here."

4. Jesus was not a card-carrying member of your political party. Please, please, please stop acting like he was. Intelligent, devout, loving people can be found on both the Republican and Democratic sides of the fence. Love God, love others. That's it. If you put your focus on those things, I'm pretty sure you'll have less time to spout off hateful rhetoric.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Risk Assessment

Here's a post I actually started back in January:
In high school I rode a Sky Coaster. It's one of those ridiculously tall bungee/swing things. I thought it was fabulous.

After my freshman year of college I spent the summer in Santa Cruz. I went spelunking while there. Shimmied through holes deep in the ground that you couldn't fit your whole body through unless you were flat on your belly, arms straight in front of you. Fantastic. Probably fairly stupid, but one of the most exhilerating things I've done.

And now I'm scared of skiing. I've been on five different ski trips, sometimes skiing multiple days during those trips, and still the thought of strapping two boards on my feet and heading down a mountain makes me nauseous. Seriously, I'm feeling a little queasy even as I type this. Maybe it's because I'm older and my sense of mortality has kicked in (a friend told me that your brain doesn't develop that far until you are in your twenties), or because I have children and don't want to fly head first into a chairlift pylon and leave them with a vegetable for a mother, or because I'm just a weanie now. Despite my trepidation, I will continue to go on these trips. One, because I love my husband. Two, because I do enjoy myself after I make it down the mountain a few times. Three, because I am determined to get better and stop being a weanie. For example, I want to learn to stop screaming "Aughh!! Aughh!! Watch out!! Watch out!!" whenever I am careening out of control down a tough stretch. Better yet, I want to learn to stop careening out of control. In the mean time, here are some pictures to remind me that being in the snow is indeed wonderful.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Scores of Posts

In my head I've written at least twenty posts during the past few months. Unfortunately, I'm often holding a paint brush, giving a bath, making dinner, driving to the grocery. Tough to get down my thoughts in those moments. I'm thinking of hiring a secretary to follow me around all day and jot down my words. Or maybe I could just put the secretary to work, freeing my hands for typing. Hmm. Anyways, I "wrote" posts on skiing, Charlotte's birthday, politics, Valentine's day, sushi, racism, Charlotte's latest doctor adventures, Owen's sweet words, and unending home improvements, just to name a few. So now I'm trying to decide if I should actually write any of these thoughts down, or just leave them floating around my brain. Right now, all I know is that I can barely keep my eyes open. Goodnight.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Owen declared last week that he wanted a pickle. We reminded him that we have pickles at home. To which he replied, "No, I want a long pickle." A few days ago I happened upon a giant display at the grocery store for the long dill pickles. Fast forward to this evening. I have just placed one of said pickles on Owen's plate. He looks up at me with a look of wonder. "It's a long pickle!" Yup. "It looks just like the ones at Jason's Deli!" Yup. Owen takes a huge bite. "It tastes the same!!" I wish I could be so excited about the little things.

On a related note, Owen pooped in the potty yesterday. As I was helping him with the wiping/hand washing, he looked into the potty and stated, "It looks like a pickle." This statement was repeated to Will when he got home later and Owen clarified, "A brown pickle."

Friday, January 15, 2010

All Christians Aren't Crazy

Couldn't resist posting this link. However, I cannot make the link work. So please copy and paste.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


A few nights ago I dreamed that there was a global disaster. (I watched Knowing a few weeks ago and apparently it infiltrated my subconscious.) In the midst of water surging over the earth, I lost my family. As it subsided, I ran around yelling frantically for them. Someone pointed to a crying baby on the ground, telling me that it was Charlotte. She was far too small, but it was a dream, and natural disasters that shrink babies are not out of the ordinary I suppose. But I wanted to know for sure that it was her, so I searched the little body for signs. There was a giant white scar down her chest, but there were three (instead of two) chest tube scars, so I was desperate to find some other identifying characteristic. Not once did I think to look at her hands. Isn't that odd? I suppose that my subconscious doesn't care too much about Charlotte's missing thumbs. Of course there are days when I worry too much about what's ahead. Will she be made fun of by other kids? Will her surgery be successful? What challenges will she face with less strength and dexterity in her hands? But I try to pray when those moments arise, trust in God, know that His plan for her is better than mine. Curiously, I didn't wake up freaked out about my imaginary natural disaster, but encouraged about my daughter and the road ahead.

On a similar note, I had a terrible dream last night. Someone was trying to kill me. I used to have these dreams all the time, until a friend pointed out that maybe I should try praying about it and stop watching scary crap on tv. So I did. And, for the most part, the dreams stopped. Last night I watched a crime show on tv. Why? Why on earth did I go against my better judgment? Because I forget the lessons that I have learned. Because I'm human and fallible and often do things I know I shouldn't. As a result I am chased around by scary girls who moved in across the street, accidentally run into giant spider webs while trying to get away, and wake up tense, holding my breath, on the verge of screaming. Note to self, do not watch crime dramas any more.

Making a Promise

I found a yellowed, rodent-nibbled piece of paper, folded and rolled into a little scroll, in our small attic closet this week.

I Bruce B. Holland do promise to quit smoking or give up (Waunita?) as of 4:00 P.M. Sunday September 12, 1954.
(signed) Bruce B. Holland

I googled Bruce B. Holland. He's a pretty famous dude. CEO of Holland Construction. Earns an 8 digit salary. Contributes to various campaigns. Top 100 contractors. Only 60 years old though. He would've been five or six. Pretty sure he wasn't making a pact to give up smoking. Or even writing in cursive for that matter. And I'm not sure who or what the word that looks like Waunita is. But I am so darn curious.

I wonder if he was successful? I have my doubts. Not because I'm cynical (which I sometimes am), but because it was an "or" statement. He wanted to leave himself some options, which probably means he wasn't serious about quitting either.

I've been trying to stop picking at my fingernails. I told God a few years ago that I was going to stop. I thought if I told Him, then surely I would follow through. I didn't. It's amazing the effort that it takes to stop a bad habit. So I'm going big now. If you see me looking at, messing with, or chewing on my fingers, stop me. I might not like you very much in that moment, because I hate being told what to do, but I need a village. I know, I know. Just pray about it more, God will give you the willpower. But I believe that God doesn't want everyone to sit around, staring at the sky, waiting on Him to supernaturally take away their problems. He tells us to be wise, to make choices. So I choose to not write my plan on a piece of paper that no one else will ever see, but post it for the world to read.

I Christy Alley promise to quit abusing my fingers as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday January 10, 2010.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Retail Antitherapy

You know how they say that some people use shopping as therapy? I've heard that for some, pleasure centers in the brain are triggered when they buy stuff. I think that I have the opposite of that. Instead, my displeasure center gets stimulated.

For example, I decided that this year I would use some of my Christmas money to buy a pair of boots. From the beginning, I could see these boots in my mind...tall, black, 2 1/2 or 3" skinny heel, real leather, straight (not slouchy), little to no bling. Real leather was necessary because I am a shoe killer. As in, I wear my shoes for years. Just ask my sister who is very tired of the brown loafers I've been wearing since '97. My two pairs of fake leather boots all lived very short lives, no good. So off I went on my boot search. DSW, JCPenney, Bass, Nine West Outlet. I bought a pair at Nine West that I knew I shouldn't--they were 4". I wore them around the house for 30 minutes, then took them back the same day. TJ Maxx, DSW (a different one), The Shoe Dept, Dillards, Macys, Sears--nothing. Nordstroms, Bakers, Nine West, Rockport, Dillards (a different one). I fell in love with a pair at Dillards that didn't fit. I bought an acceptable pair at Nine West, came home, and called five different Dillards in search of the boot I really wanted. Ordered it over the phone. Now waiting five business days to try it on and return the other pair. This is absurd. But I can't throw down more than ten bucks without feeling 100% confident that I'm getting exactly what I want and that I'm going to get significant use out of it. Am I crazy? Don't answer that. If I were not the crazy money pincher that I am, I would have bought these:

Only $500. And not real snake skin, in case you're wondering. The sales lady said that if they were, they would be "much more expensive(!)"