… to me.

As a child, my birthday happiness was dependent on the reaction and response of others.  I (was forced to) realize, as I got older, that dependence is unhealthy.


It’s empowering to know your value and worth runs deeper than people’s memory, financial situation or Facebook alerts.

Your birthday’s special and valuable simply because YOU ARE HERE.  God saw it fit to grace you with the gift of life and all it’s treasures.  That’s enough.  Stop waiting and start celebrating… throw your own party even if you are the only one invited!  If folks show up, let that be the icing on the cake.

How do you take responsibility for your happiness on your birthday?





Mommy Playdate

What started out as an idea for a cute Instagram picture turned into a full blown wedding photo shoot and what I am predicting a movement amongst mommies to relieve stress.  
Inspired by my friend’s Instagram post where she described a way cooler pretend play time with her boys after adding a doll that looks a lot like her to the mix of their testosterone-centric superheroes, I pulled my doll from the closet.  Bridal Barbie was given to me by my sister eight years ago as a wedding gift.  My husband owned a Tuskegee Airmen G.I. Joe that we picked up from a Goodwill nine years ago.   It was only natural for them to get married.  They have been living together for so long now, yeah, it was about time.

Boy did I have fun.

Along with my two boys, I pretended for a few hours while arranging these two love birds.  I hadn’t played like that in a very long time, not with dolls.  It was amazing how quickly my brain connected to the little girl.  Only now I was a little girl with a camera.  This simple act brought such joy to my heart.  This short lived moment will live for ever in my mind and in pictures. It not only lifted my spirits but reminded me of the power of images and play. When you place them together. Whoa Baby!  I foresee a lot more mommy play dates in my future.

There was a natural progression between set ups.  They became like real people with real personalities.  I was in full throttle play y’all.

I began to think of all the standard “wedding day” poses between bride and groom, like the “before” shots where couples each stand unseen on either side of a door holding hands to share an intimate prayer prior to the ceremony.  Or the “eavesdrop” shots where the couple’s private moments are captured.  Or the “reception” where bride and groom let their hair down in full celebration mode.  The ideas were endless.  If my boys had not begun complaining about food and something of the other, I would probably have a 1,000 pics instead of 250!  Don’t worry, I only shared a few on this post.

Check out the photo shoot. Do you think I can add wedding photographer to my list of skills?

The Before:

The After:


The reception:


The eavesdrop:


and of course no event is complete pretend or real life without…

The selfie:

Hope you are smiling and inspired as I was to create these images and this post.

IG: @altesabaker



5 Reasons Why I AM Digging This Homeschool Life and 5 Reasons Why I am NOT. (Part 1)

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Have you ever been on a road trip?  I did once.  A friend and I set out to travel back to California from a family visit in Kansas City, Missouri. We had our map, a plan, trail mix and water, money for gas and Gospel CDs on deck.  It was all pretty exciting… until it wasn’t anymore.  I don’t know when the shift took place but it did.  The excitement melted away with the scorching june heat.  The music became noise. The water turned into a need for bathroom breaks and we both wanted real food.  We argued about where and when to stop for gas and could not stand each other’s presence by the end of the trip.  What happened?

My heart skips a beat with anticipation at the thought of the road ahead and the two little people I will be traveling with on this homeschooling journey.  It’s been 6 months and the “trial by fire” of homeschooling has yet to melt away my excitement. Homeschooling has been everything I expected— for the most part–the good, the bad and the ugly. My road trip experience taught me that even with the best intentions and efficient planning, things can go sour.  Yet, it is the stuff worthwhile journeys are made of.  It’s what makes it memorable, teachable, and perhaps life changing.  Experiencing the good along with the bad and ugly has been the best teacher.  That friend I shared a car with on that road trip back to California became my husband.  That experience did not break us although it could have.  We had to regroup, yes,  but our resolve to be friends and eventually more than that was greater than the good and bad and ugly that took place on that road trip.  Now it is a fond memory that adds to the intimacy and history of our commitment to one another.

There’s value in keeping a commitment and apparently taking road trips.  (Side note: I think a road trip should be something every couple considering marriage should undertake.) On a road trip, there’s no quitting in the middle of a tiring 26 mile gap between Interstate exits even if that stretch of highway is littered with the beauty of majestic mountains.  You have to ENJOY and ENDURE at the same time.  Well not unlike homeschool, we have committed to enjoy and endure the ride.  The good is mixed in with the bad and the ugly and we stand to be the stronger, the closer, the wiser because of it.

This is my mid year assessment of homeschooling, the first year.  I have listed 5 reasons why I am enjoying the ride and in another post 5 reasons why it’s a test of endurance.


1.  THE FREEDOM to explore interests.


An interest in taking pictures turned into a photographic scavenger hunt for diamonds (the shape) in our neighborhood.  Equipped with dad’s camera and a goal, our son was on a mission to document his findings with pictures that he would later edit using IMovie into a slide show for the Grandma’s to ooh and aah over.  From space shuttles, cars to foggy mornings and photography to visiting Gramme in NJ… we are free to travel and explore these interests as we see fit without external constraints.

No one can teach this kind of confidence.




an unusually foggy morning gets our full attention.IMG_0076

Clouds on a street level.  (My husband pointed out to me the irony of a school bus passing by in the background.)IMG_1958


 Out of bed and into the fog before most of the neighborhood was awake.IMG_1952

2.  THE FLEXIBILITY to have school anywhere.

One day, I had an audition and my car was out of commission.  I had to take 3 buses to get to the town where the audition was being held plus homeschool the boys. No problem. My sons got a great lesson on public transportation that day, reading a bus schedule, seeing different cities and exposure to a variety of people.  They were thrilled the entire 3 rides there, even if I wished for my car the whole time.  It was great to be out of the house and on the run the whole day. However, by the time our field trip ended, none of us wanted to see another bus again for a long time.


Our first serendipitous trip to the park during traditional school hours after a summer of packed out playgrounds was glorious.  We had the place to ourselves and the kids took full advantage of the empty jungle gyms.  I took to a blanket and a $5 pizza and we were gone before the after school crowd rolled in.


3.  THE COMMUNITY of people who have been there and done that.

The resources that are available through the blogging homeschool mommas out there is PRICELESS. I love those women (from the newbies to the veterans) who have dedicated their time to homeschooling sometimes 8 plus children (mouth open) then to take on the blogging world by detailing their experiences and testimonies for others to glean.  They are such a major asset to me. (If you are a homeschooling blogger mom reading this post— I am talking about you–THANK YOU). In fact, I am using a preparatory curriculum for my 3-year-old from a mom who is graciously offering it online for free.


4.  PERSONAL GROWTH: An education empowers regardless of age.

I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until I began to research and teach my own children.  Do you know how to identify a cumulonimbus cloud?  Me too. I am not sure if I was taught this stuff in school or did I just forget over the years? Either way. I am learning alongside them and it is SO COOL!


5.  SPIRITUAL GROWTH- School is only the half of it.

“To teach is to learn twice.” That quote points to the 5th reason I am enjoying this homeschool journey. More than once, while I am teaching my son, God teaches ME–something about Himself, others or myself. I call these “parallel teaching moments” or learning twice.

My 5-year-old was having an especially difficult time during reading lesson one day.  After much frustration for us both, my son spoke out, “Why isn’t God helping me?”. I probed.  He continued, “Why won’t God just tell me what the words are?”  My son, who has proven the skills to read these words confessed he didn’t want to “do all the work” of sounding out each letter. Instead, he was expecting to divinely know the words versus use the phonetic technique he had learned and practiced almost every day for 3 months.  I explained how God has helped him, that God gave him a brain to store knowledge to use when needed. And that God gave him a mom who has committed to teaching him.  “God wants you to use all the resources available to you to read the words for yourself.”  In that moment, I had an epiphany:  I was feeling the same way as my son in a hard area of my life.  I was expecting the same divine intervention in my life from God in an area where God had already supplied my need. It was up to me to begin using what was already available to me.  This and the other “parallel teaching moments” have confirmed God’s call on my life as a homeschooling momma.

What is your favorite part of homeschooling?

Thanks for reading.  Be sure to check out 5 Reasons Why I am NOT  digging this Homeschool Life.(Part 2)

Follow the fun on Instagram @that_homeschool_life