14 March 2018

Rachel is Twenty

I know every parent feels this - time goes by too quickly; I wish she was still three and reaching for my hand to cross a street; where did all the moments go?  I can still hear her laugh, her morning sneezes, her song coming from the shower.  I hope I always will.  Today the baby who made me a mom is twenty.  Twenty.  Happy Happy Birthday Rachel Mae.

Rachel is - above all else - her own person.  I am proud of that person.  She is the Miss Independent of our family.  She is opinionated, capable, curious and fearless.  She is comfortable singing on stage or comforting a crying child.  She is the second mother of our family, ready to run an errand, make a meal or tell her siblings what to clean up and how.  She can draw; she can sing; she loves music and sleep and she gives me a good run at chess.  The price of all this independence is that she is not always around.  She is doing her thing and she is making her way.  We love you and miss you.  Happy Birthday Rachel Mae.
Arby Girl, RaeMae, Coccinelle

28 February 2018

Splash - February 2018

I think the Beatles said it best - All you need is love.  We do have that.  We even cut it out in construction paper letters to show it.  My only story about Valentine's day this year is all about candy.  I am a fan of the Necco wafers.  They are hard to find, but, I do love them.  At Valentine's Day, Necco puts out their conversation hearts.  You know the ones.  Our candy dish is full of them.  Our candy dish empties regularly.  Sometimes it is gone in a day.  Conversation hearts are a family favorite.  We give them to each other - text me; we make fun of each other - sweet girl; we just conversate with them.  After Valentine's day, our local grocery had them on sale.  They had a shopping buggy full of them for $.49 a bag!  Really?  I wanted to just push the buggy up through the checkout line, but, I showed a little restraint and only bought about fifteen bags.  I'm thinking our candy dish will be conversation hearts until Mother's Day.  

27 February 2018

New York City

Rachel is about to turn twenty.  20.  Wow.  Enough about that.

For her birthday, I wanted to give her something that she never had.  Something she didn't even know she wanted.  Something she could keep forever.  Something to cherish and keep her strong.

A trip to New York City.  By way of background, let me tell you a little about our oldest child.  She is scared of heights.  We learned this fact about her at the same time she learned it - at a Cheetah Girls Concert when she was about eleven. Our seats were nose bleeds, and that's when Rachel discovered her fear of heights.  Good show, though, once you're seated...

Another tidbit about Rachel - she doesn't like crowds.  She doesn't like being closed in and her limited exposure to public transportation has reinforced that crowds and closed in areas are trouble.

So what do I think is a great birthday getaway?  The most crowded and loudest city on the eastern seaboard.  Going up in the Empire State Building was on my bucket list, but, out of the question.
We drove.  Mom has been to New York a few times and was our guide for the day.  Now I feel like I could do, it, but, I' not driving in the City.  We took the turnpike through New Jersey, so as to avoid as much of the state as possible.  Nothing good happens in New Jersey.  At least, not to me.  One funny thing about new Jersey, though, is that it was built by tall idiots.  This is the toll booth.  I had to take a picture.  How is a driver supposed to reach a ticket way up there?  (Yes, I know it's for semi trucks....)

We took the Staten Island Ferry into Lower Manhattan.  It was a chilly day, but, hardly cold.  Yes, the ferry was full, and there were crowds and Rachel was not having it.  I told her to consider it immersion therapy and then she stopped talking to me for a while.  This country girl was not up for a city adventure.

She did force a smile for this picture and was warming up once on dry land again.  There is an excitement in the City, and Rachel eventually said she was happy she was forced to come. Evan, by contrast, was excited to see New York and took in as much as he could while comforting Rachel at the same time.  We had authentic New York pizza for lunch, although it was so good that we ate it before getting a picture.

We walked around Lower Manhattan.  We went to the 911 Memorial.  Very humbling and serene amidst the City noise.

Ma, in the sky scrapers.

We found a walkway on the East River, avoiding the noisy city streets.  It was a beautifully landscaped brick walkway along the East River from about Tribecca to Battery Park.  Moms were jogging with babies in strollers, couples were walking, men in suits were talking on cell phones and we strolled.  It was a surprisingly tranquil and ordinary walk.  We happened upon a restaurant, and we thought we would get a snack.  So we ordered some lemonades and a giant pretzel and some spinach dip.  Fine snack for four, right?

This is the Giant Pretzel.  GIANT.  It was delicious, by the way.

There's the soon to be birthday girl.  We are leaving, so she's smiling.  The lights are coming on in the buildings and I took this picture from the back on the Staten Island Ferry.  Seriously, she did enjoy her surprise trip.  Maybe net time I try to cure her phobias I will give her a little notice.  Happy Twentieth, Rachel Mae.

04 February 2018

Superbowl LII

In our family, each person has a football team.  We don't all root for the same team; that would be too easy.  Instead, we all root against each other.  Here's our list:
James: Minnesota Vikings
Tina: New Orleans Saints
Rachel: Philadelphia Eagles
Evan: Miami Dolphins
Samantha: Atlanta Falcons
Charlotte: Denver Broncos
Josephine: Carolina Panthers
JMichael: New England Patriots

This season - 2017 - 2018 -- Of the eight of us, five were in the playoffs.  The big dance came down to two of us - Rachel versus JMichael.  It was tense.  JMichael was a valiant fan and played a good game, but, in the end, Rachel and her Eagles were victorious.  Rachel watched the game at a friends house, and JMichael watched at home with us.

My brothers have teams, too - David roots for the Baltimore Ravens, his wife Dawn roots for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Eric and Abby are Cowboys fans through and through.  Mom and Dad cheered for the Rams, even through all their changes of venue.  I remember one Superbowl that Dad was so excited about - the Rams were playing, and to make it even better - Tina Turner was the halftime show.  The Rams lost, but, Dad was still happy.

It'll be a long off season, full of talk on drafts and trades.  Long live football!

31 January 2018

Splash - January 2018

The January splash was supposed to be full of confetti.  I had each of them holding a handful of confetti and I took a bunch of shots with them blowing it out of their hands right at me.  I thought it ws a great idea, and I'd seen examples that looked really good, but, nope.  Their mouths were all weird or some were blowing so much it obscured a siblings face, either way, I liked this shot - sitting on our stairs - all smiles.

As a side note, do you see Charlotte's hand?  It's covered in doodles.  Charlotte has had some issues with self harm.  She's seeing a counselor and she's medicated, but, she gets episodes where the world is horrible, we are horrible, life is horrible.  One way her counselor told her to deal with it is by drawing on herself (and NOT cutting herself).  So, if in pictures you ever see our beautiful, smiling, amazing Charlotte with doodles - you will know she's healing, and she's following the instructions she's been given - to move on, chin up, and if you feel like hurting yourself, then draw on yourself instead.  Good advice for us all.  Happy New Year - chin up!

17 January 2018

Chess, Potions and Tree Boyfriends?

January is a bleak time to be outside - both in Maryland and in Arkansas.  Inside, we spend a lot of time together watching football, cleaning house and our favorite - games.  Of the eight of us in the house right now, we have a mixed bag.  Some like board games, some like card games, some like chess.  We play together, laugh together and argue over answers together.  The point is - together.  I truly hope my kids remember their childhoods fondly, full of family and healthy competition.

One game that the ladies just told me about does not involve any of those games I just mentioned.  It involves a trampoline and a hearty imagination.  Both the big ladies and the little ladies played this game, they said.  It goes like this - all four of them (JMichael was little) are on the trampoline.  One jumps as high as she can and turns to the outside of the trampoline at the height of her jump.  She will then "lift" a potion from the "shelf".  She drinks the potion on the way down.  Once she bounces, the potion takes effect and she has to act out the result of the potion.  This game is called, Potions.  The ladies were telling me how they would spend hours on the trampoline in Arkansas, bouncing and drinking potions.  They were on fire, turned into a dinosaur or a ballerina.  What a game.

Another game they played was Tree Boyfriend.  Yes, you read Tree Boyfriend.  This is a game from the little ladies.  In our backyard in Arkansas, we had a bunch of mature trees.  The little ladies would discuss who got which tree boyfriend and they would stand with the tree boyfriend and talk about what they thought (in their 4 - 7 year old minds) girlfriends talked about with their boyfriends.  Charlotte even said they would kiss the tree bark.  Hahaha.  I had no idea.  I just knew they all loved to play together in the back yard.

31 December 2017

Splash - December 2017

What better place to take a December splash than a nursery with rows and rows of Christmas trees, right?  Right!  The Ball Team dressed in Christmas reds and greens and white, so off we went - to tresspass on the nursery property.  But, no trees were harmed in the taking of these pictures.

 Charlotte and her bud, Julie.  Tree huggers!

There were holes in the ground where the other shrubs and trees had been cut.  Josephine planted herself.


We tried to re-create a photo from a previous photo shoot - they grow too fast.....