30 March 2018

Splash - March 2018

The splash for March 2018 was taken in the parking lot of a Royal Farm store in Easton, Maryland.  Why, you may ask, did we take a splash at night in a gas station parking lot?  Good question.  It's all about Rachel. 
Rachel and Evan are leaving us.  They decided to move back to Arkansas.  If you follow our story, or know us, you may remember that Rachel did not move with us when we moved from Arkansas to Maryland in May of 2017.  She and Evan decided that they would stay in Arkansas.  Then, they moved here in July of 2017.  They lived in our basement and found jobs and friends, and the one thing they did not find was school.  So, they rented a house in Beebe, Arkansas with Grace, their friend, and decided that they would go back to Arkansas and back to ASU (Arkansas State University).  On March 8, at about eight o'clock in the evening, their car (which they bought just the week prior) was all packed and they were ready to go.  Samantha was working as a temporary nanny for a family in Wye Mills, so we went to the car dealership in Easton to get Rachel's spare tire, then to Royal Farms to unpack and repack the car.  See?  It all makes sense now, right?

I wanted one last splash of all five of our babies together.  This shot completely obscures Josephine's face, but, those smiles and that happy look on Rachel's face, well, that's the moment I want to remember.  The five independent people that James and I brought into this world actually love each other and want to be together and they will not have that for a while.  Rachel is making plans to come east for Samantha's birthday in July and we will get out to Arkansas too; soon, I hope.

Rachel will find her way.  I have no doubt.  She doesn't always do things my way, but, she knows that she always has a home with us and we are behind her one hundred percent.  We raised our kids to think for themselves, to solve the problem, to learn, to laugh and to be happy.  Rachel is on her way.  She will find it.  Here's to wide open spaces.  Go get 'em Rachel - set your alarm clocks and text your mother.  She misses you.

23 March 2018

JMichael in Little Leaugue

JMichael has his birthday in February, so for years now, we've been telling him that soccer starts again after his birthday.  Well, not in Maryland.  There is no spring soccer season here, simply because lacrosse kinda takes over life in the spring for most athletes.  JMichael could have played lacrosse, but, that seems too new and there were pads and sticks involved, so he decided against.  Instead, he is now in his first season of little league baseball - and he loves it.  He plays with kids in his class at school, and there are about six teams of boys his age in the county.  He is a Galena Lion, and he can't wait for practice twice a week to turn into games.  He's watching the Orioles on tv and using words with new meanings - steal, hit and pickle - are all new again.  This should be fun!  Go Lions!

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

11 March 2018


I had to get a picture of this mailbox which is out on a country road near where we live on the Eastern Shore in rural Maryland.  It is simply brilliant.

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!