August 2016 ~ A Banner Month!

Besides getting her ears pierced and beginning the first grade (mentioned in previous posts), Natalie had a few other significant events take place during the month of August.

Last year Natalie had a great time being part of the Rock City Dance Apprentice Company. This year she decided that she wanted to do more dancing so she auditioned for the RCDC full company. She worked so hard on her dancing all summer and had a great time auditioning with her friends. The same day Natalie got her ears pierced we got the good news that she had earned a spot in the full company! Audition pics are below.img_4220img_4241img_4276img_4202img_4279img_42552208x1656-jpeg-070738c1e34c48708995e98407be0769img_4204
On ear piercing day we went to the Museum of Discovery where Nat had a fun time lying on a bed of nails. That’s where we got the exciting news that she was accepted into the full dance company (see her happy face below – the one with white tile in the background). After the Discovery Museum we went to a nearby wildlife museum that had lots of cool fish tanks and interesting displays.img_0102img_0115img_4356img_4309img_4301img_0107img_0127img_0130img_0139

A few days later Natalie visited the same 2 museums again with her favorite twin friends.  It was great to reconnect with them a couple of days before school starts.  Natalie was so excited to find out that one of the twins is in her class this year.img_0188img_0206img_0227img_0214

I haven’t posted many pictures of Louie lately.  He has been having a rough time for the last couple of years.  His allergies have been absolutely terrible.  He spends most of his time wearing a cone to prevent him from covering his entire body with self-inflicted sores.  He has been getting allergy shots for several months now.  I don’t think they have helped his itchy skin much, but they have helped to clear up his ears which were previously a horrible mess.    In the pics below Louie is finding great joy in eating a pinecone.  I don’t know why he loves them so, but since he chews them up throughly before swallowing them I just let him chow down.  It’s one of the few things that makes him happy these days.  Louie will be 9 years old in January.img_4497

Natalie and one of her favorite dance friends… she is lucky to have such a sweet group of girls to dance with.  She is dancing 4 days a week now for a total of 6 1/2 hours.  She is studying ballet, hip hop, tap, contemporary, jazz and lyrical.  img_4489

Ready for tap class to begin… Nat’s teacher told her tonight that she has great taps and asked her to demonstrate to the class.13958126_10210204064361668_8952057759834831232_o

Two days after school started Natalie had to have 4 teeth pulled!!!!  Yikes!  She was a trooper though as always.  She got a little sad when she looked in the mirror after coming home.  She teared up a bit and said “Mama, I look creepy.”  She had 4 bloody holes in her gums and 2 new teeth coming up in the wrong place behind them.  The next day though her mouth looked so much better.  A week later her teeth had already shifted into the right place.img_4437

Behind our house at sunsetimg_4364

Playing dodgeball at a b-day partyimg_0233

Dressing up Remy.  This kitty is so laid back…he’s up for anything.img_0155

Meet the teacher night the week before school.  Natalie LOVES her new teacher.  She is so happy to go to school every day this year.img_0178

She also got to visit her sweet kindergarten teacher from last year.img_0182

Water fun… only a few days of swimming weather left.img_4602img_4578img_4571img_4550

Near the end of August we got a kayak and finally started exploring the watery world behind our house.  The lake behind our home connects to a swampy area which connects to the Little Maumelle.  Each time we go out we explore a little further.  During our first journey out a big blue heron flew over our heads.  Amazing!img_4469img_4501img_4502img_4513img_4519img_4517img_0703img_4484


June 2016-South Carolina & New York

In early June, Nat and I travelled to South Carolina to visit the SC Grandparents. We had a wonderful time with them. Natalie – a huge animal lover – was thrilled to spend time with their diverse clowder of cats.  During our visit we took a trip to Congaree National Park and took a 2 1/2 mile walk on a boardwalk through a swamp.  It was gorgeous, but we were a bit disappointed that we didn’t see any snakes.  Natalie has a fondness for them as well.

From SC we flew to NYC to visit Sissy. She lives right on the beach on the Rockaway Peninsula. The water was freezing cold… painfully so… but we were at the beach so we went in anyway. We had a grand time splashing in the waves, building sandcastles, hunting for shells, walking the dog Stella and spending time with our sweet Sissy.

Natalie spent the rest of June having playdates, swimming almost every day, dancing at RCDC for about 11 hours a week, working on reading fluency and creating a piece of art for a gallery show in September.

May 2016

April Amusement

The Seven Hollows Trail

In April, Katie, Natalie and I hiked part of the Seven Hollows Trail.  It was about 2 1/2 miles of very rocky, hilly trail.  Nat had her hiking poles and she rocked the hike. The stone arch bridge was one of Gary and my favorite places.  Natalie and I enjoyed getting to connect with him through the natural beauty that he so loved.  Click on the pictures below for captions and a larger version.

March Merriment


The Easter Bunny came


Easter egg hunt



Remy stole the Easter basket


Natalie had so much fun sleeping in my old tent in her bedroom



A kind friend let Natalie ride her big horse


It was her first time to ride bareback

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After a few hours of playing hard Natalie and her friend crawled into bed


The view of the pear trees from Natalie’s bedroom window was stunning


When it was Natalie’s turn to make snacks we painted clothes pins with lots of fun colors and made these little butterflies


Instead of birthday gifts, Natalie requested that her friends donate new or gently used books to the “Reach Out and Read” program.  She collected over 70 books.  Here she is dropping them off.

Rocky Valley Hiking Trail

We recently hiked the Rocky Valley Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park for the third time.  This time we also added the East Quarry Spur Trail that goes up a steep hill to a beautiful overview of Pinnacle Mountain.  The whole hike was about 2.5 miles over hilly, rocky terrain.  Nat was a trooper and did an amazing job aided by her hiking poles.


Katie couldn’t wait to go hiking… she jumped in the car 30 minutes before it was time to leave



Trying to make a heart with her hands


Natalie wanted a kissing photo


Hiking girl with her Newfs



Pinnacle Mountain in the background


Natalie, Katie and Louie are the perfect hiking companions.  We have such great times together!

Meet Our Newest Family Members


Remy and Riley are Ragdoll kittens that are currently 5 1/2 and 5 months old (respectively).  Ragdoll cats are the second largest breed of domestic cats and are often referred to as “gentle giants”… just like our Newfoundland dogs are.  Remy is going to be a big boy… at least 20 pounds (we named him after a huge sweet Newf that we know). He already weighs more than 8 pounds and he eats a ton!!  His nickname is Mr. Big.  Riley’s nickname is Little Bit.  I’m guessing he was the runt of the litter.  He will still be bigger than an average cat, but much smaller than Remy. The boys are double first cousins (moms are sisters, dads are brothers).  They were born 18 days apart and became best friends after Remy came to Riley’s aid as Riley was being picked on by his sisters.  Remy was going to be a show/breeder cat in Japan but his breeder changed her mind about sending him overseas.  Riley had already been adopted by a couple who had to return him after 3 days because the husband turned out to be highly allergic to cats.  Lots of people were interested in adopting Remy, but Anne let us have him because she really wanted to keep the best friends together.  They are both very sweet but very different in personality.  Remy is more laid back and Riley is quite wild at times.  Natalie loves them and plays with them every day. Many thanks to Anne Paul of Cajun Ragdolls for these sweet kitties.

I introduced the cats to Katie and Louie one time. Louie was his usual laidback sweet self.  When he was laying down on the floor the kittens thought he was ok, but the moment he stood up they got a bit scared.  I have no doubt that with some supervised visits the kittens and Louie could become fast friends.  However, I do have doubts about Katie.  She was a bit overly exuberant when she met the kittens.  It’s not that she did anything wrong at all, but I saw too much excitement in her eyes. Between Katie’s enthusiasm and the wild antics of the kittens I was worried that the combination of the three of them might be a recipe for disaster.  There is no telling what kind of trouble they could get into.



Holiday Season of 2015



Thanksgiving weekend was a  fun time with family and friends. Highlights were a visit from some of our favorite cousins from Seattle and Natalie’s annual toy donation to Toys For Tots.

After Thanksgiving, in early December of 2015, my Grandmother (Nat’s Great-grandmother) passed away at the age of 97.  She died in the house that my grandfather built over half a century ago surrounded by several members of her beloved family.  Her funeral was perhaps our last big family reunion.  We are an extremely loving bunch and it was so good to be with our amazing family at the old Homeplace where we have many happy memories as children and as adults.  Grandmother will be missed but her loving legacy lives on in all of us.


Natalie made fast friends with one of her grown up cousins.


The whole clan (except for absent members)


First Cousins

We had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.  We missed Aunt Sissy this year who had come from NY earlier in December for Grandmother’s funeral.  Click on pictures below for descriptions and larger versions.