Morning Moments

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #87: Morning

What do mornings mean to you?


My soul never thinks of beginning to wake up for other people till lunch-time, and never does so completely till it has been taken out of doors and aired in the sunshine. Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning? It is the hour of savage instincts and natural tendencies

Countess Van Arnim


There’s a reason I have no photographs of sunrises. I am still asleep – or not yet fully conscious – that early in the day. My mornings need to evolve. I shift into fully awake mode after drinking an oversize mug of coffee. Plus finishing breakfast and the morning newspaper’s mix of news…both happy and not.

Empty nest retirement definitely has its pluses.

When I was growing up, however, my weekdays began at high speed. School day mornings…a blur…

Get Ready For School Hurry Up You’ll Miss The Bus! Finish your breakfast! Come Back You Forgot Your Lunch! Hurry! The Bus Is Coming! The Bus Is Coming!

Childhood weekends – thankfully – were a different story…

Early on a Saturday morning…the year I was 9: my 7 ½ year old sister, 6 year old brother and I would tiptoe down the hall of our small ranch style home. Careful not to disturb our sleeping parents.

If our 2+ year old baby sister was awake and willing to be quiet, she joined us.


A carpeted hallway covered the short distance from our bedrooms to the living/dining room. After just a few quick trips we had gathered all the toys we needed. Since the black & white television was in my parents’ room at the time, we were on our own to entertain ourselves.

And entertain we did.

The Barbies – (with friend Midge) – strutted around straight legged showing off their tiny don’t-step-on-them-with-your-bare-feet shoes and stretchy outfits. Ken made an appearance, but usually as an afterthought. My sister’s pink Barbie car transported B&K in a circular route under the dining room table…often without their clothes on. Sometimes Ken’s arm was removed and inserted in his torso backwards. Creativity on the loose. I’ll admit those adventures were mostly my idea. My sister loved Barbie like crazy, but I was quickly bored. Hence the unusual Saturday morning escapades. Which we all considered quite clever and hysterical.

My brother brought to the excitement an assortment of small green plastic army men, a GI Joe and an array of stuffed animals – many based on cartoon characters. Yogi Bear. Huckleberry Hound. Barney Rubble. Bugs Bunny – with a string…which when pulled…gave voice to What’s Up Doc?

Despite the differences in size and species, plush bunnies & bears interacted with dolls without a single problem. In whispers and hushed tones. Barbie to Yogi: Where’s the pic-a-nic basket?. Bugs to Ken: Got any carrots?. And so on.

Miraculously the 3 (or 4) of us played seamlessly together during those early childhood mornings. We didn’t argue. Or poke each other. We took turns. It was quite remarkable. And unusual.

Our common goal: Don’t wake up mommy and daddy! 

Those Saturday hours with my sisters and brother are precious in memory. They represent moments of our best times together.

Reality and its rivalries shifted back to normal when my parents woke up. And the day started for real.

Until the next weekend…when the crowd gathered once again.

saturday morning 1963
Saturday Morning – circa 1963

Photo a Week: Something New

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Something New



When a kid gets a new bike…if that kid is fortunate enough to get one…it is an exciting day. Exciting enough to document with a photo.

At least it was at our house.

When my daughter was five, she was so done with her Strawberry Shortcake tricycle. She was usually “done with” things like that far sooner than we thought she would be. In her mind, she was always ready for the next thing.

She helped pick out her new purple bike, complete with a bell similar to one I had when I was little.  We insisted on a helmet, which she was too young to protest. This was 1987 and children did not commonly wear bicycle helmets yet. She was the first one on the block to be seen with one.

The neighbors commented that we were overprotective. I did not care what the neighbors thought. Protecting her head when she (inevitably) fell off was uppermost in my mind.

It wouldn’t be the first – or last – time she heard me say I don’t care what the other mothers do/say/think.

Regardless, she was one mighty proud five year old with her new “big girl bike.” Training wheels and all.

new bike K


Her younger brother, on the other hand, graduated from a tricycle to his sister’s hand-me-down purple bike with training wheels. A bit banged up by then – 6 years later – but it still transported him around the driveway. Carefully up and down the street. And he didn’t seem to mind riding it. When you are not the first born, you often don’t get “something new” right away. If at all.

However, when my son outgrew his big sister’s bike, it was time for a new one of his own. Which he helped choose at the same local bicycle shop where we had gotten his sister’s bike before he was born.  By then a helmet was standard and seen on the heads of most of the neighborhood children. Thank goodness.

A mighty proud almost seven year old, he did not need those training wheels.

new bike T

And off he went.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Candid

Inspired by Cee’s B&W Photo Challenge: Candid (human or animal)


When you’re a six year old big sister, it’s fun to read to your 1 year old little brother. Complete with distinctive voices for all the book’s characters, animals included.

This reading thing is a big deal, especially at six.

And it’s one activity an active little brother will sit still for.



And when your little brother is 2 years old, both of you can hide under the dining room table…for a perfect cozy story time.




Photo a Week: Traditions

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Traditions



Did you check the bathtub?
Look in the closet!
Behind the couch!
Under the table!

When my two children were growing up (and even when they were grown up and home for a visit), Easter morning meant hunting for Easter baskets.

During the Easter Bunny era, it involved more and more intricate hiding places as they got older. The thrill of the hunt was paramount.

The E.B. had to get extra creative (hence the bathtub)…or else the search was over in ten seconds.

After all, the E.B. filled four baskets with carefully selected jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, candy eggs and small stuffed bunnies. As the years went by…basketball cards, little books, stickers, trinkets & puzzles were added…

…so let’s make it a challenge! (thought the E.B.)

The E.B. was usually successful…and a sweet family tradition was born.


easter baskets1989


easter baskets1993

The sister and brother team eventually figured out where to look…every time.

Photo a Week: Timing is Everything

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge this week: Timing is Everything



When you are a 9 year old girl with a 3 ½ year old brother…on a family vacation…enjoying a lake swim…chances are there will be shenanigans.

You might even be minding your own business…practicing your crawl stroke. Watch Me! Watch Me! Or just hanging out and relaxing in the shallow water.

After a busy year in third grade, a kid needs some down time. That’s what vacations are for.

And then along comes the little trickster. The one with the ready grin, giggles and surprises up his sleeve. Even when there are no sleeves.

Up he sneaks…at just the right moment…perfectly timed…for a well aimed splash.

GPC 1991 splash
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
August, 1991
35mm film

Let the games begin!

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Tender Moments

This post inspired by Cee’s B&W Photo Challenge. The topic this week: Tender Moments

Being a big sister is not always easy.

I know that from experience, as I was a big sister 4 times. By the time my youngest sibling was born, I was in high school and became more of a surrogate parent than a sister. 

My daughter was almost 6 when her brother was born.
Five and three quarters! she would be quick to remind us.

The transition to sharing parental attention was a challenge I understood and tried to make as smooth as possible for her.
Without shortchanging her little brother.

Well, my husband and I got lucky. And with some guidance on our part…their relationship blossomed from the start. Her love for her brother was palpable. As was his for her. Not without some healthy competition of course. And normal periodic friction. Racing to the front door to be first. To the car for the front seat (Shotgun!). And down the stairs to see what Santa brought.

But there were also the quieter moments. Looking at picture books.
Playing games. Giggling at secret jokes.

And sitting under the backyard trees exploring what was hidden in the grass.

tender moment 9-3-88
Big sister age 6½…exploring nature with little brother…age 1¾

Their childhood together lasted until he was 12 and she was 18 and left home for college. Nineteen years ago.

But their connection remains solid to this very day.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.



Tuesday Photo Challenge – Surprise

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by Dutch goes the Photo

The theme this week is “Surprise”

Life is never the same for an only child when she becomes a big sister. Especially after almost 6 years of a – for the most part – predictable existence.

But then along comes a little brother to mix things up.

One hot July day, my daughter squeezed her 8 year old self into our small plastic pool – to cool off with her 2 ½ year old brother. His idea of play was…the element of surprise. He only got away with this the first time – pictured below. After that it was a free-for-all!

To her eternal credit, she was a good sport about this and the rest of his shenanigans over the years…


t&K1990 pool053

A Photo a Week Challenge: From the Back

Nancy Merrill Photography is hosting a photo challenge:

The theme this week is: From the Back.



When my children were growing up, one of our many Christmas traditions was making special cream cheese sugar cookies. Mixing the batter, rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes and decorating with sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, red & green sugars. We made bells, candy canes, Christmas trees, stars, Santas and gingerbread men.

Our daughter is older than her brother by almost 6 years, so by the time he could participate she willingly offered her expert big sister help. Even as adults in their twenties, they wanted to continue making Christmas cookies. If possible, together.

I loved the sight of the two of them – for over 20 years – standing in the same place – in the same kitchen…using the same cookie cutters that I used as a child.  I have yearly photos documenting this activity – and my favorites are the ones I took from the back.

xmas cookies1990 copy


xmas cookies1993


xmas cookies1998 copy