29 December 2009


Look who popped in James' store today:

He texted me that the Duggars had stopped in his store (no camera crew, just JimBob and Michelle, with daughter Jessa - 16 years old) and I was furiously texting back for him to get a picture. James reports that they are genuinely nice people and he was happy to have made their acquaintance. Cool, huh?

24 December 2009

Secret Santa

We had a knock on our door earlier this week. We opened it to find a big black garbage bag, full of gifts. Two for each of the kids. The sign on the bag reads Merry Christmas and the sign on the inside of the bag reads, Do Not Open Until Christmas. Secret Santa, we do not know who you are, but, THANK YOU!

20 December 2009

Ball Team Elven Holiday Cheer

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause the Christmas Tunes to enjoy this Ball Team Elven Holiday Cheer. Dang they make cute elves!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

18 December 2009

Ready for Christmas

Our tree is up this year. I stress a lot about the tree. Why are the ornaments that mean so much to me made out of glass, or porcelain? This year is Jay first really hands-on Christmas - all boy, loves to throw and climb. So we positioned the tree in the corner, with the love seat and couch forming a protective wall. He can stand on the arm of the couch to reach the tree, but, he can't knock it completely over. All the precious ornaments are still packed away, in the hopes that next year Jay will be a little more gentle. Three of our traditions are underway for the season - First - making treats for teachers. This year we chose a family favorite - hot chocolate. We have our own way of spicing it up here at the Ball Team house, and I hope that the ladies' teachers like it, too.
Also in progress for the holiday season is the reading of Christmas stories each night. This year Charlotte is joining her older sisters in reading the stories out loud to the younger siblings. She's so happy to be a "big lady".
Our third tradition leading up to Christmas is to become sneaky! We chose a neighbor (wonder if this neighbor reads the blog? hmmmm?) to deliver to each night. I picked up this Nativity set at WalMart for $12, and it has exactly twelve pieces. Each night for the Twelve Days of Christmas, we find a scripture or Christmas song that relates to the figure in the nativity. We set it on the porch, ring the bell, and hide. On Christmas Eve, Baby Jesus will come to the porch. The ladies get to be sneaky, and, I hope, learn a little about the holiday of giving.
And finally: Our tree and the five gifts I treasure most.

14 December 2009

The Best Friday the Thirteenth

Happy Anniversary to us. Thirteen years ago, on Friday the 13th, James called my answering machine. In a thick Mississippi accent he asked if I would like to have dinner. He had only been in town a few days, and had been given my phone number by the man in our Ward who helped him find a temporary place to live. He was in town for a three month temporary job and wasn't looking for anything more than someone to eat with. We were married three months later.

We both knew - that very night - that we had met the one we were meant to marry. So glad you came to Maryland, babe. Every day, I'm glad you came to Maryland.

11 December 2009

More Random Happenings

More photos for the Grandfolks - everyone else is welcome to look in, too!

Samantha gets the doghouse ready for the winter and demonstrates for the dogs how to use it! Rachel makes supper - these are "Fowler-cakes", which are super big pancakes. These are called Fowler-cakes at our house in honor of our friends who make pancakes this way!

Fun tub-times! These three even play Simon Says in the tub! Hours...of...fun!

08 December 2009


Samantha (fifth grade, 10 years old) completed the D.A.R.E. program. Here she is with two of her buds at the graduation ceremony.

The class was taught by a local police officer and covers the dangers and consequences of using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. It also included such hands on activities as drunk goggles and a little taste of a jail cell.

They performed a song for the assembled parents that had this chorus:

D: don't do drugs
A: don't have an attitude
R: I will respect myself
E: I will educate me now....

The mayor of our little town was there, too, to talk to his future voters. He explained that it is not the school's responsibility to keep kids off of drugs. The school will support that proposition, but, it is up to the parents to set the example, follow through on consequesnces and police our kids. He told the parents to lead the way and teach the children to do the right thing.

Look at those smiling faces...ready to take on the world!

07 December 2009

James' Birthday

Happy Birthday, James.

Without getting too mushy and too personal, let me just say that this is the man behind this blog. He's the Husband, Dad and full-time supporter of all this chaos, energy and love we call our lives at the Ball Team. In his honor, let me give you a few random facts in no particular order - all about him. (Hope I don't embarrass you too much, babe....)

1. He loves to fly stunt kites. 2. His favorite color is purple. 3. He can fix a flat tire alone in the dark. 4. He has lived in ten different states. 5. He speaks a little Polish. 6. He can play the trombone, trumpet, piano, guitar and drums. But not all at the same time. 7. He has broken his nose and wrist and cracked two ribs - all playing basketball. 8. One day he wants to own a go-kart park. 9. He has his own nicknames for each of the kids. 10. He loves the Minnesota Vikings. So much. 11. He makes great pork chops. 12. He loves to talk. Just get him going on a story... 13. He disarmed bombs and repaired helicopters in the Army. 14. He turned down an offer to play football for Texas A&M after high school. 15. He served a mini-mission at 16 for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 16. He crushed two vertebrae falling off of a second story roof. 17. He loves spicy foods. 18. He used to drive an 18 wheeler truck cross-country. 19. His favorite car is the 1980 Chevrolet Camaro. 20. He still keeps up with his friends from high school. 21. He was a busy kid; he was on a team for football, baseball, basketball, track and swimming. 22. He can drive a forklift. 23. He loves cheesecake. Loves it. 24. He calls his Dad just to say Hi. 25. He used to live with three women - his Mother, his Grandmother and his Great-grandmother. Together. 26. He's never been snow skiing, but he loves to waterski. 27. He witnessed a car wreck on the way home from work one day and stopped at the scene to pull a man and his wife from the burning car. He was in the paper the next day. 28. He makes great animal sounds. 29. He intends to spend his retirement in an RV visiting kids and grandkids. 30. He can whistle so loud you won't believe it. 31. He learned how to swim when his father threw him off of the boat. 32. He has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. 33. He hates morning alarm clocks. 34. He loves to drive. 35. He does impersonations. 36. He has a wife who loves him madly and five children who love him completely.

Happy Birthday, James. Happy Birthday.

04 December 2009

Let It Cyber-Snow

I am NOT a fan of snow. I would have no problem with summer all year long. Snow is pretty in postcards and calendars. NOT so pretty in my driveway. Thank you just the same.

Having said that - see the snow falling on the blog? Christmas-y, huh? Click here to make it snow on your blog!!

Jay "Skee" Ball

Jay decided to really get into his skee-ball game. Yes, I'm sure I should have just gotten him out of the machine, but, I had to get a picture first. A happy smile on a sweet face of a little man exploring his world and loving life. Dec '09

27 November 2009

Gobble, Gobble, Gone

We had a delicious and industrious Thanksgiving holiday at the Ball Team house. There was a turkey:

There were games:

There was work:

There was the reward of getting a big chore done:

Lighting the leaves and roasting marshmallows!!!! There also was pie. No pictures survive of the pies. Once cut, a pie will not last more than ten minutes at our house. It was good, though!
We kept to ourselves this holiday, but, heard from our friends and family. We have so much for which to be thankful. Amen.

20 November 2009


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! In the spirit of "an attitude of gratitude", our family made a word cloud of some of the things we are thankful for!

flying kites bicycles dancing our family
ice cream playing sports the internet
sisters and brother Childrens Hospital
sleepovers napping Daddy's job
music days off of school birthdays
testimonies our dogs being healthy
talents washing machine & dishwasher
macaroni and cheese eternal families
the beach freshly baked rolls football season
children laughing warm blankets imagination
changing seasons car trips an A on a test
the dome and trampoline honey on bread
movies texting eating out allergy medication
friends, friends and friends ...

Soccer Season '09

Soccer season is finally over. I say finally because I mean, F---I---N---A---L---L---Y. We had a few weeks of rain, rain, rain. This made for soggy fields and cancelled games. When we did practice or hold a game, we were muddy and wet. But, hey, what 's a little mud?

Rachel's team was undefeated and she played goalie about 90% of the time. She likes her spot in the back with well defined responsibilities. And she did well. Samantha's team won just more than half of their games. Her team is a more competitive level of team; they travel to other towns. She played forward and back, and she loves it. Meanwhile, she's not sure if she wants to play again. She misses gymnastics.

They are both so athletic. I am thankful that they are healthy and strong and have a desire to keep it that way.
Bulldog Rachel '09 :::: Predator Samantha '09
eleven years old :::: ten years old

15 November 2009

Random Bits for the Grandfolks::::

Samantha is Jay Michael's favorite playmate - everyday stuff becomes something to "play". So sweet.

Rachel loves to climb trees. (My favorite toy when I was a kid was a set of four big trees on our neighbor's land. Great climbing trees.)

More climbing -- Yes, this is Jay Michael. He climbed up there, but yelled - OMA - for me to get him back down. Charlotte takes responsibility for the ladder position.....

Speaking of Charlotte - she gave me a love note. In case you can't read it, it says - I love my Mom and Dad. Then a picture of Dad, Charlotte and Mom in a heart surrounded by more hearts. So sweet.

This is Josephine showing off her treats. She has taken to collecting all coins she finds around the house. She had "collected" about $1.25. While we were at the store, she announced that she wanted to spend her money and she had it with her. She bought three Starburst - family favorite - since they were three for a dollar. Bargain. AND, she shared with everyone. So sweet, too.

How to eat cereal, by Jay Michael - first, you pick out all the marshmallows...

Just a day at our house.

14 November 2009

Night-time Post....

James' car has been on the fritz. Well, it's currently dead, actually. He's trying to figure out what the problem is, but, in the meantime, we're punting - sharing the van. Sometimes he can get rides to work, sometimes he takes the van. And sometimes we take him to work, so we can have the van. That was the case last week and we all headed out to the big city of Little Rock at almost 10 pm to get him after work. Big night out for the little kids! So, we took some pictures of the Capitol and the Children's Hospital, all lit up at night.
Another night this week we were burning leaves and made a marshmallow roast out of it.
Even Cody (the dog) got in on the fun!

13 November 2009

Marker Meltdown

How to celebrate Friday the Thirteenth:

First, place your basket of markers on the stove burner way in the back, so the little fingers cannot reach them (without a stool). Second, turn on the oven to make lunch. Third, use tongs and oven mitts to remove your markers from the bottom of the basket.
Voila, marker meltdown! UGH!
before ::: after
(click on the picture for a better view of the carnage)
On the up side, I did keep my kids out of the markers. And I only melted about five of 'em.

09 November 2009

Jay Michael and the Slide

So we don't have a video camera, but, Jay was having so much fun on the slide today that I just had to capture it somehow. Slide.com for a slide.Jay I think he would be there still. Sliding. November 09

08 November 2009

Halloween Collage 2009

06 November 2009

Vampire Class

I had a great afternoon the other day - I got to be in the first grade again. I was one of the Mom's helping with Charlotte's class Halloween party. We had plenty of treats, games and vampire teeth all around. Six is such a fun age!
Charlotte is standing - second from the right (bright green shirt). Green fangs! To her right is Kamden (grey shirt), her friend from church and now school, too! His family just moved into our school boundaries, and they are in the same class!! Yeah!!

02 November 2009


An attitude of gratitude!!!
Let's make a word cloud of some of the things our family is thankful for!

flying kites bicycles dancing our family
ice cream playing sports the internet
sisters and brother Childrens Hospital
sleepovers napping Daddy's job
music days off of school birthdays
testimonies our dogs being healthy
talents washing machine & dishwasher
macaroni and cheese eternal families
the beach freshly baked rolls football season
children laughing warm blankets imagination
changing seasons car trips an A on a test
the dome and trampoline honey on bread
movies texting going out to eat allergy medication
friends, friends and friends
What are you thankful for?

30 October 2009

Kiss Alive 35

James' birthday is in December. But, when I heard on the radio about KISS adding Little Rock to their Alive 35 Tour in October, I KNEW it would be the perfect birthday surprise! I found cheap tickets on eBay, I found the perfect sitter for the kids - thank you Sister White! - and I kept my mouth shut for about three weeks! Tough one! I even had James' Dad in on it - he pitched in with some money for a tee-shirt!

The day of the show, Sister White shows up to take a family picture for us. Which she did. We then all circle James and hand him a box while singing Happy Birthday to You. He is dumbfounded. I tell him to open it, he protests that it is NOT his birthday. I insist; he opens it and says - "No way! Are these KISS tickets? Let's go!"

We loved it! Loud, loud and loud. Fire, expolosions, fog, lights, moving stages, flying over the crowd, all the make-up and garrish costuming that made KISS famous. Our seats were close enough to feel the heat from the flames! What really struck me about the show was that it was not just a show. Paul Stanley talked to the audience. Gene Simmons played with the crowd. Each band member had a huge solo stint. The band is not just about brash outfits: they can really play. They love what they do. You can feel it. (You can also feel your fillings in your teeth vibrating!)

Happy Birthday, Babe.

29 October 2009

Kohen's Park

Calling all local friends - and any from beyond who would like to visit us - we found a NEW PARK! (I think I was more excited than the kids. I love a new place to play for free!)

It has a great play area, big swings, two tether ball poles and this cool barrel rolling feature. But, one of the coolest things was the size - it is huge! There's a basketball court, a soccer field and a baseball field! And, even cooler than all that space - there are balls, just sitting on the fields and court, begging kids to come and play! Space to run, plenty of balls and fresh air! Just my kind of place.

One last cool feature - like it needs another, right? - there's a sweet mare in the field next to the baseball field. The kids loved to pet her, and she seemed happy to have kids playing all around her!
Local friends: take 38 out of town to 321; turn right and it's about a half mile down on your right. See you there!