31 December 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas Morning, 2010
Jay (2), Samantha (11), Charlotte (7),
Rachel (12), and Josephine (6)
Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving and surprises, a time of sharing with friends and traditions. It's a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior and His gift to the world.

This year has been one of the most stressful years. Ever. I know I said that on the last post, but, it's true. James hurt his back in January and hasn't been to work since then. His treatments and recovery have been hard on him, and hard on us all. We all believed that something would work and we would all go back to our pre-injury lives, but, he is still in a lot of pain and no surgery or rehabilitation worked for him.

Pain and suffering is one thing, but being broke with pain and suffering is quite another. I am not going into the details, but, it has been hard.

Christmas came and we didn't have the money to cover the utilities, let alone Christmas for the kids. All I want to say is thank you to all the Santas out there - my parents, James' Dad and our ward family at church - Thank you for bringing Christmas to our kids. Thank you for the gifts left at our door, the sweet treats and the gift cards slipped into our Christmas cards. Thank you all.

Another Christmas surprise came from a friend of Rachel's. We will call her M. M is a team leader at her company; she has nine people on her team. At a meeting, she emphasized that Christmas was a time of giving and that the Christmas bonuses from their company this year were generous. She told her team that they should use it for their families and their communities. Then she told a story about her daughter's friend, Rachel, although M didn't use her name. M said this family was busy - five kids - all sporty, all active and always on the go. This family was a good friend to her daughter, who spent plenty of time there and was friends with all the kids. She said the Dad had surgery and that times were hard. M admonished her team to think of families they knew, and make it a great Christmas.

M came to me about three days before Christmas, and said she had something for me. She said she wanted to come over. I said Sure, we'll be home. M pulled into our driveway and it took three people two trips each to bring in all the gifts she brought us. It was overwhelming. Each of the kids had three or four little gifts - crayons, socks, new toothbrushes, hair pretties,books and little toys. There was even a remote control car for James and dishes and silverware for me.

M told me that her team got together are decided that the family in her story should have a great Christmas. They donated gifts, or gave cash for gift cards, which M shopped for and wrapped for under our tree. The kindness of strangers! Thank you.

I tell this story not to make anyone feel bad for us - we are blessed in so many ways, and we WILL make it through this injury and rough spot with the budget - but I tell it because I want to remember it. I want it included in the history of our family - which I think this blog is. I want to tell my kids and my grandkids and my great-grandkids. I want them all to know how blessed we are.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless us, every one!

29 December 2010

Ornaments? Sure...

I haven't blogged it what feels like forever. Christmas is a stressful time of year. Life is general has been stressful this year. Add the biggest, most important holiday of the year with all its commitments and traditions, and, well, part of me has to shut down. I guess I took the blog down with me.
Now we're back.

We'll do this a little backwards. Look what I found when I disassembled the tree - new ornaments! I love my kiddos....
nerf bullets, Jay's new airplane
an animal cracker
Cinderella and the three kings!

04 December 2010

Town Square Christmas

Our little town in rural Arkansas has a town square. It's bordered by the police department, the water company, a bank, the post office and a barber. There's a big fountain in the middle and the parking lot for these offices is where the carnival sets up every summer.

This year the town had a Christmas Gathering and set up a Merry-Go-Round and big Christmas tree. Local businesses donated cookies, hot chocolate and the bikes under the tree - which were raffled off. We entered the drawings for the bikes, listened to the carolers, drank hot chocolate and rode on the merry go round.

The whole gathering was free to the town. Just stroll and enjoy the season. The trees had been decorated by the ornaments made by the elementary schools. The fire trucks were available to inspect, and there was a hay ride through town and by the railroad tracks. Small town Christmas.

Charlotte, Josephine and Samantha :: Rachel (far right) and two friends

Jay on his trusty steed :: Josephine goofing for the camera!

As a cute kids quote, I have to include a comment from Josephine about the Merry Go Round. It seems she thought that the ride was called a Miracle Round. For all her six years, she had misunderstood Merry Go Round for Miracle Round. When I heard her call it a Miracle Round at the Town party, I corrected her and said "No, Joey, it's a Merry, like you are happy, Go Round, like it takes you in circles." She said, "Ohh. I thought Miracle Round was right because the horses are on poles, but they still go in circles and go up and down." Joey, you are adorable.

27 November 2010

Thanksgiving Week

The weather in Central Arkansas has been spectacular. Seriously. Low seventies, no humidity. Light breeze. Clear skies. Gorgeous fall colors.

The ladies had the full week of school off. We had plenty of playdates.

Lots of Rock Band. Day or Night? Still jammin'....

We had visits with family. This is Jim Ball, James' Dad. The truck is Jeannie, named for his wife. Rachel, Jay and I went down to meet Popop Jim at work and Rachel got to drive and park the big truck! She was so excited. Jay got to ride and that was thrilling enough for him. He told me, "I ride big tuck, Momma."

We had plenty of artwork and playing school. Tons of jumping on the trampoline and playing at parks. I wasn't kidding when I said beautiful weather. The only rain we had was on Thanksgiving Day.

And, a turkey. Funny story - our house was struck by lightening, and a few random things quit working - one of which was the oven. So, I cooked it at our friend's house (thanks again, Krista) and the picture of Charlotte above is her guarding the finished turkey on its journey to our house to eat it! Her name was Alice and she was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself...

We have so very much to be grateful for. Thank you to all of you for even reading the blog and leaving comments. Each of you, near and far, old and new, family and friends, touch our lives and we are grateful for each of you. Happy Thanksgiving from the BallTeam!

20 November 2010

Thanksgiving Tradition

As a start to Thanksgiving week, I just wanted to share our newest tradition - the Gratitude Calendar. Each day, each family member adds something to the calendar for which he or she is grateful. No repeats. We all help Jay, since he is only two. Otherwise, he would be thankful for footballs and basketballs every day. I know this picture may be hard to make out, but, the list includes sweet and humbling entries like - my parents, testimonies and Jesus; to fun and whimsical entries like - slippers, candy and elbows. In all, by Thanksgiving on the 25th, we should have 175 entries!

19 November 2010

Charlotte's New Style

Charlotte has developed a new style. Bandannas. She won't leave the house or even come out of her room without one. The school lets her wear them; even though they felt it necessary to explain to me that hats are not permitted, they will allow her bandanna since it more closely resembles a headband. Charlotte started the bandanna craze when she got a haircut she didn't like. I think she did a great job of turning what she saw as a negative into a new, stylin' positive. Way to go, Charlotte!

Playground Hopping

Last week we had some inCREDidble weather. Just perfect. And to boot, the ladies had a day off of school so the teachers could attend some professional training meeting. We can't stay inside with the weather so beautiful outside, so we grabbed our friends and hit the playgrounds. Of the six kiddos in this picture, only three are mine. My older ladies were at friends' houses and I took the little set here playground hopping. We hit three playgrounds, having lunch somewhere in there, too. When school is out we love to go play at playgrounds of schools we don't attend. Fresh Air and Friends!

09 November 2010

KidBits -- 9 November 2010

Our comings and gong, but, not quite enough for a full sized post. This is the Halloween candy fun-sized version.... :)

Our backyard doesn't have much grass. It's mainly dirt. We have tons of shade trees, which are great for shade, but, not so great for growing grass. Shade trees are also great for producing leaves in the fall. This week the ladies raked up the leaves and we had a bonfire. Complete with marshmallows. Good work ladies. We'll do it again next week...

Josephine has curly hair. It's just adorable. This week for church, though, she decided she wanted it straight and Rachel obliged. Which do you like better?

First picture: Charlotte is reading Charlotte's Web with her class. She's read books before, but, this one was exciting because she was the center of attention, since she shared the name in the title. She says she's the spider of her classroom! Charlotte even brought her own copy of the book to class (a Christmas gift from her grandparents last year.) When her class is finished with the book, they'll watch the movie. Second picture: Jay and "K" and I went to the grocery store this week. I filled the cart, and Jay had to be a big boy -- he had to walk AND hold the cart. This was his first time and he was great. Such the little man.

03 November 2010

Happy Halloween

Mario, Cheerleader, Skeleton, Cheerleader and Hippie
Halloween, 2010

29 October 2010

KidBits October 2010

KidBits is my way of posting a little about each of the ladies and Jay. It's nothing huge, and mainly for the grandparents, but, feel free to come along...

Rachel dressed like this for school. Groovy. Homecoming week in Junior High included a court and dressing up in different themes through the week. This was Rae on decade day. I wish I had taken a picture on nerd day. She rocked that one, too!

Samantha went our to feed the dogs last week and found this beautiful chicken on the hood of her Dad's car. Really? She wanted to keep it. James and I wanted to serve it with BBQ sauce. In the end, we gave her to our friend who has a roost of six chickens in her backyard. Red Velvet, as Samantha named her, will be very happy there.

Charlotte is our resident chef-in-training. This lady is all about the kitchen. Last week she made French toast. Her specialty is sandwiches and she always reminding me what we need at the store. She wants to be a chef one day and we are thinking that it's a great idea!

Josephine had her first field trip, which meant her first ride on a school bus. She saw the Wizard of Oz at the high school, put on by the drama classes. The very next day, she had a second field trip, this time to the pumpkin patch. Kindergarten is great fun!

Jay is speaking in paragraphs now and sings along with the radio, which is dang cute. He loves anything that involves a ball. He has even caused a delay of game at Rachel's soccer game, because he was on the field chasing their ball. That's my boy. He throws, kicks, punts, catches, bats and chases any ball he sees. This sometimes includes round fruit. Whenever I say, Jay, let's go to the van. He always says, Ball come, Momma? So sweet.

And, a few goof ball shots. Just because the kids like to act like goof balls in public.....

27 October 2010


How fitting that a girls soccer team with a Halloween-ish type name - DEMONATERS - should end it's season so close to Halloween! Rachel was one of two goalies and played in every game mostly as the goalie, and occasionally coming out to play defender. She is pictured here with her friend Kayla. At the end of the year pizza party, Rae's coaches said a little bit about each girl on the team. Coach said Rae was spunky, worked hard at practice and was not afraid to get after the ball, no matter how many kicks she took. Demonators lost only two of ten games and traveled as far as an hour to play some talented teams. Great season, Rachel. I bet you have many more!

26 October 2010

Hick's Farm

We found a local taste of the season: Hick's Farm! We'll show you...

haybale mazes for the little guys. Sorry Jay's eyes are shut - it was a bright sunshiney day.
cornfield mazes for the big kids - it was about three acres. I got lost...

farm animals to feed

Samantha used her whole hand as the calf's bottle...

hayrides - nothing haunted. Except those goat's eyes. Creepy...

digging for treasure

friendly scarecrows in the field

pony rides
Local friends can call me and I'll give directions. We had a great day out with friends and fresh air. But I didn't take any pictures in the pumpkin patch...