25 December 2011

Christmas, 2011

At almost 10:30 on Christmas night, I can hear all the ladies and Jay Michael out in the next room playing loudly with each other and James. We had a great Christmas. We greeted our gifts from Santa, attended a church meeting full of beautiful music and uplifting messages, then opened our gifts and played ALL DAY. We had our traditional Chinese take out for supper, and now we should think about a little shut eye, just so we can play all day tomorrow. We are truly blessed.Merry Christmas, from the Balls....

24 December 2011

Christmas Eve traditions?

Christmas Eve this year started out in a new and different way. We had a group Christmas gift to our family - we got tattoos. Now, before any of you readers think I've completely lost my mind, read on.....

The picture above is our friend, Jean Sepe. She uses henna to draw tattoos. They are temporary, lasting up to a month depending on your skin type and the care you take with them. Rachel saw a henna tattoo on her and asked about it. When I read "henna tattoo" on Rachel's Christmas list, I thought it might be fun for everyone.
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You may still think I'm wrong. I believe our bodies are temples. I believe art is expressive and personal. I believe that somewhere in the middle of all this that henna tattoos are perfectly fine. That's what I think. You are welcome to think whatever you think.
In the next to last picture, you can see Jay Michael has a frog. The last picture - the orange one - is the final product, which will fade in about a month. The six pictures above are one each of the rest of us. Can anyone guess which tattoo is on which person?
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After our unconventional morning, we went on to decorate gingerbread.
This afternoon we will visit some family, and see the Christmas lights. We'll finish off the evening with Luke 2 and off to bed to rest up for a big day tomorrow. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Answer guide: top row: Samantha, Josephine, Rachel
bottom row: James, Tina, Charlotte

17 December 2011

Hibachi Christmas


The first picture is Rachel and her friend Madeline at the Christmas Choir Performance. Choir in Junior High is different than a musical program for the little ladies. Rachel's choir sang beautifully. Carol of the Bells was amazing - the different parts of the choir were positioned around the room and it had a solid, carol-of-the-bells-type effect. It was great. The other songs were all Christmas tunes, but, they were the HoHoHo type of Holiday songs - like: Baby It's Cold Outside, Deck The Halls, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, stuff like that. NOTHING religious, nothing spiritual. The quality was great, the content left me disappointed.
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And for my next review - Hibachi! I have never been to one of those Japanese restaurants that cook your meal right there in front of you. Seriously fun and tasty. The ladies were shocked at the flames and what better way can you imagine to keep a three year bundle of energy glued to his restaurant seat, than to set his table on fire? Fantastic! Thanks, Jim and Jean - this will have to be a new Christmas tradition!

15 December 2011

I Won't Tell....

I won't tell how old James is now. I won't tell, because in three short months, it will be my birthday, too, and I will be the same age. It's great, by the way, to be so close in age. We have the same markers in our lives. You know? Like when a song comes on the radio, and we can both say, oh, remember? This was seventh grade! We remember the same events in history, we knew the gas lines of the seventies, the assassination attempts on Regan and shuttle explosion. We both remember when Lennon was shot.

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Anyway, I digress.... James is a Vikings fan. Huge. This year I was walking through WalMart and I saw this purple tinsel tree. It was $6, and it was pre-lit. Seriously. So the ladies took the Viking Candy Cane ornaments and decorated his tree. What true Vikings fan does NOT have a set of Vikings Candy Canes? All purple and gold! I led him in, eyes closed, and the ladies and Jay Michael sang happy birthday. He loves it. And we love him. Happy Birthday, James!

11 December 2011

The Surprise and The Negro Spiritual

So, Charlotte is our middle child. Does that mean she gets the short end of the stick? You decide: Back in September, when Josephine had a birthday coming up, we were talking about party ideas as a family. Each of the ladies in turn talked about what a great memory they had of an outstanding party, just for them. Each of the ladies, except Charlotte. It's true, she said. Mom, I've NEVER had a birthday party. I had to agree. Her birthday is two days after Christmas. It's a tough time of year to do anything at all. The child will be nine this year and she's never had a party. Shameful, huh?

So I decided right there that Charlotte would have a party this year. A surrpise party! About one month before her birthday, I had nine of her very best buds at the house when she came in the door, still dripping wet, from swim practice. She was stunned. She said, Mom, why are they here? Don't they know it's not really my birthday? We had crafts and presents and candy and fun.

I took no pictures of this great event. You will have to beleive me when I say Charlotte looked dumbfounded when she walked in the door.

But: here's a video from her recent Christmas Concert. Josephine's class sang, too, but, I didn't record them. I was so glad to hear negro spirituals, calypso holidays songs and old Baptist standards. It was truly a Christmas program. Not a holiday program.

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30 November 2011

An English Laugh

I laugh every time I watch this clip. Every time. English is funny to me, though, so be warned.

To listen, first go to the bottom of the page and pause the music, then you will be able to hear it, isn't it?


27 November 2011

Cherstin! Thank You!

The BallTeam huddle!

Our amazing friend, Cherstin, took some pictures of the BallTeam at our local high school ball field. Wow. I will post more later, but, I had to get just a couple on here .... just to show you. I promise to put more up after Christmas, but, I have to "hide" a few until then. Thank you again, Cherstin, for showing us such a good time!

20 November 2011

Visit, November 2011

My folks came to visit this week, and they brought my youngest brother David along. They could only stay for an afternoon and the next day, but, we packed in plenty of chatter and visiting. Here's a shot of the whole bunch:
Back row standing: Grandparents Wayne and Juanita Brumbley and Jim and Jean Ball
Middle-ish row seated: Parents James and Tina Ball
Standing around us all: Kiddos Rachel (13), Jay Michael (3), Josephine (7), Charlotte (8) and Samantha (12)

Poor David took the picture and I didn't get another picture all weekend, except for the scrapple which they brought me. Yum. Come again everyone!

05 November 2011

Chrissi Richards ....

Josephine had a photoshoot!
She loved it; I loved it.
Do you want to see? You can!

http://chrissirichards.com/blog/

Scroll down to "Tink" and click on Open Post.

Those big brown eyes just melt my heart!

Thank you Chrissi; just amazing!

02 November 2011

Individuals

Rachel Mae - 13 years old

Samantha Marie - 12 years old

Charlotte Lareine - 8 years old

Josephine Lisette - 7 years old

Jay Michael - 3 years old

On a beautiful fall Sabbath afternoon, I forced my children to stand on the bridge at the local park and smile at me. I take the monthly picture every month. Hence the name. They know it's coming. They even, sometimes, suggest places or arrangements for future pictures. But just like clockwork, every month, when I say hey - let's go take the picture for the blog next month, I hear weeping and wailing. One day they will thank me for this monthly pictorial history. Until then, I will force them to smile at me, in unison, at least once a month.
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This time I further tortured my children by insisting they do individual shots. I told them to find a spot all their own and pose. I think they turned out just perfect. But, I'm their Mom; I know just how beautiful they are....
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And for good measure - the rarely photographed adults on the BallTeam: James and Tina.

29 October 2011

BOO - Trunk or Treat 2011

Trunk or treat at the church was fun this year - as always. Costumes were all recycled and borrowed - and the BallTeam looked fantastic. We have a turtle (Jay Michael, 3), a ladybug (Josephine, 7), an escaped convict (Rachel, 13), a zebra (Laura, 12), a drummer (Samantha, 12) and a vampire spider queen (Charlotte, 9). BOO!

25 October 2011

Pigs and Goats and Chickens, Oh My ....



We attended a great petting zoo party - the ladies and Jay Michael hobnobed with the other party guests - goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, ponies, horses, and a llama! Great fun on a fall afternoon...thanks, Parker!

24 October 2011

Magic Dinosaur Mist

Jay Michael was born with some severe allergies and asthma. So far, we have all adjusted to our high maintenance little man, but, recently he scared us. His breathing was loud and labored. He was rattling and raspy. The fantastic staff at Children's Hospital gave Jay Michael some "magic dinosaur mist" (known to adults as albuteral). He now has more drugs to take, which he does willingly, and he breathes much more easily. So do the rest of us! We love Children's, but, we love Jay Michael more!

23 October 2011

School Update ...

Family Night at School - Focus on Movement
Samantha on the mini trampoline - Joey and Charlie playing twister - Charlie and Sam using the binoculars and Jay being Jay (chasing a ball!)
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The first term of the new year is over and I happy to report that the ladies are making us proud. What follows here will be praise for the ladies in school and proud parent moments - so feel free to skip this section if you are looking for anecdotes....I gotta brag on my ladies!
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Rachel (8th grade) is testing the academic waters by choosing the accelerated tract and has found, all on her own, that the harder classes are more work, but, are more rewarding. She commented to me the other day that she likes being in a class with kids who are eager to learn and want to succeed. Rachel is finding that the accelerated classes make her want to excel, and that makes Mom and Dad thrilled. Thrilled.
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Samantha (7th grade), meanwhile is on fire! Always the athlete, school was never her thing. No more. With the best report card of her seven years in school, Samantha has already decided on the accelerated tract for her eighth grade year and has her sights set high. Fantastic. On a side note, Samantha has two of the same teachers that Rae had last year - English and math. At parent teacher conferences, both of these women told me how amazingly different our daughters are. Since Rae excels in English and suffers through math, and Samantha suffers through English and excels at math, it is hard to believe they both came from the same gene pools.
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Charlotte (3rd grade) is right up there with the grades. She is above grade level on every test and loves every subject at school. Her teacher's only complaint was that Charlotte would rather be chatting with her friends or chasing them on the playground than reading her lesson. Her head is not in her book - it's out the window, watching the wind in the trees. Ahhhh, youth. There's a time and a place for everything. I was especially proud when Charlotte's teacher gave her high praise - Charlotte, says her teacher, has amazing manners. She consistently says yes ma'am and no thank you. It warms my heart. It probably goes something like this: teacher - Charlotte, please pay attention. Charlotte - Yes ma'am. And repeat; all day long.
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Josephine (1st grade) had not a single mark lower than a 3 - which is the best you can get. She scored so high on all her standardized tests that she doesn't have to do them again all year. She's already hit the scores they expect by the end of the year. Way to go, Joey! Her teacher had great comments, too; she's social, she's a leader and she thrives in the classroom.
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These pictures are from a family night at the elementary school - they have these each term to let the kids come play educational games and bring their families out to the school. Plus, they serve popcorn and hot dogs, which is a big draw when you are 7 and 8 years old.....

09 October 2011

Josephine Is Seven

Josephine is officially seven. It is almost impossible to believe how quickly time flies. She was born in North Carolina, at Woman's Hospital. She has been riding a bike and doing beautiful cartwheels for two years now. She is in the first grade and loves school. Her favorite part of the school day is math, she says, but she also says she loves P. E. Joey comes off as shy to adults, but, she is as playful and curious as any kid. She loves to draw and color, play and pretend.

Here are some facts about Josephine that everyone should know: her favorite animal is a monkey; her favorite color is pink; she has the longest first name in her class at school or church. Her favorite Disney princess is Belle, because, Joey says, she's the prettiest and she was nice to the beast and the furniture. When she grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian. Joey leaves notes and flowers for James and me, and her pictures she draws at school are full of her family and big pink hearts.
Josephine had a pumpkin party this year, with friends over to paint pumpkins, play pumpkin games and eat pumpkin pie for birthday cake. It was delicious. Although a few of her friends, who had never tried pumpkin pie, were not convinced it was delicious.
Here are a few photos of the big day:
painting pumpkins and party guests
pumpkin chunkins!

Pin the Nose on the jack-o-lantern and bobbing for apples!
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Last week, Josephine celebrated turning seven by spending the gift card my folks sent her - she bought a lunchbox. Since they were on sale, she also bought Charlotte a lunchbox. So sweet.
In a few weeks, Joey and Charlotte will do the annual birthday/shopping lunch with James' side of the family. The birthday fun continues!
Happy Birthday, Joey!

08 October 2011

First Run

Samantha participated in the "Inspiration Run". This is a marathon, all through the streets of town, wherein the local running club promotes healthly living. The group starts at one school, jogs to the next, stops and talks to the gathered students about running, exercising, healthly choices, etc. Then they throw some frisbees and tee shirts into the crowds and run off to the next school. They do this all day until they have run over 26 miles and visited eight elementary, two middle, two junior and the high school in our town. Samantha joined our friend, Dawn Brown, in running from Samantha's school - Junior South - to two other elementary schools, before Dawn dropped Samantha off at home and headed back to work. They covered 5.5 miles. Next run is a 5k in October!

01 October 2011

Forensics?

When Rachel entered the seventh grade, she was able to choose two electives. She chose art, which she later changed to choir, and forensics. Forensics, I asked? Like crime scene investigations? Rachel educated the rest of us in forensics. It seems that what James and I called theater and debate is now called Forensics. The students learn the art of performing poetry, prose, mime, duets, solos, debate and words/music. The intro year the students perform for their class and build their skills and confidence. At the end of the intro year students can try out for the JV team, which is the second year. Rachel loved her first year, made the JV team and now competes for her school. In her first tournament, held at historic Central High, among fifteen schools, her JV team took second place in words/music for their rendition of a scene in the Wiz, and Rae took seventh individually for her presentation in prose, doing a selection from Runaway, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Rachel was so excited. Break a leg, lady!!

05 September 2011

Training


Samantha has been out of gymnastics for a few years now and has never quite been as passionate about another sport. She tried soccer, swimming, and horseback riding, but, either we couldn't keep up with her, or she just didn't feel it. So, her newest endeavor is running. Our fabulous and soon to be famous friend, Dawn Brown, made a training regimen for Samantha to follow and helped me select a race for her to enter as her goal to complete training. She's been diligent and so excited. Her enthusiasm has gotten Rachel to participate, too, but, not on the distance portion, just the sprints and the bleachers - yes, they were sore the next day - way to go ladies!! And Thank you again, Dawn! More to come on training and race day festivities!

04 September 2011

Rock in Little Rock




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We found a great playground in Little Rock. Actually, Rachel's keeper coach found it and was using the soccer fields, so we hit the playground. Charlotte is 8, Josephine is 6 and Jay is 3. August, 2011

20 August 2011

Girl's Camp 2011

Rachel and Samantha left us this summer for a week to go to Girl's Camp. They were up in Boonesville, AR, and it was hot. HOT. I'm talking 110 degrees and humid. It was the one week this summer with no rain and record breaking temperatures. Hot, hot hot and humid. They were well taken care of, though, because they are already talking about when they get to go back next year. They had plenty of water to drink, a great group of leaders and in the whole group of approximately 200 girls, only two scorpion bites. Yikes.



19 August 2011

Happy Anniversary

The year was 1966. Our nation was in turmoil over a "police action" in Southeast Asia. Wayne was a new airman, only 23 years old. Juanita was a high school junior working at the base coffee-shop. They met over coffee and algebra homework. They jumped in, side by side, and married on August 19, 1966. By October, of the same year, Wayne was sent to Vietnam and forced to leave his young bride. While he was serving his country, Juanita delivered their first child alone. Two sons followed; many trials, adventures and joys followed. Forty-five years later, they are still holding hands as they walk side by side. Happy Anniversary, Dad and Ma! You crazy kids.... :)

Back to the Books .... 2011


It's that time of year again: the BallTeam is back in school. The school district keeps moving up the start date, and it makes summer so short. Nonetheless, I think the ladies will each admit they are ready to get back to structure and friends and projects, even if it means getting up early and doing homework! This year we have two in elementary school and two in junior high. And who could forget the little man, still home and loving his alone time with Daddy? Well, I forgot him. He's not in any of these pictures because he was snoozing happily while all the ladies were up and off to school ... what a good boy!