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.
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?
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.
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.

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.