30 December 2012


Happy 2013 everyone!  Make it count. 
As my daughters say - YOLO.
This is teen code for You Only Live Once.
In our day, the dark middle ages, we said
Carpe Diem - seize the day.  You dig?

28 December 2012

Charlotte Enters Double Digits!

Every birthday I wonder the same thing - where did the time go?  Seriously.  WHERE?  I haven't aged a bit.  I'm not getting any older - why do my kids insist on growing up?  It just amazes me.  One minute you are teaching a sweet little girl how to tie her shoes and sing her alphabet and then the next instant she is texting boys on a phone she bought with her babysitting money and driving me around town.  I just don't understand how it happens.  But it does happen.  This Thursday, it happened to Charlotte.

When I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte I was already five months along.  I was thrilled.  I was facing a four month pregnancy and I felt great!  Then, the doctor gave James and I the news.  It shook us to our core.  Charlotte was a high risk of being born with Downs Syndrome.  Her measurements just weren't coming out right and we should prepare ourselves for a child with special needs.  The doctor asked us if we wanted to abort.  Uhm, no?!

Charlotte was a scheduled c-section and even though she was actually due on January 5, James and I scheduled her birth for December 27 - we wanted the tax deduction in this year, not just next year.  All went well and she was born healthy and robust - the largest baby I delivered of our five - at 9 pounds, 14 ounces. 

Charlotte is the third girl in our family, and since James and I felt like we had met the family expectations in naming Charlotte's older sisters with the family names of James' mom and my mom, and we were at liberty to name Charlotte after anyone we pleased.  We chose the middle name of Lareine - which is wholly fabricated.  La reine is the French word for the Queen.  And so she is - Queen Charlotte of BallTeam.

Fun Charlie Facts:::::
Charlotte loves the water and in the background of the balloon picture you can see her fish tank - her fish all have names and personalities and she is diligent in caring for their every fishy desire.
Charlotte loves the water, and loves to swim.  She consistantly places in the top leaders for her age divisions in the state.  She wants to swim in the 2016 Olympics and meet Ryan Lochte.
Charlotte loves to sing.  The house is full of her voice.  She can wear her sisters clothes and my shoes are too small for her.
Charlotte will soon - very soon - join her older two sisters in being taller than Mom.
Charlotte loves math and science, and is not fond of reading.  She is constant motion and is never lacking for a friend to play with or the imagination to start a game.
Charlotte is our middle child and while she is anxious to join her sisters in babysitting and taking on reponsibility, she is excited to have a babysitter coming for New Years and play games with the little kids at our house.  She is truly a middle child in that she works well with her older sisters or her younger brother and sister.
Charlotte is our cook - she loves to be in the kitchen.  She thinks of others and is willing to learn new things.  Her favorite color is teal and she wants to own a Subway and coach a swim team after she wins the gold medals at the Olympics.
We love our Charlie girl!  Happy Birthday, Charlotte Lareine!

27 December 2012

Christmas, 2012

Christmas at the BallHouse was full of surprises.  First, my Mom made these super stockings for each of the ladies and JMichael.  Santa filled them and I'm sure he admired her handiwork just as much as we did.  Thanks, Ma.  (James and I have one, too!)
The faces behind the bags....
A white Christmas in Arkansas is crazy weird.  If it snows here (and it usually does maybe three times in a winter), it always seems to snow in January or February.  But Christmas 2012 was a white Christmas.  By the afternoon, the snow was coming down.  By nightfall, it was apparent that it would stick.  By morning, we had ten inches on the ground.  I had an extra day off of work......
....because we also had no electricity, but only for 15 hours.  Although I have lived without electricity more times than I can remember, I don't enjoy it in the winter.  Being without air conditioning is an inconvenience, but, being without heat is much more bothersome, and dangerous.  As a sidenote, the last time it snowed on Christmas Day in Arkansas - was 1926, and that was only 2.5 inches.
We also had a surprise that lasted 12 days - a secret santa.  We had lots of goodies and on Christmas Eve, we found a ham, ten pounds of potatoes and sugar cookies on our doorstep.  So wonderful!

20 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the BallTeam!
Rachel, Samantha, Charlotte, Josephine and JMichael

17 December 2012

Another birthday

James in the Army - circa 1987
James had a birthday last week.  I feel like he gets left off of the blog a lot.  Partly that comes from the fact that most pictures I take seem to be of our kids.  Another part is that I think he wants it that way.  For those of you who don't know our family really well, or have moved away, James had a serious injury in January of  2010.  He hurt, or re-injured, his lower back.  The happy go lucky man who used to play basketball three days a week now walks with a cane and is a stay at home Dad.  It's hard when your body won't do what your mind tells it to do.  I can only imagine.  He lives it.  Some days he's down and full of frustration.  Some days he pushes through and accepts help from the rest of us who want him to still participate, as much as he is able, in our lives.  He will tell you he is broken, but, he's still here.  1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us nothing will happen to you that you can't handle.  Trials are tough.  If we come out stronger on the other end, we've learned and progressed.  James is one tough cookie.  Pain is a cruel partner, but life goes on.  The kids and I need him and he does as much as he can to keep up with us!  Happy Birthday, Beau. 
Nothing says Happy Birthday like Tastee Freeze!

16 December 2012

Excuse me?

Yesterday I was asking Josephine (8 years old) why it took her so long to get her shoes on.  She looked up at me, and let out a sigh, "Momma, come on.  Can't you see I'm having a struggle?"

Early today I asked her if she understood what I had asked her to do.  She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, "No, Momma.  I'm still perplexed."

Ok, so maybe these are not huge vocabulary words, but, when you hear them used by your baby girl, they are amazing.  So is she.

15 December 2012

Kai Pan

Why are these children all smiling?  They are enjoying one of our newest BallTeam Christmas traditions - Kai Pan.  For the last two years, James' Dad has taken our family out to eat at a Japanese restaurant - Kai Pan.  It's one of those cool places that cooks on the grill right in front of you.  Our chef gave a running narrative of what he was doing, insulted American cooking, aka microwaving, and actually threw broccoli at three of us - asking me first to open my "sexy lips" and catch.  He was quite the entertainer.
Here he is in action shot.  The food was really good.  It was so good, in fact, that we brought home to go boxes with our leftovers and we ate it again for a late supper.  With five kids, it's hard to find one place that everyone likes.  Kai Pan is our family favorite.

Jim wasn't able to come this year because he caught an untimely stomach bug.  But we had pictures of him with us at Thanksgiving.  For Christmas Kai Pan, we get Jean, his wife of almost 30 years, James' step-mother.  Here she is with Samantha, who wasn't in the first picture.  Merrii Karisamasu.

07 December 2012

Central Christmas 2012

Charlotte and Josephine had their Christmas program this week.  One of the perqs of living in the Bible Belt is that a Christmas program REALLY IS a Christmas program.  It's not a holiday celebration.  Teachers use words like Jesus and Nativity.  I, for one, appreciate it.
The ladies sang with their classmates and each class did about three songs.  Charlotte, with the rest of the fourth grade, played Silent Night on the recorder while the audience sang.
I was able to get this energetic group of girls to stand still long enough to get this picture.  In order from left to right they are: Josephine, Drew, Kendall, KoryLynn, Charlotte and Ryan.
The interesting thing about this group of friends is that they are three pairs of sisters.  My two are Charlotte and Josephine.  Drew and Ryan are twins, and Kendall and KoryLynn are twins.  Charlotte has another set of twins - two boys - in her class at church.  Twice the fun!!!
My two beauties posing for the Momma.
Christmas, 2012
Charlotte, fourth grade, 9 years old
Josephine, second grade, 8 years old

06 December 2012

Wee Care Christmas 2012

Jay Michael attends a preschool class at a Baptist church three mornings a week.  He adores it.  Tonight was the Christmas program.  He was very excited.  His teacher, Ms. Teresa, is wonderful.  Jay Michael always says, while is playing at home and something interesting happens, I have to tell Ms. Teresa about that, Momma.  I also have her to thank for Jay Michael's newest favorite saying, "That is correct."  I know he's picking up lessons at school when he smiles at me and says, "Momma, that is correct."  Oh. My. Gosh. Cutie.
And here he is with his friends - the starstruck blonde to his left is Lane, his best bud.  The dark haired boy on his right is Luca.  These three boys are in a class with nine girls.  Ms. Teresa says they stick together.
His class, with three other four-year-old classes, sang three Christmas songs - all religious.  And, they recited Luke 2:11 - For unto you is born this day in the City of David, A Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  Yes, they recited it.  I melted.  It was a very nice presentation, with cookies after.  We had skipped supper to be there on time and so we let Jay Michael pick where he wanted to get supper.  While he was eating is hamburger, he said, Momma, do I get a hamburger because I was so good at singing?  Yes, baby boy.  You did great!

04 December 2012

Local Celebrity

Salisbury, Maryland, the town where I grew up, held its Christmas parade last weekend.  And who is this jolly camouflaged elf?  It's my brother, Eric, and his lovely wife Abbey, riding on the float for the Veterans.  Everybody wave!

01 December 2012

Before and After

The transformation - only a few minutes with Dad and his clippers gives JMichael a much needed trim.  From mop-top cutie to monk.  He's growing so, so fast.
Four years old, November 2012.