31 December 2015

Splash - December 2015

The Ball Team
Yes, this picture is blurry.  In a feeble attempt to tie in the mistake I made and make it significant and appear intentional, I will note that the last year HAS passed by like a blur.  Seriously.  Rachel got a job (or three), bought a car (or three) started dating and graduated high school.  Samantha started dating and leaves the house now a lot more than she ever has before.  She changes her mind all the time on what she wants to do after she finishes high school.  Charlotte grew about two feet - really - and now plays two competitive sports.  She only thinks she started dating.  Josephine started and stopped gymnastics and piano and now masters both without any formal setting and has taken on construction via a new love of legos.  JMichael still plays video games and soccer - plus he loves wrestling, football, baseball and his newest attempt to keep up with his sisters - basketball.  He alos believes he is dating.  This year WAS a blur.  James kicked all his meds - he left his pain management doctor and literally did his own withdrawal treatment for his meds (hydrocodone, morphine, and tzanadine).  He's all natural now, and while he still hurts and sometimes more than ever, at least he is clear and present and his liver and heart are not having to work as hard.  He's amazing.  I'm still writing for a law firm.  Last year it was just me and the lawyer and she handled family law almost exclusively.  This year, her husband passed the bar and joined us.  Now we do wills and civil litigation and personal injury and criminal and wow.  It's a whole new game.  James and I are exhausted.  I hope 2016 brings just as much good news - Happy New Year, everyone.

26 December 2015

Christmas, 2015

Gingerbread houses with the Ball Team....gone in sixty seconds.
Balmy Christmas day by the town fountain.
We are a paycheck to paycheck kind of family.  Christmas is not a huge event, gift-wise.  James and I do what we can, and our parents are generous, but, we try to focus more on each other.  This year each of the kids got a present they wanted, and a few little things they liked.  We played, we ate Chinese food and we hung out together.  That's what Christmas is about - our family.  Jesus Christ was born in a stable all those years ago and He wants us to be happy, and enjoy our time here to learn.  We need to learn about Him, about life, about how to be happy.  That's Christmas.

18 December 2015

Stockings, 2015

This picture does not do these stockings justice.  You are all invited to my house to view them in person and appreciate their beauty.  Ma outdid herself this year.  Each stocking has a different Santa, a different border, a different toe design....all backed in crushed red velvet.  I love them, Ma.  This kids asked if Santa was going to fill them and I said absolutely not.  I will treasure them.  Thank you, Ma, for all your hours of stitching our Christmas stockings.

15 December 2015

Rachel is a high school graduate!

So this happened.  Rachel graduated high school.    She finished one semester early and she is now working full time at Tasty Freeze.  Rachel is that teenager that has all the answers.  Sometimes they are the wrong answers, but, she has the answers nonetheless.  She has a plan and dedication all her own.  Rachel has always been stubborn and dedicated to her ideals.  Now, as a blooming adult, she is determined to take on the world - move out, make her way and live her life.  You go girl.  Just don't forget to call home - we are your biggest fans.  Congratulations, Rae.

10 December 2015

Dance Wall

This is a bizarre picture.  I know.  Samantha is 16 and she is the second one in on the left side.  I don't tell my kids enough how proud I am of them.  Each one is a different person, with different interests and talents.  Each one of them is a huge part of my life and I cannot imagine how devastated I would be if I lost one.  Recently, in our rural little town, a car was in an accident.  The driver lost control and hit a tree and rolled a few times, ejecting the occupants.  All four victims were either juniors, seniors or had just graduated from high school.  All popular, blonde, pretty, full of life.  This accident brought out a lot in people.  Some mourned, others warned, still others grieved silently.  My kids ride with their friends - most kids do.  Tragedy can be right around the next corner.  Hug your littles.  Love those kids. 

29 November 2015

Splash - November 2015

Just the Ball Team at the dog park.  Literally.  I took this picture at a dog park.  We didn't bring any dogs.  We did play on the play area and there was this amazing whirly thing that spins.  If you get in tight, like a figure skater, you go so fast you cannot know where you are.  Everyone had a turn.  We can have fun anywhere - just being together.  (Well, usually.  There will be the occasional scuffle.)

27 October 2015

Just a Friday at school.....

What do your kids wear to school?  Charlotte has morning practice for her basketball team, so she wears her practice clothes out into the darkness on the way to school at 6:00 a.m.!

And Josephine had a frontier festival day and went to school as 1850s Josephine.  She was so excited - they are going to have a full day of activities - churning butter, cleaning rifles, weaving rope, shopping at the trading post, all followed up by a washboard hoe-down.  Fifth grade is so fun.

26 October 2015

Splash - October 2015

Simple, right?  A fall blanket, leaves, a sunny day and five smiling kids making a pyramid.  Love it.  Love the smiles.  Love the BallTeam.

24 October 2015

Happy Halloween, 2015

Happy Halloween - this year we celebrated a week early at the trunk or treat at church.  Rachel was working, so she missed out on the fun.  We had a pirate theme - each auxiliary had a booth for games and we enjoyed a pot luck dinner of hot dogs and chips.  Primary's (I'm in the primary presidency) booth was to dig for buried treasure - ie, gold chocolates in deer corn in a kiddie pool with palm trees.  Elder's Quorum (James is in that presidency) did a pirate ship cannon shoot.  He was in charge of rocking the ship while the kids got to shoot cannon balls at the attacking sharks.  So cool.
Count JMichael and Josephine, the brainy scarecrow.
Charlotte the cat and Samantha as the fighter (you can choose your own backstory)

23 October 2015

Cute Kid Quote, Josephine

This is the recycling bin at the door of WalMart.  You have walked past it hundreds times.  Maybe you put your Walmart sacs in there to recycle them.  I personally hadn't given it much notice.  Josephine mentioned to me as we were leaving Walmart last night that she finally figured out what that big bin was for.

Mom, she says:  you can put your Walmart sacs in that bin over there to recycle them.

Yes, I said.  Sure.

Josephine went on:  I just read it and figured that out.  When I was younger I thought it was a place to put your teeth when you lost them.

Look at the picture this time and tell me if you don't think that the tooth fairy now has a lost tooth recycling bin at Walmart?

Kids are so great. 

17 October 2015

Homecoming, 2015

Samantha danced with her team at homecoming this year and my friend was there taking pictures.  She was able to get some close up shots and I'm so grateful.  I love that I am able to publish this blog because I view every shot and post as a piece of time I was able to capture.  One day I'll be 80 and I'll read these posts and stare at the pictures which froze time for only an instant and saved it here for me to enjoy later.  Samantha can look back at 80 and see herself in living color as a beautiful 16 year old girl dancing at the homecoming game.  Her grandchildren will one day, I hope, enjoy these posts and pictures, too.  This goes, of course, for all my beautiful children and their grandchildren and generations to come.  For all I know Samantha when she she's 80, will still be able to do a grand jetee like she is doing in the last picture.  (She's the one directly above the 0, front and center.)  Go Panthers!
And Charlotte was there, too! Walking in the homecoming parade with the float for her swim team, the Wahoos.  So beautiful.

10 October 2015

Red Dragons, Soccer Fall 2015

Soccer season this year has been a real building experience.  JMichael has built skills and a real knowledge of the game.  For the first time in all his five seasons as a soccer player, he will signal to his teammates on the field, call out the plays to them and as a result he gets some great passes in.  It's just so amazing to me to watch my kids be themselves.  That might sound weird, but, JMichael was born as a sweet little lump who was hospitalized because he couldn't breathe on his own and then, in the blink of an eye, he is the curly headed left footer who calls a give and go at midfield.

02 October 2015

Josephine is Eleven!

Josephine is eleven.  Ugh.  This is flying.  Joey has always been the baby girl and suppose she always will be the baby girl, but, wow.  Eleven?

At eleven, Josephine is in the fifth grade.  Middle school.  She is on a team that rotates classes through three teachers.  It's a good middle step between elementary school, walk in a line everywhere, to junior high, individual schedules and you're on your own.  She is a whiz at school - I do not worry about her grades.  She asks tons of questions, argues with everything.  EVERYTHING.  And she is bright.  Super bright.  She explores, she experiments, she analyzes.  She is literally exhausting.  We just love her.

Josephine had to give up gymnastics - it's not her, it's us.  It just got too expensive.  She was really good at it, and that just means it's competitive and her coach was helping her master amazing skills, but, always asking us for more money.  Sorry Joey.  As a compromise, Josephine asked to learn the piano.  Brilliant.  Rachel picked up the piano at about the same age and she never took a lesson.  She just listens and repeats.  It's really amazing.  The ladies get their musical abilities from James.  I can't carry a tune in a bucket.  Josephine is learning from a lady at church who teaches her once a week.  In three weeks of lessons she is already on page 25 of her lessons book.  She's in a hurry to master the piano so she can learn another instrument.  She hasn't decided which one yet. 

Josephine is smart, witty and always ready to go somewhere.  Anywhere.  If our car leaves the driveway and Josephine is not in it, there's a good reason.  This child hates to be left at home.  She wants to explore, move and experience.  Joey doesn't like to cook, she doesn't like raisins or cucumbers and she loves to color.  Loves it.  She makes bracelets from rubber bands and cross stitch floss.  She is great at cleaning her room and I never worry about her remembering homework or projects - she's on it.  Another detail of Josephine at eleven - she loves board games.  She will sit still for a good book or a board game.  And minecraft.  Don't get her started on minecraft.  She's built some amazing things.  (she made a county fair - complete with livestock exhibits and rides and fair food booths - it was crazy).

Josephine Lisette.  Eleven.  The first BallTeam kid to do her birthday fingers pose with her feet.  We just love her.

30 September 2015

Silly Selfie

As a treat for great singing in Primary, the little two got these way cool glasses.  There were a few leftovers, so the chorister was generous enough to let me have two more.  Josephine, here on the far right, is wearing her own glasses.  My idea was to take the splash picture with everyone wearing the glasses but, the picture had to be taken so close up to see the glasses that it degenerated into a selfie.  It's adorable, I think.  Everyone is smiling and making faces.  That's just another Tuesday at the BallTeam house.

27 September 2015

Splash - September 2015

The September 2015 splash was seriously a last minute idea.  I was talking with my co-worker about the fact that we both have kids graduating from high school this year.  I just can't wrap my head around the fact that Rachel could possibly be 17, let alone how she could have hit such a milestone already.  I truly feel like she should still be 10.  Sigh.  My co-worker and I were talking about what her graduation year will be and what years the other kids will graduate.  This photo was taken at the high school football field on the bleachers and I was playing with them, saying, show me your angry face.  Now sad.  Now happy.  Now surprised.  Surprised hit the mark I wanted.  I'm not surprised they will graduate, mind you, that's a given.  Just, man...how did it happen so fast?  It will be 2026 in ten short years....  {heavy} sigh.

23 September 2015


Charlotte is our swimmer.  If you are keeping up with our BallTeam, you may remember that she swims year round for the Little Rock Dolphins.  Well, she did.  Charlotte is now a Wahoo!
What is a wahoo, you may ask?  A wahoo is a large, sleek, fast, predatory fish that doesn't live or hunt in schools because they are just too aggressive.  It is the third fastest fish in the ocean.  Charlotte's team - the Dolphins - was based in Little Rock, and while they did give us a good start in swimming and introduced us to Charlie's favorite Coach ever - Coach Brian - we have parted ways.  Coach Brian broke away and formed his own team - Wahoos - and we gladly followed. 
Charlotte "flying" and in her ready position for backstroke.
And, as always, cheering on her team.
Swimming has taken over a lot of who Charlotte is.  I was worried at one point that that would be a bad thing.  I don't worry anymore.  She has embraced it - she works hard and she makes great progress under the direction of Coach Brian.  The Wahoos range in age from about 8 to 18.  Charlotte has made some good friends and is surrounded by older teammates who are good kids and who support her.  Swimming has been good for her physically - and good more her emotionally.  She is pretty cocky about it, actually.  Good for her.  When she says she can smoke you in the water, watch out.  She can.  Go Wahoos!

16 September 2015

Central Elementary Family Night

The elementary school has a family night once per term and each time it's a different theme - math, science, community, etc...  This time it was game night.  JMichael played Connect Four with Dad while Charlie Joey and I played Kerplunk.  They had a rousing game of life size Hungry Hungry Hippos going in the gym and Frisbee and twister out on the playground.  The kids love these nights cause they get to drag James and I in to their territory.  The older kids like to go because they get to visit with their previous teachers and hear how big they are.  James and I like it because it gives us a chance to meet the teachers on a casual basis and spend a little time getting to know them.  It's a win all around.

14 September 2015


My friend Cheryl Davis is taking a photography class and she needed to recreate photographs from famous photographers.  She's taken our family pictures before - you can see those here.  She's asked my ladies and JMichael to model for her, so there will be more to come.  This one of Josephine reminded us of Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, when she is about to break into Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  I just think it's a beautiful and dramatic capture of Josephine - simple beauty.

13 September 2015

Tasty Freeze

We stopped by Tasty Freeze the other night to get a cone and see Rachel at work.  If you look closely at this picture, and if you know Rachel at all - you will see something different.  Is it a mole on her face?  Is it chocolate?  Yup.  Chocolate.  All on her face and all over her shirt.  Ice cream is dirty business.

12 September 2015

Red Dragons

JMicheal (7 years old) is happy again - soccer season has begun.  This year he is a Red Dragon and on a whole new team - new teammates and two new coaches.  The Coaches - Coach Kevin and Coach Michael are both men who know the game of soccer and respect the finesse of a quality player.  They are concentrating on moves and skills, not scores and goals.  One big rule this year is to do a move before you shoot on goal - and no booting the ball.  JMichael is having to adjust and listen more, since previous coaches have been goal driven and loved JMichael for his strong left foot and his ability to kick the ball down the whole field.  This year will be a big improvement year for him in his skills, which the coaches teach with games and fun drills.  So far we have had two games and they have won them both - JMichael scored in both.  It was a tad nippy out this bright September morning, and JMichael was rocking his black beanie.  Go Red Dragons!

05 September 2015

Friday Night Lights

The start of school in the Bible belt south means one thing - football season is in full swing.  While I didn't attend a single high school football game while I was actually in high school, I do go now.  Our family goes, actually.  James and JMichael love to go and watch the games.  Samantha is on the high school dance team, so she cheers throughout the game and is part of the half time show.  Charlotte and Josephine see football games as their time to roam and be social with all the other seventh and fifth graders which attend the game in droves.  I doubt they could tell you the score.  Rachel the working girl doesn't go to the game, but, she serves the ice cream at Tasty Freeze for all the post game celebrating.  James and I sit with other families and we get some social time too.  Although I admit I don't usually know the score, either.  We won this one 32 to 12.

Go Panthers!  We want the red team to win, as JMichael says.

Samantha watching the game.

Big fans.  No picture of Charlotte and Josephine, because I only see them if they want money for an icee.....

31 August 2015

Splash - August 2015

The August splash was just a day at the ballpark.  We try to get to a few ballgames every season.  James and JMichael like to actually watch the baseball.  The rest of us are there for the fresh air and people watching.  For this game, we brought along our cross stitch floss and the ladies made bracelets.  Samantha's boyfriend, Jonathan, came along and Charlotte's best bud, Abby, was also there with her family.  Minor league games are a great way to spend a Saturday night as a family.  Just don't ask me any of the players names; I have no idea.

28 August 2015

The family that plays together....

I'm not gonna lie - my kids are not perfect.  I'm not perfect either.  On the blog, sometimes I think I put my family out there as this amazing set of people who do great and beautiful things.  We ARE those people.  We are also occasionally grumpy, rebellious and mean.  We fight; we get upset and we have those moments that test every fiber of my loving momma's heart.  But then, out of the blue - this stuff happens.  This picture may look on the surface to be another of Josephine's wonderful strength and flexibility poses - and it is.  She's so focused.  But look again - the Momma in me sees more.  On the field, there are four incredible people - freely and happily playing together.  JMichael takes a soccer ball with him literally everywhere he can.  On this day he had a ball and all four sisters to pay with him.  There they are - all out there enjoying themselves and the fresh air and each other.  Bless their sweet and independent hearts.  I hope they always hold on to each other.

24 August 2015

Samantha - mid air

Dance team had picture day - my kids will tell you something about me and school pictures.  I never buy them.  Dag, in this day and age with a phone/camera in my hand or my bag at all times, who needs a professional to take even more pictures of my kids?  For the record, I also do not do fund raisers.  My kids know that if they are bringing home either of those things - like the beginning of the school year always brings - picture order forms and fund raiser info - they can just toss that trash.

So, picture day for dance team - Samantha's friend caught this great shot.  She's fierce, focused and ready to get that Panther crowd rockin'.

This girl loves her dance team.  She does not love the drama that girl groups bring - she is there to dance.  She's a leader and doesn't realize it.  She practices at home and in the car and she knows her grrove.  She's been moved to the front and is proud to a Panther Dancer.  Rock on, Samantha.

22 August 2015


Another school year has begun here in Arkansas and with it comes the required first day of school pictures.  I was sad this year because this is the last year I have all five at home in school.  As unbelievable as it may seem, Rachel is a senior and is all set to graduate in December this year.  She has worked hard to get her core academics finished early and has opted to get out early rather than stay and take electives that are not required for graduation.  The time is flying!  So, for the 2015-2016 academic school year, we have five kids in five schools - not a single two on the same campus at all.

Rachel Mae - Cabot ACE School, 12th grader

Samantha Marie - Cabot High School, 11th grader

Charlotte Lareine - Cabot Junior High South, 7th grader

Josephine Lisette - Cabot Middle School South, 5th grader

JMichael - Central Elementary, 2nd grader

Have a great school year!

11 August 2015


Josephine has been working hard at the gym.  I picked her up from practice today and she, very proudly, showed me her rips.  Rips is the gymnastics term for the tearing of your skin that happens as you hold the bars and spin around - she's learning how to hold the bar tightly enough to stay on and loosely enough to not tear off the skin on her hands - rips.  Her coach pulled the team around and said, See?  This is what hard work gets you.  Rips are considered a badge - proof that you are working hard and hitting a new mark.  Eventually we will get her some grips, to cover this new skin she will grow and she will move onward and upward.  For now she looks a little like a burn victim, but, good work, Joey!

06 August 2015

All the girls - almost

Josephine snapped this selfie because Samantha and Josephine were trying out a new lipstick color.  I'm not often in the photos, and for some reason Charlotte is missing from this one, but, I just have to keep this picture of my beautiful daughters.  James and I often say if we accomplished nothing else in this world, at least we filled our corner of it with five beautiful people - beautiful inside and out.

30 July 2015

Splash - July 2015

The splash picture for July was Samantha's idea.  We had sparklers and at about dusk we lit them up and took a few pictures.  I'm really pleased with how well you can still see these beautiful faces and the fire looks so much bigger and brighter in the picture than it did on our front walk.  This summer has been really hot and really busy and my Ball Team is growing up so fast.  Happy Birthday America.  July 2015.