30 December 2016

Splash - December 2016

The splash photo for December 2016 was not as Christmas-y as I wanted it to be, but, it perfectly captures the togetherness of these five amazing people.  As I've said many times before on this blog, they may all have come from the same gene pool, but, boy are they different people.  Rachel is fiercely independent, but, will be at my side to help with whatever I need.  Samantha is a homebody but is coming to grips with the fact that she will soon be out on her own.  Charlotte is full of bravado and is fearless, but, is so very sensitive for the feelings of others, so much so that she tries to be everyone's champion.  Josephine is curious and is always into making the next project or experiment.  She is determined and thinks the world is her playground.  JMichael is the clown of the BallTeam.  He is sweet and playful and he has all four of his ladies eating out of his hand, even though they don't see it.

Separately they are incredible personalities, all making their way.  Together, they are loud and busy and sometimes laughing, sometimes screaming.  Pictured here they are wrapped in the quilt my mom made James and me for Christmas a few years back.  If only we could keep them cozy and together and smiling, always wrapped up by the protection and warmth of their loving folks.  That, for me, would bring me great tidings of comfort and joy.

another shot from that day - my BallTeam, December 2016.

27 December 2016

Christmas 2016

First, a few pictures......

On Christmas Eve, Charlotte and Josephine made the 'snowman' donut treats to bag up and deliver to our friends.
My job was to make the banana bread - well, it was Rachel's job, but, she was working, so, literally as I was gathering ingredients and reading a recipe to make banana bread (which I have never made), I hear a knock on our door.  It's our Sister Missionaries!  Sister Galloway, pictured above, and Sister Bottorf, pictured below!  They said, Hey Sister Ball, we were just in your neighborhood and we thought we should stop in and say hello.  I said, Come on in.  Do y'all bake?  They both were thrilled and said, I would love to make your banana bread.  They didn't need a recipe or anything.  Amazing.  It's a Christmas miracle!  Such sweet girls and I still don't know how to make banana bread.
Thank you ladies!
On Christmas, JMichael was the official gift passer-outter.
Mom made us table runners - five different ones for the changing seasons, so we can see her on our table all year long.  This is most challenging for poor Josephine, who usually has "her" table covered in some sort of project.  This poinsettia was free from WalMart - it comes with a story.  After Christmas, there was a full cart of poinsettias in the center aisle and the sign read, "Free".  Mom had come to see us for a couple days (she flew in and out of Kansas City and spent most of the time with David and his family - but, she headed south to see us, too) and of course we hit WalMart while she was here.  We saw the cart of free poinsettias and decided when we finished getting our other stuff that we would pick one up on the way to the check out.  So we gathered what all we came for and as we headed to the check out, Charlotte was disappointed to see a child (Indian, dressed in a sarong and very pretty, about 10 years old), pushing the whole cart of poinsettias with her family to the check out.  Josephine said, quietly, to Mom, hey, that Indian girl is taking our Christmas poinsettia, that's not right.  We all kinda stood in disbelief as Mom gently walked over to the little girl and said, politely, "Do you mind if my granddaughter chooses one of your free poinsettias?  We wanted to take one home, too."  The little girl obliged Charlotte chose our poinsettia.  We now have the story of the free Indian poinsettia.  A new Christmas classic!

20 December 2016

Cars! A repost - too cute.

This is the mat our kids played on.  For hours.  and hours.  and hours.  and hours.

I posted these sweet pictures way back when.
(left to right we have Josephine, Rachel, Samantha and Charlotte)

and this cutie (JMichael).  Awe!

I just wanted to post it again when I saw the picture of the mat itself.  The kids literally placed every day.  Imaginations racing.  I loved it then, and I treasure it now.

16 December 2016

Cute Kid Quotes - Josephine

Recently we've had some colds come through our family - 'tis the season, right?  Josephine was explaining to me that her head was stuffy and her nose was running.  This didn't make sense to Josephine - all logic and science - how can I feel stuffed up if my nose runs, too?  She kept asking me how to fix her problem - my standard answer to anything medical is drink some water, take a hot shower and take a nap.  That formula cures everything but heartbreak and cancer.

I gave Josephine some sudafed and vicks, which must have done the trick because she reported later that day that now only one of her noses was stuffed; the "other" nose was clear.  Wha??  :)

12 December 2016

BallTeam in pencil, about 2008?

Have I posted this picture before?  It's on the wall in our kitchen and it was "drawn" in a photo booth at a mall.  I remember stuffing all five of them in there and saying, okay, smile!  I treasure it.  On the top row in the left corner is Rachel, maybe ten years old?  Next to her is Josephine, about three.  The full face on the right is Samantha, who would be about nine.  The little half face on the left is JMichael, probably not yet one, and that full smile on the bottom middle is Charlotte, maybe four years old.  Ahh.  It makes me happy just to look at it everyday in my kitchen, and I wanted to preserve it here, 'cause you know I'm not really allowed in the kitchen.

29 November 2016

Splash - November 2016

The Ball Team

This splash was not supposed to turn out like this.  I has in my mind that that I would actually write on their feet and at the last minute I thought editing the photo could look natural.  What is natural is the spontaneity of these five people.  As we were taking some shots cars are driving down our street (this is our front yard).  The kids are quick to say, Momma, the neighbors are wondering what we are up to, again.  Or, Yes, Mr. Car, we are sitting in our yard throwing leaves for the camera.  We got this.  They know we are going to pose for a picture.  They know they are going to get to design and help.  They know they are preserving their images and personalities for future generations.  They know I expect them to participate and enjoy it.  I hope they also know I love them.  Happy Fall, Y'all.

28 November 2016

My Name Is Sam

This a local florist.  We have two in our little town.  Double R has had this sign running for the last few months and they change the name about every week.  There was a Mary week, then Hannah, then Stephanie - then, Sam. 

So Samantha walks in there, with me in tow for identification purposes, and the saleslady says, Hi, can I help you find something?  Samantha just smiles and says, No ma'am.  My name is Sam.  The lady said, well then, you've come for your rose.

She presented Samantha with a pretty yellow rose and baby's breath.  Very nice, Sam.

24 November 2016

Thanksgiving, 2016

Talk about laid back.  Wow.  Thanksgiving can't be any easier or casual than the BallTeam Thanksgiving, 2016.  James' step mother, Jean, made Thanksgiving for us - all of it.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, stuffing and two pies.  James went to see them on Wednesday, and brought it all home.  On Thursday morning, I woke up, heated it all up in the oven and we all ate all day.  It was amazing.  We watched football and played board games and hung out.  Then we ate some more.  Rachel and Evan are not in this picture; they came over later and we had a chess tournament - which only got through the first two rounds before disintegrating into more football and food. 

I am so thankful for these people.  Each one teaches me something different.  Each one is precious.  I love them as a BallTeam and individually.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
And, Rachel is thankful for sleep.  (I'm so jealous.)

16 November 2016

Romance Cliffs

There's a gravel stop on the side of the road, about twenty minutes north of our little rural Arkansas town that has a sheer cliff.  I mean sheer.  It drops off into nothing.  The kind of cliff that makes every momma fiber of your being just cringe and gather your children back to the safety of the car.

But, no.  Not this crowd.  They had to go to the edge and take pictures. 

You can see behind JMichael that the world just falls out into the abyss.  Ok, abyss is a little dramatic.  Acutally, it's about ten stories high.  But it was chilly and windy and I just knew someone would get too close to the edge.  No tragedy befell us this day, and it is a stunning view, but, too risky for my blood.  A friend of ours who grew up here says that this is the cliff that people would take unwanted cars and just push them off.  You can also see that other onlookers have visited this cliff with spraypaint in hand.  In Romance, Arkansas.

12 November 2016

Father/son campout, 2016

Father and son.  JMichael had never slept in a tent and I wasn't' sure James would be able to, with his back problems.  But you do the impossible for your kids, right?
JMichael had a blast - they played zombie tag in the dark with flashlights.  They cooked scrambled eggs in bags.  They built fires and learned about tracking animals.  They shot rifles - and JMichael did really, really, well!  Who knew?
He got to be a scout - out in nature with his friends (and all their dads).  And a zombie.

James did not fare so well and was in bed the whole next day recovering from sleeping on an air mattress in the cold in a tent.  But just ask him - you know he will do it again in a minute.

11 November 2016

Veteran's Day Tribute

Cabot High School has this display for Veteran's Day.  Each flag has a picture and biography of a fallen soldier from Central Arkansas.  So many are so young.  They are from all the branches of the military.  They total about fifty flags.  It's very moving to walk among them and read about these brave and dedicated servicemen and women. 
This is Bud Wassom.  He is the son of a family in our ward and he was killed this past spring when a tornado ripped his home from its foundations.  He was holding his daughter, who was found, only mildly hurt, about a block away.  He died on the scene of his injuries.  He is missed in our ward and his family.

07 November 2016

Who wears it better? (Don't answer that question....)

These are the proofs of the little ladies' school pictures this year (2016-2017).  They are both great pictures of beautiful people.  Just look at them - wearing the same shirt.  Too funny.  With four daughters, the rule is, if it fits you, you can wear it.  None of that, hey, that's my shirt.  Simply, if it fits you, you can wear it.  Apparently, this shirt fits both Charlotte, eighth grade, and Josephine, sixth grade.

03 November 2016

Balls Do Not Grow On Trees; They Are Kicked Into Them

This happened.  This is an accurate representation of my every day life.
Every.  Day.  I do love these kids of ours.

By way of explanation, Charlotte kicked the soccer ball into the tree - see it up there?  Josephine circled it for us.  JMichael didn't climb the tree to get it down, he shook the branches.  The Snapchat picture is curtesy of Josephine, as spectator and chronicler.

31 October 2016

Halloween 2016

Of all the holidays, Halloween is probably my least favorite.  Ok, it was fun when the ladies were little and we dressed them up for a night and did the trunk or treat thing at church.  Then they got older and discovered that they could be scary creatures and go house to house for candy.  That wasn't fun for me any more.  And, it's all about me, remember.  So now they are even older and too big for trick or treating, really, except JMichael, and he isn't interested in walking through the dark to get candy he can't eat 50% of anyway (his nut allergy is still severe).  So this year we did things a little differently.  We did the church trunk of treat - pictured here, we rocked it - and we split up for Halloween proper.

Appy Halloween, y'all!

Rachel - as an 80's chick - and Samantha - as a Razorback cheerleader - were working at Tasty Freeze Halloween night, so they dressed up for work.
Josephine - as Where's Waldo - and Charlotte - as a hippie - went out with friends and canvased the neighborhoods of strangers.  That's just good parenting.
JMichael was my date.  After dropping the ladies at their various destinations, we hit Tasty Freeze for Halloween ice cream - dyed orange and purple.  James stayed home to watch the Vikings play Monday Night Football.  Let's not forget our priorities, now.

But the big news of the evening was from the little ladies.  While Josephine was getting dressed, Charlotte said, Hey Joey, why does Waldo wear stripes?  The answer - Because he doesn't want to get spotted!  Hahahahaha.  Another Halloween in the books.  And it was great.  Boo!

30 October 2016

Splash - October 2016

How many of you can identify each member of the BallTeam in masks?  Thank you, WalMart, for the easy peasy set up.  The answers:  Rachel the Cat, Charlotte the Creepy Spooky Baby, Samantha the cool shades emoji, JMichael the ghoulish scream, and Josephine the oversized toddler.

20 October 2016

Parent Teacher Conference - JMichael

JMichael is in third grade.  He is amazing at soccer and any sport, really.  He loves math and he understands the way things come together and are taken apart.  He's just a fantastic kid.  One thing he's not so great at, however, is reading or writing.  It's a serious struggle and he get help from a specialist at school.  He's dyslexic and letters are garbled for him.  So while he understands math, he will struggle with the actual numbers.  And while he understands ideas and processes, he will struggle with letters and spelling.  At least that's how his teacher explains it to me.  Parent teacher conferences are a great way for us to touch base - we see his teacher and his specialist - and we can get our own homework to help him "see" straight.  This was his "glow" on the wall outside his classroom this time - his poem about his grandparents.  I'll reprint it here cause it may be tough to read:
Granparents are fun
Really fun
And fun
Never give up
People are great
And probably sleeping
Never give up
Text me

He cracks me up.

18 October 2016

Homework Hero

With five kids in a family, you can imagine that we have a spectrum of personalities.  I had to snap this quick shot the other day of Charlotte, eighth grade, struggling to do her algebra homework.  I'll be the first to say that I was no help whatsoever.  Who ever thought that letters belong in math?  Luckily, Samantha heard us from her room and arrived to save the day.  Look, she says, it's easy.  Do it like this.... and I sat back to watch Samantha, twelfth grade, and in algebra three, effortlessly explain "Greek to the Roman".  Sisters, yes, but, such different people and different strengths.  Beautiful.

13 October 2016

Warning - This post is Rated R

This is a screen shot from my phone - Samantha's texts are in white and I'm in green.  Samantha has been dragging and generally blah, so we let her stay home to rest a day from school.  James took her to the doctor and I was texting her while she was at the doctor.

I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

07 October 2016


Our ladies spend a lot of time on their hair.  We have a lot of hair.  Here, Charlie demonstrates the process - half straight, half natural curl.  We are so blessed with beautiful children.  If we have left no other mark on this world, we sure did create five beautiful people.

04 October 2016

Red Dragons, Soccer Fall 2016

 Soccer season was tougher this year than last year.  JMichael is now playing on the bigger field, and it's seven on seven.  His coach is stressing the shapes of soccer, staying in position, passing/dribbling skills and footwork.  I've seen him make some amazing passes and call out plays to his teammates mid stride.  They didn't win every game.  They did learn and run and sweat up a storm.  JMichael was always winded - it's a BIG field all of a sudden - and he worked hard and enjoyed himself.  He even spent some time as goalie - something he thought he wouldn't like - and he did great.  He dove on the ball, kicked it to midfield and fearlessly fell on a ball while feet were flying!  I already can't wait for next season.  It's so fun to watch him play.

01 October 2016

The Fair

This year for CabotFest the Junior High South Choir sang a few numbers.  Here's Charlotte in the center, in what is her first official public performance.  I note that here since one day hence the folks making her documentary might need this picture to show where she began - a street performance in rural Arkansas.  They sounded great.  They performed the Star Spangled Banner and The Climb, by Miley Cyrus.  
This is the bottom of JMichael and Josephine's feet.  For her birthday Josephine got $25.00 from her Poppop Jim.  Since the fair was in town, she wanted to go ride rides.  I said no, because I didn't want to spend the money, it's just too expensive.  She says, I'll pay for it.  Charlotte was at a friend's house, and the big ladies were working, as usual.  I said if you are paying, you have to take JMichael, too.  And so we went.  As it turns out, $20 buys just enough tickets for two kids to ride three rides.  Robbery.  But, hey, maybe she'll learn a little about spending, or not spending, money.
They both loved this ride, they rode it twice and since it wasn't very busy, they had super long rides.
So much for my plan.  She loved spending her money at the fair.  I bet you next year her birthday money will go they same place since they happen - usually - at the same time - the first weekend in November.

30 September 2016

Splash - September 2016

The September splash was taken on a Sunday afternoon at church. Yes, Josephine and JMichael are in the tree.  I'm also not a fan of all the shadows on their faces, but, hey, I'm not complaining.  All five sitting with me in church is worth a less than glorious photo.  Over the years they have each had Sunday mornings when they woke up defiant.  I have left them home rather than fight.  I have also had Sunday mornings when everyone was up, getting ready and happily marching off to meetings.  With seven strong personalities in one family I expect you are bound to get a broad spectrum of opinions.  All five kids know, though, that church is expected and it's important to James and me.  They are their own people and I can only pray I've taught them well.  They are amazing people and I'm proud to call them mine.

26 September 2016

Splash - May 2013

This gem is the splash for May 2013.  This field is close to our house and for a few weeks in late April and early May it turns yellow.  This shot cost Rachel and JMichael a fit of sneezing, but, it's a great treasure to me - golden kids in a field of gold.

Splash - April 2013

I was looking through old emails today and I found two treasures!  This is the splash from April, 2013.  This photo was one of my first attempts at an optical illusion - April Fools.   It's so great to find these "old" photos.  They, and the kids in them, are truly treasures.