30 October 2017

Splash - October 2017

I wanted an autumnal background for the October Splash and the next town north of where we live has a a farmer's market.  You can see from all the colors of mums and the pumpkins that fall is in full swing.  The Ball Team is here, on a bench on the sidewalk, letting the background work its seasonal magic while they smile.  I really get from this photo that they might actually love each other.  Beauty everywhere.

08 October 2017

Spooky Shoot

So there's an old farmhouse down the road from our place that is in a of a little TLC, to say the least.  It's on a big farm and the land is producing, but, the house is abandoned.  We all trespassed to get these shots, but, hey, it's October, and the spooky scene was right there.  I wanted to get closer to the house, but some, who will remain nameless, would not go any closer.  Plus, I just love the way the geese were co-operating, too.

Another shot, same spooky abandoned farmhouse - this time at the windmill.  We had a few of these shots and were about to head out when I saw the geese about to fly overhead.  I said, quick, again and smile - then BAM, five beauties, a creepy windmill and smiling geese.  You can't really see the geese smiling, but, you know they are.

I didn't use these for the splash but, I do want to keep them and remember the creepy house and trespassing and the geese.  Dag, what won't I make these kids do for a picture?

05 October 2017

Cute Kid Quote - Big Ladies

I was at the store with the big ladies (Rachel and Samantha).  They may be 19 and 18, but, the fruit snacks still catch their attention.  Samantha saw these two boxes sitting ont he shelf and she turned to Rachel and said, Look, it's you and me as Barbie Fruit Snacks boxes!  I will explain her meaning - Rachel doesn't tan much and we tease her all the time about her place as our whitest child.  Samantha tans to golden brown with seemingly no effort and loves to show everyone how tan she is.  So, yes, you see my two biggest ladies finding a way to pick at each other through the dye batch discrepancies in fruit snacks.  Never a dull moment.

02 October 2017

Cute Kids Quotes - JMichael

Oh this one.  Kids.  I swear sometimes they are so darn adorable.  To our right here, is JMichael.  On most mornings, JMichael will come in to my bedroom and say, Mom, can I have your phone?  The deal is that he can play on it while I get ready for work.  So, on the morning of October 1st, JMichael came in to my room and he did NOT say, Mom, can I have your phone?

Instead, this formerly sweet young man said to his wonderful mother, Mom, guess what?  I'm your only kid now.

I had just woken up but, I was seriously confused.  Had everyone else moved out in the night?  What day was it?

JMichael sensed my fuzziness and he continued - Since today is Josephine's birthday, I'm your only kid now.  Everyone else is a teenager.

He's right.  His sisters are now 13, 14, 18 and 19.  He's still the little man of the house.  He's still everyone's playmate.  He's still the sweet soul that makes sure we all have a smile.

Secondary take home message - I'm getting old.  Ugh.  But what a great way to deliver bad news!

This photo was taken on his first day at Galena, fourth grade, nine years old.

01 October 2017

Josephine is Thirteen?

 This is not the fingers pose I usually take for the birthday posts.  I hope to add one, because we just didn't get that detail covered.  Josephine, just before we left Arkansas, had discovered that she could be a social creature.  The child who was always at home and reserved had blossomed into an extrovert with schedules and activities and a handful of tight friends.  The move really didn't change that.  Here in Maryland she has found a new set of buds and she is as busy as ever.

For her thirteenth birthday, I took her and two friends to play minigolf, then lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, then back to our house where more friends joined in for a sleepover.  We did her family celebration with walking tacos and a cookie cake.

Josephine may be the youngest of the ladies, but, she is never left out.  She is bright, curious and thoughtful.  I want her to stay little, but, I'm so excited to see what she will become.  We love you, Joey.  Welcome to your teenager years.
Aurora and Josephine

Josephine in front of Chelsea's garage.

30 September 2017

Splash - September 2017

September's splash was just the BallTeam and the beanfield next door.  I've been wanting to pose them differently.  I get to see their faces everyday, and in this pose it's kinda hard to see Samantha and Josephine, but, they volunteered when I suggested the hands to feet idea.  Each of them has such a different personality and each of them fit so well with each other.  Contrary to what I've occasionally been told by strangers at WalMart, we really do need five kids.  All of them and each of them makes us a BallTeam.

13 September 2017


Here at the Ball Team house, we have a secret talent - ear wax production.  We excel at it.  The gift comes naturally.  It is, however, annoying.  Rachel is demonstrating a common occurrence at our house - candelling your ears.  The principle behind it is simple - the flame on the "candle" (actually a hollow tube) creates a vacuum behind it and the heat of the flame softens the wax.  Once softened, the wax is sucked up into the vacuum now existing in the tube.  Rachel burned this candle all the way down, without singeing Charlie's hair, and it was full of wax.  Her ears are open and she has no more excuse not to hear her morning alarms.

06 September 2017

Back to School, 2017-2018

First day of school!!   YAY!  (It's been a long hard summer....)

This year we are in Maryland and we no longer have our traditional brick wall backdrop.  Only three are in school still, but, Rachel and Samantha are starting college here in Maryland.  I had to actually lighten these photos because we have to leave for school at seven in the morning!  Three kids in three schools, AND, in three different little towns, makes for an early morning.  Charlie and Joey have to be in class by seven thirty, but, JMichael catches a bus at the end of our driveway at eight thirty.  One crazy thing about Maryland schools - the kids now have lockers.  All three of the schools have lockers, even the elementary schools.  Another crazy thing about Maryland schools - very high tech.  Josephine was issued an iPad, which she keeps for the whole year.  All sixth and seventh graders get one.  The students even keep them over the summer!  Charlotte has a MacBook Air.  A sweet little laptop that she keeps until she graduates!  Whoa.  Homework is on Google Classroom and the ladies say they use them in every class, even PE.  

Charlotte is playing on the school's volleyball team and wants to play basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring.  She's a second soprano in the choir, which is super small, 8 girls.  No guys.  So every voice counts.  They will perform in the area and are already working on Christmas music.  Josephine applied and was accepted into the STEM Academy - about twenty-five students from each grade get in.  It's an advanced Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics curriculum.  She goes to the same class schedule as every other seventh grader, but, her math, science and technology classes are advanced and fast paced.  She will get to go on special field trips to the river and bay, plus "walking trips" to the college for experiments in their labs.  She's very excited and loves school so far.  JMichael?  Well, he's loving his new school, says his teacher is really nice and in the first two weeks of school he has two field trips.  Two, already?  These kids may live it he country, but, the schools use the proximity to the cities to their advantage.  Ahhh, Maryland.  Come see us!

31 August 2017

Splash - August 2017

This splash was taken at my brother, Eric's, house.  One thing I love about this photo is just how deceiving it is.  According to your eye right now, Rachel (in pink) is the tallest.  She is followed by her siblings in true birth order - Samantha (shades) is next, then Charlotte (on the right).  Josephine (far left) is just under Charlotte and JMichael (googles) is the shortest and the youngest.

The truth of the matter is, that Charlotte is the tallest.  Next is Samantha, then Rachel and Josephine about tied and JMichael, right on their heels.  Check back with us in a month or two.  I bet, as adults, it will end up like this:  (from tallest to shortest) JMichael, Charlotte, Josephine, Samantha, Rachel.

27 August 2017

Eric's House

 My little brother lives about an hour south of us.  One of my kids' new favorite things to do is to go hang out at Eric's house.  Their cousin, Gavin, is a junior in high school, so he falls right into the mix.  At Eric's my kids play video games, swim in his pool and hang out with the crowd that is Eric's house.  Eric and Abby have friends that spend time there, too, and Abby's family comes in and out frequently.  Eric and Abby's best friends, Jim and Steph, live nearby and they are part of the draw to Eric's house, too.  Great people.  Never a dull moment.

We went down for the day and Abby's Dad, Carey Abbott, brought steamed crabs.  My kids are getting faster and better at picking, especially Josephine, who doesn't like crabmeat, but, thinks the picking is fun.  These photos are of Josephine in the purple shirt, Rachel standing next to her and then Trish, Abby's dad's girlfriend.  She's a pro and was giving Rachel lessons.  In the next photo is Samantha, also getting tips from Trish, and Charlotte.  The orange sleeve belongs to Abby's dad, Carey, busy at work on his crab pile and chatting with Charlie.  Living close to family has been just great for us.  It's so good to see your kids and your siblings all together on a random Saturday night.  No occasion.  Just living and enjoying each other.

26 August 2017

Team Ambush - Kent County Youth Soccer

JMichael is number 9 - about in the middle of the bench.  This is his team during a halftime talk.  His coach is young - a senior at the high school, and his team is coming together.  Ambush emphasizes passing and position, just like JMichael learned in Arkansas.  His coach is impressed with JMichael's finesse, and his footwork.  He's the only kid on his team that can do a rainbow.  Now if only he would do one in a game, that would be something!  He's scored every game and he plays a lot.  He goes to school with these kids, and the kids from the other three U10 teams he plays.  It's a great little soccer organization.  The fields are wonderful - well drained and easy parking.  The area is for the whole gambit of sports enthusiasts - there are basketball courts and softball fields, next to tennis courts and lacrosse games.  Football practice is next to baseball practice, all surrounded by a walking track and in the middle of it all is a playground and a concession stand.  Truly a community park with all ages and skills everywhere.

I found this little gem - JMichael at about two.  

And this is now, at nine years old - he's on the left side - eye on the ball - in the light blue jersey and bright yellow cleats.  Just doin' his thing!

22 August 2017

The Eclipse

The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 was on August 21, 2017.  Nashville was in the line of totality and we saw these signs all along the highway; a friendly reminder from the TN DOT. 
We were back in MD by the time the eclipse was visible and James got this great picture with his iphone!  The Bigs made a cereal box viewer and watched.  I couldn't see much from the office, but, I was impressed with the photos I saw online from my AR friends, in the line of totality.

Mother Nature is amazing.

21 August 2017

The Bigs take an Arkansas trip

Rachel's friend Grace was turning 18 and Rachel promised her when she left AR that she would return to AR to see her for the big day.  Rachel, Evan and Samantha took Evan's car and traded off driving.  Off they went.  The timing was pretty good, since school and jobs started after they were set to return home to MD.
Samantha went along, to see Jonathan; she told him that she couldn't come because school was starting, then, she surprised him and jumped out of the car.  They had a great visit with their AR friends.  They also got to see PopPop Jim and Mammaw Jean - and go out to eat with them.  In these pictures, you can't see them, but, they are there.
Then, well, then it happened.  The car died.  Yes.  Just died.  Apparently the engine needs something and I don't speak engine so all I know is that they had no way of getting back here.  I looked into buses and trains and planes and all of that was crazy expensive.  I was talking with my friend Krista, who was helping me get Samantha to pick up high school transcripts and ACT scores, and I told her of our problem.
Next thing I know, I'm getting texts from Lynn, in red, saying, what if they had a ride halfway?  Could you meet someone in Tennessee?  Of course we could, and of course Lynn was talking about himself.  Lynn and Krista, just earlier this same week, had put their 18 year old son, Spencer, on a plane, bound for the MTC and his Spanish speaking mission in Idaho.  Lynn said to me, if Spencer can devote two years of his life to service, I can surely take a weekend to drive our friends' kids back home.  Dag.  Thank you, Lynn and Krista!  This is all of us at Cracker Barrel, somewhere outside of Nashville, TN, late late at night.

The Hazeslips got back on the road west to AR but we had supper and caught up.  We switched off drivers the whole way back to MD and made plans on how to get Evan's car fixed and how to get it back to MD.  More on that later.

Meanwhile, at home in MD, mom came to "play" with the little three and they bought desks for their rooms and went out to eat.  I'm including this video here, even though it didn't happen exactly this same weekend (it was the week the Bigs were in AR).  A new game from the missionaries, who were over for supper that night.

10 August 2017

Philadelphia Temple

 This is a quick shot I took of the Philadelphia Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.  James was recently called to be a worker there, so we went up to meet with them and get his set up to begin.  The Phili Temple is about 90 minutes north of us, and in the city.  IN.  THE.  CITY.  I mean, right in the thick of hustle and bustle and traffic and cops and the chaos of city life.  I grabbed this quick shot - it was getting dark - but you can see Moroni atop his spire.  Plus, the city is all around - the traffic light is green, telling us, yep, gotta go to the temple.
Here we are with a Moroni selfie - see him way up there?  The Philadelphia Temple is amazing in that as soon as you are in the temple parking lot you are surrounded by peace and flowers and tranquility.  A huge departure from the traffic you just left behind.  Inside the details are an homage to the history of the city and the founding fathers who lived and dreamed in Philadelphia.

And I thought I'd include this photo since there are so many more kid photos than folks on here.  Charlotte took this one at a local barbeque spot - we're adorable.

02 August 2017

Samantha is Eighteen!

Samantha turned 18.  She really didn't want to, and it was hard because her friends she would've celebrated with were all in Arkansas.  This helped::
We picked Jonathan up from BWI airport on a Saturday and Samantha's Birthday Week was officially underway.

Warning:  LOTS and LOTS of pictures.....

Samantha had planned out Jonboy's week in Maryland.  Each day was a new adventure.  

On Sunday, we had church and birthday dinner for Samantha.  We have to rest up cause it's going to be a busy week.  The Bigs - Rachel, Samantha, Evan and Jonboy went to another eastern treat for a late night ice cream - Friendly's.  Samantha is so glad to have Jonboy here and wants to show him all of Maryland treasures.
Our birthday girl Samantha.  Eighteen years young.
On Monday, everyone went to my brother Eric's house and hung out there.  No-one took pictures.  Everyone was busy swimming and grilling and talking and talking and talking.  Everyone except me, 'cause I was working.  For dinner, Mom took me to Friendly's and got me ice cream as a consolation prize.  Thanks Ma!  (She's so cute.)
On Tuesday, Mom got to be one of the "Bigs" and take Samantha, Jonboy, Rachel and Evan to DC for the day.  They went to the Smithsonian and the national monuments.

On Wednesday, Samantha's actual birthday, they went to Betterton Beach, just 8 minutes drive from our house and played in the water all day.  Wednesday evening we celebrated Samantha's birthday with a watermelon as a birthday "cake".  We also set off fireworks.  Are those legal in Maryland?  All we did was scare the cows.
This is a firework picture.  I'm not a photographer, sorry.  Actually a lot of these pictures came from the kids' snapchat stories.  Yeah, I'm hip.  Down.  Lit.  Whatever they are saying this week.  Gotta stay on their social media, right?

On Thursday, they went to The Beach - Ocean City.  Jonboy dipped his toes in the cold Atlantic and they walked the boardwalk and rode the rides.  Gavin, their cousin, joined them for the day.  Then there was pizza for supper and more rides.

Friday, sadly, was Jonboy's last day and it poured rain.  No worries, though, we were headed to Climb Zone in Laurel Maryland on our way to BWI.  They climbed for hours - HOURS!  
Rachel and Evan scaling Mt. Rushmore.

Charlotte on the doughnuts and JMichael about to climb the mountain.

JMichael and Josephine about halfway up.

Samantha and Jonboy taking a breather mid way.

 This place is great fun.

JMichael loved it.
This wall was for racing to the top.  Samantha is beating Jonboy.

And coasting down after her victory.

Jonboy, Samantha, Rachel, Evan, JMichael (in front), Josephine and Charlotte.  They loved Climb Zone.  Highly recommend it.

Charlotte is our cheerleader, shouting encouragement to JMichael.

Josephine, repelling down.

Lots of fun.

The walls go about three stories in the air.

Samantha, on her way down, with style.

There was also a clear wall with grips on both sides so you could climb while starring down your opponent - cause it's always about winning, right?

They all said this actually made it harder 'cause you get laughing at each other.

Evan and Jonboy giving it a try.

They found it easier to climb using the outer wall as a grip.  There are no referees at Climb Zone.

JMichael giving it a try with a boy he made friends with.

Charlotte, JMichael, Samantha and Jonathan.  

Jonathan looking down from the top.

Josephine and JMichael at the airport watching Jonboy's plane take off.

So glad you came out for Samantha and for her birthday.  And for us.  Come visit us again really soon.

We put Jonboy back on the plane and sadly headed home.  Samantha says being an adult is not always fun.  She's just getting started.  College begins this fall.  Jonboy still lives literally a thousand miles away and she's had so much change.  She's strong.  She's fierce.  And, she's ready.  Happy Birthday, Samantha!