13 June 2017

Samantha's Hair

Once upon a time there was a lady named Samantha who spent lots of time on her super curly hair.  She would straighten it, then curl it.  She wears pony tails and messy buns and braids, all in an effort to tame her locks.
One day, Samantha decides she wants a hair cut, but, living in a rural town, there is no where to get a hair cut, short of driving "to town".  So, as she is not a child known for her patience, she cuts it herself.
It looks great.  Brave girl.

09 June 2017

Go East, BallTeam....

By way of background, I left my job at a law firm in Cabot in February, 2017.  We had a parting of the ways.  It ended fine, no hard feelings, but, I was on the job hunt for a few months, when James told me for the one-hundredth time, why are we still in Cabot?

Rachel has graduated.  Samantha has graduated.  Charlotte will be starting high school in the fall.  I have no job.  Now is the perfect time for a break.  Let' go.

But should we?  We have so many friends in Cabot that I found it so hard to imagine our family living anywhere else.  The kids had essentially grown up here.  We came to Cabot after Hurricane Katrina and we were welcomed like royalty.  The crime rate is low; we never lock our doors.  The doctors are good, and the big city of Little Rock is easily accessible.  Again, so many good friends to James and me, but, also to our kids.  Why move?  James loved his calling; his Dad was close by.  Why leave that?

Because we should.  Because it's time.  Because there's a whole world out there and we have only been in one corner of it.  So here we go. 

I looked on Craigslist and found a solo practitioner who was advertising for help.  I  knew the town where he practiced because I had gone to college there.  It was forty five minutes south of my mom's house and an hour north of my brother's house.  I applied.  They called and said, so I have your resume and I'm interested but there's one big elephant in the room - you are in Arkansas.  I said, yes, sir, I am.  But, I can be in Maryland, just give me two days.  That was a Monday, we set up an interview on Friday and on Wednesday, James and Charlotte, Josephine, JMichael and I all left for Maryland.  Samantha could not miss school (she couldn't even be late) and she had to work, so we left her home.  We arrived at Mom's, I interviewed on Friday and he said, you are great and I would hire you and you could start on Monday, but, again, you live in Arkansas.

I said here's what I think.  I think I drive back to Arkansas with my family.  I will fly back here alone on Wednesday.  I will work for you for two weeks and then I'll leave for my daughter's graduation, to pack a house and move my family, then I'll be back here by June fifth to start permanently.  The leave and come back was James' idea.  It also allowed me time here to look for a place to rent.  Win/win!

And my new boss said, that works for me.  You're hired.

Moving is work.  Samantha breaking down her room.

Our crew of magnificent loaders.  We had packed the house and filled the garage.  They had it all in the truck in about two hours.  Amazing teamwork.

the BallTeam - last photo in Arkansas!

And so, after having three of my first five weeks of work off, I am now working full time in Chestertown.  We are living a little north of here until we decide where we want to buy a house.

I'm making more money; the kids are excited about the new scenery.  JMichael is just excited.  He's a happy kid.  Charlotte left behind the horrible end of the year drama she had in Cabot, saying good riddance and I'm off to conquer new worlds.  Josephine was excited to get the GT placement letter in hand and leave town, though for her saying goodbye to friends was a lot harder than anyone saw coming.  Lots of tears from her and her sweet group of buds.  Samantha was excited to get here and is loving not working, just tanning and relaxing.  She misses JonBoy, her boyfriend, who plans to come see her for her eighteenth birthday next month.  Leaving was harder than she thought.  JonBoy was there for every stage of it and she had a group of about five friends there with her until we pulled away from the house.  She cried until we got to Tennessee, then, though still sad, she started to look into the adventure and move on.  She still misses AR.

Rachel, meanwhile, stayed in Arkansas.  She and her boyfriend, Evan, will be coming out here in mid-July, after they have all their loose ends wrapped up.  Out of respect for his parents, Evan wanted to give them more time to accept his decision to move east, and they have both given notice at their jobs and have started packing.  We miss them.  I understand how Evan's parents must feel, but, the kids are 22 and 19, so they can decide.  I'm just thrilled they will be here soon.

So now we live in Maryland.  It's coming home for me.  It's a new adventure for everyone else.  James lived very briefly in Maryland when we met, but, not in this part.  We are eight miles from the Chesapeake Bay, one hour from the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by fields of corn and summer wheat.  We are about thirty five miles from Walmart, thirty miles from the church building and we have literally resigned ourselves to the fact that we will be in the car more than ever.  We are about an hour and a half from Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD or Philadelphia, PA.  I see lots of football games, museums, and concerts in the coming years.  The east is so full of history and beauty; I'm glad to be home to share it with my BallTeam.

Our neighbors.

our new place
our backyard

our beach
Please come see us!  We can hit the Smithsonian or the beach - y'all choose.  Or better yet - both!

01 June 2017

Splash - May 2017

This is the second of five pictures in this series - BallTeam graduates.  In May 2016 we had Rachel in her cap and gown.  Now it's 2017 and it's Samantha's turn.  Charlotte will be in the ninth grade next year, so we will have a gap until 2021.  I am so proud of how they can come together for each other.  They are all such different people, but, they are united when it comes to each other.  Graduation was a big deal to Samantha.  She cherished high school and she is reluctant to change, but, here she is - leaving behind what she loved and standing at the threshold of her future, all with a huge smile and a willing heart.  We are all about to head into change.  That's where the adventure is, right?

25 May 2017

Charlie at ALE

The Alternative Learning Environment, you may remember from Samantha's experience a few years ago, is a classroom setting for kids who are not surviving in the traditional school.  By not surviving, I mean that you can be sent to ALE for fighting, for being bullied, for being pregnant, for bringing drugs or alcohol to school, or for any behavior which the school believes qualifies you for direct one on one supervision all day, every day.  The kids at ALE are sometimes pretty troubled.  They are all there for a reason.  Samantha had her reasons for being sent to ALE and it turned out to be a positive experience.  Charlotte was sent to ALE this year, and she was sent for a different reason altogether.  Her experience was equally positive.

At ALE the kids have classes as computer worksheets.  They read, they test, they move at their own pace.  They have a teacher over their shoulder constantly and the student to teacher ratio is really low.  Lots of talking, lots of nurturing.  Charlotte was sent to ALE at a time when that was just what the doctor ordered.  She was the darling of her teachers, charming them with her sweet compliments and blunt comebacks.  She is not afraid of anyone and she shines with one on one attention.

Next time you have the pleasure of talking to Charlotte you can ask her yourself why she was sent to ALE.  She may or may not tell you and I will leave that to her.  As a matter of fact, she purposely did not tell any of the students she went to school with why she was sent to ALE, just to see on social media what would happen.  Rumors flew, and she had the sad satisfaction of watching the people she once called friends belittle her and tear her down.  It was sad to watch, but, she did it that way so that she could see how people would react.  She was disappointed in almost everyone.  Kids are very cruel.  Those who held her up are still her friends, and while that was a painful lesson, she has grown and she has learned. 

You wish so much for your kids.  You want to shelter them.  Then, when they are hurt, you want to heal them.  The beauty of it is, that they have to grow.  I am proud of Charlotte and how she has handled her trial.  She is a strong young lady.  She won and she will continue to shine.

19 May 2017

Samantha's High School Graduation

Samantha is a high school graduate.  I never thought for a minute she would not graduate.  I know that she will have other days in her life that honor bigger accomplishments.  But today, she is thrilled to be a graduate and we are proud of her.  Samantha is not fond of change.  She likes to have a plan and she likes thrives on structure and routine.  Sometimes that routine is sleeping away a summer morning followed by a strict regimen of netfilx in the afternoon, but, she does have a plan.  The future is unplanned and whether or not she will say it out loud, she is intimidated by the future.  High school was safe and secure.  The future will be her adventure.  And she will rock it like she rocked high school.  No doubt.
The senior class - ready to do this.  The speeches by the valedictorian and two salutatorians were mainly about finding yourself in a troubled world; being the best person you can and helping those around you; also lots of don't forget these years and who got you here - remember your friends and your teachers.  Remember that your parents supported you.  And one sentiment that hit me was something the valedictorian said - he said remember how you feel right now.  This instant.  Are you proud?  A little scared?  A little sad?  A little apprehensive?  Really happy?  Mix all that together and use in your future.  Remember being happy and proud and a little scared - then go accomplish something that will make you feel like this all over again.  Go be someone.
I was too early to get the picture with Samantha and the superintendent of schools, Dr. Tony Thurman, but, there is Samantha walking toward him, in the blue cowl, to get her picture taken.  And the second picture is Samantha getting yet another picture taken with her fresh diploma.  I don't know where all these pictures are, I never got any of them, except from the arena seats!
Jonathan Pace, Samantha's boy/friend (sometimes that's true, sometimes it's not, but, they are always friends!) - also the happy graduate.  Then obligatory picture with Mom and Dad with our graduate.

The whole gang - in the front is Samantha, of course.  JMichael to the left with Juanita Brumbley, Grandmom, behind him.  Then we have me, Rachel, Charlotte and Josephine across the middle.  In the back on the left is Evan Haines, Rachel's boyfriend, and Dad, and then Jonathan, Samantha's boy/friend.
Congratulations, Samantha.  We love you and we are proud of you!

18 May 2017

Line 89

Line 89 is graduation tradition in Cabot.  The day that the senior class goes to Verizon Arena, in Little Rock, to practice for graduation is their last bus ride as students.  So to honor their accomplishment of graduation, the whole town lines the route that the buses take from the high school out of town - Route 89.  Hence the tradition - Line 89.  The elementary schools, the middle and junior high schools, all walk to the road to line 89 as the seniors take their last bus ride.  They make banners and wave and cheer.  It's a great tradition.  Since they load the class alphabetically, Samantha was on the first of the 13 buses it took to transport all 704 seniors to Little Rock.  They kids all waved with their classes at school, but, of course, all the parents, and happily in our case this year, grandparents, also go out and cheer for the graduates.
 We had a sign and balloons, too, and let Samantha know where on the route we were, so she could wave at us.

There she goes.  Off to graduation rehearsal.  Congratulations, Samantha!

05 May 2017

Real Panthers

 R.E.A.L. Panthers is a program sponsored by the police in Cabot. They have the teachers choose one student per quarter on their team (a team is a set of three to four classes of students, classes are about 25 kids each), who exemplifies the qualities of a R.E.A.L. panther - respect, explore, achieve and lead.  There's an assembly with accolades and the R.E.A.L. panther gets this cool shirt.  Josephine was happy to the R.E.A.L. panther for the third quarter of her sixth grade year and I snapped this photo of a R.E.A.L. panther on her way to school.  Go Panthers!  Go Josephine!