31 January 2019

Splash - January 2019

One of our Christmas traditions is to go out for Chinese food on Christmas afternoon.  It used to be that I would go get carry out while the kids were playing with their new whatevers.  As they got older, we started going out.  Now, it's a full blown afternoon, with a buffet.  This year a woman came to our table and did card tricks.  Other families are there, too.  A large group sitting at a table about ten feet away was very well behaved, but, let out a simultaneous scream that shocked us all - the grandfather had passed out $100 bills to each of the grandkids - Merry Christmas!  Mom went with us this year, and we grabbed a photo on our way out - everyone is actually sitting in this picture (JMichael will probably be taller than Rachel one day - not yet!).

31 December 2018

Splash - December 2018

The December 2018 splash found us at my brother Eric's house for a Christmas picture, which, honestly, was taken at Thanksgiving while digesting our huge dinner and festooning Eric and Abbey's house with Christmas spirit.  They are five of my most cherished presents.  Merry Christmas to me.  Or, as we say at the BallTeam house, Mrree Khimush....

27 December 2018

Charlotte is Sixteen.....Wait, What?

Charlotte was born on December 27, 2002.  That may seem like yesterday to me, but, it was sixteen years ago.  Sixteen short, intense years of a willful, beautiful, stubborn, sweet, sensitive and precocious child feeling her way through this world - and making it her own.  She is an athlete, a tender-hearted sympathizer and she fiercely protects her own.  We have had many a sleepless night over this lady of ours - why?  Because she is a Queen - Charlotte Lareine.  We named her queen Charlotte and that was providence.  I remind her constantly how divine she is - how strong - how precious.  Sometimes she fights with us.  Sometimes she spurs us on.  Always she is Queen Charlotte.

She is pictured here on her sixteenth birthday - in DC - with Rachel, who took her out for the day.  On Rachel's right is Matt Barkley, her boyfriend.  On Charlotte's left is Markel Norfleet, her boyfriend.  Rachel took Charlotte to the Smithsonian and out to eat, with the "boys". 

Charlotte excels at making people feel at ease.  She is fearless and as at home on the stage as one-on-one.  Her laugh is contagious and she sings in the shower loudly enough for the cows to hear.  She is in the tenth grade and we are having issues with her grades, not turning in her work, not going to class, not caring about performance.  Her cutting resurfaced earlier this year, and is under control again, but, is still a constant worry.  We have investigated changing her schools, changing her medications, changing her schedule.  The only thing I would never change is Charlotte.  She is worth every struggle.  Happy Sixteenth, baby girl.  Your real sweet sixteen present will come in March - stay tuned!

30 November 2018

Splash - November 2018

November in Maryland is not predictable.  This year we had snow in late September and on the day we all head out to take the November Splash, it's a balmy 65 degrees with a beautiful blue sky.  But do you know what is predicable?  The fact that these five completely different souls come together each month and smile for me.  It's honestly one of my favorite family traditions and these photos are priceless to me.  This splash was just the five of them, in the tall tall grass of our yard on a mild fall day.  I love them.

31 October 2018

Splash - October 2018

We live in a cornfield.  Truly.  We are surrounded by crops and farming.  It's very beautiful.  Every season brings its own colors and patterns and even in the cold of winter there is something comforting in the visual simplicity of a farm.  In the fall, the corn and beans turn brown and ready to harvest.  Before the combine could take this field down, I stuck my kids out there to become - the children of the corn.  They are the Ball Team of the Corn.

Halloween 2018

....not my favorite holiday.  We did get a few pictures, though.

See, all candy is bad for you.  Eat an apple.

Josephine as Theodore.  Her friends are Simon and Alvin.  This getup got them about a half a pillowcase of candy.


JMichael went to his school's trunk or treat with teachers as a devil who hangs out with wicked clown monsters.  This is his art teacher dressed as Pennywise.  Disturbing.  JMichael also wore this outfit to school, minus the mask.  He also has been sleeping in it, again, minus the mask.

A few gems from past years - this one about 2016.  JMichael is a vampire soccer player; Charlotte is a rabid cat; Samantha is a victim of domestic violence; and Josephine is a scarecrow.

This one is circa 2013, or so.  JMichael as a teenage mutant ninja turtle; Josephine the ladybug; Rachel the convict; LaUra (Samantha's buddy from down the street and our sixth child) a zebra; Samantha the drummer and Charlotte the vampire queen.

2018 - Samantha the Corn Monster.

Oh the cuteness - 2009 - so adorable.


And finally, this gem from North Carolina - 2004 - Samantha, Charlotte and Rachel painted their pumpkins.  Sweet faces.

12 October 2018

Fish Whistle

Samantha takes a fine selfie, huh?  This photo is in the dark of the deck, because we - James and I - were being treated to supper out.  James and Samantha picked me up from work, stopped by McDonald's and Samantha got supper for the little ladies and JMichael; we delivered it, then she took us out to eat.  We went to the Fish Whistle, a local bar and seafood place, and we had a fantastic dinner.  Good food, great company and cheesecake.

The tradition comes from the principle of the First Check.  Samantha has been working for a while now, but, the rule is that when you get a new job, you take the family out to eat.  Samantha just decided tonight is the night and it was a wonderful surprise.