Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

What are you doing to celebrate the Reformation today? We're getting together with friends at church for chili and cornbread, apple cider, pumpkin carving (with the traditional reading of The Pumpkin Patch Parable of course), cupcakes and apple crisp, games, and fellowship. That's all Reformed stuff, right? ;)
Anyway, my sister-in-law sent me this youtube video about Luther. Click on this link to watch your official Reformation Day entertainment.
The Reformation Polka
The especially funny part is what Elise said. She came up and sat on my lap just as the video was starting. If you have already watched it, you know that it starts with a cartoon drawing of the exterior door of a church and an organ playing "A Mighty Fortress." Elise has never actually been to a church service - she just goes in the backdoor and down the stairs to the nursery and yet, when she saw the cartoon drawing and heard the music she said, "That's church!" I'd say Reformed is in her blood!
Enjoy your Reformation Day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another birthday post

Becca's birthday finished in fine style. You can view the rest of the pictures here.

And just so there's a picture in this post:

We always put up streamers in the hallway on someone's birthday. Even Sarah still enjoys it.

Happy 5th Birthday, Rebecca!

Five years ago today I had my most pleasant birth experience out of all 4. But I deserved it because that birth experience followed the most difficult pregnancy I ever experienced. But anyway, this post is supposed to be about Rebecca Lily Ball.

Becca was born at 4:45 p.m. on October 28, 2003 and she weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces. She was 20 inches long. The funniest thing about her birth is that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her in several very odd ways, around her neck, through her legs, around her waist, over her shoulder, and on and on. Ed says the doctor put Becca down on the table, grabbed the loose end of the cord and yanked. Ed says Becca just flopped around on the table like a little fish until the cord was all unwound. I didn't see it, but it sounds very funny to me...a little horrible for a newborn, but also very funny.

She was also born with a strange birth mark. I had noticed that there was something in her hair, which was pretty dark even then. There was this spot of hair on her head that had something white in it and I kept trying to scrub it out. I finally took a closer look and discovered that all the hairs coming out of the nickel-sized spot on her head were completely white hairs! The doctor said that it's basically the "opposite of a birth mark" - no pigmentation there, so all the hairs are white. My mom calls it "natural highlights". But, now her hair is so thick, you don't see the white strands very often - you really have to look for them all in there, but they are still there!

Her name...Rebecca was Ed's favorite girl name of all time. I was absolutely dead-set against it for both Sarah & Bethany and until about 3 weeks before Becca was born. We were all set to go with another name, but then I suddenly couldn't handle that name any more, so I told Ed that we could go with Rebecca if he REALLY wanted to and if we spelled it the American way and if we called her Becca and not Becky. (The reason I didn't want the name was because when I was teaching I had a student named Rebekah who was absolutely one of the most difficult children I had ever met. I eventually realized that I couldn't remember what she looked like anymore and that my new association with that name would change all my feelings.) Anyway, Ed said YES! and that's where her first name came from. Her middle name, Lily, is from Matthew 6 where it talks about the lilies of the field in the "do not worry" passage. While I was pregnant with Becca, Ed's mom became sick with brain cancer and it was a very stressful time in our lives. I'm sure that's part of why my pregnancy was so difficult - I was so stressed. Anyway, Matthew 6 had become a regular part of my Bible reading, so I wanted a constant reminder of that and so we used Lily as Becca's middle name.

We kind of wanted Lily as her first name originally, but if you shorten Lily, it becomes Lil' and then her name would be Lil' Ball. Yeah. Not so good.

Becca was a good baby, yet always made sure that her presence was known. From a very early age she was the drama queen, always making everyone laugh with her expressions - both of word and of face - and loving all the attention. Here are a couple of my favorite Becca stories:

When Becca was about 2 1/2, she was being very mean to her sisters and taunting them. I told her that she needed to be nice to her sisters and that Jesus wants us to be nice and he loves it when we're nice to each other. She promptly replied, "Is JESUS gonna spank me?"

When Becca was almost 3, she was not quite potty-trained. I was trying every method in the book to get that child to use the potty. It was frustrating because I knew she COULD, she just WOULDN'T. So, one time she was sitting on the potty and she wasn't going, even though I knew she had to go and so I tried reverse-psychology. I went on and on about how I didn't really care if she ever used the potty and it didn't really matter and I just went about cleaning the bathroom while we were in there, not really paying any attention to her at all. She just looked at me matter-of-factly, my not-caring having made no difference to her - and said, "Well, why don't you get me off of here then?"

Hm. Why don't I?

She potty-trained the day she turned 3. She said, "It's my birthday and I'm 3 now?" I said, "Yep, you sure are!" and she said, "Okay, then I'll use the potty" and promptly went and did it all by herself and was completely trained from there on out. Let that be a lesson to me as I attempt to "train" Elise...

Oh boy, I know there are many, many more stories...I'm sure a lot of you could even share one yourself! So, if you have a Becca story to share, go ahead and write a comment and share the story that you remember about Becca! Thanks!

You may also view pictures of Becca as she grew up at this web album: Becca through the Years. Enjoy!

Here are a few pictures from the family party this past Sunday. Click here to go to the web album with those photos.

Today is also my Grandma DeJong's 86th birthday! Happy Birthday, Michigan Grandma! It is also my dear friend Tami Rouw Nelson's birthday, so Happy Birthday to you! I tried to call you, but hopefully you were out celebrating!

So, enjoy your October 28 and if you know Becca (or my Grandma or my friend Tami), give thanks for their lives and what they mean to all of us!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday is Family Fun Day!

Well, sort of...not the whole family this time...Ed was at a church men's retreat up at Mt. Baker, so the girls & I played a bit. On Friday evening after chores, homework, and instrumental practicing were completed we watched "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" on TV. Since we now have a 5th grader in our house, it was especially enjoyable to watch together.
On Saturday, after chores and instrumental practicing were again completed, we went and took some pictures by the few leaves we have in our yard (yay! no raking here!) and then headed to... some friends at the mall to see "High School Musical 3" which just opened this weekend! Our girls LOVED the first two and so my friend Dee & I surprised the kids. It was really fun to taunt them all morning long with what we were going to do and tell them how much they were gonna LOVE the surprise. Sarah, Bethany, and Becca were about going beserk with not knowing. They kept guessing stuff like "Are we getting ice cream?" or "Are we going to a friends' house?" and I'd say "It's BETTER than that!" and then, imagine! It WAS better than that!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caterpillars and Cleaning

The last few days have brought some gorgeous sunshine here to western Washington. I think it was 60 degrees out yesterday afternoon! It was the perfect opportunity for me to get outside and try to get some fall clean up done in the flower beds. I worked about an hour total, but had to take some breaks due to these little creatures:

Aren't they so cute? I'm talking about my girls here... ;)

Becca & Elise found two of those black & orange fuzzy caterpillars and we spent quite a lot of time letting them crawl around on our hands and curl up whenever they got scared...which, for Elise's caterpillar, was most of the time. She kept trying to unstretch it whenever it curled up, which just made it curl up more. But watching Becca be calm and gentle with her caterpillar gave her some ideas and she finally was able to hold still long enough to let her caterpillar walk around freely on her hand too.
Eventually I made them put the caterpillars into the field behind our house. I promised them God would take care of those caterpillars and that made it OK to leave the caterpillars there. It was a fun afternoon outside, that's for sure!

I've finally finished reading The House That Cleans Itself and I have to say, the woman that wrote the book is a very good writer. She's a novelist, apparently...she writes fiction novels...and I think this book has a bit of fiction in it also. ;) I do think it has some good tips, especially for those organizing-challenged people, but it certainly didn't cure me of my "I love a clean house, but I hate actually cleaning because it's just going to be dirty again" attitude. But you know, I think I need to learn to appreciate the dirt - it means that my house is full of our fabulous children and that we are all living life here together.

Life is dirty.

There. I said it.

(Not sure I can actually accept it, though.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interesting things I've read lately...

1. Last time there was a presidential election, Laura Bush won the Family Circle Magazine cookie bake-off and then her husband won the election. A few months ago, Cindy McCain won the Family Circle Magazine cookie I dare hope that the Family Circle Magazine cookie bake-off is an accurate prediction of what will happen on the first Tuesday of November, 2008?

2. Margaret Wise Brown, author of "Good night Moon" (You know the book...goodnight moon, goodnight cow jumping over the moon, goodnight bears, goodnight chairs....goodnight noises everywhere"?) Anyway, Margaret Wise Brown, at age 42, after having an emergency appendectomy, kicked her leg to show her speedy recovery and consequently died from dislodging a blood clot from the surgery. Freaky. She also willed all the royalties of her books to a friend's son who has squandered almost the entire amount, over $5 million, and been arrested "dozens of times".

That'll teach me to read magazines in the dentist's office.

Oh, and Elise fell out of her toddler bed last night. I'm not sure how or where she landed, since Ed got up with her, but she surely was screaming! She's fine, though. She slept in until 7:30 today!

Sorry - no photos again today...I'll try to work on that for next time. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Freaking Out

We had GEMS last night...and I'm doing the 8th grade now in addition to being Head Counselor. I have help with 8th grade, thankfully, but last night I was on my own. I'm sitting there talking to these five 8th grade girls and I'm totally freaking out...this is Sarah in 3 years from now! These girls are all so little and yet so independent and needing to learn how to better think for themselves, and do so intelligently and with a Christian worldview. It makes me hyperventilate just a little bit realizing how much Sarah will have grown up in 3 more years and how parenting her will change over that time. THANK GOODNESS it happens one day at a time, and THANK GOODNESS I don't have to do it on my own. God, Ed, grandparents, teachers, GEMS Counselors, friends, etc....will all help me.

Because by the time we get Elise through those years, I'm going to be very tired. And hopefully very proud.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My apologies...

I officially apologize to my dear friend, Dee. We went scrapbooking this past weekend, which was totally awesome, but late at night (or rather, early in the morning) we were discussing people in Hollywood for some reason. I can't for the life of me remember how we even got on the topic!
But anyway,
for some reason I had it in my head that Ted Danson was a republican. And I was pretty sure I was right!
And Dee was pretty sure that Ted Danson had been married to Whoopi Goldberg.
Turns out we were both wrong...but I was MORE wrong. Ted Danson is not a republican. He supported Clinton...both of them, I think. Ted Danson was not married to Whoopi, but they were "romantically involved".
Anyway, now I have to apologize publically because Dee wrote a blog about all the things she learned at her scrapbooking weekend and she wrote that she learned that Ted Danson is a republican. All because of me.
Read Dee's post here and be sure to know that everything else on her blog is the truth.
At least, I think so. But I'm still pretty tired.

I'm not a baby, I'm a toddwer!

What's new at the Ball house? Elise is in a big girl bed! Technically it's a toddler bed, but that works because she always says "I'm a toddwer!" if you try to tell her she's a baby or if you try to tell her she's a big girl.
Here she is on her first night sleeping in the toddler bed:

She fell asleep immediately, didn't get up during the night, and slept in later than normal! And now she has done that for THREE nights in a row! We should have gotten her a toddler bed a long time ago, I guess.
We bought it on craigslist - for $20 right here in Everson! Love craigslist!
Now if only she would conquer all those other toddler no more binky and that would be a celebration!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And the winner is...

My wonderful husband, of course! Of all the people that live in my house with me, he was the first to notice that no cleaning was being done around here for the past few days. I think it was Thursday evening that he ever so casually said to me, "So, have you not been home much lately?"
Why dear? Is something amiss?
I reminded him about my experiment (yes, he agreed to it before I started) and he kind of remembered talking about it at some point. So, he's the winner because he actually noticed and cared.
This past Friday - Saturday I had the pleasure of scrapbooking with a bunch of other scrapbooking moms in Bellingham. I left NO CHORES for anyone to do, other than homework and musical instrument practice time. You should have seen this place when I arrived home! I was not crabby about it, since it was part of the experiment and all...but I felt a teensy bit crabby about it. Supposedly Bethany had gotten sick of some of the mess and picked up a bit, and Sarah had decided to surprise me and straighten up Becca's room...but it was pretty much all disaster again by the time I got home.
So we had a little talk about how putting things away when we're done with them and putting things in their place will help everyone and how we must all work together. Then everyone willingly helped clean up the house, which was basically done in about 15 minutes, and we even had time to look at the scrapbook pages I did on my weekend away before the pizza was done baking in the oven. So now, with a new week beginning, I am praying that the little experiment will have at least some effect on how everyone deals with their own belongings...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkins and Chalk

Today was Field Trip Day! Becca had a field trip to a local pumpkin farm and Bethany's class participated in "Chalk the Walk" where 3rd graders from Lynden get to draw a fall scene on the sidewalks around town. It was a pretty cold day and a little damp by the end, but it was a lot of fun for me to be able to be with them and I know they'll remember it, too! It's now the end of the day and I'm tired, but everyone is happy, especially after a treat of caramel apple cider that I bought at the pumpkin farm today. Click here to view a bunch of pictures!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Read the next post first

I couldn't get two videos to upload on the same post, so here's the one of Becca...but read the stuff below her first...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Sound of Music

Before we get to the real blog of the day, I should just give a quick update on "The House that Cleans Itself."
My house does not, and I don't think it ever will, clean itself.
I think the title is just a gimmick to get people like me who hate to clean to buy the book.
Sure, it has some pretty interesting suggestions on organizing and scheduling your cleaning, but it's pretty much for totally organizing-challenged people...which I am least not most of the time.
One interesting thing it asks the reader to do is to "prayer walk" through your house...kind of like the prayer walks through neighborhoods that some churches do. You're supposed to pray about the room and ask for guidance when organizing and pray for the people that use that room, etc. I haven't tried it yet, but I might.
The author of the book makes another suggestion that I am implementing...and that is to not clean for 3 days.
Can you imagine?
I'm not allowed to do anything cleaning-wise except putting food away and doing the dishes...and that's purely so that food doesn't rot and smell up my house. The author asks you to do this so you can identify "problem areas" in the house and then later figure out how to change the house so that putting things away is easier.
However, I'm doing this because I want to see how long it takes my family to notice. I'll be sure to let you know who notices first, if anyone...maybe I should have a prize for the first one to notice and care and do something about it! Anyone care to wager a guess which of the other four girls or guy in this house it will be?
But anyhoo, the real reason for this blog post is to show you some darn cute videos of my youngest two drama queens. Their favorite song of late is "Do, Re, Mi" from The Sound of Music. I gotta tell ya, Becca gives that cute little Gretl a run for her money. :) Hopefully you have much success watching the videos!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

An update...

The house? Hasn't cleaned itself yet...
Maybe I need to snap my fingers like Mary Poppins...
Or wiggle my nose like Samantha in Bewitched...
Or nod my head like the genie, Jeanie...
I'll let you know how that works out for me. Enjoy your sunny Sunday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The house that cleans itself...

So I saw this book at the Christian bookstore...

I figured, "What a deal! A house that cleans itself? Amazing - I must get that book, and after all, it's only $5!" I brought it home and set it out. So far, it's not working very well...take a look at these messes I found around the house after I brought the book home...

Do you think I should read the book now? I suppose then I'd have to do what it says...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sm' Apples

It's apple picking time...yet another reason to love fall!
This morning it is cold and sunny and I am drinking coffee with a turtleneck sweater on...Ed lit the pilot light in the fireplace last night and we had it on for a's all just yummy.
But anyway...apples! This past Tuesday a few friends & I headed out to our local *cheap* apple farm, S'm Apples. It's U-pick apples for 30 cents per pound! What a deal! Jonagolds are their main variety there, though apparently they do have Gala and they are raising Honeycrisp, which will be ready in a few years.
Elise is showing off a prize pick!

Becca's putting her apples into the bag on the wagon.

Becca & friend Sam running down the road next to the orchard.

And the mud puddles were made for stompin' in!

I picked about 60 pounds of apples in about a half hour - so big and plentiful on the trees! What am I going to do with all those apples you ask? Well, with just a bit of prep, some sugar, cinnamon and heat...I can turn this:
into this
and then this.
Come on over! I'll make you some coffee and if you stay for dinner, you can have some yummy applesauce!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch

So on Sunday afternoon we headed out to the pumpkin patch...usually we have Sunday dinner with my family, but since my parents were out of town, we had the day "off". We had cereal for lunch after church, changed clothes, and headed out. We wanted to do something fun since the weather was halfway decent and I desperately needed to find pumpkins for a project at GEMS the next day so the pumpkin patch seemed the logical place. Unfortunately, pumpkins are scarce around here this year and even at the pumpkin patch it was hard to find enough ripe ones...everything is late this year! Anyway, we rode the hay wagon, found just enough pumpkins, ate some pie, and came home again. It was pretty fun, though I like the other pumpkin patch in the area much better. It's not open on Sundays, but Becca & I get to go there next week for a preschool field trip. To see pictures of our pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, click here. Enjoy and have a great day!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The name of the game at our house lately is Rummikub. Sarah totally gets it, Bethany pretty much gets it but pretends not to most of the time. Becca puts the numbers in order and Elise pretty much destroys any parts of it she can get her hands on. The last game we played was won by yours truly...just barely, though. Everyone wanted "one more turn, please!" and everyone went out on that turn! It's fun that the girls are old enough to play games I remember playing growing up.

So, go play a game with someone you love!
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

School Days

A couple weeks ago Sarah had a school project involving geo-goop and a bubble shell (which is a type of sea slug). This is the finished project!
I turned this one into sepia because the color was really off..but anyway, when did she become such a 5th grader?
Proud of her artwork!
Last week Bethany was the "VIP" in her classroom. She got to bring pictures and fill out this poster all about herself. She even played a violin solo for her class! The picture is of her doing the "presentation" to her class...telling about all the pictures and reading what she filled out on the poster. She did a great job, but after her presentation her class gets to ask questions and afterwards she was giggling and said to me, "Mom, I was sweating!"

We're so proud of our 5th grader and 3rd grader!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Strong at 60!

So - sorry I haven't blogged in a few days. It's been a pretty busy week. I finally got these pictures off the camera from last week Sunday. I'm not sure exactly how this even all got started, but for some reason my dad felt the need to test the strength of his now 60-year-old body by attempting to lift all four girls at the same time.

He's succeeding!
From this angle you can see Sarah hanging onto his back.
O-O-O-o-o-h-h. Set them down carefully, Dad.

We added up all their approximate weights: Elise is 32 + Becca is 47 + Bethany is 60 + Sarah is 85 = 224 pounds! Not bad for 60, Dad! I'm sure I couldn't do it!
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