Saturday, January 31, 2009

Run another load

I've been known to complain about laundry. In fact, I've been known to complain about laundry for hours on end. Because laundry is never-ending. Everytime I turn around there are more dirty clothes. In fact, Bethany was asking the other day why there's always so much laundry, so we counted:
6 people x 1 shirt, 1 pair of pants, 2 socks, 1 pair of underwear, and probably 1 sweatshirt = 36 articles of clothing EVERY SINGLE DAY! (And no, not every article of clothing has to be washed every day, but let's face it - 4 of the people in this house are kids and get their clothes dirty and as for me, well, I'm around the kids all day and usually get my clothes dirty, too. I'm not sure what Ed's excuse is).
But, either way, you see what I mean about laundry being never-ending.
But then the other day, this devotional came through my inbox. I get these devotionals every weekday, but this one was truly memorable. I am trying to let it change my life and my perspective on laundry. Here, see what I mean:

Run Another Load
By Gina Parcells,
She Speaks Conference Graduate

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NASB)

Devotion:
Laundry ... I'm running another load right now. It seems like once I have washed, dried, folded, and put away the clothes, I discover someone has slipped yet another dirty item into the hamper. The thing about laundry is, it's just never-ending.

I've considered taking a sabbatical from the never-ending task, but I'm certain it would accumulate into a heap causing a pervasive stench in my house. Then, I'd hear grumbling from the masses about how they have nothing to wear and, of course, I would cave. My sabbatical would ultimately lead to my own panic as I surveyed the overflowing hampers.

So, no laundry sabbatical for me. Instead, I accept the need to wash clothes regularly. And I do it. It's better for everyone that way.

You know, God has that constant laundering thing going on too, except He's cleansing our hearts instead of our clothes. I'm sure He would rather we not dirty our hearts with sin, but He knows we do and He is always willing, day or night, to cleanse us.

The problem is sometimes I'm unwilling to put my stinky garments in His hamper to be washed. I have favorite sins, like favorite shirts, that I'm resistant to take off. Sometimes, I just wear my sin day in and day out, and the idea of confessing it and asking for grace doesn't even cross my mind. It's like He has a pile of clean clothes ready to go, but I walk right past them.

Fortunately for us, God never takes a cleaning sabbatical, and He doesn't get overwhelmed when our sin hampers seem filled to capacity. In fact, you can dump ten loads of sin in front of Him and He'll wash them all. He's a pro with the delicate cycle. If we can mess it up, He can clean it up ... we just have to ask. As our key verse states, if we confess, He will faithfully forgive.


If I could just remember to confess and be assured of forgiveness while I do laundry, maybe I would learn to hate it less.

Friday, January 30, 2009

These are the days of our lives.

First, let me clarify. I have never watched "Days of our Lives". In my past lives (ie: nursing days) I must admit to watching "General Hospital" on occasion. However, now that I have not been forced to sit and nourish a baby with milk for a good 18 months, I can't even remember what channel that show is on.

So, since this post is not about a TV soap opera, you may have correctly assumed that this post is about the days in the lives of the Ball family! And it is.

IMG_0581edited My good friend Amy with whom my good friend Dee & I scrapbook twice a month. Dee - your picture goes up after our next scrapbook session. :)

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My scrapbooking pens contained in my Kindergarten pencil holder my dad made for me!

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Gotta love those scrapbook magazines!

IMG_0562 The kids usually play for a while and then end up watching a movie for the last part of our scrapbooking afternoon. There was snow on the ground this past Tuesday, but somebody didn't bring Sam's boots so the kids couldn't go out and play in the snow.

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On Wednesday we had a rousing time of dress-up!

IMG_0622 There's a story behind this cute 5-year-old and her Deer Webkinz. I went last week to pick up Becca's Kindergarten enrollment forms and was kindly told that in order to hold her spot in the Kindergarten class of our choice, her immunizations needed to be all up to date...new rule. No big deal, except that I have promised Becca time & again that she would not get shots until SUMMER, right before Kindergarten starts. So, now I had to renege on my promise and take her to get shots right away because one of the Kindergarten classes was already full and we certainly wanted to get our first choice! I told Becca, who was very upset, that if she behaved while getting her shots and didn't kick and held really still, I would buy her a Webkinz. Her two older sisters received Webkinz at Christmas, so this was an extremely coveted item. I took Becca in for her shots and she did great. She cried, but she sat very still and didn't fuss at all, so after much shopping and debate, a very cute little deer Webkinz arrived in our home on Thursday.

IMG_0630edited And today, Friday, was book-character-dress-up-day in the elementary school. This always happens at the end of BEAR week (Be Excited About Reading). Bethany has been Lucy from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"; the American Girl "Kit"; and Junie B. Jones in past years. This year she was originally going to be the American Girl "Addy". The only problem is that Addy is a black child and we just couldn't get the look, if you know what I mean. So, we fished through the bookshelf and found "The Secret Garden" and the picture of Mary Lennox on the front cover looked very much like Bethany! And we just happened to have a pink dress and headband very similar to the picture as well. So this year, Bethany was Mary Lennox from the classic "The Secret Garden."

For those of you who are wondering, my laptop screen suddenly came on as I walked past it today. Weird, I know. I am no longer touching this screen because obviously there is a short circuit somewhere. But anyway, I was able to accomplish some of my projects on the computer after all! I also got the laundry done; but more on that in my next post...

Plans

I had great plans for today. I was going to delete some pictures from my computer...all those really awful "practice pictures", taken while trying to learn stuff about my new camera. Then I was going to fix up a few photos, upload more from my camera, post photos of the day on my blog, and write some cute little ditty that would make you all laugh.
But now...now I cannot do that. Why? Would you believe me if I said that the screen on my laptop is out again, even though I just got the laptop back from the fix-it shop a few weeks ago, where it was for the same problem? Well, you should believe it because it's the truth. Talk about annoying.
Anyway, I can kind of get to my laptop stuff via Ed's computer, but it all looks weird and is kind of slow, so I don't think I'm going to attempt to mess with pictures with that set-up.
So now what am I going to do today?
I have no excuses.
I'm going to have to do laundry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Basketball, shelves, aunts, and cuteness

Sarah had a great basketball game on Saturday! I have made a web album of a bunch of pictures, so if you want to see more, e-mail me and I'll send ya the link. Otherwise, here's one of my favorite pictures from the game.

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She played awesome defense, had two great baskets and is starting to learn how to control the ball as she is dribbling. I'm still learning how to take good inside pictures with my camera.

Also this past Saturday my very handy and giving Dad came over to install a bunch of shelves in our master bedroom closet. They're awesome and he always does a great job whenever we put him to work at our house.

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Thanks, Dad! Love ya!

On Sunday afternoon we had lunch at my parents' and my Aunt Nancy & Uncle Jim came as well. They just moved into a new home about 10 minutes from us and so after lunch we got to go see it. It's gorgeous and expansive and totally fits them. Becca was the privileged FIRST great-niece to have a sleep-over there on Sunday night. I know they had a great time, despite only getting about 7 hours of sleep. Apparently my 5 year old wasn't so sure she could sleep without any of her sisters or her mom around.

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My Aunt Nancy is great - I remember having lots of sleep-overs with her as a kid. She didn't live near us, but whenever she would come to visit and stay with my Grandma, then I would get at least one night to go over there and spend time with her and sleep over. I remember lying in bed with her and she had her back to me with one arm draped over her back and I admired her long and beautiful red fingernails. She's always been the glamorous aunt. ;) One time she flew me to Texas to spend a week with her when she lived there. I was only 10 and I flew on an airplane all by myself  from Seattle to Houston. Sarah's 10. No way on earth she's flying to Houston by herself. Or anywhere else for that matter!

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And here's the photo of the day for Jan. 26 and also the maximum dose of cuteness anyone could take in one day. As a photographer, I'm pretty pleased with the way this turned out. I hardly edited it at all, except a little white balance adjustment to the RAW image and then saving it as a jpeg. I do wish I had noticed the little smudge of snack-time-goodness on her chin and wiped it off, though. And as a mom? Well, if that isn't the cutest thing there could possibly be, then I don't want to be your friend on Facebook anymore. ;)

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Camera and Photos of the Day

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That is the first photo I took with my new camera! Photo of the day for January 21, 2009!We were waiting at school for Sarah & Bethany and I just started snapping pictures in full auto mode of Becca. So, no fancy stuff yet or anything and already I love it! I love the crispness of the auto-focus (that's 7 focus points and 10 MP for ya!) and I love the blurred background, which is thanks to the wonderful depth of field that these SLR cameras give. I couldn't be more thrilled! Oh, and all these pictures are completely unedited - I have done nothing to them at all.

Here, Becca starts to play for the camera:

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And here's Elise!

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And Bethany:

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And Sarah at dinner:

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And photos of the day for Thursday, January 22:

IMG_0093 That is the outside of the building where Bethany has Children's Musical Theater. (I was messing around with my camera while waiting to pick her up.) She loves CMT!

IMG_0085 And Becca showing off again, while I try out different viewpoints and angles.

Today, Friday, January 23, I served hot lunch in Bethany's classroom. Becca got to sit at the desks and have lunch with Bethany, which she loved!

IMG_0126 I love how Becca is in focus and Bethany is slightly blurred, with a bit of a big sister look on her face. Becca's loving it, Bethany's not so sure, but she's being nice anyway. :) Sister-time is so awesome!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Photos of the day - Jan. 18, 19, 20

I have lots of photos here today, everyone. Enjoy!

IMG_4250 Voracious reader Sarah. Funny story: her teacher called last week while doing quarterly grades. "Sarah has no reading points! How can that be? Sarah reads all the time!" We didn't know. Teacher called back 5 minutes later. "I figured it out! Sarah has read SO much that it printed on additional sheets!" Ha!

IMG_4258 Sunday afternoon was warmish and sunny! We took a family bike ride to the Everson City Park. Old equipment, but fun!

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Then, on Monday we went to visit friends in Stanwood and another friend from Modesto, CA, Nell, was there with her kids. This is Nell with her youngest, Sawyer.

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Yesterday, January 20, was a historical day:

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God bless you, W.

Plus, Elise & I went to the park!

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Cute Elise-ism: "My nose is squishy." (she means stuffy)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why I love to write and read blogs

I have realized over the last few days that I really enjoy reading blogs. I guess I always knew it, but I think I realized why. When people write in their blogs, they are typically writing about the little things, the special moments that happen every day with their spouse or their children that would go unnoticed if not for a blog entry; things like finishing a puzzle together, playing dinosaurs, making smoothies for breakfast, etc. I love being that up-close and personal with my friends and family. I think when we publicly talk about those special moments, we appreciate them. We value the little things, thus creating a more positive outlook on life in general! We don't get bogged down with the stresses of life when we're appreciative. Every day I write in my blog about something, I look at just a little bit differently, and perhaps with a little bit more appreciation for life and the people in my life. I think that's a good thing.

On another note, my laptop has returned from the fix-it shop and seems to be in good working order! I have to get used to this small screen again (Ed's computer monitor is HUGE) and the smaller keyboard, but it's so nice to have my portable lifeline back. :) I don't yet have the pictures transferred back over from Ed's computer, though. That means Sunday's pictures from the park, and therefore yesterday's pictures from our visit with friends, will have to come later.

Today is inauguration day. Only one more hour until Obama becomes the President of the United States. I truly believe this is the end of life as we know it. Things are going to change, one way or the other. I can only pray that God will rule in Obama's heart as he governs our nation so that the change in the world and in the hearts of Americans can be for God's glory and nothing else. And, no matter what happens in the next 4 years (or 8 years), God is in control and that is peace in and of itself.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's a beautiful day!

We have been having some wonderful sunshine here in the "it hardly ever snows but when it does it hardly ever sticks around" state! It's pretty cold, but sunny & beautiful. The fog has been pretty intense at night, creating some slippery road conditions, but also some beautiful sights around the county.

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This was Friday evening out our back window. It was so pretty with the fog.

Did I mention our good point & shoot digital camera arrived back from the fix-it shop in proper working order? I love warranties. It takes pretty good pictures for an automatic camera!

My new camera is scheduled for delivery on Wednesday! This picture would have been awesome if it were already here!

This next picture would also be much improved if I had my new camera already:

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Here's Sarah at her game today. She did GREAT and had 3 baskets! We don't really know who won, as the scorekeepers sometimes forgot that you add two points when a basket is made. Sometimes...they subtracted.

But anyway, in 5th grade it doesn't matter who won. It matters how you play the game, and she did really well and I am so proud of her for getting in there and really being a good team player!

We went from Sarah's game to a sports bar in Bellingham to watch the Calvin/Hope game via satellite. We had a great time and Calvin won by two points in a very exciting finish!

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We even got Calvin balloons. (Thanks, Scott!)

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Bethany loved hanging out with her dad (& her mom & her grandparents!) Does she smile like her daddy or what?

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Becca. What can I say? Hair. Cold, dry air. And balloons. You get the idea.

It's been a beautiful day and I am headed outside to enjoy the last of the sunshine with those other 4 girls and our guy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two too cute girlies

This week has been pretty normal, overall. Which is nice. We haven't had a routine in place for over a month.

Of course, since the girls have off from school tomorrow (teacher work day) and Monday (MLK Jr. Day), we still haven't had a full week of school. In fact, by the time they have a full week of school the last week of January, it will have been SIX weeks since their last full week of school way back in early December - Dec. 8-12, in fact. Believe it or not, we only missed 3 full days of school (not counting early releases and late starts) and since we have 3 "snow days" built in, we don't have to make-up any days later on. Now, as long as we don't get a January or February or March snow storm....

Here's my "photos of the day" for the last few days:

DSC09545 This is Elise being cute on Tuesday.

DSC09547 This is Becca being cute on Wednesday.

IMG_4163 This is Becca & Elise being cute together today! They traced each other's hands on the Magna Doodle - one right on top of the other. Elise told me "These are our hands and they are clapping!" and then she dropped the Magna Doodle -CRASH- on the floor, said "like this", and demonstrated clapping for me. It was too cute. I love my two too cute girlies.

Oh, and I really did take all those pictures on different days. They just own a lot of purple clothes. They're girls.

I know, I know - pictures of Sarah & Bethany are few & far between. They're in school, folks! But now that we have a four-day weekend, I'm sure pictures of them will be forthcoming. Check back soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to me!

And Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Mother's Day, Happy Flag Day, Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and so on for the next few years...

Because this is what is on its way to my house!


Eek! Don't I have the best husband ever? This is the Canon Rebel XS and he just bought it for me online for a great deal. I just have to stick to the budget we've agreed upon for the rest of my life. I can do that. I can't wait to get my hands on this thing and learn about it. I have a lot of learning to do.



Which is why this

is also on its way to my house from our local Everson library!
Picture of today will be up...tomorrow... :)

Playing catch-up on my blog

Contrary to popular opinion, I HAVE NOT neglected to take a picture every day...yet...

I just haven't been posting them for the last few days. I figure that could get a little boring. Every day. One picture. Nothing exciting. So, instead - you get 3 pictures from the 3 days. Still nothing exciting. Oh well.

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This is Saturday's picture. Becca is all ready to go to a friend's birthday party. It was a tea party and all the girls were supposed to get dressed up, and*that*, my friends, is just exactly Becca's cup of tea. Ahem. ;)

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This is Sunday's picture. We were having family game night and we were voting about which game to play. This is Elise's vote: play drums with the "pick-up stix." She's a free-thinker, that one. She marches to the beat of her own drum. Ahem again. :)  (Just FYI: We played Sorry. I won.)

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This is Monday's picture. These are all my GEMS! I just love them all - they're such gems. Oh dear. Time to stop before I really get creative in my writing.

Have a good Tuesday!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Program and water and a birthday

Finally! The LCS Christmas Program! In case you don't know the history of said program, it's for K-4, and all the kiddos wear white capes with red crepe paper bows. This is quite a tradition. In fact, the white cape Bethany is wearing says "Randy DeJong" (my brother), and then "Randy" is crossed out and "Julie" is written in. Then that's crossed out and "Michael" (my little brother) is written in. My mom saved it! It's so cool. Then it said "Sarah Ball" and that's crossed out and now it says "Bethany Ball." Bethany will next year grow into the larger size and Becca will get to wear the family hand-me-down. So cool. I remember having to walk from the elementary school to the old middle school building wearing those white capes. It'd be pouring down rain and all the kids would have red streaks down the front of their white capes from the red bows. I guess my mom was able to get the red streaks out. She's a wonder when it comes to laundry.

But, anyway...back to the subject...the program was wonderful! It ended with a finale that was fun and the kids obviously loved it - so great! Obviously, the kids were a little less than familiar with some of the songs, having had the program postponed for so long, but they did awesome, considering. Picture time!

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Bethany, front row center.

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She's playing the Orff instrument in this picture, which is like a xylophone-kind-of-thing. We couldn't see her real well while she was doing it, but my cousin promised to take a close-up with her good camera from the front row. It's nice having family working at the school!

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This was during the finale - the kids had all sorts of fun stuff to do during the "fa la la" parts!

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Elise did OK - hung out with Grandpa quite a bit.

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That's water over the road that we take to get home from school. It used to be a couple feet deep over the entire roadway, but I didn't get a picture then. We did drive around the water to get home today, instead of going the long way.

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One of the many fields that is now a lake.

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Water completely engulfing another road on our way home, but fortunately we don't use that road very often. As you can see, the water stretches out both directions for a long ways.

And this beautiful friend of mine is having a birthday today.

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I stole that picture off her blog.  Hee hee! I think it's her Senior picture - don't you love the big bangs?! I don't even have to tell you how old she is now that you see those bangs and know she's a Senior in high school. Dee is a very good friend who always makes me laugh, keeps me honest, and listens to all my yakking. She'll watch my kids anytime I need her (even when I go to sunny warm places and she has to stay in the "it-hardly-ever-snows-here-but-when-it-does-it-hardly-ever-sticks-around" state). She treats me and my family like family and the best thing about her? Since moving here (she arrived here around the same time we did) she has been converted and now also believes that scrapbooking is an excellent and FUN hobby!