The Shady Maple-d Sort of Hope

**16 Days til my Philadelphia Freedom!

Today marks one of my favorite days. It’s how the James Girls kick of the holiday season. Dawn breaks and Dad throws us all in the car. We then head to the place where cholesterol parties and desserts dance, otherwise known as The Shady Maple Smorgasbord.

Dad is the only male allowed and girls may only join provided they are of the James lineage and only under the stipulation that they have reached high school age, as it is often times a rated PG-13 ( at best) function. {*refer to an earlier blog entry about my obsession with balls. This obsession seems to just flourish around the holidays as balls are found around every corner and my sisters really feed into my obsession.} This year we welcomed my Natalia into the sisterhood.

The ride to Shady Maple is beautiful. It’s all country views. Cows, farms, green fields. Endless blue skies today.

Veteran’s Day was observed today for some schools today so it was a bit more crowded than our normal breakfasting/ shopping excursion. Mom seemed a bit disturbed by it but dad didn’t seem to mind.¬†

Little Sister Rachel>-> who will not be pleased that I posted this with Mom who shocked us all with this outlandish behavior. Mom is ever the lady.>–>

^Holly , the big sister with Dad. Holly is a poser. Dad, The Marine and proud Veteran, never stops eating long enough to partake of such shenanigans. Eating is serious business for a Marine. Many a time he has regaled us with the tales of having to eat maggots out of his helmet along with his food and therefore he is always just grateful for food in general. Daddy is delightful at dinner. ūüėÄ

During breakfast Holive entertained us all ( as usual) in the way that only Holly can. Which won’t be funny to anyone else so I won’t attempt to try to relive it. Suffice it to say, ¬† Holly is fascinated by the most mundane little things and can make just about anything funny. Today it was a collapsible brush. Who knew such a cheap thing could provide such entertainment?

After we got our feed on, we headed to the gift shops to spend what my dad calls “all of our egg money” , which is dad speak for all the money we saved all year for this very day.

^ HOPE is the thing with feathers. ( Emily Dickinson fans ? )

Holly found a HOPE ornament with a ball in the O.  SCORE.  Posed in front of some fuzzy white and red balls for me, too!

.. and the winner of the strangest thing I saw all all day goes to this piece of blown glass poo… I mean slug. (Apologies to slugs everywhere).

We laugh, we eat, we shop.We laugh some more. ¬†This close to my next treatment, it’s going to take me at least 3 days to recover from our excursion, but I don’t mind. Today not only signifies the beginning of the holiday season for me, it also reminds me how lucky I am. I’ve got sisters. Great, beautiful, kind sisters and I still have both my parents. Sadly, I don’t spend enough time with either of my sisters or my mom and dad, which is really quite a shame. But the time I do spend with them is always filled with laughter and love. And for that I truly grateful.

My fav jam from the ride! You gals “made my day”. ¬†‚̧

The Sort of Hope that is Passionate

Passion.

It is a quality I both admire and respect in athletes. My kids have it in abundance for their respective chosen sports. Their friends have it, too. My husband¬†still¬†has it for his first love- baseball. I think I’ve found it for photography.

Rather than try to write about it and fail miserably, I thought I’d share my weekend full of passion-the rated PG (for language, not content) kind of passion- with all of you. The passion for what you do, accomplished by using my passion for what I do. I hope in every photo the passion for what these kids are doing is evident to you. Their story… their happiness, their success, their sadness and their failure. I will finish by sharing my very favorite quote about passion…

‚ÄúPassion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us…¬†passion¬†rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have?¬†Passion¬†is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without¬†passion¬†maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without¬†passion¬†we’d be truly dead.¬†~ Joss Wheadon

(I have another blog entry called “the mood of the moment” that I try to update semi-regularly with some of my other favorite quotes and favorite self portraits-check it out)

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The Sort of Hope Who Went to Berkshire Opening Day

*all rules for photographing balls were followed* I happened by the SeaDogs vs Spinners and found this shot.

Oh Ballz

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If we are going to get to know each other , there is some thing you need to know. I’ve got a confes sion to make.. It’s balls. I am obsessed with them. I am not exactly sure when this obsession began.. but I’ve got it bad.

I’m not selfish in my lust. I’ve gotten my beautiful sisters and my niece and my daughter hooked too! I’ve even gotten quite a few friends in on my compulsion to ball. We’ve made it a quest for all things Ballz.

It’s become a game. To post the ballsiest pic you can find. But you can’t pose them. All balls must be photographed in their natural environment. They are more glorious that way. ¬†Just like any good 40 something teenager , I still giggle every time I hear an umpire shout ” 2 balls” ¬†or especially ” NO BALLS on the batter”. I just can’t help myself. I hope my inner teen never stops finding that funny. Balls are just fun.

And hey, it’s almost the busiest season for balls– so I invite you all to join me and grab your fav camera and BALLz Up!