Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I had a low point the other day. I went to the storage unit that we were loaned to look for something that Rob needed. I haven't been there since the first load and I didn't know what all was in there. I had it in my head that it must be so full you couldn't walk in there hardly because the house is so empty, and since the house is so empty it all must be there. My heart sank as I opened that storage unit, aside from the kitchen cabinets and our bikes it was pretty much empty! I don't know why this surprised me so much, I guess I was just kind of living in denial over what was lost. I even thought to myself during service when they were saying "...the Ball family that lost everything in the flood..." that was a little dramatic, we didn't loose EVERYTHING. I think it smacked me in the face, we did loose everything. Our stuff at least. Well, I was grieving - again over this "stuff". My precious sewing machine that I was given for Christmas when I was 12 and my new Rowenta iron that totally rocked, for my birthday this year, "but, it's stuff" says my loving husband. And I know this in my head, and it still stings. I didn't realize the attachment I had to some stuff, weird stuff I guess, but also some normal stuff too, Zach's baby bed, for instance. I am so glad the kids are not going through the loss of all their stuff, I would hate for them to go through that. I was reading my magazine, "MOM Sense", it's a MOPS magazine and the story in it about The Toy Bin Crisis hit home with me, except not maybe like you'd think, but the last paragraph goes kind of like this, "I cry out, "It's my favorite stuff!" and even if I don't like it I have to imagine God saying, "I've got some great stuff in store for you, but first you've got to un-clutter your life and dump the trash." Even before the flood I had this overwhelming need to scale back and simplify, we had donated a lot of "extra" things around the house, and somehow it seems like there is a reason for all this "de-cluttering". A little extreme I feel, but He knows what's best! Well, as Rob and I and all our friends and family are putting the house back together and I am trying to make it a home again somehow, I am trying to picture us there again without our stuff and I think that's okay, I think us being there will make it home enough for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Clear Water

Well, I still have some pictures of our trip to Florida to blog! These are from the day at the beach and the day that everyone got a sunburn! We went to Sand Key, it was a beautiful day to be at the beach. The kids LOVED the beach, they jumped right in, there is no fear with a small rubber tube around your waist! Keith and Grace were in the water splashing in the waves the whole time we were there, and they want to learn to surf now. Ethan, Bailey, and Joy loved the search for shells. Zach stuck to the empty water bottles and sand. All the kids dug in the sand and built castles, they each brought back a whole empty water bottle full of shells too. Rob loves to go to the beach, but does not like to get wet in the cold ocean, so he sat under the umbrella most of the time, except for when he asked me to take a romantic stroll down the beach, that was nice, we talked and walked hand in hand (ahhhh!). Joy apparently had an allergic reaction to something and couldn't get in ocean again after her first dip, the salt water irritated it. She sure didn't seem to mind, she played in the sand the whole time, happy as can be. Aaron, Rob and my Dad went up the beach to get a burger and when Aaron was about to take a bite a seagull swooped down and took his burger right out his hand! Aaron was so dumbfounded by the aggressiveness of the seagull, he stood there in shock, watching as his burger was devoured by a flock of gulls! It was hysterically funny and obviously a great memory- for us at least! And, might I add that my Mom was the culprit for the streaks on all her sons! Yes, she sprayed them all down with sunscreen, and do you know, she streaked them, every one! Lines, and blotches on their chests, backs and sides! They laugh - now! It was really innocent, and what a funny mistake. Mom really felt bad and cried tears from laughter to prove it! And did I mention the HOT guy in the white Nike hat I took a picture of! I hope he calls! Sunburns were from neglect, I admit. You have to RE-apply every so often, it doesn't last four hours in the ocean apparently! Lesson-learned - the hard way. A trip to the beach is definitely on the list of things to do on a future vacation, it was a big hit!

Friday, June 15, 2007


I have never been so happy to be declined for a loan! We applied to the Small Business Association (SBA) for a loan to complete the house rebuild since the FEMA money wasn't enough. Basically, it's a low interest loan, that is to be used to finish the job, but, since we were declined, we are eligible for more grants from FEMA. This is excellent news, because the last thing we needed was to be upside-down in loans for the house, how we would make the payments was going to be a stretch too, to say the least! So hurray, hopefully, we will get a little more assistance from FEMA and get this thing done! Yesterday, I have to admit was a rough day for us, we were up in the air with the SBA application and we didn't get really any progress made on the house, so I was a little down this morning when I got up, but, God sure took care of that! By 10 am I was doing much better. I hear there are a few people that are coming tonight and on Saturday to help, and just to make sure everyone knows, there is something for everyone to do, sweeping, picking up trash, just holding something as some one's "third arm". So come on over to our house, pay no attention to the mess, we'd love to have ya! Can you believe I actually was having anxiety over the mess it was when people first started coming over to help? Yeah, I actually apologized to a few people until I was told to stop it! I was saying, "please excuse the stench of raw sewage and the mud caked on the stairs and walls, I'm so sorry, I haven't had a chance to clean up!" I know, I am thinking they call that denial, now I am saying, "Try not to fall through the hole in the dining room floor, and don't you love how we've opened up the floor plan, it's like a different house, isn't it!"
Real quick I want to brag on our Keith, he is growing up so fast this summer, I mean, he has really matured, in every way, his voice is changing, and he's getting taller, but also, during the day, he has become someone that I can really count on to help out and the biggest sign of maturity- he does it with a smile. I am so proud of him and thank him constantly. He is so looked up to and I am so happy that the younger kids have such a good role model right in front of them everyday! We love you Keith! You're doing a great job!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Look Mom, No Training Wheels!

Over the weekend Ethan learned to ride his bike without training wheels and has now perfected this in the past few days, now the "expert" bicyclist has convinced the timid Bailey to try it too. Bailey, like Ethan caught on and a few times around the yard and off she went! She and Ethan both love to ride the razors so I thought it might come pretty easily! I had no idea! They are so proud of themselves! We're so proud of them! Ethan exclaimed, "now we're just the same!", to which Bailey replied, "yeah, except my bike is pretty!". We love Bailey for this very reason! She tells it like it is!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Okay, so I hinted at the fact that FEMA came through. From the Magic Kingdom I applied to FEMA and then was called at MGM Studios with news of a FEMA representative, he wanted to meet with us the Monday after we got back. It was a short tour around the house and we thought, "now we wait". Well, the next day I had to call up FEMA offices to give them some info I don't normally carry in my purse and the WONDERFUL person on the phone informed me that a check had already been issued, now, I have to admit there was scepticism still, I had heard we could be waiting awhile, boy, was I wrong! Yesterday, in the mailbox, is a check for almost half of what we need to rebuild! Praise God! Now that we are dry and have some cash to buy the materials, we can start to rebuild! Our rebuilding schedule is this:

Mondays 6pm-9pm
Thursdays 6pm-9pm
Fridays 6pm-9pm
Saturdays 8am-8pm

14th- Complete Tear out
15th- Plumbing & Electrical
16th- Plumbing & Electrical

18th- Finish Wall Studs & Install Bath Tub
21st- Sheetrock
22nd- Sheetrock
23rd- Sheetrock

25th- Sheetrock
28th- Sheetrock Finishing
29th- Sheetrock Finishing
30th- Sheetrock Finishing

This is so very flexible as far what will be done, but it's a goal we're setting. We want to try and get as much man/woman power as possible to get as much done as possible. Any specialist in any area would be great, but if all you can do is sweep - please join us!
These are pictures of how the house looks right now, no rain water or sewage! Dry as we can get and I can't wait to take pictures as things improve even more!
Thank you so much for all your support and prayers in this adventure thus far, we have been so blessed by all of you in so many ways! Our prayers have been answered and God has brought us this far, we know He will continue to be with us till it's completion. We are still not sure of the plan or "big picture" here, I'll let know, or maybe you all can let us know! I know there will be so many things that God will bring good from this one disaster, we have certainly been blessed through this process, as odd as that sounds. We have found comfort in all your words and have even received cards and e-mails from people in the U.S. as far as Idaho, keeping us in their prayers, God is truly at work here. Rob and I pray that there is testament given of God's faithfulness to everyone who hear our story.

Monday, June 11, 2007


So, I ordered Rob and I new bibles on the , I love this website, I highly recommend this site for books and bibles and their covers. I bought us matching black leather NIV Study Bibles and let me tell you for the past week that I have been waiting for them to get here, I could hardly wait, I even got our names put on them. Today when they came, I know I just lit up! I had also ordered us a couple's devotional and a devotional for Rob, that he had already been working b.f. and I got myself a new devotional also, I can't tell you how much I have missed doing our devotions every night together. I'm so excited for tonight! I got a couple of references that I have been missing and found a smallish book called "When Things Go Wrong, A Book of Comfort", it looked good, and it was also on the 99 cent clearance sale! I wish now that I had more time to read! Well, I will just have to make the time, what am I doing blogging, I have books to read!


Okay, this is a picture of my Mom's mini van that I am borrowing for awhile, till we can get our house done and can buy another van of our own. My parents had offered this van to us to purchase awhile back, but we had "Lucille" then still. Well, in the short time that I have been driving this "pimped-out ride", I have found myself not grieving the loss of Lucille anymore, and I know this is silly, but maybe it's too soon, Lucille was special in so many ways, but the fact is that she is gone. Could I have loved again and is it just a rebound van? Time will tell, but the automatic doors and the 5 disc DVD player and CD player is quickly gaining a certain permanency in our lives! I keep telling myself to not get too attached, I'll just get hurt when she goes away. It is a Chrysler Town & Country and being the same color as Lucille is strangely comforting to me, I know that I am over thinking this whole thing, but you know there are so many other serious things going on that I have to laugh at myself sometimes! I'm thinking I'll call her Lucy!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Universal Studios

My wonderful Mom suggested that the older kids go and she stay at the house we rented with the little ones, so they could swim and we could move through the park a little faster, and ride more rides. This was a GREAT idea, and we had so much fun, I have to say, I did miss the kids when we saw Shrek 4-D and the Jimmy Neutron's Blast, but that was short-lived when we rode the "Revenge of the Mummy", that was a thriller, all the special effects were really cool.

We experienced "Twister, Ride It Out" and "Earthquake", if there had been a "Flood" feature, we would have skipped it anyway I think. These things were so real! We did take a boat ride and visit "Jaws", completely cheesy and a very old one, but none the less it still attracts, and my Dad got SOAKED! The guide actually said all guys wearing a white polo and a black Nike hat on this boat would get soaked and he was right! It was amazing! It was a good laugh, that's for sure!

We avoided the Fear Factor Live show, in case someone was going to eat something really gross. But, we did have fun on the "MIB Allien Attack", it was like a huge interactive video game, for which the average score was 25,000 points and I had a wop pin 17,000 and Aaron, who was sitting next to me had 350,000 points! Yes, he is a rock star (or does he just play video games a bit too much?). Of course we had to ride ET, this one our kids would have said ET who? It, again was a very old feature, but if you loved ET as a kid you gotta go, and I swore I heard my name at the end!

Hollywood was fab and Andrea was a stunt double in one of the shows, very cool! They dropped her from a three story building on accident, but it was cool. We also went to see how they make the scary creatures and people getting messed up looked real, the "Universal Horror Make-up Show ". That was neat, I may actually be able see a scary movie, now that I know it's not real! Yeah right!

We also saw the Terminator 2 3-D, that was pretty good, I have to say, one of the better 3-D's we'd seen. It was a mix of live action and movie on three sides, that was pretty cool.

You know, there was Ben & Jerry's ice cream there-enough said!

The others climbed a brick wall, I ate Ben & Jerry's! Nick, Andrea, Aaron and Keith all made it up the wall. Nick kicks butt, he works out though, no fair!

Keith, loved this! He was good too!

One other thing that we did was have our pictures taken and inserted into movie posters, they cost some money to take home, but playing around with the photographers was really fun, trying out the different posters! Rob and I tried to be Shrek & Fiona, Rob forbid us to purchase this picture! Keith tried a football player and Andrea and I did one with two nuns, that was hysterical! Nick did a Back to the Future poster and Aaron, who got the biggest kick out of this, did like five or six I think and they included a little Star Wars, Indian Jones and The Terminator, plus a few more! My Dad is an awesome Robert DiNiro!

Of course at the end of the day we had had an awesome day and Mom and the kids had loved there day too, they played and swam at the house all day, and loved it, anytime with Nana is a good time!

Animal Kingdom

This park was like the best zoo you can imagine with Mickey Mouse and rides and awesome food, and my favorite show of all the Disney parks. First of all The Tree of Life is something that I had wanted to see for a long time, I saw a special on tv about how it was made and it was facinating, so seeing it in person was a treat for me especially. The 3-D show in the theatre under the roots of the tree was so neat, "It's Tough to be a Bug", from the movie "A Bug's Life", Grace was scared out of her skin by the effects, but she has a serious thing about spiders.

We saw the Finding Nemo musical, this awesome puppetry, was a close second to my very favorite show, "The Festival of the Lion King", the acrobatics and singing was amazing! We aslo had to visit Mount Everest for a ride on the Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, a really great roller coaster in my opinion.

The was amazing food in every park we went to, this one had a place called Pizzafari, which had the best chicken parmesan sandwich I have ever had. The sample I had of Ethan's pizza was so good too. I really liked the air conditioning especially!

The Kilimanjaro Safari was neat, it was a LONG wait to go on it, but it was worth it. Zach had a good long nap on that one! For as bumpy as that jeep ride was, I could not nelieve how good he slept, but you know he was nestled in his Daddy's arms! Because I was more interested in my family and the going ons of them and their enjoyment, I have almost no pictures of animals at all, which I'm okay with, because the beautiful faces in these pictures, are really what I want to remember. This is a perfect example, my handsome (and single) brother, Nick, and my (eat your heart out ladies) very taken brother-in-law, Aaron! There was a show called Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends which was a very "green, save the earth", kind of message, the kids missed that I think, but they loved all the animals that kept running across the stage and the raccoon that came and handed Pocahontas a bouquet of flowers, he was so cute!

Dino-Land USA was a great place for the kids, they really enjoyed The Boneyard, which was a place kind of like the one at Sea World, a huge play land, but with a theme of fossils and archaeological digs.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom was just like I dreamed it would be! Cheesy? Well, it is made of magic! Okay, first tip for Disney-don't go in peak season if at all possible! It is soooooo busy! Tip two-you need more than one day to really do the Magic Kingdom experience, there is so much great stuff to see and do!

I love Christmas and get the kids an ornament for each of them every year and the Christmas All Year store, is a must see, so many ornaments to choose from, I know you could find the perfect one for any child.

Okay, first, Space Mountain (awesome), then Buzz Lightyear (very cool), then, Splash Mountain (don't know, looked fun, but you get wet!). The kids saw Stitch's Great Escape while the bigger kids rode Space Mountain. The rest of the day we saw Monster Inc. Laugh Floor, very funny, rode some spinning tea cups on the Mad Tea Party (I actually really love this one), Cinderella's Golden Carousel, I have this thing about carousels - I have to ride them all! We also flew a Dumbo, Ethan's favorite, played in the water at Ariel's Grotto, the kids were soaked! We saw the 3-D Mickey's PhilharMagic, this was just so neat, and some of the bigger kids went to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Keith really liked that.

The shows we saw were so great too! We saw the "Dream Along With Mickey" show, this included all the Princesses, I could have gone home after that, it was so magical! Grace and Joy got to be in a show with Belle during Storytime with Belle. We also saw the SpectroMagic parade, I highly recommend this, it wasn't till 9pm, but so worth the wait! We saw the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, at 10:00, also late, but this was something we would not miss, the fireworks were amazing, Rob being a rookie piro himself, was awed by the choreographing to music! It truly was magical, even better than the fourth of July! We had great seats too, on Main Street, with the fireworks going off above the castle, it was perfect, a perfect ending to a wonderful Disney's Magic Kingdom day. The day had started at 8:30 in the morning in the parking lot and didn't end till almost 11:00 the same parking lot, but you know, the kids were amazing, they all did so well, and had so much fun and, they loved every minute of it too!

I almost forgot, I got good news while we were there too, I found out we were eligible for help from FEMA! I could have cried, I was so happy! I called while the kids played in the grotto and applied right away!

Sea World

Well, our trip to Florida was a huge success in every way. We had a great time! First day there we went to Sea World and this being Memorial Day, I was surprised that there was not bigger crowds that there were. We had beautiful weather and all the animals were so active.
We even got to see dolphins "snuggling" as Grace put it. We quickly gave the "evil eye" to Keith to not comment on the PG-13 display before us and 30 other little ones.

Zachary loved the aquariums, I couldn't get a good picture of the floor in this one, but we let him down to crawl around for awhile and he was just fascinated by the fish swimming beneath him!

I am told the water ride was cool, Rob and I are not fans of walking around wet all day, so we did not ride, but everyone, including all the kids (minus Zach of course), this was there first major drop ride, they had so much fun. Their expressions were priceless going down that drop! Wide eyes and mouths open!

There were so many photo opportunities! Really, it was just beauty everywhere you looked!

There was the neatest play ground that was like McDonald's play land on steroids! It was HUGE, the kids went nuts! They ran and climbed and had a blast in all the tunnels and slides! The best part, the shade under it, and picnic tables too, all the parents congregated there to watch the kids having fun, Topeka needs one!

I fed Zach and Papa Earl a frozen treat, they really enjoyed it, but Zach wasn't sure how he felt about sharing (Papa Earl either)!

Then, of course, there is Shamu, the whole reason we love Sea World. Everyone was awe-struck by this show! Even Zach couldn't take his eyes off the huge killer whales.