Sunday, July 29, 2007

I forgot!

Looking back over my past blogs, I can't believe I forgot to blog about the kid's first air plane ride! It was so eventful too! Well, to start off boarding the plane, not bad at all, we all arrived in our seats with no major obstacles. Once we had taken off though, Ethan who was sitting beside me, yelled over the roar of the engines, "When do we start shooting at the other planes?" Needless to say I erupted in laughter and immediately told Rob, who was behind me who told, Aaron sitting beside him, who told Andrea, and so on and so forth, till I believe the whole plane had heard about Ethan's enthusiasm for flying! Well, he quickly lost interest in the flight when he heard nothing that exciting was going to happen and was on to reading and drawing. When we began our descent and you could see Florida, Grace commented that she had no idea that Florida would be so small, "I never imagined it would be so little and the ocean goes right through it too!" As we got closer and closer to the ground all four little kids called out the things they saw, "people that look like ants!", "palm trees", "cars that look like little toy cars!". I had forgotten that excitement of seeing things like that for the first time. I love how kids can remind you that there is awe in everything in life.


Our little Zachary Ryan is brilliant! Brilliant, I tell you! At not yet a year he has figured out how to get where he wants, no height is too high! I was coming around the corner and caught our genius at work. He had pushed the small fire safe in front of the chair and found it to be not quite tall enough, so he knocked over the breast pump case, which is hard plastic and slid it front of the arm chair, which was the obstacle at hand and climbed up on top the case and into the chair, and perched himself like a king on his throne, arms on the arm rests. It was so cute to watch his little amazing mind at work! When he realized he had an audience, the biggest smile came over his face, I wished I had thought to grab my camera to capture the double-dimple grin!

Here is a fact about Zach that you may not know, most babies are soothed by the sound of a wind-up twinkle-twinkle or a lullaby, not our babe, when he gets fussy and fed up with being in his car seat or is just so tired he can't stand it, but he doesn't want to sleep, put on a little Aerosmith and in a split second that sweet child is quiet as can be and will fall asleep if that's the problem, but if he's just fed up with the car ride he'll start to sing along! "Sweet Emotion" seems to be his favorite so far!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Little sis turns 26!

Yep, my little sister turned 26 today! She celebrated with new highlights, a particularly fabulous birthday lunch at McDonald's with myself, Laura M and our combined eight kids (the eldest two just got back from Super Summer this afternoon), the kids sang to her Happy Birthday, and we celebrated with ice cream! Her hubby decided to make that appointment for a tattoo she's been wanting (so sweet!) and she went in to get it this evening. Of course I had my camera and captured this life-changing moment! Anyone who is anyone was listening to her on the radio and knew full well of Merrill's feelings on the subject, obstinately, she went on with her plans! It is a very creative and beautiful addition to a very creative and beautiful person! I really think she'll be happy with it long-term, it does carry with it a lot of meaning for her too. The Chinese characters mean "Heart" and "Family". She received a gorgeous bouquet from our Dad in Colorado and it just happened to be tiger lilies, Andrea was so excited to call and tell Dad that it must be a sign from God because she was getting a tattoo of tiger lilies that evening! Well, needless to say my Dad was hesitantly supportive, and I laughed so hard, because I happened to mention she might like tiger lilies to my Mom previously, obviously, I was not going to be the one to tell Dad about the coming tattoo! I'm sure he was thinking, "thanks, a lot!". You're welcome! My little sis is a happy girl though!
This is the guy who was fast and fabulous and marked my sis for life! He really did great and either she's really tough, or he was really gentle (she is REALLY tough!). She is still out celebrated the decline of her youth, just like a rock star, I'd imagine! Happy, Happy Birthday Andie!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I bet you'd never guess what Zach's second word was! "Papa" was his first (my Dad was very happy), and do you know that, though we have no pets at our house (because we do not want any pets at our house), our baby boy's second word is "Dog". He has gotten to spend a lot of time with his Grandma Linda in the past few weeks and she has two dogs, a cat and hamsters. He has grown an attachment to her newest dog, Belle, who is still a puppy, but will soon be a very big dog. He is not the least bit shy with this puppy or Lizzie, who is the original big "Dog". He chases after them and seems to want to imitate them even, he can pant like them, which is always good for a laugh, and he can eat his food off his tray with his mouth like them. He is a dog's best friend because he will always drop a little somethin somethin off his tray for his furry friends, now if we can only get him to not do that when the dogs aren't around, but Mommy is doing quite well in her training, because if the dogs are not there to pick it up, Mommy will, (the little stinker)! Don't get me wrong, I get the occassional "Mommy", when he gets upset (go figure), and we do hear the occassional "Dada", but his most frequent word spoken now, is Dog! He hears one barking, "Dog!", he sees one, "Dog!", even when we just pull up to Grandma's house now, "Dog!". No, we are not getting a dog, but he can go to Grandma's and see Lizzie and Belle any time he wants!

Almost Home

I don't have pictures to post right now, but an update is due and I obviously have been so busy, I haven't given one in a while. My Mom has gone back to Colorado :( I am 27 years old and I still just have to fight back the tears every time my Mommy leaves! I am not ashamed of this fact it is just full proof of just how great my Mom is! We got so much done, the house has started to look like home again and I am ready! What a struggle this has been! Rob and I are so tired, tired of it all and just want to be done and home. The kids are tired of it all and I miss them horribly, because I have had to work at the house so much I have barely seen them, I don't know how Moms working outside the home do it, I miss my kids too much! Trim, more plumbing and then the carpet and we're in! It sounds like not much, but it is so much still! I am trying everyday to stay positive and I keep thinking, we're almost home, we're almost home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Laminate Floors!

My Mom came into town on Monday afternoon bringing with her the girls who had a fun filled week with "Nana" and "Papa" and (BONUS!) she gets to stay for the week now (stuffs gonna get DONE!). So yesterday, we laid laminate in a bathroom and the laundry room downstairs and it looks beautiful and you have to touch to tell it's not ceramic tile, love it! Then, today, lots of laminate in the living room, dining room, pantry and hallway, they look like real wood floors. It is AWESOME! My Mom and I kick it out I tell ya! Tomorrow, we tackle the kitchen, hall closet and another bathroom. Come over to our house and check out the floors! Now, my Mom and I definitely have a groove when it comes to laying these floors, we really have a good time while we're doing it too! We, are very comfortable being ourselves while we are working together, shall we say, all natural! My Mom is spoiled there in Colorado with the dry weather, she always has a crash coarse in humidity when she comes to town, it really is sticky! Soaked with sweat from the morning's work, they came in the morning and got the AC up and running for a cooler afternoon's work! What a blessing! Don't let her tell you she did all the work, just cause I was taking pictures! We have a good time ribbing each other throughout the day. My sister, Andrea and I always tease that Mom will come to town and make everything better, I hope I can be that for my kids, she definitely does make things at least seem better, with her go get 'em spirit, stuffs gonna get done!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Painting Party

Well, Saturday was the painting party and we got it all done! Wonderful friends came and helped us all day and we got every room painted! Yeah! It was the first day that I really saw the progress, before, I have to admit every time I went over there I just saw raw sewage, even though it had been cleaned up and bleach sprayed and everything, the whole house just looked dirty to me, now, with the fresh paint on the walls, it finally looks clean and I can see the progress taking off now! We're close, we're really close, we need a big push to make it there by August 1st, but we're close!
I have to say I was surprised to see my sweet friend Kimmie there with five month old Christian! She painted while he chewed his toys happily, then when that wasn't doing it for him, she put him in a sling around herself and kept on painting, he fell asleep in the funniest position, but looked as comfortable as can be at the same time, and Kimmie kept on painting! She took a short break to nurse him and change his diaper and back to painting, Chris was such a good boy and found so much to keep his little mind occupied, there is a lot going on there, and I'm sure things don't look at all like they do at his house. All in all, Kim, is my shero! She is awesome, smiling and working so hard, even bringing her baby (We are so much alike!).
I cannot give enough thank yous to those wonderful hard-working friends that showed up! The seven of us really tore it up! I feel such a sense of relief to have it done and it really looks great too, even if it is all one color! Yes, it is one color, Parisian Taupe, Rob says it's beige, at least it has a great name! The trim is Swiss Coffee (off-white) and I did paint the kitchen all Swiss Coffee, but Rob says it's too blah, so it may go to Parisian Taupe too, sorry Dia, I think it's really pretty though, especially the beautiful paint job!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"I wanna go home"

Ethan woke up the other morning and snuggled in my arms, "How's my boy this morning?", I asked him, laying his head on my shoulder with a big sigh, the kind of sigh a heavy heart makes, he said, "Mommy, I wanna go home, to the Shunga house". My heart was heavy, I want to grant that request so much, but all I could do was tell him the truth, "I wanna go home too", and I squeezed him a little tighter, "Soon, soon we'll go home".

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Give Him a Lemon!

If you have never done this you know that you really wanted to and why not, turns out Zachary actually likes them!

At first it really was, I admit for our own amusement, and what a hoot! But then he wouldn't leave it alone, face after scrunched up face he endured until he only had the peel left!
And he would have eaten the peel if we would have let him! All our laughter and the laughter of those at the tables around us, he didn't even notice, he has a new love, LEMONS!

Happy Birthday Grace!

My baby girl turned 8 on Monday. She is turning into the most beautiful young lady, she is so smart, she scored a 99% on her Stanford Reading Test in school! She completed her second grade year with flying colors, she is a collector and a very artistic girl. She has a sense of fashion that is all her own, and I love that she wears what she thinks is cool, no matter what anyone says! This year I decided to make each of the kids their very own special plate at Potwin Pottery, something special that would be a keepsake, but that they could also use, Ethan was the first to receive his and he puts a plate over his plate to use it, because he doesn't want to get it dirty! Needless to say the plates have been a big hit! Since Grace and her cousins, Joy and Bailey were off to Colorado on the morning of Grace's birthday, per Grace's request for this year, so, we did a little at home party for her,
with a few family members there.
Grandma Linda and Great-Grandma Joy were among the honored guests, and it was a great success, Grace felt very special, and loved!

Our sweet little tea set was done just in time for the party too, so we showed it off to all the guests, we are very proud of how it came out!

The clowns were there too, and all we paid them was a slice of strawberry cake and some ice cream, they were hilarious, kept us in stitches!

Looking forward to the coming year and watching our princess grow is a never-ending drama/comedy and always a love story!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Just the 10 of us!

I have been wanting to post a picture of the house and all of us that live here currently, it's a lot! I have to say though, we are doing well as a whole, the slightly cramped situation doesn't feel cramped, most of the time it just feels like home, what with all the family here (Don't worry Aaron, we aren't THAT comfortable and we will move out as soon as our house is done!). Honestly, what a great summer to get to know some of your family REALLY well. Good and bad, it's definitely brought us all closer together (Another part of God's plan?).
Andrea and Aaron's house is a three bedroom, I'd say about 1800 square feet, and somehow we all make it work. We put another refrigerator in the garage, which is a must have for ten people. Everyone just has to remember that it is only for a short time and I really think that we will look back and cherish some of these times we've spent together this summer. This is a really wonderful thing that Aaron and Andrea are doing for us, we will be eternally grateful to them, and anytime they need a place to stay, they can come on over, they will always be welcome at our house!


So, as you can see, there is progress being made on our house! We have sheet rock hung and A wonderful guy doing the finishing for us. He gave us a great price and he actually put all his other work on hold to do our job this week! We were blessed to have found him.

This picture above is our master bedroom, looks a little different, doesn't it! It really looks more like a bedroom everyday!

Randy, our sheet rock finisher, works with Rob at Frito Lay and he does this on the side, he is hard working guy for sure!
Rob and I spent all day Saturday installing doors, we found out how we work together in stressful situations, I think we did well. We got the job done and I still let him sleep in our bed that night! Just kidding, he let me sleep in our bed! I think once we figured out that we both knew what we were doing and didn't need to walk each other through step by step it went really well. We have both done a lot of remodeling and have individual skills and it's really neat to put them all to use in front of each other. I really appreciate him so much, he is a very talented remodel er, and now I have seen it first hand.
I know you're probably thinking, didn't you just get done with a flip house and this same house a while ago, yes, but actually, Rob and his best friends do the team work and I kind of have done my own part separately, so this was really a first for us. I think we will continue to do this stuff together, you sure do learn a lot about a person when you work on something like this together (Another part of God's plan?).
Next Saturday we are having a painting party, 8am-8pm, we'll have lunch and turn up the music, and paint till we're done or we drop, whichever comes first! It really will be fun, you're invited too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Meeting Mr.Right

Have I ever told you about how I met my Rob? Well, you're missing a great story then! About three years ago my Mom and her best friend of twenty-something years, Hildred were discussing Rob, Hildred's nephew and how he so great and a Christian guy and who could they set him up with, would I maybe want to meet him? A few more inquiries about who this guy was and I agreed, they could give him my number, well, within about a month he called, at first he had to leave a message, a rather unenthusiastic message, like he was made to, I might add, and I thought, gosh, don't do me any favors (in all fairness, he had just been at work for a double). But when we did talk, we talked for about a half hour on the phone and I had a good feeling already.

Here's the thing, while I was in the dating world, "kissing toads", I had made a list, criteria, if you will, for the man I needed, to get married again. I had that list in front of me during that phone call, and I checked off a few of them, this may sound completely unromantic on my part, but getting hurt by yet another Mr.Wrong, was not what I wanted, so now, I had standards and high ones at that!

Things on my list included, a Christian, a family- oriented man, a leader, someone with a strong sense of who he is, and a good communicator. Now, also on the list were things like, funny and romantic, it was a very well-rounded 27 item list. I had prayed over this list in the months before and Rob sounded like a good possibility.

On our first date, I met him at the restaurant and he was standing there in front of Timberline Steakhouse with a bouquet of flowers and I would love to tell you, just then he scored big points, and good looking - bonus! This interview, I mean, date was off to a good start (hey, I had two kids to think about!). The conversation from about 6:30pm to 3am never lagged and I checked off 24 things off my list. I don't think I had ever been so completely honest with anyone, but my therapist, ever. It was freeing, so relaxing, to just be myself. I was truly not concerned with what his opinion of me was one way or the other, I had standards for him and he was hitting a home run and I think for the first time I felt like finally I was worth it and bending over backwards trying to be someone I was not for the person I was with was not going to even be an option.

In discovering more about Rob I remembered meeting, Keith, his son. I only remembered him from when he was a baby and about two, over at Hildred's house. But I remembered even then being taken with this adorable little guy, he had stolen my heart, way back then, and seeing Rob's pictures of him, it brought that all back to me, Keith, was one in a million for sure.

I was truly amazed at the things we talked about, things you just don't talk about till the fourth or fifth date, at least, but you know, both of us being parents and knowing who we are as individuals actually made it easier to know if the two could become one. Neither one of us were here to make a new friend, we were looking for Mr./Mrs.Right. Walking on air in the early morning hours out of the Denny's on Wanamaker, which that night, was the most fabulous coffee spot in the world, I actually was 98% sure that I had met him, my Mr.Right.

Growing up with such a godly, strong father, I was measuring this man up to the very high standard, Daddy, himself. Yes, I know, it has not escaped me that he does look a lot like my Dad, that was not a qualification, I promise! With Rob, I have never felt uncomfortable in his
presence, never even self-conscious, perfectly comfortable, treated like a queen, respected!
He is a good and godly man, and he came with references!

That first date was September 27, 2004, our engagement, October 30, 2004, and our beautiful wedding on Christmas Eve, 2004, all a testament to how well we fit each other. Don't make the mistake of thinking that we are similar, we are so very different in every way, but it is our differences that make us two parts of this whole marriage and we truly appreciate our differences, and we respect each other for them.

I am not writing this telling you a fairy tale of happily ever after, we have had our rough patches and trials and obstacles to overcome, but the fact is, "what God has joined together...", we have taken our vows to each other very seriously and walk in faith that God will lift us up.

Very important to me is a man that I can respect, someone whose actions actually demand respect, and Rob is one of those men that stands upright and does what is right, is hard-working and is faithful to his family and to God and that I can respect.

Through all the trials we are going through in this marriage, the flood, for example, comes to mind, I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man beside me to be strong when I am weak and that I can lift up in his weakness. We would not claim to have all this figured out, but what we don't, God does, and we have the faith that binds us together, and we will learn it as we go along.

I could go on and on, and I will, throughout my bloggings about that many wonders that is Rob. The happiness and the blessings on us as a result of us following God closely and keeping our eyes on Him has been a tremendous foundation for our marriage. I thank God for my Mr.Right!

I love you honey!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Zachary's Photographer

Obviously you can tell that I really enjoy pictures and scrap booking, blogging, I get portraits done very regularly. Zach's 9 month pictures were closer to being 10 month old pictures and I hate that, but with everything going on, we had no time or money for portraits, that's where Zach's new photographer comes in, Amy knew about our situation and offered to take Zach's picture for us! I thought that was so sweet and I had no idea what we were in for! She is absolutely amazing! I am sold, she is it for our family from now on, seriously, check out these portraits, they truly are works of art! She is so great to work with and she is reasonably priced and even if she were outrageously priced, she'd be worth it - wow, there is very little I say that about! Zach just loved the session and she is great with him, he really had a good time! I really felt like she captured Zachary's personality and it will forever make me remember the things I love about this time in his life.
So much has happened in Zachary's short life, as Grace said "He sure has had an exciting life so far, hasn't he!"
I worry sometimes that what with all the busyness he'll just grown up right under our noses! I love the way that these pictures capture the way he is right now, in all the ciaos, he is still so sweet.

You can visit Amy's web site and book her for portraits at
or e-mail her at

Different Time Zones and Recliners

Well, this flood gave me one good thing, Rob nasty old recliner is gone! So we went recliner shopping to give his hardworking body a place of rest. The man misses his recliner, so I thought, you know they make some really nice looking recliners now, maybe we could get him one of those! Do you know, my hard working, wonderful husband sat his precious behind in more than a hundred recliners and where does his backside find it's mate? At Lewis Furniture, in a Lazy Boy, and which Lazy Boy is it you ask? Yes, you know it, the very SAME recliner that he bought seven years ago, same color of leather and everything! I thought that this particular leather was just very old and worn out, nope, it was made to look old! You know, like the washed out faded, holy jeans? Yes, it's a faded washed out leather recliner-it's awful, so the man made us a deal and we got it in a nice color of beige leather instead (Praise God!), and my husband's derriere is happy again, for a really great price too! I only wish I had a picture of his face when he sat down in that chair, old friends are sometimes the very best friends!

In the matter of time zones, Rob and I are in different ones, he told me this morning. He is a morning snuggling, kissing, sweetie, when I am just "leave me alone I want to sleep!" and I on the other side am a night time snuggle-bug when he is basically asleep when his head hit the pillow! Do you know what he tells me? I am China and he is the United States! I asked him, how come he gets to be the US and I am China, do you know what he tells me?

It's because I speak a different language!


Zachary is gaining quite a repertoire of foods he enjoys eating, not much will he not eat actually! Well, we tried out the plain spaghetti noodles, this was yummy and pretty fun to eat, but it just felt like something was missing!

That's more like it! Bring on the sauce Mama! Oh yeah, that's the stuff! I like it like that! He has never had so much fun eating anything ever!
And I have never cleaned a bigger mess made by such a little man!
This picture does make it all worth it though!

Potwin Pottery

Can I just say again how much I love Potwin Pottery! I LOVE this place, it is soooo much fun! If you have never been, I HIGHLY recommend this for a mother/daughter night, a girls night out, a mother/son date, a get away from the kids night, or whole day (whatever you need!), anything! It's great. My outlet is anything artsy-crafty, so this relaxes me! Grace and I were supposed to go for the mother/daughter tea event that they had the Saturday after the flood and we had "other things" going on, but the sweet gal at Potwin Pottery said to come in anyway and we could do a tea set on the house, well, we just got to go in and do this together and what a wonderful time we had! I had a million things to do, but I just said, it's time and we went in. Grace and I talked so much and I really got to know my little princess a little better and she really felt special, she want to plan her birthday party for there next year! I think it's a great idea! We're definitely going to do that!

The tea set took us about two hours to do, but I am a pretty experienced painter and Grace is very decisive on color choices! I can't wait to post the finished product! We are very proud of our accomplishment! But, I have to say that the time I spent with my baby girl was the best thing of all! Potwin Pottery has neat events all the time, I'm on their e-mail list, check it out, . You know, I really enjoyed getting to share something I love to do with Grace, and finding out she really enjoys painting and creating things too!

Climbing Stairs

Zach and the basement stairs!
by Zachary Ball
Whoa, those stairs sure are big! I think I can do it though, watch me go Mommy!

One at a time (for now), I can do this! Hey look, I'm doing it! Almost to the top, that didn't take long!

Last step, look at me, I'm all the way up here, I did it, I did it!

Now, to go down, that's a different story!

Daddy's Littlest Helper!

Zachary has discovered this new interest in "helping" his Daddy when he's working with his tools, he taste-tested the right tools for the job and made sure that they stayed right where Daddy put them, by sitting on the whole box! He is just so tickeled with himself and of course needed juice and a cracker before a good nap after all his hard work! Daddy loves it when his boys are helping him work on things! He is so proud, of all his boys!

Completing the "Mass" House

2408 SE Massechusets
This is a far cry from the blue bungalow we bought in November isn't it! We had A LOT to do, but now it is done and I can say quite proudly even, it is stunning! The kitchen boasts custom cabinets and faux granite counter tops, stainless sink and lighting, and a beautiful 16x16 ceramic floor. I personally love the look of this kitchen! In the living room/dining room we obviously cleaned up and the new windows really made a difference in here, along with that "new smell" of carpet and fresh paint comes with it! We also added a tile entry way. New stainless and frosted glass light fixtures and a ceiling fan, it's a big one too, it's really moves air! I love that you can open up the windows on either side and turn the ceiling fan on and get that great cross breeze going! It is so filled with light, it's a very "friendly" room.
The bathrooms are so luxurious now! They are tiled and clean and new and fresh paint colors, I really think those new showers would be great to wake up in! They have new everything in them!
The basement is the biggest transformation we made, we took a dark basement and turned it into a light and bright family room, laundry room and study space. Can lighting on dimmers makes it easy to set the mood. Sound like an infomercial yet? Well, if you have ever watched "Flip That House" you know that in California this house would bring a cool half-mill. In Topeka, we are hoping to get about $102,000. Our friends, the Markhams, and us have put in so much work we feel like it's worth closer to the half mill, but you know, we'll let it go to a good family for the 102!
Obviously the sale of this adorable cottage-like home is going to bring us that much closer to our recovery from the flood. We are having an open house next Saturday, and it's listed with Larry Markham at Land Kansas.

Keith's First Tools

Well, as I have said before, Keith has been a huge help with everything, including the repairs on the house, so we thought he should have his own tools to work with, so, we picked him out the necessary tools and got him a tool box and I tell you what, he is very proud of them. We found a neat screwdriver set with flames on it which is probably one of his favorite things, but all in all he know this is a big deal and a big step for him and his dad, having the right tools is important you know!
He really does know what all of them do, contrary to his photo! And of course we had to find the coolest safety glasses, so he'll wear them (hence the shades!). He even got to use use them right away when his youth group at Western Hills came over to help finish up the demo and clean-up that night! We found out just how great our youth at WHBC are! They are hard workers and fast too! We ran out of things for them to do before they had to go, they did a great job and wow, what great attitudes. They had just got back from their mission trip to New Orleans and they had this business down pat, they came in and got to work. We felt like the pros stepped in! We loved having them! They are welcome at our house anytime! I feel good about Keith having such great friends that would volunteer to come and help us! Koo dos to their parents!