Category Archives: Family

A Zongker 4th of July!

Once again, this Independence day, we enjoyed our recent tradition of going over to the girls’ Uncle Jason & Aunt Stephanie’s house for swimming & a barbecue with that side of the family. It was a nice time & the weather was surprisingly pleasant. It rained the night before, on into the morning hours, so we were kind of reluctant about getting into the pool (for fear that the water might be too cold), but when we were finished eating, the adults caught up for a bit, while the kids played together, indoors. Sometime during all the festivities, the sun began shining again & when we got in the pool, the outside temperature was in the mid-80s or so & the water was just fine!

After swimming, we all got changed to go out to a large park/soccer field near where our local fireworks show takes place each year. This has also been part of the tradition/celebration, the past few years. We all got our folding lawn chairs set up & the adults helped the kids set off our own fireworks in the field. I think my girls are just like me — we tend to go more for the sparklers and smoke bombs than anything else! 😉

It was a blast, as usual… then, it was time for the “big show” to begin. We all settled in to watch, but we had also heard weather forecasts of impending thunderstorms on the way… About 10 minutes after it had begun, it seemed the show came to an end. Confused & worried about the possibility of getting drenched (figuring they called the rest of the show off due to rain), even though not a sprinkle had been felt, we all decided it’d be best to just pack up & call it a night. Little did we know there had unfortunately been something wrong with the local fireworks display — either a dud, or misfire, or something caused the show to come to an abrupt halt, we would find out later via the news & other friends & family. But, all was not lost — we had an enjoyable time, with family & we got to celebrate the holiday in our usual way. When we got home, it was about 10:30 p.m. rather than 12:30 a.m. & to be honest, with little ones, it’s probably better to get home earlier, anyway… Hope everyone had a safe & happy 4th! Attached are a few highlights of ours! 🙂

Grove for the Gold!

The clogging group that I’m a member of decided at the beginning of this year that those who wanted to should enter a national competition in Grove, OK. It happens every year around the same time & although it was last month, I thought I’d go ahead & tell our story. It was a long, determined 6 months worth of practice & hard work, but we were all in it to give our best & to have fun!

Not only was there a competition, but also a workshop. It was an interesting one, held at the Grove Civic Center. On one side, in a large room were cloggers, and in the other half of the building, there was a fiddle workshop & competition going on that weekend. Since both hobbies go well together, I guess that’s why they hold this event for each, at the same time, every year. In any case, the cool thing for me was that Katrina got to come & it was her first ever clogging workshop. She’s not a seasoned enough dancer to compete, just yet, but I figure she’d have fun & probably pick up some moves at the workshop, in any case…

The workshop was also a short one — only 4 hours on Friday. But, we were all invited to go to a camp on Grand Lake for dinner & dancing & enjoying fiddle music in the evening. Since she didn’t want to participate, Kat & I sat out, but there was even a special dance at the end of the evening, where some of the cloggers got to show off their skills to the fiddlers. Katrina’s Nana, Annette as well as a few of the other dancers on our competition team decided to take part in that & they did a wonderful job, showcasing some of the “mountain figures” they had just learned, earlier in the day!

The next morning was the “big day” for us competitors. We had 3 routines to perform, each in a different category. We were all nervous & excited at the same time. Although it was kinda’ “by default”, since there were no other teams in our age division (30+), we actually won, placing first for our category & division, all 3 times! We didn’t take any “overall grand champion” titles; those mainly went to the kids groups that competed, but we all still had a great time & it gave us a wonderful sense of achievement & accomplishment!

I think Katrina enjoyed just being there & getting to stay overnight in a different city — her first “roadtrip” with her Nana & Mama, to go somewhere else & enjoy the new hobby she’s really been getting into lately. I’m proud of how good she was for the duration, as well. And, thanks to all my clogging friends that helped to keep an eye on her, when I had to compete, too! It was a journey worth remembering! Enjoy the photos!

Kat’s Eyes!

We are so happy, I just had to report it, here! Katrina had a routine eye doctor visit/exam yesterday & we got our first good news in a long time…

For those who don’t know, she was diagnosed with Amblyopia, one of the conditions more commonly referred to as “lazy eye”, when she was only 4 & 1/2 years old. In her case, we have come to understand that it has something to do with the connection between her eye & her brain (optic nerves, I think) not focusing quite accurately enough in her left eye. Her right eye has always been fine/strong & in fact, would tend to overcompensate for the “lazy” one… We have gone through periods of patch therapy, since then, upon her eye doctor’s advice. She wears an eye patch over the “good” eye for part of the day, so that it forces the other one to focus better.

We have been “patching” her on & off, for periods of about 3-6 months at a time. In the duration of the last 2 & 1/2 years, her vision progressed from being around 20/70 all the way up to 20/40 or so, which is the range it should be, in order for someone to legally be able to drive (if they are of age, of course), so at that time, her eye doctor told us we could take a break from using the patch & he would see us again in 6 months. However, at her last appointment (a couple months ago), she did not show any progress at all, so he recommended that we have her use the patch again.

It might seem frustrating/annoying, but the nice thing is that since she only had to wear the patch for 3-5 hour periods each day, we let her do it in the evening, on weekdays, so that it wouldn’t bother her (and she wouldn’t get questioned, or worse, possibly teased, by other kids at school) & we could also monitor her & make sure that she wasn’t “peeking” over or around it, etc. On weekends, she got into the habit of putting it on after breakfast, or after church, so that she could get it over & done with & out of the way for the day. She is such a mild-mannered, responsible kid, as well. We rarely to never had to remind her about it, once she got into the habit & she’s never complained of it bothering her, either.

Well, at yesterday’s eye exam, she out-performed all her previous ones! Her vision now looks to be at about 20/25, which is a really good result! Her eye doctor was so enthusiastic & proud of her success! He told us that, “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” & that even though 20/20 would be the ultimate goal, it’s okay if she doesn’t get there & her vision stays where it is. She has shown such great progress, in the past couple of months alone, using the patches that he told us we could give her a break from it, if we wanted. He said it was really up to us & that it mainly depended on whether or not it was a nuisance to her. Since she’s never had any problems with it & we’re going back to see him in September, we decided to keep it up, for now. Who knows? Perhaps she’ll progress even more by then… And, if not, we can always take a break after that appointment…

I just wanted to thank all of you who have kept her in your thoughts & prayers over the years & to share that we know her breakthrough is a gift from God. It’s amazing what faith can do & we are so grateful to our Lord for all His good works! We plan on keeping a positive outlook & are continuing in our hopes & prayers that that light at the end of the tunnel is reached, sooner than later!

Time for a Trim!

So, we each got our hair cut recently. In fact, it was Alyssa’s very *first* haircut, so we were a little apprehensive of how she’d act/react, but we made sure to (try to) explain the best way we could. Being only 2 & 1/2, she typically says, “Okay” as an automated response, whether she actually understands, or not, so even when we went to the shop, we weren’t sure if she knew what was going on. Thankfully, she did wonderfully! It was cute/funny, though, how she kept wanting to look in the mirror, even when they were trying to get her to look down. I had to put my hand in her lap, so she could see my pretty ring & that at least kept her attention for a bit, while they snipped the very back/bottom. Katrina picked out her own style & I think she looks like a blonde Ramona Quimby (for those of us who remember those books), too cute! Mine turned out alright. It was not what I expected, nor what I had described, but I still think it’s a good ‘do. They made it the correct length, just not the style I wanted. Guess I need to be more specific, next time around (or go to a different shop; this is the 2nd time they have not done what I asked for)… But, it’s just hair; it’ll grow back & then (hopefully) I can have it fixed the way I want, soon enough! Since Jeremy just had me cut his the same way we always do it, we didn’t take any “before & after” pics of him, but you can see us “3 girls” in the photos below, as taken by Jeremy! Bring on the summer sun! 🙂

Spring Happenings…

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here & that’s mainly because we have all had a lot going on! You’d think I would learn to post short, simple stories as an event comes to an end, but here I am, playing “catch-up” once more… Ah, well, it’s like I always say, “better late than never”, right? 😉

Now, the only thing left is to figure out what approach to write this in, chronological, or by person, or some other way… The way I’ve written the topics on my iPhone is just a list of possible titles for separate stories, but that doesn’t give any detail. Hmmm… let me just back up a bit, because the first couple of events actually occured more toward the beginning of the year.

First of all, Jeremy & I are looking forward to our 10th wedding anniversary this fall, which means it has actually been more than 10 years now, since he proposed to me. We became engaged on February 14, 1999. So, this past Valentine’s Day marked a decade since he asked me to start this journey of familyhood: first, ecstatically becoming his wife & later to be blessed to share the responsibilities of parenthood to the 2 wonderful daughters we’ve been given. It’s had all its upturns & downswings over the years, but has always been a wonderful experience of growth & love & I appreciate him more every day, though I oftentimes forget how to express it…

Getting back to the girls, they have each had their share of learning in the past few months. Katrina began clogging lessons & graduated from a 6-week course in March! She continues to dance with her Nana & I in weekly classes & just loves this new hobby! It’s nice, because we can practice together at home & it gives us some special “Mom-and-Daughter” time, too.

Alyssa began potty training around the same time, and although she has been kind of “hit-and-miss” recently, she has had some definite success & progress in that area. We know that it will “click” one day & she will be more consistant. For now, we’re happy she enjoys sitting there & isn’t apprehensive at all…

Seems like Aly’s the only one of us who isn’t bothered by the changing of seasons, yet, anyway. I have always had “hay fever”; was diagnosed with it as a kid & have had to deal with my sinuses acting up almost every year, since. It seems to effect Jeremy in the way that his eyes & nose get bothered, too, although he’s never been diagnosed as an allergy sufferer. Same thing with Katrina, but to a lesser extent. Thankfully, it’s officially spring, now — no more drastic temperature changes from day to day, as is typical for our locale when the seasons begin to change.

Katrina’s Spring Break from school was a fun, event-filled one this year! We seemed to be going out & doing something different, nearly every day of it! First, there was the Tulsa Home & Garden show. We went there trying to get ideas for things we’d like to have in our new home, but didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without. The next day, we went to Philbrook Museum of Art, where Katrina got to create her own craft project, which looked like a little leprechaun, when she was done. We all enjoyed the scavenger hunt of the grounds, while Alyssa pointed out the “fwowders” (flowers), all along the way. Sunday’s plans included church service & our Bible study group, then we had a couple of “resting days”, although Kat made sure that we all wore green on St. Patrick’s Day & she helped me with the grocery shopping, too. The next day, we went to the Oklahoma City zoo & a mall that we enjoy there, afterwards. Nice day trip; we’ll have to share the pictures in the photo album, later. The next evening, Katrina & I had clogging class. Sometime that weekend, she & Jeremy went roller skating together, then Sunday’s plans were the same as the previous week. It was 10 days of enjoyment, having our big girl home from school. We’re looking forward to her summer vacation, now, too!

Kat also had to deal with a couple of not-so-fun things, but thankfully, she’s a little trooper & they didn’t bother her much at all… One was her last appointment with her eye doctor, where we found out that her vision in her “bad eye” has not progressed at all, so he had us begin again with the patch therapy. She wears an eyepatch over her “good eye” part of the day, to help the other one focus/get stronger. Since we’ve been told only to have her do this for 4 hours each day, we let her do it in the evenings, from the time she gets home from school until about bedtime each night. That way, not only will she not be questioned about it by her peers (or worse, possibly made fun of), but we can also monitor her more easily & make sure she’s keeping it on & not trying to “peek” over or around it, either. She’s very good about wearing it, though. We’re hoping & praying to have good results at her next eye exam. A couple of other appointments she had to attend dealt with her teeth. She had 2 loose, baby ones that just didn’t want to come out. The adult ones were growing in behind them, instead of under them, so they weren’t helping to naturally push them out, either. A dental appointment, one with an orthodontist & a meeting with an oral surgeon all confirmed we would need to have the 2 baby teeth pulled, in order for her grown-up ones to finally come in properly. She had the operation on April 6th & did wonderfully! She wasn’t apprehensive at all. They told her what to expect, on her own terms & the oral surgeon also ordered her not to eat anything until after it was over, but then she was supposed to have ice cream for breakfast! We obliged & she ate an entire banana split, all by herself! I think this made it a little easier for her to deal with… 😉 She also got some nice stuff from the tooth fairy the next day & was able to go back to school & tell her friends all about it. Now, her adult teeth are in place & you can’t even tell she had any problems with those baby ones, to begin with! She’s getting so big!

One way that Alyssa continues to grow & progress is in her vocabulary. She seems to just add words by the minute! Even though she still talks like a toddler, you can understand her a lot more, now too… A cute thing she likes to play with us is “knock-knock jokes”. Katrina started this, when she was a bit younger, herself. I think she actually taught her sister to say, “Knock-knock!” and wait for a reply. Then, when we say “Who’s there?”, Kat will typically say, “Katrina.” Then, of course comes, “Katrina who?”, to which she’d happily state, “Katrina Zongker”! And, that would be the funniest thing ever! Now, Aly’s spin on this is that, she likes to say her own name, but she can’t quite pronounce our last one, just yet, plus, she likes to go by her nickname, rather than saying, “Alyssa”, so her punchline is always, “Aly Oscar”! Good stuff! We’re working with her on it, but right now, we can’t help but giggle, anyway…

A recent event I attended, right before my Birthday was a clogging workshop in Independence, MO called the “City Slicker Stomp”. It was all under one roof — the hotel we stayed at had a convention center in the lower floor, plus a restaurant, “convenience store”, etc. Little did we know what a good thing that was, until we got there! There were 10 of us from my group, including my Mom-in-Law, Annette, who was my roomie for the weekend, as well. We carpooled up & back in 2 vehicles & when we got there on Friday evening, attended the “fun dance” — just a bunch of cloggers, learning some simple routines together, for fun. Plus, my group got to perform a routine that was written by the workshop coordinator, herself! The next day, we each attended whichever class in the workshop appealed to us, at any given time. Around lunchtime, it began to snow & it didn’t stop until sometime late that evening. We were glad we had decided to stay until Sunday morning, even though the workshop ended Saturday night. This goes to show the kind of difference in temperature we experience in my region — by the time we left on Sunday, all the snow had practically melted off! The streets were not slick, nor did they cause any problems for us getting home, at all! It was a fun time, even though I missed Jeremy & the girls. They got to play in the snow on Saturday & even built a small snowman, but he was all gone by the time I got back. Oh, well, I got to see him on the camcorder, at least! 🙂

The next weekend, the 4 of us went & visited a local wildlife sanctuary called “Safari’s”. They are mostly known for the fact that they have big cats — lions, tigers, cougars, etc. Even a liger (yes, those of you who are Napoleon Dynamite fans, it’s true)! The other cool thing is that, since the cages are double-enforced, the tour guides let you feed the big cats raw chicken (off of a 10-foot pole, that you stick into a hole in the chain-link), for a small fee. Jeremy & I had been there before, but this was the girls’ first time. Katrina got to feed some of them, with her Dad & I’s help, but Alyssa was content just to watch from the stroller. This was another place that was a good “photo-op”, but lo & behold, when we got there, our camera battery had died. We took some pictures with my phone, but I don’t think they do it much justice…

Now, winding up with more current events, Easter, Katrina’s Birthday & Mother’s Day were all nice ones for us this year. We especially got some great pictures of the girls in their coordinating dresses on Easter! I know, here I am, promising all these pictures & not delivering… yet. It’s mostly due to time constraints & me not posting things on here, as they occur, which I will try to be better about, but you know, life, it kinda’ just happens & we’re happy to share the memories, whenever we can…

I will share one photo that I recently pulled off of my phone, because as all these other events have been going on, our new home has also been under construction. We used to visit it once a week, on Sundays, but because it is getting closer to completion, we’ve found that the crew has been locking it up when they leave. So, we try to make it on a Friday, while there’s someone still there working, and we can just go in & out. The exterior was recently painted (a little over a week ago) & we were excited to drive up & get that pleasant surprise. I hope everyone else is enjoying spring as much as we are, so far! Soon, all the kids will be out of school & the weather will turn even more warm. We will be moving & settling into this new place! Can’t wait!

house

Photosynth of Our New House

The sheet rock is about to go on our new house, but before it does I wanted to get a series of photos of the house without the sheet rock so I’d know exactly where every pipe, wire and 2×4 is after we move in. It could come in handy.

I took pictures of the whole house, but they’re not really organized very well.  I remembered after I got home about Photosynth.  It’s a web app from Microsoft that lets you recreate a 3d scene from a series of photographs.  I uploaded photos from the living room and game room to create a Photosynth.  You can view it by clicking the image below.

Photosynth

You start out in the game room.  There are complete 360 views of the living and game room and you can walk between them.  It’s a really cool app, but it’s kind of hard to get use to navigating.   Here’s a few tips to help you get around.

1. Put it in full screen mode so you can see what you’re doing.

2. It’ll only let you spin around so far from the image your currently viewing.  To move further in one direction, click on another image and you can keep going.

3. It’s easy to get stuck.  If this happens, use the arrows to navigate or look down and the floor or ceiling to keep moving.

4. You can use your mouse wheel to zoom in.  A LOT!

5. It’s easier to walk backwards from the game room to the living room.

House Progress

Our house is coming along nicely.  We’re about at the half way point now.  It has been framed, shingled and all the gas water and electric lines have been run.  We’re waiting for inspections now before putting up the bricks and sheetrock.  We should be on schedule to have it finished right around the time school is letting out.   Here are some photos.

Doing Our Homework

Just when you think you’ve got everything in place, it seems that there are a ton of items you missed…  At least that’s how it feels when we’ve been working on an ongoing project for a while.  It’s okay, though.  We’re making good progress.  We’ve picked out a lot of the materials for our next home; it’s just a matter of making sure that we can get everything that we want, without causing the price to skyrocket…  Jeremy & I have been able to come to good decisions, easily & smoothly, because we tend to like the same look of certain things & we agree on the things that we feel are necessary & the ones that can be left out, or that we can compromise on.  It’s just strange to us how the homebuilder we chose uses different vendors for almost every item that we have to pick out.  We can understand the appliance & lighting vendors being separate from the rest.  But, for most of the other materials, why not use someone who offers them all…?  But, seriously, it’s fun deciding on different elements.  We’re just amazed at how quickly time passes when we’re doing it!  But, we’re getting there.  Wish us luck on making “final” decisions!

Home Design

We’re enjoying the planning of our next home.  We began this adventure at the beginning of this summer.  We are hoping to have the house all built & ready to move in to around the beginning of next summer.  We have the floor plan all done & signed off on.  Now, the next step is what our builder calls “the design phase”.  We met with their design center rep. earlier today & had a nice appointment.  We made a lot of decisions, but some are still up in the air.  The nice thing is that Jeremy & I pretty much know what we want.  The not-so-great thing is that most of it is not included “standard” & therefore, we are going to have to shop around at each of the vendors they use a bit more, in order to nail down our exact choices.  The two of us have been very agreeable, when it comes to the colors, textures & things that we both would love to have in the home, so that makes it a bit easier, at least.  We probably got about half of the decisions taken care of today.  Now, begins our fun “homework” of picking out the rest, shop by shop, before we meet with the design center rep. again in a couple of weeks.  Wish us luck!  🙂