Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for fun, quaint little local haunts! We frittered away our morning playing at the Java Train. Except for a little tumble Anna took and the big fit that Joe threw when I told him it was time to leave, we had an exceptionally fun and peaceful morning enjoying the absolutely perfect, coolish summer weather! We played outside in the sandbox, making roads and I think I got about 4 pages read in my book and enjoyed a nummy latte. What a great morning!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Almost ready to eat a really yummy dinner
{prepared by our favorite chef/super Dad}
following a tiring 2nd day of day camp for the 3 biggers:
I figured the carrot tops from the bunch of carrots I got at the Farmer's Market in the morning would make a fun & unique centerpiece for the table:
Anna's post-meal hair {and face!}
and readiness to get out of her highchair:
Nice 'do:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stoll Reunion 2009

We went to the Stoll reunion over the weekend. Kirby's grandparents on his dad's side were Joe & Anna Stoll (isn't that great? So, we don't have the original Joe & Anna Stoll pair). Kirby's dad is #15 of 17 kids. 11 boys. 6 girls. His mom (Anna) died pretty young, while pregnant with #18 who was a girl. Joe remarried "Grandma Fanny" who had never had kids before that . . . she was one brave woman if you ask me! The Stoll's have a reunion every 3 years. This year it was in Conrath, Wisconsin. Less than a 3 hour drive from our home. Splendid! The 2012 one won't be too long a drive either. Whoo Hoo! . . . although hopefully by then our kids will fight a tad less in the car! They'll be 13, 11, 10, 7 and 4. And, hopefully we'll have a bigger vehicle to give them a little more space and make the punching and slapping and shoving, while buckled in their seats, slightly more challenging . . . thus less frequent! (A girl can dream, right?)

We had a wonderful weekend. All 23 of Kirby's immediate family members were there (parents, 3 sibings, spouses and all 13 grandkids) and over 200 Stoll's total! It was great to all be together! What a great bunch they are. So many different people who make a great (and large) family. Stoll's came from as far as Florida, Virginia and Alberta, Canada . . . and some came from just down the road. We kicked off the weekend with a big dinner at a beautiful dairy farm that belongs to Kirb's cousin, Karen, and her family. The kids loved all the cows, the calves, farm cats and the 1/2 dozen or so tiny kittens that they would snatch up the second they emerged from their hiding place under the deck. From there we took over the Flambeau school for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday went like this: breakfast, family picture, lunch, free time (we went back to the hotel and the cousins had a blast in the pool), supper, talent show (there is a talent show at every reunion. Some of the acts show more "talent" than others, but it's always a hoot, that's for sure!) and then back to the pool for night #2 of swimming until the pool closed at 10:30 and trying to get 7 people all to sleep . . . comfortably . . . in one smallish hotel room. It went like this: Anna in her pack 'n play, Jacob on the rollaway, Kirby and Rebekah in one bed, me, Joe and Lydia in the other. Leftover floor space to step on if you needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night: NONE!

Joe checking out the cattle on the Stutzman's dairy farm:

The school where we had the reunion:

The playground where the kids hung out:
Momma & Anna:

Sunday there was breakfast and a church service (churches all over the Midwest were missing pastors and worship leaders and pianists and ushers and guitarists and nursery workers. . . the Stoll's are a pretty involved and church-oriented bunch! I think it was my week to be in the nursery at our church, but since I also took a few of their "customers", I figured they did alright without me!). Then we all had lunch together and took off on our seperate ways! It was great to see so many wonderful people . . . a few I know, a lot a don't. But, I know more people today than I did when I got there on Friday. You always make a few new "friends" at each reunion. Next time, though, I'm gonna suggest we all wear name tags . . . there are just too many people to keep track of and I, for one, always feel bad when someone knows who I am and I don't know them. They would need to have little mini family trees on them so that we could place people in this vast sea of Stolls. You know, like, "Shana: married to Kirby, son of Roger". Somethin' like that!

Here are just a few more of the many pictures we took of our wonderful Stoll-full weekend:

Margaret & Roger (Kirby's parents):

The first cousins (there are between 80 & 90 of them in total -- Kirb and his siblings are among the youngest -- but these are the ones that were able to make it to the reunion):

The 23 of us immediate family members:
On the left is most of our clan (Lydia, it would seem, would rather be a Warkentin!), then Kirb's brother, Tracey, his wife, Stephanie and their boys Caleb (on daddy's lap) and Tommy, then there's Kirby's sister, Annie and her husband, Darren and their 4 girls: Andrea (top right), Jillian (right of Rebekah), Bethany (by Lydia) and Katrina (on mommy's lap) and Kirby's sister, Kristy, her husband David and their kiddos Katie (mostly blocked by grandpa's head) and Evan (bottom right) with Kirby's parents in the front. Man, that's a big family!
It's tough to get 23 people to all cooperate for a picture, that's for sure. Caleb is happier in this one than he was in the rest, Katie is mostly blocked by Grandpa's head, Joe is mad and Tommy looks like he would prefer to be done with the pictures (wouldn't we all, buddy! Wouldn't we all!)

One tired boy and his Grandma:

Waiting in line for lunch (and that's just one of the 2 lines!):

The talent show: (at this moment Matthew was playing his sax . . . now that guys got some serious talent!!!)

The moon on Saturday night:

Amazing sunset:

Our Sunday morning worship team:

Here's a little video of Joe chattin' with the cows on Friday night when we were all at the Stutzman's dairy farm. He's such a funny boy!! Enjoy:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A few bits of randomness

In case you wanted to know:
  • I now have a child old enough to help mow the lawn . . . there are perks to them growing up, I guess!
  • We spent the weekend at the 2009 Stoll reunion {they have one every 3 years . . . we can't wait until 2012!}
  • The 4 older kids and I walked down to DQ tonight . . . that was $11 well spent. Plus it was a beautiful night for a walk!
  • Kirby's dad is #15 of 17 kids, so there are LOTS of people at the Stoll reunions!
  • I only know a smallish handfull of those people!
  • My brother and Kirby's sister both had birthdays this weekend. Happy Birthday Luke and Kristy. We love you!
  • Lydia cut her bangs {either Thursday night or Friday morning} . . . almost to her hairline. It's pretty bad! I'm not sure what to do about the family pictures we were going to have taken in a couple weeks!
  • This was my 6th Stoll reunion. I went for the first time in 1994, 2 years before I was even an official Stoll.
  • I think I'll go for a bike ride tomorrow . . . on a real bike that actually goes somewhere and on which you can feel the breeze in your hair. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
  • I'm looking forward to coffee with some girlfriends that I haven't seen in too long!

Lazyman update: Week 3

Well, we finished our third week of the Lazyman Triathlon. It is an entire Ironman Triathlon {2.5 miles of swimming -- which, at our Y, comes out to 41 laps in the pool, or 82 lengths -- 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running/walking}, but you get 5 weeks to finish. So far, so good. We're done with 3 of our 5 weeks, which, in case math isn't your gift, is 60% of the time we have to finish. Here's what we've logged so far:

Swimming: 36 laps {88% done}
Biking: 66.7 miles {60% done}
Walking {with a few small hints of jog/run}: 23.1 miles {89% done}

swimming: 26 laps {63% done}
Biking: 88 miles {79% done}
Running {most of his actually was running} 14 miles: {53% done}

Overall, we're even a little ahead of schedule. It's been fun so far, but it is a lot of work to make sure you can log a decent chunk of miles almost every day. We were gone all weekend, so we didn't get much done then . . . although I was planning to log a few miles on the hotel treadmill, but since it was in the room with the pool which was probably 80 degrees and steamy, I only made it about a mile before I thought I might die, thus ending the weekend workouts! Thanks for cheering us on . . . virtually, if not in person!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flashback Friday

same boys.
same trumpet.
10 years earlier
july 25, 1999

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful that our summer activities are starting to wind down . . . a bit! Jacob had 5 weeks of band camp. 4 mornings a week. It started at 8. YIKES! Rebekah has swim practice 5 days a week {although we don't go all 5 days . . . 3 or 4 usually -- and it's not over yet}. Plus each of the 4 older kiddos have gone to a day camp or two. So far this summer we've had ZERO days where we could just stay at home in our jammies and have no place we had to be. {Much to Joey's chagrin, since he would rather stay home than go anywhere. He's quite the homebody. I'm pretty sure even a trip to Disney would be met with some tears, LOUD complaints and requests to just stay home!} This week marked the first day we could stay home for a tad in the morning without having to actually wake children up. They all slept until they woke up on their own . . . what a concept! It is summer, isn't it? Now I know better for next year. The kids are all welcome to sign up for some stuff, but I'll try to have them do a little more of the same stuff. You know, so that 4 different kids didn't have 4 different "things" to be at, all at overlapping times! I about went completely out of my mind a time or two trying to figure out how it would be humanly possible to get all the kids to and from all of their stuff relatively on time. I think that for the most part, people got where they needed to be. Amazing, I think!

Band camp {beginner band camp, nonetheless} ended with a final concert last Thursday night and I thought you'd want a little glimpse at how great it was {alrighty, I tried to load the video of the concert -- it wasn't even long, just one short song -- but it was loading for nearly 2 hours and still wasn't done. Something must be weird. I'll try again later, but for now you'll just have to enjoy a cute picture of my two favorite horn-blowers}:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Reminds me of something straight out of Dr. Seuss:

I think we'll call her little Lydi Lou Who:

Or possibly that priest from "The Princess Bride":
"Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togwether today."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Silly girl!

This is what happens when you rub your supper into your hair. That's quite the 'do, Miss Anna! I guess it makes you pretty happy, though. Just look at that face!

{click on the picture to make it bigger and take note of the molars in the back of her mouth . . . they've given us a great deal of heartache and lost sleep lately and we're so glad they're finally in!}

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flashback Friday

Through the years::


at 2:

4th birthday party:
Can anybody name those other 2 girls? {other than my mom!}
Maybe they'll be a prize in it for ya!

age 6:

15th birthday {quit peeking, Al!}:

Kirb & me, 1993 {making me 19}:

Thanks to Allison {see 15th birthday picture and add 20 years!} & Justin we're going to be completely childless for 24 hours starting this afternoon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

A joyful heart is good medicine. {Proverbs 17.22}

Laughter! I am thankful for laughter!

I'm not generally a big laugh-er. You know how some people laugh all the time? At everything. I'm not one of them! Unless you know me pretty well you probably haven't seen me laugh a lot and might think I don't do it much. Don't be fooled! When I'm with my family and close friends I can really get going. I'm sure Kirb and I laugh way more than most people I know. We say we "share a brain" so we often think the same things are funny and can get laughing so hard that we have a hard time stopping, even if we want to. It's great. I love to laugh. When I laugh, I laugh hard {and occasionally I might even snort! . . . and if I can't calm myself down soon enough I might even wet my pants just a little -- remember I have given birth to 5 pretty good size babies. That does a number on the bladder!}. Laughter is so wonderful!

Last night after the kids went to bed we watched "Madea goes to Jail". You can watch a trailer here, but it doesn't do it justice! At all! Honestly, I think Tyler Perry might be the most talented, hilarious man ever. We were laughing so hard that most of the time no noise was coming out, we were just shaking in our seats trying to catch our breath before starting up again with the laughing. If you haven't seen a Tyler Perry movie, please, please don't wait much longer! They are all good and extremely funny with amazingly wonderful themes and messages . . . oh, and they have some absolutely hilarious Christian humor. This one had a whole very funny clip about WWJD that we laughed so hard at. Tyler Perry's movies can be a little crass, so don't say I didn't warn you. But they are amazing and sincere and so, so worthwhile. We've seen Why did I get Married?, Meet the Browns, Madea's Family Reunion, The Family that Preys and Daddy's Little Girls too. They were all excellent! I don't even know which one to tell you to start with. Really you can't go wrong.

Also today I'm extra thankful for my family! They are so wonderful! Last night we had our just-the-7-of-us birthday celebration {it's my birthday in a few days}. Kirb made a great dinner. All my favorites. Super yummy. Kirb took the 3 biggest kids to Target and they all picked out a present for me with their own money. So thoughtful and sweet. It touched my heart! Then we went for a nice walk. It was a beautiful night. My very favorite weather! {the only bummer of the evening was that I got stung by a bee on my foot during our walk. Man, that hurt!!} On the way home we walked by the house of some of our friends and they were out in the yard so we had a nice visit with them. Then we had a campfire in the backyard, ate marshmallows {some roasted and some "raw"} and read a little from "Lost and Found", the family read aloud that we are reading right now . . . also VERY funny! I love Andrew Clements. The kids can hardly stand it when I stop and shut the book each time. It always leaves you hanging and just makes you want to read it all the way through at each sitting . . . but since we can't do that they'll just have to be patient until the next time. {We're almost done. I'll be sad when it's over, it's been so good}. There are always lots of sighs and "but mom" and "keep reading, please!" to be heard when I shut the book. When it was too dark to read anymore we came in and got the 4 big kids ready for bed {Anna went down the minute I could get her diaper changed and teeth brushed following our walk}. It was much later than they usually go to bed {10ish, I think}, but we'd had a great night together as a family. {Hopefully I'll be able to remember that today when my over-tired kids direct their crabbiness at me . . . or each other!}. Then after they were all settled we settled in for some laughter.

How could I not be thankful?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Verse 14

Verse #14 already! I can't promise that I can say them all completely from memory, but I'm better than I was in January, that's for sure. I chose this verse to memorize next:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. {Galatians 6.9}

If you don't know about my "resolution" to memorize 24 scriptures in 2009 and you want to know what in the world I'm talkin' about, you can check it out here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend in review:


Friday was the long-awaited, month late celebration of Lydia's birthday. She decided instead of having a few friends over for a birthday party, she would pick one friend and go to the Mall of America for a few rides, time at the American Girl store and a treat {DQ}. Without any hesitation she picked her best bud, Frances {just like last year}. Fran, Lydia and I headed to MOA after lunch on Friday and spent the afternoon having a great time. As we approached the mall, the girls were really excited and Fran said, "Look I see the beautiful star with the red and blue ribbons coming out of it." Can you tell neither of them spend a whole lot of time at the Mall of America? They were so excited. Who would have ever thought the symbol of for MOA {a star with red, white & blue ribbony things coming out of both sides} would be called beautiful? Only by a pair of 7-year-old girls, probably!

While we were at MOA, Jacob and Rebekah {and Joe, a little bit} had a lemonade stand on the corner again like they did last Friday. They brought in just under $20 this week and were disappointed, since last week they brought in over $35. I told them I thought $20 was still pretty good and they got over their sorrow pretty quick.

Here are Fran and Lydia ready for the roller coaster:

Best Buds!
Waiting for their 2nd trip on the log chute
{Fran didn't get very wet the first time, so they had to go again and switch seats}:

They are in the right two seats. See 'em?:

Friday evening::

This is what happens when the bathroom door gets left open:

Superman rides again:

Joe's slightly dirty feet after a fun afternoon outside:


Rebekah in her 1st race of the day (200M Medley relay).
I know it looks like she's smiling at the camera, but really she's racing, Kirb just happened to capture the picture right as she came up to breathe and it looks as if she's looking and smiling. I don't even think she knew he was right there or that he was taking a picture. Funny!

After one event, with her supportive, mohawked big brother:
{If you didn't see the video of her in the 25M Freestyle, click here or scroll down a little to the next post}


On Sunday we went to Ava's baptism and subsequent party. It was a great day . . . would have been absoluetly perfect if we weren't all missing Ava's grandma so much. She would have loved to be there.

She was pretty cooperative, I'd say:

With the pastor, her parents and godparents {Russ & Michelle and David & Melissa} after the service:
We were super, super busy but had a great time over the weekend. Hopefully we'll have a teeny bit of down-time this week to help with the recovery!

Go, Rebekah, go!

Here's Rebekah in her second swim meet ever. She just joined the swim team this summer. She's in the far right lane, and they're swimming the 25M Freestyle, ages 8 & under. Even without the best start she swam hard and did great. We were really proud of her! {You might notice that from her dad and his enthusiastic cheering}. She also swam in a couple relays, even subbing in the 10 & under relay, when she is in the 8 & under age category {so she was swimming with -- and against -- older kids} and they took 1st in that relay too. It was the perfect summer day for an outdoor swim meet. Great job, sweetie!

Lazyman update: Week 1

Well, we finished our first week of the Lazyman Triathlon. It is an entire Ironman Triathlon {2.5 miles of swimming -- which, at our Y, comes out to 41 laps in the pool, or 82 lengths -- 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running/walking}, but you get 5 weeks to finish. So far, so good. We're done with 1 of our 5 weeks, which, in case math isn't your gift, is 20% of the time we have to finish. Here's what we've logged in week 1:

Swimming: 17 laps {41% done}
Biking: 30.7 miles {27% done}
Walking {with a few small hints of jog/run}: 5.9 miles {22% done}

swimming: none so far {that's 0% done}
Biking: 37 miles {33% done}
Running {most of his actually was running}: {19% done}

Overall, we're pretty well on track, if not just a smidge ahead of schedule. It's been pretty fun so far, but it is a lot of work to make sure you can log a decent chunk of miles almost every day. I worked out 4 days this week. The weekend was REALLY busy {more about that later} and I couldn't get to the Y, although I'm sure I logged many miles on my feet. I only count the miles that I'm intentionally doing for the triathlon when I add up my miles. On Monday last week I biked, on Wednesday I biked some and walked some, on Thursday I biked and walked both and on Friday I swam and walked. It was a great week. Thanks for cheering us on . . . virtually, anyway!

I didn't forget!

Hey there everybody. Last week I had a little contest . . . well, at least that's what I was trying to do. {You can read about the contest at the very end of this post}. Anyway, I only got three comments/entries. Somehow, I don't think, "Jacob, pick a number between 1 and 3." would work out so well, so Amanda, Robin & Margaret . . . you'll all get a little prize. I'm not sure exactly what it'll be yet. Just sit tight by your mailbox and one of these days they'll be a little something fun in there from me. Congrats you guys. Thanks for being such loyal readers!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Flashback Friday

4th of July 2002:

Looks like someone could use a haircut
{I won't mention any names! YIKES!}
The whole Stoll crew
{Jacob 3, Rebekah 15 months -- same age Anna is now -- & Lydia 2 days shy of 1 month}

3rd annual {I think, anyway} 4th of July watermelon hunt
Look at the determination on that little face. She is on a mission!
Jacob thinks something might be under those hostas there:

And they found it, what pride
{or is that exhaustion? confusion? oh well, it's something anyway}:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for Facebook! I've been on facebook for a while now . . . a couple years maybe. Mostly I find it to be a time-sucker, but it does have its perks too: seeing pictures of not-often-seen family and friends, finding and catching up with people from your past that you've lost track of and the slightly less popular use of getting a new bike for your 4-year-old! What a blessing Facebook was to us this week {oh, and the Buley's too . . . not just Facebook}. This kind of Facebook usage doesn't work at all unless your "friends" are the wonderful, excellent, generous and helpful type of people like ours are!

Alrighty, here's the story:

About 7 years ago I happened to mention {in a group of moms} that Jacob probably should upgrade from his trike that he'd been riding and that we should get him a "big boy bike" with training wheels and all. One of the mom's said that her little boy had just upgraded from that type of bike and we could have their old one if we wanted. That's where the blessing started! So, we got a "new" bike for Jacob. {I'm not positive, but I think that the family we got it from had experienced a similar blessing and received it in well-loved condition from another family. So by the time we got it it was twice handed down.} Now, since then we've had a few more training-wheel-riding kiddos, and it has been even more well-loved. At some point it lost one of its pedals and over the years {and years and years} the back tire took quite a beating and was well worn to say the least!

Fast forward to the spring of 2009 when we took the '98ish model Trail Climber off the hooks in the garage ceiling and pumped up the tires for Stoll kiddo #4. Joe loved riding his "big" bike all over the place and was doing pretty well considering it only had one pedal and a "stump". But early this week the bike finally came to the end of its usefulness when one strong application of the breaks completely wore through the back tire. Oops, it was pretty much rendered unrideable.

See what I mean:

Here's a good shot of the "tread-bare" back tire and the missing pedal:

Rest in peace little red bike. You served us well:

Joe was pretty sad {to put it mildly}:

I'd seen people use Facebook to their advantage many a time. For example: "Jane Doe wonders if anyone wants to watch her kids on Thursday night while she paints the town red." Heck, we gave Caroline our dorm-sized fridge to take to work because she put out a Facebook plea. Otherwise we would have never known she needed one and she wouldn't have know we had one unplugged, taking up space and collecting dust in the basement. Sometimes it works great, other times not so well. So, I thought I'd give it a shot. Someone had to have an old bike collecting dust in their garage while their kiddo rode a new, bigger bike, right? They'd be thrilled to give it to a "worthy cause" like the Stolls, don't cha think?

So first thing Tuesday morning I changed my Facebook status to: "Shana Carlson Stoll wonders if anyone has a Joey-sized bike they no longer have use for (or possilbly a Lydia-sized bike and Joey could start riding Lydia's). Joey's bike (after at least 5 kids . . . it was a handed down hand-me-down when we got it when Jacob was little) is not longer rideable and needs to find a new home in a dumpster somewhere. He would love a new one. You know, one with 2 pedals and 2 tires that hold air!"

. . . and guess what? It worked! I {or more accurately, my kids} had a busy morning and we left the house {and my computer} shortly after I posted my plea. Later in the afternoon, before I even had time to check my computer again, I got a phone call from Kirb who was on his way home from an out-of-the-office meeting with a new bike! He didn't even know that I had posted our need/request/pleading on Facebook, but when he went to this meeting one of the guys he was meeting with brought his son's outgrown bike and gave it to Kirb. Praise God! And thanks Matt {and Raymund!}. Joe was over the moon with excitement about his "new", bigger bike! He's been riding like crazy ever since Tuesday afternoon.

Here are some pictures of Joe and his new ride:

Ask and it will be given to you; see and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. {Matthew 7.7}

What a blessing! Facebook and the Buley family rate high on our "thankful for" list this week. How about you? Had any unexpected blessings lately? Aren't they great?