Wednesday, September 30, 2009

home . . .

My project from the weekend has found a permanent home. I debated having it in our "new" bedroom. I loved that idea, but wanted it someplace where it would actually be seen by someone other than the two of us. So, after a couple trials and some discussion it has found a home above our front door. Perfect! It looks great there.

Don't you think?

Who knew?

Did you know I had some long-dormant skills as an electrician? Me neither! But, it turns out that I do. When I was in Connecticut in May for my Grandma Carlson's funeral I helped to pack up some of her stuff and was able to pick out some things that I would like to have. She had this great light fixture in her kitchen that hadn't come with her townhouse, so it was coming down. My mom thought I should have it and it was pretty cool, it so went in a box marked "SHANA" and was stored in my uncles barn until recently. When my dad brought some of her stuff from Connecticut earlier this month a few of my boxes arrived. In one of them was my grandma's light fixture.

It's pretty busy around here, so the light has been sitting in the box in our dining room for a few weeks. The other day I decided I wanted that big box out of my living room and the light up in my kitchen.

I have never installed a light fixture!

About 11 years ago I helped, minimally, as Kirb installed a light/ceiling fan in our upstairs bedroom, but my part was really minimal. Like hold-the-thing-up-so-he-could-tighten-screws minimal.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a shot. The worst that could happen was that I wouldn't be able to do it, right? {Ok, maybe that wasn't the worst thing that could have happened . . . you'll find out more on that later on}. I took down the old light . . . not too hard! and set off to put up the "new" one. Granted, holding it up while twisting those little wires together and putting on that yellow cap-type thing over the twisted wires was a little challenging {I only have 2 hand remember, and we have pretty tall ceilings, so even on a chair it was a stretch . . . literally} . . . and I am perfectly well aware that I should have shut off the entire breaker to the kitchen, but it was so much easier to just flip the light switch to off that that is what I did. What can I say? I take after my dad that way. And, it turned out just fine it the end. {so see, it could have been worse. I could have been electricuted or something. But, I wasn't!} I got the wires all twisted together and the fixture securely screwed in to the ceiling and put in the light bulbs to test it out. Bulbs in. Switch on. And . . . let there be light! It worked! Yay for me.

It's not 100% completed. I need some shorter screws so that the plate thingy will be flush with the ceiling. Then I'll have to touch up the ceiling a little {or not!} since the plate thingy for the old light was bigger than this one. Also, we have to decided on the right height for it to hang it:: not too high so the light is way up there, but not to low that when my brother comes over he'll bump his head! Then we have to take out the extra links in the chain to adjust for the height. And then we'll be done. But for now that big box is out of my dining room and my kitchen is basked in a different type of light and has a little more "elegant" look to it.

So what do you think? Do you like it? Are you impressed? Do you think I'm a crazy, risk-taking maniac? Isn't it pretty?

Now I have some dreams of actually having an overhead light in our bedroom and putting the old kitchen light in there. I don't, however, think I'll tackle drilling a hole in the ceiling and pulling wires over there from in the wall and installing a light where there never has been one before. That I'll leave to someone with a little more skill . . . and the sense to turn off the breaker!

For now, though, my basement toilet won't flush . . . I'd much rather play electrician than plumber! Oh well, duty calls.

Monday, September 28, 2009

18 months

I can't believe our little monkey is 18 months old.
Half way to 2.
She's getting fiesty {no surprise, I suppose . . . she has some excellent examples!} and daring and a little sassy and funny and cuter by the minute. We love her lots and are so thankful to have been blessed with her 18 months ago.

Here she is sportin' her new-ish monkey pajamas that she LOVES! She laughs when we put them on her and especially likes the super cute feet! They are perfect for her since she really is a little monkey!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A creative afternoon:

A slightly late, completely unplanned anniversary crafting project:
For some reason, as I was sitting outside reading a very good book this afternoon, I was overwhelmingly compelled to begin this project. I was inspired by this idea I saw online a little while back. I hadn't planned to do any projects at all today. I was really enjoying my book and had planned to enjoy it the entire time the littles were napping . . . but then those plans went right out the window!
I found a board {not too old even, but pretty beat up} in our yard and got to work. First I slapped a pretty thin, messy coat of white paint to the board, rubbed in a little anitiquing glaze on top and let it dry. Next I sanded it a little. Then I traced some chipboard letters onto the board {I didn't measure before I started tracing, I had just eyeballed it. When I got to the end I realized I would only have room for "199" and since I didn't want to do '96 I erased it all and started again}. Then I painted the letters with black paint and let that dry. When it was all dry I sanded it again and then hosed it down to get all the dust off {and age it even more!} and I was done!
Whattaya think?
I love it!
I can't decide if we should put it in our bedroom {it would look great in there} or somewhere more "public" so that people will actually see it, since not many people venture back to our bedroom when they come for a visit!

Note: This idea was not original with me. I saw it online a few weeks ago and didn't really think much about it . . . until today. {I would love to give credit to it's originator -- whose sign read "Farm Fresh Eggs" -- but I tried to find it again today and couldn't for the life of me! So just know, it wasn't my idea in the beginning. I would have bookmarked the site if I thought I would be making my own, but I hadn't really planned on it at all.}

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flashback Friday

one of my favorite pictures:

brother & sister
august 2004

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for kids who know and are excited about the Word of God.

We were having devotions after dinner the other day and Kirb was reading from Ephesians and the kids went crazy when he got to the section about putting on the armor of God, he'd pause in the reading and they would fill in {very enthusiastically} the next word or phrase. This was totally unplanned and unexpected, but SUPER fun to watch. I made them do it again so I could video it, but, truly, this was just what it was like the first time around too. Enjoy!

Big thanks to Bibleman for all the excitement that the kids have about this passage. They love Bibleman!

Monday, September 21, 2009


It's official. Our marriage is now a teenager! 13 years ago today we said our "I do's" and have been having a great {and quite productive, I must say} time ever since. On the one hand it seems like we've always been together, always been married . . . I can hardly remember my life without Kirby in it, and on the other hand it seems like that day was just yesterday . . . how can it have possibly been 13 years ago already? Life is funny like that!
Although many of the details have faded {someone asked me yesterday what time of day I got married and I answered "umm . . . after lunch and before dinner" things like that -- which I'm sure was a major decision at the time: "should we have the wedding at 3 or 3:30?" -- don't really seem all that significant 13 years later}, I do remember that 9.21.96 was a great day. Some sprinkles of rain, but a great day nonetheless!

Were you there? Did you come celebrate with us? I know that many of you did! If you have a memory, any memory at all, of that day I would love to hear it: funny memories, random memories, sappy memories, cute memories . . . bring 'em on. I would love to know what it is you remember about our wedding day.
A BIG "Happy Anniversary" to my wonderful husband and, also, a BIG thanks to our family and friends who were there, took part and made the day so wonderful for us. The biggest thanks of all to the Lord for seeing fit to bring us together . . . I couldn't be happier!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can I have a couple minutes of your time? Please?

Many of you know of our family's love for and association with the Children's Shelter of Cebu. I have known about CSC since I was a child and Kirb and I have supported them financially, and in many other ways, our entire married life {13 years on Monday!} We had the chance to travel to CSC in 2004 and fell even more in love with the shelter, its children, its mission and every aspect of the ministry there.

We just learned of an issue that is impacting the ministry at CSC. I'll share with you the text from an email that we got today from our friend, Matt, who is CSC's US Director. He understands the issue better than I do, has done research and puts it well. Please take a minute to read and help out:

Dear Friend,

17 of our kids need your help, in the form of a couple minutes of your time.

We have a basic principle at the heart of the Children's Shelter of Cebu; that every child deserves a family. This opportunity for finding a family together has all but slipped out of reach for these 17 children. They are sibling groups of nine, six and two.

In December 2007, the United States ratified the Hague Convention. This international agreement seeks to protect children, but it also led to a change in immigration law that was not fully enacted until recently. The new law lowered the age a child could be adopted from 18 to 16, even if they have younger siblings. This means that the oldest child in each of these three sibling groups is ineligible for adoption in the US (where the vast majority of older child adoptions happen). It means splitting up kids who have already lost too much of their family, or resigning to raise them all at CSC. We provide a loving home, but that simply can't compare to a loving family.

After seeking legal counsel we have found there is one small hope remaining, and we need you to help us pursue it. A law has been introduced both into the US House (HR 3110) and Senate (S.1359) primarily intended to change the citizenship process for adopted children to be less cumbersome and costly for adoptive parents. As an adoptive parent, I see great value in that. In addition, it changes the law back to the age of 18. This provides a window of time for us to continue to pursue families for these 17 kids.

By signing the Equality for Adopted Children petition that is linked to below, you could be a part of the answered prayers of all 17. If you forward it on you are multiplying the effort. I truly hope you do. We need your help, and so do these beautiful kids.

Honored to stand with you,

Matthew Buley
U.S. Director

There are 17 kids, in 3 sibling groups, at CSC for which this would eliminate any chance of being adopted together as a family. CSC has a policy of not splitting up sibling groups and I believe that is an important and crucial policy! They've given up so much already in their lives. They need their siblings with them. Here are Matt's "nutshell" descriptions of these great families of kids:

A Family of 9!
Jeneviev, Nino, Riza Mae, Leheca, Charydyn, Charryto, June, Bart and JashlyThe reason these 9 siblings arrived at CSC was so that they could stay together. After their mom died and their father realized he could not care for them, a group of nuns on the west side of the island of Cebu found homes for them. They knew one home for all of them would be much better, and that led them to us. On February 13, 2007, the largest sibling group we've ever taken in came to our shelter. The two boys and seven girls have done wonderfully at CSC. They are well behaved and loving, and have made great strides in the counseling provided in our care.

Jeneviev, 17 (7/30/92)
Nino, 15 (1/23/94)
Riza Mae, 14 (3/27/95)
Leheca, 12 (3/5/97)
Charydyn, 11 (8/10/98)
Charryto, 9 (6/9/00)
June, 7 (6/25/02)
Bart, 5 (7/31/04) and
Jashly, 3 (9/29/05).

Because of the size of this sibling group it will take an incredible family to take them all in (it would be the largest sibling group adoption ever in the Philippines), but we have not given up hope that the family is out there.

Our 6-Pack
Analiza, Jenive, Bernardo, Birny, Jeffrey and RafaelThis family of two girls and four boys has lived at CSC since February 22, 2005. It has been tough for them to see so many kids in those four-plus years who came after them get adopted and leave. These six kids have become dear to all of us. They all happen to be somewhat vertically challenged. Three have received or are receiving growth hormone injections daily to help them grow, and this has been successful. Academics are difficult for this sibling group overall, but all are progressing. Behavior concerns are minimal, some self identity issues and low self esteem are their biggest concerns. They are now the kids that have been with us the longest, aside from special needs adults or teen home residents who are well past adoption age. They have been praying for a mom and dad much longer than all the others. It is hard to convince them that they are worthy of a family, but we know they are.

Analiza, 16 (2/4/93)
Jenive, 13 (3/30/96)
Bernardo, 12 (2/1/97)
Birny, 11 (3/2/98)
Jeffrey, 9 (5/15/00)
Rafael, 8 (8/15/01)

2 Brothers
Melvin and MilbertMeet Melvin and Milbert. These two boys arrived at our shelter on March 24, 2006 with a third brother who eventually ended up returned to their birth mother. This has been difficult for the boys, especially for Milbert. He is an outgoing and personable young man who is both bright and well-spoken. His outgoing nature and ability to articulate his thoughts has certainly earned him some consequences in his 3 years and five months at CSC! He is also a kind boy who is glad to sit, chat and soak up one-on-one time with an adult. His older brother Melvin is extremely bright. He graduated from our Children of Hope School a couple of years ago and has been studying at a top-notch high school in Cebu City since. He is also a gifted artist. His Foster Friend sponsors in Japan have been amazed by his ability to draw anime cartoons. Melvin can be withdrawn at times, and also does well with a little extra attention. The boys have had their struggles, but could surely thrive in a family.

Melvin, 16 (11/2/92)
Milbert, 14 (7/7/95)

If you could take the 30 seconds that it takes to sign this petition, I would really appreciate it. {You can also access the petition -- and find out even more information -- on the CSC website. Click on "17 CSC kids need a couple minutes of your time"}

Thanks SO much!

Flashback Friday

Thursday, September 17, 2009

45 things

I read this today and really enjoyed it. I thought you might too. {I especially appreciated #40. Quite true, I would bet.}

Thankful Thursday

Last night was a good night!

I said yesterday that I feel like I'm just barely keeping my head above water lately with the adjustment to the new school year, new job, new schedule and all that jazz. Plus I just have about a million things to do {like I always do}. Not to mention all the normal, day to day stuff that has to go on to keep this place runnin': laundry, homework, clipping 50 fingernails and 50 toenails that get disgustingly long with incomprehensible speed, packing lunches, paying bills, bathing small people, cleaning, feeding people, buying groceries, changing diapers and on and on. A big part of the problem is that our evenings have been insanely busy and scheduled the past 2 weeks. We have discovered that that is NOT a good thing {we've been a little slow to catch on to this lesson}. Even though we are passionate, and often gifted, at the things that are taking up our evenings, they are often not the best choice for our family. I think people might have the impression sometimes {wrong, though it is} that we parent our 5 kids rather effortlessly and can take on one more "little" thing without it effecting our family too much. That is just NOT true. It's a lot of work for us to parent the kids and often stresses us out. We adore our kids and, I think, handle having 5 kids better than lots of people would, but it still is LOTS of work! We need to re-evaluate some stuff and prioritize our family a little higher once again. {I feel like this is a never-ending cycle in our lives. We get to this "valley" point and re-evaluate and cut back. Then we cruise along nicely for a while. Then we forget how bad it really was and, a little at a time, add "small" things back in that bring us back to point A again where we start the whole thing over. The whole process is emotionally draining and stresses me out!}

Just a little side note: I have not read more than 3 consecutive pages in a book of my choosing or made even 1 card in weeks and weeks. If you know me at all, that is a BIG deal. Also, it makes me a little less fun than usual when I'm deprived of these "me" things in my life!

Ok, so back to the "thankful" part {you thought I forgot and was just going to gripe the whole time, didn't you?} I am thankful for our evening yesterday! All 7 of us were home. We sat down to a non-rushed, yummy dinner together. Homework got done, for a change, without much complaining or procrastinating. We took a walk and played at the park. It was a beautiful late summer night!! {I hope you were outside too!} Kirb did have to be gone for a little bit, but it was after Anna was already sleeping and the other kids were getting ready for bed . . . and, he returned before they were even sleeping. Amazing! I can't go anywhere "quickly"! So, I know that, technically, we weren't ALL together for the ENTIRE night, but it was WAY, way better than we have been doing at being all together for an evening in a really long time!

On top of that, we {Kirb and I} were in bed by just after 10, which is also kind of unheard of around here. Often, I'll fall asleep on the couch around 10ish while Kirb keeps working or watching a movie or something. Then he'll wake me up, I'll brush my teeth and get into bed. But that's really not the same AT ALL as being in your own bed kind early. On top of getting into bed early, I also got to sleep all night long. Anna has been sick the past 3 or 4 days and has NOT been sleeping well. She did wake up once last night and needed a little more Tylenol, but Kirb took care of it! {Honestly, I didn't even hear her or notice that she needed anything until I felt Kirb getting back into bed.} Ahhh. What a difference all that makes when it comes time to get up in the morning.

Have a great day!

A fun evening as a family. A good nights sleep. I am thankful!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Verse 18

Verse #18: my last September verse. I feel like I barely got Psalm 139 written in my book and now it's time for another one! Admittedly, I haven't done to well at all the last 2 or 3 verses. I'm gonna try to get back on track with this important reminder::
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. {Isaiah 43.2 NIV}
I'm not walking through any fires lately, thankfully, but the past 2 weeks I have felt like I'm barely, barely keeping my head above water {note how this post is nearly 2 days late . . . that's what I'm talking about}. But, I haven't been swept under! Praise God!

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, September 14, 2009

Our weekend

9 people
2 vehicles
36 hours
800 miles
on 4 hours of sleep {well, not all of us slept that little . . . but 2 of us did!}
lots of great memories

We headed out early on Saturday morning. We drove east and caught a beautiful sunrise as we went. We left the 2 "littles" home with my parents and took the 3 "bigs" {along with some friends} and went on an adventure.

Can you guess where we went and why we were there? In case you're not good at guessing chances are good that I'll fill you in on some more details when I'm a little less tired!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I'm so thankful for my husband! He's such a great guy in every way! Great friend, great employee (he just had a stellar annual review to prove it. Way to go, babe!), great dad, great husband, great man of God, great singer, great cook, great get-5-kids-to-bed-in-record-time guy, great comedian, great son, great brother, great son-in-law, great direction-giver, great volunteer, great blood donater (O- is always appreciated!) . . . and the list goes on.

He works so hard to take care of our family and has been working especially hard the past few days as he's had a bunch of extra stuff to do at work. I fall asleep on the couch and he just keeps pluggin' away on his laptap while watching Season 3 of The Office which we borrowed from the library . . . funny stuff!

I love him like crazy. We have a great time together and I don't think I could be more blessed. I'm thankful each day that the Lord saw fit for us to be a pair. I'm not quite sure how I got such a great deal, I surely don't deserve it . . . but I'm thrilled nonetheless!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some random stuff

A few random tidbits from our lives the past few days. From our family to you, enjoy:
  • We had 4 nights in a row of middle-of-the-night puking. We are thrilled to have had 2 puke-free nights in a row!
  • Anna "talks" up a storm these days! It's so cute!
  • Lydia lost another tooth {her 7th} last night. It had been wiggly FOREVER and the adult tooth was already half in before the baby one finally came out.
  • Lydia was excited that the tooth fairy remembered her this time {did you know that occassionally he/she forgets to come? Some days are busier tooth days than others, I guess. Usually the mistake is taken care of the next night!} Here's Lydia with her tooth box and gold dollar coin {that's what the tooth fairy always brings!} Also, THIS is what Lydia looks like in the morning. YIKES! She'd be completely fine going to school like that too, but usually I intervene!

  • The kids all have fabulous teachers this year. We are so thankful and blessed!
  • In case you were wondering, the Flashback Friday from last week was Anna. Good job if you got it right. YaYash, I'll get you a prize when you come here . . . in just a few days!!! Yeah!
  • I have an official job for the first time in over 10 years. Regular hours and, thankfully, regular pay. Another HUGE blessing to our family for many reasons. I knew I needed to somehow make a little money for our family and this job literally fell right in my lap. I had just started thinking about what I should do to bring in a little extra money and I got offered a job completely "out of the blue"! Plus, so far so good. I love it!
  • The weather has been absolutely, positively glorious the past couple weeks. How fun is that?
  • I wish my clothesline were bigger. It just doesn't fit 7 people worth of laundry too well. Today is another perfect clothesline day. One load out there now, one finishing up in the washer to soon be joining the drying party on the patio.
  • The kids actually rode the bus today. It was about 15 minutes late, but hopefully one of these days it will be here at the scheduled time! (We shaved over 30 minutes off yesterdays arrival time, so it's looking up!)
  • Lydia looked a little Pipi Longstocking-ish this morning when we went to school. Don't you think?

State Fair, take 2

We went to the fair for the 2nd {and last} time of the year on Sunday. We were excited. We got up and ready early and were off. We were in the fair grounds, ready to "do the fair" by 8:30. I was much less crabby this time and things were just generally looking better then they did for our first fair attempt of the year.

The kids on some tractors. They must have each sat on at least a couple dozen tractors over the course of the day!
A typical Joe moment. He just sat down and decided he wasn't going to go anymore. Thankfully, it wasn't as crowded as when he laid in the middle of the sidewalk when we were at the fair the first time . . . on the ever-popular Thrifty Thursday . . . in the middle of the afternoon . . . right by the food building. You can't get much busier than that at the fair. The funny not-so-funny thing is that we'd only been there, maybe 23 minutes or so at this point! Maybe it will be another long day after all! Thankfully, he did get over it relatively fast and we were back on track.
Poor buddy. It must be tough, huh?
Rebekah enjoying a ride on the swings. She said she could see most of the fairgrounds from up there.
The kids with Fairchild, the state fair mascot . . . or is it Fairborne? I'm not sure. They just look so much alike! In any case:
Strapped to my back. This was Anna's vantage point for most of the day. I think she was just gearing up at this point to eat her first ever state fair cheese curds {we didn't think they were developmentally appropriate last year . . . you know, since she was only 5 months and had only ever had breastmilk. Cheese curds are not our pediatricians recommended food for beginning solids!} But this year was a different story. She tried them, and she LOVED them!!! Her legs would kick like mad and I could tell without even being able to see her how super excited she was about them.
Little piggies:
{looks like they all "stayed home", and I'm quite sure none of them "ate roast beef"}
My "baby" and my best friend:
Yup, Al, Justin and the kids joined us at the fair a little before 11. It was so fun to be there with them! It's an annual tradition that we try hard to keep each year!

The boys on the giant slide:
Best friends . . . with shirts to prove it:
An extra-cute mother-daughter pair
You gotta love those pigtails:
The fair at night:
We stayed from about 8:30 in the morning until about 6 in the evening. Thankfully, though, my mom was there with a friend in the morning and left about 2:30 and willingly took away the 2 crabs {who will remain nameless} while the rest of us stayed and enjoyed a few more hours of fair fun! They had fun with Ama and we had fun without them! Kirb had to work at the Northwestern College booth in the Education Building from 5-9. Well, I supposed "had to" isn't quite accurate. He volunteered. What a guy! So the remaining 3 kids and I took off about 6ish and Kirb biked home about 10:30 after enjoying the fair night-life a little following his shift! A great day was had by all and much unhealthy food was enjoyed by everyone: Sweet Martha's, cheese curds, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, french fries, cotton candy {2 visits to the cotton candy booth, if you must know}, big pickles on a stick, deep fried pickles, mini donuts . . . I'll have to make a few extra trips to the Y in September to recover! But it was all worth it!

We drove by the fair today and it's just so sad to know it's all over for another year. Oh well, the years go by so fast these days, it'll be fair time again before we know it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First day of school!

A beautiful morning to start a new year of school!
5th grade.
3rd grade.
2nd grade.
We always have the kids hold up fingers for what grade they are in. Rebekah can't even lie non-verbally without her face giving it away . . . thank you Lord! That will come in extra handy in a few years, I fear!
There, that's better. Jacob is a 5th grader, Rebekah is a 3rd grader and Lydia is a 2nd grader. Where do the years go?
The silly bunch of Falcon kids. All ready for school with a good 75 or 80 minutes to spare before the scheduled arrival of their bus!
Not too impressive considering she weighs about 9 pounds . . . ok, a little more than that, but not much!
Practicing waiting for the bus, since it still wasn't scheduled to actually come for quite a while!
A little bit of Lydia "cheese" to brighten your day!
Jacob the bus patrol! Who thought giving him extra authority and power over his sisters was a good plan? Hmmm!
Silly kids!
Momma and her first day of school kiddos . . . Anna was still peacefully sleeping upstairs.
After 30 minutes of waiting {we went out to the bus about 5 minutes before it was scheduled to come and waited 25 minutes past the scheduled arrival time, which was 6 minutes past when school is scheduled to begin} we finally gave up and Kirb took the kids to school in his car. Kind of anti-climactic after all the waiting and stuff. The bus finally showed up 26 minutes after the official school start time, 45 minutes later than it was scheduled to be at our house! Hopefully tomorrow it will be a little closer to on time! I understand all of us picture happy moms need our first day of school, getting on the bus shots and that buses often run late, but 45 minutes . . . really?
Joe gettin' happy in his classroom on the first day:

And they're home::

Joe apparently had a tiring first day of preschool since he fell asleep sitting up on the couch shortly after coming home:

The bus returns {only about 5 minutes behind schedule}
Rebekah {with Jacob close behind}:
3 kids and a dad:
looks like it was a good day:
The kids all had GREAT first days. They all have wonderful teachers. We are so thankful. Great kids. Great school. Great friends. Great teachers. What blessings! Here's to a great start to what seems like it will be another wonderful year of school!