Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Three months home... and all is well.

See that smiling face? That's how our happy little boy looks pretty much all the time. We had our first post placement visit with our social worker Monday, and we barely had a negative thing to report. This is in great contrast to our first three months with the twins, which frequently were, quite frankly, akin to the "living hell" one hears mentioned. I think I wasn't sharing about it much, because the only post I could find mentioning the high stress of our household at that time was this one, and it's pretty moderate.

So basically, Tom and I just keep waiting for something to happen... where is the grieving, the tantrum throwing, the sleeping and food issues? Thankfully (for now at least) not here. But I know the grieving has to be in that little heart somewhere. Just wondering when it will come out.

Monday, September 26, 2011

River City Rodeo

Omaha, Nebraska is host each year to the River City Rodeo, the second largest rodeo in the world.. behind only the championship event in Las Vegas. This year, Tom and I took the littles to an event hosted by YPO which featured dinner, a talk by rodeo roping star Stran Smith and of course, the main event. Rodeo!

Before dinner, the kids got a roping lesson
from a real, live cowboy.
Everyone got a lasso to take home as a party favor.

Sarah, Candace and Thomas in their best western gear,
including new boots for all.

Bare-backed bronco riding... it was terrifying, actually.

Candace was completely enthralled. She was ready
to sign up for rodeo lessons then and there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


On Thursday morning, we were surprised by a town wide power outage... extending to the greater Ashland metropolitan area, where we live. The result: no school! It was a gorgeous fall day, so we spent the day at the world-class Henry Doorly Zoo in neighboring Omaha.

Thomas, Anna, Sarah, Abbey and Candace pose on the lion statues near the entrance.

Peering through the spherical window into the gorilla habitat.

Mama gorilla with her baby.

Anna, Thomas and Abbey on the Skyfari.

In the cave exhibit... Thomas was a little nervous.


Hanging out in the canopy at the rainforest.

Technical difficulties

I'm having trouble with my camera/computer interface. My photo software, which is malfunctioning, is also trying to take over my computer. So, I have been hampered in my ability to post interesting things with pictures... and let's face it, blog posts without pictures should be used sparingly, because they are just not as fun. I think I have discovered a stop-gap method to use until I can take my computer in to the techie geniuses to be debugged... so thanks for hanging with me, faithful readership. Back soon with fun zoo and rodeo pictures!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A hungry child can't wait: Ask 5 for 5

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5
Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Spears Family Nebraska and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps.

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)

  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.

  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at ask5for5@gmail.com if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Thank you, Sarah, for starting this program... I encourage others to join in and support Ask5for5!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Almost... disaster

I like to nap. I try to take a nap every day... and Sunday afternoon is my favorite time to nap. This past Sunday, Tom was watching football, the big kids were off doing their own thing, and the littles were playing nicely outside... perfect time for a nap.

Except that sometime during my nap on Sunday, disaster almost struck. Thankfully, mercifully almost.

A frantic Candace came running into the house to get Tom; desperate for help and not very coherent. Tom runs outside to the swing set to find Thomas, crying hard, with a very frightened Sarah and... a jump rope. A jump rope that for some inexplicable reason, Sarah thought she would attach to the top of the slide. Then it seemed like it might be fun to tie it around her neck and slide down. According to Sarah, she "fell asleep for a little" while she was hanging face down on the slide, her body weight stretching the rope taut. Candace said "her eyes did this" and demonstrated by flickering her eyelids and rolling her eyes back. She was unconscious. Thomas and Candace saved their sister's life by untying the rope; Thomas at Sarah's neck and Candace at the top of the slide. Candace then ran for help. Our beautiful daughter could be gone if they hadn't thought quickly.

We have been a little nervous about letting the littles go out back to play since then. What other dangers are lurking; things we never even thought we would have to explain? We also feel terribly guilty that neither one of us was supervising at the time. Bruises, scrapes and maybe even broken bones I would expect from playing on a swing set... possible death? Never even entered my mind.

We feel very grateful that it all ended up with nothing more serious than a rope burn and a bruise. Thank you, God, for watching over our beloved child.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I learned this week from Punky Brewster

Remember that spunky little tyke from the eighties, with her crazy clothes and Bohemian style... abandoned by her mom in a supermarket with her trusty dog, she is able to forge cheerfully ahead with her life, charming a crusty old coot and creating a new family for herself, all the while spouting adorable tidbits of wisdom beyond her freckle-faced years?

Yeah, that Punky. Well, she is out promoting her new book Happy Chaos and dishing up advice on motherhood and family this week. Okay, okay it's really actress Soleil Moon Frye, all grown up and married and with kids of her own. Still. I happened to catch her in an interview on The Today Show, and something she said actually resonated with me and made sense. She was talking about the chaos and clutter, both literally and figuratively, that make up the years you spend with your small children. She said something about embracing the chaos, because it will be gone before you know it... I'm paraphrasing wildly here... and living for the time we're in with our kids now.

Wow. That's good advice, Punky.

Up until two years ago, I had gotten pretty good at living in a non-chaotic house. We had a lot of activities etc., but our actual house was reasonably peaceful. Peaceful and clean. Then some crazy notion hit me about having an empty nest... soon! I freaked out. I wasn't ready for that! And I'm still not. I love, love, love having more littles around. Alas, I tend to get pretty worked up sometimes about the mess and yes, the CHAOS of our home. But little Punky was right... or maybe it's grown up Soleil... anyway, it's time for me to embrace the chaos. Because it will be over way too soon. And even though I'll be sixty-two years old when Thomas graduates from high school, I bet I'll still be sad that my nest is going to be empty.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This boy can play ball!

Thomas started soccer last week. He is playing on the Micro Blue team, which is composed of kids in kindergarten and first grade, plus Thomas. He loves practice, and he had a blast at his first game on Saturday, scoring six goals! True, there is no goalkeeper and no one keeps score, but we proud parents thought that was a pretty smashing debut for Thomas!

Waiting for the game to start

And off they go!

We were impressed with his ball handling skills.

The blue team dominates!

Both the blue team and the green team seemed to have an awesome time... looks like soccer will be lots of fun.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Homecoming 2011

We had a busy weekend. First up, homecoming at AGHS. The festivities started on Friday at the end of the school day with the parade and pep rally followed by the evening football game.

Thomas briefly joins sister Anna and the rest of the spirit squad during the parade.

It's not a parade without a marching band.

Class float

Downtown pep rally

Anna and friend Jessica

You have to crown a king and queen...
congratulations Shayla and Braxton!

Cheering on the team!

Thomas waiting to release his balloon at the game...
the twins were off hanging with their friends.

Half-time dance performance

Saturday evening br0ught the big dance. Anna and her friends met at our house for pictures before going out to dinner and then on to the dance.

Anna and BFF Abbey

Anna with date Scott

The girls

And the entire squinty group!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Family beach party!

Although both Tom and I are from Indiana originally, my mom is originally from Nebraska; when we moved to the state thirteen years ago, we had extended family nearby for the first time since getting married in 1986. For the last few years, we have had a cookout/beach party for our Mulcahy family relatives in the Omaha metro area. It's great to visit with my cousins, their kids, their spouses, their kids' spouses, their grandchildren, etc., etc., etc. Lots of people, food, water fun and good times... my cousin Sandy took all of these great pictures.

Me with my brother, Matt.

The littles on the new "jumpoline".

All of the kids think my cousin Tim is great fun!

Disembarking after a tour of the lake.

My cousin Connie and her nephew John take the jet ski for a spin.


Enjoying the beach