Category Archives: family

Christmas Letter 2013

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Faulkner Xmas 2013

This family picture was taken on Thanksgiving Day 2013 outside of Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, TX. Our days and evenings are usually filled and move quickly, but we are cherishing the small things of life together as a family. Here is an update on what the Faulkner family has been up to in the last year:

Margo is in her sixth year as an educator in Katy ISD. Her big news this year is she started working toward a Masters in Educational Leadership at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. She has done exceptionally well in her classes so far, and her professors frequently compliment her work.

Clayton continues to serve as Director of Worship, Music, and Technology at Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire. He did a couple of exciting ministry things this year. In June he gave a presentation on the environment in worship at the Ancient-Future Faith Network’s annual meeting in Pennsylvania. In August he led the TUNE UP worship band gathering at his church in Bellaire with 125 church musicians attending.

Deacon moved up to first grade in 2013. He and his brother attend the same school together where Margo teaches. Deacon got to attend his first year of Faith Camp this summer at church. He also played flag football this Fall and put up some impressive stats.

Masamo is now a Kindergartener. He is very outgoing and has made lots of new friends. He played soccer for the first time this Fall and enjoyed playing on his team. Masamo is learning a lot and keeps everyone entertained with his antics.

Merry Christmas from the Faulkners!

First Day of School – Fall 2013

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We are going to try to resurrect the family blog again. If we’re successful you’ll see more pictures, videos, and stories of life with the Faulkners.

We have a Kindergartner and a first grader now. My big adjustment is not having kids in the car with me for the commute to work now. Which also means no HOV lane. It is a trade off – I get to listen to my preferred radio station in the morning – but I’ve got to pay to drive in the fast lane now.

Say Yes To The Mess

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Up until the past couple of months my parenting style has been overly controlling. In my defense, I was usually trying to minimize risk and inconvenience. My two boys are allllll boy. It is in their DNA to wrestle, and jump, and headlock, and run.

I just found myself ALWAYS telling them to sit down, to be quiet, to let go of their brother’s leg, to fix the couch cushions, and to stop that! I had this overwhelming feeling to keep every thing neat and orderly and quiet. As my boys of 5 and almost 7 barrel through life though, I have come to realize that my parenting philosophy will make us all miserable.

Do not get me wrong. We have rules. My rules have just evolved a little. I say yes to making a mess now (couch cushion forts, 800 Legos in the living room, naked running through sprinklers), but they will clean it up after the fun. I say yes to wrestling all you want, but listen to each other’s words. When brother says stop, you need to let go. If brother gets hurt, the other one runs for the ice pack. I shush them less, but instead ask them for inside voices. I let Deacon make their breakfast and if he spills the milk, he just cleans it up.

Of course, my couch is kinda busted now. I’ll buy a new couch when they go to college. There have been busted lips. They healed. I just remind myself that they only get one chance at childhood. And if I’ve learned anything from Criminal Minds, it’s that your childhood shapes the rest of your life for good or bad. While making a mess, they are also making memories and strengthening their brotherly bond that I hope lasts forever.

I realized that I did way too much for them in my need for control and order. I am trying now to let them do more and foster that independence. I have also found that when I say no less, my no means more. I save my no for things that are dangerous or unacceptable.

What parenting tips do y’all have for moms of boys?

A little fun on the iPad :)

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Happy New Year from the Faulkners!

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2012 New Year Card

We had the best intentions of sending out Christmas cards last month. But life happened, and now we have a New Year card! We had a great time taking family portraits last year and wanted to share some of the shots with everyone. Life moves fast…here is an update on what we’ve been doing this last year.

Margo is a proud mom and devoted wife. She is in her fifth year as an educator in Katy ISD. She also joined a book club in 2012 and has made some great new friends and read a few books too. The biggest event in our family last year was our road trip to Florida and week long vacation at Disney World. Margo planned the itinerary with precision and everyone had a great time.

Clayton proudly completed his doctoral degree last year and celebrated his graduation in June. He is done with school (for now). You can even find his thesis on Amazon.com! Clayton kept a busy schedule serving as Director of Worship, Music, and Technology at Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire. Both Clayton and Margo facilitated a Financial Peace University class there twice last year. The family is working hard to be financially healthy and wise.

Deacon started Kindergarten in 2012. He and Margo travel to the same school together every day. He is not a baby anymore! Deacon has adjusted to the new school (and rules) and has made many new buddies. He did very well on his most recent report card! He is learning to read and already recognizes many words. Deacon also experienced his first year of tee ball last year. He loved playing on a team and took it very seriously.

Masamo is enjoying life as a PreKindergartener. He and Clayton travel to Faith Lutheran together every day where Masamo attends the Day School. Masamo is very friendly and gets along very well with Deacon. He is learning a lot and will be ready for Kindergarten in the Fall. He loves video games, riding bikes, and snuggling with his mom.

Best wishes for a blessed 2013 from the Faulkners!

i suck at blogging

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and i blame instagram, facebook, and twitter. i blame all those apps on what has turned into quarterly blogging on this bloggity blog.

happy birthday to clayton! thank god he turned 32 today, because i turned 35 on the 14th and being 4 years apart in age for about a week makes me seem like quite a cougar. 3 years apart is completely respectable. which is good, since clayton is now dr. clayton faulkner. we head to florida in june so he can graduate with his doctorate in worship studies (and spend a week celebrating at disney world).

it finally happened this week. i was driving the boys to tball practice and they were watching despicable me (which is a movie i love) and deacon said, “when you’re adopted you have to go live somewhere else.” i said, “just like y’all used to live in ethiopia and now you live here.” and then he asked, “where is my real mom and dad?” ugh. daggers to my heart.

i will confess that we have not done such a bang up job of explaining the boys’ life stories to them as i wish we had. i had envisioned long, thoughtful talks about first families and special care givers and finding places ending with big family hugs around the fire (i guess i envision these talks on the one cold day in houston)… instead, it happened in the car, while i’m shoving down chicken nuggets and speeding to tball practice… i think i managed to say something like, “i’m your real mom, but your first mom and dad are in ethiopia and they loved you so much that they wanted you to have the best life and so they asked us to love you for them and….” by that part i was rambling and the boys were over the discussion and back to despicable me.

they haven’t asked again. i shared that story this morning at our new learning group at church called ‘family tree’. it’s a group that will look at adoption and orphans in the bible every week and then share our stories and struggles and successes in adoption. we had an amazing group today with so much awesome discussion. the verse was the moses story in exodus 1:15-2:10…we actually didn’t focus on moses as much as his mother (how would she feel putting him in the river, how did she feel when called back into moses’ life as his wet-nurse), the Pharaoh’s daughter (why go take a bath in a river that would have tons of dead babies floating in it, was she looking to rescue babies), and moses’ sister (how quick thinking and brave she must have been to talk to royalty and make a suggestion that would put moses’ mom back in his life)… i can’t wait to meet again next week!

we also shared about our desire to adopt again in the future. right now our agency, gladney, is not accepting ET applications due to the in-country slow downs. i hope that in about 18 months (when i think we will be ready to start again) they open back up. i’m envisioning sisters 0-5. i may or may not have already bought this doll which now lives in my closet. (by the way, dolls in general freak me out, but i love this one!)

ok, so i have to write deacon and masamo’s post placement reports now. masamo’s is late and deacon’s is due in may. i love writing these reports for no other reason than i pray so hard that their first families in ET get to read them.

day one

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i only made one resolution this year. be in this year. i have a bad habit of continually planning for the future. great when you’re doing international adoptions and house hunting and financial planning, but horrible when you have 2 little kids that won’t be little forever. so my only resolution is to live it up this year with the family and friends and let the future worry about itself.

because let’s face it. these boys aren’t going to be so compliant with my picture taking request for much longer!!!

Christmas Letter 2011

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We hope you are entering the holiday season with pockets of peace and happiness. If not, we can relate. Having preschoolers and full time jobs is a challenge at times, but always worth the toil in the end. We have not been as consistent at updating the family blog for the same reasons. This little note is a peek into our lives as we come to the end of 2011:

Margo is the glue that holds our family together. She is in her fourth year as a 4th grade teacher at an elementary school in Katy. She is growing into her role as an educator and winning the respect of her colleagues and co-workers. This summer she was the lead trainer in instructing other educators how to use KISD’s outdoor learning center. Margo has also been experimenting in the kitchen this year. Thanks to Pinterest she has started trying out new recipes and making some really delicious food.

Clayton’s exciting year included accepting a new ministry position at Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, TX as the Director of Worship, Music, and Technology. He continues to amaze those around him by using his gifts to glorify God and be an innovative leader in our church. He also is wrapping up his Doctorate degree in Worship Studies. Clayton goes above and beyond every day as a husband and father from providing for our family to bath time and bedtime stories for the boys.

Deacon is getting taller every day. It is easy to see that he will be a talented athlete as he grows up. He has a pretty solid spiral for a five year old. He loves going to preschool where he has music, religion, computer, and Spanish classes. He is looking forward to starting kindergarten next year. One of the funniest things Deacon does is make up songs and dances. He loves to change into costumes and play memory games.

Masamo is doing extremely well since joining our family in March 2010. He immediately found his place as the little brother. He and Deacon play very well together and usually have a great time. Masamo is also in preschool and is kind of a ladies man. One of greatest blessings this year has been that the boys attend chapel at the preschool once a week where Clayton leads music and shares Bible stories. One of the funniest things Masamo does is talk non-stop (which stops being funny after a point). He loves to try new foods and loves to play with his big brother.

Happy holidays from The Faulkners – and a blessed 2012.

Single mom is hard

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This week, from last Wednesday to this coming Wednesday, Clayton is in Florida working on his doctorate. I can not wait till I can sign everything ‘Mrs. Dr. Faulkner’. I will do that. You know i will.

This is the 5th time he’s been gone to Florida in the past 4 years. Usually he goes in June, but he went this week to start his thesis. He has to write a 100 pages!!! I don’t think he is allowed to include any illustrations either :)

He started going right after we brought deacon home years ago. So, every time he goes I step into the single parenting world ever so briefly.

Single parenting is frickin hard. If you are a long term single parent, especially of little ones, then I salute you.

You should get to go to the front of every line. You should get free pizza. There should be a special lane on I-10 just for you. You should pay no taxes (sales or federal). Bosses should bend over backward to make your life easier. Doctors and dentists should have special evening and weekend hours just for you.

I can do single mom for a week. There are lots of things I’m not doing because I don’t want to waste precious sleeping hours (unpacking, balancing checkbook, cleaning :). I have the luxury of choosing to not do these things since i can do them as soon as Clayton returns. I can barely imagine how actual single parents do it all. All the time. All on their own.

I totally believe that when god says take care of orphans and widows, he also means single parents.

Children in church

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I had the privilege of teaching our Children’s church this morning. I am a full supporter of children worshiping in their own age appropriate environment.

I know some parents like to take their kids to big church, but I have yet to hear good reasons or see it done well.

For instance, at one church we attended, young kids were given a bag of small toys and crayons and coloring sheets to keep themselves “occupied” during the service. What did you just teach that child? How to tune out worship. They grow up to be those people that balance their checkbook, play angry birds or write their grocery list during worship. Not a good plan.

Now, some parents say, we need to teach our kids how to worship. Um, duh. That’s what Children’s church is for!!! When you want to teach your 5year old to read, do they go to kindergarten or U of H for English 101?

So is there a way for kids in big church? I think that before 4th or 5th grade, the adult focused material can not be synthesized by kids. My big point this morning? Jesus loves me. My two questions at the end: Who climbed in the tree? Who did he want to see? That information even Masamo understood. Don’t ask him to understand redemption, grace or social justice quite yet…. Because he probably won’t…

But, I do think there are some ways to have kid-friendly services. For instance, for our Xmas eve service we:

Had tables in the back with playdoh and paper and crayons.
Kids were called up to the front once to sing a song and once for kids message.
Made sure that message part was short and sweet.
Also made sure that everyone knew this was kid-friendly so they were expecting kids to be kids…

I’ve also heard about churches that have activity sheets for the kids in the service that are designed to keep them engaged. For instance, you know the pastor is talking about love, so the sheet has a place where kids tally how many times the pastor says love. It has a place to illustrate the 3 examples the pastor is going to give and it is has a place to write down questions for the pastor about what he was talking about. This keeps them engaged in the service. Maybe they turn them in at the end and get prizes for correct times he said the word love, maybe the pastor calls them and answers their questions, maybe this teaches them to be participatory instead of just “occupied”.

So, yay for Children’s church and thanks to all of you that spend your sundays telling our littlest friends about our big God in a way they can understand!!!