Thursday, December 31, 2009

Falk Family Letter 2009

Every year we try to send out a current family photo along with a letter summarizing the last year. I am in charge of the photos, Jay gets the privilege of writing the letter. In my unbiased opinion, he is an excellent writer and injects just the right amount of humor. After all, our life is humourous so why not write that way! The following is our 2009 family letter with some recent photos! Enjoy!


Christmas greetings to all of you. We hope this letter finds your family healthy and at peace. If not, join the club. Actually, we in the Falk home have managed to stay very healthy this year. Considering the amount of spitting up, drooling, licking, spilling, and dripping that goes on around here that should almost rival the Immaculate Conception on the level of “miraculous things to ponder” this Christmas. As for peace, we have discovered it comes at the times when we least expect it.

In one word, our year could best be described as change, no recovery, wait…finding routine. Who am I kidding? I have no idea how to describe this last year. Perhaps I’ll simply recap and one of you can just tell me what kind of year it’s been.


On February 12th, we invited into our lives the 5th child of our family, Arileigh Sarina Falk. Her arrival was as quiet as she is friendly and she has been a delight to raise…so far. She was born during the night at home while all the other kids were sleeping. She sleeps through the night, eats everything we put in front of her and smiles at anyone who is willing to give her the time of day. Really, my one and only concern about her began back in the womb when Chantelle commented that it felt like there was an octopus inside of her. Rest assured, the gene pool is good and Ari was born with the proper number of limbs, however, those 4 limbs do, in fact, move fast enough to appear to be 8. She is now 10 months old and shows all the signs of being our busiest kid yet. Yes, even busier than RJ! More than that, she appears to be progressing to the walking stage faster than the others. A dad of four other children should not fear the development of a fifth child the way I do but my gut tells me it may be warranted.


Aliyah is a healthy 2 ½ year old and exhibits all the normal signs of such. She is quickly developing her own style and has become very opinionated on a wide variety of issues, many of which she is unqualified to have an opinion on. She loves to talk, sing, look at books, play with babies, and cry. I am having a lot of trouble with this last one since my only sister was 7 years older than me and out of the house before I really began to understand the emotions and sensitivity of the opposite sex. I am discovering that “suck it up” really doesn’t apply in many of these situations.


Rhéanna, at almost 4, is learning her numbers and alphabet and doing very well. She is a girly girl through and through and yet believes that whatever her brothers can do she can do, too. She is a trailblazer with no fear of adventure. She has recently revealed an interest in hair dressing and used herself as her first attempt. The result left her with 12 inches less hair and looking several years older. If I could allocate blame to my children for my gray hairs she would receive the most. She is a fascinating arrangement of all things beautiful and all things adventurous leaving no explanation as to why I will one day be enrolled in the long-gun firearms safety course.


Adlai has, perhaps, surprised me the most this year as he has shown great patience in his newest venture-kindergarten. His comedic side left me believing school would not be his thing as there would be far more fun stuff to be doing. I think his accomplishments are a great testimony to the wonderful teacher he has and the creativity and energy she brings to the learning environment (Thanks, Mom!) AJ has a great imagination and enjoys expressing it in his drawings and in his lego creations. He continues to exhibit his fireball personality and yet has a remarkable capacity to care for his youngest siblings.


Payton is 6 ½ going on 13. He is developing into a responsible capable young man with a compassionate heart and a love for giving. He is a remarkable reader and an excellent student. He, too, has a great imagination and can often be found in creative thought in his lego box. He has learned to tell time and is specifically interested in knowing when it is 4 pm as that is when his new neighbor friend, Ethan, comes home from school.

Both Pepe and AJ made the life-changing decision this year to make Jesus their forever friend! We, as parents, could not be more excited as they begin to understand who God is, who they are, and the impact that will have for the rest of their lives and eternity. That they understand that God loves them and that they can love God back is an extraordinary occurrence that compares to very few experiences we have had so far in life.


Chantelle finds herself in the unfamiliar place of having a 10 month old and not being pregnant again. It seems to be a bittersweet time for her as she realizes that chapter (we think) is closed, while at the same time enjoying the routine that comes from not having an infant. She fills her days with home schooling (which she is extremely good at), barn and BeautiControl business, MOPS preparation, and a whole host of personal projects, most of which can be found on her blog site,

I (Jason) continue to battle through the adventure of raising hogs in a time of crisis unlike any other in the last 50 or more years. Many an opportunity has arisen for me to practice virtues such as trust, faith, hope, and forgiveness. I can thank Peter Mansbridge and the CBC for that last one. In my eyes, he is about ¼ inch tall, just the right size to hit with a fly swatter, which is exactly what I want to do each time I hear him say “swine flu”. If any of you get the chance, please kick him in the shins for me! Oh, wait. I said forgiveness, didn’t I?

Other Highlights of the last year
* We celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a two night getaway.
* We purchased a 5 acre lot near the farm where one day we will build our next home
* Jason joined the church leadership
* We enjoyed our first full year back in a care group after several years in hiding

In spite of the challenges that continue to face us, we are very thankful and at peace with our situation. Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you. We love you all and look forward to sharing in your lives as well.

Kids Say the Funniest Things:

Pepe: When asked if he (Pepe) had sins that he would like Jesus to forgive, he said “yes” followed by, “I know Adlai sure does!”
As Chantelle heard the water running for a long time in the bathroom, she asked AJ what he was doing. “Nothing but trouble!” was his response.
Conversation between Chantelle and RJ:
R: Ari was in your tummy.
C: Yes, she was!
R: And I was in your tummy. And AJ, but not Pepe.
C: Pepe wasn’t in my tummy?”
R: No. He’s too big.
C: Where did he come from then?
R: From the grocery store, maybe.

From our family to yours, a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Since starting this blog about 6 months ago, I have been astonished at the number of people that have stopped by to take a look. Seriously, thanks to the real-time tracker widget-thingy, I know that people from all over the world have come by for some reason or another. To my humble little blog. Plus, I have people coming up to me saying how they loved reading this or that post! Unbelievable. I thought when I started this thing that my family and maybe a few close friends would come by every once in a blue moon but this has completely blown me away! So, to all of you for taking the time to come and listen to my ramblings or check out my latest project, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I hope you are getting as much enjoyment out of it as I am!

Coming up soon, once year-end paperwork for the farm is done (that's the job I get paid to do!), I will let you in on my New Year's goals, plus some more projects for a sweet little baby girl!

Until next time, have a wonderful New Year celebration!

Monday, December 21, 2009

DIY - Upholstered Tufted Headboard

We haven't had a headboard in our room for a few years already. We do have a metal canopy bed that is currently in the garage because it is just not working for me decoratively at this time. So, I just had 2 frames above our bed. Not so pretty. Well, the pictures are nice but the whole look was just a little - pathetic. Agreed?

I decided a large, tall upholstered headboard would be perfect! And I could make it myself. Talk about going from Boring to Beautiful! So, here it is, the BEFORE and AFTER!!

Making an upholstered headboard is really quite easy. Trust me, anyone can do this! First of all, for supplies, you need a piece of 3/8" plywood cut to the size you desire (ours is 48" tall x 62" wide - 2" wider than the bed width and nice and tall!), enough 2" foam to cover the plywood, quilt batting to cover the plywood plus about 4"-6" overlap on all sides, fabric in the same size as the quilt batting. To hang the headboard, you need a piece of 1x4 wood that is about 48" long, plus 2 smaller pieces, about 4"-6" each. Find a few screws and a drill, a staple gun and some staples and you should be good to go.

First off, take your 48" 1x4 piece of wood and cut it at a 45 degree angle the length of the wood, splitting it almost in half, into 2 pieces. What you are making is a french cleat and it will be used to hang your headboard on the wall. This is an image courtesy of

This requires a tiny bit more work than using picture hanging hardware but you will be so happy you did. It makes a very solid headboard that won't move on you. This is what that piece of wood looks like from the end. Make sense? You will end up with 2 pieces that look like this even though you will only cut one piece of wood. Attach it to the headboard in the appropriate location, towards the top, maybe about 4" from the top. Now, when attaching them, drill from the front of the headboard through to the back of the headboard. After all, if you drill from the back to the front, you will have little screws sticking out of the board and into the foam. Going from the front to the back ensures no screws sticking out plus it will be much more secure. If you look closely, I first attached it from the back to the front (the wrong way) and had to clip off the screw tips. Then I added screws from the front to the back like I should have done in the first place.

Next, take your little pieces of 1x4 wood, the ones that are 4"-6" big and attach them closer to the bottom of your headboard, on the back. These will act as spacers so attach one on each side, about 4" in from the side. Attach it in the same manner as the piece of wood you did at the top, going from the front to the back. Now the back of the headboard should look like this (notice the long 48" piece at the top and the two spacers at the bottom corners):

If you plan on tufting your headboard, mark the locations of each button on the back side and drill a hole at each mark. Make your hole larger rather than smaller. It will make the tufting easier. (And, yes, that 18V Dewalt baby is MY drill!)

Now to the foam. Cut the foam to the size of the plywood. Apparently an electric knife works great but I just used scissors. I wasn't too concerned about it being perfect because the batting will cover a multitude of sins!

Just lay the foam on the wood and the batting will hold it in place. Some people suggest using spray adhesive to adhere the foam to the wood - I tried this and it didn't work. Maybe I used the wrong stuff?

Next, lay your quilt batting over the foam and wrap it around the wood to the back side. Staple it in place, making sure it is nice and tight and smooth. To make this easier for me, I laid the headboard on a cedar chest so I could lay underneath the headboard and staple it this way. That way I could see that it was tight and smooth. Some people just flip the whole thing upsidedown and work on it that way but then you cannot see the top. Your choice.

Finally, the fabric! I choose a black vinyl as leather was too expensive. We have a nice leather storage bench at the foot of our bed and I wanted it to match. Plus, vinyl is easy to clean. When attaching the fabric, make sure it is straight and centered then put one staple in the center of each side, on the back. Work on one side at a time, stapling from that center staple out to the corners. Does that make sense? Your corners will be the most difficult part of the whole thing. Pretend it is a present and take it from there. It will take a bit of playing around but once you get one, you will know how to do all of the corners. I cannot explain what I did but I can show you two pictures. First I did this:

then I did this:

It created a nice smooth corner.

Congratulations! Your untufted headboard is complete!! Yippee! Stand back and admire it with pride! You just need to hang it on the wall. Take the other 48" piece of 1x4 that you did not attach to the headboard and attach it to the wall. On the headboard, the straight side of the wood (as opposed to the side with the 45 degree angle) is on the top. On the wall, the straight side will be at the bottom. Those 2 pieces of wood will fit into each other oh-so nicely. Make sure to use a level to make it nice and straight. We hung ours so the bottom of the headboard hung below the top mattress by about 2". Make sure to screw into studs - the last thing you want is a headboard falling on you in the middle of the night. Granted, it is padded but, really! That would be some sort of rude awakening!

Once you have that cleat in the wall, hang your headboard and VOILA!! YOU ARE DONE!! Ain't she purdy?! So, here is the untufted headboard. Nice. Really nice. It would be just fine like this for some people but for me? I need some tufting!

This next part is not hard, just time consuming. I wouldn't recommend starting it at 10 at night. Not that I know that from experience or anything! In order to tuft, you will need to gather a few supplies. You need some upholstery thread, a long upholstering needle, buttons with a shank and some finishing nails.

First off, mark the front of your headboard with the same marks the back of your headboard has. I just used washable marker since I was working with vinyl. You can use chalk on non-vinyl stuff. Cut off an 18" piece of thread, fold it in half and thread your needle.

Going from back to front, push the needle through the hole you drilled and try to find the mark you made on the front of the headboard.

Push the needle all the way through and pull it off the thread. You should now have the looped piece of thread on the back side and the 2 ends of the thread on the front side, like this:

Take that same needle that no longer has any thread on it and push it from the back to the front, but push with the eye of the needle first. I know, it is backwards but it is so much easier doing it this way than trying to go from the front to the back and finding that same hole drilled in the wood. Know what I am saying? Once again, try to find the same hole you made in the first place. It may be a little tricky getting through the quilt batting but I know you can do it. Don't push the needle too far, just enough to see the eye on the front, like this:

Now, with the needle just sticking in there, take your thread and thread your button on it. I wrapped it through the shank twice as it is less likely to break. Now, take the thread and pass it back through the eye of the needle.

Push the needle to the back and take off the needle. Now you should have thread that looks like this:

Take your finishing nail and tie the thread onto it. The finishing nail prevents the thread from pulling back through to the front. Try to tie it as tight as you can. If you can have a helper pushing on the button from the front, that would be really helpful. If you are doing it by yourself like me and it is 1 o'clock in the morning and every one is sleeping, tie it as tight as you can then start to twist the nail. By twisting enough times, you will tighten the button and it will sink farther in. Twist too many times and you will tear the thread and have to start over. Or so I discovered!! ☺ Next time, I think I will try using wire instead of thread. It will be stronger and I can sink those buttons even deeper for a nicer tuft. As it is, this will be just fine for now.

Repeat for all your buttons. Finally, an upholstered tufted headboard! B.U.Tee.Full!

Once I had that new headboard up, I really wanted new bedding. Something black and white all over. Since that costs a lot of money and I have not found one that I really REALLY like, I settled on getting three new pillows. It cost less and the room still looks fantastic.

I would definately do this project all over again. And, in fact, I just may. After all, when we get to the new house, our baby girl will need a bed of her own. And what an easy way to make something super pretty for so little. I guesstimate this headboard cost about $125. Pretty good when you look at what it costs to buy them in a store. Plus, there is the satisfaction of doing it yourself. So, one final time, here is the before:

The after with no tufting:

The after with tufting (and new pillows!):

Want more DIY projects? Check out A Soft Place to Land's DIY day!
Lots to love!


Friday, December 18, 2009

No More Katrina.

So the very first question you are asking is, "Who is Katrina?" and the next is, "What happened?". I know, I am pretty smart. ☺ Well, Katrina is my niece and no, she didn't die. She is . . . well, was our babysitter. And, I can assure you, you have never met a better babysitter than her. She was amazing. Seriously. First of all, she took care of all 5 of my kids. All of them. That is no easy task. Not that my kids are misbehaved. They aren't. They are actually very good kids, so she tells me. But, 5 kids aged 6 and under is no easy thing. It tires me out sometimes and she is barely 17. So, not only would she watch the kids, but almost always, my house was sooooooo much cleaner after she was there. She watched the kids and cleaned the house and washed the dishes. And fed them supper. And put them to bed. All with a smile on her face. A beautiful girl, that one. Inside and out. And the kicker? Every once in a while, after the evening was over and we were forking over our money (we like to think we paid her well - only she knows for sure!), she would say, "Nope, not tonight. This one is on me!" Seriously??? Have you ever met a teenager who would babysit for free? 5 kids for FREE? She would. Not all the time, just every once in an unexpected while. Oh, I could hug her. And I usually did. It was her way of blessing us. Like her watching the kids wasn't enough of a blessing for me! What an absolute gem. Alas, she is growing up and getting too busy. Or so she says. Maybe my kids really are terrible!! I like to think she is honest and her schedule is just too full. Such a sad day for me, when she said she was done babysitting. Now to find someone new. Someone capable. Someone my kids will like. All a little stressful for me. After all, dear Katrina set the bar so high! Maybe Jay and I just won't go out on dates. Or we could use Grandma just a bit more. Whatever the case, when my girls get old enough (which seems like light-years away when reality is it will be here before I know it!) to babysit, I will make sure they bless others just as Katrina blessed us. It was a good 4 years. But, I guess all good things must come to an end! Thank you, Katrina, for being so wonderful, so loved by our family! You really are a wonderful girl! And if you ever need any money, just come on down and kick us out. We'd be glad to go!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Trees Galore!

Check out all the Christmas trees at Thrifty Decor Chick's party! Lots to love!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Creations - Black Apple Dolls

I have the absolute pleasure - nay, the privilege (movie reference, anyone??!!) of teaching 6 adorable 2-3 year old girls Sunday School! Every week I get to see their beautiful faces and hear their beautiful voices as they interact with me about different Bible stories and we dance up a storm while singing. I love those mornings, even though they can be a bit tiring! So, for Christmas, I wanted to make something for them that they will treasure, at least for a little while, if not for the rest of their lives. That's not too much to ask, is it??☺

Red heads. Blondes. Brunettes. Oh my!

I stumbled upon this pattern for Black Apple Dolls put out by Martha as created by Emily Martin. As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to make at least one. Maybe two. Okay 6! 6 different little dolls for 6 very different little girls. They really are easy to make if you remember the following:
  1. I don't believe the pattern includes a seam allowance. I enlarged the pattern 150%, as stated, then added 1/4 inch around all sides for a seam allowance.

  2. When sewing on the arms and legs, the pattern simply says to sandwich them between the front and back and then sew all around. However, when I tried it this way, the legs and/or arms were only partially attached. My suggestion: sew the arms and legs to the front of the doll first using a scant seam allowance. Then when sewing the front and back together, make sure to either sew on the seam you just made or just inside it to cover it up. Make sense? It was waaaaay easier this way and everything was properly attached.

  3. She suggests using acrylic paint for the facial details. I used a red and black Sharpie. Works great. No clean up!
That's it. That is all I would do differently. Get creative with your embellishments. Check out the web for other crafter's versions of the doll and their ideas. So easy! So much fun! And hopefully the girls love them! After doing this, even I have a favorite! We will see who gets her.

Now, go find some scraps and make some dolls for that little (or big) girl in your life! She will love you for it!

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