Friday, October 21, 2016

Around Here Forty-Two: 10/14-10/20

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  496 hrs (of 1000)
Up ten hours this week thanks to some beautiful fall days.  We still don't have enough leaves in our yard though to build a proper jumping-in pile, much to the kids' and dogs' disappointment. The boys and I spent an evening at the football field as Grey and his flag football team were announced beforehand for youth night. Then, Rusty and I braved the cold morning to stand on the lines and cheer on Greyson and Brandon in the color run put on by the PTA (they did great!) The kids and I spent one evening at Greenhouse park on the playground and collecting acorns down by the river. It was a nice (much needed) energy release before tossing everyone in baths and jammies before they all passed out for bedtime.  outside for the win - as usual!

Reading....ugh. does Greyson's spelling words and my students' writing assignments count?

Experiencing a new parenting milestone as the tooth fairy made her first visit to our home ever!  Grey's bottom tooth finally (!) came out after a week of him whining about hating it being so wiggly.  He pushed it all the way back (yuck) and then Bud pulled it out for him.  He was so relieved and excited.

Visiting with people we love - like Dobber, Siri, and Claire on Saturday night at our house for wings and brews, and Aunt Dar and Pappy as they swooped in to help with babysitting duty this week (thank you!), and Abba and Chum at their house after they took all the kids to the pumpkin patch and then had a sleepover at their house with the girls, and Kuma, Uncle Buck, and Mimi while we cheered on our cousin Morgan at her soccer game.

Celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary.  We made a fancy dinner that night for us (salmon and pumpkin risotto) and had a glass of wine and watched This is Us.  Because well, that is so us.  Literally while typing this right now I just reminded myself that we still need to finish our yearly tradition of writing down details about our life in our book and to slow dance to our first dance song to really complete the anniversary celebration.  Gosh, we can't seem to get it together in our old age (read: four young kids).

Feeling proud of most of my students for their progress over the past nine weeks.  The first marking period will be up next week and the difference in their Spanish (and their confidence in trying a new language) has grown incredibly these first two months.

Bunking the girls beds and loving it.  There room has been a great source of stress for me as Gemma is clearly going to be my "throw things into a ball and toss it under the bed and then tell Mum the room is cleaned up" child.  She and Violet each have about three wardrobe changes daily and the babydoll/girlfriends messes are staggering.  Getting a bed off the floor somehow makes the room feel cleaner and gives Gem less places to hide her messes.  Plus, now we have space to keep the barbie house up and open all the time!

Struggling with not mastering how to use all of my awake hours as efficiently as possible.  I know part of the problem for sure is not getting to bed early enough and I definitely feel trapped under mountains of clutter and too.much.stuff.  I have a huge list of things that I'm slowly marking off as I dig out from all that was left to lie after the summer of a newborn followed up by the spontaneous acceptance of a part-time job - two huge things that were crowded with lots of regular life stuff too (birthdays, new school year, sports seasons, broken appliances, etc).  I just keep telling myself that it will happen one small step at a time...and also, this is a season of life, it will pass - which I accept both graciously and hesitantly.

In shock that this is my forty-second Around Here post! I've kept up with these posts all year and now only have ten left to go in the year! that's crazy to me.  I'm so grateful to have kept this weekly record and I love sometimes jumping back into earlier weeks in the year to distinctly remember what we were doing, and how little the kids all look, and remember those feelings from that snapshot in time.  thank you, Ashley, for introducing me to the Around Here theme! xxox

Making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with the girls one afternoon, my own white pasta sauce from scratch for the kielbasa and pasta casserole one night, and ground turkey and broccoli over rice another.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Eight years ago, we woke up today on what felt like the biggest day of our lives.  After spending a year of high school, six years long distance dating, and one year of living together - we were getting married.  I was putting on my white dress and you were pretending to be super cool and calm.

Eight years ago felt like it was going to be the biggest, best day of our whole lives. 

And it was big 
and it was great. 
but certainly not best.

because after eight years of being your wife, its nearly impossible to choose the best day....

there was the next morning, waking up as husband and wife and confessing that although the wedding day had been incredible, it was much better to just be the two of us together. 

then there was that evening watching the sun go down on the catamaran on our honeymoon in Jamaica. 

there was the morning that I tapped you on the shoulder and let out a yelp of joy while holding a positive pregnancy test in front of your face. 

there was the afternoon we signed our names a million times and received the keys to our first home and we ate dinner that night in our new place and since we had not a single thing moved yet, including plates or cups, we ate the pizza over the box in the middle of that wide, hollow kitchen. 

there was that night in the car over to the hospital when my water broke two weeks early and we kept repeating with giddy disbelief, 'can you believe we are seriously going to have a baby right now?!'

or that morning that they handed us that tiny baby boy and we could barely believe that we were lucky enough to finally earn the names Mum and Dad. 

the day that we moved back 'home' to our house on the mountaintop and slept, all three of us together, on that air mattress on the middle of the living room floor for a week and half while we painted the upstairs bedrooms. 

then there was that day at the hospital where they gave us the baby that looked like a real life angel and we both gasped in surprise at how we already recognized her and how lucky we were to have a sibling for our first baby. 

and the day we held a midnight celebration in our kitchen with our two kids over take-out Chinese food because Coach Daddy's team won their first game. 

there was that time that we giggled endlessly while we waited all day in the delivery room for that serene and peaceful baby to arrive and then her brother and sister carried in a birthday cake as big as their heads - well past their bedtimes, and none of us could believe how lucky we were to get to keep that squishy baby.  

And the day the school bus pulled away with our first baby on it headed off to kindergarten and Gemma and I both broke down in full on wails and tears and you scooped us both up with a knot in your own throat all of us so desperately proud and astonished that time passes so quickly right before our own eyes.

there was the day that you stayed by my side as I waited impatiently for the baby who had his own unique, serious little look - breaking that Studer mold and who looked up at us with big, wide eyes and stole the hearts of his siblings - of all of us - with his sweet, soft neck. 

and within most of the days, there have been some best memories, sometimes even just a best moment that shines a light on this twisting and winding path of being married.  

all the meals we've shared, and stolen glances over the tops of naughty but hilarious children, and hands held on top of the console, and the waking up on the couch together, and the kisses good morning, and goodbye, and welcome home, and to the chorus of the kids shouting "kiss! kiss! kiss!"and sentences we finish for each other, and the stories we tell in tandem, and the adventures in giving and kindness, and all the times our friends and family say our names like they are actually one name brandonandtab or tabandbrandon.

There have certainly been some hard times, eight years of marriage and life will always have those moments to hand out - and I'm grateful that we both try to take those difficult times as they come; keeping our sights on the horizon because at the end of all the days, we've promised each other for better or worse

yes, there have been bad days, but far more often there have been better days.
best days. 

and i believe there are so many more best days that we can't even anticipate yet.
how much i look forward to later today, tomorrow, next week, years from now 
simply knowing that I get to spend those unknown best days with you. 

happy eight years, bud. 
i love you. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Around Here Forty-One: 10/07-10/13

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  486 hrs (of 1000)
Up thirteen hours this week, including a hefty nine of those hours coming from Beer Olympics last Saturday.  We also spent a nice chunk of Sunday outside at Grey's very last football game followed up by a concession stand duty.  Grey had another good game and felt pretty sad that it was the end of football season. The weather was rather inconsistent this week - we had glorious low seventy degree days and chilly, windy days in the forties, and even gloomy and rainy cold days.

Reading basically nothing.  However, an email from two of my favorite internet friends Shelly and Ashley about reviving the Inspired Book Club brought some joy and motivation to my reader's heart.  Check out our facebook group page to start reading with us again -My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrick Backman is first up!

Feeling incredibly grateful after another successful year of Beer Olympics (our 8th!) Not many people could say that gratitude is the overwhelming feeling after close to forty people spend a long, very spirited day at their home - but that is what we feel each year after Beer Olympics.  All of our participants and referees are so incredible - offering up help and patience all day.  I'm going to do a full post about, but as always, Beer Olympics is a reminder to us at how lucky we are to have great, kind friends.

Starting a new CCD school year, Grey is in first grade and I'm teaching fourth and fifth grade combined this year.  Booboo and I stole away early Sunday morning (day after beer olympics) and got there a little early to get my room set up and Grey was a big sweetheart helper.  I love our Sunday mornings all by ourselves on our way to and from CCD.

Cleaning up forever after our two girls.  They play so nicely and imaginatively by themselves, but boy does it ever make a huge mess.  They each do about four wardrobe changes A DAY, we have babydolls, diaper bags and purses laying everywhere, and they sneak real diapers, wipes, and baby food jars into the playroom for their make-believe play.

Celebrating our Booboo for his sixth and A HALF birthday.  I realized on Monday morning while driving to work that Grey's half birthday (10/08) had passed without any fanfare for him because it was Beer Olympics day.  So we made up for it on Tuesday with a pumpkin dump cake for dinner dessert and completing a list of things that he decided on doing to celebrate (freeze dance party, writing, jumping on the trampoline, homework, and watching a show together).

Cheering Rusty on as he rolls over this week and chows down - this kid is so hungry! He is cracking up and cooing and gooing and getting to be such a big boy.  I'm going to have to move up a size soon in clothes and I hate the thought of doing it!

Falling asleep super early and not in our own beds this week.  We didn't get to have a restful weekend, so we've been paying for it all week.  Every night this week, B and I fell asleep either on the couch or in a kids' bed during their bedtime.  Hoping we recharge this weekend and get back on a more normal sleep schedule again.

Trying to re-motivate myself to get back into the 21 day fix swing of life.  I recently read a quote that I find inspiring about working out and weight loss.  It comes from a guy who lost over a 100 lbs and he said, "I didn't lose 100 lbs.  I lost 1 lb 100 times" and I love that idea that it's not a huge feat, but rather small steps each day - the same goes for any big goals in life, which is always why I love it so much.

Making chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for beer olympic day breakfast that was easy and on-the-go for running around and getting set up.  We kept it mostly simple with meatball sandwiches, spaghetti & leftover meatballs, and slow-cooked round steak.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Violet Mary, two years old.

Our Va-vi is two.  It seems an impossibility both because it happened so fast but also, duh - hasn't she been two forever now?  Time and parenthood is never working like I think it should work.

photo cred:  Adlive Collective
Here's the not so secret, secret.  Ask anyone of us in the family about who the favorite kid is and we will all say, "there is no favorite" and then we all give a sideways grin and cough/whisper "Violet." 

The thing is that she's just so Violet.  She's funny and squishy and sneaky and smart and weird and silly and unless you're willing to work for it.  And then when you get that smile, it's like a prize because you really did work for it and also she don't hand those things out for free, man. When you get attention from Va-vi, it's authentic which makes it feel special somehow. 

At two, she still drinks a bubba when she's feeling tired or cranky and truth be told we've totally white-flagged that battle...because third baby and someday she just won't anymore, so whatevs, right?  She likes her bubba with a blanket, no matter how warm the temperature is, and it helps her calm down and feel safe.  We call it bubba&chill and boy does this girl love her some bubba&chill.  

She likes playing 'girlfriends,' and babydolls with diaper bags and high heels and pretend phones with Gemma.  She likes playing chase/tackle with Greyson, and reading books with Rusty.  Violet's favorite song is the Wiggalow chant from Greyson's football games that the cheerleaders do and she also loves to shout out randomly, "Greyson Studer, Touchdown!" She doesn't seem to prefer any one person in our family but likes to spend small bursts of time with each of us. 

We each find ourselves thinking she's just a baby but then she'll pull a fast one on us and whip out a full blown sentence on us or crack a perfectly timed and clever joke and remind us that she's turning into a bonafide big girl right before our eyes and breaking all of our hearts while she's at it because Violet at 2years old is pretty adorably awesome.

Oh, an also, she cray. 

She is wild and fearless and plays that way too.  At the shrieks and squeals of her siblings, her confidence grows and soon she is plowing and leaping and earning the bruises to show for it.  She hates ponytails, barrettes, and headbands.  She loves breakfast sausage, and 'chokit' (chocolate), watching family videos on our phones, and her 1000 Animals Usborne book. 

She's our Vially girl and we feel lucky every day to get to bask in the light that shines out of our girl.
the age of two doesn't seem nearly as terrible as it appears to be hilarious and squishy with this girl. 

we could eat you up, 
(every single moment), 
we love you so.  
forever and ever.
even when you get so big
and less squishy. 
your momma. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Around Here Forty - 9/30-10/06

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Hours Outside:  473 hours (of 1000)
Only up 11 hours this week, bleh.  We had Grey's football game and two outdoor evening parties on Saturday night to help my hours a little this week.  I logged some time on the tractor, some kid-directed outdoor time, and some Beer Olympics outdoor prep time.  Our dryer semi-passed away this week (waaah) so the girls and I tried to do some make-shift clothes hanging on all of our outdoor furniture before the fall evening chill set in.  Oh sheesh, always something, right?

Reading Home Field by Hannah Gersen (still) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone illustrated version with Grey.  Also reading our Halloween book collection on repeat daily, our current favorite is Little Blue Truck's Halloween and Five Little Monkeys Trick or Treat.

Cheering our Booboo at his second to last football game last week at Meyersdale.  He had a rough start to the game (even threw an interception!) and was feeling pretty down at half time - whimpering! - but Brandon and I talked to him about playing through feeling frustrated and how his team needed him...and he ended up running with a QB sneak for a 50 yard touchdown and then catching an interception (his favorite part!) We kept reminding him after the game that the most proud he should be is that he didn't give up even though he really felt like it and how life will feel like that sometimes, but you just gotta keep trying even when you're frustrated.  concrete proof of Brandon and my philosophy that being on a team is always #morethanagame

Feeding the Rust Man.  He had his first taste of solids this week and apparently, the child was starving.  He's taken to solid foods like a champ.  The big kids are all so proud of him and keep telling him all the delicious food he'll get to eat in the future (pizza! donuts! Halloween candy!)

Prepping for our 8th annual Beer Olympics! We put it off for a few months as we had our little summer Rusty baby and after what felt like we had all the time in the world for so long, suddenly it's upon us!  Luckily, 2015 Tab had my back when I dug into our Beer Olympics bins to take inventory and found a note telling me exactly the things I needed without any effort (I love you, 2015 Tabitha).

Celebrating birthdays!  We spent a fun night at our best girl Sophia's 7th birthday party, a bluesy rocking good time at cousin Jesse's birthday party with the incredible two man band Swampcandy and we enjoyed a delicious beer & dinner pairing evening with Gigi & Pappy and Uncle Joe and Aunt Ginger (which counted as both birthday dinner and Date Night!).  We even had a stop at the Pediatrician for Violet's 2 year well check and our Rusty man's 4 month well check this week!

Wrapping up in this markedly cooler weather.  All of a sudden it feels like it's gone from late summer to distinctively fall.  Like chilly fall.  It's been making for an early afternoon of opening windows to let the breeze in to then closing them up almost as soon as the sunset arrives.  I really love this rustling, beautifully colorful season so much!

Cracking up about Violet saying my name.  I could not figure out what she was saying when she'd look at me and say "Mumma Taspah" until I asked her, What's mumma's name randomly and she answered with a big grin "Taspah"  So now when her and Gemma play "Girlfriends" (they are best friend Moms who have lots of appointments to go to and babies with diaper bags) she says her name is "Taspah"

Feeling lucky in love as we enter our wedding anniversary month.  we have these four messy, loud kids and this messy, loud house and this messy, loud life but we have each other and so who cares about the mess and the loudness, right?

Making chicken and stuffing casserole which was a full family hit, tacos for National taco day, and Korean Beef over rice (another family favorite - booyah)