Friday, April 17, 2015


Making some new eats and treats these past two weeks.  We've had Pancake Sausage Bites, Brownie Cookies, Copycat Olive Garden Chicken & Gnocchi soupGarbage Stir fry (but with Soy sauce instead of Curry), and Honey Garlic Porkchops!

Celebrating our son's fifth birthday!  We threw a basketball birthday party last Friday night and had a great time.  Even some of the high school Blue Jay basketball team showed up and it made Grey's night that they came to his party (thanks guys!  you're the best!) My first baby is five.  waaaaaah.

Laughing at Gemma Ro.  The girl is endless in her hilarity.  She has decided that saying she wants to marry someone/thing is how she now expresses love for them.  "I'm going to marry Daddy."  "I want to marry that fish on my cup."  "I think I'll marry these fancy shoes."

Saying Goodbye to my Pap.  It's been a long, sad two weeks while he was sick and then after he passed and all the events that comes with that.  We are so blessed though to be surrounded by so many loving thoughts, prayers, and people.  (thank you, all).  We finally said goodbye on Wednesday afternoon with a twenty-one gun salute and Taps played at the burial service.  Rest in peace, Pap Pap.

Thankful for spring officially arriving!  It has been warming up and even the cloudy April showers type days are warm enough for the kids to go out and stomp around in puddles.  It really feels like spring now that the boys are headed out to fishing camp tonight for the whole weekend!  Grey is so excited he can barely stand himself.  I've answered 'When is Daddy getting home from work?' approximately 4583920 times already today.  We have a special running at The Hunting Daddies store in honor of fishing season!  Use Code WETLINES for $2 off any of our Youth items!

Relieved that Violet's bout with diarrhea and subsequent diaper rash appears to be over!  It lasted almost two weeks and I was close to being drowned alive in baby laundry and cloth diapers.  Hallelujah!

Ordering the kids' stuff for our upcoming vacation and got the notice that it's already shipped! I love the sun shirts and the sun skull caps at One Step Ahead and even ordered them some Froggles! They are pretty excited about it.

Reading The Ten Thousand Things still (!) but I am on the very last chapter and have only four pages left (seriously - I should just be reading them right now and getting if over with!!) Wasn't too crazy about the book, but it was very different than my usual books (mostly in writing style) so that's good.  Next up is The Girl with Dragon Tattoo (I know, I'm a little slow on the uptake).

Frustrated about how I've felt sort of in a haze for the past two weeks.  Granted, I know we've had some rough stuff going on (my Pap, Violet sick, Grey's fifth birthday) but not being at regular/top efficiency always makes me feel lethargic.  So, I'm hopeful that I'll get back into regular operating mode soon.  I'm hoping to get better at getting some walking/jogging time in every day, packing for vacation, and finishing up some spring cleaning in the next week!

Regretting teaching Grey how to whistle this morning.  Yeesh, it's been  non-stop all day and he just came up to me and said, "Mum, I can whistle as good as a bird.  Also, I feel like whistling all day because it's so fun to whistle."

Inspired after spending some time yesterday afternoon walking around Lift Johnstown's Project Party that brought together tons of volunteer organizations in the community and surrounding counties.  I was for real like a kid in a candy store.  Gah, so much good happening and opportunities to support or be a part of it.  Obsessed.

This week in interesting internet:

Brandon and I both really resonated with the article from Scary Mommy on why a Mother doesn't want to be touched.  We had a chat about it and both agreed that we understood where each side was coming from.  I was just thinking about it again today when I was feeding Violet in the rocker before her nap and Lola (our cat) was laying on my legs and Greyson was standing/leaning next to me.  So.much.touching.all.the.time.

I loved reading the Moral Bucket List; a NY Times article and loved the thought that there are two different kinds of virtues; resume and eulogy and what it appears that we value in society as a whole.  very interesting and thought-provoking stuff.

The two year old article about the marathon spectators popped up in my TimeHop this week and I re-read it and re-loved it again.  This article was actually some of the inspiration that went into our maid of honor speech in our sister's wedding last year.  If you are a runner or a watcher of runners in races - this article is heartwarming.

Great read from the NY Times about how white parents are becoming less white as families are becoming more diverse.

I was cracking up over this article about some new vocabulary words.  Every night when getting into bed I'm not kidding, I audibly moan in ecstasy (bedgasm) and I'm fairly certain that I nerd-jack most conversations - sorry friends & family!.

Greyson and I laughed and watched this video three times from Dude Perfect about fishing stereotypes.  We are Kiss Fishers in case you were wondering.  Although, Greyson and Brandon would like to ensure that we don't lick them.  HAHAHAHA.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

100 Small Things - Quarter Year check in

At the start of the new year, I set out to complete 100 small things in hopes to bring more intentional living to my daily life.  The months are impossibly slipping by and I've been trying to keep my list in the forefront of my mind to keep me moving towards completing items and also making the most of everyday even when it feels like they can be monotonous.

So far, as of mid-April, I have completed eight small things entirely.

#15:  Take down & wash kitchen and living room curtains - started up my spring cleaning for 2015!  This is really a very small thing but so annoying to me.  Hah!  I was glad to just get it done and having it on my list was good motivation to cross it off!

#17:  Buy new plates - I've been meaning to do this for months!  Finally on a Sunday that I had no kids with me in the car (rare!) I stopped at Walmart and perused their pyrex options.  I picked up some no-frill white with blue trim plates and bowls.  It is bizarre how gratifying it was to both purchase new everyday dinnerware and have a shopping trip with no children.  Welcome to my life, friends - hahahhahha!

#27: Kid play date with Katie and Karpy - my two best friends and I with our kids in tow (6 kids all together) spent a wintery weekend in a hotel in Fredricksburg, VA swimming in the indoor pool and giggling over mini bottles of champagne and take-out food....basically my ideal weekend of all time.  Read more about it on this blog post.

#31:  Serve a meal at the Windber Area Community Kitchen - we completed this task as part of our March 12 Months of Kindness project.  You can read about it more on this blog post.

#45:  Make pysanky eggs - this one is being listed as completed although, my original item was to make pysanky eggs with my Pap who always made them when I was growing up during the Easter season.  I had even set up a date that I was going to go down to his house with all the supplies and eggs so we could do them together.  I was hopeful that somewhere in the recesses of his mind he'd remember right away how to do them even though dementia has taken a lot out of his recent memories.  But the day before we were supposed to get together, he ended up being admitted to the hospital for pneumonia where he stayed for a week before passing away.  It was with a broken heart that I made my first adult attempt at pysanky eggs without my Pap before taking them to be laid next to his headstone after his military burial service yesterday.  They weren't perfect by any means, but it was a good first try again (remembering back to the times I watched him as a teenager) and I'll continue to work at getting better at them each year.  Love you, Pap Pap.

#61:  Take a picture of Gemma in my wedding dress - Gemmi and I got to playing dress up one evening while Brandon and Greyson were at basketball practice.  She was so excited to try on her Mumma's "marrying dress."  It was a tad emotional (hahaha, sappy momma) but also so fun to do this together and to know that someday when she gets to wear her own 'marrying dress' that I'll have these sweet photos of when she was only three years old wanting to marry her daddy just like mumma did.  (okay, bye. crying).

#88:  Camp out under the Christmas tree on Orthodox Christmas eve - a sweet tradition that I hope to continue throughout the years.  The kids loved getting the sleeping bags out and we watched one final Christmas movie before the season ended!

#96:  Remove TV from our mornings - this is one that I was afraid of to be totally honest..but I am happily surprised with how easy it was to remove TV from our mornings and also so proud of what it has done to transform our whole day actually!  We've been TV free in the AM since the beginning of March and the kids have been markedly more inventive, imaginative, and pleasant throughout the day.  I know, I sound like a weirdo hippie, but if this is a weirdo hippie, I don't want to not be one!  If you need some inspiration to remove some screens from your kids' (and your) day - check out these hashtags on instagram:  #childhoodunplugged #wildandfreechildren #screenfreekids

Not fully completed yet, but I've been continuously working on the completion of these six small things from the list:

#6:  Finished 2 of 12 books (one chapter away from finishing book #3!) - I've upped my reading a little bit in the past few weeks because I've been reading aloud to Greyson from my own book to help him drift off to sleep at night.  I'm hoping upcoming vacation and screen free week will knock at least three books off that list!

#18:  I've started a Memory Box for each kid, but I've got a long way to go on their boxes, let alone even starting mine and Brandon's!  This is an ambitious one, yeesh.

#19:  I'm still working on finishing our 2014 family yearbook - I'm about half of the way done which is actually the worst part; just getting to a point where it even feels possible to finish it.  I'm there now, I can see the end, so the second half of completing it is a little bit easier!  hah

#21:  3 of 7 personalized stockings done.  I already had a knitted stocking for myself from growing up, but I ordered a photo stocking for the dogs to share from Shutterfly, and I ordered a perfectly awesome camo and orange sewn stocking for Greyson from one of my amazingly talented blog readers/friends Tara (thank you!!)

#46:  Watched 1 of 5 Documentaries: The Dark Matter of Love was about a family who adopted three kids at the same time to add to their family of one child already.  It was an interesting look into the changes and emotions within the family and their relationships when everyone tries to figure out their place in it.  I really enjoyed the film.

#54:  Watched 3 of 15 TED Talks and I loved them all.  Here they are linked up if you're interested in viewing:
How not to be ignorant about the world:  Hans & Ola Rosling
Connected but alone:  Sherry Turkle
How to overcome your biases:  Verna Myers

So, the recap boils down to the fact that I need to up my game over here!  Already almost a quarter of the year has passed and I'm feeling like I need to do a little better at gradually completing items so I'm not stuck with a mad dash situation come November, eek!

How are you doing on your completion of your 2015 goals?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Greyson Rudy, our five year old

My Greyson Rudy Booboo, 


We expect so much from you baby, and I know that makes it hard on you.  But you're our oldest and that tends to happen to the first born (me too, buddy).  But the thing is - you deliver, little man.  We ask you to be a helper and a leader around here and you are right there for us nearly every time, being so thoughtful and patient and kind to not only your sisters but to all of us.  
Our little man.
We are so lucky to have you - especially me, my darling, who asks of your own free will sometimes, "How are you doing Mum?  Can I help you so you don't have to do all the hard work and then we can play together?"

You are such an amazing big brother.  It sometimes silences me to see how gentle and patient you are with both of your sisters.  Granted, you tease and fight and argue with them too - but mostly you are more loving to them than I would ever expect or hope.  You jump at the chance to play the hero to Gemma when she feels like being a princess that needs saved, or happy to play as sidekick superheroes with her instead.  More times than I can count, I've walked in on you trying to teach them new words, how to use sports equipment, and offering to share your clothes/shoes/toys so that they can play like you.  They are so lucky to have you, Booboo.  

You are also so foreign to me sometimes; all boy.  You fall into uncontrollable laughter about farts and weenies and poop, but your laugh and huge grins are so joyful that I find my 'sisters-only' mind suppressing laughter most of the time too. A hug from you is to accept a full blown tackle that is delivered at a high speed sprint from across the room with a catapult from the couch arm rest.  It is painful to love you, both metaphorically and literally. You bring exhaustion and new bruises to all of me; my legs from chasing you, my arms from playing catch, my face from taking wrestling blows, and definitely my heart - my first baby, my ever-growing son.

Whatever sports season is currently in session becomes your favorite.  Right now you are baseball obsessed and even better; you're playing on your first real life team for teeball.  So it begins I guess, the years of practices and games and painting your number on our cheeks and the trying to not be the loudest, most embarrassing mom in the stands (don't worry we already designated a secret hand gesture that's meant to let you know that I'd actually really rather be screaming "That's my son!!  I'm so proud of him!!")

You have a body that almost appears to already have somewhere in muscle memory the knowledge of exactly how it's supposed to work.  You, my child, are an athlete at the core of you.  When you are moving your body, you are at your most comfortable.  We are doing our best to try to let you know how proud we are of you without making it seem like that is the best thing about you.  I hope you'll grow to recognize that being a great athlete is awesome and takes hard work, but it's not the most important thing about a person - just like your Daddy - he's a great man because of lots of things even if it seems people associate him with just that one thing.

I am so proud of your eagerness to learn (just like me!) and your ability to make friends (just like Daddy!)  You are constantly trying to make sense of the world; listening closely to everything that is said around you.  You are not only regularly asking us to clarify words and phrases for you ('What does deliberately mean?') but you are also then adding them to your own vocabulary ("Gemma deliberately used my teddy bear without asking me!")  Your huge vocabulary and your manners always have strangers guessing you are actually seven or eight instead of five.  That makes us both proud and weary; don't try to grow too fast, our Booboo!

Last night, you and I took the dogs for an evening walk together - you were happy to come without any hesitation when I asked.  It's unclear if it's because you wanted to spend time alone with me (rare in a house of three kids, one Daddy, and three pets), or if the idea of being in charge of walking Trixie made you feel like a big boy, or if maybe it was just because you were asked and Gemma had to stay home - but whatever your reasoning, we had a comfortable walk together.  We talked about teeball practice and deer trails and how much fun you had playing with your Aunts and Uncles that day.  

When we were about to head home, we stopped and tried to find frogs in a big puddle that was singing so loudly with their chirps it was like we were surrounded by the noise.  The sun was already setting behind a mountain but the clouds were outlined in pink and you were running around trying to use the chirps as frog GPS, and I wasn't worried about your next snack or if you'd be too tired to walk back or if you needed to stop for a potty break or coming up with answers for 35 nonsensical questions.

'Hmm, so this is what it will be like to raise a big kid then', I thought happily.

I will forever be grateful that you were our first, Booboo.
thank you for being our patient, gracious usher into each new phase of parenthood.

we love you.
forever and ever.
even when you keep getting so big.
your mumma.

Friday, April 10, 2015

a Granddaughter without grandparents

My grandfather passed away yesterday.  He was a lot of things in his life, a husband, a Dad, a Korean War Veteran, a magic trick enthusiast, a Pittsburgh Steelers & Pirates fan, my Pap Pap, my kids' great grandpap.

life bookends.
Great Grandfather Al (85 yrs) and youngest Great Granddaughter Violet (4months)

He will be missed.
painstakingly so.
in moments that come unannounced and fiercely.

just as my other three beloved grandparents have been missed everyday for the past five and six years.
painstakingly so.
in moments that come unannounced and fiercely.

My Pap, my Mum's Dad.
He was my last surviving grandparent.
My undeniable tether to the term grandchild has slipped its knot and silently floated away.

What is it to be a grandchild anyway?

In my case it was blind acceptance, encouragement, and pride.
It was knowing that someone loved me without restraint, despite (because of?) all my flaws and uniqueness.
A grandparent's love is unbound from expectations, worry, or the weight of responsibility that a parent must carry as they attempt to both love and raise.
A grandparent just loves;
they delight;
they look at their grandchildren through eyes that are cleared and focused by hindsight and years slipped by too quickly.

With the passing of my grandfather; my Pap Pap, I am now grandparentless. I usually identify myself by the roles of my life, the different lens on which I view my experiences and feelings.  I am a human, a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, I now no longer a granddaughter?  Does that identifier get removed now that I have no living grandparents?

this past week, I visited him in the hospital as he was being treated for pneumonia.  He was drifting in an out of awareness as his dementia has dictated for the past few years.  I don't think he knew who I was, but I could feel that he recognized that I was important to him in some unknown way.  His eyes, as they've always done since any time I can remember, looked at me like I was something brillant; some bright shining star that undeniably gave him joy in some deep down gut way that grandchildren do.

I held his hand and whispered to him to 'just relax and let them help you get better.'  I showed him pictures of his great grandchildren and sang to him to try to keep him breathing steady and calm.  It pained me in the most raw way to see this man, this strong man in both will and body for most of his life (an athlete! a veteran!) to be so weak and restrained by age and illness.  Death, do you give no one dignity?

I feel solace to know that he is strong again, free from suffering in both his mind and body now.  But as all who grieve I feel sadness for us, those left behind.  My Mumma.  My uncles.  My kids who won't grow up knowing him first hand.  Me; this grandparentless granddaughter.

I am clinging to this passage from my favorite book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, as I try to make sense of a world without the unbridled love of a living grandparent;

"If what Granma Rommely said is true, then it must be that no one ever dies, really.  Papa is gone, but he's still here in many ways.  He's here in Neeley, who looks just like him and in Mama who knew him so long...Maybe I will have a boy some day who looks like Papa and has all of Papa's good...And that boy will have a boy.  And that boy will have a boy.  It might be there is no real death." 

Pap is gone in body, but he will live forever in spirit in the funny way that Grey makes sound effects that has always reminded me of him.  He will live on in every time I call my kids my Sugarplumies (as I often do).  It will be him that I will think of when I hear a harmonica play and his tradition that I'll pass on each Easter when making pysanky eggs.

Just as my grandparents who have already passed that live on in all the tiny details of my daily life.  In the bone structures of my children's faces, in the songs, fables, and silly games I teach them.  In the way I yearn to call them and then realize, impossibly, years have passed since I last spoke to them when it only feels like days since I last hugged them.  In the sudden feeling that they are right there in odd little moments when I need someone to just love me, just the way I am in all my imperfectness.

My grandparents are no longer here, but I am still a granddaughter.
because I carry their legacy inside of me.
and I will pass it on down the line.

love you Pap Pap.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Changing plans yesterday while B was off and was doing some heavy-lifting spring cleaning (burning brush piles and cleaning out the garage with the two big ones) I had planned to take Bullet on a jog while Violet napped.  Alas, the littlest one is teething and refused to be put down.  So Bullet and I took Violet for a 2+ mile walk!  Hahah, forget riding in a car to put her to sleep, a mile or two in the baby carrier with fresh air knocks this little cherub right out!  #childhoodunplugged 

Feeling proud that we are doing so well with removing screens from our day!  I honestly cannot believe how easy it has been -granted the weather has had something do with it - although it hasn't been overly warm (or dry!) the kids are still happy to throw jackets on and go outside and play.  But we've entirely removed tv from our mornings and actually for most of the day (sometimes the day completely!) without any whining.  It makes for kids that use their big (hilarious) imaginations and kids that are tired enough to take afternoon naps for the first time in weeks (Gemma) and years! (Grey)

Giggling at Gemma's funny little observation about the world.  Being three is so silly and also tirelessly exhausting.  She calls a mirror's reflection 'my girl' and says that her 'girl does bad things' like play in 'mumma's make ups.'  um, no, that was you, Gem.  She saw Grey fixing his hair with gel today and asked him if he was talking to his boy.  hysterical.

Celebrating our Mimi's 77th birthday and April Fools day this week.  We made Brown E's for Mimi's birthday party and enjoyed cake and pizza with our cousins at her house.  It was such a nice evening with family (good job, Gigi!).  The big kids got to play with Ariel and Grace while Violet got to sit on the floor with her cousin Ben while they fought over toys - hahhaa, so it begins with those two!

Rearranging the kids' toys and moving them from the living room up into the little space upstairs and (by myself!) hauling the big desk and office stuff into the living room instead.  It was a big (still ongoing) project, but it's brought weird comfort to me this past week.  No more looking at the toys the kids refuse to clean up throughout the day and being able to get computer stuff done (blog, yearbook, etc) while the kids play games or color.  And if they don't put everything away with their toys, it's sort of tucked back in the upstairs nook and doesn't bother me nearly as much!

Energized to be working consistently on our 2014 yearbook this week.  I have been sneaking in some time to finish some pages and it has me so excited and my creative blood pumping!  It is such a daunting task, but once I get started I fall in love with all our pictures and memories from the year before that so easily get forgotten as we trudge through everyday tantrums and drama.  I can't wait for it to be finished and published...I'm thinking another two weeks and I should be done if I keep up this pace!

This week in interesting internet:

This post from 1000 hours outside because I'm obsessed.  #sorrynotsorry:  The Importance of How you See those Scarce Evening Hours  

Because I laughed until I snorted about Honest Toddler's Easter Egg Hunt with a Toddler Fiction vs. Reality post.  Whhhhhy so accurate, "4am  You hear a sound.  Even though you're scared, you get out of bed to see what's happening.  You can barely believe your eyes.  Your toddler is standing in the living room, naked except for one sock..."  HAHAHAHAHA

This silly post had me cracking up from The Chive about 90's instagram photos - read the comments on the pictures, even more hilarious than the photos. 

In case you don't already (who doesn't!?!) follow Humans of New York on facebook  (or on the web) - I'm telling you if you need a dose of world pleasantries in your regular newsfeed of negativity and annoyances, please follow them and be inspired daily.  like hourly.