Around Here 24: 06/10-06/16

Monday, June 18, 2018

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


Intentional Outdoor Hours: 197+ hours (of 1000)
Adding another 28 hours to the count this week. We've had mostly beautiful weather and we got a chance to get out the little pool and sprinkler this week for water fun at home. I let Grey mow some grass (!! he's not heavy enough, so he has to ride with a sibling behind him on the seat and I walk behind the entire time to make sure he's all good - hooray for extra steps!). We've been making good use of the fire ring and the back porch picnic table.  We have had a bad week with ticks though - I took four of of Gemma alone! - the kids have been busy cutting a maze and hideout in the weeds which has been so fun to watch them imagine natural playgrounds - but also...the ticks.

Reading and finishing two books this week! I finished my Books & Brews book club book The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien and was intrigued and horrified. Looking forward to book club so we can debrief about this one! I started and finished a YA novel, Famous Last Words by Katie Alender which was recommended to me by a student this year. It was a ghost mystery story and was really captivating and a perfect easy summer read. (thanks Faith for the suggestion!)

Enjoying long summer mornings that come with #nobedtimesummer. The kids are sleeping in until 10am some days (!!) but we are realizing quickly we need to make some restrictions on bedtime because Rust has been an overtired monster at night. He is staying up longer than anyone! It has been borderline heaven with the kids sleeping in, giving me a chance to nearly complete our 2016-17 yearbook (!!) and do some writing and planner organizing.

Updating our outdoor toys with a trip to Toys R Us (60% off closing sale!) with Greyson's birthday and 1st holy communion money in hand. He purchased his own good bike with his money, and then because it was such good deals I got the babies both scooters and Grey put more money towards a new scooter for himself (with peddles, like a moving elliptical!) They have been non-stop on those scooters that past few days and the babies and I even took our bikes to the high school parking lot while we waiting for Gem's cheer practice to finish.

Worrying about Trixie when she woke up with a huge swollen throat and jaw seemingly out of nowhere. Poor thing was so pitiful looking and then I had such a struggle getting hold of the vet, but finally we got through and had her seen that same afternoon. Turns out she had an abscess under her chin from some puncture wound (could be a million things as she chews everything constantly including about a baseball a day) that had become infected. We got her some antibiotics and it drained a little bit and she was perked back to normal by the next day!

Summer sporting with the final weeks of regular season baseball. Grey's team made it to the championship game after a win on Thursday. They had first round of the 'ship on Saturday and they won! Grey was so excited and the team has come so far together this year. I was grateful to have some fans (Uch & Kevin and Mimi) there at the Saturday game while I helped in the concession stand. Gem attended cheerleading camp M-R each evening and had a great time learning cheers and spending time with some of her besties (Mya, Emma, and Kenli). Our co-ed volleyball team had a double header on Tuesday night but we had to play without B as he had a school board meeting.

Celebrating a good season with the baseball coaches and their families with an impromptu fire at our house. Grey was in all his glory to have some of his teammates over for the evening and I scrambled together some s'more materials (did you see these on Pinterest, so easy!) and quick pizzas for those hungry monsters (thank you baseball fundraiser! hah!) Then we attended our favorite babysitter's graduation party to honor our Miss Hannah on her high school graduation. The kids were glad to get in some playtime with the Stiffler crew and I was immediately reminded of how happy graduation party food season makes me (LOL).

Making Please Make More Meatballs, tacos, chicken and veggie casserole (times two so I could deliver to a friend down and out with an injury), and sloppy joes. We had peanut butter cookies and Applesauce & cinnamon muffins for afternoon snack and I whipped up some egg and sausage roll-ups for breakfast before the round1 championship baseball game.

Rusty James at two

Thursday, June 14, 2018

my RustMan,

my littlest darling, you are two and you are having so much fun destroying everything in your path. You are our Wreck-it Rusty all day, everyday. After your two sisters, I had nearly erased the memories of toddler boy mayhem from my mind (when your big bro was this age,  I was inspired to write 25 rules for moms with sons because I thought I was actually losing my mind!) and then wreck-it Rusty came out in full force and I was like, "aw crap, here we go again."

It's a step up worse this time because you have a giggling, disbelieving audience at your beck and call. Grey is daily holding his belly in laughter as he watches (and eggs you in) all your naughtiness, while Gem lets you get away with near murder because you're the baby, and Violet is on the receiving end of your antics almost all of the time. You are the most popular person in our family RustMan, there is no doubt about that and boy do you eat up that spotlight, sideways grinning and checking to see how many siblings are giggling at you.

You are such a perfect example of your zodiac sign, the Gemini; giving us constant whiplash as you swing back and forth between the sweetest, cherub faced, curly haired angel who wants to hug us all the way around our neck to an actual demon stealing things from our hands, biting, squeezing, and pinching until we cry out and send you to time out where then you do your 'fainting goat' move and fall to the floor in a heap of tears. Oh RustMan, we will figure out how to balance this emotional seesaw together!

your most favorite thing is Daddy's tractor. You love going for rides and helping us mow the grass. You love saying hello and goodbye to the tractor. When you want to join the conversation, you can formulate phrases most easily by talking about the tractor. "Daddy's tractor outside," "that's Daddy's tractor," "no Mommy's tractor, that's Daddy's tractor." A few days ago you were hand-me-downed two John Deer PowerWheels tractors and I don't know that you'll ever be delighted in your whole life as you were when you saw those. Every morning since, you've woken up and informed us, "tractor mine, outside, go"

You are finally starting to talk after what feels like forever. I guess as the fourth child, who needs to talk when you have bigger siblings who can read your facial expressions and know your secret language of grunts, points, and squeaks. But finally, we are understanding you and you're quite funny. You had me laughing out loud the other day while we were laying in Grey's bed and I was trying to get you to take a nap. You said, "mum, eat" and held out your empty hand. I said, "buddy, lay down." and you said "no, eat" and then you continued to pinch imaginary snacks out of your empty hand and put them in your mouth and fake chew them up. You little weirdo, we were both cracking up.

Your hair, buddy. You haven't had a haircut yet because I'm almost a little too afraid to see what you would look like without that full head of the sweetest curliest ringlets. At this point, your hair is now part of your personality and we've figured out how to (mostly) manage it - so they stay indefinitely. You did have a partial first haircut the other week, when Violet did some experimenting on you with the scissors, but luckily it didn't cause any visible damage. Your hair is certainly the first thing everyone notices about you ("omigosh! look how beautiful" as people pull down your ringlets gently to watch them bounce back into place, hah) but it isn't the only thing they notice about you which makes me happy. Your hair can draw people in, but it's your silly personality and sweet smile that makes them want to stay.

You are quick-moving, curious, and fearless which is the trifecta of dangerous boys. We often find you in perilous situations where we need to act as crisis negotiators; stay calm, smile, distract. Your bigger siblings have caught on that it when it comes to danger with you, it is safer to react calmly than it is to show any sign of distress because you will act out recklessly just to watch us squirm.

You have each of your siblings figured out already. If you want to play rough, you seek out Grey - if you need loved and snuggled and babied, you find Gem (many times calling out "Demma!" from wherever you need rescued - poor girl, she is such a sucker for you!) and when you feel like playing pretend (or bullying) you find your "Dially." You still prefer me only slightly to Dad and I'll be holding on to that for as long as possible - because if you are anything like your big bro, it will be short lived and soon you'll be all Dad, all the time.

You love talking on our 'hellos' (phones), and eating 'chippies' or 'chawkit' (potato chips or chocolate chips). Your favorite animals are cows but you also love Grey's hamster 'Pike!' (Spike) You have a little tricycle motorcycle that you love, you don't use the peddles yet, but you can get around so fast on that thing by moving your feet. You love taking baths (not washing your hair though) and if you could be naked all the time, you would be. You sleep in a toddler bed, you are about fifty-fifty when it comes to potty training already, and you love learning to be independent (putting on your own shoes, buckling your car seat, feeding the dogs..)

Yesterday while I was standing at the oven making dinner, the dogs started barking at something outside and startled you from where you were playing on the other side of the kitchen. You hopped up and ran over to me and grabbed a hold of my leg and half hid behind me. And because you're the baby, I had my chronic nostalgia flag go up in my heart, "remember this momma, he'll be the last one to do this." Everything with you gets cherished just a little bit more because you, our baby, are like rose-colored glasses come to life.

RustMan James,
I will be loving you forever.
Even when you, my baby, get so big
even bigger than me!
my babiest babe forever
i will be loving you.

Around Here 23: 06/03-06/09

Monday, June 11, 2018

What it is like to live in our home just this minute


photo cred: Kate

my great grandmother

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  169+ hours (of 1000)
Up 26 hours this week, my new normal is about 3 and a half hours a day, but I'd like to up that to at least 5 hours a day for myself (the kids have me beat everyday by at least 2 more hours). I have been holding strong on our no screens until 11am in the summer and maintaining #screenfreewednesday. The babies and I ran to Dollar General after sweating all morning on Sunday to pick up a little pool and a slip 'n slide - only to return and have it start thunderstorming (hah). But we made good use of them both this week in the pockets of sunny weather that we've had off and on. (rain, rain, go away!!)

Reading the Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien for books & brews book club. It is really fascinating but I need to take it in small doses because of how horrific and depressing the memoir of her childhood was - and the way she writes; so detached. Gosh, it's a tough one to get through, but so interesting. I ordered a batch of new summer picture books for the kids and we set a goal of reading 100 picture books this summer. Our new books include The Book of Mistakes, Summer Days and Summer Nights, Everything You Need for a Treehouse, Blue Sky White Stars, Roxaboxen, and my favorite of all Little Brothers & Little Sisters.

Celebrating our Rusty James as he turns two! We had a low key day at home, singing happy birthday over breakfast, marking down his height on the kitchen wall, and having a little last minute dinner party with family. (He and Grey are scheduled to have a joint birthday party later this month at Pappy & Gigi's pool). Our littlest babe is two and it feels kind of awesome. He is talking more everyday and is on the brink of potty training (our earliest ever!) Ages 2-3 are both my least favorite but the funniest so I'm bracing for that - but all in all, it feels like I've turned a corner in parenting; that we've made it out of the baby stage and it feels like my shoulders have relaxed a teeny bit. We ordered Rust a Strider bike and on the same day it arrived, he also received two hand-me-down Power Wheels tractors from family friends (thank you Valentines!) which he loved so much and has said everyday upon waking up since "Tractor, mine, outside."

Enjoying our first full week of summer vacation! We dove head first into #nobedtimesummer which has meant long mornings of sleeping in kids. I know full well that it is not textbook parenting - but I'm a morning person and having at least two hours to myself to read, work on chores, or just drink coffee quietly has been miraculous for my soul. Plus, we've mostly been outside until late in the night, so whatever to those parenting textbooks. Grey has been sleeping on the couch every night and is joined by either Violet or Gem (Violet asked, 'Can I sleep with Grey on the couch for a lot of days?) And Violet hasn't quite grasped what summer means and has asked almost everyday, "Do we have school today?" We still have a lot to figure out in terms of summer slide prevention (school worksheet packets, writing, & reading), and snacks (good Lord, the snack attacks!), and the sibling arguing - but it's summer time and the livin's easy.

Getting help from chore charts that I made for the three biggest kids. They each have a daily task (Grey - garbage & helping Rusty feed the dogs, Gem - chickens free range in & out, Violet - making the kids' beds) and then they have 1-2 chores for each day ranging from doing the dishes, to bringing down dirty laundry, to vacuuming or cleaning bathrooms. Grey said, 'Do we get paid for this?' to which I said, "You do! You get to live in our house and eat for free" HAH. It has always been our rule, "We all live in this house and we all have to help take care of it." so yeah, we don't do allowance, you just help because you're in our family.

Sending off paper lanterns in honor of a beautiful life on Tuesday night. Even though we didn't get to know and love Olivia Red, we do know and love the people that she knew and loved which is how we were blessed and honored to attend her memorial service. She was tragically killed in an auto accident last week and our hearts ached for her sisters (basketball moms), nephews (basketball players), and her boyfriend (former basketball player). The service was beautiful with paper lanterns floating to heaven while Tim McGraw's Humble & Kind played over the PA system at the high school football stadium.

Ending regular season summer sports. Gemma and I had our last soccer game and finished the season with pretty good record. Gem had a lot of fun, made some new friends, and learned a little bit more about the game. I think she'll be playing for quite a long time. I loved getting to know our little players and was so grateful to have my Dad coaching alongside me (thank you Chum!) Grey finished his regular season of baseball (the Mayers came to see his last night game!) and he head into playoffs this coming week. Brandon and I have been trying to be really aware of the pressure that comes with having a child in sports at this age. There are travel teams and all-stars and year-round leagues for every sport and it feels pretty intense. We are firm believers in clearing space for our kids to do nothing, to go fishing with grandpas, or jump into short notice visits with family and friends, or just be bored. It feels like a lot of pressure for them to participate in all this extra stuff because they'll 'fall behind' or something. We don't want them to burn out in any sport (or activity) and more than that - I don't want them to burn out from overscheduling. I don't know what's best for any kids, but we're trying to be really intentional and aware of what's best for our kids and our whole family when it comes to the school-age stage of our parenting.

Starting no bummer summer with the Fiores as we met up at the Juniata Memorial Spray Park for the afternoon. Kate & I have loosely outlined our list to include:  an Altoona Curve Baseball Game with fireworks, Delgrosso's Water Park, Drive-in Movies, take the Fiore boat to Raystown Lake, blueberry picking trip, and a visit to the Quemahoming Dam.  So much fun with our favorites! (on Spray park day, Grey got to have a playdate with Halen all day - thank you Angie for hosting!)

Surprising Ninna with a early 30th birthday fire and cupcakes at our house. We were so happy to have a sleepover with the Kochs when the boys had a golf outing. The kids were over the moon to get to spend time with Baby Tessa and my parents and sister came over for a fire and a very low key birthday celebration for Nin. It is always like slipping on a favorite hoodie when we are with the kochs - cozy, familiar, and warm. we love you guys. xxo

Visiting with distant cousins at our Adams family reunion (my Dad's Dad's family). We spent the day outside at the playground and even got in an afternoon swim in at the park pool (it was freezing!) It always makes me smile to see recognizable facial bone structure at this particular family reunion (those Adams genes are strong) and makes me so proud to represent my Pap and Gram's legacy. I love writing out my kids' name tags with "great grandchild of Jim and Helen" miss you both, every single day. 

Teaching nothing, nor did I do anything this week for next year's school year. Which felt both great but also brought on small waves of panic that I need to get a head start on preparations for both the class and my own professional development. Chin up, mind right, and heart full starting next week!

Making cripsy bbq chicken tacos, spaghetti, and french toast. I'm suddenly remembering that summer requires proper breakfasts and lunches too, so I've been scouring Pinterest looking for easy summer lunches - a grocery store trip is definitely in order. For desserts, we had cupcakes in ice cream cones for Rusty's mini dinner party, and Gemma helped me make brownie bite cookies that were really easy and delicious (despite the bowl of sugar we had to clean up #clumsyGemstrikesagain )