Friday, July 22, 2016

Around Here Twenty-Nine: 07/15-07/21

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  318 hours (of 1000)
Up 21 hours this week (bleh, still short).  We got time outside with time visiting family and friends at their houses, kickball on Sunday night (boo, we had to forfeit this week and Booboo got a chance to pinch kick for Pappy!), family & pup walks back behind the house where we saw the blackberry bushes all bedded down from our resident black bear (!), a swim day with cousin Caleb, and Grey's all-star baseball game last night where he played second base for the first time.  Booboo's team won and Grey caught a flyball which meant ice cream....Violet and Gemma each made a huge mess of their cones; Violet all over herself and Gemma all over Sheila. 

Reading The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain which I'm finding to be such a fun and easy summer read that I can pick up and put down a million times a day without being too crabby about stopping and yet also interesting enough to pick it up when I get five minutes.  Started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Booboo at night.  He is majorly loving the one-on-one time with me and I am so excited about all the great new vocabulary in it - he keeps stopping and asking clarifying questions like, "wait, what's a cloak?" and we stop to talk about things too like how Dudley was such a brat for complaining about 36 presents, "That's a lot of presents, that kid is crazy and rude!"  (Number 41 on my 100 small things list). 

Missing Brandon last weekend as he and his friends headed down to Austin, Texas for Raul and Maria's wedding.  He had a blast with many of his college teammates and they got in some good eating and laughs.  

Grateful for family and friends who pulled together while Brandon was away to help me and this brood stay sane.  Gigi and Pappy took all three biggest kids to Idlewild for the day on Friday AND THEN had them all sleep over.  Let me tell you what a gift it was to only have one tiny baby at home for a day and a night.  So many to do list items checked off and I definitely went to bed at 9:30p.  It was like a miracle.  On Saturday, after a graduation party stop, the kids and I headed out to Kate's house where she and Michael had set up an outdoor movie viewing on their back porch complete with a pizza and smore party for all the kids.  It was a perfect summer night and I was so grateful to drive home with a Sheila full of snoozing babies! 

Trying out chore charts this week with Grey and Gem.  So far, so great!  It has been nice to have their help around the house and also to see them feel proud to check things off their list and tell Brandon about how they helped when he came home.  They have to finish their daily chores before they get any screen time! And one of Grey's items is to read a book to me (Usborne Very First Reading series) and Gemma's is to practice writing (Usborne wipe-clean Get Ready for School

Astonished how the kids have made progress with swimming this summer.  Grey is a full blown swimmer now even diving from the diving board and swimming all the way to the shallow end - or diving to the bottom of the deep end and pushing off the bottom to come up.  All this from starting the summer hesitant to jump off the diving board with a floatie!?  Gemma this week got the guts to jump of the dive (with her floatie) and she's been swimming underwater with no floaties in the shallow end.  While Violet has zero amounts of fear at all and leaps off the side of the pool and goes right underwater and comes back up smiling.  She even took a leap off the steps this week with no floaties and we all scrambled to grab her back up (she still didn't cry even though she was underwater for a few seconds?!)  We had a long swim day at Gigi and Pappy's with our cousin Caleb - the kids swam for 3 hours straight with varying jumps, dives, and flips - getting braver and braver each time.  Oh, the power of positive peer pressure!

Crossing our fingers about something that could be big.  I'll share soon, hopefully!

Zumba'd for the first time ever with Uch!  It was so fun and we can hardly wait to go again next week already!  Number 14 on my 100 small things list

Wearing Rusty so much in the front carrier this week that my right collarbone started aching last night! He honestly seems to be making (hopefully!) a breaththrough this week and on wednesday gave us a full waketime (about 25 minutes) of contented alertness!  The kids and I were over the moon talking to him and laughing at his sweet expressions.  Eye contact has been so few in these past seven weeks that each time he gives us his attention, we all fall madly in love. 

Enduring a rough week with our Miss Violet Mary.  She has been out of her mind this week with whining, yelling "NO!" directly into my face, and refusing naps until passing out at 6:30p only to wake up 8p and be ready to party until well into the night (not kidding, she didn't fall asleep until 11:45p one night while Brandon and I slept on the couches and she acted a fool in the living room). Her only saving grace is that she's so cute, and still so squishy, and also she randomly shouts to us, "Shake Yo Booty" which makes us all crack up. 

Making this three packet roast in the crockpot which was so, so good and made me incredibly grateful that I had two portions of protein to eat for dinner for my 21 day fix challenge - still going strong! (I bumped up to the Plan C category though after my breastmilk supply started to lessen, all back to normal now though!).  And this Waldorf chicken salad has been making my lunches delightful the past few days.  Brandon grilled up some honey garlic pork chops that were meant to be just for him and I because the kids had already eaten...alas, Grey and Violet got their sneaky little paws on our plates and stole some :)  Greyson became our official Egg Chef!  And for 'What's cookin' Wednesday' the kids made these brownie cookies which they all say are awesome.  I made a smart move and had them make them while I was drinking my chocolate ShakeO and so I didn't have the urge to steal some dough or take any bites!  miracle of miracles! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rustin's Baptism

We celebrated our sweet Rustin James at his baptism two Sundays ago.  The kids had stayed up late the night before at our friends' wedding, so I was up by 5am buzzing around trying to get every possible thing together so that we could let the kids sleep in as long as possible before having to leave for 10am mass.  Grey had a baseball tournament that afternoon, and we had kickball that night, so there was quite a bit of organizing to accomplish.

By some miracle, we all were dressed and loaded in Sheila ON TIME and the only thing left to do was to get the dogs in the house....and Bullet is nowhere to be found.  if it's not the kids, it's the animals - amirite!?

Brandon and I walked the perimeter of our yard (we have an invisible fence) and called out for him for about ten minutes - finally, B spotted Bully sitting in the tall weeds way down towards the fruit trees.  After that debacle, we strolled into mass about 5 minutes late (again.

Immediately after mass, I hustled our little sweetheart into his Baptism gown (formerly Brandon's!) and we snapped a family picture before Grey headed out to his baseball game with Uncle Juice (thank you Uncle J for taking him!)

I was so incredibly touched that we had so many people there to witness our sweet boy's christening.  I sent a little prayer out to my Momma who had to stay home that morning (kidney stones are evil) and who I know was heartbroken she couldn't be there (no worries momma - you were in all our hearts!!)  

The ceremony was beautiful and Rusty did a great job - not a single cry the whole time! Meanwhile, Violet marched about (quietly, but still) the pews smiling and loving that most of her favorite people were there watching like a bonafide audience.  

Rustin's godparents are our dear friends Taryn and Matt (known to our kids as 'Siri & Dobber') We've know T since elementary school and then she and Bud went to college together, where they both met Matt - one of Brandon's basketball teammates.  We are so very grateful that they are in all of our lives, but especially connected to our Rusty's journey.  (thank you and love you). 

After the baptism, we all headed over to Pappy and Gigi's house for a picnic and pool party to continue to celebrate Rusty Man.  It was the perfect day for swimming and sunning and the food was delicious. (Thank you Gigi and Pappy so much for hosting!)  We had all afternoon to hang out with our family and friends chatting while Rustin made his way into just about everyone's arms for some snuggles. 

Greyson made it back in time to swim and play too (they lost their game, boo - but kind of win to be able to celebrate with us!)  The kids all had so much fun playing with their cousins and baby Claire.  It was a wonderful day and as always, a reminder of how grateful we are to be surrounded by people who love us.  

(so many parentheses in this post.  couldn't help myself.  HAH)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Around Here Twenty-Eight: 07/08-07/14

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

Intentional Hours Outside: 297 hours (of 1000)
29 hours this week...only one hour short of my goal, boo -- but also yay!! because that's pretty darn good after weeks of being well below 20 hours.  We were pool hopping every day from Sunday-Thursday, so that accounted for quite a bit of outdoor time.  We also grabbed more hours at Greyson's all-star baseball tournament last week and his practice this week, where we load the whole crew up in the car and spend the evening outside with snacks and babydolls while his team practices. 

Reading The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain and finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which is my second most favorite book ever and to re-read it was one of my 100 small things tasks for the year.  There are so many great bits and pieces throughout the book, but one of my personal favorites is this bit, "Well, maybe I just want to know the future so I can prepare myself for what's coming.'  "If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise,' said the seer.  "If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they even occur.'..If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it.  And, if you improve the present, what comes later will also be better....Each day, in itself, brings an eternity." 

Celebrating with family and friends this weekend at our dear friend's Bruce and Jessica's wedding on Saturday night.  The kids had a blast dancing and sneaking into the photo booth multiple times.  Then on Sunday, we had a beautiful Baptism ceremony for our Rustin James followed by a pool party at Gigi and Pappy's house in his honor.  It was a perfect day for it and our kids were thrilled to get to spend it in the pool with their cousins and friends. full post about that special day coming next week!

Worrying about my momma who is suffering through kidney stones since last week.  She's always on the go; cleaning, gardening, working, and helping others - especially her elderly neighbor - so not only has she been feeling awful with pain, but I know it's also been making her crazy to be forced to slow down and rest (she's where I inherited that personality trait!)  But, I believe she's on her way to healthier days after taking care of herself (good job, Abba!), and we are all looking forward to seeing her feel better!  Love you, mumma. 

Visiting our newest baby cousin Blake this week.  We drove out to Cranberry for the afternoon to spend time with Tete, Mallory, Hunter, and baby Blake at their local pool and the kids basically had their best day ever.  Violet was jumping off the sides in her puddle jumper (head underwater and all) about thirty times in a row.  Gemma got braver with going underwater to swim and jumping off the side.  And Grey, well he's a full blown swimmer now, wrestling, flipping, and switching from kiddie pools to deep pools by himself.  It was such a perfect pool day and I loved having all the cousins together and spending the day with Stef (aka Tete).  Baby Blake is the sweetest little darling and he and Rusty are exactly three weeks apart in age.  I love that all our babies will grow up together just like Stef and I (and our siblings) did too.  cousins make for such great friends! 

Holding onto random little bits of things that feel very fleeting at the moment in my preemptively nostalgic mind.  Like how the kids all say, "Will you wake me up when we get there?" anytime we take a drive and they start to feel sleepy.  Or the way Violet says "Dop it" (stop it).  I've found myself trying to remember the last time I picked Grey up, it's really now only if he falls asleep in the car and I'm the only one home - but I keep thinking about it since reading The Last Time poem, "...and then one day you'll carry them around on your hip and you'll set them down.  And never pick them up that way again." 

Relaxing into what it feels like to be a family of six now, while rounding out week six of the rotten eight! Rusty still has bouts of colic, but it feels more manageable now - whether that's because he's feeling better or we, as a family, are responding better to him is a mystery - but we are all a little more comfortable this week.  (Thank you all so much for your words and messages of support and encouragement last week on raising colicky babies.  It is so comforting to feel not alone!) The big kids are really helpful for the most part and we have a 'rule' that only one kid can cry at a time -hahha, which helps manage whining.  I snuck out of the house to make a Walmart run at 6am before B left for work on Tuesday morning and the cashier said, "boy, it's awfully early out to be shopping!' to which I responded, "it's either now or with four kids under six in tow!"   Most people who have seen us out and about have commented, "wow! you have your hands full!" which is certainly true...but my favorite response to that comment is, "you should see my heart." 

Starting the 21 day fix challenge!  I have been considering starting Shakeology for quite some time, and after reading about Shelly's thoughts on it, I finally decided to jump in.  My cousin Stefanie is a coach so it was perfect to talk to her and she hooked me up with Shakeology and the 21 day fix special that was running.  I only started yesterday, but I'm really loving it so far - Brandon pointed out that the reason I'm liking it so much is because of the tracking sheets for the containers - I'm so motivated by marking things down and having data (hahhah!) I'm excited to see what happens but mostly excited to have more energy in body and spirit!  I want to be able to play more with the kids and feel more comfortable.  woohoo! 

Making this grilled lemon salmon recipe that were so delicious and family favorite YUM chicken in the crockpot.  We were lucky to enjoy two meals at grandparents' houses this week:  pizza and evening swimming at Gigi and Pappy's and a cookout with grilled steak so delicious I'm craving it right now at Chum and Abba's house.  I also got a night off of cooking thanks to a frozen meatloaf that my Aunt Dar brought to us earlier this month.  thank goodness for my village - seriously.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fourth of July

Summer contains a lot of fun in vacations and graduation parties, and bedtimes that delay until the sun finally decides to go down - but as for our holidays, she's really only got Independence Day.

The fourth of July has been my favorite holiday for most of my life. I can't sing the National Anthem without getting choked up during the line, 'and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.'  As hard as it feels right now to watch America, as a people, I still am very thankful for America, the land.  (I think America, as a people, could use a heaping scoop of humility and lovingkindness...but that's not a tangent for this post).

We had an awesome two-day long celebration for America's birthday!  We started by stopping by Gigi and Pappy's house after church on Sunday and hoping to get to see our Gilmore cousins while they were in town for a little bit.

And that little visit quickly morphed into a pop-up pool party!  The kids were thrilled to get to spend time with their cousins whom they love so much but we just don't live close enough to see each other more than a few times.  We all shared a big pot luck lunch with Daddy and Pappy at the grill, Reid and Greyson shucked all the corn cobs, and finished up with Gigi manning the smore station.  I had my hands free for quite a bit of the afternoon with all the family loving up on Rustin.   

It was a really beautiful day that was perfect for swimming - the kids were little fish all afternoon, Grey even- emboldened by his older cousin- took his first leap off the diving board sans floaties!  

After the pop-up party, we tossed the kids in the car and ran home for a minute to take care of the dogs, before heading back out Sunday night to the Altoona Curve baseball game (minor league) with Abba, Chum, and Aunt Uch.  Grey took his mitt just in case and Gemma, just like her momma, loved all the music and shimmied her way through the stands.  We got to see some baseball, I introduced the kids to cracker jacks, and we even got a photo with the team mascot, Loco - Violet's obsessed with our signed souvenir photo, hhaha.

They had post-game fireworks that were awesome and Gemma could not believe how much she 'loves this holiday!' and thanked me with hugs about a million times.  Violet was less enthused and spent most of the fireworks with her head buried in one of our necks while Greyson, the ever protective brother followed her around to hold her ears.  Besides the standard fireworks, we also noticed at least three kinds of fireworks that we've never seen before - they were all beautiful!  Rusty made barely a peep the whole time while he slept with his ear muffs on (haha, so much for witnessing the main event of his first holiday ever!)

We didn't get home from the game until almost midnight and everyone was totally wiped out.  So we let the kids sleep in on Monday, the fourth, before we sang Happy Birthday to America over sparkler candles on our toaster strudel (hah).  No photos because it was pretty hectic and then Violet touched the burnt out sparkler, so it was a bit of chaos there for a minute.

By three o'clock, our family had arrived to celebrate the day with us and despite the rain, we all still had a great time eating delicious food, potluck style again - and laughing as the kids played together with sheer delight.  We set up the canopies and lit a fire and made the best of the rainy, chilly weather as we could.  The big boys took the rain and mud as an invitation to get totally filthy and then use the hose to spray each other down in the middle of the yard.  The girls floated in and out of the house playing babydolls, and holding baby Rustin, and putting on shows for Lisa and I. Violet eventually just totally passed out for the night on the couch amid all the noise and movement.

By the evening, we had pulled out the sparklers and poppers and bottle rockets and the kids were high on silliness and smores.  Reid and Greyson even got to light some bottle rockets which made them so happy I thought Grey's face might break from his huge smile.

And to close out the night - the big boys participated in their favorite activity of 'horsing around' while the big girls snuggled up together, sharing a blankie.

Such a great weekend of family - who are also our friends.  So thankful, as I always am - but reminded especially so during holidays, that we are surrounded in love by family and friends.