Greyson Booboo, eight years old.

Friday, May 25, 2018

my Greyson Rudy Booboo,

Gosh, it never fails that your birthday startles me. Eight seems like officially a big kid. Eight years old feels like a big kid too - you can do almost everything by yourself (clean the hamster cage, shower, pack an overnight bag, fish, read your own homework directions, wake up and get ready for school). But there is still the little glimmers of our Booboo left on you - when you ask to be tucked in (three blankets in a specific order, hah) or when you are really tired (early in the morning or after long practices and games) where you lean into us for an extra minute and sigh while we nuzzle your thick hair.

You are a good big brother but get extreme enjoyment out of teasing your younger siblings, especially Gemma. You try to make up all the rules when you play with Gem, you scare Violet around the corners of the house, and you play fight with Rusty until he gets so angry he bites. But then when no one is looking, you check in with Gemma's teacher to make sure she's on the bus, you read to Violet, and you hold Rusty's hand while you walk into the house from the yard. You are tough and sweet with them, which I guess is really what they all need to grow themselves. 

You still love sports and we have sports balls of all kinds littering our home. I can get you excited for a few hours about science experiments or lego building or drawing comics, but then you lose interest and go back to jumping, tackling, throwing, catching, and dribbling. You are an athlete to the core and as I've said a hundred times before and will continue forever saying, it will be a great challenge for Dad and I to remind you that being a great athlete is not the best thing about you, sweetheart. 

Even more than sports though, you love fishing. You are a fishing fanatic and it is amazing to watch how your body and mind relax when you get a rod in your hand or you sit down to tie some flies. You even opened your own etsy shop this year of your fishing flies and you had some amazing incredible friends support you and cheer for you while you try something new. You remember, babe, how that felt for a grown up and some of your friends to ask to buy your creations - how incredible it feels to be on the receiving end of an encouraging voice. You have the power to be an encouraging voice to others too, baby, so please be. 

You love sleeping on the couch (you sleep there every single weekend night and I imagine you'll sleep there all summer long). You love Imagine Dragons (especially Believer) and Sir Mixalot's Big Butts song (which you tell Alexa to play on repeat at home and then get in actual trouble because once is enough a day, dude). You learned to floss (dance) and hate to floss (hygiene) or any other hygiene areas - brushing teeth, showers, fixing your hair, but boy do you love to change your clothes about four times a day and you leave your dirty laundry strewn all over the floor and your dresser drawers hanging open no matter how many times I nag you about it. 

You remind me of that illustration in Love you Forever of the boy at this age (the son is nine at the time of the story, but no matter). You are exactly like that boy in that photo. Sometimes YOUR mother wants to sell YOU to the zoo! 

Love you Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw

You can eat two double cheeseburgers in one sitting and you love Burger King fries with their bbq sauce (it's weird how many BK bbq sauce containers we have stored in our fridge, dude). You can read comfortably now (albeit reluctantly), and have terrible grammar & spelling - like the worst I've ever seen - but we're working on slowing down and using resources to clean it up. You got an Xbox for Christmas and then turned right around have been banned from it for the last two marking periods for C's in Language Arts on your report card (ahem, the grammar & spelling). You learned to use the oven this year (so many egg & sausage casseroles! Remember the time you put too much salt on and then Dad's face!), you hate any and all chores and you do your best into manipulating Gemma into doing them for you, and you'd play catch in the yard for 24 hours if you had someone to play with.

photo cred: Jenn Valentine

Grey - I am always looking for kindness, I seek it out like water in the dessert because, my Booboo, this world can be a lonely and dark place but if you are intentional about seeing little bursts of kindness and good in the world, it will steel your soul and heart and keep you grounded in gratitude.

So the other week after your baseball game, your whole team went running to the outfield for your post-game chat. After the final team hands-in cheer, all the players went running like mad for their equipment to go get in line for ice cream at the concession stand. Only two players hung back - the catcher who was trying to pick up all his pads that he had just taken off and one teammate who was helping him carry it all. I smiled and I thought, I'm going to point this moment out to Grey - let him know what a nice thing for his teammate to stay with the catcher to help him - hopefully to inspire you to be helpful the next time. 

And when the catcher and his teammate had collected all the stuff, they stood up together to walk to the dugout and I could finally see the player was #8... it was you. 

What a ground shift experience that was for me to realize you have grown into the kid that I want to use as an example. How proud that makes me, I cannot adequately write, but also how terrifying to know that although we will still (always) try to guide you - you're old enough and in your own world and life enough that we mostly have to just watch to see if you can fly on your own. 

And my booboo, you seem to be soaring just fine. 

we are so proud of you buddy.
As I write every year,
this is my annual apology for being so hard on you,
but also my annual thank you for being so gracious with us
as Dad and I try to figure this all out
and this year, it's also a kiss and a hug to you, buddy,
while I can see you're trying to figure this all out too.
learning how to be officially a big kid
and trying to sort out which kind of big kids you want to be like
and sorting out how you can still be like you too
figuring out where 'cool' and decent blend
(oh darling, that is a struggle for all of us)

i love you, booboo.
forever, even when it's hard
even when you're bigger than me
even when we both feel mad and misunderstood
even while we're both trying to figure it all out
i will love you.

Around Here Week 18-19: 04/29-06/12

Sunday, May 13, 2018

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 71+ hours (of 1000)
Finally creeping up a little as the weather took a drastic change into for real spring these past two weeks. We are up a little more than 24 hours these past two weeks and it feels so good to be outside again. The kids are loving it - Greyson and Gemma have been playing one-on-one baseball in the yard everyday when they get home from school. Rusty is full blown tractor obsessed - which turns out to be just fine because we needed to mow real bad, LOL. We even let the big kids stay outside playing in the yard while we built a fire on a school night until almost 10p because we are 1.bad parents and 2. so thankful it is officially spring. It's been mostly blue skies and warm temperatures these past few weeks with the occasional (and glorious) spring thunderstorm (with hail balls on Saturday!) which I will take any day over the past few weeks of below 40 and chance of snow?!

Reading My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry. We had our Books & Brews Book club meeting at Bella Sicilia while we chatted, book reviewed, laughed, and enjoyed delicious food like always. Book Club night is like my favorite evening of every month for real. #batteryrecharging The next book we selected is The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien

Hanging out with Gracie all week as she spent the whole week at our house while her momma and dad were on their 10year anniversary 'honeymoon.' It was so fun to have her and she was so helpful and sweet. We made her a space of her own upstairs in the toy room by hanging a tension rod up with a little curtain. The kids could not believe how lucky they felt every day when they asked if Grace was still sleeping over and the answer was repeatedly 'yes!' It was also a peek into our future of having a more grown kid (Grace is 10!) so it was fun for B and I to see how much easier it will get when they can do even more independently and how much harder too (homework, yikes! and managing technology!) We loved having you, Gracie!!

Swearing off screens to celebrate National Screen Free Week.  The kids legit don't even care anymore, hahaha. I still make a sign and unplug the tv but basically only for fun. Violet was the only one who asked to watch a movie when she was cranky and tired and I just reminded her that it was screen free week and she's was like, "oh yeah" and that was that. We played outside, attended spring sports games, and read books instead. I attempted to inspire my students to go screen free too (LOL) and we did some fun screen free activities in class including Cucharas (spoons but with Spanish verb conjugations), Running Dictation, and a full day of classes in the courtyard instead of the classroom.

Losing no weight, but also the fact that I gained nothing was pretty awesome too. At the start of the month I had a bit of a weight gain and so then I spent the rest of the month trying to fight back from it. By the last day of April, getting on the scale and seeing I had broke even was a win. My momma-in-law has reminded me several times to remember to watch the full picture of the journey and reminding myself that I'm still overall down 9lbs is still a big victory.

Enjoying the elementary school spring concerts two nights in a row. Since Grey and Gem's concerts were separate, we found ourselves sitting in the balcony twice this week to clap and sing along with our kids after working so hard on their songs. Grandparents also schlepped all the way out both nights to be there for them and it is always so heartwarming to see our babies surrounded by their four doting grandparents who all get along. They are so very blessed and I am so incredibly grateful for that. '

Spending time with Aunt Kitty!! She was back in the states visiting from Bermuda and we were all so happy to see her. She came during a week full of spring sports games, the spring concerts, and Grey's first holy communion so it was perfect to get to be with her so much and for so many fun events. Now we are working on figuring out a way to get us to her in Bermuda this summer!

Celebrating Greyson as he made his First Holy Communion in church. He did such a great job on his reading and looked so handsome in his actual pants (!!one day of not mesh shorts or baselayer!!) We had a little family party at Abba and Chum's afterwards too with delicious food and great company. He is excited now to get to learn to be an altar server (he's been told it makes mass feel like it goes faster!) hah.

Baby showering to celebrate two mommas to be on Saturday - Carli and Chelsey (both due with baby girls this summer!) Gemma and Violet attended both showers back to back with me enjoying the company of women in such a traditional and right-of-passage setting. They sat quietly and snacked on goodies, and helped with wrapping paper garbage. So excited to meet and hold both those baby girls!

Building and finishing our chicken coop!! So much thanks to the grandpas who worked tirelessly beside B to get these chickens out of my house!! The chickens are so very happy to have so much space but not as happy as me to get them out of  here, haha.

Feeling so proud of my baby sis Uch as she held her second annual Rec the Alleghenies Expo at Greenhouse park on Saturday. She organized over 20 vendors with live demos all day to inspire our community to get involved with the awesome groups and organizations right here in town. So many people stopped to sing praises for the days' events and our three biggest kids ran the whole day away petting the baby goats, taking pony rides, getting their face painted, participating in the Zumba demos, painting, and watching the Stonycreek kayakers do tricks in the rapids. It was such an awesome day - good job Uch!!

Receiving our caterpillars from InsectLore so we can raise Painted Butterflies again this spring. It's been one of our spring traditions for the past few years and the kids (and we!) love watching them grow and change so up close.

Spring sports have us caught up in a whirlwind with no end in sight for the near future. Grey has been having the time of his life at baseball. He tried to be catcher this past week and had us rolling with laughter at how small he looked and how hard it was for him to remember to take off his mask so he could even see where the ball was when he didn't catch it. Omigosh, I think we're probably done with that position for forever now - second base suits him just fine. Soccer games have started and I love our silly little pack of hooligans. Gemmi has been doing great and walked off (with only tearful eyes but no actual crying) a double roll out of a collision with another player. She is really enjoying the sport and I have a feeling we might be spending many a years at the soccer fields. It's been a balancing act of trying to figure out which fields which parent and which kid(s) need to be at each night. Also, so much concession stand dinners and flat out Silver Bell ice cream for dinner #terriblemother Now just to add into the mix this upcoming week - Brandon and I in our summer co-ed volleyball league!  We got this....ready! break!

Teaching despite all the students being so checked out at this point in the year. We are down to only ten days left with students and they'd just rather not at all. HAH. I forge on though - we finished up Fiesta Fatal in Spanish 3 and students could choose which way they wanted to retell the story - some of the kids chose an instagram account with Spanish captions and I was literally cracking up laughing by myself during prep period while reading their hashtags and the comments they made on the photos from multiple fake accounts of other book characters. #ilovemyjob Spanish 2 kids finished out their Martina Bex Somos Units for the year, Spanish 1 learned about their last verbs of the year (estar and ir), and Spanish 1 Honors finished Capibara con Botas and had a QuinceƱera food party! The seniors had their prank day (they took all the classroom desks out of the room and into the halls and then had a senior 'pool party' in the courtyard while they blasted The Beach Boys during the morning periods - oh, to be a youth again!) and we celebrated our school's field day with a day of games, bouncy houses, and a Just Dance marathon in my classroom. And then B and I attended our fifth prom together, but as chaperones this year!

Making some afternoon snacks of peanut butter protein balls, banana bites with sprinkles, and cake box cookies. For dinner, we had Old Bay shrimp and veggies, chicken over noodles, burgers on the grill, and chicken fried rice and two days worth of fridge/left over clean out meals. Grey made us his egg, sausage, and crescent roll breakfast casserole to enjoy on the patio on a beautiful Saturday morning too.

Around Here 16-17: 04/15-04/28

Saturday, May 12, 2018

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

photo cred: Jenn Valentine

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  47+ hours (of 1000)
Racking up another seventeen hours between baseball, soccer, and walks with the dogs. If you can believe it - we had a huge SNOW STORM (one last one for the year). The flakes were enormous, almost cartoonish, and at that point it felt like if you didn't laugh about it we were all going to cry. Everyone is so ready for blue skies and warmer temperatures, these kids need to get outside and run themselves ragged! We did see a few beautiful days sprinkled in there and we leaped on the opportunity to be outside when it came. We enjoyed some early morning outdoors with the chickens one day and soaked up the last bit of sunset after Grey's baseball game one night. Spring - please arrive for good!

Reading and finishing I was the One Who Got Away by Andrea Jarrell for our Books & Brews book club. It was  a good, quick read - beautiful little strings of writing - but also felt a little disconnected at the end. The big kids and I had to hit up the book store for a birthday party and after about five minutes I announced to them, "This is why Momma is NOT allowed in the book store" as my hands were full of books for myself. I picked up four new books and devoured Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult in a few days. So good.

Cheering on our cheerleader. Gem had a local showcase during the week and it was so fun to be so up close and watch her do her routine - her facial expressions have gone over the top (hahah, just like her Aunt Uch used to do!) and then Gem, Daddy, and I headed out early Sunday morning to see her last competition in Hershey, PA. They did great and had fun - Gem has really enjoyed her time with her cheer squad and it was so much fun to see her do something that suits her little strong and bendy body so well.

Spring sporting is in full swing. Baseball games have fluctuated between mid 30 degree temps to low 70's. Grey is playing second base this year and he's the fourth pitcher. He is loving it and anxiously awaits his next game or practice every day all week. Soccer practices have continued twice a week as weather allows and the kids are all so sweet and silly. I'm so thankful my Dad (Coach Chum) is coaching with me - he always makes everyone laugh and keeps them on their toes stealing the ball from the kids as they dribble or blocking their goals - reminds me so much of his goofy teasing when we were little.

Building our chicken coop! Our once baby chicks have now grown into teenager chickens and they need to! Building the chicken coop has basically become priority one on our to do list. We have been so lucky that both grandpas are handy and they have both made time to help get the building underway. Cousin Butter even stayed late into the night helping B frame it all out and the kids have tried to be as helpful as possible when they can. We are all hands on deck to get these hens out of momma's house before she decides we're just going to EAT THEM. hahaha (kidding, kind of).

Celebrating baby Tessa's first birthday! Three of the kids and I made the trip out for Tessa's bday (Grey and B had to stay behind for a baseball game) and we loved seeing that sweet girl - a year already!? Gosh, it was just another reminder that time don't stop for no one. Tess got a beautiful day for her outdoor party and my girls had an absolute blast playing with Tess and her girl cousins (#girlsquadgoals big time). It is always the best day ever when we get to see our besties Jon,Ninna, and Tessa girl.

Calling in sick to stay home with Gemmi who was knocked down with a fever and sore throat. Her tenth missed day of school this year - boy, doesn't kindergarten really slam their little immune systems?! especially since Gem was our only child who never attended daycare/preschool, her little antibodies got their work out this year! While Gem slept and drank chicken soup, I whipped around the house finishing massive amounts of chores and grading - it was amazing.

Date nighting to see A Quiet Place (loved it) and then got a bite to eat at the Woodside Grill. Thank you to our favorite Mary Poppins Ms. Hannah for babysitting and keeping our kiddos so happy while we get out just the two of us.

Babysitting our cousins for the weekend as their parents headed south for their ten year anniversary 'honeymoon'. We had seven kids in our house for 36 hours and it was so fun and exhausting and hilarious. It's pretty amazing though how some extra kids in the house HELP keep everyone content and busy! The kids all played together and I was only needed on call for food and bathroom duty basically - almost no breaking up sibling fights!

End of school year prepping and signing all the permission slips and papers (hah). We have field trips coming up for both kids, mystery reader dates, Q & U's wedding in kindergarten, and we just celebrated Read-a-thon and Reading night. Our school Reading night is so awesome and one of our favorite school events of the year. The theme was backpacking across America and each room is themed and has fun activities. It is such a fun time of the year - but also so wild. We can see the end in sight!

Teaching and reading Fiesta Fatal with my Spanish 3 students and they are doing so well with understanding the past tense in real time. Spanish 2 and Spanish 2 Honors are working their way through their last Martina Bex Somos Units while Spanish 1 were busy working on their family tree projects. Spanish 1 Honors is working their way through Capibara con Botas. Our Spanish Club made another visit to the Elementary school for their last 'lesson' of the year (trying to get one more visit in to just have a fiesta!) and they did so well and make me so proud. I keep looking at my curriculum map and feeling panicky knowing that we are so close to the end of the year but plenty to accomplish before then!

Making chili over noodles, salmon for grown-up dinner night, slow cooker potato soup, homemade haluski, burgers on the grill, and B made some shrimp, corn, and bean stir fry that was so yummy.