Around Here Thirty & Thirty-One 07/21-08/03

Friday, August 4, 2017

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



Intentional Outdoor Hours: 392+ hours (of 1000)
Up 44 hours in the last two weeks which is pretty good, but I still need to push myself to grab as many hours as possible in these last few weeks of summer vacation. I got in outdoor time with dog walks, eating dinner outside (my summer fav!), and fires on the patio.  We got to have a long chat at our picnic table with cousin Heather while our kids went bonkers on the trampoline (which had been out of commission for the last month because I ordered the wrong size replacement mat!)

Reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and taking it so slow because every time I pick it up it is so thought provoking about the writing process that I need a few days to digest it and think about my own writing. So I also started Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld which I snagged off of my sweet friend Shelly and I'm enjoying it.  I continually am shocked each time the writer really shows 'warts and all' for her characters and doesn't hold back when it comes to the judgments or prejudices that run through their minds.  It really expands the characters narrative just by showing how many layers there are to people (in books and in life). I had our first book club meeting with our local group and it was incredible to grab an iced coffee and spend an hour chatting about The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  How refreshing to talk like a grown up and think critically and share favorite quotes and characters and scenes.  Honestly, it was heavenly.

Visiting our dearest friends Ninna and baby Tessa!  It had been almost two months since we squeezed that baby and we all could barely contain ourselves with how precious she is.  It was so nice to catch up with Nin (hi!) and we took the kids and pup Bo on a long walk on the Westmoreland Heritage trail.  Grey and Gem had a total blast riding bikes and sliding down/climbing up steel mud hills.  Meanwhile the three littlest enjoyed the ride and looked adorable and squishy.

Finishing our co-ed volleyball season after being knocked out in the second round of playoffs. It seems at times selfish to play in the league - to rush around on Tuesday nights for three months trying to figure out what all four kids will be doing while B and I play volleyball for fun...but its' our one thing that we do weekly for just us, and we can feel how important it is to keep that protected.  Plus, it feels amazing to use our bodies and compete on the same team, and we love our teammates who make us laugh and cheer us on.

Grateful for working appliances!  Our dishwasher was broken for a few days and our dryer hasn't really been up to safety code for a few months.  We were on the brink of just throwing our hands up in the air and slapping a credit card down for some brand new ones.  But, instead we ordered the busted piece to the dishwasher from amazon and washed by hand for a few days until it arrived.  And my Dad the Craigslist master scoped out a dryer that was like new and was available for nothing if willing to pick up (!!!) So now we have a working again dishwasher (she ain't pretty, but she works) and a brand new (to me) dryer that is fully up to safety standards and works that permanent press like a pro.

Praying for our friends who went to heaven.  My parents' sweet neighbor, Cliff, passed away at the age of 93.  He lived on our street for his whole life and in the last ten or so years, my mom and another dear neighbor, Cindy, stepped up to the plate to care of him - visiting multiple times a day to check on him, bring him every meal, and help with his medicines.  Our kids would visit him with my mum nearly every time they were at my parents' house - helping to carry his meals and chatting with him.  Both of our big kids cried upon hearing of his passing and Gemma came with me to his viewing.  What a wonderfully long life Cliff had -and how much he was loved by family but also by his two guardian angel neighbors.  We lost another dear, sweet friend in the past two weeks.  Our daughter's friend and soccer teammate, Inez who was 4 years old.  Her momma, Katie, went to high school with us and our whole family (along with our entire community) has spend the last two weeks praying so hard for Inez and her family. With heavy hearts, our family visited Inez at her viewing to say our last goodbyes and leave Gemma's soccer team pic with her momma. The kids had lots of questions and we've had to navigate how we talk to them about death and grief, but I know that talking it out and letting them work through their questions while they have us to create a safe space for them and answer their questions is the best case scenario.

Feeling proud of Brandon as he completed all of the Act 235 training in a four day program, including pepper spray to the face!

Camping at Hemlock Hills Farm with Abba, Chum, and some of the Tap Run Ski Club for a whole weekend.  The cabin was big and accommodating and the grounds were gorgeous and peaceful - including a huge pond stocked with blue gills, bass, and some catfish.  Grey was in complete bliss and spent nearly every waking moment on the dock fishing for three days.  I got the chance to take a gorgeous solo run on Saturday morning (4 miles! training for a 10k in September!) and it was so much of what I needed to just have space, quiet, and nature.  My parents and their friends had the grocery shopping ready for meals each day, put together a treasure hunt, and were totally patient with running, screaming, and excited kids all weekend (even those little boys named Greyson and Caleb who wake up at 6am and say, "Can we go fishing yet?" haha).

Celebrating!  We had a nice long shark week watching shark shows, eating shark shaped pancakes on a back drop of blueberry ocean (the sausage with the seal because my kids are ruthless, hah), and reading shark books.  We wished our sweet friend Maisy a happy first birthday at her party and then headed across town to our Plunkett family reunion to play with cousins, eat yummy food, and catch up with family that live far away.  We enjoyed more time with family when we babysat our cousins for two days in a row (seven kids in the house at once!) and giggled and played and shared.  The kids enjoyed a day at the Pittsburgh Zoo with Pappy and Gigi (including an awesome dinosaur exhibit!) And we celebrated our best friend Charlie's fifth birthday at Idlewild riding the big kid rides and eating pizza and cupcakes.

Creating a capsule wardrobe using Pinterest and ThredUp.  My closet is full of stuff I have been holding on to for years and not really loving or usually even wearing for that matter (that is NOT an exaggeration, it has been YEARS since I've been actual clothes shopping outside of 'I need a dress for a wedding' type of shopping).  Part of my decision to go capsule is that I don't want a ton of stuff, I just want efficient and practical stuff, and also decision fatigue is too much during the day already - I do not need it when I'm putting on clothes.  So I started pinsearching ideas for capsule closets and it felt so refreshing and very 'aha!'  I've used ThredUp in the past (hahha, literally because I needed a dress for a wedding!) and when I hopped on to build my capsule closet I found so many good options - also I love that it keeps your sizes in there so you don't have to keep filtering every time you search (efficiency!)  ThredUp is linked as a referral code in this post, so you get $10 to spend, and so do I - so thank you for a little kick back if you buy anything through that link! 

Imagining a different plan for our family than was in my mind just two weeks ago.  Brandon and I have been doing a lot of talking and reflection (which is my love language anyway so we're in a big beautiful 'up' in marriage, double win!) and we're open to changes and different versions for our family moving forward.  One of which is me going back to work full time again!  I had an interview to teach this week and our fingers are crossed that life will work out like it's supposed to (we'll have official news next week after the school board meeting). It's both exciting and scary to imagine what life might look like and how we will adjust to a totally different way to operate. I'm already feeling inspired about being back in the classroom (especially after reading this awesome article about Marigolds that my friend and brilliant teacher Jessie shared) and also trying to rearrange our days so that they will work for all of us (making afternoon snack 'my thing', choosing school clothes at night for the kids, etc). We will see, we've both been doing a lot of brainstorming, showing up as our best selves, and giving it over to the universe to see what happens next.  Huge thank you to everyone who agreed to be references for me and those of you who knew about my interview and overwhelmed me with wishes of luck on Thursday morning.  Honestly, I was so touched and felt stronger and braver because I knew you believed in me!

Making zucchini & chicken casserole, Chinese green beans with ground turkey over rice, taco Tuesday and using some of the taco meat to whip up some taco pizza for leftovers another night that week, grilled Salmon topped with onions and brown sugar with grilled Parmesan zucchini (and hot dogs for the kids), Creamy Italian Chicken in the crockpot over egg noodles, and Hawaiian meatballs in the crockpot. For snack we had these banana blueberry muffins that were polished off in less than 24 hours because our kids are obsessed. Violet and I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to celebrate Gigi & Pappy's 28th wedding anniversary at their house with an evening swim and dinner.


  1. These pictures this week!!! Oh so beautiful! Vi and her mac & cheese; the rain; that dinner outside! So gorgeous! Those baby boy smooches-- so sweet! And those eyes in the second to last picture. Wowza! Fantastic picture!!!
    So happy you have a local book club-- I've had one the last few months and I love it for so many reasons. First, I love getting out of the house sans children! Second, I love eating good food and laughing with the girls. Lastly, I love how all of us ladies choose completely different books and somehow they are all so good!!!! They introduce me to new authors and new genres and I love the mental stretching it causes.
    Also, let me know what you think of Sisterland. Sittenfeld is one of my fav authors, and I highly recommend American Wife!
    My brother in law is becoming a Fish and Wildlife officer, and we got to see video of his pepper spray to the face training, and it was awful! I felt so bad for him. So rugged these tough men of ours are!!!
    Isn't it crazy how appliances make our jobs as mama's so much easier? A working dryer, a working dishwasher... they are game changers!!!
    So happy to keep up with you every week, girl!