Thank you September

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Thank you September for...

  • a beautiful, colorful evening at the fair with grandparents and aunts that bring our kids so much joy - we talk about the fair literally all year long; such a simple but impactful childhood memory for our children
  • Walmart pick up on Saturday mornings before 8a that makes me feel so efficient and powerful.
  • my Spanish Club who has surprised and made me so proud several times this past month. They totally took charge at NS f├íntico night, painting faces and encouraging spirit while I just sat back and watched and then my officers completely organized our Homecoming float and it has been such a needed reminder that I can delegate and it all gets done and usually beautifully without me having to carry all the burden. love you guys, thank you! 
  • a day to remember and honor first responders and that terribly tragic day 19 years ago
  • two positive classroom observations that kicked off my first of two semesters of college to get this PA cert wrapped up (finally)! 
  • conversations with Gemma's teachers that are moving us forward in a path that will help her be successful and confident in school. And all the incredible resources online (and friends who inspire me) that guide me in my own understanding of dyslexia
  • Gigi's port out day! the last stop on this year long journey - she is a warrior!
  • the chance to see our healthy little Studerbaby #5 who is growing and doing their thang just fine as our whole life swirls on in chaos. thank you to Meg, my cousin and midwife who is so patient and kind. 
  • the healthy birth of our new friend, Tristan
  • a fifth birthday for our peanut Vially Mary who brings so much life, love, and joy to our family and a birthday that celebrated her with people who love and appreciate all her artistic, silly quirkiness
  • heartfelt, joyful, life-affirming reactions to our baby news - like the minor football team who already so fiercely love and protect Rusty and Violet that they all reacted like they too were getting new younger sibling. Honestly, the sweetest darn thing I've ever witnessed. 
  • lots of homemade dinners again and getting back into the swing of meal planning (finally!)
  • successful cheer and football seasons that help our kids grow in responsibility, relationships, and patience. 
  • delicious dinner and conversation at our Books & Brews book club meeting
  • the beautiful pink sunrises and sunsets that come with fall like a consolation prize for losing a little more daylight each day


Room for one more.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


big news!
another Studerbaby is a'cookin!

due date: April 13, 2020
most prevalent symptom: intense hot flashes
cravings: all the fruit, grilled cheese sandwiches, milk
aversions: lettuce/salad, eggs

Mostly it feels dreamlike. We have been talking about maybe thinking of having one more, but also we are pretty comfy with how we are now. It was sort of a if it's in the cards kind of thing, but the shop wasn't closed and we had been pretty careless since January with nothing happening. I think I really did resolve in my heart that it was done. And then Keto got us all healthy this summer and surprise and hooray! a baby!

It took about three days for me to process the positive test and trying to wrap my head around how this was going to change all the ways our life is now. (Still haven't quite figured that out yet). And truly, we have been so busy with the start of the school year (for the kids and me) and fall sports that I have allowed myself to keep pushing any worries to the back of my mind like - oh, I'll think about that when I have time. (LOL). Anytime anyone has asked me how I have been feeling, I keep saying (honestly), "I feel pretty much the same - with the exception of the hot flashes - I think my body knows that I just don't have time for feeling bad right now." (hah, thanks body).

After a terrible initial reaction from all four kids, they are all now completely obsessed with the idea of a new sibling. We talk about the baby everyday. Rusty asked, 'hey mom, your baby come out yet?' and he keeps calling himself a 'big brother.' Violet is very interested in all the things the baby likes to eat, questioning every bite I take - 'Does that baby like that food?' and offering me a piece of anything she's eating so the baby can taste it. Gemma apparently announced it to the the entire lunch room the other day at school and Grey is hoping for a girl so that it can just be him and Rust as the only boys.

The kids knew for two whole weeks and kept it a secret (!) because I explained that we had to wait until I visited the doctor and we knew everything was good with our baby. All four kept their promise!! Since then, now they want to tell every random person we see ('Do they know the secret?') Reactions have varied, but overwhelmingly it has been with joy and support for us. Our parents were sweet and hilarious - they stared at us in disbelief. After the standard 24hr processing period - they are all over the moon, it's the mostly the logistics I think they are worried about (#SAME). Grey and Gemma's friends have been among the best reactions we've received to the news - the minor football team literally started screaming, running in circles, and patting Grey on the back. They have all offered up several names options already. The flag cheer team has doubled their hugs for me per game/practice and there are 18 prayers going up to the sky, one from each little cheerleader, for our baby to be a girl. Violet & Rusty's preschool teachers came running down the hall screaming and smiling when they told them (you are so sweet, Kayla & Janell!) and one of Brandon's coworkers who adores our kids screamed on the top of her lungs in elated surprise (one of his favorite reactions, Gail!). We've also got a lot of  "You guys are freaking nuts." and "Do you not know how this works?" but it is generally said with a smile and a hug.

I was probably the weirdest about it because I was expecting people to be judgey. I regularly receive so many comments out and about when I'm with the kids like "wow, your hands are full" and "that's a crew!" So this was the easiest babe to keep a secret because I was so hesitant to share. But everyone who knows and loves us has honestly been so kind, happy, and sweet which is what I should have expected from the start anyway - silly, Tabitha.

There are definitely things that will need to be figured out. Like the end of the school year for teaching, making sure prom is all planned since I am prom advisor this year, finishing up my college classes and research paper in the spring (!), inventoring the house and attic for what I still have for a baby and what we might need to get for the new babe, re-starting diapers (because we've been out for 4 months!), finances, vehicles, and a million other little things.

But really, as we've come to realize four kids later - it all shakes out in the end and is there anything better than a new sweet baby who needs snuggles and a thousand kisses in their loose neck skin and who smells like heaven?


sweet baby, 
you are so loved already. 
do your growing.
but know that we can't wait to meet you. 
momma. 



Around Here 39: 09/15-28

Monday, September 30, 2019

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
















Photo cred: Loni








Intentional Outdoor Hours:  638+ hours (of 1000)
Up 17 hours this week and we are all marveling at the changing leaves - it's happening already over here in western PA! I have not been so good about making time outside after school, but we had some long days of outdoor activities that are keeping my numbers up thankfully.

Reading next to nothing because it was a busy week. I watched several Ted Talks and read a lot of articles too about dyslexia. And I soaked in up all that pinterest had to offer about Rainbow Unicorn birthday parties (hah),

Attending our first ever mountain bike race! Our cousin Reid who was in from Etown, had a race right here in our town and we got to cheer him on while he was biking the route and saw him finish (in 8th!) It was so cool and we had no idea it was even a middle/high school sport! (who knew our town has a co-op team the Johnstown Ridgebacks?!) We are proud of you Reid!

Overjoyed to get the text that our new best friend was born this week!

So happy for our Gigi who got her port removed this week! The last big step to finally close this journey. We love you and are so proud of you; our warrior Gigi!

Setting into motion the next steps to get our Gemmi Ro evaluated. I've been praying and researching and talking to her teachers and I know it is time. I feel relieved to know we can get something in place that is going to give her the best chance for success, frustrated that her incredible talents and abilities can't shine as bright at school because there is only one way to prove yourself in traditional school (through text), curious that I have so much to learn myself on how to be supportive and help and advocate for her (and all my students who struggle with text/language), and hopeful that nothing will ever dim the light of our bright, shining girl.

Recognizing my own limits and bailed last minute on the Que classic 5k on Saturday. After homecoming the night before and having Violet's birthday party that afternoon - I knew there was just no way I'd have enough energy or emotional stamina to pull it off. So I bailed, shook myself off, and moved on. Grey still wanted to run, so he caught a ride with the Garrettsons and then ran alongside his best bud, Ivan and they finished in under 25 minutes (?!) Thank you Stankans for running with our little man so I could stay home and get the party together!

Celebrating five years of our Violet Mary! We sang before school and then she had a special afternoon visit with Pappy & Gigi after school. On Saturday, we had a Rainbow Unicorn party at our house to celebrate our peanut. We got a beautiful day that was perfect to put up a blow up water slide that we borrowed from our cousins (thank you!) We had unicorn rainbow drinks, painted pumpkins into unicorns, and had rainbow cupcakes. Thank you to all who sent her birthday wishes and helped celebrate our Vially.

Attending our quarterly meeting with the You in Flood City board and leaving feeling inspired (as always!) The Zombie Crawl is coming up!

Proud of my handsome, decent man who always stands up for what is right with a calm, even response, even when emotions run high. He is such a good man and I am so grateful that he is mine.

Smh about our two big kids who are eager to take little jobs from their grandparents to earn some cash. hah! They went to Abba & Chum's house on Wednesday after school and did lots of chores and each earned some money, they were so proud! Grey wants to buy a new game on the Xbox and Gem saves all her money up for concession stands.

Learning about chicken molting as one of our hens kicks off the season! Poor thing looks pitiful!

Meeting our new cousin! My sister Uch and Kevin got a puppy! Her name is Lady and she is about the cutest darn thing anything any of us has ever seen. We all love her to pieces and the kids want to swaddle her and carry her around forever.

Enjoying hoco week at my school. We had dress up theme days all week and then a big pep rally on Friday. The teachers are always enlisted in putting on a skit and this year with the Barbie theme - some teachers and I played the parts of Spice Girls & the YMCA guys. The students loved it and were screaming, cheering, and laughing the whole time. On Friday night, the two big kids joined the Spanish Club and I on our float for the parade - we were Barbie Goes to Cancun, so everyone wore beach shirts and floaties and sunglasses (hah!) B took the littles and sat on the side of the route and scored about 8 lbs of candy?! Then we attended the hoco football game until halftime to see "all the pretty girls" (as Rusty said) and boys announced in the court.

Fall Sporting with a game at Shade (another hot & sunny one!) where my flag girls cheered their little throats sore and the minors took home another win! Brandon & Grey had one practice this week and then B and I both cancelled on Thursday night because we have a bye week and everyone could use a night off from running to and from practices! It was so nice to take it easy with fall sports this week!

Teaching Spanish 1 the Somos 1 Unit 2 (camina, corre, ve) unit which included a mini study on El Encierro de toros. Sp2 did a movie study on Canela and had their first food day on Thursday. Sp2 Honors finished reading Tumba, and started Somos 1 Unit 9 El Cucuy unit, including learning how to talk about things you are afraid of; most of the class fears clowns...speaking of, have you seen the trailer for Wrinkles the Clown (?!) Sp3/4 continued through their musical competition and artist slides while we work our way through Hispanic Heritage month.

Making baked pork chops and stuffing, creamy italian chicken in the crockpot over noodles, sausage and potato chowder. For the birthday party we had meatball sandwiches, buffalo chicken dip, and rainbow strawberry cupcakes.

Around Here Week 38: 09/15-21

Sunday, September 29, 2019

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




















Intentional Outdoor Hours: 621+ hours (of 1000)
Up 18 hours this week thanks to some beautiful weather. Between sports and trying to snag a few hours outside when we get home from school, we're still soaking up as much time as we can before the snow starts to fly (eek!)

Reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and still loving it (so much that I used a quote from the book to open our Hispanic Heritage Month study in Spanish 3/4!) I also borrowed Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa from a student (thanks Emily!)

Braiding hair for the girls multiple days this week because Gem found out if she sleeps in french braids, her hair is wavy in the morning - which is Gemma's current favorite hairstyle. So of course, Violet wanted in on the action - although Vi just keeps her braids in all day because she likes it out of her face.

Loving the sunrises and sunsets - fall brings the most beautifully painted skies!

Enduring the destructive threes with Rustman. If he was our only child, or one of two children - we would be out of our minds right now. But one of four somehow lessens the blow a bit (I don't know how it works - lower standards maybe - LOL). He climbs to unsafe places, swings everything around like a weapon, puts make up all over his own face, dumps tubs full of toys, sneakily eats his weight in chocolate and snacks, writes on walls and tables, cuts post-its into 9 thousand tiny pieces, leaves play doh out to harden in all the places, gets a huge attitude over what he wants but can't have, and stays awake all hours of the night. B and I are just like, 'oh yeah, threenager again' and continue to march on with as much calmness as possible in our explanations of good behavior, and disciplining, and making him clean it up....because thank the good Lord, this is just a stage mommas and daddas; hang on for dear life.

Organizing our first teacher potluck lunch with the Sunshine Committee. Okay, so maybe the Sunshine Committee only consists of me and my school bestie Renee so far - but we're a committee. hah! It was a great first lunch potluck and we had a lot of interest in continuing it as a monthly event - so hooray for community and friendships at work!

Volunteering with the three youngest at the CT color run on Saturday morning. We held down the last station on the run (as is our tradition) and we all had fun cheering on and spraying all the runners before the very last leg of their 5K. While we were at the run, Brandon and Grey participated in the Youth pheasant hunt with our Gilmore cousins. Grey even got a white pheasant that would have been a beautiful full mount, but he hit it right in the chest and there was no salvaging it. So, instead, I just have a pheasant head in my freezer now....faaaaaaantastic.  #outdoorsmanmomma

Fall Sporting with a very sunny, very hot game at Ferndale on Sunday. My cheerleaders did a great job hanging in there despite the sun/heat and our minors team gave another whooping' with a 62-0 win! We had practices and then participated in Youth Night at the Varsity game on Friday. Each youth player/cheerleader got announced and then got to stand on the field before the start of the game and cheer in the football players!

Teaching personal adjectives and ser to Spanish 1 including a walk around writing about celebrities and introducing them to Gimkit (always a huge hit). Spanish 2 continued to learn about Hispanic food and practiced stretching out their writing. Spanish 2 honors worked their way through their novel Tumba and had a great time creating storyboards to review two chapters (they were hilarious and students were so engaged). Spanish 3/4 finished the Biblioburro unit and started a month long study in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. We had a four day week with an in-service day on Friday.

Making gravy meatballs in the crockpot over mashed potatoes, spaghetti for the kids while B and I had shrimp alfredo (gah, so so good). We ordered in pizza & wings on Saturday night when our Gilmore cousins were visiting and we all ate outside on the patio with a fire.

Around Here Week 37: 09/08-14

Friday, September 20, 2019

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












Intentional Outdoor Hours: 603+ hours (of 1000)
Up only 9 hours this week, snagging hours at fall sports games, practices, and walks with the dogs. I saw a meme that made me laugh the other day that said, "It is officially wear a sweater in the morning and regret it by the afternoon weather." We had a few downright chilly days, including Saturday morning which then broke through with beautiful sun and an afternoon hot enough to pull out the sprinkler for Rusty & Violet!

Reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and loving it so so much.

Readjusting to the school year...still. I'm surprised every fall (how?) that it takes several weeks - almost the whole month of September - to get back into the swing of the new schedule and life on high gear. I've honestly been feeling like I wake up and then suddenly it's bedtime...do I black out all day long? HAH. I don't really, but seriously - it flies by in a blur. I cherish these Around Here posts & pictures because it gives me a chance to look back through the week and remind myself, that yes - the kids are doing alright, we are still together learning, growing, and smiling through life. We're still okay even if it feels like we're on turbo speed.

Honoring first responders for 9/11 in school and at home. I have students sign thank you notes for our resource officer (a retired state police officer) and a teacher who is a firefighter. And our own children write cards for our next door neighbor (also a retired state police officer) who also happens to be the resource officer at their school! We stopped over to visit before bed and got to visit with Mr. Mike and the cutest pup ever, Baby.

Attending Open House night at the big kids' elementary school. I got to see their teachers and meet some new ones. School is going well for both of them so far - Grey has made great strides in his own accountability and pride in work which has been awesome this year after such a struggle in third grade last year. Gem loves school, loves her teachers - but I still have a little worry in the back of my heart about how she processes - so I'm continuing to monitor in the next few weeks to see if maybe it would be helpful to have a teacher meeting.

Laughing & shrugging...because really what else is there to do when your two littlest sharpie an entire wall of wainscotting in the dining room.  #Lawdhelpme They had to work on trying to get it off (thank goodness for Mr. Clean sponges) but there is still a lot left on there. We were planning on repainting soon anyway...right? u.g.h.

Planning a rainbow unicorn birthday party for our Violet girl who will be five this month (!?)

Fall Sporting with just two football practices and one cheer practice this week. Our game is on Wednesday so it we got a little bit of a sports break this week. Although, on Monday night - my Spanish club hosted a Fanático face painting event at the 3 home games at our school (I chaperoned along with B and all 4 kids!) and we got to catch some of each of the games too (boys & girls soccer, and girls volleyball!)

Teaching the verb Hay and adjectives in Spanish 1. They also started Duolingo Fridays which is such an important part of my teacher self care and well being too. Spanish 2 started into their food unit of Somos Unit 8 while the Sp2 Honors class learned about Mexico/Day of the Dead/Cenotes in preparation for their first novel Tumba. They read chapters 1 & 2 on Friday because we have a 4day week next week with an Act 80 day. Spanish 3/4 continued in the Somos Unit 19 Biblioburro unit and even did a fluency reading on a voice recorder. They were so nervous about it but everyone did SO GOOD. I was smiling the whole time listening because most of them did it in their bedroom with no one around and really gave it their best accento. Gahhhhh, i loved it. In every level, we talked about 9/11 on Wednesday and wrote thank you cards for our Resource Officers in the building. (frightening fact: not a single one of my students was even born in 2001!)

Frugal Living with Walmart grocery pick up order online for under $150 for the week. We used the old school popcorn popper because our microwave has been out of commission for over a month (haha - is that frugal that we just refuse to spend money on a new one?) And we had a call with our financial planner for our yearly check in and we are doing well and staying the course (Thanks Dave! You're the best!) 

Making salsa & cheese chicken in the crockpot over rice (big hit!), turkey chili over noodles, literally Silver Bell ice cream for dinner on Wednesday after practices (LOL), turkey burgers on the grill with baked beans and pasta salad, and buffalo chicken dip.