Around Here Week 30: 07/24-30

Monday, August 8, 2022

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

photo cred: Heather

Studerbabies Toy Truck Day1

Studerbabies Toy Truck Day1

Studerbabies Toy Truck Day 2

Studerbabies Toy Truck Day 2

Studerbabies Barbie day

Studerbabies Barbie day

photo cred: Lisa

photo cred and fly tying credit: Grey

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 522+ hours (of 1000)
Summer thunderstorms rolled in this week pretty strong, but we still earned plenty of time at baseball games, and Studerbabies events. Plus a full day while visiting Hershey Park! 

Reading almost nothing if I'm being honest. 

Getting a new phone because mine was water damaged last week. The last place I ever want to go is to the Verizon store, but it was actually fairly painless this time. 

Grateful for fun opportunities for the kiddos. Heather took Rusty and Violet to the Que for swimming and lunch on Sunday so they didn't have to attend another one of their big bro's baseball tourneys (thank you!), Violet and Gem got to spend an afternoon bowling with their friends the Mock sisters (thank you!), and Grey hung out at the Huffman's house on Wednesday after football conditioning to swim (thank you!) When people constantly ask us, 'how we do it' it's because we have so many kind and thoughtful people who show up for us and the kids! Seriously, we couldn't do it without you all. 

Hosting 3 Studerbabies events at our house this week. The weather forced us into having two toy truck days (which was actually for the best because we had 10+ kids each day!) and then we had our Barbie field trip day too! They all turned out to be so much fun and the kids were really sweet. We had a snack, read a book, and mostly free played the whole time. The kids leave sweaty, tired, and joyful - which is the whole idea! 

Squealing over the cuteness of Liv in overalls. Just the sweetest, squishiest darling!

Inspired by this podcast with Mo Gawdat. Like literally blew my mind multiple times. I kid you not, I was writing notes down and legit printed off his happiness equation to hang on our fridge like a full blown nerd. And then the ending!! when he talks about AI....cannot stop thinking about it.  

Rollercoaster riding at Hershey Park! We were able to squeeze in one final day of summer fun into July (I keep saying that August is for crying, cleaning, and organizing - LOL) Grace slept over our house on Wednesday night, then the 7 kids and I headed out to Elizabethtown first thing in the morning. We had breakfast at our Gilmore cousins' house (thank you Lisa & Ray!) and then we all made our way to Hershey Park for the day. It was blistering hot, so the kids were thrilled to stand in the splash zone of one of the rides during lunch. Violet and Rusty got to ride their first upside rollercoaster (The Sooper Duper Looper) and Red, Liv, and I took a little detour to ZooAmerica (the zoo inside of the park) while the bigger kids rode a bunch of big rides.  I rode one roller coaster with the kids (Trailblazer) and while we were on it, it started to rain and then pour and then we got stuck for about 15 minutes while we waited for maintenance to save us! We left the park around 9p, so it was a huge iced coffee for me and then the 3 hr drive home - but it was worth it because the kids and I had a blast and it is always so good to spend time with the Gilmores. 

Talking, pro/con list making, and stressing over our plans for the fall. It is impossible to be a mom; never knowing if you're doing the right thing but just trying to do the best you can do with what you got at the time. Time marches on and I know everything shakes out somehow, but I am giving my self permission to feel all the things and worry all the worries because the pressure cooker is on full blast inside my guts. 

Party-hopping on Saturday. We had a graduation party for Brandon's former basketball player (congrats Logan!) We got to catch up with the Hintons (love you guys!) and one of my former students was there, which was funny because neither of us expected the other to be there being so far away from our home school (haha, hi Ethan - proud of you!) Then we headed over to the McKool's annual summer party. Always a great time, but the babies were pretty tired by then (me too) so I took them home and B stayed with the bigger kids for awhile. 

Sporting with the first week of fall sports practices. Gem had her first cheer practice where I held a parent meeting to start the year. Violet had her first flag football practice too. Grey had one football conditioning practice and finished up the VEA tournament on Sunday (2 games) before starting his last little league tourney in Somerset on Saturday (2 games that day). Gem and Grey both played pick up playground basketball at the high school on Monday night (thanks for organizing, Coach Ang!) B participated in a golf outing on Monday too! 

Making chicken and broccoli casserole (thank you Heather!), spaghetti with meat sauce, French dip sammies with au jus, beef vegetable soup (used leftover from the French dip roast), candied kielbasa, cheesy Italian sausage bake (thank you Heather!), and taco pasta. We ordered in pizza one night and ate great at the graduation party on Saturday. I made a batch of chocolate chip cake mix cookies to send to the Que with Heather and the kids, and I made zucchini bread and zucchini cookies thanks to the veggie gifts I got from Coach Ang (thank you!) 

Keto check-in - oh man, doing terrible, just straight up terrible. Haha, I'm cracking it up to stress-eating - thinking about the very quickly approaching school year. I know I'd feel better if I can get back on track, come on, Tab! 

Rustin James at six years old

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

 My Rustman,

Six years old and headed off to kindergarten this year. Aw man, buddy - what the heck happened to time? I am so excited for you to head out into the world and make your own friends and get on your own sports teams - you've been dragged along for so long now with your older siblings, I know you've been anxious to finally get started on your own growing up and out. But dude, I just want to keep you in my pocket a little longer because you are such a life-giving, hilarious yet wise burst of joy to my soul. 

My little Gemini baby - the sweetest, most authentic, creative, incredible sweetheart of my life most of the time....but sometimes with a Hulk-level angry streak that needs to be talked down from the ledge of vengeance (Rust, you are not alone on this - all the Geminis out there reading this are nodding their head in recognition). Your vocabulary is extensive and makes you so charming when it comes out of your six year old mouth in the right context. You have that curly hair, that sweet smile, and those eyes - aw man, the world is just not prepared for someone that looks like Hollywood but does not care at all about any of that bogus stuff. You just want to play and make friends with all the people and run around wild and free and not emerge from the woods until you are fully dirty, scraped from head to toe, and in need of a snack.

You are a night owl so our no-bedtime-summer suits you perfectly. You are always the last one to fall asleep and then also the last one to wake up in the summer mornings - sleeping sometimes until 11:30a or noon while everyone has been stomping and shouting all around you all morning. You don't care about missing breakfast either, because you just wanted a pb&j sandwich anyway - your favorite! You'd like to survive on solely pb&j, mac & cheese, and pumpkin roll if possible. You think "kid wine" (sparkling grape juice) and root beer in bottles are both hilarious and delicious. 

You have an imagination that is as big as all the world. You slip in and out of make believe with the smoothest of transitions - it is really something to behold. You still love pretend fighting in all kinds of styles (martial arts, superhero style, with play weapons or with imagined weapons). The fighting is enhanced by your wide range of sound effects and you can pretend so well that I need to observe close enough to see how your arms are both fighting your invisible opponent while your arms are also the arms of the invisible opponent fighting you back. You love a good comeback storyline, so most often your invisible opponent really has you in an impossible situation - just totally beat the crap out of you and you are nearly fake dead on the ground before you rise with one last burst of energy to defeat the enemy. It really is something to see you be fully immersed in make believe while we are out here in this boring reality. I have said for a long time that I think maybe you should grow up and be a stunt double in action movies. 

You and Violet are besties; we call you 'the meatballs,' still to this day even though you are both less tiny and round than you used to be when we gave you that name as toddlers. You two spend a lot of time together finding ways to play in a world of make believe - and since you are so easy going and imaginative that make believe world can be a land of all kinds of things: pretend school, pretend library, barbie dolls, baby dolls, superheroes, spies, and pretend city (you guys set up a place of work, a home, a gas station, and the babysitter's house). The messes you make (!!?!), I keep trying to remind myself that I can either have creative kids or a clean house. It makes me so grateful that you and Vi have each other - two peas in a pod - you rarely argue with each other and love each other for exactly all your weird, interesting, (wonderful) quirks. 

You and Grey have different personalities and interests, but the two of you like playing catch, fishing, and wrestling each other. You two will get there, the 6 year gap just feels very big right now. You and Gem are my two sensitive sweetie pies and if either of you need a shoulder to lean on- you come to each other's rescue. Roie will never let anyone hurt you, buddy - and I know you will do the same for her. I pray everyday that your two beating, giant, loving hearts will be safe from this too harsh world but powerful enough to make it softer for everyone else. You are really the most patient big brother to Red and Olive - how very grateful they are to have you to learn from. You are constantly giving up the toy or book that you are using because one of them want it now (only because they see how much fun it is because you have it!) You hug and kiss them, carry them around, help them when they are too little to reach something, and always have time to stop mid stride to tell them they are "so cute." 

You like the smell of my face lotion and tell me to tuck you in after I wash my face and put my lotion on so that it will be the last thing you smell. I love that, Rust. You are so sweet and notice the tiny, small things that end up actually being all the biggest things. I wish I could translate your facial expression most of the time - you almost always have the relaxed expression of someone about to laugh because they know the punchline; they are just waiting for you to realize it. I think maybe you understand the punchline of life, buddy. That we shouldn't be taking it too seriously, that with just a little imagination you can dream up any reality you want, that being with the people you love best of all and telling them you love them and that they are 'so cute' is important enough to pause whatever busy thing you were doing. You are a magical being, Rustman. You breathe life into my heart when I need picked up and that is not your responsibility at all buddy. It's just the truth - by simply existing and being exactly you - that is the power you have.  

I will forever be grateful that we kept you home this year and that I got to be home with you. Just me and you and all those babies. It was magical and healing for my battered, tired, weary soul. I can't say anything else about it because I will cry too much from gratitude.

Mr. Handsome,
I love you so much; you tender-hearted wildling. 
You make me laugh every single day with your wit and humor.
You are fearlessly and brazenly YOU and I hope you always are.
My Rustman, my sweetest boy, who we thought was the baby 
but turned out to be the most incredible, loving, and patient big brother.
I can't believe I get to be your momma.
I will be loving you forever and ever
even when you are so big and still so handsome

Around Here Week 29: 07/17-23

Monday, August 1, 2022

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

from Abba

from Miss Hannah

Studerbabies Teddy Bear Picnic!

Studerbabies Teddy Bear Picnic

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 492+ hours (of 1000)
I'm actually pretty pumped that I'm already so close to 500 hours and it's mid-July. There have been yeas in the past that I only made it to just over 500 hours for the whole year. Anytime the kids start to get whiny or too messy - we go outside! Even if it is just to the back porch, we head outside and it makes everything exponentially easier for me and more fun for them. It really is the secret to spending summer at home with 7 kids 12 years and under and not completely losing your mind.

Reading How We Show Up by Mia Birdsong and 1000 Hours Outside by Ginny Yurich, although not too much of either. Between Studerbabies and trying to figure out plans for the fall - I feel like my brain (and heart) are in a million different directions and I can't get focused on reading. After a few paragraphs, my mind starts to wander.

Sneaking away to Pittsburgh for a night out. Brandon planned the whole thing (even organized the babysitters, we needed 3!) We had a hotel reservation overlooking one of the rivers, we enjoyed drinks and appetizers at a very cool little spot (Forbes Tavern), then fancy-pants dinner reservations where the food was so good, you had to literally close your eyes while savoring every bite (Monterey Bay Fish Grotto). For dessert, we ordered the Angel Food Grilled Cheese and we damn near licked the plate it was so good. You can take the country kids out to the city, but you can't take the country out of the kids. We slept in until 8a (!) before heading back home, but not before stopping to grab some Mexican food and margaritas (La Fiesta) because when on pretend-vacay, right? (thank you to Abba&Chum, Pappy&Gigi, and Miss Hannah&Gemma for watching all the kiddos so we could enjoy a night away!) 

Closing out the Roxbury volleyball season. We made it to playoffs but unfortunately only the first round. It is always such a fun season to be with our Cats team (two of them are my former students!) And playoff night happened to fall on our teammate, Randy's, birthday! He is our fearless captain who keeps us all together all these years (thank you, Randy!) and since it was his fiftieth, I printed out 50 mini Randy photos and hung them up all over the park to celebrate. We got team ice cream after our game too - we just love these summer Tuesday nights with you guys! 

Free playing and feeling grateful for Studerbabies Farm & Free Play. It was a great week - we had a Teddy Bear picnic event on Wednesday and Summer Night like an 80's kid on Friday night. I posted an introduction on facebook this week too and had so many encouraging comments and shares. I was so overwhelmed and surprised by the reactions, but it has my heart fluttering with ideas and maybe there is really something going on here that I need to keep holding on too. I have been feeling very reflective about my effort when my plan is still to back to the classroom in the fall but then I saw this great image from lizandmollie (a great instagram account, you should definitely follow!) and I felt better about keeping doing what I'm doing. 

art by Liz Fosslien

...But really starting to feel the pressure of the coming school year. Trying to figure out what will be best for all of us between the big kids in two different school buildings (1 in middle school and 3 in elementary) and the babies, and me back to work in a completely separate school district, and all the kids''s going to be a huge juggle logistically - but also the financial need for me to go back to work full time. It's all very overwhelming so I keep stupidly pushing it to the back of my mind, trying to reason that I'll deal with it once August gets here...and um, excuse me, Tabitha...August is about to be here. 

Phone free for two days due to water damage. Ugh. I was holding both Liv and Wells and my phone slipped out of my hand and directly into a big bowl of water that the kids had been using for water balloons (I mean, come on!) I got it right out and dried it off, put it in rice, and it continued to work for like five hours until it just died. I didn't mind being without a phone (although Saturday was tricky because of kids at different sporting events), but as a mom of six with kids each with activities and practices, and a cheer coach on the verge of the season, and relying solely on my phone for photos....yeah, I needed to find a solution quick.

Visiting the vet for the pups. They are all up to date on their vaccinations and we will continue Bullet on his old man pain meds as he is in his 'twilight' years. He is definitely slowing down, but his bursts of random energy just like he's always done are still present (although he def needs naps afterwards). Trixie's surgery is scheduled for later in August for her belly. 

Taking a dip at the Fiores house after Gem's basketball tournament - whew! How grateful to have lunch and a swim with them because it was hot as Hades outside. Our body temperatures were probably unsafely high until we got into that water - no kidding! Thank you for coming to the event to support our Gemma and then always opening your home (and heart) for us. Love you guys. xxo

Sporting a lot and all over the place this week. Grey had football conditioning on Wednesday morning and baseball practice two nights this week. Then he played in the VEA baseball tournament with two games on Saturday. Gemma and Violet attended open gym for basketball on Tuesday and we picked up Vi's friend Giada to go with us. Then Gem had basketball practice on Wednesday to prepare for her 3v3 basketball tournament at Hoopsfest in Altoona on Saturday. What a cool event - it was really amazing with basketball courts set up all over the street and parking lots with teams ranging from U8 to 40 years and over! It was an awesome day and Gem and her team learned so much. They played up in a U12 league (Gem is 10), so although they took some beatings - it was a great learning opportunity and Gem and one of her teammates, Leah, were young enough to play in that same level for the next two years yet! We are looking forward to it now! On Monday night, we had equipment handout for fall sports for the youth league - so I got to meet and greet a bunch of my cheerleaders and hang out with my co-coach, Brittany all evening. Looking forward to the fall season! 

Making fridge leftover clean out, bbq chicken tostadas on the Blackstone grill, breaded & grilled pork chops, chicken cordon bleu casserole, and frozen pizza. When we got home on Saturday from our basketball and baseball games, I was so touched to see that the grocery fairy visited us and left a pile of groceries on our porch(thank you Heather!! You are so thoughtful and it is so very appreciated - lucky to have you in my life always supporting me and this crazy life!  

Keto check-in bleh bleh bleh. I need to get my act together!