May Kindness: Studer scholarship

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This was the third year that Brandon and I gave away a scholarship to a Conemaugh Valley senior.  We work with the guidance counselor to get the word spread about our scholarship opporunity.  Then we ask any hs senior interested to write a short essay about the positive influence that they had while attending Valley.  We also receive copies of their extracurricular activities and their future plans.  We were so happy to recieve TWELVE scholarship applications this year and we were truly insprired to read about all that the hs students have accomplished over their high school careers.

We read about students that found alternative ways to do what they love when not initially given the opportunity to them at the school.  And students who were working after school to help make money to go to college.  Students who were starting new school projects get off of the ground in its first year of implementation.  And students that were working in various organizations with the elementary school kids.

We had to narrow the applications down in waves, and it was hard to knock them down each time.  We wish we could give something to everyone, but in the end it came down to a student that reminded us about what we love Valley for so much in the first place.

You might remember when I posted about our CV Alumni Turkey Bowl back in Novemeber...when in the pouring rain, alumni showed up to participate and raise money for the school.  Outside of asking alumni to come that day, we have also requested that high school current students come to the event to volunteer or help out, since they can't participate yet as alumni.  Well in 2 years that we've held the Turkey Bowl - only 1 high school student has showed up both years to volunteer at the event.  And just as we so much appreciate the alumni that showed up that day for us - we knew we had to honor the one student that showed up when he was needed.  London Graham truly embodies what we love so much about our community; that when you need someone to be there - they'll be there.

Congratulations, London Graham and all the Valley 2011 graduates!  We, as alumni, are proud of you!

In case you were wondering to yourself, "Starting a scholarship sounds cool, but how in the world do I do that?"

It's reallllly easy and awesome.  so here's how:

1. contact the school's guidance counselor and let him/her know that you would be interested in starting a scholarship in your/someone else's name.  For example, if your momma loves her some smart kids - starting a scholarship in honor of your mom is a great gift...and one you can re-do every year!

2. Decide what the criteria will be for winning your scholarship.  We chose for student's to complete an essay about their postive influence because unless this is your first time visiting our blog - you know we love us some kindness.  But you could make the criteria be anything you the kid needs to have played the sport you played when you were in HS and be going to college for the same major you had...for example:)

3. Decide how much you're willing to scholarship and then figure out how you'll afford it.  Do you remember when you were going to college and how another $100 bucks would have been awesome.  Cut a few trips to the drive through over the course of the year and booyah - you have your scholarship money set aside

4. Be prepared to make some decisions, because you won't believe how hard it will be to pick just one student

5. Be proud - you are helping someone get an education, and that is a pretty awesome thing to do.

6. Let your tax attorney know that you awarded a scholarship and back it up with a letter from the school.  hello tax refund.

Tab & Tash week of madness

After mother's day, Grey, Bully & I were very lucky and happy that my little sis decided to spend the week with us and  help out while Brandon continues to work in Johnstown.  It was only the forty-third time in my adult life that I have contemplated polygamy as a feasible lifestyle.  seriously, more than one woman in the house is kind of awesome.  Anywhooo, I was able to get lots of actual work and house work done while Tash was on hand for occupying baby and dog.  It was amazing.

Besides being handy for everyday living, it was also especially helpful since we had to sneak out of our house with said baby and dog numerous times to allow for potential buyers to check out our place.  But getting out of the house also meant that we could do things like:  meet Sammie & JP at the ERie zoo!
zebras, and babies, and wagons; oh my!

crazy swimming penguins!

our cute babies

Aunt Uch went all the way up to the top of the big kid playground with Grey!

Sammie says, "me-ow, me-ow, BIG me-ow"

Or meet Aunt Kitty (who drove up from Butler after work) at Preque Isle for a little late afternoon beach time.

Grey & his aunts feetsies

And lots of outside playtime while Mum got to get some work done in peace and quiet.

on a hot day - mummie lets you dunk your whole arm in a pitcher of water!

It was so nice having Uch here (hi, tash!)  Not just because she was such a huge help, but because she is my friend and it is so good to spend time with her and talk, talk, talk for a million years.  Thank you for staying with us, Aunt Uch.  We love you!

yes, i'm still here

first, thanks for hanging around even though my blogging has taken a turn for the radio silent lately

second, I'm working on multiple posts to update on our slightly chaotic lives

third, i miss you guys too:)

hello, our little friends

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We have a pair of friends that like to visit right outside of Greyson's bedroom window.  It is a pair of two little green hummingbirds and they visit the feeder that is placed in the flowerbed, accidentally outside of booboo's window.  We discovered them there about a week ago and noticed that not only do they drink from our feeder, but they like to sit atop the garden cane that holds the feeder.  It's adorable.

Greyson has a little fascination with birds these days;  he thinks all birds say "caw caw" like crows.  So whenever he looks out any window he says "caw caw" which is awkwardly close to "ca-ca" which makes strangers think he's telling us he went poop.  Anyway, because of his love of birds, now when he gets up from his nap each day - we spend a few minutes looking out the window at his two little hummingbird friends. 

Now that I see first hand how nature is the best teacher and so captivating to kids; I think I'll set bird feeders outside of my children's windows for always.

This is an excerpt from Brian Doyle's Joyas Voladores, originally from the Autumn 2004 addition of The American ScholarI first read his essay at my sister's house after her suggestion (hi, kayla!) and I fell in love with the piece.  Now each time I see these little guys playing outside Grey's window, I keep thinking about Doyle's writing.  enjoy:)

"Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird's heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird's heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird's heart is a lot of the hummingbird. Joyas voladores, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammering faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests.

Each one visits a thousand flowers a day. They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backwards. They can fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest. But when they rest they come close to death: on frigid nights, or when they are starving, they retreat into torpor, their metabolic rate slowing to a fifteenth of their normal sleep rate, their hearts sludging nearly to a halt, barely beating, and if they are not soon warmed, if they do not soon find that which is sweet, their hearts grow cold, and they cease to be. Consider for a moment those hummingbirds who did not open their eyes again today, this very day, in the Americas: bearded helmetcrests and booted racket-tails, violet-tailed sylphs and violet-capped woodnymphs, crimson topazes and purple-crowned fairies, red-tailed comets and amethyst woodstars, rainbow-bearded thornbills and glittering-bellied emeralds, velvet-purple coronets and golden-bellied star-frontlets, fiery-tailed awlbills and Andean hillstars, spatuletails and pufflegs, each the most amazing thing you have never seen, each thunderous wild heart the size of an infant's fingernail, each mad heart silent, a brilliant music stilled.

Hummingbirds, like all flying birds but more so, have incredible enormous immense ferocious metabolisms. To drive those metabolisms they have race-car hearts that eat oxygen at an eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. They have more mitochondria in their heart muscles -- anything to gulp more oxygen. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight. The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures more than any other living creature. It's expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old....

...So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end -- not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother's papery ancient hand in a thicket of your hair, the memory of your father's voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children."

no, seriously you guys!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I pride myself on being the mom that puts her kid in time out when he plays in the dog dish
and then one that says you're okay, get up, you can do it when Greyson gets knocked over by Bullet
and says, its okay, he'll have worse pain in his life than this  when the nurses apologize for 20 minutes after giving him his vaccinations

I'm a tough love kind of mom because I want Grey to be confident and strong.  I want him to persevere and try, try again.  I want him to make the right choice when it comes to right & wrong.

But as of lately, he's been giving me these faces...

And I can hardly hold back a smile while saying do not put that muffin into Bullet's mouth, it's not Bullet's, its yours

I'm turning into a softie because my kid's face is so damn cute. 

Dear Future girlfriends,
you don't stand a freaking chance. 
I'm just sayin..
greyson's mom

Color Bins

Since Grey has become more observant, we've started to practice colors in our house.  I saw this ingenius idea on a website for practicing colors.  Grey is still a little young to totally get the concept of colors, but we're practicing anyway.  Our first color to practice is blue for two reasons; first - grey is a pro at the [b] sound thanks to "bullet," "ball," and "bubba." So I figure "blue" isn't too far off.  Second - we have tons of blue stuff all over our house since blue is traditionally a "boy" color and it is in high demand in these parts.

To start our study of the color blue (hahhhaha), we collected blue things around the house to put into a bin.  And by "we," I mean me.  So as I was searching around Greyson's room for blue stuff, I made a big fuss about anything that was blue...kind of like this:

Wow, Grey, look a BLUE hat!
(Greyson looks at the hat and raises his eyebrows)
Booboo, look!  A BLUE scarf
(Greyson takes the silkie off of me and rubs his nose with it)
Greyson, look at this - its a BLUE cup!
(Grey makes the sign for drink)
Booboo, wow, I can't believe it - its a BLUE block
(Greyson goes over to get a book out of his case; totally over it)
End lesson.

BLUE collection
 Now that our blue bin is collected, we pull it out occasionally and go through all the BLUE items while we say "BLUE!" (and by we, I mean me) while taking anything out and putting anything back in.  it's crazy fun....i'm kidding.  It's crazy redundant and mind-numbing as most learning with a toddler is. 

Grey also used BLUE crayons to color in a picture of the word BLUE.  Because if it is not obvious enough, I was an ESL teacher and these are the types of kooky things that elementary teachers do. 

before you start thinking my child is the next Picaso - that is my in-the-lines-coloring there.  (cool it, grandmas, heheh)

At some point, we'll move onto other colors, but for now we're happy to learn and point out anything BLUE within eye sight...And I think its pretty obvious how its sinking in.  I mean, could it be any more apparent that my child totally gets what his crazy mum is talking about, right?!

That's right Greyson, You're eating a BLUE crayon!  Crayons aren't for eating, they are for coloring. 
End lesson.

my second mother's day

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The day before mother's day, I got hit with a bout of the stomach flu and thought I was going to die.  And then I called in the reserves - ie. my in-laws, baby sister, and then had to talk my mom out of trekking all the way to ERie (thus ruining her mother's day - thank you though, mumma.  I know you would've been here if I didn't threaten you <3...just goes to show you, even at 27 years old, my mumma is still willing to do whatever I need her to do). 

On Mother's day, both my husband and father in law sat through an hour and a half mass (so sneaky scheduling first holy communion on Mother's day!!) without any whining, which was present enough.  But I also got the entire backyard mowed, a delicious lunch, two beautiful hanging baskets (that I quite honestly have a very weird obsession about), and so many helping hands to get the house ready for a week long of showings.  Oh yea, and it was a beautiful sunny day - happy mother's day to you, Mother Nature.

a family only a mother could be proud of :)  hehhe, just kidding...kind of

only 1 year ago!  My first mother's day!
Mother's day 2011 - 2nd mother's day:)

kissa kissa for grammie on Mother's day!

Brandon and his mumma on mother's day
So now that I have a whole year of mothering under my belt, what have I learned so far?
  • there is no such thing as mummie-time off.  even when i'm taking "mummie time outs," I'm still thinking about the baby
  • I used to be the girl that would say in a super judgemental judy tone; my kids will never do...blahblahblah and now if I could talk to that young version of me, I'd smack me and say, you have no freaking idea. 
  • gag reflex is about zero after a year of every possible body fluid ending up on your hands...or in your hair, or sometimes even in your mouth.
  • there is no feeling worse than not knowing how to help your child when he's in pain
  • being a mum gives you super powers you didn't know you had.  these super powers let you run on very little sleep, make up silly songs that impossibly rhyme about hygiene, sing babies to sleep from the driver's seat on long car rides, speak in different voices depending on the stuffed animal, and balance a  baby in one hand, laptop in the other, while holding the phone between  your chin and shoulder, and closing a door with your foot
  • being a mum is the best
  • being a mum is also the hardest
  • the mummie still trumps all. 
i'm happy to be his best friend for as long as he'll have me
And number 1 lesson:  Never, ever, EVER assume you can reprimand your child with a straight face.  One lift of those eyebrows or a hint of a devilish grin and I end up holding back a smile while trying to teach, you do not put rocks in your mouth - that is how people choke to death.

that face.  how can i not just want to kiss it?

Steve&Megan; aka Dad &Mum go to Indianapolis

We kicked off our wedding season this year with a road trip to Indianapolis to celebrate the wedding of our friend Steve to his new wife, Megan.  Brandon and Steve worked together a few years ago, so it was so nice to get to spend the weekend with him during such a momentous occasion.  My mom & Fran came up that weekend to stay with booboo (hi, mum!  thank you!) while Bud and I made the 6.5 hour drive to Indianapolis.  Hooray for mum&dad alone time...even if it is in a car.

3 hours into the drive

going a little wackadoo

5 and a half hours into the drive...showing off my newly painted fingernails:)

 We made it into Indianapolis just in time for the 2p rehearsal.  So Brandon dropped me and the car off at our hotel and made the trek over to the rehearsal while I was going to change out of my comfy driving clothes and into a little more "smart casual" appropriate:)  I ironed Brandon's shirt, turned on the curling iron and went to slip into my dress...when (after 6.5 hours) I finally realized I had left both of my dresses hanging up in my ERie.  packing fail. 

Luckily, we had a mall attached to our hotel, so I did a really efficient trip to H&M and picked up a new dress (and of course matching shoes) and was ready by the time Brandon got back at 3:30p.  We had a great time at a wine bar and then super yummy bbq at the rehearsal.  Brandon had a whooping good time with the other groomsmen after dinner while I enjoyed some mummie time off in the hotel crying over the royal wedding highlights on CNN.  loser?  i like to think not.

On Saturday, Brandon went on a tour around Indianapolis in a giant chicken, I made another trip to the mall for a wedding dress from Express (and matching jewelry this time -Forever21), and then we met back up again at the wedding.  The ceremony & reception were at the Mavris Arts & Events Center which was beautiful. 

cake cutting:)
Mavris reception room
  Steve had a great idea to get all of the groomsmen their own "signature" vest for the reception.  They each wore a traditional vest & tie for the ceremony, but afterwards they donned their own vests depending on their personality.  Now that Bud had a Mossy Oak camo vest and bowtie for keeps, he claims its going to be his go-to wedding attire for all future weddings.  (sorry, friends)

Groom & Groomsman
speciality vests!  Golfer, UK flag, Mossy Oak camo

Congratulations Megan & Steve!

We had a great time dancing, enjoying the outdoor patio, chocolate fountain (!!), and taking hilarious pictures in the photo booth.  It was a great time and so nice to get away, just the two of us.

April Kindness: The ANNA Shelter

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our April Kindness this year was in honor of our dog, Bullet.  We made a donation of goods to the animal shelter that we adopted Bully from in December of 2009.  The ANNA Shelter is a low-kill shelter here in Erie.  During our donation drop off, Greyson got to visit with the dogs that they currently are looking to adopt with his Aunt Uch - while Bullet and I took a walk around outside...because let's be honest:  Bullet would go totally wacky with all those dogs barking.

Before making our donation purchase; we checked the ANNA shelter website to make sure we were donating things that they most needed.  We dropped off a few bags of:  towels, bleach, cat litter, dog treats, dog chew toys, and laundry detergent.

We love Bully and are so grateful that he was kept at a place like the ANNA shelter so that we had the opportunity to adopt him.  Since he's part Pitbull, it would be most likely that in any other place he would have been first on the list to be put down.  But because of the ANNA shelter's commitment to finding homes for all dogs, we got to have this crazy, lovable, and loyal pup in our family.

Our first home transformation

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interested in seeing our house from when we bought it until when we're selling it?  Who doesn't love a good home reno slideshow? 
Time progression:  November 2009 - May 2011

Front Yard:  Before
 Updates:  Vinyl shutters, new landscaping, tree trimming, hanging baskets

Front Yard:  After

Kitchen:  Before
Updates:  Close previous entryway, re-paint

Kitchen:  After

 Living Room:  Before
Updates:  re-paint, re-tiled hearth, curtain rod, removal of blinds

Living Room:  After

 Basement/Man Cave:  Before

Updates:  re-painting

Basement/Man Cave:  After

 Nursery/Bedroom:  Before
Updates:  re-painting, curtain rod, carpeting

Nursery/Bedroom:  After

 Sunroom:  Before
 Updates:  un-carpeting, re-paint, re-trim, curtain rods, painted concrete floor, replace screens, re-grout

Sunroom:  After

Backyard:  Before

 Updates:  stain & waterproof deck, vinyl fence, landscaping, relocated firepit, updated shed, shutters

Backyard:  After

Master Bathroom:  Before
 Updates:  re-paint, new high efficiency toilet, new showerhead

Master Bathroom:  After

Guest Bathroom: Before
 Updates:  re-paint, new high efficiency toilet, curtain rod & curtain

Guest Bathroom:  After

Master Bedroom:  Before
 Updates:  expansion, carpeting, curtain rods, his&her walk-in closets, painting

Master Bedroom:  After

Foyer:  Before

 Updates:  Close entrance to back room, expanded entry way to kitchen/living area, tile floor installed, paint, addition of custom coat rack

Foyer:  After

Dining Room:  Before
 Updates:  Painting, new light fixture, expanding doorway

Dining Room:  After

Bullet:  Before
Updates:  potty training, becoming comfortable in his surroundings, eating anything in sight

Bullet:  After

...wait, how'd that last one get in there?