Stories in the Car: The time Mumma got her arm stuck and her underpants were showing

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We have not had a working radio in our truck for about six months.  And this is the main vehicle we drive with our three kids.  This is rather annoying.

However, it does provide a very big opportunity to actually talk and listen to each other that I know we wouldn't be doing if we had the option to listen to music instead.  And, so the best way we have come to pass the time is for us to tell stories to the kids about our real lives when we were young.

The kids absolutely love listening to stories about their parents, our siblings, friends, and their grandparents from before they were born.  Nearly every time a story ends, the kids shout out,' tell it again!'

We don't plan for the stories to come out, they are just whatever odd little bits and pieces we have in our minds right then about days long gone.  Sometimes the stories are of lessons learned, sometimes they are priceless memories of loved ones that we have lost, examples of how blessed we have been to have such wonderful siblings and friends, and sometimes they are just downright silly.

...which is exactly like this one that I told them the other day while we were out running errands.

A long time ago, Mum was just a girl.  Like as old as Daddy's basketball players, and Aunt Kitty was a little bit younger than me.  And it was the day of a dance at our school where the girls got to pick which boy they wanted to take to the dance.  This is called a Sadie Hawkins dance.  So all the girls got to pick any boy we wanted to ask to the dance.

Grey:  I bet I know who you asked, Mum!  (whispering) I bet she says, Daddy, Gem.

That's right!  I asked Daddy because he was the nicest, funniest, and handsomest boy.  And also he was my boyfriend.  And Aunt Kitty had asked Uncle Juice and since Uncle Juice and Daddy were best friends, they decided they were going to come pick us up together.

So Aunt Kitty and I got dressed up fancy and we were so excited for Daddy and Uncle Juice to get there!  We were kneeling on Mumma's old bed and looking out the window staring at the driveway just waiting and waiting because we were just so excited!  Ya know, how you guys do that too; stare out the window for someone to come.

Grey:  Yea, like when Pappy is coming for karate!

Yea, like that.  So we were waiting and waiting and so excited and laughing like this:  "hehehehehhe!" about everything because we just couldn't even stand ourselves.  It was really silly.  And then because we were being so silly and goofy, Mumma's earring fell out and slid down the hole between the bed and the wall.

Gem:  Oh no, Mumma!  You was wearing earrings?
Grey:  Could you get it or was it lost?

Well, I slid my arm down in that space between the bed and wall but you know how its kind of a small space, right?  So I slid my arm down there and was feeling all around and I found it!  I found my earring!  But when I tried to pull my arm out, it was stuck!

Gem:  Mumma!  No!  I don't like this.
Grey:  Did you get it out?
Gem:  This is making me feel very sad.
Grey:  Was it hurting you?

Well at first I kept trying to pull it but my arm was still stuck.  It wasn't hurting too bad, but just a little when I was trying to pull it!  Well, you should have seen Aunt Kitty, she was laughing and laughing.  And since I had on a skirt to be a fancy girl at the dance, my whole underpants were sticking out because I had my arm stuck in that hole and my butt was up trying to pull my arm out!

Grey:  hahah!  Your underpants! hahahhah!
Gem:  Mummmmmmmmma!  Come on!

So Aunt Kitty was still laughing, and I was still stuck, and my underpants were still sticking out and Aunt Kitty kept teasing me that Daddy and Uncle Juice were there!  She kept looking out the window and saying, "Oops!  They're here!"  and then I would say nervous, "Ah!  they are?!" but she'd laugh and laugh and say "No!  Good thing because your underpants are sticking out!"

Gem:  I'm going to be mad at Aunt Kitty.  I don't want her to tease my Mumma!  You're my best mumma!
Grey:  Were Daddy and Uncle Juice really there?
Gem:  Aunt Kitty not nice for teasing my best Mumma!

So finally!  I got my arm unstuck and fixed my skirt and put my earring back in!  And then Daddy and Uncle Juice drove to our house and knocked on the door and Chum said, "Hello boys, what are you doing here?"  And Daddy and Uncle Juice said, "We're here to take the girls to the dance."  And when me and Aunt Kitty came out dressed fancy, Daddy and Uncle Juice said, "Wow, you girls look great!"  And we said, "You guys too!"  And then we went to the dance and laughed and danced and had fun all night!  The End!

Grey:  Can you say that part about Aunt Kitty teasing you about Daddy coming when he really wasn't again?
Gem:  No!  I don't like that part!

Mumma and Kitty circa December 1999

A day in the life of the coach's wife

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm a Mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend and also a writer, family memory-keeper, volunteer event planner, Sunday school teacher, co-owner of a small business, and in-home chef.

But during the months of November through February, I am predominantly the Coach's wife.

Each morning, Coach and I sneak out of bed without waking up two of our kids who have found their way to us in the middle of the night while it is still dark outside.  He gets ready for work while I start coffee and pack food that will serve as his breakfast, lunch, and pre-practice snack.  A quick kiss and he's out the door for work while I attempt to get things prepared for a long day with three kids under five.

Then its breakfast, home preschool lessons, nursing the baby, breaking up fights over who started being rude first.  It's laundry, and lunch, emails sent for an upcoming event to benefit the high school, and multiple glances at the clock.  Gemma catches sight of a college basketball game on the television as I flip channels to cartoons and she shouts out gleefully, "Let's go Valley!"  Greyson insists I watch him play basketball in his room while I feed the baby as he provides commentary on who he is pretending to be the entire time (Look, Mum, Dante has the ball!  Nice shot, Jake!  Drew from downtown!)  Gemma provides the halftime show as 'the little kids get to play on the court.' Once the baby is burped, I am enlisted to stand in as a 'bad team' (the "Yellow Jackets" or the "Shade") as Grey giggles and calls out his 'friends' names all of whom play on Daddy's team.

Early afternoon sets in and I'm overjoyed to receive a text from Coach that he has a minute to swing by to pick up Grey to go to practice with him.  "Make sure he's ready though, I'm going to be cutting it close" says the text.  Grey is ecstatic and dresses head to toe like the teenage players do and even packs his Spiderman backpack with a change of clothes so he can shower after practice.  He wants so badly to be like those big boys.  'Mum, do I look like a real player?' he asks as Coach swings in the door, swiftly changes into his practice clothes, smacks kisses on his three girls and he and Booboo march out into the cold for practice.  I'm down to two kids!  

I get Gem bathed, feed the baby again, bathe the baby and get in some playtime and snacks with our two sweet, silly girls.  Gemmi gets some much deserved choose-her-own movie on the iPad while I fold clothes and iron Coach's work/game shirts.  Gemmi announces, 'I want my Daddy' before falling to sleep on the couch.  I move her up to her bed and I'm down to one kid.  Violet hangs out with me in the kitchen while I start dinner at 8p so it will be ready by quarter of nine when the boys should be getting home. 

At 9p I wonder where they are and finally call to check at twenty after but it goes to voicemail.  At 9:40p they finally make it home, Grey still wide awake and dinner in the oven staying warm.  A player wanted to stay after to run through some workouts and a parent had called on the way home.  I finish feeding the baby for the last time today and Coach gives her a kiss and puts her to bed himself while stopping in to kiss Gemma while she sleeps soundly.  

Dinner starts at nearly 10pm and even though he knows its late Grey still begs to play basketball before bedtime (we don't but promise to tomorrow).  Once Grey is fed and in bed, Coach and I talk about his work day, practice, and which players are doing well and which are not.  We talk about the team we play tomorrow and who will start and why.  

I sit and listen in complete pride that those teenage boys have my capable, dedicated, and loyal husband as their coach.  I also feel entirely grateful that my husband has those talented, hilarious, inspiring teenagers in his life.  That we have those kids in our life.  

I clean up, Coach takes out the garbage, organizes stuff for work tomorrow, and gives the dogs much needed attention while catching a college basketball game and rewinding it to call out to me, 'Babe, come watch this.'  We both wearily make it up to bed before 11:30p.

And today, we'll do it again, but it's game day - so later tonight, I'll feed the baby right.before.we.go and then I'll get three kids bundled and loaded into the car by myself and drive twenty-five minutes to the gym talking and telling stories so the kids don't fall asleep on the way there.  

I'll remind Gemma that we can't see Daddy until after the game even though he's close enough to call out to, I'll take pictures for the senior day program I'll need to make in a few weeks, I'll sell 50/50 tickets, I'll  allow the kids to buy a vending machine or concession snack (or the equivalent of dinner tonight, oops!).  I'll keep a running tab in my mind at how much longer I have until I have to feed the baby again and double check that I packed my nursing apron in the diaper bag.  

I'll cheer enthusiastically for players who are not my own kids,  I'll be able to guess what Coach tells a player he just pulled from the game, I'll bite my tongue when I hear negative comments about Coach from the fans behind me who don't know who I am, and I'll recognize the clench in Coach's jaw after a bad call and know it will be a point of discussion later tonight when we get home.  

We'll wait in the gym lobby, saying goodbye and 'good game' to all the players as they head out to their cars to go home.  We'll talk to the AD and her kids and joke with the custodial staff and security guards as Greyson and Gemma run circles and Violet starts to get a little fussy as she'll be well ready for bed.  

We will be the very last cars to leave the parking lot, driving separately home for the twenty-five minute ride hoping the kids will fall asleep before we get to the driveway.  And then we'll stay awake chatting about the amazing moments in the game, and the frustrating moments, and whether or not things could have gone differently.  I'll ask about the post-game locker room chat and we'll talk about how things will go at practice tomorrow and who we have next game.  We'll try to get to bed before midnight.

It's our Daddy that gets quoted in the newspaper, and our Daddy who gets congratulated or blamed after wins and losses.  It's our Daddy who proudly wears a blue jacket that has the word 'Coach' embroidered on the sleeve. And our Daddy who rides the bus to games, attends weekend practices on his only days off from his full-time job, and who answers calls from parents, players, and notes from teachers about his players' behaviors in class.  It's our Daddy who stays late after practice to give personal attention to players who ask for it or need it, who shows up late or leaves early from birthday parties, and who's basketball schedule determines where, when, and how we make plans for most of the winter months. 

Our Daddy is the Coach, but it is our entire family who is committed to the Blue Jays.  

And quite honestly, we wouldn't choose to have it any other way.

let's go valley!

The Eleventeen Period

Friday, January 16, 2015

we are currently residing in the Eleventeen Period.

A time where someday we will look back in awe and captivation at how interesting and simpler it will seem through glasses smudged like the camera at the dmv where our teenagers will receive their first driver's licenses.

The Eleventeen Period is full of movement, and voices too loud, and belief in magic.  It will be remembered fiercely for its lack of personal space and the inability to arrive anywhere at the time expected.

It is a period where time itself is suspended.  

  • Getting older is circular; you can grow bigger and smaller.  Mommy, when you grow little and I'm big, I'll let you play with my babies.  (Gemma Rose)
  • The idea of forever or 'your whole life long' is unfathomable.  But how many years will we need to have bedtime?  Forever.  For your whole life you'll go to sleep at night.  No, Mumma, are you telling a lie?  (Greyson Rudy in a conversation with Mum)

  • Distinction between kid and adult exists but no distinction within.  When will you get a baby in your belly, Abba?  (Greyson Rudy to his grandmother)

It is a period where everyone has the potential to be or do anything as well as the next person.

  • There are no limitations of fear or embarrassment.  Do you think your Uncle Jonny can sing?  Mum, everyone can sing.  (Greyson Rudy in a conversation with Mum)

  • There are no connections to or concerns about societal expectations.  Daddy, you look beautiful like a princess girl.  You need some more lipstick though.  (Gemma Rose while giving her Dad a makeover)

  • Where beauty truly lies in the eye of the beholder.  Mumma!  You look so beautiful, i love this dress!  (Gemma Rose when she sees her Mum in a floral robe)

It is a period where there is no place more safe, no people more fun and important than inside our home and with our family.

  • There is almost no limit on the vast amount of arbitrary thoughts that absolutely need recounted to loved ones.  Mum, I was looking at that football in the yard and then thinking maybe if someone loved football so much they could stack up footballs and more footballs all the way up to build a football house. Wouldn't that be cool? (Greyson Rudy to Mum while he stared thoughtfully out the window)

  • That being away from one another is cause for concern and a need for reassurance.  Will you come back?  Will Bullet come back too?  I'll be so worried.  (Gemma Rose when Mum was taking Bullet to the vet)

  • That words and acts of affection are given freely and without restraint.  Dad, I love you so much! (Greyson Rudy to his Dad every day without provocation).  You the best Mummie ever!  (Gemma Rose after receiving a hershey kiss from her Mum after lunch)

The Eleventeen Period will last for what will feel like eons.  Forever we will feel stuck in the days of Eleventeen - wishing for just minutes of time that would allow us a shower, or meals that don't include a defcon five clean-up duty afterwards.

And then one day, our children will count straight to twenty without any mention of eleventeen

...and it will be over.

What happened to eleventeen? we'll ask each other with frantic eyes.  How could eleventeen have slipped out the backdoor without either of us noticing; leaving to never ever return to us.  Did eleventeen enjoy her stay?  Did we do a good job of appreciating and acknowledging her before she vanished before our eyes?

Like most time periods, Eleventeen glistens in gold when you look back on her.  It's the living through her with your head down and heels dug in while you nearly collapse under the weight of the 'did they eat enough real food today?  Will we ever be on time for an appointment?  How many days in a row has he worn those dirty clothes? when you lose sight of Eleventeen's beauty.

It's easier to look back and be grateful than it is to look around and notice the beauty hiding under the legos that were left on the floor or the magic in that moment as a reluctant child finally closes their eyes to sleep while you rub circles on their back.

Dear Eleventeen,
Please, please, please help me see the beauty and magic in the endless questions and the endlessly sticky hands.  Help me recognize the greater need of 'hold you' for a few seconds longer than the need to unload the dishwasher before the dishes pile up in the sink.

Even though I complain and sigh about you so often, I do love you so much Eleventeen.  Please don't go soon.  You are welcome here for as long as you wish to stay.
I appreciate you,

stories from Booboo & Miss Ro

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It has recently been just non-stop hilarity over here from my two big kids.  For some hump day laughs, please enjoy these two little comedians.

chocolate milk at New Years

While brushing my hair
Gemma:  you looking beautiful, momma.
Me: Thanks honey for fixing my hair
Gemma:  okay, now I need scissors
Me:  Gem.  No.
walking towards the steps to go downstairs
Gemma:  It's okay, Momma, I'm just going to cut MY hair
Me:  Gemma.  I said No.  You cannot use scissors right now and you definitely can not cut your own hair!
Gemma:  I don't understand you.
Me:  Come back in here, honey.
Gemma: (stomping in room) I don't care!

While discussing his basketball birthday party (in APRIL; 3 months away)
Greyson:  and Daddy's whole basketball team is invited
Me:  Hah, okay, sweetheart
Greyson:  and you need to put on their papers for inviting  (breathless) You...can...sleep....over!!
Me:  Um, I don't think that's going to work, buddy.  There's too many, where would everyone fit?
Greyson:  The littlest player, Mark* can use my sleeping bag.  
Me:  And what about Gabe*?  He's so long, where will he sleep?
Greyson:  I have a great idea!  Under our bunk beds!
*names changed to protect players' identities  (hahha)

Greyson:  Mom!!  Gemma said a fairy stole her make-up
Gemma:  A fairy did take it.  He picked it up and flew it away with his wings!

Greyson:  What other colors are lions?
Me:  I think just orange, yellow, and brown.  I've never heard of a white or black lion.
Greyson:  There are white ones in Antarctica
Greyson:  there are!  
Me:  where did you hear that?
Greyson:  Daddy told me
Greyson:  you didn't hear us because we were sneaking downstairs talking quietly
Greyson:  okay, I'm telling a lie, but I know there are white lions in Antarctica.  I just know inside my heart.

Momentarily angry at her grandfather Chum
Gemma:  You are the child and I am the genius!

While I was attempting to scrub paint off of the carpet bedroom floor
Me:  Grey, this is a really big mess, buddy.  Why weren't you being more careful with the paint?
Greyson:  I was in a panic
Greyson:  Well, remember I'm an elf because of my ears are pointy.  And I was in a panic because I didn't know why I wasn't at the North Pole
Greyson:  Okay, I'm not an elf, Mom, I'm just growing.

We have a saying around here when the kids start repeating whine-requests 30 times in a row that goes something like "How many times do you have to say it?" and the kids answer "One time."
So while we were getting ready for bed and I was feeding the baby
Gemma:  Momma,
Me:  sweetheart, as soon as Violet eats, I will put her in her bed and hold you forever and ever
Gemma:  Momma,
Me:  Gem, honey, in just a minute.  lay down and wait for me.
Me:  that's enough Gemma Rose
Gemma:  How many times do I have to say it, Momma?  Five Times?  Yes, five times!!  Hold me, hold me, hold me,
Gemma:  hold me, hold me, hold me,.....

After nearly breaking his neck doing a front flip on the couch
Me:  Grey!  Are you okay?!  Why would you do that?!
Greyson:  (laughing hysterically) It's okay Mum, I'm just re-dick-lee-ous

Gemma:  (all sung)
Here are my babies
Momma, I brought you some besketti (play spaghetti)
And this is my Momma's happy valentines
with coooooooooookies 
they taste so nice
but greyson cannot have any
stop looking at me greyson!
I am playing with my babies
not youuuuuuuuuuuu

Here's hoping your Wednesday is filled with laughter - from all of us here at the Studer Zoo Crew, but especially this little darling angel girl who giggles and makes raspberries at her 'reedickleeous' big bro and sis all day :)

12 Months of Kindness: 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 will be our seventh year of committing to twelve months of kindness.  We've been planning out an act of kindness for each month since we've been married and now it just feels like it is a part of us; a part of the root that our family grows up from.

Over the past six years, our 12 Months of Kindness project has given our years (and lives) a little something extra.  A little less bit of feeling like we're just steadily marching through time - it has forced us, at least once a month, to look up from our daily busy and see how much we have to be grateful for.  A reminder that because we have been given much, we too must give.  

It strengthens our desire to be those kinds of people.  The kinds of people who resolve to take responsibility for those around them.  The kinds of people that focus on what is possible and not what feels overwhelming.  The kinds of people who extend a hand into the empty space between us and another.  That's the kind of people we want to be and 12 Months of Kindness is a monthly reminder that we can be those kinds of people; as long as we keep trying.

There are a few important pieces to making sure you have a successful year of 12 Months of Kindness and after six years - we've found these to the be main cornerstones:
  1. Plan ahead:  it is imperative to make your list of 12 acts of kindness at the start of your year.  Look through the future months and consider the events you already have scheduled (birthdays, vacations, seasons, holidays, etc) and try to think about acts of kindness that will be feasible within each month's constraints (financial, time, physical)
  2. Make sure your tasks are measurable:  this is important on all lists you make, but especially for the 12 Months of Kindness List.  Make it an actionable item, instead of saying "Give back to our neighborhood" - this is hard to measure when it comes time to whether or not this month was a success.  Sure, you didn't start any neighborhood fights and you waved to your elderly neighborhood - but maybe not necessarily something you'd officially qualify as "giving back."  Decide instead on a the specific way in which you'll 'give back' - for example, "Pick up trash on our road."  or "Give a monetary donation to our local fire department."  Those are both tasks that you can certifiably check off the list; you know when they've been completed for sure.  
  3. Display your list in a high-traffic place:  our list of 12 acts of kindness hangs on our fridge so that we walk past it several times a day.  After the first task is crossed off/highlighted, it serves as even more motivation to continue to make sure we are meeting our goals at monthly kindness.  
So, this past week, Brandon and I sat down after the kids went to bed to compile our 2015 12 Months of Kindness challenge for our family.  We slotted in our yearly events (May, June, July, and December) and then talked about, pin-searched, and recalled from the past acts of kindness that could fill in the rest of our months of the year.  

Lucky for me, some of our months are working double duty as they are also items on my 100 small things list (March and November).  We are trying thing this year we've never done (September) and doing some of our old favorites (August, October).  

12 Months of Kindness

January:  Give someone the 'day off'

February:  Anonymously pay for someone's dinner while out to eat

March:  serve a meal at the Winder Area Community Kitchen

April:  Send a special care package to Raph (our friend through World Vision)

May:  award two CV high school seniors with the Studer Scholarship (7th year)

June: organize the 2nd annual CVAA Superhero 5K and Family Fun Run/Walk

July: 7th Annual Studer's Invitational Beer Olympics!

August:  Donation of goods to the Cambria County Humane Society

September:  Assist at/with the Johnstown Backpack Project

November:  host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet

December:  participate in Giving Tuesday

Besides our commitment to the 12 Months of Kindness Project (#12mokp on instagram if you join!), we also try to choose kindness everyday in our interactions with one another and others.  Things like refraining from name-calling, saying 'please' & 'thank you' every time, and waving to our neighbors as we drive by.  

I'm also hoping to do a semi-revival of my 12 Months of Kindness Project blog (yea, who forgot that it existed? this chick), mostly with a boost of facebook page posts and sharing other people's stories of kindness and RAOKs.

Are you making a plan to add kindness as a goal to your 2015?  I want to hear about it!!  Comment or link up below!

three under five.

Friday, January 9, 2015

whew.  it has been one heck of a week over here.  a big reminder this week that we currently have three kids under five years old.

three under five.

like everyone ( that sees us out says, we "have our hands full."  indeed, my friend.  indeed we do.

the kids are reeling with post-holiday mania.
it's just been so many parties.  so many presents.  so many cookies.  so many late bedtimes.
it seems like this week has just been a full collapse of normalcy.

fighting, mess making, not listening, attitude, talking back.  it's been a hard few days in mummahood.

jumping from the top of the stairs to the the swimsuits.

I'm also trying to look at the massive amounts of what feels like clutter and too much stuff that happens every year after the holidays.  So much recycling, so many more toys, just so much stuff.  Am I the only one that has this January panic of how much crap it feels like is in their house?

a mess they made in the laundry room with recycling.  why do we even have any toys?
Monday was awful, just so much fighting, and difficulty resting, and crazy happening all day long with my three under five.  And then we had a tragic situation between one of our dogs and our sweet Jinxy cat that night. Jinxy is no longer with us which has us all heartbroken and now we are currently in the process of finding possible solutions for Bullet's behavior including seeing a professional dog behavior specialist on Monday and visiting the vet on Tuesday to see if his aggression is pain related.  We are operating with heavy hearts right now.

Greyson tried to make me feel better by telling me, "At least one happy thing Mom.  Jinxy is in heaven now having fun with cat Jesus."

cat Jesus.
gah, out of the mouths of babes, honestly.

we celebrated the last bit of our holiday season with Orthodox Christmas and we completed one of my 100 small things tasks - sleeping out under the Christmas tree.

it is always so refreshing to get the holiday decor down though - honestly, even though it was such a hassle to get the tree and decorations down myself on Wednesday, if I didn't get it down that day I felt like I was becoming unhinged.

We muscled through the week though - attending the kids' classes, Daddy's basketball game, and regular household chores.

B and I finally went grocery shopping (we were nearly bare cupboards) and stayed up until 1p putting groceries away, cleaning out the fridge and building a fire in the wood stove downstairs because of the super freezing temps this week.

Speaking of staying up late, that was another weird thing about this week - Gem kept passing out around 5p everyday and then waking up at like 7:30p - so then none of us went to bed until almost 11pm every night!?  Last night the four of us fell asleep downstairs on the couches watching Full House at midnight.  so weird.

TGIF today though, somehow we all seem to have a little more grace and patience with each other.  We had an exciting and fun day with home preschool and even had an ice cream snack for our Letter I week.  I'm hoping to get my new planner for 2015 today (HAH, 9 days into the year already, goodness) and I'm oddly excited about trying a new dinner tonight.  I'm hopeful that we are getting back into the groove of things after a very long, albeit joyous and blessed, holiday season.

so, yes, we have our hands full.
but as someone very sweet once reminded me.
"you think my hands are full?
you should see my heart."