cherish it now, they say.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

i got the call this morning at 5am that grey's school was going to have a snow day and like mothers round the county, I sighed and whispered to myself, 'oh boy, it's going to be a long day.'   there's something in the air on snow days, isn't there?  a particular kind of hay fever sprouts up and has the kids climbing the walls (in my case that's a literal statement).

I sent some serious gratitude out there to the pinterest gods and goddesses (read: creative moms) who saved breakfast (these delicious cinnamon/sugar cream cheese roll-ups that double bonus'ed me by using up some old hot dog buns that were headed for the bird food pile) and then saved the actual snow day with these Bingo sheets that had the kids all pumped about checking things off the list and required only one screen option (win!)

As is only imaginable in a house filled with four siblings six years and younger, our snow day was filled with high pitched, decibel pushing:  shouting, laughing, screaming, crying, and giggling.  

The loudness of raising children - why?   

We also suffered through a healthy serving of sibling teasing, fighting, not sharing, waking-up-of-the-infant-napping, pouting, and negotiations.  My initial thought at 5am was indeed correct - it was a long day. 

But there was a moment at lunch that stopped me in my tracks of scraping half-eaten marshmallows off the kitchen floor (literally) when all four kids were at the table for lunch completely ignorant of me while they cracked up laughing at Violet making some weird noise and Rusty with his face covered in pizza sauce.  

And there they were.

my four.
all under one roof right where I could see that they were happy 
and safe 
and comfortable 
with full bellies. 

and isn't that really what is in the pit of the pit and the root of the root of a mumma's deepest heart?  That all of her babies are happy(ish at least), safe, comfortable (ish), and with a full belly...and if it's where I can count their head - even better.  

My most calm, worry-free, pure bliss moments are those early morning sips of coffee because I know right where they all are and I know they are snoozily dreaming, and safe, and warm, and full enough belly that they aren't awake yet.  They are all snug in their beds under this one roof. 
 And also, they are quiet.  
and so perfectly 'my-baby 'while they sleep.  

How is that you can still see the wisps of your baby in a child of nearly seven if they are sleeping soundly.  Is that always the case?  I hope.  Even as they get bigger than me and grown and ignore me and think I'm the most annoying ever and 'leave me alone' mum!  Just like that sweet (only slightly creepy) momma who sneaks into her grown up man's bedroom window to rock him back and forth and back and forth and back and forth to sing...I will also be sweetly (only slightly creepily) peering in on my sleeping children to see 'my-baby' still in there on the curves of their cheeks and the tips of their eyelashes.  Probably also smelling the tops of their heads...don't judge my sentimental mother's heart! (hah).

The four of them sitting there, giggling and being silly in their own little world, but under this one roof - all smooshed on that one bench seat together (their choice!) on a snowy winter day will surely be one of those quick flashes of 'how it used to be' in the movie montage slideshow of my younger years when I'm an older momma to kids who are bigger than me and ignore each other and think both I and their siblings are the most annoying ever and just want to be left alone! kind of teenagers.  

Mums who have made it through these blur years always tell us in the thick of it to cherish it because it goes by so fast.  And I get the sentiment, and really, I can see how fast (with a wave & a snap!) as I have a nearly seven year old and nearly kindergarten aged (but thinks she's teenaged) child.  How in the world did we get here from those newborn babies with the toothless grins and their formerly wrinkled, squishy necks to these big kids that grow out of their pants every other week and know the words to Maroon Five songs?  

But also, it's impossible to cherish it every.single.moment of because Sweet baby Ray's bbq sauce...the loud, and the mess, and the MUM I NEED MORE DRINK! right as I just sit down every darn time.

But I think as long as you snag yourself on a few seconds occasionally of those moments that make you think, "yes, this right here, this is going to end up in the montage of my motherhood.  This, right here that I can frame my fingers around and mentally (or literally) snap this snippet of this messy, loud, chaotic moment...this is the good stuff."  

well then, I think you got that 'cherish it now' thing down pretty solid. 

keep keeping on, mommas.  
also, i'm cheers'ing you with some wine tonight.
to us!  ::clink::

Around Here Week Four: 1/20-26

Friday, January 27, 2017

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

Intentional Time Outdoors:  9hrs+ (of 1000 hrs)
We had a beautiful day on Saturday and despite Violet's sick belly, we made it outside for a little while and I think the moving and fresh air did her some good to at the very least help her take an afternoon nap easier.  And the two big kids had a blast fishing with my parents in the unseasonably warm weather.  I racked up some outdoor time with my half marathon training miles over the weekend including my first ever 5 mile jog! (thank you to Uch & Kev for watching the babies so I had the time to get it in!)

Reading still nothing but don't you worry - I watched all eight episodes of Stranger Things and loved the 80's feel flashback so much I can hardly wait for the next season.

Mustering through a full on sick week at our house - The demogorgon of sicknesses has arrived in our house and infected six out of six of us in some shape or form (shout out fellow Stranger Things fans, hah).  Violet was hit first with the puke bug for about 24 hours and then it morphed into a head cold and moved on to Greyson followed by Rusty, Brandon, and I and now on to Gemma.  It hit all of us at varying degrees and symptoms so it's been a wild ride around these parts.

Checking Trixie out at the Vet for a broken canine tooth.  She was a good girl at the doctor's appointment - the girls loved taking care of her whispering, 'don't be afraid Trixie, you're a good girl' - and scheduling her tooth extracting surgery for next week.  Poor girl, but she's a brute Pittie and doesn't show any signs of pain, so I'm glad we're getting it taken care of it for her.

Calling an audible and meeting my sis Kayla halfway between in our house and hers for dinner and Spot It jr games at a restaurant when we both needed a pickmeup after annoying days.  Nothing like some sister time to heal hard days!

Attending library preschool this week and checking out some great books for the week (including Dragon was Terrible and The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever).  The girls were so glad to go back again (we haven't been since last spring - what with our new baby and then my teaching semester!) and we were happily surprised to see our friend Macy and her momma there too.

Slightly terrified by the prospect of raising Vially through her two and half to three years.  Goodness, if these last two weeks are a peek into what the next year and half will be like - we are in for some trouble.  It's been a lot of tantrums and overreactions.  She was so mad yesterday that we were done painting, she dragged her body along the floor army-crawl style from the kitchen table to the living room couch where I was waiting to read some books while screaming on the top of her lungs.  Gemma watched incredulously while announcing where she was, "she's past the dog's dishes...she's at the laundry room now."

Explaining to Gemma about Violet's stage of growing up.  Gem was kind of mad at me that I wasn't picking Violet up during her full blown tantrum but I told her, "This is the same kind of stuff you and Greyson did when you were as old as her.  This is what happens - she's not hurt, she's not in danger - she's just acting like a maniac because she doesn't like something.  We can't give her what she wants all the time because then she's going to grow up as big as you and still think she can act like a maniac.  We have to help her learn that we all work together and how to calm down even if we feel upset."

Making meatball sub sandwiches, Jalapeno and chicken mac& cheese for the Steeler game, this Houlihan's copycat potato soup (so good), Mimi's chocolate no-bakes, and chicken salad with cranberries & almonds wraps

12 Months of Kindness Project: 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We are starting our ninth year of our commitment to the 12 Months of Kindness Project and it's really become part of who we are as a family.  We try to choose kindness, patience, and empathy in all things we do throughout the year - but our #12mokp is a way for us to intentionally build out at least one kind act for each month of the year.  I have found that if you don't plan it ahead of time, the days just swallow you whole in the regular busy of life and you find yourself at the end of the year in a blink trying to remember where all the days went.

Our 12 Months of Kindness Project gets its own dedicated page in our family yearbooks and the kids ask regularly when we will do certain things again.  We love that our kids are learning first hand that being nice can be easy and makes you feel good....That we get to choose to be nice in all situations - it's up to us!

Over the last few weeks, the kids and I have talked about some of our favorite kind acts we've done in the past and about some new ideas we might try together.  We also talked a little bit about the kindness we do that doesn't technically count for our 12MoKP - like giving breakfast treats to Greyson's bus driver and leaving notes and candy for the mail lady.  And we try to include them in conversations about kind acts that they are too young to do yet - B and I tell them about helpful/kind moments in our days, they check my Red Cross app to see how much 'blood Mum got out' for others, and they make trips with us or help us in small ways to work towards a bigger kind task.

So we're back with our list for this year and as is true for each year, it builds up our year with things to look forward to and ways we can help make this world a little nicer for everyone.

January:  deliver (3) meals to families we know that could use some extra support and love

February:  make valentines for people to brighten their day (classmates, family, the librarian, firefighters, elderly neighbors, etc)

March: Volunteer at our church's Lenten fish fry dinners

April: Volunteer our time at the Johnstown Backpack Project

May: 9th annual Studer Scholarship for high school seniors at CV

June:  Studer's Invitational Beer Olympics (funds go to a charitable cause)

July: Donation to the Humane Society

August:  Pick up trash locally

September:  totally kid-run (plan, make invitations, cook, serve, clean up) at our house for the grandparents (and 'honorary grandparents') for Grandparents Day

October: trick-or-treat for UNICEF

November: make placemats for our local Meals on Wheels (and deliver?)

December: white envelope gift


I'd love to hear about the acts of kindness that you and your kids do together.  If you're tracking your kindness, please feel free to tag your photos with #12mokp too so that we can inspire one another!

Around Here Week Three: 01/13-19

Friday, January 20, 2017

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  5+ hrs (of 1000)
While in North Carolina on our weekend visit, we were lucky to spend a few hours outside on a nice long walk around the neighborhood and some playtime in the yard.  Gosh, the sunshine on our faces and the grown up chatting with my best friends (and snacking on Girl Scout cookies!) did some serious cup filling to my soul.  Also, my half marathon training began this week with three miles on Tuesday and Thursday with some yard laps.  Thanks to the Running Gods, both days were pleasant running weather in the high 40s & low 50's!  The training is going okay, but three miles is about my max at this point (I think I could probably crank out four if I had to right now), and honestly the thought of all thirteen miles in only three months is still quite terrifying (life threatening?! ha).  I'll get there, little at a time.

Reading nothing this week!  As my first week back to the sahm groove, I took it easy and slow.  I saw that Hulu has a The Handmaid's Tale coming out and thinking about re-reading that great book again.  I also got my books from my friend Shelly that I get to benefit from as she does a book clear out:)  And I watched the Netflix series The OA while getting through so much laundry and found it really interesting and intriguing.

Finishing my last day as a substitute Spanish teacher to close out the first semester.  It was very bittersweet and some of the students were so very kind with notes and even surprising me with a bouquet of flowers!

Traveling to North Carolina with Rusty and best friend Kate to visit our other best friend Karpy and her two babes for an AKT weekend.  What a weekend with girlfriends can do to my soul is incredible and I'm so grateful that we were able to all get together with the youngest boy babies.  We spent the weekend hanging out, chatting, and making our babies smile.  Gosh, what a great weekend.  Bud held down the fort with the other three back at home and the two big kids had their first soccer practice for the season!

Stepping back into the swing of fulltime sahmhood.  It feels good to get back into the rough work of raising babies.  I've been working slowly chipping away at chores that have been piling up, grocery shopping (with all four kids in tow!), meal planning, and mostly taking it slowly with lots of kisses and focus on making time in the day to just play.  I've been feeling really grateful to be back home again with these little babies of ours.

Trying to do the parent do-not-laugh-but-seriously-that's-hilarious lip squeeze with Violet as it is clear she is making her ascent into the wacky of the 2.5 and 3 year old stage. She's been mouthing back with a lot of "No!" to requests and throwing some mean tantrums.  She was especially ridiculous during this conversation -
Violet: Is Rusty sleeping?
Me: Yes
Violet: upstairs?
Me: Yes
Violet: That's stupid
Me: Violet Mary!! We don't say stupid!
Violet:  Ummmm.......Goo Goo Gaga?
I just have no words for this child sometimes.

Feeling like the worst Coach Daddy fans ever as we have not been making it to many basketball games this year!  But by the time we need to head out to the game, Rusty is ready for bed and homework needs done and I just can't seem to justify hauling everyone out of the house.  ugh.  We were able to make it to the home game last night and it's always comforting to be with our basketball season family again and makes the kids so happy and proud of their Coach Daddy.

Making chicken spaghetti, Grey & Gem put together these chicken & cheese crescent rolls, and the girls helped back these cream cheese chocolate chip cookies for our What's Cooking Wednesday activity.  I started back on the 21 day fix diet (to support my half marathon training) and so it was a lot of salads, portion control, and so much water for me which makes me feel energized.

Sending love and peace and kindness and goodness out into the world today and everyday moving forward.  my dear friends, can we all be the kind of people we hope others will be.  In that spirit, I love this quote from Mother Teresa and I've been personally working toward living this out in my own life in the past year and continuing so today and onward,

“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I'm praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” - Mother Teresa

Why 1000 hours outdoors?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I set out a goal of reaching 1000 hours outdoors in 2015 and after giving it a good effort (although, if I'm being honest, not a great effort), I accumulated over 510 hours counted that we unplugged and got outside.  And despite a small defeating feeling from last year's attempt, I'm going for it again this year. 

If for any reason, you've been asking yourself why am I doing this at all - here's both a rationale and a recap from last year's effort that will hopefully shed some light on why I'm doing it (and inspire you to try to be better at outdoor time too). 

I wrote a little about my immediate reflections last year in April about how being outside was making me feel more calm and seemed to enhance our quality family time (but was also a lot more difficult to rack up the hours than I initially thought).

I was originally inspired by Ginny who runs the 1000hoursoutside instagram account.  At about the same time, I had read The Winter of our Disconnect by Susan Maushart and was completely intrigued with learning more about family life and technology and raising kids in a plug-addicted world.

And so I stepped into the challenge myself to reach for 1000 outdoor hours in 2015 to get a better vantage point for myself.  And as part of my goal, I also read The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and was gripped with interest and fascination.  (recommended!)

Since then, many of the books, articles, and TED talks I've watched around kids and technology have all been interesting and sadly, just the scratching of the surface on the research.  This whole technology takeover happened so quickly, that we've barely had time to see what the effects even are for kids, for relationships, for the environment.

So for some number crunching (that makes me honestly dizzy and scared):  One of the most commonly cited numbers is that the average American child gets about SEVEN HOURS A DAY of screentime  (about three hours of TV and four hours of other screens: phones/tablets/computers/video games).   In a year's time, that's 2,555 hours on Screens for kids!

For some personal reflection:  in our home on weekdays, screentime isn't allowed to start until after 11am.  We have one TV (downstairs) and one tv upstairs that's connected only to Netflix.  We have a wii but it doesn't get used (yet anyway) for video games, and we have one iPad.  Brandon and I are the only ones with phones and the kids aren't allowed to use them for games.  So, if I'm being one hundred percent (painful) honest, looking at Gemma who is four and half and not in school yet:  She gets about two hours in the afternoon for a movie/show on TV, probably an hour of iPad time in the late afternoon (just to get her out of my hair of asking me questions), and then at night probably another hour maybe...and this is a good day where I am present the entire time to monitor.  If it was up to her it would certainly be more screentime.    So Gem clocks in on average about four-five hours a day.

So for my kids - we're looking at about 1,825 hours a year on screens (and for my screen time - surely closer to 7 hours a day!) So setting a goal for 1,000 hours outside for the year seemed like a goal towards BALANCE which is what I hope to create in our life.  It doesn't seem unreasonable to expect our kids would spend equalish amounts of time on screens and in the outdoors, right?  It was in fact though, a lot harder to do than I though it would be.  My goal was not to demonize screens, but have a healthy balance in plugged and unplugged living for all of us, myself certainly included in that balance.

My goal offered me an opportunity to slow down, to breathe in this wild and chaotic current life with the breezes and to the tune of the songbirds in our yard.  I felt more present this year when my focus stayed steadfast on my outdoor goals, than any time during my young motherhood ever, yet.

In Louv's book, there was this passage that I highlighted and dog-eared the page as it spoke so deeply to my own reflections about my thoughts on busyness and relaxation and how as a mother to young kids I feel so strung out in so many directions that sometimes I feel that quality time with the kids - real face to face slow living - falls to the bottom of my to do list for the sake of all the other things that need done.
"Weekends are no longer for recreation, but for the undone chores that pile up during the week....if anything, most parents have an acutely tuned sense of responsibility - to the point where they consider relaxation and leisure, for themselves or their children, a self-indulgent luxury."  -Last Child in the Woods, p.120-121
What if instead of glorfying the busy that comes with life today, what if we (read: type A-ish Mum Me) allowed us to just chill the heck out?!  What if we just played, and learned through natural moments that the outdoors provide at every turn.  What if every single thing didn't need to be absolutely efficient.  In the spirit that thought, this year I even stopped taking my headphones on dog walks and jogs because I used to justify a walk/jog as doubling up on time to listen to audiobooks - like the walk/jog wasn't a reason enough.  Now I just walk and daydream and listen to the sounds that nature provides....I'm present in my walk, I'm present in my life.

This year, with my conscious effort on the goal - we got to be part of the living of nature.  We played in puddles and mud and creeks and bodies of water.  We stared into the grass and watched ants build up their mounds.  We guessed at constellations, caught lightening bugs, and howled at the moon.  We built new forts in our backyard, discovered new paths and trails in our hometown, and kept track of the animals that make their home around our home.  We lived and grew among the living, growing natural world.

And not just the kids, because truthfully, this year has been a huge reminder that I can set boundaries and limits for screentime until I turn blue in the face for my kids, but until I am a living example of a healthy unplugged/plugged-in balance - it will do no good what I preach to our children.  If I am daily reminding myself of my connection to the outdoor world and how it brings peace and rest to my body, soul, and mind - it will be easier for our kids to make that same connection....a life lesson that will serve them well as they continue to grow and compete in our plugged in society.
"First and above all is for the parents to understand the connection itself.  The future is not about designing a curriculum.  It's about awakening to creation.  Kids have to feel that this connection is vital and deep in their parents.  They see through us all the time.  They know what is fake and feigned.  As the connection becomes more vivid to us, our commitment to it becomes more authentic, and children respond to that authenticity." - The Last Child in the Woods, p.302
With my eyes up and off of a screen, I am calmer and gentler and kinder as a mum (and as a person too).  I am slower and more intentional. I am less stressed and feel like I'm in so much less of a hurry. this is so embarrassing to admit aloud, but many times when I'm involved in entertainment screentime, the thought bubbles up in my mind, 'these kids are distracting me!' and it feels so frustrating.  But what the heck kind of a world is it if I can't recognize that the screen is the distraction from THEM! 

The past year has been eye-opening, though we didn't even come close to our goal of 1000 hours I am so very grateful that we had the goal to push us towards more intentional outdoor time.  It has laid the backdrop for the kind of childhood I want my kids to remember when they're grown:  that they climbed and ran and built and hid and swung and discovered and explored and solved problems and played in the great big world.

Some important guidelines I discovered along the way, for anyone interested in attempting more outdoor time for themselves:

1. Pack snacks!
2. Invest in quality outdoor gear appropriate for the season for yourself (and your kids but they care way less about being too cold or too wet in my experience).
3. Don't be afraid to try somewhere new:  a local trail, park, or outdoor venue.  We've even spent time roller blading and riding bikes in the high school parking lot for a change of scenery!
4. Water is always the cure to all child bad moods.
5. Step back.  Yes, they'll do things that look too dangerous and scary - but let them show you that they know their own limits and have thoughts on creating solutions.  It is lifelong character building!

Looking back through my photos of this year, most of our favorite moments and certainly those with the biggest smiles happened while we were outside in the living world - with the sky all the way up high and the rocks of star dust orbiting in the vastness of space even above that.  And the bugs and burrowing animals moving around in the ground below us and the bubbling, molten lava even below that.  There is reassurance and power and inspiration that comes from the boundary-less feeling of the outdoors.  You can dream anything, the possibilities you can imagine are endless, and all those things that get caught up in your mind and make you feel worried float off with the wind.

There is an outdoor enthusiast quote that gets around the interwebs that I love.  It says, "Kids don't remember their best day of television."

So, get out there!  Your children's favorite childhood memories are waiting to be made.

Helpful information:
Screen Free Parenting:  Screen-Free Activities
NPR:  Kids and Screen Time: What does the research say?
National Wildlife Federation:  Health Benefits of kids being outdoors
TED Talk: Dimitri Christakis - Media and Children 
TED Talk:  Sherry Turkle:  Connected but Alone
Simon Sinek:  On Millennials in the workplace
Screen Free Week information - May 1-7, 2017
Childhood Unplugged - photo inspiration and encouragement to techfree playing
Let the Children Play - Outdoor Resources

Some of the links are Amazon affiliate links in this post.  Thank you for supporting Team Studer. 

Around Here Week One & Two: 12/30-01/12

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home these past two weeks.

Intentional Outdoor Time: 1.5 hrs (of 1000)
Got in two walks/jogs this week while the sun was still shining.  The dogs and I got out solo one afternoon and on our way back home, Bullet sniffed over in a pile of some grass which ended up being a coyote trap.  It caught him right in the paw and I had to call Brandon at home to run back to the trail to help him get out.  Bullet is fine and was walking on his pinched paw by the time we got home...and actually, it's not his first time in a coyote trap.

Crying like the emotional big cousin that I am at our cousin Kara's bridal shower on New Years Eve day.  The girls (and Rusty!) were in attendance as her flower girls and I walked around snapping photos of the beautiful space and the gorgeous bride.  It was such a thoughtful and perfect bridal shower and there were so many personal touches that I seriously had to stop myself from flat out sobbing more than twice (okay fine, it was like four times).

Ringing in the New Year at our house with some of our favorite friends.  The kids all played and acted wild and the parents all laughed and talked and had plenty of cheers and we counted down the seconds until the new year.  Gosh, I love new years eve.  Gemma had an emotional meltdown at like the 30 second mark (#thatssoGemma) and I did my best to talk her down before we all shouted Happy New Year and made our rounds of kisses on the cheeks....eventful as always.  At around 3am, after getting everyone tucked in and all the food away - Bud and I met at the top of the steps and had a little sit together feeling exhausted and happy and grateful to share another new year together (our 18th!)

Freshening up my spirit with a haircut - it's pretty short and really low maintenance, which I love.  The girls and I all went up to visit my cousin Mandy for haircuts and we are all feeling ready to tackle the new year (honestly, a haircut can do that for a girl!)

Supporting a cranky Rusty with the arrival of his first two teeth and the top two seem so close to the surface too.  Poor little man.  He is absolutely loving the ability to chew though and has had a blast trying out some teeny tiny cut up finger foods.

Smiling yet baffled daily about Greyson's long john obsession.  It's long johns under shorts for his choice of clothes.

Celebrating our American Mutt status and sharing in the joys of Orthodox Christmas and stretching out the holiday season all the way into January.  By the 7th, I can barely stand the sight of our tree any longer (hah!) but it's our annual tradition for the kids to 'camp out' under the tree on Orthodox Christmas eve and Orthodox Santa ("OrthoDon" as Gemma calls him) delivers one final small present before we finally take all the decorations down until next year.

Feeling like we are a little bit in suspended time - which is so odd for me as I'm a big big fan of the new year and fresh beginnings.  But as I started the new year at the end of my substitute teaching, I've been feeling a lot like, 'I'll get to that when my teaching ends' instead of diving right into goals and projects simply because it was the new year.  :: Hence my lack of blogging:: I can't decide how I feel about this delayed new year start- but in any case - I was.....

Finishing up my last two weeks of teaching.  It has been such a great first semester and I was able to teach alongside some incredible educators and I loved getting to know my students and see their progress in language learning for the past few months.  I had the chance to sit down with their real teacher (we had a burger king playground playdate with our kiddos!) and I feel comforted that they will be in great hands moving forward.  It was definitely bittersweet coming to an end - but my little stint in the part-time working mom world was the most precious reminder that doing the hard daily (sometimes blindingly lonely) work that I do as a sahm is so very very important too.  I think I needed that reminder and I'm grateful to have had it - and also get a quick confirmation that my brain and enthusiasm and skills are valuable out there in the greater world too (someday when my darlings grow bigger).  For now, I am anxious to get back to the everyday life of diapers and meal planning and chores and the raising up of our babies.

Making shredded deer roast sandwiches, a big delicious pork roast for new years (with sauerkraut and hot dogs, the Dutch PA tradition), and chicken, veggie, and stuffing casserole.  Tacos and spaghetti reigned supreme in my final two weeks of teaching mania and Brandon and I had a Spiked Crab Soup for our (newly instated) monthly 'Grown up only' dinner and it was only kind of meh.

100 Small Things 2017

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This is my third year of creating a list of 100 small things I hope to accomplish in the year.  I wrote one in 2015 and finished 48 of 100 tasks.  And did it again last year, in 2016, and finished 38 tasks entirely for the year.  

The point is to be intentional about my daily life.  The point is to make my daily life feel, look, and inspire the kind of whole life I hope to live - that I hope to build around this family of ours. 

It takes me a few days to brainstorm and reflect about the kind of life I hope to live this year.  The kinds of things that will help me be the type of person I hope to be.  This year, I categorized my list to try to stay focused on certain areas of my life.   Plus, it kind of feels more do-able all broken down in these ten categories (with about ten tasks each). 

Some of them aren't small tasks at all actually (1000 hours outdoor attempt #2, Completing my first ever half marathon!, getting our The Hunting Daddies books into our local Gander Mountain store for next Christmas!) but many of them are minor tweaks to our daily lives that I hope will help me grow and improve into the kind of person I want to be. 

I keep the list in my catch-all notebook that sits on my desk year-round and here (obviously) and I check in frequently and re-read it about a bajil times over the course of the year.  Having these goals help me stay focused even when life gets me all frazzled and pulled in twenty directions....or has me down because sometimes the world can do that to ya, amirite?

and so, for accountability's's my 
100 Small Things: 2017

1. Read at least 12 new-to-me books (read 11/12 new to me books)
2. Lead Inspired Readers book club at least three times (created the summer checklist!)
3. watch fifteen TED talks (watched 5/15 TED talks)
4. watch a manual settings camera tutorial
5. write 100 blog posts (wrote 77/100 posts)
6. participate in a writing challenge of any kind
7. replace "sorry" with "thank you"
8. practice/learn calligraphy
9. do at least three reviews for Blogging for Books
10. take a continuing education class at Penn Highlands
11. watch three documentaries

new soul mantra
started and finished the Serial Podcast and S-Town podcast
joined up with a local book club: Books & Brews!
followed Spanish teacher blogs and instagrams

re-read The Handmaid's Tale

1. finish the Pittsburgh half marathon
2. buy running shoes (and socks)
3. run/walk the Jim Mayer trail
4. Get bikes and/or bike ridealong seats for each person in our family
5. bike the Ohiopyle trail
6. take care of my heels at least once a week
7. get a haircut
8. put on my wedding dress and zip it up!
9. increase my jogging time to 12 minute/mile
10. try a local class (kickboxing/yoga)

made the switch to the Diva Cup

1. 1000 hours outdoors (completed 523/1000 hours)
2. create a cellphone 'holding dock' and use it
3. screen free wednesdays
4. afternoon hot tea daily
5. monthly library trips
6. go to a Stations of the Cross for Lent
7. Do something special for my goddaughter Mallory's first holy communion
8. weekly gratitude journaling
9. Read Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children
10. no social media until after 11am

1. get mother's ring updated with all birthstones
2. go on an individual date with each child and both parents
3. finish the 2015-2016 yearbook
4. finish the 2016-2017 yearbook (!)
5. monthly family game nights
6. add child security settings to the iPad
7. celebrate the small holidays (Lunar New Year, Groundhogs Day, Mardi Gras, our pets' birthdays, half birthdays, etc)
8. eat outside in the summer
9. make seasonal fun to do lists
10. read aloud Charlotte's web
11. chore charts to make a comeback!

Started Yes Day! (we celebrate ours on June 30)

1. watch House of Cards together
2. nsfw ;)
3. buy new sheets & a quilt 
4. monthly 'just for parents' dinner with grown-up delicious food that the kids would complain about (seafood/too spicy/asapargus/etc) while the kids eat mac&cheese or something equally boring
5. play on a co-ed volleyball team together
6. complete our Last Wills & Testaments
7. help Bud with a project I hate doing without sighing (like cleaning the garage or picking up branches when he's trimming the flowerbeds)
8. go on an actual dressed up -overnight (!) date
9. March Madness couple bracket competition
10. keep the Scrabble board game in our room for impromptu matches (like the 'ole days when it was just the two of us)

1. learn to make nut roll from Mimi
2. AKT playdate with all the kids
3. email my Costa Rica host mom
4. send five care packages to friends
5. start to plan the AKT 35 year girls only trip (!!)
6. SCF and girls sleepover
7. grandma and kids trip
8. get teens to babysit our kids
9. host two big family dinners at our house (Christmas eve & Cookie baking day..?)
10. designate a day of the week to respond and comment on blogs I love

1. start blood donation happy hour dates with Uch and Dad -epic fail! (hah Uch), but we did try!!
2. surprise our mail carrier Karen with thank you treats
3. give breakfast goodies to the bus driver
4. help B thank his secretaries on secretary's day (April 26)
5. surprise five friends with dinner (1/5 done)
6. organize & plan service project for my CCD class:  collect gently used stuffed animals for first responders.
7. post at least monthly on the 12 Months of Kindness facebook page
8. CVAA intramural league:  at least three seasons
9. volunteer in Greyson and Gemma's classrooms
10. send at least 4 care packages to Raph (Worldvision) (2/4 done)

Dad Bod event with YIFC
Anonymous letter drop box in my classroom for students who need to get something off their chest
Donated 0-12mo baby clothes to the Women's Help Center for Giving Tuesday

1. visit Flight 93 memorial
2. visit Ligonier Beach
3. Family trip to Idlewild
4. Rec the Alleghenies Expo with Uch
5. Save money for Montana 2018 trip
6. plan getaway weekend with Dad for Adams family - Camp Tap Run
7. take big kids snow tubing
8. finish Mum in Costa Rica photo book for the kids
9. Presque Isle long weekend family trip
10. write a kids/family visit Johnstown to do/see blog post (you can read it here)

1. 'finish' basement bathroom
2. KonMari the heck out of the linen closet
3. get house appraised - even if only for shits
4. grow a veggie garden
5. learn how to Can veggies (and deer meat)
6. meal plan with at least one meatless day
7. create a home emergency kit
8. move the kegarater downstairs
9. paint the upstairs hallway and toy room
10. get every room "staged" ready

re-painted the retaining wall

1. create The Hunting Daddies youtube channel
2. use the GoPro for the THD youtube channel
3. update sponsor tab on Studerteam blog
4. Get THD books into the local section at Gander mountain for Christmas
5. take professional pictures for THD with all the kids
6. create Beer Olympics planning toolkit to sell
7. stick to our family budget! Get monthly credit card spending to zero (with the exception of kindness tasks)
8. add at least one new product to THD

opened an etsy shop for Grey's fly tys
got a full time teaching job (!!)
opened a credit card that earns airline miles