Screen Free Week 2017 Prep

Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's Screen Free Week again!

I have been so looking forward to this week this year, because I know I am in need of a week-long reboot of screens so badly and I just can't wait to be 'off the hook' of knowing and seeing all.the.things all.the.time.

The kids, as every year so far, won't even really flinch because they are much less tuned into screens than Bud and I.  It really boils down to the access to phones and since only the adults in our home have those currently, the main screen zombies are us!

This year will be our fifth year participating in Screen Free Week and it's become another one of those mini-holidays we celebrate at our house.  The kids know it's coming, they know the drill, and we act like it's just another special week during a year of little (and big) celebrations.

In preparation, the kids and I sat down to draft up a list of the kinds of things we could do that didn't involve screens - just in case we needed a reminder during the week - and in only a few minutes and with no trouble at all, we were all talking over each other getting excited about the prospect of so many fun activities.

The three little ones and I will definitely make a trip to the library early on to load up on new-to-us books to devour during Screen Free Week.  Hopefully, if the weather holds out, we'll grab lots of outdoor time (I'm ambitiously shooting for 6 hours a day at least!)

We also have
(wait for it)
....a baseball game every single night Monday through Saturday and then Brandon and I are running in the Pittsburgh half-marathon on Sunday.  (go ahead, laugh at our expense, because that's a ridiculous week line-up, we're kind of laughing too...or crying; it's hard to tell).

Personally, I'm hoping to make up for my shoddy reading completion for this year so far and finish my current book and one other book too by next week's end.  And, I have some chores on the docket - like changing out seasonal clothes and switching kids' sizes, etc)

I've written so many times about screens and modern day parenting and outdoor time that I know I must sound like a broken record.  So I apologize, but I think somehow, each of these pieces meet together to create a a tiny crack in the big picture of understanding so much about the current state of the world.  I know that in my own experience, the people who are the happiest, most level headed, calm, and adaptable are those that spend quality time outdoors and have a firm 'real life vs. screen' balance in their lives.  There must be a connection, I just know it!

In any case, if you're interested in looking back through all of my thought ramblings on these topics - you can take a glimpse back at these posts:

Screen free week for first timers
Modern day parenting & screen awareness
Why I try to clock 1000 hours outdoors

Or check out these places on the web for more info & ideas for this specific upcoming week:
Screen Free Week! (from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood)
Pinsearch: Screen Free 

And finally,
here are my screen free week reflections from previous years:
2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

I hope you'll be joining us in this unplugged week, if it's your first time ever or if you've participated in the past - I can't wait to hear about it in a week!!

Look up! Engage! Play!!
See you soon, friends! xxoxox

Around Here Seventeen: 04/21-04/27

Friday, April 28, 2017

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 81+ hours (of 1000)
We had a very Spring-like week that bounced between rainy, chilly, sunny, cloudy, hot, and windy.  Everyday was a new experience with weather over here.  I am loving the beauty of all of our trees and bushes in high blossom.  Our hours this week came from my half marathon training, mowing the yard (for a full three hours yesterday which awarded me the ever-trendy farmer sunburn), and racking up time at the baseball field, of course.

Reading not much of anything this week!  As a suggestion from my dearest Kate, I started listening to the Serial podcast during my 12mile training run this week and what a difference that made to my run!  And well, now, I'm hooked!  I realize I'm two years late to the Serial craze, but I'm full in now and looking forward to my training just to get in an episode or two!

Celebrating our beautiful, sweet goddaughter for her first holy communion on Saturday.  The littlest two and I skipped Opening day for Baseball and headed out towards Pittsburgh to celebrate Mallory on her special day.  We enjoyed the mass (especially since the church had an awesome 'children's chapel area') and then got a chance to chat and play with our cousins at their house afterwards.  I got to snuggle our newest baby cousin Claire (only a few days old!) and laugh about Rusty and Blake (heretoforth named "The Brute Squad") as they started their long friendship/cousinship of wrestling and teasing each other.  (they are only three weeks apart in age). It was a beautiful and special day.  We bought Mals rosary beads from this Etsy shop that I love so much! A great baptism or first holy communion gift!

Supporting and praying for our friend and soccer teammate Inez who had a big, incredible Princess & Superhero party before she heads off to Children's hospital next week for heart surgery.  She is such a sweet, darling girl and we were happy to be there to give her our love before her operation.  I explained to Gem why Inez was having the party and she started getting pretty emotional about feeling sad and worried.  I told her not to feel sad, but excited! That this surgery was going to help Nez feel better and strong and that it was happy - and the party was going to be all the people that love her and are saying prayers for her.  At the party, Gem whispered to me, "Look at all these people that love Nez, Mum!" Please feel free to send prayers to our sweet teammate Inez this week! xxxox

Baseballing five nights of these past seven.  Teeball practice for Gem, Opening Day on Saturday with games for both kids (Grey had an in-the park homer and a fly catch at the pitcher's mound!), Monday and Wednesday night games for Gemma and a Thursday night game for Grey (in the rain!)  The little kids are starting to get into the groove of finding things to do while we are at the fields.  I keep Rusty strapped to me (as Dugout Mom for Gems' team and just watching Grey's games) and Violet is pretty good at making friends.  She wandered away from the dugout to find my sister at Gemma's game the other day and got all turned around and instead found herself over at the machine pitch game!  Luckily one of my friends recognized her and brought her back - just as I glanced over at my sister and thought, "hm...I think I've lost one." Another of our friends said afterwards, 'oh yeah, I saw Violet over here, I had my eye on her, I figured you were in the dugout over there.' That's the blessed thing about small towns and schools - everyone knows everyone and watches out for each other.  (so grateful for that always..especially when Violet decides to go for an adventure!)

Planting our mini garden near the back patio.  Bud and the kids dug out and lovingly planted green and yellow summer squash (our favorite!), sweet peppers, and jalapenos (because B and I have a real obsession).  I've also started in our kitchen green onions that we've transplanted and I have some celery getting started now that we'll move to the garden when it's ready.  We got our seeds from tractor supply and don't even play - the urge to scoop up some baby chicks was real.  We held back, but it was a close call.

Making Cheesy Chicken and Rice in the slow cooker (big hit!), Sloppy Joes, Chili served over noodles, 3B Ranch porkchops (boneless, breaded, baked), and making lots of pre-baseball field snacks.  I think that's going to be my method this season - load the kids with high carb/protein snacks before we go to the game and then we can eat when we get home.  Which puts our dinners between 8p-9:30p some nights, but we are all pretty late eaters anyway and I'm such a stickler for family-around-the-table meals that I'm willing to deal with it.  Our pre-field snacks this week were Pumpkin/chocolate muffins (so easy! only 3 ingredients) and these flourless monster bars (delicious! we kept them in the fridge for grab&go!)  Also - honey pretzel twists, squeezable yogurt, apples, and mozz cheese sticks!

Easter 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our holidays tend to be very busy; at least three different meals at three different homes, lots of hugs, gifts, and goodie bags.  But as I say every time we gear up for a marathon holiday, 'we can't complain about having places to go where people love us and give us yummy things to eat!"

Easter started at our house with a late night whip up of a batch of my Grandma Helen's sugar cookies.  We got home on Saturday evening and while Brandon put the kids through the shower rotation, they also came through the rolling out the dough/cookie cutter wiggling station in the kitchen with me.  They helped ice them too with Gram's famous boiled icing...a little bit before they were all ready to hop off to bed before the bunny came.

We started Easter bright and early at our house as we woke up to our baskets and a little egg hunt out on the front patio that the bunny left us.  Bullet kept sniffing out the hidden eggs and cracking them to spill jelly beans all over the sidewalk.  The girls were over-the-moon that the bunny brought them Twosies and Shopkins and Grey got baseball eye black and new Rooster tails for fishing.  Rust-Man was pretty pleased with his baby snacks and all the eggs filled with m&ms!

We got dressed and headed out to Pappy and Gigi's for Easter breakfast and more Easter baskets!  (The Easter bunny knows where all of our kids' grandparents live! How lucky!)  We eased into the morning with delicious made-to-order egg sandwiches from Pappy on the grill griddle! While the kids put together their mini gumball machines and sneaked more candy snacks.  Then it was off to 11am church service. 

After church, we loaded up in Sheila again and headed over to Abba and Chum's house with the whole Adams family for Easter lunch.  The 'Kids' table' was born again (a long time childhood memory at Grandma's dinners!) The food was plentiful and scrumptious and as always, it was so nice to be surrounded by our big family.  After holding out for the whole day, Rust finally crashed out for a nap after we ate and he snoozed hard in Abba's crib.  

Dinner was followed up with a kid/adult soccer game where my goalie talents were on display (I have some serious toe-stopping abilities that even surprised me! hah!) and then an egg hunt complete with dead mouse (so weird, and so Adams family).  It was such a beautifully perfect weather day and we were grateful to get to spend so much time outside.  

And then, we were off again!  To Mimi's house this time and we made it just in enough time to give Kuma and Uncle Buck a quick Easter hug and kiss.  Then we got some nice, relaxing time with Mimi snacking on Easter leftovers for supper and giggling about Rusty who was loving all the great eats and treats of Easter (it was his first Easter ever!)

And then, after a quick rainstorm, a double rainbow was visible just as we were leaving Mimi, our final stop of the day, and felt like such a reminder that we are so blessed.  Tired, yes.  Loaded down in Sheila with way too much candy, Easter baskets, and trinkets, yes.  Overstuffed bellies and multiple leftover take-home containers, yes.  and blessed, blessed, blessed to have such a busy, tiring, wonderful holiday. 

fishmas 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

First up in our fishing season was Mentor fishing day - which falls the weekend before the First day of Trout that is set up to encourage and promote kids to learn to fish.  Our two biggest kids filled out their youth fishing licenses and packed their backpacks for a fishing camp sleepover with their cousins the night before.

The two little ones and I stayed home, so I woke up to this little face in our bed. 

I got text pics all morning of everyone having a great time on the creek and lots of updates about how much fun the cousins were all having together.  We had plenty of mentors to go around for all the kids, including my Dad (Chum) who drove out for the day.  It's nice to have lots of adults around to help with all the different aspects of fishing and to keep an eye on kids who are baiting hooks, chopping wood (!), cooking over the fire, and hanging out near rushing water.

We got a visit at our house with cousins Lisa and Rowan and then we all packed up and headed out to fishing camp to reunite with our crews!  Despite the chilly evening, it turned into a beautiful day and we all got to cheer on all the kids reeling in fish and kissing them before releasing them back into the stream.  I was happy to finally give my brand new seven year old boy a birthday hug (!) and he was proud to show off his fishing skills to his baby sister and brother. 


The following weekend, it was real Fishmas - which means the first day of trout! Keeping in tradition with the past four years, Grey, Brandon, and Pappy all headed out to fishing camp on Fishmas Eve to sleepover.  And we got our early morning texts of them on the creek fishing as soon as the clock struck 8am., real quick.  I just had to go back and search my blog to figure out if Grey has been sleeping over at fishing camp since he was three or four years old and found this pic and then obviously had to do a side by side comparison...and excuse me...when did this transformation happen to my little baby boy Booboo?! Time, why you do this momma's heart so wrong?....but, that beard though, b! xxoxo! .....okay, carrying on...

While the boys spent their day on the creek (Grey even getting a chance to learn how to filet and cook a fish he caught that morning!)...

The girls, Rusty, Gigi, and I headed out to our annual Fishmas tradition.  We all had lunch together and then got pampered and beautified by getting pedicures.  The Saturday before Easter meant it was even more busy out then normal, but the kids were really patient and sweet through the whole process.  They even earned themselves a quick stroll in the Pet Store to say hello to all the animals afterwards (hah). 

After our little girls' afternoon, we head over to fishing camp to meet up with the crew and spend the evening with them.  Grey had a great day and even a scary fishing story that he was eager to tell us.  Earlier that day, he felt a tug on his line and started reeling it in and could see the closer it got the bigger it looked.  By the time it was really close, it looked like it was almost two feet long!  He started getting really worried this fish was going to just swallow him up if he reeled it in! So with tears of fear in his eyes, he handed his rod over to his Pappy and asked him for help.  After a quick look, even Pap thought it might have been a snapping turtle, but as they pulled it was only a huge log!  hahhaha, i love that memory!

Another awesome Fishmas holiday that will live on in the kids' memories (and ours!)
Remember when Grey was just barely one and I wrote this letter to him about Fishmas.
Okay, bye, I'm too sentimental today, hahhhaha!