Around Here Week 3: 01/14-01/20

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: less than an hour (of 1000)
I contemplated twice this week getting out and walking during lunch time, but when I looked at my weather app and saw that it was under 20degrees both times I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And then when the weather turned nicer this weekend I was in bed sick. So this week was another bust, but I'm dying to get outside asap.

Reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles with my Books and Brews local book club. I cashed in my Barnes and Nobles gift card from Mimi for Christmas on two new books for future reads: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and Everyday by David Levithan because I saw the movie trailer and um, yes please.

Loving our basketball family as we all pull together for a teammate who got some very scary news this week. In a matter a few days, the basketball moms and the student body pulled together to make our Thursday game so special and charitable for him and his family. We are saying prayers and thinking good thoughts and we have so many minds on upcoming fundraisers in his honor. Our home game was actually against my students' team - so I was cheering and clapping for both teams as I won either way and lost either way. It turned out to be a great game and I was proud of all those kids that I know and care about on the floor from both teams!

Starting our attempt at #screenfreeWednesdays this week and kind of loving it. It also happened to be the day we had a 2hr delay at school, so the kids weren't thrilled. I was making the sign to hang on the tv and Grey was like, "Are you seriously making a sign? Come on Mom" which I replied, "you'll learn so babe that I'm pretty extra." (LOL but seriously). We made it through the whole day with no home screens and instead played together, read books, and they went to bed early. My AntiSocial app is my favorite thing I've done so far on my 100 small things list. I finished my two weeks of tracking my usage and then set my daily limit to 45 minutes on social media (instagram/facebook). It has really kept me in check on how much I'm wasting time on my phone. I hate that I need it, but I do.

Laughing about Vially and all her funny threenager wisdom. She thinks she's a vampire because she has two teeth on the bottom that are sharp. So when Rusty was annoying her in the car this week, she said, "Ugh, Rusty is being rude to me, can I drink his blood?" She can count to ten but then it gets a little silly - "...ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, eleventeen, one-teen" So happy to hear eleventeen has made a come back in our home and very pleased to meet one-teen!

Prepping for the 100th day of school which is later this month. Gem counted out 100 mini marshmallows and I finally had a chance to do some closet cleaning during our Act80 day earlier this week. I still have a long way to go, but I hung up a new string of bulb lights, classroom posters, and threw away a ton of unnecessary copies that I inherited. Exciting that it's the 100th day of school milestone but also this next few weeks in the Jan-Feb-March months are tough ones for teachers. Send us all a little prayer if you have an extra one.

Suffering through a bout of the GI bug in our house. Gem missed school on Friday and I made it all the way to last period before I threw up in the school bathroom (#classicteacher) and muscled through the last twenty minutes of the school day. It mildly hit Violet and Rusty but was full blown for Me and Gem, so we were quarantined to mum&dad's bed where we watched the firestick for 24 hours while B held down the fort. Luckily Grey was protected at his sleepover at the Stankan's house (thank you!) We are all doing better now and B has the paranoid feeling that it's just going to come out and hit him out of the blue. Fingers crossed that the several bottles of disinfectant he sprayed all over the house this weekend killed.all.the.germs.

Making three ingredient chocolate muffins for 2hr delay morning breakfast. We had a snack dinner of buffalo chicken dip and dippers (chips & chopped veggies) while we watched the Steeler playoff game, black bean, corn, and rice chowder, chicken chimichangas, and B made chicken noodle soup and potato soup when we were in the throws of disease this weekend. #besthuzever We also had our monthly 'grown up' dinner together (albeit at 10:30p after a late basketball practice). The kids had frozen pizza and I made B and I crispy shrimp and linguine alfredo - so yum.

12 Months of Kindness 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We are entering into our tenth year of attempting our 12 Months of Kindness project.
We hope within the deepest hope of us as parents, that these efforts towards kindness and a family who forgives and announces to try harder next time, and trying to be examples who go outside of our own comfort for the sake of lending a hand, and intentionally choosing patient thoughts that take in account the benefit-of-the-doubt and perspective...we hope that it will be enough to carve into each of our kids the memories and life experience that the world is good.
And it can always be good, even in the face of scary and sad and evil.
because we each have the ability and capacity to choose love and kindness.

my darlings,
we love you
we dream big for you
we believe in the good in you
and the good in this whole world
please believe too, babies.
mum and dad

12 Months of Kindness 2018
January: sign up to run Dad's team's concession stand
February: surprise snail mail for Valentine's Day to our cousins
March: volunteer at our church fish fry
April: Help at the Johnstown Backpack Project
May: Studer scholarship and give a special thank you to our teachers and bus driver
June: visit the humane society and give a donation
July: 10th (and last!) annual Studer's Invitational
August: surprise our local librarians with a tasty treat
September: Host a big grandparent dinner for Grandparent's day
October: throw an end-of-season football/cheerleading party at our house
November: surprise a family member with groceries
December: deliver cookies and notes to our neighbors

This year, we tried to shoot for more kid-centered monthly tasks now that we've done so many things as a family - we are starting to figure out what is feasible for us in time, finances, and abilities.  There are plenty of repeats on the list from previous years and the kids were all cheering and asking "when are we doing it?!" with joyful smiles.

What's on your list this year towards kindness? I'd love for you to share!

Around Here 1 & 2: 12/31-01/13

Sunday, January 14, 2018

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: less than 1 hour! (of 1000)
Oh man, it has been frigid over here in PA these past two weeks. It was so cold the first week that we had two 2-hour delays followed by a school cancellation due to wind chills in the -30 degrees! We had a tiny little 32 hr window of temps in the upper 50's (!) only to drop back down to freezing again.

Reading Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and liking it a lot. Green is a solid story teller and I knew I would be captivated and motivated to finish it quickly. The story really has a more dark feel than his other stuff but was very intriguing, especially when it comes to battling and explaining anxiety. I did finish it in about two days because...John Green :) I also started A Gentleman in Moscow  by Amor Towles for my Books and Brews local book club and continue to crack up every time I open it because I accidentally ordered the Large Print version and the font is ridiculous.

Turning in towards our little family as New Years eve seemed to set the tone for the year ahead (perhaps). We got all loaded up in Sheila (including the dogs who were scheduled for the kennel) to head to our annual NYE celebration with our besties the Kochs only to get about 6 miles from home and have Violet throw up all over herself, her blanket, and almost Gemma. So we turned around, cancelled on the kennel and the Kochs and stayed home instead with just our family playing Just Dance on the Xbox and eating order-in pizza! It was disappointing to have to bail on our annual plans (also we miss the Kochs and Tessa so much!) but it was kind of wonderful to stay home just us too and somewhere in my sentimental mind believe that it's a sign of the times and how this year will go. Turn into us, take care of us, and learn how to say no because we need this little nucleus to be okay.

Spending time with our favorite people to round out the holidays. We got special snuggles in with Aunt Kitty before she headed back to Bermuda, celebrated New Years a week late with the Kochs and baby Tessa to make up for our botched NYE, celebrated our friend Lila's birthday party, and enjoyed Orthodox Christmas with the Burghs and our extended families to close out the Christmas season. (Orthodox Santa brought us the movie Tremors, which is wildly inappropriate for our kids, hah, but they've fallen in love with it after seeing it on tv once and it's a movie my sisters and I loved growing up (playing Tremors under the floor jumping from couch to couch! scf!). So it is what it is).

Nursing sick babies back to health. We've had three throw up bellies in two weeks and lots of snot noses and low-grade fevers. After so much holiday fun and re-adjusting to school and basketball season running, we are all driving on fumes and trying to remember to take it slow and easy.

Enduring Wreck-it Rusty. sweet baby Jesus. help me remember this is a short phase in the grand scheme of life. He has yet another huge bruise on his forehead, he's thrown away multiple kitchen utensils (he loves throwing things away), he's colored on our leather couches and the playground with permanent marker, played "poop hide'n seek" by taking off his own diaper during the day, and leaves sink and bathtub faucets on constantly. Oh, also he can turn doorknobs now, so I've found him standing at the open front door yelling at the dogs to come in when the weather is subzero.  So, he's been fun.

Holding on for dear life as we are in the thick of basketball season. The girls and I manned the concession stand this week to help Dad's team and also cross off on first months' 12 Month of Kindness task! Gem loved every second of getting drinks and taking money from all the patrons. The kids have also been good about helping run the 50/50 at games and Grey is a man-obsessed with attempting the half court shot at home games. If it's not a game night, then Grey goes to practice with Dad when he can and we have to figure out where everyone needs to be and how they'll get there for other practices or scheduled activities. B and I have had dinner together at 10:30p multiple times over the past two weeks like it's completely normal. Thank goodness for our basketball family (and real families) for helping us get through the season!

Crossing off the milestone of Gemma's first tooth loss! Both of her adult bottom teeth are nearly out while her two bottom middle baby teeth are still in! One of them has been loose for about three weeks and she finally had wiggled it enough that B could pull it out for her yesterday. She hated it (hah) but then was so excited for the tooth fairy that she made her a little snack bag (popcorn) and a colored picture to have under her pillow along with her tooth!

Crossing off another milestone - my first formal observation back in the classroom again. It came right at a time when I'm feeling pretty good about my teaching (seriously love those story-telling Spanish units from Martina Bex!!) so that was good - but it's always nerve-wrecking to be formally observed though. I think it went well and it regardless, that particular lesson was great for the kids with lots of Spanish speaking and retelling of our class story (the students really impressed me! hahha)!

Feeling proud of Grey as he attended his first fly-tying class with Aunt Uch and Chum on Monday. He was so excited about the (3 hr!) class and as soon as we got home that night, he tied two more flies before bed. It's a few weeks in a row and he can hardly wait to get back again and learn some new techniques and use their cool supplies. It's so nice from my momma perspective to see him love and be interested in an activity that isn't overwhelmingly physical. That kid would run, throw, catch, tackle, and jump the whole day long if he could - but tying flies makes him still (and doesn't include a screen) which is so incredible to me.

Tracking in my planner the various daily things I'm attempting - like water intake, yoga, and outdoor time. I made my own little color coded system and it's been keeping me plugged into my planner too - which was something I was struggling with at the end of last year. It took about five months, but I'm finally feeling a little bit (read: seriously, a tiny bit) more settled into this new routine of full time working again after 4 years Sahm.

Slow dancing (once) at the NS winter formal on Saturday night while we chaperoned the dance put on by student council. It counted for our January date night (one date night a month on my 100 small things list) and Ms Hannah came out to babysit and we got all dressed up and went to our first winter formal together since 2001!

Making so much crockpot hot dogs and sloppy joes for every home basketball game. The kids and I also made some Peanut butter cookies to share with the concession stand. At home in the past week, B and I have been trying to stick closely to the 21 day fix diet, especially the water consumption and it's changing our energy levels like crazy (for the good!) We've  had chicken cordon bleu pasta, salisbury steak, leftover turkey casserole, meatball subs, frozen pizza, and chicken tacos.

100 Small Things 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018

hi. don't mind me - just geeking out over the new year over here. 
I just love it. I love a crisp, clean new planner. I love looking out across the expanse of the whole year's worth of months with binocular-eyes and marking down all the exciting things we have to look forward to (weddings! Final Beer Olympics! Our 10th wedding anniversary! sports seasons! summer break! Bermuda visit!). I love getting all reflective and nostalgic as I flip through last year's planner and see all the wins and losses we had through the months - all the to do list items checked off, the surprise plans (some happy, some terribly sad) that got scribbled in last minute.  How lucky I feel to be living this exact life in all of it's wild, overwhelming, funny, beautiful messiness and with these exact people who make everything better and also easier to bear. 

And then new years comes and it's like - look, we get to do it all again together. A little different this time as we are all a little older and new days bring new experiences and challenges and joys....and also a little similar though too because we lean into our people and traditions and make space for the things we hold dear.

it is all just too much for my little heart and I find myself with teary eyes and a huge grin on my face through the last week of the past year and the first week of the new year. Crossing that bridge to kiss all my favorite moments of 2017 goodbye with a hug (and also a "PEACE OUT" to all the hard times) and to look out across the expansive landscape of the new year with outstretched arms shouting, "I love you already! I am so grateful to get to try again!"  

I know, I know...reel it back in here, tab. 
So in the spirit of trying again and being better and living with intention and grace, I'm crafted up another year's worth of 100 Small things. This is my fourth 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.  In 2016, I finished 38 tasks entirely for the year, and last year 2017, I completed 26 tasks total (with a whole bunch of 'bonus' tasks in there that we didn't plan for but gave us quite a bit of growing the accomplishment). Despite the fact that my total goals completed keeps getting less each year (!?) I also know enough to give myself grace that life is also becoming a little more tricky each year. We've added more kids into our family since I started this thing - B has switched jobs, I started jobs, the kids are in more activities - it's harder to find the time to squeeze in all these little extras. 

...but that doesn't make it less important to my soul to attempt. And so I'm back at it again this year with big and little goals all with the intention of becoming the person I want to be 'when I grow up.' (I know that technically I'm grown up now, but a little bit better me each day is my motto, right?)  Eternally grateful to Ashley from Big White Farmhouse who first introduced me to 100 Small things (you inspired more joy into my life - thank you! thank you! thank you!) 

1. Limit phone distraction/scrolling using the anti-social app (tracks usage for 2weeks and then you can set limits)
2. 1000 hours outside
3. daily yoga (app and after school class!)
4. facetime weekly date with Kitty
5. afternoon hot tea
6. walk during school lunch at least two times a week
7. writing retreat with Loni
8. unsubscribe from junk email
9. screen free Wednesdays
10. clear out phone photo album of old stuff already backed up
11. implement a morning routine
12. implement a nighttime routine

1. Read 12 new-to-me books
2. Figure out cert plan and put into motion
3. watch 10 TED talks
4. review 3 books for Blogging for Books
5. revamp the curriculum plan (summer break) for all levels
6. write 100 blogposts
7. take Spanish Praxis
8. learn to drive stick shift
9. participate in a writing challenge (or writing course)
10. listen to podcasts while folding laundry
11. create an efficient and easy tracking system for my planner (water count, exercise, mood, etc)

1. finish Mud on the Mountain
2. zip up my wedding dress
3. eat mindfully
4. track water intake of at least 6 cups a day
5. walk/run 30 miles a month (360 miles for the year)
6. run/walk the Jim Mayer trail
7. paddleboard on the Que
8. try a local gym class
9. leave a pair of glasses in the car for night driving

1. finish 2016-17 family yearbook
2. finish 2017-18 family yearbook
3. participate in screen free week 2018
4. celebrate YES Day! (June 30)
5. join the PTA
6. sign Violet up for a painting class at the community arts center
7. take a photo of Violet in my wedding dress (same photos as Gem at 3y!)
8. run in a 5k with Greyson
9. create a 1second video
10. teach B how to french braid
11. create a 2018 family gratitude jar

1. co-ed volleyball league
2. nsfw
3. proper celebration of our 10 year anniversary
4. last will & testaments!
5. grown-up only dinners with food the kids don't like (they can eat pizza/mac&cheese)
6. make our bed a no-phone zone
7. babysitter secured date night once a month
8. nsfw
9. greet B at the door when he comes home from work
10. have B teach me how to play poker
11. play nsfw poker (hah)
12. have a schedule check-in once a week

1. AKT plus kids trip!
2. Sundays at Mimi's for breakfast
3. properly celebrate Mimi's 80th birthday
4. finally (!!) celebrate Kate & my birthday
5. AKT 35th birthday trip
6. find a special way to thank our Beer Olympics friends - make the 10th annual event really special
7. respond and comment thoughtfully to blogs and instagrams that inspire me
8. scf & girls sleepover
9. grandma & kids trip make a comeback!
10. participate in our neighbor's community garden
11. reconnect with my favorite friends via phone call or email

1. donate blood at least six times this year
2. volunteer in Grey and Gemma's classes (parties, mystery reader, etc)
3. create three folder packages for Raph (Worldvision)
4. send snail mail to the Gilmores
5. recommit to our 12 Months of Kindness project - make the tasks kid-centered
6. CVAA human library
7. volunteer for kids' sports/leagues in a meaningful way

1. visit Kitty and Ryan in Bermuda !!
2. Flight 93 memorial
3. family Idlewild trip
4. camping with the Stankan family in Pine Creek
5. sleepover at the Gilmore's house
6. try three local new-to-us restaurants
7. No bummer summer list creation & completion with the Fiores
8. visit PA Grand Canyon
9. take family to 1000 steps

1. finish basement bathroom
2. roof a porch
3. get a kayak (or two)
4. make Lisa's gram's cinnamon rolls
5. purchase new oven mitts
6. makeover our mailbox
7. make the kids' rooms their own (research, new mattresses, re-paint, curtains, storage, etc)
8. finish outdoor fire pit
9. finish steps into the house
10. power wash the siding
11. update the photos in the stairs hallway

1. finish Beer Olympics planning toolkit
2. encourage Grey to create more flies for his etsy shop
3. attend two expos with The Hunting Daddies
4. expand The Hunting Daddies child's clothing items
5. take professional photos for The Hunting Daddies website
6. meet with our financial planner for a check-in
7. start a cash savings jar

So, onward, friends.
thank you for always supporting me through your encouraging comments and recommendations for completing tasks and for sharing your wishes and goals. It's the new year and my heart is brim-full of hope for every great thing each of us will do and experience and inspire and create this year. And for even just this one moment - I love every single thing everywhere.  xxoxo