Around Here 6 and 7: 02/04-02/18

Monday, February 19, 2018

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




Intentional Outdoor Hours: 4 hours + (of 1000)
This winter has really been so wacky. I know I keep saying that, but in this month alone, we've had a snow day, 2 hr delay (both for snow), and an early dismissal for flooding (because it warmed up and poured). I must be better though, because my soul needs it.

Reading and finishing The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I really really loved it and finished with tears rolling down my cheeks. Brandon was right beside me as I was finishing it and said, "How about you choose a book next that doesn't make you cry?" haha, he doesn't get books. I read and finished Fiesta Fatal by Mira Canion which is what my Spanish3 Honors kids will be reading in a few weeks.

Laughing with my sisters. Kayla spent a long weekend back in PA and the three of us attended Mardi Crawl (good job Uch!) for laughing, dancing, and karaoking. While Kitty was in town, she squeezed in a belated birthday date with Violet, a birthday date with Gemma, and attended our last regular season basketball game with me (thank God, the kids were bonkers that night). There are so many people that love and miss her and somehow she manages to make quality time for all of us. (xxox love and miss you Kitty! Send us some sunny and warm from Bermuda please!)

Celebrating Valentines day with a lot of love and a little mom guilt. We made and snail mailed Valentines to our cousins (our February kindness!) and then went through the whole classroom valentines dog & pony show. Leading up to the class valentines parties I was a worried and forgetful maniac but my mum came to the rescue and purchased four boxes of valentines for the kids (thank you!) I've been around this Valentine block or two and I decided that I was not buying into the accompanying treats - but it was not without some serious mom-guilt. I had four classrooms of Valentines for goodness sakes - I was not going into debt for these flipping Valentine treats. So I didn't and sent the kids off to their schools with a signed paper valentine for all their friends. And then the kids came home with bags filled to the brim with Valentines and treats (candy! temporary tattoos! pencils! pinterest'ed witty snacks!). Brandon walked into the kitchen after the kids had all dumped their loot on top and said, "Wait? Did you guys trick-or-treat at school today?" because's out of control mommas - we have got to all agree we need to reel it back in for Valentines day. In Valentine celebration of love - B and I shared lunch at Burger King during school (LOL) and got one milkshake with two straws #romancegoals and he brought the girls their annual bouquet of flowers home after school. They squealed and giggled and smiled their little heads off while Daddy beamed.

Gearing up for Gemma's sixth birthday! She got special dates with Kitty shopping and ice cream, Gigi out to eat, shopping, and a trip to the hair salon for some pink temporary hair dyed tips!, and with Aunt Uch and Kevin (and Abba and Chum) at the ice skating rink. We've almost finished up the planning and organizing stage of her birthday sleepover that caters to her love language of gift-giving. As I say every year, it's impossible that she's this old - but also isn't she like ten? She is so mature and grown up and nurturing. My Gemmi Ro - you are so incredible.

Smiling about Greyson's surprise family breakfast he made for us on a Saturday morning. He cooked up scrambled eggs, microwaved frozen sausage, and made toast for the whole family. He even set the table and followed the directions I gave him for brewing coffee. He was so proud to surprise us all and when we all sat down to dinner he said, "Alexa, play My House" (by Flo Rida). I was so giddy about it that I was planning a whole blog post for it about a boy and his breakfast when he was on the cusp of eight year old boyhood...but time is not a friend of mine these days. I may still figure out how to get that post written for the momma I'll be in ten+ years. For her, I just might have to. 

Extra-curricular'ing it. Gemma has her competition cheer routine down and got her uniform last week (so cute!) Her first competition is coming up next week in Slippery Rock! She's excited but nervous too. Grey started indoor baseball practices this past Sunday too. B joined an adult basketball league (and still got it, heh) and my Spanish club is gearing up for their next elementary school visit.

Cozied up with my two best friends, our handsome husbands, and all our babies under one roof. It was such an exhausting (8 kids 8 and under!) and amazing weekend being all together and listening to our kids play and laugh together. So much more to say about this and them and friendship. But for now, I'll say that I pray everyday that my children will have friends as good as my friends.

So tired. no, that's all. we are just so tired. all.the.time.

Trying to get a hold on our galactic spiraling life...but yeah, no. At least not until basketball season is officially over (we've made playoffs! yay? yay!) and probably more realistically not until summer break. But for real, if we're being legit here - probably not until...oh I don't know, 17 years from now?

Making Superbowl snacks in the form of mini taco cups and teenie weenies baked in the shape of a football (hah). We had frozen pizza cut in the shape of  heart for the kids on Valentines day while B cooked up some Shrimp scampi for our grown up dinner after bedtime. I've made a pork roast in the slow cooker which naturally lended itself to loaded pork nachos with the leftovers (yum!), spaghetti with meat sauce, grilled cheese hot dogs, and buffalo chicken dip. We also whipped up two batches of New Baby meals for two our of family friends who brought home beautiful baby girls these last few weeks. We made our standard delivery meal to them (and got in some baby snuggles) of chicken, veggies, and stuffing casserole with a side of double chocolate muffins (for dessert or breakfast!)


Friday, February 16, 2018

One of my favorite quotes credited to Ayesha Siddiqi says, "Be the person you needed when you were young."

When I was young, I needed someone who had a different perspective - a wider lens of life and humanity and culture and experiences than our small (albeit beloved to me) town. I wanted to see more and learn more and experience more. And I was lucky enough that my parents and teachers could see this in me that they pushed me towards those people. My parents (with reluctance but good faith) put me on an airplane headed to Honduras with a group of doctors and dentists when I was sixteen. They also became what I needed themselves, my Dad the curious researcher and questioner - my Mom the ever patient listening ear while I went on and on about some new thing I learned.

As a teacher now, I see everyday that what so many of my students need is someone who simply has the time of day to notice them. I have students everyday starved for meaningful connection.

The person our young people need is

Someone who puts their phone down. and looks them in the eye.
Someone who listens to what they are saying without a planned, predictable response.
Someone who smiles.
Someone who is silly and cheesy.
Someone who finds common ground with them despite age and interests.
Someone who notices when they are particularly happy or sad or worried and then asks them 'you okay?'
Someone who see when they aren't okay at all and need real help and puts them in touch with who ever it is that support them.

They are the most 'connected' generation in history but there is so little real connection. Our young people need us. We all need each other.

Were we lonely back in our day? yes. Were our parents lonely and their parents lonely and theirs for all of time? yes. But the danger now that we did not have then, is that we have this new layer of artificial connection that is also a means for infinite distraction from dealing with real feelings.

We cannot continue to look at our young people and say - we've all gone through the teenage years, yeah, it sucks. we've all been bullied. we've all felt lonely..."  Because although that may be true - we have not gone through it like them. How often have you said, "thank goodness I didn't have the internet/social media when I was a teenager." If you are like me it is all the time. I read back through my diaries and laugh and cringe. And on top of the social media aspect of it - if we're being honest, really honest with ourselves, painfully brutally honest, they are also living through it with parents, older siblings, and teachers who are so 'connected' themselves they aren't there to help our young people sort through the feelings and bounce back.

I'm not trying to say that phones and social media are the problem. But we cannot ignore the potential impact of having the whole world in our palms and we cannot ignore that social media is false sense of connection that encourages us to ignore the people right in front of us.

There's a million things we can do (need to do) so that when I tell my eight year old son about the Parkland school shooting, his first response isn't, "Momma, maybe you shouldn't work at a school anymore." But some of those things are big and take time in a way that my impact is small.

Maybe there isn't even a point to this post. I'm just typing to sort through my own broken, tired, sore, momma-teacher heart. I can do what I can in this little sphere in which I can reach. I can love and hug our kids and have the hard conversations with them and I can look in their faces and talk and connect with them and do everything I can to try to break poor phone habits so I can be a better version of myself. And I can love my students and push them and encourage them and check in on them and in the face of all their wise cracks and bad behavior see that they're just kids who need someone to not back down or go away. (hi, students who discovered my blog - see you Tuesday, happy long weekend. I do care about YOU!)

there's no answers over here in my corner of the web. Just a call to action. Action in love and kindness and grace and connection. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. And I hope that what each of us do is Love one another.

Around Here 4 and 5: 01/21-02/03

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 3 hours (of 1000)
Gosh, the weather this winter has been so wacky. Dipping down in the negatives only to zoom up to the low 50's later in the week. It's given me this weird indignant attitude towards being outside like, "if you can't make up your mind, I'm having nothing to do with you!" hahhaa, but seriously, it's very hard to get motivated to go outside in the cold when it might just warm up in a day or two. That's a lousy excuse for my outdoor performance this year so far, but it's the truth.  We've been holding semi-consistently with our #screenfreewednesdays (forgot one wednesday two weeks ago), but the kids are all in because it means we play together as a family to get through the evening without screens!  Grey had me belly laughing when I told him I was going to do some laundry on Wednesday which prompted him to tape up a sign "Laundry free Wednesday" to the tv too!

Reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles but having to miss my local Books 'n Brews book club meeting because #basketballseason and we're just hanging on by a thread over here, but excited to get started on our next book The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I devoured Everyday by David Levithan in a matter of four hours in one night (Brandon's response, "Do you think, babe, that maybe you have a problem?" LOL) I also did a quick read of the first novel my Spanish students will be diving into in the next few weeks, El capibara con botas and it got me so excited for them, they are going to be so successful and I can't wait to see them succeed!

Visiting the elementary school with the Spanish club to teach mini lessons to the kindergarten and first grade classes.  The Spanish club was organized into groups of 3 and 4 and armed with their lesson plan, dance moves, and youtube music videos they brought joy, laughter, and some simple Spanish to those kiddos. It was so sweet and I honestly had tears in my eyes with how proud I was of them. We will be visiting once a month for the rest of the year and the Spanish club students talk about it literally every day.

Rep'ing The Hunting Daddies at the Outdoor Expo in Syracuse, NY. B headed up for the weekend with Jeremy and High Ridge Hunting Preserve. We missed him all weekend, but as always it is great meeting people from our niche in the business world and it was our first time at an out-of-PA expo!

Crossing the 100 day mark of the school year and feeling that haze that blankets these winter months. In need of some warm and sunny weather, thick in the school studies, with the end of the school year still too far away to feel like it's anywhere in sight. Violet and Gemma are homework lovers while Grey needs quite a bit more persuading every.single.night. He is actually on an XBox ban until he can bring up his LangArts grade (that boy and his atrocious spelling!) I have been loving The Comprehensible Classroom by Martina Bex units and really feeling inspired from many great Spanish teachers I follow on instagram. We've got a way to go, but we are marching on through this school year.

Raising my hand for all the things ('helium hand' as one of my besties Loni says). Can I assistant coach Gem's soccer team? (sure!) Can I help plan Opening Day (yep!) Can I chaperone Gem's kindergarten field trip (fun! yes!) Can I chaperone the Senior field trip? (cool! of course!) Can I order the senior night basketball gifts and make the programs too? (yep! I'm on it!) It a lot of things on top of our already a lot of things - but this is how I love people; through service. I'm not good at a lot of things (like showing up on time, or detailed craft projects, or remembering to send birthday cards), but planning - I can do that! And showing up to donate my time - yep, I can do that too! We all just need to carry the part that we are best at and it all gets done.  These amazing mommas have tackled the basketball boosters in the past few weeks and suddenly the load that we had previously been trying to carry lightened immediately.  (thank you ladies!) and not only has the weight lifted - but they've made it so much better because they brought their own talents and ideas into it too. What if that's how we all looked at volunteering? Imagine the incredible things we could do together!

Giggling about Violet's sweet three year old thoughts. After seeing a little bruise I had she asked sweetly, "When are you getting married?" and I said, "Va-vi, I already married Daddy, silly girl." and she said, "no, I mean married again so your booboo can get better!" (because I always tell them my Grandma Helen used to say that booboos will get better before you're married, hehhe).

Squeezing in some quality cousin time. I had a solo momma appetizers and drinks date with Heather (thanks for babysitting Uch!) and it was amazing to catch up and laugh and share good food even in this very busy time of our lives raising young and busy kiddos.  We got to see Caleb's last home hockey game and then celebrated cousin Brookie's 2nd birthday party at her house!

Tracking progress for some of my 100 small things goals in my planner. I'm a sucker for tracking data (#nerdalert) and it has been a constant reminder to stick to my goals when I'm tracking everyday and looking back to check in on them. It haven't been 100% successful, but I love seeing the progress over time.

Committing tiny heart snapshots of our life right now. It feels so fast, so busy, so very messy, so fleeting but these little moments are everything that is our life right now. Grey losing two teeth in two days back to back. Grey making breakfast for me on Sunday morning (pb&j toast, coffee with a side of cookie - the kid knows me!) Gemma grabbing a stack of picture books and reading them on the staircase landing quietly but aloud as though she's teaching a class - asking comprehension questions and little observations about the pictures (Do you see this character's face, why does he look like?") Violet announcing loud enough for everyone in the gym lobby to hear "I pooped in the potty at school!" and so grateful for how easily I can make her laugh and smile in the morning even when she's sleepy. And Rust - my little Gemini baby who is either the sweetest, squishiest, loviest, curliest haired angel child....or the opposite of that (#sweetMotherMaryhelpme) One toilet a day has been clogged for about two weeks in a row #wreckitRusty I love the moment at night when I peel my tired body of the girls' room floor from reading aloud my current book after all the kids have fallen asleep and giving them each one kiss and tuck in. All my babies, all peacefully, quietly (!) asleep and safe in our home - the very definition of a mother's contented heart.

Making chicken over biscuits, shrimp fried rice, keilbasa & cabbage, chicken & veggie casserole, and korean beef over rice.  The kids and I also made cake-box sprinkle cookies and peanut butter lovers cookies (bag mix).