Around Here Week 52: December 23-30

Monday, December 31, 2018

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home this last week of 2018.

Intentional Hours Outdoors: 529 hours and 23 minutes (of 1000) - FINAL CALL
Racking up another 3 final hours for the year with some dog walks with the kids when the sun came out for a few days. I beat my last year's count by over 6 hours so I'm patting myself on the back - especially considering the weather we had this year (I think it didn't rain maybe only 5 days this whole year - waaaah). Onward with my goal though, I will keep trying until I finally get there. It is so important to me to stay intentional about my outdoor time because it cleanses my soul.

Reading and finishing Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I dug back into the book I've been inching my way through all year long - Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel  I won't finish it until next year (haha) so I'm calling my final book count for the year at 22 books!

Christmas'ing with everyone we love.
Mimi's Christmas on 12/23 at her house with all our Studer cousins. We ate delicious foods, opened all the presents from Mimi (she' can't help herself but spoiling her 4 grandkids and 10 great grandkids! and then instead of exchanging gifts between all the kids - cousin Tausha organized the saran wrap ball game for the little kids and big kids. They were cracking up and having a blast (games instead of gifts are the best! Spread the word!) We got Mimi a year subscription to Neveo which is a very cool app that hooks all the cousins/aunts up on their phone and we add photos to it all month and then Mimi receives a printed 'newspaper' style booklet of all her grandkids & greats photos. She doesn't use social media so this allows her not to miss any of the photos we snap daily!
Christmas Eve meant mass at church followed by dinner at our house with my parents and Aunt Kitty. The kids did all their traditional Christmas eve activities: choosing cookies for Santa, leaving Reindeer food in the yard, putting Santa's magic key on the door since we don't have a fireplace, opening their matching jammies, and kissing Marco goodbye until next year. Kitty stayed late helping a sleepy momma elf (!!) while Daddy elf put together all the things (ie. dollhouse, bookshelves, piano stand). We finished after Kitty left at about 2:15am! pretty good time, considering.
Christmas Day my amateur kids didn't even wake up until 7:30a and then it was gifts and favorite snacks for breakfast (Santa brings everyone's favorite foods to the stockings - chocolate donuts for Grey, Sunchips for Gemma, Fruit Snacks for Vially, and Doritos for RustMan). Then we got dressed to spend the afternoon with Gigi and Pappy at their house. We had no gifts except the best gift of all which was a good day of health and joy. After Pap & Gigi's we headed over to celebrate with our Adams family cousins at Aunt Dar's house where we played our annual white elephant left-right pass game which is always a hit. We called it a day afterwards because #holidayexhaustion
Uncle Juice came for a Christmas visit where he showed up like Santa with arms full of huge gifts for these kids he spoils the heck out of. A hoverboard each for the three biggest and a scooter for the Rust man to all of their delights! It's been nonstop hoverboarding over here ever since!

Having a Sleepover Day! Rusty and Violet had a sleepover with Abba, Chum, and Aunt Kitty on the same day that Gemma had a sleepover at Sophia's house and cousin Caleb slept over our house with Greyson! I got to meet halfway in Ebensburg to exchange Gem with Soph and Kate and we had a girls' dinner where we giggled and chatted and enjoyed delicious food - only to return to a house of dudes that were wrestling while on the hoverboards.  HAH. It was such a fun day for all the kids and a nice way to break up the constant family time during winter break. We all needed a little time away from each other.

Relaxing over winter break. We were lazy all the days. We let the kids sleep in the living room, we all slept in (most days past 9am!) and did chores when we felt like and didn't when we didn't feel like it. The kids were all good at helping too and pitched in with the chickens, laundry, vacuuming, and dishes. What a relief in motherhood it is to be able to tell Grey, Gemma, and Violet to "go switch the laundry" and they just go do it while I tackle another chore! (switch the laundry means washer to dryer, etc) Mothers of toddlers - hang in there! Someday you'll have helpers! It has been so nice to all be home together - B doesn't work during break either, but he did have basketball - We really needed this little family huddle to regroup and get snuggled up again.

Ordering in Sushi and watching a movie just B and I on Saturday night when my sisters took all four kids to the movies to see Into the Spiderverse for their Christmas gift. (experience gifts are the best gifts! Spread the word!) The kids l.o.v.e.d. the movie and spending time with their aunts (thank you Kitty and Uch!) B and I watched Life Itself on Prime and sheesh, that was not what we were expecting, but also kind of  great too after the initial shock of it all.

Reflecting and looking forward to the new year. I went back through my 100 small things list for 2018 and finished up some last minute tasks like taking photos of Violet (and Gem) in my wedding gown and some other small ones. I did pretty good on my list, but gosh, 2018 was a tough one on my soul and heart. I spent quite a bit of time being mad and frustrated. Most of the time with things that are completely out of my control. I have been slowly working on my 2019 100 small things list with an intense focus on the Mother Teresa quotation - "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." This is the way I must move forward because I cannot go into 2019 with a hardened heart, I want to be joyful and intentional and full of gratitude.

Teaching just my own children because we're on winter break, baby! I do have a ton of grading though to catch up on and Greyson, Gemma, and cousin Gracie were kind enough to check the worksheet papers for me. Gemma and I learned together about piano warm-up exercises that she can do before she starts practicing her little song book (thank you youtube). Violet got a preschool workbook from Santa which she is thrilled about, so she and I have been working through patterns and numbers and letters for the past few days. She also started working on her acrylic on canvas painting techniques!

Making chocolate covered pretzels and one more batch of pretzel/hershey kiss/m&m delights to finish out our Christmas cookie collection. We had slow cooker cream cheese taquitos, ham pot pie (thank you Chum!) and lots of egg sandwiches. We ate like kings for Christmas - a huge buffet of every traditional Christmas food at Mimi's Christmas (ham! chicken! pierogies! kielbasa! nut & poppy seed roll! Gemma ate her weight in pizzelles!) We had crispy shrimp alfredo pasta on Christmas eve at our house, egg sausage and ham casseroles for Christmas day brunch at Gigi & Pappy's house, and a delicious potluck early dinner at Aunt Dar's house on Christmas day (ham! Abba's enchiladas! cousin Janell's salad! Aunt Dar's cheesy potatoes!) We were so full of good eats that by the time the Steeler game rolled around, we enjoyed 'football food' of buffalo chicken crescent ring and pizza dip with chips.

Year in Review: Reading

Friday, December 28, 2018

I had such a blissful year in reading in 2018. My 100 small things goal was set at 12 which I figured a book a month seems reasonable, but in part due to my awesome local book club, Books & Brews, and gobbling up some really quick, delightful reads - I'm ending the year with 22 books read!!

10 random facts about me and reading
1. I use any random nearby flat object for a bookmark when I start a new book. This year that has included a random photograph, a note from Gemma that said "I love you" and my birthday card from my sister Kitty.  Sometimes I leave the 'bookmark' in the book when I'm done and the people who borrow my books discover weird random pieces of my life. (a student borrowed a book last year and found an 8 year old uncashed check from my sister for $11 - LOL)
2. I turn down the corner of any page that includes a sentence or phrase of writing I like on the page. This makes for a fun game for anyone who borrows my books to try to guess which line it was that made me turn down the corner.
3. My kids know that momma is "not allowed" to go into a bookstore unsupervised because she will spend all our money.
4. Our kids tell people that Momma has 1000 books at home and she's read them all (both exaggerations!)
5. The only thing that has been on my Christmas/Birthday wishlists for several years has been books. (although I hate gifts, so my first choice is nothing, hah).
6. I try very hard to read the book before seeing the movie
7. Because I write, writing can be very distracting for me in a book; both in good and bad ways. Occasionally it is hard for me to really fall into a story because I spend too much time wrapped up in the words. It's like watching reality tv and constantly thinking about the camera crew standing there (which I also do #hatemyself)
8. Often times, I read while walking around our dining room table, or walking around our back patio when the weather is warm.
9. I do not own an eReader of any kind and have zero interest in ever owning one. All the positive benefits of an eReader will never outweigh the way all of my five senses have a deep love affair with an actual book.
10. My all time favorite book of ever ever is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Second favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. But a book I read this year (!) has made it to the top three!

My five favorites from this year include -

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I loved the writing and the story in this emotional tale of two sisters in France during WWII. As previously mentioned, I do laps around our dining table while reading and as I was nearing the end of the book, Brandon was watching me make turn after turn while sobbing hysterically. It is definitely a book that you need to debrief afterwards with someone else who read it - which is why a few weeks later when my sister who read it messaged me at 2am in the morning when she finished it - I sat up in bed and texted her right back. I tried to talk to B about it after finishing but the only thing I could say to him was, 'I just wish you could be in this world with me right now' LOL. #readerprobs
"But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us." 

I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson
One of my current top three favorite books ever. The book follows boy/girl twins Noah and Jude in which each gets their own chapters but in different years. Gosh, the writing. I loved it so much; both characters' voices of Noah and Jude are unique and somehow recognizable (oh, teenage years). The various themes had me soaring and I struggled to decide which I loved more - the fate, the love, the creative process. Gah. I could gush forever. I borrowed the book from our high school English teacher and then immediately went out and bought a copy for myself upon finishing because it's a book that I just need to have on my shelves. Will definitely be rereading again soon, but I loved it so much I ate it down in basically one single gulp.
"When I draw it, I'm going to make my skin see-through and what you'll see is that all the animals in the zoo of me have broken out of their cages."

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 
Jodi Picoult is hands down one of my favorite authors because I know for certain that I will get swept up in the story because her writing is just solid storytelling. Her writing is never distracting for me (neither terrible or overwhelming beautiful) and her stories are so captivating and well told that I can always lose myself in just the story; I get to take off my critical writer's glasses and just enjoy it. This one was no different. I love her ability to take a story and twist it around 360degrees so you can see from all angles; that it is proven again and again that every story has (at least) two sides and there are shades of right and wrong and well meaning. bravo, Jodi, as always.
"Love has nothing to do with what you're looking at and everything to do with who's looking." 

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
A timely, interesting, and validating read for all mommas and daddas trying to raise babies in the world today. There were so many little things I enjoyed about this book - the Dad's fairy tale strung throughout, their time spent in Thailand, but most of all - the love story between the mom and dad and trying to figure this parenting thing out as best as they could for each of their kids.
"That was how it was. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. All for one....It was just that there was way more to do than two could manage, but by their both filling every spare moment, some of what needed to got done."

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
An important, heartbreaking, inspiring story - one that I am so thankful exists for our young people (and all people, but technically its YA). I watched the movie trailer about 30 thousand times, but have not yet seen the movie yet. I loved this book and have had students requesting to borrow my copy; which brings me so much joy.
"-Momma grabs my hand again - looked me in the eye, and said, 'Sometimes you can do everything right and things still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing the right." 

My full book list this year: 
1. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
2. Every Day by David Levithan
3. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
5. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
6. I'm the One who Got Away by Andrea Jarrell
7. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
8. My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry
9. 4 years Trapped in my Mind Palace by Johan Twiss
10. Famous Last Words by Katie Alender 
11. The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien
12. The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
13. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
14. I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson
15. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
16. This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel
17. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
18. PS I Still Love you by Jenny Han
19. Always & Forever by Jenny Han
20. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
21. Juntos by Ally Condie
22. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This year, I was able to extend and enhance my Spanish curriculum planning to include Spanish language learning novels. I can't begin to tell you how many parents come up to me during the school year and say something in the ballpark of "I took Spanish for Xnumber of years and I don't remember anything!" And that's because of the way that we used to teach language - through textbooks and grammar lessons and memorization. It is all different not (yay!) and the new standard in language learning is through acquisition and reading novels. I have a long way to go in my own education of teaching through novels and TPRS, but gratefully I have many inspiring Spanish teacher role models (thanks internet!) to help me figure it out like Martina Bex and Allison from Mis Clases Locas.

This year, we've added these books to our curriculum in Señora Studer's class:

1. Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro
2. Capibara con Botas
3. Fiesta Fatal
4. Esperanza
5. Tumba
6. Robo en la noche

And the two graphic novels by the amazingly talented Señor Wooly
1. Billy la Bufanda y las Botas
2. La Casa de la Dentista

And finally, my husband, the self-proclaimed non-reader - READ a whole book this year! (well, 3/4 of the book and then I finished reading it aloud on our aniversarymoon drive home from the Adriondacks, NY)
The Dry by Jane Harper

All of these books are linked to my Amazon account which means I could receive a tiny kickback if you purchase anything while browsing within my links. Thank you for your support and understanding. 

End of Year Review: 12 Months of Kindness

Thursday, December 27, 2018

It was our 10th year of committing to a year's worth of giving kindness out to others. We put our list together at the beginning of the year, as usual, and attempted to make it more kid friendly and manageable with four kids; two of which had extracurricular seasons to contend with.

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

We did some other very small kind things sprinkled throughout the year too. Things that were never on any list, but that presented themselves in moments that we had the opportunity to choose kindness and help the kids choose to do the right and kind thing too -
  • deliver cookies and muffins to our bus driver who is so patient with us
  • leave cookies & muffins in the mailbox for our mail carrier Karen sporadically
  • share our chicken eggs with neighbors, family, friends, and the Home Ec class at my school
  • support my students' extracurricular activities by purchasing things from their fundraisers
  • take extra money for any other student who forgot on special days (tattoo/face painting)
  • attend a memorial paper lantern service for Daddy's basketball players aunt
  • attend a memorial balloon release meeting for a former soccer teammate
  • Greyson started altar serving at church
  • donating to fundraisers in tragic moments for family, friends, and community members
  • packing up and sending off clothes too small for Rusty to a family friend with a littler dude than ours
  • making dinner for families with new babies

But as is obvious, we experienced a disruption in our lives this summer - the sort that knocks you off your normal path and plans. We got side tracked and distracted and dropped the ball on many things that we wanted to accomplish or do - not only on the kindness front, but on all fronts. 

but then, you know what we got to experience
the most incredible year of kindness received

I cannot possibly express in words the amount of gratitude that we feel from the love and support and kindness we were blanketed with over the course of this year, specifically in the last six months. It is staggering and overwhelming and feels so undeserved. 

  • snail mail letters of love and encouragement
  • dinners delivered to us and to our family members
  • so many prayers and good wishes sent our way
  • an entire book series sent for me and my students
  • a classroom fairy godmother who sends a surprise each month to my students' and i
  • free shipping from an etsy seller who made me something special and custom
  • so many open arms for my babies when we needed a babysitter last minute
  • calls and texts from friends who have more expertise than us
  • calls and texts from friends and family just to say hi and check in
  • patience and grace with us: for our lateness, our last minute change of plans, our forgetfulness
  • giving space and respect to our privacy

We have a lot of kindness to make up for in the next year, but what an incredible gift it has been to be on the receiving end of so much generous kindness this year.

truly, a reminder of how important small acts of kindness are - how one small kind gesture can transform a lonely or difficult day into one that does not feel so scary or alone. 

we will never be able to thank you all enough. Even if it was a random moment in which you thought of our family and sent a tiny well wish into the universe - we felt that. thank you. 

we move into 2019 with a renewed sense of commitment to sending love and kindness into the world. 
with all our hearts.

'Because I have been given much
I too, must give' 

Around Here Week 51: December 16-22

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our house just this sparkling, cozy, crazy minute.

took this photo to show him how bad he needs a haircut and he went full Blue Steel on me. LOL

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 526+ hours (of 1000)
yeah, up only about 20 minutes (laughable) but holiday cuckoo madness and freezing temps.

Reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and laughing out loud for real most of the time. Eleanor is so raw and hilarious with her observations of the world. #mood

Crushing on  my handsome husband who stepped out of his comfort zone and agreed to be the conductor for the Polar Express Party that the first grade puts on annually at the kids' school. Gemma was so proud that her Daddy was the conductor and B actually had a lot of fun with the kids, punching their Polar Express tickets and walking them to each activity. (CT Elementary PTA, you are a.may.zang!!)

Trying to get the Rustman feeling better. Aunt Kitty came to the rescue when he needed picked up from daycare one day for diarreaha and a fever and then Daddy worked from home one day because it was still going on the next day. He held it together enough to get through the last two days of daycare, but is still struggling on the diarreaha and sporadic puking front (see below). Poor kid. He bounces right back after an episode (thank the good Lord) but he (and clean-up momma) are very ready for him to be healthy again. Bring on full BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast)

Cracking some next level mom codes on Wednesday night. If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know. Short version - I took 4 kids by myself to Grey's Game, then Walmart 6 days before Christmas (for gift exchange and snacks for school Christmas parties), and then out to dinner only to catch Rusty's vomit IN MY HAND and keep eating. yeah, rocking those low standards like a mom of 4 kids does. My answer always to the question, "I don't know how you do it" is a consistent "lower standards" and my Wednesday evening was a perfect example of that. You just can't get worked up about stuff with four kids, ya just do what you can do and somehow little by little it holds together with elmer's glue and chewed gum. There's no secret, it is lowering your standards as far away from perfect as possible.  HAH.

Receiving incredible, amazing news after a 6month scary, worrisome journey. Brandon and I have repeated over and over that we want not a single thing for Christmas - we are so grateful and relieved to finally exhale after it has felt like we've been holding our breath- that who needs gifts when health is the only thing that matters.  Thank you so so much prayer warriors who have had our family on your list. Please continue, we still need them as the road is still long and challenging, but it has a light at the end of the tunnel now and we know that it is in large part to the support and love and good vibes that have been sent out by you. thank you so much. best Christmas gift we could receive by far.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice at Uch and Kevin's official housewarming party. It looked so lovely in the glow of the season and I felt so proud of her for how beautifully decorated and welcoming she has built her home. #bigsisprobs  Winter Solstice might just be my secret favorite day of the year - I am definitely ready for a little more daylight everyday - YES PLEASE.

Feeling shocked and overwhelmingly relieved that I passed the Spanish Praxis on the first try! Especially considering I was wholly prepared to take that thing again because of what a disaster of the day was and feeling sick (and being out of school for 11 yrs! is quite common to fail it at least once because it is such a beast of a test, the online stories are staggering, hah) But I got the news Friday afternoon and literally googled again the PA passing score because I didn't believe it (HAH). You can bet my score report is currently displayed proudly on the fridge. Now it's time to apply for some online grad classes (bleh) to get this certification wrapped up finally!

Enjoying seeing Violet in her own element at her bestie's birthday party (Grady). She is almost always just carted around wherever anyone else in the family needs to go - but she got to go to Grady's birthday party and have fun! #thirdchildprobs

Christmas'ing at Abba and Chum's house on Saturday. We are blessed with a big family who all wants to properly celebrate and be grateful for the year - so my Mum and Dad opt (thank you) to have a special Christmas day at their house so that we don't have to rush-rush too crazy on actual Christmas day. We had a scavenger hunt orchestrated by the two best aunts on the planet, delicious food, gift opening, boxing (per usual), and many a dance party.  Even Santa on the back of the local fire department's truck drove by and handed out candy canes!

Getting holly jolly with Marco's regular antics; he hung snowflakes above our kitchen table, replaced the tree angel with himself, and 'peed' in a cup! We also put some work in for our Christmas cookie baking - the kids helped make peanut butter blossoms, thumbprints with cherries on top, and those pretzel/hershey kiss/m&m little delights that get eaten up in about 30 seconds. I finally got all our Christmas cards out in the mail (LOL, sorry if you get them after Christmas!) and we gifted cookies and cards to our mail carrier and our busdriver Rob. All four kids had Christmas parties at school on Friday while the whole week was themed dress up days for the big kids and for me at the high school. I saw this hilarious meme on instagram this week and started cracking up, because SERIOUSLYYYYYYYYY.  Silently thanking the Amazon Prime gods for supporting and having all the procrastinators' backs (ahem, me). I pressed 'buy' on a dollhouse that was guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve (LOL) - call me a risktaker - and it arrived on Dec 21 - way to come through, Prime!

Basketball season'ing with three games for Brandon this week - to which NONE of them I made because of distance or Grey's teams (hah!) Violet needed some extra cuddles once this week because she said she only gets to see Daddy for like a minute a day, I reminded her that this happens every year during basketball season and we have to help his team by giving Daddy lots of hugs when we can. PSA: Remember to thank your kids' coaches (and be kind and patient with them), they do not do it for the money - and many days they see your child for more hours of the day than they see their own. We love Coach Daddy and Daddy's team, but that doesn't mean we don't struggle to get through the season. -- Grey had practice three nights this week and two games with Duke Andrews. He is getting a better feel for the game and we are working through his frustrations of taking constructive criticism with grace.

Teaching about La Navidad in Spanish 1 (Musica madness tournament) while also administering interpersonal interviews in Spanish 1. In Spanish 1 Honors we took our Capibara con Botas final test and learned about Las Posadas. Spanish 2 worked on Somos Unit 6 and we played Gimkit to study for our body part quiz. Spanish 2 Honors learned about tradiciones de la Navidad using the Martina Bex unit including Los Pastorales y el día de los innocentes (they requested to play Gimkit too one day - seriously, we're all obsessed). Spanish 3 Honors learned about el tió nadal and finished a Navidad worksheet using Tweets. Then we had a Navidad fiesta including a white elephant gift exchange and our very own diy'ed tió nadal who they named Jerry. #whytho . On Friday, our school had a volleyball tourney and I played again on the teachers' team.

Making hamburgers in the airfryer, 2 ingredient orange chicken in the crockpot over rice, and sloppy joes. I made banana blueberry muffins for breakfast and a cranberry, walnut, and banana bread for Brandon's work Christmas luncheon.

Around Here Week 50: December 9-15

Saturday, December 22, 2018

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


Intentional Outdoor Hours:  526+ hours (of 1000)
Ugh, up about 20 minutes in a week. It has been so cold and wet that there is little motivation to go outside except to take care of our chicken girls. Actually the biggest detterant from getting outside after the school day is that it's so dark so quick - by the time we get bookbags unpacked and an afternoon snack in and put dinner on, it's basically night time outside. hahah.

Reading and finishing Juntos by Ally Condie. It was very cute, I tried to see if they have a movie/series about it (would be perfect with that YA dystopian theme we all love) but it looks like it was caught up in production awhile back. I started into Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman which is our current book club read. I'm just a few pages in yet and already loving it.

Thankful for grandparents as it was all hands on deck on Monday so that I could go grocery shopping with no kids (!!) My mom stayed home with the girls while my dad carted the boys all over the creation for Grey's two basketball practices that night. Fridge & pantry stocked and fully prepared for cookie baking - thank you Abba & Chum!

Cheering on Gemmi Roe as she did her (one line) solo this week at her Christmas concert. The song was "What do you want for Christmas" and Gemma answered back "I want a piano" (ya hear that, Santa?!) She did a great job and overcame some initial nerves. The babies and I went to the concert (Grey had a basketball game and Daddy had practice). My mom and sisters were there, Mimi came, and even Miss Hannah came out to watch the concert. She was so proud - and so were we!

Meeting with Rusty's speech therapist for our first visit at our house. It went so well and we all liked her so much. Even though it was Rusty's special visit, obviously all the other kids sat around and wanted to play and watch (#bigfamstruggles) Rust did good and really tried his best, Ms. Kristin was so encouraged by his mimicking and I feel like I learned a lot of great strategies to help him at home. She will see him once a week at daycare, I can't wait for him to continue to grow in confidence - he is going to be so happy!

Celebrating birthday parties - Grey had a nerf gun birthday for cousin Caleb and Gem had a swimming party for her friend Mya - such fun winter birthdays! I'm inspired!

Getting holly jolly. The big kids had santa's workshop at school which meant we had to open their presents they picked for us immediately upon their arrival home from school (LOL). We hosted our annual Polar Express viewing & popcorn party with the Fiores at our house, and Marco continued with his antics including wrapping up the tv, taking selfies on the ipad, and wearing wrapping paper stilts.

Basketball season'ing as B had two games this week and Grey had two games at Duke Andrews and two nights of basketball practice.  We made it to the very tail end of Brandon's home game because #latetoeverything It's going to be a challenge to get to games this year, with Grey playing basketball himself - but we're going to try our best to cheer on Coach Daddy and his boys!

Teaching action verbs to Spanish 1 including a spirited game of charades and preparing for their interpersonal interviews one on one with me next week. Spanish 1 Honors finished Capibara con Botas and got to work on their Final RAFT project. Spanish 2 finished Somos Unit 5 and started in on Somos Unit 6 including body part vocabulary (always a joy to teach to immature tenth grade boys #sendchocolateandprayers). Spanish 2 Honors Read One Whole Novel in One week! I am so proud of them, and it was so inspiring to see how they could handle it. We read Tumba and mostly followed MisClasesLocas plans for it. Spanish 3 Honors worked through the preterito super 7 verbs and they interviewed me. Ugh, the first steps into the preterito vs. imperfecto can be so weird and scary but I know by the time we get to our next novel Robo en la Noche, they will be ready to swim! I learned about and then introduced Gimkit into my students' lives for review and O.MI.GOSH. we all have an obsession. Every student is 100% engaged and so intense about it. It took a few minutes for them to start to realize what works and what is the most efficient way to rack up their 'money' (some of them still learning) but it is amazing and I can't promote it enough. (here's a great description of it). We had a mini fiesta in Spanish Club and B and I also got doll'ed up and chaperoned the Winter formal #highschoolsweetheartsFOREVER (thank you Miss Hannah for babysitting!)

Making creamy Italian chicken in the crockpot, frozen pizzas, mac and cheese, and Christmas colored and shaped Spritz cookies to kick off my holiday baking! We enjoyed a great soup and sandwich lunch at the church hall that was put on by the ninth grade CCD class. Grey had just been officially inducted into the altar servers and then spending the afternoon chatting with some of our besties at the church luncheon was a perfect mini celebration!