Around Here Week 50: 12/08-14

Friday, December 27, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:   629+ hours (of 1000)
Held steady this week with not enough to push me over the hour mark.

Reading The Astonishing Color After by Emily X.R. Pan. and The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer still and enjoying them both -but just moving really really slowly.

Chopping my hair off on Sunday because I'm pregnant and annoyed by it being one more thing I have to wrestle every day (hahaha, besides this belly into clothes and my little kids into socks and shoes and my big kids into the darn shower. sheesh!) I got about 8inches cut off and was immediately relieved. So less heavy, so much less to deal with. woohoo! Some people have noticed and then lots of people haven't noticed at all (!) B explained, "it's weird because it was so much cut off, but also somehow you look exactly the same still." niice.

Reminding myself of all the ways my husband is everything I love as I bite my tongue and find chores to do in other rooms as he butchers his deer Lord, patience is what I need - always patience, please.

Eating pizza, sipping hot chocolate, and watching the Polar Express with our besties as is our December tradition. We headed out to the Fiores' house to enjoy the evening and it was so nice to spend time with them for the evening and to keep the tradition alive!

Clapping for Grey and his school mates at the 4th&5th grade winter concert. We had the full crew in attendance (both sets of grandparents and aunts!) while the kids sang a medley of Christmas tunes and we all got to see Grey wear real pants (!) and a tie. A Christmas miracle in an of itself!

Debating whether to bail on Christmas cards or not. I tried to get a pic of the kids and that was a total fail (kids fighting with each other, dogs smacking kids off the face with the tail so that kids start crying...not holiday magic at all). And we are so close to Christmas at this point, getting them printed & delivered doesn't even seem feasible.....but there might be another option that I have in my back pocket. I'm not giving up on it yet because with every card we receive in the mail my soul aches to send ours we'll see if I can pull something together in time!

Snagging gifts here and there - thank goodness for online shopping. I have lots of stuff ordered and I feel like I'm in okay place for being gift-ready so far. The big kids are kind of hard to buy for this year because they're in a weird stage of not wanting toys but also they definitely aren't getting tech-y stuff then what? I'm using Gemma's enneagram to help me buy for her (she's a two too), so she's getting a cozy blanket and a succulent/cactus kit to take care as part of her gift. Grey wants a hunt in Alabama with his dad (LOL) but then I remembered months ago that he mentioned wanting a chin-up bar for his bedroom door - so that's ordered! He's getting a trail cam and waders too for his outdoor loving heart. The babies are still easy and Melissa & Doug toys are my favorite; puzzles, wooden food toys, and a car track rug. Target had an awesome sale that I was able to snag everyone's "Something to wear" items including three pairs of leggings for Grey to wear under his mesh shorts all winter (ugh).

Opening gifts immediately after school because Grey and Gem cannot wait to give their Santa's Workshop surprises for anything. They both had the workshop visit in school on Thursday, and everyone had to open them that afternoon! They were so sweet with their choices and they both picked a little something for their new baby brother too.

Swimming! Gemma's friend Mya had her birthday party at the Somerset indoor pool on Saturday and was so sweet to include Rusty and Violet on the invite. They felt so special to be included and get some swimming in even though it was freezing cold outside (blew Rusty's mind!) Gem got to have a sleepover afterwards and it was peaceful sleeping for the other two because nothing wears kids out better than swimming!

Winter sporting with the start of basketball games. Grey had three nights of practice and then on Saturday he had two games in the morning followed by his travel team practice. It was a long day of basketball for us to watch all day - and he was so pooped on Saturday afternoon but happy tired.

Teaching the Spanish Alfabeto to Spanish 1 including a recorded voice assignment that they both hated and loved. We had a listening "spelling" test at the end of the week and played lots of games to practice the letters. Spanish 2 continued El Silbón chapters 5-9 and Spanish 2 Honors created "invisible characters" for our class story. The reveal of the characters were hilarious and I was reminded again on what a valuable exercise it is to create characters through calling out suggestions in the target language ("la cabeza - "grande o pequeña?" Tiene un bigote? ..etc) while another classmates draws the character to match their thoughts. Spanish 3/4 Honors started watching Navidad commercials and completing worksheets to go along with them as we decide which Spanish Christmas commercials we like the best in a tournament style bracket.

Making chicken, potatoes, and brussel sprout Italian bake, crockpot swedish meatballs, pork roast and sauerkraut, crockpot salsa chicken over rice, and having appetizer night (chicken fries, soft pretzels, and cheese sticks!)

Around Here Week 49: 12/1-12/7

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 629+ hours  (of 1000)
Up one hour this week. I know my soul could use more time in the outdoors but between the cold temperatures, chores, and runny nosed kids around here - I can't get my act together. Still proud to be ending the year with more hours than last year, but it ain't over yet!

Reading The Astonishing Color After by Emily X.R. Pan. and The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer.

Celebrating our three and a half year old! Rusty had has half birthday and we sang and measured his height. He is so very proud to have the half added on there and will correct anyone and everyone if they say he is three; "No, I not three! I three and a half!"

Watching all the Christmas movies. The girls loved A Cinderella Story Christmas Wish (they call it "Sexy Santa" movie - HAH) and we also watched The Knight Before Christmas and The Holiday Calendar over the course of the week. We are watching the classics too like Home Alone and The Grinch too. Basically we've sworn off any television/movies that are not holiday themed around here.

Waking up to all kinds of surprises from our elf Marco. He's pretty low key, but still knows how to make quite a mess that has the kids smiling and shaking their heads. He helped St. Nicholas leave candy in our shoes on December 6th and turned our milk green (classic Marco!) on Saturday.

Getting holly jolly in the classroom. I let my Spanish 2 students pull out all the Christmas decorations and do whatever they thought looked best, Spanish 3/4 hung snowflakes from the ceiling (and they broke a table while they were at it?!) and I changed my laptop background to a fireplace to keep it cozy. We are tying up loose ends before  winter break in my two clubs; Spanish club deposited all the fundraiser money and ordered our club tshirts this week while Prom committee deposited their first week of prom raffle ticket money and made some calls to potential caterers.

Cheering for the end of Brandon's deer season as he got a buck on Saturday. Grey and his Dad were out with him for the day. Grey got to shoot twice at doe (he missed!) and then when the three of them were trying to push deer, B had an opportunity at a six point. Grey was so excited and proud - he came home and recounted the whole story to us.

Giving Gem a hug after she completed her first reconciliation on Saturday. She was a little nervous beforehand, but then felt great after she finished. The third grade students and their teacher (our Miss Hannah!) put on a little celebration afterward with cake, juice, and a craft. Next step - first Holy Communion next spring!

Visiting Abba, Chum, Kitty, & Uch at the downtown Christmas market where they were selling their homemade goods! We got to spend some time in the shop, peek in all the windows of the miniature houses in the park, and even see Santa! Rusty was brave and sat on his lap and then when Santa asked what he wanted - Rust panicked and started looking around the park for ideas. He said, "ummm, a house" (as in a miniature house) and was Santa was like..."well, I'll have to see about that" Only pretty sure he didn't think Rusty meant a mini house and Central Park Santa definitely thinks we're thanks, Rust.

Winter sporting with basketball season for Grey. Still only in the practice mode, but he had one practice each for three of the teams he's on (he actually on four, but one didn't start yet). He loves it and it keeps him motivated in school - so I guess I can just shrug and carry on.

Teaching four days this week since here in western PA we get the following Thanksgiving off for deer season (hah). Our winter break is so close and the kids are already antsy pantsy, but I am determined to keep as close to business as usual because first, we have things to learn! and secondly, the days honestly go by quicker if we are on task and working. So Spanish 1 worked through Somos Unit 4 (quiere ser, habla, toma) and did a level-up reading/writing exercise. Spanish 2 started El Silbón de Venezuela Chapters 1-4, Spanish 2 Honors worked on Somos Unit 12 and learned about personal belonging vocab, and Spanish 3/4 Honors finally got to watch The Curse of La Llorona after finishing our novel.

Making taco turkey over baked potatoes, kielbasa and mac & cheese, fridge clean out day, frozen pizza, and chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes. We also made a Walmart pick-up grocery order to hold us over until the holidays arrive.

Evelyn at the end.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Evelyn awoke in an unfamiliar bed to light streaming through the window, dance music playing in another room, and knew immediately the truth – she had died.

Moments ago, she had been at home after a courageous battle with ovarian cancer surrounded by her children and grandchildren at age 89. A long, beautiful, interesting life; Evelyn knew how lucky she had been to find love, to raise children, to have a career, and to have more memories that included laughter than tears. She had the blessing to say goodbye to those whom needed to hear it to continue through the journey of life.

Evelyn sat up with no pain and an odd feeling of relief.  Blissful acceptance washed over her and she could finally appreciate that she had done all that was needed in her living life so that her kids were going to be okay. The memories they had shared together would be enough to carry them through. This had been her biggest worry at the end, but her shoulders relaxed- all of her seemed to relax with the innate understanding that they were going to be all right without her.

The light streaming in the window blocked out any other view, but Evelyn was less concerned about the outside as she was drawn to the door where the music floated to her on a wave. She glided over and gently turned the knob to open to a wide ballroom that was filled with soft light and melodic dance music. As Evelyn’s eyes adjusted, they widened with the understanding of where she was and with whom upon her death.

They were all there. All the Evelyns, from all her life, at all her various ages. She glanced around the ballroom looking at each one, recognizing each laugh line and freckle because it was one that she had watched evolve over all of her life in the bathroom mirror after applying her nightly moisturizer before bed and calling out to her husband at 38 years old, “Leo, sometimes I don’t even recognize myself in this reflection!”

There was the 23 year old Evelyn who lived in New York City teaching inner city students how to find the main idea in a paragraph. She was so thin from all that walking and living on her own in a Brooklyn apartment eating mostly toast for dinner. Full of passion and big dreams, she was armed with a subway pass, four dollars, and a coloring page in her bag signed in crayon with the name of her favorite second grader, Anthony.

There was 14 year old Evelyn who was looking around like she was waiting for something to happen. Life was always moving too slowly for her and she could never wait to grow older until exciting, real things would happen to her. She still had her hair purposely down and in front of her face. She wanted to be noticed but also froze at anyone actually noticing her. She had chapstick in the back pocket of her jean shorts and was dreaming of the day that she would have enough things to keep in a purse.

The Evelyns aged 6 to 12 were grouped together in a circle dancing and giggling to the music. They danced with abandon, with their eyes closed and heads back. The music seemed to fill their veins and no matter how silly their dance moves, there was nothing to do but smile as you watched them because they moved in the relaxed and careless rhythm of knowing your whole life still stretched out before you.

Someone pushed past Evelyn as she was running toward the dancing circle. The runner looked back and smiled with a big missing-two-front -teeth grin while apologizing. Evelyn called back, “it’s okay” to that 7 year old Evelyn.

Evelyn at 38 who had five children was sitting close and encouragingly rubbing the back of Evelyn at 29 who had a toddler, and a newborn and dark bags under her defeated eyes.

Evelyn at 58 looked lost and vacant in the middle; as though she couldn’t see or hear anything else in the ballroom. That Evelyn had lost her own mother and father only four months apart that year. There was only one Evelyn next to 58 year old Evelyn, it was Evelyn at 86 who had lost her husband of 61 years. Her eyes were lost too, but there was something there; a fullness and a hint of gratitude for a life of memories with a partner who carried the burdens and shared the joys.

Evelyn at 20 who was fresh back from her study abroad in Scotland was recounting every detail to a star struck 16 year old Evelyn in a corner booth over a shared order of loaded fries. Evelyn at 25 - the newlywed - was talking excitedly with Evelyn at 24 who was planning her wedding while sipping fruity drinks at the bar. A weeping Evelyn at 34 with the new kindergartener was hugging tightly to a weeping Evelyn at 46 with the high school senior. Evelyn at 62 was rocking and kissing the head of newborn Evelyn with tears in her eyes; she had learned that her youngest daughter had miscarried that year.

Evelyn- the real Evelyn- the Evelyn of 89 wobbled and weaved through all the Evelyns of her life. She smiled and nodded at them as she passed and recognized each of them. There were Evelyns who lived through the best years of her life and Evelyns who had endured some of the worst, most devastating moments. They were all there, even her – the Evelyn who had made it all the way through life.

She looked over them, all there together in one space. They were the only person who had gone through that one precious life with her; every step, every good morning and good night, every meal, every kiss, every tear, every memory.

She did the only thing there was left to do. She started with the Evelyn right in front of her – 17 year old Evelyn with puppy dog-love eyes for her high school boyfriend and the words “History vocab test” ink pen tattooed on her hand – she pulled her in close for a hug and whispered “Thank you.”

Thank you November

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Thank you November for...

Thank you for
  • a great school celebration for Día de los muertos where students created and tried new foods while learning about a cultural holiday.
  • a make-up trick or treating day to spend time with family and friends collecting sweets from neighbors. 
  • A championship win (and undefeated season!) for Coach Daddy and QB Greyson. What a well deserved and hard practiced season by all players and coaches it was!
  • Skilled doctors who can find problems and fix them for those we love
  • an evaluation for Gemma with a neuropsychologist to see if we can get to the bottom of her struggles in school and ultimately found that although she has challenges in several spots, her overall scores did not point to any diagnosis which is great but also frustrating.
  • A veteran's day breakfast and assembly at school that inspires me every year - but this year especially as my sister, Kayla, came to speak to the student body about her time in the National Guard. She did such a powerful job that students still mention and ask about her. I am so proud to be her big sister. (love you, Kitty).
  • pregnant-friendly sushi
  • a great partner in End-of-Season banquet planning (thanks Becky for all you did and all the calls you made!) The banquet went off beautifully and a good time and full bellies were had by all. The official close of the football and cheerleading season!
  • our first Project Lit book club meeting at school with students to discuss Monster by Walter Dean Myers. We had snacks and great discussion and a mix of students from all different kinds of groups and grades. Oh I love books and how they bring people together. (thanks for organizing and encouraging me to do this, Renee! so grateful to work with you). 
  • a perfect cozy birthday weekend getaway at Seven Springs to celebrate my dad (Chum) and his 60th birthday. The kids splashed in the hot tub, we took a walk, we all snuggled with Lady, and enjoyed great food and laughs. 
  • a successful fundraiser for our Spanish Club and a few really productive prom committee meetings that finalized the raffle fundraiser and confirmed the venue.
  • book club with ladies I love at a new-to-me restaurant that was incredible. 
  • our two big kids who have been so kind and generous with helping with the chickens each morning (opening and closing the coop and taking down and bringing up the waterer so that it doesn't freeze). 
  • a mini road trip for our family to Hershey to see Jurassic World Live and get an afternoon with our Gilmore cousins that always makes us happy.
  • the start of basketball season for Grey and the NOT start of basketball season for Coach Daddy (yay!)
  • the sweet melodic sound of the fourth grade recorder concert. (hah, but seriously I loved it and Grey was really proud).
  • the ultrasound that told us we are having a baby brother! 
  • our midwife (and cousin) who is honest and patient with me with news, questions, and updates about our newest babe as we passed the half way mark this month in pregnancy!
  • a thanksgiving day with family that filled our bellies and our hearts
  • the opening of rifle season (deer season continues!) I'm not particularly thankful for this, but I know my boys are - so my gratitude extends by proxy
  • the arrival of our elf Marco and Christmas decorations lighting up our home and all the guilt-free hot chocolates and Christmas 'kissing' movies a girl can dream of

Thank you October

Thank you October for...

  • The leaves and that crisp air. Gosh, October, do you ever bring peace to my soul. 
  • the opportunity to see that if I let my students take on more responsibility in clubs, they can and with beautiful success which was the case for all planning and designing of our Spanish Club homecoming float. I was so stressed about getting everything together, but the kids took on the challenge and completely took it off my plate. 
  • lots of quality time for Brandon and Greyson as archery season opened and I said goodbye to those two until December (end of deer season). At least they are together and both obsessed no matter how much I miss them and how crazy it makes me. 
  • the only show that B and I consistently make time to watch returned to tv and gave us an excuse to make time to watch tv together (The Walking Dead...I know, we're like the last still watching but whatever).
  • Nine and half years of our Greyson Rudy Booboo's relentless teasing and silliness.
  • a productive and validating meeting with Gemma's teachers about her struggles in reading and appointment schedule with the neuropsycologist to see if Dyslexia is at the root of the problem
  • The start of our Sunday school season and getting the chance to teach our own Grey for the next two years
  • the sound of our sweet baby cinco's heartbeat at my monthly check up
  • the day marking eleven years married to my favorite human on this Earth and the day celebrating the birth of that same person - October, no wonder you are my most treasured month of all. 
  • a corn maze with friends on a beautiful fall day
  • the success of another community event organized by my little sis who makes me so proud
  • the end of regular season football and cheerleading season. It is always sad to say goodbye to all the sweet smiles and hugs from my little first and second grade cheerleaders, but also a sigh of relief to get weeknights and weekends off again after a long, busy season.
  • a playoff football win for Coach Daddy and Greyson 
  • 38 years of marriage to celebrate for my parents!
  • Walmart grocery pick up, I love you. 
  • Halloween school parties at the kids schools that make them so happy and the homeroom moms and preschool teachers who do all the planning and organizing (I am so grateful for you!)
  • a new mattress for our aching backs and the adjustable base that brings so much happiness that it is borderline bizarre.
  • canceling on trick-or-treating when the rain and wind was strong and bobbing for apples in our kitchen with the kids instead laughing and cheering each other on. It ended up being the perfect Halloween evening.
  • My real life view of my live-like-the-seasons quote (100 small things) for fall "Notice how the trees do not cling to their leaves. Fall is about releasing the old to make way for the new." 

Around Here Week 48: 11/24-11/30

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  682+ hours (of 1000)
I'm guessing its about the same (didn't get more than a few minutes outside a couple days this week) and plus with my phone out of commission, I actually can't tell for sure. I keep all my times recorded in a note on my phone. So I'll update next week!

Reading The Astonishing Color After by Emily X.R. Pan. It is a YA book and one of the Project Lit choices for this year. Our group isn't reading it yet, but I've been interested in it since I snagged it for my classroom this summer. I also stopped by the book store before heading to Verizon on Saturday (because I anticipated the long wait) and picked up The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer and I'm loving that so far too. Both are based around semi-depressing topics (a mother's suicide and a daughter's disappearance respectively) but they are both well written and have really quick chapters which makes them perfect reads for this season of the year (holidays) and season of my life (pregnant with baby#5)

Inventory'ing the kids' winter clothes. Such a task, but needs done every year to make sure we are ready for sledriding and snow play. We had everything but appropriately fitting snow pants for the two big ones. Abba & Chum came to the rescue there and we are all covered and ready to go for a big snowfall - bring it on, winter!

Laughing about our yard visitor. We have horses and a pony that live on the farm behind our house and the pony has been ducking the fence and walking the path through the woods to our house during the day. He was in the yard when we got home from school the other day and the kids were dyyyyyying laughing. We call him "Poe-nay" and the kids are obsessed even if he's not a huge fan of them and retreats back to his farm at the sight/sound of them. Rusty can't say any /s/ sound within a word - so he keeps shouting out, "Momma, I'm going out to see my little (w)hore" which is terrible but I laugh every darn time.

Finding out we have another BOY coming. Literally shocked. I was completely confident that it was a girl, so was Brandon, so were all the kids. So when the technician said, "it's a boy."I literally responded with, "what?" followed shortly by a baffled, "but they break everything" to Brandon. Still kind of processing this information but excited to meet this new little cannonball. The girls were initially disappointed (mostly because they guessed wrong....#same) but we've all moved into the territory of talking about baby brother with love and excitement in our hearts.

Speaking of baby brother, we've hit the halfway mark! 20 weeks so he's as long as a banana, or a paper airplane, or a pint of beer (hah). We found out at the ultrasound that my placenta is low-lying which means extra precautions and ultrasounds - but all is well right now. I am in the best possible hands with our midwife Meg (who is also our cousin) so I am not concerned. Following orders and being extra mindful as I have a tendency to just operate as close to normal even while growing humans - so this is even more reason to watch more Hallmark movies and relax, right?

Feeling grateful for family, health, and delicious food on Thanksgiving. We watched the parade at home in the morning and I stayed home with the (coughing, feverish) boys while B took the girls in to visit Gigi and Pappy for Thanksgiving breakfast. Then we all headed out to Kuma's house for lunch with the Studer/Gilmore crew. After filling our bellies to the brim, we then made our way to Indiana to my Aunt Mar's house for Thanksgiving dinner with our Adams family. At both places, we played this super easy and hilarious game that had everyone cheering and cracking up.

Switching to Christmas in our home. The kids all helped take down Thanksgiving decor and pull out all the Christmas boxes from the attic. We pulled out all the Christmas books, listened to Christmas music, and flipped the living room furniture all around to make room for the tree. The kids were entirely in charge of decorating the tree and then we had hot chocolate with candy canes. The girls and I are loving the 'Christmas kissing movies' and watched The Holiday Calendar and The Knight Before Christmas (both Netflix). We have pine candles ablaze, Gemma has been practicing Jingle Bells on the piano night and day to prepare for Christmas Eve at our house, and Marco arrived on Saturday evening! Tis the official season!

Bumming that my phone flat died on Thanksgiving. It has been busted in the corner for weeks now, so it's not all that surprising. Just a total bummer since none of the pictures I took Thanksgiving morning/afternoon/early evening saved to my google drive. Which means, I got nothing to show for our holiday celebrating, which really only matters for the yearbook, but still. Aunt Kitty spent the afternoon decorating her tree with the three little kids while I was able to trek to the mall to try to get a replacement on Saturday only to find out that I needed to call the warranty place and wait for them to ship a replacement. So a few more days of 'unavailable' status!

Drinking all the hot drinks all the time. coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate. give me all of them.

Praying for safety for all the hunters - including my husband and oldest son - who spent the day in the woods all Saturday for the first day of rifle season.

Re-reading the quote below from Harlan Miller (on Daddydoinwork) as we move into the holiday season as the twinge of anxiety about all the extras we add to the season starts to settle into my heart. There are lots of things coming up in the planner (Marco the elf returns, school dress up days, school parties, house decorating, traditional get-togethers, cookie baking, all the gift buying, holiday traditions, school concerts, Santa letters and visits, etc, etc, etc) but I'm clinging to this quote like I have in seasons past to remind myself that the years are short and right now magic fills the kids eyes and hearts and it is the luckiest of all gifts to get to be their momma and have a front row seat to this beautiful madness.
"Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmastime that we don't quite know how to put our love into words"
Winter sporting with still only one night of basketball practice for Grey!

Teaching only two days! We had a short holiday week and then had our annual Volleyball tournament day on Wednesday for the early out day. I played on the teacher volleyball team and we went 3-0 and were headed into the playoffs before I had to leave a little early to make it to my ultrasound/baby doc appointment. Spanish 1 did a song lyric unscrambling activity and had a vocab quiz, Spanish 2 also listened to a song and worked with lyrics (one of my favs, Como los Vaqueros) and then took a vocab quiz, Spanish 2 Honors learned about the Chilean mining accident and how it compares to our own (close to home) mining accident at the Que and then watched The 33. Spanish 3/4 honors finished their La Llorona inspired short stories and turned them in right before break!

Making 'crispy hot dogs' in the air fryer with some baked maple bacon brussel sprouts for the Steeler game on Sunday. During the week we had orange chicken in the crockpot, Ranch Parmesan baked pork chops, and popcorn shrimp and pierogies.  For Thanksgiving I made two pumpkin rolls (with blue icing for a gender reveal with family) and two egg sausage casseroles for breakfast. We also used left over turkey in a creamy turkey noodle bake for first day of rifle dinner to warm our boys up when they returned home.

Around Here Week 47: 11/17-23

Saturday, November 30, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  682+ hours (of 1000)
yeah, up nothing. not impressed with myself.

Reading and finishing Recursion by Blake Crouch. Mind blown, as always. I just don't even have words. Our Books&Brews book club met at The Back Door Cafe on Thursday night to eat ah.may.zang food and discuss Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Calling in the Calvary this week as we were way in over our heads with all the places everyone needed to be. B had training every day this week at St. Francis, so he had to leave at the same time as me each morning. The Garrettsons put the big kids on the bus for us 3 times this week while Abba and Chum each took a morning too (driving all the way out to our house by 7a!) My Dad (Chum) picked up the kids from the bus on Monday and kept Gem after school (which she loved) and then kept the babies all day Thursday (#schoolskippers) until my Mum (Abba) took Violet to her well-check on Thursday afternoon for me. (thank you so so much!)

Listening to the sweet, melodic sounds at Grey's recorder concert. hah. But for real, they all did good and Grey was so proud to give me the thumbs up when it was time for Hot Cross Buns (which I've been telling him is my favorite of his repertoire).

Road-tripping to Hershey to see Jurassic World Live! B snagged box seat tickets for our whole family from an opportunity with work and the kids loved it. We are Jurassic Park fans around here and so to see it this way was such a treat. And since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped by for an afternoon visit with our Gilmore cousins to everyone's delight. The girls played quietly and sweetly while the boys all played loudly and dangerously and the parents all laughed and chatted. perfection!

Laughing as the kids all jumped around Monkey Joe's on the way home from Hershey. Our kids are movers so driving 6 hours in one day was not going to cut it in those antsy bodies. We let them hop, slip, and bounce those wiggles out before heading home on Saturday. What is better than a bouncy house? A whole building filled with bouncy houses!

Feeling like an attraction when we go out as a family. We normally only all go out together if it is to a family/friends' house or a place everyone already knows us (church, school activities, sports); so it's uncharacteristic for us all to be somewhere together where there are strangers. Because #expensive and #weareloud and #wearealotofpeople. But we were  all out together on Saturday in unfamiliar territory with two parents, four kids, and a clearly pregnant belly and good grief - the questions, comments, and double takes. Yes, they are all ours. Yes, we have our hands full. Yes, we are tired. Yes, we know how babies get made. No, Rusty and Violet are not twins.  No, Greyson and Gemma are not twins. Yes, we are probably crazy. Like in real life, random parents with 1-3 kids were coming up to us at the bouncy house place being like, "how do you guys do it? I'm not kidding, do you have tips?" and we were like, "what? dude, it's chaos. just like at your house. only louder and messier because there are more of them. we don't know what we're doing either!"  As Brandon is telling people, "the shit has already hit the fan and all over the walls - what's another diaper at this point?"

Fall Sports season closing with the End of the year banquet on Sunday. All of our planning came together and the banquet went off beautifully. The food was delicious (Flair of Country), the kids loved playing Just Dance before dinner, the coaches received lots of handmade thank you cards from our craft table, and we had enough of everything (food, drinks, gifts), and best of all - it's done!

Winter sporting. yep. on to the next. Grey is playing on two teams in the Duke Andrews basketball league. So he has practices on Mondays from 4:30-6:30p. He's obsessed. And we all wished Daddy a happy "not the first day of basketball season" day on Monday which felt amazing.

Teaching Spanish 1 jobs & places vocab as we start Somos Unit 4 and they also finished their free write on the personal interviews and they were amazing!! Their initial reactions of panic when I told them they had to be a minimum of 100 words completely flipped into impressed and confident faces as most of them wrote well over 100 words for their essays. So stinking proud. Spanish 2 started the pre-research for their next novel El Silbon while learning about Venezuela and Spanish 2 Honors worked on finishing their short spooky stories (I can't wait to read them!) Spanish 3 Honors finished La Llorona de Mazatlan (!) and started writing their short stories inspired by her legend.

Teaching additions this week - I got another formal observation in by my mentor teacher for my college requirements, registered for my Spring college courses, ordered the Spanish club fundraising from Popcornoplis, I enjoyed my favorite school lunch of the year, Thanksgiving dinner (!), and our Spanish club visited the elementary school for their monthly visit (they taught numbers!). The prom committee and I met on Friday and organized all the raffle tickets to be distributed next week and discussed caterer options too. And I received the best gift from my classroom fairy godmother, Ashley, this week - a wax warmer for my room! All year, kids have been commenting that my room smells like feet (HAH), and we think it's because I have no windows that open and all the dancing that happens in there when we have to close the door to make sure no one is disturbed in the hallway with our music. So many kids have commented this week about how great the room smells with our new wax warmer. Thank you so so much, Ashley!

Making ham & potato soup, chicken & pasta alfredo bake, using left-over pulled pork to put over mashed potatoes, eating left over chicken with mac&cheese, and chicken quesadillas. We have been doing pretty well getting one meal a week at our dining room table as a family (other nights the kids eat at the kitchen table while B and I stand -hahahhaa, most parent thing ever - or the kids eat first and then we eat together at the kitchen table. Some nights we eat as a family in front of the tv watching The Voice!)