Around Here Week 20: 05/12-18

Saturday, May 25, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  126+ (of 1000)
I'm up 19 hours this week, because HELLO spring! I got the dogs out for a long walk this week (we saw three deer and some coyote poop that had the dogs' sniffers out of control). We are already getting great use of our fire ring this year and had a beautiful star filled sky on Saturday that had us all picking favorite stars and looking for UFOs.

Reading and finishing Simon vs. the Homosapien's Agenda by Becky Albertalli that was borrowed to me by a student (thank you Emily!) I devoured it in two days and now I need to watch the movie again asap - I loved the book and the movie so much. I'm also working on finishing Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women by Balli Kaur Jaswal before our next book club potluck dinner!

Getting pampered for mother's day. The girls woke up and made Brandon and I breakfast (not-quite cooked eggs and four times the sugar kool-aid but it was so thoughtful and they were so proud that we found a way to take a few bites of the semi-cooked parts before B 'warmed them up') Grey got everyone in our family to 'sign' their name on a card he made for me and they kids tried to promise to not fight all day (the only gift I asked for, hah!) We met up with my momma and sisters at Uch and Kevin's house for a perfect afternoon of tacos, birdhouse painting, and a walk outside in the light rain.

Supplementing my life with iron pills. After attempting to give blood the last few times and being turned away because of low iron and feeling so fatigued regularly, my mom in law suggested trying some slow-release FE pills. I kept chalking my exhaustion up to the whole having four kids, a full time job, and volunteering at all the things - but hey! turns out that it was in big part to low iron! The boost in iron has me feeling like me again - not super energized, but just normal and awake. Very grateful to be able to work at regular efficiency again.

Receiving the most thoughtful end-of-year gift from my classroom fairy godmother, Ashley! She sent me a custom stamper for my classroom library that says "From the Library of Señora Studer" Did I get teary-eyed in front of students about it....yes. Are all my books already stamped....yes. Did multiple students ask for their hands stamped....also yes, but they were denied (mwhahah) because it was too new and beautiful and perfect. Ashley, it has meant so much to me every thoughtful monthly surprise you sent to me and my classroom. My students all know of you and your kindness- if we get anything new in our room they ask, "Is that from the classroom fairy godmother?" They have heard me say countless times that you are an example of the kind of person they can choose to be - someone who thinks of others and does kind things for nothing in return - just to make the world a little brighter and softer. Honestly, you are incredible.

Geeked about a project that I'm working on with two fellow teachers (hi Ms. Saylor & Ms. Griffiths!) called Project Lit. It is an organization that is committed to providing our students and communities with culturally relevant books and promoting a love of reading. It is such an amazing time to be a young person (or love YA) because the Young Adult genre is booming with meaningful, thought-provoking and important stories. Project Lit comes out with a list of books for middle school and high school students that will help empower them as they are living in their lives right this minute. The books cover topics in a wide variety with a focus on making sure that students can find themselves on the pages (bullying, racism, addiction, poverty, etc) They are dedicated to decreasing 'book deserts' among rural and low income communities. We have a lot of ideas for our chapter of the project and I am so excited to see how it flourishes! If you are interested in helping us acquire books for our Project Lit, you can find our wishlist here (and thank you!!) If you want to follow along with us - find us at this hashtag #NSProjectLit

Grateful for family! Uncle Juice came by and took the kiddos out for ice cream on Wednesday night and B and I were able to get all the mowing and weed-whacking done without interruption! Aunt Kitty went in to Gem's class as the 'mystery reader' and read Nanette's Baguette (oh, how we all love Mo Willems!) My parents kept the kids on a rainy evening so that B could attend a school board meeting and I could take Gem to her game all by herself. And Gigi took Rusty on a special date to the Paw Patrol show! No joke, we have the best village.

Chaperoning the senior field trip to Hershey park on Friday. Three other teachers and I spent the day (6:30a-10:30p) with the senior class taking in the beautiful weather at the amusement park. We rode tons of rollercoasters and had no issues with the students!

Celebrating my baby sis Uch who turned 30 on Friday!! O.mi.gosh. My babiest sister is 30, I can't. She is incredible and inspiring and thoughtful and intentional and all the things I want my daughters to be when they grow up. How grateful and so deeply proud I am to be her sister. We celebrated with drinks and food at the Crow's Nest - B took the kids and then I got to stop over after I got back from the senior field trip at 10:30p. We love you so much Tasha #uchisthebest

Visiting the Quemahoming Dam for the first time this season! It was so warm on Saturday afternoon and we were all in need of a little boost in spirit, so after the baseball game, we loaded everyone down for a last minute trip. I scooped up Brookie and Bennie and we already had Ivan and Gracie for the day so we had plenty of friends to play with. I snagged the towels and swimsuits and B stopped for drinks and snacks. Then the Stankans met us there to pick up Ivan and we all enjoyed the Que for about an hour and a half before the mosquitoes descended and everyone was s.t.a.r.v.i.n.g.

Spring Sporting with three soccer games, a baseball practice, and a baseball game this week. All of our Monday games were cancelled due to rain. There was a baseball coach's meeting for Brandon and a school board meeting thrown in the week too. B and I had a looooooong debate about all-star baseball season and ultimately I lost (HAH). My heart and soul is all like, 'he's nine and a kid and let's ride bikes and climb trees all summer. and he's not the only child we have and poor Rust man gets carted to all the fields all the days, and also we coach all the things every season, for the love of all that is holy can we just get a break.' and B is all like, 'he works hard and should get a chance to try out and anyway he loves baseball' and so we asked Grey and not shocking at all, he wanted to try out - so yeah, I lost.

Teaching a weird week as our high school tackled the Keystone standardized testing exams. I didn't see my sophomores or juniors all week! My Spanish 1 students finished Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro and got their final project assignment. Spanish 1 Honors finished Billy y las Botas and got to watch the Señor Wooly music videos for Billy y las Botas and Billy y las Botas 2. I had to proctor the Literature exam on Wednesday & Thursday morning (ugh, I loathe standardized testing to the depths of my soul - another blog for another day) and after everyone was finished, we did some brain breaks of Just Dance and cup tower competitions - they made it all the way to the ceiling!! Which is legit impressive (even the physics and STEAM teachers agreed) and does a standardized test measure that kind of dedication, persistence, and engaged focus - NO. ugh, don't even get me started (hah).

Making grilled keilbasa, haluski, and mac & cheese; cream cheese taquitos in the slow-cooker, and spaghetti. We had pizza one night and Uch's birthday Crow's Nest dinner another. I have been feeling pretty guilty about our crap eating lately (Silver Bell ice cream dinners and concession stand food overload) and so we made an effort to eat at the real dining room table this week. The kids loved it and both Grey and Gem asked if we could always eat there.

Around Here Week 19: 05/06-05/11

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  107+ hours (of 1000)
We snagged 13 hours this week. A portion of that time was spent on the tractor mowing the lawn -hah! It's like a rainforest out there the way the grass is growing! We almost can't keep up with it between the rain and spring sports

Reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal for our next book club. We've decided to have a Punjabi-inspired pot luck for our meeting early next month! I also borrowed Miles Morales: Spiderman by Jason Reynolds from our English teacher (and my friend) Renee. Grey saw it in my bag and was all ready to steal it from me (heh). We are reading Code Word: Courage by Kirby Larson at night together because that boy needs to get some AR points asap. #Lawdhelpmewiththischild

Clapping for our alligator third grader at his spring concert. The second and third graders put on a very sweet 'musical' at their show and Grey had one line in the microphone. Hah!

Receiving a very sweet note from a student on teacher appreciation day. (thank you, Ana) Our principal also had a catered lunch for the teachers which was delicious.

Channeling all my zen during a very frustrating call with the board of education in which I was completely patronized and devalued as an educator. I got off the phone with them and literally walked into my classroom closet and sobbed. After an incredibly life-affirming conference call with the university a few months ago and two state exams successfully taken (on the first tries), it appears I have hit a very thick wall towards the final steps to my certification. I have incredible educator friends though who are giving me great suggestions and being all "screw it! let's start a charter school" #onlyhalfkidding #butforreal

Honored to share 'Muffins with Mom' at the babies' daycare on Friday morning before school (we had an ACT 80 day). Violet and Rust were so proud to pick out my muffin flavors and help stir my coffee. Sweetest!

Chaperoning the prom on Friday night with Brandon. It turned out to be a lovely evening and the kids had a good time. I am taking over prom committee next year, so I spent much of the night making mental notes of what we should keep and change; what worked and didn't; etc. Thank you to our personal Mary Poppins, Miss Hannah who stayed with our kiddos!

Braiding hair for our cousin, Morgan, who attended two proms this weekend. I learned to braid from my grandma and mom and have plenty of hours of experience in (teammates, sisters, friends, and daughters!) so instead of going to a salon, our cousin asked if I could do a Elsa/inspired from the top with some messy waves. We called it the beautiful female version of Aquaman and it looked perfect with her gorgeous face and dress. Love you, Morgan!

Volunteering at the Rec the Alleghenies event. My little sis, Tasha, has organized this incredible event for the past three years. It was bigger and better this year and includes local organization that encourage outdoor/hobby activities of all kinds. There were gyms, biking, running, medieval fencing, the library, knitting, fishing, kayaking, etc All.the.things there available to check out, view schedule/events and try out. I participated in a Kettle ball demo and! My muscles were almost immediately sore afterwards. I don't know why I was expecting it to be harder on my arms - but newsflash - the arms are the least of the suffering. You spend almost the whole exercise in a squat positions - so yeah, thighs were dead. deadest of dead. ill-advised choice to go beast mode in the kettle ball demo #hatemyself

Spring Sporting with four soccer games and two baseball games this week.

Teaching Chapters 4-6 of Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro in Spanish 1, including building fortalezas en la clase. We also had a dictation quiz which is my favorite because the kids think it sooooo easy but it only proves that they're learning because they even know what words I'm saying. Gosh, I love me a dictation quiz so much. Spanish 1 honors started the pre-reading activities for Billy y Las Botas graphic novel which included clothing vocabulary, image descriptions, and predictions. Spanish 2 started their last novel, Tumba, and read chapters 1-4 while Spanish 2 Honors started their last novel, Esperanza, and read chapters 1-5 this week. Spanish 3 Honors took their final test on El Que se Enoja, Pierde and selected the novels that they will be reading individually for their last assignment. On Thursday, our student council hosted a Mock Accident and it was really powerful (the ambulance, fire dept, and the state police showed up too). We had four students participate as the victims/drunk driver and then we had a really meaningful assembly afterwards where the students asked questions and got a chance to speak to our district magistrate. Perfect time as prom and graduation are upon us!

Making pierogies and frozen popcorn shrimp, and B made vegetable soup in the crockpot. We had Thomahawk pizza one night and met Gigi and Pappy out at Hoss's for dinner another night. I have been terrrrrrrible at meal planning and I swear its showing in the kids' attitudes toward food and mealtimes. Must get it together - it seems to be one of those things I've added to my, "in the summer I'll get to it" list -which is growing continuously! LOL.

Greyson Rudy, nine years old

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My booboo,
Nine years old.
it's the last year of single digits for our biggest kid.
When will I ever understand how time works?

You are clever and inventive and when an idea strikes in your head, there is nothing that can stop you from testing it out (a scientist's mind!) You feel 'meh' about school but like getting two lunches and recess most of all. Not far behind in school though is science, steam, and Mrs. Wenger's read aloud chapter books. Spelling is the opposite of your strong suit and you have me daily shaking my head at your full on phonetic spelling of all the words (you spelled it "jinjher ail" on our grocery list the other day--two points to you, readers,if you can figure that out).

You are obsessed with Dragons (like from the How to Train your Dragon movies/series), and you read the entire series of The Last Fire Hawk except the final one that didn't get released yet. Your favorite color is still red and you wear those nicer than sweatpants-sweatpants to school every day (cat&jack brand) with usually a CT shirt/jersey. 

You are thoughtful and curious and downright goofy most of the time. You are either super duper dee duper besties with Gemma or you want to strangle her (seriously no inbetween). Violet is your little buddy and you two can carry on like bandits for hours. No one makes you laugh more than RustMan because he will do anything you tell him to and he tries to copy everything you do otherwise. He thinks you're the coolest dude on the planet and you think he is the most hilarious little gremlin that can get away with all the things you wish you could. Oh, Grey, you keep us all laughing and moving - that's for sure. 

You are an athlete, little man. Through and through and if you had your way, you'd have a ball in your hands and sneakers on your feet every moment of the day. This year you played tackle minors football (quarterback and safety), basketball for two different leagues (point guard), and baseball (shortstop and pitcher). You also play soccer with your buddies while you wait around for your sisters practices and games (you can do the rainbow flick), you're a master at four square, and you skate around our garage on rollerblades playing hockey. You learned to snowboard this year and you were able to go down with no frustrations by the end of the afternoon (begging to go down one more slope please!)

When it comes to techniques and rules and learning the games - you are dialed in on focus. You ask questions about plays and watch clips of best slides or the little league world series on youtube. You want to know everything about the game and how the best play it (although, unlike many of your classmates, you don't care too much about who is playing. You know the big time famous players for the different sports - but you actually seem pretty uninterested in knowing names, numbers, or stats like a lot of your friends do).  You'd rather be playing than watching in every single instance. If the game is happening, you want to be in; you want the win/loss on your own shoulders. If I said it once, it's been a (literal) thousand times, I will spend my life trying to help you remember that being a great athlete is only one tiny part of what makes you You. There's so many great things about you, being great at sports is just the one everyone talks the loudest about, babe.

Nine is proving to be a bit of a challenge for us all, Grey. You are ready to do bigger kid things and we are still trying to help you understand that kids that are trustworthy and dependable get to do big kid things. You are still working on some kinks and inconsistencies there because there's still a lot of things you'd like to not be responsible for (like chores, and studying, and listening the first time you're told). I know it seems like Dad and I are always giving you a hard time but we can't help but look at you and all your incredible potential and feel the need to shake (or yell) it out of you. 

Dude, this line of figuring out how to transition smoothly from little kid to bigger kid is tough for us too. We are just going to have to keep working on it together, because (not a newsflash) we've never done this with another kid yet - you're the first so every new age is new to us too. We'll get there but it's going to be a tug of war (probably forever, sorry- man #firstkidproblems - I'm right there with ya!) If we're being honest though, we are grateful this figuring it out thing is with you; you get the best and the worst of us as parents with the first gauntlet run - and you can totally handle it and your siblings are so lucky to get the aftermath of what you help us learn. We need a tough, determined, bull-headed (occasional smart ass) to take the first at-bat. Well done, Booboo. 

You can do a lot of things by yourself now and we're slowly expanding that list as we see that you can be trusted with a wider world. You can make a complete breakfast including coffee for me and dad (your specialty is egg sausage casserole or egg breakfast burritos with buffalo ranch!) You can mow the flat parts of our lawn on the riding tractor, lighting a fire and burning our cardboard is one of your chores. You can do your own laundry (although you don't have to unless you're grounded), you own a pocket knife, can bait a hook, release a fish, whittle a spear, and have gone turkey, deer/rifle, and deer/archery hunting. 

Just this past few weeks of spring, we have expanded your bike circumference to include about a mile around our house. You have to wear a helmet and be back by certain times - which you have adhered to each time so far. You make plans with the kid down the street to meet at the neighborhood turn on your bikes and play in the weeds/woods there (you call it the 'point of extraction'). You are loving the freedom of this expanded world and I can see how its helping you to grow and mature. I have to let loose my grip on you so that you can start to unfurl those wings, my baby. Gosh, it's hard to do. 

The first time you hopped on the bike I spent the next thirty minutes having mini panic attacks: did he ride wide on that turn down there like a I told him? He's not bothering his friends' parents, is he? How much time has passed, is he late? And then you came back home, proud as ever to announce - "look, I made it with one minute to spare! We're going to meet again tomorrow." 

You told me about your little adventure and about all the neighbors that you met - and I got a glimpse into this new world of raising a bigger kid. These little peeks into your reality and the lessons you learn when you go out into the world and practice the things we tried to teach you (and make your own choices too and see how that does or doesn't work). For now, we can still set the parameters and put up the barriers at increasingly farther distances; but you're on your way, Booboo, and we are so proud to get to watch you grow up.

My booboo, 
I love you and I am proud of you every day. 
even when we're mad and annoyed by each other, 
it is rooted in love and so much pride
for who you are 
and who I know you are going to be some day.
such a good man. 
I am so grateful that you are my son. 
that you are my first child that is helping me figure this out too. 
we'll never get to the end of this tug of war
but I will forever be glad that I am playing it with you. 
my darling first baby. 
I will be loving you forever and ever
even when you're bigger than me
(almost already!)

Around Here Week 18: 04/28-05/05

Monday, May 13, 2019

A glimpse into what was happening around here while we enjoyed Screen Free Week 2019!


photo cred: Tasha Adams

photo cred: Tausha Garrettson

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 94+ hours (of 1000)
Up 23 hour this week! Screen free week will do that to ya, though! We had a beautiful weather week and tons of outside time since...what else is there do you don't have screens distracting you, right? Spring sports, and a huge kid playdate (see below), and a field trip to the zoo all helped boost my hours for this week. Gosh, the fresh air in my lungs and brain feels great! Summer, we can almost taste you! 

Reading and finishing There's No Such Things as Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk. Gosh, such an impactful and important book as both a mom and an educator. I look at my big kid students who have lived childhoods that are so different than mine (with only 20 years between them) and wonder how we can ever make it right for them. It is definitely a longer post for another day all my feelings about outdoor time and standardized tests/academic focus too early, and freedoms/responsibilities, and accountability but this book had me so inspired while also so overwhelmed and furious. long story, short: go read it! I also started and finished Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Loved it so much and thought about so many of my students that I'm worried about because I know they are carrying around trauma that they don't want to tell anyone about. Maybe not exactly the same trauma as Melinda from the story, but trauma nonetheless. I've already borrowed it out to a student that was on my mind while I was reading it. Again, long story, short: go read it! 

Turkey calling. We have seen a turkey in our yard almost every morning this week and now all the kids are practicing their turkey calling. Violet is seriously blowing us away with how well she can turkey call with or without the mouth caller. We went for an evening stroll to see if we could roost the turkeys, and it took us back behind our house where we are pretty sure we saw it's roosting tree. But even luckier - the horses, pony, and goats were out at the farm behind our house and the kids were over the moon to see them and feed them carrots! 

Hamster-sitting for Miss Hannah who went on a mission trip this week to Camden, NJ. The kids are fully in charge of taking care of little Hemelia and they are pleased as punch to do so. She is so kind and sweet to hold. She is sleeping in the girls' room and has us all cracking up at night when she makes so much noise running on her little wheel. Somehow it doesn't keep the girls up at all, but a few nights, I've had to carry her cage downstairs because it keeps me up down the hall! Oh, Hemelia, we love you so, I fear they won't want to give you back! 

Chaperoning Grey's third grade field trip to the Pittsburgh zoo! We got a beautiful weather day at the zoo and I had my little group of five third graders all day. Grey went through the same emotions that Gemma did last year on her field trip (jealous/sad/worried) when some of his classmates really clung to me and wanted to hold my hand and be near me the whole time. I had a little chat with him to remind him that he gets to be with me all.the.time; every day and every night from the beginning to forever and ever as his momma (haha, and half the time he can barely stand me!) and that maybe some of his classmates don't have a momma who look them in the face and laugh at their jokes and it's okay to share for this one day. After our chat, he was better and said he was grateful that he gets me as his mom all the time and thanked me a million times for coming as a chaperone. The third graders were so sweet and if you ever need your soul recharged - seriously take a bunch of eight and nine year olds to the aquarium! They were dazzled and so curious about everything - just what my heart needed! 

Hosting a giant kid playdate at our house to celebrate Screen Free week on Friday night. We had about 28 kids throughout the evening playing baseball, jumping on the trampoline, going for a hike, roasting marshmallows around the fire, dancing in the rain, playing the card game spoons, and best of all - sliding down a giant water slide greased up with water and dishwashing soap! 

Seeing two real life theater shows in two days! Brandon's co-worker acted in her church's theater group production of All is fair at the Mountain Playhouse and we went for a date night followed by pizza and a drink at Merchants'. The show was very cute and had us laughing the whole time - they actually put on a very professional and impressive show for being a church theater group! The following day, our whole family went to see my students' musical Zombie Prom at the high school auditorium. My students all did amazing (I know how hard they have been practicing and working too!) It was a great afternoon and our children were actually very well entertained and mostly behaved for the whole show (except Rust kept asking 'is it ober?' every time they turned the lights down for scene change - HAH)

Getting chocked up to see the students' incredible art displayed at the art exhibit in the mountain playhouse - including two of the pieces that were originally made for me by my student Damien. When the exhibit was asking for submissions, he asked if he could submit two of the pieces he created for me earlier this year and I agreed as long as I could get them back (hehhee). We got to see all the awesome work this weekend, and when I saw Damien's hanging in the gallery-it brought tears to my eyes. He is so talented; as all my kids are; and he has really come a long way this year and I am so proud! 

Spring Sporting with one soccer game each for the girls and three baseball games for Grey (2 for his own team and 1 game that he played up with the majors). The girls are doing great in soccer but are total opposites in the way they play. Gem is an awesome defender while Violet is pushing people out of the way to take the ball to the net. It's hilarious to flip from one game to the next to see how different their personalities shine through in the game. Grey is still loving playing pitcher and short stop and he even had his first in the field homerun at West Surburban on Wednesday night in a tough loss.  We celebrated Opening day at the ballfields with Gem and Grace offering free face painting for fans and chocolate chip cookies for the concession stand. 

Teaching all the old school ways with (mostly) no screens! I collected the kids cellphones on the way into class everyday (mwhaha) and we did everything without screens - we read our novels, played some fun paper/pencil games (like taco tuesday vocab review), we did readers' theater acting out chapters, played El Que Sabe, Sabe, and even had an immigration simulation in Spanish 2 Honors. On Friday, we went outside to the courtyard to play Running Dictation and Cucharas (Spanish verb conjugation spoons). We did a lot of talking about our favorite non-screen activities and I think I got some kids remembering that all the most fun happens without screens (sports! fishing! camping! hiking! sleeping (said all my students)! cooking! dirt bike riding!)

Making not too much - I've been horrrrrrrible about meal planning and kicking myself for it every night when I'm like, 'what's for dinner? Oh wait, I'm the mom so I'm supposed to know' ugh.  We did have fried rice & quesadillas, and hot dogs & smores over the fire and then we were lucky to get turkey soup from gigi (thank you!) and we ate out the other nights (hello pizza, tollgate, and Merchants).