self-care novice seeking help

Friday, June 28, 2019

I am a hard enneagram two (2 wing 3) and struggle so much with meeting my own needs. (Thank you for introducing me to the enneagram, Shelly!) I am notorious for burning myself out. Ask my husband, and my parents, and my sisters, and my friends, and even me. Even though I know I shouldn't (can't); I pour and pour and pour from my cup into everyone else's until my body literally stops functioning and I have to take a sick day. I know how frustrating it is for everyone who loves me, and it's too hard on me too.

By the end of the school year, I was barely keeping my head above water. Teachers take a lot of crap for getting summer months off - but I saw a meme recently that said, "I'm a teacher. I don't get three months off of work, I do the work of 12 months in 9 months time" and I was all like, "Yep."

I have made it my focus to recharge and take care of my soul this summer. This is a radical to my brain (and feels so selfish), but I know it needs done.

Some of my self care has included

  • drinking coffee on the porch in the morning sun
  • sitting down to track, update, and brainstorm in my daily planner every day
  • working on our family yearbook for 2018-19
  • doing Keto and focusing on real food (preparing, making, enjoying)
  • taking the dogs for walks
  • going outside and leaving the chores to wait
  • three new bathing suits from cupshe (the first bathing suits I've purchased since maternity suits!) and I do Stitch Fix every other month which makes me feel confident and put together (I love my stylist Lucy, she seriously gets me)
  • building a fire outside at night
  • a lot of reading
  • practicing French on Duolingo
  • wearing lipstick even on days I don't leave the house
  • baking for the kids
  • peppermint hot tea or iced coffee in the afternoon

This has been so good for my soul and heart. I am trying very hard to not be critical of myself and to fight the voice of that mean girl that lives in my mind who says that I'm selfish and not good enough yet. (ughhhh, she's the worst!)

But I also know that I need to make a change for the rest of the nine months, I need to take care of myself all the time. I am starting to brainstorm ways that I can make pockets of time throughout the school year to be consistent about self care. I have some initial thoughts floating around in my head including a diffuser, an end of day reflection journal, and a yoga ball chair in school and a "this is official meal prep day" of the week at home.

But I'm also not too ashamed to admit that I could use help in this department. Literal novice over here, hah!

What are some ideas that are practical and feasible that you think I could do for self-care during the school year. With four kids, a handsome hubs, roughly 110 students, volunteering coaching and Sunday School teaching, and pets.  I need little regular moments of refilling my cup - whatcha got for me? It is so appreciated!

No Bummer Summer: Kids in Johnstown 2019

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

If you find yourself this summer with a bunch of kids complaining that there's nothing to do, but you don't have a lot of clang in your pocket - have no fear, my No bummer summer list is here to help you make some summer memories locally. 

Granted, don't forget to remind your kiddos that there is a lot of fun to be had right in your own backyard:
slip 'n slides! 
water balloons! 
pick up games of kickball & baseball! 
riding bikes! 
finding bugs! 
climbing trees! 
building forts! 
laying in hammocks!
blowing bubbles! 
sidewalk chalk!
hosting barbecues!
flying kites!

...but when they exhaust even all that right-at-home fun, sometimes it's good to just get out there and explore. Luckily, we live in an awesome place filled with incredible things to see and do within a stone's throw. So, without further ado - here is the compiled list of a No Bummer Summer Johnstown, PA 2019 addition. 

Check out books at the library.  The Cambria County library offers free lunch for kids in the summer months (our kids love having Lunch at the Library once a week) and while you're at it; check out the calendar of fun events or their facebook feed that the library hosts all summer long - including Tales with Tails (read with therapy dogs!), kid book club, afternoon family movies, and weekly Storytime hours for kids from babies to school-aged.

Take in a movie.  Our very own Johnstown has one of only 348 movie theaters that remain in operation in all of the United States!  The Silver Drive In shows movies every weekend (Friday-Sunday) and posts their schedule earlier in the week on Facebook.  Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership has set up an Outdoor theater in Central Park for the summer with four dates scheduled for free admission movies playing at dusk including The Lego Movie 2 on July 13, Bad News Bears on August 4th, Rudy on September 14th, and Beetlejuice on October 19th.  

Participate in a summer class or camp. Bottleworks has week long themed summer camps or single classes including 'Paint along with a grownup' and Kid Yoga.  The Community Arts Center in Westmont offers three day session Summer Art Camps for ages 3-12 and newly added Teen classes for 13+, they even have their theater camp put on a full production after one week!  You can do some self-guided learning at the Johnstown Children's Museum while you check out their rooftop garden, water room and coal mine slide (they have Free Kid Friday on June 28 for 12y or younger!).  The Learning Lamp offers summer camps for pre-school aged and school-aged kids - and even a performing arts camp for ages 6-12 culminating in two live performances! As well as, many local churches hold summer Vacation Bible School.

Find your new Favorite Spot.  Spend the day at the Quemahoming Dam or Laurel Hill State Park. Both places have great sand beaches leading into swim areas, playgrounds, water equipment rentals, pavilions, picnic tables, and spots for fishing!  You can easily spend a whole day at either spot and come home tired, sun-kissed, and deliriously happy - tuck those kids into bed with the knowledge they had a great, old-fashioned, screen free (!), summertime day.

Bike ride. Some great paths for the non-mountain bikers and kids include:  the Staple Bend Tunnel (2 miles to the tunnel), the Ghost Town Trail (various lengths), The Coal & Coke Trail (6 miles one way) in Mount Pleasant or the Westmoreland Heritage Trail in Delmont (5.9 miles one way).  Head on out to Ohiopyle to bike (lots of rental places available) and watch the white water rafters and kayakers float by. In the late afternoons, we sometimes just head over to our local school parking lots to give the kids wide open paved space to bike ride (scooter or roller blade) too. 

Take a Hike. Explore our many local parks and trails on foot:  Stackhouse ParkJim Mayer TrailCoy/McCombie Trail (on the other side of the Staple Bend Tunnel and part of the Path of the Flood trail).  And while you're out there - consider doing a little Geocaching! If you have bigger kids and are looking for a challenge, visit the 1000 steps trail in Huntingdon; it's tough but worth it!

Hitch a ride on a horse.  Oak Street Stables offers guided trail rides in Carrolltown (they also have pygmy therapy goats to snuggle!) or check out the Laurel Highlands Horseback Riding suggestions.

SWIM: take a dip in any of these local swimming pools for a small fee (or buy a season pass!): Windber RecNanty Glo poolEbensburg Pool, and Portage Pool.

CAMP:  Gallitzin State ForestQuemahoming DamShawnee State ParkLaurel Highlands (multiple parks listed!), or right in your own backyard!

Do some good. Stop by the Humane Society of Cambria County, Somerset County, or Bedford County to drop off some donations and visit with the animals. Leave sport drinks and water in a small cooler in your trunk to hand out to construction workers (#tistheseasoninPA). Drop off water or sports drinks to first responder buildings so they can keep them in their vehicles throughout the day. Pick up trash at the playground or park that you visit. Pick wildflowers and gift them to a neighbor. Offer to do some yard work for an elderly family member or neighbor. Gift your extra garden treasures to a friend. Encourage your child to penpal with a cousin. Host a family reunion bbq.

Watch a race.  Johnstown BMX hosts races most Thursday nights in the summer months. Check out Jennerstown Speedway if cars are more your speed.  And if you prefer motorcross, head on out to Pleasure Valley Racing.

Float. A summertime must here in our city of waterways! Go Coal Tubin on the Stonycreek River, if you have a kayak or canoe check out the Benscreek Canoe Club website for places to paddle (also see their full moon paddles on the Que this summer!). Make a day of it at Quemahoming Dam (Hollsopple) or Laurel Hill State Park (Somerset) where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards.  Hinckstown Run Dam (East Taylor), Lake Rowena (Ebensburg), or Wilmore Dam (Portage) are great spots to do some boating (and fishing!) but it is BYO Kayak/Canoe.  And Raystown Lake is the place to go if you can get your hands on a motor boat to do some water skiing!

Listen to live music. There are free summer concerts at Roxbury Bandshell every Sunday night. The Community Arts Center in Westmont hosts Concert on the Greens in their lawn on Wednesday nights at 7p beginning on June 26. The Flood City Music Fest is being held on August 2-3, 2019.  And every Friday in August, Penn Eben Park in Ebensburg has free concerts in the park.

Play a round or two of mini golf: there's a course at The Ranger near Forrest Hills, Jake's Mini Golf in Somerset, and when it's raining - you can do some Glo Golfing in the mall. Or if you and the kids are into real golf, there are tons of courses here in town.

Playground hop.  We have lots of great playgrounds in each of the different communities of our area.  The Greenhouse Park playground tends to be our favorite because it's close and also boosts the Stoneycreek River which gives our kids a chance to skip rocks and watch the kayakers and tubers float by.  Sometimes it takes word of mouth to find a new playground, or ya just happen on it as you're driving through - so keep your eyes peeled!  There's a great playground for all different aged kids up on Luray Ave (volleyball courts too!) and obviously Roxbury Park boasts one of the biggest playgrounds in the area.  ACRP Play Center in Cambria City has both outdoor and indoor playgrounds and Hogue's Fun Factory in the mall has a ton of bounce houses for those rainy summer days...and, don't forget - now that's school's out - all the local public school playgrounds are open during daylight hours!

Grab some local produce at the Farmer's Markets:  
Downtown Johnstown Farmer's Market on Friday afternoons from 2-5p in Central Park
the Francis Sharing & Caring  on Thursdays from 2-6p in Hollsopple
Moxham Farmer's Market on Thursdays 3p-6p
the West End Farmer's Market in Cambria City from 3p-6p
Ebensburg Farmer's Market in Penn Eben Park from 9-noon every Saturday beginning July 6th
the Somerset's Farmer's Market at the Georgian Place on Saturday mornings from 9-noon
the Ligonier Farmer's Market on Saturdays 8a-Noon
The Green Grower Organic Produce folks pop up throughout the week locally like on Luray Ave on Tuesdays! 

Early June, you can pick your own strawberries at Ben's Strawberries or Yarnick's Farms. In Late June and early July, you can pick your own Blueberries at Stutzman Farms near Indiana or Pick your own Cherries at Ridgetop Orchards in Fishertown and then in late summer, they have peaches too!

Enjoy the local festival season:  Thunder in the Valley is June 20-23, 2019 and has it's own designated children's section near the library downtown with bounce houses and face painting. The 3rd Avenue Arts Fest will be held on July 12-13, 2019; it's free and family friendly showcasing local artists from 6-8p (Friday) and 10-6p (Saturday).  The Ferndale Jubilee will be held July 15-20, 2019 of this year. Ebensburg Downtown Shutdown is scheduled for Friday night, July 26, 2019.  Portage Summerfest is scheduled for August 9-11, 2019 and Richland Community Days are scheduled for August 16-17, 2019 this year and will feature a 5K run, live music, local food vendors, lots of kids' activities, and craft vendors. The Cambria City Ethnic festival block party is scheduled for August 30, 2019. 

Visit the fairgrounds. Animals, carnival rides, special events, and all the funnel cake you can eat! The Bedford County fair will run from Saturday, July 21-27, 2019.  The Somerset County Fair will run August 17-24, 2019 and The Cambria County fair is scheduled for September 1-7, 2019. 

Take a ride on a train. You can visit Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, or if you have friends or family living along the Pennsylvanian Amtrak line, you can visit them the slow paced way and watch our beautiful PA scenery go by.  The Pennsylvanian runs daily from Pittsburgh to NYC, NY - with a stop right downtown at our Johnstown train station.

Eat some Cracker Jacks and root for the home team.  What's more of an American Summer than taking in a baseball game?  Our very own city is the host of the national AAABA tournament (scheduled for August 5-12, 2019).  Our next door neighbor, Altoona boasts the minor league Curve baseball team, and all summer long you can stumble upon local little league baseball tourneys around the city.

Scream for Ice Cream!  So many delicious ice cream joints to visit in our community & surrounding areas.  It might even be fun to make an Ice Cream Passport for the summer and check off of the spots and rate your favorite flavors.  You can check out: Shaffer's Frosty FreezeRoxberry CreameryThe MeadowsThe Silver BellOshea's on Scalp, Little SprinklesThe Rambler, The Buckhorn Drive InKrauses, The Shake Shak, The Fat SquirrelThe Cow, Ligonier Creamery, and The Ranger

Be a local tourist.  You live here, I know - but do you know the rich history of our community?  There are lots of local and nearby spots that have interesting historical details that you can be proud of.  Take a ride on the World's (!!) steepest Incline Plane, learn in the Johnstown Flood Museum, Leave a note of hope in our Little Red Mailbox at Point Park and if you visit near dusk, you'll bask in the lights of the Stone BridgeHike the Path of the Flood trail, stop by the Heritage Discovery Center, visit Fort Ligonier, relive the joy of the 9 for 9 at the Quecreek Mine Rescue Site, remember the brave at the Flight 93 Memorial, or take in the beauty at Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water.

Make a day of it.  If you're willing to drive a little bit for some fun:  Idlewild & SoakZoneDelgrosso's amusement parkLiving Treasures wild animal parkPenn's CaveLincoln Caverns, Seven Springs, and Lakemont Park (re-opening this summer!) are all within an hour or so drive from Flood City.


Did I miss anything? What are your favorite ways to make some local memories during the summer months of wild and free kiddos? 

Around Here Week 25: 06/17-06/22

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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

photo cred: Tausha Garrettson

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 253+ hours (of 1000)
Up 33 hours this week and I'm inching closer to my summer goal of hitting 40+ hours a week outside! I have been loving so much getting out in the morning with a cup of coffee and my book on the porch soaking in that early sunlight. I'm beating my outdoor hours at this time last year by about 30 hours which is pretty exciting. Looking even further back I'm beating my 2016 and 2017 time at this point in the year too (so fun to see what we were doing this time, teeny kids)! We had some new trampoline tricks learned this week - Grey learned to do a backflip and Violet can do a front flip!  Grey and Gem also learned to ride a bike together (Grey driving and Gem on the pegs)! And the kids have been hard at work on building up their fort in the woods behind the house and they invited me to come check it out (it's actually kind of impressive). The pups are always happy and eager to get a walk in and we got two in this week, but they could probably use more (me too!)

Reading and finishing The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney with the Book Love Foundation Summer book club. I have enjoyed following along with the discussion threads on facebook and really liked the book; it is an important and powerful read about the civil wars in Sudan and the refugee experience from a young girl's perspective. Then I read and also finished this week Where the Crawdads Sing be Delia Owens. I loved reading Kya's life and the perseverance to children in the harshest and loneliest conditions. It always touches me in some deep spot in my soul to know how humans can push forward and find a way to love and live even when it is unimaginably difficult. (Really had my heart aching to read both of these books right now as I followed along with all that is happening at the border to the children there - you can help here at TogetherRising). I do have to be honest to say that I wasn't fainting with obsession over it like most people I spoke to about it. I loved all the beautiful details about nature in the marsh most of all.

Honoring the Daddas in our life for Father's Day. My sister Uch and I 'kidnapped' our Dad at 5a to take him for a sunrise kayak trip on Hinckston Run Dam. Unfortunately it was drizzling and really cloudy, so there was no sunrise to see (hah), but it was a perfect morning anyway. We kayaked in the light rain and took cover under some low hanging trees toward the bank when it downpoured for a few minutes. Then we had a big breakfast and then it was off to Pappy and Gigi's house for the day with lots of playing catch, running on the top of the pool cover, and even a quad ride to Devil's Rock (that overlooks our town). Gem spent Father's day at Idlewild with our Garrettson cousins eating her weight in funnel cake (hah, thanks for taking her Taush!)

Loving Rusty's new big boy haircut! Gigi cut his hair on Sunday and it looks so cute. It still curls up a little on top when it's clean and washed but the #georgewashingtonhairdontcare is gone for now and that's a relief.

Grateful for good surgeons and doctors who cared for my Dad on Monday when we got rotator cuff surgery. The girls and I visited him this week and he is doing well; he's a tough cookie (the kids heard me say this and now it's Violets favorite phrase). The hardest part is going to be getting him to just relax and let it heal - Dad problems, amirite?

Celebrating freedom on Juneteenth with sparklers in the yard!

Spending special time with family and friends. Grey had a special treat to go with the Conn family to the Steeler Youth football camp on Wednesday afternoon and meet former Steelers player Arthur Moates. Gemma had a sleepover with Rourie at the Stankans while Violet got a sleepover with Gigi and Pappy during Grey's birthday party. Then the next night both girls had a sleepover at Aunt Kitty's house, including temporary pink hair dye! We got a visit from cousin Heather and Caleb after a trip to the Ligonier farmer's market where they surprised us with some of our favorite finds - cheese curds & Jarr'ed mustard. (thank you!!)

Sleeping over at fishing camp for a very belated birthday party for Grey.  Grey chose 5 friends to join us and we headed out to our fishing camp in Bedford on Thursday night with a Sheila full of nine year olds (the conversations had me laughing the.whole.way). They stayed up until 2a and then were all up by 8a to spend the day fishing, riding bikes, building the fire up, and swimming the (freezing!) creek. It was basically all of Grey's hopes and dreams for a birthday party. Rusty got to come and tag along with the big boys and they were all so encouraging and patient with him. #nogirlsallowed #mommaisntagirlshesjustmomma

Party hopping on Saturday. We congratulated our cousin Mackenzie who graduated from high school this year; she's headed to nursing school at IUP and we are so proud. Then we headed over to Halen's pool party and our kids had an absolute blast swimming, snacking, and playing cornhole all evening. (thanks for having us Angie & Scott!) B and I were passing ships on Saturday as he participated in a fundraising trap shoot most of the day and I was with the kids party hopping. At the end of the night, we were both like - 'oh hi, who are you again?' haha.

Summer sporting with Grey's sanction baseball practices (two of them, and two more of them were cancelled due to thunderstorms) and I played volleyball with our Roxbury team in six games on Tuesday night (3-3). B had to miss our games because of a school board meeting. All four kids had to come with me for the full two and half hours we were at the courts - with the exception of Rust screaming, "I WANT ICE CREAM" they did amazing. The big kids took turns keeping score and chaperoning the little ones at the playground; my little park rats.

Making (for the kids) spaghetti, chicken fingers and fries (air fryer win!), frozen pizza, mini blueberry muffins, and pumpkin roll for Greyson's birthday party (his favorite).

Keto'ing and still loving it. Stayed the same this week for weight but when I look in the mirror, I like the reflection so much better. Not sure how that works, but even if the weight isn't going down - things are moving and shifting and my clothes feel better. I had a NSV (non-scale victory) on Saturday when I put on a pair of pants that I bought last summer but couldn't wear because they were too tight and they fit perfect as we did party hopping! Bigtime Yay! We had some good Keto eats this week including - steak'um & pepper 'fajitas', Big Mac casserole, buffalo chicken dip (with cucumber 'chips'), and old bay shrimp over garlic & butter zoodles. Breakfasts are always delightful with eggs, keto bagels, or bulletproof coffee.

Around Here Week 24: 06/09-06/15

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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

Happy Birthday baby Ivy! 

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  220+ hours (of 1000)
Up 30 hours this week! I have been getting out most mornings and drinking my coffee on the porch with my book and it is such bliss. I am also doing my best to just get out and enjoy the weather instead of fretting over chores inside. We have been making good use of our fire pit already this summer and it makes me so happy.

Reading The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney along with The Book Love Foundation Summer book club. It's a beautiful book written in verse from the perspective of a young girl in Sudan during the civil wars. I am flying through it and loving the comments and thoughts on the facebook discussion with all the other people/teachers reading along with the book club.

Spending the day at Greenhouse Park with family and friends. My Dad and Mum organized a fun day complete with a pavilion, fire pit, and fun. We spent almost the whole day playing kickball, hanging on the playground, and splashing in the Stonycreek River. Grey and Chum even attempted a kayak trip down the river, but it was too swift for our sit-on kayak and they ended up flipping and narrowly escaping a rapid. Grey thought it was so cool and awesome (meanwhile, B was having a nervous breakdown - haha. he's the more nervous of the two of us when it comes to our kids and dangerous things; he can barely stand to watch them on the trampoline). It was such a nice day relaxing and being outside.

Taking both dogs to the vet and getting good reports. Bullet is almost 10 years old and Trixie is almost 8 years old now. Bullet is 96lbs and Trixie 93lbs. They got caught up on their vaccinations, new Seresto collars, and a clean bill of health covered for the whole year. Very thankful to the vet staff who knows Bullet has a lot of anxiety and lets us come through the side door because he cannot handle life.

Strawberry picking in Indiana, PA with the kids. We woke up one morning and it was perfect weather (sunny but not too hot) and so I loaded everyone up and we headed to Ben's Strawberries about 45 minutes away. It was a quaint and inexpensive little strawberry farm (only $1.75 a pound!). The kids were amazed by how many strawberries there were and loaded our buckets down with almost $9 worth of strawberries. I had to have a little informational chat with Rust that we only pick the red ones (after I saw him pick a few teeny tiny barely even green ones!) They were so juicy and delicious (and Keto friendly!)

Selling our wares at the local community market! I was very ambitious and carted all four kids and our (broken, busted) canopy down to to the community market in our little town on Thursday afternoon. We got all set up and tied down before it started torrential downpouring for about 20 minutes, but then the sun came out and we just had to hold the (broken, busted) canopy down when the wind gusts threatened to set us aflight through the parking lot. The kids brought their items; Grey - fly fishing ties, Gem - fresh eggs, Violet - custom artwork and we stayed from about 3 hours. It went okayish. Thank goodness for Gem's little friend, Molly and her family who were set up with their garden veggies and baked goods next to us to keep everyone playing and occupied. Mostly the kids were bored and frustrated that they weren't selling everything every second. Rust was a restless maniac and everyone was starving (duh). B stopped by after work and just shook his head and laughed when I said, "Why don't you just say, 'sweetheart, these seems like a difficult idea' when I say I'm going to do this kind of stuff!" It was alright and an important lesson and we might do it some more this summer but goodness, why do I do these things to myself (lol). The kids have an instagram @StuderFishandChicks and I'll keep ya'll posted when I decide to be a lunatic again and take four kids under 10years to the farmers market.

Being accepted to college...again! I finally had enough conversations with all the right people to confirm that I will need to take a student teaching practicum to be officially certified to teach in PA (which is odd because...experience and TFA and a masters doesn't count apparently, weird flex but okay Pennsylvania Dept of Ed). I actually love love love learning and school so I'm pretty excited about the prospect of being a student again, but who in the world at nearly 36 years old and a mom of four kids with a full time job and multiple volunteer positions has the time and money for this?! yeah, not me, but mommas find w a way - so I'm on it and will be 'graduated' in May 2020.

Spring Sporting with the final soccer games of the season! Violet and Gemma each had two last games this week and it is bittersweet. I made mini fruity pebble muffins for our Mighty Muffins' last game and the other parents all pitched in with snacks to give our crew a little end of season snack party. Miss Hannah was there to see Gem's last game and then brought her down to Roxbury for our volleyball games. She even stayed for all six matches and took the kids for ice cream during (thank you Miss Hannah - we love you so!) Grey had a playoff game with his team on Monday night and lost (he had a rough game with his snotty nose and nerves about playoffs), and that was it for regular season ball! He played up in two majors games later that week (a win and a loss) and had practice for his little league sanction team twice too.

Making for the kids chicken and veggie casserole, hot dogs on the grill, frozen pizza, and leftovers. The kids each helped in a small way to make Strawberry dump cake with whip cream icing after our day at the strawberry fields and we had lots of good breakfast food like mini pancake muffins (with toppings: bacon bits, sausage, blueberries, and chocolate chips!), egg sandwiches, and fruity pebble muffins.

Keto'ing and losing another 2 lbs this week (yipee!) We are still going keto strong and sticking within our macros each day. We had chicken & broccoli with alfredo sauce, cauliflower rice and ground turkey, pork chops (with almond flour) in the air fryer, jalapeno stuffed chicken, and lots of salads, bulletproof coffee, burgers, and cheddar brats.