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!)

Around Here Week 46: 11/10-11/16

Sunday, November 24, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  682+ hours (of 1000)
Up a mere 2 hours this week. It really does come down to the kinds of clothes that you wear that make it possible to be outside at any time. I keep forgetting to put gloves in my coat pockets (problem#1) but I have installed my favorite winter trick - wearing leggings under my work pants each day to work!

Reading Monster by Walter Dean Myers and finishing it just in time for our first Project Lit meeting on Friday morning with the students. It was such a wonderful way to start our Friday - with book club!- and the conversations were insightful. The students got our next two books - The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. (I've already read them both!) Our next Project Lit meeting is set for our early out day before winter break and will include a movie viewing of The Hate U Give! Now I'm waiting on Recursion by Blake Crouch to arrive because I have an obsessssssssion.

Enjoying the sight of our first snow of the winter season. It was really coming down and blowing there for a little bit which immediately had Grey and Gem asking about delays and snow days (hah! nice try!)

Calling in the village on Monday and Tuesday when the big kids didn't have school for Veteran's Day/Parent-Teacher conference day. Miss Hannah came to the rescue on Monday and kept all four kids home from school all day (we love you!) and on Tuesday, Mimi took the two big kids and then last minute Rusty too when he threw up (into my cupped hands) before we were about to leave for school! B had a conference in Pittsburgh, so he dropped all three off at Mimi's for the day while I carted (a not happy) Violet to day care. I ended up getting a call at lunch that she had a temp of 101 and needed picked up. I was lucky to only have 1 class left for the day and I could sneak away to pick her up and bring her home to rest and heal. B stopped at the hospital to visit after his conference and then went straight to the board meeting, so I picked up the other three from Mimi's house and we all about collapsed into bed that night after a such a busy and weird day.

Meeting Grey's teachers at the parent-teacher conference/check-in night. We had a nice chat and it was good to make sure he is on track. I missed this night last year and then ended up having a difficult year and so I wanted to make sure I touched base this year.

Having my belly officially 'pop' at 18 weeks (big as a sweet potato!) and my students have finally stopped saying "oh yeah, I forgot you were pregnant" since it's blatantly obvious now. This babe is flopping and swimming all around in there and besides the raging heartburn that sets in every evening around 8:30p, it's a pretty easy going babe. We are throwing around a different name every time we talk about the baby just to try it out (hahha!) and we each have our own favorites. We tried to take votes at dinner the other night but no one in the family could agree on anything. Most of our favorites fit within the color(ish) theme (Grey, Gem, Violet, Rust). Just like every other thing for this poor Studerbabe#5 we keep shrugging and saying, "We have time; we can think about that later."

Cozying up to celebrate Chum's 60th birthday! My sisters, mom, the kids, and I hunkered down in a cabin at Seven Springs for the weekend hanging out and sharing food and laughs to celebrate my dad's upcoming birthday. The kids loved the hot tub and despite a cranky night's sleep with the two littlest ones (still so tricky for sleepovers at this age) we had an awesome time just relaxing with our family.

Grateful to have our loved one home from the hospital and recuperating after a long two weeks!

Sighing and rolling my eyes all day every day because....archery season. Thank goodness it ended on Saturday! Now I only have to survive rifle season and I'll have a normal husband and son back in my life again (ugh, ugh, ugh) #outdoorsmanswifeprobs

Fall sporting for one last week! We turned in uniforms and equipment on Sunday and B stayed all afternoon to help get everything organized. Becky and I are in the final stretch to get everything squared away for the banquet (on Sunday!) and I sorted so many checks, registration forms, and matching online reservations that my eyes were almost crossed by the end of the night. But we got our caterers the final numbers, printed all the blank thank you cards for the kiddos, and created the Just Dance playlist!

Teaching the Super 7 verbs to Spanish 1 still by finishing up the personal interviews with two students from the class. We also talked about the conjugations for each depending on perspective. Spanish 2 played pictionary with their animal vocab words (always hilarious) and listened to the Joe Hayes reading of El Cucuy. Spanish 2 Honors started their spooky stories writing mini-unit and I started doing check-ins with the partners. Spanish 3/4 Honors worked through La Llorona Chapters 11-12 and we are all about ready to get to the end of this book!

Making a ham in the crockpot that we had with mashed potatoes and gravy, and then had left overs enough for all kinds of deliciousness including creamy ham and noodles. I whipped up some pumpkin/chocolate muffins and fruit "sushi" for our Project Lit meeting at school on Friday and made some Peanut Butter cookies on Saturday night in preparation for the football/cheer banquet on Sunday. I was so grateful to get two dinners delivered to us this week from our sweet cousin Heather. We enjoyed lasagna (Studer sized - haha!) and the yummiest ham&cheese baked slider sandwiches. Thank you so much Heather, you are such a blessing!

Life Lessons: The Pre-talks

We are big on the front-loading conversations over here. I've written about it before when I wrote about Behavior Zones. We are more proactive than reactive when it comes to situations that we believe we can help our kids be as comfortable and as kind as possible.

We have front-loaded conversations and practice on all kinds of things as we raise little kids. We talk a lot about strangers and public spaces, sibling accountability, trick-or-treating, behaviors in certain places, movies/shows, disappointments, people's different abilities (physical and mental), different kinds of families, privilege, scary or confusing things on the news. When left to their own thoughts - kids can come up with some crazy connections or worries. And so we talk and ask questions and answer questions, so that they can know better what to expect, how to respond appropriately and kindly.

William Temple  The most influential of all

We're moving into bigger kids and bigger topics - so I'm starting to think about (and talk about) some of this big kid stuff and I'm sharing in case any of you mommas and daddas want to do some front-load conversations. (I know a lot of my students could have used (and still need) some of these conversations explicitly laid out for them).

Here are some scripts if you need help on getting started on thinking on how to approach some of these topics.

Before a boy/girl parties: 
Someone might ask you to...(dance/skate/sit by them).
And it takes a lot of courage to ask someone, you really have to be brave
So it's easy to make someone cry by accident because it took so much courage to ask in the first place.
If someone asks you, you should either say, "Sure." or "thank you for asking, but no thank you."
Don't laugh, or tell your friends, or make a weird face.
One of those answers work just fine and protects people from being sad and lets them know that they can be brave again.

Before boy/girl parties: 
You might want to ask someone to...(dance/skate/sit by someone)
It takes a lot of courage, but for only about 3 seconds. You have to be brave for 3 seconds and just ask!
They might say yes and they might say no.
If they want to - awesome!
If they don't, that's okay too. Kind of sucks, but don't feel embarrassed because at least you were brave enough to ask.
Think of all the kids who wanted to ask someone but couldn't get the guts.
You can feel disappointed but that's different than mad. You can't make anyone do something they don't want to. Just like no one can make you do something you don't want to.
I will be proud of you for being brave enough to ask!

Dipping your toe into pre-pubescent conversations
you're not weird. 
This is just what happens as you start to grow up - and this next part of growing up; it's going to get strange. 
You're not going to know what the heck is going on in your brain, you'll feel sad and mad and confused a lot of the time, you're going to get bigger than me even though you still feel like a kid inside, and you'll have lots of questions that feel really embarrassing and awkward 
You're body is trying to grow up and your brain is trying to grow up but they can't keep up with each other so you keep feeling mixed up. And your poor heart still loves being a kid but also wants to be a grown up. It just gets all messy and confusing.
But know that everyone your age is going through it, and everyone older than you had to go through it too. 
And no matter how weird it gets - me and Dad love you and will be here for you. 

A chat about internet searches related to pubescent curiosities: 
you're not weird. 
you don't think me and Daddy were wondering about those same things when we were your age? (helpful to have Dad in the room nodding and smiling for some comic relief)
and you live in a time that there are a lot more ways to look up this kind of stuff that didn't exist when we were young. 
The thing about the internet is it remembers everything you do, so even if you think you're being secret about it, the internet remembers.
Lots of the things you find on the internet are made like a movie, and that's not how it happens in real life. We can talk about this more if you have questions now, but over the next few years, we will be talking about this so that you can be a decent human being who is safe and smart.
If you have questions ever, please talk to us or your aunts or uncles. 
If you look stuff up at home, do NOT show your siblings. they are not old enough yet. 
And under no circumstances do you EVER EVER EVER E.V.E.R (!!) search things that are privacy related at school. EVER. 

A chat about taking/sending/receiving pictures of body parts
There is NEVER EVER EVER EVER E.V.E.R a reason to take a photo of your own private parts on any device no matter how grown you are. 
First of all, nobody wants to receive that photo (seriously no one)
and secondly, if you think only the one person you are sending it to is the only one who is going to see it, that's highly unlikely.
And if you ever receive a picture of someone else's stuff - just delete it. 
Don't show your friends, don't save it, just delete it. 
The mother of that child who sent it never warned them: that no matter how safe you think it is to send a picture of your body to someone -it will always come back to embarrass you. 

I'm not claiming to have the answers; I'm still only a little more than nine years into this parenting gig. But I lean hard into those before me (thanks parents and in-laws) and I look to my friends who are further along in this parenting journey than me - who have kids who are kind and decent and that I use as examples to my own kiddos. My students who are most kind, tolerant, and emotionally stable are the kids who have had conversations and questions answered with an adult who they love and trust about these things .

we got this, mommas and daddas.

Around Here Week 45: 11/03-11/09

Monday, November 18, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  680+ hours (of 1000)
Up only 3 hours this week, but I did get a night time walk in with the dogs. It has been difficult to get a walk in with them as it has been archery season, but we all needed some fresh air and some wide open space - so I suited up in Brandon's super warm hunting gear, flipped on my head lamp and we took a long stroll.

Reading and finishing Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.  Omi, that was a good one, but so hard on my heart too. I finished the book with tears and my eyes and the love in my heart for my sisters bubbling fiercely. (#scf) I now am in a race to finish Monster by Walter Dean Meyers before our Project Lit meeting next Friday!

Saying prayers for a family member who unexpectedly went to the hospital. It took a lot of tests and waiting around until she was transferred to Shadyside, but things look to be on the right track - so here's to good vibes and great work for doctors and nurses that take care of those we love.

Waiting by the phone for updates about Gemma's evaluation. She met with a neuropsychologist in Pittsburgh to be evaluated for learning disability/dyslexia on Tuesday and my momma's heart was twisted up with not being able to be there myself. Brandon did a great job though providing all information - or getting the questions to me, and then reporting back progress through the day. We will hear back at our follow-up call in a few weeks, but I am so glad that step number 1 is done and we are moving forward on figuring out how best to support our girl in reading, writing, and language arts!

Starting to feel the indoor playtime pressure of winter. The weather has definitely changed into chilly and it starts to get dark around 530p, so we are pulling out the winter favorites around here to keep kids occupied - legos, puzzles, Just Dance on youtube, and coloring/drawing. There is also lots of wrestling (this is why we can't have nice things) and mini-basketball hoop games happening too.

Admitting (ok, FINE) I already watched a few Hallmark Christmas movies while folding clothes this week. I'm THAT girl.

Feeling so incredibly proud (to tears!) of my little sis Kayla who came to speak to our student body at our Veteran's Day assembly on Friday. Her speech was funny and inspiring and so many students came up to me during the rest of the day to tell me that they loved hearing her speak and to "please let her know that she did a great job." One of my more trying students even asked me, "But why is your sister like 100% more bad ass than you?" and I was like, "Dude, I know." She spent the morning at my school to give her speech and then drove over to Grey&Gem's school to attend their Veteran's Day assembly as their guest and have lunch with them (and Gem's tooth fell out while Aunt Kitty was there, hah!)

Birthday party'ing it all day Saturday. Grey got to spend the morning playing paintball for Halen's birthday party (so fun!) and Gem spent the afternoon painting and playing at Ava's birthday party!

Enduring archery season. Oh sweet baby Jesus, give me patience. B and Grey set up a blind in the upper right hand part of our field because we have deer passing through every single day (unless of course they're in the blind - ha!) They have been going up to sit in it before the bus in the morning and then occasionally during the evening too (it just gets dark so fast after we get home from school!) Rust was so excited to get a chance to spend about an hour in the blind with dad on Saturday while Grey was at the birthday party. Rust said, "Imma shoot dat big buck and eat he's heart." #sendhelp #outdoorsmanmomma

Fall Sporting as AYFL champions! Grey and Coach Daddy played against Portage and won in the championship game on Sunday! Our boys had such a great season and were so proud to (attempt) to dump the Gatorade cooler over Coach Daddy's head after the game (hah!) They went undefeated all season and now champs! Banquet forms are

Teaching the Super 7 present tense verbs in Spanish 1, Spanish 2 started Somos 9 where they will be learning about the legend of El Cucuy. Spanish 2 Honors finished El Silbón and started watching Coco. Spanish 3/4 worked through Chapters 7-10 of La Llorona de Mazatlan. The Student Council sets up the Veteran's day breakfast that we host for the community, but the teachers supply the food and service. So our chickens gave 6 dozen eggs and I took care of the tablecloths and relied on my former waitress skills to warm up coffees, smile, and chat with all the local veteran's who came to school on Friday morning for a free hot breakfast!

Making chicken & wild rice soup with cheddar beer bread (only I accidentally used too flavorful not great IPA and it turned out yucky), steak and potatoes in the cast iron skillet, grilled cheese and noodle soup (thanks Abba!), stromboli & frozen pizzas for the kids while I had (pregnancy-safe) sushi take out

Around Here Week 44: 10/27-11/02

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 677+ hours (of 1000)
Up only 4 hours for me, but many more than that for the boys who are in full on archery mode. The weather is definitely taking a turn for the colder half of fall, but the kids were all so pumped to be able to rake up our first official leaf pile of the year!

Reading Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate with my Books & Brews book club and Monster by Walter Dean Myers with our school's Project Lit Club.

Resting easy on our new mattress! We got a foam/spring hybrid after 12 years of our temperapedic. We even went for the adjustable base, and if that makes me an old lady - so be it. It is incredible to be able to lift my head up each night when my heartburn flares up (#thanksStuderbaby5) and the pressure relief of your feet elevated a little...gah, I love it. It was definitely time and this babe in the oven and I are so grateful to be sleeping peacefully.

Dressing up at all the schools to celebrate Halloween. Grey and Gem has their fall Fest and costume parade on Thursday. Rusty & Violet got to trick or treat through the office buildings in the other part of their daycare building and had a class party, and I painted half my face for our Día de los muertos fiesta on Friday. Gemma's Uma wig didn't arrive in time for her school party, so B and I had to tag team putting tiny braids all through Gem's hair to make up for it the night before! We didn't do her whole head, but it was enough to make her wig-less costume still a hit.

Content to cancel on Halloween/Trick or Treat night. The weather was crazy (high winds and rain) and our festive week was only just amping up - so we stayed in and let the kids bob for apples out of a tote in the kitchen instead. Violet is a master-apple bobber; dunking her full head in and pulling up an apple within seconds. Rust was determined no matter how much he had to cheat a little bit and had us all belly laughing when he would slyly reach his hand in the water to hold it up so that he could bite it.

Slowing down with the Slowdown Childchood challenge in the ways that feel manageable for us. The two littlest ones were thrilled to help make dinner on Friday night but I'm holding myself to not getting upset if we can't get each day's suggestion in all month. We will see how it goes, but I'm excited to at least be more intentional about slowing down our days because they honestly go by in a blink and everything feels like a blur since school started! Thank goodness for these Around Here posts to remind me about what has even happened in the last few months!

Receiving our finished 2018-19 family yearbook!

Trick-or-treating at Mimi's house and at my parents' house on Saturday. We got to bring Gem's friend Gina with us (yay!) and even though it was coldcoldcold (!) the kids were eager to go door to door to snag some Halloween candy. We got to take our dog cousin Lady with us too (the best part!)

Fall Sporting twice this week for football as the team and Coach Daddy prepare to go to the championship on Sunday! Our banquet planning team is working hard at organizing rsvp, catering, and decorating lists too for later next month.

Teaching Spanish 1 about Day of the Dead and we watched The Book of Life movie (always a hit because it's the besssst!), Spanish 2 stared watching Coco and we learned about La Chancla! Spanish 2 honors read chapters 9-10 of El Silbon de Venezuela and learned about the Venezuelan sport of Coleo. And Spanish 3/4 Honors continued reading La Llorona de Mazatlan Chapters 3-6. In all classes we had food/fiesta day on Friday to celebrate Día de los Muertos. We also had Red Ribbon dress up week at school (I was #saltbae for meme day- hah) and my Spanish club students delivered our Day of the Dead candygrams.

Making pizza burgers and air-fryer french fries, mac & cheese with leftover chicken, salsa chicken in the crockpot over cauliflower rice, frozen pizzas, chili, and grilled hamburgers and kielbasa.