Around Here Week 25: 06/14-20

Monday, June 29, 2020

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this moment (green phase and week 14 of Covid-19 pandemic). 

photo cred: Jenn V

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 169+ hours (of 1000)
Up 24 hours this week with plenty of summery shine encouraging us all to get outside. We had fun dinner swim with our Garrettson cousins this week with pizza and snacks poolside. B had all the kids helping to put stone around the chicken coop to make it more rain water puddle proof. I snagged some reading and kid snuggle sessions in the hammock too. The meatballs (Vi & Rust) have been bike riding maniacs and Violet even taught herself to pop a willy! Rust is a speed demon on his Strider bike (it has no peddles and is supposed to help learn balance) while Violet is full fledge no-training wheels. A few more blooms of my peonies opened up and we have a lot of color blooming on our bee and butterfly plants/bushes. Ah! The yard is abuzz with life and the sunrises and sunsets have been beautiful up here on the mountain. 

Reading The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. I was gifted this beautiful book of words and drawings by my bestie, Kate who knows my heart song. I also started reading Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo while I'm upstairs and reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson while I'm downstairs in the house. We also bought two baguettes at Aldi on our grocery trip this week and read Nanette's Baguette by Mo Willems (one of our favs!) over breakfast and it blew the kids' minds. 

Listening & Learning about the Original 33 and more about the Reconstruction era including these videos from: CSpan, ATTN, CBS, and Crash Course with John Green. I also purchased a book for each family member written by a Black author: my book is I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, Greyson got Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Gemma's book was One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, Violet got Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, I ordered You Matter by Christian Robinson for Rusty (it's on back order), I pre-ordered the brand new Anti-racist Baby from Ibram X Kendi for Red, and I got the audible copy The Unkind Hours by Dwayne Alexander Smith for Brandon who would rather listen to a book than read every day of the week.

Switching out clothes bins. Ugh. one kid of five done this week - I tackled Rusty's clothes switching out size 3 to size 4; organizing the size 4 summer vs. winter clothes; and sifting through shoes that are the correct size. Only four more kids to go - LOL.  

Playing in the stone piles! Rust and Violet were thrilled that we got a huge load of pea gravel delivered (and a load of regular stone) to fix up the chicken coop and the driveway. They have been playing in the pea gravel pile everyday and rubbing their bodies down with the gray dust. Their scalps are caked in pea gravel dust and their little limbs look ghostly. At least they play for actual hours, so whatevs. 

Grateful for the return of grandparent special days. Now that we are green phase for the pandemic, the kids have been getting some much needed one-on-one or small group time with their grandparents. The girls spend time with Gigi and Pappy on Monday (thank you!!). Grey went kayaking/fishing with Chum on Wednesday and then to get new sneakers (thank you!!) In a big family, these small pockets of time that the kids get to receive such dedicated attention and care is so important. 

Throwing in the nursing towel. I have been feeling some postpartum blues building over the last few weeks. I just do not feel like myself and after all these weeks of isolation and having a newborn with four other kids and virtual teaching and finishing my college class while recovering from a c-section has just completely swallowed me whole. On Thursday, I finally just blurted out to Brandon, "If I have to nurse this baby again today I am going to sob."In his standard Brandon-is-my-life-vest fashion, he just smiled shrugged and said, "Babe, then give him some formula. You're okay. You're more than okay." So since then, I've been supplementing with formula and pumping too. Even after five babies, even after all I preach to other mommas about surviving the day, even after nursing for 2 and a half months exclusively - I still carry that momma guilt of breast is best so heavily, but I also know deep in my soul that being overwhelmed and disconnected isn't the best care of Red or my other babies either. So, we move forward as best we can and keep on trying, right? It's all we got, mommas.

Celebrating Juneteenth with sparklers and red velvet cupcakes on Friday. The whole family watched this clip from The Roots about Juneteenth and also watched this reading of Juneteenth by the author of the book (!) Vaunda Micheaux Nelson on Conscious Kid facebook page. And can I just shout out real quick for my talented friend Zina (we met in college) who is a voice actor and did this video with NextGen America which is an incredibly clear description of what Juneteenth is all about #proudfriend 

Hiking to Yoder Falls with Chum, Abba, Uch, and Kevin to make Father's Day a special event. Everyone came to our house in the morning to have breakfast before we headed out to the trail. We had hiked it in late April, but to see it now in full blown green was beautiful! Everyone had a good time and the kids wore swimsuits with full intention of getting into the waterfall pool at the top. Grey, Gem, and Violet all went the whole way in to get doused by the waterfall! After the hike, we had ice cream at Silver Bell (B ate a whole upside down banana split! If you are familiar with Silver Bell, that equals about a quart of ice cream! hahha!) It was a great day and we were so grateful to get to spend it with our Chummie. How lucky we are to have you Chum!

Ringing in summer solstice with a pool party at the McKool's. The kids were all happy to spend time with their friends and Red, Gemma, Rusty, and I hung out for awhile until Gemma's fever returned (3rd time in a month!) and we ended up coming home with a call into telehealth for antibiotics. Grey, Violet, and B stayed until after dark playing cornhole and to watch the fireworks. Thanks for having us McKool's! 

Summer sporting with two volleyball matches (just I went because B had a school board meeting) and my parents hung out with the whole crew at the park while I played (thank you!!) Grey had his first baseball game for the year and is playing shortstop and pitcher. He is happy to be playing again and even though it's up in the bigger league - he gets to play alongside some of his best friends (who got pulled up too) so at least for that. Grey was so proud to officially introduce Red to the team after the game, and it was clear that another Studer little sibling got adopted by Grey's teammates. They are all such a great 'big brothers' to my babies. 

Making Sheet pan Ranch chicken and potatoes, sloppy joes, baked ham & cheese sliders on hawaiian rolls, and leftovers. On Saturday we had egg sausage casseroles before heading out to our Father's day Hike and the kids and I made breakfast pizza with a shredded hashbrown crust for breakfast once this ewek 

Around Here week 24: 06/07-06/13

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute (green phase of Covid-19 pandemic!)

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  145+ hours (of 1000)
Up 25 hours this week with some beautiful summer weather. I was able to snag some reading time in the hammock (bliss!) and we logged some time at the fire pit on the back patio too with some smore making. Brandon moved a bunch of dirt into the goat pasture to build them a little mountain under the shade of one of the trees as we have found that our goats love both dirt mounds and shade - always learning! 

Reading and finishing (in 3 days) A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. Oh, I loved it so much! It is one of the Project Lit books from last year and again proves that they are all incredible YA choices. I am continuing with Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson too. 

Listening & Learning from Black voices. Brandon and I watched Just Mercy (it's free to rent for the whole month of June!) We made a donation to to help support the awareness and adoption of 8 restrictive use of force policies that every police department can enact immediately to save lives. And I can't stop thinking about and rewatching the Hanifa Pink Label virtual show. I actually watched it when it was released on instagram at the end of May, but I cannot get it off my brain and keep telling people about it. The lockdown has made everyone have to think outside of the box to survive in these 'new normals' but Anifa Mvuemba (who is only 28 yrs old!) took these challenges and is THRIVING. 

Throwing a water battle birthday party for our four year old Rustman!It was a beautiful weather day and perfect for water balloons and water guns. The kids needed very little direction, but we did have a target water gun shoot, a water balloon battle, and I sprayed everyone with the hose. The goats were a big hit with all the guests and everyone seemed to have enough food and merriment to kick off the green phase of the pandemic in PA. 

Wishing a happy birthday to our Aunt Kitty!

Receiving official notice of my PA teaching certification approval!!

Feeling buried alive by laundry. Why are there so many clothes? Why does this chore never end? 

Printing off a list of all the updates we put into the house and yard since we moved in back in 2011. It was empowering to go through each room and the outside and write down each thing we had spent time, money, and labor of love into this house. I had read that it was a good thing to do and then give to the appraiser when they come to the house and it was actually really validating for B and I to remember all the work that we've done together while we create this home. It so easy to look around and see how much more we have/want to do and get caught up in the daily chores of raising a family (laundry, sweeping/mopping, dust) - but to see a comprehensive list of all the projects we've completed in nine years was pretty cool. 

Getting the house appraised which meant a lot of tidying up and then loading Sheila up with all five kids AND both dogs and driving around for an hour so that the appraiser could do what he needed with no distractions. Everyone did really good for about 45 minutes and then it was just too much - Violet was whining from the way back, "Muuuuuuum, please can we get out. Trixie is breathing into my mouth!" We had to get the appraisal to get a loan to buy the land surrounding our property, so we will (finally!) own everything around us, including the parts of the yard we have been mowing/maintaining for the last 9 years even though we didn't own it. So yay!! 

Deciding that Red has Rusty's eyes and the rest of Grey's face. Redland is still the sweetest little nugget on the planet and none of us can stand how cute he is. Rusty literally says all day, "He's soooo cute I could pop his head off!" 

Congratulating Gemma who figured out how to swim underwater without holding her nose this week! 

Trying to donate blood but coming up short on iron. ugh. 

Fixing the water pipes in the basement which has been on our to do list for forever! My dad came over to help Brandon unhook the well filter and rework the pipes and even though it only took half a day - it has been amazing to be able to turn on all the hoses again (the water line to them was leaking before this fix) but even more than that - we have no moisture in the basement anymore! We have been running a dehumidifier for NINE YEARS in the basement and now it's not needed. Our minds are blown - thank you so much Chum!!

Playdating with friends. Gemma got to have a fun day of swimming with her friend Amiyah (thank you!), Rusty and Violet spent the day at Abba and Chums and Violet slept over (Rusty chickened out - he's going through a momma thing - thanks 'rona). Miss Hannah came to babysit after 12 weeks of missing our personal Mary Poppins during quarantine while B and I had our volleyball games. We had a visit at our house with our besties the Fiores where the kids got to meet our goats, Soph and I talked books and favorite authors (I gave her a list of the Project Lit middle school titles too! Soph and I basically need our own book club) and Kate and I got to chat which is always my favorite. Grey had a sleepover at his cousin Caleb's house (thank you Heather!) and all of us had dinner after the scrimmage at the Bittner's house. 

Summer sporting with our first co-ed Roxbury game of the season! Due to the shortened seasons (thanks 'rona) we are playing multiple matches each week, so first week back after 12 weeks in quarantine, we played 6 games and omigosh, it was a little rough. hah! It was so nice to be back with our team though (two teammates are my former students!) Grey had baseball practice twice and then a scrimmage on Friday night. 

Making Kit Kat candy cake for Rusty's birthday party, hot dog leftovers, salads & fried cheese curds (thank you Heather for bringing our favorites from the Ligonier Farmer's Market!), spaghetti and homemade garlic bread with leftover hot dog buns from the party, breakfast bowls with eggs, sausage, and cheesy potatoes, take out from the Tollgate. I made banana oatmeal cookies with some brown bananas and whipped up some blueberry scones for breakfast this week. 

Around Here Week 23: 05/31-06/06

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute and during week 12 of Covid-19 (yellow phase -opening to green phase!)

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 120+ hours (of 1000)
Up 22 hours this week with a long day outside on Sunday when we brought home our first two goats! It was a seven hour day as we got them settled, chased Polly multiple times when she hopped out of the fence, and then sat outside in the yard to watch while they were adjusting. I got a walk in with dogs one evening to find the two meatballs (Vi & Rust) waiting for me on the path because they thought I needed found (heheh), we had a fire, went for ice cream on Krause's opening day (in a rainstorm!), and lots of beautiful summer time weather to enjoy in our yard.

Listening & Learning. I studied up on historical events like the Black Wall Street massacre (video) and the Rosewood massacre (video) and following a ton of new instagram accounts to amplify Black voices in my own social media feed (@bscott @embracingblackculture @andrehenry ). Since we weren't able to get out and attend the BLM protest happening in our own community on Saturday, the kids and I attended an online 'family friendly' protest with ParentsTogether Action and Moms Rising. During the BLM zoom protest, we danced and marched in place, listened to some poetry, and heard perspectives of people from all different ages, backgrounds, and locations. My favorite part was a momma named Angela who talked directly to the kids listening and said (paraphrasing) 'you may have already learned about people who tried to get equal rights for all people before, right? Like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. And you may be wondering why didn't it work that time? Well, my thought is that it didn't exactly work because we didn't have you! We need each of you - exactly as you are, to be part of this too; your voices and your passion for all people to make it work this time.' 

Bringing home our goats! Brandon headed out very early in the morning on Sunday to pick up our two yearling Alpines, Donut and Polly. The kids and I helped move them into the fence and it wasn't until later that evening that we realized maybe we should have done some more "bringing home goats for the first time" research. Polly hopped the fence LITERALLY 1 minute after we let her out of the crate. We had to search party for her three times that first day; half laughing, half crying, half considering returning them both and scraping the whole idea of raising goats. It got better each day - even though Polly still hops out whenever she darn well pleases. On Friday, Brandon, Grey, Gem, and Vi all took a road trip to pick up our three doelings (two La Mancha/Alpine and 1 Boer/Alpine). They were so tiny and cute (8 weeks old!) and they seemed to adjust much better than Polly. So far, so good!

Cheering on Red as he pushed through the rotten 8 as an official 2 month old! He loves tummy time and strengthening his neck muscles, he likes being in the carrier, and most of all coo'ing and goo'ing to anyone who will talk with him. He is really getting strong and can already roll from belly to his side (!)   
Heading to the pediatricians for well checks for Grey and Red. Both did great - they are growing and developing and my biggest and smallest boys are stark contrasts in how quick time moves. Red looks a lot like Grey when he was a baby and sometimes it gives me severe time lapse vertigo. 


Singing Happy Birthday to our four year old! The Rustman turned four on Wednesday and we had pancakes for breakfast in his honor. Abba brought over ice cream cake for lunch and we went to Krause's for ice cream later, but mostly for the tube slides because they're the best! After much discussion, we are planning a water battle party for Sunday (water guns & water balloons!) for our first actual party at our house following lockdown! 

Clapping and congratulating CT seniors in their graduation parade, including our cousin Morgan. (we are so proud of you!) I am literally incapable of watching a graduation or grad parade without crying. At least I'm consistent. 

Playdating since we are moving into green phase for the pandemic. The kids ran all over the yard with the Stephens girls while B and I got to catch up with Coach Mal. Kitty and Michael stopped over to play with the kids one evening and it was the biggest blessing to get some clothes folded and take the dogs for a walk just B and I (dog walk date, yes please!) Our neighbors stopped by to see the goats and bring our chickens some scrap watermelon (thank you!), Abba visited one afternoon for a cup of coffee, hugs, and a chat (my favorite kind of visit!), and B attended my Dad's old guy/young guy competition party for a day of outdoor activities like horseshoes and cornhole which meant Uncle Jonny had a sleepover at our house and that always makes the kids happy (and Bullet too! hah)

Summer sporting with the first baseball practice for Grey on Friday evening. He was pretty pumped to get back with his teammates again. He is playing Majors (a year early) but it will be a shortened season; playing through the end of July. 

Homeschooling for the last week of the year! The kids (barely!) finished their packets and we got everything turned in on the last day near the final hour - hah! By the end, I had taped up unfinished worksheets all over the dining room so they could each see how much they had left to do and could take them down as they finished them. The school had a sweet end of year car parade at the school that we attended. The kids got to wave goodbye to all their teachers and Violet got to tell everyone, "I'll see you next year when I'm in kindergarten!" She also joked to Mrs. Roxby, "We killed your frogs" with a straight face while Grey and I died laughing - because what the heck!? We did NOT kill any frogs, but Violet, man. She's ridiculous. 

Making hamburger casserole, turkey tacos, sloppy joes over Texas toast, buffalo chicken mac&cheese, frozen pizza, and take out pizza brought to us from Kitty & Michael when they came over to play at out house! Kitty also brought me a Dunkin iced coffee and it put actual life into my soul (love you!)