Around Here 32: 08/03-08

Thursday, August 20, 2020

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

(week 9 of covid-19 green phase, face masks for indoor public spaces, school still on track to start in person on the first day, fall sports maybe not happening at all until January 1, 2021...or maybe still on with no's all pretty confusing). 

Intentional Hours Outdoors: 366+ hours  (of 1000)
Up about 30 hours this week, how excitedly I am looking forward to getting that back porch roof. The sun and heat continue to shine down on us (not complaining - but geez, this is the hottest, driest summer we've had in a long time). My black-eyed Susans have definitely not been complaining. They are blooming and looking beautiful! 

Reading and finishing Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson after many months. It has taken me such a long time because it is such a brutal, honest, painful. We watched the movie a few weeks ago which was also good - but the movie doesn't include any of the cases that the book covers interwoven into the Walter's story. I stopped repeatedly throughout the book to breath and process

Fly Elimination mission update: my shrimp mason jar is working! I changed the paper cone to the top of that store bought fly trap that Grey destroyed the other week (hah) and the flies are piling up in there. And my parasitic wasps arrived this week too - Gemma and I sprinkled them throughout the goat pasture and near the shelter and I'm hoping to see a decrease in the fly population soon (fingers crossed!) 

Taking all the boys to the Peds. Red has his 4month well check with vaccines, Rusty had his 4year well check with vaccines, and Grey went in to get his nose cauterized. So basically, it was the day Momma makes her sons cry (LOL). Red cried, Rust had some tears but stayed stoic about it, and Grey was a champ with no tears at all. He's had nose bleeds consistently (like at least 3-4 every week) since he was probably like 5 years old. In the winter, he wakes up to his nose bleeding and in the summer, sometimes he comes up from underwater with blood pouring out of his nose (poor kid). Fingers crossed that this helps! If not, we will have to go to an ear/nose/throat doc to try again. 

Soaking up summer in the final weeks. We met our cousins at the Que for the afternoon to play in the sand, water, and on the playground all together. It was such a lovely, easy afternoon. Even with an unexpected downpour that had us all scrambling under the pavilion! 

Birthday party planning for Grey and Gem. Their parties will be waaaaaaay belated (April and February respectively) but back in the middle of very late pregnancy and Covid quarantine, we had promised them we'd do birthday parties in the summer and well, here we are final few weeks and I almost forgot until I was working on our family yearbook and got to their birthday pages! oops! We are trying to be as Covid friendly as possible for the sleepovers so both of them are getting camp outs and we are keeping it very small with just a few friends. 

Visiting with some friends in the last weeks of summer. We celebrated Charlie's birthday and had a swimdate at the Fiore's house. We had smores and night trampoline jumping with the Stephens girls, and we got to see Taylor at Abba & Becky's birthday cookout. Lucky for us, Taylor is available to babysit while I have to go into school for some training next week! 

Blackberry picking with Violet. 

Back patio project working. B and his Dad removed the siding and put up the header board to support the trusses. B and my Dad (and me!) set the poles and lifted the header board to the notches on the poles - thank goodness for the tractor bucket to help lift it, because it was just the three of us and my upper body strength is poo. The backyard is a total mess with all the supplies and equipment - but with the poles up, it is really starting to take shape. We can already tell it's going to be one of those projects that we wonder how we ever lived without it when it's all said and done. Nine years without shade (!) what in the world have we been waiting for! So grateful for handy Dads who show up and always help us figure out how to build our own dreams to life. We love you Chum & Pappy!

Fall Sporting with the start of football and cheerleading practices this week. Brandon and I scheduled our practices to be as overlapping as possible because it's just easier to cart the whole crew to the fields than it is to split up. So we both had four practices during the week (M-Th) and then football also practiced on Saturday morning. Rusty and Violet attended the football conditioning/heat acclimation practices this week and jumped through the ladders, flipped tires, hopped bags, and did sprints all week with the boys. (Violet is seriously considering being a football player next year instead of cheering, hah!) Red came to cheer practice with me the first two days and cried nearly the whole time - luckily I have some sweet parents that stay at practice who were willing to hold and stroll him so I could have my hands free. Aunt Kitty (my sis) picked him up and had a playdate with him on Wednesday so he could have a break from practices (thank you!!) and on Thursday Red got strapped into the carrier and went to football practice with Coach Daddy - and guess what, not a peep! He watched the boys running and totally loved it. So I'm thinking maybe Red just hates cheerleaders? 

Teacher prepping with a little curriculum mapping for the year and surfing pinterest for some inspiration to get me into a motivated state of mind. I feel so lethargic about planning for the year because things change everyday for the pandemic recommendations that I hate to get ready only to have it all switch twenty times before the start of school. But I'm scheduled to go in three days next week to learn our new management system (that will better support virtual learning if we end of having to switch over at some point this year)- so I'm hoping that's the spark I need! 

Making shredded chicken parm in the crockpot, kielbasa, zucchini, and onion in the skillet, turkey burgers and shrimp with corn on the cob (Brandon and I always make ours Elote...once you have it, regular corn on the cob just don't cut it). We had pancakes and sausage for dinner one night (I need to make a grocery run soon!), and hot dogs and sauerkraut in the slow cooker with a side of baked beans. 

conversation with my kids about masks

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

mom: so how do you feel about wearing masks at school? 

kid: I mean, not great. do we have to wear them in gym class? what if we are all sweaty and too hot? 

mom: I don't know about that. would you rather stay home and not wear a mask? 

kid: no! i miss my friends and my teachers so I want to go and I'll wear the mask but I still don't want to. 

mom: do you know why we're wearing the masks? 

kid: yeah, the coronavirus and so we don't get sick. 

mom: right, and so we don't get our teachers sick, or our friends sick, or our grandparents sick, or our friends' grandparents sick, or baby Red sick!

kid: I know, I just don't like that I can't see my friends smiling when they wear a mask. 

mom: I know. I don't like that either. But here's the thing though - our schools are just trying to keep everyone safe. And remember we've been out of school for a really long time and all that time everyone was supposed to be staying home and wearing masks at the grocery store, and trying their best to stay healthy and keep each other healthy

kid: yeah, we did that.

mom: well lots of people didn't do that. Some grown ups thought they shouldn't have to do that. So, people have been going to grocery stores with no masks and going on vacation and eating at restaurants and doing everything like normal. 

kid: no, momma! come on, that's not true. grown ups follow the rules! 

mom: the rules were that everyone was supposed to wear masks and stay safe

kid: but we didn't wear masks outside! 

mom: outside is mostly okay, as long as you have lots of space and air. but inside and in very big groups, everyone was supposed to wear masks

kid: well that guy in Lowes didn't wear a mask

mom: that's what I'm talking about. some grown ups just didn't think it was important so they didn't do it all this time. But all of the world, places had coronavirus too, in some places their grown ups followed the rules to keep everyone safe and now they don't have coronavirus anymore! their kids are going to school normal and they have concerts again. 

kid: did our people listen, like our own family and friends? 

mom: yes, most of them did. you know we did. but lots of people in our community and all over our state and our country didn't. And now it's time to go back to school and coronavirus is still here. 

kid: so you're telling me that us kids have to wear masks to school now because the grown ups didn't feel like doing it this whole time we were out of school?!

mom: I'm sorry babe....I know we've had almost this same exact conversation before about taking care of the planet too. It's just that kids are the ones that have to pay because it's hard for adults to do things differently than they've always done it - even if it's for the benefit of children. 

happy back to school Pennsylvania!

Around Here Week 31: 07/26-08/02

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute (week 8 of 'green phase' and masked required in all indoor public still starting on time with in person instruction, but possibly no spectators for fall sports). 

photo cred: Mama Roxby Photography

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 335+ hours (of 1000)
Up 29 hours this week - still so so hot. 

Reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (only one more chapter to go!) 

Fly Elimination mission update: I discovered this blog (laughed so hard from her writing and vlogs - she is so so funny and informative) and I'm combating my fly problem two fold. First, with a piece of shrimp in a mason jar with a paper cone. And secondly, I purchased my first batch of parasitic wasps. They should be here some time next week!

Celebrating big time on Sunday with a two'fer at church. Gemma made her first holy communion and Red was baptized! We had all of their godparents able to attend and several family members there to witness the big day. Gemma did a beautiful job on her reading and the service was special despite all the covid limitations (limited parishioners attending, masks required). Grey acted as an altar server and the organist and vocalists sounded perfect. Afterwards, we all spent the afternoon at my parents' house for a little celebration with food from Flair of Country and sheet cake. Such a special day for my special babes.  Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate!

Getting a day to work on chores with no big kids! B went to work and a dentist appointment on Monday while the four biggest kids spent the day with my parents and sisters at Laurel Hill State Park swimming and playing. (thank you!!) After so many weeks of covid-family time with these kids who I adore with every fiber in my body, it is such a relief to be able to clean up a little bit without one of them making another mess in another room (hah!) 

Cherishing Red in this exact moment, gosh how I love the 3-5 month stage. He has been waking himself up at night by rolling over now and when I went in to get him reset, he reached out and held onto my fingers in the dark, like 'hold on momma, stay with me for a minute.' 

Making a chore chart. The kids are pretty good at helping when they are asked, but I really wanted a place to point to and not have to figure it out on the spot everyday. Plus, some routine and structure is good to get back into, especially with school on the horizon again. All the kids have 1-2 chores each day (there is also an Everyday checklist that includes brush teeth, tidy room, make bed, and help mum&dad if they need it with anything else, Hah). Even Redland has chores - they include things like "Look cute" and "Slobber a lot" and "Make everyone smile." Truth be told, he's the best kid right now on completing his chore chart. (Although for real, Gemma loves her a task list, so she's kind of killing the chore chart everyday). 

Back patio project working. Brandon and his dad pulled up the railroad ties and cleared out all the mess to prep for cement. Then B and my dad set up the forms for the cement pad, including building a brace for the cement 'wall' and we all crossed our fingers that it would hold up come pouring time. B, my dad, and Jon poured the cement on Friday with almost no issues (even though the wall brace was creaking something fierce) and it looks so beautiful. B and I moved the big picnic table to the side patio - so it's all clear and ready for the next step, the roof! 

Introducing Red to baby food. He has been staring at the kids eating for the past few weeks and he is really struggling to stay asleep through the night (even though he was doing great before). He just seems so very hungry so that moment he hit the four month mark - I gave him a try and it was a huge success. He's obsessed; he wants all the food. So far, he's only had bananas and some oatmeal but he gives them a massive thumbs up. 

Taking professional family photos at our house with the dear, sweet Mrs. Roxby (the kids' STEAM teacher). She spent Friday evening with us snapping photos and chatting. It was all so relaxed and comfortable, even Brandon had a good time with that (hah! Dads!) She sent me a sneak peek and it was perfect - I can't wait to see the rest. We love you, Mrs. Roxby!

Camping at the Que. Grey got to spend a night with his buddies while their family camped. He spent a lot of the time fishing (his favorite). Then we all headed out for Saturday night to camp to celebrate my mom's upcoming milestone birthday. My dad had reserved our favorite site, so we had a beautiful view and the kids' favorite swimming spot at our disposal. We ate good food over the fire, the kids did a ton of fishing, we sang Happy Birthday over some gobs, and the kids even got to put on a light show for us with sparklers. Brandon took our big tent to sleep with the kids (Red and I went home for the night), but Grey and everyone else (my parents and sisters) set up their hammocks for the night. I was at home in bed when I was started awake by heavy rain. I immediately texted B to see how it was going there and he said the hammock sleepers were awake and under the canopy. I found out the next morning that the tarp they had over their heads had collapsed from the weight of the collected rain and they all ended up making a run for it to sleep in their cars! Grey slept in his Aunt Kitty's car!  

Summer sporting with the last week of baseball. Grey had three games this week to close out the shortened season (thanks covid). 

Fall sporting as it kicked off this week with equipment handout. Brandon is coaching the majors football team while I take on the minors cheerleaders. We are just moving up with our 'kids' that we've been coaching for the last two years - so pretty easy peasy. To coach, we had to make sure all of our clearances were up to date and had to complete the yearly concussion online training. Grey and B had the official weigh in day on Saturday morning and practices will start next week. We still have a lot to figure out as the governor of PA and the PIAA is suggesting that there be no spectators for the games, but things change on the daily around here - so we will see what happens before the first game!

Making so many leftover meals from our catered food from the party (pork tacos, pork over mashed potatoes, leftover berry salad, baked sliders with leftover rolls). We grilled out turkey burgers and another night grilled country-style pork ribs. 

Around Here Week 30: 07/19-25

Friday, August 7, 2020

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this moment (week 7 of 'green phase' and face masks required in all indoor public spaces). 

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 306+ hours (of 1000)
Up 19 hours this week including some swimming and stunting in the pool with the kids and my sister. The weather is still incredibly hot here and the AC has been on the most it has ever been on since we've moved in nine years ago. With no shade, it's pretty brutal by the early afternoon around here. Luckily for us though, our back patio roof supplies were delivered this week (!) It will be a really big project but one that will be so worth it - I.can.not.wait. to sit out on the back patio during a thunderstorm, or in the afternoon reading my book in the shade enjoying the warm weather. Oh, it will be just bliss. 

Reading and finishing Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. I really enjoyed it (it was in verse) and this was the second book I've read by her and both were beautifully written YA books. 

Researching fly killing methods like a crazy person. The flies in the goat pen are making me nuts (there are so many!) so I've been researching all the web to find the best methods to combat my arch nemesis. Random fact about me: I do not kill any bugs (or any animals) ever. I scoop up bugs in the house and take them outside, I save worms on sidewalks before drying out, the boys know they are not allowed to shoot groundhogs (even though they live in our sandmound) if I am home - I do not want things to die....except flies. I loathe flies and will go on a fly-murder spree when they are in the house. I love spiders because they eat flies - I name spiders and whisper thank you to them and hardly ever take them outside when I find them in the house, I just move them to our house plants (stay with us and kill these flies, I love you is what I whisper to them!) So anyway, we purchased this fly killing trap from Tractor Supply and Grey tried to set it up without reading the directions, and let me just tell you that the fly bait inside (that was leaking all in my kitchen sink) smells like an actual corpse and it lingered for about 3 days. So maybe it would have worked if we would have followed the directions, but good grief - the smell. 

Getting hearty eyes when Rusty asked me out of the blue, "When I'm big and I'm the Daddy, who is the momma?" I told him that he will get to choose and he said, "Oh, okay. Then I choose you." 

Visiting the vet when we thought Bullet was checking out for good. He woke us up at 3a on Monday morning breathing so rapidly and crying out anytime he had to move the tiniest bit. By morning, he was still laying around, breathing weird (slowly and labored) and refusing to eat or drink. He made every effort to avoid having to change positions. Brandon took him to the vet and he got a clean bill of health but some pain pills because he's old and it appears to be his joints bothering him (he also has lyme's so that makes sense). He is 11 years old, but I swear that dog is going to live to be 20 the way he makes me nuts. 

Preparing for our big Sunday event - Gemma is making her first holy communion and Red is getting baptized on the same day. I ordered the sheet cake, confirmed our caterer, ordered Red's baptism outfit after I couldn't find Grey/Rusty's in the attic (oops, maybe donated it), and double checked with my parents about the after party at their house (thank you for hosting!) Gemma has been practicing everyday her reading (she's doing the second reading in church) and then we had a dress rehearsal at the church on Saturday morning to make sure we were all good to go. The kids got their confession done and received their rosaries, communion lapel pins, and custom masks (sewn by a parishioner!). 

Buying lots of calamine lotion as Brandon has most of his body covered in poison ivy (arms, chest, stomach, legs). He spent so much time clearing out part of our land last week in the dry weather that the poison ivy must have been kicked up in the dust and just covered him. Gem helped him quite a bit and so she has some spots on her as well (stomach, arms, and face). Poor things are so miserable and itchy. 

Starting the back porch roof project this week. Brandon tore out the cement slab that needs replaced and pulled away the railroad ties that were rotting on the retaining wall. Our roof materials are awaiting their time to be used for the project, but for now they are sitting in the backyard covered with tarps.

Rolling my eyes so much at the other huge project I have going on right now - switching clothes bins. Goodness gracious, I hate so much. Last year, in the midst of back to school and pregnant with Red - I stuffed any clothes that weren't working for any kid into huge garbage bags and literally wrote a note to myself that said, "Sorry Tab, I love you though." Ughhhhhhh, I know past Tab that you were busy and pregnant - but this is awful. We got tons of hand-me-down donations throughout the last few months too from friends (thank you!) but also - I have a clothes volcano explosion going on in most of the upstairs room. I need all the bins, and all the time, and all the kids not interrupting or touching piles. 

Grateful that Violet got her special day with my parents this week. She loved having one on one time with them and it is always a small blessing to be down one kid at home (but know that they are safe and happy and having fun). Thanks Chum & Abba!

Summer sporting with two rained out baseball games this week!

Making taco turkey salads, cheesy chicken and broccoli over cauliflower rice, buffalo chicken dip with veggie dippers. We ordered in pizza and wings when we had the Garretson kiddos over and I made funfetti muffins and banana bread for breakfasts this week. For our friend's birthday party on Saturday, I made jello shots and haluski.