Fe, fi, fo, fum I declare a social media moratorium.

Friday, December 31, 2021

I'm tab and I've been feeling the pull to scroll a little too strong and I am getting fed up with myself about it. So Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum...I declare a social media moratorium. 

We are a low-tech family in general. We have two tvs, and honestly I don't watch much tv or streaming because 6 kids....but I do occasionally squeeze in a show or movie if I need some self-care mindless time. 

I have a laptop where I blog, homeschool prek lesson plan, work on our family yearbook, or email. But I also...six kids - so if you've never tried to sit down and work on a computer while you have children, especially with two kids under two - let me inform you, ya get like a 15 minute window unless they are asleep. And we don't have any other devices (tablets, kindles, smart watches, other things that I don't even know exist - hah).

So that leaves my phone. I don't know where I fall in the average, but my screen time for my phone is around 6 hours a day (that includes any apps, texting, phone calls, taking photos, social media, etc)

Here's yesterday's well-being dashboard: 

Taking a look at that - Walmart was for my pick up grocery order while I roamed around the house checking the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Messages & WhatsApp is communication with my family/ friends/kids' friends parents/kids' teams or coaches. Youtube was watching (and rewatching/rewinding) a really cool video with Rusty about building a fort and then we went outside and built a fort in the woods together! 

So, some of my social media is actually useful, life for real for real - not just me trying to justify my time spent on it. I use Pinterest exclusively for recipes almost daily and I use Youtube for work out videos or tutorials. I write on this blog and follow a few other blogs of people that inspire me and encourage me to keep marching forward in motherhood. Thankfully, I don't have other social media to distract me like twitter, tik tok, or (much to my sisters' disappointment) snapchat.

So that leaves Instagram and Facebook...which both platforms have now become almost entirely time sucks for me. It's just become a sequence of scroll, laugh, scroll, eye roll, scroll, scroll, scroll. Which then just equates to the passage of time. 

Passage of MY time
in this one precious life.
in this one beautiful,
incredibly glorious moment of our life
with six kids under one roof
with our able bodies
and minds
and all this wide open space
and our blessed health
and did I mention this one precious life?

so, I'm doing a little moratorium on my two biggest time wasters: instagram and facebook for the month of January (at least). After that, I'll see how I feel - did it serve me well to take a break? Am I able to be more intentional and manage my time on those platforms after a little time away? Does it serve me well right now in my life to be on them at all? Time will tell. But I'm excited to be more intentional and use those minutes of my day doing something that means something; anything more worthwhile than scrolling. 

If you're feeling the supreme pull to scroll - join me in this month long moratorium of whatever social media applications are your biggest time sucks. And make your own rules, this is unofficial and the whole point is to help bring intentionality and clarity to your days. 

I do still plan to blog. It feeds my soul to get these words, memories, and thoughts out of my brain. So if you want to keep following along, you'll have to subscribe for email notifications, or just check back on your own as I will not be pushing updates to facebook. 

Sending my love to you and your family for a beautiful, healthy, inspiring, and empowering new year. 
Let's go 2022 - let's do better; let's be better.


Around Here Week 51: 12/19-23

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

 A glimpse into WEEK 51. This is what we've trained for mommas and daddas. The week leading up to Christmas. Here's the view from our house with six kids under twelve. 

2016 vs 2021

Christmas Character Day: Billy & Gizmo from Gremlins

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 565+ hours (of 1000)
The kids and I are feeling a little disappointed because it has been so sunny - chilly, but sunny and we feel like we just can't get fully into the holiday spirit. We are hoping upon hoping for a white Christmas, but it really doesn't look like it's going to be in the cards for us this year. And I know I've said it before, but I am ever grateful for the farm animals' water buckets not freezing at least - HAH. 

Reading The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Smiling during the Christmas pageant at church. All the kids did so well and it was really sweet and interactive. We also turned in our reverse advent donation boxes - but of course not until after we got Lucille the Studermobile stuck in the mud in our yard that morning. Good grief, I had to jump out of the van and take the truck to church to make it to the kids' pageant while B stayed behind with the two babies, the two donation boxes and try to get Lucille unstuck (he did after 20 minutes and backing up way into the pasture past the garden -LOL). Never not a circus around here. 

Grateful for all our Christmas cards! Thank you to everyone who has sent them - we really love getting them in the mail and displaying them. I am a big fan of Christmas cards snail mailed, even if it seems like such a costly expense and slightly environmentally unfriendly. But I love 'em and every year I think, ya know what - I'm not doing it this year - and every year I change my mind and send them out because it makes people happy (especially our older family members) and because we love receiving them so much! 

Gathering with our favorites: Kate, Soph, and Char at our house to watch the Polar Express and drink hot cocoa. Our annual tradition going on something like year 9 or so. The kids are always grateful to get to spend time with each other and in annual tradition- only a few kids make it the whole way through the movie (because everyone else ends up running around and playing instead). It was so wonderful to catch up with Kate too. 

Dressing up for spirit week at school. Gem and Violet had different themed days than Grey - but everyone found a way to participate even if we had to get a little creative. Violet and the first and second graders had a beautiful annual Polar Express party at school and then on Thursday, the whole elementary school had holiday games and celebrations. The girls also participated in the classroom gift exchange (I bought them the morning they were due because I totally forgot - oops). Grey got to bring snacks and watch a movie even in the middle school and got extra credit from one teacher for participating in spirit week too - so he was pretty motivated to play along. 

Hosting a pizza party at our house with the Jurich family. Our high school friends were visiting from out of town and it was so fun to meet up with them and have all our kiddos playing and laughing (9 of them all together!). 

Wrapping gifts with my sisters on Wednesday night. My sweet sis, Kayla, lent her house as the package depot all season so both my sisters offered to help with wrapping because they are literal saints. We had pizza and wine and chatted the whole while. It was exactly what my magic-making-exhausted heart needed. Thank you, scf, love you forever.

Assembling teacher gifts. The three big kids were in charge of making the Christmas simmer pots themselves and they did a great job. We even had some leftover supplies to make our own too!  We also delivered cookies and thank you cards to our kids' bus drivers! 

Shaking my head at the lunacy of this week. Gifts to wrap! Lists to check twice! Stocking Stuffers to buy! Menus to plan! Spirit Week at school to dress up for! Teacher gifts to assemble! Cookies to bake! Work Gift Exchange! Work Holiday Potluck! Elf Magic! ....oh yeah, and also you still have to do all the regular stuff too: laundry, dinner making, dishes, vacuuming, farm chores, homework, sports practices, appointments. Like; just pretend everything is business as usual, but behind the scenes your hair is on fire.

Grasping at time like always at exactly this week in the year. I feel like my head is in a thousand directions trying to cross of items on my to do list leading up to Christmas Eve. Then Christmas eve hits and it is a rush of gratitude and joy and magic and happiness while Time is whispering in my ear, "Another year come and gone, momma." It's dizzying and overwhelming and so incredibly beautiful. Week 51 of the year is always the one that gets me right through my momma heart. 

Sporting with two basketball practices for Grey and one for Gemma. B had a basketball game on Sunday night and then I got the two big kids' game schedule for January so I was able to get that on the schedule in my 2022 planner! 

Making my first hot cocoa charcuterie board for our annual Polar Express party with the Fiores. I made some hot sausage dip for our pizza party (thank you for the recipe Becky!). We had copycat Olive Garden chicken in the crockpot over noodles, mac&cheese, and Chinese ground turkey with broccoli and rice. B and I only had one night to enjoy a Green Chef with all the hustle bustle going on; we had Squash & Mozzarella Flatbread. For Christmas baking this week, I made potato candy, Violet helped with snickerdoodles, and Rusty helped with chocolate chip kiss cookies. I also made two pumpkin rolls and B took one to his office holiday party. 

Homeschool PreK Week 18

Sunday, December 26, 2021

We closed out the last week of homeschool prek of this year with some learning focused on kindness. To give a little extra practice, I found some free printable Christmas themed worksheets for Rust to work on too because he likes sitting at the table doing "school work" while I make lunch. 

Rusty helped design thank you notes that we deliver around our neighborhood to all the beautifully decorated houses. We love driving home and seeing all the light displays all season. Our note said, "We love looking at your house and your decorations....We know that it took a lot of your time and hard work to set it up. We just wanted to let you know that it was worth it! Your display brings happiness to our hearts and helps keep Christmas magic alive! We hope you have a great holiday season and a very happy and healthy new year! We are glad to live in our neighborhood with you!" Then Rusty helped deliver them by knocking on the door (if they were home) or putting them in mailboxes. 

Rust helped me make two batches of cookies this week: Hershey kiss pb cookies and pretzel/kiss/m&m bites. Then we boxed them and all the cookies he helped make last week and attached our Christmas card to the top. Then Rust helped deliver them to our neighbors before Christmas. 

Rust also made Magic Reindeer Dust for each of his siblings to put in the yard on Christmas eve to make sure Santa's sleigh can find our house. Our reindeer dust was oats, sugar, and sprinkles! He measured out the ingredients and bagged them up for his siblings. 

My favorite part of our kindness activities included all the siblings, but was the most challenging for Rusty. The kids did a sibling Secret Santa exchange and we all headed out to 5&Below on afternoon to do their shopping. They each walked around the store to locate items that would be appreciated by their sibling. Rust had to focus so hard on trying to remember he was there for Olive (his Secret Santa recipient) and not himself - there were so many things that looked fun to him!! He chose a stuffed unicorn and a little clip-on stuffed ball for her carseat. Oh, how he wanted to buy things for himself but he stayed focus and would walk by things he wanted whispering to himself, "don't look at it. don't look at it." (hahhah). Meanwhile, his Secret Santa Violet trailed him listening to him the whole time and then bought the things he wanted! He was overjoyed to receive Violet's gifts on Christmas morning!

Unit: Winter
Lesson: Kindness

Books we read:
Rabbit's Gift by George Shannon
The Littlest Reindeer by Brandi Dougherty
Soft Enough for a King
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Language Arts:
Copying letters and "reading" the word
letter recognition (a, b, e, m)' 

Color by number Christmas coloring page
Shape drawing & naming shapes
Counting 1:1 and writing numbers 1-10
Counting ingredients for Magic Reindeer Dust

Decorating thank you notes with Christmas light strings design

Motor Skills
Wrapping a gift (estimating paper size, cutting, folding, taping)

Life Skills:
Selecting gifts that are within a budget for Secret Santa gift exchange
Patience (choosing gifts for someone else even though your really want them for yourself, waiting to open your own gift, waiting to give your gift to someone else)
Being grateful for beauty around you (neighborhood lights) and acting on that gratitude (writing & delivering thank you notes)
Speaking to adults (delivering thank you Christmas decoration notes)

Around Here Week 50: 12/12-18

Thursday, December 23, 2021

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 564+ hours  (of 1000)
Um, is it even December? What is happening? We had a handful of days that were 40+ degrees that makes farm chores so much easier, and outdoor-playing kids so much happier. So I will take it, but also - snow for the holiday please and thank you. I saw a funny tweet that said, "This December is not decembering like past decembers have decembered" and I laughed out loud. The goats were total brats one day this week and wandered back to the farm behind our house but then returned later in the evening (sorry, Maurer family! LOL) 

Reading The Bookwoman from Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson and I am absolutely loving it. I think Brandon is maybe getting a little annoyed by how often I keep talking about it actually (hah). I guess The Giver of the Stars by Jojo Moyes is very (very, eerily) similar to The Bookwoman and came out after the Richardson book. So, in support of the little guy - I chose to read The Bookwoman instead of Giver of the Stars and basically I'm obsessed. 

Leaning into parenting hard this week. Some weeks be like that though; a new lesson at every turn, tough conversations, working out emotions and feelings, doing the hard work of raising kids. Grey was struggling with an attitude on Sunday (after a two day solo sleepover at my parents' house) so I bundled up with him and we headed out to the wood pile around evening to get out that attitude with an ax and some logs (#oldschoolbaby). It definitely depleted some energy of his and then the logs were so damp that it became almost laughable with how little we could chop. So instead, we worked together moving the branches and trunk of one of the pines that blew over last week. They were heavy and tangled up so it was hard - but we worked together it got it all done.

Canceling screens one evening when the kids were just totally crappy and attitude-y. I knew they just needed to get creative and work out their boredom. They ended up playing Marco Polo in the girls' bedrooms with the lights off and having a total blast while I folded clothes and put the two littlest to sleep. At about a half hour to their bedtime I told that they could watch one show before bed and they said, "can we just keep doing this instead?" um, yes. thanks for coming to my TED talk.  

Christmas shopping online and sending all our packages to my sister's house addressed as "Studer Kids Christmas." Her delivery people must be shaking their heads at all the packages she's getting. Meanwhile, our delivery people who are used to the madness probably think our kids aren't getting anything this year - LOL. Thank you so much Kitty for taking on this huge job that saves my season from snoopy kids! 

Working on our reverse advent donation boxes. They are going great (I get a few more things each Walmart pick up) but Reddy in all his toddler glory keeps pulling things out and leaving them all over the house.

Meeting for our Q4 check in with You In Flood City. We caught up and had great food at Crow's Nest and laughed together about being women, and Netflix series, and kiln rooms (heh).

Experiencing a few minutes of sheer terror when Gemma was missing. In a weird twist of all the wrong things happening at exactly the rightest/wrongest times: Gemma thought she was left alone at the high school gym after a Varsity basketball game she was attending with her basketball teammates. (She walked out to see if we were there and then the doors locked behind her, so when she didn't come back in, it seemed like she was picked up) And then I was late to pick her up. And since it wasn't snowing or raining, Gemma figured - "well, I can just walk home, I guess." And she did. She walked a mile and half home at 8:45p by herself in the dark alone...she is NINE years old. So when I got to the school I was calling everyone trying to figure out who she was with last and if someone had taken her home and forgot to tell us. Her coaches drove back to the school worried sick and helped try to connect the dots and finally I said, "I really don't believe she'd get in a car with anyone, but honestly, I think she probably walked." They headed off toward our house and B was putting Liv in her carseat to start searching when Gem called to him from the yard, "Dad!" B said he felt like he had finally took a breath in that moment of hearing her voice. We had a good long talk about what to do if someone is late to pick you up with her and all the kids. And there went a few years of my life. HON.EST.LY. 

Receiving new plant babies! My plant mentor (heh) and dear friend Carli stopped by to drop off some plant babies she has been propagating for me. They are beautiful and I am so excited to add them to our collection of indoor plants. They make us all so happy (Brandon comments on the joy they bring to him often - LOL; enneagram 9 vibes). Thank you Carli!

Getting out just the two of us for a holiday party at my parents house. Miss Hannah came over to babysit and Grey had a sleepover at his cousin Caleb's house (thank you Heather!) It was so nice to be able to talk the whole drive over without anyone interrupting us from the backseat, then chat and laugh with grown ups, then head home to a house full of sleeping kids (well, except Rust per usual). The kids got to make an awesome gingerbread tree with Miss Hannah too! 

Stopping by the local firehouse to pick up our cookie platter from my students who are junior firefighters. It was so good to see them and they were so sweet and generous - they even gave us a firehouse tour and a ride on the fire truck! Rust had about three million questions for them (how heavy are your boots? what is the compartment for? when you fill up the air tanks? etc) and the girls were so patient with all his questions. I am so proud of them! 

High School theater fangirling at my students' winter show. They put on a comedic play called A Christmas Chaos and I was legit laughing out loud in the audience. They are so talented and fearless and again - proudest teacher. It was so wonderful to catch up with them during intermission (they asked me to come back to the cast area!) and afterwards. My kiddos are interviewing for colleges (one to MIT !!! So proud Tabby!) and making college commitments, and interviewing for scholarships, and working multiple jobs, and winning awards, competitions, and games. So dang proud for ever and ever. 

Sporting one basketball game for Brandon, two basketball practices for Grey, one practice for Violet, and an open gym for Gemma. Grey also did weight lifting one night and Gem went to the Varsity girls' basketball game (see above for scare of my life). 

Making taco ground beef over baked potatoes, homemade pizza, chicken/veggie/stuffing casserole, Pioneer Woman bowtie skillet lasagna (always a big hit), kielbasa and pierogies, crockpot creamy Italian chicken over egg noodles, and leftover clean out. Rusty and I had a cookie focused week of prek, so we made Spritz cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels, and Gingerbread! We had Sunday lunch at Gigi and Pappy's (spaghetti!) Brandon and I enjoyed more delicious Green Chef meals including roasted chickpea and carrot bowls, Baja cauliflower over rice, and Harissa spiced sweet potato tacos.

Homeschool PreK Week 17

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

I was excited at the prospect of being efficient with this week's lessons. Since I already had some baking to do to prepare for Christmas, why not let Rust in on the action because there is SO MUCH learning happening in the kitchen? He was actually pretty helpful as we weren't starting from zero because he (and all his siblings) help quite a bit in the kitchen already. 

It was my first time making gingerbread though and Rust was there for each step. We were laughing about smelling each of the spices and deciding which smelled the worst (molasses) and which we liked (cinnamon, obviously). Rust loved using the sprinkles and taste testing all of our creations (so did Red!) We learned a lot and got some Christmas preparation tasks knocked off the list. A win for everyone! 

Unit: Winter
Lesson: Cookies!

Books we read:
May I Please Have a Cookie by Jennifer E Morris
Bake, Mice, Bake by Eric Seltzer
I'll Wait Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff
Billie's Yummy Bakery Adventure by Sally Rippin
Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann

Cookies/Desserts we made:
Spritz cookies
Chocolate dipped pretzels

Language Arts:
Following directions: coloring cupcakes according to a list
Sequencing: putting sugar cookie tasks in order
mini book creation: Cookies, Cookies
highlighting all the letter "C" in mini book

Classifying & Sorting: ingredients vs. baking tools
Counting 1-10 using ten frames
Recognizing shapes and colors: to create cookies in card game
Counting cups and spoonful's of ingredients to make dough

Family and Consumer Science: 
smelling new smells: ginger, cloves, molasses
turning "stinky molasses" into yummy gingerbread! 
adding food color to dough for spritz cookies
how flour helps keep dough from sticking to hands/table
using oven mitts for hot pans
discussion: why we shouldn't eat a ton of raw cookie dough (because of the egg)
waiting to frost cookies until they are completely cool (and using a wire cookie rack)
solid chocolate melts to semi-liquid chocolate when heated up and then hardens again when cooled

Christmas Cookie coloring page

Motor Skills: 
appropriate pressure and motions using a rolling pin
using a spatula to carefully transfer cookie dough to pan or cooling rack
steadying a bowl with one hand while stirring with the other
using a cookie press
using a hand mixer


And then we had the perfect cross-over opportunity to lead into next week's lesson focus: kindness. 
I have quite a few students who are volunteer firefighters and they had posted a fundraiser they were holding to raise money for basketball hoops at the station. I ordered a cookie platter and pick up was on Saturday. We all went over to pick up the cookies and my students and the rest of the firefighters were so generous and sweet with our visit. We got a firehouse tour and got to see the trucks - and even got a ride in the truck! It was such an awesome experience and the kids were enthralled and had a million questions for the heroes. 

You wanna talk about kindness, well, there's no better place to start than people from the community who volunteer at the fire department. The people who run towards the fire while everyone else runs away. I am so proud of my students and so grateful that my kids had a chance to visit and be inspired by them. And we got a beautiful cookie platter to take home too! It was a great, great day!