Around Here Week 6: 02/07-13

Monday, February 22, 2021

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  2+ hours (of 1000)
So cold and snowy! But the kids are doing great. Gemma had a sled-riding birthday party she attended where they pulled the snow tubes around behind the snowmobile (most fun ever!) and Violet had a playdate with a friend that they were able to go sledding. Grey taught Rusty how to shovel the snow off the porch and sidewalks and Rust was so proud to be big like Grey. 

Reading and finishing Legendborn by Tracy Deonn and also finishing The Companion by Katie Alender. Both books were borrows from my thoughtful students who share their favorite recent reads with me. I borrowed Legendborn from my student Lily and really loved the creative, meaningful twist on the King Arthur/Knights of the Round Table stories. So good and interesting and leaves you hardly waiting for the next book. The Companion was a borrow my student Cali and was spooky and had me trying to guess the whole time what was going on. I had a lot of guesses (they were all wrong) and the book was sufficiently creepy enough to keep me up half the night just to finish it and find out the truth. It was one of those books that the main character has some blackouts (like Woman in the Window or Girl on a Train) which always makes ME feel like I'm also having blackouts - LOL. 

Excited about getting our first green chicken egg! We have one Easter Egg layer and she finally started laying this week! This great news as that means the other girls we got at the same time should start laying too. We've been down to very low egg production the past few weeks from a combination of winter daylight hours (lowers production), some older hens slowing down, and our newest girls not ready yet for laying. But we are so excited not only about green eggs (and ham, hah) but also to have more regular eggs now - we've been using them sparingly to make sure we can get through the weeks! 

Giving elbow bumps to Gemma and Violet for being so good at handwashing and drinking out of their own cups this winter season. We have been doing so well with no regular sicknesses this winter (thanks in part to virtual school for MP2 and also all the sanitizing thanks to Covid), but all three boys took a beating this week with runny noses, sore throats, and general tiredness (very much sinus infection signs). Brandon and I got hit with it too, but Vi and Gem were good - so I figured they must be doing better at the handwashing/germ precautions than the rest of us -good job girls!

Smiling about how sweet Rusty is with my baby bump. He is truly the kid who is most excited and thoughtful when it comes to the prospect of a little sis. He never fails to wish her good morning and good night and regularly asks how his baby sister is doing in my belly. He is just the sweetest sweetheart sometimes, especially when it comes to his role as a big brother. 

Prepping for Valentines day at school. The little gifts I got for the kids (from Oriental Trading) arrived this week and the kids got to work writing out their valentines and packing them all up. I was lucky to find free printables in the theme of each of the kids' toy gifts on the internet (win!) so I just printed them on colored paper card stock and we went with it. Rust had squishy sharks, Violet had stretchable glitter horses, Gemmi had squishy cats, and Grey had mini skateboards. 

Swooning over Peter Kavinsky and Laura Jean Covey. The third TATBILB movie was released this week and don't you know this little baby girl nugget woke me up with insomnia at 3:07a on release night. So - I stayed up and just watched it. hah! The girls watched it on Friday evening (fast fwding through the two parts that are a little sexy) and they loved it. I literally reminded Gem about it coming out and she immediately started squealing and doing chores so she could watch it immediately. 

Cracking up about guinea pigs on leashes. 

Amazed at Red and his ball handling skills. I know I said this before, but this kid! I swear he is starting to actually dribble. At 10 months. I'm in awe of his freakish-ness. 

Enjoying a mostly quiet night at home on Saturday when the big boys got to have a sleepover with Chum and Abba. (thank you!) What a huge difference in noise level it makes to be down a kid or two - especially when the kid or two are Grey and Rust! 

Winter sporting with one game and on practice for each Grey and Gem. Gem is really starting to understand basketball now and so fun to see her get aggressive and make adjustments so that she can do her best. She's starting to see passes now and she's been getting a lot of steals (and bruised knees/hands) and tons of rebounds. Grey is still doing great and his passing has been stellar - we love his inside looks to his buddies and they are all trusting each other better on the court - just like they do on the football and baseball fields now. And B had a CT football league meeting this week for next year where we spilled the news that I will not be coaching cheer this year because too many baby-babies (hah). 

Teaching with 2hr delay schedules mixing up my classes and one called off day (because Red was home sick). Spanish 1 started watching Ferdinand the movie to finish out their bullfighting unit (so cute and even the big kids love watching it). Spanish 2 finished the Which Way Home Documentary and read chapters 1 and 2 of their novel Esperanza. Spanish 3 learned about the imperfect past tense in Spanish and turned in their Cereal Box Preterit-o's projects (they are so cute!) I found a very cool Imperfect vs. Preterito Maze worksheet on Teachers Pay Teachers that was a big hit with the kids and really helpful in figuring out how to choose which tense based off of context. Spanish 4 finished up their La Dentista Choice board projects. 

Making all kinds of yummy snacks for Superbowl Sunday (mozzarella sticks, soft pretzel bites, jalapeno popper dip) plus B ordered wings from Tulunes because he and Grey would not have survived without wings for the game (lol). Later in the week, we made copycat Zuppa Tuscana with homemade breadsticks, crockpot chicken over biscuits (homemade biscuits!), crockpot Hawaiian meatballs over rice, frozen pizza and buffalo chicken dip. B made a really yummy General Tso's sauce to put over popcorn chicken and rice to celebrate Lunar New Year (year of the ox!), and on Saturday night for dinner, since it was just B, Gem, and me - we had Valentines dinner with crispy shrimp and Brussel sprouts because none of the three of us know when enough shrimp or Brussel sprouts are enough. 

Around Here Week 5: 01/31-02/06

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  2+ hours (of 1000)
hey! look at me, I got outside this week! Hahaha, again - we keep track of MY outdoor hours because it is the lowest out of everyone else in the house (#momprobs) and if I have at least this time, I can guarantee everyone else is smashing my time. The kids and I bundled Red up in snow gear that was way too big for him to give him a try on a sled, and he hated it. hahaha, like thoroughly hated it. 

Reading Legendborn by Tracy Deonn and really getting into it! 

Bundling up in the winter weather with two snow days and a two hour delay this week. The kids were thrilled to stay home from school - we make them still watch the news to see if they have any winter weather updates (even though we receive school texts) and it is so fun to see that childhood joy of getting the day off on their faces. And then we had to roll our eyes at 'ole Punxsutawney Phil who saw his shadow and is predicting 6 more weeks of winter for us. ugh. 

Kissing the chubby cheeks of this little 10 month old baby we got over here! Red is growing faster than any other baby we've had (I swear time is speeding up with each child!?) and makes us all so happy and squeal all day at how stinking cute he is. Spoiled rotten, that one. 

Participating in a zoom call with other 5th grade parents to plan for the promotion event coming up at the end of the year for our kids moving up to middle school! eek! I'm helping with games for the promotion party and already started sifting through old pics of Grey and his friends through the years. Oh boy, brand new baby and our oldest leaving the elementary school - pack the dang tissues, this is going to be a sobfest (LOL). 

Getting teeth checked at the dentist for Dad, Rusty, and Mom! Only Grey left to go (his appt is in March) and the whole family will have that biannual task checked off the list! 

Figuring out a virtual day for the big kids when they had a a few too many cases of Covid at the elementary school. Violet headed to work with Dad for the day while Grey and Gem spent their virtual learning day at my parents house (thank you Abba and Chum!)  This school year is just beyond ridiculous with the covid, the winter weather, the quaratines....just call it at this point - LOL, that's honestly how I feel some weeks!

Receiving my order from Flood City Stitch (etsy shop) I ordered a hat and scarf cowl and I'm so pleased with them. They are so cozy and exactly what the weather is calling for over the next few weeks. Thank you Karlie (insta page) (Also, #61 on my 100 Small Things List

Winter Sporting with 1 game for GemmiRo and 2 games and a practice for Grey. 

Teaching virtually when we had TWO snow days this week (flexible instruction -FID- days) and then one 2hr delay day! It's been weird. I also managed the junior class fundraiser event on Thursday during periods 3-4 while all the juniors sold cookie dough in a 59 minute fundraiser to raise money for the prom. They did so good and I am so proud of them! Spanish 1 is finishing their bullfighting unit including watching an actual bullfight and a writing assignment. Spanish 2 worked through Esperanza pre-reading activities while Spanish 3 finished out Preterito verbs and received the details for their Preterito's cereal box project. Spanish 4 read more of our graphic novel; Sr. Wooly's La Casa de la Dentista. 

Making homemade stromboli (including the dough! SO YUM), ground beef stroganoff, chicken and gravy in the crockpot over mashed potatoes, spaghetti with meat sauce, bbq pulled pork sandwiches. I made some buttermilk blueberry cake for lunch on one of the snow days. We also made snow ice cream and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. 


This article is included in Twinkl's ‘Get up and Walk’ campaign, and is part of their article Some great ideas for ‘Get up and walk February

Around Here Week 4: 01/24-30

Monday, February 15, 2021

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 1+ (of 1000)
LOL. same.

Reading Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. We had our Project Lit meeting at school and we got our two new books and now I'm dyyyyyying to get started on those - but first...the other (at least) 2 books I borrowed from students first! We had a great discussion on our first two Project Lit books: Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson and Stamped Remixed by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi. So grateful for that club and my fellow advisors/teacher friends that lead it. We got our two new books (we have to do two this time because we got READERS who buzz through the books too fast). Next up are Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian and Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe 

Finishing our annual winter puzzle with ONE PIECE MISSING. honestly, it's an annual tradition at this point to complete the puzzle and have a piece completely disappeared; lost among the children and the pets and the chaos and the mess. 

Sending everyone back to school this week. The two little boys finished out their quarantine and headed back to preschool/daycare on Wednesday. 

Seeing our baby girl on another ultrasound this week. Just checking in on her to make sure everything is going well, there is a small calcification in her abdomen that we are monitoring but she looks fine and my amazing, kind midwife cousin says to not stress about, so I'm not! Next on the schedule is my last four week appointment (before the bi-weeklies start!) my Rhogam shot (ugh, o neg bloodtype maintenance), glucose test, and another ultrasound at 32 weeks! Moving right along! 

Preparing for the 100th day of school with Violet. We counted out 100 pieces of rice - LOL. it was the most pathetic-looking collection ever. So then we also counted out 100 plastic spoons and she took both of those in for the school display. 

Smiling at Red's affinity for balls that reminds of so much of baby Booboo. Just like Grey, Red only ever wants to play with balls and has awesome hand eye coordination already. He chases them all over the house, stares in awe at Grey and Gem playing basketball on the kitchen mini hoop, and can be calmed at any time to just put a ball within reach - even dryer balls can be used in a pinch (lol). 

Missing B on Saturday as he was working as a guide at High Ridge Hunting preserve at their winter jambo which starts at 6a and goes until after dinnertime. We figured it out logistically (5 kids and multiple basketball games and a sleepover), but it's always easier when we can work together to divide and conquer. 

Studerbabies farming it even in the winter. Well, actually I do very little for the outdoor animals because of the snow/ice and this baby bump. Brandon and Gem have done most of the (literal) heavy lifting all winter to take care of all of our girls. Winter months are rough because of the freezing water and the only thing that animals need really in the winter to survive is water and, it's twice delivered (at least) warm water to the animals down over the hill from the house (because all the hoses are unplugged for the winter so they don't freeze and burst). The goats have continued to enjoy and appreciate all the Christmas tree deliveries we received (thank you!) and our shed has held up great to house all the hay and feed for eating and the straw for sitting/laying. Eggs need collected often or we lose them to being frozen (they are far less laid in the winter because of limited daylight). And the goats are so hilariously cute with their extra thick hair. It's been a huge learning curve and lots of times an added chore to our already way-full plates - but we also love it still. Next up - making plans for our garden this year! 

Winter sporting with one basketball practice each for Grey and Gem and they each also had two basketball games this week too. B had a meeting with the football league this week and I signed up Gem, Violet, and Rust for spring soccer and finished up the sponsorship letters that need sent out for the baseball season. 

Teaching Spanish 1 the intro to our bullfighting unit including vocab words and a KWL chart about bullfights (so interesting their questions they have before we learn about it!). Spanish 2 started the pre-work before reading their next novel, Esperanza which included watching one of my favorite documentaries, Living on One Dollar (which is currently on Prime!) It's such a great movie to watch with young people to get them reflecting on their own life and how many things we take for granted. We have a conversation before watching it about $1 a day sounds do-able to them (so, just don't buy a vending machine snack today!) but actually it means taking ALL the things you and your parents/guardians spend money on all month (mortage/rent, gas, phone bills, groceries, wifi, etc) and then divide that by 30 days in a month and THAT cost has to be only $1. Yeah...shocking, but that's how millions of people living in extreme poverty live all over the world! After the movie we talk about Kiva and my experience on a mission trip in Honduras when I was 16 and how one little boy changed the course of my life (much like Chino from the documentary). I really love this unit in Spanish 2! Spanish 3 is conducting Super 7 interviews in the Preterito tense and Spanish 4 is reading La Casa de la Dentista graphic novel while completing writing in a circling guide. 

Making homemade french bread to go with the chili my Dad dropped off (thank you!), instant pot roast and potatoes, Korean beef and green beans over rice, broccoli and cheese soup with homemade bread bowls (SO YUM), teeny weenie wraps with shells & cheese, and we got take out burgers one night. I also made a batch of no-bakes and B always laughs because we only ever have cookies in our house for the single day that they get made. They can barely cool before they are gobbled up (which is also why I only ever bake cookies, rarely buy - unless it's Girl Scout cookie season....which it almost is!)

just be real for a minute.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

 this has been so crazy. 
we are getting through it, but gosh. 
it is literally just barely getting through it.

the full time teaching in a pandemic
the 6th pregnancy with our current 5 kids
one of which has been a snot-nosed, miserable (not sleeping) 10 month old
Sheila on the fritz and about ready for the junk yard
the cold and snow and ice and delays and snow days
the covid and masks and restrictions
the quarantines and virtual school for our own children
the laundry that never ends and smirks at me from hampers and bedroom floors
the schedules and games and homework
the pets and bills and chores
the making dinner every darn night.

I fully recognize that I am putting all my hope eggs into a singular basket called
"it will be better when it's warmer and this baby comes out and we can all be outside in the sun for the whole day"
....and honestly that's probably not going to make everything better,
but right now it feels like if we can just keep treading water until then, we'll be okay. 

in the mean time these are the things giving me life: 

  • kneading (and eating) all the homemade bread I've been baking
  • coffee
  • my pregnancy pillow
  • all.the.books
  • my planner 
  • hot showers
  • baby#6 kicks
  • chocolate chips eaten by the handful
  • my handsome husband's face and kind, supportive words
  • dreaming of how we can make things be more balanced next school year
  • and these five kids; each in their own individual wonderful, weird, beautiful uniqueness

to all the everybodys out there thinking, 
OMIGOSH, this is insanity
and i'm burnt out
and exhausted
and frustrated
but still grateful and hopeful
but gosh, this is crazy.

I say: 
same my friend. 
you are not alone. 
i am in here with you. 
this be cray. 
but we can do this. 
one foot in front of the other.
find the small moments of beauty and hold on to them for dear life. 
let each small joy get you to the next one.
even if it's just a handful of chocolate chips
and a microwaved coffee
march on, dear friends.
the kids are watching us
and learning how to persevere. 

Around Here Week 3: 01/17-23

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 1+ (of 1000)
Nothing new for me, but the kids are loving the snow and really enjoying two new-to-us sleds we inherited from my coworker Mark (thank you!) All four big ones can handle getting snow-dressed by themselves (parenting milestone and blessing!) and so when they want to go out - they just do. It is honestly liberating. (granted, I have two more kids to get to that stage, but that doesn't start until at least next winter, so whatever). 

Reading with too many books going at once right now. I started Legendborn by Tracy Deonn after my student Lily borrowed it to me (thank you!) and then my student Cali lent me The Companion by Katie I put my other books on the back burner for now until I can get through those two. I love so much that my students know I like to read so they are always suggesting books and asking for suggestions. Some of my favorite conversations in school are when the students and I nerd out to talk about books we love. 

So grateful for Rusty who was honestly made to be a big brother. He is so good with Red. He is patient and kind and helpful and wants only to make him laugh and love him. All day he pretend fights monsters in front of him while Red watches with wonder and awe at the flips and sound effects and cool moves. Rust reads books with him and will always occupy him if I need a minute to finish up a chore without Red hanging on me. 

Happy for Violet who got a special cousin night at the snow tubing park! Cousin Tausha snagged Violet to go night tubing at Seven Springs and she had so much fun (it was her first time!) Thank you Taush! 

Laughing because otherwise we'd cry, right? We prep to send the kids back to school for Tuesday and don't we get a call from the daycare on Monday that Red needs to quarantine for 10 days for close contact. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. So it's another week and a half of figuring out who is with the kids during the work day! B worked from home, went into work at the sunrise and made it back in time for me to get to work on the 2hr delay day, and then Miss Hannah came for half a day. I took off on Friday to stay at home this week all in an effort to try to make it work. We just kept Rust home too because it was honestly easier than also trying to squeeze in drop off/pick up at the daycare for him too among all the other madness. 

Clapping and cheering and tearing up on Inauguration day. YAY. That firework display was literally the craziest thing I've ever seen and for a good 30 seconds I worried that the actual Washington Monument was going to come crumbling down. Thank goodness though it didn't and the fireworks blew my mind and yay for progress for all. SO MUCH WORK TO BE DONE, but at least pointed in the right direction. 

Transitioning back to in-person learning with elementary school kids. Digging through the backpacks and making sure everyone remembered how to wake up and get dressed again was a fun exercise after a whole marking period of virtual learning. Thankfully the kids' school is awesome and they provided us with back-to-in-person-learning checklists of what the kids needed to bring, updated calendars, special schedules, and lunch menus. The kids are excited to go back (masks, social distancing, sanitizing again) but I think they're grateful to be their own person in their own grade with their teachers that they've missed. We had chocolate muffins for our bus driver (best one around! We love and missed you Rob!) for the first day back too. 

Getting the girls teeth checked. They had their 6month appointment on Friday and we were laughing about how they barely had anything to clean for Violet since she's still missing those two front teeth! Gem might need a filling or two - but they are also baby teeth, so kind of hoping she just loses them before her appointment in March (hah!) Aunt Kitty came in clutch when I called her last minute on the way to the appointment and she took the three boys so that we didn't have to figure out what to do in the car because of covid-visitor restrictions (thank you!!)

Puzzling. We started our annual family winter puzzle this week and whew, it's a doozy. We got a 1000 piece with a mountain/stream/cottage painting. The thing about annual puzzle week is that everyone gets kind of obsessed. Grey and I were on a crazy puzzling roll on Saturday night when we were literally just picking pieces up and magically knowing where they would fit. We were laughing hysterically and talking about just tossing them into the air and seeing if they'd just fall into place that's how on puzzle-fire we were. I know - Saturday gets wild around here. 

forever cursing about the difficulty of changing bedsheets on bunk beds. 

Relaxing and recuperating after the kids' first week back to school with family movie afternoon on Saturday. We watched Safety on Disney. We love ourselves a feel good sports movie! 

Winter Sporting with two games for Grey with his CT team while Gem had a practice and a game with her CT team. Covid rules are that the kids on the bench and all spectators have to wear masks, but no masks while playing for the athletes. Both of our kiddos are happy to be on the court again! 

Teaching 3 days this week because we had an ACT 80 day on Monday for MLK Jr Day and I took Friday as a flex day to stay home with the two quarantine boys so B could go to work for a full day this week. On Monday, I had planned for our Staff potluck meal (theme: comfort food) and I took apple pie dump cake in the crock pot a la mode. The rest of the week, Spanish 1 started their class stories for Somos 5 and Spanish 2 finished out Somos 12 and took their personal belongings vocab test. Spanish 3 is still learning preterite verbs but got to play the dice game and verb triangle puzzles. Spanish 4 officially started reading La Casa de la Dentista graphic novel! 

Making noodles and red sauce, pork roast with sweet pepper sauce, beef taco salads, chicken cordon bleu pasta, baked turkey and cheese hoagies (kid fav!), and bacon/garlic spaghetti.