Olive Irene, 3 months old

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 My sweets, 

You are the epitome of all the things I love so much about babies. 

Your squishy cheeks
your sweet coos and goos and purrs
your absolute delight over making eye contact
your frogger legs pumping in excitement
those spit bubbles
the softest skin
your tight grip on our fingers
even your little cry/whimper when you are trying to get our attention

it's all just perfection. 

You are definitely a Studerbaby and we can see a little of your brothers and sisters in all of your features. I think you most look like Violet when she was a baby, but you have quite a bit of Rusty's chin and mouth too. Aunt Uch and Abba say you look just like my baby pictures which I will take that compliment any day of the week! I have been convinced that you are going to have red hair from the very first day you were born (maybe I'm just wishing so hard) but if I can finally get a red head after six babies - I'd be thrilled! (Your great grandpap had red hair and so do five of your cousins on my side!) More and more family members seem to see the red tint as you get older, so fingers crossed! 

You are also a chubalubba which is my favorite kind of baby (probably because that's the kind of babies I always have, hah). You have these deliciously thick thighs and wrists and the classic sack-of-beans butt. All my babies have been built like those Little Snoozems stuffed animals from the '90s (Aunt Uch had like 10 of them). It also means you are durable which is a good thing because you have a lot of kids running around you, picking you up, and holding you all the time. You are moving into 3-6 size clothes (although I do love that tight onesie look) and you've rolled over belly to back already. You smile and laugh - especially if someone is talking directly to you, and you like being around all the normal chaos and noise of our family. You love being held or in the baby carrier so you can be close to us and in on the action. 

You are an easy addition to a big family because- girl, you just go with the flow; eight hours at the football fields? - ok! Noise doesn't bother you (it's funny to see people surprised at how you sleep through all our big family loudness) but you startle easily from sudden unnatural noise (like from technology but not from the dogs barking). 

You are adored by every person in our family. I have no doubt you are going to be a bonafide spoiled little baby of the family but it kind of feels like you are going to rock that look - so whatever. 

Your biggest brother Grey loves to kiss you and show you off to all of his friends. 

Gemma carries you around like she is your momma, caring for you and whispering wishes into your ear. 

Violet likes to make you laugh and smile. She is delighted by every new thing you learn to do. 

Rusty will sit with you for as long as it takes to calm you down; he gives you bubbas, sings to you ("baby, baby, please don't cry. You look kind of sad, I can see it in your eye"), and will snuggle you until you fall asleep and he gingerly gets up and tip toes away. 

Reddy loves you and will never remember a life without you being my his side - he kisses you nonstop all day, especially if you are upset. He is so patient with sharing time and toys, I am so grateful that you two have each other. I hope you will always be two against the world (even if the world is me sometimes). 

Being the baby of this big family is going to be both a blessing and a curse. Spoiled to the ends of the Earth by 7 people is going to gift you a life of all kinds of luxury. Your biggest brother will be a junior in high school when you start kindergarten....and his football buddies already all fawn all over you - good grief, child. But girl, that's also going to come with lots of handmedowns and waiting your due diligence on getting the best seat in the car and on the couch. Lucky for you though, you have a pretty great line up of big siblings who are going to pave a reputation for you that precedes you and so despite having to deal with a million, "ANOTHER Studer kid?!" all the way up through your school years, that it will at least come with a smile and not a look of terror (hopefully! hah!)

I know you'll carve out your own personality and bring out something special in each of us that we didn't know was there - just as your siblings have all done too. You might be the smallest of the Studer Half dozen, but you are special and mighty and wonderful. It's not always going to be a smooth path (although, I'm sure your siblings are going to wear Dad and I down quite significantly). But don't ever settle for easy, baby. The best parts of life happen when things are a little tricky and uncomfortable. I am so glad to get a front row seat to watch you become whoever it is you are going to be, my babyiest Studerbaby. 

My Livy Lou, 
You are almost always the sweetest part of my day. 
You are honestly like a spoonful of sugar.
I can't believe I get to hold you and kiss you and snuggle you all day. 
I am so grateful to be your momma. 
Your smile will soften all the hearts of the world. 
I love you, cutie girl. 
forever and ever,
my sweets, 

Home Pre K week 1

Monday, August 30, 2021

As I am staying home this school year (eek!) I am tackling homeschool Pre-K with Rusty. He turned five in June, but because I believe so much in outdoor, free, and risky play - I was really adamant about him having another year to be home and wild and free before heading off to public school. B and Rusty agreed so here we are - home together but doing some important learning though too. 

To prepare, I did a lot of research on daily rhythms (hi, Waldorf, I love you), and really reflected on what we were all going to need to get us into a comfortable routine here at home. We have the two little babies (2 under 2!), the farm and house chores, and I'm hopeful that I can start taking some time to get my own soul a little recharging (writing, running, and reading). Once I figured out our rhythm, I knew I was not about to reinvent the wheel , so I looked into some secular homeschool curriculums and followed a lot of homeschoolers on Instagram that inspire me. I knew I wanted most of our day to be about free play, chores, and the outdoors with about 45-60 minutes of sit down homeschool. 

I really appreciated the Five Senses Literature curriculum; it was created by an OT mom which I purchased. It has various secular units that mostly line up to the seasons and include book lists for read alouds. The activities have all  been great jumping off points that I have been expanding on using my own educational background as well as lots of freebies from teachers pay teachers. I love that there is a main focus, but then within that we can practice all kinds of traditional skills (like language arts and math) but more homeschool bonus things like dramatic play and cooking. I also ordered the Good & Beautiful Handwriting booklet (Doodles & Pre-Writing Part 2). 

Unit: Autumn
Lesson: Apples

Books we read:
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
Barbie Let's Pick Apples Step into Reading by Random House
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Memory Verse
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. 

Language Arts:
I See Apples foldable book
Read aloud reflection on The Giving Tree
Descriptive words list (spoken while I wrote)
Name Letter sequencing

Apple Patterns
Apple seeds & ten frame

6 pgs of the Good & Beautiful Doodle Part 2 workbook

Apple stamping with paint

Sink or Float hypothesis

Physical Play:
Bobbing for apples
Picking apples
Cutting apples

And we had a great first week. Rust was a little cranky about doing homeschool on Friday, ("again!?") but once we got to the bobbing for apples he was all in. That might be a good thing to do each week - something really fun on Fridays as a little celebration to keep him motivated. He was also really proud to say his Memory Verse loud and proud for the whole family on Friday too. 

I'm feeling mostly hopeful and grateful for our daily rhythm. I has kept us moving through the day at a nice, steady, but comfortable pace. I don't feel stressed about getting chore done because there is time built into the schedule for it. It has honestly been such an incredible relief to wake up each morning and be able to see all the big kids off to school in the morning and then spend long days with the other three babies while taking care of our home and meals. It's like I can't even believe I don't have to rush through the day to try to tie all the ends together (for real blowing my mind every single day). I am so so grateful for this decision - even though it was a hard one (I love my students!) and a scary one (8 people on one income!) but it was definitely the right one. 

Around Here Week 30: 07/25-30

Monday, August 9, 2021

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

photo cred: Becky

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 340+ hours (of 1000)
We had a long morning at the Que with my friend Lisa and new friend Chelsea (both mommas who care about raising up outdoor-risky play kids!) We swam and played and snacked. We also went to the drive ins with our cousins on Friday night to see Jungle Cruise (very good actually, I was surprised by the plot twice!) 

Reading and finishing The Book of Dreams by Nina George. I don't know how to adequately describe the book, my feelings were love so much in the beginning then the middle got a little dark and twisty-turney that I started to feel upside down under an iced over river, and then I loved the end so much. 

Church 'shopping' with the big kids. We have been doing a lot of discussion at home about attending mass and Olive hasn't been baptized yet. Between covid and busyness it has been so long since we have attended church and it has been weighing heavily on my heart. Brandon and I were both raised Catholic and we feel connected to the church and teachings but mostly in this is what we've always known sort of way. I have always felt more spiritually connected with kindness and karma and community and giving in a broader sense. I'm still (at nearly 38 years old) figuring out my spirituality and beliefs, but I do know I want my children learning about those things: kindness, community, giving, karma in the sense of getting out of life what you breathe into it. I cannot tell you the struggle it is to try to get my family inspired, encouraged (threatened) to get up and moving on Sunday to go to mass. But, there is a Lutheran Church only minutes away from our house where we have family and many of their school friends attend. So the two biggest kids and I attended their outdoor mass on Sunday morning (outdoor mass! already a win!) The sermon was beautiful and we got to chat with friends and family afterwards and it was so close, we weren't even late (imagine!)

Decluttering our bedroom and closet. We filled about 8 garbage bags full of stuff. We have clothes going to the attic to reassess in July 2022 and clothes that went straight to the garbage bin. I pulled out some stuff to send to my sister who is expecting and then a ton of maternity stuff to go to the Women's Health Center that my sis Kitty delivered for me (thank you!!) We limited our clothes in our drawers and closet; it is so much more manageable and not overwhelming to look at. We put all the kids' stuff up in their memory boxes (art projects, report cards, birthday cards from family members, photos, etc). As everyone in the history of ever have always said (it's true), just removing the clutter lifts a weight off my mind and soul. On to the next room! 

Checking on Olive's little couch/mucous trapped at the Peds office (again!) She now has some blocked tear ducts - poor little thing; she looks pitiful but she really doesn't seem to mind her mucousy sounding cough nor her blocked tear ducts. Her lungs are perfectly clear though so she is all good. 

Cheering on USA at the Olympics! 

Sending love to Pappy and Gigi who celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary this week. They also took the four bigs to swim for most of the day on Tuesday which was such a blessing to me as I was not feeling well. I was able to spend the day slowly getting chores done while letting the two babies get a good long nap in too. (thank you!) 

Giving the farmette lowdown to Kitty who will be pet caring for us while we go away for a few days. She got the run through of how to care for our whole crew: dogs, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, and goats (!) She is on Rover if you ever need her! (thank you and love you Kitty!) 

Having a sleepover at our house! I promised Violet & Rust that they could host their cousins for a sleepover before summers end - and eek! It's coming pretty quickly. We had Brookie and Bennie over and the four of them played and ran around like bandits. At football practice that night, Gemma negotiated a sleepover at our house with her friend Cora (she's a sweetheart) and then Grey was like - what!? so he and the Conn twins negotiated their own sleepover at the twins' house where their momma Becky agreed to a hike to Yoder Falls the next morning to catch crayfish (!) best mom ever! (thanks for keeping your bonus Studer kid - hah!) 

Giving Red lots of hugs and kisses as he tripped over a pillow and slammed his face off the floor. Busted his top lip wide open and it was fat for 2 days! 

Feeling the stir of hunting season excitement in Grey and B. It is prep season and Grey has spent time this week setting up trail cams, checking memory cards, and texting on my phone with his dad and uncle.

Getting our electric checked. As B has been working on finishing the back porch, we need some electric tie-ins for the ceiling fans and overhead lights. My dad got us introduced with an electrician Mike (we now call him Electric Mike, hah) and they went through to check all the breakers and boxes and make sure everything looked good. Well...it didn't!? The breaker to my dryer was heating up (very very unsafe). I was so grateful that we found that issue and then even more grateful that my Dad purchased the supplies and fixed it for me the next day so I was only out of a dryer for about 16 hours (THANK YOU!) Electric Mike also helped us discover that our outdoor outlets are connected to an indoor switch - can you believe we didn't know that for 10 years of living here and just figured almost all the outdoor plugs were bad. Electric Mike for the win twice!!

Back Porch progress: Brandon and his Dad finished the soffit on Friday (yay!) and Gemma and my Dad went through the outlets to update them all and make sure we had all the switches correct in the house so they'd work (what a tedious job!) Gem loved working alongside Chum and learning some new tools - she is so helpful and really thrives off of apprenticeship type learning. 

Scheduling appointments: chiro and eye doc for everyone. 

Packing for our Poconos family getaway!

Fall Sporting with the first week of practices. Just our footballers practiced this week. Grey had four practices and Violet had three. The whole family goes most nights, Rust practices with the majors, Gemma plays with her friends, and Red and Olive hang out with me at Violet's practice. Gemma also had her basketball open gym this week. 

Making homemade pizza dough (seriously my go-to when we are low on groceries), instant chicken pot pie, walking tacos, and chicken nuggies. 

Things I've made out of zucchini this week:  zucchini cookies with cream cheese icing, zucchini roll (like pumpkin roll, but zucchini), Mexican zucchini skillet for dinner

Around Here Week 29: 07/18-24

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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

Intentional Hours Outside: 321+ hours (of 1000)
Thankful that we got a trampoline again (thanks Abba & Chum) because the kids literally use it every single day. Grey ran a few football drills with Vi and Rust this week (LOL) and we got a swim in at Pappy and Gigi's house one afternoon. The kids and I met up with Kayla and Bryan to walk the Jim Mayer trail and it was beautiful and relaxing - even while saving all the centipedes (hahhaha, we actually call it the centipede trail!) 

Reading The Book of Dreams by Nina George and still really enjoying it even though it's pretty intense towards the middle/end of the book. 

Applauding (and thanking!) Uncle Juice who took all four big kids for 10 hours on Tuesday! He picked them up in the morning and they had all kinds of fun with him - the movies! the Ferndale Jubliee! a trip to the playground where Uncle Juice played tag with them! eating at Main Moon! stopping for pizza and ice cream for dinner! He didn't bring them home until 10p and they all poured back into the house sufficiently exhausted and repeating again and again that Uncle Juice is the best ever. (this is facts). 

Talking with my principal about the upcoming school year. I have been making myself sick thinking about the school year and childcare for the last few months. I love my students and teaching (especially my seniors this year!!) but I also look at Olive and then look at Grey and wonder how childhood happens in blinks. Plus, financially with three kids in daycare/preschool I would basically be working full time (and running around like a maniac for drop off/pick up) just to pay for childcare. And with Covid last year which meant kids at home for virtual learning /quarantines which meant we needed someone to be home....so much of last year felt like a juggle to try to figure it out for our kids - OUR KIDS, literally the most important thing to us. So, I'm staying home this year. It is the right decision, I know deep in my heart, but that doesn't make it the easy decision. 

Letting the girls go for major imaginative play when they asked if they could bring moss in the house for their Barbie house. I knew it'd be a huge mess, but also appreciated the creativity. So I reminded them they'd need to clean it all up, but okay. They ended up making a whole backyard area complete with some flowers and even brought in some mulch and more flowers to decorate the front of the house too. It was a HUGE mess, but they did clean it up (after 4 days of playing Barbies a ton). 

Meeting up for ice cream with Miss Nell and her family at Kraus's. It was so nice to catch up and introduce Olive to Miss Nell. The kids - as usual - loved sliding on the tube slides and it was a perfect evening for ice cream and chatting with friends. 

Welcoming Lucille the Studermobile into our hearts. Brandon and his dad rode all the way to Erie (3hrs one way) on Friday morning to pick up our new-to-us 12-passengar vehicle. Then they turned right back around and rode the whole way home! The kids are totally obsessed and already claimed out "their" seats. She is giving me big nostalgic vibes from SU volleyball when we use to travel in vans exactly like her to away games (miss you SUVB girls!) We are still keeping Sheila so that I don't have to haul Lucille all around ton, we just need her when our whole family travels together - and she'll have her first big chance to shine next week when we head to the Poconos for a few days! 

Moving the crib to the girls' room. Since we have a 2 month old (Olive!!) Gem helped me move the crib from the boys' room to the girls' room to get it ready for Olive's overnight switch from our room in the bassinet to the girls' room. We are so close to making the switch - she's sleeping about 7 hours between feedings at night (yay!!) Red now officially has the bottom bunk, although he's been sleeping in our bed most nights for the past week or two. At the fifth baby, we are like whatever. All our kids had such different experiences with bedtime that we know whatever Red is up to right now is a phase.  

Peer pressuring our friends and family to take some of our zucchini - hahahhahahhahahahaha. I have been making all the things too - I shredded 4 cups for winter and I've made chocolate chip zucchini cookies and zucchini brownies. Greyson keeps saying, "MOM! you can't make zucchini everything!?" oh child, watch me. 

Making intentions during the full moon. My parents had a little cookout at their house and my sister Kitty led us all in a full moon intention and chakra guided exercise as the full moon rose into the sky. It was so good and the kids love participating in all of Kitty's witchy stuff because she's the greatest and actually does have some magic in her blood I think. 

Sending kids off to sleepovers, as has been our summer standard this year (lucky us!) Grey had a sleepover with his buddy Josey. Josey's grandparents have a pond so Grey was over the moon to go fishing all afternoon. Violet got a sleepover with Chum and Abba (my mom's first since the accident, so keep up the good work mumma - we are proud of you!) She got to go swimming and golfing with Chum and all the other kids (especially Rusty) are now anxiously awaiting their turn for a Chum & Abba sleepover! And although not a sleepover, Gem had an awesome day at Delgrosso's amusement park with her friend Amiyah riding rides and splashing in the water park and making up dance routines like those two always do. (thank you Rosie for taking her!) 

Finishing the boys' room. B helped me get through all the boys' clothes boxes and finally finish that project. Then we kept going with decluttering the whole room, limiting clothes items in their drawers/closets, and deep cleaning. The room is so easy to clean and they have a ton of space to wrestle and play mini basketball - they love it! (me too!!) B was motivated to participate so I think I might have him on the decluttering hook! He ended up doing the whole kids' bathroom on his own while I was feeding the baby later that afternoon! woohoo, let's keep it going! 

Sporting with fall sports equipment pick up! eek! it's here and I can hardly believe it. Grey got his #8 jersey for majors football, Gem got her minors cheerleading uniform, and Violet picked up her #3 flag football jersey! B will be coaching Grey's team and I am NOT coaching cheer for the first time in 3 years! I'm pretty excited about and so thankful to my co-coach from last` year who is stepping up since I have all these babies to occupy (thanks coach Leesha!!) We will have a kid in all three levels this year, which means on game day we will be at the field for at least six hours (gulp). I ordered this tote bag which will be my supply bag for the season! 

Making sloppy joes, pancakes for breakfast, homemade pizza dough pizzas, and some Omaha Steak meals: beef stroganoff and Shepherd's pie (yum!).