Around Here Week 3: 01/16-22

Thursday, January 27, 2022

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

photo credit: Coach Ang

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 4+ hours (of 1000)
A real snowstorm blew through on Sunday afternoon and had us blanketed all of Monday and then even cancelled school on Tuesday! The kids were thrilled and snagged many hours outside sledding and building a massive igloo off the patio. My hours were from farm chores (frozen animal water is my hate language, is that a thing?) I did manage to wrestle Reddy into snow clothes a few times and even Livy spent some time in the snowflakes for her first ever bonafide snowstorm. 

Reading Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler and Free to Learn by Peter Gray

Insta/Facebook detox update: still really grateful for this time and space without them. I had to hop on instagram to message my prom committee once or twice and then hopped right off because it just felt like a wave of stress to see the scroll. I'm out of the loop on everything, but honestly it feels so freeing to take a breather. 

Oof, backing up on laundry. The washer was having issues draining for four days and let me tell you what that does in a family of eight. The literal mountain of dirty clothes and towels stacked up in the laundry room was not pretty, but....

Thankful for my handy husband who did a whole bunch of googling and youtube-searching and drained the washer twice to figure out what the problem with the washer was. He was able to determine that something might have been lodged in the drain fan/motor and when he checked - yep! One of the girls scrunchies had come apart and the fabric was twisted around the motor. He cleared it and it works again like a charm. Lucky girl I am! 

Accepting so graciously a frozen turkey from our church. It really happened in a moment that I needed it. I snuck off to church on Sunday morning while everyone was asleep and in his sermon, our pastor talked about how to have trust that what you need will be provided (the gospel was Jesus turning the water to wine). You can live your life worrying, "how will we make this work? there is not enough?" or you can look around you and notice what is already there and how you can trust and work using the good that is already present in your life. For the last few weeks, we've literally been wondering aloud "how will we make our life work? there is not enough!" we have so many kids, and the animals, and all our bills, and the grocery costs (good grief!) and after mass, I was walking out feeling really great about trying to make my new blog work (looking at what is already good and available in our life and making it work for us and trusting) and then doesn't pastor go ahead on the way out and say, "Hey, I know you have all those mouths to feed at home and we have a frozen turkey that was donated to the church. Would you guys be able to use it?" I immediately teared up and felt like it was such a sign to breathe and know that it's going to be okay. I had just written my first blog post on Team Studer Mom talking about how I want to try to make money blogging "so we can buy meat at the grocery store next week." Gosh, sometimes it's all too much I feel like my heart my tear at the seams. 

So annoyed by the goats. I know it seems funny and cute to stroll up to our house to find the goats hanging around and looking in our windows, but hate ta break it to ya- but goats poop a lot. So all that time they are spending on our porches means goat poop all day every day. B and Gemma are goat poop shoveling champions (thank goodness for them). You cannot look out the side windows without seeing a goat looking in and they've started actually knocking on the door. I literally live at the funny farm. After they slept up on our patio on the -8 degree night instead of in their warm straw-filled safe shed, I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a predator that they are hiding new investigation for the coming week!

Learning so much about the internet, websites, and all the things it takes to be relevant out here in the world wide web. Youtube has been a lifesaver for when I have no clue how to code something or where to place something - don't worry, someone on youtube made a video for dummies for that! (ie. I'm the dummy, hah). I am also eternally grateful to Abby Lawson who has pages and pages of 'click this, then this, the download this...' tutorials on how to start a blog that is monetized and your own. I literally would not have had the courage to take this step with Team Studer Mom if it had not been for her very-easy-to-follow (and free!) walk through (thank you Abby & Donnie!)  

Smiling at our 8month old little Olive princess girl. She's crawling, clapping, and screeching in communication with Red (haha, pterodactyl communication isn't quite my favorite, but its only a phase, right?....right!?). 

Losing all of our fish in the last three weeks. We must have had some kind of bacterial infection infiltrate the tank because ever so slowly, each fish slowed down until they died. It was bizarre and really a bummer since we've had fish in the tank for the past 13 years of marriage. Now we have this 50 gallon empty tank and need to make some decisions. B would like to restock with a bunch of tiny fish and I'd like to just put the tank away for a few years....hmmm, who will be the winner of this round of marriage compromises (hah). 

Zoom meeting with an incredible local organization (The Backpack Project) that I am going to be sitting on their advisory board. It is always inspiring to talk to people who are passionate about doing good and making big plans. 

Grateful that Reddy is getting more comfortable using his baby signs automatically. He consistently signs: help, thank you, milk, bath, all done, more, outside, and stop. And his vocabulary is growing a little bit - he says: mum, dad, moose, poop, hi, hello, bye, booboo, no, yes, shoes, uh oh, ouch, and juice. 

Sporting with basketball season in full effect. Violet had two basketball games, Gemma had one basketball game, two practices, and one exhibition game during the Varsity girls halftime (they even got to warm up and be in the huddle with the Varsity girls!). Grey had three basketball games and a practice. The winter weather cancelled B's basketball game on Sunday night. 

Making chicken wings with homemade sauce, pork roast & banana peppers in the slow cooker, homemade strombolis, salsa crockpot chicken, baked homefries with chili cheese dogs, beef and noodle, Korean ground turkey with green beans over Jasmine rice, buffalo chicken dip and copycat chicken patty sammies with homemade baked fries. On Saturday night, we had baked chicken spaghetti for the kids and chicken, broccoli alfredo bake for me and B. For desserts, I made cowboy cookies and iced oatmeal cookies (Brandon's absolute favorite cookie) and I made confetti muffins on the snow day for breakfast.
        Because of our super tight budget, I've been looking at my leftovers with a creative eye trying to come up with ways to re-use them to make something new and delicious. Plus, doing all the shelf shopping possible to make use of all the stuff we have already in the pantry and cupboards before automatically thinking of going to the store. It feels good to stretch my kitchen muscles...but also, geez - exhausting.

Introducing: Team Studer Mom

Monday, January 24, 2022

I've been blogging my own business over here for thirteen years - honestly just typing that seems hilarious and ridiculous. 13 years of my life I've been typing away at these keys tossing my voice into the void of the internet. 

Some of it was heard loud and clear and continues TO THIS DAY to bring new people here (hi, new people who found their way here from 25 Rules for Moms with sons or Beer Olympics!) 

And a lot of it made it to the 60 regular readers who either know me and my family IRL or have found their way here and chosen to stick around through all my boring, sporadic posts about whatever we were doing at that season of our life. (thank you for staying, commenting, sharing, and encouraging!) 

And now that I've taken a year off of teaching to stay home with the three littlest of our kids - we have made it to the point that we are getting financially in, stressed. Nothing major scary, but enough to make us feel uncomfortable. So I was really looking into my strengths and talents and thinking - what can I do maybe to earn a little extra money for our family. 

and all the people of the internet are like, "um, like start a blog and make money!" and i'm like <<eye roll>>. I have a blog, one that has been viewed 4+million times (thanks again mostly to 25 Rules & Beer Olympics - but still). I probably make about $65 A YEAR. because I don't own this site (thank you blogspot though for never letting me down), I don't have control over the weird internet things (keyword, SEO, meta description, etc), and I never started this blog to make money...I just wanted to catalog our life and spread some joy if possible. 

So it's been kind of frustrating the last few months (years?) when lots of bloggers are literally quitting their full time jobs because their blog is just making SO MUCH money. Like, come on. 

And then finally it felt like a tap on my should from the universe whispering ("hey you, dummy, you have content - start a blog that can make money")

So for the last few weeks, I've been working on a brand new site where I covered all the bases: I own the site! I have control over weird internet things and I'm learning so much (holy learning curve), and I'm trying to go into with clear goals of helping moms/parents and if possible make a little money too because um, six kids.

You can read my whole rationale here on my first official post called With grace, intention, and a deep breath . It will sound a little like this message but I know you guys here - so maybe less Tab-tab. 

I'm hoping to share my tips & tricks on intentional parenting: parenting on purpose (!) because it's something I really believe in and I hope parents can more easily find my words and go out and use them in a real way. 

I've also moved some of my better pieces of reflective motherhood writing to the new site - because honestly, they were just buried under the heap of internet over here...and that's not doing anybody any good. So things like An Open Letter to my First born Child , 10 Awesome but Rarely Mentioned Things about being a Mom, and Mend the Part of the World Within your Reach have all been moved over to the new site. 

My greatest hope is that you will find yourself at the new site and think to yourself: "Hey, I know this girl! I'm glad all the greatest hits and some new goodies are curated in easy to find place!" 

My biggest worry is that you - my favorite people; my loyal readers will find yourself at the new site and think: "ew. sell out." 

ughhhhhh. Honestly, I cannot tell you how I have really wanted all these years to believe that if you have good content, you put good things out into the world, and you stay true - the success will found you. And that's all true - omigosh, I have not given up on the good in the world (LOL). this blog has brought me so much learning, writing, and finding my own voice. 

And most of all - it has brought me t YOU!! But you, my loyal, beautiful, wonderful readers who check back here without encouragement or pushing. Who genuinely care about my kids, and family, and whatever weird things we are up to on a regular basis: I truly love you and cannot believe you choose to spend part of your days with me. I am so so grateful for all the comments, suggestions, encouragement, and love you have shown me over the last thirteen years. I'm not kidding, I actually freaking LOVE YOU. 

And I'm not going to stop this blog. From the start of it all, it was meant to be a repository for all the little stuff we are doing in our life through the years. Our own kids are getting old enough now to know how to navigate here on their own to look through photos and read back through posts I wrote about them and our family. And that's what I want it to be for. For those six kids who might want a deeper look into what it was like to grow up in our house. 

And I plan to keep posting here normally for my weekly round up posts and any other weird tab-specific ramblings that you all have seemed to come to enjoy (LOL, thank you for letting my freak flag fly). And also because our kids like it and will hopefully someday find their way here when I'm a million years old and be glad I chronicled the silly minutia of our life with all of us under one roof. 

In terms of my new site it's still me, I promise I will do everything in my power to not lost myself to all the internet metrics of "how to strengthen your SEO through these five steps" and "All the headings and fluff" and none of the real stuff. I just need my writing to be taken seriously in the potentially-make-money-for-our-family purposes and also (more importantly to me) that my message and writing gets out there to moms who might need to hear it. 

I could never thank you for supporting this little family blog for all these years. And if you choose to follow, re-pin, like, or share any of my new site - thank you!! 

Let's try on these big girl blogger pants (big blogger girl pants? blogger girl big pants? girl blogger big pants?) and take a swing at a new exciting (hopefully successful) adventure! eeeeeeek! 

I think I remember reading somewhere that if you're feeling a mix of scared and excited your doing something right. So, gulp, gulp, gulp. Here we go! 

No 100 small things for 2022

Saturday, January 22, 2022

At the prospect of a fresh new year since 2015, I have been creating 100 small things lists. They have brought ambition and focus to my years and I have loved them - honestly, that's the kind of nerd I am. A list-loving, big-dreaming, determined-to-do-all-the-things, ambitious nerd. 


this year, I didn't make a 100 small things list. and I feel good about it. I'm not sad or disappointed. I haven't even grown out of the list making; I hope someday to find my way back to that particular style of new year list goal making. 

the last three years have really been a whirlwind for us - I know for all of the world too - but in the last three years, we had both of our moms go through major health concerns, had two babies back to back, I took a year long leave of absence from my job, and um, the global pandemic too. 

it's been a strange path of scary, exciting, change, growth, and learning for all of us - definitely me. 

to highlight my sentiment - I was in the attic the other day grabbing the valentines' decorations box and was shocked to see how far I have lost control of the attic. 

Because not so many years ago, the attic was the one place in the house that was neatly organized and labeled. Mom was allowed up there and everything had a place and everything was in its place. 

Fast forward to being pregnant for two and half years with all kids home in a global pandemic lockdown and the expectations dropped way, way down for attic organization. It was more like - 
"what?! you have no pants that fit, child who grew overnight?! Go up in the attic and drag that box down and when I swap them all out, just throw everyone's grown-out clothes in this tub and shove it up the attic steps...I'll deal with it when I'm not pregnant and the coronavirus is over" 

LOL...when the coronavirus is over. 

Aaaaaanyway, when I was up there the other day stepping around the tub of shoes that one of the kids dumped out looking for a pair that fit in a last minute panic; I just shrugged and moved on. 

Because in 12 years of motherhood, I have FINALLY come to understand a very essential piece of parenthood knowledge. 

if you have kids who are not yet walking or talking - the mess and disorganization does not count. 

end of story. 
there is no discussion on this. 
you are in survival mode, baby. 

it's easy to forget that when your kids get a little bigger.  
heck, I forgot it until I had our last two. 
when you have kids who are not yet talking or walking - it is feeding times and diapers and naptimes and teeth coming in and another round of germs because you have a finger sucker, and growth spurts, and doctors appointments every three freaking months, and droopy necks to clean after every feeding, and all-the-things spilled, and good Lord the baths and lotions and wrestling into jammies, and the waking up in the middle of the night because of a zillion random reasons... 

who in the hell has time or energy to organize the attic boxes?!

plus we have the big ones which now translates to practices, and homework, drop offs and pick ups, and sleepovers, and playdates, and birthday parties, and hormones, and why.are.they.hungry.all.the.time !?

and then all the adulting on top of that: work, meetings, volunteering, paperwork, appointment making, bills, bank accounts, pets, dishes, laundry, grocery lists, meal planning, checking in with parents and friends, and watering the plants (hah, but for real, that's a thing). 

and don't even play when it comes to holidays - HAH. a whole new layer of madness. 

So as 2021 was coming to a close and I was gazing into the fresh new year, 
I took a deep breath and smiled. 
because although this is a chaotic, messy, wild life. 
it is a good, good, great, beautiful life. 

and more than anything, I need a dig out year. 
I need a take-it-easy-girl year. 
I need a reflect and look around and up year. 
I need to live right now in this present moment 
instead of making all the big plans for sometime soon but not right now. 

so in case you needed permission for that kind of year too - here it is. 
same, friends. me too. 

and if not and you are all "Let's go! 2022! New year, new me!"  - know that I am cheering you on and so inspired by you. Because there is almost nothing I love more than big dreams and plans to get there! 

it's just in my current moment, I am living the come-to-life big dreams of my literal seven year old self who married a cute boy and had six babies and a handful of animals. (self-fulfilling prophecy people!! also a real thing!) 
so I'm going to snuggle down into this life just as it is and soak it up for all its worth. 

Around Here Week 2: 01/09-15

Thursday, January 20, 2022

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 3+ hours (of 1000)
Ughhh, the goats are still hanging out on the porch which is super frustrating because of all the poop. Bullet is about 12 years old, so he herds them up like four times and a day and then is like, "nah, I'm good." Rust and I built up a little pallet playground for them in their pen and then stayed down to play for awhile. The whole time we were playing in their pasture - they were with us and then the moment we headed back up to the house - here they come. Anyone want to volunteer to just live in the goat house with them so they will just stay in their own area? K, thanks. 

Reading Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler and loving it so much. It's too beautiful and meaningful for me to really even talk about - I just read it and let it go down into my soul like hot tea and let it rest there. I'm also still chipping away at Free to Learn by Peter Gray. Also, just so so good. 

Signing up for Noom. I'm really enjoying it so far and feeling motivated. Also still sticking with GrowWithJo workouts and every workout I have at least a kid or two working out beside me! 

Grateful for more Christmas tree donations! Thank you all who have dropped off whether we were here to visit, you tossed near the mailbox, you dragged to the pasture (and sent a pic of the goats surrounding your truck - hah!), or you delivered for other people - THANK YOU!! The goats are loving eating them and the chickens are loving the extra roosting areas during the day! Grey and Gem built a little hideout with them and it's a big chicken hit (and Rusty&Reddy hit!)

Soaking up the cute squishiness of all the babies all day every day.

Encouraging Gem to be diligent with her vision therapy exercises. The is still going once a week and thank goodness for my mom who takes her to and from most weeks since it is about a half hour away and at 4p (ie. right around bus pick up). A little more than halfway through her sessions!

Slashing all the extra fluff from our monthly bills. I talked to Verizon this week to straighten out and slim our bill, postponed all our Amazon subscribe & save, and canceled random teaching subscriptions I still had linked to our credit card. 

Renting a trumpet for Gemma's fourth grade intro to band. It should be in by the end of the month and then....maybe ear plugs will be in order. 

Deciding on a venue for prom with the junior officers. Yay! The one big thing is done, now on to all the details and the fundraising event! 

Believing in myself and diving headfirst into a new project. I will be announcing soon! 

Visiting the skating rink as Vi attended the K-2 annual roller-skating party. I was cracking up at all the kids falling everywhere and parents just strong-arming them back to standing. I didn't rent skates because it's been so long and honestly if I would have fallen only one time I would be in pain for days!? Violet (and almost every other kid there) fell approximately 896 times. She had a blast and although I really, really hadn't wanted to go; it turned out okay. 

Sending Grey off to a bowling & lock-in night with the youth group at church. He was the singular boy (hahah!) but he had fun playing games all night with everyone. 

Binge-watching the entire season 2 of Cheer on Netflix. 

Crossing our fingers one last time for buck - but no luck. B and Grey spent the day in a mini-yurt with Uncle Jonny waiting for an opportunity but only to end up with some goofball memories (always the case with those three) and freezing themselves to the bones. 

Sporting with basketball & bleacher butt in full swing (LOL). Brandon had a game. Greyson had two games and a practice. Gemma had two games and an open gym. Violet had her first game and it was the most fun to watch! It is a league of first and second graders - they play 3v3 with 8ft nets. She is' a little aggressive hustler (just like on the soccer field) and the whole extended family showed up for her first game! She said, "I can't believe they all just kept piling in!" 

Making loaded baked potatoes, shredded chicken parm over noodles, taco potato bowls, sirloin tip roast in the crockpot with potatoes and carrots, ground turkey stirfry with veggies, breakfast for dinner (pancakes & sausage!), and sloppy joes with baked beans and mac & cheese. We also had dinner at Mimi's house with our cousins - we had a pizza party with buff chicken dip and brownies! 

Around Here Week 1: 01/01-08 2022

Thursday, January 13, 2022

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 1+ hour (of 1000)
We got our first real snow this week! Which made the kids all happy, but also meant frozen farm water which is extra work for the week (bleh). I mostly snagged my hours from farm chores and visits with friends who were dropping of their Christmas trees for our goats! Kids are snagging all kind of time sledding, so they already pulled way out ahead of me in hours clocked for the year (at least 2-3 hours ahead of me already!)  The kids also did their annual Undies run outside (#countrykids) where they run a loop around our stone garden out back with nothing on - no shoes even!- but their undies. They come in half laughing/half crying and it will for sure be a core memory of their childhoods. 

Reading and finishing Wonder by RJ Palacio. So stinking close to include it in my 2021 reading list, but alas - I already finished a book in 2022 already only one day in, hah! Then the kids and I all watched the movie together on New Years Day too. I am also reading Free to Learn by Peter Gray which is so good and a book I found through my 1000 Hours Outside facebook group. If you are hoping to learn more about free and risky play and how that can help raise up better, stronger, happier kids - please check this book out!

Fbook/Insta detox check in: week 1 and I'm feeling incredible. Gosh, what a relief it feels like to not scroll. Maybe I'm just feeling the honeymoon phase, but it really feels like a burden has been lifted from my days and I do not miss it AT ALL. 

Just smiling and enjoying this fresh beautiful, full of possibilities planner for 2022. I am a freaking sucker for all things office supplies - but top of the list is my planner. 

Accepting graciously Christmas trees for the goaties. Thank you to the families who brought their trees for our girls (the Stephens family, the Shellhammers, the Valentines, the Dails, and the Lasures) 

Chasing goats off the patio, as they have been spending all their days (and even some nights!) up on our patio. They are eating all my shrubs and English Ivy, pooping everywhere, and staring in at us from the sliding glass doors. The kids and I have a filled water gun sitting by the doors to spray them when we see them hanging out up here, or we let Bullet out to herd them - but they have been relentless. It wasn't until finally it snowed that they headed back down to their house to hide out. THANK GOODNESS. 

Listening to the We Can Do Hard Things podcast episode with Kate Bowler and it was so wonderfully beautiful - I even promptly then went and bought Kate Bowler's book Everything Happens for a Reason. Thank you for sharing Kitty! I also listened to this week's 1000 Hours Outside podcast episode with Teacher Tom and my mind is buzzing with ideas about a cooperative farm school. If you are looking to add podcasts to listen to - both of these are great options. 

Loving all the sister bonding going on over here. Gem and Violet have been very close the last few weeks and I love seeing their sweetness together (makes me think of my sisters, scf!) They make up dance routines, play babies & barbies together, and have been sleeping in the same bed for several nights in a row because they read books together and giggle before falling asleep. They (and I) are so lucky - there is not much better than sisterhood. 

Sliming down our monthly bills. After being home now for almost half the school year; we've made it to the point that we are starting to feel the financial pressure. So we took a hard look at our monthly bills and are making some serious cuts. Lots of things were easy choices: Green Chef, Stitchfix for B, Prime Wardrobe for me. We even made the jump to cancel our cable which everyone we have talked to says they didn't regret doing it. We are looking at our cell phone plans next! Happy to take any other suggestions that you might have! 

Working out with Grow with Jo. I just love her and she makes me feel happy and motivated to get up and move. Most days I have at least one family member doing her video with me, we all love Jo! 

Closing out the holiday season with Orthodox Christmas. As is tradition, the kids slept under the Christmas tree (the last of our decorations to come down) and received one gift from 'Orthodox Santa' which were sleds - arriving perfectly in time for our first big snow! 

Starting our winter puzzle. For the past three years, we have opened up a 1000 piece puzzle on our dining room and completed it slow and steady as a family. This year we got the Cozy Cabin puzzle and got started on our winter family challenge on Saturday night. The three oldest kids are super invested, Rust has even got a few pieces, but it still pretty challenging for him to figure out if something actually fits together. Red has to be monitored constantly because he likes to put the pieces in his mouth (ie. ruin them) and Liv is clueless that we are even doing it - hah. In the past years, we completed Mountain Paradise and Canoe Lake!

Reminiscing while watching Brandon's old game film with the kids. Gosh, I love that teenage boy's face (and by teenage boy - I mean my 20 year younger husband with the handsome face and kindhearted eyes that he still has today). Gosh, seems like yesterday and also a lifetime ago. 

Sporting in basketball mode. Gemma and Violet each had one practice. Grey had two basketball practices and one night of lifting. Gem had a basketball game and both Grey and Violet's seasons start next week. 

Making homemade pizza with the help of Rust & Vi, chicken tacos, pineapple meatballs over rice, KFC chicken bowls, and sheet pan kielbasa with fingerling potatoes, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. We also had haluski on Orthodox Christmas and on New Years day, Brandon made crab legs and shrimp. I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip muffin tops and some peanut butter cookies too. With leftover pizza dough, I made a batch of cinnamon rolls which naturally called for my grandma Helen's boiled icing, so I mad some of that too (Reddy was happy to lick all the mixers for me).