Around Here Week 7: 02/13-19

Monday, February 28, 2022

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

snow squall! 

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  7+ hours (of 1000)
Oh boy, the weather this week has been so wacky. We had cold and snowy, then some warmer days that I was able to strap everyone to me (hah) and get outside, to an actual snow squall (phone emergency alert and everything!) The snow squall was actually crazy - complete white out and even knocked our power out for a few minutes. I am just really looking forward to spring, sun, and more outdoor hours with the babies. 

Reading and finishing How to Blog for Profit without selling your soul by Ruth Soukup. I feel like I really learned so much that I just had no clue about after 13 years blogging...wild. Really insightful, helpful, and definitely worth the read! Also still reading Free to Learn by Peter Gray and We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Celebrating 'spirit week' at farm school (I crack myself up!) We had a Valentine's party and dress up inspiration for each day of the week. Wednesday was picture day - so I had each 'student' sit for a little photo shoot!

Grateful that Brandon remembered to bring his girls flowers for Valentine's Day because Violet has been talking about it non-stop for the past week! She would just randomly give us the countdown on how many days "until Daddy brings me flowers for Valetines." Hah! She was so happy when he had them to give her at the bus stop that afternoon. Daddy brings flowers for all his girls (me too!) and all the boys get hugs and kisses from me - plus one flower from my bouquet. We are lucky to have the cutest, funniest, little valentines. 

High fiving Gemma who graduated after 18 weeks of vision therapy at Keystone Vision Development Center. We had a great experience and she learned so many new skills and techniques to continue as she moves through school to support her vision and especially reading. Dr. Nora Conway was amazing; if you are local and ever considering vision therapy for you or your child - I'd be happy to talk about our experience and suggest KVDC

Crossing our fingers that the goats are secure! B finished hanging the extra high wire and with the extra Christmas trees lining the fence (thank you to all who donated!) the goats have been staying inside their pasture. THANK GOODNESS. My poor landscaping might never recover, but I'm naturally hopeful so here's looking at you spring and the magic of nature! 

Finalizing the junior class prom fundraiser and feeling so proud! They did awesome and what a relief it is to know that we will be able to organize and purchase everything without having to do any more fundraising! Woohoo! 

Tending to Grey as he battled through a virus. He was down for three full days of school; sleeping, sore throat, and fever. He is naturally prone to bloody noses - so his nose was out of control for those three days too. Poor guy - but by Thursday night, he was back to teasing his brothers and sisters and we knew it meant he was perking up again. 

Smiling at Liv who does the 'snoots' face. Gosh, she is one freaking cute baby. 

Sporting by watching the Superbowl on Sunday night at Pappy & Gigi's house (since we bailed on cable!) Gemma had 3 basketball games this week while Grey had 1 basketball game and two basketball practices. He also got the opportunity to go to a pitching clinic with TJ Adams from the Phillies (!). Thank you to Abba for signing him up and going with him and to the Conn family for transporting him after school! And I signed three of our kids up for the upcoming AYSO soccer season this week and agreed to coach Rusty's team if they needed me! Woohoo - bring on the spring sports (and spring weather!) 

Making kielbasa and haluski, shrimp alfredo, "triple threat" mac and cheese (it just has chicken and sweet corn in it too), Hawaiian meatballs in the slow cooker, and homemade pizzas. My fairy godmother and dear friend/cousin Heather dropped off dinner for us on Wednesday - Spaghetti bread boats (delicious!) and lunch for the next day because he is an angel (thank you!!) 

Around Here Week 6: 02/06-12

Friday, February 25, 2022

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 6+ hours (of 1000)
With a couple of sunshiney days that was warm enough that I felt like bundling up the two babies wasn't going to be overly difficult. When we go for walks or play outside right now, I have Wells in the front carrier, Olive in the backpack carrier, and then by the end of the walk - I usually am carrying Red on my hip. I am so daydreaming about warmer days that I can just lay a blanket outside for the babies to crawl around on and we can all just be outside! 

Reading How to Blog for Profit without selling your soul by Ruth Soukup, Free to Learn by Peter Gray, and We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Handyman hubby to the rescue AGAIN with the washer motor getting jammed up. Good grief.

Weightlifting in the basement. Grey was so excited to get handmedown'ed Pap's old weightlifting bench and weights. Hey - if he's going to be pumping iron instead of expending that energy on tormenting his siblings? I'm going to go with a big "Heck yes!" 

Laughing with my sister about spirit week madness at public school and then making up a spirit week for the farm school babies for next week. I'm sorry I think I'm so funny, but honestly I laughed for like thirty minutes. I made print out papers and everything for our spirit week and Valentines Party. 

Struggling with these goats - honestly, B and I are both ready to lose our minds with the goats getting out of the fence and pooping all over the patios/porches. With 14 acres to free range, why are they so obsessed with us!? (please tell me you said that in Regina George's voice) B and Gem spent many hours down at the pasture constructing another row of wire above the 4ft fence and hippity hoppity Polly and Jojo literally do not care - out they jumped even over that! 

Creating the girls' class valentines. I used Canva to create an easy, foldable mini card and we filled snack bags with some Lucky Charms. Easy and delicious! 

Decorating heart cookies with the kids thanks to a sweet (literally!) delivery from our dear friend Miss Janell. (thank you!! they were delicious!)

Learning how to do so many new things on the internet because of Team Studer Mom. And while I really do love all the mind growth and expanding my abilities, some days I feel too tired to learn one more thing (hah). I've watched so many super specific youtube tutorials that it is almost comical. Thank goodness for random youtube tutorial accounts who make super specific skill videos! You truly can figure out how to do any possible thing on youtube.

Holding the prom fundraiser with the junior class at school. I spent Friday morning in the auditorium hyping up the students in their 59-minute popcorn fundraiser. They really did a great job and I feel so much relief after seeing their enthusiasm and knowing we are going to be okay for prom planning this year. Love those kids. 

Sending prayers and love out to our local hockey community after learning of a teenage player who died from suicide this weekend. It prompted an important conversation with my two oldest kids about mental health, and speaking to someone when you feel overwhelmed, and how nothing is so big that we can't talk about it and find a way out. Please moms&dads - have the hard conversations with your kids. 

Sporting with Violet's last basketball game of the year- she had so much fun this season! Gemma had two practices and Grey had two basketball games and one night of weight lifting. B had a basketball game too! 

Making ham in the crockpot and then using that ham all week (breakfast side and making a big pot of ham pot pie! Thank you Chum & Abba for the ham AND the recipes!) We also had sloppy joes with mac&cheese, homemade pizza for national pizza day, baked church picnic chicken with potatoes and veggies, and spaghetti with meat sauce. 

Gemma Rose, ten years old

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

 My Gemmi, 

I can't think about you being ten because it makes me feel like I can't breathe. Ten! The last time you can do your whole age just on two hands. gulp, gulp, gulp forever. What's actually ridiculous is that no one in your life treats you like you are only ten. Ten is nothing for how mature you act, for how empathetic your knee-jerk reaction is, for how you care for your younger siblings, for how you carry yourself in public. 

But I know my Gemmi Ro who likes her fluffy pillows and likes to twirl to Justin Beiber songs and who still likes to snuggle on the couch while we watch cheesy chick flicks that we can tell within the first two minutes which characters will be kissing by the end. I know my Gemmi Ro who still wants to talk about her dreams while she's half asleep at the breakfast table with her hair in every possible direction while eating 17 bowls of cereal. 

My Gemmi Ro is ten and it both swells and breaks my heart. 

At ten, Gemma, you still love playing teacher and being the boss of everyone while also giving everyone encouragement and gold stars and all the books checked out of your pretend library in your bedroom. You love trying on outfits and putting on fashion shows for us while giggling and acting like you think it's so silly when literally everyone can see that you are obnoxiously gorgeous. I love that you have no clue, but also honey - it's okay if you have a little clue. I don't know how to make you see it, I hope it never matters that much - but I am a woman in the same world you live and I also know that it does. So I guess actually, I hope it never matters more than anything else. You are so incredible in so many ways that have nothing to do with your beautiful face, please Lord how I pray that you will always know that. 

You are our serial cereal snacker as you sneak bowl after bowl of cereal throughout the day. You are our best eater in terms of trying new things and we've made it to the point that the food that Dad and I could normally eat without any kids trying to steal our food (brussels sprouts, shrimp, hummus, etc), you will show up asking to join us and sit and chat too. You ask about our days, you are thoughtful in your actions, and genuinely want to learn how to be more helpful around the house (learning about farm chores, ironing, cleaning, etc) You are a homebody and love when we don't have any practices or games because coming home to play or just chill with your family suits you just fine. 

You like looking up hairstyles to try and I know you are secretly putting mascara on every morning before school (child, why do you think I'm dumb?) You finished 18 weeks of vision therapy to graduate (!) and Dad and I are so proud of you for all your hard work to get through sessions and homework. We've noticed a big improvement in your own confidence in yourself and you are now doing homework with almost no help from us, unless you are really confused. That's a huge change and I am so excited for you that you have so many strategies to lean into when you need it. 

You are a three sport athlete; cheer, basketball, and soccer. You love playing basketball best of all and play up with the fifth and sixth graders which pushes you to work hard enough to earn your spot. You are physically stronger than a lot of girls at your age and you say that you love being tall (you are 3rd tallest in your class and only about 4 inches shorter than me now!) but never want to be "skinny." Oh my darling, how much I love that you appreciate your body and it's strength. Yas, Queen. 

You are a friend to all but not really best best friends with anyone. Your best friends change depending on the sport season and I kind of love that. You do have a special friend who is a boy and even though you technically aren't "allowed" to have a boyfriend until you're 14 (because that's when I started dating and also what's actually the point of boyfriends/girlfriends before then?) you and this one boy are very good friends and so supportive of one other - truly. You talk and aren't weirdos around each other like most boy/girl friendships at this age and it makes me so grateful to know you two have this special bond. Maybe forever, maybe just for now - but I do know that it is very important and meaningful to you in this moment and I am so grateful to hear about every tiny detail. Please always know I will love to hear about the butterflies, and smiles, and inside squeals of all the things lovey-dovey-gooshy-mooshy because I am a romantic and girrrrrrlllll, don't even play.

We are very, very, almost scary similar Gemma; you and I. At least once a day, Dad says, "Do you know who that is?" after you do something and the answer he means is me. Your aunt Uch asked me the other week, "So how is it for you to be raising your exact self?" It is partially great to feel so connected to your feelings and reactions; sometimes it feels like I'm just watching old videos of myself at your age.
But my darling, hear and know this: you are not me. 
You are you. 

And I don't want you to think you need to be me; that you need to do anything I did, or dream my dreams, or follow in my footsteps at all. I see so much of me in you, but you know what else I see - someone better than me. 
Like by a lot. 
So don't do what I did because you think we are the same. You do what is in your heart - because sweetheart, you are incredible. I can't wait to see all the ways you are going to be exactly YOU and crush it.

Ro, I am so so proud of you. 
I know the road does not come easily for you but you put on the best freaking front I've ever seen. No one knows that you struggle, or work so darn hard, or sometimes just want to be a ten year old and not the example of behavior that literally every adult that interacts with you expects you to be so that all your peers will have a role model to emulate. 
but babe, I know. 
you have a soft place to land, here at home.
in my arms. 
it's hard to be the example. 
but we also all need you to be one too. 
and you can handle it. 
you are so talented at inspiring others
and pulling them up 
it's astounding.
I cannot believe I get to be your mom.

My darling Gemmi Ro, 
who has always been trying to grow too fast -
even when you were a tiny 10 month old walking all around our house
I do not care at all how much taller you get than me, 
I do not care how beautiful you continue to become
I do not care how sassy these next few years might make you
I do not care how weird, dumb, awkward, or sus you might think I am
I do not care how mature everyone else knows you are
I do not care how grown you think you are. 
You are my baby. 
still and always my baby.
forever and ever. 
i love you gemmi rose, 

Around Here Week 5: 01/30-02/05

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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

Groundhog Phil says 6 more weeks of winter!

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 4+ hours (of 1000)
Another cold week and lots of farm chores that got me at least in the fresh air for a few minutes a day. I am very very bad at dressing appropriately for cold weather, so it is not my favorite. Someday when I don't have tiny non-walking babies, I am going to do better about cold weather outdoor time. Luckily though, the kids are blasting past my outdoor hours - so at least that's a win. 

Reading Free to Learn by Peter Gray and We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez. 

Celebrating mini winter holidays. We ate Chinese food and talked about our individual animal zodiac based off the years we were born for Chinese New Year on February 1st. We watched the groundhog predict the weather (six more weeks of winter!) and we had got a snow/ice day called off of school on Friday! Plus, it was our cousin Brookie's 6th birthday, so we got to celebrate at her house! 

Checking in with our financial advisor for our annual call.

Dipping my toe back into social media after my January self-proclaimed moratorium. But honestly, I don't think I'm ready to cannonball back into the madness. It is really overwhelming and obviously distracting and I'm just not finding it that fun anymore. bleh. 

Nerding out over the 1000 Hours Outside FREE kick off packet that my sister printed off for me because we both have a little bit of an obsession over it. It's so so good and I strongly implore you to print one out for you and family immediately and get yo butts outside this year! hahaha. but for real. 

Taking winter as a time to rest and recupe, just like nature! I'm really focusing on trying to get my nighttime and morning routines consistent. I know that sleep has been a struggle for the last two years (since I've been pregnant or caring for an infant), but now that Liv is sleeping through the night - I want to get my sleep habits cleaned up because I know that will effect all other things positively (motivation, mood, energy, weightloss, etc) I seem to feel best when I can get into bed by 10:30p, read for 15-30 minutes, and I'm asleep by 11p, then up around 5a to get started with my day a full hour and half before anyone else. It doesn't work that way everyday, but I'm trying to stick to that schedule as best as I can. 

Trying to shush that terrible voice in my head, you know the one - that tries to convince us that we aren't special, or worthy, or good enough. I liked this TEDX talk from from Catherine Reitman. It helped on a day that I was feeling particularly low in confidence this week. 

Rage cleaning two areas that have been driving me nuts. I tackled the laundry room coat rack because all through winter, everyone hangs their coats, hoodies, and sledding gear on the hooks until they are barely balancing and the room is so packed with stuff. So I pulled everything off the hooks and re-organized and put things back in places that they actually go. Whew! What a relief it is to be able to just find coats in the morning for school! Then I pulled everything out of the girls' closet because sneaky Violet had just been tossing her clean clothes in there and shutting the door when she was supposed to be putting them away properly. And sneaky Gemma hasn't hung up clothes on hangers in weeks and has just been throwing them over the bars in there. And plus I needed to flip Olive's clothes to the next size up (9 months!) So, I held the girls hostage in the room until we were able to get the whole thing was cleared out. 

Patching up Olive after she sliced her finger open. In a house of six kids, half of which are boys - it's not uncommon to randomly find tools hiding in places they don't belong. Well one of our boys had found the box cutter knife and must have been in a hurry to hide it and decided to throw it under a dresser. Olive found it while crawling around when I was folding clothes and sliced her pointer finger. She cried for maybe 1 minute and then literally didn't care despite bleeding all over everything she touched. I called our cousin who is a nurse and honestly debated whether to go get her stitched up. But Liv was calm and happy. So, imagining the trauma of sitting in a waiting room for possibly hours followed by holding her down for them to put one or two stitches in it, only for her to probably chew on and rip them out....that just was too much. So we made sure it was clean, put Neosporin on it, wrapped it up, socked her hand so she could keep crawling, and she was happy as a clam. The boy responsible for the tool was devastated and cried and hugged her a million times. We had a good long talk (for the tenth time) about not playing with things that aren't yours - and definitely keeping dangerous things out of reach of the babies. #bigfamlife 

Sporting with one basketball game for Violet, two games and one practice for Gemma, two games and a practice for Grey and one night of weightlifting. I got all the baseball sponsorship letters shipped out too! 

Making meatball sub sammies, honey chicken and lo mein noodles, ground turkey taco pasta, and broccoli & rice soup with garlic knots. On our snow day, I made homemade biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. I also made banana drop cookies for dessert one day.