Redland Adams, two years old

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

 My Reddy, 

My babiest boy is two years old and it both breaks and fills my heart. You are getting so independent and funny, but (just like every other toddler) so curious and testing all the limits. You have me swinging the gamut of motherhood within the span of a day: laughing, exasperated, exhausted, charmed. You, my sweet boy's boy, are successfully following in your brothers' footsteps of breaking all the things in our home, especially your momma's poor heart. 


You are so cute that it is actually dumb and everyone comments on it. Something about your teeny tiny body and head walking around with the confidence of a teenager with that white blond hair and sly smile makes people swoon (me too). You have the sweetest chuckle of a laugh. You love pockets in your pants (it's just too much when you stand with your hands in your tiny pockets!) and you have started putting your hands on your hips when you want to make a point - it's too precious! 

It has taken you a long (LONG) time to talk. You are only now just starting to get out words that are decipherable, even though you've been understanding us for so very long now. It's a good thing you're number five, because otherwise I may have been worried about your speech progression, but I know now you just needed some time and patience to get there. Your body development went so fast (walking at 10 months, kicking, dribbling, catching, throwing, jumping so early) that your other skills needed plenty of time to play catch up. I have loved the opportunity to learn your secret language and growing with you in ways to communicate that aren't verbal. 

You are a go-go-go kind of boy but you will stop in your tracks if I pull out a picture book. You love sitting on my lap and reading all the books, otherwise it is full speed ahead; running, jumping, playing all the sports all the time.

You love chocolate milk in your bubba and you sign for it by tapping your middle finger and thumb together. Your favorite foods are salad, fruit, and breakfast sausage with ketchup. Most of all, you like being outside and let loose into wild freedom. You find ways to occupy yourself, usually just copying whatever Rusty is doing. You love using sticks as swords, trying to play sports (basketball, soccer, golf, and football) and chasing after the chickens and ducks. When you help with farm chores it is always a negotiation to get you to leave the farm, we have to promise you we will be back down later. You still suck on your fingers to self-soothe: the middle and ring finger so your hand is always in the sign for "I love you" while you are calming yourself or sleeping. You take a nap every afternoon (at your own request; sometimes going up to Booboo's bed and laying down with a blanket all by yourself). 

You are a true Covid-19 quarantine baby and it is most clear in the fact that your favorite people are the people that live in your house. You have only just started to tolerate other people (LOL). It takes quite a bit of kindness, graciousness, and above all patience to win you over and those family and friends who have done that over the course of the past two years (literally since they've known you) are now finally getting to see all the incredible silly, wild, passionate soul that bubbles under your untouchable exterior. It takes a big effort to get you to trust, but once you do - gosh, how lucky it feels to be considered one of 'your people,' 

You love each of your bigger siblings endlessly and know without a doubt that they would be willing to bend heaven and Earth if you simply asked. Rusty is your right hand man and (bless him) he is always patient and generous when you want to do exactly what he is doing with exactly what he is doing it with (ie. Spiderman, a sword, a soccer ball). Grey is everything you hope to be when  you get big. The way you already idolize him is wild and so much of you reminds me of your biggest brother when he was your age that I often feel like I fell back through time. You have the same mannerisms and interests as Booboo did; it is truly dizzying some days. 

You are just starting to realize that Livy can potentially be a playmate and it is both delightful and hilarious to you. I can't wait to see how the two of you continue to bond as you grow up. So thankful you two littlest ones have each other. You absolutely adore your baby cousin Wells; the way you dote over him and try to include him in you and Rusty's imaginative games has me smiling everyday. 

One thing is for sure though - you are your momma's baby, Red. It's been like that even from the very start, Bubie. You and me trying to figure out how we are going to work through a challenge together. 

there you and I were -  heading into my only c-section of six kids - and in week 3 of the full lockdown of the covid-19 pandemic no less. You came a week early of our due date because of fear of a prolapsed umbilical cord. 

there you and I were - you at 2 weeks old, strapped in the baby carrier in our bedroom as I bounced you back in forth while typing up my 12 page research paper to finish my teacher certification program.

there you and I were - you at 5 months, as I looked at my positive pregnancy test and said in a disbelieving whisper, "but I already have a baby."
there you and I were - you at 13 months, getting in some last snuggles as the baby of the family before I headed off to the hospital to have your baby sister.

there you and I are - figuring out how you can be both a baby and a big brother; you are so helpful and patient with me and your baby sister (such a good big brother it is truly astonishing!) but we also figure out how to make sure you get your time in my arms and on my lap and how often and how much you get to be the baby too

there you and I are - working out our own secret language and understanding so that you can communicate even when you aren't ready yet through words. You come over, look me in the eyes, and patiently say, "momma" and then take my hand and lead me to the thing you need help with

there you and I are - squeezed up close in bed together every night because you startle yourself multiple times a night and need comforted to fall back asleep

there you and I are - figuring out how you can be both a big boy and a little brother; you are so independent and capable but we also figure out how to help you understand you aren't big enough to do all the things your big brothers and sisters do (how grateful I am that you have such generous and caring older siblings)

So I'll take this momma's baby phase for as long as it lasts. I love being the one you seek out when you are proud, or unsure, or excited, or worried. I love being your favorite person in the whole wide world. I will always be there for you, even if I'm someday not the first person you are looking toward. I will always be looking towards you, my darling.

you are such a gift to my life; to my mother's heart.
I love being your best girl in the whole world for now
you are certainly my best babiest boy in the whole world;
my littlest guy
love you forever bubie,
even when you get so big
(and even if I'm not always your best girl in the whole world)

Around Here Week 20: 05/15-21

Friday, May 27, 2022

What is like to live in our home just this moment when the baby girl has her first birthday! (gulp!)

photo credit: Heather

Intentional Outdoor hours: 176+ hours (of 1000)
We had a fully beautiful week here in western PA and soaked it up as much as possible. I don't know who loves our Agnes swing more - me or the kids. I really love reading down there under her shade while I can hear the farm noises nearby. 

Reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow and honestly, I'm only 1/4 of the way through and it's making a real push to becoming one of my top favorite books OF ALL TIME. This part had me teary-eyed with all the feelings in my writer's heart bursting: 

"It is just a story. I have written it anyway, for two reasons. First, because what is written is what is true. Words and their meanings have weight in the world of matter, shaping and reshaping realities through a most ancient alchemy. Even my own writings - so damnably powerless - may have just enough power to reach the right person and to tell the right truth, and change the nature of things. Second, my long years of research have taught me that all stories, even the meanest folktales, matter. They are the artifacts and palimpsests, riddles, and histories. They are the red threads that we may follow out of the labyrinth." 

Squeezing in all those end of year events. We attended Gemma's spring concert on Monday night and then she had her second field trip this week too - the fourth grade went to Lincoln Caverns! She also got to play her trumpet with the fifth grade band members at breakfast this week and she's thinking of continuing to play and practice into next year too! We returned our chromebooks and chargers back to the school and we've made it to the under 10 days to countdown until summer break!

Getting our windows officially measured for the window update project. It will still be several weeks (months?) until they get installed - but the ball is moving!

Wishing my baby sis Uch a happy birthday!

Sending deep loving prayers of peace to a local family who experienced a heartbreaking and devastating tragedy. 

Chaperoning Violet's field trip to Everett Railroad. We rode out to the train station (Hollidaysburg), boarded the train (vintage and old-timey, so fun!) and took it to Roaring Spring where we had lunch in their central park (with ice cream too!) and then got back on the train to head back while the beautiful spring PA scenery passed by. The kids all had a great time and I loved being there with Violet. She's my least 'needy' kid; by which I mean she's independent, happy-go-lucky, and straight up DGAF. Since the quiet wheel rarely gets serviced, I feel like she's the one I need to be most intentional about spending one-on-one time with. At the end of my time, it will be Violet's name in my power of attorney box. She's very "it's not personal, it's business" and I really love that about her.  

Getting creative and brave. I put out my Studerbabies farm & free play idea into the world of facebook this week - I meant for it to be a 'soft' share for my friends and family who have heard me talking about it to get their feedback, but then it got shared wider and I was so happily surprised by the overwhelming support. (thank you all!) I really would love a place for our own two babies to go in the fall where they spend most of their time outside and it is play based, but that doesn't exist where we live. And a dear friend, Amber Roxby (hi!), said to me this week on the train field trip, "you could always solve your own problem." and although my sisters have been encouraging me for literally a year, and Brandon being supportive of my constant ramblings, and Loni and Kate Turner breathing support into our conversations together. It really took a hard talking to from Heather;"it's not doing anything making the dang flyer and not sharing it?!" and then Amber saying it exactly in those words on the field trip this week that finally gave me the courage to just get it out there. (thank you everyone for loving me and supporting me).

Celebrating Olive's first birthday! We had a "Berry Sweet" picnic party at the Quemahoning family recreation park and it was perfect. The weather was sunshine and nearly 85 degrees so the kids were overjoyed to go into the water. How grateful I am for Olive's godmomma Heather who worked alongside me all week to make sure we were ready for the party (love you!) Heather brought pulled pork from Dickert farms (amazing!), I brought baked beans in our travel crockpot, Abba made pasta salad, Gigi made creamy coleslaw and it was just right! I also made the strawberry shortcake from this recipe and it was a huge hit (I actually doubled the recipe and stacked another shortcake on top of the iced cake). Olive had so much fun walking all over the place in her strawberry outfit and absolutely loved being down at the beach with Reddy playing weird little toddler games together. 

Spending a very lazy, wonderful Saturday at home. Gem spent the day with my parents, and B took the other three biggest kids to swim at the Valentine's house (thank you!) so it was just me and the two littlest babies at home. While they napped, I mowed and stopped for breaks to read on our swing and in the hammock. We played on the back porch on the new water table (thank you Heather!!) and it was so peaceful, slow, and full of toddler/baby joy. It was so soothing to my soul. 

Sporting Grey had three baseball games; two for his team and then he played up at 14u for one when they were short a few players. Gemma and Violet each had two soccer games and Rusty and I had only one this week. I am so very grateful that Red and Olive are so easy-going and just travel to everyone's fields mostly happily. As long as I have some snackies packed in the diaper bag and a ball to play with - they are honestly pretty good and I know I am very lucky for that. Grey had the all-star sanction baseball try-out, he did well and snagged a spot on the team. B played QB for the teachers and staff team vs the seniors on Thursday at North Star. They had a lot of fun and he had a great time reminding those young kids he still had a few snaps and tosses left in his old man body (hah!). He also had a football meeting with the CT Varsity coaches & volunteers on Sunday night. 

Making pizza rolls in the air fryer, Pizza with taco meat and ranch on top, slow cooker cream cheese tacos, burgers on the grill, and sloppy joes. Abba made us lasagna for dinner on Monday night (thank you!) and after a long evening of games, Brandon picked up takeout pizza. 

Keto check in - up 1 lb from last week which just makes my head spin since all my clothes fit better and I feel better. I don't know anything about anything is basically what I continue to realize in my life (LOL). Shrimp stirfry on the Blackstone, burgers with fried egg on top, cauliflower take out pizza, and egg-roll-in-a-bowl. 

Around Here Week 19: 05/08-14

Monday, May 23, 2022

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

outdoor baby, LOL

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 149+ hours (of 1000)
Spring sports, eating outside, time in the hammock reading or snuggling kiddos that roll in and out and time at the farm. We scored big time hours this week and I am hungry for summer days of eight to nine hours outside for childhood, wildhood freedom. 

Reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow. Just got started this week, but liking it already. So beautifully written! 

Feeling cherished on Mother's Day. My mom and dad surprised us by coming to mass which was great since the kids participated too; Grey even read! Mum and I each got a little potted flower! Then, I got to read outside on the porch with my coffee (heaven) and we spent a lazy day outside all together. B had a lunch date with his momma and he came home so happy and contented to spend some one-on-one time with her. It was a perfect holiday.

Really pleased with our Red Rider wagon (thank you Wells for my mother's day/Tia gift!!) It is perfect for transporting kids, folding chairs, diaper bags, blankets, and whatever else the kids threw in the car to the soccer and football fields. I'm kind of obsessed.  

Loving all my yard flower bouquets. I have mason jars all over the house filled with beautiful kid-picked dandelion, blooming tree branches, and other assortments of wild flowers the kids have found around our yard and in the woods near our house. How lovely our home looks with jars and jars of blooms. 

Saying a silent prayer, "Dear Lord, please be with the girls in the sixth grade class at CTMS today. They are going to need you." when Grey wore dress clothes for his Bizworld presentation as CEO. Good grief, he looked so handsome and - believe me - I have 23 years experience in thinking a Studer boy is cute as heck. So, I'm sorry girls but all my love and strength to you! 

Swinging by a local playground (Greenhouse park) one day this week when everything kept going wrong (broken glass, a forgotten trumpet that needed dropped off, cranky babies and mom). The kids played on the playground for a little while and then we went to scope out the water rescue training that was going on at the Stoneycreek river. There were state park employees participating in a training about saving others and themselves in moving water. One of the very kind and patient rescue trainers came over to explain to Rusty about what all was going on and all the cool parts of his uniform (a knife for cutting a rope or through debris! a whistle for calling for help! a helmet for protecting his head! a blinking light for the dark!) We watched and cheered on the trainees as they worked through the various obstacles - it was so fascinating. That little trip really turned our morning around; sometimes all you need is to be willing to reset. 

Cleaning out Sheila (our van). Unbeknownst to me, the kids left their unfinished ICE CREAM (!?!) in the third seat cupholders. Feels good to have it done, but it was gross to get there. 

Hanging up our tree swings. Our hanging straps arrived from Hearth Song so I was able to get our platform swing hung in Agnes (my tree soulmate in the pasture) and the huggle pod (we call it a Trolls home) in the other wild cherry tree. I ordered an extra hanging strap and now I'm in the market to find one more swing to hang up. The platform swing has been a huge hit with the kids (and me!)

Chaperoning Gemma's fourth grade field trip to the Somerset Historical Center. It was actually a really interesting day learning all about what life was like in our area in the pioneer days. Holding the knowledge in my heart about ancestors and all the struggles to just make it so that someday I could be here and our kids could be here - it blows my mind and bursts my heart (I've written about it here). While Gem and I spent the day together (so grateful!) B stayed home with all the babies! 

Releasing our Painted Lady butterflies. A favorite seasonal tradition around here! (we order our caterpillars from Insect Lore)

Watching Grey umpire his first game! He was asked earlier this week (thanks Steph!) and he ump'ed his first game on Friday night - a machine pitch game! He enjoyed it and made $25 (cool big kid!)

Cleaning the chicken coop and removing the winter sides. Reddy wanted to help B and I wearing work gloves and everything! The coop looks (and smells!) so much better. Happy to have that spring chore done! 

Building the goats a playground! B did most of the work (like 95% of the work) and we made it out of pallets but the goat kids are happy - so are our human kids who climbed and played spies on it alongside the goats too! 

Sporting with lots of soccer and baseball games. Two soccer games each for Rusty, Violet, and Gemma. Gemma is doing a great job being a leader and encouraging her teammates; I am so impressed with how far her team has come along already in just the second week of games. Grey had two baseball games including a night game under the lights at Westmont!

Making meatball sub sammies (in the travel crockpot on Monday night with back to back games from 5:30-10:30p!), baked potato fries, veggies, and kielbasa, Copycat Olive Garden chicken in the crockpot, sloppy joes, church picnic grilled chicken, and homemade pizza.  For afterschool snack one afternoon, Rust and I made double chocolate chip muffins too. 

Keto check in: bleh, starting the week with a 0.6lb gain. not getting discouraged though, I know it is a journey and it will be a long road; trying to give myself grace and patience. This week I made ground turkey cabbage dumplings dipped in soy sauce (felt so fancy but actually easy and so delicious!). We also had shrimp and zoodles, grilled cabbage steaks, Keto broccoli & cheese soup with cheesy breadsticks, and chicken/bacon/ranch on low carb wraps.