Around Here Week 18: 04/30-05/06

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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

photo cred: Uch

spirit week: athletes vs mathletes

photo cred: Jenn V

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 98+ hours (of 1000)
Weather was pretty much crud this week - we had snow! SNOW!!  There were multiple games cancelled due to storm/mud/snow. Our whole Thursday afternoon (1 baseball practice, 1 baseball game, and 2 soccer games) were called off - which felt great that day to have a free night, but I know that means rescheduling madness to come. Luckily by the end of the week, the sun had returned just in time for Youth league Opening Day and Prom! 

Reading The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (borrow from my student Mya). I'm liking it - I keep thinking I know where it's going but I keep predicting wrong. 

Spending time with some of our besties; The Kochs. They met us at Violet's Sparks game on Sunday as it was local to them and then we went out to eat all together afterwards. It took all of 20 seconds for the kids to convince us to go back to the Kochs house for the afternoon (hah!) It was so nice to catch up and spend time all together - husbands, wives, and kids; laughing at their goat, chicken nugget, trying to get into the house and watching the kids all play together. Love you guys. 

Happy for Grey who spent all of Sunday fishing with Pappy at the Wilmore fishing tournament. They've gone several years in a row now and always have a good time even if they don't catch any tagged fish. Grey sure gave it the 'ole college try though; standing in one hole for hours trying to snag a big fish but with no luck. They braved the chilly, rainy weather but there is almost nothing that can keep my son away from a fishing rod. 

Bailing on National Screen Free Week this year. Just way too much going on and kids sick and weather that isn't great - I was just too overwhelmed to attempt this year. But I'm determined to set a screen free week of our own up this summer when we are all home together and not running every direction between school and sports. 

Giving B some extra hugs as this week was busy with double the meetings for work as he is transitioning between the two schools. It's school budget season (the busiest time of the year for him anyway) but on top of that - he is attending double meetings, looking at double budgets; and trying to make sure he ties up all the ends at his current school while trying to get a picture of what it will be like next year. 

Practicing Dutch braids. I am a pro at French braiding, but I am still in the beginner phase of my fingers going "backwards" for Dutch. On Monday night, I Dutchbraided Gem's hair and she was like, "why is this taking so longggg!?" hahhaa, my girls are used to getting braided way faster, so when I finally finished, Vi was like, "yeah, I'll just take French please." Hahahh! Soccer season is my favorite daughter hairstyle season - I just feel like soccer calls for more fun hairdos and Pinterest does not disappoint on the examples! Grateful to have girls who will sit through sometimes painful "Hairbrush therapy" sessions to get their hair done up for games! 

End of the year emotional toll. All the students (unconsciously) ask for attention, affection, and validation towards the end of the year more than ever. You should see the line of kids at my desk at the start and end of the day waiting to tell me what's going on in their lives. I'm getting so many random gifts (notes, end of semester projects from other classes - two desk organizers from Woodshop kids and 3 sewed gnomes from FCS kids). Kids in my room all day long as they choose to spend their study halls in my classroom instead. Brandon had a front row seat to witness it this week and when the students walked away, he whispered, "Mom, mom, mom! Watch this!" and I smiled and rolled my eyes because yeah. It is exactly like that. Students: I see you guys, I love you guys, I am proud of you guys, forever. (xxox love my kids, love my job). 

Working through the sniffles and sleepies. B stayed home one day this week with Grey and both babies because they were all run down from spring fun followed swiftly by spring cold and snow. All of us are dealing with sinus pressure, snot, and coughs (ugh), but it was good to have half the kids take it easy for a day and try to recupe.

Dressing up Gemma for her official fifth grade promo pics! Gah, time!! why are you so persistent!?

Having heavy conversations with the big kids. Gem and I had the birds&bees chat; all the good, bad, awkward, nitty gritty. Grey and I had a conversation about respect and expectations. Here are two small excerpts: 

"I'm going to say things right now that you might think are super embarassing, but either you hear it from me in this awkward conversation or you are going to feel confused and embarrassed that you don't know this stuff or you don't know how to find the answers to this stuff as you continue to grow up. I'm going to give you information that I think you're ready for now, but there is never any question that it too embarassing to ask me. And if you can't ask me, then you have Aunt Kitty and Aunt Uch. You never have to feel like you are on your own." 

"I know it seems impossible, but I just reminded dad the other day of what it felt like to be 13. We wanted to be with our friends, we didn't want to answer a million questions from our parents, we thought they didn't know anything either. You are growing up honey, I get that and respect that. I love watching how your life is unfolding and am so proud of you.  I'm not expecting to be the very best part of your day - I am expecting though that you can speak and act like I am not the very worst part of your day."

Yeesh, prom week kills me a little inside. Hah. Thank the heavens for students who show up to help. Mya and Kaylee sorted and alphabetized prom permission slips for me while they hung out in my room during their study hall. Libby cut 190 menu cards (bless her!) and Marissa entered by hand all the names for the Prom Royalty voting form (seniors & juniors). We held prom dress up week at school (check out the photos on our prom instagram page @NSHSProm ) I got the final count to our venue by Wednesday (188 guests!) and we printed prom photo package forms, posted the pre-request website for songs, and submitted paperwork to get the checks to pay the photographer. 

Shipping the meatballs on playdates on Saturday morning. After his baseball game, Rust got to sleep over my parents' house (thank you!) and Violet spent most of the day at the Tresnicky's house with her birthday twin and teammate Bella (thank you!)

Attending Prom on Saturday night. It was beautiful - Ace's did a wonderful job again and we had planned and prepared well enough that everything went off without a hitch. The food was delicious, all the students looked gorgeous, and we had no issues all night. Brandon was my date (our 8th prom together!) and I loved seeing my little cousin Gracie with her boyfriend having so much fun literally dancing the entire time. We got to be there without a care in the world because Heather, Albert, and the kids all spent the evening at our house. Knowing our babes were good so that we could enjoy the night meant everything (thank you, love you!!)

Smiling so big when we got home then later that night and found that Albert had hung up our cabinet in the kitchen and patched up the hole that was left from our new window! It's been something on our to-do list for literal months - but big family parents know that if the task doesn't crest the top 10 priorities on any given can wait. So that hole in the wall and that missing cabinet has been waiting and waiting and waiting. But Albert (our favorite handyman cousin) got to work with Gem has his right-hand man and it looks so beautiful and I am so very grateful that it is done! 

Teaching the end of our last Spanish 1 novel (Tumba) while Spanish 2 worked through their last novel (Robo en la Noche), but not quite done yet; made it to Chapter 6 of 15! Spanish 3/4 finished their last novel (Felipe Alou) and took the final book quiz. Every class had a mini celebration for Cinco de Mayo on Friday and I had my formal observation this week too. 

Sporting with a week full of postponed games due to chilly, wet spring weather. Rust did get to have his opening day game at our fields on Saturday where I worked in the concession stand.  Violet had a Sparks soccer game in Murraysville on Sunday then two Sparks soccer practice (one indoor because of the weather). All of the AYSO soccer games were cancelled this week to preserve the fields so that was a bummer. Grey had one pony league practice and Brandon had football weight lifting Monday-Thursday. 

Making open faced turkey sandwiches with Grey's wild turkey he harvested with sweet potato fries, spaghetti, sloppy joes with homemade mac&cheese, lasagna from Abba (thank you!), Queso turkey over rice, and ordering pizza in for Heather & Albert and all the kiddos while they were at our house during the prom

Around Here Week 17: 04/23-29

Friday, May 19, 2023

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

photo cred: Brandon

photo cred: Abba

photo cred: Abba

photo cred: Barb & Wayne A

photo cred: Barb & Wayne A

set up credit: Rusty

photo cred: Gemma

Intentional Hours Outside: 91+ hours (of 1000)
Scoring all kinds of hours thanks to spring sports, although it was so chilly at Violet's soccer game on Sunday that I hid out and watched from the car like a crybaby. (lol). We did get a few late nights outside enjoying the yard, fire, and trampoline. Makes me so hopeful for summertime when no one goes inside until well after 10pm while the kids laugh together and run all over the yard catching lightening bugs. Gah, I don't want to wish time away, but also - we are almost there! 

Reading and finishing There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake. In a million years, I never would have picked this book up to read on my own, but my student Kaylee was reading it a few months ago and I asked her about it and she remembered that and lent it to me. I always make a point to finish the books that my students borrow out to me because if they think I am worthy of getting a little peek into their minds and hearts through a book - I'm taking it! For the record, I loved this book and the storytelling. I'll be looking into Nick Lake's other books because I'm so impressed with the way he twisty-road tells the story that blends both fantasy and reality. I had no clue where the book was going to end up, but it was honest and beautiful and touching. This quote especially had my heart soaring (and if you read this of my writing a few years ago, you will get the connection). 

"You are a billion years of ancestors, in one person....Every one, every single one, of your million ancestors, whether they were amoebas or mice or finally apes, survived long enough to have at least one every generation that goes into your genes is a generation of fighters, of survivors. And all those millions of lives are in you, in your blood..."

I really, really enjoyed it. Next up: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides which is a borrow from my student Mya, Layla by Colleen Hoover (a borrow from my student Nadia), and Verity by Collen Hoover (a borrow from my student Layla). Only 4 weeks = must finish all the students' borrows! 

Planning a three day potluck week at school as the Sunshine committee. End of the year - teachers need all the pick-me-ups we can get. We had Mexican food Monday (taco bar!), Well-balanced Wednesday (soups & salads), and TGIFreaking Thursday (appetizers & desserts). A few departments got assigned one of the days and we all got to eat and feel happy all week long! Thanks to everyone for going along with my wacky ideas! 

Wishing a happy 40th to two of our best friends this week! My bestie and college roommate Karpy and Brandon's best friend and uncle/godfather to our kids Juice. 

Smiling for Vi to get a sleepover and hooky-day with my parents. She went golfing with Chum, they ate yummy food, and got lots of important one on one time. Hooray for mental health days! 

Knocking out some dentist appointments this week - B had one and Gem & Vi had one. Thank you to my parents who picked up from school and took the girls to theirs! It's generally such a pain to logistically plan appointments, but then feels like such an accomplishment to check them off the list for another 6 months.

God bless the siblings of athletes. We have a no-screen rule at practices and games, so they are responsible for figuring it out and man, do they ever. I pack snacks and some light random toys (a ball, some dinosaur figurines, a baby doll) - but mostly they just run around and sit on laps and cheer for their siblings and get through it. They are the real heroes.

Why no screens at sports? We are a low-tech family and like to encourage/promote opportunities when our kids need to work through boredom. It's a lot easier to be screen free at outdoor sporting events (fall & spring) than it is winter in a gym - but we still enforce it then too. Screen time unfortunately begets more screen time. I refuse to manage the volatile reactions that come from trying to pull a screened-up kid away from their device. On top of that, you would be hard-pressed to find a more naturally stimulating environment than a sporting event - the space! the sounds! the movement! the action! All of that information is getting processed and working their brains. They interact with other siblings of athletes & grown ups. They cheer for and learn about the rules of the game. I don't want them so hyper focused on something a few inches from their face that it distracts them from all the incredible sights/sounds and learning that is available in real life. 

Loving our new cutting board which was custom created by Booboo in woodshop! He designed, cut, sanded, and laser'ed it. He also loved his art elective last quarter where they made art but learned some art history too. It's cool to see where his interests lean and the things he chooses to share with us randomly on car rides and at the dinnertable. Like out of the blue, we get these tiny snippets of things he thinks are important. Getting to know your teen is kind of awesome. 

Applauding my students who put on Oklahoma! for their musical production this year. My teacher friend, Kelcy organized a girls' night out for some of us and we met a local restaurant before heading to over to the show. My kids did so great and I always get teary-eyed to see all their hard work pay off in the show. 

Chickies everywhere. For record, my husband should not trusted in tractor supply during chickie season just like I should not be trusted in books stores (ever). He went to tractor supply to pick up supplies to FIX the outdoor chicken coop to move our teenage chickens outside (they need to get out of my house!) and he comes home with 5 guinea chicken babies. In his defense, we have been wanting to get guineas because they are tick-eaters, but still. Another round of babies in the brooder in the living room, I guess! The teenage chicks did get moved outside so at least for that! 

Teaching the last novel of the year in Spanish 1 (Tumba); we started with vocab and learning about Mexico (I love introducing the kids to Cenotes - they are amazing! google them!) And then we read chapters 1 & 2 this week. Spanish 2 started their last novel of the year too (Robo en la Noche) and we got vocab and then learned about Costa Rica. It's always a little brutal when I tell the kids I studied abroad in Costa Rica my junior year of college in 2004 and they say, "I wasn't even born then." oof. But they liked hearing all my stories and got really into the Costa Rica itinerary project. We read chapters 1-3 this week. Spanish 3/4 is working its way through Felipe Alou and we read through chapter 8. Had some great meaningful conversations about how language can build bridges. 

Sporting with a championship win for Brandon's old man basketball team! Hooray, first season ever as champions! Rusty had two machine pitch games this week. He is hitting great and playing outfield - learning a little more each game. (he looks so darn sweet in his uniform too, cannot even stand it) Violet had a Sparks game and two Sparks practices (thank you Feathers family for being the most clutch chauffeurs of all time!). Vi and I also had AYSO photos and two AYSO practices. Gemma had two AYSO practices this week, while Grey had three Jr. High baseball games, one Jr. High practice, and 1 Pony league baseball practice. Brandon had open weight lifting for football four nights a week too which we aren't quite into the groove yet of not having Daddy home most nights until after 9p, but we are getting there. 

Making crockpot apple porkchops, crispy chicken ranch wraps, kielbasa & pierogies, crockpot Olive garden chicken over noodles, and take out pizza. I made cream cheese chicken tacos and chocolate pumpkin muffins for our staff potluck this week too. On Saturday, I made a batch of peanut butter, oatmeal, raisin, chocolate chip cookies (lol, but gotta get those extras in to fill up my kids' ever starving bellies!) 

Around Here Week 16: 04/16-22

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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

photo cred: Erin S

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 82+ hours (of 1000)
Gushing over the beautiful spring blossoms. It is honestly so pretty outside our windows with all the blooming trees I just want to cry happy tears all day long. Eeeeeee; nature is so beautiful and I am a big nerd for it. We had a fire outside one night this week and have been racking up hours after school and at the sports fields because it is just lovely. It's still kind of early for these kinds of summer vibes - but dare I say (to no one's surprise AT ALL) that I am ready for this weather and there's no going back now without breaking my heart a little bit. 

Reading There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (borrow from my student Kaylee). It's kind of taking a lot of wild, unexpected turns - looking forward to seeing where this is going to end up. 

Dropping some kids off at Greenhouse Park with Chum & Abba - first visit for the spring/summer season. While we dropped off Grey at baseball, the rest of the crew picnicked there with my sisters and their cousins. So much better than being dragged to another field for a sibling practice!

Trying to motivate my students in the last few weeks by hanging up the last units/novels that we need to accomplish to close out the year. We are crossing them off as we get through them. I also hung up a paper chain because I am that extra (lol). 

Meds for Red...again. Ugh, our sickest kid thanks to a combination of finger sucking and also (I believe) being a c-section baby. I did some research about it this week because I cannot understand how Red is always the sickest of us - by a longshot. And there are some studies that claim that on that last journey out through the birth canal, kids get essentially coated in sickness barrier slime (okay, my words - but you get the idea) and c-section kids who don't make that journey tend to experience more sickness, allergies, general lower immunity style living as they grow up. Makes sense to me and at this point I'm grasping for straws because all this sickness in my Bubie is making my crazy. 

Printing & highlighting our kids' games/concert schedules for April-June to hand out to parents and aunts/uncles. It is going to be a wild ride to get through spring sports season and the end of the school year - but we are able to do it because of our friends, family, and sports 'families.' thank you to all of you who are encouraging and smiling faces in the crowd, or rides to and from games/practices, or who share snacks, drinks, blankets, and toys with all our kids. Friends/family who send me pictures and videos from games that I can't be at while we conquer and divide on game and practice nights or who update Gamechanger (thank goodness for Gamechanger app!) 

New plant babies from my co-worker Zach. His spider plant went crazy in the window and he called this week and told me I was the proud new mother of two little spider plant babies! 

Checking off prom tasks! Crowns for prom royalty are ordered, sent a pdf to our vendor with all our colors/fonts/design options on it, and we selected our promposal winner! Congrats to Molly & Max!

Test review and signing off on exemption for the state tests for the two biggest kids. 'Tis the season!

Taking Violet's soccer cleats to school and grateful to our FCS teacher who agreed to sew her velcro back on after Osa chewed it up in the night. Ugh, puppy teeth probs! 

Thankful that our friends are so generous and kind when I text them "Looking for somewhere to dump my kids on early dismissal day" LOL, our people get us. We were so thankful the Mocks took our girls off the bus this time and the girls loved spending the afternoon (and into the evening!) with the Mock sisters - best day ever :)

Snagging a gobbler! So happy for Grey that he harvested his first turkey on youth gobbler day on Saturday. He went with Brandon and Uncle Jonny and he was so proud and thankful. Violet spent part of the morning out with Pappy, looking for turkeys. They heard one but it never came close - so they got to visit with Uncle Dave, Aunt Cindy, and their horses which was a perfect consolation for Violet! 

Teaching Los Castells de Tarragona in Spanish 1 which includes our tower building competition. The kids always love this introduction to a very cool competition in Spain, so engagement is high even despite the nearness of the end of the year (big win!) Spanish 2 watched one of my favorite movies of all my levels - Under the Same Moon. Spanish 3/4 read chapters 2 & 3 of Felipe Alou and had their vocab test. On Friday, we had the annual junior vs. senior powderpuff game and picnic lunch. It was the perfect sunny day for it and the senior coaches (football players) dressed up for their role (stuffed polo shirts, fake mustaches, visors, and aviators! (Senior girls won the game, but it was a close one!) 

Sporting with Brandon's championship game for his old man basketball league on Sunday night! They went 1-1 and now they play the final game next Sunday! Rusty had a baseball practice this week and Violet had her first Sparks soccer game on Sunday plus one Sparks practice and one AYSO practice. Gem had AYSO practice and soccer photos on Saturday while Grey had pony league baseball practice and 2 Jr High baseball games and one Jr High practice. And finally, B held football weightlifting four nights this week.

Making sheet pan kielbasa and veggies, cream cheese chicken taquitos, crockpot pork roast, meatball sammies, tilapia fish tacos (so yum!), and Pappy's marinated deer meat. Chum made us ham pot pie, and we ordered in pizza one night too.