Around Here Week 02: 01/07-13

Monday, January 29, 2024

 A glimpse into what it is like to be in our family at just this moment. 

photo cred: Abba

photo cred: Miss Emma

photo cred: Miss Emma (mat big sis & mat mom!)

Violet's snowman!

photo cred: Becky C

photo cred: Gemma

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 42+ MINUTES (of 1000)
aw man, I'm not even over an hour yet, but also, I'm leaning into my spirit that is just not a snow bunny. I'm too cold and I like cozy blankies and hot drinks and books and  fuzzy socks and that is what winter is for. The kids are still getting out and I appreciate that, but momma is a warm(ish) weather kind of girl and I will be making up these hours as soon as the temperature gets above 40!

Reading Unwind by Neal Shusterman which is pretty wild and has all my students losing their minds about it. I love having them stop me in the hallways and be like, "Where are you in the book!?" because just about every chapter has some insane thing happening next. Neal Shusterman is a great YA author (he wrote the Scythe books) and I knew it was going to be a solid pick for Project Lit; but the kids' enthusiasm for it is even greater than I was expecting! 

Making a 2024 book log. Violet wanted a copy to track her reading and if you want a copy too - here it is free for the printing! Read.all.the.books !

Wishing our families a happy Orthodox Christmas on Sunday! 

So proud and excited for our Miss Emma who started her college classes this week. Miss Baylee was with us for her first day this week (love her!) and Pappy was able to swoop in and help last minute with the morning trade off (thank you!) A new schedule for all of this, but it is going well so far and I am so grateful for our two nannies who love our babies so well. 

Seeing snow! We had a snow day and a two hour delay this week which spiced up the schedule a bit (hah!) The kids were happy to lounge around on the snow day while I did my Flexible Instruction Day. My students and I gave all the snow day credit to our Ekeko statue in the room, Emma gave him a post it not asking for a snow day on Monday afternoon and lo and behold on Tuesday we had one...coincedence? I think not! (jajaja)

When people say How do you do it? My two answers are: 1. with the help from our friends and family and 2. MY PLANNER.

Thankful for our village. The McKool family kept Grey with them between Sunday school and the confirmation class this week while we were at the wrestling tournament and then brought him back home (thank you!) and the Cable family took on Rusty and Violet after the half day dismissal on Friday and then gave Violet extra playtime during Grey's basketball game which she was thrilled about - even if it did end up in a glitter explosion on her and Evaley (hah! Thank you Cables!) The wrestling moms all helped me figure out how to figure out the matches/mats at the tournaments (thank you!) and we had lots of cheerleaders this week at kids games - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and Miss Emma and Colton! Even when our schedules overlap and we can't be at a kids' event, there is always a familiar face in the stands cheering them on and sending us pics and videos. How grateful we are to build this village around the kids that give them guidance, support, and love.

Teaching for a wacky week since we had a Flexible Instruction Day (a snow day but online learning) and a 2hr delay the following day.  We did clothing vocab and working on our Legalos model project in Spanish 1. Spanish 2 learned about Bolivia and El Ekeko to prepare for our next novel. Spanish 3 and 4 continued to work on the Preterito tense reviewing regular AR/ER/IR verbs and the irregular super 7 verbs. It was also the last week of Quarter 2, so everyone was in a mass scramble to turn in missing/late work which meant I was in a scramble to get grades finished up and check in with potential failures (ugh) before the first semester comes to an end! 

Sporting with a wrestling tournament at North Star where we got his first win! We started out by saying, "let's make the goal not to get pinned." and after that - he didn't! He just refused to get pinned and went all three rounds for every match. And then one match he got more points then the other kid and even won! During the week, he had two wrestling practices and then on Saturday, Rusty had another wrestling tourney at Somerset which was a lot of hard fought matches (1 win) and he is progressing every time.  Violet had one basketball practice, a basketball game, and a Sparks soccer practice this week. Gemma had one basketball game where she twisted her ankle so then she spent the rest of the week resting it and not attending jr high practices, but she did keep stats for the jr high team twice. And Grey had one pitching practice for baseball, one basketball practice, and three basketball games this week. Brandon and I lifted three times this week too! 

Making good use of my last month with 5Dinners1Hour and letting it plan my meals this week. For those meals, we had BBQ Beef over baked potatoes, Lemon Herb Pork Tenderloin & veggies (kids loved this one!), Potato, chicken, and brocolli Bake, Honey Garlic Meatballs, and Chicken Alfredo in the slow cooker. On Sunday night I had Chicken&Broccoli in the cast iron skillet and Brandon made the two of us spicy shrimp and rice one night when the kids ate all the dinner before we got any (#bigfamilyprobs).  For the snow day, we had old fashion donut muffins for breakfast and homemade stromboli for lunch. For Rusty's wrestling tournament day, we ordered pizza to my classroom and I made Peanut butter power balls too. 

Around Here Week 01: 01/01-06

Thursday, January 25, 2024

 A glimpse into what it is like to be in our family at the start of a new year! Happy 2024!

video cred: Becky C (video still)

photo cred: Deanna M

selfie cred: B

selfie cred: B

photo cred: B

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 40 minutes+ (of 1000)
The kids are doing way better than me with all their sledding. Reddy, Rust, and Violet are the three main sledriders this year and the meatballs (rust & vi) have been so patient with helping Reddy get suited up to go out with them. Bless big siblings! 

Reading and finishing One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I enjoyed it a lot and found myself rooting for each love story at different points in the book. Then B and I watched the movie for it (on Prime) and rolling my eyes about how much you just can't capture in a movie that was in the book. B was like - I liked it just fine and I went on 17 rants about all the parts I was sad didn't get into the movie (the description of Emma's grief was so insightful in the book, the arc of the sisters' friendship, Olive!, the tenderness and patience of Sam, the parents caring for Emma), ugh. Such is life, I suppose - glad I read the book! Next up is Unwind by Neal Shusterman which is our next Project Lit book with my student book club. 

Cleaning & clearing on New Years day. B and I decluttered and organized the linen closet, the upstairs hallway, all the Christmas decorations (except the tree), the master closet, and two high paperwork clutter areas in the kitchen. It was exhausting but also glorious to get it cleared and clean on the first day of the year! 

Stacking pine trees in the goat pen thanks to all the Christmas tree donations we received this week. The goats are so happy to get some yummy snacks (pines are their favorites!) and it is so good for their diet too in the winter when they are limited to hay and feed. The goaties were hopping all around and it is hilarious to see how quickly they can get a pine down to not a single needle left on it! Thank you so much to everyone who donated their Christmas tree to Studerbabies! 

Starting our January tradition of a family puzzle! We got a autumn farmhouse scene - lots of sky (ugh oh) but everyone is excited to get started, especially me and Violet!

Meeting our new part-time nanny: Miss Baylee. She came to the house to shadow Miss Emma on Friday and meet all the kiddos. They all love her already and we are so happy and thankful to have her as a new addition to the Studerbabies circus. hah! 

Getting back into a normal routine after the wildness of the holidays and the long winter break. It was a shock to all of our systems to wake up with an alarm clock again (hah!) 

Sleepover sibling swap - Violet spent the night at the Maurer's house to celebrate her friend Bristol's birthday and we took one of her brothers (Abe) for a sleepover at our house. Rusty and Reddy were so happy to have Abey at our house for the night. 

Creating my cellphone manifestation background for 2024. With the help of Canva, Pinterest, and my hopes and wishes for the new year - I created a background that I'll see multiple times a day to keep in the forefront of the kind of life I hope to create for this upcoming year. 

Sending the boys off hunting with Uncle Jonny on Saturday. B, Grey, and Rusty all spent the day in the woods doing some late archery hunting and then got to hang at the Koch's house for the day. 

Teaching and reviewing in Spanish 1 as we get back into the swing of things after the break. Spanish 1 reviewed vocab, translating simple sentences, and even did some writing and dictation practice. Spanish 2 started Somos Unit 13 and listened to El Chico del Apt 512 (a fan favorite!) Spanish 3 and 4 started learning the Preterito endings for regular AR/ER/IR verbs which can get a little boring but they were troopers about it. 

Sporting with 3 wrestling practices for Rusty and Violet had 1 basketball practice. Gemma had 3 practices with the jr high basketball team, 1 practice with her own 6th grade basketball team, and did Stats for the jr high team twice. Grey had only 1 basketball game this week but 3 basketball practices. And B and I started weightlifting this week! Coach Mike got our apps/programs set up and we lifted twice this week. B is excited to be a good example for his football players and I have been doing a lot of research about perimenopause/menopause and just about every single thing I've seen has said lifting weights (not even hardcore, even just light) is recommended as women age. So, I'm excited too! The kids all love coming too - Grey and Gem actually lift for real and the other four do a little but mostly like doing 8 million box jumps and walking on the treadmill. 

Making spaghetti & salad to try to get our bellies back into normalcy after 10 days of just eating random, rich holiday food (and snackies). During the week we had ham&cheese braid, baked ravioli, chicken&veggie biscuit casserole, spaghetti & salad, chicken patties with mac&cheese, meatloaf with roasted potatoes, and chicken/gnocchi soup. 

Around Here: Week 52: 12/26-12/31

Sunday, January 14, 2024

 A glimpse into this last week of 2023 as our family. 

photo cred: Eva M

photo cred: Ray

Intentional Outdoor Hours (final count): 686+ hours for the year.
Not my best years' hours but not my worst count ever either. It was just meh. Some of my favorite memories from this year are those that were spent under the big wide open sky (they always are!) I am excited to try again another year! 

Reading and finishing Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong. Loved it so much. I was really glad to follow along with the characters one more time after the first book (which was one of my top 9 reads of the year!) Thank you to my student Ruby for sharing it with me! 

Final book count: 33 books. I included these as my top 9 to share on Facebook since everyone is doing it. These were my top 9 most engaging books - as in they had me most interested in ignoring my family (lol) and wanting to talk about to anyone else who read the books. A big thank you to Renee S, Jenn V, Jake R, and my student Ruby M who are always the most patient and kind when I want to talk books like a full blown nerd. 

In case you want to go full blown nerd: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver was the absolute best book I read this year and I convinced at least three people to read it (and love it) after I read it. I will be rooting for Demon for the rest of my life. Normal People by Sally Rooney has been on my TBR list forever (thank you Tare!) and thank goodness I read it. Also, good Lord, the chemistry in the book and on screen (IKYK - Kate T!) Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin was incredible and I needed emotional support after I read "the" chapter (thank you Jenn V for being there for me) and I provided emotional support after Brenna read "the" chapter (lol - she called my classroom from her classroom and we basically sighed into the phone like; yeah, I get it. your heart is broken). My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell messed my brain up and blew my mind; apologies to my Kate who I suggested it to and she read it and was also messed up (lol, love you). These Violet Delights by Chloe Gong was excellent and I loved talking about it to my student Ruby who let me borrow it - the Romeo&Juliet connections had me gushingggggg and also crazy, beautiful story telling. In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner was beautifully written and about Appalachia which I'm kind of obessed with right now and wonderful. Plus I read it with 10+ students and got to talk about it with them! Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was storytelling perfection and Taylor Jenkins Reid is some kind of writing genius. I am convinced I can never go wrong with a book by her. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin hurt my insides and I needed actual emotional support when I finished it. The student who lent it to me (Alyssa) was absent that day in school, so I literally called another student (Marisa) out of class to discuss the book with her and we both ended up crying in the hallway together (lol forever, I loved being your teacher!) Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score was the best spicy book I read this year; it was also my birthday gift from Violet (lol). 

The annual planner transfer. I pulled out all my cute pens and filled in birthdays and vacations and school holidays and game schedules and filled in my beautiful, crisp, clear planner for the new year. What a thrill it gives me to see the whole year just waiting to unfold before us. It is INSANE that each year as the kids get older now the days are filled even more than the year before. I keep thinking it impossible to stuff more into our days and yet - here we are. I know it won't always be like this and that will be so wonderful and simultaneously so awful. So I'm focusing on the excitement and pride of being the captain of this crew of athletes and social butterflies. 

Basically living in my Cozy Earth jammies that Brandon got me for Christmas. We don't do gifts for each other (because this life and this love is the gift every day!) but he surprised me this year with a real actual gift of a pair of bamboo pajamas from Cozy Earth. They are so comfortable and feel so luxurious. I don't have many things in this life as a full-time working mom of six athletes who volunteers for all the things - but these pajamas give me spa vibes even while I'm wrestling kiddos to bed. If you know me, I actually hate gifts (last place on my love language list) but these jammies are the exception to the rule. 

Mini getaway with my handsome fella. We took our second annual...well, what can it be called. It's not a honeymoon since we are 15+ years married, but I like that vibe. Maybe a VanillaMoon? CinnamonMoon? SyrupMoon? CreamofTartarMoon(hahaha) Anyway - we spent three nights and two days in a tiny cabin in Raystown and it was perfect. That's all you're going to get because some memories are meant to be made and held precious between ourselves. The best thing I ever did was pair up with my fella.

The biggest thank you ever to the people who came together to make sure we could get away. Miss Emma & Kolten who played house and stayed with our kids and animals. Kolten took Rust to wrestling practice and helped coach too! The McDannells who had Vi for a sleepover & bowling one day this week. The Valentines and Rummells who each hosted Grey for sleepovers so that he could have fun and get to his practices. Uncle Kev who was chauffeur to a birthday party, Pappy who transported Rusty to and from his dentist appointment, and Coach Drew who picked up and dropped off Gemmi for basketball practice. 

In the market for an additional nanny! Our Miss Emma is starting college two days a week in January and I have been racking my brain trying to figure out who is going to nanny for us Mondays and Tuesdays. Thankfully, my sweet friend (and former student!) Maddy Z sent me some contact information for someone who might be available and our fingers are crossed! Thank you Maddy!!

Ringing in the new year! We stopped by two parties on NYE. First stop was Uncle Ray & Aunt Marge's house to visit with our Gilmore cousins. The kids were cracking up while Reddy walked across them on the floor and we all got our snuggles in with Mimi and baby Ryder! [Fun fact - 25 years ago (on NYE 1999) I had my first official date with Brandon  at his Uncle Ray & Aunt Marge's house with his Gilmore cousins!] Then we took cousins Audra and Reid to sleep at our house and left Rusty to sleepover with cousin Rowan. We stopped by the Valentines annual party for awhile and then made it back home around 10p to put on cozy jammies and ring in the new year with champagne and kisses at midnight. 

Sporting with 2 wrestling practices for Rusty and his first ever matches at the Central Cambria Novice tournament on Saturday! He lost both matches but he had a full cheering section for his first attempt - both grandpas (thanks Pap & Chum), Uncle Buck (our only wrestler in the family!), Aunt Uch, cousins Wells and Heath, and our entire family! We all learned quite a bit at the first tournament (thank you to all the wrestling moms who are giving me tips and helping me find schedules - especially Deanna, Eva, and Megan!) Gemma practiced twice with the JrHigh basketball team and Grey had two basketball practices this week. 

Making homemade mac&cheese (this is our family favorite recipe!) and sloppy joes, baked meatball sub sammies, and frozen pizza.  While B and I were on our CreamofTartarMoon (LOL forever) - we had fried sauerkraut balls at a little hole-in-the-wall bar, we stopped at Boxer's Bar in Juniata for dinner, and we made our mini shopping trip to pick up Everything bagels, veggie cream cheese, Pub Mix snacks, Jalapeno chippies, and peanut m&m's to snack on while we were at the cabin.