January 2011 Kindness: Food bank donation

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This is our second year in a row of making our January kindness as a food bank donation.  This year, as our first Christmas with a child has left us with credit card payments; we decided to do a quick look through our cupboards before dropping some cash at the grocery store for our donation.  It only took a few minutes to discover that with one part minimalism kick and another part 'my husband goes grocery shopping while hungry' far too often = three big bags worth of food to be donated.  We didn't even have to make a trip to the store for our donation. 

We loaded the bags full of cans of corn (why on earth did we have 8 cans of corn?!), boxes of ready to cook rice (Cajun red bean rice, no thanks), and baby food jars (that Grey decided he just doesn't have the palate for).  For reasons beyond understanding, we also had four boxes of instant pudding to spare, one bottle of ketchup, two cans of tuna, and a partridge in a pear tree.  hah  But we really did have a lot of excess that could easily go to someone that needs it.  We kept plenty of back-ups for ourselves, but when is the next time I'll be needing 2 boxes of stuffing?

On our food quest, we also found multiple items that we were apparently hoarding that are obscenely expired.  Who has a can of refried beans that expired in fall 2009?  Really?  B and I decided that the cake mix that expired in August2010 couldn't possibly go bad...right?  So, I decided to bake it today.  I have the handiest cookbook, Best Loved Quick Fixes from Mixes that has really yummy recipes for all those random packages of stuff that somehow are left in your cupboard forever until you realize they are about to expire(d).  I found a recipe for Upside-down German Chocolate cake in which I had all the ingredients for, so I whipped it up!

Moral of the story:  Not only were we able to accomplish our January kindness without spending a dime, but we got a yummy dessert out of discovering I had expired cake mix on hand.  I'd say that's a win-win.

the Sisterhood of the Magical Mom Pants

I have found that there isn't another tool as helpful during the day as my Magical Mom Pants (aka sweatpants to non-moms).  At the end of the day, as I'm tossing my Mom Pants into the laundry (or at the foot of my bed to wear again the next day) I am continuously suprised as to how helpful they have been to me all day long while tending to babies and pets and husbands alike.  The pockets are always full of all sorts of surprises; dirty tissues, pieces of food I picked up before the baby could put them in his mouth, small pieces of dog bone, random thumbtacks or paperclips.  There is flour and other types of food smeared along the thighs when napkins were out of reach.  Sometimes they are soaked from getting the baby out of the bath or covered in stains from the full cup of juice I took to the lap.

As I can guess, I am not the only Mom Pants wearing lady out there.  So, please join me in forming a Sisterhood of the Magical Mom Pants.

We the sisterhood hereby instate the following rules to govern the use of the Magical Mom Pants*:

1. You must occasionally wash the Mom Pants, especially after any of the following has occured:  wiping baby spit up on them, you pee in them a little while giggling at the kids doing something hilariously wise for their age, or you accidentally get baby poo on them.

2. You must forgive yourself for wearing the Mom pants in public.  Others may find it completely unacceptable to wear semi-dirty sweatpants to the grocery store, but when your kid needs baby tylenol and you're out of coffee...they can kiss your cotton-wearing behind.

3. You must also never think to yourself "I am fat" while wearing the Mom Pants.  You are a post-pregnant woman - You grew a human being for goodness sakes.  Fat is no longer an adjective for you, after pregnancy & motherhood, the word fat can be replaced with freaking amazing.  As in, 'Your momma's so freaking amazing, she sat on a rainbow and made skittles.'

4. You must never let your husband take off the Pants.  It's just embarassing and unsexy. 

5. You must not pick your nose while wearing the Pants. You may, however pick your child's nose and wipe it onto the pants in a pinch.  You can also wipe your child's dirty/wet/food-caked hands onto the Pants.

6. You will not need to document your time in the Pants because all of the stains, rips, and tears will be suffice for documention.  For example, the green paint smear near the left pocket comes from painting the baby's nursery, the bleach stain on the right thigh is from wiping your hand after trying to bleach the turds out of that cloth diaper, and the four inch rip up the right leg is from the dog pulling the Pants out of the laundry basket.

7. You must write to your Sisters of your adventures of Mommyland through any means possible; facebook, blogging, or email.  It is some of the most comforting conversations to just know you aren't the only half insane, stain-filled, pockets full of weird stuff Mom Pants wearing gal out there.

8. You should never pass along your Mom Pants to another Mom.  First, they hold special Mom Magic specific for you.  Second, it's kind of gross.

9. You must not wear the Pants with a tucked in shirt because sweatpants + tucked in shirt = you don't have extra material for nose-wiping and drool removing.

10. Remember: Mom Pants=Love. Love your pals. Love yourself.  Love your messy, crazy life with kids.

*inspired by the list from the book; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

12 Months of Kindness: 2011

This will be our third year of committment to participating in twelve acts of kindess over the course of the year.  Some of our monthly tasks have been recycled from previous years and some of them are new to us for this year.  Thank you for your help in suggestions for our kindness task for the month of August.  They were very helpful and my sweet friend, Jen has inspired this year's August kindness!  [thank you!]

Some of our months require lots of planning & involvement from others.  Some months are financially sacrificial and other months require nothing but our time.  Despite the sometimes dragging feet to get a month's kindness prepared/ready/completed, we love making a committment to be good to others for the whole year.  I believe it brings our family closer together and reminds us how lucky we are each month to be able to have what we have and do what we do.  YOU can do it too!  Don't be afraid to make your own 12 months of kindness!

12 months of Kindness
2011 Edition

January: Donation of food/supplies to the local Food Bank
February: Valentines’ Day cookies for the local Fire Department
March: Participate in a volunteer opportunity while on vacation in Thailand (!!)
April: Donation of supplies to the Anna Shelter (local animal rescue)
May: Studer Scholarship for a Conemaugh Valley senior
June: Plant a garden; vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
July: 3rd Annual Studer’s Invitational Beer Olympics (Proceeds to Make-a-Wish)
August: Donation of toys & books to a local pre-school.
September: Donors Choose donation
October: Trick or Treat for UNICEF
November: 3rd Annual CV Alumni Turkey Bowl 2011
December: Adopt a Family & bake cookies for local nursing home

Most importantly, be kind to each other.

steeler nation

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We are the obnoxious fans you roll your eyes out.
Although our son doesn't watch television, we both agreed in August that he can only watch Steelers' games.
We wave our terrible towels in the basement.
I, for the life of me, cannot spell "convenient" without spell check, but I can spell Roethlisberger with ease
we were born & raised in the steeler nation...and now so is our son.

In case you've been living under a rock....


the thing about blueberries

1. they are my son's absolute favorite food

2. he would eat 2lbs of blueberries a day if I let him

3. he can't shove them in his mouth fast enough

4. breakfast, lunch, and dinner he wants blueberries

5. they give him purple beards that remind me of the steelers' Brett Keisel

6. the blueberries get under his nails and make it look like i have my kid working in a coal mine

7.  they are full of antioxidants and will probably give my son superhero powers

8. ..or he'll turn into a giant blueberry like Violet in willie wonka.

love reminder

I recently received a very sweet fbook msg from one my friends that is getting married this summer.  We were chatting back and forth about plans and dates and when I asked her how she was feeling about the fast approaching date, she said that she was feeling a little overwhelmed, but..."I'm definitely excited to be [his] wife, though, and I need to keep reminding myself that's the most important thing of all."

And it took me right back to that counting-down-until-saying-I-do-and-not-being-able-to-remove-the-smile-off-my-face-thinking-about-becoming-his-wife days.  I remember the very first time I was called Brandon's wife out loud.  It was our wedding day, after the ceremony and we were taking pictures.  The photographer said, "Brandon, can you put your arm around your wife."  And we both looked at each other in disbelief...that was ME!  Finally.  It was the most beautiful and honored title I had to date.  his wife.  All those long distance phone calls we endured, all the fights and make-ups, all the wedding planning, and then finally I made it - I was his wife.

Two and half years, two cats, a psycho dog, our first home, and a kid later has done a little wear and tear to my title as his wife.  The cable guy comes to the door - "Are you Mr. Studer's wife...can you show me where the cable box is?"...I call the dentist, "Hi, this is Brandon's wife, can I reschedule his appointment, please."  Somehow the title went from wife/his beloved/shining bride to wife/director of the repairmen/rescheduler of the appointments. 

But reading my blushing bride of a friend's gushing words brought me back to those days that all I could ever hope for was in that title.  And today when the doctor said, "Well, as his wife, I'm hoping you'll share those traveler's diarrhea pills while on vacation, right?"  I smiled and thought, "yes, because I'm his wife.

So thank you for reminding ME, dear friend.  you are right - it is the most important thing, even now.

booboo skypes!

We have been skyping with the grandmas & grandpas & aunts all the way since when booboo was first born.  But now that he's bigger, he finally recognizes their faces and reacts to them on the screen.  Its so sweet to watch his face light up as he talks with his abba&poppa and grammie&pappi.  

we love technology.

New Years Eve Party

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I just now realized that I haven't updated about our new years eve party.  So here's a mosty visual update.   Grey's girlfriend, Samantha came over to help bring in the new year (and celebrate her momma's birthday!)  They played for awhile and very sweetly shared booboo's train.  Unprompted, Sam gave Grey pushes all over the living room and I could have just died by how adorable it was.

happy birthday, JP!
 Then Mallory arrived for the party and it was a full blown baby extravaganza in the basement.  They had toys and snacks everywhere.  It was pretty far past everyone's bedtimes too, so it was like a legitimate wild baby party.  Even Grey's neighbor girlfriend, Ella joined the party a little later!  Poor Booboo was outnumbered 3 girls to him.  He loved it.

baby party!!
The babies did finally retire for the evening and it was time for some grown up NYE fun.  There were plenty of cocktails and masquerade masks.  We even played the always hilarious and inappropriate orange/neck game.  I can't even think about that game and I start giggling.  Its too ridiculous.

We also got a visit from Tasha's friend, Kateri from Canada.  They studied abroad together in Scotland.  It was great to finally meet her after hearing Uch talk about her and their fun adventures so much.  She was so sweet and such a big help getting ready for the party.

Speaking of their study abroad experience, Tash and I borrowed a version of Jenga that she learned about from her fellow study abroad classmates.  Drinking Jenga was a huge hit at our new years eve party and we'd suggest it for anyone looking for a new game to play while consuming adult beverages.  (*for my underage readers - this is a grown up game - you'll have plenty of time to do dumb stuff like this after your turn 21).  Each game piece has a task written on it, as you pull the block, you must do whatever the task is on that block, then like normal Jenga - you place it on the top of the tower and the block has the possibility of being pulled again.  We sharpie'd all the tasks on the blocks and then created a corresponding list of what the tasks mean.  Here's some of ours for examples. 
  • "No guts, No glory" -  you cannot remove blocks from the center row, only the ends from now on
  • "Opposite" - you must pull blocks with your non-dominant hand from now on
  • "goooooooaaaal!" - do your best goal celebration while everyone else playing screams 'goooooaaaal!'; everyone drink
  • "Why does Jenga hate you?" - drink 6.  sorry.
  • "Titanic!" -  the ships going down!  Everyone finish your drink!
  • "Animal intro" -  before you speak, you must open with an animal noise of your choice
  • "Drama Queen" -  make the biggest deal out of anything that happens
*if you're interested in borrowing our our full list of tasks for your own game - just ask:)

I think it might also be fun to make a non-drinking Jenga, like for a children's game.  Even though plain, old Jenga is fun - the addition of tasks just spices it up a little more.  You could use a lot of the same tasks, only minus the drinking penalty, you could also include fun child things, like - pat your head & rub your belly at the same time, etc

dog seeks friend

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Name:  Bullet Studer
Age: 1.5 years
Looking for:  a friend to play with and relieve some "freaking energy," as my mom would say

Hobbies:  chasing cats, shredding toilet paper, playing tug-of-war

Likes: peanut butter, sitting on laps, chewing anything, treats, bones, human food, baby toys, car rides

Dislikes: waiting any amount of time longer than 15 seconds, my crate.

if interested, you can contact me at: i'mapain-inmymomsa$$@gmail.com

100 things

My writing book suggested to help find inspiration; make a list of one hundred things that you love.  hmm..seems easy enough.  It encourages to write the obvious (chocolate) and not so normal (watching a squirrel run through branches).  It is supposed to be an exercise to help you include things that you love into your novel. 

I highly suggest making this list.  It was a great reminder to all the little things that I love about everyday life.  Those small, gratifying moments that are so simple but oh so sweet.  Here's my list to help you think about yours:
  1. Brandon's neck smell
  2. Booboo's slobbery, spitty, open mouth kisses
  3. hoodies
  4. hot tea
  5. our bed comforter
  6. books with beautiful writing
  7. turning right on red
  8. car seat warmers
  9. hot showers
  10. blue moon beer
  11. sun on my face
  12. the smell of fall
  13. screen doors
  14. swings
  15. close-up pictures
  16. facebook comments on my photo albums
  17. laughing
  18. my sisters' laughs
  19. my mom's hands
  20. my dad
  21. toast & jam
  22. rubber boots
  23. chunks of chocolate/cookie dough/brownie/etc in ice cream
  24. learning
  25. watching movie trailers online
  26. sharpie markers
  27. sifting through books at the library with NO or FULL intent of buying them
  28. fireplaces
  29. roasted asparagus
  30. ranch dressing
  31. people that can pull off wearing bulky rings
  32. Holy Cross church
  33. clapping or keeping the beat along to music
  34. "peace be with you" at church
  35. public transportation
  36. the cheers & noises at live sporting events
  37. marching bands
  38. the feel & tingle of someone unexpectedly reaching out to touch you while they're telling you a story
  39. the phrase "kindred spirits"
  40. spending time with Stephanie Morem
  41. zodiac signs
  42. the stars on my son's ceiling from his nightlight
  43. christmas lights
  44. the sound of gravel under boots
  45. spooning
  46. laying in B's nook
  47. a fresh, clean calendar
  48. spell check
  49. learning new functions in excel
  50. photos set to beautiful music
  51. books on my night table
  52. paperbackswap.com
  53. re-discovering this writing notebook after so long
  54. waking up a few minutes before the alarm goes off
  55. Bullet's tracks all through the snow in the backyard
  56. teaching at PS27
  57. my study abroad experience in Costa Rica
  58. getting the mail
  59. receiving Christmas cards
  60. physically crossing things off of a to do list
  61. long, untangled, beautiful hair on a woman (or me!)
  62. my Lisa's gram's boiled icing
  63. occasionally, a glass of milk
  64. watermelon
  65. JUMPING into water
  66. hot tubs
  67. watching Law & Order SVU on marathon while staying in a hotel
  68. pizza
  69. margaritas & guacamole from Pequenas in Brooklyn
  70. dancing wild
  71. thank you prayers
  72. a good cry
  73. worn in sneakers
  74. HGTV
  75. movies that make me want to google their reviews after watching them
  76. Wegmans
  77. covering up with a blanket
  78. muting TV commercials
  79. actually, just being in charge of the remote
  80. quick & easy cooking
  81. recycling
  82. string cheese
  83. my own handwriting
  84. organizing & planning events
  85. being in charge/bossy
  86. starbucks chai lattes
  87. short fingernails
  88. men's cologne
  89. using a q-tip almost immediately after getting out of the shower
  90. blush
  91. a full gas tank
  92. traditions
  93. watching people change their minds about something they never saw from another point of view
  94. meaningful lyrics
  95. being thought of as funny
  96. champagne
  97. the way I say "sham-pag-nay" in my mind while I spell champagne
  98. the notion that things exist that we don't know about yet
  99. falling in love
  100. empathy

exercise for the left and right brain

As previously posted, in my process of writing my novel; I discovered some left and right brain exercises to get my mind prepared for some serious creative writing. Last Tuesday, during momma's night off; I got a chance to flex my brain muscle and was quite impressed with myself.

I used some suggested exercises from Your First Novel (my new favorite book) and took to my writing station for a "workout".

Left Brain exercise: First Liner. Copy the first line from any novel and then keep writing what YOU think should happen next. Write for 10-15 minutes without stopping.
Payoff: I started with a line about a guy noticing a girl in a bar (hahha, it actually came from a pretty raunchy romance novel) and ended up with an interesting start to a story about how this man recognizes the woman from a missing person's ad he read the day his wife kicked him out of the house a few years ago. This might sound cliche, but as my hand was moving, the story started to unfold in my mind - not all at once, but each sentence I wrote was like a sneak peek into another part of the story. My mind started racing about how interesting that this man might feel a connection to this girl who was missing/lost because he first saw her on such a significant day in his life (the day his wife left him and he also felt "lost")...hmmm.
Feelings:  great!  It was a lot easier of an exercise than I initially thought it would be and I was proud of how quickly a story could come out of my brain from thin air.

Right Brain exercise:  Self Praise for your book.  Write future quotations that will adorne your book cover of all your rave reviews.
Payoff:  A whole page filled with interesting and positive quotes from the New York Times book review and my favorite authors.  Things like, "Studer's writing is a breath of fresh air to this genre."  and  "inspired!" and "Such a fascinating idea, I'm a little jealous I hadn't thought of it first"
Feelings:  I had both an uplifting feeling that so many "people" had nice things to say about my book (hah, that's a little schizy) but also felt really self conscious praising my own work, kind of like the same way that most people hate writing a cover letter...it just feels awkward and arrogant.  I can see the benefit of pumping yourself with confidence, but it sort of highlighted the fact that I can't be sure that anyone will say any of that about my writing.  ah.

I had a great time exercising my brain.  I did one more exercise - 100 things - Now its on to the research!

YOU keep writing too!!

booboo goes to daycare

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

While I love being home with booboo all day (I work from home), it is just becoming less and less managable now that he is so active.  So after a lot of homework, we finally decided to take booboo to KinderCare Learning Center two days a week.

Inspired by the absolutely hilarious mompetition blog, I created my own xtranormal video recounting my conversation with Grey's daycare teacher while picking him up from his first day.  enjoy it because its 100% factual and 100% ridiculously typical. (just click in the center and it will play)

Although he had a little of a "sensitive" first day, he was much better on Wednesday.  He still fussed a little because he wants the teachers' undivided attention the entire time (yea, that's my fault), but my conversation with his teachers were much more normal.  Yay for booboo making human friends instead of just Bullet.  Even bigger yay!! for his mumma who is outrageously productive now:)


soo funny.

Mompetition: Moms have cooties.: "Be careful. Our disease spreads. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!"

thank YOU!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I recently had a very surprising and beautiful note written to me via fbook msgs that made my day.  It was just  a short note that reminded me that I might not just be writing to the vast empty cyber space - but people are reading my blog and it meant a lot to me that my friend wanted to let me know she enjoyed our blog.  She didn't have to write that message to let me know she appreciated my posts but she did and it reminded me about the importance of graciousness.

And now its my turn to be gracious, because I really am.

THANK YOU  for stopping by to read our blog.  Thanks to the people that are publicly following our blog ----------------->.  Thank you for those of you that check in regularly to see what's new with us.  Thank you to those of you that post my blog link in your own blogs.  And thank you to those who just stubble upon it while blog surfing. 

There is something powerful about the written word, so thank you for taking time out of your day to read MY written words.  It may not seem like much to you; just a few minutes reading; but to know that there are people out there reading (and occasionally enjoying) my writing and thoughts feels like a very undeserved honor. 

Thank you to all our "fans."  [cue my childish giggling at the idea that we have "fans"]

Tabitha; human, wife, mom, writer.

About two years ago,  I woke up from an unusual dream and had the urge to write.  Not just write it down, but develop it into a story; like a legit novel.  With all of the creative energy flowing like a geyser, I got to work on writing about six pages of a novel right way...how Stephenie Meyer of me, no?

And then life started happening; I got pregnant, we moved, we got a dog, we had the baby, you get the point.  But if you know me, generally "life" doesn't stop me from finishing a to do list.  So if I'm going to be really honest (and as a blogger, I think that's sort of the blogger's code), I got to the point of being a little afraid.  I can write on the blog and say whatever I want, because I am just writing about my life.  It is what it is and there can't be any harsh critiques of how I live my life.  But this writing, this is coming from inside of me.  The writing is a reflection of talent (or not).  The words are my own ideas strung together to  snag a stranger's interest. That's a whole lot of room for negative reactions and bad first impressions.  Put to the point - that's pretty scary.  So its been over a year since I've done any writing towards "my book," whether it was life or just plain fear that has kept me away - I've stayed away. 

But just recently, I discovered my first writing and really became engulfed in the words again and was like, "geez, I wish this joker of an author would finish this because I'd like to know what happens." hah, newsflash scaredy cat - it's you.  Add to that, my mom is on my case to keep writing (thank you, mum for pushing me!) So, I have set a goal for myself that is pretty ambitious; to finish the novel in the year 2011.

To jump into the undertaking of writing a novel without any prior training or experience feels awfully arrogant of me.  I think that is also holding me back, that voice inside of me that keeps saying, "you're not a writer, Tabitha."  So I found myself breathing heavy and frantically flipping through the pages of writing books while on my mum's first night off.  When it got to the point where I was holding several writer's manuals in b&n, I literally thought, "You need to get out of here; this is dangerous."  I'm talking about that giddy, breathless feeling that I only remember having when cute boys were coming over to ask me to slow dance in middle school.  Seriously, I'm THAT nerdy.  The moment I started researching how to write a novel I started to immediately feel more confident.  The books that I selected (see links) are amazingly helpful and insightful.

And now that I have some writing reference books within my grasps, I am ready to start the writing process again.  Only this time more equipped and better organized. Your First Novel has great starting chapters on how to prepare your left & right brain for writing (soo creepily obsessed with it).  And The Writer's Little Helper has amazing tools for pushing your writing to be even greater.   strongly recommend either (or both!) to anyone thinking about starting to write. 

I am going to try to commit to write Tuesdays and Thursday nights and Sunday mornings.  At least for a little while.  Little by little I am hoping to be able to finish my book by the end of December!  I am still scared and nervous, but mostly I feel excited for the challenge.

As Your First Novel says, "The best remedy for the fear of writing is writing."

Q:  What is your book about?
A:  Sorry, I can't say because the backbone of my book is fairly unique, so for the sake of making a good first impression, you'll have to find out when its all finished and you read it.

Q:  Okay, fine.  Then what's the genre?
A:  Fantastical romance...I might have just made that genre up.

Q:  Oh goodness, more vampires?
A:  No.  No vampires, or werewolves, or time travelers.

Q:  Anything else?
A:  The point of view is from a man named Ben.

Q:  Where'd you get this ultra secret book idea?
A:  Actually, I had a dream about my late grandma and I attribute the idea to her.  She came to me in a dream and inspired me; just like she always has.

Q:  Do you need help?
A:  Yes, actually.  I need help by having people reminding me to finish the book.  In the future, I'll need early readers that will give honest feedback.  I'll keep you posted, if you're interested.  Until then, keep hounding me to write, please!

Q:  Will you blog about your writing?
A:  Yes, but I think more about the writing process.  I am seriously so inspired by all the tips I'm getting from these books.  So, if you were ever thinking about writing - let's do it together!!

The metamorphisis from plain old sister to bright shining funny amazing aunt

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It is a funny thing to be the oldest sibling.  No matter how old your younger siblings get, they are still younger and thus, less wise than you (heh).  As the oldest, I've experienced most things first; shaving my legs, first kisses, going to college, getting married, having a baby and all along the way I've been able to very wisely dispense my wealth of knowledge of these subjects...but there is one thing that they both beat me to; one thing I have absolutely no experience in; being an aunt.  It's amazing to me to watch how they have gone from my baby sisters to these women who easily morphed into caretakers and nuturers.  I see the way they light up around my son; the way they laugh at everything he does even if its naughty or whiny.  How they make up silly games to play with him.  I know what it is like to be a mother, but I have now idea what it feels like to be aunt.  So I asked,

I haven't noticed a difference, surprisingly, between being a sister & being my sister's son's Aunt. The only thing I can say is that it is easy. Easy to love Greyson, easy to think about him all day long and easy to still be a sister. I thought, maybe, it might be hard to juggle being an Aunt, a sister and a friend. Truth is, it's not hard at all. I love it. I don't have to try to be anything, I just am. I have never been as close to anyone as I am with my two sisters. I would do anything for them and I know they would travel the universe if I simply needed a hug. And I have never loved anything like Greyson Rudy. Quite honestly, I'm not that great with kids. Until Greyson I have never had a baby crawl to me or raise their tiny arms for me to hold them. It makes me feel like crying actually. Haha. It feels good to be so loved by something so tiny and adorable. We have only known eachother for about 10 months, but I love him just the same as my sisters. And yes, if he needed a hug...I would travel four universes to be there for him. Anyday.
-Tasha, better known as Aunt Uch

It's a hard thing to explain. I started wanting (I mean reaaally wanting) to be an aunt the moment Tab's foot stepped on the aisle of the church, the day her and Brandon were married. From that day on my thoughts, hopes and wishes were devoted to Tab and Brandon deciding to grace me with a nephew. Then, one day Tab gave me wings. Literally. I jumped about 7 feet in the air when I saw the plus sign in the photograph of her positive pregnancy test. Let the countdown begin!

The next few months were the longest of my life. I spent hours daydreaming of what it would be like when Greyson Rudy got here. My prayers were answered on my way home from a volleyball game. A voicemail left from my mother, moments before i checked my phone, frantic " we can't wait, were leaving in 5 minutes, THE BABY IS COMING!!!" I couldve passed out, I called my boss, tiny whimpers escaping my throat, "i wont be in tomorrow, Tab is having her babyyyy!" I made it home in record time. sweating, panting, crying, laughing. "thank god youre still here! lets go!" my parents and I piled in the car, close to ten o'clock at night, and b-lined it to the hospital.

Once the endless drive was over, we spent a sleepless night at the hospital (my apologies of being mellow dramatic Tab, I realize my night was nothing compared to yours). The text finally came "He's Here!" followed by a picture message; I have never seen so many adults fight over a cellphone before in my life.
Once we got the ok to go to the room, the guys waltzed causally with big smiles on their faces while us women did that half shuffle/half run with little floaty hearts drifting out of our heads. When I first saw Boo Boo all i could think to do was laugh.

Thats pretty much all Ive been doing since hes been here. Hes cool, really cool. my life has changed because I have one more person to add to the list of people that I live for. People that make my life better just because they are alive. A three hour drive is nothing to watch him do his little dances or to see him look up at me with that heart melting, half smirk.

I have to agree with Tasha describing aunthood as being easy. Its the most seamless transition Ive ever made in my life and by far the best title Ive ever had. I love him every second of the day, I show complete strangers the background of my phone (Grey, duh) I could go on for hours talking about his laugh, or his curly little mohawk. Hes the best. and he is surrounded by not only the two, coolest, most loving parents that I know (or the two prettiest, funniest aunts ;) ) but he also has a ginormous list of family, by blood or choice, friends, cousins, and literally complete strangers that would move mountains for him to make his life easier, safer and heartfelt. He adds love everywhere he goes, and I couldnt be more thankful for him<3
-Kayla, better known as Aunt Kitty

The difference between a mother and an aunt is a great one. Not only do aunts get to return children to their rightful owners at the end of the day; but even better they will get to know my kids in a different way than me. They'll get all the laughs and fun times without any of the discipline and worrying if they are becoming upstanding citizens of the world.  They'll get all the high fives and fun trips without any of the doctor's appointments and parent teacher conferences.  My kids will feel comfortable enough to go to my sisters with details of their life that will be way too uncomfortable to talk about with their boring, OLD mom (who obviously never experienced life before they existed.) They will get to feed them chocolate cake before bedtime and then send them home to me. They will be able to say "yes, as long as you don't tell your mom I said you could." 

Kayla & Tasha - You may have beat me to aunthood, but I'll get my payback sometime in the future when you start making cute little curly haired mohawk babies of your own.  And just as I trust that you will dole out solid moral advice to my babies as they ask you all of those things in the future that they don't think I have any clue about - I promise to do the same for your future babies' questions...Embarassing stories about you kept to a minimum, of course.  (um, yea right.)

i'm not kidding

Coming up from the basement at 10 o'clock on Sunday night, "Bullet might throw up," huffs Brandon.
"What?  Why?"  asks disbelieving and exhausted Tabitha.
"He just ate half my snuff can."

It's your world, Bullet.  We're just living in it.

We need some help!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Its January and that means its time to put together our 12 months of kindess list for 2011.  We sat down together and talked about what we should do for this year.  That's a lie, I said, "B, what do you think we should do for 12 months of kindness this year?"  And he said, "I liked this year."  End.  Typical husband.  After some reminding of how hard one-car family was and how we cheated almost the whole month of localtarian, we finally started talking about some new ideas. 

After much delibiration, we high fived over 11 new kindness tasks!  Which means we're missing a month and that's where YOU come in!  We need some inspiring ideas of kindness for the month of August 2011.  Keep these things in mind:  the weather is nice in August (something outdoor-sy?), we have a wedding and a few days in Baltimore already scheduled (so can't be dedicated everyday in the month), it's my birthday month:)

In case you're worried about doubling up on kindness (we don't mind doubling up, but if you want to be creative):  we already have kindness in the months pertaining to:
Food kitchens
Volunteer firefighters
Animal shelters
High School seniors
gardening/Mother Earth
Make-a-Wish foundation
Donors Choose/Teachers
Retirement home/Adopt a family

We'd prefer ideas that are not overly expensive, but a little finanical responsiblity is to be expected.  A one-time kindness, one that takes a little planning & participants, or takes the whole month are all accepted!!  We'll choose which one we like best/fit our family best/make us smile/gets the biggest bang for the buck/whatever we're feeling/etc.

Please send suggestions to:
my email  OR
a facebook message OR
comment on this post OR
carrier pigeon

Thanks for your help!!

If 12 months of kindness sounds like something you wish you could do to - don't just wish - DO IT!  It does not have to be highly involved or spend lots of your money.  Just choose a little something to do each month and then hold yourself (&your family) to finishing it up.  Here's two examples of how you can make it work for YOU.

12 months of Kindness:  totally, beautifully, wonderfully, FREE
January:  Commit to taking your own bag while shopping; Refuse plastic bags.
February:  Donate Blood
March:  hold a March Madness tournament for family & friends.  Cost of entering:  canned good, winner gets:  satisfaction of being awesome?  Donate the goods to a food bank
April:  Unplug appliances that aren't being used (toaster, tv, cellphone charger)
May:  Introduce yourself to your neighbors
June:  turn off the tv
July:  send snail mail to a friend or family member you haven't talked to in awhile (okay, this one costs 48 cents)
August:  Resist road rage.  hello, friendliest driver ever...for the whole month (this one will take some determination!)
September:  clean out your closet & donate the clothes  (yea, the jeans you haven't fit in since HS, they go)
October:  trick-or-treat for UNICEF
November:  write honest thank you notes to your parents & siblings
December:  volunteer as a Salvation Army santa (um, awesome)

12 Months of Kindness:  Kid-friendly
January:  start a family talent show night
February:  bake cookies for the local retirement home
March:  write & illustrate a book with someone older than you (your aunt/uncle, your grandparent, neighbor)
April:  learn to say please & thank you in other languages
May:  grow a garden/plant together
June:  start taking an evening family walk
July:  visit a local historic hotspot and learn more about your community
August:  donate some of your old toys to a preschool/day care
September:  make home-made gifts for grandparent's day
October: trick-or-treat for UNICEF
November:  write thank you notes to the local fire department
December:  send holiday cards to a children's hospital

mix it up - do a whole year dedicated to just one cause that you care about most or be a scatterbrain like us and bounce all over the place.  Whatever you decide to do - know that you are changing the world one small act of kindness at time.

NYR: stress

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

So as mentioned earlier, our new years resolution is to shrink down or in the more modern and increasingly popular way to phrase it:  minimize.  Yes sir, the studers are going minimalist.  But this does not mean that our house is going to be white-walled with one piece of furniture and a vase of long stemmed calla lillies in it.  Um, have you not seen pictures of a my horse of a dog?  But we are taking the ideals behind minimalist living and pushing that throughout all aspects of our life. 

From here on out, this will be called "NYR"  as in, New Years Resolution.  Please don't expect me to type that entire paragraph everytime I talk about our minimalistic efforts.  hah, minimalistic. 

So, first business of order in the NYR is to minimize stress...mainly mine.  I may look like a totally put together human (can you hear my sisters and husband laughing hysterically right now?) but I have been a little maniacal for the past few months.  Let's step back a moment, My name is Tabitha and I'm a give-aholic.  Not like I'm bragging about being generous, I seriously have a  problem here.  I can't tell when enough giving is enough.  I was entirely capable of giving time/energy/love/interest/effort to myself AND my husband not so long ago.  But now that we have added to this family, the myself part has fallen out of the equation at an exponentially growing rate and with my over-giving issue, I just stood on the sidelines and watched myself disappear...So after multiple breakdowns over the past nine months, my hubs and I finally saw the light on how to fix this situation so that I can get a little balance in my life.  Clearly, the only thing that this give-aholic loves more than giving is a list.  Well, a schedule actually.  And we've put it into place this week. 

We've discussed what kind of a magic each of the nights might hold:

For now game night consists of B and I playing scrabble or the wii since Grey is too little to appreciate anything that requires not throwing or biting things.  (This week, we didn't remember about the game night until we were already in bed, so we had a rock, paper, scissors battle royalle...i lost). 

Mum's night off could be mean reading, writing (more to come about that), or meeting up with mom friends for some cocktails (how satc of me!) 

Dad's night off will allow B some uninterrupted tinkering in the garage, espn zombie time, or some wings&brews with our cousins. 

Date night doesn't mean actually going on a date always (who can afford a babysitter every thursday of the year?!) but maybe some wine with dinner but mostly just an attempt to put some romance back into our lives (I think this includes me making an attempt at having washed hair and perfume...that'll be nice for a change). 

And on Friday; having an evening set aside that we both are committed to cleaning up the place - ahhmazing.

And maybe I'm a total loser, but on the first ever Mumma's night off, I had the best time running errands all by myself. You'll hear more about my trip to the bookstore in an upcoming post, but I also made a stop at Target and the grocery store. While I was on my way back to the house, I called B just to say, "I love Tuesdays." Until you have a child, you have no idea that freedom is going to the grocery store alone.

New Year Reading for an uplifting start

I love the new year as I've already stated a million times.  Its a fresh start, like getting out of the bed in morning on the right foot.  So if you're looking for some books to give yourself a quick step at the start of this new year; here's a few of my favs...depending on the uplift you're looking for hopefully some of these will help give you that certain 'je ne sais quoi' to get you on the right path for 2011.

Uplift:  Clean up & clear out
How many times do I have to say it?  Throw out 50 things - Clear the Clutter find your life by Gail Blanke.  Easy to read, easy to follow, and really quick bursts of inspiration throughout.  I read this book several times in the year when I start feeling really cramped and stagnant. 

This book is also really helpful to read when preparing for a garage/yard sale, or moving, or preparing for a new family member, or when your closet is bursting with too much, or your parents are trying to get you to take all your junk from their house into your own...and any other time you need to skim down. 

I love that this book also address mental and cyber clutter.  Two things usually forgotten when getting rid of clutter - but both places generally are the most packed with unneccessary things.  This book is like a personal therapist. 

Uplift:  Change the world.

Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Promote Peace..One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  ahhhhh, that was a sigh of fresh air.  It was difficult for me to get started in this book, but after pushing through the first few pages I became mesmerized.  This book is listed in my inspiring book pages (see above) and that's because it really is inspiring.  Not just at what he does and how hard he works...but because the work that Greg Mortenson (supported by his amazing wife) will literally change the path of people's lives.  There are individuals on the other side of the earth that can proclaim - this man has changed the course of my life.  Amazing.

I am also continually inspired to read stories about people that go with all they have in one direction.  This is not a talent that I have - although I have a lot of interest in helping, I find it impossible to just pick one thing.  I am too interested in too many things.  So to read about Mr. Greg and how he dedicated his life towards this one goal is massively impressive.

Uplift:  Be better to Mother Earth

The Green Year by Jodi Helmer.  I love the Earth and I want to be good to her because she is so giving and good to us.  This is a day by day book; think calendar style, but with a quick helpful green tip each day of the year. It's quick, easy, and helpful.  Even if you don't use it daily, its really easy to flip through and get ideas on how to make your daily living a little less negatively impactful.  Like ordering tap beer over bottled beer in restaurants OR changing your margins in Word before printing to save on paper!

Besides helpful green tips, it also gives lots of really awesome (maybe unbeknown to you, cause they were to me) websites that offer eco-friendly opportunities.  Like http://www.freecycle.com/ which is like Craig's list but with free items to re-gift/re-use and http://www.greenerchoices.org/ which helps you make decisions about appliances that are better eco choices.

Uplift:  Eat Better.
Eating for Life by Bill Phillips is a great cookbook for making delish food but with the right types of ingredients so you don't hate yourself in the morning.  He also has a whole change your life diet+exercise thing happening in there too (who doesn't love before&after shots, hello!) but just using it as a cookbook is really helpful.  We love eating good food in our house, but we'd like to eat better too - not just tasty.  These recipes provide the best of both worlds and we tap into for dinner ideas at least once a week.

Uplift:  Have more fun!
This Book Will Change Your Life by Benrick is highlarious.  I purchased it as kind of a joke for my sisters waay back in my college days but still flip through it occasionally for a some quick chuckles (yea, I just used that word...how else do you describe breathing out and laughing simultaneously?  I can't think of the word for it, so deal with chuckle).  Let it be known I have not finished the whole book.  I have made some weak attempts and I think I have legitimately made it to day36, but I strive to be the kind of a girl that can finish the whole thing.  It gives a task for each day - some of them are ridiculous, some absolutely shameful, and others are downright genius...but no matter how you cut it, its an awesome book.

Whatever your start of the new year book choice may be - open your brain up and re-energize your mind!  Happy new year:)

dancin' man

our little booboo loves dancing.  it may have something to do with the fact that ever since he was a teeny baby I would dance with him all over the house.  Or that when he was still in my belly I would tap along with music so he could hear the beat in there...whatever the case may be, when he hears music now he starts to do his groove thang. 

Grey's groove thang consists of some serious arm flapping and knee bouncing.  that's about as far as his dancing has progressed at the mere age of 8 1/2 months, but he looks pretty smooth.

Booboo dances most of the day along with one of his favorite Christmas toys his activity table.  It has four different settings including the alphabet/numbers, Spanish words, and just a "play" setting.  However, it stays mostly on the Music setting because Grey loves to dance along with the tunes so much.  There are a few songs on the table that B and I know by heart and find ourselves singing them later in the day after the babe is fast asleep.  Pretty sure some of our guests from New Years can sing along with them now too, hah!

But Grey does not dance exclusively to the activity table.  He dances to his mumma's singing (hah), to the ipod, and even to commercial jingles. 

ps. his shirt in the video definitely says "Mommy needs a date night."  Just trying to give daddy a subtle message.

vino in the house!!..and on the floor, and on the counters, and on the...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Let's just be blunt for the sake of wrapping this post up - our family likes to drink.  Not like we're throwing alcohol back in the middle of the afternoon everyday, but we don't shy away from a glass of wine..or two.. at dinner, ...and we don't throw dry parties.  So it only makes logical (and financial) sense that we start a'brewin our own label of wine...right?  After taking a few lessons from my dad (who started making his own wine when I was still in high school), we started our first batch last year. 

After all that sittin' and fermentin' (please don't question why I am writing in a hillbilly accent - just go with it), we fixed to get it bottled in November.  If you've ever siphoned anything (I have no idea why you would have), you know that its like taking tiny shots of whatever you're siphoning to get it a'flowin' through the tube...so please imagine us standing in our kitchen with barrels of wine on the counter and towels on the floor, half blitzed trying to get this wine bottled.  yea, ridiculous.  Where was your son at the time, you ask?  In bed...so was the dog just for safety's sake...not the baby's bed...his crate...ah, whatever.

So after making a very obnoxious mess, that was relatively funny at the time, (thank you Mr. Clean Scrubbers!) we got all of our first batch of wine bottled up and ready for holiday distribution!  We are calling our label:  The Grape Chameleon.  The back label reads:

Just as you are a social chameleon; the parent, the friend, the lover, the sibling, the pawn, or the boss - our grape chameleon can also be what you need it to be, when you need it; an escape in a bubble bath at the end of a hard day, a touch of romance to a dinner date, a hostess gift, or a splash of flavor to your favorite dishes.
You are adaptable all day long; so should your wine be flexible too.

Unfortunately, all pictures of the mess are currently trapped on our desktop downstairs which for some hateful reason has had a motherboard issue.  So you'll need to imagine the scenario in your mind.  Think blood red wine everywhere, B down on one knee with siphon tube in his mouth, and me laughing hysterically.

In case you are wondering, there is a magical machine that then squeezes the cork down into the wine bottle to seal 'er up.  Its kind of scary and I'm a little afraid every single time that its just going to shatter the bottle and we'll end up with glass shards sticking out of our shins...luckily that didn't happen.

We order in our grape juice.  Its really a quite easy and fun project if you're interested in trying it out.  I'm happy to share hilarious first-timer stories!  Next up on our brewing fun is following in Brandon's dad's footsteps...Don't want to spill the beans, but it starts with a moon and ends with a shine. 

Just another upside to marriage - when the siphoning gets to be too much - pass the tube.