Around Here Forty-Seven: 11/18-11/24

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A look into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Hours Outdoors: 509  (of 1000)
We racked up three and a half hours on Friday night, jogging in the Great Santa Run to support Wings of Hope for the second year in a row with Greyson. (that completes 100 small things list number 13: Run in three races!) Rusty came along too, so I pushed the stroller while Grey ran right next to us for the whole 2 miles.  It was a pretty nice night, so we weren't too cold and Grey kept me motivated to keep running the whole time.  After the race, we got our medals and some hot chocolate - then snuck into a place on the side of the street to watch the Holiday Light up the Night Parade.  Gemma walked with Abba & Chum and threw candy with Conemaugh Health Systems.  Violet rode the stroller with Uch and threw out candy with Alleghenies Unlimited Care Providers.  The parade was beautiful (Rusty loved the high school marching bands!) and then we all congregated in Central Park to see the giant Christmas tree get lit up for the season.  It was really a magical small town evening. 

Reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman little by little.  I am able to clock quite a few minutes reading during bath/showertimes and I've been sneaking in some minutes during the kids' bedtime - but I've been struggling with carving out time to get some longer bursts of reading in.  I just keep telling myself, come January when my substitute teaching comes to an end (bittersweet) I'll be able to play some major catch up! 

Donating my time and math talents to support the Needy Children's Shopping Tour at JCPenney's.  I'm no math wiz at all, but I used all I could muster to keep track of the sales and prices to get as much as possible for my assigned sweet girl during our shopping trip.  We did awesome together searching for her sizes and preferences in the store.  We were able to get a ton of stuff including some warm boots and lots of new clothes.  It was my second year volunteering/chaperoning and it is a wonderful event that is so thoughtfully and efficiently organized.  

Eating dinner after 8p each night as basketball season officially has begun!  Their first game/tournament isn't for another two weeks, but it's practice every night now, so we're enjoying some late afternoon snacks to hold us over until Daddy gets home so we can eat dinner as a family.  The upside is that as soon as dinner is done it's bedtime! hah. 

Dealing with some in-home sickness (runny noses, sore throats) and a bout of pink eye from Greyson!  He missed two days of school this week for it and when I took him to the Peds to make sure that's all it was - the doc took one look at me and the other three kids and said, "Oh gosh, I see a lot of eyes in here....and right before Thanksgiving!"  She gave me an extra refill on the eye drop meds just in case we all woke up on Thanksgiving with pink eyes!  haha, fortunately - we did some serious handwashing & quarantining to keep it contained to just one of us! 

Giving our Trick-or-Treat for Unicef box collections to the Coinstar this week to (finally) finish our October 12 months of Kindness project.  Our kids collected as did my 4th&5th grade CCD students which came to a total of over $53 dollars!  ***Don't Forget:  Giving Tuesday is this coming Tuesday, November 29!!***

Upgrading to a new phone after six years!  Brandon needed to get a new phone now that he has a new job, so we went together and the Verizon guy took one look at my beloved iPhone and said, "um, the last time we sold those was five or six years ago."  HAH.  I was really hesitant to change though because it has so many photos and videos on it from the kids.  Many of which I was saving and trying to transfer to Youtube because I was getting "storage almost full" messages daily.  We did a little tour and when it came time for a decision, we made the leap from iPhone to the Google Pixel phone.  I was worried because of navigation concerns - but after four days, I'm one hundred percent sold on our change.  The camera and video is awesome, there are NO storage limits (like ever), all of my photos get pushed right to google+ (easy for blogging too!), and the photo assistant is basically my BFF now.  

Celebrating Thanksgiving!  One of my favorite holidays of the year with two wonderful family dinners.  We started the day with cousins at our house while their Mum, Dad, and big sis ran in a turkey trot.  The kids love playing with Benny and Brookie so it gave the day a happy start to begin first thing with family that we are thankful for!  The kids played with the Macy's Parade running in the background while I baked three pumpkin rolls and mini apple pies.  Then we got all ready and headed out to Indiana, PA to celebrate with our Adams family (my side) and after delicious food (Rusty had his first thanksgiving 'meal' of mashed potatoes & gravy!) and a happy birthday sung to my Dad (Chum), we headed back towards home to enjoy dinner with our Studer family.  So much to be thankful for, especially given our newest baby this year, and Brandon's new job, and good health, and a warm home, and places to go at every turn where people love and support us.  I am just so very grateful for this beautiful, messy life of ours. 

Making breaded porkchops, doctor'ed-up frozen pizza (I added onions and banana peppers to our parents' pizza), dinner for breakfast (egg sandwiches!) and more than once this week - microwave popcorn with chocolate chips on top (mine and the kids' favorite snack!)  

a mother's gratitude

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I give thanks for this home that is more often than not disorganized and wrecked and a mess and broken and cluttered.  but also so obviously LIVED in and so obviously LOVED that we are forced to try our best to not let all the disorganized, wrecked, messy, broken, and cluttered parts get us down.

I give thanks for my kids' daddy, who heals any and all of our broken hearts and spirits with a hug,  who administers compliments and kindnesses like a Santa who needs no holiday, who has patience as vast as the sea for every single one of us in this home, and who leaves in the morning to work hard all day and returns each evening with his eyes beaming like a sailor who has returned to land; a Daddy who's favorite place in all the world is right here in our home with us.

I give thanks for this place that I can write and journal and lock away the memories of our life to be read later by me to laugh at how silly or beautiful or wonderful or meaningless or meaningful our tiny moments were all along.  For the friends I've made through this space, for all the support and the moments that made me feel like I wasn't entirely alone or insane in this weird journey of motherhood.  This space that someday, hopefully, our children will stumble upon and realize that their mother was more than just the cleaner-upper, laundry-folding, booboo-kissing, photograph-taking, rule-making, food-cooking blur in their childhoods - but actually like a real person who had thoughts and feelings and a life outside of the prism of Mom (well, only minimally since their arrival into the world, but still true.)

I give thanks for our family who show up without question and usually little notice to make things happen.  Who arrive with smiles and hugs and tool boxes and food and gifts and listening ears and support and a hand outstretched.  Who helped shape our memories as leading characters in the prologue, each and every chapter, and surely in the epilogues of our stories.  Who shrug off our flaws and love us despite (and sometimes because of) them.  Our family who can hear what we are saying before we even know what we are thinking.

I give thanks for our friends who still want to talk to me even though my text reply time is generally a 72 hour minimum.  Our friends who don't miss a beat even if the last time we talked without a child interrupting us has been years.  Friends who double our joys and share the burden of our worries.  Our friends who ask for no apologies, who forgive in spades, and who laugh along with us because life is hilarious and sometimes because the only way to get through it all is to laugh about it with someone you love.

I give thanks for the coffee, and the yoga pants, and clean bed sheets, and meal plans, and dependable wifi, and our van Sheila, and hot showers, and Netflix, and toaster strudel, and DVR, and working appliances, and for all the ingredients for dinner already in the house,  and glasses of wine (or bottles of beer), and scented candles, and cozy blankets.

I give thanks for naptime.

I give thanks for the phone camera roll filled with pictures of up-too-close selfies of flawless skinned faces that send my phone into 'storage almost filled' message alert fits, and the fridge cluttered and full of colorful drawings, paintings, scribbled names, and team pictures.  For our family yearbooks that hold memories of smiles that today's stresses have sadly pushed into the recesses of my mind.

I give thanks for the sweetest feeling in the deepest pit of my soul when little palms are placed on my cheeks with all the lovingkindness a child beholds.  For whispered, "i love you momma," and 'hold you,' For early morning snuggles with slow-to-wake kids that temporarily have forgotten that their 'too big' for snuggles from their momma.

I give thanks for these people who call me mum...they are little now, but someday they will be bigger than me, and though my gratitude list may look different in various ways, this one will remain.

I will never be done giving thanks for being their mum.

my darlings,
to be your mother
will always be
the greatest privilege
of my life.
i love you forever
even when you get so big,

happiest thanksgiving to you are yours.

Marco Planning 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Nearly impossible to believe that it is almost this time of year again, but alas it is upon us and as my past few weeks have been going - I wanted to get a jump start on planning for our elf Marco's return so it could just be all set and ready to roll come November 30.

We still participate in the Elf on the Shelf fun because the kids honest-to-goodness love Marco.  When we look back through our yearbooks they smile and ask questions about Marco like he's a real member of our family.  It it obviously brings a little extra special dose of magic to the season for them.

As in past years, Marco arrives with a note from Santa on November 30th and then follows with a little surprise each morning through December 24th.  Santa then takes Marco with him back to the North Pole when he visits that night.

I try to incorporate some of the other fun celebrations we do throughout the month in with Marco too (in part because it helps me remember the activities and him! hah).  Things like St. Nicholas day, the first basketball tourney of the season, and Rusty's half birthday this year are being helped a little bit by Marco.  We have a Harry Potter Marco this year as the two big kids are obsessed.

Mostly posting for myself (hah), but in case anyone else out there needed some ideas and/or motivation to get a jump start on it.  My theory is this planning outline is my 'set it and forget it- crockpot' method to Elf on the Shelfing.  hahhahahha  #momingsohard

....but first!  Thanksgiving:)
xxoxo I'm thankful for YOU!

Around Here Forty-Five AND Forty-Six: 11/04-11/17

Friday, November 18, 2016

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



Intentional Hours Outside: 506 hrs (of 1000)
It's been such a weird two weeks with big changes, days off of school, and unreliable weather.  I have not been doing well with my outdoor hours - but the girls, Rusty and I made a playground pitstop after running some errands this week and it was a perfect dose of fresh air and vitamin D.  It felt great to be out in the wide open space.  Later that night though I was explaining to B how frustrating it can feel that there just are not enough hours in the day.  Especially now that the days are so short (!!) We got in some much needed playground/outdoor time - but then I had two loads of laundry unfinished.  Ugh, adulting is the worst.

Reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman with our Inspired Readers book club

Celebrating.  Big BIG news in our life.  After almost ten years as a district manager, Brandon got a new job as a business manager at a school district only a few miles from our home.  We have been so grateful for Brandon's job, his co-workers, and all the benefits that came with it for the past decade - saying our goodbyes these last few weeks has been bittersweet.  (hello to all of you who read our blog!!) But we are so very excited about this new adventure.  With four little kids who are turning into big kids with activities and friends and busy lives - a new schedule that is synchronous with their schedules is going to be life-changing for our whole crew.  Brandon and I were even able to sneak away for a proper celebration dinner (thanks to my sis Uch and Kevin for babysitting and Steph B for the Longhorn gift card - we finally got to use it!!) It will feel like completely new operation around here and it couldn't be at more perfect timing as Basketball season begins this week!

Hosting a dia de los muertos food day at school for my students which was a nice little break in the studying for a little while.  Then I invited 30+ of them to the Q1 challenge breakfast if they brought their grades up from the first marking period halfway point.  I'm trying some different tactics to inspire and motivate them and it's taking awhile - but it does seem to be paying off in the long run, little by little.

Feeling so much gratitude for our veterans, especially our Aunt Kitty who was able to come in all the way from Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning to attend Greyson's Veterans Day luncheon at school.  He was so proud to have her there!  My little sister is an Army National Guard veteran who spent a deployment in Kosovo in 2004-2005.

Konmari'ing in our bedroom/closet/bathroom for several hours one afternoon with B.  We both were so fed up with clutter that it was a no-nonsense throw-all-the-things-out mission!  What a huge relief I have to walk into our room every day and feel like I can see the floor (hah).  Then I took to the kids living room play area with a vengeance that's been building up inside of me for months.  We pulled the cubbie bin that had previously been in the laundry room (built by my dad! thank you!) and used it to organize the toys and books that we pared down in a big way.  The kids love the new space and because we combed through all of our board games (and put them in plastic bags vs. broken ripped boxes) we have been squeezing in lots of games of Go Fish, Spot It, and HeadBandz in the past two weeks.

Loving seeing the kids all together.  They definitely do their fair share of bickering and teasing each other - but for the most part, they all just love each other so very much.  The way the big kids crack up about Rusty when he grabs them by the hair or ears and gives them wide, open-mouthed kisses on the noses.   The way Rust smiles and delights at the sight of them - he is so bored if they are not providing him entertainment!  I love standing back and taking in their hilarious conversations and seeing the way they interact with each other.

Obsessed with finishing our 2015-16 Family Yearbook!  I switched our yearbook to run the school years and it's knocked me a little off balance of my usual yearbook creation flow.  I made some substantial headway though in the past few days and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Our whole family loves looking at the yearbooks so much and finishing our first one that includes Rustin will be such a relief.  Almost there!

Making cake mix blueberry muffins for breakfast on a school day off, a pork roast in the slow cooker with apple cider,  If I'm being honest, I've been terrrrrrible at meal planning and we've been squeaking by on whatever is left in the cupboards.  A big time grocery trip is in order for sure - good thing Thanksgiving and lots of leftovers are nearly here!

the nap

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We had been running on low fumes for a few weeks, between the jobs and kids' activities, and the homework, and the regular chores, and holidays, and sweet baby Jesus the clutter.  And so one night during bedtime, I found myself staring down two huge hampers of dried, clean laundry in the girls' room.  He put the boys to bed, and while I folded laundry, the girls chatted themselves into sleep.

A little while later, he snuck out of the boys' room and stood at the doorway to the girls' room while I sat in front of an almost empty second basket of clothes surrounded by piles and piles of cleaned laundry.

'How's it going in here?' he asked groggily, clearly having just woken himself up after putting the boys to bed.
'Slowly, I'm so tired, babe."
"I know, me too.  I have to do the garbage yet."

and he was standing there in his comfy sweatpants and hoodie
with that face I've been looking at and loving since I was a teenager
and I was so very sleepy

so I patted the floor in this little open space among the laundry piles and asked, "come lay with me?"
"if I lay down I'm not getting up for awhile."
"yeah, this is definitely a nap that I'm proposing."

and then he smiled
and I smiled back

And while the sound machine crickets chirped, surrounded in little piles of folded sparkles and pinkish purple frills, we wound our arms together, laid down, and closed our eyes.

We woke up about three hours later, disorientated, a little sore in the neck, and with full knowledge that the garbage still needed taken out and the dishwasher needed run and all those pinkish purple frills need put into the correct drawers.

We untangled, and he stood and helped me up from the floor, and we did a little mini team huddle - complete with 'okay break!- and got to our respective before.bed jobs with a renewed sense of energy - spurred from our three hour nap and the comfort that comes from a conspiratorial escape from duties.

and so the moral of this story is..

my sweet darlings,
be with the one who can help you up from the floor
but who will also lie down beside you sometimes too.
your mumma.

Around Here Forty-four: 10/28-11/03

Friday, November 4, 2016

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  505 hours (of 1000)
Another not great week (up 5 hours) and I really can only blame it on my own exhaustion.  ugh, must get out of this funk.  I attempted a walk with the pups and Rust only to be forced back home at the neighbor's house by a thunderstorm (ugh).   We had some beautiful days in the low seventies (!) this week that had us all outside and basking in the sun - as a forecast for a very heavy snow season looms...oh boy.

Reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman with our Inspired Readers book club (finally started!)

Finishing up our Halloween celebrations by volunteering in Greyson's class for their fall fest party and parade.  I loved meeting Grey's classmates and getting to chat with some of the other mommas.  And then our kids got to go trick-or-treating Round2 at Mimi's house with our Garrettson cousins and Caleb!  The big kids ran off into the streets while us parents hung back and walked around with Gemma and Violet.  Thankfully the big kids were able to find their way back to Mimi's house as the sun started setting (we were starting to get a little nervous, hah).  Gracie had a sleepover and then we separated half of our candy into a package to be shipped to Operation Gratitude for their Candy for Heroes project!  And our Trick-or-Treat for Unicef change boxes are being filled daily in-house with all of the change we've accumulated through the year in the jar in the kitchen and out in the community with my fifth grade CCD students!

Party-hopping on Saturday.  Grey attended his first ever drop-him-off friend birthday party and had a blast while the rest of us had a mini party for Lainey's third birthday.  Then we spent the rest of the evening at my parents' house for their annual Fall Festivus party.  We all had a great time - so much good food and the weather was beautiful!   Fall Festivus is always one of our favorite fall traditions (thanks Abba & Chum!)

Celebrating el dia de los muertos with my students in Spanish I class by coloring calaveras, making tissue paper flowers, papel picado, and watching The Book of Life in class. bonus for me that it was an easy week in lesson planning.

Trying to get a handle on it, but holy mother-loving Laundry.  Our dryer has been inconsistent for a few weeks now but finally seems to be alright again (thank goodness).  So I haven't felt quite caught up (thanks Abba for doing our laundry more than once through those weeks!) and then add into the mix that I'm switching out winter/summer clothes for Bud and I and also I just had to buy all new pants for Gemma because at 4 and a half she's wearing size 6 pants because she's so tall and Violet has been in a wardrobe-changing phase big time...the piles of clothes are  Have you read that post from Bunmi Laditan about laundry babies...or the one about laundry shaming....hilarious. I'm so there, friends.

Speaking of Violet's wardrobe-changing phase - she's naked approximately 80% of the day because...toddlerhood.  I came home from work this week and Brandon said, "Violet's changed four times already and it's not even noon.  Also, pretty sure she's naked and in Gemma's high heels right now so don't be too surprised when she comes downstairs."

Thankful for our new sliding glass door that Brandon and Pappy installed this week.  B has been on vacation all week so there have been lots of little projects getting tied up while he's been home (new brakes for Sheila!)  Pappy and Gigi got the sliding door for us for an early Christmas present (thank you!) and it looks beautiful and shines so much light into the dining room.

Surprised how quickly five months can fly by as our Rust Man is officially five months old.  He is such a hungry kid gobbling down full bubbas, baby oatmeal, and whole baby food containers with no problem.  He loves 'chewing' on anything within reach including our hands, toys, and his own toes.  His favorite activity is talking to someone face-to-face but also like his exersaucer or rolling all over the floor.  This kid - he's the fastest growing one yet!

Dancing one joyous, nervous, excited, happy dance.  details coming soon.

Making garbage bread with leftover sausage from the crockpot for the guys while they installed the door and from scratch brownies for our Witch's brew brownies that the kids helped make to use up some Halloween candy (disclaimer: ours did NOT turn out quite as lovely as the pin. #duh).  I started the 21day fix program up again this week too and it's been going great thanks to having Greek Yogurt, strawberries, and lots of veggies on hand

Around Here forty-three: 10/21-10/27

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 500 hours (of 1000)
Up a laughable (if it wasn't so depressing) 4 hours this week.  We finally had enough leaves to build a proper leaf-jumping pile in the yard and the kids were pretty happy about it.  Grey of course had to throw sixty thousand touchdown passes to himself while diving into the pile while the girls held hands and ran through them together.  Bullet has always loved rolling around in leaf piles, so we all called him over and he comes over, stands in the middle of the pile while we are all cheering him on, and takes a pee all over the leaves instead.  I could not stop laughing.  The kids and I tried to separate out the wet leaves (semi-successfully) so it was definitely a bath night after that.  Sheesh, always a circus here.

Reading nada....which is quite terrible for my soul.

Celebrating Bud's birthday on Friday with some kid-homemade paper/crayon banners, and dinner at our house with his parents.  He's kind of my favorite person on Earth, so I get particularly thankful and gooey in my heart.  So grateful he was born (thank you Gigi!)

Eating brains as a family...hahha, just kidding.  we did all dress up like zombie though (even Rust!) for the Zombie Crawl downtown that my sister planned for You in Flood City.  It had a great turnout and even a flash mob to MJ's Thriller in the middle of Central Park at 9p!

Running on empty (as they say) big time.  I think the hustle of the rotten eight which turned almost immediately into working part-time and keeping up with all of our other stuff has finally caught up to my brain and soul.  I read in some article last week about how getting around six hours of sleep a night continually is the equivalent of being drunk which really resonated with me.  That is how I feel, intoxicated in a sleepy -can't remember-hazy kind of way.  ugh.  On the upside, it's really forced me to take stock of what needs to get done each day and the things I can let slide - and without (too much) guilt even.  Lowered standards isn't such a terrible thing when it comes to housework, right?....right?!?! hah.

but...Trying to copy Violet's enthusiasm about life when she daily looks at me (or Bud) and says, "Best. Day" at the instant of any one thing she loves (like hot dogs for lunch or finding a baby doll)

Helping in Ashley's Pajama Drive which we love to do every year!  We used her Amazon Wishlist to order some jammies and sent them directly to her house from there to help kids who need some extra warm and cozy as we move into the colder months.  Thanks as always for organizing this awesome drive, Ashley! There's still time to participate too - please hop on over to her wishlist and do something kind today :)

Grateful for our awesome babysitter, Kristy, who has alleviated a lot of my daily stress of scheduling our home during my part-time hours.  And who also plays hair salon and dance party with the girls and follows my weird no tv before 10:30am rules and pretends like she doesn't notice our house is a mess.  xxox thank you Kristy!

Trick-or-treating on Thursday night as is tradition for us at my parents' house.  Grey wanted to be Harry Potter, Gemma was Rapunzel, Violet was dressed as Hulk Hogan (because they share the same hair genes) and Rusty brought his big brother's first Halloween costume back to life as a little tree frog.  All three walking kids did amazing and Violet was so excited that getting candy for knocking on doors and saying 'chickacheet' is a real thing that exists in life.  Like a total sap, I always get weirdly emotional on trick-or-treat night because it highlights the beauty of neighbors, and neighborhoods, and community, and real life face-to-face speaking to one another.  What a strange little holiday where people turn on their porch light and wait for kids to ring their bell to give out candy and treats and a smile for free.  I just think it's lovely.

Making roasted vegetables for brandon's birthday dinner and the girls and I made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies one afternoon.  but truthfully, I feel like we ate a lot of pizza last week - some weeks are just like that.