Vially at three.

Friday, November 24, 2017

dearest squishiest, honeyiest pie Vially,
three suits you. i feel like you at three is maybe the you'est you - is there some way we could keep you always this sweet, and snuggly with that mouse squeak voice? oh, how we all wish with our deepest wishes because you are pretty much everyone's favorite.

not kidding about the everyone's favorite. You are. You're the child most often that our friends and family whisper to us, 'I'll keep this one if you like' because you just have the thing that the Olsen twins had when they were toddlers on Full House - the 'aww' factor for anything and everything you do and no one can resist your fourteen million dollar smile.  And that smile that doesn't come for free man, you gotta work for it. If someone wins your affection the look on their face is sheer astonishment and joy - like how people look when they're surprised with puppies and kitties.

You are tough and brave and weirdly cool for your age. You had a horse themed birthday party and it doesn't appear to be a fad you're growing out of. You talk about Dawn (Uncle Dave & Aunt Cindy's horse who came to your party!) at least once a week and love looking at books about horses.

You still love Barbie dolls and the stories and dialogue you make up for them is so adorable to walk up on. You also love puzzles and coloring pictures - you're getting better and better at coloring in the lines and you can draw a simple smiley face now with these big circle round eyes (that take up most of the circle face) and a funny little barely turned up line for the smile.

Your second favorite movie is Jurassic World.  Jurassic Park 1, 2, and 3 are also in your top 5.  The Book of Life about el dia de los muertos is your favorite movie and you can say 'María Posada with an incredible Spanish accent.  Speaking of Spanish you also know how to say pengüino (penguin) and caballo (horse). I asked you how to say "mom" in Spanish and you said, "Tabitha!" (hah). 

I love to see how you interact with your siblings. You get tough and wild with Grey and you two are always getting in trouble together because the silliness is through the roof. He encourages you to say ridiculous things and while he laughs so hard he almost falls out of his seat, you just ham it up some more - even if you're about an inch away from getting sent to time out (talking about poop and weiners and buttfaces is the general theme). 

With Gemma you go full on baby mode because Gem will literally pick you up and carry you around the house if you show the slightest sign of distress. She rubs your back and fixes your hair and teaches you all about being a mom and a 'girlfriend.' I catch you two snuggled up or holding hands all the time and it makes me so thankful my heart cracks open and I send gratitude out to the whole world to all the sisters and all the ways we give each other life and love and support. (#sisterscomefirst).  

And with Rusty you are learning a new way to be as he gets older and more durable and dominant. You are learning about ways you can boss him around or play with him or be sneaky together (like squeezing butt cream all over play doh!) and also by copying Gemma and taking good care of Rust in little ways. 

We took you to daycare this year while you were still two and they tried to be all serious about not moving you up to preschool until you were officially three, and even then sometimes three year olds struggle, and then I picked you up on Day One and they were like, "oh yeah, she's just going to preschool right now, she's totally fine." and Daddy and I were like, "um, yeah, duh."

You're a darling at daycare and one of your teachers told me, "I've never seen that child be bad in my life." You are learning so much and making all kinds of new friends. I love to hear about your day and learn your friends' names and about the songs you sang. You are quite a story teller and regularly tell little fib stories for who knows what reason.  You recently told me that "Santa stole all your underwear" which is why you were wearing Gemma's underpants. And you've also lied to me and told me you went to time out in daycare because you "told all my friends to SHUTUP!" (I actually asked the teachers if this was true which was what prompted the teacher to tell me the aforementioned quote about your behavior). 

Va-vi, you are such a gift to all of us. You make us laugh and smile and bring so much joy to our days. Your imagination and the way you are a friend (already! a real friend!) make this world a kinder place. We wish you could be three forever because you're so squishy and huggable and the 'aww factor' just oozes out of everything you do - but my sweet, it's impossible and the bigger part of my momma's heart can't wait to see how you continue to grow and turn more into the you'est you. Gosh, the world doesn't even deserve a more you'er you - but maybe that's just what the world needs, my darling. The world needs more wonder, more aww, more hugs, and the world needs more cool, weird friends. 

Vially girl,
everyday I can't believe 
how I got so lucky
to be your momma. 
my little peanut. 
i love you forever
and ever
even when you get so big

Around Here Forty-Four to Forty-Six: 10/28-11/17

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  519+ hours (of 1000)
Up barely, like barely barely. We had our first snow of the year with these huge, beautiful snowflakes in the middle of the day at school which made all the students antsy-pantsy. I used a lunch break to take a few laps on the school track one afternoon and it was kind of amazing. Most days I use my lunch period to wolf down some food at my desk while entering grades and making copies, but I'm hoping to be able to make it more routine to get in a few laps either at the track or the gym during lunch for a little happiness/movement boost in the middle of the day - it was honestly uplifting!

Reading and finishing The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle and starting our next Books & Brews book club book The Nix by Nathan Hill. I took a bunch of my books into school to borrow out to students and twice now I've had students stop by to show me the bookmarks they've discovered in my books.  I always use random nearby items and so far, the kids have found a $30 check from my sister from 2011 (hah! what was it for?!) and a boarding pass from Nashville (when I traveled there with my two best girl friends for our 30th birthday celebration!) The students were cracking up and so intrigued to hear the stories behind the bookmarks.

Pulling out our Thanksgiving/Veteran's Day book stash for the kids and Gemma has been the most enthusiastic kid about getting them out and 'reading' them. She learned about wrap-around covers in school recently and she loves holding up we own to ask us in her teacher voice if the book has a wrap-around cover. Hah! Some of our favorite holiday books this time of year is Who will carve the turkey this thanksgiving, This is the Turkey, Veteran's Day, and Sharing the Bread

Hosting el día de los muertos food day in my Spanish classes. We had our first food day and it was a huge success. The kids brought in great food to share with each other and we spent a full relaxed day listening to Spanish music and eating and chatting to celebrate the holiday. The kids can hardly wait for the next one and most of them tried something they had never had before!

Spinning wheels is what it felt like. Three Thursdays ago when I was rushing through the doors to start my day at school and I just broke down on the inside, like suddenly I realized we were just spinning wheels for the last nine weeks and I just could not do it one more day. B and I had a long chat about how crazy everything is right now, the rushing every second of every day and the chores never getting done, and the pressure of all of our commitments and lists and things we need to do. We agreed that we've been running around with our hair on fire and we were burning out. At no point though did either of us feel like me working was the wrong choice (yay!) so it's about figuring this out and not doing all the things all the time - and figuring out new routines and scaling back - way back.  And since I had been pushing and pushing and ignoring myself for so many weeks - I then was....

...Getting sick or making myself sick - who knows. I broke out in this terrible, itchy rash all over my neck and spent a weekend and a day called off work lathering my neck in steroid cream and feeling mad at myself for not paying attention to my own well being for so long. The rash is no longer on my neck (mostly) but I still have it scattered around the rest of my body (shoulders, hip, wrists) and it can be terribly distracting. I truly believe it is self-induced because I haven't quite figured this all out yet - how to care for myself and also feel okay about how our life is either - but I'm getting there both mentally and physically - and everyday my rash seems to be getting a teeny bit better.

Focusing on gratitude, because that is where it all needs to begin. I am so lucky to have such an amazing support system. Grandparents who snag kids for a few hours and aunts and uncles you pick up and run to the rescue last minute, cousins who take kids off the bus or have our kids for sleepovers, family who surprise us with dinner or gallons of milk (we are neverendingly nearly out of milk, how?!), friends who text, call and send me sweet messages to let me know they are thinking of me. Best friends who stop by quick or open their home with cups of tea and cookies at the last minute.

Re-Prioritizing and settling on the things that I can do each day. With our new back to school schedules and four kids at these exact ages - there is just never enough time in the days for all the things I'd like to get done. After our long chat about hair-on-fire living, we're trying to figure out how to make the hours in the day work for the things we need to get done. So we've decided to push all chores to the weekend - including laundry, good Lord the laundry - because I just can't do it during the week. I'm so tired of feeling like we rush through every part of the day - even the good parts: the dinner, the bedtimes, the chatting with kids - and so we're pushing nonessentials to the weekends. B is also tackling lunch making duties in the evening because I am straight up passing out asleep between 8:30-9p. We will get there, slowly and with new routines and expectations. It's a long, slow process but we're moving in the right direction.

Learning more about Gemma's "superhero brain" (I told her that her brain tries to jump up to the mountain ledges because it can instead of climbing the ladder - she can do things that are more difficult but struggles with the more basic ideas - which is really cool but it she needs to learn how to climb ladders too!). She had her initial consultation and it felt so good to answer questions and talk openly about the things we've been seeing - both her amazing and incredible talents and characteristics and also her academic struggles. We had her parent-teacher conference too and as always I was so grateful to get time to chat with her teacher who is such a champion for our girl on the frontlines of learning. Gem has been making incremental progress, especially with her twice a week after school tutoring with Miss P! And she still loves school so much and pretends to be a teacher at home - I never want her to lose that, so we move along to figure out how to support our girl as best as we can!

Celebrating Veterans' day with our favorite veteran, my little sis aunt Kitty. She came all the way from Bermuda for a few days to visit her new baby nephew Ben and to visit with us in Johnstown and celebrate our dad's early birthday. It was with the magic of the universe that her train pulled into town the morning of the kids' school Veteran's day program and lunch and she was able to attend with them. They were so proud! At my school, the teachers helped student council pull off a breakfast for local veteran's and I had a great time on Friday morning at school chatting and serving coffee.

Enjoying Original5 Adams time with our parents and my two sisters - just the five of us while we played 'Chumardy" (Jeopardy but all about my Dad, hah) to celebrate Chumsgiving (aka Dad's birthday that is always right around or on Thanksgiving).

Playing cards
 with the kids every evening. Go Fish and Double Smacking is our two favorite games.

Sharing lunch with my hubs at our school Thanksgiving Day lunch. B came down from the district office and we had lunch in my classroom together. First of all, YUM stuffing balls. We were having a nice little lunch until the eighth period bell rang and my sophmores started to collect outside the door giggling and whispering about us 'having a date.' It was hysterical and I smiled about it for the rest of the day.

Walking in our local Christmas parade with my sister and her work AUCP. Gem slept off a fever at Gigi and Pappy's house while the other three kiddos, my mum, Uch, Kevin, Aunt Lisa, cousin Morgan, and Mya the pup and Mozart the kitty all walked in the parade. After the parade, they lit up the giant Christmas tree in our downtown Central Park!

Officially starting basketball season with the first day of practice last night. Which seems like, "oh no." but as we are every year - we are excited and nervous. It's total madness (more than already, oh gosh!) but it's only November through February. And it makes Coach Daddy so happy and we love getting to know all the players and we love spending so much time with our 'basketball family' we got this.

Making chicken and gravy in the slow cooker over mashed potatoes, mummy hot dogs for Halloween dinner, hawaiian chicken over rice (actually Abba put that in the crockpot for us!), cheese quesadillas, taco tuesday, 3B porkchops, spaghetti, baked chicken & cheese ravioli. And for breakfasts - , egg and sausage breakfast roll-ups, and 3 ingredient chocolate chip pumpkin muffins.

Around Here Forty Two and Forty Three: 10/14-10/27

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A look into what it is like to live in this wild, beautiful, chaotic whirlwind that is our life right now.

one of my Spanish 3 Honors students, Mattison, is a seriously talented artist

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 517 hours+  (of 1000)
I've surpassed my outdoor hour count of last year (510 hrs all year!) I'm pretty sure I'm not going to reach 1000 before the end of the year, but I'm already pretty pumped that I beat last year's attempt. Always moving forward, right? I snagged some outdoor time this week in the beautiful sometimes crisp, sometimes warm, sometimes downright cold air doing all sorts of activities related to the season, including spending an evening well into dark raking and jumping into leaf piles illuminated by the light of the tractor headlights (hah!)

Reading and finishing Tenth of December by George Saunders and loving it! We then got to enjoy our monthly book club night, this time at The Windber Hotel on trivia night where we ate, chatted about the book, and did miserably at trivia, hah! Up next: The Nix by Nathan Hill and for Halloween (and because we've teased Lonnie too much about it) The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

Dancing to the awesomely fun bluegrass band SwampCandy at our cousin's annual Stuverpalooza party. We got to visit with our cousins from the South (hi Tamra!) and clap and dance along with the band.

Hiking 1000 steps near Mt Union with Lonnie and Jess.  We had a beautiful fall day and it was such a perfect brain and soul break to be out in the open air and chatting with good friends. It was no joke though and my calves were sore for about three days after our hike!

Pumpkin patching it with our favorite friends, The Fiores. We met half wayish at the sweetest little corn maze and pumpking patch: Barr Ridge Farms. Why Kate and I torture ourselves with corn mazes every year is annually baffling. The kids had so much fun together (as always) and so did Kate and I chatting, laughing, and catching up (as always). The kids played on all the fun little centers, picked pumpkins, burned their tongues on hot chocolate, and we were all sad to hug goodbye (as always).

High fiving Gemma Ro after finally getting on the Letter Wall of Fame for knowing all her uppercase, lowercase, and letter sounds! She was so proud! Continually grateful for her amazing teacher who keeps pushing her along and also supporting her patiently and helping us with tips and tricks too.

Finishing up an awesome undefeated flag football season! Grey had such a great time with his teammates and coaches - what an amazing group of dudes. We had a last minute football party at our house and got a beautiful, warm fall day to celebrate. We played the funny clothes dress up game which had everyone cracking up, we bobbed for apples (even me after I lost a catch game with our running back!) and built a fire. We are so lucky to get to watch these boys grow up together and be part of the team family!

Hosting a picnic at our house with some W&J basketball friends and their babies. The very next day after the football party, we got to spend a perfect, squeezable afternoon with our friends The Vorndrans, Kochs, and Bringmans. Two new babies have been added to our crew (Tessa and Caleb) since we had all be together the last time, so there was lots of hugs and kisses to go around. Gemma loved being little momma to the babies, while Grey was happy to be punching bag to the toddler kids on the trampoline.

Celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary and Brandon's birthday in the same week.  Nine years married to this guy (and eight years before that) and I'm thankful every single day we get to live this life together. We keep our anniversary pretty low key and had a little dinner together after the kids went to bed - but then we got to attend Press Bistro's wine pairing dinner with Gigi, Pappy, Uncle Joe, and Aunt Ginger as an extended celebration too. (thanks for babysitting Uch!)  Brandon's birthday was on the day of the last football game/party so we kept saying that was the only way he could have a party - was to invite the flag football team (hah!) but we got to sing happy birthday too at our w&j picnic!

Getting way behind on chores and laundry at home. I'm trying to be kind to myself and give us lots of patience and grace as this season of our life is straight up bananas. I spent a full two weeks believing that I was in charge of buying pretzel bags for Grey's Halloween party at school only to wait until the night before and discover that Walmart had sold out of them. So the next day, I text the homeroom mom and apologize and tell her that I will pick some up that weekend and have them for sure for Monday when she replies back that (first) she's the homeroom mom for Gemma's class and then I go back and check my text from Grey's homeroom mom to read correctly that I never was in charge of the pretzels at all.  I' Thank God for homeroom moms and PTA moms and coaches and teachers and all the people who make our everyday lives run despite how many things I'm late for, or I forget, or need reminders.  Seriously, bless you guys.

Working out with the 21day fix videos in the morning before school. Despite the fact that the house is in shambles, I threw on working out on top of one more thing on my to do list...and it's actually been a huge positive. I'm so exhausted at night which is annoying (like passing out asleep at 8:30p) but if I get up at 5a and work out before getting ready, packing lunches, and heading out the door to daycare - my days are a million times faster and easier. The sweating and movement is boosting my days and I'm hoping if I can keep it up, maybe I'll finally have enough stamina to get home from work and be able to do some stinking chores?!

Preparing for the end of the first nine weeks and el día de los muertos with my students.  We are finishing up some units in Spanish 1 and Spanish 2, working on our final drafts of spooky stories in Spanish2 honors, and completing a Movie Review of The Book of Life using the preterite tense in Spanish 3 Honors.  First marking period nearly done already for the school year and I'm finally feeling like I'm kind of sort of getting a hang of our home/work schedule. hahha, only nine weeks later, right? and still kind of maybe only.  Oh sheesh. #stillworthit

Trick-or-treating two nights in a row. We spent Thursday night at Abba and Chum's house with Aunt Uch going around their neighborhood in the chilly fall air (really chilly actually) and then on Friday night we headed up to Mimi's house with the Garretsons and Rummels to do a giant cousin trick-or-treating event. Grey was a spooky Grim Reaper, Gem and Violet were both Wonder Woman, and Rusty was a dinosaur!

Making chicken & stuffing casserole, Pappy's meatloaf, wild rice and broccoli soup. I made some cinnamon swirl banana bread and homemade pumpkin roll for brandon's birthday (his fave).  For the w&j picnic I made my Aunt Dar's potato casserole dish and we threw hot dogs and kraut in the roaster for the football party, whipped up some buff chicken dip and easy 4 ingredient cheddar beer bread. For our anniversary at home dinner, I made crispy shrimp alfredo (so delish everytime).