Around Here Forty-Nine: 12/02-12/08

Sunday, December 10, 2017

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

homework at Team Studer HQ...good grief.

Grey grading my students' vocab crossword puzzles - his favorite!


Intentional Outdoor Hours: 522+ hours (of 1000)
Well, it's cold now, so I'm going to shoot for a goal of 530 hours to round out the year, so in the next three weeks, I'll need to accumulate eight hours total. I didn't grab anything over an hour of time this week (walking to and from the car doesn't count at all), but I'll do my best to snag as much time as I can before the year is over knowing that I won't make my goal - but doing better than last year!

Reading just a little bit of The Nix by Nathan Hill and inching through it. I've heard that once I hit pg 250 I'm going to become obsessed so I'm hanging on (nearly there!) In the opposite of Reading category, we are going full on Hallmark Christmas movie mania over here. None of us (save Greyson) can control of ourselves on the binging on holiday cheer and romance - B and I love adding in our own commentary and dialogue and tallying how often people fall on each other in these movies so they get in the 'ole are we gonna kiss, are we not predicament. Gosh, love that cheesy goodness.

Loving on Marco our elf. He's been up to his silly little antics and the kids love carting him all over the house so he can participate in whatever they're doing (coloring, eating, etc). As long as he gets put back in his little box to 'charge up' (as the kids say) he is ready to roll for his morning time antics. Making a Marco schedule is a life saver as it always is each year - thank goodness for my planner and pinterest #perusual

Celebrating our littlest babe at a year and a half! #halfbirthday Gosh, time, you're killing me. He's a feisty little thing and is into everything. I forgot how destructive and tireless little boys can be (this is right at the same time that I wrote my Rules for Moms with Boys blogpost because I thought I was losing my mind with Greyson's energy and destructive nature). He is still a climber and now has figured out how to open all cabinets, drawers, the washer and dishwasher, and he can push the stool to the upstairs bathroom and sit in the sink and play in the water. He's a professional toilet clogger (toilet paper, dog bones, toy cars) and a professional item hider - I've been missing my favorite spatula for weeks and just found my make up brush after several days (it was in the blanket box in the living room).

Changing in a fundamental way after reading the Virginia Satir quote about hugging and really starting to believe that so much sadness and loneliness and confusion and hurt in the world might find a way to be fixed if we all hugged and got hugged a little more often. Virginia Satir said, "We need four hugs a day for survival, we need eight hugs a day for maintenance, and we need twelve hugs a day for growth." I read it to B and now neither of us can get it out of our heads. We're finding ourselves being super intentional about hugging the kids and it feels like it's making an impact (hugging begets more hugging - these kids are all over us! haha, even Grey has been softer - infinitesimally so, but still). And because we've been intentional  about hugging each other we've been in a great up this week in marriage too.

Leaving our shoes out for St. Nicholas and waking to find them filled with candy. Rusty and Violet could not even believe it - they were losing their minds.

Bundling up! Snow and the cold has arrived. While walking into school one morning and being a grouch about the cold, a fellow teacher confessed to me that she wears long johns under her clothes and I was all epiphany bubble and have now started trying it. Life changing, man. I've been wearing my leggings under my work clothes and I'm about a thousand percent more cozy. Yeah, appropriate clothes - who knew that was the solution to being too cold and grouchy in the winter? #everyoneknowsthisandyet

Taking it slowly on the holiday mayhem. Gigi took the three smallest kids to visit with Santa and the Grinch last week and the kids all helped stuff, label, and stamp our Christmas cards for the mail. We got the most beautiful book in the mail this week (to make up for our year of mediocre 12 Months of Kindness performance), Soft Enough for a King that comes with kindness slips that look like pieces of hay that we can fill the wooden manger with before Baby Jesus arrives. I still have lots of buying and wrapping to do, lots of upcoming holiday get-togethers, and so many random school holiday stuff to finish (kid gift exchanges, holiday party donations to buy and deliver, school dress up flair to organize, yeesh!) but I'm taking it with one step at a time and trying to enjoy the sparkle and mistletoe.

Sending out love and light to all the people we love - which is how I always feel when I write out our Christmas cards. I actually got a little weepy over all our friends that are scattered all over different parts of the world and how much I wish I could grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine with them and spend an evening catching up and laughing with them. I know this is a season of our life right now where every single thing is directed by what is best for our kids and our family as a whole - and I am so very grateful and blessed that this is true for us - but also that little piece of me wishes I could just walk out of the house with no pre-planning and grab a drink with my best friend...or even just call my best friend and talk without interruptions from little voices and hands. All of my friends know if they receive a random call from me it's because I am somehow miraculous in the car by myself driving somewhere and I have fifteen minutes of silence to devote to our friendship. Friends, please know how much I think about you and love you. How grateful I am for your patience as try to survive through these exhausting and beautiful (but seriously exhausting) years of parenthood. Thank you for still being my friend even though I am not such a great friend if it is measured in calls, text message replies, or visits. xxoxox

Starting the "real" basketball season with the first game Friday night at the Rockwood tourney where Brandon's team actually played my students! hah! I warned my students that I'd be cheering for them in my heart each individually, but that I would definitely be sporting my blue jay gear.  The kids slipped right into the regular groove of basketball games, except for Rusty who was initially very confused when he could see Dadda, but couldn't go be with Dadda. It will take a few games, but he'll soon realize how much fun we have with our basketball family during the season. The girls were so happy to be reunited with Maddie (the Athletic Director's daughter) and we've been working out which kids get to ride the team bus home with Coach Daddy and Coach Hinton (on his lap looking at hatchimal's photos - hah! Violet!) and Grey has been obsessed with going to practice with Coach Daddy and playing with the team manager Aiden or best friend/fellow coach's kid Kam.

Making teriyaki chicken and fried rice, taco pasta, and four ingredient cheddar beer bread to go with our broccoli and wild rice soup.

Around Here Forty-Eight: 11/25-12/01

Saturday, December 2, 2017

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

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 522+ hours (of 1000)
Snagged another two hours outdoors this week while the temperature took a pleasant little upturn into the most perfect fall day on Monday. I also got in a few laps during my lunch break at school on Friday which is just so nice, I really want to be better at carving out that time during the day to give myself a mental and emotional (literal and metaphorical) breath of fresh air.

Reading just a little bit of The Nix by Nathan Hill - I better get a move on considering our next Brews and Blues book club meeting is next week (eek!) I also looked into ordering our first Spanish novels for my upper level classes and I am so excited about it. My Spanish III students just did a few days with the past tense using Los Tres Cerditos and finished with a Fluency Reading assessment. I'm forever grateful for the inspiration from Martina Bex and Mis Clases Locas for their lesson plans and ideas. I feel like I'm finding my groove a little bit more and pushing my students to speak more Spanish and it's exciting - I love seeing their surprised faces as they realize, 'oh wait, I do understand that!' or 'holy cow, I can communicate in another language - maybe not perfectly but I can get my point across' which is what it is all about.

Celebrating Chumsgiving (my dad's birthday) with a surprise breakfast at work. The kids loved being in on the surprise and because it was such a nice fall day too, they got to spend time out in the massive parking lot roller blading, biking, and scooter'ing.

Meeting our new baby friend Jackson on Saturday night! Mario is one of Brandon's college roommates and he and his wife Kali made the trip all the way from NY for Thanksgiving and we were so glad to get in some hugs and chats while they were in town. Our kids had a blast meeting Mario's little cousins (Gemma said, "her new friends") and it always feels like drinking water from the fountain of youth to be with friends from high school and college (doesn't it?) Like the time falls away and we're young again...except for these little people who need fed and changed and cared for - HAH.

Seeing camo as hunting season continues with the first day of buck (rifle season). Grey and Brandon spent almost all day Sunday out setting up blinds and kicking out spots for the first day. Does your public school district close for first day of buck? HAH because we do here in Western PA. For a long time they tried to just call out 'Thanksgiving vacation" because students and teachers weren't going to show up anyway - and now they literally just call it "Deer Season vacation" hahahha. So all of our schools are closed on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Grey stayed out in the blind with Pappy for the full 12 hour day, even taking a nap in the blind and eating his body weight in ham&cheese sandwiches and peach rings. He's a boy obsessed now. None of our men had any luck on the first day though, so hunting season continues....

Supporting Rusty through his feelings about basketball season and Coach Daddy. Rusty is experiencing his first time being aware of the basketball season and has some 'missing Daddy' feelings to work through.  The other kids are pretty seasoned in the schedule now and Grey knows he needs to get his homework done early if he wants to go to practice with Dad while the girls are relishing in being able to play super girly together. But RustMan has been missing his Dadda and as soon as he seems him runs into his arms and refuses to be let down. Poor little guy, Coach Daddy is eating up the attention though, hah.

Donating baby clothes on #GivingTuesday to the Women's Help Center by the garbage bag full. I spent a few days prior doing the emotional work of sorting clothes our babies have grown out of (waaaahhh) and pulling out select few that really had me brokenhearted with the memories of our kids as little squishy babyums and stowing them away for future nieces or nephews. But the rest of the stuff got loaded up and is currently awaiting mommas and babies who desperately need them. I did an instastory about it and was all emotional because the majority of the clothes were gifts to me and my kiddos as support and love from our family and friends loving us. Gosh, love makes the world go round and if we could all just see all those little strings of love and support that is connecting us all together I think the world would be kinder and gentler.

Embracing all the extra work of the holiday season including the arrival of our Elf Marco on Thursday afternoon. My mum was over visiting (cleaning my house top to bottom while we were all at school because she is an actual real live saint!!) and laughed/sighed because we both know Marco is the very last thing I need to add to my plate right now (full time job, four kids, basketball coach daddy, hunting season, life) but then I read this quote from Harlan Miller (on Daddydoinwork) and knew that it was the truest thing about the holiday and why we do all these additional magical things.
"Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmastime with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts* is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words" 
*could also be replaced with: decorating the tree, Elf on the Shelf, Gingerbread house making, breakfast with Santa, St. Nicholas day, house Christmas tree lights, holiday parties, cookie baking, family holiday traditions, etc, etc, etc. 

Feeling true magic as I can sense that Grey has about a drop of doubt in his mind about all this magic stuff, but he is choosing to believe it anyway. Gem and  Violet have just blind belief which is it's own kind of magic to see. But this year with Grey, I can sense that his belief is a choice. He knows now that it seems kind of fantastical, something doesn't quite seem logical, but he's making the choice to believe - and boy does he ever. He was probably most excited to look for Marco that first day, and when he held Marco after he arrived, Grey said, "I think he looks taller!" It fills my heart with so much joy to see him make the choice to go for the magic and I'm soaking every little bit of this for what it's worth. (Grey right now reminds me a lot of what Mac Barnett talks about it one of my favorite Ted talks).

Making these sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits for breakfast, chili over bowtie noodles, no-bake cookies, bbq chicken tostados, candied kielbasa, and tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwiches. Gemma helped make cookies two days in a row (both mixes for the busy momma win!): Peanut butter cookies and honey, oatmeal, raisin cookies that I bought from a student for their class fundraiser (I also bought a tub of pumpkin spice dough and I'm already grateful for them as we head into the holiday season!)

9th Annual Beer Olympics!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

As the cold weather sets in and the holiday lights glimmer, let's take it back a few months and reminisce real quick on our penultimate and 9th annual Beer Olympics!

It's so hard to explain Beer Olympics to someone who has never experienced it firsthand. It's a day of drinking games, yes. But also so much more in a weirdly sentimental, make some new friends, competitive, but good hearted, feel good day. I don't know how to describe it but to say - that months and years later when I see people from various sects of our life chatting and laughing together and ask them about how they know each other, often times it begins with "at Beer Olympics," and that somehow describes everything about everything.

We had a beautiful, blue sky day in late June to celebrate our 9th annual event. Greyson's all-star machine pitch baseball team had a tournament that day - so for the first time in nine years, I was flying solo as host for the first half of the day! Thankfully though, I had no stress about it because our Beer Olympic veterans are so amazing and kind and helpful and know the ropes of how the day works. 

As in Beer Olympic fashion, we start the day with a game of Sloshball while we organize the teams, then it's face painting & color hair spraying by team names (we chose to do all Hashtag team names this year, HAH) before we dive right into the main event line up - beginning with Beer Pong and Hungry, Hungry, Hippong. 

Teams earn points by their performance on the various games and many of the games are tournament style so no matter what place you come in, you earn some team points. We also have individual non-mandatory challenges along the way if you feel inclined to earn some points for your team score like Keg Stands, Blow Ball, and Chug Offs. Following Beer Pong we have Dingbat Relay, and Ice Cube Tray Canoe Races.

God bless our friends who sign up to help ref or volunteer during the day too. I could not do this day without our friends who wear those whistles alongside me and put up with the incredible hilarity that comes with trying to organize progressively more intoxicated competitors. Half the success comes from observers (and helpful players trying to win the Olympian and Teacher's Pet awards!) who re-fill beer pitchers, replace kicked kegs, move tables to set up for the next games, and empty garbage cans.  Seriously, I love you all so much. 

To close out the first half of the day before the intermission; we play Slippy Cup (flip cup with a slip and slide) and Anchorman. 

I can't preach enough how important the intermission is for players to refuel (on tons of carbs) and non-alcoholic liquids. Another key to our beer olympics success is that everyone who comes brings something to share - so our garage slowly fills up as friends arrive with roasters, crockpots, desserts, and coolers filled with water and sports drinks. During intermission, the perimeter of our yard becomes the men's bathroom, bodies lay all over the place with plates of food balanced on their bellies, and we do a quick tally of the scores so teams can figure out how hard they need to rest before the games resume.  We plan for the intermission to last about 45mins, but inevitably it lasts at least an hour to a little more.

Then we ease back into the games with a flip cup tournament and a Quad bongs tournament.  The baseball team arrived back a little after intermission and Brandon said to me, "Geez, everyone seems like they are way more drunk than past years" and I laughed and was all like, "babe, that's only because you're sober this year." It's both hilarious and annoying to be on the Ref/sober side of the day, but it's my favorite so I take the whining with a smile and write down all the funny things people say and do to add into our awards ceremony at the end of the night.

My favorite event of the day is Survivor Flip Cup because people get seriously intense about it as it's the competition to rack up huge points for your team if you can keep a representative at a table for a long time (it's like musical chairs with the last one gets kicked off the table idea but with flip cup). And then it's one last chug offs before the Obstacle course finale.

Then it's another intermission while the refs tally team scores and decide on award winners before our big finishing ceremony - always a highlight of the day. We make a bunch of sashes with ridiculous awards and my sister compiles a playlist of songs to go with each award (hilarious!) and we do the whole thing like it's super official and celebratory. 

With the amazing generosity of our players and observers, we raised over $300 to support a local family and a local do-gooder who made a huge sacrifice to help them. It was a double dose of kindness that we were able to give this summer (YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!)

Our champs AGAIN this year was Team Pumpkins (#PSL)- two years reigning champs going into our final year of Beer Olympics! 

It's true, we are retiring the Studer's Invitational Beer Olympics after one last guns ablaze 10th annual event coming this summer; with a full weekend of fun, special surprises, and a year-in-advance invite already sent out (LOL). With growing kids and all their activities and just plain getting older (and hangovers that are harder and harder to recover from #sadbuttrue) - we know it's time to hang up our Beer Olympics sashes.

But first - one more time!

ps. Thanks for all who have read and followed along and re-pinned our posts.  Next August 2018, I will have a final Beer Olympics Planning Toolkit available to leave as a legacy. Stay tuned!