The Brody Bunch – A Reflective Summer (July 31, 2017)

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Summers Past

Each summer from when I was a kid through college, I attended and worked at the same summer camp. My own kids went there for a summer or two and didn’t like it so they don’t have camp experiences and memories of canoeing in the pond, tye dye making in the woods, scary stories of Cropsy at sleepovers, writing camp jingles and indulging in bug juice and melted Popsicles.  

Summers Today – My perception

Today, many kids have extravagant summers which would break the break for most families, especially a family with four kids.  The summers where kids ship their luggage to camp two weeks early, see a Broadway show as a “break” from being at camp in the mountains; longing for parents to bring a charged iPhone 7 on visiting day, care packages filled with candy to keep dentists in practice, etc.  This experience sounds amazing, but lots of kids have none of that – fending for themselves while parents and guardians are working, hanging out at the community pool, too much screen time, etc.

A Brody Bunch Summer – activity interest camps & Pittsburgh

Our kids are having their first babysitter free summer ever, it was kind on my pocketbook, but required incredible work flexibility to shuttle four kids from local theater camps, soccer and baseball camps and Pittsburgh.  And, through the chaos, I realized that this summer was more unique than other typical summers, because we had the gift of togetherness, which shaped our summer of Brody Bunch Reflection.

Days of Connecting

Our kids’ paternal grandparents live in Pittsburgh.  With aging grandparents, the kids have been taking turns going with their Dad for quick somewhat weekly visits.  It’s about a 10 hour round trip drive and a couple of days visiting.  I have had stay-cations with the kids remaining at home.  When some of our kids are in Pittsburgh and some remain home, the man to man parenting defense ratio is reduced to two kids hanging out with one parent for a few days.  It’s time filled with lots of ball playing on their Dad’s watch or dining out on my watch.  This has been our summer of Reflection.

Brody Bunch Bonding

Through time on the baseball diamond, basketball court, in the car or around the dinner table, we have had such thoughtful conversations.  Our kids attending theater camps have been writing heartfelt monologues.  We have been listening to a lot of song lyrics and talking about the messages and lessons, answering a lot of questions and singing loudly. We talk about health and death, reminisce about years past and look towards the future.  While we are excited for time at the beach, where the heavy reflection shines her mystical and complicated head, I can tell that we have already planted seeds for much growing to come.  Camp Brody wasn’t filled with exotic travels and adventures, but our hearts did a lot of exploring, loving, laughing, crying and growing.  This summer, time allowed our family foundation to build a stronger base.  The journey is what it’s about.

The Brody Bunch – We Had Our Cake, and We Ate it, too. (July 28, 2017)

Cake, it’s a gift

Our 11 year old daughter, Rachel, gives the gift of cakes.  For all of our birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations, Rachel makes us a cake.  Due to an unfriendly sibling request, Rachel did not create her brother Leo’s 14th birthday cake.  Instead, late at night, the night before Leo’s birthday, Rachel and I went to the supermarket and bought (a very expensive) Carvel ice cream cake as requested by the birthday boy.  And, Rachel was so happy to pick the specific cake.  I asked her how she felt about not making the cake, she was just so thrilled to pick it out, and her handwritten birthday card to him noted that she was in charge of picking out the cake.  I was simply the driver and ice cream cake financier. 

Baker: “What should I write on your birthday cake?”

Before Rachel became our resident cake director, we did buy grocery store cakes. Several years ago, Leo was at the bakery and the baker asked him what should be written on the cake.  A humorous then 8 year old Leo answered, with a nod to his favorite show Seinfeld, “Happy Birthday, Jerry.”  That line was delivered like it was straight out of a Seinfeld episode.  Leo and I fell over laughing, the baker didn’t get it, and instead, we came home with a “Happy Birthday, Leo” cake.  This joke still lives on whenever we need to write a message on a cake.

Too Much Cake

Unbeknownst to us, with our Carvel cake in the freezer, someone brought a beautiful homemade birthday cake to the birthday dinner party.  We served that delicious cake. We had self control and kept the ice cream cake frozen.  We would later recognize that it was a gift to have the frozen cake tucked away, because three nights later, it would be an excuse to sweetly hang out.  “Let’s eat cake!”

We had our cake and ate it, too

Leo has been 14 for three days.  It was very late, I was ready for bed.  Leo asked me if I wanted to pull out the cake and hang out.  I took the opportunity because he is 14 and I am fearful for the day when I don’t receive these invitations. He told me about books he is reading, we talked about baseball.  It was a really special moment.  I asked if he wanted light Shabbat candles, it was way past sundown, but I don’t believe that it’s ever too late to have a spiritual moment saying a prayer for peace and having gratitude.  As we were lighting candles, we heard people running down the steps.  Everyone was suppose to be sleeping.  Leo hid his plate under the table as in “nothing’s going on around here.” His siblings sat down and there was suspicion in the air. Someone noticed a plate of ice cream under the table.  It wasn’t right to light Shabbat candles and be sneaky about the cake. We were all laughing.  And, everyone got a plate and spoon.  We hung out a bit later.  More dirty dishes, some laughs and good times.

Cake for everyone

Leo and I were busted. We shared the cake and the visit, laughing and talking.  Then, I was asked to tuck them into bed and sing the Shema (the oldest daily prayer in Judaism – my husband and I sing the prayer to each of the kids each night before bed).  We are lucky that they still ask me to tuck them in.  I didn’t actually eat a piece of the ice cream cake, but kissing everyone in before they went to sleep, was like having my cake, and eating it too.

The Brody Bunch – a birthday & baseball cards

The excitement of opening each pack and flipping through each card ... a great way to start a birthday morning around the breakfast table.
Baseball cards… a treasure in each pack.

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The Brody Bunch celebrates a Birthday with Baseball Cards

Today our first born child turned 14.  This measurement of time is a combination of the days being so long and the years going by quickly bridged with many blessings. The World is better off thanks to our beautiful, sweet, smart, funny, athletic and wise soul of a child.  I have learned a lot in 14 years, including gratitude and simplicity.

Four kids in puberty at once

The experience of living with four children each one year apart and the journey of four puberties at once is something that either a terrorist can relate to or someone with Stockholm Syndrome survives.

Celebrating a 14th birthday

How do you celebrate a 14th birthday?  We stopped renting moon bounce party spaces after year 2.  Four kids with such festivities in rentals alone would cost $2500 per year.  After the euphoric high of a Bar Mitzvah just a year ago and friends away for summer excursions, how would we ring in the 14th year?  A big and loud family dinner celebration splashed with laughter and a few friends met our needs…but the birthday morning at breakfast is one for the memory bucket.  

Using the former Tooth Fairy’s leftover loot

Between finding remnants of the Tooth Fairy’s baseball card collection coupled with finding baseball cards at Goodwill while donating our clutter, circa 1988 – 1993 baseball cards made for a magical morning.  The look of the birthday boy and his brother along with their Dad ripping apart Topps packaging gave me great hope that the teenage struggles will have an ending, one day.

Oohs and Aahs

Time spent opening packs, oohing and aahing over baseball legends of the past, and meticulously sorting each card by team in alphabetical order, led to one of the best mornings I have been part of in a long time.  We didn’t go broke for the cost of celebrating, and we didn’t collect more clutter.  We shared a simple experience.  My heart bursts with simple happiness.

Sampling 1988 gum is like a first ever shot of liquor.

Like a frat idea, the kids and Mark bravely sampled the stick of gum in the 1988 pack and their reactions were nothing short of a first time shot of Whiskey.  We laughed at the wrapper marketing for a chance to win an all expense paid trip to the 1989 Spring Training Camp.  Despite this expired offer, we felt like winners.  We were winners in the love department of just being together.

An American Pastime

Baseball cards, an American pastime, still at the cost of the loose change in your pocket, can bring so much happiness, and it did.

While the cards have no monetary value, the experience with the cards is priceless.

Blessings of a Birthday, time with Grandparents

Our son also had the blessing of being able to spend his birthday with all four of his Grandparents.  It was a grand slam for everyone.

Hello world! Meet the Brody Bunch.

To decompress, I shop at markets and cook big meals. Love when a good evening with the kids ends with “Your Mamma Jokes.” Ummmm, your mamma cooked this!

 

I hope that I have a light at the end of my tunnel, lots of lights, pretty lights.

Baltimore, my hometown.

 

With two baseball players and two softball players and their Dad as Coach, this is my typical view in the Fall and Spring. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I am sure they meant Little League diamonds!

 

Welcome to www.brodybunch.com

Welcome to BrodyBunch.com!  I am Robyn Stevens Brody, your hostess.  

The Brody Bunch Cast of Characters

My immediate family consists of my husband, Mark, our four kids, each one year apart – YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY, and me.  We are blessed with our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends.  At family gatherings, I often think, “we are characters out of a sitcom, it’s a shame we don’t have a sitcom writer here.”

About Me

I am a Baltimore native, live and work in Baltimore City and just discovered Old Bay seasoning (think Maryland Crabs).  I see situations in a unique way, and survive day to day with humor.  The Orioles are my favorite team, excluding my own kids’ sports teams.  I love grocery shopping, farmers’ markets and cooking. Dabbling in freelance photography is my new escape. Chasing sunrises and sunsets is a spiritual release. I am on the go and find things to photograph [see me on instagram at rstevensbrody].  I love Baltimore, kid art and moments that make people happy. Sometimes, I am funny, too.

About Mark

Mark and I have known each other for 19 years.  He is soft on the eyes, has strong opinions, doesn’t give a shit about the small stuff, and he does not know how to use tools.  His family is his only priority.

About the Brody Bunch Kids – Four of them!

Our four children are ages 10, 11, 12 and 13, two boys and two girls (the boys are the bookends).  They are generally caring, pretty funny, community thoughtful, and smart people.  Kids numbers 2 and 4 love theater and singing.  The oldest has a deep love of sports, the other three kids are good athletes. Kid number 3 loves cooking and not cleaning up after her concoctions.  I can’t complain, because I trust that she will take care of me when I am old.

Background of how the Blog began

Creating baby books never took off for me, but writing did.  12 years ago, I began documenting conversations with our kids.  This working document, an unpublished book, is over 300 pages and it is referred to in our home as “My Penis Made Me Do It”.  When our youngest son was potty training, he had an accident.  I asked him what happened and he replied, “my penis made me do it.”  Ta-da!  While the book is in progress, the blog serves as our published anecdotes.

Usually I research things on end, but not when it came to blogging.  I am so new at blogging, and I just jumped in, I feel free and liberated and welcome you to join me.  If you want to laugh, cry and know you are not alone in the world of parenting, you found me. I am functionally dysfunctional. This is not a blog about advice, it’s about stuff that just happens.  We will touch on random daily issues which include: time on the little league diamond and soccer fields, carpool conversations, and questions raised while growing up and getting older.  Family dinners and holidays are well covered, including “Festivus”. There will be kid philosophy, love and some F bombs.  I explain myself as having an unlimited wristband for the hamster wheel of life, and it is quite a ride.  Welcome to the Brody Bunch!

“All you need is love!”
The Brody Bunch supports the arts!