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Kerri Ruddy-Archer, 38, is an artist and an award-winning athlete. She is also the mother of three children under 4. She works as an art teacher at Scranton High School and assistant varsity coach for its track and field team. She co-owns a Scranton bar with her husband and another couple. Her responsibilities are over the moon, but she manages them with aplomb. 
 
Family Times had a conversation with Kerri about her life, her family, her sport, her bar and how she manages everything so fluidly.
 

Kerri, what was your childhood like?

I was born and raised in Dunmore in a large Irish family. I am the oldest of four, with three younger brothers. My mother is one of 13 children and my father is one of six. Among the two families, I have 47 first cousins.

Having a big family really defines me. I feel very lucky to have been brought up with such amazing aunts, uncles and cousins. Our family gatherings are filled with laughter; we all get along and are each others’ closest friends.

Dunmore is a very close-knit community where I was able to grow up knowing all of my neighbors. I lived within walking distance of both Dunmore elementary and high schools, the local penny candy store, a great hill for sleigh riding and I could play outside and feel safe. I really cherish being able to grow up in such an outstanding area.

 

You teach art and coach track, two different disciplines. How did the art interest come about?

I went to Dunmore High School and Marywood University. I loved my experiences at both. I was a bit of a “free spirit” and definitely rocked the artsy stereotype in high school and college. I usually got along with everyone and got involved in a bunch of extracurriculars. In college it was difficult balancing art labs with game day trips to Philly, but I made it work and graduated magna cum laude.

As a child and teenager, I knew I wanted my career to be in the arts. My mother was a teacher, and she absolutely influenced my interest in going to college for education. I began at Marywood with an interest in art therapy but stayed in education instead. I also went to Marywood to play on their basketball team — it was an odd mix.

I was looking for a university that had a strong art program where I would be able to compete in sports. There were many high school-bred stereotypes in college, too. My art friends couldn’t believe I was one of those “sports-loving” students, and the players (boys and girls teams) were not used to seeing art students play in the sports program. It was different, but I made some lifelong friends and had a great experience there.

 

Where did the sports influence come from?

I come from a very sports-involved family. I grew up with my uncles all playing football, so for me, it was natural to get involved with sports.

Of course, my parents supported me, too. Athletically, I was rough around the edges when I was younger; I had to work hard at becoming better. At Dunmore, I went out for basketball and track and field and made both teams.

With track, they weren’t sure where to put me. I wasn’t fast and I couldn’t jump, so off I went to the throwing pit. I picked up on it quickly and fell in love with the shot put.

I qualified and placed at districts every year and went to the state track meet in Shippensburg when I was a junior. That same year, I was a starting forward/center for the Lady Buck basketball team when we went to the state playoffs in Hershey.

It was an amazing year. I had the option of going to college for either sport, and I selected Marywood for its strong art program; I knew art was what I wanted to do career-wise.

I played basketball for the Pacers as center and really came into my own. In 2008 I was inducted into the Marywood Sports Hall of Fame with 1,192 points, all-time leading offensive rebounder, student athlete four years and other accolades.

In the summer of 2013, I was nominated for induction in to the NEPA Sports Hall of Fame for my accomplishments in track and field and basketball. I was officially inducted in October 2013, when I was newly pregnant with the twins. It was a great honor and happened at a great time in my life.

 

How did y ou meet your husband?

Vinnie is a character, and he completely won me over with his charm. My cousin Kate Marinaro introduced us in 2004; at the time we were just friends. However, we are both a little crazy and got along so well that we started dating in January of 2005.

Marriage came years later, in November of 2008. He is a bartender and co-owner of the V Spot Bar on Providence Road.

 

Between the two of you, you have five children?

Kyle and Haley are my stepchildren. Kyle is 23 and Haley is 20. Vivienne is 4 and the twins, James and Ivy, are 2.

 

You had trouble conceiving the children?

We had difficulty conceiving from the beginning, so we went to Dr. Jennifer Gell at Geisinger in Wilkes-Barre and Danville to begin our journey. We did several rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) before committing to in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF was a very trying and emotional time for us. Once we decided to do it, our vocabulary quickly changed to abbreviations like IVF, FET, HCG and PUPO.

 

What happened?

We did our first fresh IVF in March of 2011; 22 eggs ended up as nine good embryos. The first two embryos did not implant, and we had a heartbreaking setback. I was able to cryopreserve my other seven embryos though, and in June of 2011 we completed our first frozen embryo transfer (FET).

This time, both embryos implanted. We saw the ultrasound and were thrilled to be having twins. Sadly, just weeks after hearing heartbeats, one of our babies did not make it. We were told it was vanishing twin syndrome.

We were still thankful for our other little baby, I had a great pregnancy and delivered Vivienne the following year.

 

And then...

Because we weren’t getting any younger, we decided to try another round of FET when Vivienne turned 1. In August of 2013, we had two more frozen embryos thawed and implanted. At our six-week ultrasound, we saw that it was twins again, but one gestational sac was flattened instead of round.

We went through this before and knew what to expect. At our eight-week ultrasound, the sac had corrected itself, and both babies looked excellent.

The following year, James and Ivy were born 18 minutes apart, and we couldn’t be more blessed.

I have been very open with our IVF story and many of my friends come to me for advice.

 

What’s a typical day in the life of the Archer family?

Hectic and loud.

Vivienne and the twins really give us a run for the money, but we are so blessed to have them.

I am also very lucky to have my parents always lending a helping hand. My mother and father watch the kids whenever we need them, help out with household fixes and even sew matching clothes for the little ones.

My husband works later on in the day, so the kids stay at home with him for the morning and go to my parent’s house later on.

It is really convenient. I am able to go to work without taking them out of the house and then three days of a week we go to Grandma’s for dinner. No cooking, Hooray!

I also am an assistant varsity coach for Scranton’s track and field team, which also adds to my crazy balancing act.

Here’s another zinger — I am still breastfeeding my 2-year-old twins — so that’s a big commitment, too. I love being with my kids and experiencing in their lives, but like many moms out there, I have a lot of mommy guilt.

 

Your parents are lifesavers.

Did I mention that I go to my mother’s home whenever possible? Vinnie works some nights and Haley comes and goes, so if I’m not crashing at my parents’ house, after a day’s work, the responsibilities all fall on me. Weekends are just me and the kiddos, and they are my most favorite times. After waiting my entire life to become a mommy and struggling to get pregnant, I try to make every moment count. Even during the weeknights, there is a lot of laughter, yelling, music and dancing, in the few hours I get with them before bedtime. I am a big believer in dance parties and messes.

 

Tell us about the V Spot.

Becoming bar owners was a chance happening. Vinnie and I had a friend who introduced us to the property owners, Frank and Tiffany Lombardo, and the four of us became partners. From that meeting, the V Spot was born. We have some of the kindest employees, tastiest food and most loyal clientele. We are each other’s extended family — and speaking of family, my younger brothers work there too. It is a smoking bar catering to a more mature crowd — 30 somethings and up — that offers bands on the weekends, karaoke on Sundays and entertainment every weeknight. I may be partial, but I think anyone would have a great time there . . . you should definitely stop down.