Monday, February 19, 2018

Why, Erin?!

When I went back and read the post in which I first introduced you to our hot tub, I realized just how carefully I had tiptoed around my true feelings for this addition to our lives. I didn't mention it back then, but now I it seems relevant to confess that the hot tub caused a few issues in our house, for a couple of reasons.

First, Tom gave me the hot tub as a Christmas gift. Generous and sweet of him, yes...except that I don't like hot tubs. I don't even like bathtubs. I just can't wrap my head around soaking in water that's slowly getting dirtier, and, as you know, I can't stand being hot anywhere, at any time.

Second, the hot tub was ugly. It was big and green and looked like a giant inflatable pool toy that we forgot to put away. I don't need our house and surrounding areas to look perfect all of the time, but I do need them to look nice most of the time. The hot tub just didn't fit into my vision for our back yard.

On the positive side, Tom, the kids, and the kids' friends LOVED the hot tub. With the exception of the hottest summer months, Tom, Will, and Hallie enjoyed the tub at least a few times a week. During the late fall, winter, and early spring, Tom went in almost every night.

The hot tub ran solidly for about a year, at which point it began needing more and more maintenance. (It needed some maintenance anyway, as it required chlorinated water that needed to be regularly tested, frequently adjusted, and occasionally emptied and refilled.) Tom did his best to keep it running, but eventually and at the ripe old age of 18 months, the hot tub died and received a ceremonial burial disposal on the curb.

Good riddance, at least for me, yes? Except that I couldn't stop thinking about how much the other three Ferri loved and missed that jolly green giant...

So for Valentine's Day, I bought my family a new hot tub. I had to let Tom in on my plan because I refused to set it up myself, so he took care of that step a few days before Valentine's Day and then covered it with a tarp. Shockingly, despite the fact that the tarp screamed "I'm covering something the exact same size and shape as the last hot tub!!!" neither Will nor Hallie noticed the new hot tub sitting on the back porch. (Should we be concerned about their lack of observational skills?)

Last Wednesday night, Tom and the kids embarked on our annual Valentine's Day treasure hunt. Per usual, the treasure hunt "ended" with their small gifts, but then inside Tom's (somehow always a surprise) photo book was hidden one more clue...that led to the hot tub.
This is my favorite picture from the surprise - even
though Will is blurry, you can see the jubilation on
his face as he realizes what's happening.
Hallie, not so much - she couldn't figure out my
drawing. (I draw all of the treasure hunt clues
myself and I am clearly NOT an artist.) 
"No way. No.Way. NO WAY. NO.WAY.
(That's an actual quote from Will.)
Time for a quick dip!

I have now earned the title of coolest mom or stupidest mom on the planet. Maybe both.
Tux is also a HUGE fan.

"Fun" twist: the new hot tub has a leak. The company is sending us a new new one, but I feel like the universe might be trying to tell me something...

Friday, February 16, 2018

High Five for Friday (2.16.18)

1. On Friday night we held our first Sock Hop at Hallie's elementary school. I haven't attended a Sock Hop since my own elementary school days (however I have owned and worn quite a few poodle skirts throughout the last three decades), and this one brought back all kinds of fun memories. I didn't actually get to dance, but I loved watching Will, Hallie, and Tom as well as lots of friends cut a rug in their 50s finest.

2. For the last three weeks we have spent our Saturdays - and two of our three Sundays - at the soccer field, braving temperatures in the 30s and 40s, 25 MPH steady winds with 40 MPH wind gusts, rain, and even sleet while watching our boy play the game he loves. Pre-season games ended this past Sunday...with a first place finish in the top bracket of the Texans Aggieland Classic Tournament. Last year was a tough one for Will on the soccer field; despite having a good coach, he didn't improve as much as he wanted to and his team struggled. This year a new club and a new coach with a different style, attitude, and set of expectations has made a big difference for Will personally and for his team.

3. THE OLYMPICS!!! I haven't been thrilled with NBC's coverage of the games and have high hopes for more dramatic moments and finishes during week two, but I still love Olympic competition. Here are a few of my favorite stories thus far:

4. I love Valentine's Day, not because I like grandiose romantic gestures (I don't) but because the small, simple, and accidental tradition that marks this day for our family is one of my favorites. I set up a treasure hunt throughout our house and yard that ends with a small gift each for Will and Hallie and a photo book - highlighting the most memorable moments of the previous year - for Tom. The best part is that Tom never remembers the photo book part of this tradition and is therefore always surprised when he opens his gift at the end of the treasure hunt.
The most coloring I do all year.
This year we added a finale to the treasure hunt...stay tuned to find out how I earned loads of credit with Tom, shocked and delighted both kids, and am now asking myself, "why, Erin?! WHY?!"

5. Happiness Highlights:
Last week Will tried to do something nice for Hallie and she didn't
respond kindly to his efforts. She felt awful about her behavior all
day, to the point that her teacher actually asked why she wasn't her
usually happy self, so when she got home she wrote Will a note
and left it for him to find when he arrived home. 
I didn't see or hear the initial encounter - I only heard about it
after the fact from both kids. I was of course saddened to learn
of their conflict, but watching Hallie try to make amends gave me
confidence that we're not completely messing up these two kiddos. 
Despite its bizarre coloring that I couldn't fix, I love this
photo. I always hang our Christmas cards around the window
in our dining room, and I leave them up through Valentine's Day.
Remember our swimsuit snow angels? My dad
made his last weekend. He's such a cool guy.
Last weekend I lost my title of "World's Okayest
Mom" my mini-me. He really is his mother's son.
Recently a little owl has been visiting our back
yard. He's somehow intriguing, adorable,
and terrifying all rolled into one.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Share the Love

Last week a friend of mine, who teaches English at a high school outside of Chicago, posted this on Facebook:

To all my friends with school aged children,

I want you to know something. I love your children. I love the learning and the chaos and the laughter and the mess that make up my classroom. I love teaching children every day to be kind and brave. I don’t mind spending many extra hours at home creating engaging learning experiences for my students. I don’t mind the weekend hours of adding authentic feedback to each writing assignment I collect because I BELIEVE in the strength and the power of the written word.

But, I also want you to know that February is hard. It’s dark and cold and filled with all kinds of yucky germs (and hopefully hand sanitizer!). If you’ve ever considered sending a quick note of gratitude to your child’s teacher, do it during the month of February. Such small gestures go a long way to lift spirits and brighten days—and they mean more than you can ever know.

As I expect you can discern from her words, Beth is the kind of teacher parents hope and pray their children will have during their high school years: engaged and engaging, interested and interesting, and, as she has been since I first met her during our freshman year of college, wise beyond her years.

Beth's assessment of the month seems so simple, yet I had never thought about February in that way until the moment she spelled it out for me. I decided to act on her suggestion and send notes of thanks and encouragement to Will and Hallie's teachers, and then, as I sat at my desk writing these notes, I realized Beth's words could apply to other professions and populations as well.

February is hard. For months, postal carriers have been braving subzero temperatures to deliver our mail. City employees have been plowing, salting, and sanding their way through massive snowfalls and freezing rain to keep our roadways safe. Doctors and nurses have been dealing with the worst flu epidemic in decades while trying to promote health and healing. Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, and/or anxiety may have been struggling more than usual to survive these dark days.

So today, in honor of Valentine's Day, in addition to showing your affection for your spouse, partner, children, family members, and friends, share your love with those outside of your immediate circle who might need a boost. Send a message to your children's teachers. Leave a thank you note in your mailbox for your postal carrier. Post words of encouragement for doctors and nurses or a note of gratitude for city employees on their respective Facebook pages. Send an email to friends and/or acquaintances who struggle when the days are short and the nights are long.

In short, share the love.

Beth, I have known since the day you started classes to become a teacher that you would one day be one of the best. Thank you for pouring every ounce of yourself into making sure the young people who pass through your classroom become both competent writers and kind, hard-working human beings.

Happy birthday to my sis-in-law, Chandi, and happy anniversary to my parents!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Seven Day Photo Challenge

Always a little late to the game, I finally followed through on the Facebook photo challenge everyone else tackled two months ago.

Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. 
No people, no explanations*. 

I won't officially nominate anyone, but I would love to see a photo or two from my sister, Sara...

* The "no explanations" part of this challenge was truly that - a challenge - for me. I could write a short paragraph about each of these! 

Friday, February 9, 2018

High Five for Friday (2.9.18)

1. Our men didn't win the 50 Men Who Can Cook grand prize with their delicious bacon-topped spinach artichoke dip and creative costumes, but they had a great time and did their part to help bring in thousands of dollars for our school district.
The chef and the entertainment.
Tom and our principal - we love her! 

2. In years past, Tom and I have attended 50 Men Who Can Cook on the first Friday night in February and Night of Worship on the first Saturday night in February. This year, however, both events fell on the same night and Tom and I had to divide and conquer. He obviously took 50 Men, so I took Night of Worship. My dancing girl did such a lovely job performing, and I plan to share a bit more about this special evening in a separate blog post next week.

Waiting for our girl to take the stage.

3. Hallie and I had tickets to attend one of our local high school's production of High School Musical, but we came down with the flu and missed the show. She was devastated (so was I, to be honest) so I told her I would take her to another local high school's musical instead. Her choices this weekend were Cinderella and Sister Act, and she picked Cinderella.
Waiting for the show to start in a sea of pink.
I attended a high school with spectacular music and theatre programs, and therefore have (probably unreasonably) high standards when it comes to high school musicals. Cinderella, unlike most high school musicals I've seen, lived up to my expectations. As we are currently zoned for this high school, I couldn't help but dream about one day watching Hallie on that same stage.
Cinderella (AMAZING) and Hallie

4. The Olympics start tonight! Well, technically they started last night, but the Opening Ceremonies take place tonight and when they wrap I won't turn my television off for the next 17 days. Will and I love the Olympics - the competition but also the personal stories - and we can't wait to follow all of the drama and excitement.

5a. Happiness Highlights:
I LOVE that Will has no problem being the
only boy at an otherwise all-girl birthday party. 
She saved him a seat. 😍
Sweet friends of mine and Will's made
sure he had his own special post-party treat.
The child who fought me at every turn while learning
to read can now spend hours tucked in a corner at
Barnes and Noble with a good book. In her pajamas. 
Learning about MLK Jr.
Watching the lunar eclipse before school last week.
I finally put up a few of my Valentine's Day decorations!
It's recruitment season at TAMU, so Tom goes out to eat with
prospective faculty candidates at least a few times a week. Last
Friday he went out for breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants,
but since he knew he was also going out for lunch, he saved me
half of his breakfast. Ah.Maze.Ing. 
Just a little Super Bowl halftime dancing.

5b. Speaking of dancing, a bonus Happiness Highlight: this guy ROCKED "dad week" at Hallie's dance studio. He participated in Hallie's jazz, ballet, hip hop, lyrical, and Mini Company classes, even when, in a few classes, he was the only or one of only a few dads.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: