Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Godspeed, Mr. President

The George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is located in College Station. It opened to the public in 1997, but underwent a near-complete renovation 10 years later and reopened during a ceremony at which President Bush arrived via parachute jump.

I have visited the museum more than once since moving to College Station. Its core exhibits focus on President Bush's upbringing and the path his life took as he became a military man, college student, husband, father, businessman, Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice President, and eventually President. The museum also offers insight into the efforts made by the Bush Administration to stop Saddam Hussein and liberate Kuwait, and showcases artifacts and memorabilia of importance to President Bush, such as a WWII Avenger Torpedo Bomber, a 1947 Studebaker, and his beloved speedboat, Fidelity.
41 and me, having a chat.
Will, solving the world's problems in the Situation Room.
Hallie, reading stories in Barbara's children's library. 
I was nine years old when our country elected President Bush. I paid absolutely no attention to politics back then, and still today only somewhat understand his contributions to our country's political landscape. I can't say if I would have voted for him. I can't say if I would have agreed with him. But I can say that I believe him to have been a good person. Each time I walked the museum's exhibits I found myself acknowledging not what an accomplished politician he was, but what an accomplished human being he was. A kind and generous man with a heart for family and a commitment to service.

Last Thursday, College Station all but shut down - Texas A&M University closed and the public schools let out early - in honor of President Bush. And just as we did seven months ago when Barbara passed away, we stood in the rain on a little patch of grass to the side of the road (or in this case, the railroad tracks) and paid our respects as President Bush made one final journey across his home state of Texas.

President Bush was laid to rest, alongside his wife and daughter, on the grounds of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Texas A&M University. After a lifetime of service, President Bush deserves that rest...and we must take on the work where he left off.

"America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the world. My friends, we have work to do."

Godspeed, Mr. President.

Friday, December 7, 2018

High Five for Friday (12.7.18)

One
Our elf, Chris, has returned! We had a particularly rough night on November 29th (just the usual "parenting 12- and nine-year-old kids" stuff, but the evening took an emotional and mental toll on all of us), so I decided Chris should arrive the following morning - one day earlier than usual - to lift our spirits. Chris always brings new Christmas pajamas, and this year he brought simple chocolate advent calendars (a first for Will due to his allergies) as well; both kids were excited about his gifts, and Tom and I are excited to start forgetting to move him around our house every night!

Two
On Friday night, Hallie and I - along with many of our close mom and daughter friends (and quite a few acquaintances through her ballet academy) - drove to Houston to see the Houston Ballet's Jubilee of Dance. I had never attended a Houston Ballet production before, and while the night went on a little longer than we were prepared for (close to three-and-a-half hours when including the TWO intermissions), we had a great time.

Three
Over the weekend and to wrap up their regular season, Will's soccer team took home a victory in the Southhampton Cup...in a shootout. Having lived through quite a few shootouts on the field, I know firsthand the anxiety the boys experienced and understand what it feels like to come out on the other end of such a stressful game ending: both the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat. I was extremely proud of how well our boys played, the determination and composure they showed at various points throughout the weekend, and how they handled themselves with class when, at the end of the final game, they felt joy but saw their opponents in pain. After a dog pile celebration, Will's team noticed the final shooter for the other team - whose shot went off the post - crying facedown in the grass. They rallied around him, pulled him up off the ground, and shook his hand. There are so many things wrong with youth athletics, but the lessons they learned this weekend weren't one of them.

Four
You guys. My power washer is unbelievable.

Five
Happiness Highlights
My mom made this bear costume for my
nephew, Carter, and when Carter outgrew it
we wanted it to find a new home. It did, and
I love seeing it in action again! 
Will, performing his original poem, Our
Flag, in his school's annual Poetry Slam. 
When motivated by a lovely and fun gift from
a friend, we make awesome after school snacks. 
The best pic I could get of Will at
last weekend's holiday orchestra concert. 
Orchestra concerts are a social event for the moms, dads, and siblings!
Sometimes he still sits on my lap.
She watched the shootout, but for the rest of four complete
soccer games, she faced the parking lot or the woods. 😂

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots! 

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Monthly Medley: November 2018

Writing
If you read Texas Living magazine, check out this month's issue as well as the next few months' issues for articles I worked on throughout the last year. These may not be my first articles for the magazine, but they're some of the ones I'm most excited to see in print!

Pretty much every other aspect of where my writing - at least with regard to Chasing Roots - can be summed up in this post, which I shared midway through the month. I hope I can find the time in December to map out where to go from here...

Reading
I finished and highly recommend Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. It would be a perfect holiday break read - fun, funny, uplifting, and inspiring (not to mention it includes a number of delicious recipes) - so if you would like to borrow it, let me know.

Thanks to my birthday and a Thanksgiving Break visit to our other community library, I have a replenished book supply for December and January!

Watching
After a months-long hiatus, we visited the movie theater twice in November. Hallie and I saw The Nutcracker and the Four Realms with friends, and then I took the kids to see The Grinch the day before Thanksgiving. I would recommend both, but especially The Grinch. I honestly wanted and had planned to fall asleep in the theater that day, but the movie somehow kept me from doing so. Oh, and I cried steadily throughout the last 10 minutes - probably because the story ended so sweetly, but perhaps because I was so tired and didn't get my nap.

While we're on the subject of Christmas movies...Hallie and I adored The Princess Switch and the kids and I all loved The Christmas Chronicles, both on Netflix. The Princess Switch - spoiler alert - could be described as The Princess Diaries meets The Parent Trap, so while I could easily predict every plot "twist", I still enjoyed the storyline's ups and down. The Christmas Chronicles stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, and while Herb Brooks in Miracle will always be my favorite of his roles, this one comes in a close second.

Listening To
All the Christmas music. I didn't buy any new holiday CDs or download any new holiday songs this year, but I have enough of both from years past to keep me and the kids perfectly happy.

On a less uplifting note, last week I finished Season Three of Serial. The goal of this season was to "tackle the whole criminal justice system" by investigating ordinary court cases in Cleveland, OH. (Producers chose Cleveland because the city agreed to let the podcast record just about everything/where.) I've heard it called "ambitious", "addictive", and "completely different" compared to seasons one and two, and while I would agree with each of those adjectives, I would also add "depressing", "frustrating", and even "heartbreaking" to the list. That said, this season of Serial is important, because it shines the brightest of lights on the complexities, limitations, and biases of a system that seems designed to favor some and place others at an immediate disadvantage. Mentally prepare yourself, and then listen.

Wearing
I've become such a fan of Four the Love of Wood earrings - they're pretty, well made, and affordable, and the shop is local, something I consider another plus. (They would make great Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers!) I've purchased a few pair throughout the last year, and I adore my newest pair from last month's Jingle Bell Market.

Update: the first time I wore these earrings one fell out and I lost it. 😢

Speaking of jewelry...Tom bought me this necklace - from our my favorite jewelry store in Minocqua, Wisconsin. I admired it last summer and then it miraculously appeared under the birthday tree.

Trying/Using
Ok, I haven't technically used my new power washer yet, but Tom has (apparently he and Will used it before wrapping the box back up for me to open on my birthday) and he declared it miraculous...bring on cleaning all the things with a forceful stream of water!

I mentioned Casey Duke Photography last month but didn't yet have any photos to post. Now that I do, I thought I'd share a couple (not the ones on our Christmas cards, but a few others I loved) so you can see her work. Let me know if you're in the market for a photographer in the BCS area!
We have arrived at the "golden age" for photos. No one complains
about having to participate, and everyone knows how to flash a
"real smile" on command.
Tom and I haven't had pictures taken of just the two of us
since...our engagement and wedding photos 15 years ago.
My people.
Hallie's bestie's family had the slot following
ours, and Casey graciously allowed us to overlap
our two sessions with photos of our darling girls.
They have loved one another
since they were three years old.
😍

Eating/Drinking
Mine weren't quite as pretty as those
made by the blogger...

  • These Two-Ingredient Bagels were a sticky, messy, fun adventure. They didn't taste like (the greatest ever) Bagels Forever bagels, but were surprisingly tasty - Tom and I enjoyed ours with cream cheese and Will opted for butter on his.
  • I also made this Slow Cooker Taco Soup, and it went over well with everyone, even Hallie!



Feeling Good About

What's new in your world this month?

Friday, November 30, 2018

High Five for Friday (11.30.18)

One
We had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and break from school. We missed our extended families and wished that traveling to Nebraska with Tom had been a more realistic option, but the kids and I truly appreciated a relatively quiet week spent at home.
Tom and Grandpa Keith
On a Thanksgiving Day hike...
...that essentially took us into a swamp. Despite our best efforts to
stay dry and somewhat clean, this stretch of flooded path did us in
and we all ended up soaked up to our ankles. We had a BLAST.
Not too shabby! And we loved eating our
Thanksgiving Day feast on Grandma Hallie's china.

Two
I also had a wonderful birthday, which I celebrated on and off throughout the weekend. (My birthday fell on Thanksgiving, and since I didn't want to take away from the kids' Thanksgiving festivities and all I ever really want for my birthday is for my family to cheerfully put up and decorate the Christmas tree, it made sense for me to pretend my birthday fell on Saturday instead of Thursday.) Highlights include: a surprise breakfast with my friends on Thursday, putting up and decorating the Christmas tree on Saturday evening, the delicious cake Hallie (and sous chef Will) baked for me, a gorgeous necklace from Tom, and painting at Board and Brush with many of my friends.
My friends surprised me with a delicious breakfast and mimosas and
delightful nutcracker wine glasses on my birthday/Thanksgiving morning.
I consider myself lucky to call these incredible
(and artistically talented) women my friends.
Hallie's creation. 😍

Three
We finally received the professional photos and video from the dance convention Hallie's company attended a month ago. Tom's working on splicing the three-hour-long video so I can share just our (Rising Star Award winning) dance, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite photos.

Four
It feels like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all blend together now, doesn't it? I joined two friends for their annual Thursday night shopping trip, which happened to be my first-ever true Black Friday experience. It wasn't as frightening as I expected, but I'm told that's because we went to Target instead of some of the crazier stores. On Friday afternoon and after the diehards had gone home to sleep, the kids and I headed to a couple of their favorite stores and found a few deals on stocking stuffers. On Small Business Saturday I stocked up at my favorite local dance shop, and then finally on Cyber Monday I all but finished my shopping on Amazon. It feels great to be (just about) done...now I just have to organize and wrap and ship!
Thursday Night/Black Friday shenanigans. 
Small Business Saturday fun.

Five
Happiness Highlights
Hallie and her nutcrackers. 
My boys at Will's first Aggie game. (They didn't go to THE
GAME, but to the game the weekend prior to THE GAME.) 
Selling lemonade and chocolate...
...and serenading the customers with cello music.
Eating actual ice cream from an actual ice cream shop. For
multiple reasons this wouldn't - couldn't - have happened
just one year ago and I'm so grateful for how far he's come.
New costumes!
Grateful they had each other to climb the tower
with - staying on the ground makes me happy.
Gorgeous!
I LOVE my new power washer! (Me, as I unwrap my birthday
present: "is it really a power washer?!" Tom: "YES! And you're
going to love it - I've been using it for weeks!" 😂) 
Some of my birthday present books - I can't wait to break into them!
I found her licking the bowl and icing her foot on the
floor of my bedroom...always keeps me guessing, this one.
Talking to her nutcrackers.
Will couldn't find a candle and "doesn't have permission to use matches" (his
words),  so he put a birthday note instead of a birthday candle in my waffles.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots! 

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: