Friday, June 22, 2018

High Five for Friday (6.22.18)

During Tom's absence, multiple house and yard challenges arose. These issues would usually fall under his jurisdiction, not because I can't take care of them myself, but because he likes the challenge of trying to fix (and is generally quite good at fixing) whatever has failed before we call in a professional. However, since he was out of the country - and completely unreachable - for such a long period of time, I had to take matters into my own hands.

One A
And by into my own hands, I mean my 11-year-old son's hands. I kid you not, Will relit the pilot light for our water heater. He had watched Tom light someone else's once before and then he watched a YouTube tutorial, climbed into the attic and investigated, came back down and watched another YouTube tutorial specific to our make and model of water heater, and then accomplished the task. I supervised (and took pictures) to make sure he stayed safe, but ultimately he handled every step of the process on his own. I was SO proud, and he was pretty darn proud of himself as well.

One B
Our oven also went out, and since neither Will nor I felt like we could safely work on this appliance, I did a little research, figured out what (I thought) the problem was, and called a local repair company. The company and the serviceman both turned out to be top-notch - fast, affordable, professional, and friendly - and so not only did I get my oven fixed, I now know exactly who in town to call for future appliance problems!

If you live in Bryan/College Station and need a recommendation, email me at!

Tom's home!

On Saturday, two friends and I had what seems to have become our annual garage sale. We did well, both in terms of the money we brought in and the stuff we sent out, and the kids loved selling cookies and lemonade!

After many, many years of rarely being able to order anything fun at ice cream shops, this boy finally got his chance to visit - and actually eat something from - College Station's best ice cream parlor. (Most ice cream shops only rinse their scoopers with hot water in between one ice cream flavor and the next, which isn't a safe practice when serving someone with a peanut allergy.) He may have selected lemon sorbet because he doesn't like dairy-based ice cream, but in the past he wouldn't have been able to even place that order. Taking both of my kids out for this treat was a treat for me!
Farmhouse Creamery makes the best ice
cream we've tried since moving to Texas. 

Happiness Highlights
Netflix on the television kept stopping and starting so we
watched Coco huddled around the iPad while cuddling in my bed.
Bahama Bucks! (Otherwise titled, "Summer Hair Don't Care".)
I LOVE library day, and so do the kids. (Please excuse
the mess. We sold Hallie's old dresser and desk but her
new dresser and desk haven't arrived everything
she owns is just sitting on the floor in her room.) 
He hates wearing his mouse and Santa hats, but
we can't help but dress him up every once in a while. 
Ready for VBS!
Loving the "Shipwrecked" theme this year!
Hallie and I finally got around to planting our seeds! Cilantro,
basil, chives, oregano, and green onion all made it into their pots.
She was so proud, and is tremendously
eager to see - and taste - the "fruits" of her labor!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Texas Bucket List: SeaWorld San Antonio

My Texas Bucket List began taking shape shortly after we arrived in College Station. At first the list consisted of only a few touristy day trips and experiences (think Six Flags, SeaWorld, etc.) I'd thought of or heard about prior to our move. But as we made new friends, especially new friends who grew up in Texas, we learned from them about the lesser-known - at least to Midwesterners - but not-to-miss sights and sounds of the Lone Star State.

Each time I cross something off my Texas Bucket List I document it here, both because Chasing Roots serves as my Texas journal and because looking back on these posts and "watching" our love affair, if you will, with our now-home state unfold is a beautiful thing. 

You can see my full - but ever-growing - Texas Bucket List here. Feel free to let me know what I'm missing!

When we learned that Will's soccer club would play a series of friendly matches against a soccer club in San Antonio the first Saturday in June, we decided to make a full weekend out of the trip, leaving a day early and spending Friday at SeaWorld San Antonio. Tom and I visited SeaWorld San Diego close to 20 years ago, but Will and Hallie had never been to any of the SeaWorld parks. We did our best to explain the SeaWorld experience to them ahead of time, but upon arriving we realized we hadn't done a very good job; apparently our memories aren't what they used to be and/or the San Diego park is structured differently than the San Antonio park.
With our friends Jon and Bri at SeaWorld San Diego circa ~ 2001.
Tom and I had no recollection of roller coasters at Sea World, but roller coasters there were, so we took advantage. Will and I rode the Steel Eel, which features a 15-story vertical drop and multiple weightlessness-producing camelbacks. I usually like roller coasters, but this one scared me more so than any I can remember (I said multiple prayers during the deliberately slow initial climb and the first two terrifying descents) and I had absolutely no desire to ride it a second time. While Tom and Will rode the Great White, Hallie played in the Sesame Street Bay of Play (geared toward children younger than her, but she enjoyed the obstacle courses), and then all four of us rode the Wave Breaker and Rio Loco, which resulted in a drenching not unlike jumping in a swimming pool. Since the temperature outside had reached 100 degrees, none of us complained.

In their habitats we observed alligators, sharks, stingrays, penguins, seals, sea lions, and dolphins, and we attended three different shows. Sea Lion High highlighted sea lions, an otter, and their trainers in a scripted skit about two sea lions attempting to earn their high school diplomas; Tom and I enjoyed the show, but kids truly loved the performance. Killer Whales Up Close showcased Sea World's five orcas in an interactive presentation that focused as much on education as entertainment. We sat in the splash zone, which lived up to its title - we left this show once again as wet as if we'd just taken a shower. And Ocean Discovery revealed the beauty and talents of beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

I appreciated, as did the kids, how the shows never flaunted the animals and instead focused on education. Yes, the animals performed impressively, but their "tricks" were movements - styles of swimming, jumping, communicating - they would naturally perform in the wild. I truly enjoyed the seeing the animals in action, LOVED watching the kids take it all in), and appreciated the caring and respectful relationships the trainers so clearly have with "their" animals.
Sea lions
Sea Lion High 
Sea Lion High
Killer Whales Up Close
Killer Whales Up Close
Ocean Discovery 
Ocean Discovery
Ocean Discovery
We skipped Aquatica, both because we didn't want to try to fit two parks into one day and because we figured we should spend our summer water park day at the hottest, coolest time in Texas instead of at SeaWorld's water park.

Because our visit fell just prior to peak season, we missed the now ongoing Electric Ocean event. This nighttime experience includes a nightly "fireworks display and party zones with electronic dance music that will create an electrifying dance club atmosphere". Now that I read the description of Electric Ocean again, I don't feel too broken up about missing this summer celebration...I don't enjoy electronic dance music party zones as much as I used to. 😉

Overall, we loved Sea World. At times throughout the day I wished for cooler weather, but the extreme temperatures and scorching sun made the show splash zones and the water ride that much more fun. I also wished San Antonio had a dolphin and sting ray "petting zoo", like San Diego does/did. Everything else, however, lived up to my expectations: the rides (though a surprise), animals, and shows were a hit with all of us. I doubt SeaWorld will become an annual excursion for us, but I would love to take the kids - to San Antonio, or perhaps San Diego or Orlando - again in a few years.

* I used my Baggallini backpack at SeaWorld. It received TWO dousings with water and somehow kept my wallet, my phone, and all of Will's meds completely dry. Just something to consider if you're planning a trip somewhere wet and wild!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

To All the Daddies in the House

Tom has been gone on a fishing trip to Canada for 11 days. The kids and I have survived his absence - we even had a little fun with activities we knew he wouldn't enjoy or want to join us for - but we missed him tremendously and look forward to his return home tomorrow.

Because we knew ahead of time that Tom would miss Father's Day, we celebrated early at our house. But to my own incredible dad, to all of the special dads and dad-like men in my life, and to everyone else celebrating and honoring and remembering dads, happy Father's Day.
Hallie and my dad
Will and my dad
Tom and his dad

And in honor of dads' greatest gift to the rest of the world - dad jokes, of course - here are a few of my favorite dad-related funnies.

Having children is like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything's broken, and there's a lot of throwing up.  ~ Ray Romano

Most noticeable difference since becoming a dad: I've cried hard TWICE at America's Got Talent this season.  ~ Seth Meyers

Someone asked my son what his father does for a living. He said, "He plays basketball and changes his shorts."  ~ Tale Diggs

Buying your kid a goldfish is a great way to teach them about responsibility for 24-36 hours.  ~ Conan O'Brien

Fatherhood is great, because you can ruin someone from scratch.  ~ Jon Stewart

Happy Father's Day!

Posting Note: today's post will take the place of tomorrow's (Monday's) regular post. See you on Wednesday!

Friday, June 15, 2018

High Five for Friday (6.15.18)

Last Thursday I took Will and Hallie to Family Swim Night at one of our local swimming pools. This special event didn't start until 7:30pm so we had a little trouble rallying post-dinner and around the time we would usually be putting on pajamas and getting ready for bed, but we made it happen and ended up having a great time. I enjoyed a couple of trips down the slide and managed to impress the kids with my dives (the ability to go in headfirst, keep my legs together, and point my toes was all it took) and crush Will in a swimming race. He may be MUCH faster than me on land, but I still have him beat in the water. Nighttime swimming might become a regular summer activity for us!
Yes, this is the best of the many photos we took.

Hallie shocked me by crushing - in more ways than one - her first true dance intensive. Every afternoon she came home tired and sore, but she never complained nor did she ask to skip a day...both of which I fully expected to hear at some point. By the end of the week and under the guidance of two exceptional teachers, Hallie had studied five genres, learned four dances, improved her technique, stretched her physical and emotional comfort zones, made new friends and strengthened existing relationships, and connected with God through devotional, worship, and prayer.

On Friday night, Hallie went on a sleepover so Will and I had ourselves a little date. We started at Toys'R'Us to pick out a birthday present for a friend, and while there he decided - after a great deal of hemming and hawing - to purchase himself a Nerf gun he'd had his eye on for a while. Next we popped over to Academy to pick him out a pair of shorts and take a few swings on their indoor putting green, and then we went to see Ocean's 8 in the theater. Finally and back at home, we shared a Sprite Zero and watched Coco on Netflix. He told me multiple times throughout the evening how much fun he was having, and how much he enjoyed spending time with me; I couldn't have said it better myself, sweet boy. Father Time, you simply MUST slow down...

Tom is fishing in Canada, so for the last nine nights the kids have slept...all over the place. I enjoy these "sleepovers", but my favorite part about this arrangement is watching Tux try to find where Will has settled down and then curl up to sleep with him in that location. It doesn't matter where Will goes, Tux eventually follows. (These were all taken on different days/nights.)

Happiness Highlights
Exactly 12 months have passed - they're still rockin' the
same coordinating swimsuits at summer swim lessons. 
Loving track camp!
Tom and his dad, resting up in Nebraska
before their epic fishing trip to Canada.
This pic resurfaced this week. 😍 
In preparation for the arrival of Hallie's new (and
bigger) desk, we turned the art corner in our family/
music/play room into a dance corner. It's tight, but
she's thrilled to have a place for her barre to live.
Loved celebrating this sweet girl's 11th birthday with a pool
party and Kit Kat cupcakes (which melted into puddles of
chocolate, wafer, and buttercream frosting within minutes). 
This star rocked her dance recital last weekend! 
The unicorn bought herself a narwhal.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: