Monday, October 23, 2017

Paint the Town Teal...Again! (Plus a Giveaway!)

I talked about the Teal Pumpkin Project around this time last year, so for those of you who read Chasing Roots regularly, this post may feel familiar. The topic is an important one, however, so please give the post a quick read and consider either participating yourself (if you welcome trick-or-treaters to your home) or sharing the post so others can jump on board the teal pumpkin band wagon! 

As my regular readers know, Will has a peanut allergy. (He was at one time also allergic to wheat, egg, and dairy.) Over the years we have worked out systems that allow him to safely trick-or-treat with his sister and friends, but Halloween - and the multitude of health risks candy poses for him - still scares me, especially as he gets older. Will makes good decisions and advocates for his own safety, but the dangers remain and the risks are real.

Because of Will's food allergies - and because so many other children (including both my niece and nephew) suffer from food allergies - we started participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014 when it officially hit front porches nationwide.

For those who haven't yet heard of this Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) project, here's the background information and a quick summary. At least one in 13 children (perhaps as many as one in 11 children) have a food allergy, and many more suffer from Celiac Disease, eat a restricted or special diet, or receive their nutrients via tube feeding. For these children - those who can't consume any of the items received while trick-or-treating or who can't trick-or-treat at all - Halloween doesn't have the same sparkle. The Teal Pumpkin Project began as a local awareness activity in Eastern Tennessee and grew into a nationwide campaign to "raise awareness about food allergies and promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters" and aims to ensure every child can experience a safe, happy holiday.

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.
  1. Pick out a pumpkin, paint it teal, and place it on your front porch on Halloween.
  2. Provide non-food treats - pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, and plastic vampire teeth have been popular at our house - for trick-or-treaters. 
The goal here is not to exclude candy; FARE suggests simply putting candy in one bowl, and non-food treats in a separate bowl. And if you don't have time to buy and/or paint a teal pumpkin, you can buy one onlineorder a fun sign for your front yard, or print out and hang up one of FARE's signs!

Later this week and just like we did last year, the year before, and the year before that, Hallie and I will buy a pumpkin at the local pumpkin patch and she'll spend the better part of an hour carefully covering every last inch of orange with teal paint. No, painting a pumpkin teal won't cure Will of his peanut allergy or make it possible for him to consume all of the same treats his sister and friends enjoy on Halloween. But it is a step toward increasing awareness and making the world a safer place for people with life-threatening food allergies...and Hallie loves having a part in this effort on behalf of her brother.

Would you like to win a Teal Pumpkin Project paint kit? Enter by commenting here or by commenting on or liking this post on Facebook. Will will randomly choose a winner on Thursday, October 26th at 8pm.

Let's paint the town teal!

I have no affiliation with nor have I received any payment - financial or in-kind - from the Teal Pumpkin Project in exchange for this post. I just happen to be a big supporter of their work!

Friday, October 20, 2017

High Five for Friday (10.20.17)

1. Last fall's inaugural Bingo Night at Hallie's elementary school was one of my favorite events of the year. This year's second go was just as fun (though it would have been even better if my own kids could have attended - Will had soccer and Hallie had dance), and reminded me that sometimes simple and inexpensive goes a heck of a lot farther than complicated and extravagant when it comes to building community and bringing people together.
A completely full cafeteria!
Two of my fellow PTO Board members hard at work. We put in A
LOT of hours on behalf of our school, but we have a lot of fun too!
2. Hallie's Mini Company performed for the first time on Saturday afternoon. The girls have hit the ground running so much more quickly than they did last year; after less than two months together as a group they have already learned three difficult dances. I know I sound like a broken record, but I love watching my girl - and her sweet friends who I adore - on stage.

3. On Sunday we visited the 5th Annual Pumpkinpalooza at Milican Reserve, a private nature reserve south of College Station. We hadn't attended the event for at least a couple of years, and the four Ferri had fun listening to live music, dining on our local food trucks' finest, perusing local vendors' wares, playing disc golf, chunkin' pumpkins, and playing games in the kid zone. And the weather cooperated just enough that I didn't feel like we were celebrating fall holidays in the middle of summer!
4. I need give a shout out and virtual high five to all of the friends and family members who helped me "make it all happen" - school, homework, music practice, extracurricular club meetings, soccer practices, dance lessons, etc. - throughout the last two weeks. (First Tom was out of town for a conference, and now I'm out of town visiting my mom and sister.) It truly takes a village, and I have a spectacular one!

5. Happiness Highlights:
Once reluctant to join anything, Hallie turned over a
new leaf this year. She joined Student Council and the
Runners, Chess, and Garden Clubs, and she tried out
for two different UIL competition teams. 
Tux and Will also dressed like twins.
Though I don't think it required much sacrifice on his
part, Will gave Hallie his new longhorn stuffed animal
(courtesy of his summer camp as a thanks for already
signing up for next year) and made her day.
I adore this picture. Anyone with photo editing skills know how to edit
out the library barcode stickers and turn the butterflies on her pajamas
into something Christmas-y? I'd love to add it to my holiday decor...

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Send Me on My Way

The calendar may indicate autumn, but aside from a couple of glorious "teaser" days, the weather outside - at least here in Texas - hasn't felt like anything but summer to me.

Tomorrow morning I will rise hours before the sun, which I dislike doing. I will leave my house at 4am, which I also dislike doing. I will drive to the airport and board a plane, which I certainly won't enjoy, and then I'll spend my morning flying and waiting and flying and driving, which - you guessed it - I also won't enjoy. But every last minute will be worth it when I arrive in...FALL.

Preparing to go takes weeks of planning (I'm gone for three full days so before I leave I have to coordinate every detail of the kids' school and extracurricular schedules), but the time spent with my mom and sister, away from my kids (once a year mama needs a little break), and outside enjoying Mother Nature's most glorious season make me feel uplifted and refreshed and valued. This annual trip never fails to rejuvenate me...fall, here I come.

Monday, October 16, 2017

House of Mouse


After a busy afternoon and evening, I finally had the kids fed, bathed, and in bed around 8:45pm. I took a shower, put on my pajamas, and settled in to tackle a few work- and PTO-related projects. About 10 minutes later, I heard Tux at the backdoor, meowing to come inside. I set down my computer, walked to the kitchen, and opened the door.

Tux bounded out of the dark night and into the dark kitchen making a strange noise. He ran frantically through the house until he skidded to a stop in the living room...where he proudly dropped a mouse - a very alive, very terrified mouse - on the rug. (I mention the dark night and the dark kitchen because when coupled with a dark cat and a dark mouse, they made it impossible for me to see that Tux had a mouse in his mouth when he was outside and also once he came into the house.) I screamed louder than I have ever screamed before in my life, jumped up on the chair, and called my friend and neighbor, Rebecca. 

I called Rebecca because as bad luck would have it, Tom was in Austin at a conference. Why do these things always happen when the bravest family member is gone?! 

I asked begged - as calmly as possible (which apparently wasn't very calmly, because later Rebecca told me that she thought I was either hysterically crying or hysterically laughing) - if she would send her husband, Matt, over to help me catch the mouse. Matt arrived two minutes later. #bestneighborsever

Matt and I began assessing how to best capture the still very alive and very terrified mouse. For a while Tux helped us by keeping the mouse contained under the entertainment center, but eventually he gave up and flopped down on the living room rug to watch us work. Meanwhile, Rebecca arrived and brought with her our friend, Jenn, with whom she'd been working out at the gym when I called. #bestfriendsever

For what felt like 15 minutes (it may have only been five - I have no idea), the four of us chased the mouse around the house with flashlights, brooms, and tupperware containers as it darted in and out of various rooms. Will "helped" by standing on the kitchen counter, screaming intermittently, and taking pictures of the chaos.

Eventually Jenn - my hero - trapped the mouse beneath a tupperware in the dining room and Matt - my other hero - slid a pizza box under the tupperware container and transferred the mouse out of the house and into the backyard. When all was said and done, we sat back and surveyed "the damage" (most of the furniture in my living room had been moved and there was dust everywhere), Will finally climbed down from the counter, and we all laughed about how much "fun" we'd had catching a mouse. Oh, and Hallie slept through the entire scream-laced adventure.

Below are a sampling of the pictures Will took. As you can see, most were taken from a vantage point above the ground (perched atop the counter) and nearly all are blurry, which I think captures the chaos of those minutes.

An exciting night in the House of Mouse!

Tux had already left a dead lizard in Tom's shoe earlier in the week, so the mouse really pushed me over the edge. Tux's punishment will be to wear his Halloween tutu, sit in the corner, and think about what he did. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

High Five for Friday (10.13.17)

1. On Friday night I hosted a Noonday Collection party. I learned about the company and purchased a few lovely pieces - bracelets and earrings - a couple of years ago, but this was the first time I had ever brought the company's story into my home. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Noonday is a socially responsible business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities across the globe. Noonday believes in the dignity and power of work, and its business model focuses on empowering artisians and creating dignified jobs in vulnerable communities. After a L...O...N...G week, it felt wonderful to gather with friends in support of such talented and worthy women.

2. On Saturday afternoon Will's soccer team earned its second win - and he tallied his first assist - of the season. After a couple of tough losses the two weekends prior, these boys needed a victory to boost their spirits. They may have played "on the surface of the sun" (as I like to describe what it feels like to watch a soccer game in 90+ degree temperatures and direct sunlight with no breeze), but sweating through every inch of my clothing was worth it to see my boy shine.

3. On Sunday afternoon we wrapped up Will's birthday celebrations. He had a wonderful few days, and I'm grateful to everyone who helped make his week a great one!
Putting out the balloons after Will fell asleep on his birthday eve.
Blowing out the candle in his breakfast donuts.
Birthday dinner and cake #1 at Rosa's.
Dabbing in his new dabbing skeleton soccer player shirt.
Cake #2 - a Pac Man video game.
Blowing out the candles as an 11-year-old!
4. Oh, how we needed a day off from school on Monday. Our day was still busy - we worked out at the gym, shopped the school book fair, went to Hallie's parent-teacher conference, got our flu shots, and then finished out the afternoon with three dance classes and a soccer practice - but not having to wake up in the dark (I can't wait to "fall back" in a few weeks) and hurry through our morning routine made all the difference.

5. Happiness Highlights:
Tux seems super excited about his Halloween costume.
He's going as a tutu-wearing girl version of himself. 
As I said when I texted this picture to their moms, this picture
looks a lot sweeter than the music they were playing sounded.
I loved watching them create their masterpiece though!
My parents retired recently, so this description by Erma Bombeck
made me laugh out loud. "Showed me how to walk with my legs spread
apart so I wouldn't wear a path down the middle of the hallway carpet." 
Our elementary school principals set the "cool"
bar pretty high - princess dresses and scooters!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Texas Bows (Take 2)

My apologies to those of you who are seeing this post for the second time. For some reason it went up accidentally on Monday, two days early. Oops!

I have an almost seven-year-old niece, Lily, who lives in Illinois. We see Lily and her family a few times a year, and because at least one of these visits takes place here in Texas, she already knows quite a bit about the Lone Star State. (Example #1: Lily Football. Example #2: "I Love Texas".)

Recently Lily approached her mom - my sister, Sara - and asked Sara if she would, in the future, purchase only Texas hair bows. Confused about what exactly that meant, Sara asked for clarification. "Texas bows, Mom. You know, super big bows."

Lily speaks the truth: everything - hair bows included - is bigger in Texas. (I honestly couldn't believe the size of the hair bows moms put in their little girls' hair when we first arrived from Michigan.) And luckily for Lily, she has an aunt who is happy to replace those little Illinois bows with great big Texas bows.

For fun, here is a photographic timeline of the progression of Hallie's bows. Evidently, the longer we live in Texas, the bigger her bows!
A Wisconsin bow...
And then they get bigger...
...and bigger...
...and bigger! (I used to think Lily was looking
adoring at I wonder if she's
looking adoringly at Hallie's bow...)
Status: True Texan
(Ok, this is a wreath bow Hallie and I found at Hobby Lobby.
We couldn't resist taking a picture with it in Hallie's hair.)