Friday, September 21, 2018

High Five for Friday (9.21.18)

On Saturday evening friends and I celebrated another lovely friend's birthday with wine and dinner and bundt cake at Messina Hof Winery. She always chooses this series of activities for her special day, probably because it makes for a delightful evening honoring both her and our favorite beverage.

Boosterthon has begun! This is my sixth time helping run this fundraiser, and while I love it, I can't help but rejoice just a little that this is also my final time (because this is Hallie's last year in elementary school) helping run this fundraiser. Mama is tired.

Someone affiliated with Will's intermediate school (an artistically-gifted parent, I assume) spruced up the doors of the bathroom stalls. 😍

I generally have quite a few stacks of paperwork, bills, magazines, advertisements, coupons, etc. on or around my desk. I know what each stack contains and I work through them every week, but I needed a slightly better system to keep everything contained so I added a few new standing files and a basket on top of the filing cabinet, and then repainted my pencil/pen holder to match the dark bluish green color I used on the Texas Love canvas. The changes are small, but I love the new(ish) look and slightly increased productivity associated with the space!

Happiness Highlights 
Big kitty in a little box.
Came across this new book at
a school book fair and fell in love.
Hallie's "dance family" for the 2018-2019 year.
Last week I found this poster of Will's on the wall
in his science classroom and my heart skipped a beat.
He hates projects, especially those that include an artistic
component, so I have helped him through every single one
he's ever been assigned...except this one. And I love it -
he used bubble letters and different colors and photos
and even drew a picture.
Last Friday night Hallie and I watched Father of the Bride - me
for the first time in 15+ years and her for the first time ever. 
My grocery store started carrying a few new salad mixes and
I've found that divided in two they make great lunches!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Few Words Wednesday: Breathe

Breathe, my friend. 
You are not old, you are young. 
You are not a mess, you are normal. 
Extraordinary, perhaps. 
In the blink of an eye your life will change. 
And it will continue to change for decades to come. 
Enjoy it, embrace it... 
Be grateful for the ride. 
You are not old, you are young. 
And faith will get you everywhere. 
Just you wait.

~ Abby Larson

Monday, September 17, 2018

Texas Bucket List: Whoop

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 still missing!

The first two experiences added to my Texas Bucket List were "watch a TAMU football game from the stands at Kyle Field" and "watch the Fighting' Texas Aggie Band perform live". It took seven-and-a-half years, but at the end of August we finally put checkmarks next to both.

TAMU gave faculty members an opportunity to purchase affordable tickets for the TAMU vs. Northwestern State University game. We considered buying four tickets and taking the kids, but in the end decided we would take the kids another time and attend the game just the two of us. We cleared our evening, lined up a babysitter for Hallie/companion for Will, pulled out our maroon attire,  and headed to Kyle Field.

Despite the fact that the game kicked off at 7:30pm, it was - we were - HOT. We walked 3/4 of a mile from our car to the stadium, wandered around the grounds, watched the Corps march in, and then walked another (what seemed like) 3/4 of a mile UP to our seats, so by the time we finally sat down in row 31 of section 350, we were drenched. Turns out it was still 96 degrees with a "feels like" temperatures of 102 degrees at 8:30pm.

The steamy weather didn't squelch our fun though. We ate hotdogs and drank soda, sang the National Anthem, took pictures of the flyover, and joined in the yells. I enjoyed watching Reveille lead the team onto the field before kickoff, and I loved the tradition of the Corps firing a canon every time the Aggies scored. The crowd volume, while not the loudest I've heard in a football stadium, impressed me, and the 12th Man student section and 12th Man on the field (a walk-on player wearing the number 12 jersey for the first play of the game) traditions tugged at my emotions. The football game itself was one of the most boring I've ever watched*, but the Aggies came out ahead and we had a great time cheering them on to victory.

* The first half alone took more than two hours because there were SO MANY television timeouts, regular timeouts, reviews, and penalties. At one point Tom turned to me and acknowledged that he had really come to appreciate soccer for how it allows - even requires - players to just PLAY the game. I actually felt bad for the Aggie and NWS players because the television broadcasting "powers that be" and referees kept either team from ever finding any momentum on the field.   

The best part of the night, however, was - by far - watching the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band march at halftime. The TAMU Corps of Cadets is the largest military marching band in the United States, and while many people had told me there was nothing like watching this massive band perform live, I had my doubts; the Aggie Band only performs traditional marches, which I thought sounded somewhat anticlimactic coming in behind 80s medleys and animated marching formations. I could not have been more wrong in my assessment.

According to an article in The Battalion student newspaper, "some of the Aggie band's maneuvers are so complex that drill-charter software says the drills are impossible because they require multiple people to be in the same place at the same time". I could see from the moment the Aggie Band took its first synchronized step that its maneuvers - obliques, flanks, countermarches, crisscrosses, continuous countermarks, and minstrel turns (confession: I had to look every single one of those up) - were some of the most difficult ever attempted by a marching band. The space between band members during some of these maneuvers is six inches or less, even for those who play large instruments, and they were never, and I mean NEVER, out of step or off their lines. I have never seen a band march with such incredible precision.

The verdict? Watching Aggie football at Kyle Field, especially under the lights? Not a bad way to spend a Thursday evening. Watching the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band perform their halftime routine? The BEST way to spend a Thursday evening.

Friday, September 14, 2018

High Five for Friday (9.14.18)

If you live in BCS and haven't yet tried The Dine-In Dude, you are missing out. Last Friday we enjoyed his Italian Meatball & Truffle Mac n' Cheese, and OH MY GOODNESS, it hit the spot. The chef uses locally-grown farm-fresh ingredients and charges a reasonable price, and having a new recipe and ready-made meal to try each week has been really fun for (three of the four of) us!

My cousin got married last Saturday, and while we couldn't attend the wedding (the price we pay for living so far away from family), I wanted to publicly congratulate her. Happy Day to you and Jamie, Emily!

A wonderful friend of mine went back to work full-time last month, and after seeing her - as a neighbor, friend, and fellow PTO Board member - almost daily for YEARS, I miss her! Thankfully we had a chance to catch up for a couple of hours last Saturday night.

Go Pack Go!

Happiness Highlights
During this season of divide and conquer I miss about half
of Will's soccer games due to of Nutcracker rehearsals. Tom
sends me play-by-play text messages, but I'm so grateful for
the occasional photo other parents email me after games.
When we woke up to rain on Sunday morning, the four of us went
for a leisurely stroll through the puddles and streams. When the rain
continued into the afternoon, Hallie and I went for another walk to
take pictures of flowers with raindrops on them. I LOVE rain...
On Monday morning I opened the
windows for the first time since April. 😍
Every morning Tux tries his best to keep Will from leaving for school.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Few Words Wednesday: Out of the Mouths of Babes

January 19th, 2015

As she sat in the donut shop yesterday, Hallie identified the people around her by one characteristic or another.

"She has long hair, he has short hair. She works at the donut shop, he doesn't. She is tall, he is short. She's wearing earmuffs, he's wearing shorts."

When she got to skin color, Hallie noted that there were no people with "brown" skin in the donut shop at the time.

"It's not like it matters though," she explained. "We all blow our noses the same way anyhow."

I nodded, not sure whether to laugh or cry.

I found a screen capture of this Facebook post last weekend, and I felt compelled to share it here both because I remember how simple and innocent and beautiful that moment felt and because I always want to remember how simple and innocent and beautiful that moment felt. Sometimes the little ones get it more than we give them credit for...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


I have trouble letting this day pass without acknowledging it here. New content, however, seems unnecessary as what I felt last year - and two years ago, and 10 years ago - about this day has not changed.  

Flower at September 11 Memorial"The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists."

~William J. Clinton, 1997

I honestly believe that the truest way for us - as individuals and as a country - to remember and honor those who lost their lives on September 11th is to embrace peace, look to the future, and open our arms.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monthly Medley: August 2018

Having never heard of the Buffalo Soldiers (at least by name - I knew the United States Armed Forces had at one point created exclusively African American military units), I found writing an article about the Buffalo Soldiers Nation Museum in Houston particularly interesting. I sent the article off midway through the month and can't wait for it to come out in February or March. Now I've moved on to writing about the three Presidential Libraries and Museums - those honoring the legacies of Lyndon B. Johnson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush - in Texas!

I'm in a bit of a panic because come November 5th, my public library will close for SEVEN MONTHS. The building has been under construction for months already, and in order to finish what I believe is a massive expansion, the library must shut down completely until next June. It may be time for me to finally figure out the Kindle app on my phone or how to check out e-books.

Speaking of the library, they once again made me return a book I hadn't finished. As much as I wish I could make it though a book a week, most of the time it takes me closer to a month...and the library only lets me keep books for 21 days. I put my name on the request list for the second time, hoping I make it back to the top before November 5th!

Anyone else LOVING this season of America's Got Talent?! Will, Hallie, and I look forward to Tuesday and Wednesday nights every week and have at least 10 acts we'd like to see win the competition. Oh, and I'm down to crying only two or three times an episode, so I think we can call that progress.

The kids and I only watched one of the many movies we wanted to see in August: Hotel Transylvania 3. I found the film funny and cute, but not as engaging or clever as the first two in the series, both of which I've seen many times.

Now that September has arrived, I have begun counting down to the television season and series premieres at the end of the month. Will and I are both looking forward to the new show Manifest, and I plan to try the new show A Million Little Things.

Listening To
Though somewhat short - the full season runs just seven episodes - Cover Up by PEOPLE Magazine delves deeply into mystery of what happened at Chappaquiddick, when Senator Ted Kennedy's car went off a bridge, plunged into the waters below, and took with it the life of Mary Jo Kopechne. Though nearly every aspect of this story can be considered disheartening, frustrating, or appalling, I enjoyed this true crime investigation. I plan to follow up the podcast by watching the movie Chappaquiddick, and I hope Cover Up comes out with a second season in the near future!

August and September are tough months for me clothing-wise. I wear mostly workout clothes and swimsuits/cover-ups throughout the summer, but when the kids head back to class and I spend more time in their schools, at dance classes, at soccer practices, and running errands (basically out in public where people will see me), I try to go back to, you know, showering, styling my hair, and wearing clothes that don't have elastic waistbands. Except by this point in the year, I am OVER my summer wardrobe and don't want to wear anything. Anyone else?

So instead I'm talking about glasses...because about a month ago I starting seeing college students wearing the exact same style of glasses I wore in third, fourth, and fifth grade. The trends always cycle back around...even if they shouldn't.

A couple of weeks ago the kids and I rode our bikes to Spoons. The route we take is about 3.5 miles one-way and involves crossing a couple of busy streets, but now that the kids are good (Will)/decent (Hallie) bikers and have high quality bikes (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa), the ride is fairly easy. So easy, in fact, that when we headed out I decided to take only a few dollars to buy our frozen yogurt and left my phone at home because I didn't want to carry it and was certain we wouldn't have any problems.

After finishing our frozen yogurt we hit the road for home. About three or four blocks from Spoons, I watched as Will - who was 30 yards ahead of me - suddenly went down off the side of his bike. He hadn't crashed, but also hadn't climbed off his bike gracefully. Hallie and I caught up and discovered that his rear tire had completely exploded. Oh, what a time not to have a phone.

I considered all of my options: walking back to Spoons, walking to a friend's house, stopping a stranger, splitting up to ride home, etc. But because 1) Will's bike wouldn't roll AT ALL, 2) Will's bike weighs a ridiculous amount, 3) there was nothing nearby to which we could lock Will's bike, and 4) there were no other people crazy enough to be out walking or biking on that 100+ degree afternoon, I decided my best option was to send Will home and wait with Hallie and Will's bike for Tom to come pick us up. Will's legs weren't long enough to ride my bike (and you need a tool to adjust the seat height), so he had to ride Hallie's pink and purple bike with the seat at the lowest level (again, you need a tool to adjust the seat height) all the way home and across both busy streets by himself.

Meanwhile, I carried Will's bike to a teeny, tiny patch of shade on top of a sewer grate a block away, and then Hallie and I tried not to think about the heat while we wait for the boys to return.

Thankfully Will made it home AND remembered where Hallie and I were waiting. And on Monday evening Tom came home with a smartphone holder for cycling, which will now go with me whenever I ride my bike.

Speaking of phones, I  swapped out my old phone case for this one:

The new case has a few flaws - the finger hook keeps the phone from fitting well into holders and the pants of my pocket - but I love how easy that same finger hook makes carrying the phone. Definitely a worthwhile purchase!

  • I made these Blackened Fish Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce almost exactly as the recipe instructs. (My grocery store didn't have purple cabbage so I used regular shredded cabbage instead, and I used flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas as a personal preference.) Tom, Will, and I enjoyed the dish, though Will had a little trouble taking bites of his tacos thanks to his relatively new braces. Hallie, on the other hand, took only the one teeny tiny bite required of her. 
  • I also made this simple, easy Black Bean Fiesta Chicken and Rice Bake, though I adapted the recipe slightly to use cheese only on top (of one side, since Will and Hallie don't like cheese). Prior to baking, I realized this meal would probably freeze well, so the kids ate what they wanted for dinner that night and I froze the rest in an 8 x 8 dish for another day.

Feeling Good About

What's new in your world this month?