Friday, January 19, 2018

This Week Bites

I had planned on a different post - a High Five for Friday post - today, but after the week we've had I threw it out the window.

Last week Tom was sick with a 24-hour bug. Then I came down with an illness that felt like a cold for the first few days, but then turned into something much nastier. Hallie followed in my footsteps a couple of days later, and then Will followed her down a couple of days after that. Everyone feels like complete garbage, and everyone is angry and sad because they've missed important school and extracurricular events: Will, the second day of the orchestra recruitment field trip, Hallie, the UIL Storytelling competition for which she practiced for MONTHS, and me, Variety Show rehearsals. For a family that rarely gets sick, getting hit with all of this crud THIS week has been particularly painful.

I'm particularly worried about Will, who has bad lungs to begin with and for whom recovery always takes longer. His mental health always suffers as well, because so much of what he does for fun and stress relief involves physical activity.

So in a nutshell, this week stunk. I am, however, tremendously grateful for good friends who've given rides, made dinner, dropped off medicine and Gatorade and books and games, and picked up the slack for me with regard to my responsibilities outside of the house while we're trying to recover. THANK YOU!

Here's hoping next week is a better week!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wisconsin Bucket List: Ice Boating

I climbed into an iceboat for the first time more than 30 years ago. As a winter sport, it suited me perfectly - plenty of speed, but relative safety (thanks to protective gear and an incredibly skilled helmsman) - and throughout my years in Madison we ventured out onto Lake Mendota as often as the weather and ice would allow.

For those of you unfamiliar with ice boating (or more formally, ice yachting), a quick 411... Ice yachting is the sport of sailing and racing iceboats. An iceboat looks and operates like a sailboat, but with a trio of blades or runners positioned in a triangle like the three wheels of a tricycle and designed to traverse ice rather than cruise through water. Just like sailboats, iceboats depend on wind: more wind translates to faster sailing, both in water and on ice. The difference is that on the ice, boats experience less friction and less resistance and travel in a more pure direction (primarily just forward, rather than forward along with up and down and side to side) than they do in water. On a windy day, iceboats can travel up to 60 or 70 MPH.
She's a beauty, isn't she?
Because of those speeds, clothing to protect from the elements as well as safety gear - helmets, goggles, and ice picks - are mandatory. Ice picks, or the "picks of life" as I regularly call them, are worn around the neck and would allow someone to pull themselves back onto the ice should they end up in the water. I have never ended up in the water, but my dad and a friend of his have come close when the boat hit a dining room table-sized hole in the ice.

The iceboat - which belongs to my dad's best friend, Chuck - usually "goes in" in January, which means the four Ferri always miss out on the opportunity to ride during our holiday visits. This year, however, an early freeze meant the iceboat went in a few weeks earlier than usual and my boys finally got to cross ice boating off their Wisconsin Bucket List.
Tom and Chuck
Chuck and Will
Iceboats only work on hard ice, meaning the ice must be solid and smooth without any slush on top. The best ice forms when the temperature drops quickly and stays far below freezing for an extended period of time; this usually happens in January, but this year it happened in December.

The wind didn't exactly cooperate - steady wind makes for the best rides, and on that day it came only in gusts - but both Tom and Will had the opportunity to ride with Chuck behind the wheel. My dad estimated that Will's ride went the fastest at 30 or 35 MPH, which Will proclaimed "terrifying". (I would agree with Will's description; those speeds feel incredibly fast when you're hunkered down in the iceboat's tiny body with the bitter wind whipping you in the face.) Both he and Tom had a blast though, and I'm so grateful to my dad and Chuck for making sure my boys could have this unique and cool experience.

Monday, January 15, 2018

When Will We Wake Up?

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

I write about this National Holiday each January, and in preparation for doing so, I reread my previous years' MLK Jr. Day posts. I then take bits and pieces of what I have written in the past - the words and stories that still resonate - and create around them a new post, one that aligns with what I have read about, witnessed, and experienced over the course of the previous year. Of the words below, some are old, some are new, and all were written with the singular goal of making progress toward peace and equality.

Recognized as one of America's greatest leaders, Martin Luther King Jr. believed that all people - regardless of the color of their skin - should be awarded equal rights and access under our nation's laws. All human beings, simply because they live and breath, should have the right to work and earn an honest living for themselves and their families, the right to vote, the right to a quality education, and the right to use all public places.

I believe that all people - regardless of the color of their skin - should be awarded equal rights and access under our nation's laws.

I believe that all people should be evaluated by their individual words and actions, and that all people should use words and actions to form opinions of others.

And I believe that our differences - from the color of our skin to our religion to our sexuality - are actually what unify us as a people. It is our differences that make us essentially the same: we are all unique individuals, worthy and deserving of respect and kindness from our fellow human beings. Our differences should be celebrated instead of ignored, or worse, used to justify discrimination.

My personal beliefs and the words I use to describe them aren't perfect, or complete, but they adequately express what I desperately want our world to look and feel like and what I want my children to understand about Dr. King's contributions to mankind.

In 1963, while speaking to 250,000 Civil Rights supporters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. made history.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I wish I could end this post on a positive note, but I just can't. The events of last few years have highlighted for me just how great the distance we have yet to travel on our quest to reach Dr. King's goals of empowerment, equality, and peace. Why, almost 55 years later, are we still dreaming? When will we wake up?

Friday, January 12, 2018

High Five for Friday (1.12.18)

1. After being held prisoner for 10 days by Wisconsin's subzero temperatures, the kids have taken full advantage of Texas' less wintry winter weather. Temperatures in the 40s made it feel like springtime outside, and when the mercury climbed into the 60s, Hallie proclaimed it summer once again. Throughout last weekend and this week we have enjoyed running, walking, tree climbing, jump roping, bike riding, skateboarding, playing soccer, Nerf gun fights, and just wandering around downtown, looking for ice cream.
Trying out her new Christmas jump rope.
Hanging out in the tree for the first time in a while.
Visiting their secret garden.
Climbing out of the basin at the skate park.
Trying out a few of the ramps.
Working on his skillz.
Singing and...ball rolling?
Neighborhood Nerf gun battle.
Ok, so this wasn't taken outside, but it's too cute a pic to leave
out. These girls had the best time playing together at Altitude!

2. Also on a weather-related note, while the temperatures during the day are perfect for playing outside, the temperatures at night are perfect for turning on the fireplace. This might be my favorite time of year in Texas...

3. After two years of sock-matching failure, I finally threw away all of these unmatched socks in my laundry basket.

Oh, sweet freedom...

Until I did nine loads of post-vacation laundry and ended up with four new mismatched socks. How/why does this happen?!

4. Tom bought the kids (ahem, himself) a disco ball for the music room. We absolutely, positively don't need a disco ball, but I'm slightly more on board with this accessory than I have been with many of the other items he's brought home.

I just realized that Tom is with with musical instruments and accessories the way many people are with stray animals: he lays eyes on them, falls in love, and can't walk away. Is a disco ball better than a kitten? The verdict's still out...

5. I do quite a bit of volunteer work, but I have one favorite volunteer position: Variety Show Coordinator. My friend/neighbor/PTO President, Rebecca, and I brought the Variety Show back to our kids' elementary school a few years ago, and since then I have come to enjoy the gig so much that I honestly can't imagine walking away...even when I no longer have a child attending the elementary school. Auditions for Variety Show 2018 took place this week, and now we'll spend the next two weeks preparing for the show. I can't wait!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

14 Years of Big and Little Things

Today Tom and I celebrate 14 years of marriage, 16 years as a couple, and 18.5 years of friendship. Thanks to volunteer commitments, work meetings, after school activities, and evening practices, we won't be able to fit in dinner out or even a lunch date, at least not on our actual anniversary. We both understand that right now, during this phase of life, we don't always have time or money for the "big things". No extravagant trips, no new cars, no fancy jewelry. We do have time and money for the "little things", though. He'll make the bed for me, I'll bake gingersnaps for him, and we'll spend a few hours working across the table from one another at our "McOffice". Staying together is about loving one another, yes, but also about choosing and committing to each other even when life looks and feels less exciting, fun, and romantic. We said "I do" on our wedding day, and I like to think that these little things are the way we continue to say "I do" each and every day.

He makes me laugh, listens graciously when I tell the same stories over and over again, and unloads the dishwasher without being asked. He tolerates my need to constantly organize and declutter, the frequency with which I change out our throw pillows, and my tendency to worry about...well, most things. He supports my professional endeavors and personal passions, works hard to provide for our family, and trusts me to steer our ship through the occasionally rough waters of our life together.

There is no one I'd rather do life - the big things and the little things - with.
Happy #14, babe.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Colder Than Colder Than Cold

Throughout my 13 years of elementary, middle, and high school in Madison, Wisconsin, we had a total of five "snow" days. Two of those cancellations occurred not because of fluffy white flake accumulation or dangerously icy roads, but because of frigid weather: daytime temperatures chillin' between -20 and -25 degrees and windchill temperatures dropping to between -40 and -50 degrees. I remember feeling so disappointed to be home yet unable to go outside and truly enjoy the day off from school. Thankfully my mom helped us bundle up in layers...and layers...and layers...until we could safely stay outside for 20 minutes at a time. Not the best scenario, but better than nothing.

I honestly don't think I had felt temperatures that cold since those two snow least until last week.

Temperatures in the 20s greeted us when we landed in Wisconsin, and from that point forward the mercury slipped lower and lower until it eventually bottomed out at -23. Not one to stay inside all day no matter the weather, I bundled in layers...and layers...and layers...and walked the 2.5-mile loop near my in-laws lake home every day. But Tom and the kids? Not so much. Will and Tom joined me for the walk once and the kids went sledding three times (for only 20 minutes at a time) but there were stretches during which they didn't go outside for more than 48 hours.


No trip to the snowy white north would be complete without making our traditional swimsuit snow angels. We waited for the warmest day (you know, -2 degrees), warmed up with a little yoga, and went for it. Participants this year included Tom, Will, Hallie, my sister-in-law Chandi, and my three-year-old nephew Forest, who insisted on joining us but had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

Cheers to another year of keeping the tradition alive, even when the degrees were against us.

If you're interested, here are a few past posts about our swimsuit snow angel tradition:
Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland
Snow Angels
Frozen Football
Oops, We Did it Again
Meanwhile, Up in Snowy Wisconsin

Friday, January 5, 2018

High Five for the Holidays (1.5.18)

These last two weeks have been quite the whirlwind!

1. First, we celebrated the holidays at the kids' schools, soccer practices, and dance classes.

2. Then we celebrated with our families in Wisconsin.
Sunset over the Booth Lake in the North Woods.
Ready to cut down our Christmas tree!
Hallie got to do the honors.
Holiday baking and chocolate pretzel dipping.
The altar at church on Christmas Eve.
Stockings ready to be opened!
Santa came!
Tom's newest "mad scientist" gadget.
Will trying to beat his aunts at Sorry!...he didn't.
Lily and Carter waiting on Will and waiting patiently at the
window and one waiting to attack. 
Nighttime ice skating at the park.
It was SOOOO cold. That night, and every night. And every day.

3. And finally, we celebrated back home in Texas just the four of us.
Our stockings were in our delayed luggage, so Santa
just displayed our stocking stuffers on the ottoman.
Laying claim to someone else's gift.

4. We traveled on New Year's Eve (first flight delayed an hour, second flight delayed an hour, second flight cancelled, rental car acquired, luggage abandoned in Dallas, drive home accomplished, rental car returned) but made it back to College Station just in time to join our friends to celebrate the end of 2017. We ducked out of the party a bit early, however, so we could ring in the start of 2018 at home together in our pajamas and snuggled up in bed.

5. Last but not least, we had a great second week of winter break at home. We slept in, exercised, read books, watched movies, played with friends, finished our Christmas thank you notes, and cleaned out the kids' closets. A great start to the New Year!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: