Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 4 Ferri with Fake Smiles

On Easter morning, all four Ferri had dressed and stood ready to leave for church at 8:40am, which happened to be the exact time at which we needed be dressed and ready to leave for church. It was an Easter miracle.

I am always early, and I regularly force encourage those in my family to be early as well. I consider this a tremendously positive characteristic, however Tom considers my propensity to arrive early a sickness. (He may be right…perhaps extreme promptness is just how my mild OCD manifests itself. In my mind, early = on time, on time = late, and late = a fate worse than...let's not even go there.) Church is the one exception. We always arrive at church at the very last minute, or AFTER the very last minute, and as much as it drives me bonkers, I can't seem to fix the situation. So when all four Ferri were ready for Easter services on time I truly felt like God's hand had played a role.

Actually, Hallie and I finished getting dressed and curling our hair a few minutes early, so we went outside to take a couple of pictures and mess around with my tripod.

Ferri #1, on her own, smiled pretty for the camera. Once. Out of 20+ attempts.

Shortly thereafter, Ferri #2 - who was running a little later than the rest of us because he decided at the last minute that he needed to wear a tie - joined us outside. He usually does a great job of showing off his real smile, but on Easter morning he couldn't seem to find it. At least he's not sticking his tongue through that big gap between his teeth...

Ferri #3 - newly bald-ed (as he was cutting his own hair the evening before, the guard came off the trimmers unexpectedly and gouged a chunk out of his hair. He had no choice but to finish the cut without the guard) - joined his kiddos while I messed with the timer on my camera. I don't notice the fake smiles in this photo quite as much as I do in the photo above, probably because the glare off of the bald man's head distracts me.

Once I figured out the timer on my camera, I (call me Ferri #4) hopped in for a few attempts at a full family photo. This photo is the best out of the eight we took, but it'll never make it into a frame or onto a Christmas card as we all look uncomfortable and squinty.

Now that I think about it, we usually look kind of uncomfortable and squinty in our Easter pictures. And some years - the worst years - uncomfortable and squinty were downgraded to devastated, furious, or feverish...








I guess I should just be happy that in our 2014 photo all eight eyes are open and looking at the camera.

Hallie was born on Good Friday and came home from the hospital on Easter Sunday, so the first thing we did when we walked through the front door that Easter morning - because OF COURSE - was put her in her Easter basket. She clearly loved it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Speak Texas

I love y'all. Y'all who read Chasing Roots, of course, but also "y'all" as a phrase.

It took me nearly three years to start using "y'all" regularly, primarily - at least at first - because I thought doing so would make me sound like an impostor. My Wisconsin roots become apparent as soon as I speak, so I worried that throwing around Southern phrases in my Midwestern accent might give others the impression I was trying to be something I wasn't.

After our first two years in Texas I grew out of that worry, figuring that I'd lived here long enough to start trying out bits and pieces of the local vernacular. I tossed out a "howdy" every now and again, and it felt so good that I decided "y'all" should make an occasional appearance as well. Except I couldn't quite figure out how and when to use it correctly.
Hopefully it's used correctly here...
I feel like the information below should have been shared with us - you know, in an email sent from the city to new residents or in a pamphlet dropped in the mailbox - when we first moved to Texas. This knowledge base would have saved me from sounding like an idiot on more than one occasion...

While searching for additional "y'all" tutorials and pictures, I came across a few tutorials and pictures that referenced other common Southern/Texas phrases. I'll be the first to admit that when we moved to Texas I strongly disliked using, asking my children to use, and being referred to as "ma'am" (and "sir"). Three years later, "yes ma'am" and "no sir" - and all they stand for - have become one of my absolute favorite parts about living in Texas.

And finally, this. I love this. Sometimes it's just the only response that'll do.

Friday, April 25, 2014

High Five for Friday (4.25.14)

1. Remember this video of a lovely husband and wife lip-syncing Frozen's "Love is an Open Door" while cruising along in their car? Well two (with a third acting as something of a sidekick) members of the Navy baseball team spoofed that couple's video, and their version might be even better than the "original".

I just watched the video again and I can't get over the facial expressions of the fellow on the left. Check it out - I promise it'll make you happy! 

2. Despite the fact that I really want to love running, I just don't. On occasion I jog for a few minutes while waiting for a group fitness class to start, and I run around at the playground and on athletic fields with my kids, but I find running long distances just to, well, run long distances, to be the most painful and boring exercise around. (Again, I don't want to feel this way. Please don't hurt - or chase - me, runners.)

I do, however, love watching other people run competitively. I couldn't find live coverage of the Boston Marathon anywhere on television yesterday morning (honestly, ESPN. Showing NBA highlights rather than covering of one of the most storied and - because of the events of last year - triumphant sporting events in our country's history? Not your best move), so as soon as I knew runners had begun crossing the finish line, I starting searching online for updates on this incredible sporting event.

I came across so many heart-warming and uplifting stories and photos and tributes that I wanted to share, but because doing so would mean going on for pages and ages, I decided to share just this photo compilation. These photos almost motivated me to skip the gym and head outside for a run instead...

3. My dad, on his way home from a business trip to Mexico, is making a stop in College Station this weekend. Will can't wait for Grandpa to attend his Tae Kwon Do graduation (camo belt to green belt) tonight, Hallie is ready to show him all her princesses and ponies and "beat him at Uno because he probably doesn't know how to play", and Tom is looking forward to taking him disc golfing on Saturday. If I actually get any time with Grandpa myself, I hope to convince him to help me plant tomatoes, peppers, and maybe a few flowers in our backyard garden bed; after all, behind Grandpa-ing, accounting, rock-and-rolling, and water skiing, gardening is where he shines.

4. Four months after having laser eye surgery, and for probably the first time in my entire life, my vision is 20/20.

I started wearing glasses in the third grade and contacts a few years later. By the time I graduated from middle school, my eyes had grown so bad that I could not function AT ALL without corrective lenses. On the morning of my surgery, both eyes were nearly 20/750, but 24 hours later they were 20/30 and a month later they were 20/25.

20/20, baby. If that doesn't deserve a high five, I don't know what does.

5. Happiness Highlights:
Basketball has never been Will's sport, but he's worked hard this year to
"perfect his shot". Glorious will be the day he beats his daddy at HORSE.
(Will's ball is green, which makes it tough to spot among the tree leaves.)
Now that Hallie knows how to play Uno, she and Will play every
afternoon and the four of us compete in epic tournaments on the
weekends. Will doesn't seem to mind playing with Barbie cards.
Hallie finished her preschool Easter egg hunt
first and then sat - grinning from ear to ear -
patiently and waited for her friends. She looked
so wonderfully happy I could barely stand it.
This is Hallie's new bunny. His name is Jeff.
This homemade carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting
 deserved carrot-themed decorations, but after last week's decorating
marathon for Hallie birthday, my carpal-tunnel-prone hand could only
handle sprinkles. Will and Hal wanted their pieces directly out of the middle.
Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What April Looks Like

Across the country, Mother Nature set all kinds of weather records - total snowfall accumulation, single storm snowfall accumulation, lowest low temperatures, lowest high temperatures, prolonged low temperatures, wind chills - this past winter and throughout the first weeks of spring. And while we (or is it just me?) typically think of the southern half of the country as somewhat protected from such severe weather and drastic temperature swings, I can assure you, this isn't the case…or at least it wasn't this year.

I'm not complaining though, because while those of us in Texas lived through a bit of snow ("HALLELUJAH!", sang the children), a few ice storms, and two straight months of winter-coat-temperatures, now that April has arrived we have started shedding our layers. No, the pools haven't opened yet ("NOOOO!", cried the children), but April in Texas - adventures at the park, baseball games, water fights, and playing the rain - doesn't look too shabby.

Especially when you compare it to April in Wisconsin…

My in-laws took these pictures just last week in Wisconsin. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lenten Gratitude

I've kept Gratitude Journals in the past, sometimes for just a week or two, once for a full year, and always when I've either been heading into what I know will be a difficult period or recovering from what was a difficult period in my life. Taking a moment at the end of every day to acknowledge and say thank you for a moment, experience, or person for whom I'm grateful - even when the best I can come up with is "coffee" or "bedtime" - is one of my more positive coping mechanisms.

I could tell from the get-go that March would be a rough month, and as a result, decided that a Gratitude Journal - this time kept between Ash Wednesday and Easter as part of my Lenten journey - might help me stay strong and faithful and most importantly, grateful for the simple gifts in my life.

Here it is. (My favorites are days 2, 3, 6, 8, 14, 17, 19, 21, 26, 30, 32, 36, 37, and 43.)

March 5th, Day 1: I’m grateful Tom stopped at Panera on his way home so that I wouldn’t have to cook dinner. 

March 6th, Day 2: I’m grateful for the hour Hallie spends dancing each Thursday afternoon, because while she dances, I have the opportunity to talk and laugh with five lovely women who started out as mothers of Hallie’s friends and eventually became friends of mine.

March 7th, Day 3: I’m grateful Hallie wanted to wander through the jewelry department at Target, because if she hadn’t – or if I’d rushed her around the jewelry and straight to the cashier – I wouldn’t have stumbled upon the Catching Fire combo pack that included a bonus features DVD. And if I hadn’t stumbled upon the Catching Fire combo pack that included a bonus features DVD, I would have gone home with plain old Catching Fire without a bonus features DVD. That would have been so sad…

March 8th, Day 4: I’m grateful the kids and I had the opportunity to have lunch and then play/talk with wonderful friends who we don’t see nearly often enough. 

March 9th, Day 5: I’m grateful we didn’t schedule anything of importance for this particular Sunday, as all four of us struggled with the time change.

March 10th, Day 6: I’m grateful for the comradery shared between little boys who, despite having never met one another, find themselves brought together by a common interest. 

March 11th, Day 7: I’m grateful for a rare day spent with Tom and the kids, enjoying each other’s company and finally exploring some of what downtown Houston has to offer. 

March 12th, Day 8: I’m grateful Will’s oral surgery went smoothly, that anesthesia doesn’t make him nauseous, that thus far I've been able to manage his pain, and that he wasn’t severely injured when he dressed Hallie up in his Tae Kwon Do sparring gear and let her punch him in the face. For fun.

March 13th, Day 9: I’m grateful for a smooth transition back to a regular schedule – though one that included a bit more pain medication than most days – after Will’s surgery.

March 14th, Day 10: I’m grateful my mom arrived safely (and on time) from Wisconsin for her spring break visit!

March 15th, Day 11: I’m grateful for a relaxing day spent shopping with my mom, and for the rain that thinned out the crowds at the outdoor outlet mall. 

March 16th, Day 12: I’m grateful for the 20-minute catnap I grabbed during an afternoon showing of Mr. Peabody and Sherman – I needed a little extra sleep!

March 17th, Day 13: I’m grateful for the full tank of gas in my car, which allowed me to drive back and forth from Hallie’s school twice, back and forth from Lowe’s FOUR times, and from home to gymnastics to baseball to home to McDonald’s to home.

March 18th, Day 14: I’m grateful that my mom and I FINALLY finished installing the knobs and handles on all of my kitchen and laundry room cabinets and drawers. I’m grateful we FINALLY finished sanding and painting my front door. And I’m grateful we FINALLY figured out how to reinstall the front door knob and deadbolt lock. Could have been a scary night…

March 19th, Day 15: I’m grateful that on my mom’s last day in town, instead of working on projects, we went shopping and out to lunch, played Clue with Will, made a birthday shirt for Hallie, and took the kids to Toys’R’Us and Spoons. 

March 20th, Day 16: I’m grateful for my gym and my workout buddies, all of whom make me feel missed when I’m gone and welcome when I return.

March 21st, Day 17: I’m grateful for an evening away from my kiddos, because as much as I love them, they were DRIVING ME CRAZY. CAH. RAY. ZEE. And I’m grateful Tom willingly stayed home and kept the kiddos alive (because let’s be honest, while I was out the three of them only stayed alive and played Wii – no showering, no finishing homework, no reading bedtime stories) so I could go see Divergent on opening night! 

March 22nd, Day 18: I’m grateful my hard-working husband joined me to tackle a few outdoor spring cleaning and yard improvement projects, thus cutting the time I would have spent on them by myself in half, and I’m grateful that Will and Hallie didn’t kill each other (they came close) while left to fend for themselves inside. (And by fend for themselves, I mean play, eat lunch, and play some more. It’s a tough life they lead.)

March 23rd, Day 19: I’m grateful for an interesting and relevant message at church this morning, and that the message prompted the beginning of the what I’m sure will be a long and happy relationship between Will and Hallie and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” musical. 

March 24th, Day 20: I’m grateful we survived an insane evening of gymnastics, baseball, trading kids back and forth, and a much later than usual and consequently stressful dinner/bath time/bedtime hour.

March 25th, Day 21: I’m grateful a good friend’s challenging pregnancy came to an end this morning when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy! 

March 26th, Day 22: I’m grateful for the “bonus” hour of time (today was an early release day at school) I had with Will before picking Hallie up from school.

March 27th, Day 23: I’m grateful for Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. So, so grateful.

March 28th, Day 24: I’m grateful for the stunning storm – and the rain that came with it (our yard needed it) – that passed through town this evening, even if the severe weather meant we had to miss the outdoor activity we had planned to attend. 

March 29th, Day 25: I’m grateful for the three young men – TAMU students participating in the Big Event (the university’s community-wide day of service) – who spent their Saturday morning and afternoon raking and bagging leaves and laying mulch in our yard, I’m grateful for the opportunity to host Big Event students at our home (for the third year in a row), and I’m grateful for the impact The Big Event has on our community. 

March 30th, Day 26: I’m grateful for an absolutely lovely excursion with Will and Hallie this morning. Hallie walked close to three miles (in Mary Janes, none-the-less) and didn’t complain ONCE. It may have helped that we walked to and from the donut shop… 

March 31st, Day 27: I’m grateful for early bedtimes, even if early bedtimes don’t translate to falling asleep early.   

April 1st, Day 28: I’m grateful for the brief respite – from the painful pinched nerve in my back – I feel while I work out. The nerve hardly hurts at all while I exercise, but as soon as I cool down I feel like someone is stabbing in the back with a knife. I guess I’ll just have to spend the day at the gym…

April 2nd, Day 29: I’m grateful for good news for someone close to me who really needed a reason to “stay the course”.

April 3rd, Day 30: I’m grateful for the opportunity to press reset and start over – primarily as a parent – tomorrow morning.

April 4th, Day 31: I’m grateful to have just spent the most marvelous day with my Hallie. Yes, she and her brother bickered a bit this afternoon, but the time we spent together, just the two of us (until we picked up Will from school and again from dinnertime until bedtime), was perfect.  

April 5th, Day 32: I’m grateful for a second pleasant day in a row spent with Hallie, and for whatever it was that adjusted her attitude, improved her mood, and opened her heart so that she could become the sweet, caring companion she’s been to me these last two days. I hope it lasts…

April 6th, Day 33: I’m grateful for those rare occasions when a “20-minute project” is actually a 20-minute project.

April 7th, Day 34: I’m grateful that I took the time yesterday afternoon – a Sunday afternoon, when all I really wanted to do was relax on the couch and catch up on the television shows saved in my DVR – to prep and cook a healthy meal for us to eat tonight, while on the run between Hallie’s gymnastics class and Will’s baseball game.

April 8th, Day 35: I’m grateful for the lovely ladies – parents, teachers, and administers – who coordinate and participate in the PTO at Will’s elementary school, and for the opportunity to join them as they make the school an even better place for children to learn and grow.

April 9th, Day 36: I’m grateful for the reality check experienced this evening by my sometimes over-confident little boy. I love his enthusiastic self-assuredness, but an occasional reminder that he’s not – and it’s alright that he’s not – the fastest/strongest/smartest will make him a more well-rounded, more accepting, gentler, and kinder young man.

April 10th, Day 37: I’m grateful for my girl. My sweet and spicy and now-five-years-old girl.

April 11th, Day 38: I’m grateful my in-laws made it to town safely, and that Hallie, when measured at her five-year-old Well Child exam, has finally reached Disney World height!

April 12th, Day 39: I’m grateful that Hallie’s pony cake and cupcakes turned out beautifully, and that for the first time in years, decorating one of my kids’ birthday cakes didn’t result in a carpal tunnel flare-up!

April 13th, Day 40: I’m grateful for my father-in-law, who generously offered to build me what will most certainly be the most beautiful and unique console table for my living room!

April 14th, Day 41: After staying up until after midnight (reading, of course) and getting up at 5:30am to say goodbye to my in-laws before they headed to the airport, I’m grateful for c…o…f…f…e…zzzzzzz. Coffee. I’m grateful for coffee. 

April 15th, Day 42: I’m grateful for a quick and relatively painless insertion of Will’s new orthodontia appliance, and for a lovely chat with my boy on the way back to school afterwards. And he was VERY grateful for the Jimmy John’s sandwich I brought him for lunch.

April 16th, Day 43: I’m grateful my boy wears his passion for baseball on his sleeve, and that he’s in no way shy about sharing that passion with all those – players, coaches, fans – around him.

April 17th, Day 44: I’m grateful that Hallie’s fall from the viewing seats at the dance studio resulted in only a minor head wound, that a little lipstick was all she needed to pull herself together and rejoin her class, and that her adorable dance costumes finally arrived!

April 18th, Day 45: I’m grateful for a lovely Good Friday lunch with friends (grown-up friends for me to relax and laugh with and little kid friends for Will and Hallie to play with), an afternoon spent baking and dying eggs and prepping for Easter, and an evening playing at the park with my whole family. 

April 19th, Day 46: I’m grateful for a restorative Centergy class, a bounty of green and white onions pulled from my garden, two quiet hours of “alone time”, and a second evening in a row spent playing at the park with my loves.

Today, I'm grateful for you…that you join me here as part of the Chasing Roots community.

And to those of you who celebrate Passover and Easter, happy belated!

Friday, April 18, 2014

High Five for Friday (4.18.14)

1. My Pinky Pie pony cake and multi-colored (like Joseph's amazing technicolor dreamcoat, per Hallie's request) My Little Pony cupcakes turned out wonderfully - and much better than last year's Ariel cake, which made Ariel look like an orangutan - and the Rainbow Dash pony cookies I ordered from my most favorite baker looked beautiful and tasted delicious!

In case you're interested, here's a picture of the Ariel-as-an-orangutan cake.

2. Some of the bows Hallie received as birthday gifts blew me away. Part of me feels like we should put them on display in a glass case rather than let Hallie wear and risk losing or damaging them…

3. I try to have lunch with Will at least once a month, but I missed both February and March because I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off (seriously, ask my friend Mandi, who sees me nearly every day and watched me slowly lose my mind as March progressed) and just plain forgot to put my monthly date with Will on the calendar. I plan to make up for my February and March absences throughout April and May, and have already eaten lunch with Will twice this month. (Admittedly, once was in the car on the way back from his lunchtime orthodontia appointment, but I bought him a Jimmy John's sub and he said it was the best lunch date ever.) The smile on his face when he came around the corner and saw me waiting for him stayed with me all day.
He kind of looks like me, right? Maybe if you don't take into account the
dramatically different hair, Ferris nose, and gaping holes between his teeth...
4. If you're in a relationship, plan to be in a relationship, want to be in a relationship, marriage or otherwise…read this. I promise you won't regret having spent a few minutes reading about this single man's cross-country journey to interview couples in happy, long-term relationships.

5. Happiness Highlights:
This is the back of the birthday card Lily sent to Hallie. If you look
really closely, you can find all of the letters in both "Lily" and "Hallie".
And this is the inside of the card. In case you can't tell, it's a picture of
Hallie, Lily, and a castle. (Perhaps the Frozen castle on Ice Mountain?) 
Goofing around with my two goons before bed.
(For the record, both are wearing pajama bottoms.)
So big, yet somehow still so little.
Now THAT'S happy.