Monday, September 29, 2014

I Miss Her

When Will started kindergarten it took Hallie and me several months to adjust to spending so much time together, just the two of us. We were both so used to Will acting as a buffer that our relationship, at least in those early days of one-on-one Mother-Daughter time, felt a bit rough around the edges.

Eventually Hallie and I settled into a comfortable rhythm. It helped that we kept the same general Friday routine - breakfast, gym, shower, errands, lunch, baking, cartoon, pick up Will - but changed up small details, like which errands we ran or whether we ate lunch at home or a restaurant. We knew what to expect during the day, but gave ourselves permission to have a little fun along the way.

The best part of our Fridays came after lunch, when we pulled out the recipe books or opened up all of the saved recipes on my computer and started making messes in the kitchen. We baked cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, pies, cobblers, crumbles, crisps, and breads. We tried new recipes and returned to classic favorites. She learned where we keep all of the baking ingredients, how to measure (though she still has no idea what the heck is going on with fractions), how to stir, and how to operate the hand-held mixer, stand mixer, and bread machine.

After licking the beaters, Hallie's favorite part of baking was watching. She would sit on a stool in front of the oven or climb up on a chair so she could watch our baked goods take shape. Once she actually watched a pie bake for all 48 minutes it was in the oven.  

Last week I pulled out and set up the bread machine on my way out the door to run errands. When I returned home and walked into the kitchen a couple hours later the sight of the bread machine sitting all by itself on the counter stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly realized that our Fridays - spent together, just the two of us - had come to an end.

Hallie and I were both ready for her to start kindergarten, and thus far Hallie's kindergarten year has been a great one. She loves her teacher, has lots of fun with both her old and new friends, enjoys learning new things, and has embraced the added freedom that comes with elementary school. I love that both kids now operate on the same school schedule, that I have an extra hour in the afternoon to write or tackle projects around the house, and that I can ALWAYS shop for groceries by myself.

She's happy and safe, so I don't worry about her. I stay very busy, often see her while I'm working at school anyway, and know that we get to spend afternoons together, so I don't miss her.

Except on Fridays.

On Fridays I miss her.

Friday, September 26, 2014

High Five for Friday (9.26.14)

1. It's a…BOY! The newest member of our family is male, and we named him Moo. You know, like a cow's opinion - it doesn't matter. (First person to correctly identify the origin of that phrase in the comments will win a cow-themed prize.)

No, we didn't name our little buddy after a cow's opinion, but he does look a little like a (teeny tiny) black and white holstein cow...a little shout-out to our Wisconsin/Midwestern roots.
My gym towels are all a little furry.
I may have to get a second GIRL kitten so that I can use the name Katniss…

2. That fundraiser I mentioned last week - the Boosterthon Fun Run at the kids' elementary school - was a HUGE success. The kids enjoyed all of the character lessons, had a blast at the actual run, and raised a lot of money to support their incredible school.
The second grader boys lining up at the start.
And they're off!
Running through the lap-marking station.
Cheerleaders, dance team members, and mascots from both College
Station high schools helped pump up the kids throughout the day.
Me and my boy after his run. We were SO sweaty.
Hallie was VERY nervous, mostly because she didn't
know what to expect (she couldn't remember watching
Will run last year). She cried twice - once with her teacher
and once with me - while waiting for the run to start, but
forgot all about her worries once the kids around her took off.
She's the tortoise, Will's the hare. Thankfully they
weren't running/competing against one another.
Still chugging along...
Me and my gal after her run. Again, SO sweaty.
I'm so proud to have been a part, even just a small part, of the team that pulled this event together. I'm also super proud of my rockstar dance moves.
Parents in the background: standing.
Kids in the foreground: dancing.
Erin in the light blue shirt: embarrassing herself.
This picture reminds me of that saying, "dance like no one is watching". Nailed it.

3. This article, about the soul-crushing gauntlet that is the hiring process for professors, is so spot-on it made me laugh. And by "laugh", I mean cringe and sweat and fight back tears and quite literally praise God that we survived that phase in our lives. I'm now looking for an article about the similarly soul-crushing gauntlet that is the tenure track for professors, just because I need another good laugh.

4. Over the last month or so I've come to suspect that Hallie suffers from Restless Leg Syndrome. I won't go into the details here - this is a "high five" post after all - but I will share that putting Hallie to bed recently has been physically, emotionally, and mentally painful for both her and me.

I scoured the internet for natural remedies, visited with friends who have had success with essential oils, and started trying different combinations of these treatments. This is what eating a banana, starting on a multi-vitamin with iron, taking one baby Tylenol, Vick's VapoRub on the feet, and lavender oil on the legs looks like.


5. Happiness Highlights
This photo is a hint as to what the four Ferri
plan to dress up as for Halloween this year.
Productivity is at an all-time low 'round these here parts.
And because productivity is at an all-time low 'round these here parts, my Happiness Highlights stop here this week. I promise to do better at capturing the happy moments in my life next week!

Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Holy Guacamole

Yes, tomatoes are on their way out. And what better way to bid them farewell than to turn them - along with a few peppers, onions, and avocados - into a delicious salsa and guacamole.

I enjoy cooking, and I LOVE to bake, which works out well in our family because even after nearly four years in the same house, Tom doesn't really know his way around our kitchen. Or any kitchen, for that matter.

He does, however, make a mean salsa and a delicious guacamole, and has graciously granted me permission to share his recipes here.
I highly recommend these recipes - both are quick and easy, but taste like they're not. Give 'em a try this weekend - perhaps to contribute to your football game tailgate!

In case you're wondering, in some circles Tom actually is referred to as Taco Tom. The nickname stems from a freshman year victory in a Panchero's burrito eating contest. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

One, Two, Three, Four…and Now FIVE…Ferri!

Yesterday Tom, Will, Hallie, and I welcomed a fifth member - an adorable, seven-week-old black and white kitten - into our family.

My parents brought home two kittens around the time I turned five and my sister turned three. We initially thought that both kittens were female, so Sara named her kitten Jingle Bells, after her favorite holiday tune, and I named my kitten Pearl, after a beautiful, elegant, fluffy white cat I'd recently read about in a picture book. Unfortunately my bright orange Pearl looked nothing like an actual pearl. Even more unfortunately, my Pearl turned out to be a boy. Poor Pearl rocked his feminine name for 17 years.

Tom and I adopted Duke and Clementine - Clemmy for short - a few months after our wedding. We treated them like babies, until we had actual babies, of course. After Will was born, Duke started behaving like Will's dog and Clementine started hating us for bringing Will into our house.

When the time came for us to sell our house in Michigan, both cats traveled to Wisconsin to temporarily live with my parents. During their stay, Duke was hit by a car and died and Clementine discovered that she preferred living with my parents in their child-free house. We let her stay.

We've been pet-free (with the exception of Will's fish, Blue, who only lasted a few months) for nearly four years, and when we heard that a cat belonging to friends of ours had had kittens, Tom and I decided it was finally time to change that. Watching our Gal Hal with her new baby has already made this adventure worth it.

Our kitten doesn't yet have a name, primarily because we don't know its gender. It's headed to the veterinarian this week though, so we should know what kind of name to go with soon. In the running include:

- Bluebonnet (Blue for short)
- Glory (Hallie's favorite)
- Katniss (my favorite)
- Moo (because it's black and white like a holstein cow)

Feel free to throw any suggestions you might have - for boy or girl kittens - our way!

Friday, September 19, 2014

High Five for Friday (9.19.14)

1. Last Saturday's weather made me - all four of us, really - so unbelievably happy. We slept in because even though the air conditioner kicked off, the temperature in our room remained cool. We wore pants and sweatshirts, not because we felt all that cold, but because we could. (Well, Hallie felt cold. She asked for mittens.) I bookmarked soup recipes, bought Halloween costumes, and watched both football games and movies about football games.

Summer is far from gone, as evidenced by the five-day forecast seen in the picture below. But that first taste of fall…oh, it's heavenly.

2. Our largest elementary school fundraiser of the year - the Boosterthon Fun Run - peaks TODAY. The last 11 days have been…let's just say "busy". And though quite a bit of work still lies ahead of us, I'm taking tonight off. Completely off. Pizza, beer, pumpkin cake, and a movie, enjoyed from the comfort of our giant beanbag chair, are calling my name.

3. It's been a great week for entertainment, at least in my neck of the woods. The first official and full Mockingjay, Part 1 trailer came out, I picked up The Fault in Our Stars on blu ray, and tomorrow I'm headed to see The Maze Runner with friends!

4. This is kind of a teaser, and for that I apologize, but I'm going to say/write it anyway...if all goes according to plan this weekend I'll have some fun news to share on Monday. Stay tuned!

5. Happiness Highlights
Sara's house! They obviously haven't moved in
yet, but that day is coming…hopefully soon!
Talk about a gorgeous fireplace!
I log between 12,000 and 16,000 steps on an average weekday. I
suspect that on this day my Fitbit failed to reset itself and combined
two days worth of steps, but whatever the case, this looks pretty cool.
I bought these antique teacups and saucers recently and enjoyed
my first cup of tea out of one of them this week. It was lovely.
These two cuties (and one more friend, who arrived after I
took photos) did a FANTASTIC job at their first soccer practice.
I expected tears and tantrums and got neither…hip, hip, hooray!
New shoes!
Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brick by Brick

Will and Hallie's elementary school was built in 1989. At 25 years old, the building, which could be considered "old" when compared to many of the other schools in the district, was showing its age: the roof leaked and apparently quite a bit of water regularly made its way in between the exterior bricks and interior walls.

Will and Hallie's elementary school is just a baby - maybe a toddler - compared to my elementary schools, which still house elementary school students and were built in 1923 and 1906. 

To solve the water problems, the school district scheduled a massive construction project - removing all of the exterior bricks, fixing whatever needed fixing beneath the bricks (clearly I know a great deal about construction and building materials), and rebuilding the brick walls - to begin immediately after school let out in May and to wrap up by the the first day of school in August.

The building's original bricks lay in huge piles next to the school nearly all summer long. One afternoon, as we walked past the school on our way home from the playground, we asked a construction worker where the discarded bricks would end up; when he informed us that the bricks were headed to the dumpster, we decided to "rescue" one of them.

Hallie wanted her own picture with the brick.

So now, wherever we go or even if we never leave College Station, we'll always have an actual piece of Will and Hallie's (first) elementary school with us.

I just realized - four weeks too late - that we should have gotten TWO bricks. Betting on when the fighting over this sweet, sentimental memento will begin is now open.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Yes, That Sound You Hear is Me Screaming

For two years during college I lived in an awesome but scary house. The close-to-campus location, huge front porch, patio-esque flat roof, and reputation as a happenin' party venue (like the residents before us, and the residents before them, we threw LOTS of parties) made the house a perfect place from which to experience college. Well, the non-academic side of college at least. The leaky roof, gaps around the windows and doors, lack of air conditioning, poor heat, and overall instability of the stone structure (at one point one of the walls - an entire two-story wall - just crumbled into the yard) made it somewhat scary as well.

One afternoon I walked through the front door and came face-to-face with a squirrel in the middle of the living room. I screamed, spun around, and ran upstairs and into my roommate Beth's bedroom, slamming her door shut behind me. She'd not known about our guest - who we assumed had come in under the front screen door that didn't quite line up with the door frame - and like me, had no desire to leave the bedroom until the squirrel had been escorted off the premises.

Thankfully we'd each gotten (our first) cell phones that year, and we used them to call everyone we knew, including Tom. He and a few of his friends arrived quickly, and though whatever steps they took involved a lot of man-screaming, eventually they managed to return our house to its previous squirrel-free state. We bought them beer to say thank you.

All the commotion tired us out, so Beth and I turned in a little earlier than usual that evening. (Probably around midnight, which was at the time considered "early".) As I climbed into bed and slid down under the covers, I felt something both soft and scratchy brush against my foot. I screamed even louder than when I first saw the squirrel in the living room and whipped the covers off the mattress. There, at the foot of the bed, was…no, not a real squirrel…a stuffed squirrel that Tom had bought and hidden in my bed.

Tom and I hadn't yet started dating at the time and apparently he thought that hiding stuffed rodents in my bed was the way to my heart. Clearly he didn't know me AT ALL.

And now, 14 years later, it seems my son doesn't know me AT ALL either.

Without me knowing, Will borrowed a fairly large and unbelievably realistic-looking komodo dragon from his friend Kaylee. Will hid this komodo dragon under my pillow, and then he waited, cackling quietly in his room, for the discovery.

After a long day, all I wanted to do was climb into bed and watch episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager on my iPad (don't judge). Instead, I came face-to-face with this guy.
Creepy, right?
I screamed, of course.

The toy looked so real that I refused to touch it. Even Tom couldn't believe how life-like it seemed as he carried it to Will's bathroom and hid it in the drawer where Will keeps his toothbrush.
That'll teach him.
Unfortunately, finding a komodo dragon in his toothbrush drawer barely fazed Will; he was so "unscared" (how he later described his reaction) that he didn't even mention the toy the following morning…and as a result, I completely forgot about it.

Until I went to bake cookies for our PTO meeting and found that damn dragon again. I screamed, again. I refused to touch him, again, but since I was home alone and needed to get to the flour, I used my foot to kick him out of the pantry and into the office. Where I covered him with a dishtowel and left him until Kaylee could retrieve him that afternoon.

I told Tom he'd better talk to his son, because if this kind of thing happens again I will evict both of them from the house and force them to live in a tent in the backyard with the very-much-alive Texas critters.

Note: Apparently my friend Mandi - Kaylee's mom - knew that Kaylee had lent the komodo dragon to Will…and forgot to warn me of Will's intentions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

High Five for Friday (9.12.14)

1. Hallie started working on her Christmas cards and birthday thank you notes this week. I didn't have the heart to tell her that Christmas is still almost four months away and that her birthday is a whopping seven months from now.

2. Tonight is date night! Tom and Hallie plan to enjoy rice, beans, and tortilla chips for dinner and ice cream for dessert, watch episodes of My Little Pony on Netflix, and then sleepover in her room. Will and I are headed to the arcade for air hockey, pinball, and "the claw game" and then to the movie theater to see Guardians of the Galaxy. One of these days Tom and I will actually go on a date with each other again...

3. After a number of unsettling interactions with oblivious, inconsiderate, and even condescending strangers during the early part of the week, I sought out a pick-me-up. I've seen and even posted some of these pictures before, but when I need to feel good about the direction in which our world is heading (and my kids aren't around for me to hug them), the compilations do the trick.

Collection #1
Collection #2

4. I'm sorry, but this is just too cute not to share…"just seven kittens reacting in unison to a shiny object".

5. Happiness Highlights
Hallie and her sweet friend Jonny at his birthday party.
(During baseball season these two played together for at least four hours a
week; Hallie misses him now that they don't see each other as frequently.)
I hung cork boards above the "art center" in our playroom, and within
five minutes Hallie had covered both boards with her masterpieces.
My anthem.
I love everything about this photo of my sweet niece
on her way to the first day of three-year-old preschool. 
This girl loves to dance, especially in the rain and when she thinks no one is watching.

Peace. And bunny ears. But mostly peace.

Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!