Monday, June 30, 2014

Not My BEST Midterm Report Card...

I wrote my 2014 New Year's Resolutions on December 31st, edited them on January 1st, and posted them here on Chasing Roots on January 3rd. And then I didn't look at them again until today - June 27th - when I pulled them up as a reference for writing this post.

I expected to find that I hadn't accomplished much of anything, but instead discovered that I made progress on many - though not all - of my 2014 resolutions. Here's my midterm report card!

Eat cleaner. Specifically, I'd like to bake my own bread and granola bars. (B-)
We've cut back on the (non-whole wheat) bread, processed granola bars, and potato chips that, while never staples in our diets, probably appeared a little too often. I found a granola bar recipe that both Tom and I enjoy, but because the kids could take 'em or leave 'em, I only make them periodically and in small batches. (Click here for the granola bars. I cut the brown sugar in half and left out the wheat germ because, well, because wheat germ weirds me out.) I tried quite a few bread machine recipes, and while many tasted perfectly fine, none resulted in bread that worked for sandwiches because the outsides were too crusty and the insides were too soft. If you have one, please share your sandwich bread recipe!

She stands like this - on a chair with her face pressed as closely to the viewing window as possible - EVERY time we use the bread machine. 

Spend less. I don't spend frivolously, but in the coming year I plan to keep better track of where our dollars go and purchase only what we really need. (C+)
During the first three months of the year I held tight to my pocketbook strings. But then April rolled around… Throughout April, May, and June, expenses associated with Hallie's birthday, Easter, end-of-the-school-year parties and gifts, summer clothes and activities, and stocking up for our month-long road trip added up and brought me down. I aim to keep spending to a minimum for the next couple of months because I know back-to-school, Will's birthday, and Christmas will be here before we know it!

Streamline my volunteer efforts. This will occur naturally come fall, when both Will and Hallie attend the same school, but I can expedite the process by simply waiting to say "yes" to volunteer requests until I've had the opportunity to evaluate whether or not the nature of and time commitment for the request make sense for me and my family. (B-)
Yes, the kids will attend the same school this fall, which means I can dedicate my school-related volunteer efforts to just one academic institution instead of two, but … at that one academic institution I just joined the Board as the Secretary for the 2014-2015 school year. This new commitment is a big one, but I'll be working alongside a wonderful group of Board members and PTO parents with the shared goal of supporting teachers at and strengthening all aspects of my kiddos' elementary school. I can't wait!

Date my husband. Traditional weekend evening dates don't always work for us, both because of our vastly different schedules and because paying for good childcare makes child-free activities cost twice as much, so our plan is to trend toward lunch dates, coffee shop "work" dates, and at-home-after-the-kids-fall-asleep dates. (F)
The spring semester nearly crushed Tom, so after a date in late December, we didn't go on another date - not dinner, not lunch, not coffee - until May 30th. No, I take that back - we went on a two-hour date to Sam's Club in April. We MUST do better come fall.

Stop feeling guilty. About eating a brownie two brownies for dessert, drinking a Blue Moon on a Tuesday evening, reading a book instead of writing or researching while the kids are at school, and focusing my energy on people who build me up (instead of on those who weigh me down, which I admit to doing in the not-so-distant past). (C)
Um, I'm working on it.

Teach Hallie to read and tie her shoes. Though teaching Hallie to read made it onto my 2013 list, she just wasn't ready last year. Now that Hallie's both academically and mentally rearing to go, I plan to help her reach her goal. And along the way I'll teach her to tie her shoes, because just like parents reach a point when they're ready to be done changing diapers, parents also reach a point when they're ready to be done tying shoes. I'm there. (A)
Done and done. Bam.

Finalize our will. Though we've made arrangements for our children should something unfortunate happen to us, Tom and I MUST finalize this document before the end of 2014. (F)
I didn't intentionally put this resolution off because it requires facing/discussing a difficult topic, but with Tom's spring semester schedule barely allowing him time to sleep…I guess I just felt like this wasn't a project I could tackle without at least some input from him. Now that he's around a bit more we should be able to cross this one off the list.

Paint my front door. Red? Green? Black? I'm conflicted. (A+)
I did, it's yellow, and I LOVE it.

Learn American history. I recently realized how little I know about American history. My fifth grade teacher spent 30 minutes a day covering the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, but after I graduated from Mrs. Nowakowski's class I never saw another American history text book. Not in middle school, high school, or college. As an educated adult and the parent of a school-aged child who will soon embark on his own journey to learn about the history of our country, I find this gaping hole in my education appalling, so much so that I'd like to begin filling the gap. To be clear, my goal isn't to become a history buff. My goal is to understand a bit more about who we are and where we came from…and to be able to hold my own should I ever appear on the game show "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?". (D-)
I AM a completely idiot when it
comes to American history, so
this book is perfect for me.
After I posted this resolution, my mom sent me The Complete Idiot's Guide to American History, 5th Edition and my father-in-law sent me the "History of the United States, Volume 2" DVD collection. I cracked open the first chapter of Idiot's right away, and despite reading slowly and carefully and studying the "key points to remember" at the end of the chapter (which was only a few pages long, mind you), by the following night it was as if I'd never even opened the book. On the second night I reread the first chapter and read the second chapter for the first time. Once again, by the following night all of that information had been erased from my memory. I can remember what I wore on my sixth birthday, but I can't remember a single historical date other than the day of JFK's assassination. (And that's only because November 22nd is also my birthday.) I plan to start the DVD series on vacation though, so perhaps I'll retain more information via that method of learning.

Learn Texas history. What better time to learn about the history of my current home state than while I'm already learning about the history of my home country? I hope these history "lessons" turn out to be educational, yes, but also fun and something Will (and maybe Hallie, in some cases) and I can enjoy together. (F)
I actually forgot about this resolution, and therefore made absolutely no progress toward its completion. I found a fun, educational website - - though, one that offers a variety of activities that I think both kids can enjoy (trivia for Will, coloring pages and craft projects for Hallie, and puzzles for both), that I plan to visit with the kids during our downtime in August.

Read books and watch movies. It seems silly to include reading and movie watching on a New Year's Resolution list, but because I have trouble finding the time to do both, onto the list they go. (A)
Here are a few of my favorite books and movies from the first half of the year, along with what's next on my reading and viewing lists.

Inferno, Dan Brown
Unwind, Neal Shusterman
The Fault in the Stars, John Green
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen
Serena, Ron Rash
The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty

Next up are Don't Kill the Birthday Girl, In the Garden of Beasts, If I Stay, Sharp Objects, Accused, All Fall Down, and The Fever. Oh, and I plan to reread all three books in the Hunger Games series in preparation for the Mockingjay, Part 1 movie release in November…

Saving Mr. Banks
Captain Phillips
American Hustle
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The Fault in Our Stars
Million Dollar Arm
How to Train Your Dragon 2

Yet to see are The Impossible, Ender's Game, The Monuments Men, Draft Day, Noah, and Maleficent. Coming soon are Tammy, Earth to Echo, The Maze Runner, The Box Trolls, Serena, If I Stay, Gone Girl, Annie, Into the Woods, and of course…Mockingjay, Part 1.

So how are your New Year's Resolutions coming along? July is the perfect month during which to revisit - and maybe revise a few - of them!

For fun, I calculated my GPA based on the letter grades I gave myself above. With a 2.07, I'm not exactly acing my resolutions but I'm not failing either!

Friday, June 27, 2014

High Five for Friday (6.27.14)

1. The summer before kindergarten, I bought Will a pair of brightly colored, "super fast", lace-up athletic shoes and explained that once he learned to tie them, he could wear them. After I showed him what to do, Will spent a few days practicing next to me and a week or so practicing on his own before he finally mastered this new skill. And then he spent half of each kindergarten recess tying other kids' shoes.

Last weekend Hallie tried on a pair of beautifully pink, "super fast", lace-up athletic shoes. I agreed to buy the shoes for her, but only under the same conditions I'd given Will two summer prior: once she learned to tie them, she could wear them. You guys, she freaked out. Right there in Academy. She was NEVER EVER EVER going to learn to tie so if I didn't buy her a pair of velcro shoes I might as well resign myself to her going barefoot for the rest of her life. Drama queen.

At this point I kind of lost Will - he'd gone to the bathroom and gotten distracted on his way back to the shoe department - and after searching for him and finding him and reprimanding him and hugging him, I couldn't find the mental strength to do anything except buy the darn velcro shoes for Hallie.

Two days after causing a scene in the Academy shoe department, Hallie came to me and told me she wanted to learn to tie. So like her. Using an old pair of Will's shoes, we started the process. She melted down and we took a break. 10 minutes later we tried again. She melted down again and we took another break. 10 minutes later we tried a third time. She nailed it.

And now I have to buy her a pair of beautifully pink, "super fast", lace-up athletic shoes that aren't three sizes too large for her feet.

2. And while I'm on the subject of Hallie, she deserves a second high five for making true progress toward learning how to swim. It took three years of swimming lessons and regular exposure to the water for her to willingly set foot in a swimming pool or lake, and then last year she finally agreed to put her face in the water. This year she's finally less timid, and though she requires very specific assistance ("hold your hands like this, now take one teeny tiny step closer") when swimming or jumping off the side of the pool, she's swimming and jumping off the side of the pool.

Tying shoes, swimming, reading…where did my baby go?

3. Our first look at Mockingjay, Part 1 was released this week! This teaser (not a full trailer) plays like a PSA in which President Snow - with a brainwashed Peeta by his side - subtly threatens the people of Panem to follow blindly…or else. I can't wait for November 21st!

4. Today we hit the road for our fourth annual summer pilgrimage to Wisconsin. Just like in years past, we plan to first spend time with my in-laws at the Lincoln Lodge outside of Minocqua, Wisconsin, and then travel (ever so slightly) south to my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin to spend time with my parents and my sister's family. Unlike in years past, this year we're driving all the way there and all the way home. (Last year we drove to Nebraska and then to Wisconsin a week later, but at the end of our trip we flew home.)

And though it may be hard to believe, all four of us are looking forward to kicking off our vacation with a three-day road trip. For the first time in … forever? … (sorry, I couldn't help myself) … we plan to take it slow. We plan to brake for small towns and fruit stands and ice cream shops and parks and scenic overlooks. We plan to enjoy the journey.
My boy's always been a good road-tripper.
And yes, that's Will…not Hallie.
Lest you think I just told the Internet that our house will be abandoned for the next four weeks, I will also share with the Internet that a friend will be staying in our house the first week we're on the road, and then after that, Tom will return home.

5. Happiness Highlights
Reading at Barnes & Nobel.
Swimming with the Log-man.
Everyone should wear an itsy bitsy teeny weeny
yellow polka dot bikini at some point in their lives.
After painting four pages of notebook paper with an
assortment of lovely colors, Hallie turned them into a purse for
me using a long, stretchy cord and an entire roll of scotch tape.
And last but not least, they insisted on getting the mail for me during the downpour instead of waiting for the rain to let up. What great helpers!

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Like Mother, Like Son

Erin: How was your day at school, Will?
Will: Fine.
Erin: What did you work on with Mrs. T.?
Will: Reading.
Erin: What did you read?
Will: A book.
Erin: Tell me about your book.
Will: I can't remember.

More often than not, Will answered my open-ended questions about school with as few words as possible. I found his responses perplexing because if I ask him questions about anything except school - even academic topics - he can talk at me for hours. Will loved his teachers, classmates, and the majority of subjects they covered during his first grade year, so I suspect his tendency toward sharing minimal information may have had to do with the exhaustion he felt at the end of the day.

Because Will wouldn't/couldn't provide me with a complete picture of first grade, I did my best to fill in the blanks by reading through all of the notes and work sent home in Will's folder and checking in regularly with Will's teachers. I hadn't grasped, however, the significant amount of writing Will had been doing in class until, on the last day of school, his folder came home overflowing with more than 40 single-page stories, essays, and reports he'd written over the course of the semester.

I started skimming through Will's writing, and just as my mom had laughed out loud when she read my 4th grade piece, "A Day at the Beach", I laughed out loud when I read what Will had written.

Why, you ask?

Because 24 of the 40 or so pieces had been written about the weather. Will focused primarily on cold weather, ice, and snow (specifically blizzards), but he also wrote about the summer heat. (After extreme weather conditions, additional topics included becoming a cowboy, playing baseball, and waterskiing with his grandpa.)

It seems as though I may have passed my desire to write about the weather - although he seems to focus on a different season than I do - on to my eldest. Like mother, like son.

By Will Ferris

Blizzards are powerful winter storms. Sometimes they are strong enof (enough) to cancle (cancel) flits (flights) and close roads. Blizzards happen when warm air colapes (collapses) with cold air. This is called a front. It it is cold enof (enough) it can freeze in a Blizzard. Blizzards are freezing cold. And that's what I know about Blizzards!

Unlike his mother, however, Will - cheerful optimist that he is - writes about the season he clearly loves, rather than the season he can barely survive.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bad Habits are Hard to Break

If you visit Chasing Roots even periodically, you likely know that I write about the weather. A lot. If you know me in real life, you likely know that I talk about the weather. A lot. And as much as I wish it weren't true, I complain - both here on the blog and in real life - about the weather. A lot.

Just a few examples:
Ah, Summer
Heat Wave
A Friendly Reminder
A Weather Report
I'm Melting
"Butt Mama…"

I try really hard not to complain (I can hear you laughing all the way down here in Texas, Mom), but as soon as the temperatures outside reach 90 degrees my brain goes haywire and I lose the ability to think rationally, speak coherently, and remember the promise I made to myself to just deal with the heat, at least until I find air conditioning or an unheated swimming pool.

Last month my mom had brunch with a few of her friends, all of whom happen to have kids my age with whom I went to elementary school. One of the moms had come across a collection of student stories, poems, testimonials published during our fourth grade year, and because she had no need for the entire booklet, she pulled out the pages on which each of our contributions had been written and gave those pages to our moms.

When my mom read the first two sentences of my short story - titled "My Day at the Beach" - she laughed out loud.

It's 100 degrees outside. You're so hot. 

The story goes on to describe preparing for and spending my day at the beach - picnic, towels, beach balls, and boom boxes (yes, boom boxes), all with my best friend at the time, whose name was also Erin Leigh - where the "sun beats down on you" and you "enjoy the peace and quiet".

Apparently my tendency to write and talk and complain about the weather began l..o…n...g before I moved to Texas.

I have zero pictures of myself at/on a beach, so I'll leave you with cute photos of my kiddos at one of the only beaches (the very small stretch of sand between the rocks and the lapping waters of Booth Lake outside Minocqua, Wisconsin) we visit regularly.

Friday, June 20, 2014

High Five for Friday (6.20.14)

1. Soccer may not have won the title of "most popular sport" here in the United States, but the game holds a special place in my heart. Very little can top the international excitement, the national pride, and the local support and celebrations for hometown kids who have worked most of their young lives for a chance to showcase their talent and represent their country on the world's stage.

As a high school soccer player, I played in three international tournaments and an additional international friendly. I still remember the thrill of walking into the opening ceremonies carrying an American flag. The thrill of standing just yards from Pele in the center of the stadium. The thrill of scoring my (first and only - I played defense) international goal against Norway. Like I said…very little can top these experiences.

I tend to get swept up in the excitement of the World Cup (both men's and women's), so much so that from the moment the tournament begins until the tournament champion is crowned, my television stays tuned to ESPN. Will and I've watched the majority of the games, and on Monday night the four of us had a picnic dinner in front of the television so that we could watch the United States take on Ghana in their first game of the tournament.

And they WON. High fives all around, friends!

Here are a few pics, courtesy of the USA Today, from the United States vs. Ghana game.

2. While not overwhelming, the first three weeks of summer have been busy. The kids have participated in plenty of organized and scheduled activities - swimming lessons, yoga and cardio hip hop classes at the gym, baseball camp, dance classes, and Tae Kwon Do lessons - but we've made plenty of time for spontaneous fun as well. The problem is that after the gaps between the organized and scheduled activities are filled in with playdates and swimming and lounging in our giant beanbag while watching World Cup soccer games, I have very little time left to write.

Last week I came up with a solution: when one child is at a friend's house, class, or camp, the second child tags along with me to my McOffice or a coffee shop. This system works perfectly because 1) when on their own, my children behaves angelically (let's not get into how they behave when together), and 2) each considers a small treat from McDonalds or Starbucks or another local coffee shop payment enough to sit quietly with me for two hours. They read, work in their activity books, and where Hallie colors, Will uses my old laptop to work on his typing skills.

They also look super adorable in their headphones. It think it should be noted that Hallie's aren't connected to anything - she just wanted to wear them.

High five for a writing plan that actually works for everyone!

3. Hallie brings a toy or a small container of toys (dolls, ponies, Legos, etc.) with her to all of Will's baseball games and Tae Kwon Do lessons to keep her - and often her friends - entertained. On Monday, Elsa and Anna came with us to Tae Kwon Do, and while Hallie spent most of the 45-minute lesson making them dance and sing and changing their clothes, at the end of class she positioned them like this:

I asked Hallie what Elsa and Anna were doing, to which she replied, "they're doing push-ups, Mama! They want to have strong muscles".

I exercise regularly - both at the gym and at home/outside - for a plethora of reasons, not the least of which is that I want to set a good example for my kids. Maybe, just maybe, it's working.

4. Will's headed to a sleepover birthday party this evening so Tom and I plan to take Hallie out for the evening, just the three of us. Hallie would have preferred a date with just her daddy, but her daddy convinced her to allow me to tag along for a dinner of rice and beans and ice cream for dessert.
On our last ice cream outing as a threesome.
When the three of us arrive home, the two of them will branch off to the playroom for arts and crafts, dancing, a Sofia the First movie, and a sleepover, just like they did on their last date. And I'll enjoy sole control of the DVR. Glorious!

5. Happiness Highlights
That's actual progress on Sara and Jeff's house!
Apparently she sleeps better with a band aid on her nose.
My adult body winces in pain looking at this picture,
but his creativity, strength, and agility make me smile.
I wish I could have snapped a pic of this backpack in motion -
the Ewok's fur looked crazy realistic whipping in the wind, to
the point that Hallie cried with worry over the Ewok's safety. 
This is how Will put Lily's school picture on the refrigerator.
I had to laugh at his (lack of) attention to detail.
Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chasing Roots (and Other Favorites) Around the Interwebs

Every couple of months I like to link up to some of the pieces I've written for other websites and blogs, and this time around I've thrown in a few blog posts and articles written by other authors and bloggers that I found particularly interesting. Check 'em out!

Red Cross: Make Someone's Day Lucky
My propensity for preparedness allowed Hallie and me to save the day at a local disc golf tournament.

Red Cross: Thank You, Volunteers, for Time Alone with My Thoughts
All sorts of crazy thoughts run through my head whenever I find myself all alone (which doesn't happen very often) on the blood donation bed, watching the friendly Red Cross phlebotomists take - with my permission, of course - a pint of blood directly out of my body.

Red Cross: My Everyday Heroes
A tribute to a few of my Red Cross Heroes - real people, real volunteers - whose involvement in the organization has made and continues to make a difference both in their local communities and around the country.

Once a Red Crosser, always a Red Crosser

MomsEveryday: Let the Tryouts Begin
Oh, the anxiety. It seems like just yesterday I watched him take his first steps, helped him pee in the potty for the first time, and dropped him off for his first day of preschool. Now I'm preparing him for his first competitive sports team tryout, and even though I know this milestone isn't about me, I just don't think I'm ready.

MomsEveryday: Liar Liar, Pants on Fire
That dreaded lie - the one they tell straight to your face and then stick to despite plenty of opportunities to make the situation right - finally made an appearance. What would you do?
Once a mom, always a mom.

And in case you missed them the first time around, here on Chasing Roots…

MomsEveryday: Kids Say (Well, Hallie Says) the Darndest Things
About…well, I bet you can figure out what this post is about.

MomsEveryday: So This Happened...
About the time I got myself stuck inside a sweater, kind of like how the little boy in A Christmas Story found himself stuck and unable to move inside his snowsuit.

MomsEveryday: Deep Breaths
About the perils of being a dance mom.

MomsEveryday: Jars of Gold
About one of my methods for keeping the peace, fighting boredom, and rewarding good behavior during the summer months.

Finally, a few favorites from around the internet.

30 Signs You're In Your 30s
#1, #2, #4, #5, #6 - ok, every single one - resonates with me. Except #12, that is. I will never own a minivan.

Are Ross and Rachel Still Together?
If you cared about Friends even half as much as I did, you'll enjoy this glimpse into the lives of these (our?) fictional best pals.

Put. Down. The. Phone.
This is without a doubt the most impactful and powerful PSA I've seen in years. Please don't skip watching this video.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kids These Days, Take 2

A few years ago I wrote about* how both Tom and I noticed - almost immediately upon arriving in Texas - that the young people in our community, especially those in their teen years and young adults, were collectively more respectful than the young people we'd encountered elsewhere. We met child after teenager after college student who removed their hat and shook our hands during introductions then answered our questions with "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am". I dreamed of raising children even half as polite as these young Texans.

I of course encounter the occasional child, teenager, or young adult who hasn't quite yet mastered their manners. But the majority still impress me, and their behavior motivates me (because let's be honest, some days I need external motivation - on top of my internal motivation - to keep on keepin' on) to continue teaching Will and Hallie to introduce themselves using a clear and audible voice, shake hands firmly, make eye contact, hold doors, remove their hats, use please and thank you, use proper table manners, arrive on time, etc. The list goes on and on. 

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed/listened in on a conversation between Will and another child that moved me enough to want to write on this topic for a second time. Here goes...

Field Day at Will's elementary school included a variety of athletic (short runs, long runs, Frisbee games) and non-athletic (toilet paper relay races, cups of water on heads relay races) events so that every child could participate in at least one, if not two, activities. Will chose the 50-yard dash and the cross country run, and told us ahead of time that he thought he would win one of the races and had a 50% chance of winning the other. Confidence has never been a problem for my boy…

Will's heart broke when he didn't advance out of his 50-yard dash heat. He didn't cry or even complain, but I could almost feel the frustration and sadness radiating from within him. 
And they're off!
At least he didn't finish last...
He did much better in the cross country run, placing fourth out of close to 40 first grade boys. I beamed with pride as he cruised across the finish line, but as he circled back around and approached I could tell from the look on his face that my smile, Grandma's congratulations, and Lily's cheers wouldn't be enough to keep him from tearing up.
Approaching the finish line.
Each kindergarten and first grade class had been assigned two fourth-grade helpers, the job of whom was to meet the kids from their assigned class at the finish lines of the races and escort the kids back to their class' "home base". Moments after Will finished his cross country race, one of his class' helpers walked up to him. The student noticed that Will had been crying, but he didn't acknowledge the tears lest he embarrass Will in front of his grade-mates. Instead, the student put his arm around Will's shoulder - the student literally took Will under his wing - and started walking him across the field. I followed a few feet behind, listening to their conversation. 

"Hey buddy, I saw your run - great job out there!"

Will must have said something about not winning the race, because the student added:

"But you had fun, right? That's what Field Day is about - trying your best and having a great time with your friends".

The student squeezed Will's shoulder, asked for - and received - a high five, and left Will with his teacher as he walked off to find himself another first grader whose spirits needed lifting. 

I went straight to Will's teacher and asked her - with tears threatening to roll down my cheeks - to please thank that student for his kind words and for setting a stellar example for Will to follow. 

All in all, I'd say Field Day was a tremendous success.

* I can hardly believe that 1) we've lived in Texas, and 2) I've been writing, long enough to use the phrase "a few years ago I wrote about". The cliche is true - time flies when you're having fun!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Real Moments with Dad

For all of the fathers who have in some way impacted my life and/or the lives of those I love - Dad, Tom, Michael, Jeff, grandpas, uncles (both biological and camping), and coming October 2014, Adam - a tribute to the very real moments of fatherhood.

Dove never fails to say it best, or to make me cry.

And for my wonderful husband and the father of my children, some of my favorite moments - caught on video - of you with our babies. (If you only have time to watch a couple of videos, don't miss "ROAR Contest" and "Tom and Hallie Sing and Dance" - they're my favorites.)

Happy Father's Day to all those celebrating, and hugs to those for whom today hurts.

Friday, June 13, 2014

High Five for Friday (6.13.14)

1. Our lovely neighbors have stellar season tickets to - and a parking pass for - Aggie baseball games. Once each spring since we moved into our house three years ago, they've given us their tickets and we've enjoyed a game sitting just a few rows behind home plate. (They never let us pay them for the tickets, so I always bake for them after the games.)

The game we attended this year (which was actually three weeks ago - I'm a little behind on my High Fives) fell on the most beautiful night for baseball, and as always, the four of us had a wonderful time.
Heading out in our Aggie gear.
A rare photo of all four Ferri.
Watching warm-ups as the sun sets, 2014.
And just for fun, watching warm-ups as the sun sets, 2012.
2. Our Monday afternoon plans - a trip to the swimming pool - felt apart when thunder and lightening began to strike, so we changed course and headed to the afternoon at the children's museum. I wasn't particularly excited about the outing...the children's museums we visit most regularly (Lincoln, Nebraska and Madison, Wisconsin) are two of the nicest in the country - each makes its home in a three-story building taking up nearly an entire city block, and upon entry it's immediately clear that the exhibits collectively cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and maintain - and our local museum doesn't quite measure up. But as it turns out, all that didn't matter one iota to my kiddos. They flew a rocket ship, worked on an art project, put on puppet shows, went grocery shopping, sold lemonade, evaluated my health, broadcasted the news, and reported on the weather for more than two hours. Oh, and Will CREAMED me at giant chess. Not bad for a rainy Monday afternoon!

Hallie put on a Frozen (Elsa, Anna, and Olaf - played by an African 
American astronaut in a white spacesuit - made an appearance) puppet 
show while Will lounged in and watched from a beanbag chair.

The camera inside the rocket ship allowed parents to see what their kids were up to. 
My kids were up to making ridiculous faces and waving for minutes on end.

This is my favorite picture of Hallie. I imagine she'd look exactly like this if she were 
trapped in space - all Gravity-like - and speaking to Houston via video phone.

Here's Will, pondering his next move…and then celebrating his victory.

 After the museum we rang the bell across the street. Super fun. Super loud.

3. The World Cup kicked off yesterday! I played competitive soccer throughout high school and club soccer during my first two years of college, and even though I no longer own cleats or a pair of shinguards, I still love the game. I'm looking forward to watching the U.S. Men take on (and hopefully beat, but I'm not holding my breath) some of the world's best teams.

4. Did you see The Fault in Our Stars?! I went with two friends on Sunday night, and I LOVED it. Yes, my "ugly cry" made an appearance. Tears - and mascara - running down my face. Snot dripping from my nose. Breath caught in my throat long enough to induce hiccups. (I wasn't the only one though - the collective sobbing in the theater reached a volume loud enough to drown out the movie's dialog.) But oh. Oh. OH. So good.

Side note: my friends and I had a good 10 years on the rest of the moviegoers in the theater. We laughed at different parts of the movie than they did. We cried at different parts of the movie - and for different reasons - than they did. It was interesting to experience a movie so disparately than the rest of the audience members sitting around us. 

5. Happiness Highlights:
There's Little Library in College Station! This is the first Little
Library we've seen outside of Madison, Wisconsin...hopefully
this book-sharing trend will spread throughout our community!
I love it when I reach 10,000 steps by 9am.
Tom brought me back this gorgeous blown-glass wine stopper
from Montreal. It matches my favorite blue bottle of wine perfectly.
Will and Hallie scored new shirts from our gym (thanks,
Jill!) and loved the shirts so much that they rocked them -
in combination with their swimsuits - for three days straight.
Will started taking Yoga and Cardio Hip Hop classes at
the gym and has been showing off his new skills at home.
This pose is called "The Thinker"…appropriate for my boy.
Happy Friday, friends!