Friday, January 30, 2015

High Five for Friday (1.30.15)

1. My gal lost her first tooth this week. It looked almost detached on Saturday morning, but neither Will or Tom could pull it out without causing more pain than she was willing to endure. (Hallie has a pretty low tolerance for pain, so she freaked out every time either of them made contact with the tooth.) As the day went on she started to worry about the tooth just hanging there in her mouth, mostly because she knew that if the tooth didn't come out the Tooth Fairy wouldn't come, so she ramped up her efforts and finally pushed/pulled it out in the bathtub.

After all that, the Tooth Fairy "had trouble finding our house and therefore arrived late and after Hallie had already gotten up the following morning". Then, because the Tooth Fairy had been running late, she forgot to take the tooth and had to revisit our house the following evening to pick up the tooth. Rockstar parenting...

2. Hallie - my child who wears mittens when the temperature outside drops below 65 degrees - wishes so badly for snow that she created her own "blizzard" in her room. A year or so ago we hung little white cup hooks on her trees so that she could decorate them for holidays. Last week she spent one entire afternoon going back and forth between the "art center" in the playroom and her room, cutting out tiny snowflakes and hanging each one in just the right place. I LOVE watching her create.

Also last gal brought home from school a spaceship she "built" out of 18 pieces of paper and what must have been an entire roll of scotch tape. When she pulled her creation out of a paper grocery bag, laid it out - 3' by 8' (yes, FEET) - on the living room rug, and "climbed" inside, my first thought was, "you have the kindest and most accommodating kindergarten teacher in the world…"

3. Tom and I had plans for a date last Friday night, but when those plans fell through, we took Will out for a game of miniature golf, just the three of us. (Hallie attended a friend's birthday party that evening.) Spending an hour or so with Will on his own was beyond pleasant and peaceful. He and I had an in-depth conversation about standing up for friends in trouble (as well as when he is permitted - encouraged, even - to use his Tae Kwon Do skills) on the way to meet Tom, and then he talked up a storm about this, that, and the other throughout his evening as an only child. Will has a lot to say when his chatterbox of a sister isn't monopolizing the conversation...

Even though 75% of their time together is spent bickering, Will and Hallie love each other and, when push comes to shove, have each other's backs. I'm grateful for their sibling relationship, but I adore spending time with each one of them on their own.

4. Since last week's date night didn't work out, Tom and I are going out tonight instead. We're thinking about just taking a nap in our car…that qualifies as a date, right?

5. Happiness Highlights:
Hallie let me wear the astronaut helmet that went with her spaceship. 
Tux has a love/hate relationship with Tom's hand. As long
as the hand doesn't move, Tux doesn't move. It's fascinating.
If/when Tom moves his hand, however, Tux
attacks, going specifically for Tom's pinky finger.
As is often the case, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt".
Recital costumes are in! Tap… 
…and ballet.
On Tuesday my boys got dressed independently
but ended up matching. They're cute, right?
Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


This post deviates slightly from my usual Chasing Roots fare. I initially gathered the information for the Red Cross blog, but because I changed directions midway through writing the post and the content no longer made sense for that organization, I decided to share the information here instead. It's important.

Years ago I spent nearly two full days sitting in an Emergency Room. I saw a wide variety of illnesses and injuries come through the doors during those 10-hour days, but I remember only one injury with any clarity. The paramedics brought in an adult woman – probably in her 40’s or 50’s – on a stretcher and with great urgency. She was soaking wet, and was completely naked except for the shower curtain in which she was wrapped. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out (and I overheard the paramedics tell the doctors and nurses) that she’d fallen in the shower. I’ve never forgotten the look of fear on that woman’s face when she arrived in the ER that day.

January is National Bath Safety Month. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 235,000 people over the age of 15 are treated in an emergency department for a bathroom injury each year. That’s about 640 slips, falls, and hot water burns every day, and those numbers increase as people grow older.

Many injuries, including those that commonly occur in the bathroom, are preventable, and so today I’d like to share a few tips to keep you – and your loved ones – safe in the bathroom.

  • Install grab bars in bathtubs and showers and next to toilets to prevent falls.
  • Use nonslip mats or strips in bathtubs and showers to prevent falls.
  • Use nonslip rugs or floor mats outside bathtubs and showers to prevent falls.
  • Install scald-prevention devices to monitor water temperature and prevent burns.
  • Run exhaust fans while bathing and showering to prevent mold, mildew, and condensation build-up.
  • Run supplemental heat sources like space/portable heaters only when in the bathroom, and keep anything flammable (towels, rugs, bathrobes, etc.) at least three feet away.
  • Make sure all electrical outlets are ground fault circuit interrupters to protect against electric shock.
  • If needed, consider using/installing products like toilet seat risers, shower chairs, and removable shower heads, and transfer benches for added safety.

A post about bathroom-related injuries would be incomplete without addressing drowning. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to four years, and approximately 100 children under the age of five drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets each year. Drowning can occur in just seconds and in only TWO INCHES of water.

I've written about infant/child drowning during a previous January is National Bath Safety Month; you can find that post here if you'd like more information.

Rub-a-dub-dub, stay safe in the tub!

A special thanks to my friends (my real-life friends, not just my connected-by-the-internet friends) at Lehan Drugs who contributed to this post. If you live anywhere near Dekalb, Sycamore, or Rockford, Illinois, go see them - I promise they'll take good care of you!

Monday, January 26, 2015


(n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past

Homesickness has followed me like my shadow - stealthily and often invisible, but able to appear without warning should conditions shift in its favor - for nearly all of my 36 years. I struggled at the beginning of each new school year, when my friends invited me to sleep over at their houses, and when my parents dropped me off at sleep-away camp. I fought leaving Madison to attend college (an internal fight between the homesick Erin I had always been and the independent Erin I wanted to be, not a fight between me and parents), and nearly lost my mind during those first few weeks away from home. I stumbled through the first weeks of a summer camp job, a move for my first real job, and another move for Tom to attend graduate school, and I even dealt with a short-lived bout of homesickness a few months after we arrived in College Station.

New people and places didn't bother me in and of themselves. But thinking about how those new people and places had to become my "regular" people and places - how I had to move on from that with which I felt comfortable, secure, and safe, even for just a week - never failed to leave me struggling for breath and on the verge of tears.

I discovered the word "hiraeth" and the definition above entirely by accident, but I knew immediately - thanks to the choir that suddenly appeared and began singing "Aaaah-lle-lu-jah! Allelujah! Allelujah!" - they were meant for me. "Of course", I said out loud to the Starbucks patrons working, reading, and socializing nearby. "It's not about the people and places." (I said that second part to myself, in my head. Folks at Starbucks just don't appreciate a good life realization.)

Don't get me wrong - I missed my family, my friends, my pets, my house. But if it had just been about the people and places, I could have rationalized my way through all that missing and more quickly recognized that each one still had a presence in my life, even if they weren't present on a daily basis. I could have picked myself up, dusted myself off, and gotten the hell on with my life instead of spending multiple hours a day crying on the phone with my mom, begging her to save me from my new life.

But as it turns out, my homesickness was about grief. Every time my people and places changed significantly enough for homesickness to set in, I was leaving behind a stage of life to which I would and could never return. I had to grieve each of those losses before I could move on.

I understand that the losses - the end of life's different stages - I'm writing about don't qualify as true Losses with a capital L. But that doesn't mean they didn't hurt. 

I feel grateful to have figured all this out, or to have at least made some sense of my struggle with change, because life's stages are beginning and ending all around me these days. Hallie's reading books and losing teeth and discussing Martin Luther King Jr. Will's peeling carrots and wearing deodorant and buying girls flowers. And in less than two years the four of us will learn whether or not we can still call College Station home.

I may have to remind myself on occasion, but I know that when one stage of life draws to a close, another one opens wide.. I know I can grieve the loss of the past while living in the present. And I know that even though I can't go back, I can always go forward.

Friday, January 23, 2015

High Five for Friday (1.23.15)

1. We bought a new television for our bedroom! Our previous television worked perfectly, but a rather extensive and complicated series of unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how you look at the situation) events led us to relocate that television to the playroom and purchase a slightly larger replacement television for our bedroom. Both Tom and I appreciate the added inches that allow us to actually see the scores during football and basketball games.

2. Tux (our cat) is a genius. Earlier this week I caught him playing - with no prior instruction - Shut Box: he gathered both dice with his paw, picked up one of the dice in his mouth, "rolled" that die by dropping it back into the game board, and then flipped down two of the numbers with his nose. Granted, the numbers Tux flipped down didn't add up to the numbers on the dice (which is the point of the Shut Box, for those of you who aren't familiar with the game), but STILL.

Unfortunately I had to hide Shut Box after I finished taking these pictures. While Tux was "rolling" the die I worried for a moment that he wouldn't be able to release it from his mouth…we don't need him choking on his favorite game.

3. We let Will and Hallie participate in (up to) two extracurricular activities at a time. Back in November when their soccer seasons wrapped, both kids started chomping at the bit to add the next sport/activity/lesson to the mix; Will wanted to take swimming lessons and play basketball, while Hallie wanted to take swimming lessons and gymnastics. I delayed registering either of them for anything because 1) December brings enough crazy of its own and 2) if I'm being honest with myself and you, I enjoyed having only two karate lessons and one dance lesson (on top of school and holiday activities) to worry about each week.

Once January rolled around Will and Hallie started asking - every six or seven minutes - about basketball/gymnastics/swimming. Because they agreed on swimming, we decided to go that route, and on Monday they started semi-private (just the two of them and an instructor) lessons at a local fitness facility. They fought with each other and failed to listen to instructions ALL DAY LONG, but when their lesson began they turned into angelic mermaids. (Would Will be a merman? I'll have to ask Hallie.) They did BEAUTIFULLY, and I saw actual improvement in both of their strokes and Hallie's confidence by the end of just 30 minutes. High five!

4. I took on another Red Cross social media responsibility, and thus far it seems that this responsibility won't take the kind of time I'd additionally thought it would. High fives on both accounts!

5. Happiness Highlights:
I can't stop taking pictures of Tux sleeping with the kids. 
I seriously can't stop. These pictures make me so happy.
Grandma Susie bought Hallie this new outfit, which
included a pair - her first - of heels. They just have a
slight wedge to them, but she calls them "high heels"
and LOOOOOVES them. She looks so grown up... 
Valentine's Day decorating has begun!
My sister and I both bought this sweatshirt
during an after-Christmas sale at Look Human
(online). I'll probably wear it every single day. 
Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tradition: The Search Begins

When I first wrote about Reveille - the Texas A&M University Border Collie mascot - three years ago, I did so from an informational standpoint. When I wrote about Reveille a second time, a few months later and after my efforts to track her down on campus had proved fruitless, I did so not because I found her interesting, but because I had developed a fascination with her. And when I wrote about Reveille a third time, earlier this year and after she miraculously showed up at church on Easter Sunday, I did so because seeing her in person left me starstruck. Like posters on my wall, writing her name on the cover of my diary starstruck. (Not really. But close.)

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have met the current Reveille - eighth in the line of dogs having held the prestigious "First Lady of Aggieland" title - because she is set to retire this May after seven years of service to TAMU. Once she passes the torch to Reveille IX, Reveille VIII will spend the remainder of her days at the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center on the TAMU campus, where she can visit with the students and community members who have known and loved her since 2008.

The Problem Child
You may already know, or you may recall from my first post about Reveille, that choosing a Border Collie to fill this important role (as if serving as the TAMU mascot and "First Lady of Aggieland" isn't a big enough deal, Reveille is also the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets) goes far beyond picking out a pretty collie from a local shelter or humane society. Reveille VII - otherwise known as "the problem child" - had a few behavioral problems that created a need for candidates to be carefully screened and chosen not just on breed and gender, but on personality as well. Now Reveille must "have an upbeat personality, be at ease around crowds and like people, be calm around loud noises, and be positively motivated as well as not highly reactive".

Those are four big shoes to fill, which is why the search committee for Reveille IX reads more like a presidential search committee than a mascot search committee.

The 12-person committee made up of veterinarians, administrators, faculty, staff, and students began by narrowing the large pool of applicants down to 10 purebred American Border Collies from rescue shelters and breeders in Texas, Minnesota, and Ohio. As the semester gets underway this week, committee veterinarians as well as TAMU alumni veterinarians living near the 10 candidates will visit and assess each of them to determine which should remain in consideration. The final two or three candidates will travel to TAMU to spend time on campus and interact with students. (Sounds oddly similar to the hiring process Tom went through when he applied for a faculty position at TAMU…)

The committee plans to officially select Reveille IX by midway through the spring semester so that she will have time to settle in, learn what is expected of her, and feel comfortable in her new role before her first official appearance at the Corps of Cadets Final Review in May. It will be at this event, which sounds like a rite of passage during which outgoing junior cadets step up into their new leadership roles as incoming senior cadets (I had trouble finding information about Final Review online), that Reveille VIII will hand the reigns off to Reveille IX.

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall as the search committee discusses these dogs? "Dog 1 barks too frequently. Dog 2 isn't very photogenic. Dog 3 shakes hands like a dead fish. Dog 4 doesn't like to wear ponchos. Dog 5 doesn't get along with Lee Corso."

Ok, I kid. Kind of. In addition to discussing each dog's health, demeanor, and appearance, I imagine the search committee must also discuss this kind of detail, because it's these particulars that will likely determine which one of the final two or three candidates ends up leading the Corps of Cadets in just a few short months.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to meet her.
Farewell, VIII!

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Don't Have the Words

I write about Martin Luther King, Jr. each January. In preparation to do so again this year, I read through my last three MLK Jr. Day posts and discovered that the words I used to describe my support for and belief in what Dr. King stood for haven't changed much from year to year.

I still believe that all people - regardless of the color of their skin - should be awarded equal rights, access, and protection 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 still hope and pray that all people would be evaluated by their words and actions, and that they in turn would use words and actions to form opinions of others.

And I still hope to teach my children that our differences - from the color of our skin to our religion to our sexuality - are actually what unify us as a people. For while we are all different, it it 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. 

Last year these words were enough. They weren't perfect, or complete, but they adequately expressed what our world looks and feels like in my dreams and what I want my children to understand about Dr. King's contributions to mankind.

This year, however, these words seem flawed, insufficient. The controversial and divisive deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos highlight just how great the distance we have yet to travel on our quest to reach Dr. King's goals of empowerment, equality, and peace.

This year I don't have the words, so I share his instead.

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.

This year I don't have the words, but I have the same dream. The question is…why is it still a dream?

Friday, January 16, 2015

High Five for Friday (1.16.15)

1. Congratulations to my Green Bay Packers! Will and I threw our support behind Aaron and the Pack as they took on the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday afternoon, but watching football at home isn't quite the same when Tom isn't there to share in the excitement with us. I also need Tom around to help figuratively and literally absorb some of Will's enthusiasm; every time the Packers scored, Will performed his own "Lambeau Leap"…directly onto me. I may have both a sprained finger and a mild concussion as a result. I'm so glad we'll be able to watch the Packers against Seattle together next Sunday afternoon!

And to my Cowboy fan friends...let's still be friends, alright? 

2. Saturday, January 10th was our anniversary, and I mentioned in last Friday's High Five post that Tom explained the day to Will and Hallie as the day we exchanged vows, yes, but also as our family's birthday. I wanted to do something special with the kids that day, especially since 1,000+ miles separated Tom and me from one another, so we picked up a little cake, sang "Happy Birthday to Us", and blew out a few candles after each making a wish for our family for the coming year.

Turns out Hallie didn't quite grasp Tom's anniversary explanation...throughout the day she told three people that she was celebrating her 11th birthday.

3. Before our anniversary/family birthday party, the kids and I enjoyed a really lovely Saturday. We worked out at the gym, Will played at a friend's house while Hallie and I shopped for a gift for Tom and then met friends at the movies (we loved Into the Woods), both kids and I shopped for friends' birthday presents at Target, and then we had dinner and played with friends at Chick-fil-a. Despite its fullness, the day was relaxed and fun. I appreciated time spent with my kiddos on what was probably our last "free" Saturday for a while, and felt grateful that our day included so many different friends.

4. We have participated in The Big Event - the largest one-day, student-run service project in the country and a way for TAMU students to collectively say "thank you" to the residents and communities of Bryan and College Station for supporting them during their time at the University - for the past three years. (2012, 2013, 2014) Though we've hosted different students each year, our experiences have all been positive, both in the terms of the work done in our yard and more importantly, the impact the students have had on Will and Hallie.

After last year's day of service, a number of local friends mentioned to me that they'd never heard of The Big Event or didn't know they were eligible to participate. I promised to next year (this year) share the sign-up link here so that they would know when to register.

If you live in the BCS area, consider participating in The Big Event. The benefits to everyone involved are tremendous and long-lasting! Click here to register.

5. Happiness Highlights:
I finally agreed to let Hallie wear her "wedding dress",
as she calls it, around the house. Once wearing the dress,
she happily spun herself in circles for 30 minutes straight.
The beautiful bouquet of flowers (and bar of
chocolate) Tom sent me on our anniversary.
Right after I took this picture she pointed her finger across
the room and told me to "get out of her way" in her sleep.
They're SO desperate for snow! Last weekend they wore
snow pants to the park, but, as you can see by their short-
sleeved shirts, it wasn't actually snow weather outside. (It
wasn't actually short-sleeved shirt weather either, but Will
warms up quickly and Hallie didn't want to be left out.
She put her coat back on right after I took this picture.) 
I can't stop taking pictures of Tux sleeping with the kids.
They slept like this for 10 hours straight on Monday night.
Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I'll Trade (Almost) Anything for a Joe's

One of my fondest memories of living in Ann Arbor is Tom and I walking - with Will skipping along beside us and Hallie riding in the stroller - to and from and shopping at Trader Joe's. As a graduate student Tom often worked evenings and weekends, but if at all possible he made it home by the time the kids woke from their naps on Sunday afternoons. The four of us would gather our reusable totes, a few snacks and toys, and Will's epi-pen (Trader Joe's ALWAYS offers samples), load everything into our massive double jogging stroller, and hit the pavement. The shortest route was just over a mile, and by the time he was three-and-a-half, Will could make the "trek" under his own power. Hallie, on the other hand, cried to walk and then cried to ride and then cried to walk and then cried to ride…for the entire 20-25 minutes.
Sometimes it was a little crowded on the
way home. "I carried a watermelon."
Crying to walk.
Crying to ride.
Once they rode all the way to TJ's without fighting. When I rounded
the stroller to photograph this momentous occasion, I discovered
that Will had fallen asleep. Explained the absence of fighting...
And then Hallie slapped him. In his sleep. Oi vey.
Once we arrived we pushed our (too large for a grocery store) stroller through the aisles, gathering whatever sounded good for dinner that night and "stowing" it around Hallie. Fresh flowers, perfectly ripe fruits and veggies, sourdough bread, pretzel rolls, assorted cheeses, stuffed chicken breasts, creamy tomato basil and roasted butternut squash soups, fruit bars, unique beers, Two-Buck (now Three-Buck) Chuck (otherwise known as $3 bottles of Charles Shaw wine), and chocolate cake. Oh, chocolate cake. Hungry, anyone? We always ate well - and together - on Sunday evenings.

As Will and Hallie grew older and became slightly more trustworthy, Tom and I started letting them help us gather groceries using Trader Joe's bright red, child-sized shopping carts. Though we had to pay close attention to make sure they didn't run their carts into unsuspecting ankles or reach the check out with unapproved groceries (Will was known to fill his cart with a single item - 107 fruit bars, 43 tins of tree tree mints, 16 cans of black olives, or I-have-no-idea-how-many used sample cups), Will and Hallie always behaved better while shopping with their own carts because they were having fun and feeling like a part of the team.

Without regular access to Trader Joe's, we plan accordingly when we travel to either of our parents' houses (I leave enough space among the packed-in-the-trunk suitcases for Trader Joe's food to make the trip back home with us) or they drive to Texas (I send shopping lists ahead of time). We love their delicious, unique, and affordable food, their customer service, and the memories we've made on our way to and from and in their stores.

I'd trade any grocery store or restaurant (ok, maybe not Panera or Rosa's) for a Trader Joe's - it may be silly, but having one here would make this place feel even more like home.

I have no affiliation with Trader Joe's and did not receive any compensation for this post. The opinions and nostalgia expressed are entirely my own, though if you agree with me and live in my neck of the woods, would you kindly take a moment and let the big wigs over a Joe's know you'd like them to set up shop in our area? Thanks! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wish Me Whatever You Want

I grew up in an ethnically and religiously (though not politically) diverse community. Because of the plethora of religions supported, holidays celebrated, and traditions followed (and not supported, celebrated, and followed, for that matter - the Freedom From Religion Foundation began and is still based there), and because my hometown has earned a reputation as "the land of the perpetually offended", very little related to religious holidays could be found in public buildings and schools throughout my childhood years. We never sang Christmas carols or wore Santa hats in school, for example, and in 1987, the Christmas tree that had stood proudly in the State Capitol rotunda every December since 1918 was renamed a Holiday tree in an attempt to make the building feel more inclusive and to avoid irritating those who didn't celebrate Christmas.

To be clear, I understand why the tree was renamed. A Christmas tree in the State Capitol building isn't exactly a separation of church and state. It's not the point of my post though, so I'm moving on.

In 2011, Governor Walker re-renamed the tree, this time back to a Christmas tree. "It's a diverse state", Walker explained. "I think it's a reflection of the many wonderful traditions in the State of Wisconsin." Now, during the month of December, the Capitol rotunda also hosts a Menorah, Festivus trees, and a nativity scene mocking Christmas, so it seems more people are "represented" in their State Capitol building. (source)

Again to clarify, I understand why the tree was re-renamed. Just changing the name of an object long associated with a religious holiday doesn't necessarily lessen the association between the two. It's not the point of my post either though, so I'm moving on again.

Growing up, I learned to wish people "Happy Holidays" during the month of December. I used this phrase, and this phrase exclusively, until very recently, not because it's lovely and inclusive (and it IS lovely and inclusive - there's absolutely nothing wrong with wishing someone happy holidays), but because I honestly worried about offending someone.

Now that I live in a completely different kind of community from the one in which I grew up, I decided to do a little (uncontrolled) experiment. While shopping and running errands during the two weeks leading up to Christmas, I recorded what people "wished" me. I didn't track what they said when I spoke first (because people often respond by repeating whatever phrase they hear), only what they said when they spoke first. I expected to find that in my current community, I would hear "Merry Christmas" more than 90% of the time. On the flip side, I expected to find that once I arrived in my hometown, I would hear "Happy Holidays" - or a wide variety of holiday wishes - more than 75% of the time.

Imagine my surprise when here in Texas I heard "Merry Christmas" six times and "Happy Holidays" six times. I was even more surprised when in Wisconsin I heard "Merry Christmas" seven times and "Happy Holidays" five times.

Tom would have me review my methods, analyze my data using formulas and equations, and submit my results to you in the form of a journal article, formal paper, and presentation, but there's a reason he's a professor and I'm not. I don't care to do any of that; I don't really even want to think about my incorrect predictions. 

I do, however, want to focus on how wonderful it felt to be wished anything at all. I celebrate Christmas, but would never take offense if someone wished me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanza or even just Happy Winter. (Though I don't think too many people are happy about winter right now…) I would never complain about someone wishing me happiness, in any way, shape, or form. 

I love that my current community now embraces "Happy Holidays" along with "Merry Christmas". And I love that my hometown community seems to be moving toward the same place of acceptance.

The beauty is in the wishing, folks. So with a kind heart, wish people a happy whatever-you-want - Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Full Moon, Friday - and with a graceful heart, accept whatever they feel moved to wish you. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

High Five for Friday (1.9.15)

1. Tomorrow is our 11th wedding anniversary, or as the kids have come to understand the day, our family's 11th birthday. Unfortunately Tom and I won't spend it together - he'll be working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and I'll be working out at the gym, taking Hallie to see Into the Woods while Will is at a play date, and then meeting friends for dinner - but we plan to celebrate in a couple of weeks.

Throughout the last few months I've come across a number of powerful and inspirational quotes about marriage. In preparation for writing this portion of today's post, I began searching for one quote in particular, one about how a solid, lasting marriage requires both partners to say "I do" on their wedding day and then again, and again, and again, each "regular" day. The quote really hit home the idea that staying together is about loving one another, yes, but also about choosing and committing to each other even on the less exciting, fun, and romantic days.

But then…

Then I saw this quote. This quote is us.

Happy 11th anniversary and family birthday, Tom. I love you more than french fries with ketchup and brownies with chocolate chips.

2. Speaking of Into the Woods, I can't wait to see - and introduce Hallie - to this musical and theatrical masterpiece tomorrow! Into the Woods earned a spot on my list of favorites 25 years ago, when Grandma Hallie took my sister and me to see the musical at St. Norbert's College in De Pere, WI. Years later, my sister played Little Red Riding Hood in what was the best high school musical (and I have A LOT of reference points on this one) I've ever seen…except for High School Musical the movie, of course. Ooh, maybe I'll introduce the kids to a few of the High School Musical songs and dances this weekend...

3. We spent the Christmas holiday and the kids' winter vacation in Wisconsin and Illinois with my side of our extended family, so we've still yet to meet our newest nephew on the Ferris side - sweet little Forest - in person. Not getting to hold and cuddle him is driving me crazy, but I love looking at the picture my BIL and SIL send my way. He's just too cute!

4. When we first brought Tux home I had a difficult time "attaching" to him. After all, while everyone else played and snuggled with him, I taught attempted to teach him not to bite and scratch, took him to the vet over and over again for his kitten check-ups and shots, and cleaned his poop out of the sinks, bathtubs, and laundry baskets. I realized when we dropped him off at the vet (where we boarded him and had him neutered and front declawed during our holiday travels), however, that I loved him more than I realized.

We all missed Tux terribly, and having him home with us again just feels right. As Tom always says, "what a buddy".

5. Happiness Highlights
Hallie convinced Grandma to buy her this pair
of fuzzy "ear phones". She hasn't taken them off yet.
This is a belated Happiness Highlight, but I love
this pic of Will on the last day of school - Santa Hat
Day - before Christmas. I also love his Santa hat. 
And my Hallie, rockin' her own,
"girlier" version of a Santa hat.
Will and Hallie LOVE their new bathrobes from Grandpa
and Grandma. They wear their robes with only underwear
underneath (to feel the soft fabric) which makes them look
like little wrestlers. Then they go wrestle, so that makes
they look like little wrestlers as well.
Both kids couldn't wait to roast hotdogs in the fireplace,
but 12 seconds into the process their arms got too
tired to continue. It was fun while it lasted though!
I found this note on Hallie's door - I think she copied it
from a note that Will hung on his door…for the cat.
Will bought me the pin and Hallie bought me the compact for
Christmas. I love that our elementary school hosts a Christmas
Shoppe so that kiddos can shop for their loved ones! (And
for the girls they like…Will bought Kaylee a sparkly ring.) 
My boy graduated to his 7th (blue) belt!
I'd been meaning to purchase one of these for
a while now,  and on Wednesday I stumbled
upon one at Walgreens. Recipes? Please share!
Happy Friday, friends!