Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesdays With Tux (6.30.15)

Tux will be well taken care of by Tom (as well as a few friends here and there) during our absence, but I honestly worry about how he'll feel being separated from Will for so long. I have this image in my head of Tux crying outside the door to Will's room, miserable and lonely and wondering why his best friend won't let him in. (We shut the doors to and the air conditioning vents in the kids' rooms while traveling to keep our electricity costs down.) It breaks my heart.

When Will was sick with pneumonia a couple of weeks back, Tux kept watch over him every night. Then last week the tables turned when Tux fell ill. One evening during Tux's illness I went into Will's room to check on him and found this:

I asked Will why Tux was sleeping in the bed and Will was reading at the foot of the bed, and Will explained that because Tux didn't feel well he deserved the more comfortable spot in the bed. Will went on to add that he didn't mind sleeping without his covers if it meant Tux would get a good night's sleep. I took this picture, kissed Will's cheek, walked out of the room, and burst into tears.

I went back in an hour or so later, expecting to find Will cuddled up with Tux back where they belonged in bed. But no, they were sound asleep like this:

Oh, my heart.

And the best part (which I missed photographing) was that by morning, Tux had moved to Will's end of the bed and cuddled up with him down there. I don't know what they're going to do without each other for an entire month...

Since I won't be taking pictures of Tux this month, I may not post on Tuesdays for a few weeks. We'll see what kind of shenanigans Tux and Tom get into and whether or not Tom sends me pictures of their adventures.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hit the Road, Like a Toad

I bet you thought this post would be about toads. It won't be, though now that I have toads on the brain, I may have to jot down a funny toad story from my past to share with you later this summer…

My father-in-law always uses - and as a result Will and Hallie now regularly use - the phrase, "hit the road, like a toad". It works as the title for today's post, since tomorrow the kids and I will do just that when we depart on our fifth annual month-long summer escape to Wisconsin. We plan to spend a week with Tom's family at the Lincoln Lodge in Minocqua, a week in Madison with my parents, a few days at my sister's house in Illinois, and then a final week in Madison before we return home at the end of July.

I'm looking forward to:
  • Spending time with family, lounging on the lake, visiting our favorite brewery, playing bean-enhanced versions of Uno and Sorry, reenacting our favorite movies, and celebrating the 4th of July at the Lodge.
  • Spending time with family, visiting the zoo, swimming in the lakes, eating breakfast at the Farmers' Market, shopping at the outlet mall, joining the 19th hole at the Union, and holding our final - after annual and biannual for nearly 30 years - garage sale ever (we think) in Madison. 
  • Visiting my sister and her family in Illinois, and while we're there, eating at my new favorite Italian restaurant and lying in her perfect grass.
  • Indulging in Rocky Rococo's pizza, Greenbush Bakery's donuts, and Babcock ice cream.
  • And last but not least, the (hopefully) cooler-than-Texas' weather, especially the 60-degree evenings and 50-degree nights in Northern Wisconsin.

The kids (primarily Will, as Hallie didn't really feel like weighing in when asked) are looking forward to:
  • Riding on Grandpa Mike's Mario Kart.
  • Playing on Grandma's iPad.
  • Riding roller coasters at Little America and water slides at Mt. Olympus.
  • Water skiing and tubing on Lake Mendota.
  • Fishing on Booth Lake.
  • Playing disc golf, playing soccer, swimming, sword fighting, jamming, gym-ing, garage sale-ing, and borrowing books from the little libraries.

For the most part, traveling has become easier as the children have grown older. In one way, however, leaving home has become more difficult. Now, compared to four years ago when we first spent the month of July in Wisconsin, we have more to miss. Saying goodbye to our friends for such a long period of time - especially during "play date season" - gets harder and harder every year.

Taking this trip means a great deal to us, however. Tom and I want to help Will and Hallie understand and appreciate where we came from and how we were raised. We want them to know their extended family members - their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins - better than the hundreds of miles that normally separate them might predict. We want them to spend time where our childhoods played out, to see our houses and swim in our lakes and play at our parks and feed our goats at the zoo (though I can't bear to tell them that the goats I fed as a little girl have all passed away and been replaced a few times over by now). We want to connect their childhoods to ours, their roots to our roots, so off we go.

Friday, June 26, 2015

High Five for Friday (6.26.15)

1. One-third of the way through our summer vacation and we've already found more than half of the state license plates, including both Alaska and Hawaii! Hallie has trouble participating in this game - she can read, but not well enough to quickly sound out complicated state names as we cruise past 18-wheelers on the interstate - but Will and I LOVE it. Definitely a summer highlight!

2. After a friend of Will and Hallie's had surgery last week, they decided to make him a batch of cupcakes (and decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles in his school colors). Hallie did almost all of the baking herself - I even let her frost, using my professional cake decorating tools, a few cupcakes (though those cupcakes stayed at home) - while Will supervised, sprinkled, and delivered. Sometimes those two are actually kind of sweet…

3. Father's Day has come and gone, but if you need a gift for a daddy-daughter duo in your life, consider this book.

I bought it for Hallie to give to Tom for Father's Day and as soon he unwrapped it they were both completely enthralled. They tackled their first project - a giant bubble wand - on Sunday afternoon, and much to my surprise, it actually worked!

Tom's face in that last picture - which I must have taken just as Hallie's largest bubble popped - is priceless.

4. The US Women's Soccer team advanced out of pool play, defeated Columbia in the round of 16, and advanced to play China in the Quarterfinals tonight. Tom, Will, and I are true fans who eat, sleep, and breath soccer during World Cup tournaments and the Olympics, and yes, #Ibelievethatwewillwin.

5. Tux was sick for the better part of a week. He's not anymore, thank goodness.

Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday: That's a Wicked Roar

Both Will and Hallie - but especially Hallie - have a flair for the dramatic. It would be a shame if they didn't someday find their way into community and/or school theater productions...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grass Angel

Our grass here in Texas is only "for show". Tom and I maintain it, regularly watering and weeding and treating and mowing and edging, because we like how a well-kept lawn makes our house look (and because our homeowners' association requires us to do so), not because we regularly utilize the square footage as extra living or playing space. If you've never set foot in our grass, consider yourself lucky - the thick, coarse blades feel rough and even sharp on your feet, and angry fire ants and other critters call it home.

This sounds silly and kind of boring, but every summer I find myself missing my Midwestern/Northern grass. The kids and I want to run barefoot through the yard (who wears shoes in the summer?!), but we won't leave the safety of the patio without shoes on our feet. We want to lay on our backs in the grass to watch the clouds roll by during the day and the stars come out at night, but we refuse to deal with the inevitable aftermath. (I realize this makes us sound wimpy, but in our defense, Will, Hallie, and I are all allergic to mosquitos and fire ants. Tom gets bit and barely notices; the kids and I get bit and swell and itch for days.)

In Wisconsin, as well as all of the other Midwestern and Northern states in which I've lived and to which I've traveled, the grass is soft and inviting, like a plush carpet or a sandy beach. Just looking at it makes me want to kick off my flip flops and frolic. Or, as I did when I popped up to Illinois for a couple of days two weeks ago, lie down for a quick catnap.

What an amazing feeling. And my grass angel looked pretty awesome too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesdays With Tux (6.23.15)

I grew up with two cats, and then Tom and I adopted two cats a few months into our marriage. All four "hunted" chipmunks and birds, and all four proudly brought me their captures/kills as if to show off their hard work and accomplishments. I did not enjoy this part of pet parenting.

I assumed Tux would take to hunting like our cats before him, and I hoped he would hunt lizards. Perhaps the lizards would realize that Tux protected our house and steer clear…if, in fact, lizards are smart enough to realize things like that. I have no idea.

Imagine my disappointment then, when I discovered that instead of scaring lizards away, Tux makes friends with the lizards. 

Tux and his lizard buddies roll around on the ground together, RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY BACK DOOR. I've even seen Tux "pick up" lizards and bat them back and forth between his paws, up above his head, while lying on his back. And then, instead of running away because it would be scary to get batted back and forth between a cat's paws, the lizards come back for more. And more. And more. Either they think Tux is super fun, or they're super dumb.

Whatever the case, I'm getting a little tired of these play dates because the kids and I are afraid to use the back door until Tux's friends go home for the night...  

Monday, June 22, 2015

happy (Giveaway!)

Earlier this spring, Tom's parents came for a visit from Nebraska. On Saturday night, after the kids had fallen asleep, my father-in-law suggested we watch a particular documentary on Netflix. They had seen it once already, but because they had a feeling Tom and I would enjoy it, they willingly watched it a second time.

The documentary was called "happy". 

The film combined real-life stories from people around the world with explanations from well-renowned experts in happiness research to explain what really makes people happy and the truth behind "our most sought-after and valued emotion". 

We laughed and cried, and while I won't answer the "what makes people happy" question, I will say that the movie highlighted for me how happiness is much less a product of circumstance than it is one of perspective. When the credits rolled I found myself more convinced than ever that happiness, at least to a certain extent, is a personal responsibility. It is my responsibility to surround myself with people who lift me up, instead of drag me down. It is my responsibility to focus on the positive, instead of the negative. It is my responsibility to be kind, say thank you, forgive others, serve those in need, and above all, LOVE, because these acts bring and sustain happiness.

The week after we watched the documentary, my father-in-law mailed me two copies of the DVD. One made its way into the Ferris family DVD collection - I plan to watch it with Will and Hallie this summer, and I expect many additional viewings throughout the coming years - but the second one belongs to one of you. 

That's right, friends. I'm giving a copy of this incredibly powerful documentary to one lucky Chasing Roots reader. Just leave a comment (here or on Facebook) briefly describing something that or someone who made you happy this week. On Friday evening at 8pm CST I will select and notify our winner.

Until then…Spread happy. Live happy. Be happy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

High Five for Friday (6.19.15)

1. I absolutely love the hour after the kids and I return home from our weekly trip to the library. Before I even make it inside the house, Will and Hallie have retreated to their rooms, curled up on their beds, and lost themselves in their new books. Sometimes, I take a few minutes for myself and do the same.

2. After getting "made up" for the day, I kissed my boy on the forehead. When I realized I'd left a visible lipstick mark, I started to wipe it off but he stopped me, saying he didn't mind if it stayed there all day.

3. To make up for lost time, we've crammed a heck of a lot of summer into the last week. We wrapped up our first session of swimming lessons (Will managed to pass his level despite attending only half of the classes), went swimming "for fun" with friends, tried out a new breakfast restaurant, went to the movies, watched almost all of the World Cup soccer games (go USA!), and went bowling and out for lunch using a few of the coupons the kids earned by reading. Will went to two birthday parties, Hallie went to one birthday party, both had play dates with friends, and both played in the rain almost every afternoon. It feels great to be back in the swing of summer!

Will's second and Hallie's first time bowling. Their form needs a little work.

4. As a lover of Christmas, this cart full of ornaments at Hobby Lobby made me want to high five a nearby shopper:

And then I remembered that the calendar says JUNE - it's not even summer yet - and I put my high-fiving hand back in my pocket. See you in a few months, Christmas.

5. And finally, in honor of Father's Day, a touching tribute to dads. (Damn you, Dove, for always making me cry with your commercials.)

To all the dads - Dad, Tom, Michael, Jeff, Adam, grandpas, and uncles (both biological and camping) - who have in some way impacted my life and/or the lives of those I care about, you rock, and I love you.

And to those for whom today hurts, I'm thinking about you and sending hugs your way. 

Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Fetch

Tom taught baby Will to play fetch, so of course preschool Will turned around and taught toddler Hallie to do the same.

Both Will and Hallie are currently trying to teach Tux to play fetch. As I'm sure you can imagine, it isn't going well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Reveal

After what felt like an eternity, our bathroom remodel finally wrapped midway through last week. The project shouldn't have taken as long as it did - we didn't gut the space, after all - but fixing a problem with our grout added nearly three weeks to the timeline.

This process reminded me how much I hate (home) projects. I felt overwhelmed from start to finish, first by the massive number of expensive and permanent decisions I had to make, and then by the near constant chaos and disarray. We embarked on this project during our busiest month of the year, and to save money, I did all of the touch-up painting (which turned into a fairly extensive project because let's face it, the walls, trim, and cabinets looked pretty beat up after so much work had been done in the bathroom) myself. And because I'm glutton for punishment, after I finished painting the trim in the bathroom I continued repainting/touching-up until I'd finished all of the trim in the entire house.

On Sunday I finished the last of the touch-up painting, waxed the shower glass (according to our glass guy, doing so will extend the life of the glass), moved our remaining toiletries from the guest/kids' bathroom back to our bathroom, and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

After listening to me complain about the old bathroom and then the remodel, I thought y'all might appreciate seeing the finished product, as well as the before pictures.

My apologies for the quality of these photos. The light enters the room from the two windows in the back corner, and because of this, taking good photos is nearly impossible. 


We're finally done, and it feels so good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesdays With Tux (6.16.15)

I admit to anthropomorphizing Tux, especially when it comes to his relationship with Will. I regularly speculate that he feels and behaves as a human would in similar circumstances - perhaps he does…perhaps he doesn't.

I have no doubt, however, that Tux and Will share a special bond, and their connection has become even more pronounced during Will's recent illness. This sums it up nicely:

I also admit to posting a lot of pictures of Tux in bed with Will. Perhaps this one will be the last…perhaps it won't.
Tux kept watch the entire time I gave Will his breathing treatment.
Man, I love that cat.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Third Time's a Charm

After his trip to the ER, Will's health seemed to improve from Friday to Saturday, Saturday to Sunday, and Sunday to Monday. After his doctor's appointment on Monday morning, however, he began spiraling downhill. His breathing and cough worsened, and he started experiencing scary (nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, and sudden and painful vision changes) side effects to his medications.

On Thursday morning we returned to the pediatrician's office, where Will's doc changed both his antibiotic and the breathing medication he takes via a nebulizer. The new meds made a drastic difference; when I walked into Will's room on Friday morning and asked how he was, he answered "good!" for the first time in almost three weeks. And on Saturday morning, he woke me from a sound sleep at 6:30am to tell me he felt like a new kid.

Perhaps the most accurate indicator of how Will felt was the amount of fighting that took place between him and Hallie. For nearly two weeks they didn't bicker or argue at all - Will felt too yucky to antagonize Hallie, and Hallie was too worried to antagonize Will. And then on Friday morning… It started slowly, with just slightly raised voices, but quickly escalated to whining and yelling and tattling. Ah yes, life in the Ferris house has returned to normal.

So here we are, on the third Monday since school let out and once again ready to start our summer vacation over. The wind and Tux collaborated to destroy our "Happy Summer" sign, and I didn't have on hand the ingredients to whip up another sugar cookie cake, so we celebrated by sleeping in and with miniature donuts for breakfast. Later today we'll head to the library to pick up our first summer reading prizes and then this afternoon the play dates begin. Yep, I think the third time's the charm.