Friday, October 30, 2015

Flashback Friday: Happy and Haunted Halloweens

I love looking back on what the kids - and Tom and I - wore on Halloweens past...










…and I can't wait to show you our costumes this year. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Kindness is the New Cool

A few months ago an Instagram photo, "liked" earlier in the day by a friend of mine, came across my feed and caught my eye. I followed the photo back to its page - the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation - and started reading about the little girl for whom the foundation was named. Gwendolyn was born (she shares a birthday with and came into the world exactly one year after Will) with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the #1 genetic killer of infants and children. According to the GSF website, "there is no treatment, there is no cure. SMA is degenerative, eventually hindering the ability to walk, stand, eat, speak, breath, and swallow. The mind is never affected."

I started following the family's Instagram and blog, not because I know Gwendolyn - or anyone with SMA, for that matter - but because I loved reading about how she and her parents filled her life with adventure, about her academic accomplishments, and about her family's efforts to cure SMA. I was truly heartbroken when Gwendolyn passed away in July.

Around that same time her family, through their foundation, released this t-shirt in their apparel shop.

I immediately bought one for myself, and several of my friends bought shirts for themselves and their children. (Will and Hallie's shirts are coming for Christmas. Don't tell them.) I can't think of a better message to wear, share, and bear in mind as we travel through life beside one another.

I have no affiliation with the GSFoundation, nor did I receive compensation of any kind for this post, but I highly recommend you visit their online shop!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesdays With Tux (10.27.15)

Trapped, Part 3

I could hear Tux meowing, but after checking the two spots where he usually sits while making requests (in front of his food and water dishes and by the back door), I still couldn't find him.

Erin: Hallie, where's Tux?
Hallie: (hee hee)
Erin: HALLIE. Where's Tux?
Hallie: He's hiding.

Meanwhile, the meowing was growing louder and more frantic.

Erin: Hallie, tell me where Tux is. Now.
Hallie: He's going to school with me.
Erin: No, he's not.
Hallie: Well, he wants to.
Erin: No, he doesn't.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hallie's backpack wiggle across the kitchen floor and a little paw emerge from a small gap between the zippers.

Tux very clearly did not want to go to school with Hallie. 

Can you imagine if Hallie had made it out the door with Tux in her backpack? That would have made for an interesting start to the school day...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making Over Our Traditions

I find tradition warm and comforting, kind of like how curling up in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine and a good book is warm and comforting, likely because my aversion to change gently redirects me toward familiar activities and behaviors. Throughout the last nearly 12 years (how long I've been married), and even more so throughout the last nine years (how long I've been a parent), I’ve worked hard to build a tradition-rich life for my family. By blending traditions from Tom’s childhood, traditions from my childhood, and brand new traditions created with my children in mind, we’ve established ways of celebrating holidays, special occasions, and milestones both big and small that feel beautiful and authentic to all four of us, and to our extended families as well.

One of the hardest parts about moving to a new city, state, or country is saying goodbye to the familiarity of home. From our houses, friends, and jobs to our regular schedules, preferred grocery stores, favorite restaurants, and yes, local weather (I had to throw it in there), we have to replace comfortable and predictable with foreign.

When we moved across the country close to five years ago, we left behind all we found familiar, including some of our favorite traditions. We can no longer visit the apple orchard, pick buckets full of our favorite varieties, and spend the afternoon making fresh apple crisp, apple pie, and crockpot applesauce. We can no longer make snow ice cream, build families of snowmen, or go sledding on school snow days. And we can no longer spend our fall Saturday afternoons raking up huge piles of soft, brightly colored maple leaves to jump in (and then repeating the process over and over and over).

After moving we also had to accept that some of our traditions would look different going forward. I can't teach my kids to ice skate on a lake in the middle of winter, but I can teach them to ice skate at our indoor skating rink on a hot summer day. We can't pick strawberries and make strawberry jam, but we can pick blueberries and make blueberry muffins instead. We can't cut down the perfect Christmas tree and haul it home across the snow on our sled, but we can pick out the perfect tree from a local Christmas tree lot (or remove our artificial tree from its box in the attic) and sing Christmas carols while we adorn it with lights and ornaments.

Along those same lines, I had to accept that fall trips to pick pumpkins wouldn't involve bundling up in boots and sweaters knitted by Tom's mom and wandering across farmland and through groves of trees to reach the patch.

But when I finally let go of the familiar, I discovered the alternative wasn't too bad. Actually, the alternative turned out to be quite delightful…surprising the kids with new pumpkin shirts, walking to the neighborhood pumpkin patch, taking pictures of the kids in front of a make-shift pumpkin backdrop with the sun setting in the background, and laughing with friends while all of our kids roll in the hay.

Not bad for a tradition make-over.

Friday, October 23, 2015

High Five for Friday (10.23.15)

1. I usually wait until I can see my breath outside, but since that day may never come, last weekend I went ahead and bought my first caramel apple spice from Starbucks - my favorite fall drink - of the season. It didn't disappoint!

2. My sweet Cullen got a new shirt this week - perfect for a High Five for Friday post, wouldn't you say?

3. And while we're on the subject of shirts, two of my amazing friends made these adorable shirts for Will and Hallie…

…and this one for me.
Everyone else in my house was asleep, so without someone to take
a picture of me wearing my shirt I had to take a picture of the shirt by itself.
I plan to wear it lots in the days leading up to Halloween, especially because it'll go perfectly with the adult-sized black and orange tutu I bought at Target last week. We're all more than ready for fall and we can't wait to celebrate it's arrival!

4. Tickets have been purchased for the Mockingjay, Part 1 and Mockingjay, Part 2 double feature!

5. Happiness Highlights:
My girl now falls asleep reading. CHAPTER
BOOKS. Talk about a happiness highlight.
Can't find any fairy books on the school library, public library, or
bookstore shelves? It's because we have ALL of them. Every last one. 
So much love between these two.
These little mice finally got to try on and practice their
Nutcracker dance while wearing their adorable costumes. 
I'm a little light on Happiness Highlights photos this wasn't that we weren't happy, it was that I didn't have time to document much of anything. The next wave of "crazy busy but not in a bad way" is upon us!

Happy Friday, friends!

Linking up with High Five for Friday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Do You Like Your Lizards Washed and Dried? Or Just Washed?

From what I can tell, the lizards have learned how I feel about them (spoiler alert: I hate ALL the lizards), shared this information with their lizard friends, and decided to collectively wreak havoc on my home. I came to this conclusion after my friends informed me that I have had more lizards in my house in the last month than they've had in their homes in years.

We've had four lizards attempt to join our family since the end of September. One ran out from under the dresser and became disoriented in the corner of the bedroom. Slightly more upsetting was the one that ran inside in an attempt to avoid playing with Tux. Even more troubling was the one that jumped out of my hanging shirt (thankfully toward Tom and not me) while Tom and I were having a conversation in the laundry room. Last but not least and without a doubt the most disturbing was the one I unknowingly carried inside in a pile of dirty gym clothes (Tom sometimes hangs his sweaty gym clothes outside to dry), put into the washing machine with a load of whites, and washed to his death.

I guess a washed lizard is better than a washed and dried lizard…right? Because yes, I've now done both.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesdays With Tux (10.20.15)

Trapped, Part 2

Hallie has recently renewed her efforts to develop a positive relationship with Tux. He makes a very specific noise - a meow, but with a certain undertone of impatience and impending anger - when he wants to be put down or let go, and I've been training Hallie to hear that in his voice and immediately release him. She's doing much better, but their relationship remains strained.

Last week I saw Hallie pick Tux up and carry him to her room. A minute later I heard a quiet version of Tux's "let me go…or else" meow so I started toward the sound in case an intervention was required. I found Tux locked in Hallie's hug of steal, first pleading with me with his eyes and then focusing on the door, looking for an escape.

When I didn't immediately set him free, Tux started meowing more forcefully and frantically. 

You can tell by her smile that Hallie didn't hear the urgency in Tux's voice. I guess we have a little more training to do.  

After taking a couple more pictures I took pity on Tux and released him from his captivity in Hallie's bed. She teared up when Tux left her room, and full-on cried when Tux went immediately across the hall to another child's bed.

We might have to get Hallie her own kitten...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Texas Bucket List: Tasting ALL the Wines

My Texas Bucket List began taking shape shortly after we arrived in College Station. At first the list consisted of only a few touristy day trips and experiences (think Six Flags, Sea World, etc.) I'd thought of or heard about prior to our move. But as we made new friends, especially new friends who grew up in Texas, we learned from them about the lesser-known - at least to Midwesterners - but not-to-miss sights and sounds of the Lone Star State.

Each time I cross something off my Texas Bucket List I document it here, both because Chasing Roots serves as my Texas journal and because looking back on these posts and "watching" our love affair, if you will, with our now-home state unfold is a beautiful thing. 

You can see my full Texas Bucket List here. Feel free to tell me what I'm missing!

Though Messina Hof Winery & Resort is just a short drive from our home in College Station, I had yet to attend one of their tastings or tours. Until two weekends ago, that is, when a friend of mine chose to celebrate her birthday with dinner at Messina Hof's Vintage House Restaurant and the Moonlight Tour and Tasting afterwards. I would have celebrated this incredible friend anywhere, but having the opportunity to do so at Messina Hof was the icing on the (delicious cookie) cake for me.

We arrived early (as in embarrassingly close to the "early bird" hour) for dinner and had the dining room almost completely to ourselves. Our meals hit the spot, as did the never-ending supply of bread, seasoned olive oil dipping sauce, and glasses of wine. 

After dinner we walked to the Wine Bar to begin our tour. The woman supervising the Wine Bar and handling transactions associated with the tour was less than pleasant, but once we had our included-with-the-tour glasses of sparkling wine in hand and found our delightful tour guide, all was once again right with the world. On the tour (which began just after sunset, hence the dark photos) we learned a bit about the history of this award-winning winery and were given a behind-the-scenes look at the grounds and the production facilities.

The tour portion of the evening ended in the Tasting Room, where we tried a variety of wines paired with a number of delicious appetizers and desserts.

We all enjoyed the experience, and are looking forward to going back - perhaps with our husbands and kids - next August when the grapes are picked, harvested, and stomped! 

A few of my favorite Texas Bucket List posts: