Friday, December 30, 2016

High Five for the New Year (12.30.16)

In some regards, 2016 knocked me/us down a few notches. We had to put our cat, Clementine, to sleep. Will's best friend moved away. Will broke his wrist, and both Hallie and I dealt with minor-to-moderate health and wellness issues. We discovered a massive leak behind our refrigerator and fixing it required mold removal, drywall repair, painting, and replacing the floors in our office...twice. Our refrigerator still doesn't work quite right, and because we had to spend quite a bit on the repairs, we had to put much-needed bathroom upgrades on hold. Oh, and Tom and Will played a traumatizing April Fools Day joke on me and Hallie and a lizard fell from the sky and landed on my shoulder.

But...2016 also brought many incredible experiences and beautiful moments worth high-fiving about. The kids had great years academically, socially, and extracurricularly. Of note for Will: his third place finish in 3rd grade UIL Ready Writing competition, his third place finish in the citywide 3rd and 4th grade chess tournament, and his selection as a member of the Texans Soccer Club's Aggieland 06 team. Of note for Hallie: her acceptance into the Suzanne's School of Dance Mini Company and her role - as a cherub angel - in Ballet Brazos' production of the Nutcracker. They took swimming lessons and went to summer camps, and we celebrated nearly every holiday (and quite a few non-holidays) with friends. Both Tom and I had solid years professionally, and we enjoyed lots of playtime - we participated in the 50 Men Who Can Cook fundraiser, set a new escape room record, played lots of disc golf (the boys), and went to movies, painted canvases, and laughed over glasses of wine (the girls) - with our grown-up friends as well. We took a vacation to Disneyland in May and spent all of July visiting family and enjoying summer in Wisconsin and Illinois, and I traveled to Chicago in the fall with my mom and sister. I/we saw the Indigo Girls, the Dixie Chicks, and Pentatonix in concert, and enjoyed both the Illusionists and the Nutcracker (twice) on stage in College Station. We watched nearly every minute of the Olympics and absolutely every minute of Fuller House. We made over our playroom into a famusic (family/music) room and put in a Little Free Library, and College Station started single stream recycling. Focus on the positive, right?
UIL Competition
Chess tournament
Mini Company
Angels and Clara
Swimming lessons
Track camp
Summer fun
50 Men Who Can Cook
Escape Room champions
Disc golf boys/men of summer
Indigo Girls
Dixie Chicks
Famusic room
Little Free Library

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hot Guys

Thank you to our friend Jane, who works in the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa, for sharing this story on Facebook and allowing me to retell it here!

Recently Jane welcomed a group of prospective students - 17- and 18-year-old boys - and their fathers to the University of Iowa. These potential Hawkeyes were visiting from Illinois, and during friendly conversation it came up that they all rooted for the Chicago Bears. Jane, on the other hand, was born and raised in Green Bay and is a lifelong Packers fan, so she decided to share with the boys a little about a connection between the Hawkeyes and the Packers.

Jane: You know what the Bears do wrong? (The boys were, I'm sure, waiting with baited breath to hear her valuable insights.) They don't draft any Hawkeyes.

Bears Fan Boy: (with a snarky tone) What difference would THAT make?

Surprised at his response, Jane began listing Hawkeye players who were drafted by and went on to become difference-makers for the Packers: Bryan Bulaga, Mike Daniels, Abdul Hodge, Micah Hyde, Aaron Kampman...

Bears Fan Boy: (now bright red and trying to disappear into his seat): Never mind...I thought you said hot guys.

Hawkeyes? Hot guys? Yep, they're one in the same.

Jane and I both feel it important to note that a multitude of Hawkeyes - Adrian Claiborn, Dallas Clark, Tim Dwight, Robery Gallery, Shonn Greene, Chad Greenway, Nate Ceding, Tony Moeaki, Bob Sanders, Brandon Scherzo...the list goes on - have had a significant impact on the NFL as a whole. And yet ZERO Hawkeyes have been drafted by the Bears in the last 25 years...

We have no interest in helping the Bears improve, so please share this post only with Packers fans.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Words of Wisdom from Garfield the Cat

As I turn on the international, national, and even local news every morning, I hold my breath and hope for the best. I think to myself, "maybe today the lead story will be something uplifting, something inspiring, or at the very least, something not heartbreaking. Unfortunately, holding my breath and hoping for the best rarely work.

Two weeks ago I found this on my desk.

I knew after reading the first sentence that these words didn't belong to the seven-year-old who wrote them (second graders rarely use the phrase "in which"), but the fact that Hallie took the time to put them down on paper - as her brother dictated them to her, none-the-less - indicated they had touched her deeply. She too is looking for news of something uplifting, something inspiring, or at the very least, something not heartbreaking.

A couple of years back I started making my New Year's resolutions in August/September rather than January. So while this isn't a resolutions post and Jim Davis' words don't constitute a New Year's resolution, they do provide a pretty solid foundation on which to build a heartwarming 2017.

I think this world would be a nicer place in which to live:

If countries could settle their differences without hurting anybody.

If everyone smiled at even people they didn't know.

If nobody had to steal.

If people laughed more.

If everyone fed their cats all the lasagna they could eat.

If we all were kind to others.

If everyone could read and write.

If families talked more.

If friends hugged more.

If everyone stopped at least once a week to stroke a cat.

After all, we're all in this together.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Four Ferri

The four Ferri wish you and yours the kind of Christmas - one abounding in hope, joy, and love - you'll remember for years to come.

Friday, December 23, 2016

High Five for Christmas (12.23.16)

My High Five for Friday posts don't actually highlight what happened during a Friday-to-Friday week. Because these posts must be ready to go absolutely no later than Thursday morning, they usually highlight the happenings of a Wednesday-to-Tuesday week instead. When I sat down on Sunday afternoon to write about the week's happenings up until that point, I had trouble coming up with enough good to fill the five slots below. So rather than wallow in the negatives, I challenged myself to turn them into we go! (Thankfully my week started improving on Monday afternoon, but at that point I let the already-completed post stand as written.) 

1. At her hair appointment, Hallie asked our stylist to cut her hair into a short bob again. Hallie looked ADORABLE in a bob 18 months ago, but I had to talk her out of that style because she's required to wear her hair in a bun for some of her spring dance performances. On a positive note, Hallie is happy with her three-inch trim and I *think* that if she gets her hair cut in a bob the day after her spring dance recital, her hair will have time to grow to "bun length" before the Nutcracker performances next December.

2. Long story short, for an unknown reason Will's wrist did not heal correctly in his first cast. The local doc worked with a pediatric orthopedist in Houston to determine the best course of action moving forward, and we all decided to recast the wrist for two more weeks in hopes that the new cast will encourage the right kind of growth and healing. (If we don't see improvement in two weeks, Will will have to have surgery to rebreak and realign the bone.) On a positive note, Will isn't in any pain, and since the doc told Will he no longer needs to wear the sling, he's feeling footloose and fancy-free.

3. So many Christmas parties, so little time! I felt pulled in multiple directions as I tried to pack and prepare for the holidays in between Tom's department Christmas party on Friday night (to which we arrived almost an hour late because of the extraordinary long wrist doctor appointment), Hallie's dance company Christmas party on Saturday night, and Will's soccer team Christmas party on Sunday night. On a positive note, at least two Ferri represented our family at each party, and a good time was had by all.
Hallie and her "big sister", Kaylan, at their Mini
Company and Apprentice Company Christmas party.
4. Both kids had a bone to pick with me when the found out they would miss their classroom Christmas parties because of our travel plans, but they forgave me when they saw this:
The view from the air on our way down.
The view of the back of Grandma and Grandpa's
house as we pulled into their driveway.
5. And last but not least, this girl spent all day Sunday quietly and unknowingly reminding me to stop sweating the small stuff and start celebrating the holidays with only peace in my heart.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bucket List: PTX

As amateur performance musicians in our former lives, Tom and I spend much of our time listening to, making, and sharing music. Though our tastes - and our children's tastes - differ dramatically, all four Ferri have found common ground in our appreciation for and adoration of the acapella group Pentatonix. (Tom might not say he "adores" Pentatonix, but the kids and I certainly would.) They have a entertaining pop style, perform a mix of uniquely-arranged cover and original songs, and rise above the rest with their tight vocal harmonies, distinct vocal percussion, and deep baselines.

Pentatonix first gained recognition on the television competition program The Sing-Off. From there, they grew their fan base via YouTube and eventually released multiple successful albums, received numerous awards, and traveled the country and world on three tours. And they seem - at least from what I can tell given the articles I've read and according to the documentary I watched - like good people. If my kids are going to look up to celebrities, these five are fine by me.

Last spring and on their most recent tour, Pentatonix made a stop in Austin. I had every intention of taking the kids...until I realized the concert would be held the night before Will's third grade STAAR test. I went back and forth for a full week, until finally the responsible parent in me decided I should prioritize Will's test over taking the kids to a concert. Thankfully, Pentatonix extended their tour and scheduled their final show for November 22nd - my birthday - in Houston. Sounds like we were meant to see them live, doesn't it?

Tom picked up tickets for the four of us and his parents, who would be in town visiting for Thanksgiving, and when the 22nd rolled around we headed to Houston for the kids' very first concert and to celebrate my birthday with one of my favorite groups.

The evening didn't exactly go according to plan: it took us three hours to go the 90 miles between College Station and Houston, the first opening act simultaneously put us to sleep and annoyed us, and because the show started SO RIDICULOUSLY LATE (why do concerts start so late now? The last two concerts I've attended haven't officially kicked off until after 9:30pm) Hallie fell asleep and missed the entire Pentatonix performance. And I mean Every. Single. Minute. I tried to wake her up multiple times, but she was out cold; she did, however, wake up in time to cry for more than half of the drive back to College Station.

On a more positive note, Pentatonix put on an incredible show we won't soon forget. Will in particular delighted in every detail, and watching him take it all in softened the blow of Hallie missing the entire night. The group performed originals, covers, new tunes, and old favorites, and the concert climaxed with breathtaking renditions of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" (for which Pentatonix was joined by the surprisingly impressive Us the Duo) and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". That song touches something deep inside me every time I listen to it, and hearing it live was no exception.
Will using Grandma's phone as a lighter.
The selfie Pentatonix took with the crowd during the concert.

Pentatonix's tour came to end that day in November, but if and when they tour again, buy tickets. Make the drive, spend the money, and carve out the time to see and hear this incredible group of musicians in concert - you won't regret it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

When It's Not All Cookies and Carols

Despite my best efforts, not every minute of the Christmas season comes up cookies and carols. Our calendars fill up too quickly, my to-do list grows exponentially, we spend too much money, the kids bicker with one another, Will breaks his understand, right? Maybe you've even been there too.

During my first holiday season of blogging I shared two of my favorite Christmas videos. When my second holiday season of blogging rolled around, I shared the two videos from the first year and added a couple of new favorites in the same post so I could easily find them on rough days. The third holiday season I narrowed down the videos from years past and added a few more. Same thing during the fourth and fifth holiday seasons. And now in the sixth holiday season, the tradition continues.

When something happens to dampen my holiday spirit, I go searching for my annual Christmas music post. For me, there is no greater emotional and spiritual boost than that I receive when I listen to and sing music centered around love and peace.

So here they are: my favorites from this year and years past, all in one place, so anyone who needs an emotional or spiritual lift - myself included - can find them when the need arises. All will warm your heart and remind you that love actually IS all around us…sometimes we just have to look for it. On YouTube.

Happy Christmas week, friends!

In case you're wondering, my criteria is simple…if the song gives me chills, it makes the cut. I'd love to see and listen to your favorite Christmas videos - I'm always growing my playlist - so please send them my way!

Hallelujah: Pentatonix
Perhaps the best song - and one of the best versions of it - ever.
The low notes in particular, especially during the fourth verse, 
make me feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience.

Deck the Halls
My favorite flashmob of all time.

The Christmas Scale
"It's hard to believe that the greatest message the 
world will ever hear is contained in one simple scale."

Someday at Christmas: Stevie Wonder & Andra Day for Apple
I tear up every time this commercial comes on television.

Silent Night: Us the Duo
I hadn't heard of this group until last month when they opened 
for Pentatonix. They're fun and quirky and incredibly talented! 

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Another flash mob, this one by the talented Air Force Band.

Angels We Have Heard on High: The Piano Guys
I still get chills every single time I watch/listen to this video.

Joy to the World: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
I have always loved both this choir and this song; 
when they combine they sound like Christmas should!

That's Christmas to Me: Pentatonix
Their original Christmas song warms my heart.

"The best way to spread (and I'll add the words "and feel" in here as well) Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

Thanks, Buddy.

Friday, December 16, 2016

High Five for Friday (12.16.16)

1. On Thursday night I attended a good friend's annual "Favorite Things" party. We wore our sparkly/festive best, sipped wine, and sampled all of Downtown Uncorked appetizers while exchanging gifts and celebrating the Christmas season.

I gifted a Christmas throw pillow (I have obsessed over and hoarded throw pillows for my entire adult life, but I have a particular weakness for Christmas throw pillows) and ended up with a fabulous stand wine opener and a delicious bottle of moscato!

2. On Friday we pulled the kids out of school at 11am and headed north to Dallas to witness the marriage of Tom's cousin Katy to her fiancé Nate. We appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to spend lots of quality time with family at both the wedding on Friday night and during a relaxed brunch on Saturday morning.

Midway through the wedding I realized that my little girl - the one sitting next to me wearing a ruffly dress and polka dot tights, swinging her little legs back and forth beneath her chair, and showing off her toothless grin as she watched the happy couple share their first kiss - was the exact same age as the bride was when I first met her...time moves too quickly.

3. Tom stayed in Dallas an extra night to hang out with his family, but the kids and I headed home on Saturday afternoon for the birthday party of one of Hallie's best friends. After we dropped Hallie off, Will and I went home and had the best evening, just the two of us. We made personal pizzas, ate ice cream and cookies, watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and then just talked until we fell asleep. I don't take these moments with my boy for granted...

4. On Sunday night I took the kids to a local church's annual Live Nativity. A friend of mine worked tirelessly on the organizing committee for this event, and while I went primarily to support her, the kids and I ended up having a lovely time listening to and watching the drive-through story unfold, visiting the animals, eating cookies, and listening to Christmas music.

Hallie loves barnyard animals and they have always loved her back. This baby llama took to Hallie immediately and perhaps a little too intimately...

5. Last but not least... SNOW! The midwest received a huge storm last weekend, and because the temperatures didn't rise above freezing this week (and won't rise above freezing for the next few days), snow will be waiting for us in Wisconsin!

Speaking of friends and I surprised our kiddos with a "winter wonderland" on Tuesday afternoon. They loved it!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: