Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy All Hallows' Eve!

I love looking back on what the kids - and Tom and I, once we started putting together themed family costumes - wore on Halloweens past.











I can't wait to show you our costumes this year, especially because I suspect this may be Will's final year not of trick-or-treating, but of coordinating his costume with the costumes worn by the rest of us. He did so this year, begrudgingly...and because he finally agreed, I promised him the freedom to choose his own (appropriate) non-themed costumes from this point forward.

Have a fun and safe Halloween, friends!

Friday, October 28, 2016

High Five for Friday (10.28.16)

Congratulations to our Teal Pumpkin Project painting kit winner, Kelly, and thanks to everyone who entered! And don't worry - it's not too late to paint your pumpkin and pick up a few non-food treats in preparation for Halloween! 

1. As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, Tom's parents and grandma came to visit last weekend. We had a great time catching up in between and during a soccer practice, soccer game, dance lesson, Nutcracker rehearsal, kid birthday party, adult birthday party, lunch with the kids at school, trip to the George Bush Presidential Museum, and outing to the pumpkin patch. As always, I am incredibly grateful for parents/grandparents on both sides who make every effort to stay connected to Will and all of us, really.

2. Last weekend Will's soccer team was tied 1-1 (he had the assist on his team's goal) with less than a minute left in the game. He stole the ball, and passed it to a teammate who passed it right back in a perfect give-and-go. Will continued dribbling down the left sideline, managing to get a cross off just before losing his balance and rolling down the slight embankment just past the goal line. From his vantage point - facedown in the grass - Will could only see the side of the net wiggle and hear the crowd cheer; because he couldn't see the ball, he thought his cross had come in short. Will stood slowly, his head hanging down in frustration, but then he started running - determined - back to his position hoping to get in one more attempt on goal before time expired. When he finally looked up, Will saw his teammates - who in the excitement hadn't realized he'd fallen - finishing their high fives and lining up for a kick off. The crowd had quieted by this point, so everyone on the field and sidelines heard Will exclaim, "Wait, what?! WE SCORED?!" His cross had passed directly in front of the goal and one of his teammates had knocked it in to make the score 2-1. The joy on Will's face and astonishment in his voice made me burst out crying and laughing simultaneously.

There is nothing better than watching your kids participate in - and succeed at - something they love.

3. While our weekend company played with the kids in the bus, Tom and I went out for drinks and dessert to celebrate a beautiful friend's birthday. Happy day to you, Natalie!

4. The official trailer for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life came out this week. Are you as excited as I am for the November 25th Netflix release of this revival?!

5. Last but not least and in place of Happiness Highlights... On Tuesday night - midway through Will and Hallie's elementary school's Red Ribbon Week (a national drug awareness campaign during which students dress up according to cheesy anti-drug-related catch phrases) - I came across this video. (I can only link to the Facebook page, so if the video isn't at the top of the feed, scroll down.) I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I listened this mother describe her week...a week that sounded an awful lot like mine. Check it out, especially if you're a parent of a school-aged child. Or if Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are your drug of choice.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Riding in High Style

Last Thursday afternoon Tom's parents and grandma arrived from Nebraska to spend a few days drowning in a sea of their grandchildren's activities with their children and grandchildren. They drive to see us frequently, especially considering the distance, but this time they made the visit extra special for the kids by coming in their 1977 Airstream Argosy motor home. Affectionately nicknamed "the bus", this camper looks and feels - intentionally so - almost identical to how it must have when it first came off the assembly line. From its shag carpeting and burnt orange upholstered couches to its archaic appliances and foreign-to-my-children tape deck, the bus is a blast from the past.

Will tried out the driver seat of the bus as a toddler, but because Tom's parents don't store it at their house, the kids never spent any significant time in it until last weekend. Everything about the motor home fascinated them...and their friends...and our friends...and the neighbors...and everyone I talked about it with, so I decided to share a virtual tour here on the blog.
Parked and open for visitors!
A view of the driver and navigator seats from the living/dining room.
(Those are sunshades are hiding the windshield to keep the bus cool.)
The dining room. The table folds out to twice that
size and the two chairs are remarkably comfortable.
The living room. The couch folds out into a surprisingly
comfortable (noticing a trend here?) full-sized bed on
which both Will and Hallie slept for two nights in a row.
One side of the kitchen - sink, stove, oven, and storage.
The other side of the kitchen - refrigerator, storage, and
old-fashioned (as in pre-Pottery Barn) "command center".
The bedroom. Like the one in the living room, this couch folds out
into a cozy but doable-for-two bed. (In the background you'll see Hallie
 giving friends Grace and Phin a tour of the captivating bathroom.)
The other side of the bedroom, complete with a
closet and a television that still plays VHS tapes.
And the moment you've all (Hallie has) been waiting
for...the bathroom. (The shower is off to the left.)
Last but not least and just for fun, the "control
panel". On/Off, Hot/Cold, and a tape deck.

I have quite a few bullet points left on my Texas Bucket List, and I have now decided that the best and most fun way to cross some of these bullet points off my list is to climb aboard a motor home and hit the open road. Who's with me?

You can see my full - but ever-growing - Texas Bucket List here. Feel free to let me know what I'm missing!

Monday, October 24, 2016

An Exercise in Democracy

Don't worry, this post has nothing to do with the upcoming election. Well actually, it does, but not in the sense that I'm trying to convince you to vote for or complaining about one candidate or the other. You'll find none of that here on Chasing Roots, I promise; when it comes to politics, I'm more of a pizza party kind of gal.

When I came across this image nearly a year ago I knew I would at some point find a place for it in a post. 

I know a handful of people who stand firmly behind Trump, and I know about the same number of people who stand firmly behind Clinton. But unlike during the election seasons of years past, the majority of my friends and acquaintances don't seem particularly jazzed about either candidate.

On November 8th we will all (hopefully) vote for the candidate of our choosing, and one of those candidates will become the President-Elect of the United States of American. Some Americans will be happy, of course. But many others - those wholeheartedly supporting the losing candidate as well as all those who had hoped a third candidate would somehow step into this Presidential boxing ring and knock out the top two candidates - will feel frustrated, unhappy, or even angry. And this is where the quote above comes into play.

When I wake up on November 9th - even if it's on the wrong side of the bed - I will remember that this election is not my only opportunity to vote. To have a voice. To affect change in my community, and on a larger scale, make our country a safer, healthier, and gentler place in which to raise my children. I won't dwell on the election results one way or another, and will instead make a little extra time in my day for the schools and nonprofit organizations I believe in and support.

So here's what I'm thinking...

What if we all did this on November 9th? What if, instead of complaining and lashing out (which, based on what I've read on social media pre-election, there will be plenty of post-election), we all redirected our emotions and voices toward productivity? What if we stepped away from social media and out into the real world to do just one good deed or act of kindness? Can you imagine how uplifted and inspired we'd feel, how lovely our communities would look?

Who's with me?

Friday, October 21, 2016

High Five for Friday (10.21.16)

1. I had a lovely weekend vacation with my mom and sister, however the trip went by so quickly that I had time to take only one picture: a screen capture of the weather forecast right after my plane touched down. One of these years we'll remember to ask a waiter, barista, store employee, or Uber driver to take a picture of the three of us so we can prove we actually do enjoy getting together!
Ah, sweet fall...
2. In my absence, Tom ruled the roost. Thanks to his efforts and with the help of a couple of generous friends, the kids made it to all of their extracurricular activities, lessons, practices, and games...and Tom even put Hallie's hair IN A BUN for Nutcracker rehearsal!

All four of us benefit from my weekend away, and while it takes me two weeks to prepare to leave and another week to catch up after being gone, the extra work is well worth it.

3. Hallie spent her own money on this book at the school book fair:

She could not have made a more perfect selection.

Hallie's grumpy face lasted only long enough for me to take this picture. Once she started reading the book, she smiled and/or laughed until she reached the final page.

4. On Tuesday night we saw The Illusionists: Live From Broadway.
Not the most impressive picture, I know. But I
obviously couldn't take pictures once the show started.
Hanging out by the fountain while waiting for the show to start.
According to The Illusionists' website, the "mind blowing spectacular showcases the jaw dropping talents of the seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth". "Audiences will witness stunning acts of grand illusion, levitation, mind-reading, disappearance, and a full view water torture escape." As a huge fan of magic, Will proclaimed the night one of the best of his life, while Hallie - in true Hallie fashion - called the performance "terrible and scary". Never mind she sat on the edge of her seat and excitedly exclaimed, "HOW DID HE DO THAT?!" multiple times throughout the show.

I highly recommend this show should it come to a theatre near you!

For parents/families: the magic is incredible, but the jokes/commentary are VERY adult. Almost everything went over Hallie's head, but Will caught enough that he needed to ask some complicated questions on the way home.

5. Happiness Highlights:
Hanging at soccer practice with the gap-toothed cutie.
Thanks, Mandi, for picking Will and Hallie up from school and
taking them to Sonic and dance while Tom was at work!
Thanks, Rebecca, for taking Hallie to the fair while
Tom took Will to his out-of-town soccer game!
Back yard camping with daddy. This makes me happy for two reasons:
1) the kids are having a blast, and 2) I'm not camping with them. It was
90+ degrees outside, and the mosquitoes have been AWFUL; you
couldn't pay me to camp in those conditions.
My loves. Can you tell they're related? 

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Paint the Town Teal (Plus a Giveaway!)

As my regular readers know, Will has a peanut allergy (and was at one time also allergic to wheat, egg, and dairy). Over the years we have worked out systems that allow him to safely trick-or-treat with his sister and friends, but Halloween - and the multitude of health risks candy poses for him - still scares me, especially as he gets older. Will makes good decisions and advocates for his own safety, but the dangers remain and the risks are real.

Because of Will's food allergies - and because so many other children, including both my niece and nephew, suffer from food allergies - we started participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014 when it officially hit front porches nationwide.

For those who haven't yet heard of this Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) project, here's the background information and a quick summary. At least one in 13 children (perhaps as many as one in 11 children) have a food allergy, and many more suffer from Celiac Disease, eat a restricted or special diet, or receive their nutrients via tube feeding. For these children - those who can't consume any of the items received while trick-or-treating or who can't trick-or-treat at all - Halloween doesn't have the same sparkle. The Teal Pumpkin Project began as a local awareness activity in Eastern Tennessee and grew into a nationwide campaign to "raise awareness about food allergies and promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters" and aims to ensure every child can experience a safe, happy holiday.

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.
  1. Pick out a pumpkin, paint it teal, and place it on your front porch on Halloween.
  2. Provide non-food treats - pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, and plastic vampire teeth have been popular at our house - for trick-or-treaters. 
The goal here is not to exclude candy; FARE suggests simply putting candy in one bowl, and non-food treats in a separate bowl. And if you don't have time to buy and/or paint a teal pumpkin, you can buy one online or print out and hang up one of FARE's signs!

Earlier this week and while Will was at soccer practice, Hallie and I bought a pumpkin at the local pumpkin patch and she spent 20 minutes carefully covering every last inch of orange with teal paint. No, painting a pumpkin teal won't cure Will of his peanut allergy or make it possible for him to consume all of the same treats his sister and friends enjoy on Halloween. But it is a step toward increasing awareness and making the world a safer place for people with life-threatening food allergies...and Hallie loved having a part in this effort on behalf of her brother.

Would you like to win a Teal Pumpkin Project paint kit? Enter by commenting here or by commenting on or liking this post on Facebook. Will will randomly choose a winner on Saturday, October 22nd at 12pm.

Let's paint the town teal!

I have no affiliation with nor have I received any payment - financial or in-kind - from the Teal Pumpkin Project in exchange for this post. I just happen to be a big supporter of their work!