Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Dance Mom's Work is Never Done

About a month ago Hallie and I attended our first dance convention with her fellow Mini Company members and their moms. I've mentioned before that I struggle in my role as a dance mom - it just doesn't come naturally to me, and some of the requirements associated with dance rehearsals, performances, and conventions rub me the wrong way - so while I was looking forward to spending the weekend with my friends, I had reservations about spending an entire weekend in dance mom mode.

I also worried about Hallie's "staying power". Including travel time, the dance convention lasted for almost three full days and included eight classes and multiple different performances and sessions. My Hal Gal has a relatively-low exhaustion threshold and melts down when that threshold has been reached, and I had a sneaking suspicion she might not handle such a busy schedule with grace.

Thankfully the first evening's "Dance Through the Decades" party and first few classes the following morning went well. Hallie enjoyed her hip hop class more than anything else, especially because the instructor - one of the best we worked with over the course of the weekend - spent a few minutes toward the end of class dancing right next to her.
"Dance Through the Decades" party.

But as the day went on, the inevitable exhaustion set in...and by evening, Hallie (after a round of tears) fell sound asleep in my arms in the middle of a dance showcase.
That's not a hug...'s the beginning of a "hold me up, Avery!"
Sound asleep at 7:00 p.m.
Hallie saved her "best behavior" for the third day. Tired of dancing and just plain tired (of course the convention took place the weekend of the time change), she refused to have even the slightest bit of fun in the seemingly delightful musical theatre class. If you look closely at the picture below of little girls warming up with push-ups, you'll notice that "one of these things is not like the others"...
Can you see her? Laying flat on her stomach with her face
pressed into the carpet? Girlfriend was DONE. 
And from that point on the day got better and better...

Midday on Sunday we went outside - for the first time in almost 48 hours - to drop a few bags off at the car. When we arrived we found, much to our dismay, that the little girls had left the DVD player plugged into the backseat power source and the car's battery was completely dead. Since we were staying in the Hyatt Regency at DFW airport, a courtesy service employee arrived quickly and jumped the car. Alex from Guest Services sent us back to the convention and promised to stay with the car while it ran for a few minutes.

The courtesy shuttle employee left for his next job, and Alex waited with my car for 10 minutes before turning it off. But when he tried to restart the car - just to make sure everything was in good shape - it wouldn't start on its own. Alex jumpstarted my car again, this time using his own personal suburban and jumper cables. He let my car run for 20 minutes this time, moved it to a more accessible parking spot, and turned it on and off a few times. Done. Or so we thought.

I left the convention a few minutes before it was time to leave so I could load the last couple of bags. Alex went out to get my car for me, and again it wouldn't start. And again, Alex pulled around his own suburban and jumped my car. In the pouring rain.

Alex is a hero. I would not have made it through that day without him. I tipped him well (I wanted to give him a hug but didn't feel right about that gesture), and the following day I called the hotel manager to share with her how helpful, courteous, and entirely pleasant he had been.

We had no other choice than to hit the road with the questionable battery; we decided we just wouldn't turn the car off the entire way home. About 20 miles down the road the "check engine" light came on, and about 10 miles after that we realized we would need to get gas. After our husbands researched the probability of us exploding if we filled up the tank with the car running, we stopped for gas, took the girls inside, and filled up...without incident, thank goodness.

The rest of the drive went smoothly, except of course for the dual little girl meltdown in the backseat and having to drive through an awful thunderstorm in the dark because of the time change.

Driving into our garage that night felt about as good as you'd expect. I wanted to wash the exhaustion, the frustration with Hallie, the car troubles, and the horrendous weather off me, and to spend a quiet evening (all two hours of it) at home before having to hit the ground running on Monday morning. To be honest, I also wanted to take off my dance mom hat, stomp on it a couple of times, and hide it in the back of my closet.

It took a few weeks, but eventually I started to feel better around our dance convention experience. There are aspects of the weekend I would change (why do we attend a convention 200+ miles away, that takes up three full days, that's held during the busiest season of the year, and that costs hundreds of dollars? Just a few questions to ponder...), but I can now acknowledge the good; I recognize how special and important the bonding that occurred - between Hallie and her mini company friends, and between me and my fellow dance moms and friends - was to everyone involved.

I finally feel like I can pull my dance mom hat out of the closet...just in time for Hallie to dance in The Nutcracker this weekend. A dance mom's work is never done...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Heart (Wrist) Break

Want to know what really stinks?

First, breaking your wrist in a freak accident while playing the sport you love.

Second, finding out you'll have to sit out of both PE and recess for two days until you get your wrist casted.

And third, finding out that the two soccer tournaments you've worked SO hard in preparation for won't let you play while wearing a cast.

That's how my boy's week is going so far.

His heart is breaking...and so is mine.

Friday, November 25, 2016

High Five for Friday (11.25.16)

1. Though the painting I chose turned out to be considerably more challenging than we'd expected, my friends and I had a lovely time putting paint to canvas and kicking off the Christmas season last Friday night.

2. On Friday morning my seven-year-old daughter looked like this:

But by Saturday afternoon, she looked like this:

How did she age four years overnight?!

And then to make matters "worse", she and her friends hung out and chatted - in their matching dance company jackets - over Starbucks drinks. (It's just hot chocolate in those red cups, folks. We'd be crazy to give our little firecrackers caffeine in any form!)

As difficult as it is to watch the "baby" in her disappear, I am beside myself with awe when I look at who she is becoming.

3. My family and friends gifts me some pretty fabulous goodies for my birthday, including Pentatonix tickets for the four Ferri and Tom's parents! (More to come on the concert in a future post, as taking the kids to a concert and seeing Pentatonix live were both on my bucket list!)

4. Tom gave me the Pentatonix Christmas CD pictured above first thing on my birthday morning. I popped it into the kitchen CD player so we could sing along during breakfast, and this girl just couldn't contain her emotions (kind of like her mama) when Hallelujah came on...she knows very few of the words, but she sings the notes and the words she does know with a passion.

5. I miss these two so much, but when I looked at my calendar yesterday I realized that I get to hug them in less than four weeks!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In Thanksgiving

"What if, today, we were grateful for everything?"         ~ Charlie Brown

November 1st: I'm thankful for prayer, conversation, and laughter shared around the dinner table, even when not one of the four Ferri enjoyed the new recipe I tried.

November 2nd: I'm thankful for the occasional free-of-activities afternoon.

November 3rd: I'm thankful for a music teacher who has fostered Will's love of vocal and instrumental (including recorder) music and helped him feel comfortable speaking, singing, and performing on stage.

November 4th: I'm thankful we - and by we, I mean myself and my dance mom friends and our dancing daughters - made it safely to Dallas for our first Dance Revolution! (And our first dance convention ever, for that matter.)

November 5th: I'm thankful for a husband and son who pitch in, even though they don't really want to do so, when I need a little extra help around the house.

November 6th: I'm thankful for Guest Services employee Alex and a valet employee whose name I didn't catch at the DFW Hyatt Regency Hotel, without whom we wouldn't have made it home safely from our weekend in Dallas.

November 7th: I'm thankful for an exhausting adventure of a weekend spent connecting with my Gal Hal as well as some of my best friends and their daughters. (And I'm thankful to have slept in my own bed - and not with my bed- and cover-hog daughter - last night.)

November 8th: I'm thankful for my right to vote, and for all those who fought to make that right possible.

November 9th: I'm thankful for my girl, who chose to do something kind for someone else this afternoon, and for the joy she so clearly feels while creating.

November 10th: I'm thankful for my boy, who chose to do something kind for someone else this afternoon. I didn't know what he'd done until she told me...his gesture turned out to be the one bright spot in her day.  

November 11th: On Veterans Day, I'm thankful for the men and women who have served or are currently serving our country as members of the United States Armed Forces.

"Let future generations understand the burden and the blessings of freedom. Let them say we stood where duty required us to stand."     ~ George H. W. Bush

November 12th: I'm thankful all four Ferri could spend Saturday together...for the first time since the beginning of August!

November 13th: I'm thankful for boxed macaroni and cheese, leftover pumpkin cake, People Magazine, and a full hour spent not worrying about all of the things I usually worry about on Sunday nights.

November 14th: I'm thankful for a really big coffee mug in which to hold the massive amount of coffee needed to get through this Monday.
After I finished my coffee I discovered that this beautiful mug -
a birthday present from a sweet friend - can double as a vase!
November 15th: I'm thankful for the 90+ minutes I spent hanging in the car with Hallie while we waited for Will at soccer practice. We talked, paid bills, and practiced her spelling words, she gave me a massage, and I listened to her take her stuffed animals on a "field trip" to the amusement park, miniature golf course, swimming pool, and ice cream shop in the trunk.

Oh, and I'm thankful for my friend and massage therapist Bev, who by massaging Hallie a couple of weeks ago inadvertently taught her how to give a decent massage!

November 16th: I'm thankful that while my plantar fasciitis is not cured (it likely never will be, given the shape of my feet, the regularity with which I insist on using them, and my aversion to any sort of invasive treatment for this kind of problem), it is no longer debilitatingly painful.

November 17th: I'm thankful my husband appreciates whatever I cook for him for dinner, even when it's just bagged salad, packaged ravioli, and sauce from a jar.

November 18th: I'm thankful for the lovely friends who joined me for drinks, dinner, and painting (surprisingly challenging Christmas trees) in honor of my birthday. I don't like big celebrations or being showered with birthday attention, and they did a wonderful job of making me feel special but not overwhelmed.

November 19th: I'm thankful our house has a fireplace, our fireplace turns on easily with a quick turn of a knob and a lighter, and for weather that finally justified enjoying its warmth!

November 20th: I'm thankful for the opportunity to cross another holiday-related activity off my bucket list, and for the great friends with whom we shared the experience.

And...I'm thankful for our first frost, which means at least some of the massive, vicious mosquitoes in our backyard have finally perished!

November 21st: I'm thankful that dutifully sitting through Hallie's dance lessons on Monday afternoons gives me an opportunity to spend 165 minutes - 60 or so of which are actually peaceful! - chatting with friends.

November 22nd: I'm thankful for the opportunity to experience Will and Hallie's very first legitimate concert with them!

November 23rd: For the second November 23rd in a row I felt relief that my birthday had come to an end…I still can't quite figure out these feelings, so I'll push them under the rug for another year and be thankful for a calm and quiet day that wasn't in any way about me.

November 24th: A day early, I'm thankful for my family, my friends, and my health. For the ability to provide my husband and children with all of what they need and some of what they want. For balance, for forgiveness, and for grace. And last but not least, for the opportunity to write, and for all of you who by reading have made it possible for me to pursue my passion. 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kindness Day 2016

Elections are not our only opportunities to vote. To have a voice. To affect change in our communities and, on a larger scale, make our country a safer, healthier, gentler place in which to live.

Twice recently I wrote about my decision to, on the day after the election and regardless of outcome, direct my emotions and voice toward productivity and kindness. I explained the plan to Will and Hallie, and then let them direct our activities on that day.

Will wrote a thank you note to his GT teacher/Chess Club advisor/chess coach to let her know how much he appreciates her involvement in his academic life. 

Hallie and I made and decorated bookmarks - each with a unique message of kindness and/or humor - and slipped them into every single book in our Little Free Library.

Words of wisdom, courtesy of Hallie.
"Snowmen are fun, but reading is better."
And my other favorite Hallie-ism.
"The stars at night are big and bright,
deep in the heart of reading."
There were A LOT of more books in our Little
Free Library than we had originally thought...
Hallie and I baked cookies and Will and Hallie delivered them - from "the Cookie Fairies" - to our neighbors.

Letting Will and Hallie take charge of our kindness day brightened their spirits and gave them ownership of the project, so much so that the following day they woke already thinking about what else they could do and who else they could reach. That afternoon...

Will, Hallie, and I went through our closets and toy boxes and pulled out clothing, shoes, toys, and games to donate.

Hallie wondered aloud - her way of asking me - if The Cookie Fairies could become a more regular fixture in our community.

Will asked if we could buy 40+ sticks of rock candy, attach a note that reads "You Rock!" to each one, and deliver them to all of the teachers at the kids' elementary school.  

Mama's going to need a bigger kindness day budget... 

I see no other way forward than to continue what we've started, and so for us and for the foreseeable future, Kindness Day will take place on the Wednesday after Election Day. Mid-November feels like the right time of year to me, both because it falls during the season of giving thanks and just prior to the season of giving, and because it seems everyone needs their spirits lifted following our country's inevitably contentious election seasons. When Kindness Day November 2017 rolls around the kids and I will be back with lots of ideas for you and your family!  

Will, Hallie, and I aren't quite ready to move on, so we're planning to carry on through the end of November and into December. We haven't made up our minds yet, but starting on December 1st one of these two activities will start in the Ferris house.

Share your ideas - tried and true or elaborate and wishful - for reaching out to others in the community during the holiday season...let's keep the kindness coming!

Friday, November 18, 2016

High Five for Friday (11.18.16)

1. For the first time since the beginning of August, the four Ferri spent a Saturday together. Normally we divide and conquer Nutcracker rehearsals, soccer games, school events, and birthday parties, but this weekend and because Hallie's rehearsal time was changed, we all slept in, enjoyed a leisurely morning, went to Hallie's rehearsal, and then drove to Houston for Will's soccer game. I had missed spending time with my little foursome. (I had NOT missed, however, listening to Will and Hallie bicker in the backseat of the car.)

2. Speaking of Will's soccer game, last Saturday marked the end of his regular season. Four weeks of practices and two tournaments remain, but Will's team came out of their 10 league games with six wins, three losses, and one partial game called at halftime because of lightening. I have loved watching Will develop as a soccer player and a leader on the field, and I truly enjoyed getting to know his teammates and their parents.

Will is #17, which in case you don't recall, was my number. So many emotions...

3. I finished creating and ordered my Christmas cards! It feels spectacular to have crossed that to-do off my list. Now to finish my Christmas shopping...

4. I hear, "Mom! Come see Tux!" from Will and/or Hallie at least once a day. More often than not I find our poor kitty in situations similar to this one and I can't help but laugh because 1) the kids are laughing, 2) Tux does in fact look funny, and 3) I can't believe our good luck that we found a cat who is so ridiculously patient with children.

5. Happiness Highlights:
This guy is creating a light suit that will somehow sync
with the drums. (?) The process makes him happy enough
that I'm willing to overlook the slew of packages containing
supplies and materials arriving daily from Amazon... 
Perfect little ringlets and her fading stork bite.
A big boy trying to teach a little boy how to play two-person soccer
on the 3DS while their sisters dance. Not sure the lesson sunk in...
A sweet friend bought me this Pioneer Woman mug for my birthday. It's
massive, and perfect for Monday mornings when I need a lot of coffee!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: