Friday, September 30, 2016

High Five for Friday (Night Lights)

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote about experiencing Friday Night Lights for the first time. We had Hallie to thank for that eye-opening night at the stadium, and we have Hallie to thank for the opportunity to have done it all again this year.

Every August the College Station High School Strutters - the school's dance team - hosts a dance camp for little girls. A perk of attending this camp is the invitation to participate in the opening "ceremonies", alongside the Strutters, at one home football game.

Today's High Fives are in honor of football season, specifically our family's second annual Friday Night Lights!

1. Hallie and I actually started our Friday night off with volleyball rather than football. We met friends at the high school to watch a few of the varsity team's bumps, sets, and spikes, but ended up catching only the last four points of the JV team's game, which happened to run late. The talent on the JV team vastly exceeded our expectations though - we had no idea we were cheering for JV until their match concluded - so we've made plans to go see the school's (what we can only assume will be an) impressively talented varsity team play later in the season.

2. As we walked out of the volleyball gym I saw - about 15 yards in the distance - one of Hallie's two-year-old preschool teachers. Andrea spotted Hallie, glanced up at me, and then looked back down at Hallie with a huge smile on her face. She joyfully called out, "IS THAT MY HALLIE?!?!" and opened her arms, into which Hallie went willingly. After their embrace, we all chatted for a couple of minutes about how kids grow up and life passes too quickly. It wasn't until we went our separate ways that Hallie turned to me and asked, "Mama, who was that?"
Andrea and Hallie, five years ago.
It means the world to me that when we run into Will and Hallie's wonderful preschool teachers out and about in our community, they remember my kids...even if my kids have no recollection of spending years of their lives in these women's care.

3. Meanwhile, Tom and Will - who were supposed to be getting and saving seats inside the football stadium - were taking full advantage of the tailgates going on in the parking lot. Yep, fans tailgate at high school football games in Texas. (Tailgating was new to me this year - neither Tom or I remembered any tailgating at last year's game.) At one point Tom called me to ask if he and Will needed to go into the stadium right then, or if they could hang out at the tailgate for a little while longer. I suggested he get himself inside ASAP - those seats weren't going to save themselves - to which he replied, "but E...r...i...n...there are free hotdogs here!" in a Hallie-like voice. My boys really like to tailgate.

4. Our girls did a great job as unofficial members of the spirit squad during the pregame festivities, and the official members of the dance team, cheerleading squad, and marching band offered exceptional performances during the halftime show.

5. The temperature, humidity, and mosquitoes, while not "pleasant", weren't "unbearable". We'll take what we can get in the weather and insect categories.

(I'm throwing in a couple of extra high fives today.)

6. Our kids - all nine of them in our group - were ridiculously well-behaved. Yes, they spilled a few things (but so did Tom) and bumped into their neighbors every now and again, but overall they behaved like completely different children than last year. One year older for the win!

7. And last but not least, we won the game. By A LOT.

Another year, another Friday night spent under the lights.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Select from September

I have an article in the October issue of Texas Living - check it out if you get a chance!

After two (maybe three?) months of inching my way along, I finally finished Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock. Though I appreciated the book's historical significance, I chose to read it because I thought this component would support and lift up the story of these two women's relationship. Instead, the human element took a backseat, and the story didn't end the way the back of the book led me to believe it would.

I plan to choose a much lighter and more uplifting read for October!

I assume you're watching (or have already watched and are eagerly awaiting the season two release of) Stranger Things, right? When Tom first described the series to me I had little interest in it, as I am neither a fan of science fiction or Winona Ryder. He swayed me, however, after watching season one on his own and calling it one of the most well-written, -acted, and -directed series he'd seen in recent years.

Now both Tux and I have jumped on the band wagon and can't wait for season two!
Tux watched this entire episode from right in front of the television.
I love September for many reasons, not the least of which is television's series premieres. I set my DVR to record the first and second episodes of every show in which I have even the slightest bit of interest, watch the pilots, and then determine which shows deserve my attention. I haven't made it through all of my recorded episodes yet, but thus far Designated Survivor and This is Us are keepers!

Listening To
If you liked the podcast Serial, check out Someone Knew Something, a CBC Radio true-crime podcast that delves into cold cases. I have made it through about half of season one's episodes, and I find myself looking for reasons to silence the world around me and listen to this investigation unfold.

While visiting my sister's house in July, I discovered an incredible Dyson cordless vacuum in her front closet. Laugh if you must, but I like - no, LOVE - clean floors and therefore also like vacuums and mops...especially the kind that make tidying up fast and easy. I vacuumed the entire first floor of my sister's house that day, just for fun.

I desperately wanted one of these vacuums, but they cost a pretty penny so I couldn't justify buying one for myself. But then my amazing mom found one on sale - at a store at which she happened to have a coupon - and bought me one for my birthday. My birthday isn't until November, but she let me open my gift early...probably so she could watch me joyfully vacuum my house every single day during her visit last week.

If you're in the market for a cordless vacuum, this one is tops.
I'm sorry I don't have a picture of myself
and the vacuum in action...maybe next month!

I have no affiliation with Dyson. I just happen to love this vacuum. 

I feel as though the meme below answers the question of what I - and my fellow Texans - have been wearing. According to Will and Hallie, it's still too hot outside for clothes of any kind.

I found a few delicious recipes this month:
  • Morning Glory Muffins As always, I used less sugar than the recipe called for - a heaping 1/4 cup instead of a 1/2 cup. Hallie said these muffins tasted like pepperoni, but everyone else who tried them thought they tasted like...well, like morning glory muffins.
  • Chicken Spaghetti Most chicken spaghetti recipes call for Velveeta, and while I grew up on the stuff and still make macaroni and cheese with it, Tom's not as big of a fan. This version took had more steps and therefore took much longer to make, but the finished product pleased everyone who tried it! 
  • Apple Cookies w/ Butterscotch Frosting For the cookies I used 3/4 cup sugar rather than 1 1/4 cups sugar, and for the frosting I used melted butterscotch chips instead of butterscotch ice cream topping. They were DIVINE.
  • Pancakes A couple of years ago I stopped buying baking mix and started making my pancakes, waffles, and shortcakes from scratch. I found my perfect shortcake recipe a few months back, and this month I finally found my perfect pancake recipe. I cut the sugar slightly - from 1/3 cup to about 1/6 cup - and added an overripe (previously frozen and then thawed) mashed banana. These pancakes were a hit with the entire family.  

What's new, good, and/or interesting in your life this month? Please share!

Monday, September 26, 2016

He Fell From the Sky

After a trip to the grocery store, I parked my car in the garage, loaded my arms up with grocery bags, and headed toward the house. Just as I reached the door leading from the garage into the kitchen, I happened to glance down...and found myself eye-to-eye WITH A LIZARD who had somehow dropped (from the sky? from garage door? from the ceiling of the garage?) onto my shoulder.

Shockingly, I didn't scream or drop the groceries. I did, however, panic: I stopped breathing (which I didn't realize until later), tightened my grip on the bags, and started spinning around in a circle while swiping at my shoulder with my full hands. On the third "circle and swipe" I managed to knock the lizard off my shoulder, but as often happens when lizards are traumatized, the tail of this lizard popped right off its body and started wiggling around on the garage floor. The body of this lizard didn't land on the garage floor landed IN. MY. GROCERIES.

NO. Just no.
Yes, the he's kind of small. But he FELL FROM THE SKY
ONTO MY SHOULDER which made him seem much bigger.
I couldn't knowingly bring a lizard into my house, so I started unloading the bags - slowly, carefully, and one item at a time - onto the floor of the garage. After I isolated the lizard, I picked up his bag and tossed it out into the driveway. It was right then I realized I'd stopped breathing, so I took a couple of minutes to compose myself and allow the lizard time to vacate my bag.
Unloading my groceries onto the floor in order
to figure out into which bag the lizard dropped.
Waiting for the lizard to head on home.
After I could breathe again, I headed out to the driveway to retrieve my bag. When I discovered the lizard still inside, I picked the bag up at a corner using just two fingers and shook it aggressively, hoping to evict the lizard. When he didn't appear, I realized, as my eyes slowly shifted from the bag's opening to my two pinched fingers, the reason why.

I dropped the bag faster than a hot potato, and the lizard - who at this point had survived falling/jumping from the sky onto my shoulder, repeated swipings, tail amputation, falling from my shoulder into the groceries, flying through the air and landing in the driveway in a grocery bag, and a rough pinching - finally emerged, much worse the wear.

I gathered my bags and my groceries, stumbled inside the house, and collapsed onto a kitchen chair...definitely much worse the wear myself.

Friday, September 23, 2016

High Five for Friday (9.23.16)

1. Back in July (while the kids and I were in Wisconsin), Tom discovered that our refrigerator had been leaking into the outside wall behind the refrigerator, into the shared wall between the kitchen and the office, and under the wood floors in the office. Tom did all of the clean up, but we hired a local company to fix the drywall and sheetrock and replace the floors.

Long story short...the flooring company put in the wrong - as in a completely different color of - floor. Tom left to join us in Wisconsin the same day the floor went in, so it wasn't until we returned from vacation that we walked into the office and discovered this disaster.

Another long story short...after nearly two months, the correct floor has been installed, the bill has been settled, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

2. The fundraiser I mentioned in last Friday's post went off not without hiccups, but for the most part smoothly. We met all of our goals, the kids had a blast during their fun runs, and our fourth graders - after working together and putting in an incredible amount of effort - earned our school's first-ever color run. Win, win, win.
Grace, Hallie, and Brandon the Brave, who
spent the morning duct-taped to the flagpole.
There she goes!
Sweet second graders after their fun run.
Fabulous fourth graders getting ready for their color run!
Fully colored and completely sweaty.
Getting (some of) the color blown off by our
principal before heading back inside the school.
Me and my boy.
Will with Grandma and Grandpa.
Will was extremely proud of his hair.
We may have gotten caught up in the color running ourselves... 
When these kiddos came out of school last Friday
afternoon they were hot, sweaty, exhausted, and SO happy.
3. My newly-retired parents spent a few days with us this last week. They arrived in time to see both Will and Hallie run on Friday, went with us to Will's soccer game in Houston and a friend's birthday party on Saturday, and between Sunday and Wednesday they saw two dance classes, watched two soccer practices, and helped me makeover our family room. (Pics to come in a future post.) We had a busy - but great - week!

Ok, ok...a couple of makeover teasers:

4. Tom's been in Washington D.C. all week for a conference but he returns home tonight...just in time to watch Hallie dance at a high school football game, and divide and conquer an out-of-town soccer game and nutcracker rehearsal with me. No rest for the weary...

5. Between Boosterthon, my parents visiting, and the family room makeover, I haven't yet had time to pull out all of my Halloween decorations. I did, however, find a few minutes to put up Halloween banners on the kids' bedroom doors; orange "tutu" pumpkins for Hallie and orange and black pompoms for Will. Just looking at these pictures makes me giddy for fall!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why Must You Toy With My (Weather) Emotions?

I've decided to allow myself one (maybe two - we'll see) "woe is me" posts about the weather each year...and you can find my 2016 weather gripe-fest below. Thanks for allowing me to work out my seasonal frustrations via Chasing Roots!

The majority of the country has begun settling in for fall. Pleasant temperatures during the day, cooler temperatures at night, changing leaves, warmer beverages, and even jeans and boots - oh, sweet jeans and boots - have all made appearances.

Here in Texas, however, summer maintains its stronghold on our lives. Because of our sweltering temperatures, I often shower three times a day* and apply deodorant at least that many times, if not more. Because of the humidity, my hair looks like a dirty blonde Cruella Deville wig one minute and slightly damp straw the next. My make up starts to run the moment I step outside. The oppressive heat makes Will, Hallie, and I so grumpy that we gripe at each other for the 15 minutes it takes to cool off once we arrive home after school. Perhaps worst of all, I can't enjoy warm beverages or wear our boots and jeans.

My desperation for fall has reached its peak - as it always does at this point in the summer - and as a result, I obsessively check the weather app on my phone multiple times a day. Not because I want to know the temperature outside, but because I am watching for that moment when the weather app adds a day to the 10-day forecast. You see, a new day added to the forecast means a new chance for a predicted "cold" front.

Usually the 10th day pops up and shows another lengthy stretch of highs in the mid-90s, 95% humidity, and sunny skies. But occasionally, the 10th day pops up and shows a dramatic decrease in temperature. I rejoice, and then give myself a pep talk: "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can hang on for just 10 more days".

The problem is that the forecast is, sadly, wrong 99% of the time. When I return to my phone the following morning, that 10th day has become the 9th day and somehow once again shows summer weather. Why, weather folk, can't you just tell me the truth?! Why must you toy with my emotions?!

If you need me between now and November, you can find me alternating between showering and sitting underneath an air conditioning vent, repeatedly refreshing my weather app and longing for a tiny taste of fall.

* At this time of year I always shower at least twice daily - once after I work out and once before I go to bed - but I also often have to add that third shower after walking to pick up my kids from school in the middle of the afternoon. Ridiculous, right? (Don't worry - I keep them short and sweet so to not waste water.) 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Show Me How You Really Feel

I tried, at least during Will and Hallie's preschool years, to direct their attention and build their affections toward a common sport. I thought that if both kids played the same sport or participated in the same activity, I could drastically reduce the amount of time I spent at - and driving to and from - practices and games, and the kids would actually enjoy supporting one another from the sidelines. I chose soccer, partly because I understand and love the game myself, but also because both kids showed an interest in it at one point.

As you might expect, after a few seasons Will and Hallie decided they didn't care for soccer; Will moved on to baseball and Tae Kwon Do and Hallie moved on to gymnastics and dance.

Will eventually came back around to soccer, but Hallie remains steadfast in her commitment to always keep a safe distance from ball and competitive sports. This means that not only do the kids participate in completely different activities, they have zero interest in what the other loves. Will will sit through a production of the Nutcracker or a dance recital, but he can barely keep his eyes open whenever Hallie (or the few good friends of his who also dance) is not on stage. Hallie will occasionally lift her head up from her book, craft project, paper dolls, or cake decorating app during Will's soccer games, but for the most part, she "watches" Will play soccer like this:

As you can see, rather than face the soccer game and accidentally watch even one more minute of soccer than absolutely necessary, she turns her chair around and faces the parking lot.

It's going to be a L...O...N...G fall for the one Ferri who hates soccer.

Friday, September 16, 2016

High Five for Friday (9.16.16)

1. I planned to purchase a particular coffee table for our new family room but put off actually buying it because I still had a few decor details to work out. Last week I returned to the furniture store and discovered, much to my dismay, that the table I wanted had been purchased, my local store had no additional tables, none of the store franchises within 300 miles had any tables, and the company was no longer making the table. I didn't realize how badly I wanted this specific piece of furniture until the employee who "assisted" me (by being neither friendly or helpful) told me I couldn't have it.
This is the only picture I have of the table. Not sure either of
the salesmen I worked with understood what was going on here.
After stewing in my car at Will's soccer practice for a few minutes, I decided to do a little research on my own. I couldn't find the table online, so I started looking up store franchises in cities close to where my relatives - in particular those who occasionally drive to visit us - live. I eventually tracked down one floor model in Peoria, Illinois, about 15 miles from my sister's house. After multiple phone calls and two complicated conversations with salesman Ross, I had paid for the (discounted!) floor model, convinced my sister to drive to Peoria to pick up the table and then store the table in her garage for a few weeks, and convinced my mom to drive by my sister's house on her way to visit me and then bring me the table.

The new table (and my parents) should roll into my driveway this evening and I can't wait!

2. Our biggest elementary school fundraiser kicked off last week and, after 10 full days of character building and fitness fun, wraps up this afternoon with a school-wide fun run party. I love this program and the way it supports and strengthens the physical, emotional, and mental messages already communicated to our students by teachers and administrators.

Want to know why I support school fundraisers? I wrote this piece last year, after a school's "non-fundraiser fundraiser" went viral. 

3. Speaking of schools, on Saturday our elementary school hosted its first service day. Students and parents turned out in droves to help revive our once-thriving butterfly garden and turn the larger space into an outdoor classroom. I couldn't attend because Will had a soccer game in Houston, but Hallie tagged along with friends and had a delightful time pulling weeds, planting flowers and milkweed, spreading soil, and painting rocks. I can't wait to eventually share pictures of the finished product!

4. On Saturday night I sent my sister a picture of me, just before I went out for a friend's birthday, to make sure she thought my shoes worked with my outfit. She texted me back in the affirmative, and to share that she too was going out that night...wearing the exact same outfit.

We're not twins, but we dress like twins and, on occasion, seem to have a twin-like connection!

5. Happiness Highlights:
A(nother) fabulous visit to our winery, this
time for a wonderful friend's birthday party.
Sometimes she's just so happy. (Like when she's freshly showered
and fed and climbing on the bleachers during Will's soccer practice.) 
This kid replaced his first lightbulb last weekend.
He can pretty much take care of the house now, right?

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Weeping Wednesday

Over the course of the last two weeks the internet and Facebook have joined forces on a mission to make me cry. Not from sadness necessarily, but from laughter or overwhelming joy, pride, or faith in humanity. I've shared these powerfully moving and/or sidesplittingly hilarious videos and articles below in hopes they help you make it over today's hump.
It's possible she inherited her propensity for tears from me...
Paralympian Lex Gillette took home a silver medal in the long jump. Check out this video in which he explains how he navigates the track and pit without the use of his eyes.

Also from the Paralympics, don't miss this story about the FOUR olympians who ran the 1,500 meters faster than the able-bodied athlete who took home gold just last month. And no, they weren't wearing bionic prosthetic legs...they are blind.

A Target cashier documented all of his notable customer interactions - of which there were many - during his first week of employment. I love Target even more after reading this compilation.

This conversation between Woody and Dory will, at the very least, put a smile on your face.

This Amazon Prime commercial gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Will and Hallie run to turn off the television when it comes on because they don't want me to fall apart over breakfast again.

I posted a link to this commercial a few years ago, but when it came across my Facebook feed last Sunday it impacted me as much - if not more - as it did the first time I watched it shortly after 9/11.

On a related note, the story of The Man in the Red Bandana.

"For the first time, women hold all of the top student leadership positions at TAMU!"

These tweets and memes about marriage led to me crying - because I was laughing so hard - for 20 minutes straight. #21 and #22 are my favorites, and perfectly describe married life at the Ferris house.

For young adults who have experienced homeless and/or the foster care system, move-in day at their colleges or universities just became much more meaningful.

And last but certainly not least...I had tears of laughter streaming down my face as I watched this woman perfectly nail the "man cold".

Happy Hump Day!