Friday, April 28, 2017

High Five for Friday (4.28.17)

1. On Thursday evening I took Hallie to Toys'R'Us to cash in her "$3 off a purchase of $3 or more" birthday coupon. (Many years ago I registered both Will and Hallie for the store's birthday club, membership in which includes receiving this coupon once a year on their birthdays.) I didn't notice until standing in front of the cash register that the other side of the coupon - which I have in the past just tossed into the recycling bin - entitled Hallie to another birthday treat. We handed over the coupons to the cashier, who handed them off to a co-worker, who moments later returned with a hardcover book about how Geoffrey became the birthday giraffe, a stuffed bear (and not a tiny, inexpensive one - I imagine this bear would have cost us around $15), and a birthday balloon. I honestly couldn't believe the generosity of Toys'R'Us and the enthusiasm with which the store's employees gathered Hallie's birthday goodies; I don't visit Toys'R'Us very often, but after our experience there last week I will make it a point to pop in more often when shopping for birthday and holiday presents.

I have no affiliation with nor did I receive any compensation for this shout out to TRU. I just like sharing when stores, businesses, organizations, and/or employees go above and beyond!

2. After visiting The Backyard for a soccer kick-off party a few months ago, we finally made it back with friends on Friday night. We arrived around 5:30pm - quite a bit earlier than the college crowd - and had the place almost exclusively to ourselves until about 7:30pm. Our kids (as well as the man children) played round after round of washers, bean bags, and ping pong - Will and his buddy Jax legitimately beat a college student at ping pong - and we all enjoyed the beers, mixed drinks, giant pizzas, and crawfish. As a parent, I especially appreciated The Backyard's rules sign. "We welcome children - behave yourself" had a prominent spot, as did the flip side of that rule, "children shouldn't be here after 10pm". I couldn't agree more, and I'll be back!
Our five collective boy children joined us as
well - they were, however, far too busy for photos.
3. Last weekend's legitimately spring weather was both a literal and figurative breath of fresh air. Not only did we not sweat profusely at Will's soccer game and while working in the yard, we wore sweatshirts in the early mornings and late evenings and even considered lighting a fire on Saturday night. We also opened all of the windows and aired out every single preparation for locking them all up again until November. I love you, spring - I wish you'd visit Texas more often.

4. On Tuesday I chaperoned what I believe was my last elementary school field trip (with Will). He has a couple of additional field trips scheduled in May, but as those are with specific groups - Chess Club and Student Council - I won't tag along. We had a great time, but I kept wondering how we got is he about to wrap up elementary school?!

First elementary school field trip on the left...last elementary school field trip on the right.

5. Happiness Highlights:
This pic landed in "Happiness Highlights" because my girl wasn't
actually sad when it was taken. Hallie has an amazing ability to
produce two perfectly round tears - that roll gently down until
coming to rest just above her rosy cheeks - almost on command.  
Cleaning out old file folders led to the discovery
of this poster - and the one below - from my and
Tom's Newman Singers days. Can you spot us? 
I'll give you a hint - we are both sporting
bad (but professionally styled) hair.
Hallie bought a make-up kit with some of her birthday
money. Her surprise "makeover" gave us a good laugh.
Anyone for a charcoal mask? I look ridiculous, but
my face felt amazing after this treatment - I'll share
the details in next week's Monthly Medley post!
Tom plays music, Will plays soccer, and Hallie and I run errands
on Wednesday evenings, so I don't cook dinner that night. Instead,
we eat delicacies like spinach salad from a bag and bundt cakes. 
Hallie had a great time at this spring's Strutters
Dance Camp, and she can't wait for to take the
stage with the "big girls" tomorrow night!
School's Out Food Drive - hard at work!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dear Tux: Enough is Enough

On Friday morning, Will went into his room to finish getting ready for school. I was in the kids' bathroom, gathering supplies to put Hallie's hair up, and Hallie was finishing her breakfast at the kitchen counter. I heard Will call me from his room, and just as I opened my mouth to answer him, he called for me again, this time with a little more urgency. I then heard him recite this monologue:

Um, Mom? I think there's a snake in my shoe. 
AHHH! Yep, there's definitely a snake in my shoe.
AHHH! Wow, he's fast.
Um, Mom? Now there's a snake in my room.

I unconsciously climbed onto the bathroom counter and yelled for Tom. As he rounded the corner he paused at the bathroom door - undoubtedly taking in the sight that was his middle-aged wife trying to protect herself from a snake - and headed into Will's room.
Later in the day Tom texted me this picture. "I didn't yet make
fun of your stance in the bathroom when Will found the snake."
From my perch in the bathroom, I started considering texting the kids' principal to ask if "child couldn't put on shoes because of snake" would fly as a tardy excuse. Meanwhile, Hallie began to cry at the kitchen counter. She was worried about the snake climbing up her blanket - in which she was wrapped and the bottom of which hung down to the floor - and onto her lap. I explained that if she just picked her blanket up off the floor (something I'd twice suggested she do prior to the snake's discovery) the snake couldn't "get her".

Tom's request for a tupperware shook me out of my slightly panicked daze. I retrieved a plastic bowl and delivered it, along with a piece of cardboard, to Tom and Will. I then retreated to the kitchen to protect myself Hallie from the snake.

In the end, our visitor was just a small garden snake, but as I told a friend that morning, it might as well have been a cobra. I made a deal with Tom when we moved to Texas: I will deal with the heat and the bugs and the other undesirables, but I WON'T DO SNAKES. We probably have to move now.

Are you wondering how the snake made it to Will's room and into Will's shoe? I'll give you one guess:

That's enough love for Will, buddy. Mama can't take much more of this.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hallie for President

"If I were President of the United States, I would want people to be more responsible and be kind to all !!!!!!!PEOPLE!!!!!!!"

~ Hallie C. Ferris

Throughout Hallie's first four years of life, three different teachers at two different schools independently shared with me that they fully expected Hallie to one day run for and be elected President of the United States. She was described as - and could still be considered - social, passionate, diplomatic (except in interactions with her brother), and organized, all traits that would serve her well in such a leadership position. And while I hope she finds a way other than politics to serve her country, if Hallie did decide to run for POTUS in 2044, I would fully support her platform.

I suppose I just wanted to take an opportunity this Monday morning to share my own personal commitment to both responsibility and kindness. This spring I have witnessed an unexpected amount of irresponsible and unkind behavior (by adults), and I want to make sure my actions do not exacerbate the existing problems around me. Thanks, President Hallie, for the reminder to go out and be the good we want to see in the world.

Friday, April 21, 2017

High Five for Friday (4.21.17)

1. On Thursday night I "graduated" from the Leadership CSISD program. (CSISD stands for College Station Independent School District.) Late last summer, a friend and I applied for and were accepted into the program for the 2016-2017 school year. Alongside other community members - parents, teachers, administrators, and those with a vested interest - we attended monthly meetings, each of which focused on a specific topic related to education in our district. Our superintendent and other district leaders covered budgets, boundaries, accountability, and facilities as well as instructional technology, innovative teaching, fine arts, extracurricular activities, and career and technology education, and I walked away with a much broader base of knowledge about the history, current state, and future of our district. I would highly recommend participating in this program to anyone who lives in my area, and to those who don't live near me, I encourage you to look into whether your school district offers something similar.
"Graduation Day". We had just toured and this photo was taken on the
stage inside the in-progress intermediate school that will open this fall. 
2. Also on Thursday night, my inlaws arrived for a visit. We enjoyed our time together - celebrating Easter, celebrating Hallie's birthday, relaxing, and working hard - and thanks to their help, Tom and I have squeaky clean gutters (inside and out) and a brand new backdoor to show for our four-day weekend!

3. The Easter Bunny brought the kids kites in their baskets, and the three of us spent a lovely 30 minutes flying them on Easter afternoon. Mother Nature delivered just the right amount of wind to lift the kites and keep them up in the air...along with 85+ degree temperatures that meant we were sweating buckets by the time we went home. That's springtime in Texas, folks!

4. If you want to see what pure joy looks like, watch a child watch a cat chase bubbles.

5. Happiness Highlights:
This 10-year-old suddenly enjoys coffee. And not coffee with
sweetener added...just black coffee. He is his mother's daughter...  
Big cat, small box. Never fails to make me smile.
This kiddo stumbled upon and insisted on wearing Hallie's
new cat ears headband. It even matches his outfit!
My big second grader reading with her kindergarten buddy.
Thank you, Mandi, for my new car decal!
She picked out and bought this chick sleeping mask all on her
own. It's kind of cute during the day...and kind of creepy at night. 
My girl learned how to fold napkins all fancy schmancy. 

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Creating Tomorrow By Dancing Today (Tradition: Aggie Dance Marathon)

I mentioned in a previous post - probably close to a month ago - that Hallie's dance company performed at the Aggie Dance Marathon. I didn't go into detail about the experience, however, because it took me a few weeks to sort through the range of emotions that washed over me when I set foot in a Dance Marathon for the first time in 15 years.

On the surface and to those unfamiliar with the organization, Aggie Dance Marathon looks kind of like a big party. But when you dig a little deeper, you learn that the 12-hour celebration we attended was actually the culmination of a full year of fundraising events in support of the McLane Children's Scott & White Hospital in Temple, TX. (This hospital is College Station's "local" Children's Miracle Network affiliation.) In this, it's fourth year of existence, Aggie Dance Marathon brought in $125,245.20; after raising approximately $33,600 in 2014, $43,800 in 2015, and $76,700 in 2016, this year's total makes it clear the program is growing stronger and positively impacting more lives with each passing year.

I pulled together the specifics above from the Aggie Dance Marathon website, but I have a wide base of knowledge about Dance Marathons in general as I participated - as a volunteer, dancer, Morale Captain Assistant, and Morale Captain - in five University of Iowa Dance Marathons back in the day. I have posted previously about those years...and the sweet little boy whose short life inspired me during one of the most challenging 24-hour* windows of my

I titled that post, "For the Kids..." because that saying (often abbreviated FTK) kept dancers motivated throughout those 24 hours. We were raising money For The Kids. Dancing For The Kids. Staying awake For The Kids. Pushing ourselves to the limit For The Kids. So when Hallie and I walked into Aggie Dance Marathon and I saw the huge "FTK" in the corner, tears sprung into my eyes.

Our little dancers didn't understand why hundreds of college students were hanging out in the Rec Center gym that day (other than to watch them dance, of course), but I did. Those hard-working, dedicated, and generous Aggies were raising money to make a world in which children no longer suffer from life-threatening illnesses and diseases a reality. Those big kids were dancing so that these little kids would always have the opportunity to do the same.
A special thanks to the Aggies who watched our
girls perform - they made them feel like rockstars. 
Tom and I make an annual donation to the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, but getting the opportunity to introduce Hallie to (a version of) an event that had a tremendous impact on both my life and her daddy's life felt even better. (Tom and I were Morale Captains together in 2001.) Should you ever have your own opportunity to become involved with a dance marathon - as a dancer, a volunteer, a financial donor, even a visitor - I encourage you to show your support however possible. The experience will be one you don't soon forget.

I need to give a shout out to the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, which this year raised a record $2,572,130.23. Over the past 23 years, this student-run organization has raised more than $21.4 million to help fund pediatric cancer research at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital. I have no doubt that with the right leadership and community support, in 20 years Aggie Dance Marathon will have reached the same level of success.

*Yes, the Iowa Dance Marathon really lasts 24 hours rather than 12 hours. And no, you really can't sit down (except to go to the bathroom). And no, you really can't drink caffeine.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

I didn't attend TAMU, but throughout the last six years I have made a point to learn about the University's traditions both because we live in College Station and because Tom works for TAMU. I have written about a number of Aggie traditions, and once I even came across as an Aggie expert (which I fully acknowledge I'm not) when a visitor to College Station asked me about Yell Leaders.

Here are a few of my TAMU-specific tradition posts:

Tradition: Let's Get Our Yell On!
Tradition: Bonfire
Tradition: Bonfire Memorial
Tradition: The 12th Man
Tradition: Reveille
Tradition: The Big Event
Tradition: Spirit Walk
Tradition: Military Walk
Tradition: "Gig 'Em"
Tradition: Aggie Ring
Tradition: Century Tree

So when a quiz with the title, "You'll Only Pass This Test If You Went To Texas A&M" came cross my Facebook feed, I thought I should give it a the name of research, of course. I hoped to score 50% or better, and then use whatever questions I answered incorrectly as a jumping off point for future "Tradition" blog posts.

Imagine my surprise, then, when after answering all of the questions to the best of my ability and clicking "submit", I received this response:
I'm not sure why this Mean Girls character was
chosen to represent TAMU - in my experience, TAMU
students are nothing like those crazy girls in pink...
We may not be true Aggies (we love the Aggies, but both Tom and I bleed black and gold for our Iowa Hawkeyes), but it looks like we've done a fairly good job of learning the traditions of our current hometown's foundational institution!

Friday, April 14, 2017

High Five for Friday (4.14.17)

1. On Thursday night we had the opportunity to watch a soccer game between the Aggies and the Houston Dash. While technically superior and eventually victorious, the Dash players came up short in both the sportsmanship and "heart" categories; I walked away from the game a bigger Aggie fan than before and unlikely to ever make a trip to Houston to see the Dash play. (I'd make an exception if I knew Carly Lloyd would play. She and Morgan Brian - both members of the National Team - missed the game against the Aggies because it conflicted with a National Team game against Russia.)  Will took his job as a ball boy seriously, and worked hard enough that one of the Aggie coaches actually complimented him on his efforts and his ability to stay on top of the game. While he wished the Aggies would have come out on top, Will LOVED having a front row seat - getting to work just six feet from the field and the sideline on which the players stand - to such high caliber soccer.
Working on his tricks prior to kick-off.
This pic and the pic below are candids of Will after the first Dash goal - one
of the best direct free kicks either of us had ever seen - and the Aggie goal.  
I love that when something exciting happens on the soccer field, he looks to me -
I appreciate every soccer-related moment the two of us share on and off the field.
2. After two failed attempts to organize a birthday party for Hallie (both plans fell through but for different reasons), she and I settled on just having her four closest friends over for dinner, cake and ice cream, and a few games on Friday evening. We ended up throwing in a piƱata, photo shoot, craft project, and Equestria Girls jam session, and as Hallie and I drove home after dropping everyone off late that night, she told me it was the best birthday party of her entire life. I may have teared up a little, but Hallie didn't notice thanks to the cover of darkness.

3. On Sunday we - the four Ferri along with our friends/neighbors - held our 2nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt. We stepped it up a notch this time around...a certain husband and father dressed up as a giant man bunny thanks to a costume my mom found when cleaning out her basement a couple of months ago. "Almost" all of the kids had fun!
Oh, sweet Cullen. He did not enjoy hunting
for Easter eggs, until we were done hunting
for Easter eggs, of course.
The only pic we managed to
snap of the "Easter Bunny"...
4. Hallie's actual birthday - Monday - went beautifully. She awoke to a room full of birthday balloons (an accidental tradition), ate birthday donuts for breakfast, shared treats with both her classmates and her Mini Company friends, took us out to dinner at her favorite Mexican restaurant, tore through her presents, and finished the day by blowing out the "8" candle one last time. Thank you to everyone who helped make her birthday and birthday weekend special!

5. Happiness Highlights:
Kroger's semi-annual wine sale... 
These two...
My car is having a little work done on it this week, so in true
Texas fashion, this is my rental "car" from Hertz. It's kind of fun...

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here: