Friday, March 24, 2017

High Five for Friday (3.24.17)

1. On the Friday before spring break, the kids' elementary school hosted a "Celebrate Texas" enrichment day complete with cowboys, cowgirls (the Catalina Cowgirls, to be exact), and horses. Talk about a great way to ease into a vacation from school!

2. Speaking of, we had a wonderful spring break. Two birthday parties, three playdates, a mom and kids coffee date, a visit from an old friend, a two-day vacation, LOTS of yard work, Beauty and the Beast, and a bit of unscheduled downtime. I wish we'd had another week to keep the rest, relaxation, and fun going!
Rockin' and rollin' at a Stutters-led dancing birthday party.
Visiting the Bullock Texas State History Museum.
Riding the train in Austin's Zilker Park.
Our new Meyer lemon tree. 😍
3. Hallie and I put out/up our Easter decorations, so the house and yard feel festive and ready for spring!

4. When looking through old pictures, I came across one that highlighted how similar Will's second grade teeth looked to Hallie's second grade teeth...which are currently coming in in an "interesting" - and somewhat orthodontically challenged - arrangement. Will's teeth gradually looked less concerning over time, so this comparison gives me hope that Hallie's will also look less concerning throughout the next year or two.

5. Happiness Highlights:
This lovely young woman began volunteering for me (in my
position as Director of Volunteer Resources) as a middle schooler.
12+ years later, she has risen through the ranks of the American Red
Cross and last week received the Everyday Heroes Volunteer
Leadership Award. I couldn't be prouder of you, Aparna!
My mom found this picture of me dressed
in a bunny costume...just in time for Easter!
This little buddy didn't pee on ANYTHING
while we were gone on our short vacation! 
This fashionista and I rode our bikes all the way to the
library and the donut shop on Sunday. She was delightful
company, reminding me how much I enjoy spending time
with her...especially when I have her all to myself. 
This is what our "first day back to school after spring break" looked
like. As I hugged Will goodbye at the crossing guard, I glanced down
and discovered he was wearing two different shoes. We all had a good
laugh, and he went about his day...I wish I could be that easy-going! 
After nearly a month, I was reunited with my seatbelt cover/neck
shield. I accidentally left it in my old car when we traded it in, and on
Saturday I finally picked it up from the dealer. My neck is so happy!

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Few Words Wednesday (Jokes Edition)

This has been Hallie's favorite joke for at least three months, so when we walked into Target and saw it printed on a little girl t-shirt, we knew the t-shirt and its matching shorts belonged in Hallie's wardrobe.

Now if only I could get her to eat - or even try - the food she loves to joke about!

Monday, March 20, 2017

We're All Mad, I Tell You

Ferris Family March Madness began 13 years ago with a simple, friendly competition between newlyweds. 11 years ago our cat, Duke, joined the game when we developed a complicated treat- and toy-based selection system to help him fill out his bracket. Nine years ago Will participated for the first time, and seven years ago we entered Will's bracket in our online pool for University of Michigan graduate students and he didn't finish in last place. Four years ago Hallie participated for the first time, and while she usually finishes a distant last, she adds a little excitement and commotion to the competition because no one wants to lose to a seven-year-old who makes her selections based on mascots and school colors.
Making the difficult choice between Bears and Wildcats.
The process can't be rushed.
Here's a little history of our family competition for those of you who might be interested: 20082009201020132014, 2015, 2016. (Apparently I didn't write about the madness in 2011 or 2012.) I highly recommend checking out the 2013 post, as it links back to an adorable video of two-year-old Will making his bracket choices and breezing right past his now-beloved Aggies. 

We decided not to enter Tux in the competition this year - none of us had the time and/or energy required to help him make 63 decisions using complicated treat and toy incentives - so in 2017 it's just Dad vs. Mom vs. Will vs. Hallie. Our annual battle of the brackets will end in cheers for one and tears for (at least one of) the others, and then after all is said and done we'll talk about how much we love this family tradition and can't wait to do it all again next year.

Are you participating in March Madness? If so, did this past weekend bust your bracket or are you still going strong?

Edited to add: at the end of the first two rounds, Hallie is in the lead with 50 points! Will is nipping at her heels with 49 points, and both Tom and I have 45 points. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Flashback Friday: I a Yittle Sher-rerck

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here are a Flashback Friday photo and video of my sweet boy - at two-and-a-half years old - showing off one of his first preschool art projects and singing "I'm a Little Shamrock" (otherwise known as "I a Yittle Sher-rerck") on St. Patrick's Day 2009.

I'm a little shamrock, look at me.
Here are my green leaves, one, two, three.
When I'm out you know it's time to say,
"Have a happy St. Patrick's Day!"

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends!

Will's face is red and his voice sounds scratchy because he'd spent the 20 minutes prior to taking the photo and filming the video crying...because in our first video attempt I tried to sing along with him. Shame on me.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Garbage Can to Call His Own

I guess this is the week for follow-ups...though this one promises to bring about a bigger smile than the one I shared on Monday.

You might recall a post I wrote about a sweet little boy's assessment of the garbage can situation in his immediate and extended family... This darling preschooler - my nephew, Carter - just celebrated his fourth birthday. And when my mom/his Grandma Brenda asked him what he wanted for his birthday, Carter provided her with a two-pronged answer:
  1. A trash can for his room.
  2. An empty box in/under which he could catch leprechauns.
No toys, no books, no sporting equipment...just a trash can and an empty box. Needless to say, Carter received both gifts for his birthday. And he's never been happier, keeping his room tidy and chasing leprechauns.

Daddy's Grandpa has blue. Mommy's Grandpa has brown. Daddy has geen. And now, Carter has yellow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

In Her Own Words

You probably recall the texting and driving posts (the initial story and the SAVE 2 SAVE ap) I shared few weeks back. As a final follow-up, I would like to share young Grace's version of the story. She wrote about and drew a picture of the day's events for a third grade language arts assignment, and graciously granted me permission to both read her story and then pass it along to you. (My clarifications are in parentheses.)

Weekend News, January 17, 2017

This weekend I went over to my friends house when a white car drived by. A few seconds later the car hit a mailbox two houses down from mine. Although no one was hurt there was some sirise (serious) damage to the mailbox. After I crossed the street safely I asked my friend if she wanted to check it out. She said yes but only with a grown up. We decided to go with my dad who was alridy on his way there. When we got there we look around. Bricks everywhere. We clind (cleaned) up a little bit. But then we saw the car. It was a kid that did that but it was her mom (who came to) talk to us about it. She helpt clean up the mess. We said (we) are good and she went.

"Me", "Hallie", and "what's left of the mailbox"
A couple of thoughts... First, the accident happened on a Friday afternoon, yet it stayed with Grace through the weekend and until Monday, when it dominated her thoughts enough to become the sole topic of her weekend news. And second, while she recognized two important details about the accident - the driver of the car was "a kid", and the damage to the mailbox was serious - Grace didn't recognize (or at least acknowledge in her writing) the other two important details: the driver of the car had been texting, and the serious damage could have been to her, rather than the mailbox.

I wasn't ready to go into great detail and/or use frightening specifics with Will and Hallie about what could have happened to Grace. But since that weekend I have talked - generally speaking - to them about the dangers of texting and driving almost every day, and I know Grace's mom has been talking to her kids as well. I continue to use SAFE 2 SAVE regularly (we cashed in a free Bahama Bucks shaved ice last week and can't wait to use a buy one get one free bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes this weekend), and while the ap isn't a perfect solution, it has absolutely made a difference in our family.

Midway through writing this post last Thursday afternoon I took a break to run a quick errand. On my two-mile round trip I saw two people holding and looking at their phones while driving. This behavior is of course unsafe, but in our community it's also illegal. I have no idea what I can do to cure this epidemic other than to continue sharing my/others' experiences and publicize potential solutions that come across my radar, so that's what I'll do. If you have an experience or a potential solution I could share here on Chasing Roots, don't hesitate to email me at

Stay safe out there, friends.

And thank you, Grace!

Friday, March 10, 2017

High Five for Friday (3.10.17)

1. Last Thursday afternoon this girl donned a poodle skirt and sang, danced, and rocked her way through her second grade musical program. These are the moments they'll remember about elementary school...

2. On Thursday evening I went out with new group mom friends. Well, the combination of moms was new; some of the moms are good friends of mine, some are acquaintances, and some I had never met before. Making new friends never gets easier, but I think doing so - even when we already have good friends - helps us become stronger and more accepting individuals because it forces us to step outside our comfort zones and consider how we come across to those who don't know our histories. I'll "cheers" to that!

3. On Friday evening we (PTO) put on a "Movie Night" at the kids' elementary school. I didn't watch the movie, but my fellow PTO moms and I had a lovely conversation with the two TAMU college students who volunteered to help us out during the event. We periodically take students up on their offers to lend a hand, and while this often goes well, sometimes it doesn't. These two were punctual, hard-working, and friendly, and they gave me hope for our future. Also, one of them was named Ross, which prompted an entertaining conversation about which televisions shows our parents must have watched prior to each of us coming into the world.
He looks like a "Ross", doesn't he?
4. As of 3:05pm today, our last PTO fundraiser of the school year has wrapped and spring break has begun! We have a few activities and birthday parties on the calendar and a short trip planned, but we haven't overbooked ourselves. I want to make sure scheduled time doesn't dominate, and that when spring break comes to an end we feel rested and ready to tackle the remainder of the school year!

5. Happiness Highlights:
Every time we turn on the fireplace I hope it won't be the
last time for the season...I love chilly - and even cold - nights!
These two cuties have been accidentally dressing alike
since they were three years old and in preschool together.
1/3 (well, maybe 1/2 of the one with chocolate frosting)
of four different delectable cupcakes from Silos Baking
Co. at the Magnolia Silos. I enjoyed every last crumb.
This week was Parent Participation Week at Hallie's dance studio. On
Monday afternoon I took ballet and jazz classes, attended Mini Company
rehearsal, and pulled one muscle. I also gained a healthy amount of respect
for the amount of work my seven-year-old puts into her favorite activity.
"Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move mountains."
(This picture isn't staged - she fell asleep like this.)

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

40 Bags in 40 Days

As I wrote (back at the end of February) Monday's post about Hallie's bedroom, I started thinking about what I wanted to do in observance of Lent. During my college years, 20s, and early 30s, I gave up chocolate, candy, coffee, soda, or the like, but in recent years I have gravitated away from "giving up" in favor of "adding in". I have also looked for opportunities to broaden our horizons, simplify our lives, and/or improve the lives of those in our community. Along these lines, this year I have decided to take on the "40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge".

The Challenge coincides with the 40 days of Lent, and involves cleaning out the clutter that keeps us from being able to truly enjoy and appreciate our lives. The focus is on letting go of stuff, but also on making small sacrifices. According to the Simply Catholic blog, "it should hurt - not a lot, but a bit. There should be some small sense of having to sacrifice or maybe some small bit of contrition at how much we hold onto things when we could give that time and energy to God." An added benefit to the Challenge is that at the end of the 40 days you should have 40 bags (or so) of clothing, toys, books, and household items to donate.
Thus far I've tackled Will's, Hallie's, and my clothes and shoes, a few kitchen
drawers and cabinets, the linen closet, and two sections of the garage. Anyone
need a crib mattress or balance bike? (Both were loved but are still functional...)
Yes, we're already a week into March, but there's still time to take up the challenge. If you aren't sure where to start, check out the printables and instructions shared on White House Black Shutters. Organizing Moms also shared a few great links for those who would like more information about decluttering in general and/or a simpler, smaller-scale version of this challenge called "40 Items in 40 Days".

I purge reguarly, so when all is said and done I probably won't have 40 full bags of donations. I will, however, have spent the 40 days of Lent making small sacrifices and making 40 spaces in my home that look and feel simpler.

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." ~ William Morris

Monday, March 6, 2017


I find it hard to believe we've lived in Texas long enough to have started redoing - painting, decorating, etc. - rooms in our house we fixed up shortly after moving in, but somehow that's where we found ourselves last weekend. Yes, the list of first-round house projects and upgrades remains long, but the need to turn our Hallie Claire's little girl room into a big girl room took precedence.

In case you're curious, my house/yard short list includes cleaning the carpets in Will's room, the guest room, and the master bedroom (replacing the carpet in these three rooms as well as Hallie's room is on my long-term list); updating our six ceiling fans; updating the lighting, fixtures, sinks, and countertops in our guest/kids' bathroom; updating the fixtures, sink, and countertops in our half bathroom; and planting a nectarine tree and a lemon tree in our backyard. Tom's house/yard short list includes cleaning and painting the gutters, repairing and painting the shed, digging up a few stumps in the backyard, and replacing three exterior doors. Luckily for Tom, his dad plans to visit us and help with his projects later this spring!

My parents, on their way from Wisconsin to vacation on South Padre Island, stopped over in College Station for a few days and to help me with the project - their birthday gift to Hallie. Over the course of two jam-packed days we cleaned her carpets, painted her walls, and put the room back together with a little old, a lot of new, and loads of love.

I realized after I emptied the room that I didn't have any recent pictures of Hallie's space. Most of the pictures below were taken right after she moved in six years ago (so long ago that her diaper genie can be seen sitting next to the dresser); since that time we had rearranged the furniture, taken out the rocking chair, and added a vanity, and my sister had painted more trees - to match the trees on Hallie's quilt - on the wall.
I love the windowseat in Hallie's room.
Ah, the diaper genie...
I loved that bedspread...almost as much as I
loved the trees Aunt Sara painted on the wall.
The only picture I have of the other two trees...taken
when I let 4yo Hallie turn her room into a rain forest.
And now, Hallie's new room.
The view from the door.
The wall straight ahead was intentionally blank - it's
waiting patiently for Aunt Sara to paint her next mural. 
Hallie "dressing corner".
I do love her more than sunshine.
Ready for more books!
Hallie LOVES her updated space, as do I. It feels fresh, clean, and organized, and a few of the adjustments we made gave her a little room to grow.
Isn't that bedspread pattern fabulous?!
We both still love the window seat.
Speaking of clean and organized, a friend walked into Hallie's room and, after admiring the updates, asked, "wait. Where are all of her toys? Where's all the 'stuff'?" Good question!

Moving left to right through the room, some of Hallie's art and school supplies are in and on her desk. (She has an art center in our family/music/play room, and the majority of her crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue, scissors, construction paper, coloring books, paints, etc. have a permanent home in that room.) All of Hallie's non-hanging clothes are in her dresser. Hallie's picture and library books, as well as the things she might need while in bed (bookmarks, chapstick, bandaids), are on her bedside table shelves. Hallie's jewelry and little trinkets are in her jewelry boxes and the baskets on her vanity shelves. And her chapter books are on her new bookshelf. Hallie's room also has a high shelf that wraps around the entire room, and she keeps photos, art, and trophies - things she wants to keep and see but doesn't play with - on this shelf.

The rest of Hallie's clothes and toys are in her closet, which I've tried to organize in a way that feels clean, tidy, and easily accessible to a nearly-eight-year-old.
"In-season" clothes, shoes, and bins of American Girl
accessories, Lego sets, My Little Ponies, and Shopkins.
"Off-season" clothes, dance costumes
and bags, and American Girl furniture.
Hats and bags.
Her closet has a high shelf as well - it's perfect for luggage,
an air mattress (her "trundle bed"), and her sleeping bag.
Her closet also has a built-in toy box, which
is FULL of stuffed animals, and shelving. 
I am the opposite of a hoarder. I believe in decorating and making spaces feel comfortable and homey, but if clothes aren't worn, toys aren't played with, or other items around the house aren't used (with the exception of those that are truly sentimental), I sell or donate them. For me, when my house is cluttered, my brain is cluttered. And when my brain is cluttered, I feel discombobulated in every area of my life, I am less productive both at home and work, and, though I hate to admit it, I am grumpy. For my kids, I want to teach them the importance of sharing what they have with others (they clean out their own closets and pull out toys, books, and clothes to donate about three times a year) and that accumulating stuff for the sake of accumulating stuff won't make them happier...if anything, it will lead to perpetual dissatisfaction. Some days the lessons sink in, other days they don't.😉

So there you have it - our first reredecoration project in our new(est) house. Maybe now that we wrapped it up I can get back to that lengthy short-term to-do list!