Friday, May 17, 2019

High Five for Friday (5.17.19)

Since last Friday's post had to do with Mother's Day, this week's High Five for Friday post covers a couple of weeks' worth of high fives.

I am fairly certain there is no way - at least if you have school-aged children - to NOT feel overwhelmed in May. I liken the month to a marathon, except that instead of running at a slow and steady pace, we are expected to run at top speed for all 26.2 miles. My legs sure are tired...

Two weekends back, combinations of the four Ferri celebrated the (near) end of the dance year with our annual Mini Company pool party, celebrated a friend's birthday at Altitude, enjoyed a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat put on by our local theatre company, auditioned for Apprentice Company for the 2019-2020 dance year, performed at a music festival in Houston, celebrated a great performance at said music festival at Splashtown Water Park, and worked on the lawn and the Mad Science Laboratory. The weekend was crazy, but we had so much fun with each other and our dance, soccer, school, and neighborhood friends.
Mini Company 2018-2019
Hallie with the Narrator and Joseph.
Trying to keep ourselves distracted/occupied while
our girls were auditioning for Apprentice Company
Wine and a fabulous charcuterie board helped.
About to perform at the Splashtown Music Festival. They received a high
score from all of the judges, and the cellos received a "best section" award!
Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Throughout all of last week we celebrated both the teachers and the nurses in our lives - we know and love some of the best!

Last week we also knocked out an orchestra concert, a soccer banquet, and my last two PTO meetings of the year, one of which was my last PTO meeting EVER (after SEVEN years!!!) at Will and Hallie's elementary school. These end-of-the-year events serve as a wonderful reminder of how far we - the kids, yes, but also me, in my role as a PTO Board member - have come in our various endeavors.
Will was tremendously proud to have earned second chair for
this concert. His placement, however, meant I could only see and
photograph him when he stood up to adjust his music stand.
Post-concert breakfast for dinner at our new IHOP.

Dance dress rehearsal weekend always feels like a full weekend commitment because I spend all day Friday prepping costumes, hair supplies, make up, activities, and snacks; all day Saturday at the rehearsal itself; and all Sunday unpacking and reorganizing everything for the actual performance two weeks later. Thankfully, this year's dress rehearsal went fairly smoothly...and I didn't sit in pee!
Each of those five bags contains a costume, tights, shoes, and a
hair accessory. On the floor are a batch of cookies, a bag of candy,
transition shoes, a nude leo, a jacket, make-up, and hair supplies. The
backpack contains another change of clothes, activities to help
pass the downtime, and snacks. And that is just Hallie's stuff. 
Ready to get this show on the road! 

Happiness Highlights
Mini Company members of the month. 
He still loves boxes.
Hallie's official ballet portrait.
The aftermath of my bathroom "duck and cover"
during our most recent tornado warning. Note the
kitty in the back of the photo - he willingly kept me
company in the bathroom with me the entire time. 
Will's 6th grade black bear habitat. I add "6th grade"
because Will also made a black bear habitat in 2nd
grade. Too bad we didn't hang on to that one...
Working on her own bun!

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Get Out of Jail Free Card

Intending to take a picture of our Monopoly game's "get out of jail
free" card, I opened the door to the game closet. Yikes. I never did
find the game so this photo - of the mess - will have to do. Tackling
this closet will be our first project come summer vacation!
Sometimes after an exceptionally busy week month all of 2019, I cash in one of two or three "get out of jail free cards" I allow myself to use when it comes to the blog. Instead of new content, today you'll find a fun compilation post to hopefully provide you with a thought-provoking read, an emotional pick-me-up, a mental reset, an authentic laugh, or reassurance that kindness and generosity are still all around us.

11 Rules You Will Never Learn in School
This video is now saved in my "watch with Will and Hallie" folder.

In honor of Mother's Day...I am the Keeper
I see you. And I salute you.

No one loves fall as much as this dog.
Except maybe me.

The Spring Mom Struggle
Anyone? ANYONE?!

Kids should be in charge of naming all the things.
On a related note, if you see me in person, ask me to tell you about Will and his armpit confusion. I can't share it here because he's a tweenager, but I'm allowed to share it in real life.

An incredibly interesting take - written by a well-known elementary school principal - on the ongoing college admissions scandal.
This makes SO MUCH SENSE.

I love "music videos" like this one.
And I've loved this song forever.

I want this "firevase" video to be legit...
If it is, I will be first in line to make a purchase.

How to Create a More Peaceful World, courtesy of Jane Goodall.
I love her.

For those of you with tween or teenage daughters (or sons), this article - about reframing anxiety and strengthening resilience - might be helpful.
"Anxiety is a normal and healthy function, and much of the anxiety that teenagers express is a sign that they are aware of their surroundings, mindful of their growing responsibilities, and frightened of things that are, in fact, scary."

I strive to be more like 15-year-old Greta Thunberg.

As we near the end of this compilation, a laugh: What It's Like to be a Kid Today
The comedic stylings of this 14-year-old are a little crass, but they're also spot on and quite funny.

And to wrap things up, another laugh: one man's take on the absurdity of Peleton advertisements. Reminds me of this take on the Williams Sonoma catalog, which when I read it for the first time had me crying out loud in my McOffice.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Mother Tree

Last year my mom sent me a Mother's Day card. Inside she shared the poem below, written by Susan Notes Anderson, followed by her own words - also below - on the meaning of its lyrical verses. As I feel somewhat short on my own words to accompany Mother's Day this year, I have decided to share these. They are beautiful and heartfelt and perfect for this special holiday.

A woman is a treat of life; the heavens know her grace.
In her is found an essence that eclipses time and space.
She reaches heavenward, her fingers branching toward the sun
And winds her roots through rocks and dirt
To bless the work she's feed and anchor tender shoots by her good seed begun.


Is there anything in nature more beautiful than a woman who plants her roots deeply enough to bring forth strong branches and green leaves? Like a majestic tree, she offers shelter to all who seek her. She loves and is love, nurtures and is nurtured.

A woman who finds good ground blesses the lives of others and, in doing so, her own.

Happy Mother's Day to all those celebrating (and hugs to those for whom today hurts), especially my mom, grandma, mother-in-law, sister Sara, sis-in-law Chandi, and village of mama bear friends. I love you all, and cherish our unique and special connections.

For fun, here are a few of my favorite past Mother's Day posts.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cheers to Teachers

One day during his kindergarten year, Will came home from school and told me the world was flat. I gently corrected him, but he argued his position for quite some time. It seemed he had misunderstood or misheard his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pratt, when they were talking about the shape of our planet, and he wouldn't let it go. Finally he turned to face me, put his hands on his hips, and declared, "Well MAYBE, Mom, Mrs. Pratt is smarter than you".

It was the first time Will had - at least verbally - considered the possibility that another adult might be smarter than his parents, and I might have felt a little defeated if I hadn't loved Mrs. Pratt almost as much as Will did. She helped all of us transition smoothly into elementary school, she kept careful watch over Will as we navigated his first non-peanut-free academic setting, and she fueled his love for learning by keeping him engaged and challenged. She was - is - an incredible teacher, and we were lucky that both Will and Hallie began their elementary school careers in her classroom.
Mrs. Pratt and Hallie at her kindergarten music program.

Why am I sharing this seven-year-old story and talking about teachers? This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. In just 17 days, Hallie and I will walk out of Will and Hallie's elementary school for the last time. In honor of this (both celebratory and heart-breaking) milestone, I decided to publicly share my appreciation for all of the teachers and administrators Will and Hallie have had the honor  their elementary years.

Mrs. Pratt - kinder, both Will and Hallie
Mrs. Trotter - 1st, both Will and Hallie
Mrs. Burkhalter - 1st, both Will and Hallie
Mrs. Bedard - 2nd, Will
Mrs. O'Quinn - 2nd, Will
Mrs. Williams - 3rd, Will
Ms. Shimek - 3rd, Will
Mrs. Barker - 4th, Will
Mrs. Decell - 4th, both Will and Hallie
Mrs. O'Neill - 4th, Will
Mrs. Gallagher - GT, both Will and Hallie
Mrs. Romero - GT, Hallie
Mrs. Lipscomb - 2nd, Hallie
Mrs. Roddy - 2nd, Hallie
Mrs. Stephens - 3rd, Hallie
Ms. Steiner - 3rd, Hallie
Mrs. DeVerna - 4th, Hallie
Mrs. Bratcher - music, both Will and Hallie
Mrs. Dean - art, both Will and Hallie
Ms. Harris - art, Hallie
Mrs. McCabe - computers, both Will and Hallie
Coach Weldon - PE, both Will and Hallie
Coach Ledyard - PE, both Will and Hallie
Coach Lynne - PE, Hallie
Coach Benevidas - PE, Hallie
Mrs. Witte - librarian, both Will and Hallie
Ms. Rhodes - librarian, Hallie
Nurse Benedict - lifesaver, both Will and Hallie
Ms. Ballard - Principal, Will
Mrs. Hannath - VP, both Will and Hallie
Mr. McIntire - Interim Principal, Will
Mrs. Jones - Principal, both Will and Hallie
Ms. Sanders - VP, Hallie
Mr. Durand - Principal, Hallie

Every single one of these incredible educators had a positive impact on our lives. Some more than others, and some in more obvious ways, but as we officially leave behind this academic stage, I can say with certainty that Will and Hallie wouldn't be nearly as successful - insightful, creative, hardworking, and kind - if they hadn't spent their elementary years learning from these Rock Prairie teachers.

This week I lift my glass - and I hope you will too - to all of the teachers in your life. Those you know and love (a special shout out to my sister, Sara); those who taught, guided, loved, and supported you; and those who have done the same for your children.  

This list doesn't include the many custodial staff, kitchen staff, paraprofessionals, aides, student teachers, methods students, specialists, etc. who while not directly teaching Will and Hallie, still contributed to their elementary experience. Cheers to them as well!

Friday, May 3, 2019

High Five for Friday (5.3.19)

On Friday evening we attended - and helped coordinate, per our role as a PTO family - our last Rockin' 'Rangler Picnic. This entire semester feels like one long farewell to childhood (not in a good way), and Friday night was no exception. Nevertheless, we had a great time watching the kids burn off excess energy in the bounce houses, get their faces painted, select their balloons animals, and play with their friends.

My parents came to visit for the majority of the week, and were able to join us for the picnic and a variety of other both special and mundane, every day events. It was wonderful to catch up with them, and we were particularly grateful for their help around the house and shuttling the kids to and from school, dance, and soccer.

The original reason behind my parents' visit was Hallie's birthday. Or more specifically, Hallie's birthday gift, which was tickets for my mom, Hallie, and me to see Matilda the Musical in Austin. Since she received the musical's soundtrack from her Aunt Sara three weeks ago, Hallie has learned almost all of the words to almost all of the songs, and she adored singing along - sometimes in her head, sometimes quietly but out loud - with some of her newest favorite characters. The show was incredibly well done, and reminded us how much we love musical theater.

The last week has been a busy one school-wise. Will participated in - and I baked lemonade cupcakes for - his school's Lemonade Day (students learn how to start and operate a small business) and Hallie participated in her school's Science Expo (she presented on "Cat Genetics: Why Does That Cat Look Like That?"), and my parents and I were able to attend both events.
"Aloha Summer Lemonade"...
...selling Mama Ferris' famous lemonade cupcakes!
Hallie and her poem puzzle watercolor painting. (The
poem is a puzzle, and she had to paint a picture that would
help parents figure out to what the poem was referring.)
Hallie's project and presentation were on cat genetics.

Happiness Highlights
Tux brought Will a snake and left it in the fort that Will and Hallie
had built and in which they had planned to sleep. Thankfully, these
three brave souls found and removed the snake from the premises.
Shopping with Grandma and Grandpa at Lake Walk Market. We scored
lots of fresh, delicious goodies and enjoyed the almost summer-like weather.
Hallie, Grandma, and I climbed the observation tower. I didn't die.
"Boozy cupcakes" from Symmply Sweets - SO delicious!
A quick stop at Blue Bell Park on our way to
soccer practice with Aggie Coach G at Ellis Field.
Will and Hallie could have posed all evening.
A full year after the amazing Shannon Morton took
this gorgeous picture of Hallie, the professionally
framed version finally made it onto her wall.

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Monthly Medley: April 2019

I have an article - about the Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Houston - in this month's issue of Texas Living Magazine. It was truly an honor to learn and then write about these exceptionally valiant and skilled members of the United States Armed Forces, and I look forward to visiting the museum with Will and Hallie later this summer.

In April I read Ruth Ware's fourth psychological thriller, The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Like Ware's previous three stories, Mrs. Westaway twists and turns from the first page to the last. Unlike Ware's previous three stories, Mrs. Westaway's gut-punch surprise ending was somewhat difficult to follow - I had to backtrack more than once to make sure I fully understood the unfolding plot. That said, I still recommend this and Ware's other three books - once I finished the first chapter I couldn't put it down!

We've had little time for watching this month, but we did try out and enjoy the British nature documentary Our Planet on Netflix.

By the time I get everyone to bed, finish working, and settle down onto the couch or into bed myself, I lack the energy and focus required to start a new television show or follow new storylines on shows with which I'm already familiar. So I watch Friends. It is my all-time favorite show, about my all-time favorite characters, and it makes me feel happy. Anyone else? What's your go-to show on nights when your brain simply can't handle new and complex?

Listening To
In April I started listening to Cold, a podcast about the 2009 disappearance of Susan Powell. When Susan went missing 10 years ago, I was a sleep-deprived mother of a toddler and an infant, with two jobs at the Red Cross and a husband in graduate school. Needless to say, I spent little time watching television (except while feeding Hallie in the middle of the night) or on social media and therefore didn't know any details about the case. I had heard just enough back then, however, to be intrigued when I came across this podcast at the beginning of the month. Thus far the podcast has been extremely well done, and I plan to continue listening through to the end of this season's 18-episode arc.

This cat hair towel seems ridiculous and unnecessary, but it looks adorable and does a remarkably good job drying Hallie's hair. I consider it well worth the $14 I paid for a two-pack!

I usually overwear my athletic shoes. (Until last week, the pair I wore to the gym every day had multiple holes near my toes and in the heels.) The problem is that I prefer Mizunos, and they are typically both expensive and difficult to find; stores like DSW, which carry 60+ pairs of Nikes, carry zero pairs of Mizunos. My solution is to regularly check Amazon, and when I find a pair I like that are also in my size and come with a price tag below $70 (which only happens once - maybe twice - a year), I click "order". A couple of weeks ago the stars aligned and I found a great pair. It's wonderful not to see my pinky toes sticking out the size of my shoes anymore!

I can't use it quite yet, at least not officially, but I LOVE my new Simplified Planner from Emily Ley. I tried the weekly version a few years ago and wasn't a fan, but the way I take notes, make lists, and track events/activities has changed since then and I think this daily version will work for me now. And it's SO pretty...

I also can't wait to use my new Pilot pens, also from Emily Ley. (Yes, I could technically use these now, but I'm holding off until I can also use the planner, since they go so well together.)

It's a little embarrassing to admit that after nearly 30 years of cake decorating I just now figured out a technique to make filling my frosting bags easier and neater. In case you can't tell from the picture, I put the prepped frosting bag upside down in a similarly-sized cup, spooned the frosting into the bag, and then tapped the cup on the counter to gradually shift the frosting down in the bag. So easy. So neat.

I somehow forgot to share in March's Monthly Medley two delicious desserts I made at the end of the month. I took both to a dance event and watched as every single morsel disappeared within just a few minutes.
  • I wanted to make a cookie that would appeal (even more so than cookies in general) to kids, and I had a hefty stash of sprinkles on hand thanks to a friend. I started searching the internet, and when I came across these Sprinkle Cookies I knew I'd found the perfect dessert for that day. Per usual, I cut the sugar, this time by half. No one missed it in the slightest!
  • I used this Andes Mint Cupcake as my guide, but I tweaked both the cupcake and frosting recipes a bit. For the cupcakes, I cut both sugars to about 1/3 c. and added 1 T. of mint extract. (You could make any chocolate cupcake and mint extract here - you don't need to use this specific recipe.) For the frosting, I added 8 oz. of cream cheese and 1 t. of vanilla extract and used milk instead of heavy cream. If you like mint, this dessert is for you!

Feeling Good About

Farewell, April! 

Friday, April 26, 2019

High Five for Friday (4.26.19)

We desperately needed the Easter four-day weekend. We stayed surprisingly busy, but at this point in the year we regularly go a mile a minute from sun-up until (long after) sun-down and appreciated the *slightly* more relaxed schedule during our break.

We had planned to host our annual garage sale a few weeks back, but Hallie broke her wrist the night before (as we were setting up for the garage sale, as bad luck would have it), so we postponed it until last weekend. The moms cleared out lots of stuff, the girls sold lemonade and cookies, and we all ended up with a little cash in our pockets.

As soon as we wrapped up our garage sale, the kids and I hopped in the car and headed to Houston for Will's 714th soccer engagement of the season. (Just kidding, of course. There have actually only been 183 soccer engagements this season.) (Just kidding again. I think.) The tournament itself didn't end well for Will's team, but the boys learned a lot and in between games we enjoyed the pool, pizza delivery, and Harry Potter movies at our hotel.

We celebrated Easter with our annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday afternoon and as a family on Sunday morning (before Tom had to go out of town for work). A highlight this year: for the first time I the Easter Bunny hid chocolate eggs around our house. In years past, Will couldn't eat chocolate eggs because of the risk of peanut contamination. However now that he has completed his peanut desensitization, he can eat all of the chocolate ("processed in a facility that also processes peanut products") he wants. I don't know that I've ever seen a 12yo and a 10yo so excited to look for anything!
Hallie requested "bunny butts" for this years Easter cupcakes. 
Almost all of our egg hunting kiddos.
Take one step back and you can see the 3yo who - in
typical 3yo fashion - refused to have his picture taken.
The Young/Ferris boys at this, our fourth annual Easter Egg Hunt...
...and at our first (what would become annual) Easter Egg Hunt.
Thanks, Easter Bunny!
Can you spot the hidden chocolate egg?

Happiness Highlights
Will's second-to-last baby tooth
fell out during our Easter Egg Hunt!
These flowers smelled amazing. 
And these blooms were stunning.
Four sweet girlies - with matching pink curly ribbons
in their hair - waiting for their next dance class to start.
Their best attempt (having not seen the original in years) at recreating a
photo we took at the end of dance photo weekend when they were six.
He's SO tolerant. And apparently a Cavalry fan.

Happy Friday, friends!