Friday, May 31, 2019

High Five for Friday (5.31.19)

Since last Friday's post was all about my girl "graduating" from elementary school, this week's High Five for Friday post covers a couple of weeks' worth of high fives.


The last week of school brought a host of fun and rewarding events for Will and Hallie, and therefore me as well. Will had Catstravaganza (a school-wide fun day), his end-of-the-year Awards Ceremony, and his last soccer tournament of the athletic year. Hallie had Field Day, a Student Council lock-in, the 4th grade auction, an end-of-the-year popsicle party, a field trip to the swimming pool, and her final Mini Company performances. The last two weeks of May are always a whirlwind, but in a good way!
The only picture I have from Catstravaganza:
PTO moms and teachers feeding hundreds of
students in-between their fun day activities!
Will did well academically, but this award made me the proudest.
Waiting out the soccer tournament lightening delay in Dallas
over lunch with cousins Katy, Nate, Dave, and sweet baby Ben!
The "get sprayed with a hose" station at Field Day is a favorite.
Field Day Limbo
Field Day Tug-O-War
A bittersweet note: one of Hallie's best friends (Tessa) is
moving away. They met on the first day of third grade, and
have packed an enormous amount of friendship into the last
two years. I'm so grateful they found each other when they did.
On the top: at their 4th grade Student Council Lock-In.
On the bottom: at their kindergarten end-of-the-year program.
Popsicles on the monkey bars.
Kara and Hallie
Last formal Mini Company performance.
Last (clearly) informal Mini Company performance.

Deserving of its own high five, Hallie's 4th grade Walk the Halls. Here are Rock Prairie Elementary's "seniors" walking their school's halls and bidding farewell to their fellow students - who are cheering them on and wishing them good luck in the future - for the last time.

Also deserving of its own high five, Will's - and my - first school dance. Thinking that the sixth grade dance would be a lot of fun, last May I committed to the position of Spring Fling Coordinator for this school year. Turns out Will wasn't all that enthused about attending a dance, but he did so because I wanted him to and ended up having a blast with his friends.

Two weeks before the Spring Fling, Will and I had this conversation.

Erin: Will, are you excited for the Spring Fling?
Will: What's the Spring Fling?
Erin: The Spring Fling is the sixth grade dance, buddy.
Will: Wait. We have a sixth grade dance?

Insert eye roll.

We celebrated the start of summer, as we traditionally do, with summer fun baskets, cookie cake, and a swim party with friends.
Leaving (with tired eyes, bless their exhausted
hearts) for their last days of 6th and 4th grade.
The littles with their last day of school/summer fun buckets.
The bigs with their last day of school/summer fun buckets.

Last but not least, recital 2019 is in the books!

Happy Friday, friends!

I almost forgot...a few of you were probably waiting for this picture. 😍

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Survival of the Fittest

Summer starts today! After a busy May - and a challenging spring semester - the kids and I are more than ready for summer vacation and the adventures ahead of us.

Here's what I'm looking forward to the most:
  • Waking up without an alarm clock.
  • Visiting our families in Wisconsin and Illinois.
  • Trying new things. Both kids will start their first "jobs" (Will helping train little soccer players and Hallie helping train little dancers); Will plans to attend Lone Star Leadership Academy camp in Houston and a University of Wisconsin soccer camp in Madison, take two summer school classes, and start training for middle school cross country; and Hallie plans to attend her first true ballet intensive as well as her first musical theatre camp. 
  • Doing our favorite things. Swimming, boating, watching movies, reading books, bowling, playing miniature golf, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the campfire, eating salty popcorn and drinking lukewarm beer at the Union, shopping at farmers markets, chasing the ice cream truck, listening to live music, and going on date nights.
  • Visiting our newly remodeled public library.
  • And last but not least, taking advantage of our temporarily less-crowded college town: available tables at my favorite coffee shops, shorter waits at our favorite restaurants, plentiful parking, and considerably less traffic. 

And here's what I'm looking forward to the least:
  • Mosquitoes.
  • The heat.

Some things never change.

A few years ago I wrote an article about how to survive - and thrive while spending - summer vacation with young children. Reviewing this list a few times throughout May, June, and July helps me create and (aids in my attempts to) maintain a household/family balance between structure and pandemonium, activity and boredom, together and alone, movement and rest, responsibility and freedom. In case it might help you do the same, I thought I'd share a portion of the article here.
  1. Create a schedule. The summer schedule needn’t be as rigid as the school year schedule, but kids thrive when their days have at least some semblance of order to them. Approximate wake-up, bed, and meal times as well as regular lessons, classes, or camps will provide predictability, stability, and comfort.
  2. Create a calendar. Like the summer schedule, the summer calendar can be looser than the school year calendar. But creating a physical calendar on which each day’s plans have been noted is worth the time…and will prevent you having to field 100+ “what are we doing today?” questions before you’ve finished your first cup of coffee.
  3. Block off down time. After adding swimming lessons, art classes, and sports camps to the calendar, take note of where you have blocks of free time and designate them as just that – free time. Reserve a couple of mornings, afternoons, or even days each week for spontaneous fun: family day trips, outings to the movie theatre or swimming pool, or even just staying home and letting the kids run wild in the backyard.
  4. Give them jobs. When the kids spend more time at home, they should have more responsibilities at home. Perhaps they take on an extra chore or two, or if they’re a little older, they can care for younger siblings or help out with meal planning and preparation.
  5. Keep them on track academically. Do your future self a favor and make sure your kids stay on track academically with some kind of bridge book and daily quiet reading time. When fall rolls around and you’re back to helping with homework and projects, you’ll be glad your kids won’t need to relearn anything from the previous year. And quiet reading time is good for everyone’s sanity.
  6. Bend the rules. On occasion, throw those schedules and calendars and responsibilities out the window. Skip the chores and head to the beach. Bail on the academic work and watch cartoons. Ditch dinner at the kitchen table and have an outdoor picnic or a picnic on the living room rug.
  7. Take time for yourself. Whether a quiet morning at the coffee shop, lunch with friends, or even a weekend away, periodically step away from the kids and spend some time alone or with those in your life who rejuvenate and energize you. Mama Bears can’t keep everyone and everything else running smoothly if they haven’t first shown themselves a little love.
Nothing about this list is perfect, complete, or workable for everyone (nothing every is when it comes to kids…), but having a basic plan in place is a great way to kick off the summer.

Next week I'll be back to share my alternative to a summer bucket list...until then, enjoy your summer!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Don't Cry Because It's Over

Smile because it happened.

~ Dr. Seuss

Today Hallie finishes elementary school. I can hardly type that sentence without bursting into tears, as it feels like just yesterday I walked her through the front doors of her elementary school and delivered her to her kindergarten classroom for the first time.

For me, the baby and toddler years moved at a glacial pace. The preschool years passed by a bit more quickly, but the elementary school years? I blinked and found myself suddenly at the finish line.

Hallie begins intermediate school in less than three months, and I have no doubt those days and weeks and months will fly by more quickly than I'd like. I feel nothing but proud of the incredible young woman she is becoming, but what I wouldn't give to hold onto these big little girl years for just a while longer.

I should have started with a bigger shirt... 😂

Sweet may feel like an ending, but it is also the beginning of your next beautiful and exciting adventure. You can handle whatever comes your way as long as you remember to work hard, to be kind, and that your mama loves you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cheers to Lasts

I wasn't sure what kind of picture best fit with
a post about I decided on this one of
these two besties on their last field day.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that this semester has felt like one long farewell to childhood. As Hallie prepares to leave elementary school at the end of this week, I find myself experiencing quite a few "lasts" myself, both as a member of Will and Hallie's elementary school's PTO and as an elementary school parent. My last Boosterthon, my last music program, my last holiday party, my last Variety Show, my last fundraiser, my last field trip, my last picnic, my last field day, my last meeting...the list goes on and on.

A few years ago I read an article about how, when it comes to parenting, we often don't realize when we're doing something for the last time. We don't know when we're washing hair or tying shoelaces for the last time that we're washing hair or tying shoelaces for the last time. It isn't until days or weeks or even months have passed that we realize we are no longer handling that task for our children...and that realization, that figurative blow...when it happened to me for the first time (and the second time, and the third time), it sucked the air out of my lungs. I felt just as I remembered feeling when, as a third grader, I fell off the monkey bars and landed on my back. With the wind knocked out of me and my body temporarily in a state of stunned paralysis, I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't cry...I couldn't do anything except panic quietly inside my own head.

As I ponder lasts of all kinds, I find myself wondering: is it better to know when a last is approaching so you can prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the ups and downs that will inevitably accompany the experience? You might feel sadder while experiencing the last, but perhaps you might also feel more appreciative? Or is it better not to know when a last is approaching so you can fully experience and enjoy the last, but then have to deal with the sudden onslaught of complicated and often painful emotions when they hit days/weeks/months later? I have yet to determine the answer to these questions.

I know that on Friday Hallie and I will walk out of Rock Prairie Elementary School for the last time. I know I must prepare for the onslaught of emotions I will undoubtedly feel that day. I just wish I knew if all that knowing will make the transition easier. I guess I'll find out.

I cherish everything I have learned and the wonderful people with whom I have had the opportunity to work throughout these last seven years. I plan to spend a portion of Friday up at school saying goodbye (I also plan to bring tissues), but if I miss you - there's no way I can find, hug, and say thank you to all of the teachers, administrators, staff members, and volunteers with whom I have worked - please know how extraordinarily grateful I am for your impact on our elementary school lives.

Cheers to lasts, and the new beginnings to which they lead.

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!