Friday, June 28, 2019

High Five for Friday (6.28.19)

My boy comes home from camp today! After I drop Hallie off for her final day of Drama Kids Musical Theatre Camp, I'll drive to Houston, attend the end-of-camp program/ceremony, and then give him a great big hug before we load up and head back to College Station.
She wasn't happy about him leaving, and she can't wait to see him
tonight...but they'll probably start fighting 10 minutes after they reunite.

As we wrap up Will's third and final year as a Lonestar Leadership Academy camper, I'm grateful for the many incredible experiences he's had at each camp. For example, just this year they visited the San Jacinto Battle Monument, Battleship Texas, the Health Museum, Moody Gardens, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Challenger Learning Center, and the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts. They also took a marine biology tour in Galveston Bay, the Sam Houston Boat tour, and a private tour of Space Center Houston, and they spent the night in the George Observatory. In addition to all of that, the kids spend quite a bit of time developing their leadership skills and preparing to "participate as informed leaders" in their communities.
Off he goes!
All checked in and ready for a great week!
Saying goodbye to Dad. (Tom drops off and I pick up because
I can't handle the emotions that come with leaving Will at camp.)

For those of you whose children might be interested in this camp, you can find more information here or feel free to send me an email at The program lasts for three years - year one is held in Dallas/Fort Worth, year two is held in Austin/San Antonio, and year three is held in Houston/Galveston - and students can participate starting the summer after fourth, fifth, or sixth grade.

Tonight, after one week of camp and three weeks of memorizing her lines, Hallie takes the stage as Dorothy in the Drama Kids Musical Theatre Camp's production of Wizard of Oz. I feel like I might vomit from the nerves (though she of course doesn't know that) but I can't wait to see these kids' hard work come alive on stage!

No pics of the performance yet, so here are a few of our Dorothy hair practice session instead.
Notice what's on TV in the background.
Dorothy's hairstyle is actually a combination of twists
and braids - took me a couple of tries to get it right.

On a related note, back in January Hallie and I attended a local high school's production of Wizard of Oz. We would have purchased tickets regardless, but I was particularly excited to see the show because the student playing Dorothy was the daughter of a friend. Fast forward a few months... I mentioned Hallie's casting as Dorothy to my friend, and she suggested I contact her daughter - Christina, who played Dorothy - to see if she might be willing to run lines and talk with Hallie as she prepared for her first time on stage. Despite the fact that Christina had never met (other than taking the picture below) either me or Hallie, she was willing and excited, and last Friday afternoon she spent more than an hour talking, laughing, and rehearsing with Hallie. What a gift, for Hallie to have had the opportunity to learn from - and feel noticed by and worthy of attention from - a smart, fun, talented high schooler.

Just when I thought the Mad Scientist Laboratory was finished... Tom came home with four different kinds of insulation from Lowe's and spent all week insulating the walls and roof of his man cave. The addition of the Mad Science Laboratory means Tom works a few steps farther from us (the back corner of the yard compared to the back porch) in the evenings, but watching him gleefully improve and create in his new space makes me happy.

Happiness Highlights
Will and Hallie asked to share a room this summer, so
they have been sleeping in the guest room. Tux didn't
like this change initially, but eventually he adopted the
"if you can't beat them, join them" attitude and now
they're all sleeping really well!
Zoe and Hallie helped out at Super Hero Camp
last week. Oh my goodness, those little dancers
were adorable, but so were their assistants!
So sweet with her little campers!
She posed for this one solely to humor me.
I adore this new swimsuit (from Hanna Anderson)
because it's cute, but also because it's well made of
high quality material. Hallie adores it because if we
go somewhere after swimming, this suit can
pass for clothing. It's the little things...
Look at those babies! My best friend in Michigan - Jenni (with her
husband, Steve) - came across this picture last week. Great times... 

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Finally Finished

The "design" of our backyard has changed slightly and periodically throughout the eight years we have called Honeysuckle Lane home. We've planted and nurtured different kinds of trees, bushes, flowers, and vegetables, some more successfully than others. (Despite our best efforts, neither Tom nor I have a green thumb. The plants we manage not to kill usually die by soccer shots gone just wide of the goal.) We've fixed and then replaced our edging, most of our sprinkler heads, and the portion of our sprinkler system that waters our perimeter landscaping. And we've tried different varieties of wood chips and stones in each of the beds. The backyard is - and will likely always be - a work-in-progress, but Tom likes putzing around in the space and I don't dislike helping him so we continue to maintain and tweak and update as the mood strikes.

The back porch, however, remained mostly unchanged - patio table and chairs, a few buckets of outdoor toys, and a large storage bin - until about three years ago. Around that time we added the first of our three jolly green giant hot tubs, and then within a year or so after that, Tom started tinkering around with mad scientist "stuff". The hot tub took up quite a bit of porch space, and its supplies took over the top of the storage bin. Tom's electronics and tools - and eventually his outdoor television - monopolized the entire patio table, a few of the patio chairs, the space inside the storage bin, and the ground around the table and chairs. It became hard to use the space for anything other than inventing and developing genius electronic devices, so eventually we decided Tom needed a proper Mad Scientist Laboratory (MSL).

It took a lot of work by Tom and his dad (and a little work by my dad, Hallie, and me at various points along the way), but Tom's space is finally finished and open for business.

The electronics, tools, and outdoor television have been relocated into the MSL. The hot tub and its supplies have new homes. (Can you see the jolly green giant tucked up next to the far side of the MSL?) The toys now live inside the storage bin. The patio furniture received a fresh coat of paint as well as new cushions and pillows. Our back porch is once again available for scooter riding, jump roping, grilling, and eating outside, and we are fully ready to take advantage of the Lone Star State's warm spring hot summer weather.

Just kidding. I can't stand summer weather. Check back in with me in November, when I'll be fully ready to take advantage of Texas' (slightly) cooler fall weather.

I think our next backyard update will have to be the addition of a swimming pool...

Friday, June 21, 2019

High Five for Friday (6.21.19)

On Hallie's first day of third grade, her teacher pulled her aside and asked if she would sit with a brand new student - Tessa, who knew no one - at lunch. Hallie agreed, and within minutes of chatting over pretzels and fruit snacks they became fast friends.

Tomorrow Tessa moves away. Not to a different state, but far enough that getting together will create a challenge for the moms. I can tell that Hallie's heart hurts more than she is letting on, so when she needs to let out a few tears I give her "permission" and the space to let them flow. I also remind her, in true High Five fashion, how lucky she and Tessa are to have found each other that day and to have had each other's friendship throughout the last half of elementary school.
Their last "hurrah" at Urban Air.

Happy Father's Day to all the daddies! We spent Sunday both celebrating Tom and "setting him free" to play disc golf and work on his latest creations in the MSL.

For six years Hallie watched, learned from, and looked up to the assistants in her dance classes and dreamed about one getting to do that "job" herself. Last week was her chance, and the experience was everything she hoped it would be.

After three straight weeks of slaving away for multiple hours a day, Will finally finished his two summer school classes. (In order to play sports, take Spanish, and participate in orchestra next year, Will had to take care of both Health and Keyboarding - mandatory classes for seventh graders - before the fall semester started.) He has carpal tunnel to show for his hard work, but he passed both classes with flying colors!

Happiness Highlights
That's my sister's tent, set up inside her second grade
classroom for her students' end of the year campout...
...that made its way into the newspaper!
Next up in the "Will and Hallie eating summer treats" series: Bahama
Bucks. I aim to catch them in as awkward a position as possible, so I
tell them I'm counting to three and then take the picture on one or two.
Following Bahama Bucks: Must Be Heaven. (It's dangerous that
Must Be Heaven is located less than a block from the public library...)  
Hallie and Avery were SO excited to spot their friend Peyton
in a giant photo on the wall at the school district's main office.
Found my perfect parking spot!
Between playdates, gym childcare, swimming lessons, and dance, these
two have spent more hours together than apart since school let out and
they're always asking for more. Their friendship makes me happy...
Lunch in a muffin tin - went over surprisingly well!

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Wrapping Resolutions

For the second year in a row, I started my New Year's Resolutions in September and with the intent to tackle one resolution each month, rather than following the more traditional route of starting January 1st and attempting one or two resolutions over the course of the year. I gave "themed" resolutions a try during the first month, but quickly learned that I need more flexibility than the category system could provide and went back to choosing resolutions as they come to me and according to what I need to work on as each new month rolls around.

As the school year came to a close, so too did my "resolutions year" - I don't usually make summer resolutions, at least not in the same way I make school year resolutions. I do, however, have a few things I hope to take on this June and August. (We're on the road in July so I take that month out of the mix.)

First up, I plan to tackle one small area of the house that needs a deep clean or substantial organization each week. I clean and organize regularly, but let's be honest, sometimes I let the health and beauty products pile up on the bathroom counter, the dust and toys collect around the bathtub, or the clutter build up in the closets for far too long. During week #1, I addressed the playroom closet. I took everything out, wiped down the shelves, vacuumed and mopped the floor, set aside lots of toys and costumes to donate/sell, and put everything back as neatly as possible. During week #2, I addressed my vanity, the cabinets, and the bathtub in the master bathroom using basically the same process: everything out, everything cleaned, only what we need put back. During week #3, I addressed the cabinets in my half bathroom and laundry room, following the same series of steps. I haven't selected which area to deal with this week, but I know that next week's project(s) will involve the kids' rooms, since they'll both be gone for at least a few of the days. 😉
Playroom closet before #1
Playroom closet before #2
Playroom closet after 😍
The pile of stuff to donate/sell/relocate to another room (excluding the
dust buster) I pulled from my bathroom cabinets. This doesn't include
trash, expired meds, and all of rags I used to wipe everything down. 😩 

Second, I'm trying as hard as I can to take care of back-to-school tasks - purchasing binders and absolutely necessary school supplies, sports physicals and paperwork, allergy paperwork, asthma paperwork, epi-pen and inhaler prescription refills, new shoes, etc. - before we travel up north. This year the kids go back to school almost a full week earlier than they have in Augusts past, which means the amount of time I have to accomplish all of this - if I wait until we return from Wisconsin - will be less than what I'm used to having. I hope that working a little harder in June will make August a little less challenging.

And now, a recap of the year!

May Resolution: well... I compare May to riding a bull: I grabbed on, said a little prayer, and didn't let go until the ride - er, the month - had come to an end. My only resolutions were to enjoy the end of elementary school (for Hallie) and put on a respectable intermediate school dance (for Will), and I think I accomplished both with only a few tears shed along the way.

April Resolution: declutter my digital life. I wanted to clean out and organize both my phone (contacts, photos, videos, notes, and apps) and my computer (downloads, documents, folders, and photos), in hopes that less digital clutter would translate to less mental clutter. How did it go? I made substantial progress, but I still have work to do, especially when it comes to the photos on my computer.

March Resolution: well... Full disclosure: the first few months of this year have been tough. Not in a catastrophic way (no deaths, major illnesses, or financial crises, thank goodness), but in a mentally challenging, emotionally draining, "one paper cut isn't that bad but when you get one paper cut every day you start to feel like you have a huge, gaping wound" sort of way. I managed to get so caught up in all of my paper cuts that I actually forgot to make a March resolution. The month came and went and I didn't think about resolutions even a single time, so I guess that means March's resolution was to simply make it through the month. Which I did, so high five for that.

February Resolution: take a vacation. How did it go? While my parents held down the fort, Tom and I took a short trip to celebrate our 15th anniversary. We had planned to spend about 48 hours and two nights away, but when we realized that TAMU doesn't recognize Presidents Day and Tom had to teach at 11am that morning, we returned home earlier than anticipated. We had a great time though, and hope that another similar trip makes its way onto the calendar later in the year.

January Resolution(s): first, write for at least one hour a day. This seemed like a silly resolution, since I consider myself a writer and all, but I needed to give myself permission to focus more on my work and less on other responsibilities. Second, complete Emily Ley's 2019 Simplicity Challenge, which is a series of one-a-day steps that can be accomplished in 15 minutes or less and together add up to achieving a more simplified life. How did they go?

I did reasonably well with my first resolution, though I would have done even better if January hadn't also contained the nearly-all-consuming Variety Show. I missed a few Saturdays and one Sunday and had to devote a couple of days' writing time to volunteer writing responsibilities (which didn't technically fall under the umbrella of work), but all in all my fingers stayed busy. I didn't do quite as well with my second resolution, at least initially. I have every intention of finishing all 31 challenges, but I intentionally postponed a few that for me will take more than the expected 15 minutes. You can find all of the daily challenges on the Simplified Instagram page (they're brightly colored and easy to spot among the other posts).

December's Resolution: read to my kids every night. I resolved to read to my kids every night last December as well; doing so seems to happen less and less as they get older and I wanted to "make" myself get back into the habit of snuggling up next to them and either reading to them or letting them read to me. I loved the precious moments we spent together - and losing ourselves in all of our Christmas books - so I brought this resolution back for a second round. How did it go? Reasonably well. I would estimate that Hallie and I read together two out of every three nights, and Will chose to join us for about half of those read-aloud sessions. As was my goal last year, I wanted to carry our reading momentum into January this year, and while we had trouble doing so in the evenings, Hallie and I found a new time and place to read together: in the afternoons (on the days she doesn't have dance) and in front of the fireplace. Perfection.

November's Resolution: write in my gratitude journal daily. Doing so has been my November resolution for the last few years, and because I love intentionally documenting one thing for which I am thankful every day between November 1st and Thanksgiving Day, I kept the tradition alive. How did it go? Quite well! I missed a couple of days as usual, but upon realizing I had done so, and because I remembered the days I accidentally skipped with relative clarity, I was able to go back and update my gratitude journal.

October Resolution: use what I have, specifically beauty and skincare products, makeup, cleaning and household products, and food in my pantry and freezer. I had so many freebies, sample-sized "gifts with purchase", and full-sized products purchased at the recommendation of others, and because I wanted to start streamlining what I buy and use in each of these categories, I decided the time had come to "use it or lose it". How did it go? Incredibly well! I used up multiple lotions, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, makeup and perfume samples, and chapsticks. I tossed lots of items that had reached the end of their lives or surpassed their expiration dates. And I donated a bag of unopened samples and set aside a box of assorted products for my next garage sale.

September Resolutions: sleep seven hours every night; play with my kids, husband, and friends; and manage my social media stress. How did it go? I did well at tallying seven hours of sleep a night - I think I only missed the mark three times, and none of these nights were because of simply staying up too late. Second, I did horribly at (officially) playing with my kids, husband, and friends because...I completely forgot about this resolution, which perfectly demonstrates why I can only have one resolution each month. I did play with the kids, go on a date with Tom, and go out for dinner and drinks with friends, but not once did any of these activities remind me that I had pledged to do more. And third, I did moderately well at managing social media stress. I unfollowed quite a few people and sources and sites that regularly made me feel worse rather than better, and I added a few to lift my spirits.

Did you resolve to change anything about yourself or your life this year? Last month? This coming month? How are those resolutions going?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Daddy's Day

In honor or my wonderful husband and the father of my children, here are some of my favorite moments - caught on video - of him with our babies. As you can see and hear, he has always been a fun parent - one who makes every effort to meet the kids where they are and learn to love what they love...even when it's a little inappropriate (see the second video below).

Happy Father's Day to my right-hand man, to these two awesome dads and grandpas, to my bro-in-laws, and to all the men out there who are "dadding" in one way or another.

Happy Father's Day to all those celebrating, and hugs to those for whom today hurts.

Friday, June 14, 2019

High Five for Friday (6.14.19)

Audition/tryout season for the Ferris family is OVER! Throughout the last six weeks, the kids have gone through auditions/tryouts for dance, soccer, orchestra, and musical theatre camp. I imagine the stress and anxiety they felt surpassed the stress and anxiety I felt...actually, no. Because Will and Hallie started early, they aren't afraid to put themselves out there. They experience the occasional and expected jitters, but aren't - like me - paralyzed with fear over what may or may not transpire. (Last year I wrote a post about the challenges - and benefits - associated with tryouts and auditions. It remains one of my favorite posts out of the 1,500+ up on Chasing Roots.) I feel so much calmer now that we have many of our placements for this coming year and the kids can just relax and enjoy dancing, playing soccer, and their musical pursuits.
Cavalry Signing Day
Wizard of Oz Auditions (Both are dressed as their audition
"characters" - Avery sang Anna Kendrick's The Cup Song
and Hallie sang Naughty from Matilda the Musical.)

We had great luck with last and this week's camps, lessons, and intensives. The kids loved their coaches and teachers, learned a tremendous amount, and had a lot of fun at sports performance training, basketball camp, swimming lessons, and a dance intensive. And after all that activity, I'm looking forward to next week, when our pace will slow slightly. (Whenever possible, I try to find a balance between busy weeks and slower weeks throughout the summer months.)
Will and two of his buddies at basketball camp. 
My favorite pic from Hallie's dance intensive - this was their
musical theatre dance to Peter Pan's "I Won't Grow Up".
Hallie, Avery, and the amazing Miss Darby.

Sixth grade...check!

Will and I can't get enough of the World Cup. We have the television on and turned to Fox Sports from 10am until 5pm every day, and our DVR is working almost as hard as these incredible athletes trying to keep up with recording every game so Will can watch all of the goals. (I need to teach him about highlight shows...) I have always loved watching soccer (comes with playing the sport for 15 years, I suppose), but watching it with Will - who shares my passion - is even better and one of my favorite ways for the two of us to spend time together.
Will and his doppelgänger. 😂
The US scored 13 goals in their opening
match against Thailand - a World Cup record!

Three days before the World Cup started, I Googled "how to watch the World Cup" so I could figure out which networks would show the games. Do you know what came up? NOT ONE article about how to watch the (Women's) World Cup kicking off just three days later. NOT ONE article about the US (Women's) National Team that is the most successful in international soccer EVER, with three World Cup titles and four Olympic Gold Medals. Nope, the articles Google showed me were all about last year's Men's World Cup, for which the US Men's National Team didn't even qualify. I was beyond frustrated.

Because doing makes me proud and helps me feel better about the future of our country, I have mentioned this before and will mention it again... When Will watches the "Women's" World Cup or the US "Women's" National Team, he doesn't feel the need to add the extra word. He's not watching women athletes. He's just watching athletes, and they deserve that title. 

On Sunday night we said goodbye "see you soon" to some of our best friends as they embark on a new adventure in Oklahoma.
I couldn't ask for a better tribe.
Our guys like each other too.
As do all of our kiddos.

We met Nuria, Javier, and Paloma through mutual friends a year or two after moving to Texas. Paloma and Will are the same age and in the same grade and Paloma dances at the same studio as Hallie (and they were in Mini Company together Hallie's first year), so both kids consider her a friend. Tom and Javier both worked for TAMU as engineering professors, so they share quite a few interests and personality traits. And while I have no idea why Nuria decided she and I should be friends (my baked goods may have factored in), I fell in love with her unabashed sense of humor, unbridled honesty, and unending generosity. We hate that they're leaving and will miss them terribly, BUT we are tremendously grateful for the many years of friendship we've shared and know we will keep in touch across the miles that will soon separate us.