Friday, August 14, 2020

High Five for Friday (8.14.20)

Will suffered a couple of nasty injuries last week: on Monday his bike pedal caught the fleshy part of his calf and gouged out a pretty significant chunk of skin, and on Wednesday he took a few layers of skin off of the end of his big toe when his foot slipped off his bike pedal and scraped along the concrete. (Not sure what it was about his bike last week...) Both situations involved quite a bit of blood, a fair amount of pain, and lots of cleaning, antibacterial care, and bandaging. The toe in particular kept him from playing full out during his first week back at soccer practice - he couldn't get his foot into his cleat, let alone keep the cleat on, so he only participated in the drills he could do barefoot - which was upsetting, but this week both injuries are healing nicely and he's back to wearing normal shoes. 

Need some coban? I'm your girl!

No graphic pics, because not everyone likes looking at wounds as much as I do. 

Injuries aside, and even with all of the safety protocols and changes this year, I felt comforted to return to the soccer fields as a new season gets underway. 

These three love to match. As a friend of mine describes it, matching is their love language. Here they are in their third set of matching/coordinating swimsuits. (For 2020. I've lost track of how many matching swimsuits and outfits they've worn over the years.) 

When I came across a swimsuit with pineapples on it in Will's size, I knew I had to buy it so he and Cullen could match...well, coordinate. Cullen is the youngest and doesn't have a friend his age in our quarantine bubble, so he gravitates toward Will, who is the only other boy. 

Will and Kaylee take good care of Cullen, and keep him from driving his older sisters crazy, and in turn, Cullen keeps an eye on Will and Kaylee for us moms. It's a win-win.

Happiness Highlights
THRILLED with his new tic tac stash.

I despise selfies, but this was the only way to show you
my new tie dyed headband. I liked Hallie's so much that I
bought one for myself and one for my mom and sister.

This is amazing.

And this is heartwarming. 

11-year-olds still love boxes.

Rockin' her new Noonday scrunchies.

Last but not least...this made me smile.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Tuesdays with Tux: Quarantine Edition, Episode 4

While I can't say that Tux has enjoyed quarantine, he has brought a great deal of joy to Will and Hallie during this lengthy period of time at home. 

Both kids have loved caring for and doting on him, perhaps overly so, which is why we - 😬 - applied to foster kittens this fall. Will and Hallie will start the school year virtually (we plan to take it one six-week grading period at a time), and while I know their days will be busy with school work, I expect that snuggling itty bitty fur balls during their academic breaks would be wonderful for their mental health. 

I worked for the American Red Cross during Hurricane Katrina, and one of the greatest gifts we received as employees during that unbelievably exhausting time was regular visits from a local nonprofit organization's emotional support dogs. I think fostering kittens serve a similar purpose, for all of us. 

Until we (maybe) have new kittens to share pictures of and write posts about, here are the many photos of Tux I've recently found on my phone, courtesy of the two kiddos who can't leave him alone.

Note: Will and Hallie don't know that we might foster kittens yet, so if you read this and then talk to them, please don't spoil the surprise!

Friday, August 7, 2020

High Five for Friday (8.7.20)

Last week Hallie attended a ballet intensive led by the amazing Ashley Laracey, a soloist with the NYC Ballet. Ms. Ashley has come all the way to our dance studio for this intensive the last two summers, but this year and because of COVID-19, she wasn't able to make the trip. That didn't stop her from offering incredible instruction though; via a giant monitor in our dance studio and from her apartment in NYC, she provided six days worth of technique and variations classes. (A shout out to the other teachers - those "on the ground" here in College Station - who helped make this intensive possible.) I didn't get to take a picture of Hallie with Ms. Ashley this year, so here are a couple I took last year. We love Ms. Ashley, and are so grateful for the time, energy, and love she poured into these dancers!

Last Friday we "celebrated" 20 weeks - WEEKS - of quarantine. I remember sitting in this exact spot on the Friday we toasted six weeks, and thinking, "this can't possibly go on for much longer". 

Today I'm sending out a high five for the friends - two in particular - without whom I wouldn't have survived these last 20 weeks. Cheers to 21 weeks, ladies. Let's keep on keepin' on.

I can't start sending out high fives for people who've helped me through quarantine without acknowledging my mom. Almost every weekday morning we go for a walk "together" - her in Madison, Wisconsin and me in College Station, Texas. Yes, walking together in person would be ideal, but this is the next best thing. Thanks, Mom, for our daily walks and talks. 

On Monday night we celebrated my friend Casey's birthday with a grown-up, nighttime pool party! Swimming after dark is almost as much fun as an adult as it is as a kid, and I enjoy it even more when there are no kiddos around to splash me and make fun of how I just like to float on an inner tube. 

Happiness Highlights
This kid doesn't play the piano (he's partial to the cello), but when we began quarantining he started teaching himself to play some of his favorite songs by ear. This Elvis Presley favorite - still a work in progress, but still an accomplishment - sums up a pretty good week for him.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Monthly Medley: July 2020

An article I wrote about the Science Mill, a unique STEAM-based children's museum in Johnson City, TX, can be found in this month's issue of Texas Living magazine. The museum has reopened - with many safety precautions in place - so if you're in the area, check it out, and if you pick a copy of the magazine, check out the article as well!

This month I took a deep dive into Miracle Creek. This part mystery, part courtroom drama was tough for me to find my way into, partly because each chapter is told from a different main character's (of which there a quite a few) point of view. Around the time I reached the book's midway point, I'd finally figured them all out and could follow the story a little better, and shortly after that the book turned a corner and kept me hooked until the final page. More so than any other book I've read in a while, this novel delved deeply into the extremes parents will go to to protect their children, families, and secrets.

Perhaps my favorite new "show" is Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man with Emmanuel Acho. Acho has a new book by the same name coming out, but until then, his short but impactful and eye-opening interviews can be found on his Instagram page.

A few weeks ago, I had the television on - tuned to The Twilight Saga: New Moon - in the background while cleaning the house. Though I was paying very little attention to the movie, at one point I spotted Hallie standing in the middle of the office, completely engrossed, eyes unblinking, mouth agape. After reviewing the books and movies, I decided she wasn't quite ready for the books but could probably handle the movies, so I asked if she was interested. She was hesitant to commit to the series, but opted to try the first film...and five minutes in she was HOOKED. We watched all five movies in July, which is why we didn't make as much progress on our quarantine movie list these last few weeks.

Red = watched in April
Green = watched in May
Blue = watched in June
Orange = watched in July 
Black = yet to watch

The Wedding Singer
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
13 Going on 30
A League of Their Own
Miss Congeniality
Legally Blonde
Pitch Perfect
50 First Dates
Now and Then
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Miss Congeniality 2
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
17 Again
The Prince and Me
Pitch Perfect 2
Pitch Perfect 3
Bring It On
The Princess Bride
Big Daddy
Mean Girls
A Cinderella Story
Sweet Home Alabama
27 Dresses
Life As We Know It
Fever Pitch
Save the Last Dance
The Holiday 
Uptown Girls
The Wedding Date
The Wedding Planner
Ever After
The Prince and Me 2
Ice Princess
While You Were Sleeping
Life Size
Mamma Mia
Never Been Kissed
Father of the Bride
Father of the Bride 2
Runaway Bride
My Best Friend's Wedding
Bend it Like Beckham
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Cutting Edge
That Thing You Do

Listening To
Having caught up on most of my regular podcasts, I decided to try Uncover from CBC Podcasts. The first season, about one woman's escape from the cult NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"), kept me engaged to the point of (almost) forgetting I walking outside in Texas' blazing sun, scorching temperatures, and suffocating humidity, so I'd call that a win!

After a years-long hiatus, I plan to start listening to Jen Hatmaker's podcast again. She recently shared what sounds like a fun series about enneagrams, and I think I'd like to go back and listen to the Quarantine Queens podcasts she shared in March and April. What brought me back to For the Love wasn't, however, either of these series. It was a bonus episode entitled, "Jen and Sydney Hatmaker On Being Gay and Loved". This beautiful tribute to love and acceptance and faith both broke and mended my heart, and reminded me that I need more of this kind of message in my life.

Houston, we have a problem. A shirt problem. I think my friends and I have reached double digits when it comes to the number of matching shirts we've purchased since March. Here are this month's additions:

I wish I could say I'm done with shirts with sayings on them, but we have two more arriving in August... 

As part of my commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, I have been trying to read and watch and listen and learn as much as I can from those who have wisdom and stories to share. Additionally, I have been trying to shop from small, local (if available), Black-owned businesses. Here are a couple I've purchased from so far!

I bought these adorable tie dye headbands for Hallie and her friends from Southern Ree Boutique here in College Station.

And these jewelry cups came from NativePRINTcess on Etsy.

In a different category of shopping, I bought the kids - who are, yes, 13 and 11 - this air tent. Set up with a box fan takes under 30 seconds, and the tent packs away into its cute little tote bag in almost the same amount of time. We didn't need this tent, but surprising the kids with it - or with any small treat we don't need, like ice cream cones or new books - has kept all of our spirits lifted.

I also picked up - and am now a big fan of - this inexpensive boot holder from Target. Gone are the rolled up magazines I used to use to keep my taller boots standing upright!

  • I made this Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting for Tom for his birthday. I followed the recipes closely, only decreasing the granulated sugar in the cake to 1 and 1/3 c. and the powdered sugar in the frosting to 3 c. DELICIOUS.
  • Equally delicious but in a completely different way, this Caprese Avocado Salad was the perfect complement to grilled chicken. 

But the highlight of my month consumption-wise? School milks. I don't know what it is, but those little cartons of 1% milk hit the spot like nothing else. The kids couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, but Tom was with me...he crushed quite a few chocolate milks himself.

Feeling Good About
Tank's Good News is still my favorite "one stop shop" for feel good stories, articles, videos, and photos, but here are a couple additional links to hopefully make you smile.

Oh, and this ad. Wow.

On to August, my friends!

Friday, July 31, 2020

High Five for Friday (7.31.20)

Last week Blogger - the platform I use for Chasing Roots - transitioned to a completely new look (on the backend, so just for me), and while I knew this change was coming eventually, it still caught me off guard and forced me to spend a little extra time at my computer trying to figure out how everything works. 

I can't say that I have it all worked out just yet, and I have one BIG pet peeve with how posts are sorted and labeled while in the draft phase, but I've figured out the most important pieces of the system (how to write and publish a post) and managed to get this one up on time!

On Monday I officially closed my 2019-2020 planner and opened my 2020-2021 planner. I also started adding events and activities to my Google calendar for the first time since the second week in March. Transitioning to a new planner - and using my online calendar system again - feels a little can something feel so basic and significant, so scary and comforting, at the same time? 

My new planner is gorgeous though, so it makes me smile every time I pull it out.

Out with the old (left), in with the new (right). 
Both planners are Simplified by Emily Ley.
Last Friday morning Hallie and I, with friends, headed back to Basecamp Farms, this time to pick our own flowers. Hallie was less excited about the process than I thought she'd be (while she enjoyed wielding the clippers, she was not a fan of the many bees and bugs), but I was thrilled with the flowers and vase we brought home. 

This girl got new glasses...and contacts! She's a natural (apparently she learned how to put contacts in and take them back out by watching her bestie do so over Messenger Kids #coronakids), and absolutely adores her newfound "freedom" and improved vision!  

Happiness Highlights
Sometimes I get to witness the sweet moments.

She's loving her new dance sweatshirt!
"To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak."

Yep. 😂

So pleased with my new "system"
for storing a few masks in my car!

Yet another smile in the rain.
(Taken after she and I returned home from a
35-minute bike ride in a torrential downpour.)

Every week we buy homemade scones from a friend
of Hallie's. They're always amazing, but last week's
apple cinnamon really hit the spot. This is Hallie's
"holy cow, I've never tasted anything so delicious" face.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

I Like People Who Smile When It's Raining

A few years ago I bought this sign from Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco. As a lifelong lover of rain, I knew immediately that it belonged in our home.

My girl loves rain as much as me, maybe even more. Watching her run outside as the clouds begin to sag and droop, and then dance and frolic and laugh until the last drops fall... She smiles when it's raining and it's one of my favorite things about her.

 She's been like this her entire life. I hope she never changes.