Tuesday, February 25, 2020

That Day Isn't Today

After checking the weather - and because we know that Orlando frequently experiences brief but intense rain showers and storms - we packed ponchos for our trip to Disney World.

Well, Sara packed ponchos. I packed poncho. I ordered a pack of 20 ponchos on Amazon, but when the package arrived it contained just one, singular poncho. Not much help, Amazon. Not much help at all.

When the nasty weather hit, we suited up and ran from the show where we had been when the storms rolled in to where we had planned to eat lunch. We were all wet from the knees down, but Sara's stash of ponchos kept us mostly dry. After lunch and while waiting for the rain to leave us alone, we popped into one of the 17,639 gift shops on the Disney property. And when we came across these ponchos, we absolutely, positively, could not turn them down. 

So despite the fact that the rain had mostly stopped, Hallie and Lily rocked their matching ponchos for the remainder of the day.

Funny thing though...this wasn't the first time these two rocked matching ponchos. Seven or so years ago and while shopping at a nearby outlet mall, we found ourselves caught in the rain. The mall had a partial roof, but the girls were getting wet and cold each time we moved from store to store so when we came across these ponchos, we absolutely, positively, could not turn them down.

I know the day will come when they won't want to match and won't want to wear polka dot ponchos with Minnie Mouse ears on the hoods. Thank goodness that day isn't today.

Friday, February 21, 2020

High Five for Friday (2.21.20)

Last week was Dad Dancer Week at Hallie's dance studio. The ballet program of which Hallie is a part doesn't participate in Dad Dancer Week and Hallie recently swapped out Modern in favor of a new ballet class, so Tom's calendar included only Tap, Jazz, Company, and Contemporary. He made it to Company and Contemporary, where both he and Hallie had a wonderful time and he didn't injure anything!

The bigger high five related to Dad Dancer Week, however, belongs to Will. When Tom came down with a short-lived stomach bug, Will graciously agreed to step in and go in Tom's place. He participated fully, and actually enjoyed himself a little.

The following morning, as Hallie was heading out the door for school, Will yelled goodbye to her from the other room. She stopped, turned around, ran through the living room, and gave him a big hug while thanking him for coming with her the night before. He told her he'd actually had fun (but that dance couldn't replace soccer), and that he was glad they were able to go together.


Learning the basics in tap class. I'm sure Will was
thrilled Hallie insisted they dance in the front row.
Working on their tap routine.

Wrapping up jazz class.
Showing off what they learned. Not too shabby!

After a six-day break from middle school sports (but not a break from club sports - during those six days "off" Will had seven soccer practices/games), Will transitioned from basketball to track. As of right now he plans to compete in the 800 meter, 400 meter, and 4 x 400 meter relay races, but I wonder if he might start gravitating toward the longer distances - the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races - after he settles into the season. I'm less excited for track than I was for cross country and basketball, primarily because track meets last for HOURS, but I'm proud of Will for hitting the ground running 😂 with this new sport!

We don't go overboard, but we still like to celebrate Valentine's Day in our own small, special ways.

Hallie and I wore matching shirts and stopped for Sonic slushes after school and on our way to dance. In honor of Galentine's Day, I enjoyed a prosecco and charcuterie board lunch with friends. Tom accompanied Hallie to contemporary as part of Dad Dancer Week. And once we all arrived home for the evening, the kids and Tom took on my annual Valentine's Day scavenger hunt to find their holiday gifts and we enjoyed our traditional spaghetti, salad, french bread, and skillet chocolate chip cookie dinner.

On the hunt.
Tom with his Valentine's Day present. Every year I make him a photo
book looking back on the events of the previous year, and every year he
forgets that I do this and is gleefully surprised when he opens his gift. 

Happy belated Valentine's Day, friends. I hope you were able to spent time with the ones you love.

This buddy:

This is where he sits and how he looks at
me when he wants me to turn on the fireplace.

He's slowed down a little, now that he's all grown up. But he still spends his nights with Will (or roaming around the neighborhood) and his days sleeping on Will's bed or on the chair in our room, pees and poops outside unless he's mad at us and/or we're out of town, and loves to ride on my and Will's shoulders.

He winds around my legs, meowing loudly and repeatedly, until I squat down. Once I do, he jumps on and makes himself (somewhat) comfortable. He may make me get up and let him out at 5am, and he may pee on Tom's pants when he leaves them on the floor of the closet, but we really do love him.

A bonus high five: this sweet boy - the caboose on the train of Mueller cousins - turned seven years old this week. We love you, President Carter!

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Carrying the (Swimsuit Snow Angel) Torch

For those of you follow Chasing Roots regularly, you know that every winter I - along with any family members brave enough to join me - make a snow angel...in my swimsuit.

When we lived in Wisconsin, Iowa, and then Michigan, swimsuit snow angels happened every year, no matter what. But since we moved to Texas, keeping the tradition alive depends not on our desire to do so but on Mother Nature almost entirely. If she sees fit to send snow during our week-long visit to the Midwest, we make snow angels; if she doesn't, we don't. And unfortunately, this year she dropped from her oppressive, ominous clouds not even the smallest dusting, which meant no snow angels.

So a few weeks ago, my dad - just as he did last year - carried the torch for the rest of us.

The tradition lives on.

After missing out on swimsuit snow angels two years in a row, I'm in search of a new tradition - not to replace the swimsuit snow angels but to "sub in" when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate. As of right now my best option is a polar plunge into a friend's unheated swimming pool, and while I realize the water wouldn't be nearly as cold as the water is supposed to be for polar plunges, it may have to do!

Friday, February 14, 2020

High Five for Valentine's Day

Today is my parents' 44th anniversary. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Today is also my sis-in-law birthday. Happy birthday, Chands!

A couple of weeks ago, Hallie's bestie Kara found out she had been invited to begin dancing en pointe this spring. Pointe - and eventually becoming a professional ballerina - has been Kara's dream for as long as I can remember, and listening (secretly, outside the door) to Kara tell Hallie about her dream come true and Hallie celebrate Kara's accomplishment brought me more joy than I ever expected. Thankfully Kara's pointe shoe fitting took place in between Hallie and their other bestie's dance classes; they wouldn't have missed this moment for anything.

On Friday night we attended - and Hallie performed in - one of our favorite annual events, Night of Worship. After hurrying home from school, Hallie changed clothes and we quickly took care of hair and make-up before heading to the theater in Bryan. After the girls warmed up and ran their dances, we had a brief break during which we - per usual - indulged in an ice cream treat. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking about my chocolate malt for at least 10 days prior...

But back to the dancing! We had comfortable - cool, but not so cold that snuggling under a blanket didn't do the trick - weather, and the girls did a lovely job on stage. Fall is light on company performances, so to see them perform again was fun, uplifting, and reinvigorating.

On Saturday night, Hallie's friend Tessa - who moved away last year - spent the night at our house and Hallie threw her a miniature (just the two of them) birthday party. Long distance friendships are tough, but these two are trying their best!

Happy Friday - and Happy Valentine's Day - friends!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Monthly Medley: January 2020

Welcome to the first Monthly Medley of 2020! I hope the year has treated you and yours well thus far.

This month I read Tara Westover's Educated, a true story about her nontraditional and even bizarre survivalist upbringing. I tend toward mysteries, but this autobiography hit the spot for January and kept me engaged from the first page to the last.

Ah, Disney+... We're all trying to enjoy the multiple of options available without getting sucked in to the rabbit hole that is this extensive library of amazing films and television shows. In the family friendly category, Hallie and I loved the Christmas film Noelle and we're looking forward to watching more of Diary of a Future President (we caught the pilot but the episodes are releasing one at a time rather than all at once).

In the adult viewing category (and on Netflix), Tom and I started watching Messiah, and thus far it seems like a series we both want to stick with. Though I am regularly guilty of picking up my phone while also watching television or a movie at home, I noticed that when I watched Messiah, my phone drifted down to the couch or bed on which I sat and stayed there for most - if not all - of each episode.

After a long hiatus, the show Will and I watch together - Manifest - returned earlier this month. We have a standing date to catch up on the previous week's episode every Wednesday evening during the small window after basketball practice, before soccer practice, while Hallie is at dance, while Tom is at his weekly jam session, and while Will eats dinner...like I said, it's a small window. 😂

Listening To
I'm still working my way through Crime Junkie, so I don't have a new podcast to report in on. I do, however, have one particular Crime Junkie episode to recommend; if you listened to and liked Serial, the April 8, 2018 episode of Crime Junkie - "ADNAN: What Serial Didn't Tell You" - is a great follow up that provides quite a bit of information I hadn't heard previously.

For Christmas my parents bought Will this chessboard. It hangs on the wall, so that a game can take place - and even go on for a while - without getting bumped, out of the way, and without cluttering up a surface. After a player's turn, they position this little square marker around the piece they moved so that when the other player returns to the board, they know what took place in their absence. Will and I are currently playing, though a more accurate explanation of the situation would probably be that Will is currently beating me, though I can't see it yet.

I couldn't find Will's exact board on Amazon, but the site has plenty of option if you want to get your own game going at home!

For years I have enjoyed using Starbucks' reusable cups. Not their ceramic mugs and stainless steel tumblers (although those are also nice), but the simple plastic cups - that look almost identical to Starbucks' disposable cups - for sale right next to the register. When Starbucks started selling not just plain white cups, but seasonal and holiday-themed cups...well, I started buying them up as soon as each new cup was released. And this month's Valentine's Day cup might be my favorite one yet.

If you've been searching for a VERY inexpensive coffee cup that comes with a lid and is both dishwasher and microwave safe, look no further. I promise - this one's a winner.

I have no affiliation with Starbucks, other than as a fan of their cups, vanilla sweet cream cold brews, and petite vanilla bean scones.

Shirts for Disney were the extent of my clothing shopping and budget for January. So while I don't have any flattering workout shorts or cute ankle boots to share this month, I do have a link to one of the Etsy shops we used and with which we had a great experience. Our shirts were simple and we didn't personalize them (I don't like putting my kids' names on things they will wear in crowded/public places) but also really cute and well made - check them out at Crafty Walkers Shop.

Anyone else out there a fan of the Cheesecake Factory? In particular, their famous "brown bread"? I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into my Kroger at the beginning of the month and saw a huge display of that very bread. Yum!

On the cooking and baking front, I found three winning recipes this month.
  • First, One Pan Roasted Potatoes, Sausage, and Peppers. I swapped turkey sausage for chicken sausage, but other than that change I followed the recipe exactly. And we had no leftovers!
  • Second, Bella's Taco Soup. I added the taco seasoning directly to the crockpot rather than adding it to the meat while cooking, used pinto beans instead of white beans, and used frozen corn rather than canned corn. I've made taco soup plenty of times before, but this time it went over even better than usual!
  • And third, Roasted Veggie Mediterranean Pasta with Goat Cheese. I made a few adaptations here too: I left out the eggplant (I don't like eggplant), added the "optional" grape tomatoes, used a container of my favorite Rana Pesto rather than make pesto from scratch, and used a small tub of feta cheese instead of goat cheese. I honestly couldn't believe how good this pasta dish tasted - I was bitter when Tom ate the leftovers out from under me!

Feeling Good About

Happy January, friends!

Friday, February 7, 2020

High Five for Friday (2.7.20)

Remember last week when I threw up a high five for the end of basketball season? Turns out basketball season wasn't actually over, and the boys had another week of practice and a playoff game on Monday. They won their most exciting game of the year by one point in overtime. The last video below is of the final seconds and the celebration that ensued.

I hadn't planned for basketball season, but we were able fit practices and games into our schedule better than I expected. I hadn't planned to enjoy this new sport, but I LOVED watching Will play. In all likelihood Will has only one more year of school basketball left (where we live, high school soccer and basketball overlap, which means Will will have to choose between the two sports), but I'm thrilled he plans to continue with the sport next year!

The last two weekends these two girlies have sold snacks and lemonade - under the name Havery's (Hallie + Avery) Sweets and Treats - out in front of our house. They haven't made a lot of money, but what they have made, they've designated for charity.

After a day of dance for our girls, many of my fellow dance moms and I headed out for an evening of appetizers, drinks, and fellowship. The new wine bar - Primrose Path - we chose for our get-together was lovely, the company even nicer.

I wish I'd taken a group photo...

Every year on the 100th day of school I walk a block from my house to watch our elementary school's kindergarteners on their 100th Day Parade. I haven't had a kindergartener of my own in five years, but I love "attending" this event both to see the littles celebrating "100 Days Smarter" and the connection it fosters between the school and the neighborhood.

Happiness Highlights
Vegetable growing season has begun! Tom and Hallie planted
and labeled 12 different pots of goodies to enjoy later this spring.
On Saturday morning, Will and a few of his fellow Cavalry players
attended a school activities fair to recruit for their club. I appreciate
that they were all willing to spend some of their weekend talking about
what sets this club apart, and I think they represented the club well!
Hallie spent Saturday morning at a ballet intensive with Kirsten Kemp,
a former professional dancer with the Oklahoma City Ballet. She came out
sweaty and tired but with a huge smile on her face - the perfect combination!
This pic came across my radar this week...I love that she's so
little and blond and pouty and covered in (unnecessary) bandaids. 
A friend/roommate of mine from college came across this
photo of me and our other friend/roommate's now-husband
cleaning our living room rug. Must have been a slow news day
in Iowa City for this to have made the front page of the paper...
Girlie (dis)likes watching Will play basketball almost as much as
she (dis)likes watching him play soccer. She didn't look up once
and read an entire chapter book during last week's game. She did,
however, cheer for him during this week's game - a first for her!
Mom came out on top of our annual
Ferris Family Super Bowl competition! 

Happy weekend, friends!