Friday, August 28, 2020

High Five for Friday (8.28.20)

Just like in-person school would have been, the first couple of weeks of virtual school were accompanied by quite a few false starts, missteps, and challenges, many of which we didn't anticipate. That said, as we wrap up week two today, I find myself so grateful for 1) the amazing principals and educators in our school district, 2) the bonus teachers and coaches - Will's cross country and soccer coaches, along with Hallie's dance teachers - positively influencing and impacting our lives on a daily basis, and 3) my kids' resilience and positive attitudes throughout all of this nonsense. Keep on keepin' on, friends. We can do this.
This one REALLY likes to do school with Hallie.

After seeing how much Will grew since she'd seen him last, Will's orchestra director gave him the go-ahead to move up to a full size cello. So late last week, Will and I packed up his 3/4 size cello and headed to the music store from which we've rented his instruments since he started playing at the beginning of fifth grade. We spent about 30 minutes in the store (masked, of course - seems like we should to mention that these days), playing different cellos until Will found the one he liked best: a brand new Romanian model, which supposedly - because of the craftsmanship and design - will only sound better and better as it's played. Once we'd signed on the dotted line, we cruised through the Starbucks drive-thru for a quick treat before I dropped him off at school for orchestra class. The outing was probably the most enjoyable and appreciated 90 minutes of my week; the bonus time with Will, in the middle of a school day no less, was such a welcome and needed perk to our virtual schooling schedule. 

Cross country tryouts started this 6:35am. Which means Will needs to be at school at 6:25am, we need to leave the house at 6:20am, he needs to be up at 6:05am, and I need to be up at 6am. I know lots of people get up far earlier than 6am, but that time of day just isn't my jam; I'm a night owl and I don't like to get up before the sun. BUT (and because this is a high five post), I DO like both wrapping up my daily three mile walk by 7:15am and exercising before the sunrise ignites the day's heat. 

Though our local production of The Nutcracker will not take place this year, we plan to show our support for the (eventual return of the) show and love of all things nutcracker by wearing our new nutcracker masks! I found the fabric on Etsy and sent it to my mom, who graciously turned it into masks for Hallie, her friends, me, and my friends. 

Last but certainly not least, our patio is undergoing an extreme makeover this week and next! I'm planning on a more detailed post with lots of pictures in a couple of weeks, but until then, here's a sneak peak of this exciting project!

Yep, that's Hallie, assembling furniture. She's kind
of a rockstar when it comes to this kind of project. 

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Tuesdays With Tux...Mahalo, and Lilo

We did a thing.

After saying for years that we wanted to try fostering kittens, we finally made it happen. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we applied to foster through Six Kittens Rescue, and then shortly after that post went live we found out that we were approved. 

For those of you who might be interested, the process was surprisingly easy. The only hoop we had to jump through was an extra trip to the vet for Tux to get him completely current on his vaccinations. (For some reason the vet didn't administer one of Tux's vaccinations the last time he was in for a check-up, even though he was due for that vaccination. I chalk the error up to COVID-19, which has changed how pet owners take their animals in for appointments and communicate with veterinarians, vet techs, and the front desk staff members.) 

Just a few days later, seven-week-old Mahalo and Lilo arrived at our home. 

Interestingly, they remind Tom and me so much of Duke and Clementine, both in how they look, but also in how they behave. Mahalo is slightly bigger, and uses his size to his advantage when picking on his sister. He takes charge during meals, pushing Lilo away from whichever dish he wants at any given time, and he is far more adventurous; he can jump higher and farther than Lilo, and isn't afraid to (try unsuccessfully to) leap tall buildings in a single bound. Mahalo has beautiful coloring: white with a gray tail, gray paws, and the smoothest gray nose and gorgeous blue eyes. If we were keeping him (which Tom would like to do, but we can't, because he's already spoken for), I would rename him Yoda, because when you push his ears down he looks just like baby Yoda.

Lilo is small but mighty, and when she's feeling feisty, she can pin her brother and keep him where she wants him for so long that he eventually gives up and falls asleep. Like this:

She was terrified of us for the first 24 hours, but at some point on day two she came out of her shell and began to let us pet her, pick her up, and love on her. She also has beautiful coloring, but both her fur and eye color are understated and modest. If we were keeping her (which Will would like to do, but again we can't because she's also spoken for), I would rename her Hazel.

We expect Lilo to leave us later this week, at which point we will get another of Mahalo's sisters, Mo'orea. Mahalo and Mo'orea will be with us until midway through September, at which point we may give Tux a little break...the kittens want to get to know Tux, but he HATES them. (He hasn't treated them poorly, but we've kept them mostly separated - which is pretty easy to do since Tux loves to be outside and we secure the kittens in one room at night - just in case.) Both kids are worried that Tux will think we don't care about him as much anymore, so they want to spend a couple of weeks loving on him extra hard and assuring him that he's still our number one cat.

The timing of all this ended up being just about perfect. The kittens arrived on a Sunday afternoon, so we had that evening and all of Monday to get acquainted and figure out our systems before the kids started virtual school on Tuesday. And the kittens have done exactly what I wanted and needed them to do: add a little bright spot to all of our days.

Yep, out for a walk in the cat stroller. They love
it about as much as Tux does...which is not a lot.

Friday, August 21, 2020

High Five for Friday (8.21.20)

High Five for Friday: Back to School Edition
For all those who have already returned to school, whether virtually or in-person, I hope your transition went smoothly. For all those who head back in the coming weeks, best of luck!

We survived weeks of spring break, we survived weeks of summer break, and as of today, we survived one week of (virtual) school. There were technical difficulties. There were unanswered questions. There were heightened emotions, from confusion and uncertainty to frustration and anxiety. And yes, there were tears. But we learned a lot, and have high hopes for the five weeks virtual window and semester ahead of us.

Last swim/day of summer.

Last jump of summer.

Cleaned and ready to go for the first day of school!

This one was a battle...
They get bigger and bigger, but they stay cute.

Since the year of first grade for the bigs and pre-k for the littles, we have taken first day of school pics with Kaylee and Kara. We couldn't let virtual school derail us, so mid-way through our first day, Will, Hallie, and I drove over to Kaylee and Kara's house and kept the tradition alive. 

Dance "school" (er, classes, but Hallie spends enough time at the studio for it to qualify as school) also started this week! Hallie loved all of her own classes (her regular schedule includes two ballet, one tap, one jazz, one contemporary, one hip hop, and one company class), and was thrilled to be back in the classroom as an assistant.

Happiness Highlights
Deer! Just right there, in the front lawn, almost
every afternoon/evening. It's fun at Jenn's house...

It's not much, but we appreciated the Flourish kit
TAMU sent to Tom ahead of the fall semester.

Will rode his bike in our friend Lexi's birthday drive-by -
he decided doing so made birthday drive-bys even more fun.

About once a semester Will plays a soccer game locally,
and almost every time our friends come to watch. They rock.

The game, however, was played on literally the hottest day of the year
(104 degrees). These three made it about 10 minutes into the first half
before they went to the car, where they played and enjoyed the air
conditioning for the remainder of the game.

This is Hallie's friend Abby, who with her siblings raised the money 
to buy an AED for our dance studio. We're so proud of you, Abby!

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Different Kind of First Day (8.18)

Today Will starts eighth grade. EIGHTH GRADE. And Hallie - my BABY - starts sixth grade. Holy smokes...they DO grow up so fast. Time DOES go by so quickly.

This is without a doubt the strangest start to a school year the four Ferri have ever experienced, and that's staying something, given that we were heading back to school 15 years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit and then three years ago during Hurricane Harvey. Both Will and Hallie will start the year virtually, though Will's model is a bit more of a hybrid given that he will attend cross country practice before school, first period athletics, and seventh period orchestra in person. 

We chose virtual learning - at least for the first six-week grading period - for two primary reasons. The first reason, of course, was safety. Tom and Will are both at slightly higher risk for adverse outcomes from infection, and we don't feel comfortable with the kids going back to school in person until we see 1) how well our district's safety protocols actually work and 2) how the influx of 50,000 college students impacts community spread. The second reason is that I - we - truly believe that choosing this route for our family makes school a safer place for families who can't make the same choice for theirs: families with a single parent, families with two parents who must both work full-time, families with parents who work for the school district, kids for whom home is not a safe or healthy place to be, and kids who rely on school for food and/or resources not otherwise available. 

Both Will and Hallie LOVE and miss in-person school. They both love and miss their larger friend groups. (Thankfully we were able to create small friend bubbles for both of them during the summer months, and we plan to continue spending time with these people this fall.) But they understand and support the decision we made as and for our family. They understand our family's risk "bank account", and how because we need to spend some of those funds on Tom's work and want to spend some of those funds on soccer and dance, we are choosing not to deplete the rest of our account on in-person school. They also understand how our choice to stay home benefits others, and I'm proud of them for letting us take that into account. 

To be clear, I'm not criticizing those who have chosen to send kids back to school. There are MANY factors to consider here, and parents have to make the decision that is right for them, their children, and their extended families. 

I'm generally a "glass half full" kind of person. Some days I'm even a "thankful to have a glass at all" kind of person. And I've worked incredibly hard throughout all of this to find the silver linings rather than focus on what we've missed, what we've lost, and what has changed. 

If comparison is the thief of joy, let me not compare my life today to my life of six months ago. Let me find joy in THIS life, and in THIS day, and to know it is enough. 

(I accidentally closed the site where I originally found this quote from Nadia Bolz-Weber, so I don't think I have it exactly right. You get the idea though.)

I have held fast and tight to this mantra, as if it were a life-preserver keeping me safely afloat as the tides of this pandemic ebb and flow. But today, I feel the waves swelling and my grip weakening. Today, on the first day of school, I just feel sad. 

Part of my anguish stems from acknowledging that this is Will's last year of middle school and high school looms just around the corner. I'm not kidding or exaggerating when I say that Will went into quarantine a boy and came out a man: his voice changed, he grew multiple inches, and he now has both an Adam's apple and a girlfriend. I only have four summers left with Will before he graduates from high school, and four is a shockingly small number when counting down. 

I'm also heartbroken - as we all are - about what our kids missed last year and will inevitably miss this year, and I think I just need to sit in that sadness for a day or two. 

But tomorrow, or Thursday, or Friday, I'll wake up and feel differently. I'll recite my mantra, and be able to find the joy. I'll be thankful for my glass and that it's half full. And I'll find all of those silver linings.

For those of you starting school this week, good luck. This first day of school might look different than every other first day of school we've experienced previously, but we can make it through. 

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!