Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 by the Numbers

At the end of each year I like to spend a little time reading through old posts and noting - thanks to the statistics feature associated with the blog - which topics were well-received (and which topics weren't, for that matter) by you, my readers. I have always written and will continue to write in my own voice, and I know how important it is for my blog remain a true representation of who I am, but I want my words to reach out in a way you find interesting and engaging.

I noticed two trends this year. First, High Five for Friday posts were your collective favorite. This has never been the case before, at least so consistently throughout an entire year, and I can't help but wonder if this was the case because during this dumpster fire of a year we all needed that weekly reminder to seek out and focus on the good - no matter how small - in our lives. Second, Monthly Medley posts were your collective second favorite. I suspect this was the case because during quarantine in particular, we were all in search of new books to read, television shows and movies to watch, podcasts to listen to, recipes to try, and yes, shirts to buy. I promise to keep these two posts coming, since they seem to be popular!

Because these two categories of posts brought in high numbers of views almost every week/month, I removed them from the list of top 10 posts so I could get a better feel for what other kinds and styles of posts went over well. So now, without further adieu, here are this year's top 10 posts (in no particular order):

Anyone who can slalom waterski at 70 is a rockstar in my book.

Everyone loves a good makeover post.

The one where Tux realized everyone was staying home forever, lost his mind, bit me, and had to be quarantined himself...and then I had to go on an antibiotic and we all wondered how much worse things could get. (Present Erin is laughing at Past Erin's innocence right now.)

Just like everyone loves a good makeover post, everyone loves a good Flashback Friday post, especially when many of the pictures are old and either unflattering or highlight questionable fashion choices.

It was step up from the Jolly Green Giant (the inflatable hot tub Tom bought his bath-hating wife for Christmas a few years ago), but it wasn't quite the pool of my dreams.

The best birthday present ever, and my parents and Will managed to squeeze in RIGHT before the world shut down. (I'm not exaggerating - they went to a Washington Wizards game and less than 12 hours later the NBA suspended the rest of its season.)

Always a winner. 

Apparently hodgepodge posts are pretty popular too. (It's crazy to look back at this post now, nearly six months later, because at the time - the end of June - we felt like we'd been quarantining FOREVER. Ha.)

This one doesn't really need an explanation, but I want to add how grateful I am that we - at the last minute by Disney standards - made the decision to bump our trip up to January rather than go in May/June.

I can't quite believe we survived a full semester of virtual schooling (after nearly three months of COVID schooling). And now, after all that, we're getting ready to...keep virtual schooling. 


And per usual, I also like to share a few of my personal favorite posts from the year. 

Finding (virtual) treasures like these is the absolute best.

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. 

How is it possible she's 11?

And how is it possible he's 14?

What got us through the first (I have no idea how many) weeks of quarantine.

Without snow, we had to take Swimsuit Snow Angel matters into our own hands. Long live our newest winter tradition: the Polar(ish) Plunge.


Farewell, 2020. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas, From the Four Ferri

Oh, What a Year...

I led off last year's Christmas card by admitting that "2019 wasn't our year". Given the dumpster fire that was 2020, you might have expected a similar opening line this year. But I feel differently about 2020 than I did 2019. Yes, we experienced fear, anxiety, anger, and despair. But every negative emotion inspired me to find and hold on to its equal and opposite emotion. When so much of what surrounded us was bad, finding the good was easier than ever:

14yo Will participates in and loves all the sports. He still plays the cello, and was accepted into NJHS, became a coffee drinker, taught himself to play the piano, and started coaching youth soccer.

11yo Hallie has a song in her heart (specifically songs from Hamilton) and feet that just won't stop dancing. She has started to enjoy working on projects in the lab with Tom and has become an accomplished baker.

We all work and/or attend school at home. Tom still plays disc golf (often with Will and occasionally with Hallie, which makes the game even more fun), jams with friends, and invents "things". I shuttle kids to and from socially distant and masked extracurriculars, and feel grateful for the opportunity to do so as it makes life feel normal again. I also "keep the home" more than ever before (because everyone is using the home more than ever before), write when and where I can, and couldn't live without morning walks "with" my mom, friends, Friends, and pumpkin cream cold brews. Everyone except Tux loves our newest family project: fostering kittens.

What a gift this extra time with my people has been. I won't forget this year...for a lengthy list of unpleasant reasons, but for an even longer list of silver linings as well. 

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Things We Love About Momma

A couple of weeks ago, Hallie realized that she hadn't given me one of my birthday presents. She ran to the office to grab her Chromebook, then brought it back to the living room and set it down on my lap. She reached over, smiled, and wished me a happy birthday as she clicked "play".

I tried over and over again to express in words what that video meant to me, in that moment on that difficult day but also today, after I've had time to process her sweet words...but I couldn't quite get it right. So instead, I'll just close with this: she makes me want to be the person she believes I am.

Silver lining alert: thank you, virtual school, for the technology skills she's learned this year.

Friday, December 18, 2020

High Five for Friday (12.18.20)

As of 1:30pm, we are officially on winter break. 

I honestly can't believe we survived a complete semester of virtual school, and I'm so proud of my kids - and a little proud of myself, honestly - for successfully navigating this drastic shift in learning style. Both Will and Hallie managed to maintain a positive attitude (about 80% of the time) and persevere on even their darkest days, and they're emerging from these four months with excellent grades, with vastly increased technical IQs, and generally healthy, both physically and mentally. Which is good, because in 17 days we're going to start all over again...

We plan to remain virtual for at least the first few weeks of our second semester (though Will will continue going to school for basketball practice, Athletics, and Orchestra), but we have the option to switch to in-person if/when we're ready. 

Two (Part 1)
Last Thursday Will's fall soccer season came to an end, and yesterday Hallie wrapped her fall season of dance. Just like I can't quite believe we survived a semester of virtual school, at times I can't quite believe sports seasons happened at all...and I'm so grateful for the leadership teams, coaches, and teachers who made it possible for these kids to keep doing what they love during a pandemic. No, these seasons didn't look exactly like what we expected or would have chosen if given a choice. But what a gift, to not only still be allowed to participate, but also to have had the opportunity to learn how to be flexible and accommodating, protect and care for others, and appreciate the small things.

Two (Part 2)
Though the event looked a bit different than in years past, our dance studio managed to pull off an amazing "Christmas Carousel" holiday production to end the season. For the last few years this night has been one of my absolute favorites, and the same held true this year; in fact, if I were ranking days in 2020, last Saturday - which also happened to be our 10-year Tex-iversary - would easily fall among my top three.

My friend, Anne, in her Facebook post about that day, said it best:

While COVID has stolen many dance moments from us, SSD (our studio) gave them all back last night. The teachers and staff were outdoors for over 12 straight hours. I saw the studio owner steal away to nurse her infant in a car in between dances. I cannot fathom the hours and hours of planning, prayer, and execution that went into giving this gift to the dancers and parents, and I hope they know how appreciated it is, how much they filled some empty places in our souls.

Tippy Toes (assisting)

Kinder Combo (assisting)



Hip Hop


Ballet Academy Dancers in Blue

Ballet Academy Skaters




The next few of Hallie's short solos are courtesy of our 
friend Danielle House, who is a budding photographer!

Two (Part 3)
And because we couldn't take our traditional post-Nutcracker photo of these two, these pics of them at the Christmas Carousel (scroll to the bottom of series) will have to do. 😉  










As bad luck would have it, our second week of quarantine overlapped with middle school basketball tryouts. Thankfully, Will's coaches graciously allowed him to tryout on the Monday he returned, and later that day we found out he made the 8th grade B team. He was both thrilled and relieved, as was I. 

Will would want me to add that while he would've willingly and gratefully accepted a spot on A team, he wasn't expecting or even aiming to make that team. He made the 7th grade B team last year and loved it, so 8th grade B team was his goal - I think there's a little less pressure, and he played (and will likely play) far more on the B team than he would on the A team. So it was "a win" all around.

They played their first game last Thursday, and while they didn't bring home the victory, they mounted an excellent comeback to finish within four. I can't say I enjoyed sitting on gym bleachers with lots of other parents and siblings (though this year they are limiting the number of tickets sold to games to make social distancing in the stands possible), but it was SO exciting to watch these boys on the court again.

Ruth, Bader, and Ginsberg have now all left us for their forever homes...just as Tux was finally starting to tolerate them. And while saying goodbye was - and always is - hard (especially for Hallie), we already have our next "batch" of sweet babies! (More on the FOUR of them in a future post...)

Happiness Highlights
Chris arrived with a mask this
year. I think he's cuter this way.

Not too shabby, December.

This cuteness lasted less than a second,
but we managed to capture a picture of it. 

Drive-thru Christmas light fun.

Ruth legitimately ate Hallie's science homework. And 
when I tried to take her picture with the paper to send to
Hallie's teacher, Ruth grabbed the paper and ran away.

Fun take-and-paint projects from Board and Brush!

Not a bad Friday evening...

Cheering for our friend, Kristin, as she ran her first
marathon! We collectively agreed we'd all always be
marathon supporters, and NOT marathon runners.

Gingerbread house fun!

Happy weekend, friends!