Tuesday, March 30, 2021

I Miss Her...Again

By the time Hallie headed off to kindergarten in the fall of 2014, she and I were both ready for her to go. She wanted more - both academically and socially - than what preschool could offer, and I looked forward to Will and Hallie following the same school schedule, one that would allow me a little more time to tackle my writing, projects around the house, and errands without an incredibly chatty kiddo talking my ear off nonstop.

I honestly didn't miss Hallie much at first. But as the days turned into weeks, I found that while I didn't miss her Monday through Thursday, I desperately missed her on Fridays. For two years, Friday had been "our day", and we always spent it together, just the two of us (since Hallie's preschool wasn't in session but Will's elementary school was), running errands and playing games and reading books and baking up a storm in the kitchen. 

The strangest thing triggered this realization for me... I was baking bread, as we/I often did on Fridays, and I happened to see the bread machine sitting all alone on the counter, without a tiny blond babe gripping the sides and staring through the hole so she could watch the bread-making process. She ALWAYS watched the bread machine work. (She also ALWAYS watched our baked goods in the oven - one time she sat and watched a pie bake for 48 straight minutes.) I felt the weight of her absence so heavily in that moment, knowing I would likely never see that sight again. 

So imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago I walked into the laundry room and saw this:

My heart caught in my throat, and then I had to both wipe away a tear and stifle a laugh. Turns out she still enjoys watching machines do their job, and I can probably count on seeing this or a similar sight at some point down the road.

Given that Hallie is home and around me all the time - and has been for a solid year - I don't miss Hallie herself all that much right now; I do, however, miss that little bit of a thing...

Friday, March 26, 2021

High Five for Friday (3.26.21)

The second half of our spring break was just as enjoyable as the first. We had one "fail" (I'd hoped to take the kids strawberry picking, but when I called the farm that morning to confirm - which they ask on their website that guests do - I was informed that all of their strawberries had died during Snowpocalypse 2.0), but other than that we took full advantage of our last five days off. Hallie had a (masked) playdate with a friend who moved away a couple of years ago but was back in town for a few days; we celebrated St. Patrick's Day by baking Irish soda bread, eating Shamrock cookies, and going SWIMMING (?!) with friends; Hallie had two private dance lessons to help her continue working her way back post sesamoid bone break; we worked in the yard; we watched lots of basketball; and we took our second day trip (more on that in a future post).  

We all wished for a second week off, but then we remembered what happened last year and decided we shouldn't wish for such things...

Seven months into fostering kittens, and this big buddy still isn't a fan. I think the pace at and manner in which kittens live life - fast and furious with little to no regard for the environment that surrounds them - along with their unpredictability scare him, and as a result, he prefers to just steer clear as much as possible. That said, he has s...l...o...w...l...y started tolerating their presence. He still doesn't like them, but he hates them less and is less afraid of them than before. Last week we captured this encounter, which ended poorly (such encounters ALWAYS do) but started off so sweetly and lasted longer than any they've had thus far. We continue to hope that someday Tux will find a kitten he loves, and that that sweet baby will officially become a part of our family.

They all rested together on Will's bed for a while
before Crocs started inching closer and closer to Tux. 

Crocs nuzzled into Tux's back, which Tux tolerated
for a few minutes, and then he decided he wanted
to rest facing Tux. This didn't go quite as well.

These two kittens head to their forever homes after being neutered today. We'll miss them, but we're looking forward to our next batch of babies!

Speaking of kittens... Last week my friend Crystal called me with a kitten predicament. From the window of their company's office (somewhat out in the country), they watched a mama cat move three of her babies from a wooded area to up under a trailer they have on their property. I reached out to our kitten rescue, and they headed out to assess the situation and eventually rescued FIVE kittens AND their mama. I was thrilled Crystal thought of me when she needed a kitten resource, and so grateful we work with such a wonderful kitten and cat rescue organization!

Last week (or the week before? Time means nothing anymore) Will's orchestra recorded their UIL concert and sight-reading session in the high school auditorium (because the stage and space are bigger). Parents weren't allowed inside, so I had planned to just drop Will off and then work in my car in the parking lot until he finished up and we could head to soccer practice. Turns out the high school parking lot is an internet dead zone for me - my phone could barely function, and because I couldn't use my phone as a hotspot, my computer could barely function either - so I decided to abandon work altogether and check out the many outdoor sporting events happening on campus. First, I took in an inning of softball from right behind the home plate. The game was a fast-paced one between Will's future high school and its crosstown rival, and I could feel the excitement radiating from the players, coaches, and fans. Second, I headed across campus to the soccer field, where I watched (from outside the fence because I didn't want to buy a ticket knowing Will would finish soon) the senior night introductions and the first quarter of a soccer game.

I'm not all that thrilled about Will starting high school, at least from the "he's getting so old and soon he's going to leave me" perspective. But ever since I left high school, I've loved high school events - games, competitions, concerts, shows - and I'm so excited to have a reason to attend them. I don't want to miss a minute of these next four years, so whenever Will will "allow" me to be there (and probably sometimes when he would rather I weren't there), I plan to show my support...decked out in the gear I'm already purchasing, of course.

That first weekend was quite the bracket buster, wasn't it? Thanks a lot, Illinois and Ohio State... Anyway, here is any update on where all of our brackets stand after the first two rounds of games:

Tom - 38
Erin - 31
Will - 38
Hallie - 36

May the best Ferri win! (Though I'm already out - there's no way for me to win...)

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Mad about basketball, that is...

I haven't written about our family's annual NCAA Tournament bracket challenge since 2018, but after completely missing out on this tradition last year, we're going into this year's tournament full of excitement and anticipation and I thought it would be fun to keep track of the action here on Chasing Roots.

Ferris Family March Madness began 17 years ago with a simple, friendly competition between newlyweds. 15 years ago our cat, Duke, joined the game when we developed a complicated treat- and toy-based selection system to help him fill out his bracket. 11 years ago we entered three-year-old Will's bracket in our online pool for University of Michigan graduate students...and he didn't finish in last place. (Here's a cute video of Will making his selections that year.) Eight years ago Hallie participated for the first time, adding a little chaos to the competition because no one wants to lose to a pipsqueak who makes her selections based on mascots and school colors.

Hallie is frequently last to finish her bracket - here she is working
late into the night on the eve of the tournament to get it done. 

We decided not to enter Tux in the competition this year - none of us had the time and/or energy required to help him make 63 decisions using complicated treat and toy incentives - so in 2021 it's just Dad vs. Mom vs. Will vs. Hallie. Our annual battle of the brackets will end in cheers for one and tears (not really) for the others, and then after all is said and done we'll talk about how much we love this family tradition and can't wait to do it all again next year.




Are you participating in March Madness? If so, did this past weekend bust your bracket or are you still going strong?

Friday, March 19, 2021

High Five for Friday (3.19.21)

Last week Tom received his first COVID-19 vaccine. Knowing that his days of working and teaching from home are numbered, and looking ahead to the upcoming year that will - for him - involve a great deal of travel, I feel so much relief now that he too has begun the process of protecting himself and others from this illness. 

Drinks, appetizers, and desserts at (on the outdoor patio of) a restaurant for a second time?! I could used to this...
Flaming Cheesecake - it was without a
doubt the best cheesecake I've ever tasted.

From what I can tell, as soon as I sit down in my desk chair - or on the couch - and open my computer, I send out a signal that draws any and all living beings to my location. Tom and Hallie need answers to question about something, Will needs to use my computer to print something, and the kittens...well, they just need something to climb. Everyone needs something.
One sleeping on my lap, one climbing up my shirt.

Three climbing up my shirt.

One climbing up - and then falling asleep mid-climb - my shirt. 
Tried the couch - they still found my lap.

Tried the floor - they still found my back.

Back to the chair - that's four kittens climbing
all over my body. Productivity = nonexistent.

Because of these three humans and however many kittens we have at any given time, I now have to work in my car. (No, really. I work in my car for an hour every afternoon while Will is at orchestra, for two hours on Tuesday nights while Will is at soccer practice, and for two hours on Thursday nights while Hallie is at dance.) But while I am presently and pandemicly (I think just invented this word - you're welcome) unlucky when it comes to workspaces that support productivity, I am incredibly lucky to have so many people - and animals - who need me. All the time.

We had a great start to and first half of spring break - drinks, appetizers, and desserts with friends; lots of Big 10 basketball; glimpses of spring; a round of disc golf; a contemporary ballet class; a birthday sleepover; vegetable and spice garden planting; quite a few catnaps; and our first spring break day trip (more on that in a future "Texas Bucket List" post). Not too bad!  

Last but not least... I say it every year, and I'll say it again: I despise Daylight Saving Time. I don't want to lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night. I don't want to spend Sunday searching for all of my clocks' manuals in order to figure out how to change their times. I don't want to feel like I'm "behind" as we move through our Sunday activities and chores. I don't want to wake up under the cover of darkness on Monday morning. I don't want to take Will to school before the sun comes up. And I know I fall into the minority here, but I prefer my daylight in the morning hours, rather than the evening hours. I just don't need sun - and the oppressive heat it brings - until 9:30pm.


The high five here, at least for me, is that the change has come and gone for this year. I always feel a sense of relief after we've made the adjustment we don't have to go through the process again for another 12 months. Hallelujah!

Did you know there is a significant increase in heart attacks, strokes, and vehicular accidents on the Monday and Tuesday following our shift to Daylight Saving Time? (one of many sources) Maybe we'll all eventually come to our senses and decide to listen to our bodies - following the lead of states like Arizona and Hawaii that don't observe Daylight Saving Time - and stop setting ourselves up for sleep deprivation, decreased immune function, and out-of-whack circadian rhythms...