Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Will, Take the Wheel

He did it.

He did (almost) all of the paperwork to get his learner's permit. 

He did all of the work to complete his driver's education class. 

He did (almost) all of the work to complete his behind-the-wheel training.

He did (almost) all of the work to schedule his driving test and appointment at the DMV.

Finally, he passed the test.

And just like that, my four-year-old who had a complete meltdown over the prospect of having to get a "driving license" all alone with the "driving license constructor" while his mama waited for him in a big, scary lobby with chairs, is a 16-year-old licensed driver. 

Taking his sister to Sonic for the first time.

I texted a friend whose son is also going through the driver's education process to let her know that Will had passed his test, and she sent back a near-perfect response:

Your life changes today! Congratulations to your boy and gentle thoughts to your mama heart as you watch him drive away for the first time.

She was absolutely right - my life did change that day. Will becoming a licensed driver was such an exciting milestone for him, and such a strange milestone for me as his mom. I was so proud, and so grateful, and so worried, and so scared...all at the same time. Kind of like every day as a parent, I suppose.


* BCS friends - feel free to report back to me on Will's driving if you see him out and about. He knows you're watching. 😉 

* Almost doesn't mean he didn't fully complete the step. It simply means Tom and/or I were involved in some way or another to make sure everything was done correctly.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Even a Very Small Heart Can Hold a Rather Large Amount of Gratitude

In place of a High Five for Friday post tomorrow, I'm posting my annual November Gratitude Journal today. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance.     ~ Eckhard Tolle


November 1 - I'm grateful for grandparents who trek across the country to take care of their grandchildren.

November 2 - I'm grateful for safe and relatively uneventful travels.

November 3 - I'm grateful for the opportunity to feel the sand on my feet and stand in the waves of the Pacific Ocean for the first time in decades.

November 4 - I'm grateful for chance encounters with good, kind, and interesting people...especially those who make and serve AMAZING Italian food. 

November 5 - I'm (once again) grateful for safe and relatively uneventful travels, and for empty middle seats on three-hour flights. 

November 6 - I'm grateful for the return to Standard Time!

November 7 - I'm grateful the process of getting Will a new phone wasn't too painful, and for my soccer mom friends, with whom I truly enjoy watching our boys on the pitch.

November 8 - I'm grateful for my right to vote, for others who exercise their right to vote, and for strong candidates to support...even when they don't win.

November 9 - I'm grateful for a great car ride and two-and-a-half hours of lovely conversation with my girl on our way home from a school field trip.

November 10 - I'm grateful Starbucks still has pumpkin drinks on the menu. (Last weekend our entire area experienced a pumpkin shortage. It was rough.)

November 11 - I'm grateful for rain boots, layers, and my Wisconsin blood which, despite thinning a bit since we moved to Texas nearly 12 years ago, kept me warm(ish) at tonight's high school football team. Conditions - rain and a "feels like" temperature of THIRTY SEVEN DEGREES - were brutal!

November 12 - I'm grateful for Ibuprofen.

November 13 - I'm grateful for my kids' friends.

November 14 - I'm grateful for negative test results. 

November 15 - I'm grateful for a friend's successful surgery and thus far smooth recovery.

November 16 - I'm grateful to feel no regrets - and for moments and experiences that make it clear we made good choices - when it comes to certain significant decisions.

November 17 - I'm grateful the learner's permit and driver's license processes and acquisitions are behind us (at least for the first time as parents), and that Will is now a licensed driver!

November 18 - I'm grateful tonight's weather was much less wintry than originally anticipated, and for a smoothly-run and well-received Nutcracker outreach event in downtown Bryan. 

November 19 - I'm grateful for the trust placed in me both as a hard-working, contributing member of "the team" and as a confidant.  

November 20 - I'm grateful to have witnessed such tremendous support for community organizations at both the Jingle Bell Market in College Station (raising money for BCS Together, which supports kids and families in/connected with the foster care system) and the Tats for Cats in Bryan (raising money for Six Kittens Rescue). What a "feel good" day of shopping and planning for my next tattoo. 😉

November 21 - I'm grateful for the return of the World Cup - better late than never! (The powers-that-be decided that the weather in Qatar - the host of the 2022 World Cup - would be too hot for summer games and the tournament was moved to November and December.)

November 22 - I'm grateful for 44 years on this earth.

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."

November 23 - I'm grateful for all of the birthday phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages I received yesterday. Social media has its downfalls, but allowing - even encouraging - users to make sure family members, friends, and acquaintances feel loved on their birthdays (and supported through times of crisis) is not one of them.

November 24 - I'm grateful for the opportunity to take what I've learned this month out into the world with me.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.     ~ A. A. Milne

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


No HFFF post tomorrow. See you Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

"It's November" - the Finale Revisited

Last year was the 11th - and a surprise, as I didn't think Hallie would agree to participate - installment of this November tradition. Sadly, it also turned out to be the finale. 

It's funny...I think my girl had a harder time letting go than I did. 

I asked Hallie if she wanted to sing again, and after giving it a great deal of thought, she decided she was too old and no one would want to see/here her sing such a little kid song anymore. (Additionally, she didn't have any good ideas on how to top last year's production number.) I of course told her that whatever she wanted to do or not do was completely fine, but she struggled with her decision; she still doesn't want to grow up, and she hates giving up anything associated with her childhood.

Because I'd held space in my blogging schedule for this post, I've decided to go ahead with it even though it doesn't include a new version of the song. Let it serve as a reminder to cherish the "little" years. 

November 2011

November 2012

November 2013

November 2014

November 2015

November 2016

November 2017

November 2018

November 2019

November 2020

November 2021

Slow down, Father Time. 

I still can't watch the 2011 version of this video without tearing up. I miss that sweet, spicy, pleasantly precocious two-year-old… 

Friday, November 18, 2022

High Five for Friday (11.18.22)



Late last week Hallie (and I, as her early ride home so she could make it to ballet and pointe) returned to the Kemah Boardwalk for Kemah Choir Days. This year she actually got to ride a couple of rides, her choir did a lovely job on their three songs, and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with the woman who drove the choirs' bus, who also happens to work at Will's high school, regularly drives Will's high school soccer team, and is a member of our city council and with whom I share a number of opinions about city planning. A great day all around!


On a similar note, Hallie's choir did a wonderful job at their school's Veterans Day assembly. This annual assembly hadn't been held since Will was in seventh grade (his orchestra performed that year) and it was wonderful to see it return and have the opportunity to attend.

I love when the band plays the short songs 
associated with each branch of the military.

I can't imbed the videos of the choir singing (too long), so for those who are interested (my mom), The National Anthem is here and their other piece is here.


Will's high school's football team made the playoffs, and while their first game took place in miserable conditions - misting rain and a "feels like" temperature of THIRTY SEVEN degrees (all the more bizarre given that it had been 75 degrees on my walk that same morning) - Will had fun with friends and Hallie and I enjoyed snuggling together for warmth for the quarter we attended. The boys won this first round game, and play again tonight in their second round game!


We survived 147 hours of Nutcracker run-throughs and an outreach performance this weekend...just one more weekend of regular rehearsals and then tech/performance week will be here!

First photo of the weekend...we look so fresh and optimistic!

Last photo of the weekend...I look exhausted. 😜


The Adventures of Plie and Popeye - Mini Episode

We turned the fireplace on for the first time this week, and while both Plie and Popeye were at first terrified, within a couple of days Plie had decided she was onboard with the fire. Makes us smile, thinking about how she - otherwise SO different from Tux - loves something he loved.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

California Dreamin'

Like I mentioned in last week's HFFF post, Tom and I - as well as his sister - made a quick trip to California. Tom was judging the ANA Avatar XPRIZE finals (a BIG deal - you can read more here) in Long Beach, and Jenna and I tagged along.

I visited San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles and the surrounding areas pre-kids, and we took the kids to Disneyland back when they were in elementary school, but it had been years since those trips. It was fun to return to the land of palm trees and celebrities and it was (probably) good for me to leave home - even though I didn't really want to - for a few days.

The only photo I could find of Tom and me in
California - at Disneyland with friends - in college. 

I arrived in the afternoon on Wednesday. After journeying from LAX to our hotel in Long Beach courtesy of Jenna's driver, Trevor, I spruced up a bit and then Jenna and I headed downtown for dinner at Tom's Watch Bar, a great sports bar across from the Staples Center/Crypto.com Arena. After dinner we went to the Lakers game, where we enjoyed great seats, spotted multiple celebrities (my favorite of which was Jean Smart from Designing Women), and watched the Lakers take the game to overtime and then win.  

On Thursday I slept in according to CST but got up early according to PST, enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee in bed, and then headed toward the ocean until I reached the beachside path. I walked two miles in one direction, took off my shoes, dug my feet into the sand, and splashed in the waves for a bit before finding a few seashells for Hallie and heading back to the hotel. The time difference allowed me to attend a PTO meeting in my hotel room before meeting Jenna for lunch on the pier and an afternoon of shopping. For dinner we chose a small, family-owned and -operated Italian restaurant called La Traviata. We met, and got to know surprisingly well, both the owner and his daughter, who was also our server. By the end of the evening, the owner had joined us for a glass of wine and we were friends with our server on Instagram. If you are ever in the Long Beach area, visit Mario and tell him Jenna and Erin sent you - you won't be disappointed in the company, the service, or the food.

On Friday I slept in/got up early again, and then walked two miles in the opposite direction along the coast. There was less beach, but a cute island lighthouse. I attended another meeting - this one for Ballet Brazos (Nutcracker is just a two weeks away!!!) - in my hotel room, and then Jenna and I headed to the XPRIZE finals. We popped in and out throughout the day, watching Tom in his role as Mission Commander and the robots compete and grabbing lunch and dinner at food trucks and another restaurant on the pier. We wrapped up the day with room service desserts.

I hit the road early Saturday morning and made it home in time to pick Hallie up from her last dance rehearsal and Will from his last refereeing gig of the day. 

This trip wasn't exactly on my bucket list, but spending time with family (and feeling the sand and ocean water on my feet) will always be on my list of experiences I want to have as many times as possible.