Friday, December 23, 2022

Merry Christmas from the Four Ferri

Merry Mayhem, friends!

2022 got off to a rough start, as we lost our beloved Tux just after Christmas. We continued fostering kittens though, and in June our first two foster fails - Plie and Popeye - joined the family. Pleeps and Pops could never replace Tux, but they brought new light, life, and chaos into our home.

Adding to the chaos... Will kicked off the year as a solid (freshman) contributor on his high school's varsity soccer team, and then spent his summer on the disc golf course, trying his hand at tournaments for the first time. This fall he's stayed busy with academics, refereeing youth soccer games, and continuing to play both soccer with Cavalry Soccer Club and cello in varsity orchestra. Oh, and he's a licensed driver now...

Hallie also kicked off the year in an exciting way...she started POINTE! Putting on that first pair of pointe shoes lit a fire under my girl, and since that day she has put her whole heart and soul into ballet. She continues to love performing with her choir, with her ballet company, and in The Nutcracker Ballet. She has adjusted well to her first two high school classes (in middle school), and wishes she had more free time for art and baking.

Tom still loves to disc golf and design light paraphernalia in the Mad Science Laboratory. I continue to write and volunteer, but mostly I work as a shuttle driver and cheerleader for our teenagers as they chase their dreams. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy new year.

With love, the four Ferri


Until this week one year ago, I hadn't taken a planned "vacation" from the blog - at least not that I could recall - since I first started writing A Midwestern Girl in Cowboy Country (which eventually became Chasing Roots) almost 11 years prior. I had taken a week-long break when I had the flu, and another week-long break when we didn't have power or internet due to the snowpocalypse, but those brief hiatuses were somewhat forced upon me. Last year's hiatus - the one I decided to take between Christmas and New Years - was a little different because in reality I could have kept the posts coming. But that hiatus was also kind of the same, because it was somewhat forced upon myself. 

My job isn't particularly stressful, especially when I plan ahead and stay organized. But it's always there. I always have posts to write and share, photos to take and edit, videos to upload and download, and deadlines looming. So for the first time last year I took a break from the posting part of the job, and this year, while I'll still be writing and editing and organizing, I'm going to give myself a break from the posting part of the job again. 

Thanks for understanding, and please, come back and join me again in 2023.

With love, Erin

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

All You Need is Love. And Christmas Music.

During my first holiday season of blogging I shared two of my favorite Christmas videos. When my second holiday season of blogging rolled around, I shared the two videos from the first year and included in the post a couple of new favorites so I could easily find all of them when I needed a holiday pick-me-up. During my third holiday season I narrowed down the videos from years past and added a few more, and I did the same thing during my fourth through 11th holiday seasons. I now find myself in my 12th (?!?!) holiday season as a blogger, and it seems important - or at least fun - for me to keep the tradition alive.

So here they are: the highlights from years past as well as my new (at least to me) favorites from this year. Music videos and flash mobs and even commercials, all in one place, so anyone who needs an emotional or spiritual lift - myself included - can find them when the need arises. 

Happy holidays, friends!

In case you're wondering, my criteria is simple…if the song, performance, or commercial gives me chills, brings tears to my eyes, or makes me laugh out loud, it makes the cut. I'd love to see and listen to your favorite Christmas videos - I'm always growing my playlist - so please send them my way!

Joy to the World: The Petersens
This style of music is secretly (not so much anymore, I suppose) 
my favorite. I have always wished I could play an instrument and 
sing at the same time - spoiler alert: I absolutely cannot do this - 
and I would LOVE to be able to play the fiddle.

What Christmas Means to Me: T.3
These guys are as quirky as they come, but holy cow can they 
harmonize. At the very least, listen to them completely blow it 
out of the water at 0:56. (Also worth checking out is their rendition 

I Feel Like a Kid Again: Jax
This share is more for the video than it is for the song. I'm a fan 
of Jax's, as I think she's trying to put good out into the world, 
and this video provided further evidence to support that theory.

Little Drummer Boy: For King and Country
I love how this performance is high energy and high 
impact but also committed to the message of the song.

All I Want For Christmas is You: 
Mariah Carey, James Corden, and more...
Who doesn't love listening to this song at Christmas time?!

Hallelujah: Pentatonix
Perhaps the best song - and one of the best versions of it - ever.
The low notes in particular, especially during the fourth verse, 
make me feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience.

(YouTube won't allow me to embed this video - here's the link.)

Deck the Halls
My favorite flashmob of all time.

The Christmas Scale
"It's hard to believe that the greatest message the 
world will ever hear is contained in one simple scale."

Angels We Have Heard on High: The Piano Guys
I still get chills every single time I watch/listen to this video.

(Once again, YouTube won't allow me to embed this video. Here's the link.)

Joy to the World: J. T. Hodges
I first heard J. T. Hodges sing this song in Hallmark's movie "Finding 
Christmas"...and I was relieved to find a video that allows us to listen 
to the song without having to watch the movie. 😉 

I Saw Three Ships: The Piano Guys
This one's for my husband. If you know him, you'll understand; if you don't
I hope someday you will, and that you'll have an opportunity hear him play the 
piano...while wearing a motion- and sound-driven light suit he built from scratch. 

Last but not least, a collection - a few from previous years and a couple new this year - of a few favorite Christmas adverts. While these are technically commercials, they don't feel like it; instead, they feel like tributes to family and friends, and I didn't make it through a single one without free-flowing tears.

Love actually IS all around us…we just have to look for it. On YouTube.

Friday, December 16, 2022

We Invite You to Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy...The Nutcracker

As I reflect on a year of planning, four months of weekly rehearsals, two days of theater preparation and tech rehearsals, one dress rehearsal, and three shows (followed by three days of sorting, editing, and posting photos and writing end-of-the-season assessments)...I'm tired. 

I'm also proud. Proud of our dancers for their hard work and perseverance. Proud of our volunteers for their hard work and "can do" attitude. Proud of all those who, despite challenges, showed up day after day - with smiles on their faces - to get their jobs done. Proud we filled a massive auditorium with ballet-, theatre-, and arts-loving patrons THREE times. And proud we managed to get a show to the stage for our patrons to enjoy this holiday season. 

I've talked in the past about how this blog, while initially only an ongoing series about how we adjusted to a new way of life in a new state, has over the years become a legacy for my kids as well...a place where they can one day read about their lives. Nutcracker doesn't have a whole lot to do with adjusting to our life in a new state, but it most certainly is a part of our lives I want Hallie to remember. So here's this year's recap.


A few weeks before the actual show, we start doing outreach performances throughout the community as well as radio spots and television interviews. This year I wrote my first radio spot while Hallie was involved in most of the performances and lucky enough to be included in one of the television interviews.

The girls with the reporter...

...and with their beloved Ms. Suzanne, one of our Ballet
Brazos Artistic Directors, who joined them for the interview.

You can watch the interview here - Hallie talks and dances during the two-minute spot!


Theater week included lots of "boots on the ground" work, plus two tech rehearsals and a dress rehearsal. These two wore different Nutcracker shirts to school every single day that week to help promote the production.

Working on Front of House decorations.

Modeling the Pointe Angel headpiece as we were
trying get the right photo of it to use for Publicity.

Hallie and Savannah helped Tom fix the sleigh lights.
It was an epic late-night, last-minute, save-the-day,
talk-about-about-it-for-years-to-come moment. 

While working, Tom tried to lighten the mood (this all went down at
9:15pm on "show eve" so everyone backstage was pretty tense) by
yelling, "someone get me the Sugar Plum Fairy!" as if he needed her
help to fix the problem. Not everyone gets his sense of humor, so this
is a shoutout to Sarah-Beth, who completely understood Tom in that
moment and laughed. So thanks, Sarah-Beth. 😉


Then came the shows - one on Friday night, one on Saturday afternoon, and one on Saturday evening. The days were LONG (Friday in particular, as we arrived at 8am and left at 9:45pm), but we knew from experience that the week would be over in a heartbeat and we did our best to soak in everything Nutcracker while we could. 

This was Hallie's first year to have two roles. She was tremendously proud of this honor, and LOVED dancing in the Spanish Corps...I think you can see her joy - as well as theatricality and her Spanish flare - on her face in many of these pictures.

Here we go!

Warming up...with Kathryn Morgan (far left) and George
Sanders (front/center). (Hallie is behind George to his left.)

Hallie's bestie, Kara, was honored to play Clara this
year. I looked out onto the stage just before the overture
began on opening night and caught this beautiful moment.
Hallie was SO proud of Kara. (And Kara CRUSHED it.)

I'm not crying, you're crying.

All of the Party Girl dresses have names. Last year Hallie wore
Blueberry Muffin...this year she wore Mint Chocolate Chip.

Party Girls ready to go!

Let's Party! (Check out the photo bomber
on the far right - we love you, George!)


It's hard to say goodbye and leave the theater on Saturday night, knowing it'll be a full year before we take the stage again for Nutcracker. 

Hallie with Kathryn Morgan and George Sanders. Both are 
talented dancers, but more importantly, both are good people
who are good role models and are "fighting the good fight" to
make ballet accessible for and representative of all dancers.

Hallie with her fabulous Ballet Academy
and first company director, Ms. Christi.

Hallie's grandmas couldn't attend this year, one because
of illness and one because of a funeral. Nonny (her name
is Brenda, but we've called her Nonny since the day we met
her), who is mom to my bestie, Mandi, and grandma to
Hallie's bestie, Kara, stepped in. Hallie felt so loved and
I felt so grateful. Thank you, Nonny - we love you!

Hallie and Avery with their beloved Ballet
Academy instructors, Mr. John and Ms. Aya.

Hallie and Nina 😍

Hallie and her instructor and
choreographer for Spanish, Ms. Diane. 

Hallie and Ms. Suzanne, the founder of Hallie's
dance studio and our Ballet Brazos Artistic Director.


One of my favorite pics from the weekend!

John and Tom (with matching hair) plus Will, who
willingly took Hallie's dance bag home after the last show so
she'd have less to carry and opted to keep it on for the photo.


The reason I spend countless hours on this endeavor:


The two people I wouldn't want to do this without:


And the series y'all have (probably) been waiting for:












That's a wrap, friends. We're tired...and we're already dreaming about next year.