Tuesday, February 28, 2023

2023 In, 2023 Out

 A few weeks back, my friend Anne posted this picture on Instagram:

Her caption read, "spent time today making a dent in 2023 pieces of clutter out of the house in 2023. 144 pieces down, just 1879 to go. At least my closet looks better!"

I love decluttering (I commented, "I LOVE THIS" on her post), so I've decided to tackle this challenge as well. I'm kicking things off tomorrow, on March 1st, and I plan to have discarded, donated, or sold 2023 pieces of clutter by December 31st. Here are my rules:

  • Actual trash doesn't count. (If it did, I'd have this challenge wrapped up after just two of three cleanings of Will's room.)
  • Anything besides actual trash can be counted as clutter: clothing, accessories, bags, toys, games, books, magazines, home decor, glassware, dishes, linens, tools, etc.  
  • Anything I've already discarded, donated, or sold - in January or February - doesn't count toward the 2023 items.
  • I can count items I intend to sell at an eventual garage sale as long as they're boxed up and in the garage. Whatever doesn't sell at the garage sale must be donated or sold separately (rather than brought back inside the house), and if we don't end up having a garage sale, everything that was set aside for the sale must be donated or sold separately by December 31st.

I made myself a "fancy" little chart, which opened my eyes to how big of a number 2023 actually is...it'll take two of pages of the chart to get the job done.

After I hang it on the refrigerator, I'm off to declutter!

Friday, February 24, 2023

High Five for Friday (2.24.23)


Tom survived Dad & Daughter Week at dance! This ended up being a pretty easy year for him, at least in comparison to the year he tore a tendon in his knee. He missed contemporary because of a meeting and tap because of his weekly music session, but was able to attend hip hop and jazz. 


Will had an orchestra concert on Thursday night, which I attended while Tom participated in Hallie's jazz class. The students did a wonderful job, and seemed well-prepared for their upcoming UIL competition. It's so fun to think about what 5th grade orchestra, 6th grade orchestra, middle school orchestra, and high school JV orchestra sounded like, and to both remember the progress made each year and compare each year to what high school Varsity Orchestra sounds like now.

An orchestra concert evening wouldn't be complete without a trip to IHOP, so of course we tried to go there...but there was a 45-minute wait (a party of 30 had come in right before us and they only had one chef and one waitress working) so we tried RX Pizza (swamped) and Mad Taco (closed) before heading to Freddy's. It was the first time we'd all eaten dinner together in weeks though, so I'll count that as a win!


On Saturday afternoon and evening, Hallie performed in her ballet company's Encore Gala. The dancers all did a lovely job, and this spring show was a wonderful way to wrap up the company season. (I didn't take any pictures of Hallie dancing because I wanted to truly watch, but now I regret that decision. I also forgot to take pictures of Hallie with Tom, Will, and/or me, which I'm also disappointed about.)


Happiness Highlights

No pictures...I want to remember that Hallie attended a Bengal Belles (the dance team at her soon-to-be high school) pre-tryout workshop and crushed it. She decided not to tryout for her freshman year, but she had a great time and felt really good about herself and her skills after attending that session.

Again, no pictures...I want to document how awesome it is taking friendships to the next level. Two soccer mom friends - who I've known and spent time with on both the high school and club sidelines for years - went out together last weekend. We had such a fantastic evening eating and drinking and talking about all the things that never come up when we're sideline socializing. 

One more picture-less highlight...on Monday, when the kids were out of school, Will and Hallie spent about an hour and a half playing at the park, picking up drinks, and putting gas in Will's car, just the two of them. The gas station stop wasn't the most exciting, but they were hanging out together and that's all that mattered to me.

On to Happiness Highlights with photos:

On Sunday afternoon Hallie and I went
to a "Kitten Shower" for our kitten rescue.

The establishment where the event was held - Downtown Uncorked -
offered a specialty drink for the shower. I'm a regular at Uncorked, and
when I was there two days prior, my friend Jenn and I suggested to our
favorite waitress that she create a fun kitten drink...something with
"purr" in the title. So she did! 

It was delicious and beautiful!

My niece Lily's middle school cheer team placed
eighth at state! She's on top on the far right.

And my nephew, Carter, crushed it at his
tumbling tournament...on his birthday!

My parents and their friends, hiking in Arizona.
They're still out there crushing it, and I love that
about both of them.


And now for your weekly Lads update! 

Last Friday night the Lads took on Magnolia West, and the game was brutal in more ways than one. Mag West is a notoriously difficult place to play with regard to fans and referees (we had to sit on the opposite side of the field from the Mag West fans because during their game earlier in the week, parents had gotten into a fight and two moms had been arrested), and we felt the pain. Nothing went the Lads' way - most certainly not the referee's calls, a poor one of which resulted in Mag West's first goal of the night. Somehow the Lads found themselves down 0-4, but then in the second half they clawed their way back to 3-4 before the time ran out on their comeback.

On Tuesday night the Lads faced Brenham at home, and they managed to eek out a 2-0 win and *hopefully* get themselves back on track. Hallie came to the game and we - all the fans - told her she had to keep coming since the Lads are undefeated with her in the stands...she actually called the game "exciting" (the first positive word she's ever used to describe soccer in the 13+ years Will has played), but couldn't commit to attending the rest of the season's games.

#wegoagain tonight!

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

When Traditions End

Traditions end for a variety of reasons. In extreme cases, someone involved might pass away or parents might get divorced. Perhaps the person who coordinated the tradition is no longer present or the tradition feels wrong given the new circumstances. In more organic cases, traditions may simply run their course or not make as much sense to uphold as participants grow older. Traditions may no longer bring the joy they once did, or they may be replaced by new traditions. 

Earlier this month we bid farewell to one of our traditions, not because of anything catastrophic, but because my little boy isn't a little boy anymore. It was a silly tradition and I knew it was coming to an end, but those details didn't make saying goodbye any easier...I think because with each tradition we leave behind, we are also leaving behind a piece of his childhood.

I won't share this post and these photos in future years, but I needed to share them once more today...because I didn't know the last time was the last time. 


Grumpy for 11 Years

The emotion in the first picture of this series - at the bottom of the post - was captured accidentally. On Super Bowl Sunday I brought out all of the kids' Green Bay gear for one more wear. As Will pulled on one of his Packer shirts, he asked excitedly if the Packers had made it to the Super Bowl. When I explained that no, the Packers weren't playing that day, the authentically forlorn expression you see above passed slowly across his face. Hallie, on the other hand, just didn't feel like smiling for the camera.

Hopefully 2023 will be the year our Green Bay Packers rise to the top once more, because while I used to say that this tradition - Will and Hallie wearing their disappointment on both their faces and torsos - would continue as long as was necessary, I now know it won't last forever. Let's just say that cooperation levels have been decreasing and the emotions on the faces below - annoyance with their mother and each other - are as authentic as emotions come.

Go Pack Go!

Teenagers keepin' it real.

Nothing says grumpy like cuddling a kitten.

Will brings his A-game with a swollen black eye.

Intense (Hallie) and unblinking (Will).

Trying not to laugh (Will) and annoyed at the laugher (Hallie).

2017 (official)

2017 (bonus)
Note the unilaterally flared nostril.

Adorably angry (Hallie) and trying not to smile (Will).

Indifferent (Will) and trying to make herself cry (Hallie).

The year of the toothy growl.

My favorite. Just cute.

The OG.

Earlier today this came across my Instagram feed, courtesy of Grown and Flown.

"Mom, didn't you realize when you had a baby that it would eventually grow up and leave?"

"Yes, sweetheart, I did. But I didn't know it would feel like this."

Friday, February 17, 2023

High Five for Friday (2.17.23)



On Thursday I helped serve hot dog lunches to the majority of the students (there are 2,100+ of them) at Will's high school for Student Appreciation Week. It was exhausting but so fun, especially because I was able to help out with friends!


After wrapping up our hot dog extravaganza, I popped over to the other side of the school to pick up my February flower subscription. The bouquet is beautiful as always, and I was pleasantly surprise to discover that the vase fit perfectly in my new car beverage holder for the drive home!


On Friday I had a wonderful lunch with many of my internet-turned-real friends. (I wrote about how we all "came to be" here.) We tried a new (to me) Korean restaurant - where most of what I tried was delicious - and had a great time talking face-to-face.


On Monday night Hallie and I attended "Welcome to the Jungle" at her soon-to-be high school. She's not excited about leaving middle school - she doesn't want to grow up - but I'm trying to help her realize that growing up isn't all bad. 

Five (A)

It was a rough week for the Lads, but because a handful of you are invested, I feel like I need to keep the weekly updates coming. I'll try my best to put a positive spin on things...

Last Friday night the Lads suffered their first defeat. In soccer (in all sports, really), sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't; that night the Lads had MANY shots on goal, none of which found the back of the net...our opponents, on the other hand, had less than a handful of shots and two resulted in goals. It was a hard loss, but none of us - Lads or parents - assumed they would end the season undefeated. We hoped that ending their winning streak would allow the Lads to shake off the pressure of maintaining an undefeated record and light a fire under them going forward. 

Then on Tuesday night, the Lads ended their game - which they should have easily won - in a 1-1 tie. It felt as bad as the recent loss, especially because they once again couldn't find the back of the net. (Their only goal was on a penalty kick.) They took more shots than I think I've ever seen taken in a single game, and not a single one dropped. It was extraordinarily frustrating for them (and for me - I fully admit to being far too invested), and they're feeling pretty down right now.

But as their coach always says, #wegoagain...and they go again tonight. We know you can do this, Lads, and we can't wait to watch you play.


The Lads have been enjoying my post-home game baked goods though - on Friday night I went with red velvet cupcakes (perfect, because they look maroon) with cream cheese icing and maroon, silver, and white sprinkles.

Five (B)

On Valentine's Day, I didn't get back into town (from the soccer game) until 9:45pm and Will arrived home about an hour after that. By the time we'd eaten, showered, and worked on his English assignment, it was well after midnight. All that to say, we had to postpone our traditional Valentine's Day treasure hunt until the following night, but 1) Hallie handled the schedule change like a champ (not usually her strong suit), 2) the kids and Tom liked their little gifts, and 3) we all still had fun. Happy Valentine's Day, friends! (And happy birthday to my sister-in-law, Chandi, and happy anniversary to my parents!)

The first clue is always in the lovebug's zipper pouch.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Monthly Medley: January 2023


Back in the saddle again! I finished a piece at the beginning of the month, and just signed on for an additional two articles due at the end of February and the end of March. My goal for 2023 is to stay creatively engaged and working consistently without taking on so much that I feel overwhelmed...


I read Someone We Know by Shari Lapena this month. This whodunnit mystery started off strong, which I greatly appreciated as so often it takes me until around page 100 to feel invested and intrigued. The pace slowed for a bit midway through, but the end was twisty and turny as should be the case in every mystery. 


I cruised through two very different series in January: Kaleidoscope (Hulu) and Echoes (Netflix). 

Kaleidoscope is a heist mystery, each episode of which takes place at a different point in time before, during, or after the heist and is designed to stand alone. The episode order is shuffled for every viewer, so while I might watch Pink, then Green, then Yellow, etc. until I reach White (which is the actual heist and was created as the series finale), you might watch Yellow, then Orange, then Red, etc. until you reach White. We would experience the show differently, because we gained information about the characters and the heist at different points in our viewing journey. The heist itself isn't quite on par with, say, the heist in Ocean's Eleven (my standard when it comes to this genre), but the show is engaging and I loved the concept. 

Echoes is a dark and twisted drama about adult twin sisters and what unfolds when one of them goes missing. The concept for this series was a good one, but the complete storyline was either not adequately laid out or I wasn't paying close enough attention. (I admit that the latter could easily be the case - I often have the television on while I'm lifting weights, stretching, etc. and I frequently miss important details.) I felt somewhat confused in the beginning, then grateful when some of my questions were answered midway through, and then somewhat confused - and troubled (like I said, it's dark) - again in the end. I might watch it a second time, just to see if I can catch a few more of the details.

Tom and I watched Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery and LOVED it. Each episode of this comedic murder mystery series invites a guest star to play the role of a rookie detective who is assigned to work with a senior detective, played by Will Arnett. A script exists, but the guest star isn't given a copy so they're forced to improvise their way through the episode. Jason Bateman, Maya Rudolph, and Pete Davidson all appear and are hysterical to watch.

Tom, Will, and I watched Glass Onion, the stand-alone sequel to the mystery Knives Out. It wasn't quite as good as the "original," but it was still intriguing.

Hallie and I watched Ticket to Paradise, which starred two of my favorites: George Clooney and Julia Roberts. The film was cute, but - unsurprisingly - not either of their best work.

Listening To

I usually listen to a lot of silence in January. I'm not a fan of podcasts (and media in general) that promote a "new year, new you" mentality, and since this topic is the foundation on which much what rolls out at this time of year is built (and because December is generally pretty noisy), I like to keep things a little quieter post-holidays. I have a new podcast I'm looking forward to trying in February though!


Kind of along the lines of not listening to much of anything in January, I'm not following much of anything in January either. Instead, I'm unfollowing people and pages - a cleanse of sorts. To me, it feels good to declutter Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter just like it feels good to declutter my kitchen pantry, bathroom cabinets, and linen closet. New "follows" to come next month!


In January (and in February and March) I wear the exact same thing on Tuesdays and Fridays, because those are Lads game days and the weather is ALWAYS some combination of cold, rainy, and/or windy. 

For those who might be wondering how this Wisconsinite bundles up for games... Starting at the bottom and working upwards, I wear one pair of Smartwool socks, toe warmers, and either my rain or winter boots. I wear long underwear under my jeans, or if it's REALLY cold, long underwear under leggings under my ski/snow pants. On top I wear a tank top, one or two Cuddlduds undershirts, and my Tiger sweatshirt. Depending on the temperature, I wear my long vest under either my Texas winter coat or my Wisconsin winter coat. I also wear a hat, a fluffy scarf, and wool mittens with hand warmers in the hand warmer pockets and hand warmers inside the body of the mittens. Oh, and I always wear my Tiger Lads bracelets, even though no one can see them underneath all of my layers.

I didn't do any shopping for myself in January, but Hallie and I have a couple of shopping trips planned for the near future so hopefully I'll have something fun to share next month!


I swapped out my Native deodorant, which I've used for a couple of years and been happy with, for something even better. I waited a couple of months to report in (I wanted to give it a fair shake first), but I could have shared within a day or two what I'm sharing now - Lume is amazing. It smells wonderful and does the job better than anything else I've tried in the last six or seven years (which is how long I've used aluminum-free deodorants). Clean Tangerine is my favorite scent thus far, but I plan to try them all, especially now that Lume is available at Target.

I couldn't bring myself to buy this for my car - it felt frivolous - so I put it on my Christmas list and received it as a gift...and I LOVE it. It secures into the cupholder so the weight of additional beverages (it can hold up to four) won't tip it over, and the top level is adjustable so it's perfect for my Juice It Up bowls. I think this is the exact one I have, but there are lots of similar designs.

Speaking of my car, I also received this car air freshener as a gift. It's the Anthropologie "Volcano" scent, and it smells lovely (and does a decent job of masking the odor of soccer cleats and pointe shoes).

Last but not least, I continue to adore my Loopy phone cases. Hallie bought me this one for Christmas, and it's been the perfect cover for winter.


I had three recipes to share in this post...but then Will logged me out of my computer, and when I logged back in, the computer forced a Chrome update of Chrome that erased all of my bookmarks. I spent an entire day trying to recover them, but I was never successful; I finally gave up when my Google searches basically told me - and others who had been in the same boat - that I wouldn't be able to get them back.

Feeling Good About

Hope you had a good January, and that February is treating you well!

Friday, February 10, 2023

High Five for Friday (2.10.23)


Girl Scout Cookies are here! Well, they were here - now they're almost gone, and I haven't gotten to eat a single one...I'm looking at you, WILL FERRIS.


I was on the news TWICE on last Friday. I wrote about it here, but it was definitely a highlight of my week so it gets a mention in today's post as well.


Last Saturday Hallie spent the day in Killeen at the Region Choir clinic and concert. She had a lot of fun throughout the day and the group sounded AMAZING when they performed! (Video to come...we were asked not to film but they said a recording would be available soon.)


A couple of years ago our besties adopted their kitty Teaka (who was originally named Bob, of the Hallie's Hairstyle Babies) from us as fosters and through our rescue, Six Kittens Rescue. Last week they adopted their second kitty, sweet baby Waffle. He's a precious floof with a knack for snuggling, and he frequently falls asleep sitting up, which is adorable. We haven't had kittens in quite a while (hopefully soon!) so it was wonderful to be around a little babe again. 


And now for your weekly Lads Update!

Somehow the lads have continued to find ways to win and are now 5-0 in district play and 11-0 overall!

Last Thursday night (rescheduled from last Tuesday night), they beat Magnolia West 4-2 in a double come-from-behind (they were down 0-1 and then again 1-2) victory. Last Friday night, they beat College Station High School - our crosstown rival - in an epically close 2-1 battle. Most of these boys are friends because they play club together, so it's tough for them to go against each other and it's tough for the parents to go against each other. The game was fun though, especially because it was well-attended despite the weather - the students are so fun in the stands. On Tuesday night, they beat Rudder High School 3-1, in what was a fight against the wind more than anything else. They were down 0-1 for almost all of the first half, but with just a couple of seconds left on the clock, they* scored to go into halftime tied and with a fire lit beneath them. 

* By they, I mean WILL FERRIS. WILL FERRIS SCORED A GOAL. Will is a defender, and while he occasionally gets an assist, he only scores once every two or three YEARS. The goal was exciting, as was his goal celebration knee slide...which took all of the skin off of his knees. He says it was worth it.

He told me these were the best pictures taken of him in his entire life.

#wegoagain tonight - go Lads!


Have a great weekend, friends!