Friday, July 28, 2023

High Five for Friday (7.28.23)



Late last week Hallie wrapped up her (one) work week of the summer. She assisted at her dance studio's "Dance Mode" (Bluey themed) dance camp for littles between the ages of three and six, and while she was exhausted every day when camp let out, she had a great time. 

I attended the end-of-camp showcase, and it was a blast watching Hallie in action and the littles who belong to friends of ours.



On Thursday evening we made the drive to Houston to see our friends Kaylee and Kara perform in their Houston Ballet five-week summer intensive showcase. They both did an amazing job, and while we couldn't take any photos or videos of their dances, we took lots of photos of the girls reuniting after more than a month apart. 


It's World Cup time, baby! I've watched both United States games live, and each morning I watch the Fox Sports recaps of all of the other games that happened overnight. (The majority of the games - thanks to the time difference between here and Australia and New Zealand - take place while we're sleeping.) I've yet to decide if I'm going to watch the team's next game live, given that it kicks off at 2am... 

That's my parents' cat - Molly - watching the
game. She LOVES watching sports on television.

Hallie made us a patriotic dessert (those are
4th of July M&Ms) to celebrate our first game.


Last Saturday Will played two rounds of 18 holes each, in 100-degree weather, in the PDGA "Throwing Down the Gauntlet" tournament (Mixed Amateur 3) in Austin...and came home a champion. (Tom also deserves a shout-out, for accompanying Will on this 15-hour day that included four hours in the car and NINE hours outside in that horrible weather.) He took one more giant step toward his goal of qualifying for the PGDA World Championships!


Fun Friday

Last Friday we hit up Big Shots for the first time in a few months. The weather was headed toward brutal, but we went around 10:30am and it wasn't bad - under the awning, with the fans blowing on us, and with cold beverages to keep us hydrated - until we'd finished golfing and Will wanted to play corn hole and ping pong on the surface of the sun. It's worth noting that while Will beat me at corn hole, I beat him at ping pong. πŸ˜‰

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

And Yet, Here We Are

Given that just yesterday we dropped him off in his kindergarten classroom, it makes no sense that this summer he began the process of choosing the college/university where in just two short years we will once again drop him off. 

And yet, here we are.

Will now has his first two college tours under his belt. We started with the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and then a few days later we finished (for this trip) with the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I liked visiting Iowa and Wisconsin back to back, as it gave all of us an opportunity to compare and contrast the two schools - and the two presentations, tours, guides, campuses, etc. - while both were still fresh in our minds. 

At Iowa:

Thinking, "how did we get here?" while waiting
for the Honors Program presentation to start.

In front of Tom's college home away
from home: the engineering building.

We took a few dance pics along the way.

Along the Iowa River.

A little music while we cooled
off inside the Memorial Union.

With Herky the Hawkeye.

The University of Iowa Children's Hospital, home to one
of college football's newest and greatest traditions: The Wave.

Outside Kinnick Stadium.

At Wisconsin (we took considerably fewer pics - oops):

These chairs (the normal sized version) are
famous in Wisconsin and beyond, and it's always
fun to take pictures in the extra large versions.

My dad joined us for this tour - in Hallie's
place. I'm sure he had a better time than
Hallie would have had.

Will is keeping his cards pretty close to the vest right now, but I know there were things he liked and didn't like about both schools. If either/both of these universities rise to or near the top of his list, we'll return for more in-depth and program-specific tours (right now he's leaning toward engineering, though probably not the same kind of engineering as Tom) and to flush out those likes and dislikes a little more. 

Ready or not, here we are.

These are both schools Tom and I are familiar with - we both attended Iowa, I grew up just a few blocks from Wisconsin and the rest of my family (dad, mom, and sister) are alumni, and Tom works with a number of faculty and staff members at both Universities. If anyone would like to chat about becoming a Hawkeye or a Badger with us, let me know!

Also, a note to our friends who live in and around these cities and who we didn't have time to see...we're sorry we missed you. We crammed A LOT into very short visits, and were short on time for additional social gatherings. Next time!

Friday, July 21, 2023

High Five for Friday (7.21.23)



Getting home from our travels on a Friday evening was absolutely the right thing to do. It was so nice to have both Saturday and Sunday to unpack, do laundry, clean the house, and prepare for the week ahead. We also slept in and played with our babies (and dressed them up in their impulse-purchase gear from the UW bookstore), who had missed us and we had missed so much.


Speaking of our babies...they were SO well cared for in our absence. We're tremendously grateful for friends who will drive to our house to take care of all of our babies' needs every day for two straight weeks.

This is my new favorite picture, because at a
glance it looks so sweet (it is so sweet, at least as
far as Cullen is concerned), but if you zoom in...



On Sunday, Will, who has decided he'd like to try to qualify for the PGDA Junior Disc Golf World Championships, competed in his second tournament of the year. In a field of 25 competitors, Will finished second, and while he wasn't pleased with that place (it's hard to come that close to the top of the podium), we were incredibly proud of him!


On Monday we celebrated this guy's birthday. Many years we haven't been together on his birthday - summer travel and work often overlap in inconvenient ways - so we love it when we all get to be together for him.


Last but certainly not least...we have a new family member! Tom's brother and his wife just had their third baby: Rock Nicholson Ferris. He's just precious, and we can wait to meet him! 

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Going to the Chapel

In my next few Tuesday posts I'll aim to capture the essence of this summer's Great Road Trip North. After 12+ years, College Station feels like home - with regard to our house, friends, schools, jobs, and dance and soccer families - and we love it here (except in late July, August, and early September when Texas and the surface of the sun are one in the same). But the Midwest still feels so comfortably familiar geographically, topographically, and meteorologically, and of course many of our extended family members reside in Midwestern states. It's always a joy to visit...and it's always a joy to return home.

Our Great Road Trip North started off (after somewhat accidentally driving from College Station to Madison in a ridiculously long 20 straight hours) with back-to-back weddings.

The first wedding brought together Tom's cousin, Natalie, and her fiancΓ©, Adam. They were married in the backyard of Natalie's childhood home, where Tom's aunt and uncle still live and on the shores of Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Raised in two different faiths, Natalie and Adam designed a beautifully inclusive ceremony that blended - and explained the symbols and traditions of - both Christianity and Judaism, and included close and extended families, friends, and neighbors. Following the ceremony, we dined on authentic Mexican food (which is almost impossible to find in the Midwest) and then danced the night away with Tom's parents, many family members, and new friends. 

To understand how crazy the first few days of our trip were...on Friday we drove from College Station, TX to Madison, WI. On Saturday we drove from Madison, WI to Oshkosh, WI, attended wedding #1, and then drove back to Madison. On Sunday we drove from Madison, WI to Iowa City, IA for wedding #2. On Monday we spent the day touring the University of Iowa (more on that in a future post) and then drove back to Madison. To say we were road weary would be an understatement.

The second wedding was between two "grown up" friends, Jane and Geb, of Tom's - and then mine as well - from our time at the University of Iowa. In 1997, Jane started working for the Iowa Engineering Department. A year later, Jane began recruiting Tom, who was a senior in high school at the time, and brought him and his mom to Iowa for a personal tour. While walking through the engineering building, Jane, Tom, and Susan passed the open door to Geb's lab and were invited in to see the cool research on which Geb and his students were working. Fast forward a year...Jane had convinced Tom to attend Iowa, and as a freshman, Tom began working for Geb in his lab. Back then, Jane and Geb were just colleagues. Throughout the next two decades, however, they became friends and started dating, before finally tying the knot earlier this month. Tom gave a wonderful toast during the reception, telling this story, talking about how instrumental Jane was in Tom becoming a Hawkeye and influential Geb was as Tom's mentor, and sharing that 20 years ago they both attended our wedding. (They were just friends at the time.)

In addition to a shared profession as engineering professors, Geb and Tom share a passion for music. Jane and Geb's wedding had some of the best music of any wedding we've ever attended - three different bands between the cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing - and we loved listening to some of their favorite styles of music and to Geb on bass for a few songs later in the evening. 

Jane and Geb's wedding also marked a first for us as a family: while the kids were invited, we decided to make the night a date and let them hang out together at the hotel. (They wouldn't have known anyone, so they were happy with this plan.) We gave them the keys to the car and a credit card, and let them figure out the evening on their own; they worked out at the hotel gym, went swimming in the hotel pool, did a little shopping at Trader Joe's, and then ordered and picked up Noodles for dinner. They didn't buy me a small mac and cheese from Noodles, but they now know not to make that mistake again.

These two weddings made our first weekend a whirlwind, but we had a blast and were so happy to celebrate with family and friends!