Tuesday, October 31, 2023

High Five for Halloween

I'm mixing things up a bit, sharing two regular posts last week and two High Five posts this week. Hope that doesn't throw anyone off too much!


Halloween should never fall on a Tuesday...or a Sunday, a Monday, or a Wednesday, for that matter. I can get behind Thursdays, but Fridays and Saturdays are of course the best possible days of the week for dressing up, trick-or-treating, and staying up late eating candy and watching scary movies. 

Unfortunately, Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year. We have school, soccer practice, and a dance class, but we're going to make it work one way or another!


I love looking back on what the kids - and Tom and I, when we on occasion put together themed family costumes - wore on Halloweens past.


















Have a fun and safe Halloween, friends!

Friday, October 27, 2023

Mum's the Word

When I first saw Texas homecoming mums, I thought they looked ridiculous.

More than a decade later, I still think Texas homecoming mums look kind of ridiculous (some more than others), but that didn't stop me from jumping on the band wagon as Hallie prepared to attend her first high school dance earlier this month.

But wait...for those of you who don't hail from Texas, allow me to explain.

Mums - short for chrysanthemums - are a long-held homecoming tradition in Texas. The first mum was spotted at Baylor University in 1936, and just like that, the gesture of a couple gifting one another a mum before the homecoming football game became a tradition. 

Mums were originally made of real chrysanthemums adorned with ribbons in the wearer's school colors and accessories that highlighted the wearer's interests. The first mums were small enough, both in size and weight, that they could be pinned to the wearers' tops. 

Throughout the years, however, these once simple mums have taken on lives of their own.

Mums have grown in size significantly, to the point that most - at least those worn by girls - are either too large or too heavy to be worn any other way than around the neck. The ribbons and accessories have multiplied, and embellishments like beads, rhinestones, bells, boas, photos, lights, and stuffed animals are now common place. Faux flowers have replaced live flowers so the mums will last longer. 

Photo credit: Texas Homecoming Mums & Garters Facebook page, by way of my "mum expert" friend, Elicia. Check out this page if you'd like to see more extravagance!

Many kids still make (or have their moms make) mums for their homecoming dates, but the tradition has expanded to the point that anyone and everyone who wants to make and wear one can...and does. Mums are commonly worn to school on the day of the homecoming football game, to the homecoming football game, and to "photo shoots" before the dance.

"Everything is bigger in Texas" applies to the mums themselves, but also to the mum business. Come fall, just about every craft store in Texas boasts a section (department?) devoted to mum materials, and you can purchase supplies online as well. Or, if you're not the crafting type, you can hire someone to make your mum for you...for a pretty penny. 

Mums, at least those ordered and purchased from mum stores (yes, there are mum stores) or home-based businesses can cost a few hundred dollars, and it's easy to spend close to $100 on materials from Hobby Lobby, Michael's, or Amazon if you're making a mum yourself. If I had the patience for this kind of crafting, I'd probably be making mums as a side hustle.

For Hallie and her friends, we (the moms) opted to have another friend - who just started dabbling in mum design, assembly, accessories, etc. - make some of our fancier ribbons and cut a few different images for us. Then we took those pieces and layered them with raw materials we'd purchased on our own to create the finished product. It took quite a while and more patience than most of us had, but we loved the end results. 

This tradition might seem a little silly, but it was also a lot of fun and allowed Hallie and her friends to showcase their personalities and school spirit - a win in my book.

Oh, and please don't anyone tell Tom - my Mad Scientist Lightsmith - that mums can have lights. I can only imagine what Hallie's next mum would look like... 


Just for fun, here are a few AMAZING pics of my born-and-bred Texan friends with their high school mums a *few* years ago. Thanks for sharing and letting me share, friends. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Paint the Town Teal...and My Halloween Soap Box

I talk about these topics each year around this time, so for those of you who read Chasing Roots regularly, this post may feel familiar. 

The first topic is an important one, so please give the section a quick read and consider either participating yourself - if you plan to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home this year - or sharing the post so others can jump on board the teal pumpkin band wagon. 

The second topic is important in a different way, and stems from an experience Hallie and her friends had while trick-or-treating two years ago. Addressing this may come across - at least a little bit - like I'm a Halloween soap box, but I feel strongly enough about it to share it again.


At 12-years old, Will trick-or-treated like a "normal" kid for the first time. He didn't have to gently sift through bowls of candy looking for a piece he could safely eat, or say "no thank you" and walk away with nothing at all if the candy offered contained or might contain peanuts. I didn't have to read the labels on or look up the ingredients in any piece of candy he brought home. He sampled anything and everything without fear.

This wasn't always the case for Will and our family. As my regular readers know, Will has a peanut allergy. Five years ago he completed a months-long peanut desensitization, and he is currently in his sixth year of maintenance during which he eats 12 peanuts every single day (without issue) to maintain that desensitized state. Sadly, not all kids with peanut allergies are so lucky, which is why, after participating for the first time in 2014 when it officially hit front porches nationwide, we continue to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

For those who haven't yet heard of this Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) project, here's the background information and a quick summary. At least one in 13 children (perhaps as many as one in 11 children) have a food allergy, and many more suffer from Celiac Disease, eat a restricted or special diet, or receive their nutrients via tube feeding. For these children - those who can't consume any of the items received while trick-or-treating or who can't trick-or-treat at all - Halloween doesn't have the same sparkle. The Teal Pumpkin Project began as a local awareness activity in Eastern Tennessee and grew into a nationwide campaign to "raise awareness about food allergies and promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters" and aims to ensure every child can experience a safe, happy holiday.

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.

  1. Pick out a pumpkin, paint it teal, and place it on your front porch on Halloween.
  2. Provide non-food treats - pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, and plastic vampire teeth have been popular at our house - for trick-or-treaters. 

The goal here is not to exclude candy; FARE suggests simply putting candy in one bowl, and non-food treats in a separate bowl. And if you don't have time to buy and/or paint a teal pumpkin, you can buy one online, order a fun sign for your front yard, or print out and hang up one of FARE's signs!

Painting a pumpkin teal or putting out a teal pumpkin on Halloween won't cure Will or anyone else of their allergies. But doing so is a step toward increasing awareness and making the world a safer place for people with life-threatening food allergies.

Let's paint the town teal!

Every year I consider using a different picture, but I just can't
look away from that sweet, toothless grin nor can I forget how
seriously she took her responsibility to paint a pumpkin for Will. 
I've since purchased a reusable teal pumpkin, but she still takes
responsibility for putting it out. 


Two years ago, Hallie and her friends spent weeks (months?) planning their Schyler Sisters (Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy) Halloween costumes. On October 31st they dressed up, did their hair and make-up as authentically as possible, and headed out with their treat bags to enjoy what is usually one of the best nights of the year for most kids.

One of our neighbors answered the door and asked the girls how old they were. When they politely answered that they were all 12, she lectured them about how 12-year-olds are too old to trick-or-treat and that she didn't "allow" her 12-year-old grandson to trick-or-treat.

The girls were dressed up, incredibly polite, and 12. TWELVE. There's no way that 12 is too old to trick-or-treat. 

Side note: I trick-or-treated through my senior year of high school. That might be pushing it, but my friends and I were always dressed up and polite, and for our junior and senior years we prepared a little harmonized song so that if people were grumpy about us coming, we had something in our back pockets to make them smile. 

In the last couple of weeks, Grown and Flown (an Instagram page I follow) has reported on:
  • A city that made it a CRIME for kids over the age of 14 to trick or treat,
  • A family that ranted about kids from other neighborhoods coming to their neighborhood for their "good" candy,
  • And people refusing to hand out candy until a child audibly says, "trick or treat."
I just can't with all of this, y'all. Halloween is supposed to be fun, for everyone.  

There are so many unsafe activities kids - particularly teens - could partake in on Halloween. Teenagers who trick-or-treat are choosing childhood over the alternative, so when they come to my house, I will happily give them candy.

There are so many neighborhoods that are either unsafe or undesirable for trick-or-treating. Kids from these neighborhoods often come to mine on Halloween because lots of houses give out candy, there are sidewalks, and the streets aren't busy, and when they do again this year, I will happily give them candy.

There are many kids who are nonverbal or are nervous about talking to strangers. Kids who fall into these categories visit our house on Halloween every year, and when they do again this year, I will happily give them candy.

It's ok to dislike Halloween. But if that's the case, don't participate - just turn off the light (the universal sign for either "I'm not giving out candy" or "I'm out of candy") and call it a night.  

They are only young (and young at heart) for so long. Please, don't take the joy of trick-or-treating away from kids for - or make kids feel badly about - hanging on to their childhood.


Let the countdown to Halloween begin! 

If you live in BCS and would like to stop by our driveway and experience Tom's candy cannon, email me at erinLferris at yahoo dot com and I'll share our address!

Friday, October 20, 2023

High Five for Friday (10.20.23)

Is it true that adulthood is repeating, "it's been a week" and/or "I just need to get through next week," until you die? If so, I've been feeling very adult-ish these days. There are still high fives to be found in the crazy though, so here we go!


Did you watch (without looking directly at the sun, of course) the solar eclipse? I was at the dance studio with lots of Nutcracker dancers, and they were passing around the special glasses that allow you to safely catch a glimpse of this phenomenon. It was cool to see myself, but even more fun to watch them "ooh" and "ahh" as the light in the parking lot changed around them. 

Check out these photos taken by a photographer I recently met here in College Station - very cool!


I don't have a picture to prove it, but on Tuesday I got to see and have lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in ages. For a variety of reasons we'd kind of lost touch with one another, and it was lovely to catch up.


Homecoming, Round 2 was a blast! Both Will and Hallie dressed up according to the "Barbenheimer" theme for school on Friday, Hallie sang the National Anthem with her choir before the game on Friday night (we won the game 72-0), and then Hallie and friends had a great time getting ready for, taking pictures before, eating dinner before, attending, and then finally going out for Andy's frozen custard after the dance. (Will still doesn't believe in dances, so he didn't go.)

The horns were a complete accident...

Sometimes little sisters come along, and this is
fun for everyone except little sister's big sister.

Look closely...



Hallie's ballet company - Encore - had its first performance of the year on Sunday afternoon. "En Motion" was a lovely glimpse into the incredibly hard work the girls have put in since the dance year started just two months ago.


We have a new baby! Her name is Meredith Gray/Grey, and she was named by the little girl who rescued her from the tree in which she was stuck. Sweet MG has burns on her little paws, but we're working hard to heal those injuries so she'll be ready for adoption in a few weeks. 

Happy weekend, friends!