Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Let's Get Crackin'

Ballet Brazos' 12th annual production of The Nutcracker Ballet opens this week!

We load in today, have tech rehearsals tomorrow and Thursday, and run our dress rehearsal on Friday morning before the curtain opens on our first show at 7pm Friday night. There are still a few tickets left for all three shows - Friday night at 7pm, Saturday afternoon at 2pm, and Saturday evening at 6:30pm - and they can be purchased through the MSC Box Office

If you attend the show, I encourage you to arrive VERY early, as our Front of House experience gets better and better every year; this year we're featuring live music, multiple photo backdrops/booths, a meet-and-greet with Clara, our Nutcracker Market, and refreshments available for purchase before the show. Questions? Let me know!

Hallie and her fellow dancers have dedicated hours and hours to their rehearsals - and the Ballet Brazos team and I have worked tremendously hard this fall (all year, really) - to bring this show to the stage. We're incredibly proud of what everyone has accomplished together...this year and every years since Ballet Brazos began 12 years ago.

2015 (Magic Mouse)

2016 (Cherub Angel)
2017 (Battle Mouse)

2018 (Angel of Light)

2019 (Polichinelle)

2021 (Party Girl)

2022 (Party Girl & Spanish)

2022 (first time on the news)

2022 (Tom saves the day)

2023 (Snow, Waltz, and Marzipan Corps)

We hope you'll join us to experience the magic of The Nutcracker Ballet. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

An Attitude 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 my phone alarm, without which I would never make it to all of the things on my calendar...a statement which was proven true today when I completely missed a meeting because I failed to set my phone alarm to remind me about it.

November 2: I'm grateful for car therapy sessions and friends to hold them with.

November 3: You've heard the phrase, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them," right? I'm grateful my current stage of my life and state of mind allows me to do this.

November 4: I'm grateful for cake, especially when cake makes big problems feel less daunting.

November 5: I'm grateful that when you have teenagers, family photo sessions run a lot more smoothly than when you have toddlers.

November 6: I'm grateful both that I didn't get picked for jury duty and that I had an opportunity to learn a little bit more about how our judicial system works.

November 7: I'm grateful we once again have a working microwave! 

November 8: I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to tackle a little nonprofit leadership professional development for the first time in years.

November 9: I'm grateful for this little pipsqueak - she's a handful, but a fun handful. 

November 10: I'm grateful the temperatures finally dropped, both because I love fall and because the air conditioner in my car is broken...

November 11: I'm grateful for a fantastic Nutcracker run-through today. This is going to be a spectacular show! (Get your tickets now!)

November 12: I'm grateful for the generous and hardworking group of volunteers - as well as a fun, flexible, and talented photography team - who helped us get through Nutcracker portrait day. The day was LONG but the I know the finished images will be spectacular!

November 13: I'm thankful for my handy hubby, who spent most of yesterday and part of today installing our new dishwasher (which involved troubleshooting a space gap between the dishwasher and the cabinets and doing so with a less-than-helpful helper).

November 14: I'm grateful for my mom, who is always willing to help, no matter the situation.

November 15: I'm grateful for my kids' high school, as well as the school's administration, teachers, and staff who pour so much of themselves into the students and are so tremendously committed to providing "their" kids incredible opportunities inside and outside the classroom. 

November 16: I'm grateful that saying goodbye to foster kittens has gotten easier. As Hallie and I dropped Gray off at the vet this morning, we were able to give her a kiss and wish her a good life...and walk away without tears, knowing that letting her go to her forever family frees up our family for most animals in need. We've come a long way from saying goodbye to our first fosters.

Hallie, sobbing crocodile tears into the
cage as she said goodbye to our first litter.

Came across this pic while searching for the
one above. My goodness the girls - snuggling Lilo
and Mahalo from that first litter - were itty bitty...

November 17: I'm grateful for my heating pad. 

November 18: I'm grateful for our earliest evening (our earliest arrival home after rehearsals, games, etc.) in months - a great way to kick off Thanksgiving break!

November 19: I'm grateful for great (albeit crazy) outreach performances to kick off Nutcracker performance season!

November 20: I'm grateful for a leisurely morning at home, brought to you (me) by two rescheduled meetings and a light rain which have allowed me to delay my walk in favor of drinking coffee and working on blog posts. 

November 21: I'm grateful the majority of our Christmas decorations are up before Thanksgiving!

November 22: I'm grateful for 45 years on this earth.

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

I'm also grateful for all of the birthday phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages I received. 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 23: I'm grateful for the opportunity to take what I've learned this month out into the world with me.

"Thanksgiving is the language of heaven." 


No HFFF post this week, friends. Enjoy your long weekend and I'll "see" you next Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Monthly Medley: October 2023


Better late than never, right? 



I'm on a Jody Picoult kick right now. After loving both Mad Honey and Wish You Were Here in recent months, in October (and slightly into November) I devoured A Spark of Light. Like the first two books of hers I read, A Spark of Light is crafted around a difficult and controversial topic. And like in the first two books of hers I read, Picoult approaches the topic from many different perspectives and with a level of sensitivity and compassion I rarely see. 


I'm still watching Suits, and I've decided to stick with The Irrational and Found through the first half of the season. I'm also looking forward to catching up on the third season of Only Murders in the Building and fifth season of Virgin River over Thanksgiving break!

Listening To

I didn't start any new podcasts in October, so I'll use this opportunity to reshare one of my all-time favorite podcasts, which deserves to be listened to in November and/or December. It's a Wonderful Lie - dreamed up by Audio Chuck and Crime Junkie creator Ashley Flowers along with comedians Holly Laurent and Greg Hess - is fantastically funny. Give it a listen...and then send the show an email and beg these three to bring it back for another season.


I recently started following Hadley Vlahos (@nurse.hadley on Instagram). She's a registered nurse, with a focus on hospice/end-of-life care, who has in recent years authored a NY Times bestseller called The In-Between and founded a nonprofit organization. I have learned so much from watching her videos about both hospice care and the end-of-life experience, and I can't wait to read her book. 


I think I've probably shared this "toy" before, but I'm resharing it because it's a perfect holiday gift for kids of all ages. Will and Hallie still, on occasion, pull out our Air Fort, and I just bought one for one of my nephews for Christmas. 

I use my phone A LOT over the course of Nutcracker week, to the point that I run the battery down at least once every day. I can't be without my phone while it charges, so in years past I've kept my phone in one back pocket and my charger in the other back pocket, and then connected my two back pockets with a cord. But not anymore...these external phone chargers plug directly into the phone and are going to work so well during that crazy week!

The strap to one of my favorite bags wore out, so I replaced it with this one. It was VERY affordable and I love how it "dresses up" my bag. 


Also for Nutcracker week...check out my new headlights. πŸ˜‚


I've made quite a few versions of White Chicken Chili in the past, but this one turned out to be one of my favorites. The only edit I made was using regular cream cheese - I didn't have reduced fat cream cheese on hand. 

These Asian-Inspired Lettuce Wraps were also delicious. I wouldn't say they're better than those at P.F. Chang's, but a close second.

Feeling Good About

See you in a few short days for November's Monthly Medley! πŸ˜‚

Friday, November 17, 2023

High Five for Friday (11.17.23)



I was able to attend a Leadership in Board Service seminar at TAMU at the end of last week. Though not everything covered during the seminar applied to the boards on which I sit, the information shared - by the seminar leaders and through conversation with other attendees - was valuable and it was fun for me to put on my nonprofit leadership hat again...for the first time in years.

For fun, here's a pic of Hallie - sporting a "handle with
care" Red Cross onesie - that appeared in a Red Cross
calendar back when I worked for the organization.


We have a new microwave and dishwasher! You know you're old when appliances top the list of things you got excited about last week...


We had a great Nutcracker run-through on Saturday and a fantastic Nutcracker portrait day on Sunday. Yes, there were a few snafus, but those we faced didn't derail our forward momentum and it felt great to have both under our belts/behind us.

It's possible the adults running portrait day
had more fun than the kids taking pictures.

And we LOVED working
with Fig-Mint Photography!


This girly has moved on to her furever home. We all miss her, but none of us miss her as much as Popeye, who spent all of yesterday searching for her around the house. He's such a fantastic foster brother.


Happiness Highlights

Twice last weekend we all had time to eat/watch tv/play a game
together. This RARELY happens, and it felt like an absolute gift.

I love getting to put a new Buff City Soap in my shower.

Will and Hallie's "Consol Cares" group at the Arts Council. More on
this amazing opportunity and community outreach event in a future post!

He only snuggles when he's feeling lonely, so while it's
sad he was missing Gray, Will loved the extra attention.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

It'll Always Be November

Hallie no longer wants to sing "It's November" - one of her preschool "learn the month" songs, which accidentally became a tradition in our family - for the internet. 

But since she still doesn't want to grow up, or give up anything associated with her childhood, I will continue to hold space in my blogging schedule for this post. 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 10, 2023

High Five for Friday (11.10.23)


This last week has been a doozy, and that's saying something, because the week before was a doozy as well. Hallie put it perfectly when at one point she responded to less-than-stellar news (this time about a school-related issue) with, "well isn't that just kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic." Thanks, Friends, for making sure we have a funny comeback to use in just about every situation. 


We had a great Halloween. We had friends over, the kids went trick-or-treating (and the dads accompanied for part of the evening), and the moms ran the candy cannon in the driveway.

Hallie's Halloween breakfast creation.

2nd Annual Consol Spooky Scrimmage - Will
played an entire game dressed in a Care Bears onesie.

Gray's dressed up as a mouse.

And Popeye dressed up as a candy corn.


Hallie received a wonderful role - her first demi-soloist role - in her ballet academy's production of Cinderella (to be performed Memorial Day weekend 2024). She's thrilled, and is looking forward to starting rehearsals...after Nutcracker, of course. 


Hallie had a great choir concert last Thursday night, but the best part about the night was when Will forgot that Hallie was in high school - they go to the SAME school and he drives her to school EVERY morning - and "went to the concert" at the middle school. Thankfully he called me, and once I pointed out his mistake he booked it to the high school and was still able to see and hear her sing.


I didn't get picked for jury duty. πŸ˜‰


This little pipsqueak has squirmed her way into Popeye's heart and has even managed to get PliΓ© to warm up to her. 

Happy weekend, friends!