Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas from the Four Ferri

Merry Christmas, friends!

Will (17 years old, junior) has begun preparing for college. He’s considering quite a few schools and a number of majors, so we’re on a mission to learn as much as possible about all of the above before he begins to apply. He continues to enjoy playing chess, the cello, and both club and varsity soccer – he’s been named a captain for the soon-to-start high school season – and he’s taken his disc golf to the next level by qualifying for the 2024 PGDA Amateur World Championships. 

Hallie (14 years old, freshman) has started to find her way in high school. Though she isn’t a big “joiner,” she’s made friends in choir and has enjoyed attending a few home football games. She spends at least a portion of every afternoon/evening at the dance studio, where she takes hip hop, jazz, and many hours of ballet. She’s thrilled to be dancing her first pointe roles in The Nutcracker Ballet this December and demi-soloist role in her ballet academy’s production of Cinderella come spring.

Tom continues cleverly creating in his Mad Science Laboratory; this year’s highlights include a custom light belt and cowboy hat, and he outfitted the entire high school soccer team’s fan base with custom 3D-printed noisemakers. I took a break from writing this fall (somehow managing to completely fill this gap with volunteer work), but am hoping to find my way back to that passion and part-time job this spring. 

After a months-long break during Plié and Popeye’s kitten phase, we started fostering kittens again. Popeye is a fan…Plié, not so much.

This holiday season, we wish you love, light, and everything bright. 


Thanks to Fig-Mint Photography for our fabulous pics this year!


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. Two years ago, I - for the first time since I started writing this blog more than a decade ago - took a planned "vacation" between Christmas and New Year's. It was glorious, and as a result, doing so became as much of a tradition as driving around town to look at Christmas lights with cookies and hot chocolate in hand. Thanks for understanding that I'll be "out of the office" for the next week, and please, come back and join me again in 2024.

With love, Erin

Friday, December 22, 2023

High Five for Friday (12.22.23)


Though we were disappointed that our studio's annual "Christmas at the Lake" became "Christmas at the Palace" this year (while we love downtown Bryan's The Palace, this venue was far inferior for the studio's Christmas performance), I enjoyed watching Hallie take the stage. 


We survived finals week! All things considered, Will actually had a pretty easy finals week...but only because he had to drudge his way through a downright brutal stretch the week before finals. Hallie had to take three of her five finals, and after studying hard and doing well, she was thrilled to have her first semester of high school behind her. I managed everyone's altered schedules, gifts for all of the kids' teachers, two white elephant gifts for the kids' gift exchanges, a pan of brownies for...something Will needed brownies for (I honestly don't know why he needed to take brownies to school), and gifts for Hallie's dance teachers.

I also took both kids out for our bi-annual finals week lunches - this is one of my most favorite traditions, and I think they both enjoy it as well. Hallie picked Panera, and after lunch we went shopping at our favorite dance boutique. Will picked Twisted Noodle, and then took me to our local disc golf shop for the first time.

Another of my favorite traditions is meeting friends - mine and Hallie's - for coffee as soon as finals wrap on the Friday morning of finals week.

It was a busy week!

I think this is the only pic I took during (tho it
works, since it's representative of) finals week.

Though someone else took this one: post-post-finals
coffee date snacks and games. Love these sweet friends.

On Friday night a few friends and I celebrated my birthday - a few weeks late (Thanksgiving + Nutcracker + Christmas dance performances + finals week = celebrating midway through December) - and had a great time.


Throughout the last couple of weeks I've taken the kids - and Tom, once - on Christmas-related outings. Not expensive or elaborate outings, but simple, feel-good drives and walks through Christmas lights with hot chocolate and cookies in hand. None of us get so spend as much time with Will as we used to and want to, so it was especially fun for me to have these moments with him...and to watch him just be a kid with Hallie.

Happiness Highlights

This sweet neighborhood kitty and I are still friends.

Love watching these "kids" play.

It's her house now...we're all just living in it.

Once in a blue moon she decides to snuggle with
me, and when she does, it's worth documenting.

Will's friend Ben made the cover of the high school newspaper...

...which featured an article for which Hallie was interviewed!

She's finally decided she likes the fireplace,
which makes us smile and think about Tux.

Plié waged war on Hallie's Nutcracker Army. There
were casualties... (This isn't the happiness highlight.)

The happiness highlight is that the battle woke Popeye,
who, when I went in to survey the damage, looked at me
so innocently and then with despair at the nutcrackers. He
seemed legitimately concerned about their wellbeing.

We didn't win, but our Nutcracker lottery ticket was fun.

School break doesn't equal dance break!

These girls were so happy for a masterclass with Mr. John.

Popeye and Plié made the February cover
cats in the Six Kittens Rescue 2024 calendar!

Hallie's Christmas cake. 

My little soldier doll in our/her last Nutcracker
outreach performance at one of our local libraries.
That's officially a wrap on the entire season! 


Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

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 12th holiday seasons. I now find myself in my 13th (?!?!) holiday season as a blogger, and it seems important - or at least fun - 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 

Silent Night: Kelly Clarkson, Tricia Yearwood, and Reba McEntire
Silent Night is actually one of my least favorite Christmas songs, but 
these three powerhouses definitely hit their rendition out of the park.

YouTube won't allow me to embed this video - you can watch/listen to it here.

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 either - you can watch/listen to it here.

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 15, 2023

Sold Out Spectacular

As I reflect on a year of planning, months of weekly rehearsals, a week of theater preparation and tech rehearsals, one dress rehearsal, and three shows...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 our leadership team for showing up day after day to get the job done. Proud of the community partnerships we developed and friends we made along the way. Proud that we filled - COMPLETELY FILLED - a massive auditorium with ballet-, theatre-, and arts-loving patrons THREE times. And proud we brought to the stage a truly magnificent production for our patrons to enjoy this holiday season.

I didn't expect to become a dance mom, and I never could have imagined myself on the board of a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of young people through the art of ballet and sharing quality classical ballet with the community...and yet, here I am in both roles. Thanks to my dancing girl for making the dreams I didn't know I had come true.


Outreach events help us kick off Nutcracker "season," and Hallie had a great time performing her casted roles and her understudy role at a few of these abbreviated performances.

That's her on the right as the soldier doll.


Theater week included SO much work...and all of it was worth it.

Deliriously loading or one knows.

Trying to figure out the length of this banner.


One of my favorite moments throughout the week came on "show eve." The snow scene is rehearsed at the end of Act I tech rehearsal, fairly late at night when the rest of the dancers have gone home and the theater and building are both empty except for necessary personnel. It's during this rehearsal that these 13 dancers get to experience what it's like to dance in "snow" - many for the first time - and it's magical. I cried A LOT that week/end, including when I saw my sweet girl's expression of wonder as she twirled through the snow falling gently to the stage around her. (Shout out to the Ballet Brazos Publicity team for these photos and many of the photos throughout this post.)


For the first time, we completely sold out ALL THREE SHOWS. It was amazing.


Equally amazing was watching my girl take the stage as Snow, Waltz, and Marzipan corps. She worked her tail off and earned herself three pretty incredible roles for her first stage performances en pointe. She also got to wear a tutu for the first time (pancake tutus are earned), and the experience felt almost surreal to both of us.


Hallie and her friends...the bonds formed between dancers are strong. 💛💛💛

Ok, so Ashley Laracey isn't exactly Hallie's friend,
but she's pretty cool (she's a soloist with the NYC Ballet
and our Sugar Plum Fairy) so this pic gets to stay.

Incredibly special are these four Magic Mice...

...who grew up to become the gorgeous and incredibly talented Marzipan Corps.


Hallie and I had lots of support from our family - our boys of course came, but so did Tom's parents, Tom's sister, my parents, my sister, and Hallie's cousin, Lily. 


I couldn't write this post without acknowledging the people who supported Hallie and made it possible for her to both earn these roles and perform so beautifully on stage.

Mr. John, in addition to being Hallie ballet instructor and rehearsal
director for Nutcracker, also played Uncle Dross - hence the make up. 

Love that Ms. Suzanne - our Artistic Director - spend time with her
dancers, even when they're eating lunch on the floor of the theater. 


You were magical, Nutcracker. Until next year...