Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Swimming in Snow

For those of you who are new to Chasing Roots...

The Mueller family's annual tradition of playing in the snow while wearing as little clothing as possible began in 1984, when six-year-old Erin and four-year-old Sara donned their swimsuits and ventured across their snow-covered backyard - from the porch to the swing set and back - for absolutely no reason at all. Read the full backstory here.

One might expect such a tradition to become less important - to perhaps even disappear completely, the victim of a slow, painful death from hypothermia - once the children grow up and move out and change their last names, but not this tradition. Read about how my dad, Grandpa Paul, has kept the tradition alive here

I brought this tradition with me into my marriage, and proudly introduced it to my children a few years after that. Read about Will's first swimsuit snow angel here.

A couple of fun videos from years past - including when Will made his snow angel with a cast on his arm (wrapped up in a plastic bag, of course) and when my SIL "encouraged" my nephew to make his first swimsuit snow angel - can be found here and here

It doesn't snow very often here in Texas, but when it finally did back in 2021, we were finally able carry on our tradition here in Texas. We made 

When we haven't had consistent access to snow, we've subbed in a polar plunge (202020212022).


We spent Christmas 2023 in Nebraska, and while the temperatures when we arrived were prime for snow, there wasn't any snow on the ground just yet. A white Christmas was all Hallie really wanted though, so Mother Nature and Santa Claus collaborated to give her what her heart desired...a beautiful snowfall arrived late on Christmas Eve and continued through Christmas day.

On the day after Christmas, I hunted down our swimsuits, gathered our towels, rallied the troops (Tom, Will, and Hallie), and lined up our photographers/videographers (Tom's parents), and then we ran out into the snow to carry on this breathtaking (it literally takes your breath away) and fun family tradition. 

Tom only made one snow angel, but Hallie and I made two each and Will went out THREE times - I think he's preparing himself to head north for college in a couple of years...

Swimsuit snow angels - and the polar plunge - aren't for everyone. But I hope that every once in a while you do something that takes your breath away.

Friday, January 26, 2024

High Five for Friday (1.26.24)



"When the Lads win, we all win."

Will's high school soccer coach - the man who coined the title, "the Lads" - frequently uses this phrase in his social media posts when the Lads win. And while it might sound silly, I think there's some truth behind it, both for me, as the mom of a Lad, but also for the Lads' school and classmates. From what I understand, they - the Lads - are a unifying presence and have a positive impact in their school, and when they win (when their efforts and success translate into something others can easily recognize), they pull more students into their fold. And I love it.

The season is still VERY young, but the Lads came off a solid pre-season (5-1) to kick off district play with an away victory over a historically tough opponent. (Our coach had never won at this stadium/on this field before. Tuesday night was a first.) The unity and family-like atmosphere on this team is unmatched, and it nearly brings me to tears to think about these Lads having each others' backs out there on the field but off the field as well. 

The Lads in full force down the social studies hallway of the high school.

An up-close look at Will's poster. Almost every Lad listed
something about friendship, camaraderie, or unity - feeling
like a family - as their "favorite team quality."

In case you can't tell, we were all drenched.
Outdoor sports in winter in Texas are super fun.

With our Lad.

With my soccer mamas - love getting to experience
all of this chaos and fun and excitement with them!


I attended my first official college admissions seminar late last week, and while it was scary (not the seminar itself, but the idea of being in this place), it was also helpful and grounding. We have so much work ahead of us this spring, summer, and fall as Will tries to figure out where he wants to go to school and then navigates the application and admissions process, but it was nice to be presented with a solid timeline and schedule and to realize we've already begun tackling some of the items on the to-do list.

Hard to believe he's about to start applying for college...


On Saturday afternoon Hallie and I volunteered - for the second time - at Chrissy's Closet. We had a great first experience at Chrissy's Closet, and this volunteer shift was equally enjoyable; an added bonus was that we felt more knowledgeable this time around, which meant the girls could take on a little more responsibility and work more independently than they could previously. 

So fun running into my virtual-turned-IRL friend, Claire, who was
volunteering with her daughter as members of another service organization.

Chrissy's Closet is a free store, the goal of which is to help students, staff members, and families in our school district feel positively about themselves and attending school​ by "providing access to items needed to arrive at school clean, warm, and ready to learn." The store offers new/gently used clothes, shoes, underwear, socks, coats, and personal hygiene items year-round, as well as school supplies and backpacks in August, Halloween costumes in October, and formalwear ahead of school dances in the fall and spring.


Will reffed 11 soccer games last weekend (as part of the annual Cavalry Aggieland Classic - not to be but sometimes confused with his high school's annual Aggieland Classic 😂), and during one of his games on Saturday he reached an officiating rite of passage: he gave his first red card. 

I won't go into the details here, other than to say the card was issued to a coach who absolutely deserved to get kicked out, but I'm happy to share the story in person if any soccer-loving or referee friends would like to know what happened.

I can't imagine doing Will's job, and doing it confidently enough to stand up to a disrespectful, out-of-line adult at 17 years old. It was a proud mom moment. 

Kind of hard to believe he's been reffing for four years
already... (He used some of his free time during the beginning
of COVID to take the class and earn his certification.)


Last but certainly not least...look at these sweet girls!

Belle Starr and Anne Bonny were found at a nearby women's prison and are estimated to be four-and-a-half to five weeks old as of today. They are tiny but mighty, and we're so happy to have them! 


Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

2023 in Pictures

The paragraphs and statistics (from last week's post) are no doubt valuable, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are about 52,000 words worth of pictures - one picture for each week of the year - and a non-chronological glimpse back on 2023 through the lens of my camera.

This is the closest I've ever come to keeping the number of photos shared at 52...only 55 this year! 😉