Let’s Go Fly A Kite

May 25th, 2019

Cheer Life

April 23rd, 2019

I don’t think I’ve talked about cheerleading in the past, but considering HOW MUCH of my life is currently devoted to Caroline’s chosen sport, it’s about time I start. At least a little.

This is not going to turn into a cheer blog. I don’t know nearly enough to even TRY to become a cheer blog, even if that was my goal. I am literally just stumbling around, spraying her with hairspray and driving her to competitions and trying to remember to pack her skirt when we go out of town.

I was never a cheerleader. I barely even knew any cheerleaders. Everything I know about it comes from my many, many viewings of Bring It On (which, honestly, isn’t a bad place to start) and listening to other parents talk at the gym. I’ve learned A LOT over the past season but I’m going to feel like a newbie for at least a couple more years.

Here’s what I do know so far: Caroline is on a Youth Small Level 1 team called Stardust. Youth teams are made up of kids between the ages of 5 and 11. Small means they have less than 22 kids on the team. Level 1 means they can do tumbling that includes front and back walkovers but not handsprings. Her team is from a gym called East Celebrity Elite – Oakdale. There are a bunch of East Celebrity Elite gyms in New England, and it’s a pretty big and highly-regarded program. I had no idea about any of that when I took Caroline to one single tumbling class to see if she liked it.

Youth teams are eligible for this really big huge important cheer competition held in Florida every May called The Summit. Our gym accepts Summit bids (bids are invitations) if you get one, so when we started the year we knew there was a chance Caroline’s team would have to travel to Florida for the competition. But Stardust had a very rocky start to their season. Caroline and a few of her friends had come from a tiny prep team, where just doing a somersault was considered a success. Stardust was brand new, it didn’t exist last year, so the rest of the kids came from other teams, other gyms, or were brand new. They came in dead last at their first competition.

Then something amazing happened. Those fourteen girls and one boy decided they didn’t like being last. They knew they could do better. The coaches knew they could do better. They put in ALL the work. As parents, we downloaded the music and played it on repeat so the kids could practice at home. We all started shouting “ONE, THREE, FIVE, SEVEN” as loud as possible to keep the counts during performances so the kids didn’t lose their place.

And they got better! SO MUCH BETTER. At a competition in Boston, they won. Then they won AGAIN. And then the unbelievable happened and they received a bid to The Summit.

According to the internet, only 7% of teams that are eligible to go to The Summit get invited. And it’s an at-large bid, not even a wild card, which means we perform on Saturday in the regular comp and not Friday in the first round. It’s a bid deal, is what I’m saying. And a truly huge, amazing, incredible deal for a little team that started at the bottom.

The logistics of The Summit sent me into a panic spiral for a few days (there was a lot of crying) but as of right now it looks like we’ve figured it out and we’re on our way. It’s just Caroline and I headed to Florida, although we’re sharing flights, rides, a house and basically all our time with MANY other cheer families. (Apologies in advance for anyone on that JetBlue flight on May 1st.)

The bonus part of the trip is a few days at Disney World, which is why I’ve come around to being excited. By Sunday night all the cheer stuff will be over and we’ll get some amazing mommy-daughter time.

I think if we made a list of Reasons Caroline Loves Cheer, “spending time with mommy alone” would be really near the top. She likes the physical aspects and LOVES setting goals for herself. She also loves bows and sparkles and getting to wear makeup (although she hates the fake ponytail they wear for comp). The top thing might be the teamwork though – nothing builds trust and friendships closer than this kind of work.

We have a special Disney swag bag reveal for the team tonight, send-off performances tomorrow, and two more practices before we leave. When we get back, the rest of May is an intense schedule of classes getting Caroline ready for tryouts. And by the first week of June she’ll either be on a new team all together or meeting her new Stardust teammates, starting her second full-year season of cheer.

Grateful

April 16th, 2019

I have discovered the secret to gratitude is to move into a 500 square foot apartment with no dishwasher, no washing machine and no parking.

First off, the good news is we now live in an old house that is officially lead-free. We can write “professionally lead abated” on our sales disclosure when we (maybe) sell the house someday. The kids shouldn’t be exposed to any more lead, we should be just one blood draw away from never having to do it again, and I am SO RELIEVED.

I learned a lot about myself and my attitudes while we were out of our house and living in the lead-safe apartment downtown last month. It was like a forced march into Marie Kondo’s brain, where I had the absolute minimum number of belongings and no secret shame storage closets. Everything in my purse, my under-sink cabinet, and my kids’ dressers was accounted for.

On the one hand, it was SO NICE to be done – completely done – with all my housework for once. After I swiffered and changed the litter box and picked up the toys I could sit on the couch and not have anything hanging over me. Even handwashing all the dishes (no dishwasher) and taking the laundry to the laundromat (no machine) was more of a novelty than an actual chore.

Of course, that was my life for three weeks, not forever. When your kids get the stomach flu at 2 am and you don’t have a washing machine, nothing is a novelty. Dragging every hamper you own full of puke-covered bedding (with the pukers in tow, because obviously they can’t go to school) into the laundromat and spending $25+ to get everything cleaned an sanitized is beyond stressful. I had to do that once (Well, once for Evan and once for Finnegan) knowing full well that in the near future I would be back in my house with the second-floor laundry and several sets of extra sheets. I knew all my stuff and my conveniences and shame closets were waiting for me. Yes, it’s a much bigger house to clean, but I felt very grateful I was going back to that mess.

Now that I’m back in the house, surrounded by things that spark joy (and even more things that do not), I am trying to hold on to the feelings of gratitude and lessons I learned.

  1. I do not need as much as I think I do. I need fewer clothes, fewer shoes, fewer kitchen gadgets, books, toys, pens, trinkets, makeup, everything than I currently have. I need to seriously consider any additional items I bring into the house. And I should take better care of the things I do have, because I am lucky to have them.
  2. I live a very easy, privileged life. It costs SO MUCH to use a laundromat. A couple of weeks worth of laundry for 6 people would pay for a serviceable washing machine. Of course, you need somewhere to put a washing machine, so if your apartment doesn’t have hookups you’re out of luck. If your laundry hookups are in the basement and you can’t do stairs, you’re out of luck. It also took me 3 hours to get our laundry done the first time. I don’t have a real job, so I have 3 hours to spend. But if you had a job, or two jobs, or three jobs it would be so exhausting. I could afford both the time and the money, which makes me a very lucky person.
  3. That being said, I can do hard things and survive them. Hard is an extremely relative term. My problems aren’t BIG problems but hard things are still hard. It can be hard to just get out of bed in the morning. It can be hard to make wise choices. It can be hard to pick up the phone even if the heat in your apartment stops working and it’s very very cold. Asking for help is hard. Raising kids is hard. LIFE IS HARD, even if your life isn’t extraordinarily hard. Right now my 2-year-old’s life is SUPER HARD because his brother got to the paper towels and cleaned up the puppy pee on the floor before he did.

I am always amazed at what humans can get used to quickly, especially young humans. My kids thought the whole apartment thing was an absolute adventure. Every time we drive past the apartment they say “HI OLD APARTMENT! Remember when we lived in that apartment? And we walked down to get pizza?!”

Add “resilient, flexible, fun children” to my list of things I am grateful for, which might be more important that any of the other stuff.

Evan: Ten Years Old

April 5th, 2019

Oh hi hello today my first-born turns TEN which means I’ve been a mom for a decade.

Evan’s birth story post part 1 and part 2 / Evan’s First Birthday / Second Birthday / Third Birthday / Fourth Birthday / Fifth Birthday / Evan turns six / Evan turns seven (I didn’t blog this? weird) / Evan turns eight / Evan turns nine

Getting pregnant with my first baby is what inspired me start this blog, and why it’s called bebehblog. The 2008 internet was a much different place than the 2019 internet, and blogging my thoughts about pregnancy and new motherhood was often my only connection to ANYONE who had been through those things. I didn’t even own a smartphone when Evan was born.

I am incredibly thankful that I have the last decade documented, even the super TMI embarrassing stuff. The older Evan gets the less he wants shared in this space and I am totally find with that. Ten seems REALLY old – I clearly remember my own tenth birthday party and my thoughts and fears and inner dialogs and how I started to worry so much about social situations and clothes and all that stuff. I’m hoping Evan is spared some of that because he’s a boy, but I want to be prepared and available if he does start to feel anxious.

At ten, Evan is a soft-hearted weirdo. He loves to read and build Legos and play video games. He takes trumpet lessons at school and he’s excellent at karate. He has zero fashion sense and couldn’t care less about his hair. He is very kind to his brothers and sister and still loves to cuddle.

This morning when I went into his room to say “Happy Birthday!” I made a point to pick Evan up, like he was still a toddler, because I once read something that said “One day, you’ll put him down and won’t ever pick him up again” and I figured I didn’t want that day to be anytime before today. Having a big kid is both amazing and terrifying and I am looking forward to being his mom for many many more decades.

Couch Naps

April 4th, 2019

I’m never going to get tired of taking pictures of my kids sleeping on the couch. There’s just something so sweet about it. They’re not slacking off from responsibilities the way I am when I take a nap during the day. They’re doing their kid-job of growing. They’ve absorbed so much new information and moved their bodies SO MUCH that they have to take a little break. It’s exhausting, being a new human.