Posts Tagged ‘Caroline’

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Cheer Life

Tuesday, 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.

A Magical Unicorn Photoshoot

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

My friend Jackie is my hairdresser, babysitter, workout partner, and owner of a pony that Caroline is obsessed with. Jackie thinks its a fair trade that I do her family photos for free and she does all the rest of that stuff for free – including giving Caroline riding lessons. I think I’m getting a WAY better deal, but as long as she’s happy I’m not going to mess it up.

Jackie and I have had plans for a photo shoot where we turn her pony, Hawk, into a unicorn. We decided the easiest way to do the pictures would be to wait for a beautiful layer of snow to cover the corral and woods around where Hawk lives.

We didn’t figure this would be a problem, because we live in Connecticut. Of course, because I ordered a unicorn horn and bought flowers and made a whoooooole plan, we had the least-snowy winter I’ve ever seen. We didn’t get a significant snow that stuck around long enough for pictures until MARCH.

But we did get one beautiful, magical snow, so I dressed Caroline up in the dress I’ve had waiting in the closet for a year and a half, convinced Hawk to tolerate the horn, and got our photo shoot done.

I took pictures of Jackie and her baby as princesses too in payment for borrowing the pony. We decided that this was so successful we needed to do it again in the spring, even though bringing Hawk out to a park or garden or farm might be a pain…it will be totally worth it. More unicorns!!! Unicorns for everyone!!!!!

Did I mention that Hawk is an old, old pony who pretty much hates everything? If you notice some pony side-eye, that’s why.

Caroline’s 8th Birthday – Ice Skating Party

Friday, January 4th, 2019

One of my rules as a parent has been that I don’t throw big birthday parties after the kids are 5. It gets too complicated with school friends and activity friends and mom friends and far away friends and long term friends. My house isn’t big enough for that many friends.

But Caroline fell in love with ice skating a few weeks ago after just one trip, and when she asked for a party at the rink it sounded so fun I broke my own rules and threw Caroline an ice skating birthday party on December 15th.

We only had the room space for 3 hours, with about 15 minutes to set up and 20 minutes at the end to do cake and presents, so it wasn’t my fanciest or most Pinterest-worthy party. Not even close. Which means I feel a little bit like a failure – I’m usually really good at making magic but when one wall is painted bright red, one is bright yellow, and I can’t reach the ceiling, the decorations are really limited. I had also never seen the room before, and was picturing a much smaller space so I was woefully unprepared.

Luckily, the actual ice skating part was so fun no one seemed to mind. I also brought my Keurig along to set up a custom hot cocoa bar, which was a big hit with the kids. I bought travel cups with lids and sleeves from Amazon, and had candy canes, sprinkles, whipped cream, cotton candy and other stuff to put in the drinks. The rest of our menu was just cookies and candy I made (the biggest hit was the cream cheese mints, which are also my very favorite Christmas candy). I copied almost all my food from Caroline’s first birthday menu.

As favors we had jingle bracelets from Oriental Trading and cute fuzzy gloves from Amazon. We’ve been seeing our friends wear them ever since the party and it’s nice to have given out something so useful!

Thank you to everyone who came to help us celebrate! Caroline said it was the best day of her life so far (of course, earlier that morning we also got a puppy, which might have helped).

Norwich Winterfest Parade 2018

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Here are just a bunch of photos from our super fun day at the Norwich Winterfest Parade. Caroline got to be a judge, the weather was great, and we brought home so much candy we still have some almost a week later.

Sometimes our town looks like the place they film Netflix Christmas movies (I’m obsessed with Netflix Christmas movies), and this was one of those days.



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