Posts Tagged ‘fun’

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.

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.

Halloween 2018: The Greatest Showman

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

Last year, the kids got really into Halloween. They agreed on a family costume and were super (pun intended) into dressing up as many times as possible for photos.

This year, Lincoln decided he HAD to be P.T. Barnum from The Greatest Showman. He is beyond obsessed with that movie, we’ve watched it multiple times a week ever┬ásince it came out. Caroline was fully on board with that as a family costume, since she wants nothing more in life than to join a circus as an aerialist. The rest of us agreed we could live with being assigned other characters, which Lincoln was happy to choose for us.

None of these costumes are available straight from the store yet. I had hoped that Chasing Fireflies might have them when this year’s catalog came out, but I think most kids still want to be superheroes or unicorns instead of characters from a musical with a pretty flimsy plot line. But I am not afraid of hot glue and sequins, and once I realized that wasn’t quite enough I learned to use my sewing machine. None of it would pass a close inspection, but for trick-or-treating (or photos!) they worked great.

So for Halloween 2018, I officially present:

Lincoln…as P. T. Barnum

Caroline…as Anne Wheeler

Evan…as Phillip Carlyle

Finnegan…as The Tattooed Man

And me…as Jenny Lind

the greatest showman costume

anne wheeler costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

the greatest showman costume

 

 

These photos aren’t going to win any awards for technical perfection – taking pictures inside dark spaces is NOT my specialty, four kids is a lot of kids to pose, and toddlers are not the best listeners. But that doesn’t make them any less fun. None of the kids care if the pictures are a little grainy, all they care about is seeing their dreams come true.

Sources (all Amazon affiliate links):

Tiny tuxedo
Red vest
Pink wig
Purple leotard
Sparkle tank top
Cream bolero
Hoop skirt
Black hat (this is the only one of several I ordered that actually fit Linc!)
Red Hat
Temporary tattoos
More tattoos
Girl’s dance tights

All the trim and fabric is from Joann’s. One stick is a dowel I painted, the other is from Party City. Evan and Finnegan owned most of their costumes, I got the vest at Goodwill and Finn’s undershirt at Walmart. All the sparkly jewelry is also from Walmart. Also a huge shout out to my amazing hairdresser Jackie at Wild Love Hair Studio for making me a redhead.

And the biggest thank you goes to The Garde Arts Center in New London. I sent an email asking about maybe possibly using just their lobby for some photos and within 24 hours they had found me a time to come in and use the whole theater. Carolyn was beyond generous with her time and resources (I think Finnegan wanted to go home with her) and I could not have made this magic without them. They are a non-profit organization that has worked to painstakingly restore this old movie house to its original glory. I made a donation to thank them for their time and we’ll be attending as many events there as possible, both because it’s an amazing building and because they’re a wonderful organization. (They’re having an awesome Halloween Movie event! You can take the kids to see Hotel Transylvania on Saturday the 27th!)

Happy Halloween!

Where it’s covered in all the colored lights
Where the runaways are runnin’ the night
Impossible comes true, it’s takin’ over you
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watchin’ it come true, it’s takin’ over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

 

 

Best Weekend Of The Year 2018

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Previous years: 2017, 2016, 2015 part 1 and part 2, 2014, 2013, 2012

I really love the best weekend of the year. It kicks off the season of How Many Different Seasonal Activities Can We Fit Into Just Two Days? I love being able to walk to two different food festivals from my front door. I love taking the same photo of the kids at the fair every year. I love running into people I don’t get to see very often but then our kids are instantly best friends again. I love not cooking all weekend and saying yes to everything.

And I love looking back at the other Best Weekends and seeing how our family has grown.

In order: Greek Food Festival, Ledyard Fair, Taste of Italy, Mystic Eats

 

The Gift of September

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Every year in New England, on September 1st, we all prepare for fall. It’s September. It’s Fall. It’s time to get out our cardigans and boots, sleep with the windows open and four blankets, pick apples, drink lattes, and throw around as many decorative gourds as we can.

And every year, on September 1st, we remember that it’s actually still summer.

But our surprise is a gift – doing fun summer stuff in September feels like cheating. I’m swimming in the ocean in September! (And don’t tell anyone the ocean is actually crazy warm in September, or we’ll have to share the beach with too many people.) I’m wearing sundresses in September! We’re having ice cream for dinner in September! Let’s jump in the car after school and do ALL of that on a Thursday!

All the things I was tired of – sand in my car, washing a million towels, late bedtimes, no plans for dinner, car naps – are once again charming and fun. I can sit on a towel by the ocean wondering why we don’t go to the beach EVERY day with absolutely no irony. It’s like my brain was wiped clean on the first day of the month and I’m ready for summer all over again.

The most pleasant part of the whole thing is in a few days (a week, maybe three if we’re lucky) it actually WILL be fall. I’ll vacuum all the sand out of my car and deflate all the floaties until next year. We will all start wearing pants and I’ll buy 3 new striped shirts. We’ll eat apples and chowder and cider donuts and the bakery in Mystic will smell like pumpkin and cinnamon instead of lavender and vanilla. We get our bonus, stolen summer right before the very best part of New England.

This is why we’re still here.



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