"TranslateHer"

There is no school on Good Friday, but before I went into a whirling panic a few weeks ago, I saw a sign notifying that the afterschool program is going to be open to cover the day. They are also open during all but one day of Spring Break next week with lots of fun activities and field trips planned. These extra days cost a small bit extra, of course, but I think most of us working parents are so relieved for the continuity and saving the scramble of playing hot potato with our kids that we don't utter a single complaint. After I signed the forms, paid the fees, and marked my calendar we got some notes in our mailbox at school about the plans.

Today is SUPER HERO DAY and the children have been encouraged to dress the part. I personally cannot wait to hear about the Super Hero challenges and training, but more than that I am looking forward dropping to seeing the incredible educators who will all be dressed to the NINES in their Super Get Up. We are so fortunate to have a program like this.


I reminded her that it was Super Hero Day earlier this week. We could have grabbed a cape from the costume closet and added a mask or crown, but instead I asked her what she thought her Super Power should be. She was very detailed, more detailed than I had anticipated, and it became a fun little project. Before I knew it, she was writing out a list of things she needed for her Super Hero attire and I was off to the store to find stickers and iron on patches among other things in very particular colors.


(Bat Man Cape, a White T Shirt, Boots, Sparkles, Heart, Puppy, and Baby, Eye Cover Mask, a Crown, Pink, Purple, and Blue, She loves to "talk" to animals, babies, and toys)
 
 
Somehow she took the notebook to school with her, snuck it into her book bag while my back was turned, and the results of that were rather interesting as well. She apparently thinks Connor is a Super Hero and pleads for him to be put on TV. She reveals a "secret" number akin to Lost and then in what I am sure will be Daddy's favorite, states she doesn't like boys. We are still figuring out contractions.
 
 



Once we had all her required supplies, we could begin work on TranslateHer, her Super Hero alter ego. TranslateHer can talk to animals and babies and yes, even toys through the powers of her heart. She has won awards from even the President himself for all her good work in making babies, animals and toys happy. This girl... I don't know many kids who when presented with having ANY power they can think of would come up with this and not invisibility, super strength, or x-ray vision.


She was so flipping happy with her get up... until we got to her program, opened the door, and she caught sight of some of the boys in head to toe bat man and wolverine. She retreated to the cubby room and fat tears rolled down her cheeks. She mouthed to me that she was scared and I wasn't sure if it was that the boys were really into this, that she wasn't a "real" super hero, or if she was worried about how her own costume would be received by her peers. (GAH!!!) I still don't know. I had to force her into the main classroom area and with the help of one of her favorite teachers (who guessed her super power immediately) we got her to go explore an area of the classroom where kids were working feverishly on their own capes and headwear. I was so proud of her hard work on this; her super hero back story, her super power and I just hope that she found a way today to feel that way too.

"TranslateHer! Here to tell you why your baby is crying or what your puppy wants for dinner."

tweet

We have a lovely little tree just outside our kitchen window that the birds adore in the spring. When the blooms on the tree are in full effect, it is THE place to be for our little feathered neighbors. Sometimes the tree gets so loud with all their chirping that I have to close the window to hear myself think. There was an old wooden feeder in the tree left by the previous owner when we moved in nearly four years ago. It was old then so by now it was getting really rotted and was falling apart. I imagined ticks and bugs and decided we needed to upgrade this year.

Steve somehow bent our outdoor broom handle in half (apparently I am married to The Incredible Hulk?) and as is customary when I am tasked with going out to buy something, I come back with that and more.

I found a "squirrel proof" feeder at the local hardware store and brought it home to the kids. We filled it with seed we already had in the garage. Last spring we made Pinterest cookie cutter feeders with gelatin and seed (super easy and a huge hit with the kids), but they were gone almost immediately thanks to the squirrels who ripped them from the rope and somehow hauled them across the yard for a feast. I will spare you the suspense, the feeder is not in fact "squirrel proof." I'm not sure if squirrels are like this everywhere, but the ones in our area are straight out of Mission Impossible, hanging upside down from a nearby limb and swinging their already well fed bodies over to grab a few seeds. Luckily, they don't like it when we bang on the glass or kick the heat vents, but this one red guy in particular is pretty committed to his task of taking allllll the seed. The kids are really enjoying our blessing to knock on the glass and kick things to scare him away.

We have so enjoyed this little addition. It came with an identification card which was really meant to help you purchase the correct seeds for the birds you wanted to attract to your new seed free for all. We have been using it to identify the chickadees and goldfinches and blue jays. We have two huge cardinals that make sporadic appearances, but those two young blue jays are the stars.


It is so soothing to sit at our kitchen table and watch them all swoop in and fill the still bare branches. I find myself ignoring my own work or sitting there for an extra moment to watch one of my favorite blue jays work to open a black sunflower seed between his toes. We moved a bench to the window and the kids have been setting up bird watching camp there, whisper shouting the names of the birds they see, pointing to them on the card and asking me to read the name. They are simple little creatures, but so soothing to watch,


until the squirrels come by.

priceless

Spring. The crocuses start peeping out of the ground. Bird feeders get filled to the tippy tippy top. I inevitably put the winter coats and hats away just a smidge too soon. I start to plan the kids summer clothes. At some point, I take a brief looksy in the "keep" boxes I put away in the fall hoping beyond hope that some of it will still fit on their long bodies. Caroline is good about trying everything on because she knows if she doesn't it will get boxed away to be handed down to someone else or as is the case for most things this year, sold at the sale in town. It's a milestone of some kind I suppose. We have a nephew to hand most of Connor's things down to, but with a six year age gap, most of Caroline's things don't find their way to our niece.

I have attended this sale most years since Caroline was born. I raced there in the morning, cash in hand, to stake out a front of the line spot. I have scoured the equipment area for a wagon or bike. I have leapt over people to get to the winter coats. I have assisted Auntie Colleen in securing a sweet push wagon. I have hauled things to my car as only a mother who just got the deal of the century could find the strength to do.

I am on the selling end of things for the first time this year. I hung, tagged, and organized fifty pieces of clothing. I went on a search and destroy mission in the attic to uncover relics of babydom long past. I used all my strength to navigate them down the attic steps. I tested batteries, wiped clean, took apart, washed what really needed to be washed. I chiseled all the spaghetti dinner remains out of the high chair that is really in phenomenal shape if I do say so myself. I worked furiously until this was complete and then as I washed the spaghetti remains from my hands and began to set in motion plans to somehow transport it all down to the garage, I caught sight of it all just sitting there piled up in the living room again and wept.

I wept big rolling tears, the silent kind that just flow out of your eyes with no end in sight.

I didn't cry when we got rid of the crib. I didn't cry when we passed along crawl to walk toys, pianos, or blocks. In fact, it was probably the passing that got me through that unscathed because someone else I love was playing with our favorite treasures. They had a second or in many cases third life. I wasn't really expecting this kind of reaction, not so suddenly anyway and certainly not after washing three year old spaghetti dinner off my hands. My babies are not babies, I know this is true, but watching these things go just seems to mean so much more. I stood there at my sink, wiping my eyes with a dishtowel, and I could just see them bouncing in the bouncer, Caroline's wide Joker smile in the exersaucer on Monday and Friday mornings, her favorite ducky toy from the activity mat,

I don't need videos or photos to remember these long ago moments.



 






 
 
 






I suppose I am reluctantly happy to see these things go to new homes where they will much get better use that sitting in an attic. The small amount of profit we make will help get the kids some new summer clothes or maybe finance a few trips to the local ice cream stop for some delish Creamsicle. I thought I was doing this to make a little cash off things taking up space in the attic, but it seems I am doing it instead to say goodbye to that time in our family's life. I'm okay letting them go (except for the little duck on the mat, he stays with me forever) I've had my tears. I have the memories all saved right up there in my head. You can find them there filed under "priceless."

when you prepare for the worst, but hope for the best




When we last left off with the boy who cried hockey saga, Connor was furiously expressing his desire to go out on the ice with Caroline at Learn to Hockey. Here is what happened next.

Steve and I debated several times over the course of the following week what the right move was here. On one hand, the kid was telling us he wanted to go. On the other, we didn't 100% buy what he was selling. I suggested we talk to the organizers and let them know that he wanted to go out and let them in on our situation. I hypothesized that they would be quite sympathetic. Not only would their records show that Connor had been registered for a full session, I was also quite sure all the coaches were well aware of the challenges of session one and two. I think everyone in a two block vicinity was familiar with the challenges of session one and two. I thought it would provide us an opportunity to share our only goal was one positive experience out there to potentially make way for a real try next season. Steve wasn't opposed, but he worried we would get him there, get him dressed and WHAM, kid refuses to go out again after all the communication and great effort of everyone. We don't want to be those parents. No one wants to be those parents.

I spent much of the week talking to him about it as casually as I could and we were surprised his enthusiasm remained. I think we both thought he would react poorly to these conversations, shake off the idea, and remove any need for us to make this decision. There was not a hint of reluctance, not a squirm, not a topic dodge. He was IN. We scratched our heads and shrugged our shoulders. I think we both suspected that when the dreaded "time to get dressed" approached he would fall apart and that would be the end of things. Imagine our surprise then as he willingly changed his clothes, sat down to get shin pads and socks on, and was so fired up to go play hockey that we thought we had the wrong kid. What had we done? We sat the kids side by side to suit up at the rink and he was all smiles.

 
 
Steve brought his own equipment because we had promised him that Daddy would go with him. Wouldn't you know that the lead instructor approached Steve to ask him to assist in Caroline's group. He had to say he would help, but he had been planning to help the youngest group. This was a toughie. It went right back to where we were in the fall and our focus was inappropriately shifted to Connor getting on the ice when it really should have been on the girl excelling on the other end. I don't think we like being in that space very much. We truly didn't think Connor was going to last long (if at all) on the ice. Steve left the kids in line to get out on the ice with the coaches and Connor stepped right on out there. Solo.
 
I almost couldn't believe it. He looked a little lost and incredibly tiny, but he was out there, scooting along. The high school varsity girls who help out went right to his side to offer support and back and forth he went. Steve was there to help him while assisting with the session and after about fifteen minutes he was done.
 

 
 

I went down to the far side of the rink to collect him and get him undressed. He absolutely refused. For the rest of the session, he kept his equipment and skates taking pretend slapshots. I asked him several times if he wanted to go back out and he said no, so I didn't push. As the clock ticked on and we were approaching the end of the session, I finally asked why. He told me it was because they were just going back and forth and he wanted to play with a puck. This was not hockey.

I think we will have two hockey players in the fall at either competing or completely different times, I am unsure which is a worse scenario. I foresee some time at a local rink for some serious open skate time to get him skating well for fall because this boy has no patience for skating drills that don't include a puck. He's got a road ahead of him, but we are incredibly proud of him for getting out there last weekend and giving it a go, with a smile.

We had been so prepared for some hitch all week that would give us the opportunity to say, "ok, no go." It never happened and we didn't quite know what to do with that. I suspected he would ignore our discussion. I thought for sure when Sunday actually rolled around he would look at me with the painful, "you want me to what?" face. I was certain the application of equipment to his body would send him into hysterics. I knew there was no way he would ever step out on that ice willingly without a parent forcibly pushing his little hockey pant wearing butt out there. I held my breath for the entire fifteen minutes waiting for the tears to start, the crying to be heard throughout the rink, and imagining myself pulling him skates and all out the door to the car. I was prepared for the tears that never came, speech ready to comfort that I never needed. Your kids will always surprise you.

slow cooker sundays

My cousin Kristen and her adorable partner in crime Nick have "Sunday Funday." She posts photos of them skiing, having a cock-ee-tail, enjoying their relaxing wonderful Sunday with drinks by a fire somewhere up north. As spring enters I am sure there will be more beach photos down on the south shore at his parent's place. It is sweet to see and reminiscent of days gone by for Steve and I. The mornings when we would loaf around, turn on Phantom Gourmet from bed, and I would eventually sing Steve the "Panera Song" at the top of my lungs until he pulled himself up and went to get me a sandwich. Those were the days, right?

Sunday is now the catch up day. It is the fold all the laundry and put it away day. It is the clean the playroom ten times because winter won't go away and let these kids outside & they cannot seem to pick up one thing before moving to the next and the next and the oh my God, what happened back here?!?! It is usually my market day and no one comes with me. That makes me sad until I pop my ear buds in and either a/ lip sync Frozen through all the aisles and ignore the staring or b/ listen to a podcast or two. It is the day we try to do the least because it is our last one together before the new week and no one in our family looks forward to Monday. It is the tidy all the things day because our wonderful helpers come every other Monday to make it look like I have time and energy to care for my home. I swear just having them come accounts for 75% of the tidiness around here because it forces me to remove the piles of stuff and put things away and clear surfaces. Every two weeks, that is good for the soul, but also kind of annoying to people who like to keep their closest in a pile beside the bed. Steve.

Sunday is always and will always be Sports Day. There is always SOME game that the kids will half watch with Steve. They cheer for the Bruins especially hard these days, often racing up the stairs to alert us to any changes. "We scored!!!" "We got a penalty!" "The other team started a fight!" It's adorable and they get really into it. It is exactly as Steve pictured it would be when we started a family of little Boston fans.

It's also Caroline's Learn to Hockey day and as soon as the fields are ready, it will be Learn to Lacrosse day too. Both of these sessions are of course planned for exactly the same time; 5pm. For kids in first grade, on a Sunday night. Are they TRYING to kill me?

About a month ago when this Sunday sports at dinner time (seriously, WHY?) started, I decreed that until this insanity ended (which I am fully aware won't be for another 15 or so years) it would be Slow Cooker Sunday. We like to ALL go to her hockey together, Connor enjoys watching, and it is important to her that we are there for her. I don't want to miss it because I am at home cooking dinner. I also don't want to be frantically cooking for a starving hockey player at 6pm. Slow Cooker Sunday has SAVED us.

I cannot (CANNOT) say enough good things about the America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Volume One and Volume Two. This past Sunday we made the Volume One Sticky Wings (a huge favorite in this house, we do them with drumsticks instead) and even our "I'm a vegetarian" ate some that we took off the bone. I made a big salad and broiled the chicken with the sticky sauce when we got home. We served up some buttered egg noodles on the side for the kids. DONE. We sometimes go for an easy option for the kids and something we know we will enjoy like the Salmon for Two from Volume Two. That was so good that we called Kiki to tell her about it for salmon loving Papa. I don't think there has been a recipe we have tried that we haven't enjoyed. I tell people about these books all the time and sure, they do require more than dumping stuff into the crock and walking away, but that extra time spent on prep is so very worth it. Following the sad loss of our original crock in the fall during the BC Football Nutella Bread Pudding incident (a great recipe from Volume One), I was without a crock pot for some time. Those were the dark days. Most people have a slow cooker and just never seem to use it. Maybe they think they will have a ton of leftovers they will never finish (recipes for two in second volume!), or maybe they think everything cooked in a slow cooker is a pile of mush (NOT SO!), or maybe they never get around to it, but wish they could incorporate it better into their lifestyle. Do yourself a favor, get these books, and have yourself a little Slow Cooker Sunday. If you are really missing the good ol' days, have yourself a cock-ee-tail too.