Good Mornings in the Kitchen

conversations with hank

(in the kitchen, getting ready to start the day)

Hank: How was your night, Akika? (the name Prima was given by Molly who couldn’t and still can’t say Monica)

Prima: It was nice. Although, my god, I cried so much. I talked with my sister and the first thing she said was, “Are you coming home in April.”

Me: (wince) Oh, that’s hard.

Hank: She misses you.

Prima: So I explained to her that when she is on vacation we can meet here and on my vacation I can go there but she is so smart…

Me: How old is she again?

Prima: She is eight. She is so smart. She just gets it. She said, “Yes, but then you will always be there and we will always be here and we won’t be together again.”

Hank: Awe.

Me: It’s hard when your big sister leaves home.  I still remembered how crushed I was when my brother went away to school and I was 15! And when you left last summer your intention was to go back.

Prima: Exactly, I didn’t know I would get a job and an apartment and…

Hank: A Pedro! (Prima’s boyfriend)

Me: (chuckling into my coffee)

Prima: Right!

Me: That is that hardest part about moving away. Most Portuguese choose to stay close to their family. Family is so important and supportive in your culture. Hank and I understand this since we moved here. I moved a lot in my life, but the ocean makes a big difference. It is easier now with connecting by text and apps and email and video chat.

Prima: And my sister has a tablet now so I told her how to get in touch with me whenever she needs me. (deep sigh)

Me: There are always those who tug on your heartstrings. It doesn’t mean you love them more than the rest of your friends and family there are just those people who you are connected to on another level and the missing is the hardest with them.

Hank: Yah, like how I miss Josita. I love all of my other familyand our friend-family and my Grammy and Grandpa Snitch and my cousin Coley, but I miss her a lot.

Me: The leaving is the hardest with those who are tied forever to your heart, but life carries on and those strings stretch quite far and from time to time you feel a tug letting you know when you or they need a message or a letter or a phone call or a hug sent across the continent or the sea.

Molly: (toddling into the kitchen with a plastic water pitcher full of doll house furniture and tiny dolls) Good Morning! Good morning, Mano (brother). Good morning, Akika (Prima).

Together: (collectively wish Molly an equally good morning)

Molly: Mama, me sit down. Mama, sai (leave). Me sit down.

Me: (being evicted from the step stool where I had been sitting sipping coffee most of the morning) Um, excuse me?

Molly: Excuse me, peas mama. Peeeeaaaasss! Excuse me. (nodding, pointing to the step stool)

Hank: She’s not bossy.

Prima: She’s the boss.

Me: (getting up to get my day started, feigning indignation) Well, I never.

Molly: Tank you. I luf you, mama.

Me: Well, in that case. (kissing the top of her head)

Hank: (finishing packing his lanche (snack) for school)

Prima: (finishing packing her almoço (lunch) for work)

Molly: (setting up her dolly tableau)

Me: (looking back from the doorway to the laundry room beaming at my wonderful family) Absolute last call for laundry!  If I don’t have your cuacas (underwear) in two seconds they will stay stinking up your rooms for the rest of the day.

Hank: Oh! (dashing off)

Prima: One second. (dashing off)

Me: (smiling)

Molly: (chattering to her dollies about this and that, having yet no concept of what cuecas (underwear) are)



Conta (Bill)

conversations with hank

Google doesn’t think that Lisbon and Porto both deserve their points showing since it is only 300 km difference after an ocean was crossed. Just know those points are there. *wink*


Hank: Mama?

Me: (in bed, daydreaming at night, practicing the fine art of escapism from chronic pain) Yah?

Hank: (noticing) Oh, am I interrupting you working on something for your story?

Me: Not at all. (cracking an eye open) What’s up, buttercup?

Hank: (bringing me a computer printout) I saw this on the fridge and I noticed it was a conta (bill). What is this?

Me: Oh, this is the flight itinerary for Aunt Kelly, Uncle Bryan, Connor and Aida to visit in TWO WEEEKSS! I am so excited. I can’t believe this is really real!

Hank: Oh, really? But the conta (bill)! This is like super expensive.

Me: This is what four plane tickets across the ocean cost and this isn’t even the full conta (bill). They had travel vouchers, meaning free flight credits, from Minnesota to Boston.

Hank: Where is Minnesota? And Where is Boston? And it says here they are flying into Lisbon?

Me: That is normal if you don’t fly out of Frankfort, Germany to have a layover in Lisboa before continuing on up to Porto.

Hank: And is says Lisbon and not Lisboa.

Me: Yes, because this itinerary is in English. Just like we say Inglaterra in Portuguese and England in English.

Hank: I guess that makes sense.

Me: Bring over, carefully, my computer please. I will pull up a map. They are traveling from the other side of the Mississippi River…

Hank: M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i

Me: And then they stop in Boston for a layover, then over the Atlantic, then land in Lisbon…

Hank: Layover.

Me: And then up to us.

Hank: (inspecting the map) And where was I born?

Me: You were born in Southern, Indiana. Here. In Bloomington where your papa got his PhD and I studied Art.

Hank: (looking back at the printed flight itinerary) So this isn’t the conta (bill) for the whole trip.

Me: No.

Hank: It would have been even more expensive if they didn’t have that voucher.

Me: Yes.

Hank: This is a lot of money, mama.

Me: It is. This is what it cost for four people to travel to us and NOT in peek tourist season.

Hank: (thinking rather loudly)




Hank: We will make it worth it, won’t we?

Me: Of course. It could rain every day, sheets and sheets, and it would still be worth it because we will be together.

Hank: This conta (bill) is like, worth it, because it means they love us.

Me: And we love them. Memories are priceless.

Hank: Okay. (getting up to leave, turning back, leaning against the door frame) I understand now.

Me: You understand what?

Hank: I understand now why we don’t visit America more and people don’t visit us as much. I thought it was just because you are sick, but I understand now it isn’t just that, because we’re four too. Our family is also four plane tickets.

Me: (nodding)

Hank: What is that thing you say? The thing they say in America? About the lunch?

Me: There is no free lunch.

Hank: (waving the itinerary in the air) This is like that, isn’t it?

Me: It is.

Hank: Love should be free.

Me: It is and sometimes it isn’t, but love is always worth it.

Hank: You should get a voucher for love trips.

Me: (roaring with laughter) Then who would pay for airplanes and fuel and in flight meals and salaries of pilots and the fight attendants both TRAINED TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Hank: (shrugs, mind on something else) We are going to have the best time with them.

Me: We are. Now stop worrying about money, put that itinerary back on the fridge and lets come up with a list of things you want to show Aida and Conner in Guimarães. You will be their tour guide!

Hank: (bouncing off) Okay, I will get my notebook. Be right back.



Smashing Moscas (Flys)?

Molly calling for the Mosca (Fly) to come and play, all be it still a little suspect of her new buzzing friend.

Molly calling for the Mosca (Fly) to come and play, all be it still a little suspect of her new buzzing friend.


Molly: Mama? MAMA? MÃE (mom)!!

Me: (scuttling about getting her day bag packed to visit her Nanny) Yes, Moo-Moo Gigante? (The Super Hero name Molly settled on this weekend: Moo-Moo Giant)

Molly: Mama, play howse (house)?

Me: Oh, thank you for the invitation. I would love to play house with you.

Molly: (singing Frozen) Wif You.

Me: (singing back) With you!

Together: Love is an open door!

Me: May I get my coffee first? One minute.

Molly: Mama, não (no). MAMA!

Me: (walking away in spite of her cries until I realize she is no longer using her “BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT” cry and she is now using her petrified cry. Double back) Hey now? What’s all this?

Molly: (looking at the ceiling, hands pulled to her chest, clasped in prayer, cowering)

Me: Are you frightened? Tem medo (are you scared)?

Molly: Sim (yes). Olha (look)! (screeching at the sight of a fly)

Me: (pulling her into my lap) Oh, look who’s come to visit us! Hello, mosca (fly). Hello! Molly, that is a mosca (fly). He is a kind bug. He is a friend. He doesn’t pica or morder (sting or bite). A mosca (fly) dances in the sky and goes buzz, buzz, buzz. Can you say buzz, buzz, buzz?

Molly: (warming up to the fly) Buzz. Buzz. (giggling) Buzz, Buzz, Buzz!

Me: Can you say hello to the mosca (fly)? He just wake up for Spring!

Molly: Hello, buzz buzz. Good morning! Mama, (toddling out of my lap) Mama, essa mooosca (this fly) buzz, buzz e Moo Moo Gigante HULK SMASK com bota (with my boot), okay? (nodding, pointing to her feet)

Me: (translating) You would like to HULK SMASH that mosca (fly) under your boot?

Molly: (delighted) SIM (YES)!

Me: Poor mosca (fly). He just wants to buzz around our living room until I open the window to the afternoon sun in a little while. Must you smash him? He doesn’t have a very long life to live anyway and it would be a shame to cut it even shorter.

Molly: Okay. No smash. Nooo Smash, mosca (fly).  Mooooooosssca (fly)? Play howse (house)? (looking at the ceiling) Come on. Come on, moosca. Come on.