Champaign Wishes

Algarve is heaven on earth complete with almond trees and warm Mediterranean water and bolos de berlim sold on the beach.

Algarve is the southern most region of Portugal and heaven on earth complete with almond trees, warm Mediterranean water, unbelievable sea food and hot from the oven fresh Bolas de Berlim sold right on the beach.


(on our walk home from school)

Hank: I have decided my favorite thing to do in the summer in sunbathe.

Me: How long have you been stewing on this decision?

Hank: Years.

Me: Well, good thing we have a large veranda. That way you can put on sunblock and sunbathe every day.

Hank: See, there is a problem. I only like to sunbathe on the beach.

Me: Ahhhhh, I see.

Hank: There is something about the sea air and the hot sand. I love the beach.

Me: Well, good thing the closest beach is 25 minutes away and there is a bus in front of your house and then there are always weekends in Espinho with our friends. I bet you could move in with Ana and Ricardo and go to the beach everyday in exchange for hanging and folding the laundry and sweeping and mopping the floors. (whispers) But I’d miss you.

Hank: See, there is one more problem. I only like to sunbathe on the beach in Algarve. I love Algarve. I love everything about Algarve.

Me: (knowing the price tag of summer holidays in Algarve) Ha! I’ll think about your problem. You certainly have Champaign wishes, my dove.

Hank: When I am grown I will first be happy and then I will have a budget so that I can spend a whole month in Algarve every year in the summer.

Me: Why not live there all year?

Hank: Because then it wouldn’t be special anymore.

Me: (nodding)


Believe It


Molly ready for the day

Molly ready for the day


(this conversation was originally in Portuguese but translated entirely for convenience)

Shopteller: Good afternoon, young man.

Hank: Good afternoon.

Shopteller: Did you find everything you were looking for?

Me: Yes we did, thank you.

Shopteller: (holding up a T-Rex t-shirt up to fold it) Well isn’t this cool, but it is much too small for you, young man.

Hank: It is for my sister.

Shopteller: It can’t be for your sister. This is a boy’s t-shirt.

Hank: It is for my sister. She loves dinosaurs.

Shopteller: But I don’t believe she would want to wear this shirt.

Hank: Oh, yes she will! She is going to love it. I am serious she loves dinosaurs.

Shopteller: (holding up a small pair of Super Man hightop sneakers) But these, these must be for a little boy. Your cousin? Shall I wrap them for a gift?

Hank: Those are also for my sister.

Shopteller: But I don’t believe it. These are boys shoes.

Hank: There is no difference between boy feet and girl feet. They are both feet and my sister loves Super Man and Hulk and Thor, Captain America and Spiderman.

Shopteller: (to me, accusatory) And you dress your daughter in these things?

Me: (with an air of breezy fabulousness) I can tell you’d have no problem if we were buying princess items.

Shopteller: Of course not. Princesses are for girls and superheroes are for boys. That is just the way it is.


Hank: I am sorry no one read comics with you when you were young because they are very interesting. I don’t like them as much as my sister does. I don’t like dinosaurs, that much either. My sister loves superheroes and these things will make her happy.

Me: (smiling)

Shopteller: Well, I don’t believe it. I have never heard of a girl liking these things.

Hank: She can like whatever she likes. We are equal. There is no difference in boys and girls.

Shopteller: (not listening to him) Who is your favorite superhero then?

Hank: Black Widow.

Shopteller: I have never heard of that one. Who is he?

Hank: She is a girl and she is an Avenger.

Shopteller: I don’t believe it. I didn’t know there were girl superheroes.

Me: (eyeroll)

Hank: She is Russian and is so smart and can do everything the other Avengers do except she is the only one that Hulk will listen to so that means she is very important to the team and not just because she can save the world and speak two languages.

Shopteller: (not listening) Well, I just don’t believe it.

Me: (paying, picking up our bag with a light airy tone) Believe it.

Hank: Thank you.


Shopteller: I don’t know what I would think if I saw your little princess walking down the street in boys clothes.



Me: (deeply annoyed sigh with a courteous smile on my face, taking Hank’s hand to leave) You would think she was incredibly loved and happy. Believe me that we have one very happy two year old.

Hank: (while we were walking out the door) That was weird.


Hank: I mean… She didn’t believe it because she wasn’t ready to believe, right mama?

Me: (putting on my sunglasses, damn proud) No one ever called you dumb. Not one day.


My Tantrum

Hank and Molly Playing Ballerina

Hank and Molly Playing Ballerina


Me: (opening the oven to find I have burned the garlic bread at the end of a long and painful RA/AS day) GOD BLESS! GAWD DAMN BLESS IT! AHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRGGGHHHH!

Pai: (rushing in) What is it?


Pai But what happened? Are you hurt?


Pai: Is that all?

Me: Babe, that isn’t all. I am at the end of my rope. I am running on less than empty.  I was standing here watching the oven SO THIS WOULDN’T HAPPEN AND IT HAPPENED IN FRONT OF MY FACE AND I WAS TOO BRAIN DEAD TO NOTICE!!! ARGH! I am fully done and my body is too busy fighting itself to give fuel to my brain so I AM DOING STUPID THINGS LIKE BURNING THE FLIPPING GARLIC BREAD I SPENT THE LAST 20 MINUTES MAKING WHEN THE TOTALITY OF THIS MEAL OTHERWISE TOOK NINE MINUTES.

Pai: (picking up the tray of half burnt garlic toast to throw it away)


Pai: (creepy calm) If you don’t stop yelling I swear this burnt bread will go over the side of the veranda to feed birds, so help me.

Molly: (toddling into the kitchen, arms in the air, yelling and walking strain over to me) Olha! Olha! Olha! (Look! Look! Look!)

Hank: (following behind her silently)

Molly: Mama mad at Papa? (putting her little hands on my knees looking up at me) Mad? Mama mad?

Me: (deep breath)


Me: No, Molly, I am not mad at your papa.

Molly: Mama mad. (nodding)

Me: (getting on her level) Mama is mad, baby. Mama was mad. I need to calm down.

Molly: Tem calma, mãe. (Calm down, mama)

Me: (pulling Molly into a big hug) Thank you, Moo-Moo.  I am sorry, Alfredo.

Pai: You’ve got to learn to ask for help.

Me: I know.

Molly: (petting my hair) It’s okay, mama. Tem calma (calm down).

Me: Thank you, Molly. Thank you for your help.

Molly: Okay. (job done, toddles off singing) Please, no thank you. Please, no thank you. Please, please, please, please, no thank you.

Me: (hugging Pai)

Pai: (hugging me back) You okay? Do you need to lay down? Are you in too much pain? I can finish.

Me: No, no. I’m better. I just need five minutes then we can eat.

Hank: (having stayed silent and taken in the my tantrum declares) Well done, mom. You didn’t use a single palavrão (swear word)!

Me: HA! I didn’t?

Pai: Well, that’s a first!

Hank: Your learning, mama. I’m proud of you and I will set the table.

Me: Thanks, Hank.

Hank: And I don’t mind my garlic bread a little burnt.

Me: (throwing my arm around his shoulder) How’d I get so lucky to have you for my kid?

Hank: Because I picked you. I knew you were the mom for me and I picked you. You’re my choice. (walking away with the plates toward the table)

Me: (smiling, wincing back tears while using kitchen sheers to cut off the burnt edges of the garlic bread)