Memorial Day Weekend is typically pretty low key for us and we tend to stay local. This year, however, we decided to do a quick jaunt across the bridge into the Valley Forge area and spend an overnight at a hotel. Since CB was visiting her Maryland Family, it was a good weekend to get away. The kids get a kick out of being in a hotel, and us grown ups get a great deal out of a change of scenery. Valley Forge is also so full of history, so it was a perfect way to honor the true meaning of this holiday.
Pink has been learning about the Revolutionary War at school, so it was really cool to see George Washington's house and see real artifacts from that war and walk the grounds where thousands of soldiers fought for our freedom... thousands who also perished at Valley Forge. It is known for having the highest death toll, though no war was fought there.
Dr. Fabulous and Tink nerding out.
George Washington's house was really cool. Though most has been restored, things like the banister are original. So that was cool - to actually touch something General Washington himself touched.
If you do the driving self-tour, it is a well-marked, 10 mile loop and you can get out at several different stops. There are two big stops, including the cabins and Washington's house. There are also several monuments and at the end of our loop, there was a gorgeous chapel which holds the Bell of Justice used on the tour of the Suffragettes.
I picked up three Junior Ranger Booklets at the Visitor's Center thinking the girls could have something to do and try to get their little "Junior Rangers" badge. Pink immediately started complaining about it and left it sitting untouched on the car console. (She is a good girl, but putting forth effort into anything right now is not her strong suit). Tink did about half of the booklet and decided it wasn't worth the effort, which is weird for her because typically she's pretty driven.
Seven-year-old Rella on the other hand? If she wants something, she is a pitbull. And she wanted to earn that cheap little plastic badge, so baby girl filled out every blessed question by herself with very minimal help and absolutely no prodding.
Hard at work. A Junior Ranger's work is never done!
And at the end of our day, we stopped by the Visitor's Center again.
They reviewed her book closely ....
And then gave her an oath and now she is an honorary Junior Ranger. Whatever that may be.
She was excited.
That was our big outing and it was truly a great day. Other than that, where we were staying was pretty low key. We walked the King of Prussia mall, visited cute and artsy Manayunk, swam in the indoor pool and discovered some good food finds.
Then, we drove less than an hour home, with no hint of beach traffic. We returned just in time for an impromptu late night gathering on our cul de sac complete with kids running around in the warm night air until 10:00 pm while the grown ups chatted over beers in the driveway. And no one cared because Monday was no school!
Which, of course, meant a morning of parades and an afternoon and evening at our swim club. It was packed, it was a gorgeous day, it was awesome.
And THAT was our Memorial Day Weekend. I hope you had a long weekend filled with family, friends and gratitude for all the good stuff in life.
I triple check the forms, finding and correcting errors, re-reading the long and complicated directions for the umpteenth time. When I am finally (relatively) certain I have done everything correctly with the pile of paperwork in front of me, I secure the stack together with a paper clip and write a $200.00 check to the County's Surrogate Court. I have spent a total of four days on the paperwork alone - two hours just this morning in review. The entire process of just completing "Step One" has been two years in the making, 99% of that time due to procrastination.
As suggested, I am hand delivering the paperwork instead of sending the packet certified mail. I make the 20 minute drive, a straight shot down a busy four-laned pike filled with lights and lined with endless strip malls. I am a little edgy, almost nervous, and slightly sad... all of which are very silly emotions to have over filing paperwork. Perhaps it's because anything to do with the legal system makes me nervous. Even when I see a cop car, or walk through the security detectors positioned at the doors of retail stores, I get a case of the cold sweats. Maybe I always feel like someone is gonna see right through me and know I'm not as good as I seem. Or maybe, I'm just weird.
I park around back and try two different entrances before finding the right building. I get my purse searched and walk through the metal detector (cold sweat!) then head for the Office of the Surrogate Court. This is the place where you go for a great many things, one of which is to petition for Legal Guardianship of your adult daughter who cannot make decisions as a fully emancipated adult. I am here, weeks before her 20th birthday, to start the process of taking away all of her legal rights to make any decisions. I will forever be her decision maker. Plenary Guardianship, they call it. The fact is, if I don't do this, she is screwed... because she can't make any decisions for herself. So I'm doing what I should have done almost two years ago. I haven't done it yet because it's a long, complicated, daunting, somewhat expensive process.
I haven't done it until now because above all, it just makes me sad. Not that surface sad, like "Oh yeah, that's sad." It's like a deep, deep, profound sad. The sad that sits in a pit of unresolved grief. The sad that has no bottom. The sad you never acknowledge you have until you're standing in the waiting room of the Surrogate Court with your stack of papers and your sweaty palms and your $200.00 check and your goofy fake smile and your string of dumb questions that are just filling up the space between you and the nice administrative staff who assures you that they will call if they have any questions.
Step One is completed. The papers are filed. Soon, I will receieve a certified letter with a hearing date and yadda yadda. I try to feel a sense of accomplishment for this huge milestone, but all I feel is a little empty.
I drive back home and half way there I figure I'm probably going to start to cry - and almost do - but then stop myself and just decide to turn up the radio and sing some stupid pop song out of tune instead.
Another year, another Prom!! This was our fifth year going to Prom and it was just as beautiful and fun as all the rest.
We braved a strapless dress... you long time readers may remember the streaking incident of Prom 2010. (Click to read that one AND see how pretty and happy she looked!!)
This time, we were all on guard for wardrobe malfunctions.
A girl is never fully dressed without some pom poms.
The ladies at her school did her hair. Thank Goodness, because I am entirely inept in the whole hair and make up girly thing. Her updo survived a long hot bus ride home, a bath and a nap. I had to shove a few extra bobby pins in, but I think she looked quite lovely!!
I also let her borrow my grandmother's necklace. It was one of the few items of jewelry I inherited several years ago when she passed. It was nice to have a little reminder of my beloved grandma on prom night.
Quick Mommy n' Daughter Selfie before heading in!
We met her Dad and her grandparents there and she was so excited to see them.
CB's grandmother, grandfather and mother (as in ME!!) have all battled cancer within the past few years. This kid was sitting at a table of fighters, which makes total sense 'coz she is a tough cookie too!
It was a fantastic night that wouldn't be possible without the compassionate, dedicated volunteers at CB's school who always put together a fantastic party fit for the princesses and princes at the school.
The best part of the night is seeing so many of the kids cuttin' up the dance floor. I swear, my smile hurts my face every year. CB typically sits in her seat the whole night, but she did bum rush the stage at one point. Seems she found the raffle baskets that were lined up in front of the DJ and attacked one.
Ironically, we ended up winning this very basket which made me feel quite relieved given that she had mauled it. Maybe, on some level, she knew it was going to be ours!
The great thing about Prom is that there are no apologies needed for your child's behavior. It's the one night a year where everyone who is in the same boat shares that boat with you. Everyone gets it. And, I don't mean just "get it" as in understanding all the behaviors. I mean they get it as in the bigger picture.
Nights like this remind us what it's all about.
Despite the challenges of raising a daughter who needs life long care, the rewards are immeasurable.
This week was one big, fat, celebration. After Monday's festivities, the week continued to be full of love, well-wishes, toasts and hugs and lots of fun. There were lunch dates with friends, mani/pedis with more friends, and bus stop mimosas the first morning that I officially had no where to go. There was a day at the winery with my writer's group and there was dinner in Philly with my Mom and there were random flower deliveries, wine deliveries, cards and goodies left on my doorstep... and surprise visits from old friends. One friend whom I haven't seen in years surprised me at a group lunch, driving from about 40 minutes away. I was so touched and happy to see her! On Friday, a friend who co-founded the Writer's Group with me but recently moved, drove about 2 hours to surprise me during our Writer's Group celebration at a local winery. When I saw her walking across the vineyards with her big smile and flower in hand, I just about freaked!
My friend Julie, a writer, blogger and all around great friend. Check out her blog 365 Excuses and you'll find yourself laughing and totally relating!
It was an awesome week that ended with the nicest celebration of all - Mother's Day. Could it get more perfect than that?
Because THIS is what it's all about. Everything I do is for these girls, period.
It was the customary shenanigans over here on Mother's Day. Honestly, it was probably the nicest and most relaxing Mother's Day I've had in a long while. The girls made me pancakes - and actually MADE them all by themselves this year (with Dr. Fab manning the hot griddle). I would have been able to sleep in had CB not woken me up at 6:30 am. But, that was actually okay because I'd rather have her here waking me up on Mother's Day than have her be in Maryland and one of my little girls gone from the nest.
I cried reading each one of the homemade cards the girls made in school. Each one had some kind of cheesy poem about how they'll be grown up one day and the little handprints will be gone, and yadda yadda... insert me crying here... and here and here. It was pretty comical how much of a sap I was.
In the early afternoon, I indulged in an 80 minute massage which was a huge treat. The day ended with dinner and drinks with some family. I did have to handle one dirty diaper, but other than that, it was a pretty awesome day.
My sister had sent me a dozen pink roses for Mother's Day which I added to the dozen white roses given to me by my in-laws to congratulate me on the end of treatment. I added them to the three bouquets of flowers I received this past week from various sweet friends. I have never been the recipient of so many flowers in my life as I have been these past few months. At any point in time since January there have been fresh flowers in my home, given to me by a friend or family member to just let me know they were thinking of me. Not a day goes by where I don't appreciate this in the deepest part of my heart. It's an amazing thing to feel so supported by a community of women. The sisterhood of motherhood. We all get it.
Mother's Day ended the Week O' Celebration. Now, we're back to the daily grind of living. I'm totally ready to stop being spoiled and just go back to normal life... a little bit wiser, a little bit stronger, a lot more appreciative of how lucky I am... in so, so many ways.