Sunday, May 15, 2011

Coming Up for Air

Josie and Maria enjoying a visit to Carl's in Fredericksburg.

I've been absent for a while... When things are going 'not great' or get really hectic, I tend to go underground for a bit. This has been the case for past few months. I've not had a chance for reflection or updating the blog because there's been a Perfect Storm of events demanding my attention. I'll try to remember everything that has gone on so I can update everyone on what's kept me away...

In early April, my husband was kind enough to send me and Josie back to the East Coast for a few days. It was a hastily planned trip, with little time to arrange visits with friends and family. We arrived late on Tuesday, April 5th at BWI airport. On Wednesday, we drove down to Fredericksburg to visit with our friends from Josie's preschool. We spent a lovely day with Jamie and her girls. Other friends that we had hoped to see were busy - short notice on our visit and other life events have a way of getting in the way.

I had contacted my friend (HS classmate/Annapolis roommate/BFF) Karen to see if we could squeeze in a quick lunch or drink somewhere. I was shocked to learn that Karen had been in a horrific, head-on collision the Friday before our arrival. She was going in for surgery while we were in town, so I made sure that I had all day Friday to devote to a visit with her. Upon my arrival at her house, I found her to be in good spirits - bruised and battered, but mobile. She handed me the police report from the accident investigation which (Karen had warned me...) read like a novel.

A teenager had stolen his parents mini-van and run away from home. He and some friends were partying while driving and smashed into Karen's car head-on. (Karen was returning home from work. It was nearly midnight) The driver and his passengers bailed out of the van and took off. It was another driver who witnessed the accident who rendered aid to Karen and called 911. The EMTs who responded to the call told Karen that her BMW had saved her life - and they were right. The BMW has two front airbags for the driver - one deploys from the steering wheel to protect the upper body and head. The other deploys below the steering column, preventing the driver's legs from being crushed as the frame absorbs the impact of the crash. This was the life-saver for our 6 foot tall Karen! I'm happy to report that her beautiful legs remain intact! The impact of the collision, along with the airbag deployment caused a few facial bones to break. It was frightening to see the amount of blood on the airbags. I'm so thankful that my dear friend lived to tell the story...

During our visit to Maryland, my sister Suzanne drove down from Philadelphia with my nephews Zach and Liam. It really was a great effort - Suzanne missed work and the boys missed school just to visit with us. It was really great to see them and their visit really lifted our spirits. We were able to share a fun family dinner with our parents and Claudine - who was so wonderful to host Josie and me during our stay.

We returned to California on Saturday April 9th. We hit the ground running as James had planned a belated birthday celebration for the girls at Club 33.

In mid-April we were thrilled to meet up with James' brother, Rich and his family, at Disneyland. Josie loved having her cousins on hand to ride the rides and go to the Princess Faire for storytime. Later in the evening, Maddie joined all of us for a big family dinner at Naples.

Maddie with cousins Alicia and Zoe

Alicia, Zoe and Josie listen to the electric violinist

During this time, Maddie was wrapping up her SAT Prep course and taking both the SAT and ACT. Such a stressful time for her. As a parent, there's little one can do to help. There is so much pressure nowadays on students who want to go to college. It seems to have changed so much since I was in High School. The guidance counselor at Maddie's school had her convinced that only kids with 4.0+ GPA and outstanding SAT scores would be accepted to college. I had to spend a lot of time talking her down off the ledge - assuring her that there is a college for everyone. Why must these 'professionals' lead kids to believe that anything less than perfection is a failure? Very frustrating for me given Maddie has a solid GPA and scored well enough on the SAT and ACT to meet the entry requirements for the colleges on her 'Wish List'.

I tend to take on the anxiety that my children are experiencing - how could any Mom not?! Maddie has been working so hard to maintain her GPA this semester - she has both Chemistry and Geometry, which demand so much of her effort. I know this story can be told by every parent of a high schooler... it's mentally exhausting for me.

In addition to all the college prep drama, we have been preparing for two big trips that we will be taking in the next few weeks. We will be spending Memorial Day weekend (and our 11th wedding anniversary!) at Yosemite. Josie is very excited about "going hiking" and I am looking forward to finally holding my camera again. James and girls gave me a new Wide Angle Zoom lens for Mother's Day and I'm very excited to start playing with it!

Once the girls are out of school (late June for Josie) we will be heading to Barcelona, Spain. We'll stay in Barcelona for a few days before embarking on an 11 night Disney cruise. We'll be visiting our favorites again (Rome & Florence) and checking out some new places (Malta, Corsica, Sicily). We haven't been in the Mediterranean since 2007 so we're all really excited to be returning. Our nephew Liam and Maddie's friend Hailey will be joining us on this adventure. We'll return to the US in July and stay on the East Coast until August.

Anyway, that's about it for now. Fingers crossed, I'll be posting some beautiful photos from Yosemite and beyond in the coming weeks. Thanks for checking in on us.

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