So you all remember the annual sister sleepover we have here in the Hoffman home, hosted by Emily and Anna? This year, with them about to leave home for college, they went all out to make it extraordinaire!!!!
The plans: carried out and executed to perfection (by Em and An, but impossible to have happen without tons of help from Dad! He supported them all the way!) -first, the invitation. Delivered rolled up with ribbon at the dinner table one evening! Oh! The excitement!
Next, every girl in a gorgeous gown. Emily and Anna helped the little girls try on several special dresses in the house to be sure they’d work for the occasion. It turned into a little girl’s fantasy as Emily and Anna even let Esther and Grace try on some of their gowns from prom and Christmas formal – oh the look on these little girl’s beings!! From their smile to the way the held themselves and posed so pretty!! Emily and Anna ventured out to shop and found a great deal on two little ball gowns for the baby princesses and two beautiful gowns for Mikela and Kate, who hadn’t had reason to dress up this much in a while!
On to dinner. It would be held in the private end of the riding arena surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers, and greenery. The dinner area would be defined by a fence of white lights and posts holding flowers! Dinner would be done by Dad, the most delicious steaks ever grilled and delectable vegetables, with brownies, ice cream laced by chocolate sauce for dessert.
The spacious upper level of the barn—where the animals cannot go—was to be transformed into a princess paradise with a ‘chandelier’ of streamers, white lights, and prepared for the ‘sisters ball’. Farther up in the loft a sleepover haven was created (mattresses and all!) complete with a table with a cute drinking bottle for each girl and snacks galore, nail polishes and games and last, but not least, a large screen was put up for a movie party!! (The projector worked perfectly!) And so the night began. The girls came to the royal dressing room (my big bay window that has a couch and plenty of space for assisting). The 9 young maidens became even more beautiful and radiant (the fairest in all the land!) :-).
They were escorted to the royal ball by way of beast, our Excursion ‘Fatboy’, but also by a beautiful horse, dressed up as much as they were with flowers all down her mane! Mercedes, the horse, led by their ‘prince charming’, Dad, delivered them to their final destination of dinner! The horse was then let loose to graze beside them as they ate; Clara’s favorite part! (she spent more time being friends with the horse than eating!) After dinner the real ball began as the 9 dancing princesses took to the ballroom in the barn and DANCED (This might have been Adelynn and Sarah’s favorite part)! And finally, exhausted and happy, they changed their royal robes into PJs and settled down on their cozy sleep bags and blankets and pillows, (the royal beds dad had made in the loft) for the slumber party of a lifetime!!
I arrived just past midnight to see the end of their magical night. Entering the barn there wasn’t a sound, up the creaky stairs, there I found 7 sleeping sisters, precious princesses, mine, of all different shapes and sizes, snuggled right together in a row. Dad held #8 and I held #9, as we silently gazed on in wonder. Nine little girls. Sisters. Friends.
Emily and Anna had showed great love in their work to make this a special event for their younger siblings, a goodbye party of sorts. Mike and I decided we would make a special goodbye party too.
Emily and Anna and Mike would be leaving to serve in the Dominican Republic from NYC’s JFK airport Thursday morning (a tradition we’ve established for our children when they are seniors). We decided to take our daughters downtown early and treat them to “Cinderella” on Broadway. My favorite story. Now my daughter’s favorite.
And in this story I am about to tell my husband IS Prince Charming, my hero, and true!!
To go into NYC with 10 girls (our cousin Kiah is staying with us for a couple weeks), can be completely nerve-racking for a man!! Especially a man so nobly set on making it special and lifting the burdens of worry or hassle for his wife and daughters!
First job for Mike was dropping us off at the theatre of Broadway, then finding parking for a monster vehicle in NYC. A couple miles away to his amazement he found it, a parking garage that took bigger vehicles! Now to just get the babies miraculously out of their car seats with about 4″ of space to open the door! Only small inches between him and the next car on both sides!!
Next job, to entertain the twin babies that weren’t allowed in the theatre while Mom and Girls enjoyed the show. Off to Central Park Zoo once more. At least this year wasn’t sweltering hot like our visit last year! But he did have about a mile to walk with 20 month old baby girls! (We did not have room for the stroller in the car after the people and the luggage.). When his arms would go numb he would put them down to dawdle down the street a while then pick them back up to move along a little faster. They enjoyed the zoo.
Now for Husband to really show his gallant goodness! He wanted nothing more than to get out of the big city ASAP after the show, and his wife and daughters thought while they were THERE they might as well ENJOY it a while! His heart softened and when they called him to say the production was over he instructed them to head down to The Star-dust Cafe, 1/2 a block away, for dinner and of course, more Broadway! The waiters and waitresses there are those that want to be part of Broadway and they burst out with Broadway songs as they serve you dinner! Ahh!!! It was Soooo FUN!!!!
Now for Mike to get from Central Park zoo to the Star-Dust cafe with two babies in time to eat with us! He began walking and, already exhausted, was suddenly was blessed with a tender-mercy and a stroke of genius. I think it came from how hard I was praying for him! A man peddling a bike with an empty carriage behind it was just passing by. Mike asked if he could have a ride and the man was glad to have a customer. So Mike and the babies climbed aboard! What a sight! Mike, in his summer orange striped shirt sitting in the middle with two little identical sisters on each side of him, they were also dressed jumpers with the same summer orange stripes (Unintentional)! Daddy showed Addie and Sarah, at one year old, NYC in style, riding in their little carriage alongside the yellow cabs and congested streets of NYC!!
Cinderella had been a most WONDERFUL experience!!!!!! All of us girls were breathless with delight from the exquisite, dazzling beauty and pageantry of it, the clever plot of it, the melt-your-heart romance of it, but best of all, by the pure GOODNESS of it!!!!! I had cried touched-tears at the song the Prince sang to Cinderella, we’d been bedazzled by the dancing at the ball scene, but still my favorite was at the very end, the stunning picture of LOVE in all it’s glory, when Cinderella in her white, shimmering gown stands with the Prince, in his striking white royal robes, becoming husband and wife. The best part of that scene? That the crowd went WILD!!!!! By the end of the show, there was a screaming standing ovation by the whole audience!!! I’ve never been in a building that had THAT much outward, noisy rejoicing over pure goodness. It was pure delight!
We went on to let the little girls see the Disney store and the big girls shop at Forever 21 next door. I taught my little ones what the term ‘window-shopping’ means, carefully explaining that’s what we were doing today. Enjoy JUST looking! After they tired of that, they played in the children’s corner of the store watching movies with Dad as the big girls finished up their shopping. Then Dad headed out on his own to get the car (a couple miles away). Of course that’s when a terrible blow-out happened (had a bad blow-out in NYC last year also). Emily and Anna had both the twins in the Disney store bathroom to change them but because the leakage had been so bad their clothes were ruined and we had nothing else to dress them in with us (it was in the car). We knew it would be an hour or more wait for Dad to return and we had plans to visit a couple more stores. So much for window-shopping. I bought two darling Disney nighties to clothe my babies in and once you buy for one there’s no stopping the chain reaction! We left the Disney store with little babies THRILLED with their princess “dess” “dess!”—they just kept pointing to the ‘dresses’ as they thought they were and twirling! And with three other little girls holding their newly bought treasures with glee!
Last stop: Toys R Us for more ‘window shopping’. At least that visit ended with just a $6 purchase of rock candy for all of us to share in the car.
Soon our carriage arrived. We were blessed with a quiet corner of NYC in which to load up and get adjusted and prepared for the ride out of there! All in all, our day had been a BLAST!! So much fun together! Dad was super relieved to be leaving!
Because Mike and the girls would be leaving to the airport first thing in the morning we all stayed in a hotel we had reserved through Price-line earlier. It was a decent hotel, though all NYC hotels seem quite overrun and a bit shabby, no matter how much the cost. But I wouldn’t complain because no matter what the door said about the going rate of this room being $3,000/night I felt $60 plus the extra $40 we had to pay to have two beds in the rooms, was a great price.
We were sooo happy that the babies had fallen asleep in the car ride there because we had forgotten their happy camper beds and the hotel didn’t have cribs, so we settled them down between us on the queen size bed and after tucking all the others in, laid down beside them.
I think I was asleep for about a 1/2 hour when I woke to squirming, giggling baby girls beside me. Ugh. They were WIDE awake. And they stayed that way—ALL night long!
I tried to quiet and entertain them long as I could, then Emmy seemed to sense my exhaustion and got up with them a while. I took a small break,then got up again to send Em, who would be traveling, back to sleep. Wishing I could take them somewhere they wouldn’t wake anyone I entertained them a while more, then Mike sensing that I was fading and failing to respond enough to them, stood up to help a while. I slept a little, then aroused enough out of my delirious state to realize that now Emily and Mike were trying to help them and that both the babies were crying and crying. “That’s it, they are going to bed!” I insisted. “They are just crying anyway and they are tired and need sleep. Let’s lay them between us and everyone be quiet, ignore them and let them go to sleep!”
Thankfully, Sarah seemed to sense I meant business and snuggled in beside me quieting herself. Addie moaned and groaned quietly about 10 minutes and then fell asleep. That was 5 am.
Poor Mike had planned to wake at 6am to leave by 7 for the 30 mile drive to the airport. After only an hour of quiet sleeping, he just couldn’t do it. He roused at 7 and he and the girls gathered in prayer with me and then kissed sleeping babies and Clara and told me to kiss the sleeping girls in the other room for them and headed out by 8 am. They only had 30 miles to the airport and their flight was leaving at 11:50, they would be just fine, I thought.
NYC traffic and yes, they missed their plane!!!
But don’t worry, the story ends well. Exhausted from waiting for 12 hours in the airport on hardly any sleep, they got onto a plane heading the right direction at 9 pm, flew through the night, then took the 2 hour cab drive to their destination to meet their group by morning. The extra good news? They even sounded thrilled with their first day in the Dominican Republic by that evening!
So Emily and Anna are off and just a couple more days at home when they return before they head West for many more adventures!!!
As always, I am just soooo grateful for today—a day worth celebrating!!!!
Happy adventures to You and Your Family too!!!!
Sincerely, CaMarie and Crew