Whew! It took until mid-day yesterday for me to feel like I had finally shaken off what can only be described as a Carbon Hill Homecoming hangover. The sensation of my limbs being heavy as lead, puffy and tired eyes, and a general sense of exhaustion had nothing to do with adult beverage consumption and everything to do with a long series of late night festivities, busy days, and action packed nights.
Tuesday: We started off our Homecoming fun by actively stalking the progress of the carnival assembly. I am not exaggerating when I say that our girls look forward to this week more than any other major holiday or event perhaps with the exception being their birthdays. We drove by the park twice and even did a slow walk-by to get a really good look at this year's featured attractions. Food stands advertising corn dogs were met with much excitement as was the dragon roller coaster. Lack of a Ferris wheel was not, however, well received. Later that evening we hosted the Tru Stories girls for dinner while Coach played in his first game of the tournament. We walked to the park to cheer on Willy's Pub, but unfortunately our timing was a little off and we missed his entire game; the good news from that night was that we at least missed getting hit with the downpour that occurred about 15 minutes after our walk home.
Wednesday: "When are we going to the carnival? Are we going tomorrow? How long is it until tomorrow? Are Tink and Coco going with us? Tomorrow is Thursday? I can't wait to go to the carnival. When are we going again?". I patiently fielded these question over and over and over again until around 3:30 pm when I announced for the last time, "We are not going to the carnival today. We are going tomorrow, on Thursday, for wrist band night. Tink and Coco are going with us. If anybody asks me one more time when we are going, I will cancel carnival night completely". A girl can only handle answering the same question so many times before losing her mind. In Carbon Hill for his second game, I invited Coach to drop off his girls at our house while Tru Stories stayed back to teach yoga. He dropped them off shortly after 7 pm and the four girls did not stop screaming and squealing with happiness until almost 9 pm when we settled in for a viewing of Tangled with snacks and jammies. I love it when the line between family and friendship is so blurred it ceases to even exist.
Thursday: "What time are we going to the carnival? Is it almost 6 o'clock yet? How much longer until we can go? But why isn't the carnival open yet? Now is it almost 6 o'clock? I forgot - when are we going to the carnival?". Every fifteen minutes starting at 9 am and not ending until we walked out the door at 6:15. The girls rode every single ride they were tall enough to go on including their first official Big Kid Ride. There was some initial hesitation from Shortcake, but after her first round she stated she wanted to ride it again immediately, and after her second turn on The Hurricane she screamed, "I loved it!" before even exiting the cart. I think we have a couple of girls ready for Great America on our hands, and we couldn't be more pumped about that. Tru Stories alluded to it in her carnival post, and as I promised her we really did shut that mother down. At $18 dollars a piece, we made sure that we took those carnies to the cleaners when it came to getting our money's worth out of those wrist bands. The sensible mother in me thought that maybe it was time to call it a night around 9:30, but when asked if the girls were tired I was met with the exclamation of "I FEEL AWESOME!" from Punkin, and Shortcake was too busy moving on to the next ride to even answer. Knowing that The General would be home within 45 minutes, I figured we would just ride until they kicked us out so that he'd be able to see them in their glory as well. The girls were literally the last group of children on the rides; not even the scantily clad high schoolers were still hanging around by the time they boarded their final ride. We tucked our two borderline-delirious-with-exhaustion-and-happiness girls in their beds just after 11:30 pm.
Friday: Thanks to our late night, it was 10 am before anyone in the One Carbon Hill house got out of bed, perhaps a new record. The girls and I took it easy for the first few hours of the day and then set out for Joliet to do some light shopping. The General surprised us by returning home early from work, and after we put the girls to bed he and I were able to enjoy the beautiful night with some cool beverages while sitting on the tailgate of his truck. Nobody better say people from The Hill ain't classy.
Saturday: My afternoon was spent with Cari, her mom, and my mom at Babies R Us where we spent a couple of hours registering for Baby Pebbles. It amazed me how quickly I forgot how much stuff a baby requires while my mom nearly stroked out after seeing how much convertible car seats cost. Following a late lunch at Portillo's, it was back home to prepare for Phase Two of the day. Although our original plan was to visit the Carbon Hill beer garden with friends, intermittent rain made that option a little less appealing. We instead headed north to the stomping grounds of our early twenties and rolled in about half past two in the morning.
Sunday: Somehow we have gone almost seven years without the girls realizing their is a Homecoming parade that takes place literally one block away from our house; maybe next year we'll give in to that indulgence as well. This year, however, early in the afternoon I attended a shower in honor of the upcoming arrival of Baby Nolan and then returned home to get the house ready for our annual fireworks party as a way to commemorate the end of this year's homecoming. The kids spent the time before the firework show playing, catching lightning bugs, climbing trees, and swinging. S'mores were a new addition this year, and I'd say they were a hit. Once again, it was after 11 pm before the girls collapsed into bed.
Monday: It was another late wake-up for the girls of Carbon Hill, and we hit the ground running. Children's yoga in Dwight, a lunch at the Dairy Queen, a visit with Great Grama & Grapa Poke, a quick trip to play on The Rocket slide at Renfrew Park, and dinner at my mom & dad's is how we chose to ease into life without the Homecoming in our lives. It's a bitter disappointment to no longer be able to hear the sounds and see the bright lights of the carnival from out your bedroom window.
Tuesday: One week after the start of the 2011 festivities, this afternoon we took a bike ride up to the park to see if there was anything left. The dragon coaster, motorcycles, and three food stands stand alone, packed up and ready for transport. The girls are coming down from their Homecoming high smoothly, and I hope that tomorrow's Beach Wednesday will further fill the void left in their lives.
Until next year when we meet again...