girls on ice

How I Spent The Best Sunday Morning Ever

By Jess  

Once upon a time (or really about two years ago, when we still had two nickels to rub together) we hosted a fund raiser for Brooke’s integrated preschool. When Brooke first started at the school, we had been desperate to find a way to get involved and to give something back to all of the incredible people who were doing so much for our little girl. Inviting everyone to our home for a parents’ (and teachers’!) night out seemed like the perfect way to do it.

The centerpiece of the evening was a silent auction featuring over a hundred donated items from local businesses, artisans, sports teams and the like. There was something for everyone. We had jewelry from Tiffany’s, signed photos of local sports stars, theater tickets, restaurant gift certificates, overnights at hotels. We had every interest covered.

That first year that we hosted the auction, Katie accompanied me on a last minute walk through before the guests arrived. As I checked and rechecked the bid sheets and the displays that I had agonized over for weeks, she nosed around, poking and prodding at each item. And then she saw it. And she HAD to have it.

It was a God-awful child’s quilt. Made of felt, it did not leave out a single color drawn from the palette of a six year old girl. It boasted a dizzying array of bright purple flowers, teal swirls, blue and yellow and hot pink satin swatches all fighting for attention. And she HAD to have it.

I explained how the auction worked, and why were doing it. I told Katie that she was welcome to bid for it, but explained that she would not likely win it. I also explained why that would actually be a good thing for Brooke’s school.

She ran upstairs in a flash and emptied her piggy bank. She ran back down and breathlessly offered up an overflowing handful of coins and crumpled birthday bills. She proudly informed me that she had a grand total of $17.84.

I turned around and surreptitiously scratched out the $20 minimum bid. I showed her where to write her name and her bid. She could barely stand the suspense.

I sent her up to bed as the evening hit its stride. The guests arrived and the wine flowed. Full glasses meant fuller bid sheets so I walked around making sure no glass was ever empty, including my own. In my travels, I periodically swung by to check on the blanket. A neighbor had bid $25. I raised my bid to $30 and carried on playing hostess.

The evening was a huge success. We made a bunch of money and a host of new friends. The time came to count down the auction and start the process of closing it out.

I checked on the quilt. It was up to $35. I bid$40 and kept an eye out for my competition. I called a five minute warning throughout the house.

A mom I didn’t know made her way over to check on her bid for the quilt. She saw she’d been outbid and she quickly wrote in $45. I nearly body checked her as I raised it to $50.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m not exactly sure what I said to scare her away. I know it included something to the effect of a wine soaked version of the following.

“OK, see, here’s the deal. My six year old bid for this tacky little quilt with every last penny in her piggy bank. Soooooooo, I really appreciate the fact that you want it and I’m really, really, really sorry to tell you this, but you’re not going to leave with it. If you really want to, you can keep bidding it up and make me pay whatever you think I should, but um my house, my party, my quilt. Thanks for coming.”

God-willing, it wasn’t really that bad, but I can’t make any promises. The next day, Katie got her quilt and was assured that it went for exactly $17.84.

Last year, in Brooke’s final year at the school, we hosted the auction again. This one was even bigger and the items up for bid were even better and more varied than they’d been the year before.

We had homemade pies, passes to Disney World, orchestra tickets, ball games, canoe adventures. And in a far corner of a display in the den, we had a certificate for an hour of ice time at a local rink.

I hadn’t thought much of it when I laid it out. I grouped it with some other kid friendly activities and threw a $45 minimum bid on it.

Over the course of the evening, I noticed that it wasn’t getting much interest. And then I had an idea. I wrote my name down with the minimum bid. Katie loves to ice skate and I thought it would be perfect for her next birthday party. I figured she’d be thrilled to invite her friends to skate. No one else ever bid on it, and at the end of the evening, we were the proud owners of an hour of ice time.

Katie was thrilled, but as usual, she had her own idea. She scrunched up her nose at the idea of a birthday party on ice. Mama, my friends don’t really know how to skate. No, she had a different plan. Katie wanted the ice to herself.  Just for the family, Mama. It’ll be fun! It seemed absurdly indulgent, but for $45, I figured I could be a sport.

Nearly a year later, we finally managed to get ourselves out on the ice.

I’ve got to tell you, in the midst of what could be called no less than an emotional roller coaster of a weekend; there was one hour of pure, unadulterated BLISS. For a full sixty minutes, I couldn’t stop grinning.

Katie couldn’t have been happier to show off her moves and to teach her old mom some new tricks. And Brooke! Brooke hit the ice like nobody’s business. She started with the training stand and then decided she didn’t need it anymore. She shuffled around the ice smiling from ear to ear. Once in a while she’d lie down perfectly still, enjoying the feel of the cold ice on her back or her belly. Then she’d pop again and make her way slowly around the rink. She was thrilled.

For sixty full minutes, nothing else existed. Just the family, the ice, and the smiles. See for yourself.

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Katie and Mama

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Eye to eye

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The pro lends a hand to the rookie

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Look, Mama! No hands!

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Maybe I’ll just hang out here for a while

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The girls

 

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19 thoughts on “girls on ice

  1. I L-O-V-E THIS! It just made me smile and chike back a couple (few) tears. I can’t be tehre this weekend but please give the girls great big kisses/hugs/whatever they’ll tolerate. I adore them.

  2. the most prized pieces of art in my home are two canvases of hand prints, from each of brooke’s classes in preschool. when we know each other a little better i’ll tell you the story of how i essentially threatened a ten year old to get one of them. sadly, i’m not entirely joking.

    those kinds of treasures are truly invaluable aren’t they?

  3. I cried from beginning to end! I’ve been involved in lots of auctions, too, so totally relate to all that. The first time “Rojo” actually wrote his name it was on a platter made by all the kindergartners. You should have seen all the enemies I made the night I made it clear we’d be taking that platter home. Six years later that platter still holds prominence in my kitchen.

  4. “I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m not exactly sure what I said to scare her away.”

    You rolled up a sleeve…flexed…showed her the guns. “Wanna little?” No one messes with the Katie-desired quilts.

    Instead of a silent auction, I once organized an illegible auction. People had to scribble their bids in the worst handwriting they could manage.

    Everything was confusing, impossible to read. No one knew who had won anything…total disaster. Really didn’t think that one through.

    (hope you’re well)

  5. You Mommies – you’re all such good writers! I having been bouncing around the blogosphere from Kim Stagliano to Michele McNeil to Meagan McNamara and to you. I can’t stop reading…
    You mommies are so strong…so inspiring…and at the end of the day you have always done your best. Really. Some days it may not feel like much, but it’s always every last ounce of what you have in you at the time. That’s all you can give.

    Why do I need to read your stories? I guess I feel like my own son escaped autism by the skin of his teeth. We “escaped” with executive function and sensory processing issues that we were able to work through. He has worked so hard and come so far. Sometimes I look at him and wonder how he could be the same little boy that never (ever) sat still?

    Stick together, strong mommies. Always know that YOU ARE THE EXPERT on your child. Always.

    with admiration and respect,
    Julie Pennell

  6. julie – thank you so much for your incredibly generous words. we’re thrilled to have you here!

    m – i think i just snorted. the funniest part is that (well into the wine) i made a complete mess of closing out the auction. rather than grouping the items by winner so that each person could come and collect their stuff i decided it would be a delightful idea to alphabetize the sheets by the items themselves. yes, seriously.

    no one was sure what they’d won, so we had to go through the entire pile searching for winners every time someone came up. it was pretty disastrous. thankfully, no one mutinied. guess after how i handled the quilt lady no one was gonna take me on. lol

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