Preparing for a Ball

I waited until three days before we left for Philly to come to terms with the fact that I would have to find something to wear to my first ever ball. It’s one of my worst traits, this specific variety of denial. I despise shopping, DESPISE, so, sure, I had poked around one local store, but after that I had just launched into an ‘avoidance of the timeline’ strategy. Luckily I have a mom who, while also not loving shopping, has a strong ability to rally and so after weeks of offering to go shopping with me, more or less, drug me to the local mall. I grabbed the first dress that I saw, not so much because I was desperate, but because it happened to be the one. My mom worried it may be a bit much and I agreed, “a bit much and perfect.” Once I tried it on, she and I both knew it was, in fact, the one. We wandered the mall to find shoes and a matching lip gloss and then headed home.

Driving home I called a hair salon in Philly and booked an appointment to have my hair done. If I was wearing ‘a bit much’ dress to my first ever ball, I should have a professional in charge of my mane. 36 years in and I still find myself, daily, unsure what exactly to do with my hair, so I figured outsourcing was the right choice. My hair is incredibly thick, way too long for anything but a messy bun, more coarse than fine, wavy in some parts and stick straight in others. I can pull off a top knot just fine, but an up-do for my ball gown, someone…help!

Ok, lovely. A dress and a plan in less than 3 hours…let’s just forget about the low-grade panic that has been creeping in on me since I realized I needed a dress 6-weeks ago. No biggies, everything is FINE.

The day before the ball I received an email from the EWF asking if our family could be interviewed on camera, right before the ball. “Of course!” I thought to myself, then quickly realized that right before the ball I had plans… my hair appointment. I went back and forth. Which was more worth it, being interviewed for the ball with the pomp and circumstance of an A-list celebrity on the red carpet or having my hair look so sleek and fine that I could actually pass for something other than an exhausted cancer mom in my ‘a bit much’ dress. I’d like to say that the choice was simple, but it took me a while to decide. The interview would be used in fundraising efforts and that was why we were here wasn’t it?

But gah, I wanted to look perfect, and more, I just wanted to not be in charge of making it happen. I’ve been in charge of so much, for this I wanted to just sit in a chair and be made over. Could I not have both, the interview and the hair!? But I knew inside that I couldn’t turn down the interview on account of my vanity. So I replied and told them we’d be there early.

Saturday morning we enjoyed a lovely brunch at Founding Farmers. Highly recommend.

Afterwards I hopped an Uber to Target, while Joshua and the boys returned to the hotel. Now that I had chosen the high road of an interview instead of a hair appointment, I had to make a plan. I hadn’t packed anything to address my hair, not a single bobby pin. I wandered the aisles of Target trying to consider the path of least resistance. I felt the panic starting to rise up in me. What was I thinking? How was this ever going to work!? I called Hannah.

Hannah is one of my ride or dies in many ways, but one way she really brings her A-game is talking me in to believing I’m worth looking fabulous. She’ll die knowing I’ve written this about her, but everyone who knows her will nod in agreement. Her beauty is both natural and intentional. With 2 bio kids, one adopted child, and one foster baby, anytime I see her in anything more than pajama’s I feel like giving her a rousing round of applause on behalf of mothers everywhere. She cares what she looks like, not because she cares what other people think, but because she loves to feel good. The best part is that she wants you to feel good too.

I’ve been bemoaning the logistics of this ball to her for weeks, while she has been begging me to bring her along. “I would die to dress- up like that!” God bless her, mid-break down last week (when I realized I really did have to find a dress, that a dress wasn’t going to appear out of no where) she spent two hours combing Amazon Prime 2-day delivery filters and sent me 12 dress options with why she thought each one would make me look fabulous.

Everyone needs a friend like Hannah, you can read more about her and her strengths here.

“Hi. I had to cancel my hair appointment and now I am wandering Target trying to understand the difference between a 2.5″ barrel curler and ‘an all-in-one hair dryer-straightener’… HELP!!!”

“Can you not have both, the interview and the hair??!!” She queried after I explained why my plan had fallen to pieces. She gets me, she is my soul sister in many ways.

Luckily, she was up to the task and helped me quickly and logically game plan.

“You are going to buy this, this and this, and you are going to go to the hotel and try this and this. If this doesn’t work, move on to that. And, listen, do NOT involve barrel curls. No matter what, you are going to look great.”

Back at the hotel the boys were enjoying the contents of our welcome bag from the EWF. I walked in on a hilarious Sock ‘Em, Bop ‘Em boxing match that I am still very surprised did not end with someone crying. For Jude, the party had already begun. Was this what Beau had been doing on all those mysterious trips to Philly?

If you want to score some of the awesome EWF socks, shown above, click on over and get you some.

As the fighting subsided, the boys settled in to watching some college football and I started getting ready. Much too early, but I had miracles to attempt. An hour or so later, Josh met me in the bathroom.

“How are things going, babe?”

“Not well…not well!” I jokingly barked. I had tried the hair styles Hannah and I had discussed and nothing was working, “I just don’t get it!!!!!! How am I 36 years in and I still HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH MY HAIR!” I threw my hands down from my current attempt at a sleek, yet causal, side bun as my thick, straight hair fell heavy.

I eventually decided that the only way out of this kerfuffle was to part down the middle and pull in to a tight pony tail. I stared into the mirror and willed myself not to cry.

‘You are going to looking fabulous, so stop right there… This isn’t about people gawking at your hair. You made it, you did it. He is here.’

I was shocked that it didn’t actually look too bad. In fact, I liked it. If you see me in any formal or semi-formal situation from now until kingdom come, plan for me to look like this. Hannah was right, I did look great.

At that point it was time for the boys to get ready. I can’t say I’ve ever had a more sweet hour of getting ready with them. They were both beyond excited for their fancy clothes. Beau helping Jude adjust his tie correctly under his shirt’s collar. Jude willing Josh to get his hair gelled in the “just right” way.

We all put on the “CAR T FAMILY” buttons that had come in our welcome bag.

Royalty, identified by handmade buttons.

We had done it. We were here.

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3 thoughts on “Preparing for a Ball”

  1. The whole family looks great! You look beautiful. Enjoy this time. During difficult times, it’s important to celebrate.

    You don’t know me well, but I know the Larrabee side. I love Deb and Loren’s kids especially Josh.

    Love, Kelly Butler-Garno (formerly Martin)


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