The big girl turned 12 and I think she finally understands that what we remember and treasure are not things, but experiences and people we love.
I managed to keep Maura's birthday surprise a secret. She had a choir solo and ensemble competition n her big day. I dropped her off at the competition and told her I would pick her up afterwards. Unbeknownst to her, her grandparents drove down from Indiana, picked up one of her favorite cousins whom she doesn't get to see nearly as much as she would like and surprised her in the cafeteria of the school as she waited to compete. She was overjoyed.
After she did an outstanding job in her solo (she got a II rating, need to teach her my trick of saying "watermelon" anytime you forget a lyric) and her 6 voice ensemble was the only ensemble from the 6th grade to get a I rating. Her grandparents and cousin then took her out to dinner to celebrate and they all had a marvelous time.
We continued to celebrate the next day with cupcakes. Maura let Kitty sample her ginormous chocolate iced confection, then helped Kitty with her Kitty sized cupcake. No big parties, noX-box consoles or iPhones but Maura is adamant this was her best birthday ever and all because she got to spend some time with people she loves. I think she is finally getting it. Happy birthday Maura!