I've been trying to write this post for several days now. I've just been too busy to bother and just keep leaving the window open until I have to go do something else I have to do.
We changed the date for the party for Bastian three times. His birthday isn't actually until the 29th, but due to the family's work schedules and Memorial Day and whatnot and whatnot, finally the 23rd was settled upon for the party. It wasn't a particularly eventful party. Just family getting together and a couple of cousins to play with. In the morning, the boys went snake hunting with Grandma Cat and caught a garter snake in the compost bin. She got away rather quickly and could not be caught.
Aleks tried for ages to find her again. When he did, I messed it all up by being too uneasy about the squirming and thus not catching her.
Aleks set up a trap anyway. He really wanted to keep her as a pet. I figured we'd cross the bridge regarding that conversation when we came to it.
Meanwhile, Bastian helped Grandma make chocolate icing for his cake.
The cousins all enjoyed one another's company.
Emmalyn asked about the cake a week before, the night before, and several times during the day.
Happy Birthday singing. We couldn't find candles, so sparklers had to do.
Nothing better than spinning rapidly after filling up your tummy with junk food.
The rest of the weekend was perfect too: more snake hunts, chicken chasing, croquet, helping Grandpa, picking lettuce in the garden, a trip to Krispy Kreme with the grandparents,
Swimming, (Bastian was finally tall enough to stand with head above water in the shallow end, which was a great relief for Mama & Papa)
Treasure-Hunting in the yard (all dug up from the new septic system)
with incredible finds: glass, pottery, bone, shell,
bits of metal, two chicken skulls,
old fungus, shotgun shell,
belt buckle, skeleton toy,
feather, toy car, wild onions,
and two long-forgotten tennis balls, chewed through by the dog who passed in November.
Then I stacked rocks with the boys to annoy my mother, who is bothered by little rocks stacked atop bigger rocks.
We discovered a lovely blue-highlighted caterpillar while throwing rocks into a hole in the yard.
and Bastian ate more donuts, should be the poster child for Krispy Kreme.
Grandpa Jim is also doing our year-end homeschooling assessment and all this running amok was pretty much the extent of his observing the children. Of course, Aleks also read and demonstrated his excellent knowledge of many varied things like snakes and lizards and dinosaurs and math and his vast imagination with drawings and stories and his endless talking, talking, talking. So there's plenty there to go on when he compiles his written narrative extolling the virtues of Aleksander working to his own individual potential.
It's always a relief for all my doubting when we spend time at the Grandparents'. The boys are able to explore so much more in the more rural setting than at home in the city. They dig in dirt either way, but our busy street is much different than the massive, sloping lawn at Grandma's. There's also the fact of so much relaxed time there - time without worrying about all the dumb things I gotta do and time away from all my external demands. At times I wonder if all of my external demands are things I should be doing because they both satisfy me and offer a model for the boys of a volunteer ethic and community involvement, or if I'm not just distracting myself from the real work of my life which is raising my children.
It can become an awful conflict - especially when the stress of so much to do feels out of control and I'm being less-than-nice due to it - but then I realize that surely I need that connection, that I need these activities and without that sort of meaning in my life, I'd feel the crush of everything always the same. Maybe I'm just not cut out for the total stay-at-home-mom gig. Or maybe it really is okay. It's difficult to assess what the proper course of action is when there is no way to appropriately or ethically dictate in absolutes what makes a good life. And when I think about that, I'm thrilled to be not the same as everyone else, to have more to me and more to my long-term goals than the going forth and back in cars to create enriching activity. I'm thrilled to realize that I just live it.