Last week my uncles were visiting from Seattle, which led to a confusing cluster of family parties. Luckily I had already gone to a party since I started my diet, so I knew that absolutely no one cared or even noticed if I ate appetizers. (I was certain that klaxons would blare, lights would swirl and dogs would bark if I managed to pass by an open bowl of chips without eating any…turns out that people only pay attention to the appetizers to make sure you’re not finishing the tray.) Luckily, my previous bête noire Diet Coke is essentially a freebie, so I can desperately clutch a can and seem sociable, while not going at the cheese and crackers.
This was also our chance to catch up with Baby Russell, who is now Toddler Russell, and has developed a number of delightful facial expressions. Also, he walks, so that’s fun. He’s not quite old enough to be interested in my kids, but I’m sure that by the time we cross paths next year he’ll be into whatever they do.
My estranged uncle showed up to the second party, which was interesting. We haven’t seen him since my grandmother’s death, when he got mad at everyone and cut off contact with the family. Since then I’ve heard snippets – hospital stays, medical problems, more arguments – and had to listen to my family badmouth his admittedly abrasive decisions. It’s extra sad because two of my uncles have died, leaving a normal-sized family, and the survivors need to do a better job of getting along with each other before death catches up with the rest.
not pictured: the grim spectre of mortality that haunts us all
Wow. That was grim, even for me.
Maybe I’m just sad because the Seattle uncles have left again, back to their wonderful city and beautiful house. I never miss them more than when they’ve just left.
The other thing we did this week, other than hang out with my nutty family and not eat chips, was take the younger two to Centre Island. This is the second time this year for Maggie, but it’s the first time for Sage since he was Maggie’s age. (As I recall, we bypassed the rides entirely and rented a side-by-side bike. Ah, the early days, when you could fake away from the amusement park in favour of shady trees and exploring pathways.)
This is probably the first time I’ve been to Centreville with two true siblings, who can go on rides together and pester for icecream in tandem and fight over control of the fire engine steering wheel. As much as I love watching Blake’s low-key interactions with Maggie, there’s something special about the light and heat of siblings close in age. We baked muffins on Wednesday, and the two of them bickered over turns and stirring and how to fill the papers, when I usually have to keep reminding Blake that we’re baking and he has to do something. And since I hardly ever have to experience it, it’s a treat rather than a drag.
The other good effect of siblingdom is that, because we had Sage to play with Maggie, we were able to watch Blake’s baseball games on Wednesday and Saturday. I’ve been avoiding the ball diamonds this year, as Maggie just can’t keep away from her BFF Grandpa, and he is occasionally needed to coach. Since the whole idea is to watch a little bit of Blake on the field, there’s no real point in going if I’m spending the game distracting her in the playground. With Sage around to play catch or just run in circles, I was free to watch Blake gloom through his at-bats.
(When did I become someone who cares about watching a baseball game? My inner 10-year-old is puking with shame.)