The usual tumult that occurs at this time of year has lived up to expectations. I am half-way through the birthday parties. When the kids were little, having their birthdays on the same day was convenient--grandparents could come from afar, combined friends, parents, kids, we all had a big barbeque and celebrated my two sweet kids. Now they are 10 and 12. They have their own friends and mostly definitely do not want old fogey parents crashing their parties.
So Grace had her sleep-over yesterday with 3 other girls, preceded by a park/pool party with an additional two girls. They giggled and acted crazy and were sweet and incomprehensible. Grace chose Russian tea cakes for her "birthday cake," probably not a big winner with the guests who would understandably expect real cake, but it's what she has wanted since Christmas. She chose baked potatoes and spinach salad for dinner. Dave tried to balance it out with ice cream bars and popcorn after dinner. I think it was a successful night.
Samuel's party is tomorrow. I have to admit to feeling a little apprehensive about this one. I mean, one gigantic, size 10 shoe, almost-as-tall-as-me, and just as surly as if he was a teenager, 12-year old boy is already a lot to deal with. Tomorrow I will have six of them. All of them sweet kids in twos and threes. And all good friends, so I know they will get along just fine. I am more worried about me, my sanity as the house reverberates with their rambunctious, not-so-small shenanigans. I think, though, that their desire to stay away from parents will be as strong as my desire to not participate in their party, so all should be good. Really, I shouldn't be worrying.
Samuel has requested the 28" pepperoni pizza from a local pizzeria and an ice cream cake--most emphatically not homemade, because homemade is now not very popular with him. Potato chips and pop. Grace had her chips and pop, too. It's a nod to their birthdays, a chance to eat and drink all those things mom thinks are horrible. And of course, the kids expect that kind of food. It's a redux of the Richard Scarry book I read the kids ad nauseum when they were little: "This is party food Huckle! I asked for oranges, not orange soda!"
The birthdays are one part of the equation, of course. Another is the end of the quarter. My final is written and printed up, looking so lovely with its blanks and perfectly smooth pages. After tomorrow morning, these finals will be marked up with the agonized, half-recalled rememberings of my poor tired students. But at least I'll be in the home stretch. Just need to grade them, plug in the final scores and give them their quarter grades. Before Sunday...
The final part of my tumultuous June is of course my annual trip up to Alaska. I've already written about this a lot, no point in flogging a dead horse, but regardless of that, departure is imminent and preparations are being made, at least in my head. All the lists are clogging up my poor head, actually, making it very hard to attend to the birthdays and the French class with my full and undivided attention. Among all the stuff banging around in my noggin':
--Which books to bring? I already picked up a lot of mystery novels at the used book store, although I've also already read two of them. Hmmm, so I am culling books from shelves that I haven't visited in a long time. Among the books I've settled on: "East of Eden" by Steinbeck (just reading the opening chapter makes me want to crawl into the book) and "L'Assomoir" by Zola. With those two big books and my remaining mysteries, I think I'll be set.
--What to knit? I haven't knit anything more interesting than dishcloths in months. I've been in a sort of knitting desert, actually. Today I went to the yarn store and found some really lovely sock yarn that makes crazy striping (therefore not boring). Socks are the perfect thing to knit on the plane. The needles aren't so big as to excite the TSA agents and the bag of yarn is small enough to stash in my carry-on and to sit on my lap. I started my first sock this afternoon. Having to focus on remembering how to start a sock (it's been a while) and then watching the color change as I made round after round reminded me of why it is a good thing to knit. I relaxed, my mind wandered, I finally fell asleep and had a much needed nap.
--What to bring? To bring the computer or not. I haven't decided on that one. I like the idea of being in email contact, but then again, the internet connection up there is horribly weak at its best. And somehow, being sleep-deprived makes me very uninterested in what's happening in the "outside" world. I bought a real, lined, paper journal yesterday, the beginnings of a novel banging around my head and making me think this might be the time to start plunking down ideas. The same sleep-deprivation that keeps me from being interested in the outside world makes for some very interesting revelations or observations about life there. It's a kernel of a possibility, probably nothing, but maybe I'll go old-fashioned and leave the computer at home. I have a phone in my office anyway, right?
--How many vegetables can I cram into my stomach before I head up north? I'm trying my best tonight, this night between baked potatoes and gigantic pizza. We're having a kale salad and a ravioli dish with cilantro pesto. And some sweet peas a friend so generously brought over, and heck, maybe even a spinach/lettuce salad to really celebrate the beginning of vegetable season and the end of my time with it for 6 weeks.
Maybe another post or two between now and Sunday, and then this blog will take a little vacation until I come home.