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February 03, 2002: Whirl

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Saturday morning Richard and I flew up to Seattle. Everyone else arrived Friday night but I didn't want to battle the traffic to get to the airport, and more importantly, I wasn't exactly looking forward to the trip. It's not that I didn't want to see my sisters or my niece and nephews. It's just that spending a weekend with three children all under the age of five has never been high on my list of things to do, and I knew that the two days would be loud and rushed and frenetic.

It was my older sister's idea - a joint birthday party for the niece and younger nephew. Both sisters collaborated, planning decorations, a few party games, and the food. It was a jungle themed party, so there were wild animal stickers, green and orange streamers, and a tiger for a cake with orange cupcake ears. The birthday boy smashed his cupcake to little bits, while the two year old delicately licked away the orange frosting, one finger full at a time.

All three of them are still young enough to be completely fascinated with bubbles, so the celebration included a trip to the front yard, where the adults produced the bubbles and the kids watched or chased. Bil-2 produced slow, perfect globes that wafted gently down until they reached face level for the toddlers. The nearly-four-year-old would clap them away, while the two-year-old popped all she could by ramming them with her face. Later on, we took them into the backyard for a 'wild animal hunt' but by then it was cold and getting dark and the kids really weren't quite getting the concept of the game. Still it was worth it just to hear my little two-year-old niece do a rather garbled rendition of the word 'rhinoceros'. She's talking up a storm now, and even managed to say Richard's name. Mine, of course, she didn't even attempt. It's a reaction I'm rather used to by now. My name is apparently difficult for little mouths to pronounce.

This morning my sister and Bil-2 made waffles and scrambled eggs. We took the kids to a shopping mall where there is a playground that is a square of thickly padded carpet surrounded by padded walls and benches for parents to sit. The playground equipment is all breakfast food - eggs sunny side up, with yolks that were squishy and meant to be bounced on. A piece of bacon curved into a slide. A bowl of cereal to climb into and on, the steps up the side a pile of banana slices.

There were plenty of pictures taken; plenty of smiles and laughter. Little sis and I tossed around ideas of bookshops and bakeries and moving to somewhere where it's not so wet as Seattle, and not so dry as California. And then we piled into cars and headed for the airport and then, hours later after the usual delays caused by random inspections of families with small children and little old ladies in wheelchairs, we came home.

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