traditionally, in years past, this has been a huge source of angst for myself and brian for about two months leading up to the event as a result of our (okay... my) inability to completely unpack and assimilate my belongings (during the first year in our condo) and to maintain a sufficiently unembarrassing level of cleanliness. the thing is, you can put certain things away in advance, but you can't really clean ahead of time or it all just gets mucked up again. so you kind of sit on edge waiting until it's time to jump into the deep black waters of scrambling around and cleaning. and at the same time, you have to coordinate shopping for food, prepping food, baking and decorating the cake (which is not your forte as you've never really had occasion to do such things in your bachelorette-hood), and minding however many children you've got running around and in need of naps.
for some reason this year, i was not nearly so worried about it. i believe the reasons to be two-fold. one, the house has become incrementally tidier as the years have gone by. i sometimes have to point this out in older photos to brian to remind him it ain't all that bad these days, comparatively. and two, i had managed to get myself so worked up over party favor bags and evites and party location/time and birthday children's outfits and selecting/filling out/mailing invitations and formulating birthday wishlists and acquiring gifts and obsessing about the construction of the cake, etc, that i had little energy left for worries about cleaning. i cannot properly and adequately convey how much energy and anxiety i manage to invest in preparing for things which seem so simple once you're on the completed end of the stick.
all this to say my sister and nephew came over that thursday to allow me to clean while more or less unfettered with children. dylan went for a dip in the pool while lisa and the kids cheered him on from the sidelines. i made sure to remind dylan about his rampant ringworm during his proximity to my unspoiled, pristine children. i spent hours upon hours cleaning and organizing that day, but somehow came away thinking nothing much seemed changed. which is a little frustrating.
the following day was a road trip friday. i took the kids with me to tyler for a family luncheon at my grandparents' to celebrate the high school graduations of ashleigh and my cousin's son, cole. it was mostly a cole affair and i didn't even know who several of the in-law attendees were. cole is not someone i have ever seen much of, but i was impressed by his displays of courtesy when he hugged everyone upon their arrival and then made a second hugging circuit just to thank everyone.
my grandmother heated up some mystery veggie patties for me and i paired that with a lovely mustard potato salad. my uncle wayne took oliver and violet outside to feed bbq scraps to the neighbor's dogs and i thought back to my childhood when my grandparents were always loading us up with questionable foods to take on over to another neighbor's dog (their backyard abuts two other backyards with a chain link fence), a medium-sized black and white thing perpetually infested with ticks and named bingo. we'd heft old bread and bacon and who knows what else on over there and bingo'd just gobble it right up. i'm not sure if the neighbors would be horrified or, looking at the condition of the dog, grateful someone was feeding it for free. i bet that dog died of a heart attack at some point.
after navigating the small house crammed with people for a couple of hours, we took ourselves over to my parents' house where ashleigh's graduation pool party was to commence that evening. unfortunately, my niece has some incredibly flaky friends and out of the 7 or 8 who said they would come, only one was still planning on being there. the one attendee was the friend who had become impregnated and texted at some point to say she might be late due to shopping for furniture with her future mother-in-law. all this displeased me greatly on ashleigh's behalf and i was about ready to take her to the broadway square mall to shop for a new and improved set of friends. when the reliability of the guest list had begun to look a little dire earlier in the week, my sister phoned up an old tyler co-worker of hers and invited her and her family over and, fortunately, they were able to make it.
violet went in the pool with ashleigh and mom for her maiden voyage dip in her new swimsuit. she still exhibited some of her summer 2010 water angst, but it subsided pretty quickly. oliver spent the remainder of the afternoon swimming with the kids and also with grandpa, circling the yards and picking banana peppers, bay leaves, and apples. i told my father i would take A LOT of bay leaves and he came back with an entire plastic bag crammed with bay leaf branches and not a drop of irony or jocularity. just... what? you said you wanted a lot of bay leaves. what?
before the evening got underway, my sister gave ashleigh a photo book with all her school photos and letters from the family and texts my sister received the day ashleigh graduated. my letter turned out to be embarrassingly long compared to everyone else's. what a surprise. then, she received the laptop we had chipped in to get her so that she could be a good little student come fall semester.
it was a real hoot getting violet to sleep that night. we were right by a window next to the party patio and she was kind of wound up in general. i nursed and nursed and she rewarded me by continuing to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. i finally just plopped her down in the ancient play pen and she was mystified by the stretchiness of the mesh walls. then she decided to stand up and chew on the outdated chinese plastic covering the top bar and that it was pretty hilarious when i begged her to stop and lie down already. i finally nursed her again and she did the thing where she goes from awake to asleep on the turn of a dime.
saturday morning, i let oliver work off some more steam in the pool and i took violet in for a bit as well. she still exhibited some of her summer 2010 water angst, but it subsided pretty quickly. oliver was doing a spectacular job of swimming unassisted with his floaties.
we hit the road back to dallas around nap time and oliver had a bonus round of swimming with brian while violet and i enjoyed the weather poolside before indulging in freebirds for dinner.
sunday was a laid back day with a trip to half price books, where violet delighted herself with a picture book on reptiles, a trip to whole foods, and yet another round of swimming. i think i even got in that day. oliver was surely water-logged by that point.