As any parent with multiple children will tell you, the personality differences from the same gene pool are startling. The Boy is careful, deliberate, and thorough in everything he does. Little Bear is passionate, fast-moving, and competitve in everything he does. He's very win-lose, and he spends his days sprinting from one task to the other. The Boy swings the bat to make contact with the ball and to keep the game going; Little Bear swings for the fences on every pitch, hit or miss. The Boy plays his violin with precision, using just enough bow to make the note last the correct amount. Little Bear uses the whole bow on every note, bound and determined to wring every sound of the instrument that he can.
For his birthday, I did my shopping at the dollar store - which is what I usually do, to be honest. I picked up some "Justice League" cotton candy, an Avengers puzzle, and a Superman toy that was on double clearance at Kmart. My real present - which I'm still searching for - is going to be a wooden model of something, that he and I can paint and assemble together. The other stuff is so transitory - the puzzle will have half of the pieces gone inside of two weeks. The Superman toy is kind of cool, but the Superman driver will be broken soon, and the missile was lost three times in the first twenty minutes he had it. The time that he and I will spend on the model - with luck, about 20-30 minutes over the course of 3-4 days - is so important and wonderful.
Cousin J came to visit over the weekend, and it was wonderful. The boys were so, so happy to see their cousin! They spent the entire afternoon & evening showing off for her - showing how they play at the playground, hit fastballs (so to speak), writing, reading, drawing pictures, everything. It was really, really cute. It's been a while since I saw her last - I think I drove through Lockhaven to see her since we spent Christmas at my father's house, but that might just be selective memory. It's been more than a year, anyway. She's done with graduate school and working her first real job, and she's engaged, and her fiancee is a cool guy.
It's been hard, with that half of the family; her father (my brother) and I have not spoken in well over a year, something that I regret intensely. I wish that we were able to fix the relationship shattered by my family crisis, but I don't know that it'll ever be possible. Long story short, it is brilliant to see her, and I hope that we'll be able to see her more often. I love her a lot, and she was a primary reason that we moved back to New Jersey after we left Michigan. She's one of the huge bright spots in the family - a success far beyond the already-high expectations we had for her - and the fact that she wants us in her life is wonderful and beautiful thing.