This morning when Laura brought the kids in to wake me up, Riley said “Happy Fathers Day!” Lydia thought for a moment and said “Happy Birthday!” We all laughed. Laura assures me she had nailed it in rehearsal.

We had some yummy muffins to tide us over ’til brunch, then took the bikes to the shady park for a while. It was already nice and warm out, enough that the wind felt perfect. Lydia’s getting brave with climbing, it can be a little nerve-wracking to watch.

Back to the house for brunch. Laura made me huevos rancheros. My brother-in-law came over and helped, and stayed to hang out with us all day. Lydia napped for a while, during which time I fiddled with bike accessories. Laura helped Riley with his own little bike, and he sweetly decided he wants to pull Lydia in the trailer behind him.

When the nap was over, we all went to the neighborhood pool here in our subdivision. We hadn’t been yet. The kids had a ball and wore themselves out. Lydia indicated that she wanted to swim herself in the big pool, rather than being held, so I faced her away from me, held her up by her bottom and balanced her under the water. She is now 100% confident in her fictitious ability to swim. Her proud little smile is just impossibly endearing.

We had takeout barbecue for dinner. Riley was really tired, but super sweet to me. He rested his head on my hand for a bit, and melted my heart. (He’s not like that often, and certainly not with me when he’s got his Mommy right there.)

The day was one enormous gift. I wish I could box it up.

Thanksgiving ’08

The menu:

  • Cornish hens, brined, grilled, basted in a vinegar sauce. Positively succulent. They took longer on the grill than expected, but that’s probably because we grilled six birds rather than the four called for in the recipe. Also because I had the grill open a lot to flip them or check the temperature.
  • Bread stuffing, made from scratch. Just baked in a casserole dish, though, not actually stuffed into the birds. Turned out very crumbly, but oddly enough, not dry. Excellent flavors and texture in the mouth.
  • Baked sweet potatoes. I did these ahead because I thought we might need the oven today. They got a little overdone, and didn’t reheat well in the microwave. They had yummy caramelized bits in them though. We doctored up the potatoes by mashing them with cream cheese, which turned out delicious.
  • Steamed broccoli with garlic vinegar dressing. We have it pretty often anyway, but what it lacks in “special occasionality” it makes up for in flavor. A nice kick to add punctuation between bites of comfort food.
  • With special guest: Store-bought pumpkin pie. It didn’t blow my socks off but it served its purpose.

My mom’s here visiting for the weekend, she got here last night. Riley’s been pretty open with her, right from the beginning, which is great to see. He’s interacting with her on a level that he hasn’t before, it gives me hope that his communication issues are on the way out. Lydia showed some predictable skepticism of Mom at first but is warming to her quickly.

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. It’s so laid back, free of expectations. It’s about appreciating, sharing, and food, and nothing else. It’s a pity that it’s perpetually eclipsed by Christmas in terms of travelling home. Hmm, maybe I should stop letting it be.

All Hallows Eve

Been meaning to post this for a few days, but only just got these photos online. Riley did a reprise of his bat costume from last year, since it still fits him just fine. Lydia went as a jack-o’lantern.

We kicked off the day with a party at Riley’s school. Both kids were a little intimidated by the din when we got there, but got into the swing of things pretty quick. Riley and I ran hopped a sack race, and decorated little picture frames with foam stickers, but he was really all about the bounce house. (It’s funny, all those times at Little Gym he never trusted the big air mat, he’d grow extra arms to hold onto me rather than bounce around on it with the other kids. But he could not get enough of this bounce house. Man, what a year will do.) Poor Lydia got pretty worn out exploring the party, she passed out almost as soon as I started the van.

We carved the pumpkins in the afternoon. I got a little round white one from Home Depot, with the idea of doing it as a skull. I drew the face with a sharpie, and it turned out pretty cool, then I couldn’t bring myself to carve it out. I am curious how it would look carved, but it would be rather time consuming to try it with all the teeth.

Some of our neighbors had a cookout in their driveway, so that was our first stop trick-or-treating. The kids had a great time playing there. Eventually we visited all the lit houses on our block, by which time both kids were exhausted.

We had a few handfuls of trick-or-treaters come to our door over the course of the evening, most of whom were delightful. There were a few teens with no apparent costume, some of those weren’t even accompanying little siblings or anything. I gave them candy anyway — I mean at least they’re out doing this instead of drugs or whatever — but it always feels kinda like extortion. Which got me thinking that trick-or-treating really started out that way anyway, so there’s no point resenting them for it.

The Kids’ Birthdays

(Ack, this post has been sitting half-finished in Semagic for way too long. 😛 Time I got back on the LJ horse. Probably also time I thought of a better metaphor.)

Riley had his third birthday. They gave him a little party at school, we all sang for him and ate those little school cups of foamy vanilla ice cream. He was happy to have me there, it was really sweet. And he’s been treating me better overall, we’re seeing lots of gradual improvement in his behavior in general. On Saturday we had our family birthday party for him, out at his grandparents’ place in the country. He had fun with his new garden tools, he helped his mom plant some flowers. He really loved the toy fishing pole and fish we got him.

For his birthday cake I did Devil’s Food, because he is, as he would say, a “handsome debbil.” It took a while to do from scratch, with Cook’s Illustrated’s usual level of mild overcomplication, but it turned out impossibly light and velvety. I would do it again for an occasion like this.

I think I tend to forget how young Riley is, because he’s so intellligent and articulate. When I think about other toddlers I’ve known, I worry that I’ve expected too much of him. On the other hand, none of those others has been quite like him; seems like they’re probably not a very good barometer anyway.

And then Lydia turned a year old almost a week later. Her party was out at the grandparents’ too. She didn’t care much for Riley’s birthday cake, so we went with an ice cream cake for her. She loved it of course. We got her a stuffed cow which we named MooMoo, and a toy tractor and barn. MooMoo’s not her favorite bedtime buddy, but she has a special place in Lydia’s pre-bedtime routine now.

Get thee behind me!

We’re all chillin’ in the crib this afternoon when I hear a knock at the door. I pick Lydia up and round the corner into the front hallway, figuring it’s gotta be either a package delivery or my friend Jeremy. Through the door-height window I see that it’s neither, and before I can slip out of sight, the guy makes eye contact with me. Can’t back out now, so I open the door.

Through the storm door I see a team of religious proselytizers grinning back at me. Great. I crack the door and say, “Can I help you?” as I start planning their exit strategy.

But before they can even get through saying “…and talk to you about God,” Lydia sticks her bottom lip clear out, tears up, and starts crying at them rather pointedly. I hug her, and over the noise I say, “Looks like it’s not a very good time.” They give me a little info card and split.

As soon as they turn around, Lydia not only stops crying immediately, but she’s enthusiastically waving goodbye to them.

Aww, that’s my girl. *high five* 😀