24 July 2008

Happy Birthdays and Baby Birdies

There were so many things to post about from Tuesday that I initially considered posting about them separately. Upon further review, I'm far too lazy for that, so they're all getting lumped together.

First and foremost, it was Mandi's 32nd birthday. In and of itself, 32 is not a significant birthday. You're well into your thirties, and the next true milestone birthday doesn't occur until the big four-oh. However, in this house, each of Mandi's birthdays is now significant because for the five and a half months between July 22nd and January 7th, she and I can officially be considered "the same age". The other six and a half months of the year, I'm older. Anyway, we went out to dinner, but we returned to Mandi's parents' house for cake. We planned to have leftover coconut cake, which I made at the lake and we carted home in a cooler, but her mom got a sheet cake from the grocery store instead. It was probably for the best, as Lily and Avery weren't big fans of the coconut cake.

Avery enthusiastically dug in to her first piece of cake. She hated it.

Lily mostly just ate the sprinkles off of the top. When she finished the sprinkles on her first piece, she insisted on another one. Grandpa gladly finished the sprinkle-less piece and served her up a fresh one. Of course she sang some silly songs while she ate. It just wouldn't be the same without the "Roger Dodger" song.

Mandi's going to hate this picture . . but I think it's cute. Actually, it's just better than the only other picture I took of her that day . . the one of her blowing out the candles on the cake.

The cake itself was nothing particularly special, but it was a fun birthday celebration.

Before we headed home, Lily grabbed Grandpa's glasses and put on a little song-and-dance for the crowd. What a ham.

Earlier in the day (sorry for the lack of chronological order), the girls and I came home from the gym and saw one of the baby bluebirds poking its head out of the nestbox. This behavior is typically reserved for the day the birds fledge the nest, so I set up a chair along the side of the house and patiently waited for "the money shot". Well, it never materialized. Between having to come inside and make lunch for the girls (darned kids) and the oppressive heat of the midday, I just wasn't able to catch one leaving the nest. This peek out was the best I could come up with. (click to enlarge)

My guess is that the birds delayed leaving due in part to my presence. The adult male scolded me from his perch on the fence across the street. When I'd approach to try for close-ups of an emerging juvenile, he would dive-bomb me.

Then he scolded me from the roof of my neighbor's house. Somehow I derive great joy from seeing a father act in such a protective manner.

Before I went inside, the female joined him at the nest. This time they weren't scolding (I'd retreated 15 feet or so toward the driveway), but rather cooing gently as if to coax the young'uns out of the nest. Again, they waited for my departure before fledging.

By the time we got back from the pool at around 5:00, all four young had left the nest and were nowhere to be seen. I hope, as they have in the past, that they'll come back to the yard to flaunt their life progress.

End Of A Vacation

I posted some of the better pictures from the first half of our vacation to Cayuga Lake in Upstate NY, I figured why not show off some of the rest.

Sleep was not an easy commodity to come by on this trip. Lily was difficult at bedtime, and that's putting it very very mildly. On the morning pictured Mandi and I heard Lily stirring at around 5:00 and were surprised that she didn't come in to wake us up. Instead we fell back to sleep and this was the sight we saw at a little after 6. Lily loves her Meema something fierce!

Not too long after breakfast they made their way down to the lake to go swimming. There were very few mornings that weren't overcast or rainy, so it was important to take advantage. Lily has learned to blow up her own floaties, saving Daddy an early morning headache.

All dressed and ready to go, the girls dragged Meema down the road and proceeded to swim for almost two full hours.

The walk back to the house was apparently the perfect time to remind Meema of all fun they had just had . . they don't pull from every direction, do they?

After lunch, they enjoyed some popsicles. There was no shortage of desserts on this trip, I assure you.

I spent most of the day just taking in the nature . . the lilies are a full month or so behind ours in North Carolina. The first blooms were just opening on these pink ones near the road (sorry I don't know the variety). There were daylilies everywhere you turned, the prettiest oranges and yellows overwhelmed every roadside view.

I've always been fascinated by the Gray Catbirds. Mandi thinks he's boring looking, but I think his little black cap is very dapper, and his slate gray color just adds to his already mysterious and secretive nature. This particular bird wasn't shy at all, consistently posing for me in the yard, on the wood pile, above the nest box I put up by the road, and on this reflector. Isn't the rental house across the street just lovely?

The girls took their baths super early that night, and then the strangest thing happened . .

. . they talked me in to pitching a tent for them to play in. In their pajamas. They played in the tent for a total of about 8 minutes, which is when a little girl from across the street came over to play with Avery. The tent sat empty for the vast majority of the next 24 hours, until the point that I took it down again in the face of an impending thunderstorm.

Avery really enjoyed playing with Skylar, the 9-year-old girl who lives across the street.

My guess is she probably needed another shower after sprinting back and forth across the yard. She didn't take one.

The next morning some neighbors brought their new grandson over to visit. He was a little cutie, complete with faux-hawk hairdo. Lily got a little time practicing sitting with a baby, something I hope she'll want to do a lot of when our baby arrives in October.

Later that night we decided to do the S'mores thing down by the lake. I did the best I could to start a fire with the materials at hand . . mostly some newspaper we brought, flimsy matches, and a bunch of green twigs. I wasn't pretty, and it certainly couldn't be called a bonfire, but it burned long enough to toast a few marshmallows, and that was all that really mattered.

This is the smile Avery got on her face each and every time dessert of any kind was mentioned. She loves her some junkfood.

Lily loved the idea of S'mores more than the real thing, but she posed for the camera and even showed off her new-found ability to roll her tongue. I am now the only member of the family who can't pull off that feat, although I've never really suffered much from that defecit.

In typical fashion I've saved the best for last, and unfortunately there is no accompanying photo. The funniest moment of the entire trip may have happened when we were about 2/3 of the way home on Monday. Lily and Avery were sleeping in the back seat of the car and Mandi was drifting in the passenger seat. We'd been in the car for close to 8 hours, and I'll admit I was more than a little bit lethargic. With the cruise control set at a modest 76 miles per hour, I negotiated my way around a few slower cars and was heading down a slight grade. I saw a hawk sitting on a utility pole off to the right, and as I leaned forward to get a better look I let the car drift slightly left and across the yellow line. To make matters worse, the road had started to curve gently to the right. Before I knew it I was snapping to attention and pulling the car back into my lane, the roadside rumble strips having done their job wonderfully. Mandi commented first, asking me what had happened. As I started to tell her Lily piped up from the back seat, apparently having been woken up by the sound, and said "Golly tamale Daddy, what was that?!?" All of us, including Avery, burst into uncontrolled laughter. I imagine I've got the good people at Noggin to thank for teaching her that phrase . .

We made it home after 12 hours in the car, and things are finally getting back to normal. Much has happened since then that's worth posting about, but for now the pool is calling our names.