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The birthday festival

Even if we knew a bunch of other families with young kids (we do not), I don't know that we could be that family that plans a huge, kid-oriented birthday party. What we CAN do is invite our immediate family to Chicago for a long weekend and give our birthday boy a helluva fun time. To that, I say, "mission accomplished." (In a sincere way. Not in a George W. Bush standing on an aircraft carrier filled with irony kind-of-way.)

I think Cole had fun. Which was goal number one. As it turns out, the parting wasn't so sad because, for the grandma on my side, it isn't "see you in October." It was "see you next week." Kelly may have a very last minute work trip where I can drag the kids along for a couple days.

Anyway, we started the weekend off on Friday morning by trying to pick up Grandma and Grandpa from the train station after their plane came in. Cole was deathly afraid of anything near the train station now--after The Incident--so that was challenging. Then the phobia carried over to the beer truck (usually little man loves a beer does Daddy!) parked in front of the hotel to unload. But we made it home. They brought him a couple presents to have right away, he napped, and then we had decided to try a new local restaurant for dinner.

It's a diner that is explicitly kid-friendly, train-themed, and within walking distance. There's a train table, model train layout, chalk wall to draw on, and the food comes around on flat cars pulled by a model steam engine. Overall, it gets high marks for intended purpose--amusing the kids. The food was just ok and the service was slow and needed help. But it just opened so hopefully they're working the bugs out.

Saturday morning, I rode the train to Midway Airport and picked my mom up from her early flight. We had lunch planned at our house and Cole was allowed to open a few presents "early" so most of the day was taken up with that. Like most places in the Midwest, it was chilly here this weekend so mostly indoor activity.

Sunday was scheduled as the "official" birthday party so I'd baked his cake and Kelly had gotten him the requested "pink ice cream" and a candle for him to blow out. I think this was the favorite part of the weekend for me. Cole even let us sing to him and took great joy in being presented with a whole chocolate cake at his tiny table. He managed to blow the candle out the first time (though struggled when we did a do-over because he was too fast). Biggest belly laughs when he took a spoon and immediately started to dig into "his cake" before it was sliced. Hey, your birthday, your rules!

Each gift he'd look at the wrapping and ask, "hey, what's this present?" like we were supposed to tell him what was inside. Umm, you open it and tell us, dude! I don't even know what his favorite thing is. Everything is getting played with...the giant bulldozer that he thinks the mailman got him because it was outside the door. (It's from Kelly and me.) The wooden trains and bridge for his train set. The puzzles. The new dvd. The books. Everything has already been seamlessly integrated into his life. Which is the ultimate toddler thank you. That goes for people, too.

We ended up taking the bulldozer to the park up the street and enjoying a lovely fall summer day. He tried to make friends. Leda insisted she make friends...and ran away. They both got baths. The family--minus Grandpa--watched Whodunit and ate popcorn.

By the time yesterday rolled around, we had to start putting people on trains. By late afternoon, everybody was gone and it was time for leftover cake. I roasted some coffee then had to take Leda to her next to last swim lesson. The water was freezing and she spent the last 10 minutes asking to go home after being mildly uncooperative. Nothing outlandish. The class is down to 4 kids this last week.

Tonight, I'm looking forward to a workout. Probably one that isn't biking. The cycle club is going farther to do hills, the weather is iffy, and the route is changed due to road work. So I'm thinking a swim maybe. On one hand, it's nice to not have a training schedule this summer. But, on the other hand, I'm feeling totally lost without a set routine.

I'm kinda like a toddler preschooler that way.