My 41st Birthday Week

There’s a good bit that’s been going on of late, and I have, as usual, been slacking on here, so I thought I’d try to sum up a bunch of it all in one post.

We went to Rougemont last weekend. When my parents were here for the boys’ birthday, my dad said they were going to be doing an oyster roast the weekend before our birthday. (For you newcomers, I was born on my dad’s 22nd birthday.) I’m not an oyster fan, but there would be other food too. Plus they were taking down the back 70 feet of a barn and needed help with that.

I’ll explain that a bit. My parents bought the property next to theirs a while back, mainly because they wanted to redo the property lines and add a bit more to their own. They went back and forth for quite a while between selling the house on that property, selling the house they live in now, or renting it out. They have been renting it out and now they’ve decided to sell it. To the point though, the property includes a large barn that was built in the 1940’s. It originally housed mules then was used as storage for a construction company and then storage for a bunch of hoarded crap. Anyway, they wanted that part of the land, but it would have covered too much of a percentage of their property, so they had to tear some of it down.

So last Friday, Tristen, Milly, Fawkes, Phoenix, and I headed on to the Rouge. Saturday morning I went out and helped clear out stuff under that part of the barn, hauling stuff to trash or to a fire, moving things, just generally trying to be helpful. Tristen brought the boys out at one point and they enjoyed looking at my mom’s horse, Granya.

Most of the work was done by Andy, the son of my parents’ friends Don and Dell. He had a, I’m not sure what kind of vehicle you’d call it. Not a tractor, not a backhoe. It had a small cage he sat in with a front end loader and treads instead of tires. Anyway, he was really good at pushing things around with it and turned what would have been a job taking probably days to do by hand into one that took a few hours.

The big event was bringing the actual back of the barn down. Andra’s crew had arrived by that time and Josh and Jackson were helping out. What we did though was to cut all but one of the support beams, then we attached a chain to Andy’s whatsit and he simply pulled it down. It all came down very nice and neat, and now the only thing that remains is to strip the roof of the aluminum and do something with the support structure. It’ll probably get burned, but Andra said people would pay good money for reclaimed wood like that.

I watched Duke beat the pants off of Miami. It’s the last good game they’ve had up to now, as they subsequently lost to Virginia Tech, struggled a full game against a mediocre Wake Forest, and lost to the Heels. (More on that later.) But Zion’s coming back next week for the ACC Tournament, so hopefully they’ll look like the top #1 seed again, even if they don’t earn it (although they might if they beat UNC and Virginia on the way to winning the ACC Tournament).

Milly and Addy wanted to do Tristen’s and Andra’s makeup, so they did that. Then Milly wanted me to do hers, so I did. I went much more understated than everyone else.

The oyster roast was later that night in the front part of the barn, which is more closed-in and has electricity.

(Story continues below photos.)

My actual birthday was Monday. I had a meeting with one of my top clients, who, after a couple days and some discussions, became an even more top client, which will hopefully allow me to hire some help.

I usually l have Milly Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but Milly told me that morning when I was taking her to school that she wanted to see me later since it was my birthday, so I talked to Amanda about that and got Milly after school. Fawkes and Phoenix were at Torrie’s most of the day, which allowed me to have my meeting and to get some work done, then when Tristen came home we all went out to eat.

We had planned on going by Boomabalatti’s for ice cream after dinner and were going to go to the downtown one, but since we had Milly we decided to go to Mayfaire (being a little closer to Amanda’s house). I chose to eat at Fox & Hound, though I can’t say exactly why. It’s sort of a fancy sports bar, and I was thinking of a couple times Tristen and I had gone there and thought it would be nice. It was fine, but, while they do have a kids menu it’s not really a kid place. I didn’t really care; all I wanted was to have my family with me for dinner, but Tristen said the whole thing felt off and wanted to have a do-over. I’ll get to that in a minute.

One thing that had me laughing was that Phoenix looked like he was checking out waitresses. Every time one would pass by he’d turn as far as he could to watch them. I mentioned that to Johnny today, who said he was probably just wondering why they weren’t bringing him food.

It was getting a little late after we went to dinner, so we still went to Boomabalatti’s, but we ended up taking our treats to go instead of eating there.

Amanda and I had switched Tuesday for Monday. (I think she’d have just let me have all three days, but she had something that needed to be cooked for dinner by Tuesday, so we just swapped.) I don’t think Tuesday was super eventful, but on Wednesday Tristen organized another birthday dinner night. This time we went to Red Robin and we were joined by her whole extended family. I didn’t realize there were eleven of us now! It’s quite an outing when the whole family gets together now.

We hung out with Sam and Berk for a bit on Saturday afternoon. We hadn’t seen them in forever. They had skipped out on the boys’ birthday for fear of catching the flu that had just gone around our house (they’d been dealing with a lot of sickness in the house over the previous few weeks), so it was really nice to see them and Curren. We didn’t really do much of anything but sit around and talk and watch the kids do things kids do, but they had gotten some birthday presents for me and the boys.

We came home and watched Duke lose to Carolina. I wasn’t super upset because I was expecting it. On top of Duke’s best player, the once-in-a-generation talent of Zion Williamson being out (having injured himself just over 30 seconds into the previous Duke-Carolina game at Cameron a couple weeks earlier), and with the team still being generally streaky when it comes to shooting, I just wasn’t super excited for the matchup. Then one of Duke’s starters, Marques Bolden, injured his knee a few minutes into the game, which didn’t help. Despite all that, Duke had a two-point lead going into the half, but Carolina changed all that in the second half. I think Duke’s depleted roster was gassed, although they did fight back towards the end. They have a chance to meet again next week in the ACC Tournament, and while Bolden is still expected to be out, Zion will be back.

That brings us to today. The weather changed to very nice today. It’s been a bit on the cold side the past few weeks, by and large, but today was shorts weather. Tristen and I talked about walking to Port City Java with the boys, but we took too long making any sort of moves towards that before nap time rolled around. We talked about walking to a park or strolling around downtown, but Tristen talked to Torrie, who said they were all going to the beach, so we joined them after naps.

It was a bit windy, but not too bad. Definitely not warm enough to get in the water yet, but it was nice sitting on the sand. It was the first time Fawkes and Phoenix got to play on the beach much, and they spent most of their time eating sand and trying to eat seashells. Sebastian spent a lot of his time digging. Gabriel is too small to put down yet, so he spent pretty much all of his time being held by Johnny. We weren’t out there for very long, and with New Baby coming we likely won’t be out much this summer, but it was nice to get out there today.

(Story continues below photos.)

The eight of us went to Sweet & Savory for brunch afterwards, then headed back home. Phoenix fell asleep in the car, but I’m not sure if either one of them got much rest in after we put them down. I dozed on the couch for maybe half an hour or so.

It was a bit difficult keeping them occupied after that, so I eventually decided to take them for a walk around the neighborhood. I talked to a couple neighbors and then saw Johnny getting out of his car, so I talked to him and Torrie until Tristen called and said their dinner was ready.

Milly called (well, I texted Amanda and asked if Milly could talk, and she called back a little later). She had been playing with her friend across the street. She and Amanda also went to see The Lego Movie 2 this weekend. I told her I’d like to take her to see Captain Marvel. I called it Miss Marvel, which Tristen corrected me on. That was Carol Danvers’s superhero name back in the day when I was reading comics. Anyway, I hope I’ll get the chance to take her next weekend.

Tristen and I watched Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which she and Torrie had gone to see in the theater. There was a bit of a surprise ending to it.

And that brings us up to date, pretty much.

I should mention things the boys are doing lately though. In no particular order except that they’re coming to my head:

  • They’re saying “da da da” and “ma ma ma” a lot. I haven’t thought there was any meaning behind the sounds, but they might be starting to get it. I was hold Fawkes the other day, cradled in my arms, almost face-to-face, and he said, “Dada.” I’m not fully convinced he was calling me that, but he might have.
  • We’ve started walking with them a bit more, like letting them walk but holding their hands. They’re not very surefooted yet, but they’re getting it a bit: Phoenix more than Fawkes. Fawkes sometimes take these really big, long steps that look like he might be applying for something at the Ministry of Silly Walks.
  • I’ve also tried to get them to stand on their own, unsupported a bit. I’ll hold their hands to support them then slowly take the support away. Phoenix hasn’t really done much with it, but Fawkes has stood on his own for several seconds a couple times.
  • They don’t have high chairs, rather they have seats that hook onto the table, but the straps aren’t holding them in very well these days. A few weeks ago I had gone to get more food for them from the kitchen and Phoenix had been fussing, but he got louder while I was doing that and when I turned around I saw him dangling upside-down from his seat with the straps holding his feet somehow. I dropped the food on the floor and went to grab him.
    Then on Thursday I turn around for a minute and Fawkes had crawled out of his seat and onto the table. That same day I was pouring water in their supply cups (and spilled one when I tried to snap the top back into the other) when i heard a dull thud. Phoenix had fallen out of his seat. He was crying, but I guess it didn’t hurt much because he got over it pretty fast.
  • I think they’re starting to use sign language a bit, Fawkes a little more than Phoenix. “More” has generally been waving their arms around or pulling their hair, but I’m pretty sure I saw a distinctive chest-beat for “please” yesterday.
  • They’re starting to do high-fives. Phoenix seems to understand it and do it better so far.
  • They both like putting things into other things.
  • They’re starting to hug soft toys. They’ve both been doing that for Diddy, a large stuffed pufferfish, but they’re starting to do it with other stuffed toys. Phoenix has been doing it for a bit (which is one reason we refer to him as our little lover), but Fawkes is starting to do it now, too.
  • They’re both turning into little climbers. Phoenix is climbing out of the bathtub (falling headfirst into Tristen’s lap when he does), but Fawkes is climbing on top of all sorts of things. I found him on top of a box a couple weeks ago and this weekend he climbed on top of an overturned laundry basket. He can get down too, going down on his stomach and putting his legs down behind him. Phoenix is trying, but he doesn’t have it like Fawkes does.