We celebrated Oliver’s birthday a bit early this year because we’ll be up at the cabin on the actual day, and we wanted to celebrate with Grandma Pam and Grandpa Jeff. We enjoyed a birthday brunch together featuring a fabulous spiced squash cake that everybody loved except for Oliver. (He ate about half the scrambled eggs instead.) Pictures below followed by two short video clips.
We began the morning with an early present of some blocks that Sarah picked up at a recent yard sale.
Knock them down!
The joy of destruction.
Ready to feast.
Oliver kept covering his eyes as the cake approached. We’re not sure why.
Ultimately, Oliver is the only person who didn’t love the cake.
Pam and Jeff’s masterpiece.
Yup. We’re putting this guy to work.
Maggie gave him the loader. He loved it.
Griffin got him a game that features Yetis and marbles flying through the air. He loved that too.
Blowing out his candle (and some very sour grapefruit!):
Opening Maggie’s gift:
Update: We took the following picture on the 25th at the cabin:
In preparation for Family 3.0, we decided it was time for a major upgrade to Griffin’s loft. Loft 2.0 is bigger, and is now a shared loft for both Maggie and Griffin — we always knew that Maggie deserved a special loft space too. Beneath the deck is an area for reading and building forts, with room, eventually, for a crib. We couldn’t have done it without expert assistance from Sarah’s parents.
Getting started. (This is what Loft 1.0 looked like.)
We didn’t let a little snow and frigid temperatures interfere with our Thanksgiving Bocce game. Grandpa Jeff got out the snow blower and made us a court. The teams:
Griffin, Nik, Alli, Pam
Maggie, Andrew, Sarah, Jeff
We played to 11, and it was close to the very end. In the final round, 10-9, team 2 landed the clinching point. They simply had superior mastery of snow-braking techniques.
The teams arrayed.
Bocce balls in the snow.
Grandma “Bocce Wizard”
Snow is fun!
Look at that technique!
The intensity was palpable.
Great sportsmanship to the end.
On the Roy side, the bocce tradition began at a rental house in Fort Bragg, California, on the Mendocino coast. We used to rent the place for Thanksgiving in the early 2000s, inviting friends and family for feast and fun. Here are two pictures from that era (with a slightly different climate!):
This weekend we went down to Courtland to celebrate Grandpa Jeff’s birthday and visit with family friends. But I didn’t take many pictures of all that good stuff (oops). Instead, my camera usually came out when we were outside, playing in the sprinklers, checking out the nascent tree house, and, of course, riding around on the mini-ATV from Uncle Bruce.
As always, click on the pictures for an immersive slide-show.
New tree house platform (Griffin is doing a happy dance).
Griffin was very generous about sharing his favorite ride.
Idyllic day around the lake.
Many exciting sights (frogs, monarchs, geese, ducks, and many cool rocks to collect).
We’ve been talking for a few weeks now with Griffin about moving to a big kid bed (partly in preparation for the baby in April). First we introduced the big kid comforter and pillow a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday Grandpa Jeff came up to build Griffin his first ever big kid loft bed. Griffin didn’t quite know what to expect other than that Grandpa Jeff was going to build him a new bed, and we think the results exceeded his expectations; when he was on the phone with Grandma Pam last night, he told her that “Grandpa built me my own new house, Grandma!” This morning after his shower, he excitedly went back into his room, “to look at my special new bed” and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s GREAT!”
Historically, Griffin has been quite the helper in the kitchen. Well, maybe helper isn’t quite the right word; maker-of-messes-and-interested-in-doing-whatever-I’m-doing-in-the-kitchen…helper. He’s also a monkey and climbs on everything and anything, and while his sense of balance is really quite amazing, he’s had a few tumbles in the kitchen off of chairs and step stools that have made me think that this nifty invention called a Learning Tower is just what we need. Basically, it’s a sturdy platform with railings on all sides that enables Griffin to get to counter height to watch and help without me worrying, in addition to making sure he doesn’t touch the hot stove, sharp knives, glasses, coffee maker, toaster, etc., that he’ll fall off a wobbly step stool or chair. We have the room for one in our kitchen now and I’ve been coveting one ever since I found out that they exist. Only thing is, they cost over $200.
Enter Grandpa Jeff.
My dad’s a handy guy. I have lots of memories of making things with him, and while I wasn’t totally into the graph paper and Pythagorean theorem, I did enjoy making things and felt a lot of satisfaction out of the many projects we’ve done together. I mentioned the Learning Tower to him on a recent visit, and he thought he could tackle the project sometime this summer. A quick “DIY Learning Tower” Google search turned up a surprising number of plans, many of which seemed even better than the original. I was psyched to know we’d soon have one for Griffin to climb on!
Well, Grandpa Jeff came by our house today on his way Up North and had a surprise for us in the back of his car: a handmade learning tower! He said he just couldn’t wait until summer to make it and knew that Griffin would put it to good use immediately. Griffin knew exactly what to do with it and climbed up to do a little dance on the platform. We are both so excited to use it and I am grateful to have such a handy (and thoughtful) dad, Pythagorean theorem and all.
Ernie and I went to St. Peter today to run some errands. When we visited Pam (more photos to follow), she suggested that we get our shots to protect us from the flu. I didn’t know that Sesame Street characters were “at risk”, but the public health staff assured us that it was the right thing to do. I told Ernie to go first. He was very brave.