Paper Fireballs and a Basket Seat Built for Two

On the eve of The First Annual Brinkerhoff Game Extravaganza, we took a brief jaunt up to Fort Collins to meet Dave's brother Chris and his family. Chris sells pest control in California every summer to make money for the school year, now accompanied by his wife Susie and baby son Liam. They had just finished finals and were leaving the next day for California, so we wanted to see them before they left. We met for dinner (Afghan food—yum!) and took the kids to a couple parks to play.

Though Liam is two months younger than Finn, they are roughly the same size and mobility level. They are hilarious together! Finn mauls Liam in an apparent effort to hug and kiss him, which is reasonably well-tolerated. They followed each other around on the playground equipment, crawling all the way. And we managed to fit them both in a basket-seat swing for an overdose of one-year-old cuteness.

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 Hugs...

Hugs...

 ...and kisses!

...and kisses!

 We stopped for a peak at the soon-to-be-dedicated Fort Collins Temple on the way home. It's beautiful!

We stopped for a peak at the soon-to-be-dedicated Fort Collins Temple on the way home. It's beautiful!

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I've put my cake decorating hat on the shelf for the time being, but thrilled at the opportunity this week to make a baby shower cake for a friend. She likes frogs, chocolate, and is having a boy. How to combine them? Not bad results, I think. It's the first perfectly square layer cake I've made, and three layers even. The only snafu was when I put the lid on the cake carrier and crushed the crown.

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Friday was a day I had anticipated for a long, long time. Have you seen Tangled? You know the lantern festival, where they light all those paper lanterns and they float off into the sky and it's all amazing and magical? So, they do that here and I was dying to go. Except I kept forgetting to sign up for the one in Denver, which of course sold out. So I signed up for the one in Colorado Springs...which was actually another 30 miles south of Colorado Springs. Which is basically a two-hour drive from our house. I marketed this expedition to Dave as a day trip in which we could check out various attractions in CS, which we have scarcely visited, ending with a magical evening at the lantern festival. But then the weather was awful on the Saturday that they had scheduled it in April, so they moved it to a Friday in May. I tried to count myself lucky that the new date fell between Dave's work trip in Houston and his bear hunt in Canada, the brief two-day window that he would be home in the midst of a nearly two-week absence. But I was disappointed that because it was on a Friday, Dave would have to work and our day trip became a very long drive only for the lantern festival. And anyone who knows Dave can probably guess that he was not that enthused about a lantern festival.

It was a disaster. We left at four o'clock, which left plenty of time to make it before dark, but cost us an extra 45 minutes in rush hour traffic. By the time we arrived everyone was extremely grumpy. This was all made much worse by me forgetting to pack camp chairs, which meant that our only seating on the hard, weedy ground was a small baby blanket that I had in the car. I thought we would light the lanterns shortly after dark, but it was an hour and a half after (three hours after we arrived) that they finally gave the go-ahead for the lighting.

By then we were all very grumpy, and the kids were an hour past bedtime. It was suddenly windy, which proved calamitous. The lanterns took forever to light, with the wind sending the flames all over the place. I thought the lantern itself more likely to catch fire. Once the fuel cell at the bottom of the lantern caught fire, we were to set the lantern on the ground and let the air inside the lantern heat up. The lantern, basically a paper bag, was supposed to start tugging to lift off, and then we were supposed to gently ease it off like a hot air balloon launching. 

Dave went first. He patiently set his lantern on the ground and waited. Several times he tried to help it take off, but it never got hot enough and would immediately crash back down. He eventually discovered that the lantern had a hole in the top that leaked all the hot air. He crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. I tried just as valiantly with mine, waiting a long time to let it take off. Finally I felt it tugging off the ground, and deemed it ready. The lantern made it maybe 10 feet off the ground before the wind drove it back down into the crowd. I chased it down, apologized for my errant paper fireball, and tried again. And again. Every time the wind sent it right back down into another screaming festival-goer, me dashing behind ("I'm sorry!...So sorry!"), until I discovered that one of the crashes had put a giant hole in the top. I stomped out the flame and angrily shoved mine in the trash also. (I'm so glad I paid $35 apiece for those flaming pieces of crap.)

I looked around. I had run a long way chasing my lantern. I hurried back to where I thought Dave and the boys were, and couldn't quite figure out where that was. It was dark except for the lanterns, and it was a huge crowd of moving people. To make matters worse, my phone was in the backpack with Dave. I frantically searched and searched, but never could find my little family. I tried to calm myself, and guessed that perhaps Dave had packed up and gone to the car. So I ran to the parking lot and searched for him there. For another agonizing ten minutes I struggled to find the car. They weren't there. By this time the crowd had mostly migrated to the parking lot, so I returned to the arena, scanning the stream of exiting people. Finally I found them. I was so relieved! It had probably been a half hour by then. Dave was not pleased, and couldn't understand why I didn't have my phone on me. (Stupid women's pants—my front pockets were merely decorative, the back ones not deep enough to keep my phone from falling out). So, we didn't leave until 10:30 pm, with two exhausted and unhappy children. I barely managed the long drive without falling asleep myself.

Let this, dear reader, be a lesson in Internet life vs. real life. I told you how bad that night sucked, but I could have just as easily showed you all these pictures of my cute family eating s'mores and decorating lanterns and let you think it was not a fiasco. But I'm honest.

 Asher adding a few final touches to Lightning McQueen

Asher adding a few final touches to Lightning McQueen

 Dave fitting Asher with glow stick glasses

Dave fitting Asher with glow stick glasses

 Dave trying to fill his lantern with hot air.

Dave trying to fill his lantern with hot air.

 My equally futile attempt.

My equally futile attempt.

~ * ~

Last night was as lovely as Friday was awful. Dave and I got a sitter and went on a date for the first time in far too many months. We tried a delicious new Thai restaurant, hit up DQ on the way home, and enjoyed some family time with the boys around the campfire in our backyard before bed. It doesn't make for a great narrative, and I have no photos, but it was lovely. I guess it goes to show that sometimes all the enviable photos you see online are really miserable people with nothing better to do than take pictures, while the best moments go undocumented. Thank goodness for last night, because Dave left to hunt bears in Canada today and Friday would have been a rotten send-off. I'm sure an entire week with my husband out of the country will make for more interesting tales next Sunday.