Monday, July 13 2020

rodneys party 2

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Dear Journal,

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope you had a restful weekend, and feeling good now that we're returning to another work week. For me, this is far from a regular Monday. Just before rolling into best last night around one in the morning, I declared Monday a lazy day. Pajamas, Blippi on the couch, ordering out for lunch. Today, the Recker family is borrowing a day from the week to act as our make shift weekend extension.

Marissa was on board with the decision. She stayed up even later than I, catching up on emails and Instagram messages. When I got downstairs this morning, Hamilton was still paused on the TV and there was an empty bottle of Chardonnay on the table.

Rodney and I had a quiet morning thus far. He got his regular crappy bar breakfast on the couch with a cup of juice, even though he begged me for one of Auntie Sarah's sparkly crappy bars - homemade rice krispy treats speckled with colorful sprinkles.

"Sorry dude," I said. "Those are afternoon treats - not for the morning."

"Where are my decorations?" asked Rodney sitting on the couch.

"We took 'em down, dude," I said, sinking into the couch beside him. "What, did you think we were going to celebrate your birthday for another week?"

Rodney is in for a rude awakening today. Stretching out his birthday for almost three parties, he's probably grown accustomed to the royal treatment. And as if tearing down his Spider-Man decorations and denying him a sugary breakfast weren't bad enough, we have to take him to the doctor's later this afternoon for a shot.

"I actually do feel bad for him there," said Marissa. "The poor guy - welcome to the real world, huh?"

Sip. Yesterday, we threw a party. It was Rodney's second birthday party, this time with the Recker side of the family. But before we shifted into party mode, I dedicated the morning to building LEGO's with Rodney at the breakfast table. The two of us dumped the plastic bags out and began to rifle through the instructions, taking extra care not to lose any pieces this time.

First we assembled the figurines, attaching fearsome red tentacles to Carnage's arms and torso. We snapped together the pieces of a tiny Venom, giving him some fantastic webbing. And I immediately saw the wisdom in how things were ordered in the LEGO instruction manual - having the figurines to play with distracted Rodney enough to let me embark on the more ambitious convertible motorcycle and instrument panel.

And using all of my adult focus, building the motorcycle only took me 45 minutes. Every piece used, even down to the decals. Finally, a LEGO engineering effort we could be proud of.

Marissa joined us downstairs, and after a cup of coffee, we jumped into party mode. I picked up a few things from Hy-Vee and began cooking a double batch of pizza and some starters. Marissa put the house together. We got so focused on the party that we cruised right through lunch. Marissa made us some early afternoon turkey sandwiches. We pumped some music. Rodney ran around the house with his toys. We were feeling good.

Minutes before everyone arrived, Marissa carefully removed the delicate fragments of Mistake Cake from the fridge and stacked them on a place mat, sandwiched around a layer of red frosting. She raised her hands in the air after a successful landing.

"This is the best one yet," she declared proudly. "I mean, it's the third time I've made this cake in the past four days, but I'm still proud of this one."

best mistake cake yet

Spider-Man has never looked better, don't you think?

Grandma Jane and Grandpa Dirk arrived. Auntie Kelly, Uncle Jeremy, and Rodney's cousins Alice and Frankie trickled in. Sarah and Phillip joined us. We cautiously mingled on the deck, enjoying beer and wine.

"Mama says no touching," Rodney announced proudly.

Rodney opened a giant monster truck and a bow with suction cup arrows. For his final gift, we led him to the front yard where Grandma and Grandpa stashed his brand new tricked out Spider-Man bike. Rodney stared at it in disbelief.

"Try it Rodney," said Grandma. Rodney stepped back and shook his head. "First, Alice try it," he said.

I figured that would happen. From what I can tell, Rodney doesn't like to be put on the spot. Instead, he encouraged his cousins, Marissa, and even Grandpa Dirk to ride it around, like he was running an attraction at a carnival.

new bike riding

"You try, Grandpa Dirk"

"We'll take it to the parking lot tomorrow and try it out, OK bud?" I said to Rodney quietly.

We cut the cake on the deck, and sang to Rodney. Even though he was plugging his ears, he was smiling.

After things began to wind down, we said our goodbyes, and as the backyard snapped shut I felt a rush of relief. We were so grateful that our family - both families - made the trip out to celebrate with Rodney, even with everything that's going on. We were grateful that we were still able to celebrate with a small, safe group. We're grateful that his cousins had no trouble with the no touching rule.

"Do you think we were safe enough?" asked Marissa. "Our deck just feels so small when we're all outside."

I sighed. "We did our best, and we were following the rules, and we do take coronavirus seriously," I replied. "I don't think this is about who is doing it right and who is doing it wrong. This is an effort, and it's about prioritizing the cause."

I'm happy that Rodney had such a great weekend. He has a bounty of new exciting toys to play with, and once he works up the nerve, we're going to go kick the tires on his new bike - if he's not too sore from shots, of course. We may just have to stick with LEGOs today. Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful day.