Sunday, August 30, 2009

Helen, in a nutshell

On Friday, we went to an indoor playground. Connor scrambled right in. Helen decided that there should be an entrance where only a net existed. In this video, she gropes around for an entrance and then Connor points her toward the correct place. Only when she sees the entrance, does she enter? Oh no, because apparently she remains convinced that the door should be elsewhere, and she can't get over her annoyance at the door not being where she preferred it to be. I mean, come on, what were the designers of this space thinking? So Connor tries to rationalize with the irrational being, and demonstrates to her that the entrance will work. Not surprisingly, he failed to persuade her, so eventually I just tossed her in the entrance, and she was happy and started playing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One stick at a time

Building something can be a very satisfying experience. On a recent visit to a nearby park, Connor - with only a modest amount of help from Ed - gathered many twigs, and then built this very impressive fence. After completing his project, he insisted that his work be preserved photographically.

I am quite certain that my dad, the engineer, is beaming with pride as he reads this. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree in this case.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cool Kids

Once they get a few dance moves choreographed, I'm taking them on the road and trying to turn their look into some serious bling. I mean, just LOOK at them! They even provide cheesy grins upon request.

Note also the serious lack of clutter in the kids' play area in the kitchen. That was my weekend decluttering project. I went through every single item, removed those that were no longer played with, added a few items that had been tossed aside at one point or another, and sorted through all of the bins to make sure each of them still made sense (you know, necklaces in one, headpieces in one, dress-up outfits in one, Helen's 300 purses in one ...). I even dropped a glass jar full of fish rocks that make me absolutely insane which was the perfect excuse to throw them away even though both kids love them. After all, they were now intertwined with glass. Remarkably, Connor understood and did not protest. Then I gave everyone in the house a shelf where I will put all the crap they leave lying around, and they can do the same for my crap. That way, the next time Ed asks me "do you know where that tiny little scrap of paper that I wrote the codes to the nuclear missiles for the United States military is?" I don't have to look incredulously at him and ask "you mean that piece of trash? It is in the recycling bin where it belongs." Instead, I'll just say "check your shelf, dude".


Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby Ari

If I asked Helen what she wanted to do most days, she would respond "go to Baby Ari's house". First of all, she has access to Ari's older brother's toys. And those toys rock. Second, she gets to see a person smaller than her, which I think amazes her. She even gets to hold that person smaller than her and this made a huge impact on her.

Since our visit a couple of weeks ago, Helen has told Ed and I many, many times how she got to "hold Baby Ari - by Self. Connor no hold Baby Ari.". (She is incorrect on the latter of those points, but no one in the house except Connor attempts to correct her on even factual matters because as Barney Frank would say, this would be like arguing with a dining room table.) In the evenings, as she's winding down, she often tells Baby Ari goodnight.

I love newborns too - mostly because they have the power to make you look just like Marya does in these photos - totally in love. Any way you could keep that boy a tiny baby forever?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fashion Notes from Helen

Sometimes, it is imperative when you wake up to insist on putting on your jacket, grab your rainboots, and head outside. And then stand outside and pout that nobody else wants to be out there because, uh, they're eating breakfast.

Other times, you must wear a hat that is just a bit too small for you, because it's a good look.

Thanks, Hel, we appreciate the guidance around here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Faulty Logic May Have Run its Course in this Household

This evening we went to Wolf Trap to see a couple of bands play. During a period of rain when we ducked for cover, Ed and Connor bought a CD of the opening band to have them sign it. As Connor inspected the signatures, the following conversation took place.

"Mommy, why did those guys sign their names so messy?"
"That's just how cool people sign their names."
"Why aren't we cool?"
"We are, but we don't have to flaunt it by signing our names with messy writing."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy 22 months, Helen

Dear Helen,

Guess what? Your brother turned four and all you got was this lousy late post about your month. And oh, what a month it was. You are your own woman, and you make certain that most people near you know this. You do not like to be told what to do and you are very clear about letting people know this. You also do not like to sit still. The two of these characteristics made for a rather unpleasant flight to Minnesota earlier in the month. So unpleasant, in fact, that at one point Connor looked up at me and said "I wish you had never let Helen come out of your tummy" and it took a lot of restraint for me not to say "me too!". But the plane landed, my friend from second grade - Lisa - met us in baggage claim, and from there, we had a lot of fun. And you were the center of many of those good times. When your dad joined us on the return flight, I told him that you were his, and his alone. And do you know what you did? You napped the entire flight. He now thinks I made up the stories about how rough the flight to MN was, but I assure you, no portion of the stories I told him was fabricated, and I will do you the favor of not recording any more about that flight. But let's just say, when the time comes that I'm drooling on myself and begging you to wipe my chin, I might just say "remember that flight to Minnesota back in 2009? Well you owe me!".

Luckily, you are the most charming person in the world so it is absolutely impossible to be mad at you. Plus, it's not your fault that you are almost two and by necessity, you must explore the world. You must assert yourself. You must make your presence known and be sure not to be pushed around. Believe me, Helen, your will has been made known. And as a coworker pointed out to me, every characteristic you display today (outside of the biting), is something I will be grateful you have when I send you off on your own someday.

You now use sentences to express yourself, you have sorted out "I" and "you" but you still mix up "you" and "me", for the most part. You still hold your arms up and say "carry you, Mommy" though sometimes when I respond something along the lines of "I can't, Helen, I already have full arms" you'll look at Daddy and say "carry me Daddy". You love, love, love to talk on the phone and you call your grandparents regularly from your play phone, or "new phone" as you refer to it. Often, we call them from my phone as well and they absolutely understand you. I can't say you're the most interesting conversationalist yet, but you have your moments. Your vocabulary is rich and probably a half dozen times this past month, another mom has noted that to me. It is impossible for people around you much not to mention how much you talk. Like your brother, Helen, you do not shut up. This can make for some pretty intersting times, but it can also be a bit draining. But I always said if there was one characteristic I wanted in my children it would be that they could talk early. I knew I wanted this because my mom used to point out how much better it was when your Aunt Linda and I were no longer babies and could tell her why we were being irrational, rather than just screaming at her. And I do think she was right.

Once this month, when I put you in your crib for a nap you spent an hour, AN HOUR, talking to yourself up there. You never seemed upset, so I figured I'd keep you in there, because at this point in the day, I needed a break. After an hour, I heard the following "Elaine, Elaine, ELAINE! Come get Helly out of the crib. Helly out of the crib now" and I decided that was good enough for you to get out of jail. So I rescued you and then you proceeded to cook me the most delicious pretend dinner while Connor napped. And it's not often that we get to spend an hour alone, but this hour was quite fun.

You call me by my first name whenever you really want my attention, barking it just like your dad, and it works. I think it's quite funny and as a result, Connor has picked up this habit as well. I suppose it makes sense for us to be on a first name basis. I think it horrifies other moms on the playground when they hear you shout my name, but what do they know?

We visited an actual baby and you were not disappointed. A week after the visit you are still talking about Baby Ari and how you got to hold him by yourself. If you had a vote, I think you would vote for a baby around this house. Unfortunately for you, no committee spots have opened up so you don't get to vote.

You grew taller. My friend Marya pointed out that she thought you looked taller and I was quick to tell her that despite the fact that you eat like a truck driver, you do not grow. Only when I brought you home and measured you next to the trusty cabinet door, you had indeed grown a couple of inches. Way to go, Helen. After all, in two months you'll be heading to the pediatrician's office to record how freakishly small you are, and now you'll be just a little less so. This doesn't really matter since you have the most incredible pediatrician who has never been either surprised or concerned about your small stature. You are, after all, my daughter. But nevertheless, it's nice to see you growing. But my, how that crib is starting to look small.

You love the water and enjoy jumping in from the side of the pool. You often tell me you want to go underwater and you'd like to jump by yourself. Pretty impressive for someone who is not even two yet! You'll also lay on your back while I help you float and kick your little legs around pretending to swim. It's nice that you love the water and are so comfortable in it because it's been over 90 degrees several days this past month and we often head to the pool after dinner. It's the only outside place that seems acceptable most evenings.

You still love to hug people and you have the most beautiful smile. Already, you have a million smiles and a million laughs and I adore every single one of them.

You love your brother, and play with him often. Only sometimes he has a few more rules than you care to follow, and if I'm not around, you've been known to level the playing field by biting him. He does not appreciate this, and even though I swear to you that I get it, it's not acceptable. But the simultaneously great and frustrating thing about you? If I tell you to apologize you say "no". And it doesn't matter how I try to coerce you, you will steadfastly refuse. You would, in fact, prefer to scream about injustice in your crib and be separated from Connor than apologize. One morning, I made the huge mistake of telling you that you wouldn't be allowed to go out with Connor and I on a planned outing if you didn't apologize because I could only take children who got along with each other. Well time was ticking, and we needed to leave, and you still refused to apologize. I finally heard you say "sock", which I convinced Connor was "sorry", only as soon as I said "great, you apologized, let's go", you very clearly said "Helly no sorry to Connor. No say sorry." Point taken, my friend. And honesty is a good policy.

You're almost two, Helen, and I promise we will have cake, if only so I can hear you tell everyone who asks you about the party that there was cake.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday, Connor

Dear Connor,

You have reached the age of four years old and to mark the occasion, I made the requested "rainbow train cake with 100 cars". Except it didn't quite have 100 cars, but it seemed to satisfy the crowd that gathered to mark the occasion.

I am dancing with glee. I have promised your father that this is going to be a completely fabulous year. Because four? I have seen four before up close. About 30 times I have seen four, because that's the age the children in my preschool classes were when I taught preschool oh, so long ago. Long enough ago, in fact, that my first four-year old class is preparing to start grad school and my last class is preparing to start high school. And it most certainly doesn't feel like it has been 18 years since I graduated from high school and started teaching that first preschool class, but indeed, it has been exactly that long. And hopefully I'm not romanticizing my teaching time because wow do I remember those kids as being nothing short of incredible.

And why is it that I love four so much? At four, a child can really communicate complex thoughts, but has little idea when he or she should just shut up, so four year olds end up telling hilarious stories, and they make these incredibly true comments that adults and older kids just don't make, and they do it just because they noticed, not because they're being mean. For example, one day Josie said to me "Miss Elaine, are you aware that your pants do not match your shirt today?" and at that moment, I looked down, and I said "Josie, you have a much better sense of style than me. But are you aware that Mrs. Foster [my boss] called me 10 minutes ago to come and make sure you were being adequately cared for today because the regularly scheduled teacher called in sick? And I was so excited to come in, believe it or not, that I threw on the only clean shirt and pair of pants I had in my apartment just so I could see you? And up until this moment, I was not aware they did not match, but I am now. But if I had waited to come in until I had matching clothes, that wouldn't be until my regularly sheduled workday, and then we wouldn't be able to play today." And I am quite sure that Josie told her mom that night that Miss Elaine did not wear matching clothes to school but that it was all right because she didn't have time to do laundry before she came into work, or something like that.

From those same four year olds, I also heard stories about a parent drinking too much, yelling too loudly, or just not coming home last night. I heard about how cool a parent was when they did something totally outrageous - like fill up a whole roomful of balloons, or make every food item green that day because did you know it was green day, Miss Elaine? Even the pancakes were green, isn't that funny, Miss Elaine? I heard about staying up at night, reading books, and getting to go swimming on Saturday! I even heard about a few times when a mom called a dad a word that most parents of four year olds would not want to be repeated. I heard these and other stories as we played cooperatively on the playground - because four year olds can actually play together really well - as we painted during art time, and as we prepared for our daily rest. I heard them as we walked through the neighborhood, and sometimes I even heard them as a child with a fever curled up in my lap waiting for someone to come pick them up because they were too sick to be at school. You see besides being able to communicate really well and play, at four, kids are still really vulnerable and totally willing to sit and snuggle with a trusted adult, confident that if they snuggle in just a little tighter they will be "all better". I'm really looking forward to hearing about what stories you share with your teacher. You already bust your au pair any time she does anything out of the ordinary or isn't exactly following the rules.

Four years ago, Connor, you made me a mom. Prior to you entering my life I had never slept sitting up in bed with a baby on my chest so that the baby could sleep while fluid drained from their stuffy nose all night long. I never paced the floors, wishing some sort of comfort would come everyone's way for so long that I saw the sun rise. I never sat back and watched a too-small child will his way up a piece of playground equipment that was too big by himself because as a nanny, a babysitter, and teacher, I would've been hovering right behind him, because my first priority was making sure there were no scratches on my watch. But as a parent, I observed this struggle regularly these past few years because I'm more interested in seeing that look of accomplishment on your face and you relishing all the glory that is yours, and yours alone (even if it comes with a few bumps along the way) when you make it to the top all by yourself. We've been through a lot of unchartered territory together, and sometimes I'm sorry that I didn't know how to handle things better the first time around. Really sorry, in fact. But somehow, we muddled through together, and now you are four, and I am breathing a sigh of relief because for one glorious year of our lives together, I have some experience to draw on.

Over the course of these past few years I have learned you like the blue fork, you prefer your waffles not be cut, and the yellow straw is superior to every other. You are my right hand when it comes to putting things away around here, because you understand that it's hard to find toys that aren't put in their proper spot. On our recent vacation, you went upstairs to see my friend Lisa - our host - and asked her why everything wasn't put away. Lisa is not so obsessive as we are, Connor, and her reply was an appropro "Welcome to the dark side, Connor". You adapted to the situation pretty well. You seem to love reminding your father to put things away, and I appreciate all the help I can get.

You are aware enough to sense when it is appropriate to walk on eggshells. A couple of weeks ago, I had decided I was beyond annoyed at a few things around our house and your Dad dared ask what was wrong at the worst possible moment. I don't think I have ever chewed your dad out in front of you like I did that night for not turning lights off and leaving his crap all over the house, but at the end of my diatribe, when I turned to go upstairs to put Helen to bed, you told your dad that he better just read one book tonight and then you should go to sleep right away. I guess you knew he needed some time to get his act together.

You, of course, had a big month leading up to turning 4. For starters, you jumped off the diving board. Many times. In doing so, you scared the pants off of a lot of people (myself included).

You have excellent reasoning skills that you put to use often. For example, your dad and I have expressed to you that we don't really like waking up as early as you do, and you suggested, in return, that perhaps we ought to go to bed earlier. Right you are, my friend.

You still run everywhere you go, and still, your toddler gait is gone. Every time I see you start dashing, I look closely for that wobble but it is gone, gone, gone. So now I look at Helen's little wobble and hope it stays for a long time.

You also never shut up. Never. With your sister talking non-stop as well, the house sounds like a rock concert most days. I have a lot of headaches, but I am reminded almost daily about how great it is that you communicate so well. For the record, I could use a little quiet every now and then - especially when you're just repeating things you've already told me several times. I got it the first time, pal.

You really like to do your own thing, on occasion. I have no idea why, but while we were on vacation, after you finished the hayride with the other children, another child came running by and exclaimed "Connor is so awesome". Let's just say, your father and I were glad that was not followed up with a visit from the tractor driver letting us know you were not so awesome.

You are simultaneously wonderful and a jerk to your sister, which is fair because that's exactly how she treats you. Wonderful, because you regularly include her in your play. A jerk, because that play often comes with fairly restrictive rules about what she can and cannot do. But most of the time, I can leave the two of you alone and know that you are both entertained, and that's really nice. On your birthday, I went to playgroup with you and the two of you hopped on a two-seater tricycle and you pedaled your heart out as she rode on the backseat and it took a long time for the two of you to stop laughing.

So here we go, Connor. We're jumping with both feet into FOUR!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More of a Rules Follower Than We Thought

While at the pool, little tweets surround us - a child is running across the pool deck, big kids are dunking each other, someone brings food into the pool area. Connor always looks up at the lifeguard when he hears this sound, and Ed or I always assure him that everything is fine, someone is probably just running. As we prepared to make our movie, Connor half walked, half skipped up to the board. Not enough to earn a tweet, mind you. He was very excited when it was finally his turn to jump.

Only there was a problem.

Connor had decided to change one element in his jump from the previous day. He decided to wear goggles so that when he started swimming he could see better.

Goggles are not allowed on the diving board. I had no idea. Connor had no idea. Ed knew, but he was in the little pool with Helen.

As Connor mounted the board, he heard the familiar tweet. Only this time, for the first time ever, when Connor looked up, the lifeguard was looking at him and said "no goggles on the diving board" in a very casual tone. Only what Connor heard was something more like "Little kid - you there - the rule breaker. How could you be so stupid as to climb up the diving board with goggles on. That is the most ridiculous thing that has ever been attempted at our pool and you are the only person dumb enough to do such a thing. Go away. Go far away."

And Connor was mortified. He melted. He slumped off the board crying so hard he couldn't form a sentence. He buried his head in my lap and after sobbing for a few seconds, he finally uttered "I want to go home right now". And then he screamed repeatedly, broken up only by his sobbing "I want to go home RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW." And at this point, I think every parent in the pool was looking at me, and I'm pretty sure they were probably thinking "You there, with the video camera, don't you know your kid is too little to go off the diving board. Why are you forcing him to do something so terrifying?". I carried Connor to the shallow end of the pool and told him that we weren't leaving because Helen, Daddy, and I still wanted to swim. I offered that he could hang out in a chair if he wanted or that we could go in the shallow end together and look at each other underwater with our goggles on. And then I told him to discuss it with his dad because nothing I was saying was improving the situation.

Ed gave him a hug, and then Connor decided we should look at each other underwater. Only as soon as he looked at me, he started swimming across the pool, and then he saw the diving board and shouted "I want to go off the diving board", and he tossed his goggles, and I dashed for my camera (not sure if I was the runner they were tweeting at or not, but I wasn't going to look back now!). And this is probably the millionth time in the last four years that I have wanted to understand the mood swings of a child, and I also considered adding "manic depressive" to the list of conditions (which currently includes OCD) I should be sure NOT to mention to any school counselors.

And now I present to you, the jump.

When Connor watched the video, he laughed. When he watched the one where you can hear the lifeguard tweet at him (not present here), he asked "where is the part where I'm crying?".

So maybe he just has a feel for adding dramatic flair to movies?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Goal Accomplished and Suicide Attempt

This evening while we were at the pool, Connor decided he was going to go off the diving board. I asked the lifeguard if I could be in the deep end near the board when he went off in case anything went wrong, and she told me this was not allowed. She said that Connor would need to pass the swim test in order to go off the diving board, and that entails swimming 25 meters unassisted and then treading water for a minute. Possibly, Connor could do this, though it would take a L.O.N.G. time to swim across the pool. And afterwards, he would be fairly exhausted (his self-styled stroke is not the most efficient way to traverse the pool), so possibly jumping into the deep end of the pool would not be the smartest of moves.

I relayed the rules to Connor and he said he wanted to try it, so I went over to the lifeguard who was not in a chair watching the pool to let her know that Connor would like to go off the diving board, and I understood this to mean he needed to pass the swim test (even though a year ago a private instructor had cleared him to go). The head lifeguard was nearby and he has seen Connor swimming around all summer. He intervened and told me that Connor did not need to take the test. He said "he really only needs to be able to swim 3 meters. He'll be fine.", and so it was that Connor got to skip the swim test and head to the diving board. I waited on the side while Connor climbed up to the board. I glanced up at the lifeguard to make sure he was aware that a newbie was on the board. As Connor mounted the board, the head lifeguard sauntered over so that he could dive in, just in case things did not go as well as he predicted.

And Connor did it! He jumped in the pool, and swam to the side, and smiled. A really big smile. Some old neighbors of ours who knew it must be his first time off the board congratulated him on the feat.

And the next thing I heard?

"Now it's Helly's turn. Helly want to go off the diving board. Self. Self. Helly's turn now." And there was Helen, toddling to the deep end and then climbing up the diving board ladder. Unfortunately, Helen does not show any sign that she can predict when she is unable to accomplish something Connor can do, so unlike Connor at this age, I could not risk letting her walk the plank, realize she was in over her head, and turn around. Because if Helen walked to the edge of the diving board, you better believe Helen would jump off.

So I took an unhappy Helen to the shallow end and she jumped off the side and practiced floating on her back. I still hold her head when she is "floating" - but since Connor taught himself to float on his back about three weeks ago, Helen is convinced she can float on her back as well. In fact, while we were in Minnesota a week ago, she was rather surprised when she attempted this feat without my hands supporting her head and she ended up on the bottom of the pool rather than floating atop the water.

While I played with Helen, Connor jumped off the board another half dozen times, jumping off at the same time Ed jumped off the board next to the one he used (we had gone off together earlier).

Helen did have fun swimming tonight, but for about 20 minutes after I put her to bed this evening, I heard over the monitor. "Swimming. Helen go swimming. Helly's turn to jump off the diving board. Self. Self." I'm not sure if she was trying to convince herself that she went off the board, plotting to get to the board without being noticed so she can do it on our next trip, or just letting me know the injustice she suffered by virture of being 1 instead of 3.

We actually went to the pool twice today, and after our early afternoon swim, I knew Connor would attempt the diving board the next time he was at the pool (it was closed during our first trip). Unfortunately, I FORGOT MY VIDEO CAMERA so I did not capture the event on film. Connor did agree to help me make a movie of him jumping off the board the next time we went. However, he told me that maybe we should just make a movie of him swimming across the entire pool so that when Helen watched it, she didn't get upset. I thought that was very empathetic of him.

Congratulations, Connor. You've been working up to this for a long time. Connor announced on the ride home that he would like to do a twisting jump off the board next time, but Ed suggested that perhaps he should try from the side of the pool first. Hopefully, Connor will follow this sage advice.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Using his height to his advantage

After we returned from the beach the first day, our hotel room was filled with sand. Why? Because no one in my family realized that the Periwinkle Inn came with a lovely outdoor shower that could be used to rinse the sand off before entering one's hotel room. I was grateful that we were at a hotel rather than a rental house since that meant a magical person other than myself would show up with a vacuum at some point the next day to take care of the situation.

But after that first day, we got wise. We found the outdoor shower. And by day 3, Connor realized he was tall enough to operate it - though the fact that it was there to rinse sand off one's body after going in the ocean was a point lost on Connor. No, he preferred to use it just to cool off in the evening.

Here he is, showing off his job well done.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Second class citizen

During our recent vacation in Cape May, we spent an afternoon at the Wildwood amusement park. It was nice to go to the park, if only to confirm every bad stereotype about New Jersey I had ever been privvy to. You see, we spent almost all of our time in Cape Cod, and that town is super charming. Victorian homes line the streets and the beach is beautiful.

But Wildwood? Well, it's just a wee bit on the trashy side. But no matter. There were cars that went in circles that the little people could be strapped into which provided a couple of hours of fun. Note that Connor insisted that Helen ride on the back of the tractor rather than sitting with him.

Later, he allowed her to ride front-facing in a boat, but she had to sit in the backseat.

In spite of the second-class citizen treatment, and the surly look on her face, Helen had a great time and was hard to get away from the rides.


Monday, August 3, 2009

4th of July

I am a HUGE fan of fireworks. My love of them was started as a child when my father allowed us to purchase fireworks through the mail. Lots of fireworks. Seriously fun fireworks. Fireworks that went bang, fireworks that sparkled, fireworks that turned into little paper lanterns, fireworks that rolled around, spun, shot up in the air. You name it, my dad allowed us to get it. Except bottle rockets. I guess they were deemed too unsafe for pops. I remember poring over a catalog with my sister each year picking out what incredible fireworks we would be setting off on the 4th. They would come in inconspicuous boxes, because're not supposed to mail explosives. But dude, it was fun. And we did not run out. I remember setting small fires in my backyard one year as my friend Lisa and I lit smoke bombs and then threw them across the yard because the trailing smoke looked cool. Of course, at the end of the smoke bomb, a little fire shoots out, and if the grass is dry, that is not a good thing. Especially when your parent looks out the window and sees you refilling the "safety bucket of water" a few too many times.

Don't worry Dad, motherhood has not caused me to lose my touch - and Ed insists on the ol' safety bucket of water!

Connor does not share my love for exploding things. In fact, he will duck his head and do just about anything he can to avoid them. This all stems from some particularly noisy fireworks at a Nationals game two years ago.

But I live in Virginia. A state that allows people to purchase fireworks inside county limits. As in, there are fireworks stands within a mile of my home. So this year, I went to the stand, and I asked for everything that did not make noise - which is somewhat limited, but still includes a few fountains. I decided that I could possibly ease Connor into the idea of fireworks being cool, laying the groundwork for future years.

And much to my relief, it worked!

Over the course of a few days, Connor fell in love with fireworks (something I know I will regret in a few years), and he became expert at placing the firework, running away, then Ed would light it as he watched from the porch.

His friend Zoe got in on the action as well!

And Helen, of course, gets left out of nothing (except waking up early, but we're not telling her that anything goes on in the morning as she snoozes away).

The show was enjoyed by a small, but select crowd composed of individuals who go to bed prior to dark.