Owen's second birthday party went off well on Friday, with the Man of Honour looking very pleased and repeating "Choo Choo Train!" in excited tones to everyone around him, looking delightedly at the train painted in frosting across the top of his cake. Amid all the bustle of having the "party" part of the day before dinner so that Donna could get away in time for her overnight retreat with other women from her church, I was especially pleased to finally take what I thought was a first-rate picture of all the gang. When I first met them, they were four, and now they're eight – and that pretty much makes for a loud, happy party whenever the two families come together.
Owen was also particularly excited about the adventure of getting to blow out the candles on his cake, and repeatedly requested "More blow!" through the afternoon, which lead Mike, Dan and I to make lots of cocaine jokes, to the initial confusion of the ladies. Other exciting moments included a first encounter with the idea of jumping rope for Anna and Renée, although we quickly decided that using the short rope in combination with a bent-in-half, six-foot-two Dan trying to demonstrate how to jump was a singularly bad idea. At least the girls got the idea down. They then had lots of fun swinging the rope around, and then decided it was just more fun to tie themselves up with it or to tie themselves together and just giggle about being unable to move.
Grown-up conversation centered quite a bit around ecology and economics, with a long riff on the benefits – real and imagined – of ethanol in our fuel economy today, and its impact on food availability and prices world-wide. I've been out of the news loop for a few weeks with all the grading and such that's part of the end of the semester, and so an apparent U.N. complaint about the amount of American grain now being diverted to fuel had gotten past me without my noticing it, but Mike and Dan turned it into a lively bit of conversation and speculation. We had a certain amount of current Department of Theology politics to talk over, and then I think as the guys got into more presidential politics or somesuch, Amy and I talked instead about the new Grey's Anatomy episodes that had been broadcast. After a week of near-constant grading, this was all part of a good reward.