Launching the year at the lake

Tomorrow is The Boy's 16th (!!!) birthday. And Friday was my dad's decidedly-not-16th birthday. So we spent the last four days visiting Dad and Stepmom at the Lake Castle, enjoying a late Christmas and double birthday getaway.

When The Boy was born, my dad told me very sternly, "Now, make sure he gets a separate birthday celebration every year. None of this setting aside one Christmas present and calling it his birthday present. The birthday is a totally separate thing."

I grinned and said, "Dad, are we working out some childhood traumas or something?" He muttered something under his breath. Snerk.

It's not just that a weekend at the lake is a chance to catch up with my dad and stepmom, or that their house is big, comfortable and warm. (Ye Olde DSG Inc. gets a little drafty in winter.) It's also wonderfully quiet. Our cells barely work. It's delightful to be mostly beyond the realm of electronic communication. Conversation, with words and voices! It's amazing!

There is internet, of course; they're not barbarians. I even pretended to work a little.

We scouted out the outlet shops, which enabled us to pick up a few needs at great prices and enabled them to spoil The Boy rotten with birthday presents. And he's already pretty rotten... I did double up on the cake, though I have promised to make an Oreo pie for His Majesty tomorrow. Which is perfectly fair for a woman who just started a diet. Argh.

We saw Into the Woods, which was a delightful and surprisingly faithful adaptation of the Sondheim musical and only made one or two changes that really felt noticeable. We toured Bridal Cave, adding to our list of cave walks that have become a regular habit and snagging me a few more photos. As we exited, a disgruntled bat buzzed us overhead and Jim immediately dubbed him Bruce. Because we are nerds.

We also went to their local Eagle Days, at a lovely cabin with an amazing view of the Lake of the Ozarks. The eagles were a bit far away for a good view, so The Boy told me in the car that he'd like to return to the next Eagle Days at Chain of Rocks Bridge here in sunny St. Louis. Or at least I hope it's sunny. If it's cold like it has been since we got back, we might turn into peoplesicles out there. After leaving Dad and Karen, we went to the other Eagle Days site and saw a neat presentation about raptors, including a peregrine falcon (and the inevitable side discussion of My Side of the Mountain, a book both Boy and I love) and a turkey vulture with the most beautiful wings.

We ate way too much, laughed a great deal, enjoyed catching up with the family and generally rested up from the holiday hurly-burly before heading home to return to the work-school round robin that is our daily life. We had an awesome time as usual, and we miss the folks very much since we can no longer simply drop by and yammer with them for an hour or three like we did when they lived in town. Boy stated his wish to return multiple times this summer, for boating and fishing and hiking and generally driving them crazy - wait, some of that might be my interpretation.

New Year is here. Back to work. Back to school. Back to life. But if you tried to reach us for the first four days of 2015, you probably didn't have much luck. We didn't mean to ignore you... we were just taking a break.