Christmas tree bonfire 2016

…or the rise and fall of Mr. Cutey-Pants

A new Christmas tree lot sprung up in our neighborhood this year so we stuck to our easiest-possible tree option and went there–half a mile! (Last year’s tree trip was mile and a half to the adjacent neighborhood.) The seven-block trip meant the kids could ride their own bikes there and back for a new touch. p.s. uphill there, downhill home, so that was nice for me as the tree toter. Next year I think we’ll grab our tree on a weekend so we can get a daylight picture…because it’s all about the photo op ;)

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I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to carry both kids and tree like last year because no bike load really feels like it “counts” if I don’t also have to squeeze the kids on. I’m sure this feeling will fade as the kids ride their own bikes more and more. But then I did get a chance to carry kids and conifer to the bonfire. Last year I left the kids behind, but carried two trees for double the fun. I was sad to see my neighbor had chopped his huge tree up and stick it in the yard waste bin because that made for a fun load last year…though there’s no way I could have fit kids with all that tree. And again with the early sunset: we dashed out to take a picture with our lone tree halfway through getting ready for the bonfire while there was still a bit of light.

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There were some impressive trees on the ride. Lots of people strap them to their backs–trees even bigger than ours! And lots of trailers piled with multiple trees–I think even six in one case.

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The bonfire was awesome, but we didn’t stay long given the late hour.

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The kids are usually asleep by 8pm, but we stayed out until 9pm and didn’t get home until 10pm. I was impressed that they stayed awake most of the way home, but my six-year old conked out around 9:40 and my eight-year old ten minutes later.

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Here’s the part where I hope no one is still reading and feel obligated to share the coal as well as the candy canes…

Overall, it was a terrific night and the kids had a blast. But evening rides are tricky. Even in the summer I find it hard to leave for an afternoon ride from home so we tend to make a big day of it, leaving home at 10am and gradually making our way to the ride start. For this ride, school got out at 3:45 and we left home at 4:45 while we still had energy and momentum. We stopped for sushi dinner on the way to the start of the bonfire ride. One kid only eats sockeye salmon nigiri–and a lot of it–which isn’t technically part of the “coal” of the evening, but his expensive tastes are going to keep us away from sushi for a while! He spit out a bad grape at one point (not too big a deal), but his brother ate two pieces of an avocado roll too quickly and puked them out onto the table at the end of our meal. Fun, fun.

We headed to Westlake Park 45 minutes early so the kids could play in the little playground. Of course they were already hungry again so I bought two little bags of chips at the hot dog stand. The one kid opted to save his for later and the other ate his at the top of the climbing structure. He spilled half of them (if only he had listened to his mother who suggested he eat them at ground level!), but seemed more apologetic about the mess than sad about the lost treat.

Minutes later my snack spiller tripped while attempted a leap onto the silver climbing mounds and face planted into one. That led to a lot of screaming and a little bit of blood, but he bounced back surprisingly quickly.

One good part! I was able to convince them both to don rain pants over their regular pants for an extra layer of warmth. They’re often not keen to layer up…we’re still getting into the hang of dressing for cold weather. Mind you, this is preceded by many reminders that there will be extra layering up at some point. It helps immensely to introduce the idea (and reiterate multiple times) of later layering when everyone is inside and complacent.

Pulling out of Westlake Park, I lost the red blinky light off the back of the tree. In retrospect, I had it on for the important solo part of our ride to the start and I think it fell off right in the park so hopefully someone found it and is putting it to good use (thanks again, Planet Bike, for the box of lights! A few for the kids, but most have been passed along to grateful friends in need).

I think they enjoyed the ride and I pointed out the people they had met before, but they tend to keep to themselves in groups so they didn’t return any greetings. I tried to convince them to sit facing one another so they could chat (“Talk about secret stuff!” as they like to say), but they felt they fit best with the front kid forward and the rear kid sidesaddle. Had the tree not been so crunchy, they may have been fine each draping one leg over it.

Somewhere along the way I lost the saved bag of chips from my front basket. Some days that would have been met with yelling and punching, but either the excitement of the ride or the late hour, meant the chipless kid was only mildly upset.

The next little hiccup was upon arriving at the beach when my eight-year old saw the NO BONFIRES sign. Fortunately, it also said EXCEPT IN DESIGNATED AREAS so I was able to convince him our bonfire was legit. He’s a mini police officer and a stickler for all rules. We watched a few trees burn, but my six-year old was done pretty quickly (he warned me ahead of time he didn’t like looking at fire because it makes his eyes water) so we headed out.

While I was unlocking the bike the eight-year old spent a minute mourning the loss of Mr. Cutey-Pants. Oh, I forgot to mention they named our tree and were initially opposed to the idea of burning it. I think next year we’ll look into getting a Trees for Salmon live tree from Swansons Nursery. I joke that the only reason I get a tree in the first place is to burn it so I’ll ask my neighbor for dibs on his tree post-Christmas before it’s too late.

So:
* puke
* spilled chips
* screaming
* blood
* lost light
* lost chips
* suspicion of illegal fire
* smoke-in-the-eyes
* mourning of burned tree

Merry bonfire!

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