...or blissfully knackered, to be more accurate.

Two absolutely wonderful, if exhausting, days, celebrating Lily's sixth (sixth!) birthday in the company of fine friends.

Our extraordinarily full and rewarding Saturday started out on a high note, with breakfast and Lily's bithday presents. There are few things more warming to a father's heart than to see that look of pure, unfiltered joy in your child's eyes.

Clearly, the flashy new rollerblades were a big hit. She lost no time testing them out (even though she was already togged up for Saturday morning ballet class). I think the leotard and ballet skirt give her that whole 70s roller disco queen thing.

After ballet and a quick change into one of her new birthday dresses, Lily set out for a friend's birthday party at the movies (to see Madagascar). Shortly after, I took a quick trip up the road to rescue our afternoon guests, AKMA and Margaret, from the labyrinth of Victoria Park subway station.

A long, slow, calm afternoon followed - the kind of purposeful idleness that soothes the soul and lifts the spirits. AKMA and Margaret were warm, funny, and completely charming in person - exactly as I'd imagined they would be, even though we'd never even spoken until yesterday afternoon. Character and charisma absolutely can come across online. People are people - they're just who they are. Whether through far-removed, pixel-based connections, or up close, in your face and hand-in-hand - the person comes through. We have DSL filters on our phone lines, but they don't block voice.

One of our favourite, lazy ways to spend a weekend afternoon - at any time of year - is to take a slow stroll through the Glen Stewart Ravine, down to Queen St. East and onwards to the beach. We were blessed and utterly charmed to be able to share the walk with AKMA and Margaret.

Lovely to get to see our neighbourhood through visitors' eyes - especially two such perceptive, delightful visitors. Also particularly flattered that our "blog-relatives" chose to share a chunk of their very special 23rd wedding anniversary celebrations with us. Thank you, AKMA and Margaret, for everything. Congratulations again on your anniversary. May you continue to love as long as you live, and live as long as your love.

After the obligatory stop for frozen dairy product and a barefoot meander down to the beach, it was time to wave goodbye, all too soon, to our guests. We trekked back up from the beach and across Queen Street - making sure to observe appropriate Toronto street crossing procedure ...

... then introduced AKMA and Margaret to the special charms of the 501 streetcar ride, as they zipped off (or trundled, perhaps - it is a streetcar, after all) to meet up with the very fine Joey DeVilla for dinner and the obligatory musical accompaniment.

We polished off Lily's big day with a special supper at one of the local nosheries, then marched, dog-tired, back up the hill. Knackered, but heartwarmed.

Today's birthday party was an altogether noisier and more hectic affair. Billed "The 2005 Lilylympic Games" - we hosted ten little of Lily's best friends for a good old-fashioned garden birthday party. The complete schedule of events included:

20M Wheelbarrow Sprint
Hands-Free Balloon Relay (Leona's inspired idea - pairs of giggling girls, crab-walking down the garden with a balloon held between them)
Three-Legged Race (which then dissolved into unbridled silliness when I got the idea of turning it into a 7-legged race - long story)
Strawberry & Spoon Marathon
Parcel Relay (pass-the-parcel)

There was a short break for refreshments (cake!) and present opening, followed by thirty minutes of freestyle waterslide.

Chaotic, nutty joy.

Happy birthday, baby girl. We love you very much.