Yes, it has been over a week since Elizabeth and Julian turned 11, but their birthday parties were just this weekend so I thought I would hold off until those were complete before posting. 90 minutes ago Tom and I clinked our wine glasses together (yes, Stephanie, I had another glass of wine although it was cheap and bad and will now only be used for recipes like the lasagna I made tonight) and celebrated the successful completion of two more parties. Wahoo.
In between our trip to London and our trip to Rome, Julian & Elizabeth requested a day at home for their birthday. We much obliged, knowing we would also enjoy some downtime after both trips. We did ask what they would like for their birthday meals as sometimes either lunch or dinner includes a meal out. Again, they were interested in staying in and particularly requested my tomato tarte and quiche lorraine. I was so pleased! Clearly Tom has been the primary chef in our home. I love to bake…the process and the scientific exactness that is typically required in order to have positive results. Cooking is more of a creative process and creativity is not one of my strengths. I can look in a refrigerator and say, “We have nothing to eat.” Tom can look at the same contents and pull together something complete and, usually, quite delicious. So I have been very excited by my successful endeavors in the kitchen while in Paris. Granted, even my cooking still tends toward baking…quiche and tartes both require a crust and, oh, I’m loving the experiments with cakes. More on that later.
Elizabeth and Julian also requested that gifts be unwrapped in the morning so they could have the day to enjoy them. Being that their birthday fell during the Toussaint holiday, having the day off allowed us to do some of the celebrating in the morning. Our only concern was that Tom was out of town the day before and told them he would not be home until the afternoon of their birthday. Armed with that information, they planned to save a couple presents to unwrap when he arrived.
Imagine their surprise when they found him home birthday morning! He made arrangements to be complete all his work in one day and got back that same night. They were already a-snooze so didn’t have any idea he had arrived. I love surprises.
When we packed for Paris, we did so in a minimalistic fashion. But certain items had to come including the Birthday Hat. Well, when you have two people celebrating their birthday on the same day, you need to have an additional “something” atop your head so we also have a birthday crown. They woke up to a table of goodies which included gifts, cards and some items that are present at each birthday: the birthday hat, birthday crown, a box of 100 wishes, a birthday music box and birthday sprinkles.
Presents this year included Legos (always a favorite!), shirts, scarves, puzzles, soccer jerseys, gym bags, fleeces, stickers, board games, books and a Bento box for school lunch (this has been on Elizabeth’s list for a LONG time). Everyone was pleased and after a breakfast of almond croissants they enjoyed the rest of the morning with their new things. I had a surprise lunch ready: friend Barb snuck me a family-sized box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Ah, there were cries of elation (that would be Elizabeth) when they came to the table! Afternoon? More of the same. Sounds boring, right? They were SO HAPPY. Dinner rolled around and besides walking Chili and a trip to the bakery for me and Tom, none of us left the apartment. Dinner was, of course, tomato tarte, quiche lorraine, fruit and a baguette. Julian is not a chocolate fan so I made a cinnamon cake (another success!). Due to the oval shape of my only cake pan, when I added the white candles to form the shape of the number “11”, it made the cake look like an American football. Oh well.
That night as we snuggled in and said our prayers, Julian said, “This was the best birthday ever.” When you’ve spent all day in a tiny apartment with only your immediate family of Mom, Dad and sisters…well, that was just about the best compliment ever.
But no young person’s birthday is really complete unless you can celebrate with friends, too, so that’s what we did this weekend.
On Friday, Elizabeth had five friends sleepover (two more weren’t able to make it). Besides the fact that the girls hailed from Argentina, Spain, Italy, France and the US, 5th grade girls are the same everywhere giggles and all. Collecting and trading stickers is a big deal so stickers were included in most gifts. For those of you a few years younger than me, you probably still have your own sticker books…I know Natalie does! They ate, giggled, played Twister and La Bonne Paye, watched a movie, had cake (best homemade chocolate icing EVER!!) and ice cream and sang Happy Birthday in Spanish which I thought was funny. They were all sweet and polite and I love getting little kisses from polite European girls. The first of the guests left at 9am the next morning on her way to her field hockey game and others were soon to follow. One down, one to go.
Boys can be another story. Today Julian invited four friends to the Paris aquarium which is just a five minute walk from our house. Marcus, from Poland, couldn’t join us so we had only three…Malakey from the U.K, Eugene from Korea and Kiryu from Japan. Unfortunately, the aquarium wasn’t the best but the boys were fine and Tom and I were able to keep them in there and entertained for at least a couple of hours. Our plan was to then walk home for “sweets” (as Malakey would say). But because we had enough time, we walked over to our soccer field to let them enjoy Julian’s new soccer ball and run off some steam. With one hour left, the boys came back to the apartment to open gifts, enjoy a few sweets and play with some new Legos. But they wore me out more than the girls, that’s for sure!
I am happy to say I love my kids. They are good hosts and good friends. Them getting older doesn’t making me feel older but it does make me realize how few years I have left to have them all to myself. Especially on birthdays. I wonder if they’ll let me send them the birthday hat when they are in college. Or, better yet, deliver it in person.