My husband likes his birthdays to be simple and quiet — no fanfare or surprise parties for him, thank you very much. Despite my attempts over the years to encourage him to celebrate his birthdays with a little more gusto, it’s certainly made birthday planning much easier on me.
This past Saturday was B’s first birthday as a dad, which sparked numerous fun ideas in this any-excuse-for-a-party head of mine. But I reminded myself that it would be the little things that mattered to him, so I kept it low key — which totally paid off.
While he slept in, I helped the girls blow up little balloons to decorate his dining room chair.
Then we got to work on one of his favorite brunches: fluffy spelt pancakes with maple syrup, thick-cut bacon from a favorite farm, winter fruit salad, and a steamy cup of coffee. When he came downstairs to eat, the girls couldn’t wait to give him the drawings they made for him the day before, pulling out the envelope to show him all of their creations.
Later, we went to B’s favorite local museum: The Walters. The girls were intrigued by the art and artifacts — including the nude male sculptures, which they pointed at repeatedly, asking, “Mommy, what’s that?”
The Walters’ permanent medieval collection contains some Ethiopian religious art, which was fun to view with the girls. They loved the Chamber of Wonders — a room filled with exotic collections of bugs and butterflies, sea creatures and animal skins, among all the other paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.
For dinner, we dined at one of B’s favorite neighborhood restaurants. While he sipped on the best Manhattan he’s ever had, the girls chowed down on a thin-crust pizza and braised chickpeas in olive oil. (We’re amazed at how well these girls do in restaurants.) Before leaving, the co-owner surprised us with small mugs of decadently rich hot chocolate accompanied by a large bowl of enormous scoops of homemade ice cream — complete with a candle on top. This was S and H’s first ice cream since coming home, and they were mighty impressed.
After getting home, the girls were determined that Daddy blow out more candles, but we didn’t have an appropriate dessert item, so I filled a small bowl with pomegranate seeds, stuck two candles in them, and B enjoyed an off-tune happy birthday melody sung with Ethiopian accents.
He said it was his best birthday ever.
Images: Zoe Saint-Paul