Sunday, January 31, 2010

Joyeux Anniversaire, Iris!

When I see this picture, I see why Iris described this event as "fireworks at our table"! Quelle fête! Iris celebrated her sixth birthday in grand style - she'd dearly wanted to go to our favorite restaurant for her birthday lunch and so we did, and those wonderful people surprised her (and us!) with this festive fireworks - and a full chorus "Joyeux Anniversaire" in French. The owner has three children of her own, all grown (the oldest working in Lausanne (the region where half of my mom's Swiss family lives!), the second in the restaurant and the third, 14, at the "college" in town) and they were all there (which is apparently a rare occasion) so there was lots of sibling warmth in the room. It was a day of intense emotions in many ways - the owner's gesture for Iris's birthday made us feel so welcome as to feel at home, as though this was exactly the place we were meant to be all along. At the same time, there were moments in the day when Iris really seemed to feel the impact of turning another year older - she talked about having to be a new person and being scared of forgetting who she was when she was five (which I interpret as her re-inventing herself, as we all feel compelled to, when living abroad). Difficult to speak of change and transcendence, and rivers that flow with different currents but are still the same rivers - but by the end of the day, Iris seemed to have settled into her "new" self.

The day started with Oliver and Eleanor wanting to decorate the downstairs and "surprise" Iris - here you see her emerging with her dad and discovering her siblings' festive decorations. Oliver was so completely into this part - he even used toilet paper to make streamers (it kind of is like crêpe paper, I guess). Iris was delighted.

We were all also pretty excited about her birthday present, which she had chosen the day before in Pontivy. Here you see the post-wrapping paper glee of re-discovery. We loooove the good people at Playmobil!

Why do I have an irresistible urge to shop at Ikea?

My chronology is all off for today (it was all a wonderful blur), but basically, we arose, decorated the downstairs, opened the present, played and played with it, went out to lunch, and then Iris got to choose our after lunch walk route - she loves walking up the main street in town and the promenade at the top of the hill. Here she is, all of 6, at the Place de la Resistance, which is entirely appropriate for my plucky and brave little girl. Of course there were reminiscences throughout the day of her birth and of her exploits on this earth thus far - kind of silly, but this is when her memories start, too. I love this calm, thoughtful look here.

And "Ta-daaa!" - here is Iris's birthday cake, Douceur et Fraîcheur - a light and gorgeous combination of a raspberry mousse with a lemon mousse - and yes, that's Iris reaching for a raspberry from the top of the cake upon which was written: "Joyeux Anniversaire, Iris, 6 ans." It was scrumptious and was another highlight of the day. :-)

So this was a great day - we celebrated wonderful Iris and being a kid; I put aside my anxieties for the day (will the children really learn French? do we speak too much English with them? am I really going to produce two book chapters, two new courses, and a conference paper? etc.) - ar-hum, I put aside my anxieties and reveled in all the possibilities that our kids make us see. Happy Birthday, sweet Iris.

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