Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Eleanor!

Giving a day over to a birthday is an unmatched luxury. The world is very much in turmoil as we watch news of Bangkok, hear about the progressive banning of the "voile intégrale," and follow the BP oil leak disaster. But today we didn't keep up with the news, we entered the kids' world which, to my mind, is nicely illustrated by Iris's cozy little Playmobile set-up of this morning. For today's was ELEANOR'S FOURTH BIRTHDAY, and we celebrated it all day. Both Oliver and Iris were very protective of her today, often putting their arms around her shoulders, congratulating her on her birthday - it was as though she were getting a degree or some such. Moving from 3 to 4 does seem like an amazing leap - the continuing emergence into the public sphere (where, actually, Eleanor has spent most of her life), the increasing consciousness of self in said public sphere (and the private one, too), more motor skills, greater expectations, new ideas, surprising realizations - it all awaits her.

So we went out to the Guethennoc, of course, for her birthday lunch. Here she is with her true love, a purple bunny that she saw at the English Book Shop (a little lad named, of all things, Raffles) around Easter, and has wanted ever since. Where before it had been out of the question, with a birthday it became possible, and the truth is, she had that bunny at her side all day long, and already can't wait to take it to school tomorrow for her nap. For now, she and Iris are all about the "moules marinières" (mussels in a wine sauce) - here are two tiny clips to demonstrate:

First, Mademoiselle Eleanor's serious intent...

Then, Iris's meticulous precision...

It was a pretty swell meal. :-) Oliver did indeed eat his new favorite delicacy: snails in that famed garlic herb sauce - this time Iris tried one, too (nope), as did Eleanor (yea!). And then, the dear, dear Madame of the Guethennoc and her crew came forth with a little party for our girl.

She was clearly daunted by the sparkler, but, you know, all part of growing up and all. We then shot a little video in which each sibling gave Eleanor his or her good wishes for her birthday. This one's a bit longer (1 and a half minutes), so apologies if you're pressed for time!

You can see why the family joke is that it's sometimes serious, responsible Iris who's going to take care of us in our dotage (although Mac already fears whatever exercise and vitamin regimen she will design for us). Dear, goofy Oliver will keep us laughing, and amazing little Eleanor (always little, right? no, I know) will keep us wondering.

We had a lovely afternoon after this, going off to Ploermel for "un petit quelque chose" (a little something) for the birthday girl (Playmobile ruled the day again - and in a nifty carrying case). The hairbrush was her desire to "show you I can brush my own hair now that I'm older." So there she is, my little big girl. Four years ago, the World Soccer Championships were going on, and here the world is gearing up for them again - I remember pacing the back patio with infant Eleanor reading a New Yorker article about the Soccer Championships, and that watching a good bit of it (Switzerland did really well that year) while in a total nursing haze. Good times.

But lest reminiscences overtake us, let us eat cake! When we went to choose her cake Monday afternoon, Eleanor pointed to the millefeuille and said "Ceci!" - I quickly cautioned, "Ooo, I don't think you can make a cake out of that, sweetheart." Wrong again! You can! And if you're a kid turning 4, you get four cool "bonbons" on it, too! She went with webbed instead of powdered - super classy. And incredibly delicious after a dinner of veal with eggplant and tomatoes.

Cads that we are, we had no birthday candles, so we used the ones in the gorgeous candle-holders from the house. There's Iris belting out "Joyeux Anniversaire" and Eleanor waiting to blow out her candles (each one being, of course, a double candle). Look at the anticipation in those still-pudgy fingers! The determination!

Happy birthday, my darling girl. May your most fervent wishes always come true.


  1. Dear sweet Eleanor,
    you are a fabulous little/big girl and I can't wait to see you back here in Greencastle. We'll do something special to mark the event, I promise.

  2. A bit late, but sincere all the same! Happy, happy birthday to sweet Eleanor (and to you, the mama,papa,and sibs too). What a wonderful moment when this amazing soul entered your family...much and joy and happiness to you all!
    The day looks perfect lovely in every way. You guys always know how to do it up right.


    ps—9 days!!!!...can you believe it?!!!!

  3. Thank you, dear friend

    we're counting down over here - soon (soon!) it will be by the hour!!!

    love love