Sunday, March 13, 2011

Birthday presents

Much to the annoyance of certain children, I opened my first present before they got up on my birthday last week. I was cold and I knew what was in the package, if not the details, so I didn't wait for sleepy-heads!
Hand-knit socks from my mom! Warm and cozy and no holes. The only downside is that they look so cool and distinctive that if I wear them more than one day in a row, people might notice if I don't change my socks...

They came wrapped in comics (one of the few things I miss from the U.S.) and with a letter from Mom.

Despite all my years in Germany, I still don't "do" German-style birthdays. For one, even though this is my third (?) post about my own birthday, I don't get quite so hyperly excited about it as Germans are supposed to. It's fun. That's cool. But it's not that uncommon of an experience...everyone I know has a birthday every single year. Anyway, that also meant that much to the disappointment of some of my family members, I didn't have a big birthday breakfast (I had a bowl of granola, which took me about five minutes, and best worst of all, I had it almost entirely by myself), and I didn't open my presents early in the morning. I did, however, kowtowing to German tradition, clear off the top of the piano so that I could have a "birthday table"--a place to display my gifts.

After lunch everyone got drummed together again, and I opened my presents, starting with the one from the youngest. (Not counting Elisabeth, who worked very hard on hers all the night before and most of the day before finally presenting me with her first tooth late in the afternoon.) Helen gave me a duck in a waterball, something which I had just on Monday said (truthfully, but NOT meaning to hint!!) that I had "always wanted." More than one child I babysat as a teenager had one and I'd always kind of meant to get one for my babies, but never did. Now I have my very own, but I've been sharing it. :-)

Katie followed, with a candy cane, but the only photo I have of it is while it's hanging on my ear...

Then Lukas gave me a keychain, a McDonald's toy (given to him by someone else), a shell of some sort that he found last summer, and as an afterthought, a box of Belgian chocolate, but "only because Papa suggested it"--the other presents were the real ones. He also gave me a cool note:

Jacob gave me a puzzle AND the time (theoretically, anyway) in which to do it, with a coupon for a total of eight hours of babysitting. Cool wrapping, too:

Friday night during cell group I used part of the coupon, letting Jacob entertain Helen and Elisabeth in another room. Marie wasn't home and Lukas and Katie were already in bed.

Marie spent a great deal of time and effort on a whole pile of babysitting coupons, which I'm likewise looking forward to redeeming:

The card was in two and a half languages: English, Greek, and whatever one would call "thirty-ten". :-)

Jörn, the resident full-blood German, gave me three books AND speakers for my computer AND an external hard-drive:

Only two books are in the photo, the other one is in my bed, since that's usually the only place I get any reading done. And the speakers mean that Marie, Jörn, and I have started up our Greek lessons again, which we'd stopped a couple of weeks ago when the about-to-die speakers finally quit completely.
Jörn also made dinner and cleared up afterwards, which was no less appreciated because of the fact that he does that for nearly every family meal we have, every day of the year.

And in the evening, our friends Richard and Sue came for dinner, bringing with them THREE bars of Cadbury chocolate and my very first birthday card:

The top one is open in this photo, but the top two are now both nearly gone. (I did break down and share them, a little bit!) But I like to save the best for last, so haven't opened the caramel one yet, and it will be eaten selfishly in private!
Jacob made a scrumptious apple pie which didn't get properly photographed before being devoured, and Marie made my official birthday cake, chocolate with cream cheese frosting:

And that's enough birthday for me for this year, although I am looking forward to the card which will eventually arrive from Margaret and Phil in Germany, the only people in the whole world who have given me a card every single one of the last 20 years! It was sent in plenty of time, but mail service is a bit strange here.

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