Showing blog posts tagged with: birthdays

Weekend in Paris

by Hilla Duka - View comments

 

Ilir in Montmartre by sunset

As Ilir's birthday approached, I wracked my brain to come up with the perfect way to celebrate him. In the past I've tended to forget his birthday (it's June first, which honestly just sneaks up on you when you're busy with May, so really it's not my fault at all), but this year was different, for many reasons. Ilir turned forty, for one thing. I've never celebrated a fortieth birthday before, but I had a feeling it should be a big deal. So for the day, I kidnapped Ilir and took him for an afternoon off work and musts, while my mum and brother picked the kids up and let the caterers in (ordinarily Ilir does all the cooking for birthday dinners, and I wanted him to do no work for the day, hence the luxury of catering).

Catering buffet all set up on the kitchen table

As we toasted to him, the kids told him of our present: "You... And... Mum... Will... Go... To... PARIS!" And so we did. We took 48 hours just for our selves, and went to Paris. For me it was a sweet reunion with a city I love and haven't seen in years, for Ilir it was his first trip there. Paris is an amazing place, but you need to stay away from the touristy places, and at the same time, when you go for the first time you do want to see the sites, at least some. We settled for the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe together with a walk down Champs Elysee and the Jardin du Luxenbourg. Oh, and a walk to Sacre Coeur, to see the view of Paris from the top. We tried to not eat close to any of the sites, but had no choice but to sit down for a drink or two as it was really hot and I got tired. 

 

Monmortre by twilight

 

This was our first trip together, just the two of us, and it was amazing to have time together, to realise how much fun we have together.

 

bottle of red wine

 

Ilir normally doesn't drink much, and normally I don't mind, but it was actually so lovely to share a bottle of wine and just sit and chat for hours. Holiday mode accomplished.

 

flowers on a market place in Paris

 

Food market in Paris

We walked past this little impromptu food market, where Ilir got feeling and started raving about fresh ingredients and how you wouldn't find this in Sweden... I suppose he's right in a sense, but at the same time there must be outdoor food markets in Stockholm too, right? Let me know if you've got any tips for me!

Peak of Sacre Coer

 

Sacre Coer

 

Sacre Coeur is so impossibly beautiful, inside out, and the view from the top is breathtaking - I challenged myself to climb to the top, and we got there just as the sun was going down, lending soft, long rays of warm light to the scene. So beautiful.

 

Flower shop in Paris

 

Gorgeous little flower shops - like little pieces of heaven. Magical!

 

sunlight on a Paris street

 

Chasing the light down the picturesque but cute cobblestone streets in Montmartre.

 

The bridges of Paris

 

The next day we went walking by the Seine. We started by Pont Neuf, with no real plan whatsoever, except maybe get to the Jardin du Luxembourg - one of the prettiest parks in Paris.

 

Ilir looking at an olive tree by the Seine

 

Lovely flower shops with old olive trees and sweet smelling lavender filled the streets, neighbouring cold, boring pet shops sadly selling Chihuahua puppies...

 

furniture shop by the Seine in Paris

 

Past little interior decorating shops overlooking the river. I would seriously buy everything in this shop and never redecorate again!

 

Levender flowers by the Seine

 

The kids really wanted some pictures from the Eiffel Tower, and Ilir wanted to see it too, so we steered our steps towards the giant construction, making sure to stop by Jardin du Luxembourg first.

 

Ilir in Jardin du Luxembourgh

 

Palm trees, pools where children sail miniature boats and ordered rows of square shaped trees. Lovely and serene in the middle of the busiest part of Paris, even though it's filled with tourists.

 

The Eiffel Tower from afar

 

And then we continued on to the Eiffel Tower. It was a lovely, warm day, the sun shining and birds chirping, and we settled down on the grass before the giant construction.

 

Ilir in front of the Eiffel tower

 

Goofing around by the Eiffel Tower

 

The obligatory Eiffel Tower photos for the kids...

 

Me by a rose buch in Paris

 

Ilir tried his hand at photography, even though he decided my camera has too many settings...

 

roses by the Eiffel Tower

 

And after a final dinner (consisting of sadly boring food - France is great for ingredients, and if you settle for wine and cheese you eat little pieces of heaven, but the cooking is bland...) we went to prepare for an early start back, at this point missing the kids and thinking two nights away was probably the exact right amount! Two magic days in Paris - I'm so happy and thankful for it!

 

art deco restaurant in Paris


Birthday celebrations

by Hilla Duka - View comments

jacob birthday morning

Yesterday we celebrated my clever, strong willed, highly opinionated and very charming son Jacob turning eight. As I constantly overestimate the time I have at hand compared to the time it will take me to do anything, I first went into town for a meeting, and a lunch date with two lovely friends from work. 

decorations for jacobs birthday party

When I finally got home I was exhausted, and still had to decorate and clean and make a cake (planning ahead aparently doesn't work for me), thankfully I had lots of help from Jonathan, but by the time the guests arrived I was knackered and lay panting on the sofa - charming...

baloons birthday party

Balloons for my lovely boys.

Jacob opening presents

Still, decorations and preparation matter little to birthday boys - presents and cake are way more important. Ever since Jonathan got a phone for his eighth birthday, Jacob's been impatiently awaiting his own eighth birthday, hoping for a phone of his very own. He was thrilled to unwrap his present and find an iPhone 4.

Aidan our cat watching over the birthday celebrations

One of our more special cats, Aidan (the one who thinks he's a dog and has no tail), helped with the wrapping paper. The rest of us are a bit unsure as to what he was helping with, but he was most happy to do it.

jacobs birthday cake

And then, presents had and dinner gulped down, came time for cake. Dark chocolate with strawberries had been ordered, so I didn't really have to get creative at all.

And then the party was over, the guests leaving and the kids climbing happily into their beds. And despite stressing out and feeling inadequate most of the afternoon, I sat down and looked at the mess around me, and felt so happy and grateful. Another birthday when we're all together. 


Celebrating and commemorating

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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My lovely little Milo - not so little anymore, is turning six today, so obviously we have major reason for celebrating! He’s still not speaking clearly, and the baby curls still fall in lovely little ringlets around his shoulders and down his back. His amazingly long and curly eyelashes hit nearly upon his eyebrows, and when he smiles, my heart misses a beat. He’s funny and charming and impossibly headstrong, and clever and inventive as well. He’s at that stage where he’s still a bit of a small boy, and at the same time growing into a big boy with big ideas.  I’m so unbelievably proud of him - of all my boys of course, but today is Milo’s day.

 

Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s birthday, she would have been 93 but passed away five years ago. I don’t mark her day of passing, but her birthday instead. I was very close to her, though I probably felt closer to her than she did to me - after all she had many other grandchildren, but my other grandparents were in Israel and I didn’t see them often or talk to them often. Being with grandmother was a refuge from everyday life. I loved the freedom of being with her, she just accepted me the way I was, and it  was a simple and respectful togetherness - I accepted that there were things she wouldn’t talk to me about, and she did me the same turn. Instead, she taught me cooking, baking, sewing and crocheting. And while we worked, she told me little stories from her childhood, that became little treasures for me. I’d learnt not to ask myself, as there was no knowing what she wanted to share and not, but whenever she would share a small bit, I sat listening with rapt attention, savoring every word. I need to write those stories down for the kids for the future.

 

Even when I was quite young, I don’t think I could have been more than ten, my grandmother started talking about her impending death. Not in a morbid way at all, I think she was just trying to prepare me for a time when she wouldn’t be there. It was just small things, like going for a stroll in the spring and her wondering if she would be here to see next spring. After all, she’d already said goodbye to most of her siblings, so wondering would be natural I suppose. The last time we spoke before she died, she told me “It’s quite alright, I’m more than willing to go now”. When my kids went through the phase of worrying about death, that’s what I told them. “People go when it’s time for them to go - when they’re ready” I hope that’s true, because then I’ll be around for a long time. I’m not anywhere near ready to go, not any time soon! I want to raise my kids, see them grow up into teenagers and adolescents and grown ups, find their person and maybe have kids of their own. I want to grow old.

 

Today, I’m so thankful that I get to be here for Milo’s sixth birthday! I had my third treatment yesterday, so I don’t have tons of energy, but I’m here, and that’s enough. I can cuddle him up, pour kisses on him and touch is soft curls. I can tell him I love him and how proud I am of him, and I get the pleasure of seeing him opening his gifts, hopefully being delighted with them. I get to hear him play with his brothers. All of these things I’m grateful for. Six years ago, he was a healthy, sturdy and absolutely brand new person, and I did as all new parents do - counted his toes and fingers, touched his little button nose and his impossibly soft skin, stared into his blue eyes, thinking he was absolute perfection, and how lucky I was to get to be his mother. That’s what I’m thinking about today - actually what I think about most days now - how lucky I am to get to be their mother.

 

Birthday circus

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Milo turned five a few weeks ago, and for his birthday got a trip to the circus for the whole family. While I was less than thrilled, all of the kids where excited to go - all though Jacob expressed some concers about the clowns and whether or not they where frightening. 

 

We all ended up having a wonderful time. The kids from watching the show, and me from watching the kids. It really was amazing seeing how they reacted to all of it. Jonathan with shining eyes, on the edge of his seat, laughing and clapping. Milo watching, and without realising it doing the movements along with the performers. And Jacob sitting as still as a statue, nothing registering on the outside, just taking it all in. He was quite concerned about the elephants, and had that one lost its tusks, and did she not look sad. He is such an animal lover...

One of the best things, as far as the boys where  concerned, was the candy floss. Milo ended up having spun sugar all over his face, his hair - everywhere. After the show two kids where asleep, while the third declared it to have been the best night of his life. All in all - worth it. 


Happy IHAD!

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Happy IHAD, or International Hilla Appreciation Day!

Today is my birthday, though a few years ago I changed it and instead founded IHAD - a day of sipping champagne (whilst staying only tipsy the whole day, it's harder than it sounds!) and people come from near and far (though mostly near, to be honest) to tell me how wonderfull I am. Those are the only rules, the rest you play by ear, but there must be champagne and compliments. 

When I established IHAD a few years ago, I was getting painfully aware that I was no longer simply thirty, but in my thirties. This took the fun out of my birthday, and of course, part of the brilliance of the IHAD is that it doesn't focus on the year, it's simply a cellebration. Like christmas. 

Unfortunately, the kids did not react well to all the exitement and the flow of visitors, and where over exited and high on sugar, and at eachothers throats all day long, but apart from that it was a brilliant day. And since it's IHAD, I got to put on my prettiest dress and my highest heels and my heaviest necklace and therefor felt quite as wonderful as everyone was (forced to) telling me I was. Now the monsters boys are in bed, all the visitors have left, and I'm enjoying some quiet time on my lovely balcony. 

Truly, I think IHAD is one of my best inventions, and unless your name starts with an S or an M, you should copy it! (Sorry, but ISAD or IMAD is just not going to work...)

 

Photo taken by Jonas Forsberg