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A sweet 4th birthday in Laos

A family sitting at the table with a cake

We tried to make Vientiane truly feel like home for Eilir’s birthday. She had been waiting with such anticipation for her party, starting a countdown 27 days in advance, inquiring if she would have a jumpy house and if her friends would be there. When we explained that it would be a more intimate party of four, with just the family, she suggested we could perhaps invite the waiters from the hotel, or our porters and guides from the trek, but we explained that we had to carry on and would be in a new land.

A couple of boxes filled with shells and food.

A family tradition of ours is to decorate with cloth sewn flags on birthdays. We improvised on this trip to decorate with hand made crayon colored paper flags, a tradition that will likely persist post the end of our trip.

The night before Eilir’s birthday, when she realized she would turn 4 in the night, she inquired how much she would grow while sleeping. From 3 to 4 is a huge step, we responded. Well, I better get started, she stated confidently, as she uncharacteristically stopped her chatter and closed her eyes. Eilir has always been a teenager when it comes to sleeping. She’s the last one up every day since she was 2 weeks old, always asking to sleep just a little longer, pulling Woofa, her stuffed lion, over her eyes to keep the dark. We let her sleep in on Nov. 16th to awaken to a room decorated with crayon colored flags and streamers adorning the white bathroom walls (the only place without wallpaper so we could use tape!). Her mandate for the day was: No temples, No palaces, and No new foods. Her one wish was a pink, three tiered cake with red hearts on the bottom layer, yellow stars on the middle layer and blue diamonds on the top layer, and as usual, to become a real fairy.

A couple of boxes filled with shells and food.

Our decorated bathroom: Eilir is 4!

We started the day with traditional Swedish pastries, green princess cakes, from the Scandinavian bakery we found in town. After opening a fairy costume and some octonauts, she proceeded to play with spiderman for hours, whiling away the morning in imaginary superhero-fairy bliss. We set out for a bike ride along the Mekong at midday, with plans to visit the river front playground. For lunch we found a fruit shack that made amazing smoothies: Mango-lemon-mint, Pineapple-apple-melon, and banana-based mixtures delighted us all. Back to the hotel we rode, weaving in and out of the cars, tuk-tuks, and other bicyclists on Thanon Setthathirat. Phineas and Eilir played for almost 2 hours in the bathtub with their octonaut toys, dreaming up entire new species of fish that were in danger and needed rescue, emerging as wrinkled as raisins. In the evening, we had the most enchanting set up in the garden: a cool tropical evening with a pink sunset over the river, balloons hanging above our white table-clothed table, and a three tiered pink birthday cake that made Eilir swoon with happiness. Although there were only the four of us, it was all that a fourth birthday should be: dreamy and sweet.

A couple of boxes filled with shells and food.

Mesmerized by the balloons

Special thanks to their superhero Aunt Monica, who relentlessly pursued justice battling the evil empire of Thai customs to deliver the best birthday presents ever.