Normally I'm quite unsure about what I want to do for my birthday. I always have the vague notion that I would like to see friends and eat good food, but beyond that, no clear idea. This year, however, I knew exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday weekend--outside, having fun.
I lucked out when our wonderful neighbors invited us to spend Saturday sailing on their new (to them) sailboat in the Stockholm archipelago. We spent the whole day on the sea, soaking up the sun and basking in the blue water and sky. It was exactly the kind of peaceful outdoor experience I'd craved (as peaceful as any day is with a one-year old and a three-year old).
On Sunday we took the opposite tack and went to Gröna Lund, an amusement park situated near the center of Stockholm. I thought the kids might want to do something a bit more exciting than meditate on nature and meaning for the day. =)
At one and three, our kids are a bit young for most of the stuff at the park, even the kids' area. We found a couple of fun things for them to do, which ended up being perfect: kids, being kids, find what they like and do it again, and again, and again. So while there were really only a couple things that they enjoyed, they enjoyed them enough to do them multiple times each. It made it a bit easier for us, too, because we parked ourselves in one area and rested between rides. A couple other families and friends joined us for the afternoon, so it was nice to sit and chat with them while waiting.
James spent a small fraction of our life savings on carnival games, though he did win one prize--a giant soccer ball that the kids love. Because we visited in the off-season we didn't have to wait long for most of the rides and we didn't wait at all for the carnival games. To be honest, I don't think I would visit in mid-summer when the crowds are huge and the wait times long. The kids had *just enough* patience to wait in the five-fifteen-minute lines for the kiddie rides.
While I generally abhor amusement parks, it wasn't an entirely selfless act to take them to Gröna Lund: I've wanted to go since the first time I spotted the park in the Stockholm skyline. My favorite amusement park rides have always been the giant swings suspended from a carousel-like structure. Gröna Lund has a version of this ride that's four hundred feet tall! I *had* to go on this ride.
In the end it was everything I'd hoped it would be. I felt a sense of euphoria while floating over the city, almost as though time stood still for a few seconds while we flew. The view was spectacular, the wind and the speed were exhilarating, the company of a friend to share it with nourishing. I've been daydreaming about going back one afternoon this fall and riding the Eclipse over and over again. =)
At the end of the day we were all exhausted. August fell asleep on the drive home and slept through to the next morning.
I had the perfect birthday weekend, and I hope that the year ahead (my thirty-eighth) is filled with the same combination of nature, peace, excitement, and friends.
What was your most memorable birthday? Is there anything you've always wanted to do that you could arrange for your next birthday celebration? Don't wait for someone to surprise you--make it happen!
All photos by me (except the photo of me, that was by James).