Birthday Boys!

"Mom, do they have Chuck E. Cheese in Argentina, like Sissy's birthday?" Michael asked as we anticipated the celebration of his fourth birthday.  "I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese!"

"Well, no, but they do have gum!" A mediocre substitute, I realize.  But in our family, turning four means that you finally get to chew gum.  It is quite a huge milestone, and Michael has been talking about it for the past 6 months.  Even waging his feelings of moving to Argentina on the question of whether or not they sell gum here.  So, on the morning of his birthday, he got to chew gum before breakfast!  It was quite entertaining to see him try to chew gum for the first time, asking, "Do I swallow the juice?" And he has been awkwardly smacking gum ever since.  

It was a challenge as a mother to find a way to celebrate in a foreign country.  Chuck E Cheese and Monkey Bizness don't exist, and four or five sugar-crazed preschoolers in our little apartment wasn't an option either.  Locals here often rent out party rooms and hire magicians and entertainers, but that seemed a bit over-the-top.  I contemplated for weeks about what to do, and finally settled on simple.  Some of our dear friends (whom you've seen in past photos) invited us over to their apartment for dinner and swimming on the eve of Michael's big day.  I bought some yummy cupcakes from a bakery on our corner and some candles from the local party shop, and a party was born.  The candles turned out to be trick candles, so all the kids had fun trying to blow them out!  It was a sweet, simple celebration.  Perfection.

The following day, on Michael's actual birthday, he opted for playing at the park and lunch at McDonalds, of course.  Then we let him pick out a cake at the grocery store for dessert, decorated with Ben Ten posters, and another party was born!  Two parties in two days ain't bad, right? 

Secretly, I had saved a special Argentina tradition for the family party.  At the parties we've attended here, I've seen these special candles that look like Fourth of July fountains.  Very cool.  I tracked one down and placed it in Michael's cake.  When I lit it up, Michael was terrified, and proceeded to scream uncontrollably as it spewed sparks everywhere.  Not cool.  However, Elizabeth enjoyed seeing Michael totally freak out, in true big sister style.  Thankfully, the sparks eventually died down, and a big piece of chocolate cake brought back a smile.   

Thank you to our family and friends who sent birthday wishes and gifts via Facebook and email!  Michael enjoyed hearing from all of you!  He felt very special.

A few days later, it was Mark's turn to have a birthday!  The kids worked hard to make him cards and a coupon book of sweet things for dad including back scratching, no dish duty, and cuddle time.  If you know Mark, you know he is a hard person to buy gifts for.  We decided "quality time" was a priceless gift to give, and a great way to celebrate how important he is to us.  For his birthday, he chose the family field trip, a visit to a nearby museum of modern art, called MALBA.  There was an interesting exhibit by artist Carlos Cruz-Diez who works with chromatic design.  Download a fun free app here to re-create his work!

Then we took him out to eat at a great parilla right around the corner from our house called Pichi Huasi
It was recommended on the Casa Saltshaker website, a local closed-door restaurant where we have signed up for a cooking class in December!  The restaurant was empty when we arrived at 8, but filled quickly with locals by the time we left around 10.  Obviously, it is a local favorite, and for good reason.  The salad was one of the freshest we've had (tomatoes that tasted like tomatoes from the garden!) and the hearts of palm appetizer was fantastic, too.  Mark and the kids enjoyed tender steaks, and I opted for something different - chicken in mustard sauce.  Everything was wonderful, a great ending to Mark's birthday.  

Who needs Chuck E. Cheese and magicians, anyway?  


  1. Happy Birthday, Mark and Michael! Sounds like you're having a great time in Argentina!


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