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Martin is in bed, tucked up in his red-white-and-blue American quilt, with his new Animal Fact Book propped open upon his knees. He'll read in bed until he drops off around 10. Karin, after being tucked in, turned off all her lights except her lava lamp and proceeded to "read" a book using a flashlight. She fell asleep within minutes.

It's traditional in Sweden to wake up the birthday kid with presents in bed before getting up to face the day. I find this a bizarre tradition since the last thing I want to be is cheerful at 7 a.m. with bedhead and morning breath, but since it's only 4x times a year I've managed to learn to live with it. In America, you are always made to presents until after school or after dinner, or the guests have arrived and been fed. In Sweden, the children rip their presents open the moment their guest enters the doorway and hands it over. In America, we were always forced to say thank you politely and then set it aside, to be opened all at once with the others, sitting like royalty in a chair, circled by our friends and relations who were forced to watch through the (sometimes) interminable process of opening, exclaiming over, and thank yous that accompanied each gift.

We sing the Swedish birthday song to Martin in the semi-darkness of the candle-lit dining room, "vi gratulerar lilla Martin idag!"* and he smiles and waves his hands in time. I have a cold and keep having to leave the table to blow my nose. My brother John calls and sings Happy Birthday to Martin. I can hear it coming from the receiver held loosely to his ear. Later, Karin talks, in English, to both John and Simone, and Anders' sister watches her with a fascinated look on her face, and then says to me, "I've never heard her speak English like that before."

Karin and I played Uno with Martin's new birthday deck. Unbelievably, I have never actually played Uno before. Probably because it came out and got popular after I was a teenager (I think...I don't remember seeing it before that, at least, and I can't find any date-of-origin information to confirm it), and I grew up playing Crazy Eights instead, which it was apparently based upon. Karin taught me the rules, or at least her version of the rules, know the ones,...they help HER and hinder ME from winning? Yes, those rules. Calling her cheater-peater didn't phase her in the slightest, she just grinned that maniac grin of hers and made me draw 2 more cards. :-)

The Biggest, Bounciest, BEST Birthday Wishes to My Not-So-Baby Boy, Martin!

*We congratulate little Martin today!
mood: pleased
music: Sofia Karlsson—Jag Väntar Vid Min Mila


Liz - Eight is a great age. I know you're going to enjoy it. They are really KIDS at that age.


Happy 8th Birthday, Martin!

-Amylou (an Uno lover)

Happy Birthday Martin!

A Happy Birthday to Martin!!

It's traditional in Sweden to wake up the birthday kid with presents in bed before getting up to face the day.

This is something my family does (that is, the one I've made with my husband and daughter) and I don't know exactly why we started to do this, but now that we have it's become 'the thing to do'. I'm not much of a morning person, but I've come to find it a nice kick-off to the day to have those special moments devoted just to me (or the special-person in question).

Anyway, transatlantic best wishes to the birthday boy.

My family was always a "wait until after dinner to open gifts" kind of folk.

My husband is from a "wake up.... here are your gifts!!!" group of people.

We have compromised and are now open in the morning, but NOT before Mom has had her cup of coffee or tea kind of people. :)

I'll have to suggest that since we follow the same pattern and I find gifts before I'm conscious to be kind of a let down. I want to be awake to appreciate my presents.

And Happy Birthday to Martin!!

I always liked the anticipation during the day. It made the whole day seem special. are opened and the birthday is sort of over!

Happy Birthday to Martin!!

Sounds like you had a great day (well, aside from the cold).

I remember UNO and I wish I had brought my deck here. Before I left the states I played Uno Attack. Now THAT is fun!!! Have you seen all the crazy UNO sets they have out now!!!??

Happy birthday Martin!! Sounds like a lovely celebration :)


Happy Birthday Martin! We need to get you and Emily emailing. Hope your day was wonderful, and may the next 365 be just as great!!!

Oh, that was me, I forgot to log in.

We sort of left it up to the birthday person and what was up for the day, type of activity, etc.
This year, each time I was handed a gift by a friend I sort of sheepishly said, "shall I open it now?"

Well Happy birthday to Martin AND to the MOM!! It's your birthday too. You went through a lot that day eight years ago to get Martin here, right? Your life has changed majorly because of it too.
So Happy Birth Day Liz. Eight years as a Mom.... you are obviously doing a great job. congrats.

Uno is Uno. ;)

Sounds like a good happy day - and I agree, even on my own birthday I prefer sleep to the early morning stumble to the bedroom for present giving :)

Oh I would love to celebrate birthdays like that--so intimate, in-your-face, we're happy you're here! What a wonderful day you described. Happy birthday to your lovely son! You inspire so much as a parent, Liz.

Oh, I love Uno!

Happy Birthday to your wee imp!

Happy Birthday Martin! :) *hands over a bunch of helium festive balloons*

Uno rocks! :) I should get myself a pack!

More on UNO

Happy birthday to Martin too.

I have my Uno deck in the desk drawer right beneath my computer. The case says (c) 1983 International Games Ltd, and quoted from the rules:

Enkla regler gör att hela familjen kan samlas kring denna nya spelfluga från USA, där spelet säljs i över en miljon exemplar varje år.

I also have Skip-Bo, which says (c) 1982 I.G.I. Limited. I assume it is the same company, only abbreviated differently. I always thought Skip-Bo was designed as a follow-up to Uno, but maybe this was not the case. My brother also had Ono 99, which was a simplified (?) follow-up to Uno by the same company. The Swedish importer was BRIO Scanditoy.

Re: More on UNO

Aha! So I was right! It WAS after I was a teenager!

Re: More on UNO

It had to have come out before 1983 because we moved to Maine in 1983 and I definitely played it when we still lived in NY. I have very vivid memories of it because my siblings and the babysitter (my oldest sister's best friend and our pseudo-adopted sister) were cheating on purpose to make sure I lost.

Re: More on UNO

This page says UNO was developed by International Games in 1972 (sorry, Liz!) :

It probably was introduced in Scandinavia in 1983, and the copyright relates to the translation. It also made it look more new and exciting than if the package said this is a 10+ year old game that we finally decided to sell to you Swedes.

The same page tells that Skip-Bo was invented in 1967, and bought by International Games in 1980. Thus, when the package says it is made by the same company who made UNO, it relates more to manufacturing than the idea.

Re: More on UNO

Hmmm...well, STILL. I bet by the time it really hit big, I was a teenager, at least :D

Oh, what cute, CUTE pictures! Don't they grow up way too fast?

I think nostalgia is the number-one reason I keep having babies! ;)

Dirk too wants his gifts first thing in the morning, but I, like you, was brought up having to wait till after school, after dinner...I made it so special. The anticipation, the savoring, the expectations and suspense.

This is one tradition I'm going to push through.

And Uno! I love Uno!

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