On Friday, our home was brought to life in a big way. Bright balloons, blueberry lollipops, excited giggles and two giant jumping castles— one indoors and one outdoors— filled every room with the innocent joy of childhood.
The occasion was our daughter’s third birthday and we celebrated by reaching out to the wonderful community in her Swedish nursery school, as well as friends we have made in the past few months and Embassy staff with young children.
The result was a delightful mélange of authentic conversations among parents and a raucous carnival-type atmosphere with kids occasionally shrieking with excitement at the prospect of eating as many chocolate cupcakes as they wanted and running wildly through the formal parlors and hallways of the old European home.
As a mother, nothing could make me happier or prouder than seeing the joy on our daughter’s face as she frolicked with her friends or saw the huge Princess-pink jumping castle for the first time. My husband and I both noted that neither of us had ever had a grand birthday party like that, nor do we really recall having any birthday parties until our teen years and those were mostly at inexpensive pizza parlors like Chuck E. Cheese! This was something really special we hope she takes away from this incredible experience abroad. It’s also a way for us to share this incredible gift and home with as many people as we can.
We strive to make this home as open, inclusive and accessible as possible, and try to be all those things personally. It can be intimidating and formal to enter an Ambassadorial residence so steeped in formality, beautiful art and tradition, but I can tell you that no one was feeling intimidated when they were greeted at the door with inflated balloon animals, Barney songs streaming through the air, a popcorn machine and our sugar-infused daughter whose face was blue from eating too many lollipops.
Nothing strips people of their professional trappings and formality like kids. Keeping it real was the theme of the evening, in the best of all ways. And that is the kind of atmosphere Mark and I hope continue.