What I’m Grateful for in Sydney: Best Birthday Ever


James and Fiona in the trees

After living here for only one month it was time to celebrate Fiona’s 10th birthday. A “traditional” birthday party was impossible so it was time to get creative. We knew this going into our move so we discussed it ahead of time and suggested, as an alternative, a new experience. We all love to celebrate our birthdays in this way, however the kids do enjoy a party with their friends. To ensure everyone’s happiness, our family’s arrangement is that every third birthday is an “experience” year. Not new to celebrating in this fashion, Fiona had big ideas which enabled a weeklong party to rock in her first decade of life.


Fiona at Hannibal

We started a week early with lunch at Hannibal Lebanese (a local Lebanese restaurant in Glebe), her choice, followed by an afternoon matinee of Trolls. We had the Lebanese place to ourselves and ate mezze style with many salads and dips and of course fabulous flat breads. The kids tried many new dishes and were surprised how much they enjoyed it all.

Side note: we recently decided to stop ordering separate dishes we know the kids will like when dining out and are now ordering several new dishes meant to be shared. It costs less, we try new foods and it makes for interesting conversation at the table.

Since Fiona’s birthday was on a Thursday and Stephen would be at work, the kids and I spent the day on our own. I took the kids to the Taronga Zoo to enjoy all of the awesome new critters that are local to Australia. It’s a favourite place of ours since moving. We’ve been three times in a month and the annual membership has paid for itself already.

Fiona was determined that she wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Sadly, I had none of my bakeware yet from London so for the first time ever, we had to buy a cake. We searched high and low looking for exactly what she wanted and each bakery we visited she declined everything. I finally took them to an Italian bakery in Annandale called, Mezzapica. They had cupcakes to fit the description finally, yippee! It was probably the 10th bakery I took the kids to in search of her dream cake, I felt total relief. But instead of choosing it she went for jammy Linzer tarts dipped in chocolate instead.  Really? Ok, we just regrouped and each got the same.  After all, she was the birthday girl and it was her decision to make. We enjoyed every buttery bite that evening.

We joined Stephen for dinner in the evening for Thai food – Fiona’s choice once again. We tried a new place in Balmain called Blue Ginger.  Again, we opted for several veggie dishes and rice which we all shared allowing us to try some new mains. A favourite was an aubergine, pumpkin and black bean dish. We returned home for dessert and pressies.

The real celebration of the week was her “experience” of ziplining. We found a place two hours away called Illawarra Fly. It included a treetop walk in addition to a zipline tour. We left at 8 am to spend the day in the bush. We chose this location because it allowed Caroline, our 6-year old, to ride tandem with Stephen. Finally, a place where we could all zipline together as a family. No age or height restrictions getting in our way.


The ziplining was fun however they only had three lines so it was quite short. I suppose it was a nice way to introduce the kids to the activity without it being too intense and frightening and, in the end, they all loved it!

From the start of the week until it ended Fiona repeated that it was the best birthday she had ever had. It seemed like our celebratory outings were simple in nature, but I think the fact that it continued over the course of 7 days and that it was experiential made it all the more memorable. Filled with smiles and genuine gratitude about it made it all worthwhile. For us as parents it seemed so much more enjoyable and stress free rather than the organisational chaos that is a kid’s birthday party.

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