Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday! And thanks to all my adorable students, caring friends and loving family it was just a great day.

My celebration actually kicked off on December 14th when my seventh graders decided that because I wasn’t going to teach them on my birthday, they’d sing to me a day early. They thoughtfully added the word “tomorrow” (though they pronounced it ‘timaroo’) to each line of the standard birthday song. It was very, very cute. (Though I did have to go into teacher-mode correct their pronunciation of ‘tomorrow’).

On the night of the fourteenth, I stayed up pretty late with Nini as she filled me in on all the latest gossip from school. (I love having a fourteen year old sister). Once the clock hit midnight, I didn’t know if I should mention that it was my birthday so I kept that little fact to myself and crawled into bed around 12:30am. Just after I got nice and comfy in bed, Nini barged in and told to get up. In her grey kitty pajamas she sang me a birthday song (though she adorably forgot some of the words).

Back in bed and asleep this time, around 1:30am Eka barged in and told me to get up out of bed. After some kisses, some congratulations and a cash gift “to buy something nice” I was finally back in bed for my birthday sleep.

School on my birthday was just so much fun. I was a bigger celebrity than usual. Instead of everyone just wanting to say to talk to me, everyone greeted me with a hearty “gilocav" or "gilocav dabadebis dges” and gave me a hug or a kiss. I must have kissed at least eighty people yesterday and thanked at least three hundred.

In each of my classes my students sang to me in English and were just so beyond excited that I chose to go to school on my birthday (my director said I could take the day off if I wanted). My third graders were so wound up that they kept interrupting the main teacher to remind her it was my birthday.

But the cutest class that I had yesterday was with my eighth graders. The entire class chipped in and bought an adorable journal as a gift. They then asked me if it would be okay if they wrote wishes to me in the journal. (They gave it to me blank in case I didn’t want them to write in it, how sweet is that?) Of course I wanted them to write in it so throughout the lesson they kept passing around the journal carefully writing in their neatest handwriting. All the kids wrote their wishes to me in both English and Georgian saying that ‘by the end of June I’ll be fluent in Georgian’ (I teach optimists).

Some of my thoughtful eighth graders and my co-teacher Nona to my left 

I have a journal full of cute notes like this :)
After fourth period all the teachers had to go to a mandatory teachers meeting. Turns out, this teachers meeting was actually just a meeting in honor of my birthday. Everybody just talked about how great I was for twenty minutes. I was even given a huge bouquet of flowers and some cherry chocolates after all the teachers sang to me. They all learned how to sing the birthday song in English just for me. (It was for sure the best teachers meeting we’ve had yet)!
With Nini and my flowers (and my polar bear slippers)

After school I met up with all the girls and they took me out to lunch at our favorite restaurant in Samtredia. Walking to the restaurant the whole town seemed to hear it was my birthday (though holding a bag of gifts and flowers didn’t hide it) as everyone seemed to wish me a happy birthday. After a wonderful lunch of all our favorite Georgian dishes, Melissa and I headed over to my house to start baking my cake while Tara and Emily went to go “do a load of laundry”.

Well, or so I thought we were going to bake a cake. According to Nini and Eka, it’s tradition that the birthday girl bakes her own birthday cake. I was ready to bake and didn’t even really notice that Melissa was stalling, but then all of sudden Emily and Tara walked in with a beautiful fruit pizza cake! It was huge!

After blowing out 24 candles (one for good luck) we all enjoyed fruit pizza and lots and lots of wine. The whole afternoon was just spent drinking, eating, dancing and laughing. How wonderful does that sound?

At one point during the evening a dental patient knocked on the door and I tipsily opened the door. I meant to tell him that I was the birthday girl, the “iubilari” but I accidentally said I was “choti lari” (five laris). After Eka quickly explained that no, I’m not a prostitute, this man also wished me a happy birthday.
Dancing with my host dad Vakho!

The whole day was just so lovely and sweet. Plus after Nini and I walked the girls home at night, we somehow got dragged into a supra with all of Vakho’s friends at a restaurant in town. Nini and I managed to escape and went back home to enjoy yet more wine with more family and friends. The two of us ended up falling asleep together cuddling on a chair; a cute little end to a very sweet birthday.

P.S. Nini took lots of really cute photos yesterday on her amazing camera, but her USB cord is MIA so check back sometime later for cute birthday photos!

Even President Saakashvili sent me a birthday present! Well okay, maybe he sent this holiday gift to all the TLG kids, but you have to note the timing :)


  1. Happy Birthday Michelle, glad you had a nice birthday! :)

  2. Happy Birthday Michelle!
    I love so mush!
    Miss you too

  3. Georgia on my mind!!!
    Love the contry and the people.
    Was born in Tbilisi, in age 22 leave to Israel, after 15 year over to NJ(USA), but every day I think about the time of my life I was live in Georgia. God bles you over all you do for them, and HB :-)
    Sorry but in time i learned english i had very bad teacher :-)