Candles, a birthday cake, champagne, fire, and magic tricks. Before I left the states, I told my mom that I wasn't going to tell anyone it was my birthday over here. It is my first real day in Darwin, and I was not just going to wake up in the morning and announce that it was my birthday. My host mom, Kaye, was away on holiday and returned late on Sunday night, long after my jet lag put me to bed. We met each other this morning before she went off to work for the day, and not only did she tell me Happy Birthday but she had a card and a gift in her hands for me. It was so kind, so thoughtful, and so loving. I had been living in this house for less than 24 hours, but it already felt like a place I could call home. She announced that we would be going to dinner later that evening for celebrations. In the meantime, however, I had my first day of school to get to. I will talk about school in a later post, but this one is about my special day. I did not want it to be anything out of the ordinary, and it certainly was, so it deserves its own story. The day flew by, and Roger picked me up from school. We did some driving around town, and then he brought me home before we went to watch some of Kaye's cricket players practice. Once Kaye got home from practice, we headed off to dinner with their son Blake and their friend Fran. This bunch was such a lively, entertaining, funny, kind group of people. I could not have asked for a better birthday party. We went to a restaurant where the owner did magic tricks--one of his tricks gave me free money for my birthday! Where the food portions were "American-sized," meaning I had lunch for the next two days. Where Kaye and Roger brought a chocolate, strawberry cake and sang happy birthday. And where the manager, upon departing the restaurant, gave me a free bottle of champagne for the road. For dinner I had chicken schnitzel, upon Blake's request, with "chips" (fries) substituted for the vegetables or salad. (Roger quickly learned that I do not eat vegetables our first lunch together on Sunday). Dessert was delicious, and a few glasses of wine later, we were on our way home after such a lovely evening. And then I got to relive all of the love I felt the next day as well because then it was my birthday in America.