Wow--here it is only five days after the fact, and I'm already blogging about Helen's birthday! For the same story from a different point of view, check out Sue's blog.
Although I didn't manage to remember with any of the other children this year, I did remember to get the semi-traditional "day before" photo of Helen, still two. Actually, she'd been telling everyone for the last six months that she's "two and a half" and resisted all efforts to correct the math, but for the last few weeks, did happily tell people that she was going to turn three.
And here's Helen three at last:
In the early afternoon, our friends Dena and Joseph (known to Helen as "Jo-fess") came over to give Helen a present. She was happy to cuddle with them, but didn't want to open her present, so it got put on top of the piano to be opened with the other presents.
Here's a not-at-all-organized collage (I've been having fun with picasa!) of the gift-opening. A Guatemalen bear backpack from my parents (inspiring another round of "Backpack was a little bear, little bear, little bear!" learned from Starfall...), a card with stickers and such from Margaret and Phil in Germany, fishing game from Dena and Joseph, and of course the presents from the guests and her siblings. There were officially only two guests: Aimee and Sue. Aimee will be three in October and came with her "bodyguards" (so we call them, as Helen is rather larger and rougher than Aimee), her three older brothers and both parents. And Sue of course came with her husband, Richard. Our downstairs guest also joined us for the party, so we were 17 people altogether, which isn't bad for only inviting two! (Nobody gate-crashed or was unwelcomed by Helen, it was just that Aimee and Sue were the only "official" guests.)
The cat, of which I don't have a good photo but Sue does (taken by Helen!), was crocheted by Marie. Not sure why Sue is getting the hug, except that Helen often needs to randomly stop and exchange cuddles with Sue.
Dinner for everybody, and finally the cake. As of their third birthdays, the children get to request whatever they want on their birthday cake, and I do my best to make it. Lukas and Katie in particular had been trying to give Helen ideas for months, but it was always easy to tell when the idea wasn't Helen's. I finally got Helen on her own and asked her what she would like on her cake. She first told me she wanted a camel and wanted her birthday at the Camel Park, but when I asked her where she got that idea, she said, "Lukas said it to me very quietly in my ear like this," and then whispered in my ear. So I asked again what SHE would like on her cake, and she said, "Mmmm...white and brown cake." I said, "You would like a chocolate and vanilla cake?" "Yes, for my birthday when I'm going to turn three!" I tried again and asked if she would like a picture from a book, and she thought about it some more and said, "Hmmmm...yes! A roof!" I did hear the sounds, but wasn't sure what they meant, and repeated, "A roof?" "Yes, a roof. With a hippo-hoppamus. Eating special cake." We don't actually have this book, but Sue does, and she has read it to Helen MANY times, and for that matter, I've read it to Helen a fair number of times myself.
So...here is the hippo-hoppamus on a roof, eating special cake. The "cake", incidentally, is dried, candied mango! But the cake underneath the frosting is indeed chocolate and vanilla.
And here is a photo of the book cover, and a photo of the two-page spread with the exact picture Helen requested:
Our oven, by the way, had quit a week earlier, so I baked the cake in Sue's oven that morning. (We did get a new oven the next day.) When I took it out of the oven, Helen said, quite quietly for her, "Is that my birthday cake?" When I said yes, she said, even more quietly, if possible, "Are you going to make me another one?" I said no, this was her cake, just like she wanted, with chocolate and vanilla. (I put half of the batter in, added chocolate to the second half, and poured it sort of on top, sort of swirled.) Then her lip quivered just a bit as she said even MORE quietly, "But I want a hippo-hoppamus on my cake." Poor Helen! I explained that I would decorate it later when it cooled down, and she was happy again.
And so, a final photo of Helen admiring her cake. With a roof. With a hippo-hoppamus. Eating special cake.