sparrow's real birthday is april 18th, but we had the party on saturday the 12th because thomas had to leave for san francisco the next day. it was such a fun party!! we had it at stowe grove park at 3 pm with lots of yummy snacks and trader joe's nitrite-free hot dogs. a sampling: watermelon, bubbly lemonade, veggies with dip, and a huge bowl of strawberries. also, a whole wheat cake with absolutely no refined sugar in it. secret to sweetening it: applejuice concentrate and a carrot/raisin puree. this recipe didn't even call for ANY oil or butter. (i put in a little butter anyways. cause i'm german.) my rule for kids (or any) birthday cakes: i will NOT mess with writing, crazy pan shapes, or frosting designs/pictures for the decorating. WHY bother with the hassle of it when you can just plop a rubber ducky on top of your cake and make it look just as cute and pleasing? i did have a bit of trouble with this year's, though, because i had my heart set on a ballerina cake topper, since sparrow loves "dancing ballet" so much. (this involves her jumping around and pointing her toes while she watches ballet videos... usually swan lake. her arms and toes are getting pretty good! her toes are amazing actually. she has a fierce point and is already standing "en pointe," which i think is actually dangerous to the development of her little feet, but i can't get her to stop it! and she knows "plie," "passe," and a few other legitimate moves. also, she insists on wearing a tutu or at least a dress whenever she does this. which is every day at least once.) but back to the cake topper: can you believe that they don't sell proper ballerina cake toppers? ??? i mean ANYWHERE?!! not online, not anywhere in this town--craft stores, cake stores, party stores! they had a few sitting down ones on amazon.com, but hello! who wants a ballerina sitting down when it's all about jumping? (for sparrow anyways.) sitting down just does NOT embody the spirit of ballet. i finally went to glenda's party cove in high hopes, as they'd said on the phone that they had some, but found only atrociously blue-clad, sloppily painted, ugly cheap ballerina cake toppers. yikes. i'll do without, thank you. i bought a cute little bear with a tutu for $2.50 but ended up not even using the thing--it looked too kitsch on the cake i made. hence, the cake ended up sporting bright pink gerber daisies in 2 shades, and strawberries. it was lovely to behold. new rule for decorating cakes: use items that you already have at home or you know you can easily pick up at a store you regularly go to anyways. sheesh. for all the trouble i went to with that ballerina thing, i might as well have drawn one in frosting after all.
but enough about the cake. sparrow had a great time, all her little friends were there: the lomelinos, the reeves, and the mcginnes youngsters, as well as most of her grown-up friends, though we did dearly miss liz and mitchell, and the lovely may. sparrow had been talking about her birthday for weeks: "my birthday's coming up!" she would tell us every day. for some reason, she really grasped the concept of it from all the other birthday parties we had attended in the last few months. then on the week of, she was telling me, "it's on saturday, it's on saturday," which i'm sure she DIDN'T have a true concept of, but she had heard us say it enough. and now it was finally here! thomas and i made an investment and bought her a whole bunch of art supplies, including an easel. i am in love with this book called "young at art," by susan striker in which she explains the importance of toddlers being exposed to all different art mediums, and gives advice in how to direct positively (or rather stop taking control of) the artistic activity, and also gives solid practical advice on mediums, projects for different ages, and where to order supplies. i LOVE this stuff! you give her a creative outlet at a really early age, allow her to freely explore, and basically set up the best possible opportunity for her to become a great artist if she should choose to keep pursuing it in the future.
we let her open the easel in the morning, because it was just too big to lug all the way to the park and back. she had fun unwrapping it and setting it up with her dad. we also got her 2 pairs of scissors, some markers, crayons, paints, brushes, an apron, and paper. these things will be key to her pre-reading development, and she will also be using the items for years. this knowledge offset the cost-factor for me. besides, it was tax return month! the presents were a really fun thing in general. i love how at kids' birthday parties, all the other kids crowd around so closely and help unpack things. that made for some cute pictures.
thomas had set up balloons and it was just a gorgeous day--hot and sunny, and we got the perfect spot at the park--under the enormous spreading tree, close to the play structure. the one thing i learned from this party is: do cake before presents, and do cake early, like after the first hour, if not within the 1st hour. that way, the kids won't be waiting around so long during present-opening with nothing to do but to help open presents. haha. so many people had to leave before we finally got to cutting the cake, and i felt SO bad for the kids! the REASON you come to birthday parties is for cake! i mean, not really, you know, but as a kid... i am not exactly sure all the kids would have LOVED the cake, but hey. they should have gotten a chance to try it. i thought it was delicious. anyways, long parties should be reserved for grown-ups with a small number of close friends. kid parties should be short. now i know.
and now sparrow is TWO!!! whenever we ask her how old she is, she usually says "three," though. we told her she was turning 2 for so long, that she might have thought she WAS 2. anyways. on her real birthday the following friday, i took her to the beach grill at padaro in carpinteria, a lovely place by the beach, with a HUGE outdoor seating area and an enormous sand box with tons of cool sand toys. it is the BEST place to go out to eat with kids. i got to sit and read the paper for like an hour while she played. the only bummer was that when i went to get some more dipping sauce for my final delicious buffalo chicken tender, a seagull must have come in and made quick work of it. when we got back to the table, there were food bits strewn everywhere, gross! and my last tender was gone! hahahaha oh lament! my tasty two dollars! that is when you feel that the family at the neighboring table could have put forth a bit of effort and shooed the dang bird away for you instead of presumably watching with a mixture of amusement/pity as it devoured your food without discretion. monster! oh also, sparrow was getting a little sick (a cold) and it made her a bit more lethargic than usual, but nonetheless, she had a good time. and got to eat unhealthy mac and cheese. mmmmmm.
(here is a link to the whole month's album, which mostly concerns her birthday.)