Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lucy is Three!

Lucy turned three on September 12, and we celebrated her birthday the following day with family.  I can't believe my baby is three - she is not a baby any more! ;(

The birthday banner... I made this for Lucy's first birthday and have added a section with each girl's name, so it has gotten plenty of use and has been a very versatile decoration!
I typically ask my children what kind of cake or theme they want to have for their birthday... both Caroline and Cecilia have had a fairy castle cake, Caroline had an Irish "Lucky Seven" birthday since her birthday is right after St. Patrick's Day (her due date was actually March 17th and she has a semi-Irish middle name... and she's about 1/16th Irish, ha)... Cecilia had a "Favorite Things" Sound of Music birthday that I copied the idea from another blog since my girls were obsessed with the Sound of music at the time...

Well, I usually don't ask my three-and-unders what theme they want for a birthday because they just don't quite get it yet.  When Cecilia turned three, she requested a "candle cake," so I cut it into the shape of the number 3 and told her it was a candle shaped like a 3.  I think Caroline had a cat-shaped cake when she turned three because she liked animals a lot at that time.  So, I was thinking of what things Lucy is interested in when trying to decide what kind of cake to make for her.  Since I figured nobody else would really be up for a strip-off-all-your-clothes-and-run-naked-in-the-yard party, I decided to focus on another interest of hers.

I bet Lucy is the only child who has had a One Morning in Maine birthday party.  I actually looked online for ideas, and apparently if somebody has planned a party with this theme, it was never shared on the interwebz.  We discovered this book several years ago when Caroline was a Kindergartener and were checking out library books from a list that corresponded with the alphabet.  One Morning in Maine was one of the M books.  We had checked it out again at the beginning of this year when Cecilia was doing M week in Kindergarten.  I bought us a copy of our own finally, and Lucy - quite to my surprise - has requested it to be read to her again and again.  It is quite a long book for a two year old to sit still for - it probably takes a good 15 minutes to read the whole thing through.  But she sits attentively for the whole book every time (and that is saying something for this firecracker of a toddler!).  I guess that is a mark of good children's literature!  If you are not familiar with the book, you probably know the characters from the book Blueberries for Sal.  The author, Robert McCloskey, also wrote and illustrated the classic Make Way for Ducklings, which I remember enjoying as a child.

I loved how easy the cake was for this... no cutting it into a cat shape, making castle turrets out of ice cream cones... In the book, Sal and her father are digging for clams on the shore.  They also take a boat ride across the harbor to the local store, where they get ice cream cones - chocolate and vanilla.  After contemplating how I was going to turn a cake into a boat, and then being unwilling to use nasty blue dyes to make the icing look like water, I had an aha moment of simplicity: a chocolate cake, with some mini chocolate chips and cacao nibs sprinkled on top to resemble the rocks they were digging in... and then a printout of an image from the actual book.  Then, serve it with vanilla and chocolate ice cream cones.  What could be easier?

The cake... with the ubiquitous coffee maker in the background.  I think that thing has been photo-bombing since before the term was even first invented.
I scanned in this illustration from our book and then printed it at high quality on cardstock.  After cutting it out, I taped some craft sticks to the back and stuck them in the cake to make it stand up.  It is fun to sometimes make elaborately decorated cakes, but this one was perfect for Lucy when done in this simple way - it was something she instantly recognized!

Super-amazing tutorial photo: tape on three sticks.  Insert into cake.  At least I didn't share 83 different angles of the same thing like some of those annoying recipe blogs do.  Just get me to how to make the food, is what I say!

Lucy was ready to dig in, with her cousin Julianne looking on!  But first, we had...


Just like in the book.

Lucy enjoyed it... she had tried clams at the beach and didn't like them plain... but she had also tried clam chowder at a seafood restaurant and loved it, so I made some for our lunch... yes, I realize it is probably weird to say, "Come to a three year old's birthday party for a clam chowder lunch followed by cake and ice cream cones!"  I cheated and used canned clams since this was my first attempt at making it - and it was very easy.  I followed this basic recipe with some adjustments like some of the reviews suggested - like pureeing a bit of the soup in my blender and then stirring it back in, because apparently a good New England clam chowder is never thickened with flour or cornstarch - according to the internet, that is.  I wouldn't know personally; I have never been north of Washington, DC.

Clam chowder, fruit with dip, sourdough bread with butter, and arugula/fennel salad
Then Lucy opened her presents... she got some new books, clothes, and dress-up tutu made by her Aunt Crystal, some animal finger puppets, a Winnie the Pooh bedsheet for her new bed, and several handmade and found items from her sisters... they even gave her one of their old American Girl mini dolls.  I also bought her the downloadable audio version of One Morning in Maine, which she can listen to while she looks at the book.  it says it costs $4.95, but I was only charged $1.95 when I downloaded it...

And she also got...

...a mini trampoline!  That climber and slide in the background in the first photo has since been disassembled and put away, and the trampoline is now in its place.  She had pretty much outgrown the climber and slide.  The trampoline can hold Cecilia's weight too, so they have both been enjoying jumping.

I have to embarrass my little brother by putting in this photo... Lucy will still jump on her trampoline, a couple weeks later, and say, "Uncle Tim lays on my trampoline!"

And here's a sweet one to make up for the silly one... aww, almost 26 year old boys still love their mommies.

After presents, we served the cake and ice cream!

Happy birthday dear Lucy, happy birthday to you!

Cousins Julianne and Chloe opted for ice cream cones.  The birthday girl had some cake plus a tiny ice cream cone!

Hers was mostly vanilla (so the drips won't spot).  She didn't ruin her appetite for lunch since she had already eaten her lunch - in the book, they have their ice cream cones before lunch and don't want to have more so they won't ruin their appetites for their clam chowder!

Another thing we got out for the party was a basket of items I have collected from around the house so that Lucy can act out the story... I had this idea to let her play with these while I was working on school stuff with the older girls each day, kind of like her own preschool-related book activities.  So I got some rubber ducks with baby ducks for her to play Make Way for Ducklings, and I gathered a bunch of stuff for One Morning in Maine and put it all in a basket... here she is playing with everything a few days before her birthday party:

Sal pushed back the covers, hopped out of bed, put on her robe and slippers, and hurried out into the hall.
Then she squeezed some toothpaste on her own brush and when she started to brush her teeth something felt very strange!  One of her teeth felt loose!

"May I help you dig clams?" Sal asked.

"I found a tiny baby one!" said Sal.  "You certainly did," said her father.  "But it's too small.  We just keep the large ones, like this.  Let's put the baby clam back in the mud so he can grow to be a big clam some day."

"Then I'll make my wish on this feather," Sal decided.  "Perhaps the sea gull has already made a wish on that feather and the wish is used up," suggested her father.
When they reached home Sal's mother and sister Jane were waiting with a box of empty milk bottles to return to the store and a list of things to buy.

Sal was just about to ask how long it would take for a new spark plug to grow in when Mr. Condon reached up on the shelf and picked out a new spark plug, and put it into the motor.  Sal picked up the old spark plug and handed it to sister Jane.

They walked down the path to the harbor and down the runway to the float where their boat was tied.  They all climbed aboard, carrying the outboard motor, the box of milk and groceries, the feather, the spark plug, and the ice cream cones.
I am always on the lookout for ides for self-directed play for Lucy to do while we are reading and doing other school things... especially using items that we already have lying around the house or that are multi-use.  Chris had the old spark plug already, we had the glass jar for a "milk bottle," the plastic rake and the boat float came from our beach and pool toys, the blue water was a large piece of fabric from the girls' dress-up clothes, the seagull feather came from the beach this August... and the slide was the perfect ramp at the boat dock!

Happy Birthday, Lucy Marie!

No comments: