This has been the first year that I think Elma has really truly got what a birthday was. I remember Kitty being the same, it was the first year that there was anticipation and a build up to the day itself rather than just Mummy and Daddy organised celebrations that to a one or two year old mind probably come completely out of the blue. This year, now only did we have the little extra birthday a few weeks ago, but for the last couple of weeks at least, a lot of sentences have started “when it’s my birthday…”
So it should have been no surprise to anyone that Elma’s first comment on getting downstairs this morning and seeing a little pile of pink at her spot on the dinner table was “Today it’s my REAL birthday!”
And so it was. We managed what for us was a wonderfully lazy morning, curled up in bed until at least 7.30 and then we piled downstairs to let the giant present opening begin. Elma was queen for the day with her little pile of presents and cards, her birthday candles lit and her big pink birthday 3 balloon shimmering behind her. The balloon is now a longstanding tradition but the birthday candle ring is new for Elma’s birthday but one I think we’ll adopt for all of us for the future. It’s a wooden ring in four parts, each with three sockets, and you can get numbers or little animals or people or all sorts to go in the slots, as well as candle holders and fabulous stripy candles. We choose the ring as a family and then H and I selected a butterfly and a pink sheep from Elma’s shortlist of favourites as well as a three. The idea is that over the years we’ll build up a little library of favourite bits and pieces to add to the ring and everyone can choose what they want on it when their turn comes. It was so pretty to have it set out on the table all of yesterday and it meant that we had birthday candles burning for much longer than the usual cake top candles. Plus, and this may only be important if you’re currently doing germ warfare with the pre and primary school set, it does mean that when they blow out the candles, they aren’t blowing all over a cake that you’re about to eat!
In between candles for breakfast, lunch and tea we spent a lovely morning playing with my brother and sister in law, making Duplo and Lego and playing the recorder, and H and I even snuck out for a ‘date’ to the button shop for more buttons for Elma’s birthday cardigan (finished at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour and wrapped up unblocked and minus any buttons when the ones I bought last week are mysteriously nowhere to be found). And in the afternoon, with the clouds low and dingy, we decided not to go and watch the last hockey match before Christmas in favour of a little pottering around the house and some more cake baking.
More being the operative word; Elma celebrated her birthday at playgroup on Monday, because her little friend R is having a birthday in the Christmas holidays and is celebrating tomorrow and they thought they’d have a day each, so last weekend I made my all time go-to slightly-showing-off-but-actually-it’s-easy raspberry marscapone layer cake (triple layer almond whisked egg sponge with sweetened marscapone and crushed raspberries in the middle and icing on the top from Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Cakes book, and extracted here among other places) and, for balance, the chocolate coconut cupcakes from Wholefood for Children, which are gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free (just maple syrup) and actually taste amazing. H returned with a small slice of pink cake, three chocolate cupcakes and the news that everyone had loved them – and had one of each!). So that was two birthday cakes down and I even began to wonder whether we’d need a third.
Silly Mummy, how could it be a birthday without a cake?
So while Pip clattered around in the play kitchen, my two diminutive assistants and I set to in the real kitchen to make a couple of vanilla sponges for a good old Victoria. It’s not the prettiest cake I’ve ever made but given the circumstances I’m actually very impressed by it. For starters, ten minutes into the cooking time I couldn’t understand why I could smell burning cake – a quick check in the kitchen and I discovered that small fingers had turned the temperature up from 170 to 210! And then when we came to put the cake together I discovered that we were completely lacking strawberry jam, a crisis of great import only solved by the unexpected and miraculous arrived of Father Christmas in our kitchen to make early delivery of a very nice pot of strawberry jam which was destined for H’s stocking. It may yet be wrapped up and make an appearance if tiny people have not quite twigged.
But none of that mattered when we sat down to tea and lit up another new discovery for the year – number sparklers (from Hobbycraft). Kitty loved it and has already placed an order for her 6th birthday but Elma took a little more convincing – she did love that it was a matching three though.
We finished the day at Wagamama for Elma’s choice of birthday tea; a mini yaki soba and a strawberry ice lolly, and more noodles, ramen and ice cream for the rest of us.
I tucked her into bed already half asleep, wearing purple Room on the Broom pyjamas and her birthday cardigan, still without buttons, and as I tucked I told her:
“three years ago today we were sat on the postnatal ward on the hospital and Daddy had just gone to buy me some food from the petrol station and you were snoozing in my arms. Do you know you fitted in the crook of just one arm?!”
A little pixie face smiled back at me, nearly overwhelmed by the duvets and quilts and cushions and teddies and story books surrounding her:
“And now I’m gi-GANTIC!”
Well almost sweetheart.
joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments