Warning: photo essay ahead.

For those of you who don't like the look-at-pictures-of-my-kids-type blog posts, please feel free to register your displeasure by clicking the little red "X" in the upper right hand corner of this window. I'm completely aware that this is the twenty-first century equivalent of inviting the neighbors over to look at your vacation slides, and I totally understand if you're not interested. The thing is, I promised some folks pictures of Part II of the birthday photo album and I aim to please... even if I'm just pleasing the one person in the world who wants to see them.

In our house when birthdays don't exactly fall on a day that was convenient for the rest of us, we simply reschedule them. For The Caterpillar's birthday, there was no one day that worked for everyone, so we dragged the celebration out for four days. Yesterday, we brought cake to her preschool for school friends. She was pretty excited about that. I have no pictures because I was a bit birthday'ed out by this time.

Mari, et. al., couldn't join us at Pirate Adventures, so they came by on Friday for cake.

Note to those of you who think this is a good idea: once those things burn down, you will find tiny bits of black charred matter All. Over. Your. Cake. So if you are picky about eating that type of thing, be forewarned.

Mari informed us that a true party needed to have "fancy decorations, papers falling from the ceiling, flowers (pink & purple), fireworks, a cake with a princess, and dancing ladies."

On a completely different day, we opened presents.

I wonder how long before she'll be able to pronounce the "th" in three so she won't leave the mistaken impression with the clerks in the grocery store that she's just been released from prison when she announces, "Hi lady, I'm FREEEEE!"

This is what it looks like when a "free year old" opens a card.

She was pretty excited about most of the presents...

that is until she figured out a good majority of them came with money and forgot all about sticker books and birthday cards.

But then again, a musical princess card that only plays the first eight bars of a song and drives your parents crazy every time you open it (and will be opened at least one hundred and thirty-three times that day) trumps $20 any day.

Thanks, Dad. (said sarcastically)

I'd tried to encourage The Dormouse to think about something to give her sister, because I want her to understand and enjoy the concept of gift giving. On the other hand, it really goes against my grain to take a kid to the store, have them pick out a gift for their loved ones, then the parents pay for it. It just seems like it misses the point.
I want her to think about gifts and give from the heart... what she can give so it means something. When mom and dad just buy whatever it is, it's a little harder to do that. But on the other hand (I think I'm up to three hands now... or is it "free" hands?), I realize it's not like she's making any money of her own at six so you have to help them be a little more creative. I'm still trying to find a happy medium on that front. Usually, when The Dormouse wants to give you a birthday present, she goes and rummages through your stuff until she finds something you already own, then she takes it, wraps it up and gives it back to you. This time I suggested she make something special for her sister or maybe promise her that she wouldn't fight with her for a week (that'd be a present for me as well). She didn't feel she had time for that. So this time she rummaged through her own stuff and gave the Caterpillar a purse and a ring which she was really quite fond of. It was actually very sweet.

If you haven't heard about Pillow Pets in the past six months, you either don't have kids, or you don't own a television machine - probably both. I'll give you a brief synopsis: The Pillow Pets commercial is groundbreaking in the fact that it is the first television commercial to employ the Willy Wonka technique of beaming crack directly through the television screen into the airwaves, through your kids' eyeballs and into their brains. I once saw a version of children's mind control fictionalized on an episode of Angel. I now know that this is not only possible, but real and happening several thousand times a day in the living rooms of America.

The minute The Dormouse saw the very first commercial she began asking for one.

She tried demure at first:

"Hello, pillow pets! I love you!"

Then subtle:

"Those look SO SOFT! I'd sure like one of those."


"Pillow pets, are great for overnight trips, momma."


"They make a great $20 gift, mom!"

Appealing to my compassionate side:

"Mom! I NEED that unicorn Pillow Pet. My neck hurts from sleeping on my regular pillow."

Then obvious:

"Please, please, please, buy me a unicorn pillow pet now, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAASE!"

And as all older sister requests go, The Caterpillar decided she needed one too, so multiply all the above requests by two - one in a slightly less intelligible voice. Since several months had gone by and they were still actually interested in them, we went ahead and got one for her birthday... because, you know, I hear they make a great $20 gift.

When The Caterpillar unwrapped and opened the box, then finally realized what it was, she was excited, to say the least.

She rolled around on the floor with it like this for about ten minutes.

All in all, I'd say this birthday was better than most, but that might just be the Pillow Pet talking.