So... the party.

We kept it pretty low-key this year. We've been to enough gym parties this year that we knew we didn't want to do anything big, involved, expensive or that required... what's that thing again?... ah yes, planning.  So we invited five kids/three families over for a barbeque on the new deck.  Deck warming/Fourth birthday... kill two birds with one stone.  

In the weeks leading up to The Caterpillar's birthday, I'd asked her if she wanted to have another pirate party, since we kinda have a history with those.  She said no.  I was pretty sure when we did the pirate cruise last year that we weren't going to get a lot more mileage out of the pirate thing so it didn't really surprise me that much.  But when we did ask her what kind of a party she wanted we got a few too many requirements:  "Princess, no kitty, no pizza, no Strawberry Shortcake, no princess, no happy face, no cake, no princess and cake, no dress ups, no...."

Since we never really could get her to narrow down the wide swath she cut through the party supply store, a couple of days before her birthday, I had this Gestalt lightbulb appear above me head:

"You know, Ella is coming to your party and Ella really likes pirates.  Do you want to have a pirate ship cake?"



And so, I went about the task of creating a pirate ship cake.

My workmates have dubbed me "Martha Stewart" because of this cake and have spent endless minutes mocking me because of my usual declarations that I'm not interested in cooking or baking.  But honestly, it took very little effort and only about four or five hours total, which was broken into baking the cake one day, carving and icing it the next and adding the decorations just before the party started.

It's not like there's a bare chested mermaid figurehead hanging from the bow, or anything.  I totally wouldn't go to that much trouble.  And anyway, The Dormouse only came up with that idea after the cake was finished so I didn't have time.

When she got home and saw the cake for the first time, she spent at least three full minutes just staring at it and giggling like a fool. 

Then she spent another three full minutes in quiet contemplation.

So... totally worth the time spent.

Originally, I had gone to Target for pirate themed decorations, but while I was there something made me think of voluminous pile of Caterpillar artwork overflowing from a stack in the kitchen and how I had to throw it all out while she slept to avoid a fight. I looked down at the fifty bucks worth of pirate stuff I would also throw away in the next twenty-four hours and I had a brainstorm.  So I put all the stuff back and instead gave The Dormouse The Caterpillar's artwork and told her to use it to decorate the deck.

We renamed the deck the Pirate Ship Revenge.  As long as the Pirate Ship Revenge is a place where you can both grill hot dogs and burgers and roast marshmallows for s'mores.  (Not sure the Dread Pirate Roberts would approve, but eh, whatevs.  I hear he changes his mind a lot.)

Note to others considering this as a kid-friendly activity:  do not purchase Giant Campfire Roasting Marshmallows for s'mores.   If you consider that regular-sized marshmallows do not easily fit into kids' mouths, then it's easy to extrapolate from that information that with these you will probably have to spend at least eighty-nine hours wiping sticky stuff from their faces, arms and combing it out of their hair.  For some reason however, it wasn't easy for me.

Then we all gathered round for the ritual microwaving of a marshmallow. 

Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.  It's really quite entertaining.

The Caterpillar asked for one thing and one thing only for her birthday: a gyro bowl. I know it's weird.  I'm as perplexed as you are - especially since I had never heard of this product and had to look it up on the interweb.  Since this request didn't change over the course of several weeks (and because I happened to notice it in the As Seen on TV end wrap I walked past at Target)  I felt I had to comply.  Here she is explaining the benefits of the gyro bowl to other bewildered party goers:

It's a bowl that you can put food in and you can turn it over and the bowl sfins and sfins and the food doesn't fall out!

For good measure, I got her this toy too and she has spent more hours playing with it in the ensuring days than perhaps all the other toys combined over the past year. 

We may need a mate or two to help us swab the deck now. 

Man, am I glad they only have one birthday per year.