"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Birthday Girl

Ooops, we did it again!  I have a problem y’all, I cannot seem to celebrate Little Frances’ birthday in a low-key manner.  I started with good intentions of keeping this small and not excessive, but her birthday ended up turning into a two-week long affair!  (Not every day for two weeks, but off-and-on for two weeks)  Every day she would ask for sweets and I would say… well, ok, since its your birthday and all Smile.

I have already shared with you how we celebrated Isla’s actual birthday here.  Bless her beautiful heart!  Sometimes I cannot believe that she is here with us.  We prayed for her for four years, and we can’t help but celebrate our little miracle.

Last Tuesday the presents that Nick and I ordered from the states came in!  I had so much fun setting them up for Isla to come in and find.  I didn’t wrap them because I didn’t know where to find wrapping paper here in Novo (btw, now I do, and that is so getting a blog post of its own).  From us she received a Baby Stella doll and some accessories, the Melissa and Doug shopping cart, 3 puzzles, and 2 different sets of flash cards. I want to get her a tricycle with a handle that comes out of the back, and I have been shopping around for the right one at the right price.

Isla sees toysIsla and Gifts

It is seriously so hard to get a good picture of my big girl these days!

Then finally, Boo’s present arrived!  Almost two months after it was sent, and it included Easter and Birthday gifts.  We didn’t think that it would ever arrive.  Isla had so much fun going through it!  It had both her birthday present and her Easter present.

Opeing Presents with Daddy

I take that comment about getting good pictures of Isla back!  I love this one.

Too Cool for School

Lastly… her party!  I had originally planned for a tiny party with just a few friends from church, during the day on a Saturday.  But then it expanded to church friends and friends from Nick’s company.  And then it expanded to church friends, friends from Nick’s company and other misc. good friends!  Then it expanded from a daytime party with only snacks to a nighttime party with dinner where I expected mothers and fathers to attend because I found out that everyone from Nick’s office had to work on that Saturday!  Needless to say it was wild.  We had 15 children in a two bedroom apartment, plus parents! Crrrazy.  When it gets to that size, it sort of stops being about Isla, and more about everyone else.  But that’s ok, everyone, plus the birthday girl, ended up having a good time!

Then in an effort to make things more crrrazy.  I planned 3 activities for the kids to do. I am not entirely sure what I was thinking! But everyone had so much fun.  I am so happy with how happy everyone else was!  This party was not stressful at all.  There were minimal decorations and simple food, but everyone had fun, even me.  I think that party had a joyful, happy spirit. I wanted to be sure to get pictures for the Grandma so I asked our friend Masha from church if she would come and take pictures!  I am so thankful she did because otherwise I wouldn’t have any.  I was pretty busy the whole time.

The first activity was decorating cupcakes! I made four frostings, bought some small candies, and then found some other decorating things at Tabriz and set them up in our office/hallway area. 

Cupcake 1

Sweet Izlata, perfect as always!

Beautiful Zlata

Liosha was super-focused on his cupcake.

Intent Liosha

It was nice to take a break from organizing everything and focus on Isla for a few minutes.  I loved helping her decorate her cupcake.

Isla CupcakeGood Times

Boris’ birthday was 2 days after Isla’s and so we celebrated his too!  He is such a sweet kid.

The Other Birthday Boy Boris!

Afterwards, all of the children showed off their cupcakes and we clapped at them as they each showed off their creations.  I was seriously impressed with some of the cupcakes!

Showing Off Their Creations

Cutie, cutie, cutie!  I love her dress… made by her beautiful and talented Mama.

Beautiful Zlata 2

I thought the cupcake making would be a disaster, but actually the kids did really well and took it so seriously!  I was impressed.  Only a couple of the younger kids ate their cupcakes before they could decorate them, and they got very few candies or decorative beads on the floor.

This cracks me up. Everyone loves Coca Cola. Everyone. Even though everyone knows just how bad it is for you.

So Funny

The second activity is one that I don’t have a name for, so I am just calling it Community Christmas, since everyone gets a little something!  But basically, you wrap a present over and over, adding new little presents each time so that everyone gets to unwrap a present (preparing for this birthday is how I found out how to buy wrapping paper in Russia).  I opted to make sure that everyone got to take a prize, but with a few grand prizes thrown in.  Normally I think there are just supposed to be two or three presents.  The kids really seemed to enjoy it!

It was quite a chore to get 15 children to sit in a circle!

CircleMy CutieOpening Present 1Opening Presents 2

The kids did so well and no one seemed to mind that a few kids got bigger presents than the rest!  The prize in the middle was the Grand Prize, and to my horror, Isla is the person that received it.  I had hoped it would go to someone other than her!  Fortunately, I was able to slip it into Boris’ Goody Bag since he was also a birthday boy.

Grand Prize

The last activity was one that I still think that I was a little bit crazy to try, but a few days before the party, my MIL, Isla’s Boo sent me a recipe that allows children to make their own ice cream in plastic bags.  All you need is two plastic bags, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and ice.  Then the child mixes them together in a certain order, jumps for 5 minutes and it makes ice cream.  I didn’t even do a test run before we did this activity so I was relieved when it actually worked!  The kids LOVED it, plus it was a good way to get them to work off all of the sugar that I had pumped them with!

Poor Igor got drafted into helping us with the ice-cream making assembly line!  He said that he had always wondered what it would be like to work at an American McDonalds Smile.  Here are the kids lining up to make their ice cream!

Poor IgorBeautiful Christina

Some jumping action!


Two of Agnessa’s three grandsons.  They are so sweet to Isla and Agnessa says that they fight over who will marry her, haha!

Isla Goes for a Ride

I was able to use the left over candy from the cupcake decorating part so that people could top their ice cream.  I think a lot of the bags and bowls ended up being more candy than ice cream!

Decoration Station

I love this picture of Zlata, Miss Sassy-Pants was not happy having her picture taken!

Funny Zlata

Finally we opened presents.  We just let the kids play while Isla and I opened them.  It past 8 PM at this point!

Opening Presents

Finally, all we had left to do was relax and let the kids play!

Best FriendsTired MamaPlay TimeGood Friends

We also had Thank-You goody bags for all of the kids!  Unfortunately I miscounted and there wasn’t a bag leftover for Zlata.  Her Mama was very forgiving! We are going to find a way to make it up to her!

Goody Bags

It was after 9:30 by the time everyone left.  I never in my life would have had an evening birthday party for a two-year-old in the states, but here it just worked!  We are so thankful to all of our friends who came.  Nick, Isla and I have been so well loved here.  We are grateful and humbled, and we cannot begin to understand why we deserve such sweet friends.

So that’s it!  Starting tomorrow, our girlie has a full year until she is a birthday girl again!


  1. Happy birthday Isla! I love all the pictures! I do think you were a bit crazy, but it sounds like it all went absolutely GREAT! I especially love that you made it into some of the pictures. Rare for a mom!

  2. I KNOW! I made sure to ask Masha from church to come and take pictures because I knew there was no way I would be able to do it. I am happy at how it went, but I think it helped that I went into it with NO expectations... once I decided to have 15 little people over, I just had to expect the unexpected to happen and know that things are going to be crazy.


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