Monday, September 17, 2012

American Birthday Party

I have been in a sort of "writing slump" the past few days, although much has happened since my last post. First of all, Keira had her 6th birthday. Happy Birthday, Keira! We had a party for her (if you can call it that), and invited some of our neighbors and all the people at Tom's lab. It was certainly not up to Brazilian standards, but it was fantastic, as far as Higbee birthday parties are concerned.

Brazilians must save up for a full year, beginning the moment one party ends, for the next year's festivities. We have seen some of these parties hosted here at our housing complex. The pavilion is rented out, and no expense is spared. They must invite every person they have ever had any slight contact with, directly or indirectly. And everybody comes, arms loaded with extravagant gifts. (You wouldn't believe how much toys cost here!)

There are huge inflatables, trampolines, perhaps a gaggle of acrobats to please and astound the party goers. And don't forget the food--lots and lots of food! These parties last for hours, and I can only imagine what goes on inside. The party thrown this last weekend was adorned with Royal flags and a huge custom banner, regally inscribed with the little prince's name. Tom surmised that the birthday boy is perhaps 1 year old. I wonder if he napped through the acrobats?

Our party was not quite of this caliber. We are not yet outfitted to do a traditional Brazilian barbecue; and besides, we wanted to have something truly American. If you have read any of my previous posts, you know how difficult it can be to acquire the ingredients for such fare. So, we decided to do an American style "pancake extravaganza"! This was Tom's idea, and I thought it sounded great, as Tom is the pancake chef of the family. Pancakes are one of Keira's favorite foods, so this was agreeable to the birthday girl as well.

Tom made a quadruple batch of pancakes. He was cooking for quite some time, as we do not have a griddle--just a small, square, electric frying pan (it belongs to Marly). He cooked them up 4 at a time and put them in the oven for warming. We made "maple" syrup (that 1 bottle of mapleine is nearly gone--please send more!) I also had sliced, sugared strawberries and fresh whipped cream. We had an assortment of fresh fruits, and juice and soda to drink (can you say, "sugar high"?--what's more American than that?!)

I don't know if anyone had ever had maple syrup before. Some party goers were unsure how to apply it to the pancakes. One guest drank it in a cup (you know who you are!!) Some had syrup, strawberries, and cream on their pancakes--all at once--hmmm...not sure how that tasted. Everyone seemed to like them, or at least they were very gracious, and had seconds.

Marissa was my decorating committee. She hung up balloons and a dollar store type "Feliz Aniversario" banner in the backyard. Marly loaned us tables, chairs, and table cloths. The Wii "Dance Central" was our entertainment. We had about 20 guests, who all brought generous gifts. The cake was fantastic (a brigadeiro cake ordered from a local bakery--3 layers of chocolate cake with alternating layers of white  and chocolate "brigadeiro" filling [a type of custard made with sweetened condensed milk]. The whole thing was covered in chocolate and white chocolate curls.--It was very decadent!) I made the mistake of buying little noise makers for the goody bags. Even though the "children" were mostly teenagers, we had quite a racket going on in the house (remember that my house is all tile, no carpet or insulation to soak up the sound--not one of my better ideas).

It may not have been a traditional Brazilian Birthday Extravaganza--one of our neighbors said, "This is different from a Brazilian birthday party." (She wasn't being judgemental--just stating a fact)--but that wasn't what we were going for--after all, we aren't really Brazilian. At one point, Keira said, "This is the best birthday party ever!!!"  And that's all that really matters in the end.

Keira with all her booty!
 Next to her is our neighbor's granddaughter, Manuela. She and Keira were hugging and holding hands all night--proving you don't need to speak the same language to "speak the same language".
Brigadeiro cake--I've got to figure out the recipe!!


  1. In all the confusion of the last minute preparations, I forgot to change my clothes, and Keira's clothes (She was still wearing her school shirt). I also didn't comb her hair. We looked like white trash. It must have been impressive to our guests.

  2. Kathy, I love you!!! Happy Birthday to Kiera!! I love her too. I can't believe her and Ike are that old!!

    1. It's a good thing we don't get any older!

  3. yes, you do need to figure out that recipe. being the nice brother that i am, i'll let you try it out on me as many times as you need when you get back, until you get it just right. and then you can keep up your skills by making it monthly for me. i know, i know... the things i do to help my little sister!

  4. Happy birthday Keira! You have so many presents you can bring some home to Uncle Mark. Kathy maybe you could make a layer cake, that one on top of a mousse cake. Since I thought of it I feel obligated to test it for you. After all what are brothers for. Besides, I can treat the cholesterol after.

    1. I'll make you one if you come here to eat it.

  5. Goodness she's your spittin' image!