Zoe’s Birthday, in pictures

Since I posted recently about how we do low-key birthdays around here, I thought it might be fun to take a photo trip through Zoe’s birthday. Dial-up internet readers, I apologize for the copious amount of pictures contained in this post.

She started her birthday with bedhead and her customary cup of OJ. You don’t want to mess with this girl before she’s had her juice.

After she got dressed and got her hair done, she played all morning and then had lunch, using our special “It’s Your Birthday” plate.

That afternoon, we baked her birthday cake and I frosted it. Zoe licked the frosting beater…

…and wiped her hands on her white shirt. Because that is what you do with chocolate frosting when you’re four.

This is the third year in a row that Zoe’s had a fish cake. This year, we decided to make a mola-mola fish. Mola-molas are blue in real life. Ours is chocolate, though, because we’re just not all that authentic.

I’m not a particularly fabulous cake decorater, but baking and frosting a cake at home is definitely cheaper (and usually tastier!) than buying a cake. Then too there is the advantage of being able to design the cake however we choose. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a mola-mola cake at the grocery store.

When Mr. The Frugal Girl got home from work, it was time to open presents (you may recognize some of these reusable gift bags).

Zoe’s first present was a fish ring from Joshua. She’d been eying this at Goodwill for weeks (“I reawwy want da fish ring for my birfday!”) so she was highly gratified to receive this gift.

She also got a sparkly, beaded dolphin purse from Sonia (also from Goodwill!). This ended up being her favorite present.

I’m putting this black and white photo in here for no particular reason other than that I like it. It doesn’t really serve to illustrate anything, but that’s ok, because this is my blog, and I can add pointless photos if I want to! ;)

Zoe did get several other presents than the ones pictured here…we gave her a Leapster game and several Anatole books that were out of print (I bought them on half.com) and she got a dolphin wall decoration from Lisey (via Goodwill, of course). Plus she got something else from us that I cannot for the life of me remember right now, and as you will see a few pictures later, we got her a real live present after dinner.

Also, it was Mr. The Frugal Girl’s birthday (he and Zoe share a birthday), so he is obligated to make an appearance.

For dinner, we had french bread, fried shrimp, and an enormous bowl of jello (we don’t worry much at all about nutrition on birthdays).

After dinner, we headed off to Zoe’s favorite store in the world, where after some consideration…

…she chose to bring a few of these guys home to put in her new fish bowl.

When we got home from the fish store, it was time for birthday cake.

The candle-blowing process was made 60% more hilarious by the addition of a few trick candles. The quality of this photo is terrible, but it cracks me up no end. She was quite surprised/concerned when several of her candles sparked and re-lit.

No worries, though…she blew them all out again, happily ate some cake, and was whisked off to bed.

And she’s very pleased to now be four.


  1. says

    She is SO CUTE! I am glad she and your husband didn’t fight over the birthday plate. :)

    She would love the game Animal Crossing for the Wii- you can catch Ocean Sunfish and lots of other fish!! :)

    • Kristen says

      I should have also mentioned that Joshua doesn’t use that birthday plate. Pink roses don’t exactly scream “birthday treat” to him. lol

  2. Amanda says

    OMGosh, love it and can’t believe she is 4. I remember the announcement. Happy Birthday Zoe and Mr. S.

  3. says

    She’s a doll. Love that she got real fish for her birthday.

    Your jello doesn’t look like typical jello but creamy. What gives?

  4. Erin says

    What a wonderful birthday. Very similar to the ones we have around here. It is the small things that really matter. She is a sweet girl! Being four is pretty great!

  5. says

    She’s adorable! Thanks for sharing. I second the “how do you shape a cake like a fish”?
    I would love to make different shaped cakes myself. (could be a good post) :)

    • says

      My mom was a professional cake decorator at one point (not quite at the same level as say Ace of Cakes but she got by.) With her business she had a lot of specialty pans that were in different shapes but in a pinch could draw just about anything on a sheet cake or cut a few basic shapes down.

    • Kristen says

      I always use two round layer cakes to make my fish. I just kind of cut them up and arrange them to make the proper shape. Maybe I’ll make one just so that I can take pictures and show you. Zoe would love that!

  6. WilliamB says

    The quality of that pix might be low but the timing is perfect.

    Another disadvantage to a store-bought cake: no beaters to lick! (You’ve gone through some 25 birthdays and you still put her in a white shirt?!?)

    • Kristen says

      Well, she picked the shirt out herself…it wasn’t the shirt I’d have chosen, but hey, it was her birthday!

  7. Rebecca says

    Nice to see that your big girl still needs her sippy in the AM. My sons just turned 4 and 5 and we are working on that right now. Sometimes you just don’t mess with what works.

    • Emily says

      What helped for us (my girls are 4 and 6, and giving up sippy cups was a struggle!) was using the type of cup that has a sippy-style lid, but without the lid it’s a normal cup–like the “Bell Tumblers” that Tupperware has, but I got mine from Dollar Tree. Sometimes I let the girls use the lid, and other times not. I also got Take & Toss cups–you can find them at Kroger and Walmart, and I’m sure elsewhere. They’re cups with a lid & straw. Both of my girls had trouble shaping their lips into a small “o”, which affected speech, so drinking from a straw really helped them develop those muscles (at first, my oldest couldn’t even fully close her lips around a straw because she had used sippy cups so much).

      • says

        Emily – I was warned about that when I had my first child. We have never used sippy cups. We started with the honey bear bottles/straws and moved to the Take and Toss cups. I am not sure if it helped their speech, but we did not struggle with the attachment issues.

      • Kristen says

        Zoe doesn’t actually NEED her sippy cup in the morning, just the juice inside! She drinks from a regular cup every other time of day (99% of the time she drinks water the rest of the day, so I’m not as worried about spills then). I just appreciate the fact that she’s less likely to spill her juice in that cup so that’s why we use it.

        I suppose if she was super attached to her sippy I’d worry about it, but she could take or leave it. She just wants the juice!

  8. says

    Also, what is in the jello? Is there some sort of cream or something? It looks good but just different and I was just wondering is all.

  9. Carla says

    Oh, her face when the candle re-lit! That is a priceless picture, Kristen! I’ve watched adults get a funny look with the same candles but it’s never the wide-eyed wonder that Zoe showed. A beautiful post. Thank you.

  10. says

    I love her expression on the photo with the trick candles…..hilarious, but she is such a doll! Thanks for the giggle this morning. :)

  11. says

    Ohmygoodness, your daughter is too adorable! You did a great job celebrating her birthday and making her feel special without going overboard. And I’m a big fan of the fish cake!

  12. Wendy says

    Love the pictures – thanks for sharing! I also like b&w prints. When we get picture taken of my little guy (13 mo) we usually get a few b&w, and our parents don’t seem to understand the appeal. She is such a cutie! I can’t imagine my little guy being 4, but I am afraid to blink because I know it will be here so soon.

    • says

      Just tell them that art is not supposed to be understood by the masses. People wonder why I still shoot with B&W film when I’m not shooting on slides.

    • Kristen says

      I think people who lived when color prints weren’t available don’t understand our attraction to the black and white!

  13. Michelle says

    Small pets can be great birthday presents with low initial cost. We bought a pair of gerbils for my daughter’s 9th bday. We already had a cage and stuff, so only needed new bedding, food, and the little guys. She was thrilled! (And even more so when one turned out to be pregnant…Note To Self: never buy the fattest gerbil at the store.) You can usually buy cages/tanks/whatever at Goodwill for a fraction of the original cost.

  14. Kim says

    I have to say that black and white perfectly illustrated the absolute cuteness of your sweet little girl! My baby is going to be 6 next month – it goes so fast and that little girl look fades so quick. Great pictures! Love them.

  15. says

    You are such a great story teller with your words and pictures. I actually felt like I was a fly on the wall for her birthday. Thank you for sharing and writing such a great blog!

  16. Aimy says

    Oh My Gosh!!! Too Cute. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your pics. My daughter turned 21 today. I miss my little girls!!!!

  17. maria in chicago says

    Agree with Jessica–this post is one of my faves from you. I liked all the photos for reasons already mentioned. I’m also impressed all your kids got sea life-decorated gifts for Zoe from Goodwill! ;) Happy Birthday to her and your hubby both!!

  18. says

    Looking at your daughter was like seeing my Catie again, rewind 12 years! The braids looked just like hers, and like my Catie J., they became more wispy and disheveled as the day progressed. Thank you. It was like a trip down memory lane. My brown-haired beauty turned 16 in August … this morning, she still had bed hair and a braid (thank goodness!). Blessings…

  19. Joyce says

    I love love love your blog. You crack me up. If I were to write a blog, I would hope it would cute and funny like yours.

  20. Carole Nelson says

    So nice to see someone showing their children how to value family time and appreciate the things that are important. Your family is beautiful. Good luck and health to you all.

  21. Brenda says

    You are the best mom – and what a fun birthday! Thanks for all of your ideas – you truly inspire me!

  22. says

    I find your blogs and pictures so interesting and helpful. It encouraged me to write about the food I have wasted and also my life. May I say that if my understanding is correct about your daughter and husband having the same birth date, you gave your husband quite a wonderful gift for his birthday. Thanks for sharing your life.

  23. Linda says

    My favorite picture was of Zoe contemplating her fish purchase. Thank you so much for sharing. What a great mom you are.

  24. says

    Hi Kristin,
    I have seen you mentioned repeatedly on my friend Angela’s blog and finally jumped to this post to check out your site.
    Refreshing to see a kid’s birthday that is not over-the-top.
    Just as meaningful to the 4 year olds, if not more so.
    The dinner she chose is hilarious and made me laugh out loud.
    too funny.

  25. Linda A. says

    Beautiful family, beautiful way to celebrate! I love the way your simplified life makes everything so much more full. When I grow up I want to be just like you…haha. A little late for that now for me ;) I look forward to your posts everyday.

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