When we returned home after spending the day with Irene and her family, I gave Sophia some time to relax, and then we opened her presents. Her teacher had given her some pretty pink hair barrettes and bands, as well as a container of Parmesan cheese!
Now, under normal conditions, receiving a previously-opened-and-used bottle of Parmesan cheese is not exactly considered a good gift; but under these conditions, it was perhaps the best present ever. And meaningful--I knew that Christie had brought that bottle with her from Canada, that it was her only bottle, and that she had never found Parmesan cheese in Astana. It was a very special gift and it made Sophia very happy.
I made her pasta right away and she hungrily ate several bowls.
Afterwards, we still had the cake that I had made and was eager to try out. So we called the Filipino teachers; I knew that they had a present for her, too. They were all too happy to come down and try the cake. I suddenly realized that I don't have enough chairs for 7 people (5 Filipinos plus Sophia and me) and I hastily set about to rearranging the kitchen so that at least 5 people would have a seat (4 stools and one chair). I also had to wash some dishes so that we had enough silverware, but we did not have enough plates. I figured some people could eat off a napkin. (When I had visited them and eaten, they didn't have enough silverware or plates either, so I didn't feel too bad about it.)
When I opened the door, the five of them started singing "Happy Birthday" to Sophia, who tried to hide (embarrassed?). I invited them into the kitchen and held my breath as Sophia cut the cake. I could only hope that it would taste okay.
Luckily, they loved it. Sophia and the 5 teachers almost finished the entire cake. I was not too impressed--the cake was dry and a bit heavy, not light and fluffy like it should be. The frosting had the right texture, surprisingly, considering that I had hand-whipped it, but the flavoring was a bit off. Could be the butter, could be the milk--although there were only a few tablespoons of milk in it.
But they loved it, Sophia included, and that was good. Then they gave Sophia her present--a lovely red-with-gold-stripes turtleneck sweater, very pretty, and a little bit festive-looking. I was grateful--she really doesn't have that many long-sleeved shirts.
They left to go eat their dinner, and it was already rather late. We stayed up a bit later and then went to bed. In the morning, we Skyped my parents. Sophia can be a bit grumpy in the mornings, but she was quite pleased to know that while her birthday was over here in Kazakhstan, in America it was still her birthday.
A couple days later, she asked me where in the world it was her birthday. I had to explain to her that her birthday was officially over, no matter where you travel.