Feliz Cumpleaños Chiquita :: A “Josefina” Birthday!

by | Apr 23, 2013 | American Girl, Birthday Parties, Happy Birthday, Precious Moments: 04 | 16 comments

On Saturday we celebrated Chiquita’s 8th Birthday!  This year she requested a Josefina themed birthday party.  I hadn’t been feeling well all of last week, and was overwhelmed from way too much paperwork, other commitments, and a 12 year old boy who had been sick all night Friday/Saturday morning. Thankfully I had put a little thought into her birthday weeks ago and had supplies and a few activities planned to make sure she had a special day, even though we kept the celebration simple and to just our immediate family. 
Chiquita was given Josefina, her very first American girl doll, for Christmas in 2010.  This past year the girls also completed a Unit Study and Josefina Lap Book.  And last Christmas Chiquita received a dress-up clothes to match Josefina!  The first thing Chiquita did when she woke up was put on her Josefina outfit! 

.: Las Manitas :.

mañanitas (may-nyah-NEE-tahs) – a traditional song sung to wake someone in the morning on a special day Happy Birthday, Josefina!

Usually I try to have a cake baked and decorated the night before, for the children to discover when they wake up in the morning, but Friday night Sean and I were out late (He had choir practice for our Latin Mass and I needed to run a few errands.  Afterwards we went to every store in town trying to find a bike for the birthday girl.)  so early Saturday morning we got up early, wrapped a few gifts, placed some flowers on the counter, along with a coffee cake and melon for breakfast.  We then “woke up” the birthday girl singing Las Mañanitas!   I purchased a beautiful Mañanitas CD from Sister Servants which we played all morning.

We sing songs for your feast day, which were sung by David, King,
Now we sing them in your honor; Of all your beauties we sing,
Awake now, my love, awake now, the dawn has already flown;
hear the little birds are singing, the moon’s already gone home…
Along with the Coffee Cake and Melon the birthday girl also enjoyed New Mexican Hot Cocoa!
Esteban and Mariana brought a wonderful gift. It was a melon that had been buried in sand since last fall’s harvest to keep it fresh.  When Josefina thanked her, Mariana said, “It’s not much, but my heart goes with it.”  ~ Happy Birthday, Josefina!

Tia Dolores had made a special fancy loaf of bread.  

Twinkle Toes made sure to add a Statue of St. Joseph to the decorations for her little sister.  

“The morning song was only the first surprise in a day full of them.  Ana made cookies called bizcochitos for everyone to eat before breakfast.  At morning prayers, Francisca showed Josefina how she’d decorated the family altar with garlands of mint and willow leaves and how she’d surrounded the statue of San Jose, the saint Josefina was named for, with white wild lilies and little yellow celery flowers.  Clara, who liked to be practical, surprised Josefina by helping with her chores.” Happy Birthday, Josefina!

.: Memory Boxes :. 

The girls had also been saving the Memory Box Craft Kits they received for Christmas to paint on Chiquita’s birthday!

“Papa had given her a little wooden box of Mama’s. Josefina called it her memory box because in it she kept small things that reminded her of Mama, such as a piece of Mama’s favorite lavendar-scented soap.” ~ Meet Josefina

The girls had so much fun painting their own little wooden memory boxes! 
Rose didn’t want to be left out of the painting fun… I ended up finding a wooden egg for her to paint.  She painted it pink, of course, and has been carrying it around ever since!

.: Snake-Bite Calzone :.
Then everything happened so fast it was a blur. The snake gave a menacing rattle. Mariana threw the rock at it and missed. The snake whipped its head around, shot forward, and struck Mariana on the arm with its fangs.”  Happy Birthday, Josefina!

Shortcake had suggested incorporating a snake into our party, and Charlotte found me a recipe from Kraft for a Snake-Bite Calzone!  Of course I needed “a five year old boy and a three year old girl” to help make a special lunch for the birthday girl! 😉 The prefect distraction for my two “helpers” while the girls finished painting their memory boxes!

Rose wasn’t sure she was interested in eating “snake” for lunch… even if it does taste like pizza! 
The birthday girl, on the other hand,  thought it was perfect!!!  And the boys? Well they said next time we need to make 4 or 5, not just one.  It was GOOD!  
He handed her something that looked sort of like a shell.  It was rattles from a rattlesnake. “I’ve saved these since I was a boy just your age,” said Papa to Josefina,” to remind me of something I was proud of.  Now I am giveing them to you, because I am proud of you.”  Happy Birthday, Josefina!

.: Spanish Appetizers :.

There were meat turnovers, and fruit tarts, and candies fruit that looked like jewels.  Happy Birthday, Josefina!

Thankfully I had picked up lots of appetizers (which helped make up for not having enough Snake Calzone) at Costco including Mini Chicken Tacos, Beef Taquitos, and Chicken, Pepper Jack and Jalapeño Empanadas, with Chips and Salsa. 

.: Spanish Songs and Games :.

“Popular pastimes from Spain included singing games such as La Vibora de la Mar (The Sea Serpent), which is similar to London Bridge, and guessing games such as El Floron (The Flower), which is much like Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?”  Happy Birthday, Josefina!

We choose a few games from The American Girl’s Party Book.   This book is out of print, but we were able to purchase a copy for pretty much the cost of shipping. We choose a few Spanish Songs and Games to play outside on our beautiful spring day!

El florin (el flo-ROHN), or The Flower
One player is the Guesser. The other players sit in a circle holding their closed fists out in front of them.  The Guesser closes her eyes. One of the players hides the floron – a flower blossom or other small object – in her hand. Then players chant the lines below as the Guesser tries to guess who has the floron. If the Guesser is correct, she and the hider switch places.

The flower goes in the hands,
And in the hands it has spoken.
Guess who has it, guess who has it, 
Or be taken for a fool!

It look a little while to explain the concept to our little Rose!  When Chiquita opened her eyes the first time and I said “Ok, who do you think has the flower?” Rose immediately forgot about keeping her fist closed and pointed to Snuggles hand shouting “HE HAS IT!” to Chiquita!  Lets try that again… 
The Rainbow
Players choose a home base. One player is the Angel. The other players are the Rainbow. They each think of a color to be – without saying their color out loud. Then the Angel calls out a color. When a player’s color is named, she runs for the base while the Angel tried to catch her. If she reaches the base before the Angel, she chooses another color and rejoins the rainbow. If the Angel catches her, that player is out of the game.

The Sea Serpent
This game is much like London Bridge. Two players hold their hands up high to form a bridge. The other players form a line, each holding onto the waist of the player in front of her. The line weaves under the bridge like a sea serpent as the players chant the lines below. At the next-to-last line, the players forming a bridge drop their arms to catch a player. Gently they rock her back and forth. Then the game starts again.

The sea serpent we like to play
To have fun, to have fun.
Under the bridge all on a track, 
Children in front go faster and faster.
If you don’t follow, you’ll stay back, 
Back, back, back, back. 

.: Birthday Gifts :.

“Josefina swirled the shawl around her shoulders and looked behind her to see the brilliant embroidered flowers and the slippery, shimmery fringe on the back. She fluttered the fan and felt very elegant indeed.” Happy Birthday, Josefina!

Chiquita was so very excited to open her own very beautiful shawl sent from her madrina! 

She also loved the birthday card her padrino had mailed to her!   

She also received a couple new outfits for summer, the set of Kit Books, the set of 4 American Girl movies, and her first very own bicycle!

.: Josefina’s Leather Pouch and Flowers :. 
“She walked across, picked the primroses, and tucked the stems in her pouch. She let the yellow flowers stick out so that they wouldn’t be crushed.” Meet Josefina

The birthday cake was inspired by Collette, and based on Josefina’s Leather Pouch and Yellow Evening Primroses!   I posted a tutorial here:  Josefina’s Primroses in a Pouch Birthday Cake
Even though the cake was one of the easier cakes I have decorated, I was so happy with the results, and so was the birthday girl!  It turned out so pretty, and looked just like Josefina’s pouch. 

We love you Chiquita!  Happy Birthday!  


  1. Grace Hincapie

    What a wonderful celebration for a sweet girl! Happy Birthday Chiquita!

  2. wattle_girl

    Such a joyous and thoughtful celebration! This is very special. Blessings to you.. Julie

  3. Just One Handful

    How very special. Thanks for sharing. You're making such beautiful memories for the children.

  4. Unknown

    Happy Birthday Chiquita!! That is an amazing party. Do you normally just do a party for your children with just your children and you and your husband? Or do you have family/ friend parties? We are trying to figure out the best way to do parties, we have 10 kiddos and it can get hectic trying to plan them. I just love how you take what your kids love a that time and plan a birthday around it.

  5. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you, Heather!

    We seem to do a mix – some with just our immediate family and some with extended family/friends. Our oldest has had the most parties with other friends and family (a party at the train park when he little, a Military party when he was 8 – dad was gone on a fire assignment, and a Settlers of Catan Party for his 11th) and my youngest brother also usually comes over for each of his birthdays, even if we are just celebrating as a family. Our 2nd son had a big bowling party for his 8th birthday. Our oldest daughter had a Tea Party for her 8th birthday with all her little friends (she also had friends over at the last minute for her 7th, since dad was gone again on another fire). Chiquita has only had friends over for her 6th, and it too was a last minute decision, since I realized just before her birthday that I would have a 3 month old on her 7th – I thought about it this year, but it just wasn't possible. Our 5 year old son had a few friends over (4 boys from one family) after golf camp last summer for his "Cars" party. Last year I did invite most of our local extended family over for our youngest daughters Sound of Music/Favorite Things party too.

    Basically we have decided to limit most birthday parties to just our immediate family, with one big party with extra family and friends sometime between 5-8 (we originally decided on age 7, but it's had to be flexible around new babies, etc) and another when they are 10-13. I think it would just be way too hard otherwise…

    And, yes!! It really is so much fun to incorporate a theme around something they love! It's a great way, especially in a large family, to focus on just that one child and give them special memories they will treasure forever. Our children are always taking about what "theme" they will choose next, and that always seems to be the focus and not whether or not they will be having friends over! 🙂

    You can find links to all our past themes listed here if you are interested.

  6. Pauline

    Wonderful Birthday Party! ¡Feliz Cumpleaños niña linda!

  7. Katie V.

    Wow! Thanks for sharing! I love coming to your blog for a little break and inspiration! I'm always so impressed that you find the time to write all this!

  8. Collette

    Such a beautiful & special birthday celebration!! My kids are reading over my shoulder & enjoyed seeing your pictures so much 🙂 We're all wishing your family lived just a little closer to ours, lol!!! 🙂
    Love your Snake-Bite Calzone ~ so cute!
    Happy 8th Birthday to you, Chiquita!!

  9. Jamie Jo

    Here I thought Josefina was a saint til I got half way through this and was like, wait, she's an American doll…it was the story that gave it away for this sloooooow mama.

    Great party Jessica!! I love all the details.

  10. Michelle Hayden

    I too, love to see what your family is up to! I don't know where you live, but I wish our kids could meet! Our youngest ones are 8 and 12 also!! Keep posting!

  11. Robina

    What a lovely party and happy celebration. Perfectly done. Happy Birthday Chiquita!!

  12. Candy Hartmann

    Thanks for sharing all the pics. It looks like it was a special day for all!

  13. Maxine

    What a fun party! Good job, Jessica!

  14. Unknown

    I found your lovely post while searching to put together a unit study on Josefina. Beautiful pictures and lots of great ideas! Hope it's ok to include a link to this post in my unit. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Unknown

    I found your lovely post while searching to put together a unit study on Josefina. Beautiful pictures and lots of great ideas! Hope it's ok to include a link to this post in my unit. Thanks for sharing!


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Hi! I'm Jessica, a Roman Catholic wife and home educating mother to our nine children. I was home educated myself, along with my eleven younger siblings. I have a special devotion to St. Therese, through whom I have been given much help and many blessings--the beautiful "Shower of Roses" that she has sent my way! Here I will record a few of the blessings I treasure. Please remember that what you see here is just a little glimpse at our lives, so please say a prayer for us, as we continue to strive for holiness.

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