Mabel had her fourth birthday this weekend so Carl was off work on Friday to spend the day spoiling her and we had her party at home on Saturday. I was determined to make her birthday really special for her, she getting to an age now where she really looks forward to these things and she had been talking about her birthday since Greta’s in December. She had decided that she wanted a star wars cake and a star wars party months ago and she had asked her Nanny and Grandad for a Rapunzel dress, and had arranged with her Nana to go to Build a Bear to chose her present, but I think the thing she was most looking forward to was actually turning four.
The minute she woke up on her birthday morning and bounced onto our bed, she announced ‘Ernie, it’s my birthday, that means I’m four now!’ then glancing at me just to check ‘I am four now, aren’t I Mummy?’. She spent the next 10 minutes trying to explain what a birthday was to Ernie, because of course he didn’t know, how could he? He hasn’t had one yet! ‘Well, now I’m four that means I’ve grown up, so I’m bigger now, I know more things…. I can even run faster, look!’ and she jumped off the bed to run up and down the landing to demonstrate.
All morning she kept repeating at random ‘I’m four now’, telling anyone who would listen, like it hadn’t quite sunk in for her yet.
I was surprised that she was awake at least half an hour before she even thought about presents, and we all traipsed downstairs to see if there was any waiting for her, which of course there was. Like an excited little puppy she danced around proclaiming that she loved everything from the balloons to the gift bag to the wrapping paper. I made a silent prayer to the god of birthdays that she will be this easily pleased forever. She opened all her presents and said ‘wow’ and ‘thank you’ for every one of them. She was so grateful and appreciative, it made me feel so proud. I’ve found 3 a particularly hard age, it’s been a tough year of parenting my strong willed little girl, and there have definitely been lots of moments where I’ve questioned if I’m getting it all wrong. But this was the perfect antidote to that, seeing the polite little girl that she’s becoming made my heart swell.
We didn’t have much planned for the rest of the day, as we were having her party on Saturday and we had decided to space everything out nicely so we booked tickets to go to Chessington world of Adventures next week, for her birthday day out. She had some money in a card from her Great Grandad so I decided on the spur of the moment that since we were all up and dressed at 8.30am, which is a rarity to say the least, we may as well go out for breakfast and then over to Toys R Us to spend her birthday money.
She took her new lalaloopsie doll along for the ride, and absolutely loved her pancakes and syrup breakfast treat. At the toy shop, she knew exactly what she wanted, and made a bee line through the shop to find it. Only a ‘sing with me Elsa’ would do, and she wouldn’t be distracted by any other toy. Greta tried to make off with a little Anna doll, and we did try to explain that it wasn’t her birthday, but Mabel said ‘Oh just get it for her, it will make her happy’, we were inclined to agree!
We had a quick trip to Asda to pick up some party supplies, and then home for an afternoon of playing with Mabel’s new toys, pizza for dinner and then a little shop bought cake, which I forgot about after dinner, and so brought upstairs after bathtime and we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake in our pajamas.
Once Mabel, Greta and Ernie were asleep, Carl and I dutifully went downstairs to prepare for the party the next day. To a certain extent, I try to fight against the comercialisation of children’s birthdays, and I refuse to do a big party before they start school. So so far, we have just done little tea parties at home for family. This year we had a extra set of guests, because Mabel dramatically proclaimed that she must have a certain little brother and sister pair at her party ‘or it will be ruined!’. Their family have become like family to us anyway since we met at our first time mums group nearly four years ago, so it was lovely to have them here to celebrate with us.
I think we had about 24 people to cater for altogether, and I like to give everyone a proper meal, so I decided to make some pasta bakes. I made 5 different kinds: bolognaise, tuna, cheesey ham and leek, chicken pesto, and peperoni. It sounds like hard work but it was just different variations on either a béchamel sauce or a tomato sauce, so it was fairly easy to do, and I prepared most of them the night before so I just had to grate cheese on top and pop them in the oven on the day of the party. We served them with garlic bread (shop bought) and salad and they seemed to go down well. We had quite a lot left over but I think I just made too much because everyone was more than happy to take some home with them!
Because I was busy making pasta bakes (and we had started preparations a bit too late), Carl made the cake entirely by himself. We always make a homemade cake and decorate it to a theme chosen by the birthday child. Neither of us is particularly artistic but I like to see it as a fun challenge, and so far the girls have really appreciated our efforts. This time, we really were winging it with a Star Wars themed cake and had no real plan of what we were doing and totally ran out of time, so much so that we were still decorating it with all the guests here and my sister and her husband even got involved and had a Yoda-off (my sister won, obvs). I was starting to wish we’d just got the amazing BB8 cake we’d seen in Asda the day before and wondering why on earth I always had to ruin everything by insisting on doing it myself, when Mabel came in, took one look at the white cylinder with blue shakey lines drawn on and the big orange monkey looking figure plonked on top of her cake and said ‘WOW! Look at my R2D2 and C3PO cake!’. So that’s when I realised that, even though the cake was, essentially rubbish, it didn’t matter one bit because she was happy. She then proceeded to help make Luke Skywalker, making one arm significantly fatter than the other, and then slicing half of it off with a kitchen knife, for authenticity. She also chucked a few random bits of icing on, which was apparently ‘adding details’. It didn’t matter, I’d let go of perfection long ago, and if she was happy, I was happy.
Here I have to admit that I don’t have a good picture of the cake. Sadly, I don’t have a good picture of anything because I was so busy in the kitchen and chatting to everyone for most of the party that I forgot all about taking pictures. When Carl did hand me the camera, I managed to take a couple of rubbish photos before the battery gave up. Epic fail. Luckily I know there were a few videos being taken, so we have those for our memories, which will have to do. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve become a bit obsessed with capturing our memories, but it turns out that sometimes, you’re too busy living them to be the photographer. I love taking photos, but being behind the camera takes you away from the action slightly, and sometimes you want to (and need to) be in there, being part of it.
Although next time I think I’ll aim to be slightly more organised so I do have a moment to step back and take some photos. Organisation is not my strong point as much as I wish it was. I do love writing my lists but this time, time just ran away with me. I wanted to do some more decorations for the Star Wars theme, but in the end there just wasn’t time. It was a bit of a difficult week with Greta’s eczema getting infected and Mabel being off preschool and Ernie just being a 4 month old baby. Mabel absolutely loved her party though, so that’s the main thing. All she wanted was to dress up like Rey (well actually she would have preferred to be Luke, but you can’t get Luke costumes in the shops because it’s not 1981), eat loads of sweets and play with her friends and cousins, and that’s exactly what she got.
A highlight for all the children I think was beating the Darth Vader piñata with a light saber….
Later that night, after everyone had gone home and the kids were in bed, Carl and I were chatting about how grown up Mabel was, how lovely she’d been all weekend and how much she loved being four, when I suddenly realised…she’ll be five on her next birthday! This scares me quite a lot, five feels really old and like quite a milestone. Five means being out of preschool territory and into something that I know far less about. I don’t know, it just feels like Mabel turning five will be a big moment for all of us, and it’s now less than a year away. I have vowed though to make the most of this year of having a four year old, the last year I can call her an ‘under five’, and try to protect her innocence for as long as I can.
Join the fun
Get a weekly round-up and exclusive content from our home educating, slow living, everyday adventure seeking life...