Whew. I'm tired. The last 2 1/2 days have been filled with feverish preparations for Lucy's 4th. I'm not a mom who can handle having huge "kid" birthday parties; we just have family. But since family is usually at least 13 of us, it's still a fairly significant production. Lucy and I made empanaditas and cinnamon chips and pineapple salsa for appetizers (we had regular chips and salsa too, but she missed out on that prep). She had a great time smearing tortillas with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, which I then cut with a pizza cutter and broiled. And not to be left out, Elaine clambered up on a kitchen stool, smeared her hands in cinnamon and sugar, and ate it.
The morning of her birthday, I was too excited to sleep and woke up around 5. I got the Strawberry Shortcake dollhouse and dolls (that I spent weeks on ebay trying to get) and set the house and furniture up in the living room. Then I put a doll and pet on each of the steps leading downstairs. I packed Elaine's Strawberry Shortcake-themed gifts that she had "picked" out in the dollar section of Target into a gift bag and put that outside Lucy's door. She got up at 6:45 despite going to be at 10 p.m. the night before because she had gone to Kids' Club, then to Wendy's for a Daddy/daughter outing. (Side note: She got a little cat on rollers with her happy meal, which she brought home, sneaked into Elaine's room, and put it in her crib so she would have it when she woke up in the morning.)
All four of us were in our bedroom while Lucy opened Elaine's bag. That would have been enough to make her day. She got flip flops, sunglasses, lip balm, a Strawberry CD, barrettes, and a headband. She hugged and kissed Elaine and told her thank you. Then in an unprecendented move, Elaine toddled (I say "toddled" but when she walks it looks sort of like a tiny blond Frankenstein lumbering around) over to Lucy and gave her a big hug. Of course both our cameras missed that moment. Darren tried to get them to recreate it. Hahahahahahahaha. Amateur. Screeching and unhappiness ensued.
Then we went downstairs. Lucy discovered a doll on each stair, and that too, would have been enough. I could not have asked for a more gratifying response when she saw all of them and then the house (fortunately, we do have all that on video). Suffice it to say, she spent the rest of the day playing with it and taking all of the dolls' clothes off and having them interchange outfits. Later on in the morning when I checked on her, she looked up and said, "Mom, I was never happy before until I got this Strawberry house!"
Family started arriving around 5, and everyone loved our appetizers. Lucy had asked for tacos for her party (read: lots of chopping preparation), and people seemed pretty happy about that too. After working hard in the yard all day and simultaneously watching the girls so I could do all the chopping preparation, Darren showered and changed into his hospital scrub shirt that has Lucy's teeny tiny baby footprints on it. He prayed a really sweet prayer for her and got a little choked up too (see Reason 7,685 why I love him).
Sometimes when you get family together it can be a volatile mix, but everything went really well. After dinner, I brought out her princess cake (she decided she wanted a princess cake the day after her third birthday), and she was thrilled. I was pretty happy myself--it didn't look as good as the picture (of course), but I had ordered the doll part from Wilton and it came with long hair. As a lifelong short-haired person with two short-haired girls, it was a major accomplishment that I put this thing's hair in an updo and even fashioned her a crown out of some of my old earrings.
After cake and ice cream, Lucy ran to the living room, then rushed back to the patio and said, "Everyone needs to come inside for presents!" Wow. Our families consistently overwhelm us. Chuck and Rome gave her the hardback collected stories of Eloise and a Strawberry Shortcake fairytale book (which we had to read 3 times to her before bed). Aunt Kimmie and Megan bought her a pair of Crocs with princesses. Then just to blow her mind, Mimi and Papa bought her sandals with princesses (that light up!), so she spent her present opening time changing back and forth between the pairs of shoes. She also got a lot of beautiful clothes and a pool with a canopy that both she and Elaine can play an advanced version of "Water" in. My mom made her an adorable dress and a matching one with a bonnet for one of her dolls.
Speaking of my mom, as I sat out on the patio with her, I said, "Mom, I thought of you these two days as I worked round-the-clock to put this together! I can't BELIEVE you used to do all this for us!" She just laughed it off. I'll say it again, I never knew how much my parents loved me until I became a parent. At least I have a six-month reprieve until I do this all over again for Elaine. My mom used to have to do it three weeks apart every summer.
So, now I am the mom of a four-year-old. I can't believe it. It's a happy-sad thing. Mostly happy, though. This morning Lucy called me at work (where I'm resting). She chattered on about how she stayed dry all night and how she's wearing her new, "What are they called again, Mom?" Crocs, and when I said, "I better go now, Baby" she exclaimed, "Not yet! I haven't asked you 14 questions!" My great big girl.
I'm figuring out exactly what "bittersweet" means.