My little Lucy turned four years old! It is a shock to my system, sometimes, to look at her and see this big growing girl with long legs and unruly hair and a constant sparkle in her eye. She was my newborn baby just yesterday! Every mother says this, I know. But I seriously feel like I remember every day of her life so clearly. I remember the way she was practically born smiling, her ready smile and curious wakeful eyes even in her earliest weeks. I remember her big round baby face at ten months old, snuggling me in bed, always near, always cuddly, sturdy and soft in my arms. I remember her learning to walk in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, madcap and gleeful.
Tootie has always loved cartoonish characters. Even as a young baby she would thrill to the sight of Elmo's face across the thrift store, pointing with excitement. I never even introduced these things to her, she just naturally adored them. She has never been drawn to the "princess" type of cartoon character, but instead loves oddball types like robots, creatures, aliens and animals. I find it so interesting so see what different children are drawn to. Polly couldn't care less about cartoons or characters, has never really been into television shows or movies, and was never captivated by Elmo or Pooh or Totoro or Littlefoot the way Toot was. (Polly just loves babies.)
Anyway, no surprise that Tootie has been completely in love with the Octonauts (the style of illustration is her favorite type) for quite a while now. They are a gang of animal creatures who live under the ocean in their big Octopod and go on missions to rescue and protect sea creatures. It took me a while to get to know these characters, but she would fill me in with details all the time. She is quite observant, knows the colors of their ears and the details of their suits, what function they serve and what they like. At the end of each brief episode (we watch on Netflix) there is a "Creature Report" with some educational facts about the real versions of the animals they protect.
Lucy has been talking about her Octonauts party probably since her last birthday!
|Wearing two little barrettes just like Dashi, her favorite character.|
|Birthday morning excitement|
|Trying out the hats we made.|
This was our first "commercial cartoon character" party and to tell the truth, I was not looking forward to that aspect of it. I don't really like the look and feel of store-bought, mass-produced, heavily marketed kid stuff and at first I didn't quite know how to go about throwing an "Octonauts" party while avoiding that type of consumerism. So even though it's not that easy to find Octonauts party stuff, that turned out to be fine because I decided to make all the decorations anyway.
Making big cardboard cut-outs is one of my favorite party preps, although it's the most time consuming. Tootie helped me glue the letters on our banner: "Explore Rescue Protect" is the Octonauts' mission statement. We hung blue and orange streamers and blew up simple balloons, many of which got popped earlier in the day. Even with the more commercial theme, it turned out to be maybe my favorite party to prepare. I loved making five big cardboard Octonauts: Captain Barnacles, Qwaazi, Tweak, Dashi, and Peso. I also ordered six handmade felt Octonauts masks from Etsy for an great price, and they were beautifully done.
Tootie helped me color in little signs for some of the foods. We went with a loose "sea life" theme, calling the kale salad "Seaweed salad," for instance, if only in our own minds. Baby carrots because Tweak the engineer bunny loves carrots, that sort of thing.
The fruit bowl was supposed to resemble Gup-A, the Octonauts' little deep water vehicle with a dangling headlight for the midnight zone.
I just served citrussy ice water for the kids.
Polly was so stoked when Abby arrived. She is so in love with this dog. She pulls around a little toy telephone and calls it her "Abby." She'll even say things like, "Abby wants to go to the river, Mommy. Abby loves water," and bring that broken phone thing in the car with us! One night she wanted to take it to bed, and it's a real clunker. Haha!
My mom made the cupcakes, vanilla with cream cheese frosting and little toppers that I ordered from etsy. And we were so lucky to have our big cousins in town for the party this year! Amy, Jarom, Bella and Oey basically led the PARADE of fun that day.
|All little kids adore Orion. Something magical about that boy. He creates a fantasy land wherever he goes.|
|Her big moment!|
The best thing about these parties is just the pure element of HANG OUT. We love each other so much. You'd think we'd see a lot more of each other ... all of us. If it takes a four year old's birthday to bring us together all afternoon, so be it.
Out of all her sweet presents that day, this little woodland fawn named Phoebe from Sara was probably her favorite. She carried Phoebe around constantly the first few days, likes to snuggle her at night, dresses and undresses her, and makes up stories about her. We even went to the website to look at the other Hazel Village creatures, and now Polly fantasizes about having one of her very own too.
Birthdays are a whirlwind. Her party was so, so fun, (I actually took like half the pictures I usually take this year!) but I decided that the day-after is actually the best day ever. The girls played together so sweetly all day. We were still wrapped in the birthday glow, but everything was super mellow. I finally had time to pause and daydream and reflect upon the fact that I have a four year old child. And she is a bright and beautiful light on this earth.