Wednesday, September 28, 2016
My darling first-born is officially four. FOUR! My head is shaking side-to-side as I type that out. Time has flown as fast as every person on the planet said it would. But it always will, right? That's why we have to kiss and play with and snuggle our babies (slash big kids) while we can. And party. Let there always be a party!

Especially on your birthday!! While I tend to go pretty simple for birthday parties, this year we themed Olivia's party out and went a little bigger, because, well, she is FOUR and one of her best friends here, Oliver, also turned four on the exact same day...it was a year to go big or go home!

Oliver's mom, Rainy (one of my best friends here!), and I planned the party, playing on the four-year-old's wild imagination -- we dubbed it a Prince and Princess Party centered around a quest. The kids would get homemade crowns and swords when they arrived, and then they would follow three clues - through the Virginia woods, offf course :) - to find the captive king (Oliver's dad, Brandon) that had been captured by the wicked villain (Olivia's dad, Ryan). You guys! It was a BLAST.

We set the party time 5:30-7:00, so post-dinner, and we only served cake (I like a good theme, but sheesh, I really like simple). The cakes waited there till we finished the quest...
 Oh the surprise and sparkle in her eyes!!! Payday.
And as soon as our guests arrived, we introduced the quest in story form. I'm copying exactly what Rainy came up with for the quest's script, because it's that succinct and awesome, and in the day you need to throw your prince and princess a quest party, you have what you need right here, mama... :)

Knights and Princesses! Your assistance is required on an important quest. The king has been captured by an evil villain and only you can save him! The villain has left some clues for you to follow and you will have to complete certain tasks on your quest to free the king.

After the introduction, we read the first clue (note: the clues were "written" by Wicked Ryan, so they are in his first-person voice)...

(To be given at the beginning, after saying the little intro above)
Your first clue is hidden inside the egg of a dragon. Only those brave enough to approach the dragon's lair will move on in their quest!

And if you can look past my blurry photo (Claire was on my hip during the whole quest!), here are the dragon's eggs - golden balloons hanging from the trees! The kids charged at them, popped them all with their swords...
And after we found the second clue inside one of the balloons, we read it aloud...

Congratulations, you managed to sneak past the dragon and obtain this clue. But only a true hero will be able to fight their way through the enchanted brambles and thorns that guard the next clue. You will never find your king! 

Then we trekked on through the woods till we found the green crepe paper laced between some trees, which the kids had to cut down with their swords...
 Sister was into it.
And clearly so happy about her life as a courageous little princess. :)
 One of the kids found the third clue attached to a piece of the crepe paper, which we then read...
And it was right then that King Brandon - just a few yards down the path behind a tree - started to call out, "Prince Oliver! Princess Olivia! Friends! Come rescue me!!" And the kids charged down the path toward his voice...

Only to be confronted out-of-the-wild by the Wicked Ryan!!!
The little duel above was pretty amazing, and how I wish I could've captured it in a just way, but Claire Bear was still on the hip - and honestly - I was soaking up the incredible action!! The kids took Wicked Ryan seriously and fought him with their swords until, Olivia, out-of-the-blue started singing "Happy Birthday to you...", her friends joined in, and Wicked Ryan crumpled to the ground.

Which killed me, too. The song part was totally unscripted - and it was brilliant (leave the magic to the kids)! Whenever we play "bad guy" at home, Ryan always crumples when Olivia and Claire sing a special song (which special song always changes), so I love that she pulled that out of her arsenal of experiences and that she chose "Happy Birthday." We should have thought to add that into the script, so if you're wanting to throw this party, toss that part in there to guarantee your villain's demise. It just worked too well...King Brandon was saved! 
 And there's the de-feated Wicked Ryan. :)
To top things off, we climbed out of the woods and back to the party table to slay the dragon (piñata) - the dragon was angry that we had popped her eggs! - and we should've scripted this part a little better, too, because naive me, I just said "Okay kids, charge!" and this happened...
 MAYHEM. Hahah, bless my heart. We quickly formed a line instead and whacked the dragon for a bit till the candy spilled out (the piñata candy dubbed as the kids' party favors)...
Our darling Prince and Princess! 
 And with all of the wild adventures over, we lit candles, sang that magical song "Happy Birthday" song, and then we let them eat cake.
My cute friend, Rainy, and I below. I so love this woman. I mean, I've loved her our whole 2.25 years in law school, but after going through something like planning + executing our four-year-old children's shared birthday party together, I really love her. :)
I corralled my crazy crew in for the obligatory family shot below (so fun to think there's a third baby in this frame)!! Also, yes, that is an evil 'stache and goatee above on our Ry. Besides wearing a black piece of fabric for a cape, he had to look evil, so a bit of eye-liner did the trick there. :)
And then the kids went wild at the playground next to the party table, and they played till the sun went down on the bushy Virginia trees. It was a party - fit for our four-year-old princess and her darling prince. I couldn't help but sit back and soak it all in, surrounded by our friend-family here and with the echo of our children's laughter everywhere. The kind of scene is the marrow of motherhood for me. Doing my small part to bring my sweet daughter genuine joy - and her sister and her friends - that is magic materialized for me. 


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Olivia. Oh I love you deeply! You won't really get that till you mother yourself, but girl, my feelings go deeper than the canyons of the sea. You're beautiful - a precious part of our family - and I thank Heavenly Father that you are forever ours. 

Love you FOREVER. 

Your Mama (and Dad, Claire, and Tiny Babe)! 


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