Today is Grace's birthday and we get to pause a bit in our regularly scheduled running-in-circles to celebrate her lovely, wonderful self. The word that comes to mind to describe Grace right now is "bright", not in the sense of being intelligent (although of course we are moderately sure she is a super smart genius child) but in the sense of being luminous and vivid and beaming. She is full of flashing smiles and bold ideas and sunny chatter. She makes up silly songs with haphazard tunes and games with nonsensical rules. She is brave about trying new things and always drops her fork on the floor at dinner and loves stickers.
I was looking at the post I wrote last year for her 3rd birthday and I am struck by how much less she has changed in the past year than in the preceding one. It has definitely been a year of more subtle changes and less dramatic transitions. Still, she is transforming before our eyes, her face losing even more babyish plumpness, her legs and arms growing even longer and slimmer, and her conversation growing ever more complex and grown-up.
We had a birthday party this morning for her with a handful of little friends. Grace's very favorite TV show right now is Ni Hao, Kai-Lan so I capitulated to the commercialization of childhood by having a themed birthday party. The invitations and paper plates and cups and whatnot all made her very happy, though, so there you go. And now that she is a little older and thus capable and/or in need of a little more structure in parties, it is helpful to have some sort of theme for planning a game or activity or whatnot. We played "The Radish Squats" (which I'm assuming is a real game in China and not something someone on the Internet made up) and made Chinese lanterns out of construction paper. And then, of course, the highlight of any birthday party-- cupcakes.
This year, Grace went through many iterations of what kind of cupcakes she wanted to have. At various times, she requested purple cupcakes with pink frosting, yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and so forth, before finally settling on chocolate cupcakes with white frosting (which I made cream cheese, because that is my favorite). Finally! She is requesting chocolate. It couldn't have happened soon enough. She also got to say what she wanted for her birthday dinner tonight and decided on noodles, plain with no red sauce and just some cheese. Oh, little kids' eating habits... Smitten Kitchen just put up this recipe yesterday, which actually sounded kind of perfect and was indeed delicious. Pasta and cheese-- a good idea if there ever was one. This evening we ate dinner and opened up her presents and each ate yet another cupcake and reflected on the marvel of Grace's beautiful self and how lucky we are to be her family.