As is our usual style, Kai had more of a birthday month then a birthday week. Like last year, we started the celebrating with a trip to Santa Barbara (both this year and last, I had to go for a conference... not a bad place to be sent for work!) Last year we only went for one night, and had a total blast. This year, I had a lot more to do at the conference, and we there for FOUR nights. It was a regular vacation! Well, not for me.... but, for Kailey, it was a total vacay.
She had an awesome time in the pool and wanted to do little else. She learned how to hold her breath under water for more then 10 seconds. And had fun playing games in the pool. By the end of our time there, her hair had a green tint to it (which caused several strangers to ask us if she'd been spending too much time in the pool... yes, that green!).
We only took pictures as we were leaving town (bad parents) -- when we stopped at a park so that she could do a little running around before the long ride home. We were at the same park last year, and I remember following her around spotting her on all the equipment. She was a good climber at 3, but at 4 -- we don't really worry about her anymore. She can scale walls! Well, maybe not... but, playground equipment is no longer a thing to worry about. It's fun to go to the same places a few years in a row with kids -- because they change so much in a year, and you can really tell how much they've grown by watching them attempt activities that they struggled with just a few months previously.
When we got back from Santa Barbara, we started planning her big party. Well, this year we decided to keep it more low-key. Just a few of her best friends at a park. We thought about pottery parties and other more organized activities, but then realized that - at 4 - Kai's favorite thing is to just run around and play with her pals, so the park seemed like a great option. Leading up to her party, we had a week of non-stop rain. So, that was disconcerting. But, lukily, the day of the party was gorgeous weather. Just like the day she was born four years ago (four years! Crazy!)
The party was fun. One thing we learned was that when you party in a park, you're bound to have a party crasher. Ours was a four year old named Fiona. Before we got everything set up, all the kids were running around and playing together, mixing with everyone else at the park. Fiona, who was also four, started playing with Kai and all her friends and when we called everyone over for lunch, she trotted on up with the rest of the gang. We had more then enough food, gift bags, and cake -- but, still, it felt a little weird to be giving someone's child food and presents without permission. I looked around for a parent, but didn't see anyone. Fiona was sitting with the other kids on the blankets, inquiring as to where her plate of food was, which I was withholding hoping someone might appear and say that it was OK (and that she didn't have any food allergies or other such concerns). Finally, her dad came running over, apologizing, and saying that he hadn't realized she joined our bunch. I told him it was fine and offered to let her be part of the party, which he agreed to. And, that's how we ended up having Fiona in all our birthday pictures -- she truly integrated herself!
Here she is blowing out the candles on Kai's birthday cake after Kaily hesitated to do so herself. Reminds me from that scene from Wedding Crashers when the crashers are giving the toasts and cutting the cake.
Fiona definitely had style. When we got the cake ready for candles, two other little boys at the park started walking towards us and Fiona intervened, stopping them upon their approach and informing them, "you are not invited to this party." And then, when it was time for presents, Fiona declared, "Oh no! I forgot a gift!" The child has a true future in party crashing.
It was a great day in the park, and it's always such fun to watch Kai with all her friends. They are always so happy to be together -- even though they spend 40 hours a week together (well, most of them do). And, at this age, they are truly concerned about each other and involved in each other's lives. They know what colors each of them likes, which foods they eat, and what games each prefers to play. Here are a few more pictures from the party.
Diego, Kai and Penny (and Fiona's head):
Clara, Diego and Kai (with Auggie in the background):
Kai and Ava, hand in hand:
Setting up for some sort of game:
Playing twister (this only lasted about 3 minutes):
After the party, we went back to the Claremont (my parents were staying there again this year -- I LOVE the Claremont, they have the BEST pool) for some more swimming. Every year around her birthday festivities, Kai learns a new trick. Her first birthday party, she took her first steps. At age 2, it was singing "Happy Day Day." At three, she learned to write her name. And this year, it was swimming. As in head under the water, flapping her arms and legs in a somewhat coordinated fashion, and moving through the water swimming. She had learned to hold her breath in Santa Barbara, with Eric's patient coaching, and took it to the next level at the Claremont (again, with Eric's guidance). Once she figured out how to do it, she was hooked. She spent the next 4 hours in the pool practicing and practicing and practicing. She'd bob up for air and plunge back down again. When I'd tell her to take a break, she'd protest and when we forced her out of the pool for a 10 minute reprieve she asked every ten seconds how much longer she had to wait. You can tell in this picture how unhappy she was with the forced rest period:
She has such persistence, and it was fun to watch her get better and better. I've now signed her up for some swim lessons over the next month -- so that she can really develop some water skills!
On Sunday, we went to soccer practice, despite Kai's not wanting to go. She never wants to go to soccer, but then she always has fun playing. She would much rather do gymnastics or swimming then soccer. I am hoping this is just a phase and that she will see that soccer is - truly - the best sport! Or else, I will be the one who just has to accept that Kailey is going to have her own preferences, regardless of what I want her to like! But, look at this face -- doesn't she look like she's having a blast?
Of course, she looks pretty happy here, too:
Anyway... after soccer, it was back to the pool. This time, Ava and her family showed up (they're members at the Claremont... LUCKY!) and so Kai got to play in the water with Ava, which was pretty much the perfect end to a fantastic birthday celebration.
Here's to four!! I can already tell it's going to be a fun year!