Days leading up to this big deal, she started dressing herself and putting her dishes in the sink, and all these other big girl things. I think the biggest excitement for us was that this was the first birthday where she was fully excited and aware of the big day. The other years, the birthday was more about our excitement and marking her milestones, she probably barely noticed. But this time... she noticed! (and we benefitted -- mornings are so much easier when she can brush her teeth, get clothes on and put her own shoes on!)
Sure, I miss cute, cuddly, diapered baby Zoë with the giggles and wobbly steps, but there are plenty of rewards when I realize that she can be independent and do things by her "own self". It is hard not to get sentimental about her cute outfits that don't fit anymore, or see her cloth-bottomed shoes and finger-sized booties and remember her nearly featherweight snoozing warmth swaddled in my arms. But then, it is so much more satisfying to be needed these days for fun and play than for food, diaper-changing, and those basic needs. "Mommy, I NEED you! Come play with me."
Of course, such a momentous age as "4" needed to be celebrated in as many ways as possible. Zoë had a class party. Actually, it was a Valentine's Day party, but most of the kids now associate V-day with Zoë Day (true story: one of the kids went home and told their mother that they weren't allowed to say "Happy Valentine's Day" because Zoë wasn't there and it was her special day). They sang to her like 3 times, before Mommy finally appeared with the obligatory payesh (rice pudding).
Then there was the celebration at Frosting, the cupcake cafe. (In case you are concerned about the number of cupcakes consumed in these celebrations, please refer to the earlier posting about that impossibility of "too many cupcakes" because of the theory of Tummy Chambers.)
Then we celebrated with all her friends at BounceU, a giant warehouse of inflatable slides, gym and climbing, and ate pizza and cake. I think even Zoë was then all birthday'ed out... until she began discussing her plans for her NEXT birthday. That's it -- she's hooked. It's official now: she's a BIG girl. Our little big girl :)