I love birthday parties. LOVE THEM. They just make you feel so special.

(An aside: Sometimes I fantasize that my family throws me a giant party and we set up a stage in our side yard and REO Speedwagon comes to perform just for me. Part way through, I get up on stage and perform a song with them and everyone is like, “Whoa. Leslie is sort of awesome. Did you know she could rock like that?” Because I’m suddenly able to sing and play the guitar, which I do amazingly. Then Kevin Cronin and I become such good friends that I can refer to him as “Kev” and though we don’t get to see each other a lot after that, he reads and comments on my blog and we chat on Twitter and Facebook and people are like, “You’re friends with Kevin Cronin? Of REO Speedwagon?” and I’m all nonchalant and like, “Uh huh.” Also, Dave surprises me by singing “Every Woman In The World” by Air Supply to me at the party. He’s not the incredible performer I am, of course, but that adds to the charm of it all.)

Yesterday, I threw Lucy a party for her third birthday in the hope that it would make her feel special. Because Lucy really needs to feel special.

Lucy the birthday girl

Back when I was a mom of just one child and people with more children would say they didn’t love any one of them more than another, they just loved them differently, I secretly thought they were just a little bit full of shit. Then I had more kids. And you know what? They were actually telling the truth. I love all my girls, not one more than another, but oh, so differently. Julia is my pride. Phoebe is my joy. And Lucy? She is my heart. She’s full of life, led by feeling and desire, not rules or expectations. She has an astounding capacity for love, courage, tenderness and compassion, but also for jealously, anger and hurt. Oh, and mischief. I worry about Lucy. I am fiercely protective of Lucy. People like her – the ones who don’t easily shut up, sit still, stay in their place and do what they’re told – are often labeled as “trouble” and dismissed or cast aside. And she really is trouble sometimes. I KNOW. I AM HER MOM. But, SHE’S WORTH THE TROUBLE. I don’t want her to ever believe otherwise. So, I was excited for the opportunity to celebrate Lucy. I wanted to make her feel special. To combat all the, “No. No! NO!” and “Bad. Bad! BAD!” she hears with a healthy dose of PAR-TAY.

The theme for the event was Team Umizoomi – her favorite show. I reserved the dance studio down the street (where I teach Kindermusik!) and whipped up four batches and seven layers of poundcake and covered it with five pounds of buttercream frosting and six pounds of fondant which I fashioned into three tiers resembling the characters just for the occasion.

Team Umizoomi cake

It was supposed to look like this. It doesn’t. But Lucy thought it was incredible and that was enough for me.

There isn’t a whole lot out there to buy for a Team Umizoomi party, so I used a bunch of printable stuff from the Nick Jr. website, which is pretty incredible. I set up activity stations for each character.

Milli measure station

The kids measured and marked their height with Milli.

Geo's shape station

They built things with shapes on a felt board I made (for about $5, yo!) with Geo.

Puppet stage rig up for Bot's belly screen

And they could stand behind our puppet stage that I rigged up with a Bot poster…

Lucy on Bot's belly screen

…to be on his belly screen.

Snack patterns

I set up each table with a choice of triangle crackers, round pepperoni and squares of cheese so they could make snack patterns, just like they did on the show.

I also had balloons. I probably could have just had balloons. Because kids? They LOVE balloons. Also screaming. It is my theory that the fun-nes of a kid party can be judged according the amount of noise it makes, which means Lucy’s party was THE BEST PARTY EVER! But I gave out noisemakers just to make sure of it. Oh, and I played a soundtrack I created of Lucy’s favorite music at the moment in the background.

We ate a lot of food. Then after a scavenger hunt, we sang “Happy Birthday” to my girl and hacked into the heads of Milli, Geo and Bot and ate them, too. Lucy opened her gifts, which I am still sort of overwhelmed by. I mean, wow! People are generous. And just like that, it was over. My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures.