Four years ago today I held my baby girl for the first time and sang her our special song. Just an eye-blink ago. Four years. I feel like we’ve been part of each other forever.

We are so thankful for the friends who came over to celebrate with us today. We cherish our music class friendships, and we cherish our friendship also with the sweet Bergon girls. This was Katie’s first “kiddo” party, and you all helped make it such a beautiful day and memory. We had so much fun with all of you! Katie kept saying what a fun day it was, in her words, “the best day ever!”

It started with a balloon from Daddy. Daddy is in charge of birthday balloons around here, and boy, do the kiddos light up with joy on their birthdays! It is our tradition… Katie was thrilled to have her balloon and remarked excitedly how it was just like Brother’s, only the number 4 instead of the number 1.

My mom made “pumpkin pie punch” to fit our October theme.

Katie and I made her cake this morning. She asked for a chocolate cake with a strawberry cream filling and white buttercream icing. With sprinkles on top!

As our friends arrived, they decorated their own treat bags with crayons and stickers and then filled them up with some goodies. This turned out to be a good use of time while everyone finished arriving, before we started one of our games.

The first game was Needle in the Haystack! No needles of course… but we did hide little favors and candy all through the straw. We have loved having the bales of straw in our yard, and tonight when I went to turn off the outdoor lights, the straw smelled so sweetly good in the night air. Something about bales of straw makes me think of October!

Searching for prizes

Next we did a pumpkin hunt. We hid several mini pumpkins in part of the yard…ready, set, go!

Searching for their pumpkins…

After the pumpkin hunt, we played “freeze dance” to The Monster Mash. My mom has so many memories of dancing around to that song when she was little, at Nana’s house. Now Katie has some really great memories of it, too!

After “freeze dance” it was time for a little pumpkin bowling! We set up pins and replaced the ball with a small round pumpkin from our local patch.

Katie prepares to pumpkin bowl…

Go pumpkin, go!


After lunch and some time on the swing set, we came inside and played “pass the present.” Katie and I had wrapped one present with several layers of paper, with a small gift or instruction card (“Give your neighbor a high five” for example) in between each layer. We used all kinds of paper: Christmas, wedding, Mother’s Day, etc. Each friend unwrapped a layer and kept passing it around the circle until the last gift was uncovered.

A good feature of “pass the present” is that everyone gets to feel included in the present-opening stage of the party… After “pass the present” Katie opened her gifts from our friends.

Time for cake and ice cream!

Friends, thank you for making this day so happy with your presence! You are all such nice people and so fun to spend any afternoon with.

My mom and dad are probably two of the best helpers on the planet. My dad and Eric were buddies during the party and my mom helped to serve and clean up. Not to mention all of their help in setting up yesterday…

October love

The McGaugh Family on Katie’s 4th birthday. I love you Pumpkin June!

Later in the afternoon…

Shortly after we changed and were ready to go out to dinner, we heard the doorbell ring several times and a package landed! Katie ran out and discovered a tawny feather on top of a package addressed from….HOGWARTS! (Here, she is showing the feather to Amie).

We opened it up and inside was the Gryffindor scarf and beanie, as well as a piece of parchment with really ornate handwriting and burnt edges that said, “For Katie, Future Gryffindor—be brave, be faithful, be true.”

This picture is blurry, because she was running around making joyful noise and jumping around in excitement. That night I stayed up late making this: totally worth it. It made her whole night… In fact, she wanted to carry her Hogwarts letter to dinner. It is the simple things in life… The moment was absolute magic for all of us.

A couple of days ago, when I was brainstorming birthday dinner ideas with Katie, she suggested, “I want to go to Pamir!” We usually have a tradition of birthday dinners at home, but I really liked this idea, especially on the evening after our party. Katie explained, “It is my favorite restaurant!” I was sold. I love the Afghan cuisine of Pamir Kabob House, too, and we haven’t been for a few months.

Katie June LOVES Pamir. She devoured her lamb chalow. We also shared tandoori chicken, mantu, sambosas, and bulaunee. Amie and Boppa had garlic naan, dal, and tandoori shrimp. Eric, who has enough teeth now, ate his first Pamir meal and also loved it. Katie, Eric, and I also shared a cold cherry blossom tea. That cardamom flavor is so delicious.

At the end of our meal, the owner was really sweet and brought out a surprise pistachio ferni (pudding). It had a little candle on the side and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Katie. We were stuffed, but Katie ate half, Eric and Amie had a few bites, and I ate the rest. YUM!

I really loved this memory, too. As we left the restaurant, we looked up at the crescent moon, and I told Katie that I hoped she would always remember that there was a waxing crescent moon on her birthday, that she ate delicious Afghan food, that she was able to spend the day with friends and people who love her. She looked up at the moon and…and you know, I really do think she made a memory. I picture her as an older woman, remembering this day. I hope so. It was a beautiful day.

Home again, we opened the family presents—many fun new experiences await tomorrow and all this month!

Happy Birthday, my Baby Kate. I love you!