Our oldest child, Kel, was born June 1, 2014. He changed our world for the better in every way possible and when Kel turned one we decided we wanted one more. Being a school teacher, we’d aimed and succeeded at having Kel, right at the end of the school year so I could be there for my AP students before their big test, while still having all summer with the baby. When we started thinking about having another I was much less concerned with timing. I was no longer teaching AP, and was only teaching part-time. This baby could come whenever. When we found out we were pregnant in September, the due date was predicted for May 30, just like brother’s due date had been… but I mean the due date is just an estimate… there was no way!Oh yes there was… I went into labor at the exact same time on the evening of May 31st as I had with Kel, two years earlier. She didn’t want to arrive whenever, she wanted to be her brother’s second-birthday present! Bebe was born June 1, 2016! So, in our family, June 1 is THE birthday. (Also, Rob’s birthday is just a couple weeks earlier, and mine is June 3… it is definitely the birthday season in our family). As parents, we felt terrible that we weren’t with Kel on his second birthday, and we feared that we had robbed them both of their one special day. But Kel had a wonderful second birthday with his Gogo and Poppy and he got a sister for his birthday! And, Rob and I promised ourselves and each other that we would turn what we saw as an unfortunate coincidence into a unique and special blessing.For the entire year leading up to June 1, 2017, I scoured Pinterest and planned and plotted how we would commemorate their first shared birthday in a way that made them feel special as individuals and also honor the special bond they share as June 1st babies.
Here’s what we did:
- A few days before THE birthday we celebrated a Year in Review. Last year we looked through pictures from the past year (this year I will have our annual family yearbook that I make on Snapfish ready for us to flip through). We also made a playlist on iTunes of all of the kids’ favorite songs. Then we ended the night at bedtime by reading each kids’ favorite book from the past year.
- Two days before THE big day we had a Sibling Celebration. I worked individually with each kid and helped them to make a birthday card for the other. I also found a wonderful, two-sided book on Amazon, “What Brothers Do Best” and “What Sisters Do Best” by Laura Numeroff that we read together.
- For their birthdays eve we looked through their baby books and talked about the night/morning of their births. We also read On the Night You Were Born and On the Day You Were Born.
We began the day with a special birthday breakfast (I think I made pancakes with sprinkles. They weren’t great… this is a work in progress) and two gifts (a birthday outfit and small toy). We also decorated the kids chairs and the kitchen with balloons and streamers. And for dinner, we started a birthday tradition… “fancy” and family friendly, Old Spaghetti Factory! We even got to sit in the cable car and the kids thought it was absolutely the coolest. Dinner was followed by the rest of their birthday presents. (Also, can you see the exhaustion on my face below? A whole year of planning and worrying that it wouldn’t be enough… but it totally was. The kids felt special and connected. Mission accomplished!) And there was still a birthday party to throw…The birthday culminated with a shared Wild Rumpus for the kids with our closest family and friends. We did it! The kids had the best time, felt special in their own right, and seemed to enjoy sharing their big day. But holy smokes, I was wiped out and Rob and I wanted to be intentional about how we celebrated the kids in the future, with the hope that whatever we did to celebrate (party, trip, etc.) was viewed as special and not taken for granted.Which brings us to this year’s birthDAY, which is fast approaching. Rob and I decided that we would celebrate the kids’ birthdays with a party every other year, and do something really special as a family on the non-party years. So this year we are taking a six day trip to San Diego with tons of celebrating and lots of family fun packed in! A concern we have with annual birthday parties, are the load of gifts that accompany the party. Our kids have a playroom full of toys and want for nothing, so we don’t want to just continue adding to their STUFF because it is customary to bring gifts to a birthday party. Not having a party this year will keep the playroom in check but also after a bit of research I found an awesome online registry that we passed on to the grandparents for all of our birthdays this year. We created an alternative gift registry for our birthdays on the website So Kind. In this registry we requested experiences in San Diego to help enhance our trip. So as we are on our vacation we will think about Gogo and Poppy all day at the zoo, and be grateful to them for all of the memories that day brings us. This registry can be used for honeymoons, birthdays, graduations… really anything. And you can register for any type of experience or request donations to a charity of your choice. I love this concept! We are huge believers in experiences over things. Yet, registries can be tricky. Social norms tell us that it is rude to ask for gifts… but they also tell us that it is customary to bring a gift to celebrate the person being honored. It is a bit of a mixed message but the bottom line is we want to bring joy to the birthday boy or girl on their special day, and asking for an experience almost assures joy will be had. Personally, I would be thrilled to receive this kind of registry. Not only does it take the guess work out of what to give someone, but you also know it will be something they will enjoy and make a memory of. To know that I was giving an experience that the recipient wanted rather than more stuff that they might not even like, would be wonderful. It also reinforces to our kids that experiences and spending time with family are more important than things. Since we weren’t hosting a party this year, we only shared it with the grandparents, but we will probably use this website next birthday as well. We did buy some fun toys and other gifts for the kids to open on their big day too though! We don’t want to take away the excitement of opening a present entirely! 😉