Come on, you can’t tell me you forgot. I know I didn’t. In fact, I started celebrating last night. First, I hung streamers in the bedroom and kitchen doorways topped with some shimmery banners. Then I packaged six items in bags that held very different items over five years ago.
Today, I started off the celebration earlier than I had planned. My 5-year-old triplets simply couldn’t rest past 6:30 a.m. on this, the anniversary of the day of their birth. (I told you it was a day to celebrate!)
I could probably share with you an amazingly detailed account of that special day, despite the many years that have passed and the memories that have filled my photo albums. But not right now. Sometime, though. Today I want to tell you how we spent the rest of the day. And maybe somewhere in there is a tip or two.
After my kids almost literally dragged me out of bed, I finished the birthday cake. You might wonder how I handle the girl-boy-girl dynamic of my trio, especially with regards to the cake choice. This year all three wanted a different cake. Last year, the girls made one choice and my son made another. That worked out splendidly since we planned two different celebrations. And what did I do to compensate this year? I simply added another celebration!
Sophie chose a princess cake, so we celebrated with my family this weekend with a Princess Belle cake. Bella’s Care Bear cake will be the centerpiece for a celebration with my husband’s side of the family this weekend. So, Sebastian’s choice was the cake for today.
Once he and I carefully placed the hockey goals and players, his hockey-themed cake was done. Later we spent an action-packed two hours at Chuck E Cheese, a birthday hot spot, spending our tokens on basketball shoot-outs, whack-a-mole, and skeeball. If you’re anything like me, then you can guess what I did to help curb the cost of this trip. We ate lunch at home and used some coupons we printed online.
Remember those 6 items I bagged? Those were the gifts we had carefully selected for our triplets. And I bagged them in a few gift bags I had set aside from my baby shower some five years ago. We keep a pretty strict budget, so we don’t tend to spend a lot of money throughout the year on our wants. So, come birthday time, our kids are really thankful for their gifts. We heard words today like, “This is the best present I ever got.” And that was gratifying.
To top it all off, we then ventured to Sonic and the kids enjoyed wacky packs, Sonic’s version of the Happy Meal. We, the parents, might have enjoyed them just as much as we didn’t pay a dime for any of it. We had simply signed up for Sonic’s birthday program, printed off the coupon we received via e-mail, and presented them at the window.
Here are two of the greatest tips I can give you today. One has to do with the cost of birthdays and the other with something that can’t even begin to be quantified.
First, if you’re like us and your child’s birthday is the one day you actually work at spoiling him or her (because for the 364 other days we’re teaching our kids that they’re not the center of the universe), look for ways to do it frugally. Look up restaurants in your area and see if they have a birthday program. We’re part of the programs at Coldstone, Culver’s, BD’s Mongolian BBQ, Sonic, Baskin Robbins, and Famous Dave’s. And I’m sure there are others. Last year, we took our kids out for birthday dinner and dessert all “on the house.”
The other tip I can offer is this–simply savor the moment. Take mental pictures. Take the real ones, too. Invest in your kids. The return on your investment, both here on earth and eternally, is in the words of that Master Card commercial, priceless.
While my kids entertained visitors tonight, much like they did in the NICU on October 27, 2005, my Isabella sat coloring some pictures. When all of our friends left and we were getting ready for bed, she pulled 2 pictures out of her little box. She handed them to me and said, “Here, mom. These cards are for you to say thanks for giving us the best birthday ever.”
Hockey figurines, $4; Trip to Chuck E Cheese, $15; A day that lives in my kids’ memories as the “best birthday ever,” priceless.