Our girls were born 3 years and 9 days apart. So September is a big month in our family, with two parties usually at least one week apart.

We started a tradition of birthday decorations when the girls were small. They would wake up to find balloons, streamers, banners in the lounge and hallway. They never grew out of this, even as teenagers when they helped blow up their own balloons because I was ready to go to bed before they were.

Over the years, we have had our fair share of pink plastic gifts, Barbie dolls and house, My Little Pony, Polly Pocket, dolls with clothes and buggies, princess dresses and clip clop shoes. We tried to introduce lego, cars, but they were girls! I loved the lego but they weren’t keen. They did love bikes, skates, scooters. C~M always scooted with only one shoe on, obviously, because only one foot touched the ground.

Don’t mention glittery fairy wings, thanks to the grandparents many, many miles away. Every time the girls or wings moved, a delightful shower of glitter would scatter around the house.

The gifts changed as the girls got older. Electronic drum kit, iPhones, leather jackets, money for clothes, then just money. So “money in a box” became a regular item. We have a few gift boxes that have seen many birthdays and Christmases in our house. The boxes live in our garage for 360 days of the year but resurface for celebration days. The sliding box has been to Australia and back, with probably more care for the box than the gift it contained.


We used to joke that the girls could have a joint 21st and 18th birthday bash. Little did we know….. We actually ended up celebrating 3 birthdays in 4 days. Three sets of decorations, 3 birthday cakes, three very different outings, family meals, parties.

S~E returned from Sydney for her 21st, along with her then boyfriend G~J (now our son-in-law). He is one year and one day older than S~E. Ok, three birthdays spread over nine days is manageable. But then C~M commented that she needed to do her 18th early because friends were going off to university before her actual birthday date.

Up went the 18th decorations in preparation for a home party and sleepover after a mystery trip around London. The kids set off from our local station with a travel card and list of places / co-ordinates, list of challenges, photographic evidence required. Start at the lions (Trafalgar Square) – at x recreate a record album cover (Abbey Road) – get photo with a policeman or soldier – group sing “I’m a little teapot” with actions – find as many 18’s as you can – do a conga – and others. They had a great time, completed all of the above and more. Back home they had Chinese takeaway, chocolate caterpillar cake, music and all crashed on sofas, mattresses.

One day to relax then down came the 18th decorations, up went the 21st and we had a lovely day out at Greenwich, the park, the Observatory, the Cutty Sark, standing across the meridian line, then champagne in a pub garden. Back home for a roast pork dinner, chocolate cake with phish food ice cream and more bubbles.

Then down came the 21st decorations and up went blue streamers, “birthday boy” balloons. A first for us! Another day out, to “Dr Who Experience” and dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. And cheesecake for a birthday cake!?

Happy memories of three years ago. I’m now preparing for C~M’s 21st birthday this weekend and the last birthday that we will celebrate in this house.