Jack and Emmeline’s Excellent Birthday Adventure.

We do things big around in this household. It wasn’t enough that our babies were turning one year old, perhaps the biggest milestone birthday of them all; we decided that the twins would meet Santa, get their hair cut, and have a big shindig thrown in their honor…all on the same day. Yay! That’s not a recipe for disaster at all!

It actually went pretty smoothly, believe it or not. Justin and I both took the day off, and kicked off the day by presenting the babies with their big birthday present — a Little Tykes School Bus Gym.

They were instantly fascinated by it.

Review to follow, but I can already tell you that I think our kids, at one, might be a little too young and small for it. It’s bigger than we thought and they can’t yet crawl into it themselves, so it’s something that will need to be supervised play for a while. Still, they had fun crawling on it when we lifted them up.

After the twins’ first nap, we dressed them in their Christmas outfits, threw a bottle in their mouths, and popped them in the car to take them downtown for their combined haircut/Santa adventure. We went to Ladies and Gentlemen salon in the Block 37 mall, which was, conveniently, across the street from Macy’s on State Street (former home of my beloved Marshall Fields), where we were going to meet up with Santa.

I can’t say enough good things about the salon — the women who cut the twins’ hair were sweet and patient and, because it was their first hair cut, they charged us nothing! Zip! Not a penny! Wouldn’t even take a gratuity from us. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and cost us nothing. We will be returning to that salon, let me tell you.

Because they were so nice, and we felt bad about paying them nothing, Justin and I decided to buy them some cupcakes from the adorable Magnolia Cupcake shop that’s in the Block 37 mall.

Then we crossed the street to Macy’s, and waited in the ridiculous Santa line for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Shockingly, both babies were perfect angels. We fed them about halfway through the line, and they were perfectly content — they just started getting antsy right as we got to the front of the line. Here’s something about the Santa experience that took me totally by surprise: Macy’s has these nice little rooms where you get your photo taken, away from the crowd, and when I approached Santa to hand Emmeline to him I got so choked up I couldn’t speak to him. I mutely handed him the baby and let Justin do the talking until the threat of bursting into tears had passed. It was the strangest thing — I had no warning that this was how I was going to react. It was just such an iconic moment — I am someone who really never thought she was going to have children; to be handing my own child over to have the traditional photo with Santa taken knocked me for a loop.

The babies were a little taken aback by this stranger with all the white hair holding him on their laps, but they held it together admirably.

I still can’t believe how good they both were for this entire trip. We worry, because they just haven’t had that much exposure to the outside world, but they were perfect angels despite the crowds and the long line.

After Santa, we headed back home for naps, and Justin and I got the house ready for the birthday party. We were expecting a lovely group of our closest friends, some of whom have children as well, including one baby who is only a month younger than ours. We were decidedly unfancy for this party: pizza, beer, and cake. Some of our guests had to sit on the floor. We did have balloons — that was our only nod to birthday decor. I don’t have photos of the gift opening, because we were both managing the babies while opening presents, but I do have photos of the official eating of the first birthday cake.

My friend Shannon was shocked when she found out I was planning on just giving the babies a slice of the birthday cake I had ordered for them. They must have their own cake, she said. Their own, personal, tiny cakes. When Shannon says jump, I say how high and what shoes should I wear while jumping — so the babies had their own, individual cakes.

Emme was shy and hesitant at first. Justin had to show her that the cake was edible before she dug in. She got the idea eventually.

Jack embraced the cake eating with vim and vigor. He loved both the taste and the way the frosting felt on his hands.

Aren’t their t-shirts cute, by the way? Gifts from their Aunt Michelle, Uncle Andy, and cousins Alex, Taylor, Sam, and Will.

After cake, we pretty much wiped them down and put them to bed. There were many predictions that they would be hopped up on sugar for a few hours but miraculously, they dropped right off to sleep and slept until about 6:15 this morning.

And the anniversary of our babies’ arrival came to a close as our last guest left at about 9:40.

It’s the best thing I’ve ever celebrated.

Shannon - December 17, 2011 - 4:41 pm

Their first birthday was PERFECT and you must admit, seeing them eat those cakes were TOTALLY worth it! 🙂

Shannon - December 17, 2011 - 4:42 pm


Janie Hightower - December 17, 2011 - 5:39 pm

That sounds like a most ideal birthday party! I can’t believe they went to bed at their usual time… Congratulations!

Richard Ragsdale - December 17, 2011 - 5:42 pm

Great Santa shot. And those cake pix make me eager for V’s first bday…

Marsha - December 17, 2011 - 6:34 pm

AMAZING! I was laughing and crying while I read this. The Santa part is miraculous! And that you did all of this in one day is a testament to the fact that you’re going to be fine.

I’ve heard that the “sugar high” is not really true. Maybe you just have to combine it with a million other things to override the sugar effect! Love to you all…happy birthday to Emmeline and Jack, and Happy Holidays to the whole family.

katie - December 18, 2011 - 10:01 am

Yeah for birthdays! So glad they each had a smash cake – totally a first birthday requirement!

Becky - December 18, 2011 - 5:40 pm

Lara – These babies are so precious! Hope I get to meet them someday. (My “baby” is 5′ 10″ now BTW!)

areti - December 19, 2011 - 8:41 am

Lara! The photographs are awesome! You managed to capture perfect memories. Wow, it looks like you are a great mom! Congrats on year number one with your babies!!!

judy porte - December 27, 2011 - 10:30 pm

I loved reading the blog about taking the twins to see Santa and their first birthday party- you are doing such a great job of parenting. It is heartwarming to read all about it and makes me wish my boys were little again! You are in for some very wonderful times!

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