We recently celebrated Calvin’s first birthday with a fun first birthday fiesta. He and his buddy Shayar turned 1 within a couple days of each other, so my friend and I decided to co-host a joint party for the both of them. It was so fun to plan a party with a friend and to celebrate two boys’ birthdays at the same time. We wanted to keep things small and simple but also thought a fiesta theme was the perfect way to add fun, color, and of course, tacos to the backyard gathering.
I was super excited to finally have an excuse to include Si Paletas in a party I threw. Jennifer was our wedding photographer and has documented our family ever since. She’s also half of the brilliance behind Si Paletas, the original artisanal popsicle creator in the LA area. They were a huge hit with little kids and grown ups alike. We also had My Taco Man cater the party so we didn’t have to worry about preparing or serving food. They set everything up, serve the food, and clean up, leaving you with any leftovers. Plus they provide soda, water, and hot dogs for kids too. And it is delicious!
Another huge hit with the kiddos was the piñata — and the candy that came out of it. Between that, a small bouncy house for the bigger kids and a mini-ball tent for the littles, and a coloring table the kids were well entertained.
I also made 24 funfetti cupcakes (half with chocolate and half with vanilla frosting) for the bigger kids. Even with popsicles and treats, kids expect birthday cake! I am a bit obsessed with these photos that Jennifer took of both of my kiddos eating their cake. I never realized they have the same eye color
Calvin is in shock that his buddy was not interested in his smash cake. Cal be like “are you gonna eat that, cause if not I’ll totally take it off your hands.” And he had a major sugar coma afterwards. It’s a tradition to use the giant cupcake pan for first birthday smash cakes in our house. For Charlie’s first birthday I made a sugar-free cake. Calvin got boxed funfetti with regular sugar-filled icing. As it should be
We got pretty much all of the fiesta details and decor in the piñata district in downtown Los Angeles, and it was all way more affordable than buying online. The serape blankets, for example, were like $15! The big piñata and mini-pinatas, serape runners, maracas, and the papel a picado flags were all bought there (I think the store was Amazing Pinatas).
I highly recommend throwing your own fiesta — the details and food possibilities are easy and endless. Check below for full source and vendor details. We loved all of the vendors we worked with and highly recommend them.
In an effort to make sure I took as many pictures of Calvin as I had of Charlie (and to avoid the development of any second child syndrome on my watch) I decided to do a weekly project where I took a photo of Calvin every Thursday on his “weekly birthday.” I didn’t really think it through or have a strategy at first, which you can tell from the first half of the photos, but eventually I got the hang of what time of day had good light, and started taking them on the same Ikea rug in the same spot of my home. The perfectionist in me wishes I had done this all along, of course, but the busy mom in me was just proud I found time and remembered to take a weekly photo at all.
If you are thinking of doing a similar project, here are a few tips:
Include the entire rug (or blanket, or whatever you’re using under your baby) in each photo, so you can see how much bigger your baby gets from week 1 to week 52 to scale. It’s obvious they have grown, but the difference is much more dramatic when you do it that way — something else I also wish I had done from the beginning.
Also, I recommend sharing them on instagram, even if you’re private, with a hashtag only you would use. That way you can make a book of them easily and download them all in one place using something like Instaport.
Including some milestones or stats of your baby in each photo will help you go back and fill out a baby book (if you’re anything like me and haven’t actually started writing in one yet!) Or you can just make a book from instagram (using something like Chatbooks — my readers can get their first book free when they use code F7GVKEJX at checkout) and include your captions — an even simpler baby book idea!
Showcase their (or your) favorite outfits, toys, etc. in the photos — whatever you want to remember when you look back at them later.
I swear I intended to share Calvin’s birth story much sooner than this. And then time flew by and we’re almost to his first birthday. So here we are, a year later, and I’m finally getting around to it.
Calvin was due on August 23rd, but Charlie came a week early so I was expecting (and hoping) Cal would show up a little early as well. On August 13th we met some old friends and their kids at the LA Farmer’s Market for lunch. I had my favorite Mexican food from Loteria after a long break due to pregnancy reflux, and then Charlie and I met our playgroup in the afternoon where I had half a mimosa. I’m convinced Mexican food + mimosa = how to induce labor.
The rest of the day carried on as usual and I went to bed expecting a full night of uncomfortable sleep, per usual. Calvin had other plans. At 1:30 am I sat up in bed with a familiar feeling — my water broke! With Charlie, my water broke at 2:30 am at 39 weeks. Not to be outdone, Cal wanted to come at 38.5 weeks. Since this wasn’t the first time my water had broken in the middle of the night, I sort of knew what to do but was also a little nervous. My water breaking caused a lot of problems in my labor with Charlie and I was hoping for a better and shorter experience with Calvin. My husband had a bit of deja vu when I woke him to say that once again, my water had broken in the middle of the night and it was time to go have a baby. I called the on-call OB, because mine had left town for the weekend that day. Luckily, she hadn’t gotten far and turned around to meet me at the hospital. The on-call doctor told me I could do what I needed to do at home, but then I should come to the hospital. No rush, but within the next 1-2 hours.
We had a list of friends who had volunteered to come stay with or take Charlie for us if needed, so I called my sweet friend Janeesa and she headed over. While we waited for her to arrive, I took a quick shower, packed up the last few things in my hospital bag, and we were ready to go.
By about 3:00 am we arrived at the hospital where they did the whole “oh sure you’re in labor” skeptical routine that they do. They sent a midwife in who acted like she knew better than I did and then was a bit put off once she realized I was right. I’m always so confused by staff like that, but whatever… They checked and I was dilated to 3 cm and contracting every 4 minutes. So I just labored for a while and by 4:30 the contractions were every two minutes and I was in a lot of pain, so I decided to get my epidural before shift changes. With Charlie I was so nervous I’d miss my window or have to wait that I think I got my epi a bit too early. With Calvin I labored much quicker and waited a little longer than I probably would have liked. And there was an emergency delivery so the anesthesiologist had to tend to that patient first. I waited another excruciating 30 minutes. I had the itchies and the tremors, so active labor had definitely arrived. But once my epi kicked in I was feeling much better and it was time to wait for my OB.
My OB arrived around 7 am and I was feeling pretty good. She checked me and I was at a 7 but things were progressing well. She told me to try to rest, and surprisingly I took a two-hour nap. Around 9:30 or so it was time to push. Thanks to some great coaching I was a much more efficient pusher this time around. It was hard and uncomfortable and a lot of work, but I could tell I was getting somewhere. It was just me, my husband, my OB, and a wonderful nurse. Charlie’s delivery was so tough and there were so many people in the room when he came — it was chaotic and I was exhausted and sort of checked out after 26 hours. But with Calvin, I was present and it was intimate and beautiful. When he was almost out my OB asked me if I wanted to reach down and deliver him myself. So I did! I just pulled him out and laid him on my chest and it was amazing. I was so emotional and just felt like “hi buddy, there you are! we’ve been waiting for you.” Calvin Michael was born at 9:50 a.m on 8/14/14. He weighed in at 7.5 lbs and was 20.5 inches long and had a big chin dimple and perfect swirl of hair.
Once he was delivered we did some skin to skin cuddles. Then my husband went to cut the cord we realized Calvin had a knot in his cord. Luckily he was fine, but it was a scary thing to see and know it had been like that for a while. He did get a little purple about an hour after he was born and had to have his oxygen checked, but otherwise we had no complications. After trying to conceive for over a year and a rougher pregnancy than my first, Calvin arrived in what felt like 8 short hours of labor and he’s been nothing but a joy ever since.
The best part was introducing Charlie to Calvin. It was the second best moment of the day. My friend Janeesa took Charlie to her house and took Charlie and her own son, Charlie’s buddy Everett, to get donut holes and then dropped him off at preschool. By 12:30 my husband went on an audition, put in a few hours at work, and then picked Charlie up at preschool and brought him by the hospital to meet his new brother. So for those 5 hours before they arrived, it was just Calvin and I and lots of snuggles (plus those crushed ice miracle juice drinks the hospital gives you — why is hospital crushed ice so perfect!?)
We decided to send Calvin to the nursery so Charlie and my husband could bring him to me, rather than have me holding Calvin when Charlie arrived. I think it was a great decision, as it made Charlie feel like he was a special part of the introduction process and he didn’t feel jealous seeing me holding the baby when he met him for the first time. They also exchanged presents — Charlie picked out a toy for Calvin a couple months before that I wrapped and my husband brought with them to the hospital, and I bought Charlie something special from baby Calvin that I had packed in my hospital bag. Once Charlie helped wheel Calvin to my room, he crawled into my bed and my husband handed me Calvin. I just snuggled my two boys and took it all in.
I remember before Calvin was born I worried how I would love a new baby as much as I loved Charlie. How would my heart have room? All I can say is that the moment I placed Calvin on my chest it was like my heart doubled and filled up with Calvin. So much love. And the moment the brothers met my heart exploded, and it does so a little bit every day seeing them together. The best thing I ever did was give them each other, which makes me excited to add one more brother to our family for them.
Possibly my favorite moment was when Charlie held Calvin at the hospital and wanted to sing him a song. I love that he started with ‘Rockabye Baby’ and then stopped, like “I can do better” and then sang Calvin his favorite song. It might be the best thing I ever captured on video These two… daily heart explosions, I tell ya.