Gifts For Kids : I Feel Special

Fiorina turned a big FOUR years old. Crazy ! I don't know how she gets to be four, but she is. I would say birthday has started to be a big deal to her when she turned 3. I won't say she fully understands what birthday really means, but she knows it's some sort of celebration where cake, blowing candles, and balloons are involved ;) That's her definition of birthday for now.

How about gifts ? Of course there are some gifts involved too and who wouldn't like accepting gifts, especially children her age ? Now that she's mature enough to understand things at her level, both my husband and I are trying not to emphasize too much on toy gifts anymore. We both grew up in Indonesia and our family tradition, when it comes to birthday, hardly involved much of toy gifts. We did have toys don't get me wrong, but toys weren't something we received as gifts from our parents that often. The Chinese and other Asian cultures have tradition of giving out what they call "red envelope" for occasions like weddings, birthday celebration, birth of a baby, Chinese New Year, graduation, funerals...pretty much almost any important celebration in life. The red envelope is basically a monetary gift in which the gifter puts money inside a red envelope. In these modern days, the red envelopes come in very nice and attractive designs. The amount of money you put of course is up to the gifter. Usually the Chinese prefer the amount to be in even numbers instead of odd numbers. Anything with eight or its multiples is very much preferable as eight symbolizes prosperity, but not mandatory. This is the kind of culture we grew up with and needless to say, we would like our children to know this culture too. Here's Fiorina with her red envelope on her birthday :)

She loves Nemo and when my mom came to visit us last year, she brought me lots of red envelope to stock up (Thanks mom!). Fiorina asked me "What's in there mama?" I asked her to open it and she said "Money...!" Her school just recently started teaching them about money and how to count them. So, she was excited about that. I asked her what she wanted to do with the money. She said "I'm not sure mama". We've opened up a saving account for her and so all the red envelopes she has been receiving since birth has been deposited there. I told her "Should we save the money in the bank?" (Another one of her favorite things is when we do the drive-through at the bank). She said "Yes...yes....let's go to the bank" :)
Our long term goal with this tradition is also teach her to be money savvy.

We threw a birthday party for her and her little brother last month at Choo Choo Bob's, but we still wanted her to feel special on the actual birthday. It is also a tradition in our family to have a noodle dish for a meal. The long strands of noodle represent longevity (yes..I know...lots of symbolic meanings behind food and things that the Chinese do ha..ha.). My mom always made sure we had some noodles on our birthdays. Fiorina loves the Japanese soba noodles (she's THE queen of noodles I must say) and so...soba it was for breakfast ;) (and it's not unusual for us to eat rice and noodles for breakfast, it's like the toasts and pancakes of Asians). Look at that...she was ready to swallow the whole thing !! she later told me "Thank you mama...I love the noodles"

She enjoys the idea of opening a gift for birthday (who doesn't like to open a gift?) I know there are many many toys that she would love to have (hint: anything Frozen or Hello Kitty, or Dora, or Nemo or Little Pony related is approved), but like I mentioned before, we tried not to resort to just toys as a gift. She absolutely loves coloring and pretty good at what she's doing too. So, I felt like it's a sin not to give her these.....

Off she went to school after that with a huge grin on her face. I asked her "Are you happy today?" She said "Yes mama....very happy. It's my birthday". She celebrated with her friends at school with frozen cupcakes.

I wanted to bring her out for a birthday lunch, but Iven was a little cranky (the boy was cutting 2 canines and 2 molars at the same time. God had mercy on him ! (and me!)) and so I decided to just prepare her other favorite food.....

PIZZA........Look at that smile. It makes me happy to see her happy. We don't eat a whole lot of pizza, but when we do, she's elated !

I asked her what else she wanted to do for her birthday and she remembered I told her I was going to let her help me make some cookies and I did plan to throw that in the day and so there we go...we spent the rest of the afternoon baking and frosting holiday cookies.

Not the prettiest frosted cookies on the block, but we both had loads of fun doing this and it was my first time doing it too (ha!). I love plain sugar cookies and don't care much for the icing, but I dig the process of mixing colors, frosting and decorating them. Fiorina did too. And you wonder where my one-year old was when we were doing this? He was busy walking. Very busy walking back and forth from living room to dining room. They both crashed for the next two hours during nap after this :)

It was quite an eventful day for her. When I tugged her in for bedtime she said "Thank you mama.... It's very fun today. Let's do birthday again" :) I'm glad she's happy and felt special on this very special day of hers. 

How do you celebrate birthday with your kids ? Share with us :)