happy birthday my beautiful babies!!

Today is both Alara and Alegra’s birthdays! Amazingly, and in a completely unplanned manner, they were born exactly six years apart and on the same day! When I was pregnant with Alegra and the doctor told her due date was the beginning of July it really never crossed my mind that she might arrive on the same day as her big sister. Toward the middle of June though I have to say we all got a bit worried that in fact Alegra might arrive before Alara.  For some reason we were all so focused on Alegra’s birthday not being before Alara’s that we weren’t really concerned with the possibility of them being born on the SAME day! I guess we just thought that was impossible!

I have such a vivid picture in my mind of the day that Alara was born.  I woke up, had some breakfast, and I just knew that she would be born that day.  I told Erim to go to work and get things organized and called my parents.  Asya was still a baby herself so the rest of the morning went by in a flash…around 1pm we checked into the hotel and about five hours later Alara had made her appearance.  Thinking back on it now, everything about her birth seems very calm.  Asya was still so small that she sort of stopped in, took a look around, and then was happy to go home and go to bed.  Istanbul was hosting a large NATO conference and most people we knew had actually left for the week to avoid the expected chaos.  Alara was my second baby in 18 months so I felt calm and confident; diapering, nursing, bathing…. I’d been doing these things non-stop anyway for the past year and a half.  I had that part all under control 🙂 So after a calm couple of days in the hospital (so calm that I got bored in fact by our last night there and was begging Erim to take me out for dinner!!) we went home and just got on with it all.  We were ready for two kids both mentally and physically.

Alegra’s arrival was completely the opposite! On the night of the 22nd Erim and the girls arrived home from a long weekend in the south of Turkey.  I had spent the weekend at home trying desperately to recover from a massive sinus infection while putting the finishing touches on both Alegra’s nursery and the room Alara and Asya were going to share. There was a terrible thunderstorm that continued to rage outside our window after we arrived at the hospital around 11:30pm.  Erim was exhausted from his trip, and I was so nervous about how Alara was going to feel about this new baby’s arrival on her birthday!  Luckily, physically, everything went perfectly and Alegra was born without us even having to think about it too much!  The next morning Alara, Asya and Erim came with their cousins to the hospital and we blew out some candles for Alara… as a preliminary celebration.

While I was pregnant I had promised Alara that no matter what we would have our traditional family dinner celebration on her actual birthday day! So we did!! Thanks to the joint efforts of my mom, my sister Derin, and a close family friend (whose husband runs the hospital) we were fortunate enough to have a FULL birthday party in the lobby of the hospital.  Per Alara’s instructions we had balloons, themed plates and cups, enough pizza to feed 20 people, and a birthday cake! Alara got presents from everyone and even though it wasn’t the party she was expecting; I was so happy we were able to celebrate for her.  Since then we have always had a family birthday on the girls’ birthday but I have made a real effort to have separate parties with friends, and always focused on having Alara’s birthday party before Alegra’s.  As special as it is to share a birthday the way that they do, it is so important for me that they realize they are each different and special in their own way.

This year, due to time constraints, we actually ended up having the girls’ “friend parties” on the same day! Alara’s was a Mexican themed party at home with a bunch of her girlfriends, hanging out in the garden and making tie-dye t-shirts.  Alegra’s was a watermelon themed pool party at my parent’s house… we had a water gun fight, pool games, and a piñata! Erim and I successfully made it to the cutting of both cakes and although the girls might disagree I loved getting to celebrate them back to back.  Here are some pictures from both parties that day….

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Today, we are flying to Greece for a family (and friends) vacation.  Alara was a bit worried about being in transit on her birthday but I think that she is actually having a pretty good time so far.  Ever since the day that Alegra was born and it rained cats and dogs it seems that June 23 is always a beautiful sunny day.  Maybe the joy that I feel on this day is somehow reflected for me in nature 🙂

Every year I am consistently surprised by how much the girls grow and change over the course of 12 months.  This year has been especially interesting…

Alara:

This year has been a true “middle” year for you!  Asya was dealing with her TEOG exams all year and Alegra started first grade; but you were in 7th grade.  The middle of middle school. A year where not much seems to change but in fact, a lot does happen.  I have watched you find and cultivate an amazing group of girl friends.  Each of them are so strong in their own ways and you have managed to find your niche with them.  I have watched you prepare yourself mentally, and academically, for the tough eighth grade year that you have coming up. As the year progressed you have found, and developed, your own rhythm.  Despite the chaos that our house can be at times you have created space for yourself.  I love that we have our time after Alegra is asleep and Asya is in her “cave” for our Madam Secretary viewing and our late night chats with Baba.  My dear sweet princess, you have become a wonderful, intelligent, insightful and principled young lady.  I am so excited to see what the “teenage” years hold for you! We are so lucky to have a soul like you in our midst.

Alegra:

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What a year you have had! Starting first grade, learning to read and write, making new friends- I feel like you have done it all this year! Your energy and enthusiasm have been catching; I’m not sure how we would have made it through the homework if you had not been so cute while you did it! You have a huge heart and make sure that everyone knows how much you care about them all the time.  Next year you will need to work a little bit on listening, waiting patiently, and chatting a little bit less during school.  I am excited to see how you do it! You are my all time bedtime buddy- what would Baba and I do without your “sneaky” nighttime visits? Even though your teenager sisters might get frustrated with you at times, know that they love you too! Keep on keeping us all on our toes, your loving energy helps sustain us all.

And the end of a wonderful day…we have arrived on the boat for a wonderful and very happy birthday celebration. 😊 as they say in Turkey- “may our worst days be like this”….
 

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