Birthday Crowns

My two sweet children have something very special in common: they were both born on May 5th. Sophie was born in 2000, and her brother was born two years later on her birthday. People invariably ask how we did it, but I have a simple answer: it was all natural.

We didn’t make any plans to celebrate Sophie’s second birthday because it was Owen’s due date. Only 4% of babies are born on their due date, but we decided not to take any chances. As we were getting ready to go the aquarium for the morning, I started to feel my first signs of early labor, which didn’t stay early very long. Owen was born five hours later, at 2:42 pm. He was a 10 lb, 10 oz homebirth baby after a cesarean. Thank you ICAN for helping me get there.

I felt sad that in all the commotion of labor and birth, Sophie missed out on a birthday. Yeah, she had a new baby brother, but she didn’t get the hoopla or cake! As their first birthday approached, I wanted to honor this special day they shared, so started thinking of things that were meaningful to us. An article in Mothering Magazine inspired me with the story of a mother who made flower garlands for her children on their birthday.


At that time, we had been living in the same rented house for almost five years. Over time, we removed the garbage pit in the backyard, sifted the rotten remains into a raised bed as compost, built three raised beds, planted flowers, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and vegetables. Sophie ate her first mouthful of soil a little before her first birthday. We sat in the grass grazing on snow peas for weeks, watched our diapers flapping on the clothesline, putting our noses in the dandelions. The backyard was our haven.


By the time their birthday arrived in May, I had lots of choices available right in my own backyard. I have to look at the picture to name them all, but I can see calendula, chives, Spanish lavender, pineapple mint, fennel, aubretia, rosemary, sage, and borage in bloom. As you can imagine, the garlands were so heavy that Sophie and Owen could barely keep them balanced on their head, but they held on long enough for some beautiful memories.


When Sophie and Owen turned 4 and 2, we were living in a furnished apartment on Westlake overlooking Lake Union. It was a short term rental because Lance was working a 3 month contract; everything we owned was in New Hampshire and we were planning to return. It was an amazing place to live, but it didn’t have much in the way of tools or supplies beyond the basics.


The day before the birthday, possessed with the need to make something special, I ran to the fabric store to buy some felt, puffy paint and jewels. Not to be outdone, Lance took up the tools and made Owen’s crown while I was finishing Sophie’s crown. They were so pleased with their crown, they wore them all day: on the bus to the Seattle Center, playing inside and out and all the way home.


In 2004, we had moved everything back to Seattle to buy a house in the Greenwood neighborhood, just 1/2 mile from that rickety old rental where Owen made his entrance into this world (the carpets never looked the same after his birth). We repeated the embellished felt theme (I was just beginning my love affair with felt).


Inspired by AlterKnits, in 2005, I embarked on Leigh Radford’s crepe paper crowns. Never have my hands ached as they did finishing the last point on Owen’s crown. Stiff and brittle, crepe paper was never intended to be knit, as beautiful as they look on the page.


*Deadly Divine Chocolate Ganache Cake, courtesy of Melissa Walpole, The Empress of Desserts 

Owen refused to wear his crown last year, though Sophie agreed for a short time. My mother-in-law also gave a them pair of hand-sewn crowns she bought in a small shop in New Hampshire, which were beautiful, sparkly and lovely. Sophie wore the sparkly crown to school, and my knit crown to the playground party.


Three things we’ve done every year: made crowns, celebrated their birthday at a park, and celebrated together. This year they say they don’t want crowns. They’ve kind of outgrown it they said. Owen opted to take one friend for a ride on the duck boats on Saturday, and Sophie begged for a bowling party the following day. My children are turning 7 and 5 tomorrow morning. I can’t believe how much they have grown.


3 Responses to “Birthday Crowns”

  1. 1 Nicole Sunday, May 6, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Happy birthday to the kids!

  2. 2 Blair Sunday, May 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    that is such a sweet story. I love each incarnation of their birthday crowns, memories they will have forever.

  3. 3 kristin Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    these are WONDERFUL!! i’ll have to get creative for my wee, who is soon to be three…love the story behind this 🙂

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