Birthdays were such a big deal for me when I was younger. Approaching 10 was probably the biggest deal because I was going to be two-digits! Then there was the Sweet 16, then 21, and then it didn't seem to matter as much any more. The year I turned 30 I was also finishing graduate school and planning a wedding, so the birthday kind of just came and went. The year I turned 40 I didn't want anything to mark the occasion, so my mom and I did the Avon Two-Day Breast Cancer Walk and had an awesome time.
But that is me. Fourteen years ago it stopped being about me, and 11 years ago it stopped being about us. We had The Boy. Princess followed shortly thereafter (a whole lot shorter than I had "planned"), and now we have birthdays again. In the US birthdays for kids are amazing. Amazing in an "I can't believe you paid $XXXXX for a kids' birthday party!" sort of way. The Boy and Princess, however, don't think about birthdays that way. They are firm believers in the more-is-more theory for birthday parties. PFF, The Boy, Princess and I reached a compromise - a big, at-home party when they turned five and then a birthday dinner and a friend thereafter.
So how do you celebrate birthdays when you're a FS family? You can take the kid out of the US, but how can you take the US out of the kid when it's their birthday? The first birthday we celebrated overseas was in Iceland when Princess turned six. We were in the country for all of five days, didn't know any kids, knew few FS people (we were not yet a FS family), and she wanted to celebrate! I took her grocery shopping and let her pick out dinner (leg of lamb and roasted potatoes - yes at six!) and we got the fixings for a cake (mint chocolate cake with green, mint frosting - what we won't do for our loved ones...) That was one of the worst meals I've ever cooked. I screwed up the fahrenheit/celsius conversion so the lamb was raw and then well, well done; the oven was too small for the leg of lamb so we had to saw part of the bone off to fit; and the cake was minty - I mean MINTY! We had no decorations, no party guests, but we had the four of us, some presents, and phone calls from the grandparents so she was happy.
Later that year when The Boy turned eight, he and PFF went on a glacier hike and then had man-time overnight. What better way to spend your birthday when you're a boy than with a pick axe!?! We did a small family dinner the night before (no lamb this time), some presents, and the obligatory phone call from the grandparents. He was also happy, but a lot happier with the axe!
So now we are part of the FS family and at our first overseas post. This may not be her first birthday overseas, but Princess has her 10th birthday in less than two months. I'm not sure if she's aware of the two-digit birthday quickly approaching, but I am.