Monday, September 26, 2011

Rhythm In Our Home : Birthday Celebrations (for Little Ones)

I have received quite a few questions about our birthday traditions over the years. Since we just celebrated K's birthday and it's all fresh in my memory I thought I would focus on that for this week's Rhythm In Our Home installment. Our celebrations have always been what most would consider as 'small' forgoing lots of presents or extravagant parties, but that doesn't mean the child is neglected nor made to feel less special. I think it's actually quite the contrary. We celebrate the birthday child as a family and keep her at the center of the day. We typically don't do parties, although this year K requested one so we had a small one at one of her favorite parks.  

My favorite of all our birthday traditions is the birthday crown. You can see how I make them here. I really enjoy planning out and creating this special crown for the child's first birthday. To think I will soon be doing this for Baby L!!! 


Another little tradition we have for the girls is using my angel cake toppers from when I was a child on their birthday table and their cake. I love to see how excited they get over seeing the 'new' angel each year. I am not sure just what we'll do for Baby L with this tradition just yet... We try not to have too many birthday traditions as it can be hard to keep up with them every year for each child. For instance, last year we added a gift from the faeries for K's birthday. It was sweet and simple, the faeries gave her a geode to break open and a little note. As simple as that was, it was forgotten about this year which made me realize it was just too much to add on to what we already do. Our birthday celebration begins the night before the actual birthday. We put our special birthday pillowcase on our child's pillow before they enter their room. Even after years of doing this, it's still a fun surprise for them. Once they are tucked into bed we read this birthday book and recite a birthday-eve poem in lieu of telling a bedtime story.  

When I have said my evening prayer, 

And my clothes are folded on the chair, 

And mother switches off the light, 

I'll still be ___ years old tonight. 

But from the very break of day, 

Before the children rise and play, 

Before the darkness turns to gold, 

Tomorrow, I'll be ___ years old. 

___ kisses when I wake,

 ___ candles on my cake. 


Then while I am waiting for them to fall asleep, I go to set up the house for the birthday child to wake up to. 


I cut out little shapes from old watercolor paintings and tape them to the ground to create a birthday trail for them to follow from their bed to their birthday table. This year I cut out leaves for K, C had clovers and last year it was hearts. I decide the night before their birthday as to what the shape will be. 


I hang up our cloth birthday banner somewhere in the house and set up their birthday ring and table. Since we moved into this house we have used our dining room nature table as the birthday table. We transform it to depict the season in which the child was born, as well as show the rainbow bridge story. It also holds their birthday ring, a picture of the birthday child as a baby, cards and gifts from extended family members and friends as well as the birthday cake. 


Speaking of gifts, we keep them very minimal and simple. My girls receive a birthday dress and sweater made by me and perhaps one or two other small gifts (this year, for example, along with her dress and sweater, K received a dog sledding book chosen by Daddy and a doll papoose carrier). We ask our families to keep the amount of gifts small, too. Our gift giving (and life in general) mottos are: quality over quantity and less is more. We really want them to appreciate and be grateful for what they are given. We would like to eventually add on giving gifts to others/charities on birthdays but we have yet to start that. Also we wrap our gifts in playsilks instead of wrapping paper.


Before I go to bed for the night, I finish the birthday trail by taping down the pieces in their bedroom and then I place the child's birthday crown on their pillow for them to wake up to. If their special baby is sleeping with them then their baby's crown will be placed on the pillow, too. If not the special baby will be waiting in the birthday child's chair with it's own birthday crown on. 


When the child wakes she will (usually) put on her crown and follow her birthday trail into the dining room. There her chair is decorated with a rainbow cloth and her birthday dress and sweater are wrapped in cloth and waiting for her on the table in front of her chair. She opens these first thing in the morning. The rest of the gifts are opened sometime that day. We don't really have a set time for that. 


At some point during the day we tell the child's rainbow bridge story. This is when we light the birthday ring candles. When the story is through we tell little tales of things the birthday child did each year of their life. So we would say: When K was one she took her first steps, then we would light the first candle on the ring. When K was two she... then light the second candle and so on and so on. There are different ways to use a birthday ring. We decided we would choose a new ornament each year that best suit our child. This ornament goes on the ring along with the old ornaments from the previous years as well as a candle for each year. 


We like to let the birthday child choose their meals on their special day as well as their cake (all within reason, of course). K, especially, love to plan out her birthday meals and go shopping for the ingredients with me.


Last year for K's birthday we had homemade apple doughnuts with hot apple cider for breakfast, homemade broccoli soup for dinner and then homemade apple cake for her cake. Years ago, we ate the cake after lunch to avoid sugar before bed but since we omitted sugar from their diet their birthday cakes are sugar-free and so we have them after dinner. 


 We also let the birthday child somewhat plan our day (minus this year as K's birthday fell on a school day). They decide if they want to stay home or go somewhere during the day. Last year C wanted to go on a family walk and the year before that K wanted to go play at Walnut Hill. They really enjoy this. 


Well, there I go saying way too much, again, yet I feel that I am forgetting to add things. If I think of them I'll come back and add them at the end of this post. I hope this helps to answer your questions and if not please don' hesitate to ask away! P.S. I wanted to add a great resource for birthday ideas is The Birthday Book. I bring it back out every year to flip through.


 Please remember - this is just our family rhythm and what works for us at the moment. This isn't meant to be hard and fast rules on how rhythm should go in every one or any one's homes. I just thought to share it because I receive quite a few e-mails asking about our home rhythm, and I also just wanted it documented for me to remember when they are older and on to another rhythm. Thank you, again, for joining me in the rhythm fun! Here is the linky list. If you have a (new or old) link you would like to share about your family rhythm, please enter it below so that we all may see. Then please link back here in your post. I look forward to seeing your inspiration! Thanks friends!

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