Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birthday Traditions

In our family we are big on tradition, but small on parties.  My favorite traditions are the ones that involve the 5 of us and/or our immediate families.  For the kid's birthdays our traditions include a banner or garland over the door, breakfast of their choice, balloons, lighting their birthday candle, presents in the morning, lots of birthday songs, supper of their choice, a birthday book with messages from family, and a small party if we can schedule it.

Yup, this was the best one!  Colin wasn't upset, he just looks like it in this picture!

My favorite tradition is telling the kids the story of the day they were born, with lots of details about how excited we were, how we picked their name, what we thought when we first saw them, and who came to visit.  As they've gotten older, both Gwen and Colin have started asking questions as I tell their story.  "What did my cry sound like?"  "Did Gwen hold me when I was a baby?"  "Did I have teeth?" "Then how did I eat?" "Did I sleep a lot?"  I love watching them imagine themselves as babies.  Their faces just light up and I can tell it feels special to know how much we loved them before we even knew who they were going to be.

I tell Luke his story too.  This year I told it to him right before he went to bed and he was so quiet and calm while I talked to him.  I told him how beautiful he was and how I got to hold him right away.  How he nursed easily and watched me with his big open eyes.  How I got to hold him most of his first night because he was cold and needed a little extra warmth.  I told him how it was hard to sleep because I was so excited he was there and how much we wanted him in our family.  I explained that because we were in La Crosse we only had a few visitors, but that Gwen was first and she was SO excited to meet her new brother.  That is where I stop for now.  I'm not sure if we will ever tell him the rest of the story.  I'm not sure if it matters or not.  Maybe it does, but I hope I will know if and when it's time to tell him more.  For now I finish with, "You are sweet.  You are smart.  You are strong.  We love you."

Sometimes I wonder if words matter.  Does it matter that I tell the stories?  Will they remember the important parts about kindness, gratitude, and honesty?  I guess we may not know for many years, but it seems worth it to try.

This morning as I was giving Luke a bath Colin came in and said, "Luke, you are strong.  Luke, you are smart.  Isn't he Mama?"  I said yes and Colin continued, "You're little, but you can walk.  You can't read, but I'm gunna teach you even if takes a whole year."

Words do matter, and our children are listening.  We can't just hope that they know what is in our hearts.  We have to speak it out loud.  Over and over.  Because we all know kids don't always hear us the first time, or the second, or the third.


After I posted at the the beginning of December we decided to stop giving Luke milk at night.  Matt thought it might keep the phlegm down and keep him from coughing all night and waking up.  Since we stopped giving him milk, he has had no fevers and has been amazingly healthy!  We don't know it was the milk, but I can't remember the last time he has gone 6 weeks without a fever, so we are just thankful.


  1. I love it that you tell them all their story! And what a fun set of birthday traditions! Loved Luke's backpack in your previous post as well... looks like he likes it too! Can't believe he's in school already, let alone 3!

  2. Amazing. Brought tears to my eyes!

  3. Hi Claire - Beautiful writing and images as ever. I am inspired by your telling children about their arrival on their birthdays. Thanks again for maintaining this blog. I always look forward to your posts when I see them in my reader. Jenn Hoesing

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your beautiful family with us. I did a touch down dance when you spoke of our Luke's health. Much blessings and love. Claudia


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