I'll post more about birthday traditions we've made for the under 8 crew, but I wanted to remember some of the traditions we've been establishing now that Max is well...older. His last birthday actually put us on the 'decade of parenting' list. I can't even count how many times I've looked at this guy recently and simply smiled. The car wash/construction truck/run everywhere/curiously get into everything/fun/crazy/happy toddler is growing. Faster than I'd ever thought possible. And I'm so grateful to be part of his life journey.
I'd been stewing about ways to make his day feel meaningful (as it was also filled with many 'typical' things - school, soccer and after school activities for his siblings), while listening to my own personal boundaries and simplicity. I brainstormed ideas and the idea I'd been hoping for finally came to me about 9p.m. the night before.
I wrote up this poster for him, and stuck it under his door for it to be the first thing he saw (he often awakes on his own, and I didn't want him to come into the kitchen feeling like it was just 'another day.'). I tried to be specific to his age and things I've both noticed about him and want him to know. It was sweet to see him kinda quietly smile and reflect on this that morning. As a tradition - I like this as I'll be able to create new (and longer) lists each year. Plus it gave me an excuse to use a poster board and smelly markers (a personal favorite).
Since it was an 'off to the races' kind of a day, we opted to open presents while we were still all together that morning. Simple and such a fun way for him to start his day.
As we were driving to school, he was tying his shoes and turned to me saying "oh mom! Will you bring me some jolly ranchers to school? I want to pass them out for a class treat?" Of course this is something we'd both completely spaced, and I knew I'd be going to the school to meet him for a birthday lunch date, so it was a simple thing to pick up and swing by.
Meeting him for our lunch date was a highlight. This kid loves a good sandwich, and bringing him a favorite was as fun for the little girls and I as it was for him. I think I had a permanent smile listening him talk about new games at recess and hikes he wants to go on.
The afternoon kinda flew by and before we knew it, it was evening. We had extended family over for root beer floats (his dessert choice - we aren't really a cake/ice cream kinda family) and to hang out and visit.
Every year I tell the kiddos their birth story - and it was fun to listen to him remember most of it. He loves the details - from the time he was born, to how he came out screaming, to how dad/I were overjoyed (and overwhelmed!) to be parents. I usually follow it up with some of my favorite baby/toddler memories of him too.
We also let him choose a place to go for dinner (we went later that weekend and of course he chose a Mexican restaurant he loves), and an activity we could all do as a family. He didn't hesitate to choose a hike, and we picked a new, but simple one - Lisa Falls. The hike and dinner out was awesome. Of course, there are always interesting twists and turns as we tackle any adventure with our one-year old, but thankfully the kiddos seem to go with the flow which helps me remember to a little more as well! I absolutely love being together as a family, in the mountains and connecting as we explore together.
While there are so many things that can be done for a birthday, this flow of traditions has been wonderful for our family. I don't feel overburdened/stressed, and am better able to focus on being present. It helps me simplify so I'm able to give way too many hugs and smile at these little people (who won't be little that much longer!). Grateful for the opportunity to be his mother.
Everyone needs an awkward photo! What are we supposed to do? Actually look at the camera?!