Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Birthday Time!

Birthdays were never all that special in our house, growing up. By that I don't mean to say that we didn't celebrate them; we did. We got to pick our birthday dinner most years, we had a cake and a couple of presents on the Sunday following our birthday, with any family that happened to be around. I can remember one actual birthday party with balloons and cake and decorations. It was my sixteenth birthday, and it was a surprise; mostly because it came two months after my actual birthday.  Mostly though, birthdays were only somewhat different than any other day. This was fine, we certainly didn't suffer because of it, and we always felt loved. 

I've always felt, though, that I wanted the birthdays of my children to be a bigger deal than that. I want their birthdays to really be a celebration. A time when the whole family makes an effort to show the birthday boy/girl how truly glad we are that they were born.

And so I have been waiting (perhaps not very patiently) until N was old enough to start really celebrating his birthday. The first few years he was just too little and really wouldn't have even known what was going on, so we just had cake and a few presents for him.

First Birthday, with a gift from one of his sets of Grandparents (those are Mommy-made jammies, by the way :) )
This year, however, he will be four, and is now old enough to really understand what's going on, and care about things like birthdays. Tomorrow (his day falls on Thanksgiving this year) will be his special day. We're driving about two hours away to spend the day at my parents' home, which is a pretty special thing in and of itself, as N adores his Grandma and Grandpa and Aunts and Uncles. Because of the trip, we'll be getting up fairly early. I plan on waking him up to the sounds of a few of his favorite songs (softly played, of course; I don't want it to be jarring by any means). Right now he's really enamored with Elizabeth Mitchell's songs. We have two of her CDs (Sunny Day and You Are My Little Bird), so I'll pop one of those in. When he wakes up he'll see the Birthday Crown, that I've been working on for the past few days, sitting on his pillow.

He'll also see a few balloons next to his bed. If you knew N, you'd know how cool he'll think this is :)

After our morning routine (see here for a breakdown of how our mornings generally go), breakfast will be his choice (the only provision being that it must include protein and fat; we don't want any sugar crashes later on). We'll then be on our way to Grandma's house. I've got a few surprises for him for the drive (a mini-coloring book and a new pack of Stockmar crayons, some of his favorite Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks, etc.).

When we get there, he'll have lots of time to play outside on my parents' large property; lots of time for swinging on the swing (which hangs from a large old deciduous tree with a face; something like this one), playing with the cat, exploring in the orchard, visiting all the puppies at the home of the neighbor who breeds them, and generally having a ton of fun (he never wants to leave to come back to our apartment; can you tell why?). 

Before we all dig into our Thanksgiving feast, we always go around the table and tell each other what we're most thankful for. This year, I'm asking that we make a second go around the table, where each person tells N something they love about him (it could be a personality trait, a memory, his curly hair, whatever). This is a tradition that I want to start for each family member's birthday dinner. I love the idea of that person hearing all of those wonderful things about themselves straight from the mouths of those who love them most. I almost want to record them, and then give them the recording after several years so they can play back all these wonderful loving little things and memories and lovely words whenever they need a little pick me up. Hmmm. That's something to think about!

After dinner is done, and before the pie is served, we'll sing Happy Birthday and let him blow out the candles on his cake (he has requested a puppy and kitty cake, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do that yet, but I better figure it out soon, considering I need to have it done before we leave in the morning!), and open his presents (I've requested that people keep it simple; I don't want this to become all about the presents if I can at all help it). My Mom is crocheting him a pair of elf/gnome slippers that I know he's going to totally get a kick out of. D and I found the entire series of David the Gnome (a show that I just adore; if he's going to watch tv, I want it to be sweet shows like that) on DVD, so we got him that, which was a complete coincidence. Now he'll be able to wear his little gnome slippers and watch David the Gnome.

We'll have to leave for home relatively early in the evening because D has to work early the next morning, which I know will not be greeted with happiness; from him or anyone else. Usually we spend the weekend and the adults stay up late playing games and talking and laughing. I will miss that this year, and look forward to doing it at Christmastime. 

I have a brand new pair of cute little pajamas for him to change into when we get home. We'll read a new book that will be waiting for him on the bed with the new jammies, and end the day with our regular bedtime routine, punctuated with another round of the birthday song instead of our normal bedtime song.

My hope is that these birthday traditions will really be something he (and our other future children) remembers and cherishes, and perhaps even passes on to his own children.

How do you do birthdays in your home?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Celebration of STUFF.

Can you believe that we're half way through November already? I can't. We moved to Southern Nevada at the beginning of summer, and it seems like just a few weeks ago when, in reality, several months have passed. We've had new apartments, new friends, old friends, family visits, new beds, new rhythms to get used to, new weather to adjust to, a few birthdays (with one more coming up in about ten days for N; he's so excited he can hardly contain it), and more. 

And here we are in the middle of November. Have I mentioned that we left most all of our things in storage in Colorado when we moved? The move was so sudden, we just didn't have enough time to gather the money needed to bring it all with us, so in Colorado it stayed. And has stayed. We will finally be able to bring it all out here at the end of this month. D has a plane ticket purchased, the moving truck reserved, and a hotel room waiting for him half way back. We hope that his drive back through Vail will be uneventful (we had a rather not-very-fun experience driving through Vail in the winter back when we were first married, we're just hoping it's better than that at the very least), and that he will not encounter anything that will hold him up.

And then... oh, then we will have the most joyful celebration of STUFF we've ever had. 

We are not material people in the least. We try to keep our things simplified, and regularly purge and sell or donate things that are not being used. But, after six months of living with nothing more than the bare basics in the kitchen, a few camping chairs, and the king size bed that we bought when we got here, I am ready to have my things back. I am ready to see smiling faces look out at me from photo frames on the wall. I am ready to see my beautiful vintage French provincial style dresser that we use in place of an entertainment center. I am ready to have my dishes and baking pans and nice silverware in my kitchen again. I am ready for N to have his bed again (I could write a whole other post specifically about this if I wanted to; we love co-sleeping with him, but to not even have the option of him sleeping elsewhere has been a little rough). I am ready to have my bed in the bedroom (it is currently housed in our living room, since it is literally the only thing we have to sit on at the moment) and my nice, super comfy (covered in a slipcover that I dyed myself) sofa in the living room where it belongs. I am ready to have a place to hang my purse and our various hoodies and sweaters. I am ready to eat at a table and not on our bed.

I will not miss the camping chairs (that my parents loaned to us so we had some place for guests to sit) one bit. 

In other news, the weather has finally cooled down enough that we are outside regularly, which has been a welcome change. 

We went to a pumpkin patch near the end of October that had a small petting zoo; N was not sure what to think about the goats; I was a little relieved that I didn't have to find out whether his pet allergy extends to goats.
 It always seems that life goes better... smoother... when there is plenty of time spent outdoors. Have you found the same to be true for your family?

We love beanie weather:)

This fall has also found me spending a lot more time with my paints. It's becoming more and more an important part of me, which is a bit surprising to me, as I had never really even thought of painting before a few months ago. I picked it up simply so that I could teach N how, using the traditional wet-on-wet water color method. As I continued, though, I found myself really being drawn to it, and I really love it now.

Here are a few of the pieces I've been working on lately, in between my day job (mother, wife, teacher) and my side job (freelance graphic design). Nothing big, as I've just been kind of playing around, finding my style, learning different techniques, etc. 

Robot and Bird; I want to do a series of pieces using these two little friends

You'll have to excuse the lighting; all I have to photograph with right now is my cell phone and it, as you can tell , is less than ideal.

I used salt on this one; pretty neat effect, I think!

This little girl still needs to be painted, but I think she's going to be super cute

This was our dragon for Michaelmas that Sir George befriended (since N is still so young, he overcomes him by befriending him, rather than slaying him)

This is one reason I love the Waldorf way so so much. It has brought many wonderful things into our home and family, and my new love of painting is one of those things. It's been interesting, too, to see how N has suddenly wanted to start trying new artistic things as well. I think it's a wonderful thing for children to watch the adults in their life do things that they love.

I'm thinking I want to create a piece to hang in our living room before D brings all of our things back to us. It will be kind of like ceremonially joining our new life here in Nevada with all of our things from our old life in Colorado. It's a lovely thought.

Much Love,