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Monday, March 27, 2017

Life Lately

There isn't much "news" to share, but life has been full of moments that I treasure.

A couple of weeks ago, our college girl came home for the tail-end of her spring break.  We loved being with her and enjoyed family meals and dreams of future plans.  We fed her well and encouraged lots of rest.

Our own spring break was unhurried and restful here at home, with Nana as our visitor.  Crafts, movies, reading and downtime were on the agenda.

We had a fun family day in Gatlinburg and I'm so glad that as our Spring Break ended, better weather arrived.  Time change didn't even affect us, since that is when the children were out of school, but we sure are enjoying longer daylight and dreamy weather!

Getting back into the school routine wasn't too bad and I think the children were happy to see their friends.  Our senior in high school is counting each day down until graduation, and I am so proud of her for finishing well.

This weekend we went to her university of choice.  We toured the facilities, met her prospective room mate and got a vision of what her world will look like next year.  It is always such an exciting stage to be right on the cusp of adulthood.

For now, we are treasuring the way spring unfolds and planning our patio garden.  It's a simple season for the next couple of months before life changes dramatically once more with another child leaving the nest.  I'm so grateful for the rhythms and seasons.

I'm grateful for this front-row view of my husbands daughters launching into college, even as my own middle school guy gets taller every day...and his voice deeper.  There is such an awareness of the march of time.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Birthday Traditions to Connect with Your Child (That Aren't Big Parties)

Birthdays have always been a big deal in our family.  In a large family, a person might feel a bit lost on some days, so we use the date on the calendar to celebrate each individual.  With four of our seven having had birthdays in the past two months, we consider January and February our "Birthday Season."

We still have parties for the elementary schoolers, by middle and high school, it's usually an activity with a friend or two.  So gathering with friends is one way that we honor each special day.  But here are some simple yet meaningful ways to connect with your birthday child that aren't a big party:

1) Pull out the Baby Book.  Mom, you spent time and energy noting details that didn't really matter so put that sweet book to good use and look through it with your child.  Mine love to see the silly faces and funny firsts that make each child unique.

2) Recount the Birth Story.  To this day, my own mother will call or text and say, "Forty-three years ago I was heading to the hospital and..."  I know the story now, but my children don't know theirs yet.  Each one loves to hear about the details of the day they were born.  Who was there, who came to the hospital, what did the doctor say, was it planned or surprise labor?  All these things make their own story precious.

3) Put out a fun photo. We have frame that holds a 4x6 photo and says "Happy Birthday."  I rotate the photo, depending on whose birthday is coming next and keep it out for the week surrounding the special day.  It's just a little touch and a reminder to everyone that a special day is coming.

4) Note something new that he or she has done or acquired in the past year.  Note that last year he wasn't able to ride a bike, but now he can!  Look at how your room has changed.  I notice your grades are so much better this year.  Can you believe how many books you have read this year?  Or how many Lego sets you have put together?  Find anything notable to express pride in the growth you see.

5) Enjoy a personal favorite!
This can be a meal cooked at home or at a favorite restaurant.  It can be a favorite dessert or one of mine chose to get his favorite coffee - and the largest one money can purchase!

BONUS: If you have family that live far away, have them send cards or gifts and let them pile up until the actual birthday.  This really ignites the anticipation!

Sometimes a child may feel overlooked in a large family.  The blended family dynamic can magnify this feeling.  But there are ways to strengthen each individual child and celebrate his or her uniqueness.  Make birthdays exciting in simple ways to build up self esteem and family bonding.

Family connection is vital to healthy emotional development and self identity.  Children with strong families grow to be strong individuals.  Take advantage of a birthday to celebrate and connect with your children. How do you celebrate birthdays?