Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Family Birthday Tradition


Traditions are such an important part of life. If you think back to your own childhood, certainly the things that immediately come to mind are the "We always..." or "Each birthday we would..." statements.  Well, having four kiddos with birthday nearly inside of a month means that one family tradition we have is one giant Fall birthday party, affectionately known as The Ordway Children's Birthday Bash. Over the years, the party has grown in size, and changed in themes, but the location in our little country home has not.

We always serve a meal, and thus far, that meal has always consisted of Grandma B's homemade lasagna, Cesar salad and bread .  After several years and a fair amount of entertaining large groups in our little home, we've learned the flow of the kitchen. The double sinks become coolers filled with drinks with a coffee bar to the right.  Sharpie markers lay about to label drinks and plates.  Food and utensils are all on the island, and some counter space is left open for the inevitable "stash" of drinks and "plates in process".  Most importantly, the path to the trash is kept open and clear.

Oh the chaos of those first few years before we learned the nuances of serving a large group of people!  However, over time, we have come to anticipate this time of celebration - being more able to relax and let go of the details, for a home inhabited by four small children will rarely be described as perfectly clean! The atmosphere is always light, and the air full of laughter and conversation. Smoke from the fire pit flows in through the open double doors and into the kitchen where it meets the savory aroma of dinner and the sweet smell of cake.  With 50+ people in and around the small house, the wood stove is rarely, if ever, replenished, even on a chilly day!


One tradition we hold during this celebration is that of the home made birthday cake.  Each child gets to choose both the flavor and shape of their cake. At first, this was relatively easy, as we had fewer children and a simple book of cake pictures to choose from.  However, as their interests and exposures have changed.....my adherence to our family tradition has made the nights before the big day longer and longer as the cakes get more and more complicated.  They are never cakes that will win a Cake Boss or Pinterest competition, at least in appearance.  However, the kids don't see flaws or imperfections. They see Monster Trucks and Winnie the Pooh, Veggie Tales, Light Sabers, the X-Wing Star Fighter, and Minnie Mouse.  As the children get older and gather more friends of their own, this tradition may change a bit to include separate parties for friends and family.  While we've had 50 and even 60 here too....the house does have its limits...especially indoors!  However, I hope they always cherish the memories, even if only through pictures, of The Ordway Children's Birthday Bash at our little house in the country.


First Child....1st Birthday
November 2006 
I kept this one pretty basic.  He got a frosted round - the rest of us had cupcakes with circus picks. 



First Child...2nd Birthday
November 2007
Ah....and enter the first year of the children choosing their cakes! Caleb chose a Monster Truck.



First & Second Children: Ages 3 and 1
October 2008
Monster Truck again.....and a Cupcake Caterpillar.



 
First & Second Children: Ages 4 and 2
November 2009
A lemon teddy bear and a chocolate football were in order this year.  I was in labor with baby #3 all during the party, went for a stroll and straight to the hospital after the last guest left.  Their little sister was sweet enough to allow them their birthday party without interruption.
Football was the "theme" of this party.




First, Second & Third Children: Ages 5, 3, and 1
November 2010

If you can't guess - this year we celebrated in style with Veggie Tales.
These particular cakes kept me up until about 4am the night before the party!!!




First, Second and Third Children: Ages 6, 4, and 2
November 2011
Largely pregnant with baby #4, this was my year of escape. It was a Pirate Winnie the Pooh & Friends theme, and I attempted a standard sheet cake and ordered a sugar transfer.  In my attempt to put an eye patch on Pooh and Friends, I choose the wrong frosting and it bled all over the cake.  :-/ Ah well, you can't hit it every year!



First, Second, Third & Fourth Children: Ages 7, 5, 3, and 1
November 2012
This was the year of Minnie Mouse and Star Wars.  Try as I might to have an all encompassing Mickey & Minnie Mouse theme, my boys are growing up. Star Wars reined. 



I encourage you to start a tradition for your family....whatever it may be. If cakes are not your thing, how about cocoa after school every Monday afternoon, or baked donuts every Saturday morning? The point is, it's the tradition that matters.....the creation of the phrase..."We always used to..." that will create lifelong memories. :-)

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