Sunday, February 20, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #16

We went to first service this morning and the rest of the services are canceled today. I was in charge of an art project for Sunday School today. Hopefully we will have church next week and do our art project. The Lambs saw me preparing and wanted to do it at home today. I told them they had to wait until Sunday School. We're ready for a blizzard. As long as I have an Internet connection, I plan to catch up on some photo organizing today. Ram is hoping I give him some computer time so he can watch Nascar!
I plan to post for a few days about being a rural pastor's wife with young children. I have 7 years experience with this. :) Lamb 1's birthday is coming up so I have birthdays on my mind right now so I'll start with that.
When Lamb 1 turned one, we invited a family from church with kids similar in age to our house for a birthday party. I would love to have this family over for birthdays again, but it's too difficult to merge our schedules. Because of their work and school, weeknights aren't good. Saturday night isn't good the night before church either. Saturday or Sunday afternoon would be the best time for them. Ram is tired on Sunday afternoons. I feel bad about making them "waste" a Saturday afternoon at a birthday party for one of the Lambs. Plus they live 1/2 hour away so that is 1 hour round trip just to drive to our house. Since Lamb 1's birthday is in March, I hate to plan something and have weather cancel it.
The Lambs don't have any other friends besides this family from church that are close in age to them. They know a few people in the community, but not much more than know their name. When Lamb 1 turned two I invited a few neighborhood kids but he didn't really know them well.
When Lamb 1 turned 3, we took cupcakes for dessert after Lent service.
When Lamb 1 turned 4, it was my turn to serve Ladies Aid so I took a cake with candles and napkins that he picked out. He enjoyed it when the whole Ladies Aid sang to him.
When Lamb 1 turned 5, I took muffins and juice and we celebrated at Sunday School.
When Lamb 1 turned 6, my sister visited. When Lamb 1 turns 7, we plan to just celebrate as our family.
When Lamb 2 turned 1, my parents and my sister visited.
When Lamb 2 turned 2 and 3, we just celebrated with our family.
When Lamb 2 turned 4, we went to CA and had a party at Great-Grandma's house.
When Lamb 3 turned 1, we just celebrated as a family.
When Lamb 3 turned 2, my parents visited.
None of the Lambs have ever had a birthday party with a bunch of kids invited. None of the Lambs have ever had a birthday party with all the grandparents attending. None of the Lambs have ever been to a birthday party with a bunch of kids invited. With the exception of this one other family from church, I doubt this will change as long as we live here.
In a way I'm glad I don't have to chauffeur the Lambs to several birthday parties each year. Nor do I have to buy something that the kid will either break a few days after we give it to them or it ends up at Goodwill because they didn't want it. Sometimes I think the Lambs are glad that they only have to share their new toys with their brothers and they can play with them right away-not wait until after the birthday party.
So what do we do for birthdays since we can't have the traditional kids birthday party?
1. We have started our own family traditions. Ram's mom usually sends a box with birthday gifts for the birthday boy plus one gift for the other boys so they don't feel left out. I arrange these on the table the night before and the Lambs open them first thing in the morning when everyone is up. They spend the rest of the day playing with their new toys.
2. The Lambs get to pick the meals for all day on their birthday. Sometimes I'm surprised what they pick. Lamb 3 picked clam sauce spaghetti for supper on his 2nd birthday!
3. Ram's mom gave us a special plate for the birthday boy. I bought some plates with birthday cakes on them at Goodwill to serve the birthday cake.
4. I make a homemade cake (nothing fancy) and the Lambs pick what kind to make.
5. Ram's mom sends us a lot of party paper plates, napkins, etc. in boy themes like Thomas, John Deere, etc. Since we don't have a lot of people at these parties, I never could use all this on their birthday. So other times of the year we use those. I have a huge stash and I should use them more often than I do. But I try to use them just for every day just for something different. I also use them as a reward (potty training success, Ewe finished the taxes, memorizing something for school, etc.).
6. All 3 Lambs plus Ram have a spring birthday. Even with this, we try to have a special dessert on their baptism birthdays too.
7. I have seen blogs of friends with some other good ideas for birthdays. Make homemade ice cream. Each child has a tablecloth and each birthday everyone writes on it with a fabric marker. Cut out of paper and decorate the number age of the child several times and hang that on the wall to be in the photos of the birthday child.
8. I have not done it yet, but as the Lambs get older, some time I want to have a party for the Lambs with our family. I would probably not do this on any of the Lambs birthday, possibly on their half birthday. But I think they should learn how to play pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, and other traditional birthday party games. I don't think in the age of taking your kids to McDonalds (does any one still do that?) or Chucky Cheese for birthdays that children still play these games at birthday parties.
9. Some of our church members give the Lambs a few dollars or a small gift for their birthdays. Our Lambs consider the older church members their friends. We appreciate this.
I see both positive and negatives for living here for the Lambs birthdays. The more I think about it, the more I'm glad that we celebrate birthdays as a family. I would encourage you to start family traditions for birthdays. I would encourage you to think creatively for celebrating birthdays. It doesn't have to be with a group of kids-can you celebrate at church or with Ladies Aid or with Sunday School, etc.?
How do you celebrate children's birthdays when you live in a rural place?
Check back tomorrow for more ideas of living in a rural place with young children.


Rebekah said...

Since our church has a school our children attend, they are invited to several parties a year. I could really do without them. If we attend, it means an afternoon where our family is broken up (most parties here are held at public places and a parent needs to be there watching for kidnappers the whole time), the expense of a gift I wouldn't buy my own kid, and eating a bunch of candy.

So I do my crabby part by not throwing "friend" parties for our kids. When they turn 7, they get a non-birthday party for friends at our house; we make everything, give nice favors, and explicitly request that there be no gifts (Kid 1 had a tea party, Kid 2 is planning a fishing expedition). When they turn 8, their present is a big outing, which the grandparents help bankroll (like a trip to the Nutcracker or a baseball game--not terribly difficult for us since we are rural rather than remote :D ).

If we have extended family in town in the general vicinity of someone's birthday, we'll have the party then. Otherwise, we do pretty much what you describe: birthday kid picks the menu and designs the cake, presents in the mail from grandparents, the special plate. Once they turn 3, they get to stay up after hours and have a "cocktail" with Mom and Dad. We review the year--always funny to hear their perspectives on such topics as the virtues of being five.

Rebekah said...

Sorry that got so long. :P