Whew! I'm beginning to suspect that when a child's birthday happens on a week day, but then the birthday party is actually two days later, what you really end up having is a birthday marathon, one that only small children have enough stamina to finish with room to spare for yet another piece of cake.
It was grand though. Sydney turned four, and now living in all her four-ness has fully sunk in and she's happy, happy, happy about it. For her birthday we hit her favorite places: Great Harvest Bread Company for an apple cinnamon breakfast roll, and Jamba Juice for a peach smoothie. Then we trotted over to Costco where she was allowed to pick out a book for her birthday present. What more could a kid want? Birthday dinner was mac-n-cheese, which thrilled nearly all of us (Jason is not fond of it).
Of course, the birthday was also filled with traditional things that have developed over the years. When Sydney's first birthday was approaching, I only had one thing in mind to purposefully turn into a tradition: taking a picture of her with a dress that used to belong to my mom.
Every year prior to this one, I have had to settle for the dress being in the background because Sydney refused to wear it. This year, however, Sydney was more than willing to put the dress on and let me pin it up so that she could run around the yard in it.
She flapped her arms and laughed and thrilled in alternately being a bird, an angel, a fairy, and a butterfly. I got scores of pictures, video footage, and a good long moment of that sometimes elusive feeling of Happiness. My little girl, spinning around the yard in her grandma's dress.
Although the dress is the only tradition that I set out to create, as it so often the case, other things became tradition. Like the annual measuring of height.
I think it's the stickers that came with the growth chart that helped make this a tradition since they announce that "Today I Am 1" or "I am 4 Today." Naturally, we even carried on this tradition with Jules for her birthday. For some reason I just always take a picture of it, even of the sticker. I think the reason why I initially started taking a picture of the sticker was so that I could post that photo here at Creature Bug (although I looked back in the archives and see that I didn't), but now after four years, I'd take the picture even if I didn't have anywhere to put it except in a photo album. That's what we do on birthdays.
Another tradition is the making of the birthday cake. Sydney was specific about what she wanted this year: "A horsie cake! No, a castle cake. No, um, maybe, no, yes, a horsie cake." For those of you who have been following along for awhile, you may remember that she had a horsie cake for her 2nd birthday, and I was all too happy to say "neigh"--or rather, yea--to her horse request.
Since we had 30 people at her birthday party (wow! all family!) then I knew I needed to make an additional cake, especially since last year I ran out of birthday cake. We ended up with some leftover cake, which was really good for breakfast on Sunday. And lunch. And dinner.
And, of course, no birthday is complete without the 3 C's--cousins, candles and clever gifts.
Sydney was lucky enough to have not only 1st cousins at her party, but her 2nd cousins, and a 3rd cousin! Oh yeah, we know family.
Sometimes I think traditions can make you feel burdened, like you have to do something or it's all ruined. There was a particular "bringing the baby home from the hospital" family tradition I had really not wanted to do, and it just made me so crabby about doing it until I ultimately decided that it was just not a big deal. Breathe. Calm down. I didn't want birthdays to turn into a list of things that had to be accomplished.
If I had demanded of myself to write a birthday poem for Sydney every year just because I did it for her 1st birthday, then I know it'd feel like a chore to me. If I had felt like just because she had waffles on her 2nd birthday and she had to be stuck with waffles from now until eternity, well, that would have made this year kind of hard because we didn't have any eggs that morning she turned 4. I couldn't have made waffles, so Lucky Charms was the birthday breakfast, and Sydney was probably happier for it. Plus, I don't make waffles. Jason does.
Fortunately, I think the traditions that have settled into our birthday routine aren't too tricky and are fun to do. I always fret a tiny bit about getting the picture of Sydney with the dress because kids and photo sessions aren't always a super fun combination. But that photo is the one that I really want, more than anything, because the whole experience of Sydney clutching that decades-old dress just feels so rich and...something about heritage. I don't know. I do know that however it turns out, I'll need to be flexible. Maybe one year I'll have to give myself the summer to get the picture.
This year, though, keeping traditions was a piece of cake.
Obviously, that would be a piece of birthday cake.