Monday, March 11, 2013

Birthday Traditions

I haven't had a chance to revisit Henry's birthday traditions until now! 

We hung up his birthday bunting, as well as a ribbon with one photo from each year of his life (held up by mini-clothespins). At first I was going to take his picture in the same chair every year, but I realized it would be more fun to look at various kinds of pictures from each year. 

We also did his candle ceremony. 

We started the ritual last year when I stumbled upon this 9-candle holder on Etsy. I realized it was the perfect complement to the ceremony: one tealight candle for every year until he's 9, then a colored candle to represent 10 years, and additional tealight candles in the remaining eight slots to take him to 18.
We lit the candle and read the following letter.

Dear Henry Jones, 

You bring joy and light into this world. We light this candle to celebrate another year of your brightness.

We are full of gratitude that you are in our lives and that we get to celebrate your second birthday with you. What an amazing year you had! A year ago, you were still crawling and just beginning to say your first word (which was "mama" but only because I would urge you to say "mama" if you wanted my help getting food).

Now you are walking on balance beams and curbs, running "fast", riding your balance bike, climbing up fences, and starting to say sentences (one of your very first sentences was "Hoss loves peanut butter!"). 

You are so full of joy, confidence, and competence. You love to do things your "self." Last night, for example, you started crying in the night because you were thirsty. When I went into your room to check on you, I asked you if you wanted water and you said yes. I reminded you that your water glass was on your shelf. After you drank it all, you took your glass straight into the bathroom, set it on the counter, climbed your stepping stool, turned on the water, filled up your glass, set it back on the counter, climbed down, put the glass back on your shelf, got back into bed, and went back to sleep. You are such a sweet, capable little man. 

You crack us up with your jokes, too. You love to get people's "beans," which is code for tickling.You love to meet new people and hang out with our friends. You especially love your uncles and your grandparents.

You are gentle with animals, too. Just today, you delighted in watching a roly poly crawl all over your hands and up your arms. You love to feed the goats in our neighborhood, and whenever you see an animal in a book, you want to give it your "hand." 

And, oh, how you love to eat! Last week, we ran out of chips at Chuy's, so you decided to simply pick up the creamy jalapeno sauce and drink it instead. You love tofu and broccoli at Thai restaurants, but you especially love cupcakes and ice-cream. Sometimes, when we're driving in the car, you'll suddenly start asking for "fries" or a "milkshake."

We've had such a fun year with you. We moved to Austin right before your first birthday, and you started daycare for the first time at EcoKids Preschool when you were 14 months-old. That's also when you stopped breastfeeding. You started Austin Montessori School when you turned 18 months-old. Your favorite friends are Emma, Ruby, and Ella, and your favorite work is banana and apple slicing. You only cried on your first day of school when it was time for nap. Other than that one moment, you always seem exceptionally eager and happy to go to school. Your teachers say you are very "industrious" and you focus and concentrate on your work. They also say you are pure joy.

We've been saving money to build our house in Austin, so we haven't gone on too many vacations this year. However, you did get to see snow for the first time this Christmas up in Bloomington, and you walked in the ocean for the first time in Florida.We also started going to the First Unitarian Universalist Church this year. You love going to the daycare room (especially when it's warm enough to play outside), but you especially love eating the bagels, breakfast tacos, and "cookies" at church.

You're also excited about the fact that your little brother will be joining our family at the end of June or beginning of July. You say that babies "pee," "cry," (while making a hand motion and saying "wah wah") "hungry," and "poop." You basically have babies all figured out. We have a framed picture of your brother's ultrasound in your room, and you kissed it three times today. 

Your big milestones for the year were learning to walk when you were 13 months-old. Between 15-18 months, you went from saying approximately five words to more than 40. Around two, you started stringing words into sentences. You also love to sing songs to yourself when you're falling asleep. It seems like your favorite song is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." 

Nearly every day, you and I go to the park. You step on tree stumps, ride in the swing, go down the slides, climb up bars, look at the city's lawnmowers through the gates, climb on the canon (yes, a lot of parks in Texas have canons), and play with shovels in the rocks. Nearly every weekend, you go to the dog park with your dad and brother Hoss. You get lots of "kisses" from little and big dogs alike.

You've been a great sleeper this entire year. At night we read you a book, give you hugs and kisses, put your blanket on you, and you sleep from 6:30pm to about 7am. In the morning, we hear you at your door, open it, and you immediately ask for a banana. Your dad and I get back in bed while you go to the kitchen to help yourself to a banana. Then you bring it in our room and we read a story while you peel it and eat it. Your favorite books right now are the ones about animals or machines.

We just love seeing more and more of your personality every day. Each day is even more fun with you. We are so grateful for the opportunity to live with you and grow from you, Henry Jones. Thank you for blessing our lives with your presence.  

You shine and brighten our lives and the lives of others.

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Kristy said...

Awee what a sweet letter. Yay for a little brother! That is so exciting.

Carrie said...

The post was great and all, but I've just got to back Henry up on drinking the Chuy's creamy jalapeno sauce. YUM! Miss that!

Life is Beautiful said...


your son sounds adorable and I think it's coz you made lots of good descsions for him from the start, wish i had that wisdom!
Im just curious to know if he sleeps through the night and if he crawls into bed with you

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Life is Beautiful!

We followed our pediatrician's advice to sleep train Henry by the time he was 6 months. It took a total of three nights and Henry has basically slept through the night since then (except when he is sick or we are traveling). He will occasionally wake up for water and then go right back to sleep. He sleeps on a Montessori floor bed in his room. We have a child-proof thing on the door handle that prevents him from opening the door from the inside. When we wakes up in the night for water, we go in his room and help him get water, give him a hug and kiss, and put his blanket back on him. We never let him crawl into bed with us in the night. However, every morning (he sleeps from 6:30pm to 7am) he gets into bed with us and we read him some books. I've written lots of posts about how we stretched out Henry's breastfeeds in the night (again, following our pediatrician's advice), sleep trained him, and got him on a schedule during the day. You can find them in the archives under "Purposeful Conception."

Life is Beautiful said...

Thanks for your honesty Sarah. I think as a 1st time Mom concepts like sleep train make you a bit nervous esp when their are websites/fbk pages dedicated to encourage parents against it...but look your guy turned out so well....:) Theres so much to be said about co-sleeping and while i love holding his little body when we sleep sometimes he gives us a bad night jsut oz the way he sleeps....anyway this too shall pass ....this stage goes by so quickly

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