How do we do birthdays in our large family?

I used to think, before I was a mother, that I needed to put my children into activities so that they could socialize and make friends, which end up being the children we would invite to birthday parties.  But, we tried that a couple times.  Inviting everyone who our oldest child played with at church, or any other activities we went to, only to be turned down or stood up on the big day.

My eyes have been opened.  We, now, take a page from some other large families that I have come across, and keep the party a family affair.

When the child reaches five years old or so we plan our family fun day, or outing, on the same day we are going to be celebrating and they get to pick the activity.  Two of our children have allergies to gluten and dairy, so attending birthday parties anywhere is extremely difficult, and potentially dangerous, and many children wouldn’t want to eat the cake or other desserts we choose to indulge in when they find out the ingredient list.  So, family parties work for us in many ways.

Decorating

I took my current ideas on decorating for a party from one of my favorite bloggers, Jamerril Stewart, and make use of my dollar store or Walmart.

I take the birthday child with me, or consult them about what they like at the moment, and we go pick out their decorations.  Party hats, streamers, balloons and other fun things are gathered.  Then, I set them up before the kids get up on the big day.  With our oldest daughter I made a streamer wall hanging from her bedroom door, this year, to greet her when she woke up, she thought that was really fun.

Teaching Children to Honor Others

This weekend our youngest child is going to be two.  I was watching a vlog last week and noticed that the children were giving gifts they had made or bought to the one who’s birthday it was.  This idea really resonates with me, because parties have become so much about what the guests will get to bring home in their goodie bags, instead of how they will honor the birthday kid.

So, this momma took the four oldest to the dollar store without the little one, and they each picked out a gift for their sister.  We also picked wrapping paper, with a group plan to have a wrapping party in my room before the big day.

It was a bit of a disaster, really.  The six and five year old did not understand that we were not picking out toys for them, and meltdowns ensued once they did.  But, they rallied quickly and I believe this will be an important routine in our family to cultivate an understanding of how to honor someone other than themselves.

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Birthdays, Large Family Style

What Nobody Tells You About Losing a Child

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“Nicole, don’t freak out, don’t freak out….” this went over and over in my head while the doctor looked so diligently for any signs of life in our unborn child. My seven year old, excited about seeing his sibling, and very used to ultrasounds, pointed out, “Mommy, there’s no heartbeat.” The OB looked at me, grabbed my hand and mouthed, “I’m so sorry.”

We lost our 6th child, and 3rd son, in January 2017. He was still born at 16 weeks gestation, with no other complications noted before then. I went into the office for a routine examination, with my five other children surrounding me in the ultrasound room, and my husband away training his service dog in another state.

What nobody tells you about losing a child

Somebody has been where you are.  Many are desperate to give you hope in a time where they may have felt none.  I am fortunate to have met these people since the death, and birth of my son.  My OB shared her loss with me when she confirmed that our child had indeed passed on to heaven, after my second ultrasound of that day.  She cried with me in the delivery room when I told her the miracle I know God performed for me in starting my labor before the day I was set for induction.

What are you testifying of?

The most painful circumstances of our lives are where people see our true faith. By word and action, we give testament to where our hearts are. What are you testifying of? Acceptance, love, hope, mercy, grace? You can show all of these things, even in the dark times. The gospel of Jesus is revealed through our lives. That we can believe that God is merciful even to death and that anything that can be a blessing if we choose to see it that way.

I have purposely shared my thoughts regarding this time in our lives on my social media, and taken every opportunity that presents itself to share our son’s life story face-to-face. I have shown the pictures I have of our son with those who cared to see them. I am not ashamed of his story, or my part in it. I know that he was meant to be and that God loves him and me more than his life.

Dear Mom…

I know that you may not be ready yet to hear this, but I want to let you know that you will move on. It doesn’t diminish your love for your child to live. Don’t camp in the land of grief. Go ahead, cry, yell, scream. God can handle any emotion that you feel, and he will still love you, but please find your blessing in all of this and celebrate the life your child had. God doesn’t waste life; your child was here for a purpose. He, or she, was fashioned with all the intricacy and care of any other that has ever been created, by a creator that died to know him intimately and personally for all eternity. Eternity just began very quickly by comparison.

Dear Friends and Family…

This weekend is Mother’s Day.  She may not feel like celebrating anything, but if she does do it, and go for the gold!

Being a mother is far more than giving birth, taking that child home, or even carrying a child in your body.  It is a choice to love someone that God placed in your life.  When they arrive and when they leave is not important in regards this title.  Honor her for the mother she is right now, hurting and healing, but a mother.