Dec
17
2013

On Having Kids with Holiday Birthdays

They Don't Have To Give Up Their Special Day

On Having Kids with Holiday Birthdays

Having kids with holiday birthdays

Before I had any kids, I was adamant that I would not have a December baby. I am a January baby, and that is pretty bad in its own right. My birthday is less than three weeks after Christmas which means that there is much fanfare and then ... nothing for the next eleven months. I have a cousin born on December 25th (Merry Christmas!) and both my mom and one of my best friends have a birthday on December 27th. That week of Christmas is nuts and no child should have to compete with both Jesus and Santa Claus.

When we first decided to get pregnant, we made sure to start early enough to be nowhere near December for a due date. Our plan worked and our first baby was due August 30th. When I was twelve weeks pregnant, I started spotting and went to see my Doctor. She sent me for an ultrasound and on Valentine's Day, 2002, we found out that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. A few days later I had a D&C and there was much grieving that happened. I had never felt the baby kick, but my body had changed and I mourned the loss of my baby dream.

I wanted to get pregnant immediately, but my doctor said that if I waited until I had one regular cycle, my odds of miscarrying would be back in the "normal" range (25%-50%). I waited, I had my cycle, and I got pregnant immediately. My new baby had a due date of December 29th and I couldn't be happier about it because if he or she made it to their dure date and were born, I'd have my very first baby. Calendar dates no longer meant anything.

My son arrived on his due date, all nine pounds, twelve ounces of him. He with his chubby cheeks and blue eyes and happy demeanor. I looked upon him and new immediately what unconditional love was. I love my husband, but this love for my baby was a different variety. I understood exactly how much God loves me, because I loved this squishy baby so much that I couldn't contain it.

Now that he's older, I've made a constant effort to make sure that his birthday is special and not lumped in with Christmas. He knows the story of my first baby, and how I was so happy to have a baby, even if they were born in December. He appreciates my honesty and talks openly about meeting his baby brother (he's convinced the baby was a boy) when he gets to Heaven. (I do my best not to cry, but I'm not always successful.)

We do a "family party" on his actual birthday, complete with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We have whatever he wants for dinner and cake and celebrate the day of his birth. I've offered to take the Christmas decorations down before the 29th, but he loves all of the lights, so they stay. As for a party with the friends, most of them are busy during the holidays. We usually host the "friend party" in January at our house. We live on an acreage in the mountains, with a wicked sledding hill, and everyone has a blast.

This past summer, we bought a cabin at the local ski hill, and he asked to have some friends sleep over and go to the tubing park. That's exactly what we did this past weekend and it worked out just as we had hoped. Two of his friends had other commitments, but three others joined us. We spent Friday night watching movies and eating pizza and chips. Saturday involved cereal, followed by a stint at the tubing park, followed by a massive brunch, followed by a two-hour snowball fight at the cabin. Everyone was happy and tired and he had a birthday that wasn't related to the holidays.

I shared more than I intended to, but this season makes me remember how joyful I was to have my little cherub and the words came tumbling out. Holiday birthdays aren't horrible if you make the effort to separate them from the surrounding holiday. My middle child has an August birthday, so he also gets a separate "friend party" in September. Our youngest — my daughter — has a birthday that almost always falls on Thanksgiving weekend, so she often gets two parties as well.

Both parties are low-key, but they allow the maximum amount of friends and family to celebrate the child who is having a birthday. It's not about the presents, but about the celebration of having them in our lives.

Do you have any kids with birthdays around the holidays? Or is your birthday during the holidays? How do you make them special?

Dec
03
2013

Holiday Photo Lab: How to Make Custom Bokeh Shapes

Bokeh Is Not A Bad Word

Holiday Photo Lab: How to Make Custom Bokeh Shapes

photography, bokeh

I’m sure that many of you know what bokeh is, but if not, I can tell you what “bokeh” means. Bokeh is the really blurry, kind of funky, background in a photo that may or may not include lights or shapes or random swirls. (If you want the official definition, may I offer up wikipedia?)

Step By Step Guide To Take Professional Quality Photos Of Your Christmas Tree

Christmas—or whatever light-filled holiday you celebrate—provides ample opportunities to play with bokeh. Case in point: our Little Snow Person in front of the tree (Mommy and Daddy Snow People were sipping a hot toddy in the corner)(Allegedly).

He's coming a little closer. Not to be creepy, but to show you how much more fun the lights are in the background.

Many years ago, when I first learned the manual settings on my camera and started to share what I was learning, a friend emailed me the link to this tutorial on creating “customized” bokeh. I rifled through my craft room and found a star-shaped hole punch.

How fun is that?

Then I went to my craft room, pulled out the black card stock and used an Exacto knife to cut a out a “heart” (I may be creative, but drawing is NOT my specialty)(I can't even draw stick people properly). This is the result.

Long story (tutorial) short:

You need a “fast” lens — I used my 50mm f/1.8

You need to have your subject a good distance from the background — Baby Snow Dude was about nine feet in front of the tree.

You will have to bump up your ISO settings (I used ISO 800) — I know we haven’t covered ISO, but we will if you want me to.

A lot of it is trial and error, time, and perseverance. Play and play and then YAY! The Shot.

Do you have any questions about Bokeh? Or pretty photos of your own that you want to share? PLEASE share pretty photos. I can’t get enough of them, especially at Christmas with all of the lights.