free ecards

Baby and Toddler Sleep - Birthdays and the Night You Were Born

By Margaret Saunders

For many years, Birthdays in our home were very simple, simple. We invited one friend and her parent or parents and my daughter Alicia's dearly beloved Grandma who she called "Gramma" who lived "down the road and around the corner." We always had a birthday cake (which was either chocolate or ice cream) and as sugary food was rarely seen in our house (this was the biggest treat) and very simple party food.

Anticipation of her Birthday was the big thing for Alicia. For many weeks this anticipation was enjoyed as much as the actual Birthday itself. Almost better than the blowing out of the candles ceremony and opening of the presents after breakfast.

Alicia thought that her birthday was "the cake ceremony", not the whole day. On one of her birthdays she asked, "When is my Birthday, Mum?" "It's right now love".

Eventually the penny dropped when she said, "When do we have the CAKE?" For her, the birthday was the cake, the candles and the singing of Happy Birthday. Not the fussing, the organizing, the people, the extra cleaning. Not the preparing for the day, the games, the take home bags, the outdoing of other peoples parties. We always planned The Cake Event for the morning. Alicia never knew parties could be a big event with lots of games and lots of people until she was quite a bit older. When we had these small event birthdays we had less dramas less upsets and more fun. One year we lashed out and had a party at a shop that did fairy parties with a minimum of 10 children, plus a few mums and dads. Most of the activities were rushed and in a cramped space and not much party food was eaten. Accidents happened and upsets appeared over misunderstandings and the cake was not the one Alicia had seen arrive and this caused a big upset and teasing. Every child but one got upset.

On the way home Alicia burst into tears, again. After the expense, the organizing, the extra travel she would have been happier with a few special friends, a cake ceremony and just one toy she could have played with. We have never had a large party since and we have not since had a hugely structured party or gone to a venue for an event. And we always unwrap the presents when everyone has arrived.

We sit in a circle and the birthday presents are passed and given to the birthday person one at a time by the child who brought them and then unwrapped and passed around for everyone to look at and check out. The giver of the present is thanked and gets as much as a thrill at the present receiver. This present ceremony is one of the first things we do and usually starts off our parties.

One of our best and more simple and more easier Birthdays when Alicia was older was soon after we moved from the city. We were renting a "beach house". We invited one friend from the city and one new friend from the country. It was more of an "all day visit" party. Yes, we had a cake, a small amount of party food and the present opening ceremony. Alicia felt she was the birthday girl for the whole day. This home was on a sheep farm, with large rooms and sheep in the back yard. At this party we introduced a few games and threw a Frisbee around the back yard, which was really a paddock and chased the sheep! This party was a huge success. Guests were more than happy to travel the longer distance to the farm and the mums sat on the back verandah and watched the party from a distance, breathed in the fresh farm air and watched what it is that sheep do.

All in all there is a lead up to birthdays. I tell my daughters the story of their birth. As Alicia still reminds me, birthdays are really anniversaries of the day they were born.

With Alicia, I tell her how I worked right up to the day before she was born. As I was driving home my mantra was "please, please wait until I get home, please, please, wait until I get home". Alicia loves to hear this. The story continues with how I was a week overdue and I really was worried that contractions would start as I was driving home (and as she was my first born I had no idea what contractions would feel like and what sort of pain to expect, I just knew I did not want them to happen on the freeway driving home in the rush hour.

When I had attended the pre-natal classes one of the things I had learnt was that giving birth was like running in a marathon and to eat marathon type food in the early stages of labor. Well I did all that and climbed into bed and BINGO in the early hours of the morning contractions woke me up and about 12 hours later Alicia was born, at 6.23 pm on the 23rd of June. Catchy numbers!!! I tell this story every year the night before her birthday and embellish different parts, answer her questions and find that the bond between us increases every time. Both my daughters love this part of their Birthday celebrations and sometimes ask me to tell them their birth story when it is not even their birthday, just to hear the wonder of it all. So if you want a simple, easy, country style birthday here are some tips.

Step By Step

1. When your child is young, one or two invited guests plus parents can be enough for a party, plus a beloved relative or two.

2. Building up the anticipation and reliving the event can be enjoyed over many days and weeks.

3. A Cake and Candle Ceremony may be all that's needed.

4. Having the party in the morning can relieve the tension of waiting and waiting.

5. Opening the presents. Have the party guests and birthday child sit in a circle. Have the guests one at a time hand the present they have brought to the birthday child who opens the present and then passes it around the circle. This can be a great way to start the party.

6. Even when your child is older, smaller and little effort can still work, for
example, a walk on the beach, a trip to a special playground or watching a movie.

7. Tell your child the story of the day or night they were born.

christmas cards

Choosing Holiday and Christmas Cards For Family and Friends
By Amy Carter

'Tis the season for Christmas cards. Well, not quite, but soon enough the time will be here to pick and send Christmas cards for your friends and family. Rather than looking on this as a chore, you should relish the opportunity to connect with far away friends and family and wish them well in the New Year. The only question now is 'what card do I send?' A few words of advice should have you fa-la-la-la-ing in no time.


While the holidays and Christmas are a very religious time, there can be a big question about which religion. If you're not sure what or how your friends are celebrating, stick to a non-religious greeting. This is a safe and festive way to send your wishes. Your family, on the other hand, should be no mystery. You already know how important religion is to your family, so pick a card that is thoughtful and appropriate. There is no rule when selecting a Christmas or holiday card to your family, but you should know what is best.


A good laugh can brighten everyone's holiday. While this may not be appropriate for everyone on your list, you can certainly select a funny holiday card for your friends who enjoy a good laugh. It is best to steer clear of any joke that is a little too racy. Luckily, they just don't make too many offensive Christmas cards so you're safe there. As a litmus test for your holiday or Christmas joke card, think if your boss or your mom would laugh at it or be offended. If you think they would both laugh, then you're all set. Most of all, know your audience. It's okay to pick different cards for different people. Better you send a nice holiday greeting than you send a distasteful card.


Many families go to great lengths to include a photograph of their children dressed up for the holiday or even the whole family - including the dog. A photo card is a great way to send your wishes. Your family will love to see your shining faces around the holidays, especially if you're living far away from each other. A photo Christmas card might not be the best choice for your old college friend or a casual acquaintance. It certainly wouldn't be offensive, just make sure you're in the picture so there is someone they recognize in the picture.

Notes and newsletters

A holiday note or letter is perfect for keeping your family and friends up-to-date. End the year on a cheerful note by highlighting your family's accomplishments and triumphs. Keep the note cheerful and newsy and you'll be all set. You might want to leave out any depressing news - like when the turtle died - just to keep with the holiday spirit. Again, make sure you know your audience. Some more casual or business acquaintances may not be as interested in your news as your family and close friends. For those on your list, skip the long note and include your hand written wishes. In some cases, less is more.

One thing is for sure, real paper Christmas cards are the only way to go. An e-mail Christmas greeting is just not the same. Don't get lazy and think you can send an email and be off the hook for Christmas cards. Sending a real Christmas card with your genuine holiday wishes is a long standing tradition that should be honored.

Christmas and holiday cards don't have to be a chore. Select your cards based on your audience, take the time to write a nice greeting and you'll be done in no time. Happy Holidays!!!