Growing up we had some crazy family traditions. I have two favorites:

The first was my Dad’s birthday tradition. His birthday falls in October, which is a perfect month for him since he’s completely enamored by Fall leaves. I know, everyone loves the colors of Fall. But my Dad, serious nature lover, may win a prize on the depth of his love for his birthday season. So on his birthday we would rake up piles of leaves and jump in them. Simple, right? But we loved it. Whether it was in our own back yard, or at a park, or on a trip to a new place, we’d gather those leaves, throw them in the air, bury each other in them, and be together.

Well, years passed and some of us grew up and moved away. There was one particular year when my brother and sister and I were all in different countries on my Dad’s birthday. I think it was the first year we missed being with the family on our big leaf-jumping day. With no coordination we all sent him a few of our favorite Fall leaves in the birthday cards we sent. And boy howdy does he ever still talk about that. The point is that not only did we miss him, we missed our tradition…that time with our family. And we wanted him to know it.

Another favorite tradition is my sister’s annual “cake float,” (mostly because we’ve carried this one on). Since we lived at Bear Lake during the summers growing up, and her birthday fell in the summer, we had a tradition of always floating her cake on the lake. She would go take it out in the water, candles lit, on whatever floaty thing we had and swim around with it. Somehow it always made it out dry and delicious. She’s continued that tradition every year…even when not at Bear Lake (the reflecting pool in front of the monuments in D.C., in the bathtub when she was on her mission, etc.) I know, kind of wacky, but it’s been one of the really lasting, fun traditions in our family.

So when Elle was born on her same birthday we jumped in on the tradition. Before we had kids in school we’d still be at Bear Lake on the big day and she and my sister would always float together, but now school starts so darn early around here that we have to do two cake floats…one together up there before the birthday, and one back at home. Ours is usually in the swimming pool. I love it because not only does it bind our family together, but it binds my kids with my family.Up at the lake this year…everyone heading out to watch the big cake float.Then back at home on the big day:
Traditions are the best.

Now to gear up for the 21 girl fashion show party she’s having tomorrow night…

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  1. I just have to say that I love reading your blog. You have such a gift for writing and for also sharing so much of your life which helps me be a better Mother.
    Traditions are the best! I truly believe it is what our kids will remember and hopefully pass on to their own family. Your family is amazing Shawni!

  2. Your family is SO unbelievably thoughtful in their traditions. I love that you guys sent your dad the leaves on his b-day while you were away. What a sweet, simple, thoughtful gesture that I’m sure put a giant smile on his face. Great traditions Shawni!

  3. Both those traditions are so great! I love the leaves too. I grew up jumping in them as a kid and I miss seeing the drastic change in seasons!

  4. I remember you telling the family about your leaf tradition years ago and how you all sent them to your Dad from the missions. That’s the first thing I think of when somebody asks about fun traditions!

  5. Shawni…I love to come and read your blog you are so inspiring. Family traditions are so important and unfortunately we haven’t created a ton but this has reminded me to start. I want to share with you a tradition that my friend has that is really neat. They have a rain gutter (the white one) and when someone in the family has a milestone or does something great like win the spelling bee or some tennis tournament they have ‘rain gutter night’ where they make a huge ice cream sundae in the gutter with everything on it and everyone gets a spoon and digs in. We have one that I should take a picture of for you and send it to you. The fam can deocrate it on the outside.
    Anywho….I loved that idea!

    Okay I also wanted to tell you I got the CD’s yesterday! THank YOu Thank You Thank You!!! You did a wonderful job and Jake already developed a picture today for his office! You really did a great job and considering how hard Zac was we got some awesome shots of him…thanks to you! I can’t wait to get them hung up in the house!
    Keep me posted when you are in town again I know a bunch of people that would love a shoot or even a class if you are up for it!
    Take Care Shawni, you’re awesome!
    P.s. We are FINALLY headed up to Bear Lake (what seems like forever) in two weekends…..Ward Campout! Can’t wait! What was the name of that other lake you love? Was it Willow?

  6. Love the cake float. My mom always read to us about Tasha Tudor’s (children’s artist and author) family tradition of the cake float down the river near their home on birthdays.

    I hope you’ll post China pictures. My oldest has been OBSESSED for over a year with going to Asia. He tells us weekly about new “sites” he’s discovered in his attempt to convince us to plan a family trip there. ie longest suspension bridge in the world, bullet train, Great Wall, sacred Budhist temples, panda bear reserves etc. etc.

    He is currently collecting all the coins in the house and having my husband save all the gold crowns from his Dental Office to sell (as seen on T.V. gold kit commercials). He is begging us to cancel upcoming trips to Disneyland and Cancuun so we can save to money to go to China instead…….did I mention he is six.

    Have a great time. Can’t wait to hear about it.

  7. I just wanted to say how much I love reading your blog. I read it all the time and never quite find a moment to comment. It should be better now with the kids in school.

    I love your stories, your love for your kids, your undying determination to help little Lucy, the parties you throw, the amazing family and tradition you pass on, your photographs, your sweet nature and go with the flow attitude, how you are constantly bombarded with neighborhood kids and yet you always enjoy their visits and your positive spirit.

    Thanks for sharing it all. Even when I don’t comment, I read and am touched. You are amazing.

    I also found out while in Utah that your little brother Talmage was one of my in-laws favorite missionary. They were his mission president in Compinas, Brazil. They saw me reading your blog and we added it up. I didn’t realize your parents started joy school and were such accomplished authors. I knew they were speakers, but that was fun to find out. What a small world it is.

    Thanks for sharing- and enjoy CHINA!!

  8. I love traditions, they are the best! We have a caroling party every Christmas season, go camping, create a thankful turkey for Thanksgiving and have a Jerusalem dinner for Easter., You are an awesome family!! I just found your blog and am in love with it!! I hope and strive to be the kind of mom you are!!

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