We have a teenager now! These inexpensive and free birthday traditions create time capsules that are priceless. - SahmReviews.com

If you’ve been a longtime reader, you’ve been following along since we first talked about the girls on SahmReviews when they were just wee folk.  If you were with us when we were still posting regularly on our sister site, you would have seen them even younger. You have seen their videos and may have even been watching when Madison wrote her first post for us! They have grown up in front of you and as of earlier this week, our oldest has become a teenager. A walk down memory lane made me giggle when I read this post from when she was 4 1/2!

It got me thinking about all the birthday traditions (and others) we have created that are inexpensive or free. I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about a few of the things we do each year.

Create a memorable birthday gift for dad: a birthday journal. -SahmReviews.com


It’s been a few years since I told you about the best birthday gift for a dad. Utilizing a simple blank journal, preferably a neutral, personalized or masculine journal. Each year on dad’s birthday, each person in the family takes time to create a custom journal entry for him. If the kids are too little to write, outline their hand and let them scribble, draw or whatever they can do to make it from them. No rules about what they do other than they have to stay on the page. The only thing I felt the need to do was print alongside to translate what they may have been saying. As they get older, their content will mature. They’ll start by writing their name or “I love you.” Eventually, they’ll be able to convey their true thoughts onto the paper. We’ve done this for many years and we only have a few rules. 1) Stay within your designated page area. 2) No looking at what YOU wrote previously until you have completed this year’s entry. The reason is that we don’t want to impact what we say based on what we may have said in prior years. It all needs to come from the heart at that moment. 3) No looking at what SOMEONE ELSE wrote EVER. You probably think I read what the girls write, but I don’t. It’s not meant for me and wouldn’t be fair to them or their dad. While we created this gift for his birthday, it would work as an amazing Father’s Day gift as well. The younger the kids are when you start, the better. It would be great for a mom, too, just get a pretty journal. The main point is that it’s something we do each year and the only cost we had was the initial investment of the journal.

We have a teenager now! These inexpensive and free birthday traditions create time capsules that are priceless. - SahmReviews.com

Height Markers

They grow like weeds which is most apparent when the jeans you feel like you just purchased now are so short you can see their ankles. Whenever we visit their grandma in Alabama, she marks the wall with their height and weight (yeah, I’m sure that half of the markings will stop soon since we have a teenager now). Here at home, we record their height on the first day of school but we mark it on a door. That’s mostly because I wanted to be able to take it with me if I ever moved to another house. We also take a picture of them in front of the front door. Well, when I remember, anyhow. In the meantime, my brother made us a giant pencil with windows for the kids school pictures. We’ll eventually transfer everything over to that as a permanent memento. There are a variety of wall charts available if you don’t want to write on your walls or doors.

We have a teenager now! These inexpensive and free birthday traditions create time capsules that are priceless. - SahmReviews.com

Continuity Pictures

Everyone has their way of documenting how their kids grow up, but we found a unique way to do it. What started as a simple picture turned into a tradition. Each year on our daughters birthdays, we take a photograph of them in an heirloom chair. It has been in Scott’s family for generations and we don’t plan to get rid of it any time soon. Whether you have a piece of furniture you photograph them in each year or some other token that will last the years, the point is to be able to show how the kids grow up. A friend of ours purchased a high-school sized football jersey for her son and photographed him in it on his first day of kindergarten. She has done so each year since and plans to do the same each year until he fills out the jersey in high school. I think that’s an amazing idea and wish I had thought of something like that. Once again, the cost is minimal, if any. The reward, an amazing story line.

What started as simple gestures became integral parts of our life. The kids used to make fun of me for insisting we do these things but now I think they actually look forward to it. It’s a landmark year for Madison (yay, teenager) but for us, it’s another chance to preserve a memory.

Do you have any kind of birthday traditions or other activities that you do to document how kids grow up?

17 thoughts on “New Teenager; Old Traditions

  1. It’s nice to have markings of their height on the wall, the journal is a cool idea too! Kids grow up so fast!

  2. I think my favorite way to chronicle age is photos taken in the same style each year. We don’t see people growing so much before our eyes but the transformation film is beautiful!

  3. This post made me sad because it reminded me how fast time flies. I bet you remember her as that toddler like it was yesterday!

  4. What sweet ways to watch them grow. We do height markers also, and the kids just love seeing how big they’re getting.

  5. I don’t really have any traditions to mark the growth of my kids, which really sort of stinks. I should start one but my eldest is now 13 … going by quick!

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