March Slice of Life Challenge: March 1, 2014 – another birthday to celebrate

orange soltwt

The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers .  


Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

In the short story “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros, the main character Rachel reflects upon the notion that even though one turns a new age on one’s birthday, bits and pieces of our old ages remain with us – so, we may turn eleven, or thirty eight, or whatever – but ten year old you, the twenty year old you, is still very much there: you are the sum of your experiences, after all.  We read this story every year in my class (it’s such a wonderful sixth grade story!), and discuss it extensively.  But, I think I understand it best whenever I celebrate the birthday of one of my children.

Today is my youngest’s birthday.  She turns 19, which is hard to believe – the years seem to have flashed by so fast.  Last night, her brother and sister took the train in from New York City to help us celebrate the way we always have: the birthday child’s favorite meal, cake, presents.  The kitchen was a loud and messy place for most of the evening, as we wove in and out of each others’ paths, cooking, stirring, mixing, baking, and sharing the latest news in each others’ lives.  The birthday girl decided to take on the task of baking the cake – she is our resident baker-in-chief, after all.  And, as I watched her measure and mix and get things “just so”, I saw the little Olivia, learning how to bake for the first time.  Standing on her booster seat, the mixing bowl about as big as she was, I could picture the way she held tightly to the wooden spoon and stirred with great determination, her brows knit in concentration,  her lips pursed.  She had the same expression last night, and even the way she organized her task was the same as in years past – ingredients arrayed in order, and everything measured and ready at the start.

At the dinner table, sitting right next to me, I saw flashes of Olivia’s past ages, too.  The time she refused to sit on her booster seat anymore, the “I am a big girl now” era, and made her way through dinner with her chin defiantly resting on the table, which she was just able to reach.  I remembered the first tries with mastering the fork and knife combination, with bits of food flying off the table as she tried valiantly to get her eating utensils to do the job they were supposedly designed to do.

And, when the cake finally made its appearance, all aglow with 19 candles, Olivia’s face shone with all the delight it had at her very first birthday.   Her “Smith smile”, inherited from her father and grandfather, just as wide and gloriously happy as that first birthday  smile.  She puffed up her cheeks with the same glee, delighted as always that she managed to get them all out in one go, or, as four year old Olivia would have said: “I huffed and I puffed and I blew them all out!”

liv bday 3 liv bday 2li vbday 1

The cake was lovely, the evening was special – and we got to celebrate our 19 year old of today, and remember all the years before.


32 thoughts on “March Slice of Life Challenge: March 1, 2014 – another birthday to celebrate

  1. Wow! There is something about your writing lately that does not allow me to get through with a dry eye. It is as if you are speaking directly to me. Slow down, enjoy, these are the times to remember…. sometimes when you are in midst of all the goodness it is difficult to breathe, but I need to remember to cherish every jam packed moment! Thank you

    • A fabulous story about your daughter. I love the birthday focus and have a picture of the “Smith smile” as she “huffed and puffed” to blow out the candles! Love your posts

  2. This is a beautiful post Tara and so much a reminder that everything we have done contributes to who we are today. I can see that little girl within the glimpse of a lovely young woman wrapped in a family who loves her dearly.

  3. I must admit I’m feeling a bit teary now after reading this! It is a beautiful post – filled with nostalgia of birthdays past and present. I thought about my boys – and their birthday cakes of the past. Your daughter is beautiful and so was her home-made cake! What a special memory to share with all of us. Thank you!

  4. Your descriptions made me a little teary, Tara, thinking of all those moments, like the baking on the little step stool, holding that spoon tightly. And the final picture is glowing, not just from the candles! It is these moments that we will treasure, so happy that you all got to be together! Happy Birthday Olivia!

  5. It is just so true that who we are today is a sum total of where we have been in our past years. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet daughter and her many ages and stages. Happy Birthday to Olivia!

  6. I work with many teachers who have young children. I am one of the few who have older children. They always say they just can’t imagine this milestone or that significant event in the lives of older children. This post reminds me of the words I always tell them. Every event is special and as you say, “celebrate…today and remember all the years before.” Beautiful post!

  7. Beautiful post and pictures., so heartwarming. The connection to Eleven is perfect. Seeing the little one, the beginnings of our kids shinning through as they come into their own is a bit bittersweet, but just as it should be.

  8. Wonderful post! I loved Olivia’s glowing cake and her Smith smile! I think this is my favorite line: “The kitchen was a loud and messy place for most of the evening, as we wove in and out of each others’ paths, cooking, stirring, mixing, baking, and sharing the latest news in each others’ lives.” I love it when everyone is in the kitchen together.

  9. I love the connections you made of your daughter in past ages and as the 19 year old she is today. While my daughters are only 9 and 11, I notice those connections myself. It’s just a joy to watch them grow up.

  10. Thinking about seeing her childhood delight and echoes of her first smiles in her nineteen year old face made me tear up too. My son is twelve and while I thought about him, I also wondered if my mom sees little me in grown up me too. I bet we Moms always do. Such lovely memories captured. Love the glow of the celebration and the cake.

  11. What a lovely celebration and you capture it so perfectly. So nice you could all be together to celebrate. Today my daughter turns 12. I can certainly see glimpses of her at different ages and it makes me smile. Thanks for this post!

  12. This is perfect! It was so well told, starting with a mentor text and weaving in the way you were seeing Olivia. I love that she baked her own cake because that is her speciality. The sprinkles, polka dots and LIV handwritten across as well as her smile complete the picture. What a day to treasure!

  13. I love this post for many reasons, but the main one is we celebrated my oldest daughter’s birthday this week, 29! Talk about time flying. We didn’t do the whole cake thing. Her sisters were not home. We did take her out to dinner. I marvel, like you, at how all of her ages are there with her. She wants to be an adult. She wants to start a family of her own. Yet, she is still my strong-willed little girl who refused to wear dresses at age 4, who would rather organize the cans in the cabinet than play with baby dolls. Thanks for your writing. I am having to wipe away a little tear.

  14. Tara, as I read your words reliving moments of Olivia’s life, you brought memories of my son to mind. Such a sweet slice to remember the small moments on such an important day.

  15. Tara,
    I know the Eleven story and I appreciate your connection between it and your lovely daughter’s birthday celebration. Your description of the event created clear images of happiness and sweetness in my mind…a special day for you all to cherish! So heart-warming!

  16. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful tribute to your daughter. Your memories match those I have with my own children. Happy Birthday to Livvy! I loved “watching her grow up” through your words.

  17. Amazing, isn’t it, how fast they move from barely being able to hold the mixing bowl or see over the table to being wonderful young adults! If you blink, you miss it! A beautiful post about a beautiful young woman!

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