Thanks to my Dad for finding this picture. My Mom looks really pretty. There is a random lady in the background and some feet between the two girls in dresses attached to an invisible body and another girl hidden behind the girl in the white dress that I don’t know. In the blue and white dress is Angie Harp. My Mom will eventually give me this pan, probably in hopes that I will make it for my future baby’s birthday; though with it also came pans in the shape of a Christmas tree, Cookie Monster, and a Care Bear, so maybe she knows that I just like cake.
For this birthday I am sure I got some slobber proof toys and my first and only water-proof book. Up until this point, I am subjected to my Dad’s interest in new music which I have no problem learning to crawl and walk to. I will have fun learning how to wear and eat my food. I will love toys that make music to keep my Dad up at night and enjoy Mom reading IT by Stephen King to help me sleep. I will suffer through the chicken pox and as a get-well present, my maternal grandmother (Elaine Baker) will come to visit.
My mom likes to make cakes and I love the idea of birthdays, the presents, travels, and wisdom that come with another year. I think I have always looked forward to having more responsibility too, but now I wouldn’t mind someone else paying my bills, insurance, and taxes while I run around covered in food, dirt, or paint. No idea who the blonde is next to me.
On this day I would tear open wrapping paper containing a picnic set, puzzles, Barbies, a baby doll with disappearing milk in the bottle, and a 12-inch Alf doll.
Another unknown blonde at this party too; perhaps a birthday tradition.
We played some pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and pin-the-heart-on-the-care-bear and then it was time to open gifts. This year I would receive more Barbies! I would also get six pink and yellow glass roses, a red ladybug purse and comb set, a pink Fisher-Price purse and comb set, shiny little earrings, clothes for Barbie, a bicycle with a fanny pack and a fanny pack for me, a giant marker case, a puzzle, and a drawing set. Mom made some dinosaur cookies for the kids to take home.
In this picture is another blonde; at least this one has a name – Rachelle Murphy. Sitting on her left is a kid named Daniel. In the upper right is Janet Harnage holding her son, Andrew. I would later move to the states and remember this kid as only Andrew. It is hard to find people when you only know their first name. It was this cake idea for the blog that would make me look at the back of this photo; here I would find his last name and then find him on Facebook.
Today would bring Barbie some shampoo and a Corvette, and me some roller skates, a giant top (spin toy), paint set and bubbles, books and puzzles, and a tape player/recorder. Here I am 20 years later and this picture helped me find an old friend.
Yet another blonde; I really have no idea. Notice I’m wearing the same shirt for two birthdays in a row. This is my first birthday in the United States. We are in military housing in Fort Hood, TX. Luckily for us (kids), we lived near the playground and a creek. On the right is Eric who is going to help me blow out my candles. Next to him is Jason who is wearing a book-bag. There is the blonde in the blue and white dress and next to her is Tiffany. The candles are hiding the “JESS” that Mom wrote on the cake.
The three named above would soon become my best friends and my worst enemy. They taught me more about sharing and how to fight and play hurt. We had big dogs, random cats, and a trampoline in the backyard. I would learn to ride my bike without training wheels while wearing a dress. I got introduced to Mario Bros. on Nintendo. We were able to walk to school in the morning and ride our go-cart in the afternoons.
Another year at Fort Hood brought the introduction of Creepy Crawlers. We would squirt different color goo into these metal pans and then insert them into a mini-oven. After a few seconds the oven would ‘Ding!’ and our bugs were ready to release upon the world. Keeping with the theme I would get a Treasure Troll lunch box and a doll to match. We had great seats on the play-scape to watch the fireworks on the Fourth. My first-grade teacher was Mrs. McCurdy.
Not much of a theme but the cake matches the shirt and is spelled out using tiny bears. Eric turned 8 in January, Tiffany 7 in May, and Jason 6 in June. My birthday in August would fall on a school night which explains the lack of a party. Jason’s busted face and happiest expression in the picture still makes me laugh. It could’ve been caused by falling out of bed, wrestling on the living room carpet, or bouncing around on the trampoline; as for now, I’m not sure which.
I don’t remember the flavor of cakes prior but strawberry would be Jessica’s Birthday ritual from then on. Now that I think about it though, I wonder why I never asked for a brownie cake with German chocolate icing; a favorite of Mom and me when we used to go to the local bakery in the back of Vic’s Grocery Store while we lived in Florence, TX.
This would be an eventful year for us. This was our first farm with longhorn cattle, chickens and guinea hens, one goat, two turkeys, some stray cats, and many dogs that would come and go. We would see frogs, snakes, birds, armadillos, deer, and plenty of ticks. We now had 20 acres to play hide-and-seek on. I would get stung by wasps. Jason would get chased by cows. Tiffany would get locked in a rabbit cage by me (it was for multiple rabbits). Eric would invent creative games like Pebbles (we throw small rocks at him while he practices throwing and skipping bigger rocks at us).
I think by this time I had outgrown themes but Mom still had plenty of cake pans to choose from. Mom chose to celebrate my birthday and represent the state we are living in. I learned how to herd cows and gather eggs from the hens’ nests. We were introduced to my neighbors one day when my Mom burnt an acre or two trying to clean up some brush. I used to ride my bike with my dog, Peanut, by my side on a rocky, unpaved road. The irony is now there are rock quarries surrounding the area and the trucks mess up the paving that has been done since.
Funny, I thought I had requested strawberry cakes but the Texas shaped one looks chocolate and this one looks vanilla; I had been tricked. Happy Birthday to me. As a present of being 12, I was given the privilege to decorate my cake; I am no cake-artist. It looks like something I would have been able to accomplish eight years ago.
As of this birthday, I will have survived my first car accident with hospitalization and 5 weeks bed-rest required. I will have already owned and ‘lost’ my first dog, a Dalmatian named Lucky. I will get my second dog, Peanut, that I will teach many tricks. I will have gone to the San Diego Zoo and Mexico with my Dad. I am on the cheerleader squad, a babysitter, and have braces.
Tiffany will have broken her right arm and played one season in baseball. Jason will sign up for football just to get the jersey. Eric will have broken his upper jaw bone doing a World Wrestling Federation – WWF (now WWE) move on the trampoline. Mom will have worked for Ada’s Candy Creations and the U.S. Post Office. Barry will have worked for Isbell’s Construction Co. and began driving a Peterbilt for Clarksville Refrigerated Line.
Another cake, another year. I am now in high school. I have played a baritone in 5th grade and B-flat clarinet from 6th grade through my freshman year. I will have obsessed over the 1996 summer Olympic gymnastics. I will have played on the volleyball team and will participate in the mile run for track & field. I will try dramatic reading for my drama class. I will get my braces off and my Mom will start to work as the manager of the high school cafeteria.
We will have torn down the dream log cabin and built a house to livable conditions (meaning not everything is complete). Tiffany will have tried to play the trumpet. Eric will be nicknamed the Punisher for his defensive-safety position on the football team. Jason will have tried football and instead develop an interest in arrowhead collecting.
I once had a teacher sing the Tigger Song to the class. My Dad bought me a green Disney sweater with Tigger on it when I was 12; some cartoons are meant to last. This cake was made by Joanne Shannon, The Cake Lady. She would be an employee of my Mom’s in more ways than one. I guess my Mom was too busy dealing with work and rebellious teenagers to bake it herself.
I will get this cake before I am able to buy my first car, a 1976 Chevy Nova, in November. As with all new drivers, I am excited and overly anxious for any chance to get on the road. I no longer have to ride to school with Eric and can now get a job outside of Florence.
I don’t remember getting this cake. What I do remember was when Joanne made the white-chocolate-cock-cake for my Mom’s 38th birthday. I believe it was six inches of pure chocolatey goodness attached to a blue cake with a zipper and small pockets. I would be struggling with maintenance on my 1990 Cadillac, going to school and work, and driving around with my friends this year.
I am stationed in Great Lakes, IL when this cake is made for my 18th. This will be the last cake made for my birthday unless I can plan to be home on another. Cheers: to graduating high school, to finishing boot camp, and on making it safely to my 18th birthday!
At this point, I will have developed a closer relationship with my Dad. I will have graduated high school with a 3.6. I will have owned three cars. I will have gotten into some trouble with Tiffany being rebellious like other teenagers (leaving out lots of details here). I will have actually attended Sr. Prom and taken the pictures to prove it. I will have held three jobs in the food industry.
A lot has happened in the last 18 years and perhaps I will have to do this again in ten years and see what those birthdays bring. And don’t think I didn’t get things for my birthday, I know I did, I just don’t remember what exactly. I know I have gained experience, friendship, and knowledge and at this point in my life, these are more important than Barbie shampoo, though I know at the time she sure needed it.