The Middle One is 8!(!?)



That’s how fast the years seemed to have gone by. In fact, wasn’t I just yesterday writing the Seven post — now I am writing the 8th birthday post?! How does this time thing work anyway? One day, one hour, one more minute, can each seem like an eternity in kid land, but a year? Now that slips by like — well, like a second. A blink. A whoosh of living, so fast that you almost only notice it in retrospect. I keep steeping in present moments, and suddenly I’ve passed through 525, 600 of them.

Well, so be it — I’ve got cool photos to share!

In our home, and because we have a 4 star baker on hand, birthdays often begin with a cake design. In years past, there have been lengthy discussions, explanations and re-explanations, and verbal descriptions which Natalie tended carefully in her mind, and executed to unexpected perfection. This year, without any fanfare or previous discussion, Izabella and Xideka set about drawing and labeling the above design, and then delivered it to Natalie as though they were dropping it off at an elite private bakery. After a few clarifications on the original, the design made it’s way to our fridge door and stayed there.

Then, under cover of darkness, two nights before the birthday, Natalie set to baking. Due to her own precise calculations of the rendering on the fridge, she ended up making six separate circular cakes, and froze them over night before taking them to the next level…

On the second night, birthday eve, Natalie began making icing, and pulling frozen cakes out, and cutting and pasting… What you see above, is two cakes, and generally considered plenty by most parents willing or able to make a cake at all. But, remember the “4 star baker” part?

So, admittedly, I missed photographing a stage or two (or 10) in the process, but Natalie took that pretty much finished-looking cake and turned it into a dream come true (for more than just Xi).Seriously, don’t try this at home folks…

What you are witnessing here is all chocolate cake, with Vanilla icing on the top and bottom layers, and chocolate icing on the middle layer. But inside (and here I wish I had a Wes Anderson cross section shot to show you) in between the two parts of the bottom and top layers is strawberry-vanilla icing, and in between the two parts of the middle layer is strawberry-chocolate-cinnamon icing. And all over, the piping is it’s own mix of chocolate or vanilla with a little sour cream to make it even smoother.

I know — makes you sick just thinking about it, doesn’t it? What can I say, the woman’s got skills (and more than a few…).

While Natalie was finishing off the cake, I was wrapping presents, and setting up the birthday display that Xi would see when she came downstairs the next morning.

One of my favorite birthday rituals that we have in our home is the Birthday Tree, which you can just make out, there in the middle of the presents. It’s just a simple wire tree that we always hang pictures of the birthday person on, along with a “Happy Birthday…” sign. We also use this tree for other fun occasions like Easter, Mother’s Day, and Yule, but never with so much effect as when it’s a birthday.

Flash forward about 12 hours, and the festivities were well under way. Here we are just after arriving at the turtle fountains, the premier destination for Xi’s birthday for at least 3 years (with the exception of last year when she chose the river instead). The huddled mass of ladies on the bench, there, are deeply involved in another of Xi’s birthday celebrations…

Natalie offered, and Xi was very pleased to accept, a full Birthday manicure and pedicure. As it turns out, Xi didn’t want to stay put long enough for the toes — there was birthday running, playing, and water-sports to get to… But the other little birthday guests, all signed up, lined up, and waited patiently while Natalie painted all their finger- and toe-nails.

I had important work to do, as well. It was my job to assist Salome, and then take over, driving this turtle over the other kids…

After awhile, the game shifted to me getting “destroyed” instead of running kids down… So I quickly learned the error of my ways and decided to dedicate my crazy driving skills to operating the worlds first turtle ambulance, driving each of the kids to the hospital in turn. Don’t worry, it’s a speed turtle.

Even though it’s a little fuzzy, I love this shot. It’s so proto-typical of the event of a birthday party at the turtle fountains. I don’t even know exactly what’s happening, but I’m pretty sure, there’s a negotiation going on about that item both Larkin and Sascha are holding, and Maeve is commentating on the event, while mama Gabe is ready at hand for the assist, all amidst the flying sprays of water. This is parenting, am I right?

Occasionally, Xi would make these grand announcements, like, “Caa-aaake!” And all the kids would come scurrying over in response. Here you see the eager participants awaiting the moment of truth. And though it looks like Echo is lighting the candles (over and over), it’s really Natalie with Echo on hip…

We were having enough trouble keeping the candles lighted in the wind that we had Xi get ready for the exact moment when they were all lit at once. I love Elliot’s expectant posture here — he’s rooting Natalie and Xi on in their opposing tasks.

After officially becoming 8, enjoying some yummy cake, and playing for a bit, Xi shouted, “Piñaa-taaa!” And the kids all came running to beat the heck out of that high heel shoe. I was on rope-duty so I didn’t get any pictures of that, unfortunately. But the kids all got a couple turns, before Elliot sliced the thing in two at the heel. And, maybe it’s just these particular kids, but one of the things I love about doing a piñata is that all of the kids make sure that everyone gets some of all the different items. So what you see below, is Bella and Xi, going through and divvying up the extra loot they each got.

After the party, we went home and the girls played together with the new toys for a bit. Then they picked a movie, and watched it while eating homemade pizza (remember those skills I was talking about Natalie having?), with some home-grown cherries to finish them off.

Then it was time for bed, and Xi and Bella had a “sleep over” in the twin beds in the room where Bella usually sleeps. We just got a new mosquite-net type canopy from Juju and Gramma  Bonnie, which Bella test-drove the night before, and Xi got to enjoy in true birthday princess style. They shared the space while I finished reading Harry Potter 3 to them, and while they read a little more to themselves afterward. Then Bella jumped over to her usual bed, and the two were asleep in five seconds. And here I had thoroughly prepared myself in the event that they got the sleep-over giggles and stayed up until midnight.

All in all, a stellar day spent celebrating a stellar girl with our exceptional village. I wish I had pictures of all the happy sighs…


Be well.


About Nathan M McTague, CPCC, CPDPE

I am a full-time parent of three, Writer, Life Coach, Lecturer, Parenting Mentor, and Shamanic Practitioner. In all of the above, I am seeking to assist my fellow humans in their processes of claiming and unleashing their highest potentials.
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6 Responses to The Middle One is 8!(!?)

  1. Amy McGregor says:

    I don’t know if you caught this but Bella stashed a handful of pinata goodies in my hand to give to jaedyn upon her return. Such an amazingly sweet group of kids– so glad to be a part of it.


    • That’s awesome, Amy — a great example of what I’m talking about. And I can imagine Jae doing the same for Bella…

      So glad you came, even though you just had Imogen — such a pleasure to see you guys, as always!

      Be well.

  2. marcusmoore says:

    Thanks, Nathan. A heart-warming piece, which I found by accident after posting a journal entry earlier today, celebrating two days looking after my three granddaughters, the middle one of whom was 7 earlier this month. More here – – and here:

  3. martha says:

    Oh my lord– so sweet. You guys are all so beautiful and fabulous and alive and most excellent. Such an outpouring. Photos are prima, totally. Nathan, I was so, so very happy to connect with you in person last monday, right there at those exact turtle fountains. On one hand, I wish we lived closer and could visit in person more often. On the other hand, I’m so pumped that your/our reach extends across this distance, and that we speak a similar language from different homes. Part of the excitement comes from this funky, amazing, strange context, the blog realm. Love to yours and happy for your new 8 year old.


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