For His Eighth Birthday

March 14th, 2018 - filed under: The Farm » Family


Sitting here trying to write this post, it’s difficult for me to find the right words — because I’m not sure there are “right words” — to express that impossible-yet-totally-predictable-and-average phenomenon of your baby becoming not a baby. Like, not a baby at all.

Recently Waits informed me that he has a “crush” on a girl, and this crush is mutual, and they’re actively planning the wedding.

Tonight while we were grabbing pizza, my cell phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. I answered the phone and a boy’s voice piped up, “Hi, is this Waits’s mom?

Uh, yes, yes it is.

Cool, can I please talk to Waits?

I didn’t really know what to do so I handed the phone to Waits, and then sat and watched, mouth slightly agape, as my *baby* casually leaned back at the table in the pizza parlor, just chatting away, like “Oh dude, you moved back to town? That’s awesome! So what are you into these days?” . . . “Oh yeah, we should totally set up a play date. But I’m not available next weekend. Maybe the weekend after that?

Oh, my heart. He’s so big! And it’s so surreal.


Outdoor birthdays, always.

But despite my white knuckles gripping the railings of this life, despite my heart pounding out a drumbeat designed to knock him off his feet and back into my arms, despite my breathe caught in my throat at the sight of him spreading his wings so fully and leaping face first into the world . . . despite all that, my goodness I’m just so proud of him. And happy for him.


Lining up to scavenge.

What a special human being he is becoming. Waits is as big and as bold as he’s ever been, but he’s also growing into his tenderness. He’s the one at school who stops the game to make sure everyone’s being included. The one who wants to make ammends if feelings are hurt, and the one who always checks in.

He makes my heart full, and I wanted to show him just how much I love him on his very very big boy birthday. With a cake fit for the biggest and bestest. A chocolate cake. A chocolate strawberry oreo cake! My first attempt at a layer cake (gulp!)


It was a small party. Waits plus 6 friends — 3 boys and 3 girls, I couldn’t help but notice, and appreciate that he hasn’t felt the pressure to gender-segragate like so many of his peers already have. Thank goodness for that.

And me and Jeremy, and Damian and Danielle.

And I just kept looking around the party, at this small group of children, and thinking, “Man, this is a *really* amazing group of kids!

These kids. Waits has done well selecting his friends. They are a raucous crew of untamed creatures, every one of them. Strong and smart and fiercely individual. I love them all and I’m so grateful that they love Waits.



It was just an afternoon, just a few people in a park for a few hours. But it was also everything. You know that moment when you feel your child full to the top with joy? That’s the best feeling.

Just a few friends. Just a scavenger hunt. Just a chocolate strawberry oreo cake. And also everything.


Kids “Vegans: Off The Meat” tee by Beet x Beet.


OKAY I’ll stop with the purple prose. I know, I know. It’s just that I only have one, ya know? And it’s all happening very fast, it seems, these days. And I have allll the feeeeeelings.


And since I know you’ll ask (I don’t blame you), The Cake!

The chocolate cake is this recipe by Chef Chloe Coscarelli. She’s pretty amazing and worth supporting if you’re in the market for vegan cookbooks — she has this one that’s all desserts, plus a few savory books as well.

For the buttercream I mixed 1 part vegan butter with 1 part vegan shortening, plus 5-6 cups powdered sugar and a few teaspoons of vanilla. I used this as the center filling, studded with fresh strawberries.

Then I pulsed oreo-style cookies in the food processor until finely crumbled, and folded this into the buttercream. I used that to frost the entire outside, then decorated the top with strawberry quarters and shards of cookie.


Eight years old. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come together. And I wish I could say “. . . and I can’t wait to see how far we go.

But I can wait. I can wait, little boy. Just a little longer.

  • Heather Martin

    My big guy is turning 3 next week and I. can’t. even. Sitting here crying happy/sad tears for you momma. What a beautiful day for a beautiful boy and his family. #allthefeels

  • Bianca

    Oh Waits! Happy birthday! It’s been so neat watching him grow up through your blog! Such a lttle grown man now!

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Awww beautiful birthday party!! This made me sooo sad/happy LOL. P’s birthday is in three months, part of me is excited the other part wants to pretend it isnt happening. Keep him little forever <3 BUT he's such a kind, fun-loving happy boy, that needs to grow and share his gifts with the world. Bittersweet I tell ya!
    P.S. I may steal your cake idea…it looks too good!!

  • rachelmynaturallyfrugalfamily

    This is a heart wrenching time in a mother’s life. This was beautifully written, as always, and BTW “Happy Birthday Waits.” I’ve been reading your blog for years and you never disappoint and you share just enough emotion with us, your readers.
    I am in a similar space as a mother. I have a 15, 10, and 8 year old and I think it is so much more scary to watch as they grow older and you realize that you can’t wear them, and protect them, like you could when they were so small.
    Keep up the good work Sayward!!!!

  • VeggieNextDoor

    It is hard to think about my 2 year old being so independent some day .wah, make the time slow down! Beautiful post, what a special day. I am also curious if you have any scavenger hunt tips. What a great party game!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, happy birthday to your guy! It’s so beautiful and so hard to watch them grow . . .

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I know he’s so much more a miniature dude than he is a big toddler, if that makes sense. He’s definitely crossed over that line!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    It was a huge hit of a cake, very not “healthy vegan eww” if you know what I mean. All the kiddos loved it!

    Have fun planning Phoenyx’s party! Time flies, man!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thank you Rachel. Heart-wrenching is definitely a great way to put it. And teenagers! OMG! How you holding on? I can only imagine how fun and scary that stage will be …

  • Sayward Rebhal

    The scavenger hunt was soooo fun, all the kids loved it. The key is to make it pretty simple to figure out, it’s more about running from one spot to the next, than it is about figuring out the “clue”. A simple rhyme with just a few lines that’s not too obscure to hint them towards the next thing. They love it and they get soooo excited running all over the place. And then of course at the end, prizes! We did vegan candy, temporary tattoos, a little toys in pretty paper boxes with “gems” on them. It was awesome!

  • VeggieNextDoor

    Thank you for sharing. I love how simple yet magical that sounds .I am sure Waits and his friends will remember that for years to come!

  • Sarah C.

    My girl turned 8 in Dec and I’m finding it to be a very different age than the previous ones. So big-little, you know? Starting to see so much mini-teenager in her, and yet all the little-kid snuggles and need for parental love have ramped up too. It’s made her father and me step back and re-envision our parenting styles, taking new and different approaches for her ever-shifting moods. I think it’s been great for us all – made us more patient parents, and (I really, really hope and trust) teaching our daughter again and again, moment by moment, that we are really and truly here for her no matter what.

  • Rebecca Carnes

    If there’s sugar in it you know it’s going to be a hit LOL