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(In Which I Strive To Not Talk About Sad Things During Another Post For The American Cancer Society)

I was looking through stacks of old photos in hopes of finding some inspiration for this entry, something that would FINALLY maybe focus more on the "birthdays" part of ACS' More Birthdays campaign and less about, you know, the "cancer" thing. 

I'm not sure if I found inspiration, exactly, but I definitely found a theme.


And that theme would be: Cake, Pinafores and Unfortunate Bangs.

Oh, I'm kidding. But not about the cake part.


Aaaaaand maybe not so much about the bangs thing, either.


Sometimes I feel guilty about how few photos I manage to ever actually print out. About 99% of my children's childhoods remain solidly in virtual form only (albeit with a robust and slightly paranoid web of backups going on under the hood). There's something nice about sifting through yellowed stacks of photos, never knowing what awkward, poorly lit memory you'll hit on next.

Then again: No timestamps. Perhaps these photos were once labeled in an album, but are now floating loose and out of order, so I have no idea how old I am in the above photo. Five? If I had to guess, based on the handmade dress, which I think I remember from a preschool class photo. My obsession with Snow White burned fast and bright throughout my entire childhood (#1 reason: SHE WASN'T BLOND) and I don't know why the Smurfs seem to be there too. Except to shame the me of 2011 who "accidentally" and "maliciously" deleted my six-year-old's Season Pass to the Smurfs on the TiVo because HOLY GOD THAT SHOW IS ANNOYING AND TERRIBLE.


This photo pretty much sums up every birthday party ever: The "good china" set out at my insistence (including the cups and saucers, from which we would drink our juice). The cardboard crown. The "Happy Birthday" crepe paper that my mom bought exactly one roll of and used for a full 18 years of birthdays, as it unfurled like the loaves and fishes. At least one birthday present infuriatingly wrapped in Christmas paper. Sparse attendance thanks to it being so close to Christmas, save for my friend Laura, who was and always will be prettier than me. 

And my dad, right off to the side, because the birthday girl demoted him from his usual seat at the head of the table. 


Here I acquiesced to paper plates and cups, but please note the fancy candlesticks and cake stand. This makes it okay.

(Birthday crepe paper? Check. Hung upside down? Double check. Laura, looking just like Snow White so much it killed me a little inside? Still and to this day, people. STILL AND TO THIS DAY.)


A rare non-cake-related birthday shot. In fact, the only one I found. My crown says "6" on it so I'm Noah's age here. I think my teacher made me that crown, and I would  like someone to please tell me what the hell happened to my Tomy Fashion Plates set. OH GOD THOSE WERE SO AWESOME. 


Also awesome: Those pants. Purple jersey knit, high-waisted, with a belt. I think there were pleats involved. Definitely tapered ankles that I stuffed into multiple pairs of slouch socks. There is actually a companion photo to this one of me holding that outfit up on Christmas morning, already super excited at the prospect of wearing such a mature-looking ensemble at my birthday party instead of a handmade dress and pinafore. 


Like this one. I wish I still had that dress. I wish I still had all of those people.

My dad, my aunt Betty, my "uncle" Jack who my aunt always insisted was just her good friend but of course we all know better now, like we now know better than that giant ashtray full of cigarette butts right on the table, holy shit

I am four years old here. I know because this one is labeled. 


My dad was the one who labeled it.



Now if you'll excuse me, I need to print out some photos. 

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society's More Birthdays campaign.




Cheryl S.

So Sweet! And I've been looking for fashion plates for my daughter forever! Why do they not still make those?????

Happy Birthday. And many more.

Amelia Sprout

Oh, fuck cancer indeed. This whole campaign has, in addition to making me realize I am not the only one with unfortunate childhood bangs, made me work harder to celebrate birthdays with my parent and in-laws. Thanks. More indeed.


Love your photos! And I loved my Fashion Plates too! Wish I had them for my daughters.


The only reason I have a lot of photos printed out is because my mother is not on the internet at all. So, I try to remember to print a bunch of pics every month to send her and I print doubles for myself. I also label all of them when I send them to her. Now, getting them organized into an album is a whole other issue we won't talk about.


The only reason I have a lot of photos printed out is because my mother is not on the internet at all. So, I try to remember to print a bunch of pics every month to send her and I print doubles for myself. I also label all of them when I send them to her. Now, getting them organized into an album is a whole other issue we won't talk about.


I purchased fashion plates for my niece about 8 years ago at Toys-r-us. I was over the moon with excitement when I saw them and spent many happy days "helping" her play with them before I had to go home and leave her with her gift. So, look around, they may be in a store near you!


Loved this post. Love the "Amy" birthday gift wrap (this comes from someone who could never find LEE ANNE on ANYTHING!) Love seeing photos of you growing up.

Most of all, love to see how loved and cherished you were. And ARE, really, both by the living and those in heaven.


That last photo of you looks so much like Ezra! (Or the other way around, but whatever.) Such a sweet little face. I'm so sorry you don't still have your dad around. Thank goodness for photos.


Cancer can indeed fuck off. And I'll whisper this, so come close: my girls have my original fashion plates (and a monster one that doesn't seem to correspond to any actual monsters/heroes of the time). When I first pulled it out it was like magic. Magic, I tell ya!


I read an article recently about how our children don't even know what a "photo album" is. My last one goes only until 2004, and after that everything is on disk or a flash drive. There's something not quite as cozy about the family gathering around a computer monitor while Mom frantically attempts to find the properly named "file."

I miss those purple floral gold ring bound sticky pages.


Such a great post! I am pregnant with a sweet little girl and my mom just pulled out a dress that both me and my sister wore back in the day. It is almost exaclty like the one in the first photo, but red. It has a small stain, but she she thinks she can get it out. Otherwise, it is in great shape. Those photos are all so precious!

No Drama Mama

Lovely! I, too, have hundreds of pictures sitting on my computer, and some very expensive photo albums sitting unused under my bed. I've started making annual photo books, and that helps a little with the time stamp issue. It's the lazy girl's guide to picture albums.


(na na na na na na)

They say it's your birthday

(na na na na na na)

It's my birthday too, yeah ...

Happy (shared) birthday!


I had the Tomy Fashion Plates too - they were so great!
And holy heck you're the image of Ezra in that top picture.


My birthday is 3 days before Christmas, so I totally sympathize with the sparsely attended birthday party and the gifts wrapped in Christmas paper. My husband and I now celebrate my half birthday since it's a lot more convenient.


Another Fashion Plates fan here! And someone who sees Ezra in all of these photos! Wow.

F(&$^ cancer. My 39-yr-old friend is fighting breast cancer at the moment.


So sweet!!


My sister was born 5 days after Christmas so she is still bitter about the dual gifts and sparsely attended parties. I can sympathize. It has to suck. But I LOVE that you insisted on the nice china and the fancy cake plate! That is/was so me! I have fancy china and I love getting it out for Thanksgiving! Now off to ebay to look for Fashion Plates! Their only drawback? The black crayon thing that would go flat....


Fashion plates are still around, we just got some for my 9yo.


I need to print out more photos of Claire too. It's so easy to forget to do that today.

Also, Ezra looks so much like you when you were a kid!


Hi, just found your blog and giggling already.

I was actually referred for the cloth diapering saga, so can't wait to find it, but I keep getting distracted by other posts, lol!



I printed, labeled on the back, and placed in albums in the order the photos were taken, every photo beginning with the baby shower before having my daughter in 1972 and ending at New Year's Eve 2009...thousands of photos perfectly archived. Why did I stop? Because all my photos had been digital for a few years by then so...

Now I'm sorting thousands of my grandparents and parents loose photos to organize and scan important ones for my siblings. I also just scanned Christmas photos of all those holidays that my kids were at home and make photo books to give them for Christmas this year...three, eighty page volumes!
The point? Yes, there is one! Do print and label and organize a selection of special photos because you are so right that nothing takes the place of holding them in your hand.


Holy crap - I both had the dress you're wearing in your 6 year old birthday picture and the fashion plates.

What I love about looking at old birthday pictures is realizing how much I'm starting to resemble my mother in those shots - meaning, we've taken pics of me with the girls where I'm doing eerily similar poses to my mother in my birthday pics. Time collapsing.


Yep, Ezra looks just like you, especially in the first picture. Wow!

Sarah M

So many things I could comment on, but I'll just say I ran across my box of fashion plates this weekend cleaning out my imminent baby's closet. For the first time all pregnancy, I kind of hoped it is a girl so she can love them like I did. And if it's another boy, he'll totally get to play with fashion plates!!


Yeah, you look just like Ezra. Or vice versa.

Jess F.

1.) You look so cute and like Ezra :)
2.) I had those fashion plates and LOVED them.
3.) Happy Birthday!



My family has the exact same Happy Birthday Crepe paper - it's lasted over 31 years and is now so faded and mangled that there is only enough to be hung on the back of the chair of the birthday girl/boy.

It's part of 80s America, a shared celebration in hanging paper.

Also, I love the couch, why aren't couches made in such wonderful patterns anymore?


I'm crying here. How wonderful that your parents celebrated and documented all those birthdays with you.


Oh, God! I had those exact glasses! I thought they made me look so mature :)

Hannah friends and I took my happy birthday crepe paper and did a spoof of that scene from Die Hard where he pulls the gun that had been taped to his back with Christmas streamer. We have it on tape.

(yes, yes, we used a water gun. it was bright orange.)

and further, fuck cancer, and happy birthday. rock the fashion plates!


I love this post. And, omigosh, do you look like Ezra in that last photo? So adorable.


You may just be cuter than all three of your adorable boys put together!


I had those fashion plates, AND the tiny grocery cart (which came with little miniature cans and boxes that went inside it. I got it for my third birthday), AND the striped dress. Did you live my life?



Surprisingly, not a tumblr site.


I can't imagine the misery of a close-to Christmas birthday. I got the shaft a lot during my school years because my birthday is in mid-September and "We just bought you all those school clothes!" This post makes me want to go to my parents house and dig for pictures of me in my Strawberry Shortcake-themed glory.

But not in the pleated jeans of 1992. God no.


Shutterfly will print on the back of your photos whatever you named the picture! Get to printing!! Photo albums are technology proof.


I still have my Fashion Plates! Can't wait for the 2yr old to enjoy them some day!


OH YEAH! Tomy Fashion Plates! WOOHOOO Man I love love loved those things. I bet they are still in a box somewhere at one my my uncle's houses. God I hope so. I may need to find those when I go home for Christmas. Also, whatever Amy you were totally prettier than that brunette girl with the mom haircut.


I still have a grocery list my late father wrote out just because it's his handwriting. I just can't throw it away. In other news, Ezra is soooo your child, your childhood photos look just like him! Thinking of you as memories flood.


Pretty sure I had those glasses in the "blue" photo and the dress from the fashion plate photo.

Like everyone else, I'm struck by how much Ezra resembles you. The adorable cannot be denied! :)


Happy birthday! Mine too, yay!


I love how your kids look just like you!

I still have those fashion plates! I actually bought them for my 2 daughters at a yard sale a few years back because I LOVED mine so much as a kid! The outfits designed for those lovely ladies definitely aren't as fashionable as they seemed to me back then, but it sure brings back lots of happy memories. Bet you could find the original ones on eBay.


Fashion plates! I forgot about those. I LOVED them.


Oh God this broke my heart. Today is my 34th birthday. I lost my mom to cancer almost 20 years ago...the birthday photos make me want her back, too.


Happy Birthday!!!!

I love old photos. Also, that couch (in the picture of you sitting on the floor) looks vaguely familiar...I'm pretty sure one very much like it shows up in some of my old childhood photos from the 80s.


Fashion Plates, oh how I loved thee.
Great post and makes me want to start scanning my old photos before they get too crusty and yellow.

Tina C.

Hey -- i have a son who looks like i did at that age too! also: happy birthday.

Beth C

I had those fashion plates too! They were amazing. I wonder if I can find them in my parent's basement somewhere.

Happy Birthday!


fashion plates = YESSSS~!
wrapping paper with your name on it = I'm jealous!
Profile pic of you w/ the party hat on = Ezra with girl hair.

omg - love you and your kids!



You are too cute for everyone.
Happy Birthday!


Thank you for this post. My 59 year old Mum has terminal pancreatic cancer and we struggle with things like birthdays (she, my brother and I are all in November.) Is this the Last One?? Will we all be here this time next year??

Cancer is the dumbest, stupidest thing I have ever heard of. I have had enough of it, and I am ready to walk away from it and just have my Mum back, thank you very much.

That's how it works, right?


Cancer sucks da balls... I too have billions of childhood pics with a very full ashtray hiding like a Where's Waldo in each one. And my mom still smokes - makes me angry.

What doesn't make me angry? TOMY FASHION PLATES. They were the business - I've google-stalked them for over a year, trying to convince myself that my 4 year old would play with them. They are ridiculously expensive on eBay. But they are there. A-plenty.

Also - I 8trillionth the comments that you are Ezra with longer hair. Do you see it? So adorable!


Beautifully written, Amy. Your dad would be so proud.


Looking through old photos can be so bittersweet. I was trying to explain to my 3 yo who my grandpa & great-aunt, both of whom died several years ago, were in an old birthday photo. Had to take a deep breath so I wouldn't cry.

We just got a Constructive Playthings catalog today & they have something that looks similar to Fashion Plates ( but it looks like it's got a light box. Man, how many hours of fun we had with those! Wonder if mine are still in a box in my parents' basement.

I'd forgotten all about the your-name-in-rainbow-colors wrapping paper- my mom must've bought a roll of that and used it for a dozen birthdays.


Funny. I was a brunette with what the charitable would call a pixie cut, and absolutely convinced until I was, hm..., 20? that only long-haired blondes were pretty.

Anyway, I feel ya on the handmade dresses and pinafores, and I wanted to point out (though I'd be shocked if no one has yet) that the top photo looks like Ezra's wearing a wig and a dress.


Lovely post. And oh my good god...Tomy Fashion Plates! Until now, I'd forgotten they existed. They were fantastic!


not quite Tomy, but looks pretty cool...loved me some fashion plates as a little girl!


My first WOW was "WOW! We had the same butt-ugly glasses"

The second WOW was "WOW! I had the exact same dress 6-year old Amy is wearing and I LOVED my fashion plates!" (my mom still has them, my little cousin loves playing with them when she comes over)

The third WOW was "WOW! I grew up with big ol' dishes of cigarette butts too and gee whiz, I have the same dead family member issue Amy does!"

That last one sucks a little.

Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey


Love the pics.

May need to pull some.

Laura in Michigan

Wow, that person in those pictures is Ezra in female form!! And pretty darn cute too.


I got a little lump in my throat at 'My dad was the one who labeled it." {Hugs}

I loved my Fashion Plates! I never had pinafores, but I had lots of homemade flowered dresses with big round collars. Makes me wish I could sew dresses for Kaitlyn.

And p.s. I looked at your birthdate on Facebook to make sure I hadn't missed it. You have almost a month to go! :)


Dude. Ezra is gonna be so ticked when he realizes you put him in a dress and posted the picture on the Interwebbs. Just sayin.

Shannon Lell

Aww, that is so sweet. And seriously, where are my fashion plates? Those WERE awesome! And I'm pretty sure I had the same purple MC Hammer pants, "Yo Hammer, Go Hammer!"

LD's Mom

I had the same bangs and the same glasses. 30 years later, my office still celebrates b-days with that same roll of crepe paper! Happy Birthday!


Brava. Tears and joy. I know you know that Ezra is the spitting image of you. You don't know me but you've helped me through a lot, and one day, you'll help me thought *that* too. Happy birthday, girl.

partytent huren

It is nice that you had kept these photos. With it, you will going to remember your past including the celebration of your birthday party. Time will come that even your kids could see it also.

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