Friday, March 23, 2012

Birthday Cake Saga

Erin and I had an afternoon of birthday cake adventures

and she tucked her chin down, grinned, lifted her eyelashes and looked at me and said,

"You're an amazing cake-maker, Mom."

My shoulders relaxed, I breathed in deep, smiled and said,

"Thanks, Erin."

Two years ago, for her third birthday,

Erin had seen a gorgeous princess castle cake on facebook,
and proclaimed she wanted a castle cake.

My high school and college classmate and friend, Scott Wegenke, had posted
pictures of the amazing cakes his wife makes.

Young children have this superhero belief in their mommies ~ that they can do anything.

This mommy can do lots:  public speaking, writing, photography, many types of art . . .

except art that involves sculpting with food.

It is my belief that if I am going to put valuable time and effort into a project,

it ought to last for decades, perhaps even a century . . . or more.

Not be consumed in fifteen minutes never to be thought of again.

When I made that castle cake two years ago, I thought my 3-year-old girl would love pink.

However when I unveiled the cake, she was disappointed.

She frowned and said, "I wanted a brown one."

It wasn't chocolate.

So, this year, I got the chocolate part correct.
Big sister Sydney faithfully watches Buddy on Cake Boss.  This does not help me out.

In addition, Erin can navigate Pinterest without a blink.
This is not helping me out either.

Yesterday morning, we baked the cake and I told her that I got frosting to paint a princess.

Again, another birthday frown, and quietly says,
"I wanted a princess that would stand up.
My birthday cake is not going to turn out like I had planned."

One thing is for certain, I always know what she is thinking.

Together we look at Pinterest to get "ideas".
We find lots of Barbies with cake dresses,
crown cakes,
and elaborate castle cakes.
Erin is ooo-ing and ahhh-ing at professional cakes.
She adds one to her Pinterest folder.

Today I checked out the cake she liked.
I was going to put a link to it.
But when I saw the other birthday party photos,
and saw on the invitation that it was held at the Houston Racket Club,
I got serious party-envy.
Good thing I didn't look yesterday, or I would have had party-anxiety.
The really good thing is that Erin didn't see the rest of the pictures.
Or she would have had serious princess-party-envy.

After watching a video
on how to make a Barbie dress cake and another on making a castle cake,
we are ambitious, inspired, creative, and we head to the kitchen.

I frost the two round layers of cake.
We have a 13x9 cake on a cookie sheet.  I cut it in half.
We are going to make it TALL.

I put the first square of cake on the base.
Erin eagerly grabs the second.
It splits in two.  I say, with confidence
and new-found cake decorating inspiration,
"That's ok!  We'll just make a taller tower."

We stack the cake.
I begin to frost.
It falls apart.
When I touch the frosting to the cake, it all sticks together
and make a huge mess of crumbs and frosting and cake.
I almost get mad, but then I start cracking up laughing. 
I can't believe the birthday cake curse is happening to me again.

I take the top pieces off.
Erin says,
"These can just be our 'munching' cake."
{That we munch on while we work.}

"Munching Cake"

I painted a little princess on the top
and used the rest of the pink frosting to try to cover
the back side of the cake.

Then I turned Erin loose decorating
with frosting tubes, sprinkles,
a box of birthday candles.

As she decorated, she said,
"This is turning out so much better than I thought!"

This mama, smiles and lets out a happy, deep breath.

Just then,
the pink-frosted backside of the cake slid off.


My birthday cake issues run deep.
What mom doesn't want to be the birthday-hero?
And have everything look like a magazine
{and now we have Pinterest}?

I have had this fantasy that I could be this woman
that has "everything together".
But, HA!, I don't. 
And the birthday cake always tells the truth!

When Tom turned one in August of 2000,
I put his cake in the oven.
I'd been cleaning house like a mad-woman,
and went outside to mow the lawn.

After a while, mixed in with the smell of fresh cut grass,
there was a distinct aroma
of smoke and burned cake.
I run in the house, which, of course, is full of smoke.
And started over.

Actually, I can't remember if I made the second cake,
or if Ann came to my rescue.
My memory goes a little fuzzy after the smoke.

For Sydney's 5th birthday, we were mixing her cake.
Instead of "fun-fetti" cake,
I decided to buy my own
cup and a half container of sprinkles.
{Much more economical}

The phone rang.
I answered.
I turned around and Sydney had proudly poured
the entire container of sprinkles into the cake.
My face was shocked, scared, and not-so-positive.
I saw shame flicker in Sydney's eyes.
And I quickly said, "It's ok! It's O.  K.  It will be very colorful."

We baked the cake, which did not rise.
And the color looked a bit . . . well . . . swirled together.
I was afraid to show her.
A 1/2 inch thick brownish, with multicolored spots, strawberry-flavored cake.

She took one look and said,
"Look how pretty it is!"

When will I learn
to let some things go?

These stories are why
my mom always offers to bring
a Dairy Queen ice-cream cake.

And this mama has learned
to accept the offer, yes,
but also,
not to make the cake the same day as the party,
an perhaps most of all . . .
that my idea of what makes an amazing birthday cake
is not the same as my little girls' ideas.

They just love being able to make it together.

Happy Birthday Erin!

Five years of fabulous!

This mama still has lots to learn!

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