Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ecstasy, Despair and Ecstasy: The Story of a Cake

Nathaniel's baptism was today and it was absolutely lovely! When Lucas was baptized we spent a decent chunk of change on a cake by the same bakery that did our wedding cake. It was delicious! (And actually in the same flavors of our wedding cake, we had one delicious wedding cake!) But this time around, I was determined to make a lovely and delicious cake myself.

I have no idea why baptism = nice cake in my mind, but it does.

So, my plan was a yellow layer cake. I would bake two 9" round cakes (the size I happen to own and lest you think I've turned Martha on you, please note that the mix was from a box and the icing from a can!) and slice them each in half to have four layers.

It's strawberry time and also Saturday happened to be the first day of our amazing Community Market. So, I planned to buy lots of fresh strawberries and some strawberry jam at the market.

The plan was executed flawlessly. I bought perfectly amazing strawberries, had the jam-maker select the perfect jar for me to use on the cake and baked the cake to lovely golden perfection. The, I sliced it. Not perfectly but fine enough.

I let it cool. For a long time.

Then, the creation began!

I arranged strips of wax paper on the cake stand so that I wouldn't get a messy ring of icing. I moved the bottom layer. I spread strawberry jam on it and then I began to move the second layer.

It broke.

No worries! Icing can fix that. I spread a nice, thick layer of icing on the second layer. Perfect.

Hmmm... it is lopsided.

No worries! The third layer was a bit crooked as well. If I placed it strategically, it would certainly all balance out.

I moved the third layer, placed it on and stood back: the cake was pretty much evened out. I spread a nice layer of strawberry jam. Oh my! It smelled delicious!

I began to move the top layer. It broke! In half! No worries. Plenty of icing left. I gently mushed it together and began to ice. Lots of icing. I was doing just fine.

I used all the icing. The top crack was slightly visible. Hmmm...

But! I'm wasn't finished! I had strawberries!

I decorated with some strategically placed berries and ended up with this divine creation:


The glory! The pride! Ha! I didn't need an expensive bakery cake! I created perfection!

I placed the cake in the dining room, returned to the kitchen to wash the dishes and began to compose sonnets to the cake in my head. I awaited the compliments Abel and my in-laws would surely heap upon me when they returned!

Abel arrived home and said, "Great. You made the cake."

"Yes," I replied, "isn't it amazing!"



"Isn't it?????????????"

"Well, the berries are sliding a bit."


And again:

The heat! The humidity!

My! Cake! Is! Ruined!

And so I despaired for about an hour. Then, I moved the cake into the fridge. And brooded for another hour. Then I pulled the cake back out, removed the strawberries, redistributed the icing and put just a few berries on top where they couldn't slide. It was somewhat salvaged.

But today, after lunch, when I took my first bite of cake, the ecstasy returned. It may not have been the most beautiful cake ever but oh man oh man, it was DELICIOUS!

(And I enjoyed the ecstasy again with my second piece, too!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Break Scares Me

My four year old son's first year of preschool ends in just a few days. My baby is almost five months old. And, I recently resigned from my part-time job. All this adds up to mean that starting next week, I'll be home seven days a week with two boys until after Labor Day.

Can I tell you a secret?

Come closer....

I'm scared of summer!

Yes, of course, I am grateful to be able to stay home. It's taking some penny-pinching and coupon-clipping but we're going to be able to swing it. And, of course, I feel so blessed to have two beautiful boys.

But, I'm also a little scared. We've always been the type of family to go on a lot of outings and spend tons of time at the nearby park, but I've never been very good about art projects or educational games or much of a schedule. And, let's face it, even my busiest days at work were my easy days!

I'm determined to do more this summer, to really step up my game. There will be art time, there will be rest time, there will be strictly limited TV time and fun educational activity time. There will be structure and a schedule. But, I'll be sure to leave a little room for mornings in our jammies and rainy day movie time and spur-of-the-moment fun.

Hmmm....maybe this summer will be pretty fun after all!

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee writes about life with her boys at Smiling Mama and about family-friendly outings and activities in Prince George's County, MD at Out by Ten.

MaryK said...
Sounds like you're on track to have a great summer. Try to have some water fun at a nearby park's kiddie pool, and maybe enroll your oldest in swim lessons too. Do some 'field trips' to the National Zoo, the Smithsonian, or even just the local farmers markets. Nothing helps beat boredom than a change of scenery, even if it's just for a half day. At 4, riding the Metro is a huge adventure! Savor every moment!!

May 26, 2010 at 09:22 AM Suzie P. said...
We are quite the opposite. I have four kids and I am looking forward to the unscheduled flexible summer time. I subscribe to the let the kids run and play and be bored some so that they create school of thought. And after five summers off (started when my oldest was in school) we are all about the unscheduled time. I'm positive that they kids will enjoy having you around regardless of what you guys do, and do leave some time for them to just be over the summer - it's a great learning experience for all involved!

May 26, 2010 at 10:52 AM Thrift Store Mama said...
I've had two kids within 22 months of each other every summer and I only work 2-3 days a week. I plan out each day, but permit/allow/encourage myself to change plans if I want to. I also try to alternate physical activities with mental ones (play time around the house, then playground, then coloring, then an errand to the grocery store, etc.) I also try to map out what chores I can do that they can help with, what chores I can do while I can still keep an eye on them while they play, and what chores are best left for when they are not around. That way I don't waste naptime doing things I could have done when they are awake.

All transitions take some getting used to - for you and your kids. Of course, you know yourself and your kids best. Look forward to another post on how it's working out.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mouse in my House

Eeek! We have a mouse in our house! (Yes, indeed, my friends, I am absolutely certain it is just ONE and it is a MOUSE and not a rat. GOT IT?!)

Seriously, between the lice and a mouse in our cupboards I'm certain you all think we're the dirtiest people ever. But, truly, we are not!!!

So, feel free to assure me that a mouse in your kitchen is a common occurrence. Something pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point. Perhaps you've even had one? (And don't forget, lice like CLEAN hair!)

I discovered it--or the signs of it--yesterday morning. The cheddar goldfish cracker bag had a little shredded hole. I showed it to Abel who suggested that perhaps Lucas had done that. (What's that saying about denial?)

I cleaned out our cupboards (unfortunately the lower cabinets are our only space to store food) like they had never been cleaned before--seriously, a major cleaning. Yesterday was SUCH a busy, crazy day for both Abel and me that we just didn't get to the store for a trap. And then this morning we discovered a little hole in a bag of microwave popcorn and and the oatmeal. UGH!

I've put all our remaining food into a big plastic bin and traps will be set within moments. And then....what? I guess wait to catch one (okay, okay, where there's one there are more, right?) mouse and then...what? Wait to catch another? How do you know you've gotten them?

I just hate stuff like this. It so totally creeps me out.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes yelling is necessary

I took the boys up to my parents' house for Mother's Day. On the drive there, as we were coming down a mountain (well, a big hill for any West coast people!) Lucas and I both noticed the sky. It was full of thick, puffy clouds (whose specific type I'm sure I learned in 7th grade but certainly can't remember now!). The sun was above them, shining down in beautiful rays.

Lucas said, "Mama, I see God's face."

And before I could even comment, he started yelling, quite loudly: "God! Wake up! Can you hear me? Wake! Up! God! Wake up! Can! You! Hear! Me!"

Then he stopped. And we continued on.


A few weeks ago I joined a bible study. It really is the last thing I have time for, but it has become one of the nicest few hours in my week. I have considered joining bible studies in the past but this time felt very strongly compelled and so against my internal protests that I already had too much on my plate, I joined.

Maybe God was yelling at me, asking if I could year him, too.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Mother's Day Bouquet Artwork

Oh my! What a long hiatus for Favorite Things Friday! I'm back today with a lovely print for Mother's Day or simply as a treat for a friend or yourself.

I became a big fan of Children Inspire Design as I was searching Etsy for artwork for Nathaniel's nursery and the Spanish 1-10 flashcards are from that shop. Now, of course, I'm on their e-mail list and was pleasantly surprised when this beautiful bouquet popped into my inbox earlier in the week. The artist to share it with every mother I know so, my friends, here it is! You can open up the PDF of the lovely paper flower bouquet here and then print your own copy. I think it would look lovely in a frame or as part of a card for your mother, yourself or anyone who needs a little pick-me-up!

If you click over to Children Inspire Design today you can even enter to win an original collage valued at $500! The giveaway ends at midnight central time tonight, so click on over!

Be careful because you might just fall in love and purchase some art for yourself!!!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Constant Companion

Nathaniel is almost 4 months old and this past Saturday I was away from him for about 7.5 hours, the longest we'd ever been apart. (Of course I had to pump during that long stretch!) When I got back home, I missed my little buddy so much!

Of course, when Lucas was an infant, I spent a lot of time with him as well. But during those first few months, I was just so overwhelmed with being a new mom that I took every opportunity to make a quick run to CVS or Safeway without him when Abel was home. Obviously I adored Lucas but I do remember savoring those strolls down the aisle of the grocery store as some much needed "me time." And of course by the time Lucas was 4 months, I was also back to work 2.5 days a week and so spent some long stretches away from him.

This time around, I'm home full-time and I'm much more comfortable and casual with the infant stage: It certainly is easier to tote a 4 month old to the grocery store than a 4 year old! Nathaniel and I hang out while Lucas is at school, then we usually all go to the park. Evenings and weekends Abel and I often practice what I affectionately call "divide and conquer parenting"--he has charge of one kid and I have the other. Usually it's Lucas is with Abel while Nathaniel is with me.

And so Nathaniel and I are together pretty much all the time. He's my constant companion at home, on walks, running to the grocery store or post office. His good nature and good looks draw comments and compliments from almost everyone we pass. And I have become a pro at taking my baby everywhere I go.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lucky No. 7

Just a few of the lovely lilies of the valley that are now planted in
our garden and in bloom right now!

Happy Anniversary, Babe! You are my biggest champion and fan and I am so lucky to have you.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!