Wednesday, April 29, 2015

of birthday cakes

Just this past week week we celebrated Nicholas' 9th birthday. 

Yeah, It's hard to believe that my son is 9 years old.

It's hard to believe that I have made 9 birthday cakes for this young man.

But. Truly. I have. 

Here is this year's creation. A hunter green robot. 

Pretty cool, eh....except for that odd dusty hunter/camo/sage green. 

I actually like the color but I couldn't recreate it again over my dead body. 

I was trying to make grey icing. {Hee-Hee}

It didn't work. {no kidding}

This was a fun cake to put together.

I used my own homemade fondant. {Easy to make. Super fun to work with}

The coloring part was a bit trickier than regular icing. {no kidding}

It would have helped if I had black food coloring on hand.

And then we added fun candy and whatever else we could find around the house to add some character to our very square man.

I have been thinking of doing a birthday cake post for a while, but I keep shying away from it for fear that I will appear to be a proud cocky mom who has everything put together down to the last detail of the 5 yearly birthday cakes I create.

The truth is, I am proud.

In fact, too proud to want to display my humble attempts at birthday cake decorating.

So I am sharing these cake ideas not to intimidate or pressure you into yet another overwhelming project, but to encourage you to start where you are, with what you have to create something meaningful for your child.

In other words, if I can do it, you can too!!!

I am not a cake decorator by nature.

I do not like detail work.

I do not have a steady hand.

Food detail just isn't my thing.

I'm not a perfectionist.


I am a party animal and I love celebrating the birthdays of my darling babies.

Birthday celebrations usually include a cake, which they choose and help me make.

Here is my all time favorite 1st birthday cake for boys:

Brownies in a dump truck. I have repeated this idea 3 times since I have 3 boys.

I am also a fan of decorating cakes by creating scenes from small things like legos, matchbox cars or animals.

The following cake was probably the most time consuming, tedious cake I ever produced!!! I had fun making it, but I have NO plans of reproducing it in the near future.

I borrowed  chess piece molds from a friend and used melted chocolate to create the playing pieces.  Dove chocolates shoved into an ice cream cake base created the chess board.

This was also probably one of the tastiest cakes I have made in the last 9 years since it included lots of chocolate on top of an ice cream cake!!! (instead of mounds of disgusting frosting on top of a dry cake)

This next cake also was a time consuming project, but it was one of my most favorite cakes to create. Thankfully, I had a creative and very capable niece with me for the day to help juggle kids and cake prep.

can't help but mention the darling little girls on this picture!!!

This was my first attempt at making and using fondant. I can see many imperfections, but I was happy with the over all results of my first experience. I am thinking of repeating this idea for Cassie sometime and trying to iron out a few of the wrinkles.

For this next cake I traced a tractor from a coloring book and then filled in the details with colored icing applied with a star tip. I printed a picture of him to put in the cab....that made his day!!!

On this cake I tried to create a soccer field scene with blue sky and green grass and a goalie net. I cut a chunk out of the cake and inserted a real miniature soccer ball.

Then there was the year that I had a crabby baby and I made cupcakes. Josh has been our soccer boy. I printed out soccer toppers for the cupcakes and then arranged them in the shape of a six.

I have done cupcakes otherwise, even when I didn't have a crabby baby

This idea is very quick and easy even though it appears otherwise. I used this technique for both of my girl's birthdays last year. Besides stars, this is about the only thing I have been able to successfully pull off with an icing bag.

This treasure chest cake was a huge hit with Nicholas and his party guests. This picture doesn't show the details very well, but it is a treasure chest full of rare jewels, aka candy. We did a treasure/scavenger hunt in the woods to go along with the theme of the cake.

I obviously didn't give you a peek at nearly all the cakes I have made in the past 10 years, but what I did share is a fair representation of what has been created and enjoyed in our household.

I could tell lots of funny stories about my cakes....

Like the time I tried to create a baseball field with real baseball players and how I painted army men white because I couldn't find anything like small plastic baseball players at any local stores.

Like the time Angeline had to end up making her own birthday cake. I manipulated her into it.

Like the time I put real flowers around Angeline's ice cream cake roll and popped it back in the freezer and the flowers turned an ugly shade of brown.

Like the time I sat on the rocker and cried because my kids were trying to bake a birthday cake for me and instead they were making a huge mess in the kitchen and were fighting their heads off.

Or the time I repeated the same cake idea for Josh 2 years in a row!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
yup, a snowman cake for his 2nd birthday and another one for his 3rd birthday. 

The thing I really noticed as I was looking through these pictures was the happy faces of my children.

 I have made more decorating boo-boos than I can count.

But my kids have always been thrilled with their birthday cakes.

I have had to lay down my pride a number of times and be thrilled along side them, even though inwardly I was wishing that we could throw the cake in the trash and start over. (and why had we invited guests over for this party....!!!???!!)

Who would have thought that the Lord might used birthday cakes to grow me up in Him!!!??!

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Yeah...there's gonna be a great big change!!!"

I'm delighted to announce that we're planning for another little set of feet to join the pitty-pitty-patter symphony at our house.

Even though Country music certainly isn't my choice of genre, I find this song to fit the emotions of our household almost perfectly. There's a lot of upbeat, happy dancing going on around here over the thought of a brand new person joining us this fall.

However, there is a heavy dose of reality that comes along with baby #6. There's no pulling any wool over my eyes this time.

I am quite familiar with the pains of pregnancy.

I'm not fond of all the emotional upheaval of changing hormones.

I really like to sleep. My last child taught me an awful lot about living with a long term deficit in this area.

I know that I must face a deep and dark and very painful valley before I get to experience the joy of a precious baby.

The responsibility of caring for 6 children feels very weighty at times.

But I am familiar with the miracle of life and the deep joy that comes to me as a woman as I am permitted to participate in this miracle.

I'm both  honored and humbled to have been chosen again to be a bearer of life here on earth.

As Christopher says "Yeah, there's gonna be a great big change!!!" (direct quote from the song above)


moving from baby status to BIG Sis

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Of Florida and Suburbans

So. What in the world do the words Florida and Suburban even have in common?? I mean, truly. Have you ever used those two words in the same sentence??

Well. I have. More times that I can possibly count in the last 3 weeks. These are two of my current pet words.

 Vehicles occasionally need to be replaced. 

For some of us, this replacement doesn't happen very often.

We have been driving a trusty 1997 Dodge Caravan for the past 9 + years. This particular van has been an unusually good friend to us.  Faithful. Dependable. Steady.

There were a number of reasons that pushed us in the search for a new vehicle. One being that our family is bursting the seams of the Caravan and another being that Amos' work vehicle is hopelessly beyond repair.

Our thought was to buy a new family vehicle and keep the trusty van for Amos to use for work.

Thus the search began.

The next size van is a 12 passenger!!!!!!! (she shudders at the thought of backing one of those beasts into the driveway)

I never dreamed or even thought of owning an SUV, but my husband slowly and surely convinced me that maybe a Suburban would the perfect upgrade for our family at this particular time.

So began the search. Craig's list and Auto Trader became my bosom buddies for a while.

One fine evening I found what I thought seemed to be the perfect vehicle. It passed by husband's criteria : 9 passenger, 4 wheel drive, southern vehicle, within our price range.

I'll just skip a ton of details and say that within a week after numerous phone calls and research, we had purchased one way tickets to Florida with the hope of driving this Suburban home.

Because the tickets ended up being insanely cheap we decided to both make the trip and squeeze a tiny bit of vacation out of the ordeal.

I was over the top excited to think of a 48 hour vacation in February in FLORIDA. (*we actually spent a little less than 24 hours of our vacation in FL, the rest of was spent traveling)

Risky? yes!!!

Impulsive? maybe...

Crazy? probably...

Faith- filled? we hope!!!

Exciting? you bet!!!

The 24 hours in Florida were absolutely therapeutic for my sun starved soul and body.  I will never regret those few precious hours on the beach.

I'm pretty sure that heaven will include a good dose of this

And indeed we did come driving home in our new great white beast. Yes. It's beastly. I got broken in with the beast rather quickly since I had to drive it through a totally unfamiliar city so that we could return the rental car to the airport.  Then Amos was overcome with fatigue in the hills and curves of West Virginia. Yours truly took over the wheel. I felt certain that if I could handle the streets of Jacksonville, Florida and the mountains of West Virginia that surely I would be capable of navigating the beast in our small hometown.

I still occasionally grip the wheel and shut my eyes and hope for the best while gadding about town.

We're enjoying the extra space. We are trusting that the Lord has blessed us with another faithful vehicle.

 If you need your mobile home moved across town, let us know. The Suburban has a monster engine and a towing package.

Even though I'm not a fan of big rigs, I will have to admit that there is a feeling of power in driving one of the bigger vehicles on the road.

The kids call it our Monster Truck.

I don't think it would actually qualify as a monster truck, but I do feel like a Monster Mom when I'm driving it.

Go ahead and try butting into me you compact-energy-efficient'll find out who is boss!

Signing off,
The Soccer Mom