You all, I will be the first to tell you that I am NOT a cake baker. I can make a mean: pie, cookie, or scone–but you give me a cake and it looks like a kindergartner made it!
Having three kids and hosting 18 birthdays so far between the 3 of them I have learned a few things. I used to 100% discount myself and say that I was completely incapable of making a cake for my kid’s birthdays. During the time that I was discounting myself was when I felt like I realized I was under a “cake curse.” I play fast and loose with that term because I don’t mean like a real curse. I just mean like bad vibes towards me from cake.
This included but was not limited to the time that I bought an ice cream cake, drove it home in 80 degree weather in my husbands truck with no air conditioning, only to come home and realize that we didn’t have a cooler big enough to hold said cake. The cooler situation was its own fiasco, but when we got in his truck to head to the birthday party, I was buckling in Sean and had set the melting ice cream cake on the dash, Derick got in, slammed the door and the cake box flew open and it hit me in the chest and slid down my entire body into the floor board. In what was probably my worst moment as a parent, I grabbed that cake, jumped out of the truck and threw that cake across the yard.
Bless my own sweet heart.
The only part of that story that Sean remembers is that I threw his birthday cake. He doesn’t remember any of the horrible details leading up to that moment.
So what have I learned from all these cake encounters?
1/ You CAN do anything you set your mind to. The first time I realized that I actually COULD make a cake was when my friend Dez sent me a recipe for a cream cheese carrot cake and all the angels sung and that thing was to die for. So I decided maybe it wasn’t the cake. Maybe it was me. I realized that I needed to check my attitude about cake and that what my expectations were set at was the result I would get. The same goes for parenting, our own lives, and our relationships with others. When we set our expectations low, that is what we will get.
2/ Communication is key. ALWAYS. Another fine birthday I had just bought cupcakes from the local Walmart. Because, easy. So when I got home with all of the birthday things, I had told Derick that I had the cupcakes and everything else in the trunk. What he did not realize was–THERE IS PRECIOUS CARGO IN THE TRUNK. BE VERY CAREFUL. DO NOT BY ANY MEANS PICK UP ALL 40 BAGS IN THE TRUNK AND THEN THROW THEM ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR. Those cupcakes did NOT survive you all! Which is how I ended up going back to the grocery store that is 10 minutes away, buying a boxed cake and icing and attempting to make and decorate a sheet cake. Which looked like a kindergartner had decorated. If I had said very sweetly, “Now honey, take extra care because the cupcakes are in the trunk. Please find them and bring them in first before you get all the other groceries.” The problem would have been averted. We have to effectively communicate in all that we do. These cupcakes bring me to the next thing I have learned.
3/ Patience is a virtue for good reason. Oh my goodness this one is hard you all. That sheet cake I made as a last resort probably would have looked a little better had I not tried to ice and decorate while it was still hot AND do the decorating bit in about 5 minutes while 18 people were hovering over my shoulder. In other cake adventures I learned that it is best to make the actual cake the day before, then wrap in Saran Wrap sprayed with oil, and decorated the next day for maximum moisture and decorating potential. I am sure I learned all of these things on Martha Stewart’s cooking shows about 18 years ago…but I don’t have time for that! If there was one phrase that was my motto in my twenties, that would be it. The thing about patience though, is that you usually SAVE time by doing things slow and steady. When I bake the cake the night before it’s something I can throw in the oven while I am cooking dinner and then it is ready to go and I am not baking the day of the party. In life, we have to learn to slow down, be patient and not make mountains out of mole hills. I have made some of the ugliest cakes you have ever seen, but you know what…they still tasted amazing. Go slow, take things one step at a time, give yourself grace along the way and enjoy that amazing moment when you cross the finish lines.
4/ Do not. Under any circumstances blow your gasket over some small thing like an ice cream cake. During these many horrible encounters with the cakes, I have learned to just laugh and brush it off. Because you know what Sean never remembered when I went to the crappy grocery store and bought a crappy 5 day old cake from the cooler for this 3rd birthday? That he had a crappy cake. He doesn’t remember anything besides the fact that his mom threw a big old glorified temper tantrum on his birthday. Now. We all have our moments and God grant us grace in those moments, but a cake isn’t worth crying over. And many things in life that we get so upset and worked up over aren’t either. So lets all promise ourselves the next time life throws us a curve ball or an ice cream cake, we are going to just dust off that icing, laugh, and move onward and upward.
What great birthday stories do you all have to share?