Simple Simon Sunday: The Cake

Two weeks ago we had my son’s 4th birthday. It is still hard for me to believe (like most parents I’m sure) that my son has been on this Earth for 4 whole years. For me it’s extra hard to believe because of the many years that I went through the agony of “trying” for a child and then coming to terms with the idea of never having them only to be surprised by this little guy.

This year’s birthday them was Pete the Cat and the 4th Groovy Birthday. If you know anything about Pete the Cat, you know he’s got a great message for kids in his books and that he’s blue. I highly recommend his books even if you’re not a stoner or a hippie or over 40. Basically he tells kids that no matter what, life works out, so put your best foot forward. I also bring up the fact that he’s blue because this is the first cake in my son’s life that did not involve an excessive amount of red frosting.

Click on Pete here to go to his many adventures.

Before we get to the cake, here are some things in regards to birthdays in general I’d like to improve upon as a mom….

Enjoying the Moment
This includes better scheduling of all of our activities and maybe cutting some sometimes. Ike’s birthday was so rushed this year. He wanted to do so many things that were time contingent on outside forces. First we had his cake….the Pete the Cat cake and that took almost a whole day with reasonable breaks to construct (more on that in a moment). Then, on Sunday we had to get everyone up and out of the house within 2 hours; drop off the baby; and get to the restaurant. Ike’s favorite place to eat is at Red Robin and I don’t mind taking him there because he usually chooses the grilled chicken on a stick, mandarin oranges, and a water. However, it was his birthday and we allowed him to have a cheeseburger (but I accidentally ordered grilled cheese the first go) and his first ever milkshake (chocolate of course). However, they brought him fries (both times) instead of the oranges he wanted and with the mixups with the food we had to really rush our “hour” for lunch to make the 12pm movie.

The movie was his other “first” he got to do for this birthday. We saw Paddington the Bear and it was really cute. We had popcorn and shared some M&M’s and a water. The movie ended early enough that we had time to get home and finish cleaning up the house before his party. The party lasted about 2 hours of kids playing, cake, ice cream, and present opening. And then we all crashed. I wish there had been more time to enjoy each moment, but he had a blast and that’s what really counts in the end.

The night before his birthday I stayed up late to watch a movie and finish preparing his growth chart that we now have in each of the boys’ rooms. I didn’t have everything I needed to finish it (missing heights from ages 2 and 3). This all brings me back to my post on Thursday about things that are unfinished still….

Getting in the Photo
Every year I look back and find almost no photos of the people at the birthday with the birthday kid. There are the photos of the cake, photos of the blowing out of the candle, and photos of opening the presents. This year I got better about getting some photos while we were out to eat and even one quick snapshot before the movie started. I got some shots of all of the kids playing outside during “intermission” of the party….that time after they’ve all gorged themselves on cake and need an outlet for their sugar rush before we open gifts. I got some pics of the birthday boy with his friends, but not a lot….and we didn’t get a good one of the “family” together this time.

I am lacking on being in photos in general, but I think I need to make an effort to jump in front of the camera on birthdays. If you have any photos of Ike’s birthday with me in them, please send them my way.

Cake Making
And finally, I need to get faster at making cakes. This is the bane of my husband’s existence. Whenever a birthday rolls around he gets antsy knowing that I will spend a whole day making a cake. In the past I have put off the actual baking of the cakes until nap time and then decorating has been reserved for post bedtime which leaves me up until 1am trying to perfect the red frosting for a young child who will only care about if it vaguely resembles what the chosen cake was and if they get to eat a large piece. This time around I started baking at breakfast and then decorated as the whole day went on. Because I used a crispy rice treat head and fondant on this cake, there were far more steps than the usual bake and frost. However, fewer steps than when I star an entire cake.

I also didn’t try the meringue that was suggested to me by Stef. 😦 I really wanted to, but couldn’t see using all those egg whites.  I think I will just purchase egg whites on their own to use for the next cake I make.

So, without further ado….Pete the Cat (or my best rushed version of him…not exactly as planned).

My mom’s drawing of my plan

As you can see, Pete ended up looking a little like a mobster and if you look closely at the first photo, he’s kind of crying about it. My mom tried to help and “smoothed” the yellow frosting with a paper towel (not my favorite technique) hence the cracked/corduroy look to it. And we ran out of blue fondant for making Pete’s enormous ears. All in all, it was a hit with all at the party and especially the birthday boy.

What was your favorite cake as a kid?
Do you make cakes for your kids?
What’s the one thing you could do better about birthdays in your life?

PS – The cake was my mom’s secret recipe from scratch chocolate cake, sorry I won’t be sharing the recipe with you here.
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