Let's Eat Cake

With three birthdays on the calendar, March is a whirlwind of baking and partying at our house. Every year Victoria chortles, “March is just as fun as Christmas!"

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Sometimes we combine the three birthdays into one event. But if the children want their own cake to commemorate their special day, I feel bound to honor that. This year we decided to have individual cakes, but to open all the gifts on the first birthday of the month. We invited Grandma and our favorite “cousins”, squeezing 14 people around the dining room table. 

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Ethan asked for a Funfetti cookie dough brownie layer cake. It looked impressive, and he was delighted with it, but it was kind of gross. The cookie dough layers called for two boxes of Funfetti cake mix- something I normally would turn my nose up at- but when it is a birthday special request- I'll make almost any exception. 

It was excessively sweet, and the Funfetti cookie dough layer had a cloying artificial taste that was difficult to wash out of the mouth. If that wasn’t bad enough, I sprinkled pop rocks in with the sprinkles, but because I didn’t know any better, and because I was pressed for time on the afternoon we had the party, I did this a day in advance, and they popped about 20 hours ahead of schedule. Paul told me he wants the same icky thing on his birthday.

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We only had to relight the candles once, after the girls sitting next to him beat him to it. 

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Then they opened their gifts and the living room did look a lot like Christmas morning, without the tree. 

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We gave Ethan and Jonathan each a small raft, which they immediately inflated. 

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Then the house became unnaturally quiet and the children disappeared. They couldn’t wait to try the rafts out, even though the pool is much too cold to swim in yet. After paddling about for awhile, they came in and asked if they could put their bathing suits on, just incase they fell in. Then, of course, they fell right in, and have been using the pool ever since. 

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A week later, Victoria requested a chocolate strawberry cake. I thought I might put giant KitKats all around the edge, but she vetoed that when she saw these strawberry straw-shaped cookies I found at the Oriental market. 

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She almost had help with her candles, but managed to get to them first. You have to be quick around here. 

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On Ethan’s birthday, we told our friends who joined us, that we only wanted their company, please do not worry about gifts. They joined us again for lunch and cake on Victoria’s birthday, but couldn’t resist bringing in a pile of presents, so Christmas did come to mind again. 

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They went the extra mile when they wrapped Jonathan’s present, wrapping it in multiple boxes.

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Finally he got down to this antique puzzle box, which could have been the gift.

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When he figured out how to open it, he found a cell phone inside, which drew a puzzled expression. Jonathan later told me he thought they had given him a cell phone at the age of twelve, before two of his older siblings were allowed to have one. Then the phone rang and a disguised voice gave him a clue, 

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which led to this package, which had a Nerf gun inside. 

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We have a nine day break between Victoria’s birthday and Jonathan’s, but that didn’t mean we stopped baking and eating cake. 

My American Heritage Girls asked me to help them earn the cake decorating badge. I asked them to make the bottom layers and the icing, but I baked six 6-inch cakes. We spent an afternoon wallowing in buttercream icing, while they practiced shell borders and icing roses. Grace, who has already earned this badge, proved she had retained her skills, by whipping out several roses before scooting off to catch up on her online Latin class. She missed most of the fun, but at least she remembers what she learned last year.

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Jonathan’s birthday fell on a Friday. Unfortunately, it was the same day we had to drive to Orlando for a National Merit Scholar’s Banquet at UCF. The entire family was invited, even when I told them there are nine of us, however, Paul and Jonathan had already commited to camp with the scouts. I felt like a terrible mother, leaving Jonathan home on his twelfth birthday (they didn’t leave to camp until Saturday morning). 

Then I realized I had an extra 6 inch cake in the freezer. I mixed up some chocolate peanut butter icing, decorated the top of it with a chopped up Hershey bar and white chocolate stars leftover from another party, and left it for the boys to enjoy that evening, with the understanding that the real celebration would happen on Sunday when everyone came home. I also left them a roasted chicken and baked potatoes, but when we got home it looked like all they had eaten for dinner and breakfast the next day was cake. 

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Jonathan loved every birthday cake idea we looked at and could not make up his mind. Finally he said, “Just surprise me!” His only request was chocolate icing. So I searched Pinterest for a cake that would be surprising— in a good way. 

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The one that caught my eye was a Pinata Cake. It looks deceptively normal on the outside and can be decorated anyway you want. The surprise is all on the inside. It turned out to be huge, because it is four layers tall. I made the chocolate icing and tossed some chocolate jimmies on top. It looked boring to me, and I was afraid Jonathan would take his first look at it and think I didn’t care enough to really try. After rummaging around in the pantry, I found a box of chocolate covered coffee beans, which I popped onto the bottom of the cake, hoping that would take it up a level.

When he came home from camping, the cake was on the dining room table, and I was upstairs. I heard him slam the door, then a few seconds later, “Yes! Yes! Mommy! I love it, I love it, I LOVE IT!!!!!"

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After dinner, I handed him the serrated knife and asked him to cut it. He felt a strange resistance and looked unsure. “The filling is kind of crunchy,” I explained. 

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And then, he noticed something unexpected. When he pulled the knife back out, a pink Bottle Cap stuck to the end of it. 

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Removing the first slice of cake revealed a treasure trove of Bottle Caps, Everlasting Gobstoppers, and Jujyfruits inside. 

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I’d say I succeeded in surprising him. 

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And now most everyone else wants one, even if they just had their birthday cake. 

Mike’s birthday is next, but he has a favorite and won’t let me surprise him. 

© Being Fruitful, 2012