Ethan's 4th Birthday

I can’t believe Ethan is four. He is still so cute. You know how babies and toddlers are so adorable you can hardly take your eyes off them and you drink in every sweet thing they say and every charming expression on their faces? But then they get to be  about four and it is just not the same level of cuteness. Ethan has always had something going with the eyes. He can make every woman in sight melt and do his bidding with a sideways glance, lift of an eyebrow, and pop of a dimple. It is fascinating to watch and frightening at the same time, especially since I know I am just as vulnerable as anyone else. Mike and I often sit around and discuss the strengths and weaknesses in our children's talents and characters, speculating what their futures will be like. We sincerely hope Ethan will use his gifts for honorable purposes, such as becoming a foreign diplomat, rather than a James Bond type spy or worse- a table top dancer. 

We decided to give Grandma a break and have two birthdays back to back, since we have three birthdays this month and Grandma wants to be here for every one of them, but she still has to catch up on her laundry. This might have been reasonable if we hadn’t had the plague all last week. As it was, I was overwhelmed, but Ethan made my job as easy as possible. He changed his mind, with no cajoling, from having an incredible sand castle cake, which would have been so cool, but would have killed me, to a simple dinosaur cake that I have made several times before. The other times I made it, I used my own cake recipe and had no problems that I can recall. This time, I thought I would use the recipe on the magazine page that had all the instructions and was intended for this purpose. That didn’t work. I followed the instructions to the minutest detail, used the exact ingredients called for,  and the 9 inch springform pan it directed me to, but at the end of the baking time it had a brown crust on top and the middle jiggled like a belly dancer. I put it back in to bake into a respectable and sturdy pound cake. When it passed the toothpick test 15 minutes later, I put it on the rack to cool and busied myself with other things. The next time I passed by, it looked like this. 

It did taste good and the children were thrilled to get an unexpected dessert. By this time, I was up to my neck in Victoria’s party preparations and I decided to resort to a boxed cake mix. Not that I don’t love Ethan as much as the rest of my children, but I was getting worn out. Cake mixes are always a disappointment. I know that. I was in wishful thinking land. Sigh. The cake fell apart as I frosted it. It was just too soft and crumbly. I did the best I could, made splints out of toothpicks, slathered on extra icing to conceal the defects, but the end of the tail cracked and kept tipping over and the head wouldn’t stay on straight. I even put it in the freezer at one point, but it didn’t really help. I am embarrassed to display this one, but in the spirit of honesty and humility, here is the crippled dinosaur, with an oblivious and cheerful birthday boy. 

As I expected, most of the young people ate the candy and the icing and were ready to move on to presents. We gave Ethan a huge bag stuffed with everything Walmart had for the sand box plus a sprinkler type water toy to enjoy now, since it is warm, but the pool is not.  The sandbox is Ethan’s office. He works there all day. 

Grandma Beck gave him some cars that talk and do wheelies. Next to the sandbox, Ethan gets excited about anything on wheels.

I don’t want you to think the other grandparents are neglectful. They are still surprised they have so many grandchildren and find it hard to hit the many birthdays on the target. They do send gifts in the birthday month, often thoughtful and lovely handmade gifts, and even call and sing Happy Birthday, sometimes twice for the same child, because they all sound the same on the phone. I understand how they feel, because I am often surprised I have so many children, too. You just never know how your life will turn out, do you? It is overwhelming, even without the plague. But I look long and hard at each one and I know I would be impoverished to lose any of them, or to never have had one or more of them. They are all so different and so interesting. Every day could be a party at my house. When I think about it, I feel a little pang that my children don’t have my grandma, who was the ideal grandma, and that my mom can’t drive over every month and help Grace bake and sew. Just like my children are all unique, the grandmas are, too. We are so pleased to live close to Grandma Beck. I know we are wearing her car out, but you should see the little ones fight to have her lap, and how Hopesie walks around calling, “Gama! Gama!” after she leaves on Sunday. I bet I’ll have about fifty grandchildren. Oh, my. At least I will not have to bake all those birthday cakes!

© Being Fruitful, 2012