Tag Archives: birthday cakes

This was a big one

The thing that hit me hardest about this birthday, was the reminder that she is learning she is a girl who will one day be a woman. She is exploring femininity and what a lost skill and art being feminine is. She swished her hips to make her dress make sound not because she wanted to pretend at being sexy. She did it because there’s nothing girly-er than swishing a new dress while you wear your mom’s pearls. There was a profound lesson here for me. To focus more on being feminine and less on being sexy. Sexy is great and fun but it requires someone else and, therefore, is essentially out of our control. I can be perfectly, beautifully feminine when I’m alone in a room and it’s a gift I can give myself. Its an acknowledgement of my inherent beauty as a woman that is there whether someone is looking at me or not. Hmmm. I need to stash these musings away and really dive in deep…sometime in the next 8 years before she really starts terrifying me.

My Naomi (aka: Naynay, Nays, Yeomi, Naybean, Naynay girl, Nay) turned 8 this year. This is a big deal for a few reasons…It meant she had the chance to choose to be baptized and become a member of our church. We are Mormons or Latter Day Saints (belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and eight is the age when a person is capable of making promises with the Lord and is capable of honoring those promises. She did great and it was so cool to experience this with her. It’s a first step in a life long journey.

Grateful for this stud who is an amazing father to my children. Can I say how much I love that he gets really choked up sharing spiritual moments with his kids? Seriously one of my favorite things about this man is that he cries.

Lots of support from family and friends made this day memorable for her, and totally made my mom heart happy. Also made me happy that her taste in baptism dresses was within my sewing skill level and that she was thrilled with the end result.

Next reason this was a big birthday…She got her ears pierced! I went back and forth but ultimately opted for a tattoo parlor with a professional pierce-er. We were both very pleased with the experience. She was a champ. So brave. She calmly sat with her nervousness and quietly dealt with it. She held my hand and then bounced out of there like it was nothing. Also, luckily, she takes the daily upkeep and maintenance very seriously and has attended to that with much more attention than other areas of personal hygiene ([cough]brushingteeth[cough]).

The trend lately is for the kids to design and decorate their own cakes. This more than anything makes me want to wail, “My babies are growing up!” It wasn’t the ear piercing or leaving cub scouts that made me choke up…no. It was the passing of the cake making baton. I’m just not ready for that!!!


It was a friend birthday party year and after suggestions of a slumber party, fancy dinner at a restaurant, epic barbie play date, star wars…she settled on picking up friends and going to McDonald’s. Then we went to a park for cake, ice cream and presents. It’s like my monkeys sense when I need things to be easy and they magically run with that. They must love me or something. It actually was really cool in it’s simplicity and all involved said it was the best night ever. There’s another lesson here, I just know it.



My mom was in town for the baptism so we took some family pictures to really round out our summer season. Can’t wait to update our gallery wall and my children can relax their sore-from-smiling cheeks until Christmas. Next blog post is an huge (and long over due) farm update, with a very exciting announcement.

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Coco Shea

She doesn’t pronounce her R’s correctly (so her name sounds like “Co-wa”) and she calls her leotard (which she very solemnly dons whenever she decides it’s time for an impromptu ballet class in the living room with Mommy) a “lelotalla.” Yesterday while the kids were playing before bedtime I heard her exasperated little voice say, “I’m always the princess! I never get to be the dragon!” I’m pretty sure I’m doing something right…

My baby turned four the middle of August and it is good. She is currently fascinated with hearing all the details of all of the kids birth stories (her favorite thing ever is when I talk about my water breaking and how it felt like I peed my pants) and in the telling and re-telling I don’t find myself longing for babies. Corra is now without a doubt a little kid, not even a toddler anymore, and it’s good. I’ve savored each stage so completely and I feel so peaceful about our decision to be done at baby #4, that there isn’t even a twinge of sadness at her growing up. I marvel every day at her beauty and her passion for life. Like I’ve said before, she filled a hole in my heart that I didn’t even know was there…and to think I cried the day we found out she wasn’t a boy. Good thing the Good Lord knows how to do this whole life thing way better than I do.

Corra’s favorite color is not pink. And the indignation comes out in full force should one even suggest it…luckily this barbie has blue (the actual favorite color) hair which made it possible for us to overlook the pink shirt. We had the hardest time nailing down specifics for her first friend birthday and at this point I don’t even remember how we landed on a barbie dress cake…Her Halloween costume will probably be made day of (right now we’ve gone through Merida, an alligator, the pirate fairy, and a dragon).

I did my best to distract from the pink with as much blue frosting as I could manage and have it still look like a fancy dress. We declared victory and the birthday girl was happy. Someday I might just even get an actual cake platter instead of just using dinner plates…maybe.


Again, not sure how we arrived at a princess and knight theme…but we did and everyone came dressed up and ready for revelry. Garyn and Naomi graciously volunteered to be evil dragons. [as a side note: I love that these little girls are helping Garyn grow up slow. He still enjoys My Little Pony, gives me squeezes unasked for through out the day, especially when Layna closes the car door on my finger, and is willing to drop everything to play with his sisters. Sometimes I worry that he is acting too young, that he should be moving beyond childish things. Quickly I’m reminded that all too soon he will move on and just because other kids get hustled right through childhood, doesn’t mean it’s right or better.]

They built a “castle” and had a balloon free for all. Garyn ended up not being the only big brother there so he, Charlie, and Naomi made sure that no balloons went un-bopped into the air.


The princesses played pin the Kiss On the Frog. Neil flew home from a work trip to Las Vegas the morning of the party so he wasn’t here to work his graphic design magic and make me a huge frog, but we made due.


Our knights played pin the Dragon On the Shield. Naturally.


Cake and Ice Cream. I’m pretty sure more than half the cake went to chickens but I just needed pictures, which I got. Our animals sure do love the combination of birthdays plus me trying weird cake recipes that kids may or may not approve of. Also Corra had her first hair cut so her hair is now just above shoulder length. It really suits her and she couldn’t be happier with it, but I’ll confess…I cried after she went to bed. I can’t wait for the curls to grow back.

Presents and more balloon frolics and we proverbially dropped the mic on year number three. She is already planning all the delightful things that will happen when she turns five.

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big apples and seventh birthdays

Do you love New York City? I had never been before a few weeks ago when we went there on Naomi’s seventh Birthday. It was not a specific trip just for that, the timing just worked out as part of a larger excursion (next post will cover the rest of those good times!) As a farm girl and homeschool mom who relishes her space and crowd free life, I wasn’t sure how it would be spending a day in The City with my family in tow and no real plan. I needn’t have worried. Lessons were learned that day and seven years of life were celebrated in a way that was perfect for Miss Birthday Girl.

Not to sound finicky right off the bat, but I like London’s “Mind the Gap” better. More flair and style. Because I need flair and style…riiiight…We did love the trains though and I learned that people on trains are both nice and super tolerant of high pitch excited squeaks coming from my girls and my boy.

Crowds were no worse there than in Vegas so we were golden. I learned that it raises a place’s awesome factor if you can go from impromptu naked water play at a hidden park then go to a primer art gallery in 5 minutes and 100 yards. We were walking through Central Park (after an over-priced and under-quality hotdog on the grass) and we saw a park. That was a good solid hour of bliss for everyone. Bliss makes me brave and we attempted The Met.


Three words. Bed Knobs and Broom sticks. Am I right? We hit ancient Egypt (Naomi’s request) and arms and armor for the boy. Samurais were imitated and Mummies were grimaced at. I learned my kids take on museums like champions.


My mom said we had to get Mr. Softee soft serve ice cream. So I put it on the list. I asked at the museum and they said yeah the truck out front. Great, asked the guy in the truck and he said yes of course this right here (pointing to swirly ice cream cone picture) this is what you want. I learned that I’m a naïve tourist and you aren’t really in the club until you get hoodwinked by a local. Well. I’m in the club now. To be fair, it was still the best soft serve I’ve ever had.

There is a book called “Micawber” by John Lithgow. We love it and it’s the only reason I even knew that there was an old carousel in Central Park. Since Micawber, the art loving squirrel, lives in the top we had to go and check it out. I learned that kids do not even see crappy paint and hear awful carnival music. They truly experience things as they should be expierenced…no judgement, just joy in the moment. Pretty sure little man said this was the best thing he’d ever done. Like three times. The kid has been to Disneyland, but that didn’t matter in that moment. img_1694 Because we had just walked 8 millionty miles from The Met to the carousel, we crashed on the grass before embarking on more subway travel back up to Harlem for an IHOP dinner (birthday girl’s request of course). I learned that Central Park is stupid big. Like kicked my trash big. My poor sweet husband and children. They love me, even when I don’t deserve it.



Her birthday was complete the next night with collective cake decorating, ice cream and presents. Everyone did a bit of decorating while Naomi consulted her sketch of the cake and bossed I mean managed the whole deal.

Munchkins have been missing their aunts and it was nice to cuddle and have some down time.

New York City was great. It was exhausting being a mom with 4 littles, no idea what I was doing, and a whole day to fill. But I had my husband who navigated all subway travel and overall we had a great time. Obviously, I know we only scratched the surface, but that just means we might have to go back some day.

This girl though. She pushes me and challenges me in ways no other human being on earth does. It’s good and bad and I’m sure someday she will have her own little Karma child to mold her into a better mother and person. I know the adventure is only just starting and I’m equal parts terrified and eager to see what else she brings to my life and the lessons she’ll teach me. Whew.

Next up the rest of our Ohio / New York trip!

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a decade.

He’s 10 now. So that means just over ten years ago, I became a mom. It also means that ten years ago I was as big as a whale and had no idea what the next decade had in store for me. And that was ok. And that is still ok. Because decades, man. Recently I heard a quote that said, “People grossly overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and vastly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten” (I think it was a second hand quote that oringinally came from Oliver DeMille). Garyn is now in the double digits age wise and I’m so amazed at what he is growing into…and lest I get all gushymommyteary, let’s just say that it is very good stuff indeed.

Confession: one of my deep rooted fears, a phobia straight from my childhood, is throwing a party and no one showing up. Some people are irrationally afraid of spiders, I’m irrationally afraid of this. Like lose sleep and have panic attacks afraid. When we moved here I was already stressing about his party. It was a year for a friend birthday party, but being in a new place our options for invitees were basically cub scouts, church, and neighborhood kids. Long story short I was terrified, stressed, and overall we had 17 kids come and play. It was perfect and I have had that phobia beaten back a bit.



We settled on water games and a water theme since 1) it’s crazy hot and humid and 2) that is both super fun and super easy for me, the mom, to put together.

His request was for a camo cake inside shaped like a water sploosh. This is what I did.

Most of the party looked like the above. Lots of kids, screaming, sliding and water.

IMG_1044The plan was to eat a hot dog picnic lunch outside. But as I mentioned before it is hot and humid and kids were wanting A/C. We moved the kitchen table and improvised! It was actually kind of hilarious. Not only did my sister-in-law supply cousins to the party, she stayed and helped. Saved my sanity! As a completely random aside…I’m very grateful my brother married someone whom I genuinely like. It’s a helpful thing since we live close and our kids will grow up together. Anyways, she wins all the things for making the trek down to the party and making a huge difference in how it played out.

Back outside for presents and more playing. (Do you like our broken porch swing in the background? It held the presents admirably, albeit a bit slantwise).

Then there was cake and ice cream. Turns out a group of kids can put away impressive quantities of cake and ice cream…IMG_1058

…also chips. Pretty sure my little girls each ate their respective weights in chips. And lemonade.

The day ended with presents from family and more swimming. Since the pink pool hasn’t moved since the party two and a half weeks ago, I’m fairly certain the grass underneath it is dead. Small price to pay for the quiet hours of mommy time I’ve gleaned for myself while my babies entertain themselves happily outside.

Speaking of babies, mine turned 3 today. I have a backlog of posts that I’m going to be working through, but we are still in full out birthday mode up in this house. More to come on the Birthday du Jour as soon as I take a ton of pictures and wonder how she went from a scrawny Mr. Bates (from Downton Abby) doppleganger to my vivacious and funny little human being in miniature.


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Internet and almost 5

The internet is like the ultimate magic trick. I post these pictures:

and what you see is the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, the woman cut in half, the happy product of family love for an upcoming celebration. What you don’t see, thanks to the internet, are the mirrors and rigged set up. What you don’t see are the toddler sized fistfuls that were gouged out of the cake while it cooled on the stove and I foolishly took my eyes off of it for 3 seconds. What you don’t see are the finger smudges on the perfect white fondant or my little helpers jockeying for position who almost pushed the cake off the table. You don’t see me biting my tongue off so I won’t scream at these adorable eager faces, “Please leave the kitchen! Birthday cakes are not about fun or about you! They are about me having one chance to show off and to create something and take a perfect picture! Birthday cakes are the mark of my success as a mother, so back off!”  No, No. Like any self-respecting magician I twirl my handkerchief and flourish my wand and it looks awesome.

Because text is a terrible medium for conveying tone and meaning, the above may read as cynical and a wee bit desperate. I promise it’s not…Ok fine. There is a smidge of cynicism and desperation but nothing a 3 hour nap won’t cure. Honestly, I’m grateful that when I look  back at these pictures, I’ll remember how much I rocked throwing this together last minute in the middle of packing my life. No plan, just colored drops beckoning from the Joann’s self. I’ll remember how she danced around the table and how carefully she placed each drop that I gave her on its pink frosting spot.


I’ll remember this face and how she blew out each candle individually, but what a triumph for the girl with no diaphragm strength to speak of. She bounced in her chair, literally, because she was too excited to sit still. She clapped her hands and shouted, “Yay!” with her gravely voice.


Opening presents is a total family affair at your house too, right? We will remember the process and the birthday parade, even if we forget the presents.

Smoke and Mirrors (read internet blogging) has a place. It allows me to capture the stuff that is worth remembering and letting the terrible day I was having fade into its proper place. Genuine and real, but trying to let the icky stuff go. Sigh.

So speaking of remembering…trains of thought collided in my brain one evening and resulted in the coolest art project/useful craft/cathartic way for me to say good bye to my childhood (it was quite the collision). We collected pictures of letters, numbers, and random things from our favorite places all over the city. I’m going to laminate them and put magnets on the back to make a perpetual calendar for the new house.

Layna 5th Birthday

There are not many words for how happy this makes me.  “Goodbye” suddenly has purpose and beauty.


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Robot cake

I asked what he wanted on his birthday cake since there was no party to dictate theme. He said a two layer robot cake with the top layer smaller than the bottom layer and a robot toy on the top that could be one of his birthday presents and he wanted Funfetti cake with maple frosting in the middle. Because Little man obviously has a hard time with decisions and details…riiightt…. Once he saw pictures of robot cakes he changed his mind to an edible fondant robot on top (which I “accidently” threw away before he could eat it because 1) fondant, even home made, is nasty and 2) I’m a mean mother).

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Night before and All finished. So around 10:00 pm the night before his birthday, it dawned on me that a solid chunk of fondant would sink into the cake because it’s so stinkin heavy. I called my amazing husband guy who was back at Wal-Mart for the second time that night to buy an new inner tube for the birthday boy’s new bike because the puncture-proofing slime stuff broke the first one. He graciously picked up a box of rice crispy treats. Which we are still trying to finish before the baby comes and I go on a health food kick. Did I mention that tangents are my friends lately?



I needed this cake to be really, really easy, so I did what I did for his Lightning McQueen cake. I got white sugar paper and I drew on it with edible markers. Then I just wrapped it around the bottom of the cake and it worked out really well.



Overall, if you could get past the fact that I didn’t read the labels and put a bit of peppermint extract in the filling instead of almond… And if you didn’t mind the fact that I forgot that one cake mix really only make 1 decent 9″ round cake instead of two leaving you with a very short cake… And if the fact that two little sisters poked the cake escaped your notice…then this cake was a success. Little man loved it so really, that’s all that matters. Maybe someday I’ll let him be his father’s son and eat fondant decorations.

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two years old: installment one

It will be in installments because that’s how birthdays work in our family. There is the big birthday dinner at Grandma’s house, and then whatever else happens after that. The dinner happened early because of scheduling stuff, and it’s not like Little Little birthday girl cared. There was cake. And just to warn you…this might be a long post. Babies turning two make mothers wax philosophical.

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Three words. Elven Princess Hair. It’s not often I leave it down, as her conditioner of choice is bananas and what ever lunch was. Not to mention she has my tender head times 87. But it makes me sigh with giddy mom-joy (I’m serious) when I leave it down, especially right after I’ve washed it and pinned her down while she screamed so I could brush it. It is so soft and long and perfect. Someone knew I couldn’t take another bald baby girl, so Layna has long beautiful hair. [sigh].

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Dinner was great. Fruit salad and steamed broccoli are her favorite things in life, but we added baked potatoes for the rest of us. Then we dove into presents. She was thrilled that someone gave her a big gold bow. I think she would have been perfectly content with a bag of bows…kids, man.  Daddy helped her understand that there was much more and with two very expert siblings she quickly was tearing through. Get it? Tearing? Yay for birthday puns. Ahem.

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So the cake. This is what started me off into philosophical land. Cake will do that to a person.

Sometimes it sucks having a daughter with Down Syndrome. Mostly because there are stupid, pesky things like birthdays to remind me that she even has it. 99% of the time she is just Layna. Perfectly herself, some what ageless and always super cute. But then a birthday (or obnoxious person at the store, or therapy eval, or, or, or) comes along and reminds me that, to the rest of the world, she is kind of behind. A bit slow. On a kid’s first birthday you expect them to not know what is going on at all. Mom chooses the cake and the party is for the pictures. By two, though, most kids have an opinion and they are starting to get that all the hoopla is for them. Not so much for her. She loved it but didn’t get it was for her. She loved the cake but doesn’t like anything enough for me to easily do a themed cake. Garyn had Curious George and Naomi had this. It was a hard reminder that she is different and that while someday she will be a Party Queen, right now she is behind and slow and all the other crap that goes with Down Syndrome. I didn’t want my baby to be broken. People say, “But she’s not, she’s perfect just the way she is, She’s so [fill in trite sugary platitude].” Nope, she is broken. Her body didn’t form correctly. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t supposed to be this way or that she won’t do amazing things or be perfectly who she was meant to be on this earth.  But no one chooses this.  And that’s ok. She doesn’t need to be sugar coated. She is awesome and has her own inborn supply of sassy glittery sugar, thank you very much.

Speaking of Sassy Glitter Sugar, right about when I was really starting to cry and be sad about all of the above…she started taking steps on her own. Totally made me cry for different reasons. And as if taking steps wasn’t showing off enough, she is saying “more.” Her own variation, but it’s consistent and it’s spoken words. It reminds me that someday she’ll call me “Mommy”.  I know it will be worth the wait and there is nothing like a two year old showing off to snap you out of a pity party.

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Back to cake. After a preliminary poke, she promptly double-fisted it into her mouth. It was a cheesecake with ground nut crust and only sweetened with honey, so we could both eat it (I think gluten and her tummy don’t do so well together). Crust here. Rest of cake here. It was a hit with everyone, including my sisters who usually ask (with arched, concerned eyebrows), if I make anything, “is this…healthy?”

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It’s always a good night when you get pictures of goofy siblings , and a gruff old man reading fairytales to his great-grand daughter.

More to come from her actual birthday on Monday.

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