Friday, February 14, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Birthday Cakes, Probabilities for that Aren't Very Good for the President, and Wielding the Power of Buttons

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


This, in case you're wondering, is the pull cord from our snowblower. Or at least it was.

The problem is, it of course ripped off when we were attempting to start the snowblower. Which meant that the driveway was full of snow and we actually needed it. That was fun.


Usually we only let the older kids request a specific kind of birthday cake because they know what kinds of cakes exist in the world.

A 13-year-old can say, for example, "I want a Boston cream pie" or "I would like a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting."

A 5-year-old will make up something completely ridiculous like, "I want a chocolate cake with green frosting with one strawberry on top in a circle of raspberries."

You got it, kid.

To Phillip's credit, this cake was actually pretty good. He made a white chocolate ganache (colored with green food coloring to meet the 5-year-old's specifications,) and even though it looked sort of weird it tasted good.

This reminded me of when our oldest child was little and would request extremely specific toys from Santa that did not exist.

Have you shopped until you dropped for a very specific size and color of teddy bear and then had to paint its eyes blue and buy a particular color of ribbon to tie around its neck? Or sewed teeny, tiny headbands for Barbies out of blue ribbon and decorated them with a predetermined sequence of adhesive gem shapes? I have.


For birthdays, our kids get a family birthday party and a friend party. They're usually spaced a few weeks apart but just because of the way schedules worked out, we did these two back-to-back and ended up making two cakes in a weekend.

Not that we minded, because we also ate two cakes in a weekend.

The friend party had a dinosaur theme. I found this dinosaur cake tutorial and put two round cakes in the oven on Friday afternoon, but I ran out of time to do anything else with them. That evening, I pointed to the cakes cooling on the counter and told Phillip, "I'm leaving for an appointment. You're in charge of the cake!"

"Well, that's easy." Phillip asked, pointing at the two 9" rounds, blissfully unaware of the whole dinosaur theme. "You already baked it."

"Yeah, but you have to make it into a triceratops. Byeeee!" I grabbed my keys and laughed all the way to my appointment.

I did leave the link for the tutorial with my daughter, and the two of them followed it perfectly and did a fabulous job:

The toes!


My three oldest kids were talking about a book one of them has been reading with facts about the U.S. presidencies and the office of the president.

One of them mentioned the four assassinated presidents, and I was so shocked I had to interject. Abraham Lincoln and JFK I knew about, but there were two more?!?

"Why do you think they have the secret service, Mom?" my 15-year-old asked.

"That's why I'm surprised!" I said. "There's an entire government organization dedicated to keeping one person from getting murdered, and he still has an 8% chance of getting murdered?"

After a little while, the 11-year-old asked the 13-year-old, "Why would someone kill the president, anyway?"

"Because they don't like him," she answered.

He raised an eyebrow and said, "Well, that's an overreaction."


It's Valentine's Day, and we've been hard at work on our family love letters. I can only dream of the day when everyone is self-sufficient to write their own, but for now I have to write all of mine plus help the 3- and 5-year-olds with theirs. It's an enormous undertaking.

But so cute and worth it.

Straight from the heart of a 5-year-old.

This same child also began his letter to his brother with: "I love you. You make the best things out of duct tape." This is heartfelt stuff.

I complain about helping everybody, but all things considered, it's been remarkably painless this year. Out of all the bribing, cajoling, wheedling, and begging I've done to get kindergartners to write out valentines to their classmates over the years, the 5-year-old seems to be the least writing-averse. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it.

I intended to have him just address a couple of valentines per day so he didn't get overloaded, but he sat down and did the entire class in one sitting while I asked, "Aren't you tired? Do you want to take a break now?" I was definitely expecting one (or probably both) of us to cry at least once during the process.


This past weekend I completely freaked out calmly noticed that my kids had gotten in the habit of not cleaning up after themselves, which makes for a very difficult living environment. (For me, not them. They're perfectly happy wading through their own filth all day.)

Jackets and shoes were on the floor wherever they were removed, toys and books were discarded everywhere. Not putting the scissors away after using them doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you do things like it 100 times a day, times 6 kids in the house, over multiple days... we're talking CPS-involvement levels of mess around here.

So the Button Jar is back.

It's your standard carrot-and-stick motivation jar, where the kids get to add a button every time they remember to clean up after themselves, and when they fill the jar we get a special treat and a movie night. But there's a twist!

Anytime I see something sitting out, I get to remove a button. It works best to do it while announcing in a self-satisfied shriek to the entire neighborhood "I'M TAKING A BUTTON OUT OF THE JAR!!!"

My house has never been so tidy.


My 15-year-old has successfully made a name for herself as The Girl Who Lost Her Phone Inside the Piano in the Band Room.

She plays accompaniment for the high school chorus, and I guess one day she set her phone on top and it fell in during rehearsal. She knew the phone was missing but wasn't sure where it went, until she had a friend call her phone and the piano started ringing (I really wish I'd been there to see that.)

A few days later she didn't respond to a text I sent her during the school day and when I picked her up she explained, "Sorry, I didn't have my phone at school today."

"Why not?" I asked.

I wasn't even sure whether or not to believe her when she said she'd lost it inside of a saxophone.

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Ann-Marie Ulczynski said...

Your quick takes are the highlight of my day. I need to institute a button jar STAT for my house.

Angie said...

I think the last one is my favorite... Love your highlights. I need to get better about recording the funny things for Fridays.

I like the button jar idea too!

Unknown said...

My 5 year old daughter declared she wanted a unicorn for Christmas. A REAL unicorn. It was the only thing she asked for. And Mom? I wasn't born yesterday. I don't want a picture of a unicorn, a stuffed animal unicorn, a unicorn figurine, a horse that you've glued a horn to, etc. A REAL unicorn. I'm asking for one thing, instead of the 50 the other kids are asking for, so please don't mess this up! Ummm...It got to the week before Christmas and she wouldn't budge on it. Finally, 3-4 days before, a Christmas miracle occurred and she decided she could live with unicorn cookie cutters. Whew!