Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Take the Cake
Jennifer Flaten

I don't know what you were doing this weekend, but we finished preparations for and celebrated what my girls consider the most wonderful, awesome day of the entire year.

What is this most fan-ta-bulous day you ask, why the twins birthday, of course (silly)!

Yes, this weekend my little, okay, no longer that damn little, twin girls celebrated their birthday.

It's not like this day has snuck up on me, how could it, they have been discussing and planning this year's birthday, since about, oh I don't know, the day after their birthday last year.

For the past eight months anytime we celebrated any other birthday, the girls would refine their plans for their birthday. Immediately after wishing the birthday person glad tidings and scarfing down a piece of cake, the girls would launch into a spirited discussion of what they wanted for their birthday.

If you don't have kids, you don't know how much planning goes into a birthday and I am not even talking about if you are having a fancy birthday party. No I mean the amount of planning the kids put into their birthday.

I believe invasions of foreign countries happened with less discussion and advanced planning.

Maybe it is a little different for us; the girls are twins, which increases the amount of discussion and negotiation that one must go through to get the details hammered out.

Each twin has her opinion about the overall theme and what constitutes a perfect cake, and she tries to sway the other twin, sort of like a debate but without the note cards.

The cake gets a lot of discussion, but I don't want you to think that the presents get any less time, they get just as much attention, and they are after all the star of the show.

To highlight the depth of their birthday obsession, they presented me with a list of potential birthday gifts. The lists were neatly printed and stapled into booklet form.

In addition, as the weeks crept by I received little notes from each girl. The notes written in colorful marker, begged for a specific present.

The requests varied from day to day, on a chilly I morning I might receive a request to "please, please get slippers".

Another day, after they watched a Tinkerbell movie, I got a request to "please- please buy them a Tinkerbell doll".

The notes were piling up and I was getting confused. I had to put my foot down and tell them that they could not tell me what they wanted for their birthday until the day I went shopping.

Okay, back to the cake. Based on a lapse of judgment on my part several years ago, we now have themed birthday cakes.

Don't get me wrong, I don't go all Martha in the kitchen; I certainly don't bake elaborate shaped cakes or sculpt things out of fondant, no by theme cake I mean a cake with some sort of toy on the top.

You can find these cakes in bakeries or the bakery department of your local grocery store.

The kids get to page through an enormous book of cakes and squabble endlessly about which one to pick. Several days later and many dollars lighter you pick up the cake and Ta-Da instant birthday party!

Needless to say, the kids love the toy on the top of the cake, why I dare say the actual cake is secondary to the toy.

While this originally seemed like a brilliant idea (hey I had three small kids and no oven), it is becoming a little more difficult. The problem is that there are two kids, each must get a toy...do you know how hard it is to find a style that includes two little plastic ponies or Barbies?

Usually, we get a cake from the local grocery store bakery, but after last years cake; I vowed to never do that again.

I love cake, I feel that there is never a bad piece of cake; well I thought that until last years birthday cake. It was incredibly dry-so dry it was inedible.

I almost wept as I scraped that cake into the garbage can. This year, I thought I might as well make the damn cake (yes using a box mix). Trust me it will be edible, why do you think I am using a box mix; I am not taking any chances.

Now the kids usually forgo eating the cake, because you see the cake is merely a vehicle for them to get the little toys, but I (the person who spent the money for the cake) would like eat the cake.

Lately, the kids have taken a shine to the Ace of Cakes program on the Food Network. I am beginning to think that if I could get a cake from the Ace of Cakes bakery the kids would think I am the most wonderful fantastical mom forever or at least until they turn sixteen.

What small little girl wouldn't love a cake shaped like a tap dancing pony, but alas, since I am not printing money in the basement on my Xerox, they will have to settle for a rectangular box cake made with love by mom.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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