Monday, September 27, 2010

Taking a break....

I'm a slacker.  There...I've said it. 

I'm trying desperately to keep up with my blog and I am failing. 

To be honest, while I love blogging and at times it is what keeps me going in this crazy whirlwind life of mine, it is has also become a thorn in my side. 

I feel pressure to keep up with it. 

While I'm watching all my favorite tv shows, I'm thinking, "I really should be blogging right now".   When I'm playing Candyland for the 10th time in an hour with my kids, my mind is screaming, "You have so many blogs to still comment on". 

As I'm cooking dinner for my family, I'm going over the day's events in my head and piecing together a funny, entertaining blog post in my head.  While I'm listening to Cole and Bella practice their reading skills at bedtime, I'm wondering, "How much longer is this book because I really need to be blogging".

The point is I haven't been truly PRESENT in awhile.  As much as I enjoy blogging, as much as I need to blog to keep my sanity, it's costing me quality time with my family. 

Cole and Bella's 6th birthday is on Saturday and we're throwing a HUGE party for them.  I have a Super Mario Brothers and a Hannah Montana guitar cake to make....I have to get our house clean enough to the point where I won't die of embarrassment if someone opens up the laundry room door. 

Most importantly, I need to focus on these priorities and not be a million miles away, mentally. 

Blogging has been an amazing escape for me...it's a place where I can pour my heart and soul out with no repurcussions.  And it's a wonderful place to connect with other people, bloggers or not, to comfort me in knowing I'm not all alone on this adventure called motherhood.

Needless to say, I'll be taking a break from blogging this week so I can put 100% of myself into planning an incredible birthday bash for my oldest babies, while still having difficulty wrapping my brain around the fact that they are going to be 6 years old. 

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was excitedly calling and e-mailing friends and family to share the happy news that I was pregnant with twins?!

And in the time that I just wrote this, I received a call from the preschool to come get Garrett, who appears to be ill.

Life is getting in the way of my blogging....and that's okay with me, for now.  Hope you all understand.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

I guess a dead pet is better than no pet at all...

The kids are forever asking me if we can get another pet. 

Now, I know most of you are envisioning their sweet little faces with wide eyes full of hope, asking, "Mommy, can we PLEASE have another pet?"

Perhaps that's how most kids would ask their parents...all polite and respectful.

But, remember, we're talking about MY kids...the spawn.

They ask, "When's our cat gonna die so we can get another pet?"

This is the same cat they claim to adore...the same cat who they beg to sleep with them every single night...the same cat who, despite hating the kids more than I despise my mom's stuffed peppers, has never once bitten or scratched them.

They're such traitors, aren't they?  I can easily see them asking Tim one day, "Daddy, when's Mommy gonna die so we can get a new mom...one who won't freak out if we get Nerf guns for our birthday and will let us eat all our Halloween candy in a single night".

Not that I'm paranoid or anything.  Moving on...

The other day, I asked Cole and Bella to come inside from the backyard to have a snack and finish their homework.  As I approached the table to deliver their snack, something caught my eye. 

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Was that a.....???  Were my eyes playing tricks on me?

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Yes, it was a lizard.  A fat lizard, at that.  They had found him laying on the back porch, enjoying the sunlight on his face.

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I asked, "Why isn't he afraid of you guys?  He hasn't moved once!"

They both looked at me as if I had just attempted to eat soup with a fork.

"What?" I asked.  "Seriously, I've never seen a lizard THAT still."

Cole sighed and shook his head.

Bella groaned, "Mommy, he's DEAD!  Can't you tell?"

"Oh", I responded.  "I suppose he is.  That would explain why he's not running away from you."

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Then I was forced to sit there and watch my children eat their snack while their dead pet lizard laid on our kitchen table. 

I said, "You know, that's super disgusting.  Can we put him out in the backyard in the grass or throw him in the garbage...or something?  He's full of germs and wierd diseases..."

Cole interrupted, "He has no germs or diseases because he's dead, Mom".

Well, excuse me.

Next thing I know, Bella says, "Come here, Lizzie.  I'm gonna take you to soccer with us and show you to Coach Bobby". 

"Oh no, you're not," I argued.  "That THING is not getting in the car with us.  Your coach does not want to see a dead lizard!"

They fought back.  "Yes, he does.  Lizzie is our pet and we're taking her with us to soccer!"

WTF?  Was this really happening or was I merely dreaming? 

After pinching myself, and as sure as Kourtney Kardashian says the word "like" every 5 seconds, I was wide awake and witnessing my two oldest children lovingly dote on their newfound dead pet.

Finally, I had to ask, "Why on earth do you want a DEAD pet?"

Cole answered, "Well, a dead pet is better than no pet at all..."

Bella continued, "Yeah, and you said we can't have another pet because it's just one more mouth to feed and more mess to clean up after.  But now you don't need to worry about that because Lizzie's dead.  It's perfect."

This is their idea of perfect??  I suppose it makes good sense when you really think about it. 

However, now I had to worry about whether or not something is seriously wrong with my kids....as they showed off their dead lizard, Lizzie, to their soccer coach, who looked up at me as if I had completely lost touch with reality. 

Shrugging my shoulders, I borrowed Cole's explanation and stated, "I guess a dead pet is better than no pet at all, right?"

After soccer practice, the kids wanted to go play on the playground and began to run off....without Lizzie.

I called out to them, "Uh, guys....I'm not carrying your dead lizard over there!"

They stopped in their tracks and looked at one another. 

Cole yelled back, "Just put her in the garbage.  She's dead, anyway."

Nice.  Or as Kourtney Kardashian would say, "That's, like, real nice, guys".

I guess even dead pets have their disadvantages.  Who knew?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Say what?!?!

My friend, Missy, at Two Little Monkeys hosts a weekly meme called "Say What Wednesdays" and since the kids have been rather entertaining lately I thought I'd jot down a few of their recent conversations.

Garrett:  Mommy, are we on earth?
Me:  Well, I am...I don't know where you are.


Cole:  Bella, give me that piece of paper over there or I'm not gonna draw with you anymore.
Me:  Cole, do you realize you'd catch more flies with honey than vinegar?
Cole:  WHAT?!  Who said anything about catching flies.  Plus I don't even know what vinegar is. 
Me:  Life lessons are totally lost on you guys.
Cole:  Try speaking regular next time and less about life.


Landon:  Mommy, get me some more milk.
Me:  Uh, manners?  Do I look like your personal maid?
Bella:  Mommy, you probably would look like his personal maid if you smiled when you got him his milk.


Landon:  Do we have "doctor" today?
Me:  The doctor?  No, you're not doing to the doctor today.
Landon:  NOOOO, doctor!  Do we have doctor today?
Me:  NO, you're not going to the doctor.
Landon (becoming even more frustrated):  No, not doctor.  DOCTOR!!  Do we have DOCTOR today?
Me:  Landon, I'm sorry.  I don't understand what you're saying.
Landon:  Garrett, tell Mommy what I'm saying.
Garrett:  Oh, he wants to know if we have soccer today.
Me:  Geez, you could've saved everyone a bunch of frustration if you had translated a little sooner!


Me:  Bella, who's your best friend?
Bella:  Why do you always have to ask me that?  You are my best friend.  You know that.  But I also have other best friends, too. 
Me:  Why can't I be your only best friend?
Bella:  Mommy, don't be selfish.  You have to share me with the world.


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Monday, September 20, 2010

In my case, just do as I DO, not as I SAY....

About a week ago, I was driving Garrett and Landon to school and became distracted by all the noise in the car. As I was attempting to pull alongside the curb to park, I underestimated how much space I would need and ended up hitting a parked Jeep.

Oooops....

No one saw me do it....well, except for the kids. At first, they were convinced I had hit a garbage can, which was nowhere to be seen and left me wondering what Tim had mixed into their milk that morning, besides raspberry Quik.

As calmly as possible, I explained to them, "Mommy hit that car right there so I need to leave the owner of the car a note with my contact information".

Right as they were about to enter the classroom, I gently yanked them back and said, "Alright, guys...there's no need to repeat anything I said to your teacher or your friends, okay? Especially those....uh, colorful words I used back there when I hit the car".

Garrett asked, "You mean when you said 'oh shit'?"

"Yes, exactly...just pretend I didn't say that word," I pleaded with my 3-year old, who apparently is wise beyond his years.

He argued, "But you DID say it."

So, wait...let me get this straight. The kids thought I had hit an imaginary garbage can but they were absolutely positive they had heard me say the word shit.

Of course they did. They'll just store it in their little brains to be used at an inopportune time...like at Thanksgiving dinner when we're going around the table reciting what we're each thankful for or when someone tosses a candy bar they don't like into their bag on Halloween.

I sighed.  "Okay, remember how I'm always telling you guys to do as I say, not as I do?"

The spawn nodded their small heads.

"Well," I continued. "Now, I'm asking you to do as I DO,NOT as I say. Remember that even though I hit that car out there, I'm doing the right thing by taking responsibility for it. Got it?"

Continuing to nod their heads, they spoke up in unison, "Yep".

As they both walked into the classroom, I feared the worst.

"Good morning, boys.  How are you today?" I imagined their teacher asking.

"Our mom said shit!" Garrett would announce proudly.

"Yeah, she said it THREE times too," Landon would add, gleefully.

I held my breath as their teacher strolled towards us, with a smile on her face.

She greeted them, "Good morning, boys!  Make sure to go wash your hands before you start an activity!"

Oh thank God!  She didn't ask how they were...for as luck would have it, if she had, they surely would've thrown me under the bus.

Trust me, I don't refer to them as "spawn" just because I'm entirely evil. 

After kissing them both goodbye and pleading with them one last time to forget all about Mommy's wildly expressive language and to recall how Mommy is doing the right thing, I walked out to where my mini-van was parked, still in front of the side-swiped Jeep, and surveyed the damage.

There was more damage to the Jeep than there was to ours, which I was thankful for.   Our mini-van is covered in scratches and minor dings, while this Jeep was in perfect shape....well, until I hit it.

I jotted down my profuse apologies on a piece of paper along with my contact information and left it under the windshield.

Upon returning home and telling Tim what had happened, he said, "But no one saw you...so why did you leave a note?"

I stammered, "Because it was the right thing to do. Plus, I had the kids with me so it was good for them to see me take responsibility".

He shook his head and said, "Well, I wouldn't have left a note".

Becoming upset, I responded, "You know, every time you see a ding on one of our cars, you become outraged. Wouldn't it have been nice any of those times for someone to leave us a note with an apology? Just because someone does something shitty to you, doesn't mean you have to continue the cycle. Do the right thing for once...it's karma.  It'll either be good to you or it'll bite you in the ass."

You think he sat there, nodding his head in complete agreement with me?

Well, you'd be wrong.  He had already put his earphones back in his ears and was intently staring at the computer screen in front of him, having tuned me out probably a good 4.7 seconds prior.

It's all good, though.  Next time he whines to me about how rude other people are, I'll gently remind him that karma's a bitch.

There's that and the fact that a few minutes later, I asked him if he was in the mood for a quickie.  The sly grin on his face, as well as the horny gleam in his eyes, spoke volumes. 

He turned his chair towards me and asked, "Here or in the bedroom?"

"I was just simply ASKING if you were in the mood.  I wasn't offering.  Sorry for the confusion," I teased. 

Oh....Snap. 

A few hours later, a woman called my cell phone and explained that she was the owner of the Jeep. She's a librarian at Garrett and Landon's school and she had parked on the street that day in a hurry when the staff parking lot was full.

"I'm so sorry...you have no idea. And then you come out of school after a long day with the kids and see what I've done to your car...I'm just so sorry", I whined.

Then this sweet lady, whose car I hit, thanked me. Yes, she thanked me...for leaving a note.

She said, "Not many people would have done that. I really appreciate that you took the time to do that. So thank you..."

I gave her my insurance information, all the while imagining Tim lecturing me about how much more our insurance is going to cost us.   I'll get back at him by reminding him that I'm not the one who gets speeding tickets.

Later that day, Garrett and Landon were all too eager to fill Cole and Bella in on all the excitement which had happened earlier in the day.

Bella asked, "Really, Mommy?  You hit a car?!"

Cole added, "Oh man.  That totally bites!"

I declared, "Yes, it's true...but what I want you all to take away from this is that as hard as it is to admit when you've done something wrong, it takes a bigger person to stand up and take responsibility for her actions.  If there's anything I want you to learn from this experience, it would be THAT".

In a perfect world, this would be the end of the story.  But, alas, we all know the world is an imperfect place....or, at the very least, my home is.

Garrett said, "We're not supposed to tell anyone that Mommy said shit."

Not to be outdone, Landon pointed out, "And she said it more than once!"

With his arms crossed over his chest, Cole asked, "Are you going to take responsiblity for THAT?"

Geez, who died and made him Phil McGraw?

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life sucks when you have no spare time...

Most of my readers are of the female gender, though there are a few males who stumble upon my blog every once in awhile....heck, some of them even stick around to provide emotional support and encouragement to Tim from afar (shout out to This Daddy!)

So, for you ladies...Tim is about to expose a secret that most males won't openly share with a woman. It's one of those unwritten rules.

Are you ready for this juicy secret?

Without fail, a man will only complete a household chore, such as painting and other handyman kind of things, until it's 90% done and then he will move on to the next project...without any hesitation.

Okay, okay....now I realize that most of us already KNOW this. I mean, we live it, right? We know our men start projects all the time and sometimes don't bother to see them to fruition.

Before you know it, you have most of the household projects completed...but only part way.  So,  if you're like me, you have half of the wood flooring done, part of the tile in the laundry room finished, the wainscoting in one of the bathrooms somewhat completed.

The real question is WHY do they do this? I don't know about you, but that's what I really want to know.

So I pushed a little further, after Tim had revealed that deep, dark gem of wisdom.

He stammered.

"Well?" I prodded. "Enlighten me, please!"

He explained, "Uh, well...it's because you nag me endlessly to keep doing new projects."

I shook my head, refusing to take the blame for what the entire male race probably sees as a convenient excuse.

"No, that's not true, at all!  When's the last time I mentioned half the things that need to get done around here?!  Don't try and blame me!" I argued.

Tim smiled, as he often does when he's at a loss for words.

"Oh, I see," I replied. "So this really isn't a SECRET, per se? It's more like an excuse."

Tim sat down and appeared to be lost in thought for a few minutes.  Then he spoke up, "Okay, what it boils down to is that I just don't have the time.  I don't have one ounce of spare time to finish anything around here."

"Come on, now" I replied. "I'm not buying that.  You could make the time if you really wanted to."

He pointed towards the kids, "Yeah but THEY require so much attention.  Most of the weekend is wasted away just taking care of their basic needs."

Well, I did have to give him that.  Trying to get the 4 kids to get dressed, brush their teeth and eat breakfast on a Saturday morning can take up to 3 hours sometimes, depending on how unruly they want to be.

So Sunday morning rolled around and poor Tim, who has absolutely NO spare time, spent an entire hour watching The Justice League cartoon on Netflix.


Yes, people....an entire 60 minutes down the drain.  It took sheer willpower for me to keep my mouth clenched shut. 

Take a close look at the picture above. 

Does he look stressed out at all?  No. 

Does he look like a man whose children are requiring more of him than should be expected?  Definitely not. 

Does he look like an 8-year old boy trapped in a man's body?  Absolutely.

And we all know how important cartoons are.  I mean, God forbid, he miss an old episode of The Justice League...will they save the world yet again or will they be destined to a life of loneliness as outsiders of the human race?

All I can conclude from this is that men have extremely short attention spans.  They become bored easily and must find another new challenge before their brain cells wither away and die.

But what happens when ALL the projects are 90% done...then what? 

Well, I think the above picture says it all.

Funny thing, though....I expected him to get up off the sofa after watching only 90% of the show but he continued to lay there long after the credits had rolled.  Of course. 

Life sucks when you have no spare time.


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Monday, September 13, 2010

Well, I'll be darned....

It's very rare that I'm speechless...much to Tim's disappointment.

The other night I was sitting at the kitchen counter with my laptop, checking through my blog stats, when I noticed some traffic coming my way from WE Magazine's site....a link mentioning something about top women bloggers of 2010.

Naturally, my curiosity was peaked so I clicked on the link. And there it was in black and white. My blog....little ole' me....included in the list of 101 women bloggers to watch, according to WE Magazine.

Holy crap. I had to read it repeatedly to fully digest this. Seriously, me?

I felt like I had won an Emmy or something. Tim had just walked out the door and I ran out to the garage to catch him but the garage door was already closing. I didn't realize he had seen me trying to get his attention until the phone rang.

"Did you want something from the store?" he asked.

"No, you're not gonna believe this. I mean, I can't believe it. It's...uh, well, I had no idea...uh, I can't believe this," I blabbered breathlessly into the phone.

"What?!" he screamed back, obviously becoming frustrated with my inability to express my thoughts.

Gathering my wits, I explained, "Well, there's this magazine for women called WE and every year they put together a list of the top 100 bloggers to watch for..."

Tim interrupted, "Let me guess....you made the list".

Damn him. It was just like him to rain on my parade. I wanted to be the one to say the words, "I'm on the list".

It reminded me of the time when I finally told my mom I was pregnant with our 2nd set of twins. I had said, "I have HUGE news...you're not gonna believe it!"

She stated, "Hmmm, what? You're pregnant with triplets?" Kind of deflated my bubble a little bit, know what I mean?

Then Tim said, "That's awesome, sweetie. Maybe with some of the other recent recognition your blog has gotten you, you'll be able to make some more money from it".

I shook my head in silence. He'll never understand.

I mean, yeah, it would be amazing to bring in the kind of big money that Dooce earns from blogging but that's not my sole purpose.

I've earned what I call our "pizza money"....just a few dollars here and there, which allows us to enjoy bi-monthly dinners at the local pizza place. And I'm cool with that little amount.

However, what means the most is the recognition...it lights me up in a way that can hardly be explained to someone who doesn't have the same passion for it that I do.

When someone else notices and appreciates what I put out in the blogosphere...a piece of work which I poured my heart and soul into (along with a healthy dose of sarcasm)...well, it's like a warm welcome of gratitude.

To me, it means what I had to say mattered to others...it resonated with them, it spoke to them, it moved them. Perhaps it made them laugh, smile or cry...it made them FEEL something. Somehow and in some way, my words had an impact.
And in my little world, the feelings of acknowledgement and acceptance from seeing my blog included on a top 10 or top 100 list or being asked to contribute a piece of my writing to a charitable cause is worth its own weight in gold.

Long after the money is gone, the written word still lingers for everyone to read, including my children someday when they're older.

Well, I'll be darned....I guess I'm not so speechless after all.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pouring my heart out…if I could go back in time

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to pour my heart out again with Shell at Things I Can’t Say.

At the tender age of 15, I fell in love for the first time…so deeply that I lost myself completely.

I ate, breathed and lived for my boyfriend, who was a year older than me. To say this relationship was extremely toxic was putting it mildly.

I had just moved to Northern CA with my family when my dad got a job transfer. While I was broken-hearted to leave my friends in Florida, part of me was excited about making a fresh start somewhere new.

However, beginning over as a freshman at a school where all the kids had known one another most of their lives was hardcore. Upon returning home after my first day, I cried to my mom, "No one really talked to me. It was so awkward. I wish we had never moved."

Within a few months, I had made a few friends and was starting to feel more comfortable in my new surroundings.

That's when fate intervened.

I spotted Jimmy in the parking lot with his best friend one day. There was something about him that immediately captured my eye. He was tall and handsome with the sweetest smile I had ever seen. I had to meet him.

After a brief introduction through a mutual friend, Jimmy and I exchanged numbers and the rest was history, much to my parent's horror.

He came from a working-class family and lived in a modest home on the other side of town. While my parents found his parents to be dull and lacking in style, I thought they were warm and caring.

The more my parents tried to keep me away from Jimmy, the harder I fought with them to give me my own space. It was a battle they wouldn't win for a very long time.

For me, the sun rose and set around this guy. If he said the word "jump", I answered, "how high?" I would do anything for him...and I did.

After a few months of dating, he convinced me that if I didn't sleep with him, he'd get back together with his ex-girlfriend, who still came around from time to time to stare daggers at me.

I felt I had no choice...I whole-heartedly believed I couldn't live without him.

I was young and naive. And I fully presumed that I wasn't capable of being loved. After all, being raised by two people who were completely dysfunctional on their own and too wrapped up in their own little world left me feeling alone and unsure of what real love felt like.

To me, love was proving that you were worthy of someone's attention. Love was selfish, conditional and binding. Love was meant to be betrayed. Instead of making you feel joyous and happy, love made you feel ugly and bitter.

Any time I felt Jimmy slipping away from me, I would do something desperate to keep his attention. I wasn't above threatening to take my own life...or make him feel as if his life would be completely empty without me in it.

He betrayed my trust plenty of times by sleeping with other girls behind my back...although sometimes he was happy to flaunt it right in front of me. Instead of seeing him for what he truly was, I clung to him even tighter...begging him to stay with me, even though we both knew we were tragically wrong for one another.

I allowed him to abuse me, physically, emotionally and verbally. I use the word "allowed" because I could've walked away at any time...I could've told somebody and gotten help. But I was scared and ashamed.

Essentially, I believed I deserved to be treated in such a poor manner.

If I could go back in time, believe it or not, I wouldn't change a thing. My experience in this venomous relationship helped shape me into who I am today.

However, it does make me sad to look back and realize how little I valued myself....so much so that I didn't expect others to value me either. There were times where I felt my life was a mistake...I was simply taking up space on this earth with no purpose, no point of being.

So I clung to the idea of being with somebody who I thought cared about me...because belonging somewhere, even if it was completely harmful, felt good. Love was supposed to hurt, right?

Now, as a parent myself, it makes my heart ache tremendously to think of any of my children feeling this way...so desperate for love and attention that they would subject themselves to any type of abuse.

I long for them to be healthy, strong individuals who can think for themselves and make positive choices, even when in the most damaging of situations. I want them to value who they are as people and to realize what an important contribution they are to society.

Most of all, I want them to love every ounce of their being and hold the same expectation for those they call friends. I yearn for them to recognize the difference between real love and desperate love, but only because they understand what real love feels like.

It wasn't until many years later when I was drowning in yet another destructive relationship that I finally found my inner strength and refused to tolerate being mistreated any longer.

I stood up for myself, used my voice and and shouted "NO MORE!"

It felt good. And it felt real...because, finally, I had learned how to love myself, first and foremost.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to welcome more chaos into your life...by baking a wedding cake

A couple months ago, my stepdad’s niece called to tell me that she and her longtime boyfriend had finally decided to tie the knot. In the tradition of keeping things simple, they were going to get married at the courthouse and then have a reception over Labor Day weekend at my mom and stepdad’s house.

As we were discussing the details of the reception, she mentioned that they’d be serving store-bought cupcakes instead of wedding cake to help keep costs down.

"Oh no,” I said. “Let me make you a wedding cake. I’d be happy to do it! After waiting this long to get married, you and Mark deserve to have that moment where you get to smash cake into each other’s faces!”

She graciously accepted my offer and we discussed flavors and colors.

Now, I should probably clue you all in to the fact that I had no business offering to make anyone a wedding cake, let alone a family member. I mean, I’ve made birthday cakes for my kids and had a blast doing it but a wedding cake is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

A wedding cake needs to be perfect…it needs to be beautiful…most importantly, it needs to be impressive.

Shit. I guess a Toy Story cake wouldn’t fly.

I spent a couple weeks looking at various wedding cake pictures, trying to decide on a design. Julie’s only request was that it be a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. Simple enough. Thankfully, she wasn’t expecting something out of Ace of Cakes. The bar had been lowered, much to my relief.

Everything seemed to be falling into place except for one minor detail, which I had forgotten would need tending to. My kids….the 4 little spawn who suck the lifeblood out of me.

I sat them down and explained, “Mommy did something super crazy. I’m gonna need you guys to really work with me here and cooperate, k?”

They sat extremely still and stared at me with scared, wide eyes. “Mommy, what did you do? Is Daddy gonna be mad at you?”

“Well,” I answered. “I offered to bake a wedding cake for Julie and Mark, which is going to require a lot of attention. I’ll do most of it while you’re all at school and after you’re in bed at night but some of it will have to get done during the day when you’re home.”

The thought of competing for my attention with a shitload of buttercream frosting suddenly didn’t sound like a big deal to them. They clapped their little hands fiercely and squealed, “Can we lick the bowls?”

Nice to know my kids can be bought off with the slightest temptation of sugar.

Okay, so let’s get down to details…you know, in case any of you are thinking about offering to make a wedding cake for a friend or family member because, like me, you don’t have enough chaos in your life.

First and foremost, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to make a cake from scratch. Betty Crocker is famous for a reason, people. Trust her. Love her. She won’t let you down.

Oh, wait…you’re worried that the cake won’t taste good…concerned that it’ll be dry? No worries. Let me share a couple tips.

Immediately upon removing your cake from the oven, cover it with a clean dish towel. All that steam coming off of the cake will be forced back in, making it the moistest cake ever! Wait...is moistest even a word?

After leveling and torting your cake, dab a small amount of simple sugar syrup on the top of each layer with a small brush. The syrup is easy to make…it’s equal parts sugar and water. Just bring it to a boil on the stove and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour it into a cup and let it cool off. Then dab away.

Not only will it add a bit of sweetness to your cake, it will keep it super moist. You can even add flavoring to the syrup if you want to give your cake an extra unique taste.

Meet my 2 new BFF’s…”cake lifter” and “cake torter”.

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Both of these tools will simplify cake baking for you. The cake torter will help you tort your cake in a perfectly even manner. The cake lifter will help you take your layers on and off without the risk of damaging the cake.

I learned the hard way, after rushing to flip a layer back on the cake while hurrying to get the kids out the door to meet up with some friends. I practically cried like a baby as it fell to the floor in crumbles, resulting in me having to bake another 14-inch cake.

Bella hugged me tightly and said, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I mean, not that it’s my fault or anything. It’s your fault the cake fell. But I’m just sorry because you’re so sad.” Isn’t that sweet….sort of?

The best way to make sure all your layers are even is to use a level. Yes, it’s a carpenter’s tool but it comes in handy for cake baking too. Who knew, right?

Your heart will be filled with joy when you see that little bubble line up right there in the middle of your level. Kind of like when you witnessed your baby smile for the first time. Or when your toddler finally figured out that the toilet will not swallow him whole if he sits on it.

This would also be a good time to call your husband at work and warn him, “Uh, honey…I have to run out and take the kids to the park. But I’m just calling to let you know that you’ll probably get home before I will and the kitchen looks like a tornado blew through it. I will clean it when I get home. If, for some reason, you should get the urge to clean it up for me, you will be rewarded greatly for your efforts.”

He’ll assume you’re talking about sex but you can just buy him a milkshake from Jack in the Box on your way home. He’ll forgive you eventually for the misunderstanding. Or not. I apologize in advance if he holds a grudge for the next 20 years.

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Moving on…the key to avoiding all the crumby mess while frosting is to do a crumb-coat first, especially when icing a chocolate cake with light-colored frosting. It’s totally a bitch but it can be done.

Simply cover your cake in a thin layer of frosting and then put it in the fridge to harden up. Don’t worry about crumbs getting all mixed in with the frosting…that’s the whole point.

But when you put it in the fridge, all those nasty little crumbs will become immobilized in the frosting, not unlike the annoying fly that the kids found tangled up in a spider’s web on the window sill, which kept them preoccupied for whole 10.25 seconds.

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If you have time to kill, you can also leave your cake out on the countertop overnight…just be sure to cover it with saran wrap so it’s protected from wild animals running freely throughout your home. Or your kids. Whomever.

While you're waiting, take a minute to relax. I chose to watch Paula Deen on The Food Network, as she and her grown sons demonstrated how to make popcorn balls. I laughed my ass off every time she told her sons, "Be careful...you don't want your balls sticking together". Oh Paula...how ever did you get your sons to keep a straight face while filming that episode?

Once your crumb coat has hardened, you can go ahead and frost your cake. Even though the crumbs should be held in place by the thin layer of frosting, some may become loosened if you touch it with a spatula.

I prefer to fill a piping bag with frosting and just squirt it directly onto the cake. No coupler needed…just snip a hole in the bottom of the bag (you can even use a large ziploc bag if you don’t have a piping bag) and fill it with your frosting. Then you can use your spatula to smooth the frosting over the crumb coat. Your spatula never has to come into contact with any crumbs this way.

So now you have the final layer of frosting covering your cake and you want it to be smooth like a baby’s bottom, right? Okay, bad analogy, I know.

Here’s a little tip I’ve learned along the way….it’s called the Viva paper towel method. After frosting your cake, put it in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to crust up. Test it by touching it with your fingers. If no frosting comes off, you’re ready to smooth it down.

Grab a Viva paper towel (or any other paper towel that doesn’t have a design on it) and place the smooth side of the towel on your cake. Use your hand like an iron to smooth the frosting out (you can also use a fondant smoother if you have one). Just use very light pressure as you move your hand in a circular motion.

Do this to the top of the cake and the sides…you’ll be amazed at how flawless your frosting will look once you perfect this method.

From there, you can move on to decorating your cake. I wanted to do a fancy scrolling design but quickly figured out that I totally suck at piping so I decided to stick with something relatively easy and go with dots and ribbon.

I used a #3 tip for the dots and the ribbon is simply polyester ribbon that I bought at Joann’s. I was worried about the ribbon soaking up grease from the buttercream but I used double-sided tape on the back of the ribbon, thus protecting it.

I thought my biggest challenge would be getting the buttercream the perfect shade of aqua to match the ribbon but a friend of mine came over and made it her sole purpose to create magic with a couple bottles of gel food coloring.

She also brought her 5-year old son over to babysit Garrett and Landon. He works for cheap too…all it cost me was a couple glasses of juice and a nutrigrain bar. He has some openings in October if anyone needs a good sitter.

My friend suggested placing fresh flowers on the cake and was kind enough to run to the store and pick up a beautiful bouquet of alstroemeria. All was good until I was researching later that evening how to keep them at their freshest after placing them on the cake when I learned that the sap in the stems could be dangerous if ingested.

I’m pretty sure I heard God laughing at me right then.

So at 8:45 that night, I ran out to Joann’s and got some artificial flowers. Whew…major catastrophe averted.

At 11:30 pm on Friday night….after 4 days of preparing this cake….it was finally done.

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The cake topper was something Julie had wanted…and after waiting several years to get married, it was completely appropriate.

The cake did have some imperfections here and there. When I asked Tim what he thought, he said, “Well, sweetie, it looks amazing…especially if you’re standing 10 feet away.” Geez, thanks, honey…I think.

And I do realize that the grout on my kitchen counter needs to be cleaned. I’ll add that to my list of the other 432 things I need to get done around here.

The next day, we drove 45 minutes to my mom and stepdad’s house…with Tim driving 15 mph while I held the cake on my lap. And the kids yapping in the background, “When are we gonna get there?” and “Why are you driving so slow?” The spawn may be adorable but, damn, they’re impatient little boogers.

Julie and Mark loved the cake and I received many compliments on it throughout the day from other guests at the reception. The best part….everyone said it tasted amazing. I was over the moon!!

Here’s Landon, my little sugar junkie, enjoying a piece of cake…

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That smile says it all, doesn't it? It melted my heart when he said, "Mommy, you make my wedding cake too".

Uh, no....I don't think so. But at least the thought was nice.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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