Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blue and Gold and Another Cake

Last Friday was a busy, busy day. I had four kids to feed and get off to school, four little ones to bundle into the car, two little ones to drop off at preschool and two little ones to accompany down to the church to decorate for the Blue and Gold. After chasing balloons all over the parking lot, cursing lack of set up (read: zero), much panic and sweat (17 tables are HEAVY), enlisting the entire arriving district meeting for help as well as sweet Tiffany who drove down with her little one, the gym looked like someone had thrown up red white and blue all over on a fifty dollar budget and my job was done. Back to preschool to pick up two little ones and home to make jello salad and cake and receive another little one for the afternoon.

Max had to bring a cake representing something patriotic or an American landmark. Sticking to his eccentric M.O., Max chose the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River. No kidding.

So, in case you are wondering, or have a blue and gold banquet coming up and need a cake version of the Rocky Mountains, here is the play by play.

Bake a rich, heavy chocolate cake in this pointy bunt pan which I just happened to have.

Cut the peaks apart.

Adhere the peaks to your cardboard thingy with big globs of chocolate butter cream.

Roll out some grey fondant and carefully place over the top. Ooops, it ripped. No worries though, because now we need snow!

Cut out sections of white fondant and stick them to the peaks with a paintbrush and water. Enlist all other children in the house to eat the scraps of fondant.

Roll out blue fondant, cut out a river and voila! It's done.

There was some stiff competition, but in the end, Max's cake, the volcano that really lights up and the cool shark cake were declared the winners. Max was endlessly pleased and mom was beat.

These three polished off the last of the mountains the next afternoon.

Max received his wolf badge, gold arrow point, silver arrow point and his chess, astronomy, swimming, music, geography and basketball belt loops. When we got home, Max told me that it was a really, really good day, one he was going to remember when he needed a good day. What a great kid.

Sweet Calvin

Hiding from his siblings . . .

. . . where he fell asleep last night (Mom was teaching card class and unavailable for nighttime snuggles).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two Peas

Two peas in a pod. Tristan had the pleasure of a couple of hours of play-time with Evi on Friday. They are close to age and size and share a fierce love of puzzles. Tristan better watch out though, Calvin has already staked his claim to marry Evi - that is, if she ever grows taller than my knee.

New Treasures in Rosemount

After running errands all morning looking for cheap decorations for the Blue and Gold Banquet, the kids and I made time to stop in a see the new library in Rosemount. I think this one might be closer to our house than the one in Eagan.

I love the space - especially the soaring ceilings. I love the natural light, the kids tables and the fact that all of the books and such are brand spankin' new! Calvin was not impressed with the lack of computers in the children's section. I was not impressed with the very modern and very uncomfortable seating. Nevertheless, we spent several hours hanging out and getting to know the new space!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Views from my window - It Snowed Again

Just some photos of the weather last week. It was looking rather dingy around here and the new blanket of snow has brightened things up considerably.



We did the unacceptable and left our garbage bins out overnight. Snowplows around here have no patience for garbage bins.

A pigeon on the back deck - they don't seem to mind the snow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Calvin's Favorite Book

My sister in law Amber sent this great little cookbook for the kids. For some reason, it has become Calvin's favorite book. He carries it around the house with him constantly and spends a lot of time studying the simple recipes with their kid friendly illustrations.

This weekend, I was frying up some corn tortillas with refried black beans and cheese for the kids. Calvin watched me for a little while and then ran off to get his cookbook, flipped it open and showed me a recipe saying "you made this!" He was right! There was a recipe in the book for exactly what I had just made. Kids are perceptive.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Football Cake

On Friday, I had another sports-themed cake order. This time it was a football field. I made the green and white fondant the night before and managed to find little football men and goalposts at Party City.

First I made my favorite heavy chocolate devils food cake in a 9 X13 pan. When it was completely cool, I split the cake and filled it with a thick layer of rich chocolate cream cheese icing. Then I covered the entire thing with butter cream.

After the butter cream was cold, I rolled out the green fondant and placed it over the cake.

I used a pizza cutter this time to trim the cake which was much easier EXCEPT, do not buy your pizza cutter at Walmart for less than $2.00 like I did. See the wing things under the blade (two photos down)? One of them jabbed into my fondant causing a tear. I curse that pizza cutter.

Between steps, the cake had to go outside to cool quickly. The boys were on bird/squirrel watcher duty. They banged on the window and opened the door and hollered at any critters who came near my cake. Very helpful - except when they were distracted by stealing pieces of leftover fondant from the counter.

I did the little balls of fondant along the edge again though I have since learned that there is a sugar paste gun thingy that can make these borders for you. Mine taste better than sugar paste and they have the advantage of looking like healthy little peas.

Here is the end product - it weighed about 20 pounds!

And here is the mess!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Birthday Boy

Max turned 9 on Tuesday. It was just about the most tiring day ever - until maybe this last Friday, but more on that later.

On Tuesday, I started a new job - watching 7 year old twin boys before and after school. They arrive at about 7:00am and I feed them breakfast and make sure they do 1/2 hour of reading each day before school. Tristan comes on Tuesday too - as do Johnny and Natalie. We had a full house!

On Tuesday, I sent Max off to school with treats for his class. I found these sweethearts for $.16/each on clearance after Valentine's Day. A little card stock and printed tags and they were ready (I made them that morning).

On Tuesday, I walked Sophie, Max and the twins to school, brought Max his treats which he forgot and met with the twin's teachers. On Tuesday, I took Natalie and Calvin to preschool.

On Tuesday, I made a birthday cake - a new recipe. Poppy seed cake with an orange cream cheese icing and a traditional English custard filling. It is ridiculously delicious and I may have eaten a half of the cake this week. You think I jest.

On Tuesday, I walked over to the school with the 4 little ones to walk home with the twins.

On Tuesday, Sophie decided to make Max a present. She came up with the idea, design and execution all on her own. I had my hands full with 8 kids and trying to make a birthday dinner and frost a 4-layer cake before it was cool. This is what she made:

It was so cute, I got a little teary. She knows Max loves Star Wars, so she made him a light saber - and a pretty dang good one if I say so myself! She was so excited to give it to him, she could not even wait until the dinner dishes were cleared off the table. What a sweet sister!

On Tuesday, my oldest child turned nine. On Tuesday, I reflected on my son Max:

  • He is a very devoted reader. He does not go anywhere without a book. He reads in the car, he reads as he walks to and from school, he reads in the bathroom, in school, at breakfast and dinner. He reads all of the time. His favorite books this year? The Redwall Series, The Warrior Series, Artemis Fowl Series, The Keys to the Kingdom Series, The Edge Chronicles, Goosebumps Series and The Chronicles of Narnia Series.
  • He is very energetic. When not reading, he is running, jumping or wrestling his siblings. He loves soccer and basketball and riding his bike.
  • He started Cub Scouts this year. He worked hard to earn his Wolf badge - with help from our friend Ken and his Dad. He finished the night before his birthday by getting up with his Dad at 11:00pm to go pick up trash in the neighborhood by flashlight - don't ask.
  • He is inquisitive. Max loves to learn and has his Dad's freakishly good memory (lucky him - I have the worst memory). His interests are broad and include astronomy, dinosaurs, drawing comics, Calvin and Hobbes, airplanes, military stuff - like tanks and the world wars, chess and birds.
  • He is very easily stressed. He is concerned about meteorites, tornadoes, bad guys, and sickness. He likes to have a light on in the bathroom at night - both for the monsters and to read when he should be sleeping. It takes him a LONG time every night to get to sleep. He is a champion at stalling. He chews on the necks of all of his shirts. None of them can be handed down to Calvin.
  • He loves couscous and rice, yogurt and fruit. He loves Culvers and El Azteca. He always tells me what a great cook I am - I love that.
  • He is doing really well with his piano though it is still hard to get him to sit still and practice for 30 minutes straight. It usually takes over an hour and 10 reminders to get it done. He has a great singing voice.
  • He still thanks Heavenly Father for birds, animals, trees, bugs and stars when he prays and then goes on to ask that no one on the earth dies or gets sick or is killed in a flood that night.
  • He loves his family. He loves to give kisses and hugs and positively glows when praised. Max is handsome and refuses to get a short haircut this year. I am hoping we can buzz it come summer.
  • Max is somewhat oblivious to the world around him. He gets lost in his own little world and ends up being told instructions several times before he actually hears who is talking to him. He makes airplane whooshing and shooting noises when he unloads the dishwasher and for about an hour before falling asleep.
  • His favorite birthday gift was a pair of binoculars from his Dad.
  • Max is a great kid. We feel blessed to have him in our home and under our care. We love Max very much! Happy birthday kiddo!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The end of Valentines

This is the end - I promise.

Our front door, full of Valentine crafts.

The Valentine clip Sophie and I made on the 14th.

A worksheet Sophie brought home from school - evidently she is going to marry Luke because he is the best artist in the class.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Preschool Art Show

On Thursday night (day one of the cold nasty flu thing for me), I took the kids over to Calvin's Preschool Art Show. He was super excited about the whole event and very anxious to show me the work he had done.

Basically, it is held at the community center and all of the kids in the city run preschool program come and make a craft, show their parents their artwork and then sing songs. I made a craft too.

I was very impressed with Calvin - he went right up in front of the audience and sang his songs and did his sign language and motions like a natural little performer! It helped that he was standing next to his best buddy, Luke.

Argh, this kid! I am in no way prepared for him to go off to school in the fall! I am already in mourning - this is my baby boy. This morning as I was getting dressed, he climbed into my bed and asked me for this many minutes (using his fingers to show me) of snuggles. How could I resist?