Monday, February 13, 2017

Party Time!

It's so hard to believe, but Carter's 4th birthday is rapidly approaching!  I don't know how it happened, but my little tiny baby is now a legit big kid.  Four years ago right now I was barely functional despite being more than three weeks from my due date, and I couldn't fathom how I'd make it through three more weeks of sciatica at my desk or feeling like I'd be birthing a baby in the middle of Wegmans every time I spent more than 10 minutes there.  And now, suddenly, the baby wreaking all of that havoc is as old as his brother was when I got pregnant...and that took forever to do in the first place, or so it seemed at the time.  So, in a couple days we'll be celebrating his big day.

But in the meantime I had to plan him a party, and with Craig's crazy work schedule this time of year, it was almost impossible to pick a date.  Add in a couple trips for my parents and Craig's brother's kids' busy sports schedules, and I basically raised the white flag and picked the only date where I knew Craig and my parents could be there.  The cousins had sports, unfortunately, but it's almost impossible to find an off-day for them and Craig's schedule had to be #1, and this was pretty much IT.  So Sunday afternoon it was!  It turned out that after a very uneventful weather forecast leading up to it, suddenly we had ice and sleet in the morning and snow in the forecast for the afternoon.  Ugh.  Good thing we scheduled it early to avoid Jacob's lacrosse schedule, because that allowed us to get everyone back out and on the road before things got too bad.  It ended up being a pretty small group but it was nice to have everyone at our house to celebrate our little man.

Of course, it wouldn't be a birthday party at my house without a cake of my child's choosing, and this year Carter was dead set on Spider-Man.  He settled on it months ago when I started asking, and every time I asked, he gave the same answer.  Until last week, of course.  But he was quickly swayed back once I got him imagining ways to make it cool.  But despite scanning Pinterest, I only had a basic idea of what I wanted to do and didn't come up with a final plan until the last minute.  And even then, it changed.

I had seen a cool cake on Pinterest, a very plain cake with a Spider-Man figure suspended from a string between two sticks.  That got me thinking of stealing one of Carter's guys, and the best one seemed to be one that is made to sit on a motorcycle.  But then we talked about having him climb a wall, but most of the things I thought of to build a wall were either filled with gluten (which would make the cake a no-go for Jacob) or just didn't seem feasible.  Another issue was that I wanted to frost it in red, but I couldn't find premade frosting that color and the last time I tried to make red (Jacob's second birthday), I used my entire bottle of food coloring and still only had a dark pink.  I read up on it a bit and decided to get something stronger from the craft store.  Finally, I was originally thinking of doing a round cake, but then I started thinking about it more, and I realized that if I made a square one, I could cut out one quarter of it, flip it up to the top, and create a wall for Spidey to climb that way.  I had never done anything like that, but that became my plan. 

I baked the cakes on Saturday afternoon and decided to do the crumb coat of frosting that night after the Knighthawks game.  The cutting actually went well and the structure seemed fine.  At first I was totally freaked out about the red frosting because it still looked dark pink.  But it seemed to get a little redder after a while, and even though it still looked pink, when I compared it to the figure, it actually looked fine.  Another element I thought about using was a candle shaped like a four.  I realized in looking at Jacob's old cakes that I had a four candle (I used it on his soccer ball cake) so I brought that out and thought about adding that.  As I was frosting, I got a little nervous about running out of red.  And that was when I had the thought of using some white to do what I called, "the front porch" of the cake.  I thought it was a nice contrast and it gave me a good spot for Carter's name and a four, particularly if I didn't use the candle.  I finished off the base coat and finally went to bed.

Sunday morning I finished up the frosting, added some webs (thanks Pinterest), and did the blue detailing around the bottom.  I decided to not use the candle after all, and did the finishing touches with the name, number, and our climbing Spidey!  And voila...

I have loved most of my cakes, but this one holds a special place because of the unique structure.  I have really been proud of my creations, even in their imperfections (and there were plenty here!), but this one made me smile!  And when I showed it to Carter, the giddy look on his face was priceless!

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon before the lunchtime party making food--Buffalo chicken dip, baked pasta (premade the night before), broccoli rice casserole, and salad.  My mom did a veggie tray for me when she arrived, and we finished it off with pizza and wings. 

When my Uncle Jeff arrived, he decided I needed a picture with my creation, and since the camera doesn't get turned on me too often, I obliged.  It turned out really well, actually...

Carter just had a couple gifts to open, plus a bunch of cards (with money and gift cards, which he's really excited about!).  But he did open this gift, a Sabres helmet and jersey, from Craig's aunt and uncle.  They actually sent the present back with us at Christmas just in case they couldn't make the party.  It survived until the party, and I didn't forget to pull it out, either!

Carter got this Batman movie, and he insisted on watching it during the party!

He was very excited to get a Transformer Rescue Bot from Uncle John's family...

Soon enough it was cake time, and by then he had changed into his new Batman shirt!

Everyone enjoyed their cake, and after a little more socializing, most of the attendees got on the road before the weather got too much worse.  Of course, after some cleaning up and relaxing, I headed back out into the snow to do some Valentine's shopping and wrap up Carter's birthday shopping.  We got a few more inches of snow overnight, which made for a messy commute this morning when I had to leave extra early for a work meeting.  But between the house cleaning, the cake, the food prep, and two lacrosse games, it was a very quick, very busy weekend.  And now I'm looking forward to a fun week of special stuff before another concert with my college roommate Mary this weekend!

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