Here in Eden Prairie, the local food shelf offers a program called Fare-For-All. Once a month, you can stop in to the site and pick up a few boxes of fresh vegetables, frozen meats, bread and other whole grains etc. for a super low price. The idea is that everyone should be able to afford to feed their families good, healthy food. Today was the day. But we missed it. Again....

You see, today was also the first day of first grade for Aidan. In order to celebrate, we gave him the option of going to Dairy Queen (oh, please pick Dairy Queen, PLEEEEEASE!) picking up a cake or other assorted treat at Costco (oh, oh, oh....if not Dairy Queen, go for Costco, pleeeease, pick Costco!) or we could make a batch of cookies or cake at home (please, whatever you do, don't pick the cake.....pleeeease choose cookies! Come on, go for the cookies!)

He chose homemade cake. Now, you may ask why that was even an option. I have asked myself the same question over and over but alas, I have no good answer other than chalking it up to another momentary lapse of good judgement....which seems to not be so momentary, having started last week when I told the kids they could choose to play with whatever they wanted while I ran on the treadmill and about 10 minutes in Madeline came to tell me Lily needed help with the glue bottle, because it was empty now....and I soon discovered that in that very brief time, she had managed to empty an entire new bottle of white school glue all over two bookshelves stacked with giant legos in between...."Look mom, we made a lego sandwich!" After cleaning up, I told them to choose something for which they would NOT get in trouble and after 5 more minutes, Aidan came running in covered head-to-toe in the entire box of band-aids we had just bought at the store....."Mom, I'm a mummy," he says, as if this would be a get-in-trouble-free-activity. So you see, this lapse of judgement thing is apparently chronic....and a wee bit genetic...

At any rate, Kurt had come home early this afternoon with fever and chills and so I was able to set off for the store leaving Aidan behind, playing computer games and keeping watch of Lily, who, having lost all access to the art room FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE due to her stylish wall and furniture artwork earlier in the day, was bound to abide by house rules the rest of the day. (I said it was chronic did I not?)

At the store, Madeline became uncharacteristically devilish, biting or pinching Liam every time I turned around, apparently thrilled at her new found power. (How exciting to get THAT kind of reaction from such a tiny creature!) After threatening to shave off her hair, force her to grow long, curling fingernails (like those in the Guiness Book of Records which she is certain to have nightmares about tonight), and worse yet, refusing to let her eat any of the cake if she touched him again, we finally had everything we needed. At that point, I turned around and saw the boxed cake mixes on sale for $1. As a veteran mom, I knew the best thing to do for myself and my family was to put everything back and grab a box. But no. I was now a mom on a mission to bake the perfect 1st-day-of-school-cake from scratch....with 4 kids...and a sick husband....at dinnertime.

We arrived back home at 4:15. This is the normal time for me to prepare dinner so that we can eat around 5. Since Kurt was not feeling well, I decided to forgo making the terriyaki fish over rice with the side of vegetable egg rolls that was on the menu. Given that, I saw no problem with squeezing in the baking of the cake. After all, while it was in the oven, I would have plenty of time to put together the homemade buttercream frosting and still get dinner made while waiting for the cake to cool down before the decorating....right?

It was about the time I got the first phone call from Kurt, who was down in the basement and needed me to bring him more covers ("Karen, I feel like it is 10 degrees down here!"....um, because it is about that down there....) that I knew things might not go as planned. And then, when I started making the frosting and realized my box of powdered sugar was all but empty and the cake was cooking too fast on the top, and Lily came running over asking me to help her "scrape off the black stuff from the house" (not a promising sentence really); and after turning off the blender and taking the sizzling chicken off the stove, I followed her over to find that she and Liam had been digging in our potted hibiscus tree and Liam was eating the soil from the pile he was sitting in on the hardwood floor, and as I was cleaning it up, my self-proclaimed fifth child called to ask if the cake was ready yet, and would I mind bringing him something to eat and some hot tea and...oh shoot, the cake!...AHHHHHHHHHHH!

But I learned some very important lessons today. I found out you can make your own powdered sugar by blending it for a very long time. But no matter how long you blend it, it is still TOO gritty for frosting...but if you add an entire pint of whipping cream, you can kind of fix the texture....but then it doesn't quite taste right....at all....and the fat kind of sticks to the roof of your mouth indefinitely... And I also learned that you can't really fix a cake that gets crusted on top and bottom because the oven cooks too hot...and too long because of the baby eating soil. And that my kids would have been perfectly happy just squeezing big clumps of blue store-bought decorating icing over their ice cream, skipping the spongy, yet crusted, cake altogether. And that two boneless, skinless chicken tenders is enough chicken for all four kids, plus some, when they know they are getting cake later.

And even though it was pretty much a travesty of a cake, they actually ate it....Madeline said she loved everything but the crust, and shoot, Lily went as far as licking the frosting off the floor after having accidentally dropped her entire plateful of cake....when falling out of her chair, that came down on top of her....you know, because that's what kids do.

And as for Aidan, he had seconds...of the ice cream anyway...and I think, when my back was turned of course, he may have finished up the entire bottle of blue decorating icing. So, he might find out tomorrow just what blue food coloring can do to a person...which will make his second day of school just as memorable as the first. Hee hee hee!


  1. I know you don't want to hear this now, but powdered sugar is just sugar and cornstarch blended/ground together.

  2. Shoot, you'd think I could have found that online! Oh well! (Aidan still claims the frosting is really good....I assure you though, it isn't!)


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