Friday, December 16, 2011

Double Digits (Babble)

I have a kid who is ten.  I’m having trouble settling my mind around that idea.  Ten years is such a substantial number.  If you say you’re going to put something off for ten years it sounds like it may as well be a million.  But now I can look back ten years and I’m still a mom then.  How crazy to think back that far to myself in my early thirties with one tiny baby who somehow dominated all my time.

Aden was a great training baby, though.  She was easy and healthy and sweet.  We still had to deal with vomit and diapers and poop and spit up and sleepless nights and croup and weird rashes and teething and all the other things that go into life with a baby–I have not forgotten the endless work of new parenting and am not romanticizing it, but Aden was unusually patient for a baby.  Whatever mistakes we made she was kind to us about.  She looked at us trustingly with her beautiful blue eyes and forgave us with smiles as we tried to figure out what we were doing.  She gave lovely little hugs that barely reached around part of my neck.

Now that tiny little baby comes up to my chin and jabbers on the phone with her friends and watches her little brother for short stretches if her dad and I both need to go out.  It’s…. unbelievable sometimes.

Aden just hosted her first sleepover for her party.  It went exceedingly well.  Well enough that I won’t try to talk her out of another one.  It helped that the girls were all on the first floor at the back of the house, and Ian and I sleep on the second floor in the front.  Rumor has it they stayed up until 2, but I didn’t hear anything and all the girls took care of themselves just fine.  It also helps that I genuinely like all of Aden’s friends.  I was even impressed as we were making pizza and eating cake to discover that most of them were fans of Dr Who, liked the Marx Brothers, and the movie they put in to watch when the rest of us went to bed was The Princess Bride.  (I was tempted to stay up and watch it with them, but I know I would have just brought down the mood by being unable to resist coming up with boring rules about where they could or could not spray their silly string.)  We keep a mirror ball in our living room (what? you don’t?), so that got some use in a game of freeze dancing.
There was also a game Aden invented called ‘Clemen-toss’ that involved rolling clementines onto a target.  (The rule in our house is yes, you may juggle the clementines, but you must then eat whatever you drop.)

I had trouble with the cake this time, though.  I wanted to try something new and it wound up being a learning experience.  Which is another way of saying a time consuming annoyance, but one I volunteered for so I can’t really complain.  (Although at the time I got very whiny, and Aden was the mature one saying, “It doesn’t matter what it looks like, it will still taste good!”)

Aden didn’t have any ideas at first for her own cake, so I suggested we do a checkerboard cake, but with all different colors inside instead of just two.  Sort of a rainbow checkerboard.  The idea is you have three round layers, each with three concentric circles in them that when stacked the right way look like a checkerboard when you cut into the whole thing.  I did that once for Aden when she was two back before there were kits for doing it, and I just piped the batter into the pans using a ziploc bag.  I picked up an actual jig for making checkerboard cakes a while back and wanted to try it, and doing it in lots of colors sounded fun.
We just made some basic white cake from a box and added food coloring.  But white cake is not as hearty as something like chocolate, and the top layer just fell apart when I put it on.  Not good.  I ended up scraping it off, along with the custard filling between the layers and had to send Ian out to the store for more cake mix.  I remade the custard and the top layer, but you can see the failed bit on the table.
The original plan was to pour chocolate ganache over the whole thing, but it was all too lumpy and gappy to try that with, so I found a chocolate butter cream frosting recipe online to use instead.  The frosting spread like a dream but tasted a little strong, and that particular recipe made a TON of frosting.  (But I was glad I saved it because I had to make a last minute cake for Mona to take to class for a party.)
Frosting hides a lot of sins.
After I suggested the checkerboard cake, Aden came up with some concept of a sheet cake in the shape of a dragon, but not like her sister had last year.  She wanted to draw a shape and cut it out, but she wanted the checkerboard thing too, even though I said that wouldn’t really work right that way.  She ended up drawing a dragon with frosting onto the finished cake.  (Which WordPress isn’t letting me download a photo of for some reason….)

Aden’s getting pretty good with her own baking and decorating skills.  She made her own cupcakes to take to school this year.  White cupcakes dipped in chocolate ganache, and then she made butter cream frosting and did all the decorating herself.  I showed her how to use different piping tips and then she did it all on her own (with some help from Quinn in the chocolate quality control department).

Anyway, the checkerboard cake sort of worked.  I think I know how to do it better next time with less grumbling and fewer trips to the store.
The kids all liked it and it tasted good, so that was all that really mattered.  It was a tasty kind of experiment.

And did I mention my daughter is ten?  Wow I love that girl.  Best decade ever.  Can’t wait to see what the next one holds in store.

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