Today was a fun day in the Robertson household! It began, as usual, with Jake sneaking into my room to wake Benjamin up, as Benjamin always finds his way into our room during the middle of the night. This morning, Jake sneaked into the bedroom, and whispered to Ben that he should wake up and watch the “Super Mario Bros. Super Show” with him, as a birthday present. (Nice present, though they do this nearly every morning. I adore Netflix, by the way.) Ben sprung up and headed for the living room. I laid in bed a while longer, waiting for my alarm to go off, but found Ben to be my next wake up call. He wanted to lay back down because he was still tired… Ben began to tell me that he knew for sure he was 5. He felt bigger, after all, and so of course he was five years old now.
Ryan and I laid there and cuddled him for a while, teasing him that I decided I would have his birthday instead, so Ben was still 4 and I was going to be 31… but Ben didn’t think that was such a good idea. Next, I tried to convince him that he wasn’t good enough this year to turn 5, so instead he’d go back to being 3 years old. He knew he had been a very good boy and that I was teasing. We talked and teased for a long while before really starting the day, and it was a very nice morning.
Ryan took Jake to school, and I began to prepare for the day with Benjamin. I had an ambitious list of things to accomplish on this particular day off, and first on the list was making cupcakes for Benjamin to take to his preschool class to celebrate. Ben had picked out a white cake with sprinkles and a vanilla frosting, only because we wouldn’t allow him to get chocolate. (There are so many allergies in school, you’re always safer with vanilla…. and really, he’s lucky he could take cupcakes. Jake’s teacher this year is really strict and I think he will be taking whole wheat crackers and broccoli for his birthday treat…) We did allow Ben to pick a chocolate cake mix for his birthday cake though. I normally buy the birthday cakes and treats around our house, but I had the day off and in the interest of saving money, I thought this year I would try to create something useful. I am pretty much useless in the kitchen, but I had a box with easy directions, some additional tips from my mother, and Benjamin, who is a self proclaimed “good maker” (as in, ‘one who makes’ [food]) and so I thought I’d take a stab at it.
After making Ben wash his hands twice, (once for good measure), and locating the fire extinguisher, (because I cook that poorly…) I had him mix the simple ingredients into a bowl and let him use the mixer to beat the ingredients together. He did really well this time, not letting any of the batter spray the wall or the floor. He also didn’t lick a single drop at that point. While I cleaned the beaters and things so they would be ready for the next batch of baking, Benjamin placed cupcake liners in each cup of the muffin trays, and then I began to fill them. Once I slipped the muffin trays into the oven, Ben insisted on liking the beaters as all kids do. I worried about him contracting salmonella poisoning from the raw eggs, but carried on anyways because I such a long list of things to do. I turned on the oven light and set the timer, and Ben sat on the floor watching through the oven window patiently as the cupcakes began to take shape. He stood back patiently as I began mixing the cake batter for his birthday cake. Oddly, he was so enthralled with his cupcakes that he didn’t think to help me with the cake, which made for a much quicker cake transaction. Before too long we successfully got the cupcakes fully cooked and out of the oven to cool. Ben was being very impatient to frost them, so I had to usher him out of the kitchen and back to the television for safety.
As we were working on our baking projects, Benjamin received birthday calls from Grandma Goo (which excited him so much he sang the entire version of “the Cat Came Back” to her) and from Grandma Linda, along with a few of our friends.
I resumed onto my baking. I recently found out a former coworker had lost her battle with cancer, so I was making cookies to take up to my Affinity family while Ben was at school. Just as I got the cookies ready to bake, I stepped into the bathroom to clean up the flour mess I had made. While I was in there, Benjamin had made his way back to the kitchen. I came back out to find that Benjamin was quickly devouring a cupcake which had been intended for his classmates. (Not the first time he’s done this. He once got into Jake’s birthday cake before Jake, even though I had masterfully hid it on top of the refrigerator. He’s a sweetheart, but he’s certainly my more mischievous boy.) He had made his point though, as obviously the cupcakes were now cool enough frost and prepare for school. So, I made him go clean up, get dressed and ready, and I finished frosting the cupcakes and added colorful rainbow sprinkles. Ryan was kind enough to package the cupcakes up so that I could easily take them into class before he headed to work.
I then took Benjamin to school. I was carrying all the cupcakes in various containers, so Benjamin had to use his “big, strong muscles” to open up doors for me and the like, which was actually a very big help indeed. When we walked into his classroom, his preschool teachers had made him a special birthday crown. The crown was a standard birthday crown, made of special blue construction paper because blue is his favorite color. They were also thoughtful enough to have printed out a picture of a train, a race car, and a gingerbread man along with a few other birthday odds and ends to decorate the crown with. When they placed the crown on his head, Benjamin danced around the room singing and jumping and very excited. (Perhaps the sugar was kicking in???)
While Benjamin was away at school, I sat down and decided to tackle the issue of trying to figure out how on Earth a cake gets decorated. I hate baking, and I had already done way more than my fair share of it for the year in this one day. But, I was optimistic, because I hadn’t burned anything, including both the food and the house around it, so…. perhaps I was learning after all. I sat and stared at my cake for a long time. Eventually, I started to frost it. My mother gave me some tips on getting a good smooth frosting look, which worked out really nicely. Next, I decided to make a soccer ball pattern. (I dunno? It was a white round cake and Ben just started soccer… when I asked him originally if he wanted a special cake or a party for his birthday, his only input was, “no, I don’t want a party, because I will have to share my cake then.”) I carefully used a toothpick to begin tracing hexagonal shapes into the cake. Luckily, I had a lot of black writing frosting left from a project over the winter, and so I used that to fill in the spots on the soccer ball. I was having a difficult time getting precise lines, so I decided to use my left over chocolate chips from my cookies to make outlines. (That actually turned out looking better and tasting yummier, picture seen above.) I was also having trouble figuring out the pattern of random black dots… It turns out, if you actually look at a traditional soccer ball, the white spots are hexagons, but the black spots are actually pentagons, which makes for a unique pattern. It was too late for this on my cake, so I just decided to use the oddly clustered white spots for the writing. I also had a blue frosting writer from the same project I mentioned earlier, and I used that to put Ben’s name on the cake, and to put a “5” on it. I then covered the cake carefully and hid it in the microwave, hoping desperately that Benjamin would not find it and devour it before it was the appropriate time.
I picked Jake and Ben up from school and we went to the disc golf shop to take Ryan some cookies. Then, we went home, and Jake and Ben played together while I worked on cooking dinner. (No kidding, I cooked more today than I do in a normal year. I even peeled potatoes! I might not be digging Ryan working after all…) Ryan was kind enough to bring home a rotisserie chicken and we ate dinner as soon as he got home. While we were eating, Benjamin got a call from his Grandma Jan, and we decided to have her call us via Skype so she and my father could sing happy birthday to Ben. Ben blew out his candles, and then opened his presents. I hadn’t remembered to buy wrapping paper, and I have only Christmas paper lying around, so Jake had helped me decorate Ben’s “wrapping paper” earlier in the week. Ben seemed to love his unique designs. He said, “Jacob! You are the bestest present decorating for a kid EVER!” I think Jake was pleased.
Ben received a few Super Mario Bros. action figures that he had seen on the internet and really wanted. I had bought a similar action figure over the summer, and he played with him (Luigi) so often his head wound up falling right off, so I knew this would be a big hit. I also got him some boxing gloves that can be used to hold the Wii remotes when playing Wii boxing. This idea “struck” me when Ben kept putting his Spongebob slippers on his hands and smacking me in the head repeatedly. Ben seemed to love the presents and he went right to the computer to show off to his Grandma Jan and Grandpa Wayne how good he could put up his dukes.
After eating his ice cream and cake, Jake and Ben went to work trying to use his fabulous new gifts.
I was pretty impressed with how well both boys actually played with the new toys. They are generally not good at pretend playing unless I really help prompt them, but this time, they both seemed eager to play. Jake retrieved Ben’s Imaginext castle, and they used that to simulate King Bowser’s castle. They lined up characters in various places, and I watched Ben run Luigi all around the house and the castle, while Jake answered him with various other characters. They played well for about and hour, until I finally had to convince them it was bed time.
While tucking Benjamin into bed, I asked him what his favorite part of his birthday had been. He simply said, “I liked being five years old, Mama.” He had said this once earlier in the day also, and to quote Jacob, “Good thing! You’re going to be 5 years old for 365 more days, so I’m glad you like it.”
All in all, I think each of us had a fantastic day celebrating the anniversary of Ben’s birth. I can’t wait to watch the boys resume playing with the Nintendo themed items tomorrow.