Grace Turns Eleven


I guess all the baking Grace has had to do lately has had a positive effect on her, because she asked to have a cake decorating birthday party. I took full advantage of her skill set and assigned her to bake eight mini cakes, all from mixes so it wouldn’t overwhelm her. We invited two little friends, but sadly one was out of town this weekend and this is the only free weekend this entire month, so we had to press on. Fortunately, being a part of a large family practically guarantees a large turn out for any birthday. Unfortunately, it also guarantees that something else is going on, on your big day, and you will have to squeeze your celebration in between a meeting and an official Boy Scout event.


As soon as the meeting was over we frantically tidied the house and matched 205 pairs of socks.


Everyone pitched in. Mike was the only one allowed in the kitchen. He took over finger sandwich assembly, while I iced the mini cakes we had stored in the freezer last week.

Grace and I had already made various flowers out of Royal Icing, and we set those out, along with tubes of buttercream, and several kinds of sugar decorations.


About 10:30 Hope announced, “Gama home!” Grandma doesn’t realize her real home is here with us. As soon as our little friend, Emily, and her mother arrived, we got down to sweet business. Hope and Ethan needed minimal assistance at first, but everyone else worked with intense concentration. 


David and Paul piped airplanes on their cakes, while the older girls created beautiful masterpieces. The younger set had the goal of squeezing as much sugar as possible onto their cake and were not overly concerned with appearances.

Looking at all the swirls of mismatched buttercream on Jonathan’s cake prompted me to suggest we clean up the mess and eat something healthy. 

Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches

Southwestern Chicken Spirals

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Stuffed Eggs

Raspberry Lemonade Punch



With appetites satisfied, we moved into the living room to open presents. David saved up his wages from lawn mowing to surprise Grace with a new snorkel set. Ethan and Victoria found bits of leftover candy and party favors from other events and bestowed them upon their sister. 


Grandma Behler sent a gift card to Jo-Ann’s and Emily gave her some cash to support Grace’s crocheting hobby.


Grandma Beck also gave her some money, which will most likely be spent at Jo-Ann’s, as well. And Grandma really surprised her with a stuffed skunk. Not because she thinks Grace is a little stinker. The skunk story goes way back. Way, way back to when Grace was nearly three years old, traipsing down the sidewalk, on the way to the library. Hugely pregnant, I labored to keep up with her, and to my great dismay, she reached the library doors several minutes ahead of me. I was close enough to hear the stranger who emerged from those doors, leered at Grace and and gushed, “Hello pretty little girl! I love your yellow dress! Do you like yellow?” In answer to his impertinent questions, Grace twirled around, bent over, grabbed her behind, pulled her pudgy cheeks apart and said, “Psssshhhhhhttttt!!!!” Then she twirled back around and tripped lightly through the automatic doors, just as I caught up and gave the strange man the raised eyebrow. In explanation I offered, “I guess she is a skunk today,” but I did not feel an apology was in order. That’ll teach him to approach little girls who have outrun their chaperones. 


So months later when we found a stuffed skunk in a gift shop while on vacation, we found the dear little thing impossible to resist, because we love to laugh at the rude things our children do. (After we have taught them the proper way to behave, of course.) Skunky was immediately elevated to Grace’s inner circle of special lovies. Several years after that, while vacationing at Yellowstone, Skunky stayed behind. We were hundreds of miles away, if not home, before we made the discovery. We can only hope the maid adopted her, and took her to a loving home inhabited by a skunk-like little girl. Grace mourned. For years she would occasionally sigh and lament, “I wish I still had Skunky.” So when Grandma asked what Grace wanted for her birthday, I had a suggestion ready. Meanwhile, when Grace sighed and wished, I told her, “Good luck on that one. You don’t see stuffed skunks at the Dollar Store.” I didn’t want to give her any expectations that might diminish her surprise and joy at the upcoming skunk reunion. Grandma also gave her some headbands, incase a stuffed skunk wasn’t enough. 


Next to her stuffed animals, Grace loves to read and crochet. We gave her The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet and three children’s books about knitting, crocheting, and needle work, and a small cross stitch project. At least her fingers will be exercising. 



I got off really easy on the cake. Grace was distracted by the thrill of decorating her own cake and had no objections when I suggested a lemon raspberry cake with ruffle icing, which is a mix of Martha Stewart and The Barefoot Contessa. The Contessa has better recipes than Martha, but Martha does know how to make it all pretty. Mine wasn’t quite as pretty, but no one cared after they got it in their mouths. Regrettably, Grace was unable to blow out all eleven candles, but she wasn’t worried about her wish coming true. She confided that she always wished the same thing and it always came true. If that is the case, why waste a wish on it? Though I have heard that the secret to contentment is wanting what you already have. So in that case, I guess she gets her wish either way. And a happy birthday, too.

We sent Emily’s cake home with her and donated all the extras to the children’s own Sunday School classes this morning. David said he is very popular now. When you have excess calories, you should always share. 


© Being Fruitful, 2012