Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Make An Alligator Cake

Bug has known for quite some time now that his birthday was in January. Fortunately, he also knew that January came after December and after Christmas.

Unfortunately, his birthday is towards the end of the month, so for a few weeks we had to endure "Is it my birthday YET? It's January! I should be turning four!"

About two weeks before his birthday, we asked him what kind of cake he wanted. The first thing out of his mouth? "Alligator cake mommy!" Not only that, he wanted CHOCOLATE alligator cake.


All I have to say is - thank heavens for the Internet!! Turns out that this particular endeavor isn't so hard.

I baked 2 boxes of cake mixes (Duncan Hines devil's food in case you were curious); one in a regular 9x13 rectangular pan, and one in a fluted pan (bundt pan, but not a 'real' bundt pan). Oh, and I also baked lots of cupcakes for Bug to take to school; 6 of them were used for the legs & eyes.

I cut the rectangle into a Christmas-tree like shape (the mouth is the top of the 'tree'), and the bundt cake into thirds. With the leftovers from the rectangle, I added a 2nd layer to the head, and used a bunch of pieces to assemble a tail.

Kind of ugly, isn't it? Very uneven! This is where frosting is your friend. After whipping up a batch, I used it to glue things together & level things out.

Once I'd finished that, I tinted the rest of the icing green (light green mama! dark green alligators are BAD gators! very scary!), I used my icing squirter (how do you like my use of technical jargon) to squirt the stars. Honestly, that's the quickest part of the whole endeavor!

Here's a slightly better overhead shot of him:

I used bamboo skewers (cut into thirds) to anchor the eyes to the cake at the proper angle. The spikes down his back (and the eyeballs) are some generic gummy fish. Because there's nothing like flavored plastic to complete a cake! The teeth & claws are mini-marshmallows. Turns out that if you cut them in half diagonally, they naturally have that 'sharp' point.

And we end with a shot of Bug not-so-patiently waiting for his party to start so he can eat his new friend.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Dear Bug,

On the day of your actual birthday, the modem celebrated by frying itself. So this is written just a little late. Oh well.

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!! Now you are four years old. And you have been oh-so-excited to tell everyone about it too. Any new ability you have is due to your old age. (My feet touch the floor! It's because I'm FOUR!!) I'm starting to wonder if FOUR is really a verb & not an... adjective??

You requested an alligator birthday cake, so we celebrated by pretending the house was a jungle & had some of your monkey friends come join us. Or maybe we all just acted like monkeys. Whatever. There was laughter & sugar & fun & energy galore!! In fact, between the cake we had at home & the cupcakes you brought to school, you're due for a good old-fashioned sugar crash coma any day now....

It's been lots of fun Bug. I can't quite believe I don't have a toddler in the house anymore. But, if I'm being honest, you've been a toddler in name only for quite some time now. I suppose you do have to grow up sometime, as you are fond of reminding me.

I wish a wonderful year for you Bug. I hope you still want to snuggle every so often.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday: Small Steps

1. It is not worth it to discuss - with a three year old - that the tangerine is really a tangerine & not a little orange.

2. It's way cuter to say hiccing-up.

3. Fried cheese sticks, yogurt, and steamed veggies DO hit all the major food groups.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It Had to be History Somehow...

.... or as Husband says, everything is History, so what makes today any different?

We were able to watch the inaguration speech at school today, although we missed the swearing in. I found it far more interesting watching the students than the speech though. Some of them were so incredibly enamored; some were so incredibly disgusted.... some were hoping we wouldn't catch them texting.

And now we have a new President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

If you have Facebook and hot Quaker cereal...

Just read this over on Friday Playdate:

Quaker is partnering with Share Our Strength, a network of food banks that target children. Through February 28, you can go to the Quaker Start With Substance website and enter the UPC from any Quaker hot cereal; for every UPC entered, Quaker will donate one bowl of oatmeal to Share our Strength, up to one million bowls of oatmeal.

In the interests of full disclosure, if you click on the "start with substance" link, you realize that you can only enter the UPC codes on a Facebook page. But if you have Facebook, and UPCs, you can go enter them. Actually, even if you don't have UPCs, Quaker's posted one for you to use too.

Sound Byte

With Bug:

Bug: Okay, I'll be the baby and you be the Mommy?
Me: How do you know I'm the Mommy? Maybe I'm an alien? (yeah, I have no idea why I said it either!)
Bug: You're not an alien. You don't look like TE!!

How the child remembers ET when he's only seen him at Universal Studios is beyond me.

With Bird:

Bird: Mommy, what day is tomorrow?
Me: You tell me.
Bird: MONDAY!! Do we have school?
Me: Actually, no. Tomorrow is a special holiday.
Bird: Oh, okay!!


Bird: So who's going to come over?
Me: Erm...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday in small steps

1. Took down Christmas tree & all other decorations except for trains.

2. Kids helped take ornaments down & none were broken.

3. Deep cleaned half of kitchen & threw away lots of things we don't use anymore.

4. Husband took kids to the park, and I got to take a lovely hot shower with no audience.

5. Went to book club with other teachers from school. Can't go wrong with fruit, chocolate , and a healthy discussion!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Last Year's Theme?

Heather is apparently one of many who have decided to reflect upon their posts for 2008. The idea is that you take the first sentence of the first post of each month in 2008 and see if you notice any pattern or common theme. Sounds like this could be fun or dangerous. Perhaps both.

January: Happy New Year!
(yes, let's start off in a jolly party tone! I'm always up for fireworks.)

February: I found myself perusing my gigantic stack of magazines yesterday, when I came across this snippet (that I'm now paraphrasing cause I already recycled the magazine).
(ohhh.... trashy magazine reading.... haven't done any of that since this summer's road trip!)

March: I took a cute little punctuation quiz.
(And came out a colon. And then the room falls silent as we all think of inappropriate responses to that statement.)

April: Do you celebrate April Fool's Day?
(Just a little joke I played on my students. It went fantastically!)

May: Hmmm.... where could Bug be hiding??
(Got to love the mind of a three year old!)

June: Today, I've been slowly trying to go through the photos on my camera disk and clean them off the disk.
(Which reminds me... it's about that time again...)

July: WHOOP WHOOP - we've returned to the East!!
(when we crossed back to the East side of the Mississippi River after having driven out to the Grand Canyon.)

August: It's that time of year again: Preplanning - preparing for another year of school.
(Ugh. Starting on a Friday did stink. But hey, at least we just didn't have a workday this spring; got to jump right into classes without a second thought!)

September: Apparently, I just need some really good prompt ideas for blog entries these days.
(In which I discuss my labors on Labor Day.)

October: Imagine the scenario: a student (not mine) disobeys a teacher (not me), and the teacher writes him up.
(the first time some deep thought show up in this list! But I was rather fond of this post.)

November: Last night, Husband & I watched the new Indiana Jones movie.
(mmmm.... Harrison Ford....)

December: Perhaps my favorite field trip (I'm ignoring the fact that it's my ONLY field trip!) is where I take my physics class to a theme park to study all the different types of rides.
(And it was so much fun!!!)

I think it's safe to say.... this blog's theme? FLUFFY.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

Hello and Happy 2009!!!

I must say, we had a fantastic holiday. Had some family over for the holiday itself, and for the most part, everything was low-key and went smoothly. The day after Christmas, we packed up the kids & spent the past week in a condo across town - a "vacation at home," so to speak. It was wonderful - no computers, no work, and no obligations - just spending time alone with each other.

So here we are, on the tip of a new year. I suppose I could say something pithy, like 'here we are, on the edge of something new & full of promise'. But really, isn't that true of every day?

For whatever reason, as I catch up on my reading... I repeatedly see folks setting goals & making resolutions. I'm not a fan of making resolutions (I break them all too quickly), and I do set goals, but it's on a constant revisionist basis.

Then this post came to mind. Yes, from two years ago. For those who'd rather not click over, the gist of the article challenged readers to pick one word as your theme for the new year.

I didn't think much of it that year (considering she posted rather late in 2007 for resolutions), and I didn't really want to do it last year either.

And yet, a word has been weighing on my mind for a while now, and I think the time has come to designate my theme for the year.


I rather wonder at the motivation of some of my decisions as of late, and have decided that living a life of fear - in any form - is not worth it.

We should be running towards something, rather than running away from something. There really is a difference.

So, my theme as my goal has been set, and here are some verses to help remind me of my focus throughout the course of the year:

Romans 8:15 - For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

I John 4: 17-19 - By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

Philippians 1:27-28 - Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.