Not a Chip off THIS Block!

John and I were both well-behaved children, responsible, excelling in school without parental prompting, never giving our parents worry or trouble.
That’s why I think Karma is bullshit.
No, seriously, my kids aren’t that bad.   But they aren’t carbon copies of me and John either, which I guess is what I was maybe expecting.
I see this all the time in a multitude of ways, and I thought about it again last week at Lorelei’s 9th birthday party.
Lorelei had two parties:  a fashion party (her idea) with her school friends, consisting of manicures and makeovers courtesy of her big sister, and then decapitating and beating a pinata to death with a croquet mallet, followed by a family party in the evening.  I don’t remember my 9th birthday particularly, but I know it would have been a family affair, where we gathered with extended family around the kitchen table to sing and open presents.
Now I can tell you exactly what nine-year-old me would have asked for:  Books, Barbies, and Breyer horses.
Lorelei asked for stuffed animals, stuffed animals, and stuffed animals.  Lorelei has an Amazon Wish List, and roughly 95% of its SEVEN (!!) pages consists of stuffed animals.
Y’all, I had maybe two or three stuffed animals that I cared about even marginally as a child.  We got new bunnies for Easter each year, which I’d carry around for a few days, and then forget about.

Me with the ONE stuffed animal I saved until adulthood.
Me with the ONE stuffed animal I saved until adulthood.

When people started giving our kids stuffed animals pre-birth, I turned up my nose.  They’ll never play with those, I thought.  How boring and unimaginative, I thought.  What a waste of space, I thought.
By the time we had three kids, we had hundreds (I’m not sure that’s an exaggeration) of stuffed animals.  So many that I hung three animal hammocks in the corners of the bedrooms to corral them all.
But those infuriating children kept EMPTYING THE HAMMOCKS.  Yes, that’s right–they WANTED TO PLAY with the animals!
My kids named their stuffed animals, slept with them, carried them around with them everywhere.  Jake and Emily STILL expect the Easter Bunny to bring a stuffed bunny along with their baskets.
And Lorelei and William have taken this to even greater heights.  They don’t have as many animals but those they have are special, not just random gifts but ones they put on wish lists and were delighted to receive.  From “the ostrich from hell whose name is Blood” (I swear William once announced this to a random man in Shoney’s) to a horrifying stuffed possum to an actual stuffed FACEHUGGER, William cherishes his collection and keeps them arranged on his top bunk.
Lorelei carries hers around and talks to them as though they were real.  She dresses them up and gives them personalities for her make-believe games.  And naturally, she sleeps with them.  If I’m counting right, she received eight this year.
Stuffed giraffe she received from Aunt Betsy and Uncle Andy this year
Stuffed giraffe she received from Aunt Betsy and Uncle Andy this year

THANK YOU to the school friends who brought books.  I knew she’d like them even though she wouldn’t think to ask for them!

It's Cake Time in Tennessee . . . or at least in the Sholly house

I have an astonishing number of birthdays to deal with at the beginning of every year.  I say *I* have to deal with them because I am the one making the cakes.  Sometimes I feel like all I do is bake cakes for six weeks straight.  Jake’s birthday is January 27, John’s and Emily’s is today, Teddy’s is February 15, and William’s is March 5.
Suzy Homemaker I am not, except when it comes to baking.  No cake boxes or cans of icing will ever come through this door.  All my cakes are made from scratch (which honestly is not that hard and I’m not sure why people think baking cakes from scratch is such a big deal).  To make things easier, I have a few tried and true recipes that people usually pick from for their birthdays.  Not that I wouldn’t make something else if anyone asked. But usually they are plenty happy with one of the old favorites.
Jake said he did not care what kind of cake I made for him, so for his family party I picked the easiest one:  Coca-cola cake.  I’d already made it for Lorelei’s birthday back in November, so we were over the hurdle of finding the recipe, all my cookbooks, including the hand-written one with all my most-used recipes having, of course, burned.

This is actually Lorelei's cake, but it's the same recipe.

Jake had a second party with his friends, and for that one I made Aunt Hattie’s cake.  Apparently there are or were a lot of Aunt Hatties who liked to make cakes, because I could not find the right recipe on the internet.  I thought I remembered it, and I double-checked with my mother to make sure.  It’s a basic yellow cake–it’s really buttermilk pound cake with one extra egg.  I use buttercream frosting.
Last year Emily actually asked me to mail her a cake, which I did–a Milky Way Cake.  This year I think she is more excited about legally drinking than eating cake, so I got off easy with one cake today.  I always tried to make a special celebration for each birthday person on their shared day, so that meant two cakes every February 4th for eighteen years.
John is saving up his partying for his next big birthday, and didn’t even ask for a cake, so I actually decided to try something new.  A friend had given me a recipe for Wet Coconut Cake, which I’d tasted at a church function.  The original recipe was just too darn easy for me, so I had to tinker with it a little bit.  As written, you make a yellow sheet cake from a mix, poke holes in it and saturate it with a mixture of cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk, chill it, and then spread it with Cool Whip and sprinkle it with coconut.  Cool Whip is something I never knowingly let pass my lips.  So what I did instead was make another Aunt Hattie’s cake, gave it the saturation treatment, chilled it, spread it with homemade whipped cream, and flaked an actual coconut onto it (no, that very last thing was a lie).
William has already put me on notice that he expects Red Velvet Cake for his birthday.  That recipe came from my friend Rico’s mother, and it is the best cake ever.  Teddy has not yet expressed his preference, but besides the above choices he might request Old-Fashioned White Birthday Cake or my own variation, Strawberry Cake.
And then I won’t have to make another cake until November!