Kickoff

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We’re celebrating this weekend. The sort of celebrating that calls for standing in the front yard wearing a pajama shirt waving a flag. All before 8 a.m.

Today is my 32nd birthday and tomorrow the Hokies kickoff their football season.

Here’s to the start of a great year. A year in which maybe we’ll get around to cutting our grass one of these days.

A Lightning McQueen birthday cake

I thought long and hard about a theme for David’s third birthday. For his first and second birthdays I chose based on the decoration potential. This year I thought long and hard about David’s interests and finally, reluctantly, chose to throw him a Lightning McQueen party. He likes Lightning McQueen a heck of a lot more than he likes gingham puppy dogs.

Ok, so it wasn’t really a Lightning McQueen party. It was a pool party with an awesome Lightning McQueen cake.

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Pinterest is full of these things, but I picked this cake as inspiration. There weren’t any instructions, so here’s what I did.

First, I used a box of chocolate cake mix. Usually I like to make a fancy homemade cake, but this cake was all about the decorations, so I wanted to keep everything else simple.

I used my 9″ springform cake pans, which made two cakes that were about two inches high.

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To fit them together, I cut about two inches off the end of each cake.

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I didn’t take a photo of this, but the top of one of the cakes was more rounded than the other, so I used a bread knife and cut off the top to even them out. I didn’t worry about making them perfectly flat, though.

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Also — for a cake this large, I used a big piece of cardboard as a base and placed the cake on a sheet of aluminum foil. Before we served it, I trimmed the aluminum foil just to make it look nicer.

Since the cake was going to have a lot of decorations, I started out with a thin layer of chocolate icing. I love icing, but since this was for a crowd — mostly of kids — I wanted to keep the icing as light as I could.

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Next, I used a butter knife and traced a 3 along the cake to use as a guide for the rest of the icing. Also — I want to say — I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never really decorated a cake. This is the point that I gave myself a pep talk, and you can give yourself the same pep talk if you’re intimidated by this sort of thing. When icing a cake, at any point, you can just start over. If I didn’t like the parameters of my 3, I could just ice over it with more chocolate. If I messed up the grass, I could just scrape it off and start over. And if the whole thing was a mess, they sell cupcakes at the grocery store.

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The grass was the most intimidating part for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever even used an icing tip before. So, using a napkin as my test run, I tried a few different things. I decided the best look was the star tip all over — the more disorganized and imperfect the better it looked.

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Here’s a closer shot of the grass.

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Next, I just piped white lines to make my chocolate 3 into a road. I actually used the wrong icing here. Instead of cake icing, I accidentally bought cookie icing which was weird and melty, but fine in the end.

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Right before the party I added the little cars. We actually already had the cars, they came with this book I got a while ago for David, back when his Cars obsession was brand new.

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While we sang Happy Birthday, David decided to rearrange the cars.

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I was really, really pleased with how well it turned out. And David liked it, too.

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Ahem, understatement.

The ring bearer experience

We were honored when my brother and his fiancee asked David to be their ring bearer. He did a great job. He did such a good job that the first line of his resume now reads “proficient and bearing rings and wearing bow ties.” If anyone else out there is looking for a ring bearer, I know a handsome blonde three-year old that would be up for it.

But, even though he did a great job, I think of his stint as a ring bearer as a sine curve. It started very low. Because his first official ring bearer task was to get a haircut. And we all know how well that went.

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When he came down with a double ear infection just days before the wedding, I thought we were chasing an impossible dream. Ring bearing was for other little boys. For us it would be a disaster.

And then, things started to look up. At the rainy rehearsal, we put his suspenders on and gave him a red umbrella; he had a great time.

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But, maybe even more importantly than having fun, he actually walked down the aisle. It was the practice round, but he did it in a way that made me believe he took the whole thing seriously. And in a way that made me believe he heard and understood the deal – if he walked down the aisle, he would receive M&M’s. For that he’d walk through hot lava. Or share a toy with his sister.

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Things really started looking up later that night at the dinner, where the restaurant served David’s favorite drink, lemonade. Then bride and groom gifted him with a giant stuffed football. And as if that wasn’t already the perfect gift for David, he loved it even more when he realized that ball was the only thing in the world his sister wanted.

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The next day was the wedding, and I was nervous.  As soon as we arrived at the venue I dropped his bow tie and couldn’t find it for a solid 20 minutes. David rolled his eyes watching me running around in the grass wearing heels looking for his bow tie, worried that the whole thing would be ruined. So maybe his resume should be edited to: I’m proficient in bearing rings but do keep in mind that my mo-oo-om isn’t responsible with bow ties.

I chased him around until go-time because he does not understand that khakis need to be clean. I gave him a Hail Mary pep-talk before the processional and he was like, Mom, chill. I got this.

He gave the performance of his life.

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Equatorial Guinea for East West Communications

And there we were, on a high, and then just before the end of the ceremony David decides to make a noise he’s never made before and has never made since. At the precise moment the pastor pronounced the couple husband and wife, David leaned over and made a vomiting sound. And I had a heart attack.

But he was just making the noise. Ha. Ha.

David must have known that, after the ceremony, the party would start. Because immediately after the ceremony ended he charmed the bride into letting him hold her bouquet.

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And then the shenanigans officially started.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with shenanigans.

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Especially dance floor shenanigans.

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Except for dance floor shenanigans when the bride and groom are having their first dance on the dance floor and the ring bearer decides THIS! THIS IS HIS MOMENT! HIS DANCE FLOOR DEBUT!

And then, two and a half hours past bedtime, the distinguished ring bearer capped off the evening on the dance floor, shirt unbuttoned, smashing a cupcake into his own mouth.

And so the sine curve was complete. Low-high-low.

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Except. I suppose I actually can’t think of a better way to end a night than on a dance floor rubbing icing on my face. Well done, son.

Proficient in ring bearing, bow tie wearing, and thoroughly enjoying cupcakes.

[If you're in the market for a bow tie, I got David's at Amanda Jo Handmade.]