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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Oggie!

blue car cake

Earth has gone around the sun once more since we marked this day last time.

We shared this day with a simple celebration with his friends in school - the Birthday Walk. His teacher had made a cute blue crown with ocean creatures he likes - esp., Octopus.

And, we had a quiet celebration with family at home. The paste batik birthday flag we made brightened up the room.

With all the hectic work during the week, it so happened that I only had the night before to make the cake that I wanted to. And, with Ana falling sick again the day before, I wasn't sure I should enlist her help with the cake.

Of course, we could always skip the cake or get a store-bought one, he is not going to know the difference, or care.

I would have done exactly that were it not for the determined and persistent ring in my head that was hard to ignore. Blue Car Cake, Blue Car Cake, Blue Car Cake... not just because he loves cars and he loves blue, but also because it makes me happy to create a cake for my kids, no matter how sloppy it turns out.

I had no lofty plans. I know my limitations. A no-nonsense simple white cake. Home-made buttercream frosting. Some store-bought Blue fondant and some old icing to define and finish it.

Close to midnight when the cake was cooled, cut and carved into a rough car shape, crumb-coated with buttercream, and was chilling in the fridge so I can get the fondant rolled out, I was overcome with a feeling of such depth and proportions I had never felt before. Now, it might be crazy, but, I grew up with the belief that children are like gods (or what we idealize in gods).

Watching Og absorb unbelievable amounts of information from his surroundings, surprising me with his understanding of things every day, I could not shake off Dr. Maria Montessori's words that ring often in my head: He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so he passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.

At the same time, the realization that here is a being born with such capacity that is impossible to fathom, slowly but surely gets shaped somehow by what influences him in his immediate surroundings during his formative years. A child learns without even knowing what learning is: he absorbs and acquires it somehow.

Made me realize what a huge responsibility parents have and how evolution has programmed us to do it in such a way as to ensure the propagation of the species.

But, I am rambling...

Anyway, the fondant got rolled out and applied somehow. My preoccupied and tired mind was exploring how to be a better person in this lifetime, while my hands went about the motions of "decorating" the cake (poorly) using the half-empty, half-hardened ready-made icing from last year...

When D caught me squeezing the remnants of a small tube trying to drag it across to complete whatever I was trying to draw, he helpfully suggested, "Why don't you quit while you are ahead?" And I did. As far as the cake-decoration went.

After the modest celebration, "This is a fun birthday, Mama!" came out of nowhere and hit D and me like a fluffy sweet thunderbolt.

Happy Birthday, Oggie!

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger VJ said...

Happy happy birthday Oggie !!
God bless !

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Reva said...

Happy 3rd Og!

I totally relate to that need for a homemade cake, Sheela! We didn't have a party for C's birthday this year.. it was just us and I still wanted to make her a cake.

For all the effort, Og gave you the best return gift ever! God bless both of them and hope Ana is better now.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Choxbox said...

Happy Birthday Oggie!

Lovely post Sheels. This parenting business can get very overwhelming at times, esply when kids fall ill. So hats off to you, and let me tell you even in the best of times I cannot produce a cake like that!

At 3:31 AM, Blogger Vibha said...

Happy Birthday to Oggie. Wishing him a long and happy life and 'fun birthdays'.

Hope Ana is better now.

Did you use a mould to give the shape of a car?

At 6:09 AM, Blogger Tharini said...

I looked at the cake even before reading all the words underneath, and the I can't tell you how happy it made me, just looking at that picture. Its very ethereal photogrpahy Sheels...the blue against the green (so happy!), the white piping, the lettering, the light falling on it....this is just such a happy picture, that it seemed most unjust to me, reading your words, for what you think is not perfect cake. But children see the essence of things very easily don't they. Og certainly did. Good going Mama!

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

VJ: Thanks!

Reva: Your cakes are always so drool-worthy, I admire your patience and skill. Thanks!

Chox: Thanks! You are always generous with your compliments. I cannot get over all the wonderful things you do to make people's lives better. (Who cares about cakes?! except the kids, of course).

Vibha: Thanks! Ana's this time was a stomach thing, she seems to be getting over it now.

As to the cake: I baked a 9x13 inch rectangular standard white cake (many easy recipes on the web, using eggs - I know you prefer not to use eggs...); then

--cut it in half, used one half for the bottom; the other half I cut enough of it to go on top of the base and "glued" it with buttercream frosting (recipe for buttercream is standard one from the web as well, except I don't like shortening, so, I used butter and Smart Balance combo)

--then, "carved" the car shape - sloping cuts for windshield part and back

--"glued" whatever pieces I needed to refine the shape using buttercream frosting and coated the whole thing with buttercream to define the shape and help the fondant stick

--Chilled it in the fridge to make it easier to work with...

(I must thank the wonderful pastry chefs whose youtube videos inspire and educate me)

Tharini: Thank you! You have such a lovely way with words, making things sound more beautiful than they are with just the way you see them and describe them!

At 11:04 PM, Blogger artnavy said...

I love the blue car cake.
Wish Oggie a belated wonderful and happy bday!

At 1:54 AM, Anonymous B o o. said...

Happy Happy Birthday to Oggie! The cake looks fantastic as usual! :)

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Artnavy::Thank you! So wonderful to see you here :)

B o o:: So good to hear from B o o Aunty after a long time! Thanks! Hope a and A are doing well. I believe birthdays are coming up at the B o o household soon...

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Anu Karthik said...

It is a beautiful cake, made with all of mother's love. I agree with you Children are god - the ones we can relate and learn from.


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