Neopolitan Funky Pinkalicious Birthday Cake

There was a time when I used to make some spectacular decorated cakes, having learned the trade from my mother. Then life happened. I had kids and tried fitting decorating birthday cakes around nursing and naps and questions. My health took a nose dive. My perfectionist tendencies caused me to become further stressed out, and I decided to not worry about making perfect and beautiful birthday cakes for my children. And yet, I did, and life was still happening.

This year, for my daughter’s seventh birthday, we came up with an idea that seemed straight forward, at least as far as decorations go. The details, however, were a bit more involved, and as usually happens, life happened. We were rewriting how we were making the cake as we went. It was not coming out as a perfect vision of modern elegance, so we decided to go with funky.

Somewhere in the mix, between licking different flavored cake batters, my daughter going crazy with the sprinkles, making spiky cake pops, and a very enthusiastic claim from my daughter that the cake was pinkalicious (very pink and very delicious, she explained), I realized that I was no longer stressed out. I was making the cake with her and that was really all I cared about. At that point I decided that all birthday cake making should be crazy, birthday kid-involved, special time ensuing events. Bring on the sprinkles!

This post was part of the Families Create! Make and Play Challenge.

Our theme for October’s Families, Create! Make and Play Carnival was phizzwhizzers. Our participants shared with us the odd and out of the ordinary, the dreams we aspire to, and the individuality that makes them unique.

Check out what Families Create! participants created this month:

Brenna at Almost All The Truth creates the dreams of dreamers with her children with a little help from Roald Dahl.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children found the perfect fish hatto make for one of her phizzwhizzing children.

It’s Little House on the Prairie complete with modern plumbing, cell phones, and video games. Mary and Laura would surely find Kieran’s imagination to be full of phizzwhizzers! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares how her son (Kieran) combines pioneer play with today’s conveniences.

A new birthday tradition evolved at Living Peacefully with Children when Mandy and her daughter worked on a funky pinkalicious cake.

Please join us for November’s Families Create! Make and Play challenge. This month’s theme is Rhymes and Verse!

Mitten Strings for God

Mitten Strings for God

When I first heard of Katrina Kenison’s book, Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, I mentally brushed it off. With such a title, I expected the book to proselytize religious beliefs. When the book showed up in my mailbox from the publisher, I picked it up with apprehension, and found I was pleasantly surprised.

There are a handful of religious references in the book, but Kenison mentions them only in context to her life and never comes out and says anything definitive about what she believes. There is no expectation or proclamation of what the reader should or should not believe. Instead, the book is about simple living or voluntary simplicity.

We live in a world that is rushing about in search of something. If we just slow down, we would see that what we are looking for is right here. “Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry” is an accurate description of this book. As mothers, not only is it important that we slow down to enjoy our children in the short time we are with them; it is imperative that our children have the opportunity to slow down and figure out who they are. This is a fabulous book for anyone who wants to cherish their children and live a life of meaning.

Take your time reading the book. Reflect on where you are at in life and where you want to be. Cut out the things which are detracting from the life you truly desire. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was provided by the publisher.

The Art of Writing Thank You Notes

Photo by Amy Gizienski

When I was a child, my mother stressed the importance of writing thank you notes. If someone was thoughtful enough to spend their money and time thinking about you, shopping for or making a gift, she explained, the least the recipient could do was take a minute and write a thank you note. I took that message to heart, and now long after my mother is gone and I have four children of my own, I am passing on the art of writing thank you notes.

It seems to be a dying art. Many would say that is due to the increase in technology. We have so many forms of communication available that actually writing a thank you is unnecessary.  I don’t think that is the real reason for the few thank you notes written in this day and age, though.

As a society, we’ve lost some of our mindfulness. No longer do we focus on the thought behind the gift, whether it’s physical or of a service nature. There seems to be an underlying attitude that people are entitled to gifts, which couldn’t be further from the truth. So, a quickly murmured “Thank you” at a party is considered sufficient.

However, there is more that goes into gift giving than handing over some requisite merchandise. That is true for me, at least. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about what gift I should give and then search out the gift, spend time making it myself, or put a lot of effort into doing something for someone. While I do not feel entitled to a Thank You note, they are greatly appreciated.

The topic of forced “thank yous” came up with our local parenting group a few years ago. I am on the side against forced “thank yous.” I see no need to teach my children manners by being rude. Modeling manners has worked quite well for us. as our children have begun signing and then speaking “thank you,” it has been genuine and heartfelt. I think this also plays into society’s lack of writing thank you notes. If a thank you is just an obligatory reaction to an obligatory gift, there isn’t any need to continue with the obligations. However, if a thank you is a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the thought someone extended us, then that is often better conveyed in a written note.

I started writing thank you notes with my children early on. Even young children can draw a picture, write a scribble, or make a handprint. As they grew older and their capabilities increased, they asked to take over more of the thank you note writing process. Whereas my youngest can scribble next to my written messages of thanks, my oldest can write his thank you notes on his own now. My children have learned over the years how to write thank you notes by observing us write thank you notes of our own. It only takes a minute and it is something that will serve our children well.

Daily Living

Photo by Michael Rhys

Society tends to view life as a succession of high points. We look forward to the next big thing, whether it’s an event, a holiday, a vacation, or a job promotion. Those high points make an outline for our lives and we look forward to those exciting high points. However, this roller coaster view of life discounts those in between times.

Life is about more than just the peaks. Those ordinary, seemingly mundane, times are just as much a part of life as the exciting peaks. Living with mindfulness allows us to live daily and enjoy life. We no longer find ourselves living in fast forward, anxiously awaiting the next peak of the roller coaster. We begin to enjoy the quiet moments and find an inner peace that resonates with our souls.