Born to be wild!

The past weekend marked the second wild iwonderbee weekend in our year – DS’s birthday, where we (okay, I…) completely max-ed ourselves out on our energy scale.

And the title of this post was meant to reference not my son, but his crazy mother.

Here’s how it all started.

On the National Day holiday week, I took leave from work. 

So on the 9th, we brought the kids out to Jurong Bird Park.  Because DS has been asking to go for three months.

On the 10th, we brought the kids out to the Singapore Zoo.  Because a friend blessed us with some free tickets.  And we didn’t get to feed the elephants the last time.  And…because I said yes without thinking too much about the number of plans I had mentally marked into our calendar for the week.  Heh…

I know what you’re thinking – two major outings in consecutive days in the current humidity…you mean, there’s more??

*****

On the 11th, I started to panic a little.  So after putting the kids to bed, I drew up my grocery shopping list for the parties on the 13th and 14th. Then I promptly fell asleep in a sitting position, of exhaustion from our Jurong and Mandai wildlife adventure in the past two days. 

But not before turning round to ask DH, “You think we might have overdone it a little this time?”.  I never heard his answer but I think I can make pretty good guesses. 😛

*****

On the 12th, I rushed home from work and immediately after dinner, started pulling out all the stuff needed to make the cake base for DS’s requested giraffe cake.  DD had asked to be involved in the making of the cake, so it had to be done after dinner and before bedtime.

We were both looking forward to this – and for me, it’s great fun to have an eager baking buddy who wants to do everything!

On a side note: Why do electric mixers have so many parts and little nooks and crannies to wash? Grr.

After the entire family had a chocolate junkie moment of ooh-ing and aah-ing and ‘don’t-touch-the hot-cake-tin‘ning, I hurried the kids off to bed, with solemn promises of chocolate cake in the morning, and hoped and prayed very hard that they would actually fall asleep dreaming of chocolate cake, and not stay awake thinking of chocolate cake all night.

*****

DH and I then sat at the dining table, sketching, cutting up and matching three-part puzzles of giraffe templates. and providing constructive criticism of each other’s taste in art appreciation.

“The neck is too short, longer a bit can?”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you first, so long cannot fit the serving tray…”

“I like the skinny legs version better. More refined.”

“Then your cake is going to be super small, won’t be enough to feed everyone?”

After we finally settled on a template we were both happy with, we looked at the time. 10:30pm.

“So…are we really going to frost the cake tonight?”

“Yeah, otherwise tomorrow where got time?”

“Aiyah…but then we’ll be up till 1am.” *And I’ll have to wash all the mixer parts, again!!*

“Howsabout tomorrow morning we wake up early, at 6am. We’ll have one hour before the kids are up.  We should sleep now.”

“Yeah, true…sleep sounds good.”

And so peace, descends upon the quiet household.  And all is well.

*****

Rise and shine! Bright and early!

Somebody remind me again, why I’m getting up at 6am on a non working day…The last time I checked it isn’t Easter Sunrise Service day…

I’m thankful that I’m only responsible for producing the cake for tonight’s gathering. 

Both DH’s parents are also up and early, and mom-in-law is already busy cooking up a  fragrant storm of popiah (Chinese spring rolls) filling in the kitchen.
I start putting the mixer to task while DH sets about carving the cake into a giraffe shape.

By the time DD wakes up, the first crumb coat is done, and I am trying to keep my grumbling down about not estimating enough buttercream…while DH calmly explains to an amused DD how mummy really dislikes sifting icing sugar.

By the time DS is up, we’re putting the finishing touches and doing airplane landings with the spatula on the orange cream frosting, and everyone has a slice of chocolate cake for breakfast!  Double YAY!

*****

In the afternoon, while the kids are napping, DH and I make our first attempt at melting chocolate to frost the outline, patches and facial details on the giraffe. We finish up by having a little mini chocolate fondue party for two – dipping biscuits, grapes and strawberries in the leftover chocolate. YUM YUM!

We’re surprised by a knocking at the door!  DH’s grandmother arrives early – she has taken a bus all the way across the island and walked a long way to get here!  In characteristic fashion, she fends off our questions about why she didn’t call so we could pick her up. Sigh.

It’s fun to have her sitting in the kitchen and chatting as we work, and giving us pointers on how to melt chocolate and to quickly work with it before it solidifies.  She has an amazing wealth of knowledge and conversation is always brilliant and entertaining with her witty repartee.

*****

The giraffe cake is a hit. The cousins are keeping the kids busy (actually, that’s the other way around…the kids are keeping our cousins busy), and we’re sitting under the stars drinking too much Coke, and eating popiah, fried chicken and prawn fritters to our heart’s content. Life is good. Very good.

DS has been on his best behaviour, going round to serve everyone a piece of cake, before sitting down to eat his own. My wonderful wonderful son, I can’t believe he’s three!

*****

Sunday evening and we’re all ready to party!  We’re doing a Cars-themed party and all the planning from a month ago is starting to come together…I’m very excited!

And more food…

We made shepherd’s pie, little scrambled egg and tomato tartlets (very cutely dubbed “eggshells” by one of the kids), homemade popiah, fried rice, and had grape kebobs, prunes and orange agar-agar jelly for dessert.

The kids made their own craft cars using TP rolls, black craft foam and paper fasteners.  And then we gave our cars customised paint (marker!) jobs.

They also played a stack-the-caps game inspired by Luigi’s leaning tower of tires. When we first thought up the game, we underestimated its value – some of the kids went back to the table to try and beat their previous stacking records!

And they were actually quieter during the game than the movie screening, which had them jumping, cheering, chanting as if the outcome wasn’t fixed years ago!  Totally precious.

Our friend, Ruth, calls this the deconstructed cheesecake.  😉

We made the cheesecake last night after the kids had gone to bed.

I’m really happy with how it turned out as I was cracking my head for two weeks how to minimise the use of artificial colouring.  If your site had cheesecake decorating tips and saw a marked increase in the number of views over the past month, that was probably me chalking up the Google search stats! 😛

It’s essentially a no-bake cheesecake in a cup.  The crushed graham cookie layer is in the centre, instead of the bottom, we then topped with a smaller sprinkling of graham cookies and strawberries.

The tier effect winner’s podium (conceptualised in a brainwave just about an hour-and-a-half before the party) is created by flipping a round baking tin upside down, wrapping a printed checkered pattern around the side and taping down a foil-covered cake serving base on the top. 

Each of the cheesecake cups has a tiny clear taster spoon, topped with a Cars-themed decal.  Serve, sing and eat immediately!

*****

And now that all the action is over, and we’re winding down for the night…

If you ask us whether we’d have done this again the same way, quite insanely, our answer would be a YES.  Yes, definitely.

Why, we get told, don’t you know that the same angelic face that thinks the world of you today may turn around and break your heart some day?

Well, just…because.

Because we believe we cannot and must not hold back the present in anticipation of the one day that that heartbreak may happen (although I hope it doesn’t).
Because we believe we can and must enjoy this present season.  This moment. Today.  

The ecstatic smile on the little face, rejoicing in being surrounded by the ones who love him and the ones he loves.

The animated chatter and happy sounds of children laughing, shrieking, playing, enjoying each other’s company.

The thousand and one times that I get stopped in the day to answer the same question, “Mummy, remember what we saw at the zoo?”

The candid thank-yous to God at bedtime prayers for family, and friends, and birthday outings, and chocolate and cheesecake…

And that, is more than enough inspiration to do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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