“Hey, Down in Front!”

Warning – rant alert. I may have spent a little too much “pre-Christmas Break” time in a grade school gym in the past 48 hours…

I have been to The Nutcracker Recital and two different school Christmas programs in less than two weeks and I’m not going to lie, I was less than thrilled. The performances were great, the children were phenomenal. My annoyance grew with the audience. The chatting, the random standing up mid-performance to take a photo, the freaking bright glowing cellphones hoisted randomly above people’s heads to video an entire song as if there was nobody sitting behind them.

Well, I had a view of my sibling’s kid – until you covered their entire body with your giant smart phone. It’s okay. It was only a 3 hour drive to come watch her 98 seconds on stage that I now have missed because, not only did you obstruct my view, but you blinded me with your screen so by the time my eyes adjusted, she was off the stage.

What the heck is wrong with people?! And don’t get me started on the multiple phones ringing and vibrating around me! If your husband is coming out of heart surgery and that text can’t wait, I get it. However, I’m an RN and happen to know that we have a very, very limited number of doctors that can perform that procedure at any given moment in Central Oregon at the same moment.

So stop it. Step outside. And don’t hold your phone above your head like a lighter at an AC/DC concert to film your little one. It pisses off EVERYONE sitting behind you. It’s also a crappy video. And everyone sitting behind you knows that because it’s all our eyes can focus on with the dimmed lights.

Infants and toddlers are tough. Everyone that has ever been around one completely understand that. It’s why we all cringe at a boarding gate at the airport when we hear that ominous wale. It’s not like any of us can get off a plane, mid-flight, to comfort our babies. However, an auditorium has doors that are easily exited to big empty hallway full of other parents calming their own screaming children. Use it. Most of us have been there – it’s what we do. Well, it’s what we use to do.

There were 4 screaming babies at the last program. Simultaneously. One started crying and the others caught on. Pointing at your screaming infant and mouthing “ear infection” doesn’t make me think more highly of your choices. Have you considered that the vibrating speakers might be contributing to the reason the child is screaming inconsolably? For the love! It’s not just about every single person around you, it’s about your kid, too.

I know I’m old. I know I come from a different generation. We considered the thoughts and feelings of those around us – even strangers. We were raised to be respectful of those sitting behind us. We weren’t all about “me” and “what I need” in a 24/7 world where FOMO has become a diagnosed social disorder. Documenting ever moment on social media wasn’t an option. We asked our friends in the front row if they could grab a few pics of our kids and then offered to pay to develop the film in return. I know. I said I was REALLY old.

These days, sharing photos and videos couldn’t be easier – so why aren’t we doing it? Sure, we can post an Instagram video for our many unknown followers to see, but why not share that great pic you took with other parents of kids in the same class?

I’m sorry you couldn’t find or don’t use babysitters. I feel for you as the parent of a screaming child. I can’t tell you how many times I left a public room with my fit throwing niece in tow because something made her mad. Once a simple fork set her off. So know, I truly, genuinely feel for you. But no. I’m not going to pretend that your child isn’t blowing out my right eardrum with their well exercised lungs. Comfort the child in the hall with the rest of the exhausted parents.

I know this falls out of my “try to see the positive” way of thinking but I confess. I’m a bit grumpy. My ear is still ringing from the toddler screaming next to me and I’m still seeing spots from the annoyingly bright LED screens held up in front of me.

Is this the new normal for social etiquette? Is the expectation to view your little ones when you attend a program too much? What is appropriate? And how do we deal with other parents that “just don’t get it”?

Next year, I’m sitting in the front row. Problem solved. Rant over.

“I saw it on Pinterest.”

No! No! No! No! I’m not going to do it. I am NOT pushing that Pinterest app icon. Pinterest got me into this mess in the first place. Why didn’t I just order a cake? We live within 40 miles of some of the world’s best cake shops. Sure the drive is time consuming and the idea of transporting a cake without melting, dropping, sliding or dumping it is nerve wrecking and the cost for a decent sized cake (to feed 80+) feels more like a car payment than a cake purchase these days, but for the love of all things beautiful – what possessed me to decided that since I “had the pans” that I could take on such a feat?!!

Oh yah… Pinterest.

One night on Pinterest and I was ready to melt down the plastic to make the cake topper party animals myself. What the heck was I thinking? And no – I didn’t even have all the pans I needed. I have decorated one cake in the past 13 years. One. And it turned out so lopsided that I modified it at the last minute to make it look like I did it intentionally. I haven’t baked or decorated a cake like this EVER.


It seemed so simple at the time. A glass of wine, a few inspiration Pinterest pins and the ideas began flowing. A tiered cake, it had to be tiered… And different cake flavors and filling combinations for each layer – oh, and look at those cupcakes! I’d make those, too! Ombré icing is a must. Oh my gosh – look at those party animal cake toppers! How hard could that be? So perfect and adorable!



Before I knew it, my pinning had spiraled out of control and I had masterminded an impossible but beautiful birthday cake: it would be layered with a lemon poppyseed cake with lemon filling, white cake with raspberry filling, red velvet cake with cream cheese filling and surrounded by a ton of very cute chocolate on chocolate cupcakes decorated like horses. The cake would be dark to light pink ombré rosettes from the base up to the top where it would display a group of party animals, complete with celebration banner and party hats. (Squeal!) Thank you, Pinterest! It was going to be amazing and a perfect surprise for my dear friend!



What the @*$# was I thinking??! I’m a nurse, for crying out loud! It would be nice if Pinterest provided some sort of warning, like those annoying web pop-up ads, just to remind me that hey, I’m no where near a professional baker with any substantial experience or knowledge to pull something like this off – but no. I was pretty sure I could do ANYTHING with my new Pinterest “Cake Board” for inspiration.

A few days into it and my optimism faded. When I had to go to the specialty store to purchase additional cake pans, I knew I was in over my head. I kept having flashbacks to the epic moment in Top Gun when Tom Cruise’s character is being told, “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!”

So was I.

What do you mean I need cake supports? And how, exactly, do I store this cake until the party? And how do I stack the tiers again? I’ve never made a rosette in my life and how am I going to pull off ombré anything?! The idea of making tiny party hats for a bunch of plastic animals has GOT to be borderline psychotic.

My anxiety was nearing the panic level and I hadn’t even begun! I sat in my kitchen, drinking a beer to calm my nerves, staring at my KitchenAid Mixer like a lifeline. We had to pull this off. HAD TO! There was no plan B, no backup plan.

Seriously. Not even exaggerating.

First and foremost, I needed to find a decent cream cheese frosting recipe that was creamy enough to be good but stiff enough to hold the shape of a rosette. And THAT brings us back to the beginning of my story, I was tempted to consult Pinterest. I used Google instead. Then, true to form, I created my own. (Yes, this is one of those character traits I wish I didn’t have – such a strong need for something to be perfect, that I reinvent it myself, often failing repeatedly until I get it just right. This was one of those many moments in my life.)

Filling the cake layer
After baking the cakes, I froze the layers, then let them thaw to split, fill and add a “crumb coat” of frosting.
Cake Freezer
After the filling and crumb coat, I stuck them back in the freezer to chill. It worked out well that we’d just brought home a new freezer and it was empty!
Stacking the Cake
I used wood dowels and parchment lined cardboard layers to support the weight of the cake. It was very, very heavy!
I worked on the farm animal’s party hats and banner between chilling the cake.

The great news is that everything came together just as I imagined it.

It required 11 cake mixes, doctored to fit my cause, of course; 40 eggs, six pounds of butter, 2 pounds of cream cheese and roughly 10 pounds of powdered sugar. It took 4 long days to complete and there was more than one moment of pure panic when it came time to move the monster but I think it was worth all the work. There are a few things, I’d do differently, but let’s be honest, when I convince myself to do this again someday, I’ll likely have forgotten what those things are so I’m just going to be happy with the way this birthday cake turned out – and then delete my Pinterest account.

Just kidding. I’ve already started a new Pinterest board. Heaven help us.

I’d love to hear about some of your great Pinterest projects if you feel like sharing!

It took some practice and next time I’ll stack the tiers a little differently, but all in all, it was better than I anticipated! It also helped that it was 17 degrees outside, so chilling the top frosting layer was easy – lifting the cake, not so much…
I removed our refrigerator shelves to store the cake overnight.
And spent the rest of the night decorating chocolate cupcakes with Nutter Butter horse toppers.
I was on pins and needles for the short drive to our party venue, but we made it and everything came together just as I had imagined it!
The look on my friend’s face made it ALL worth it when we lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday!!!

My inspirational Pinterest “Cake” Board link.