birthday cakes and brilliant ideas

My son recently had a birthday. His fifth! I made a cake and I posted about it over on Facebook. A ton of people asked to see the cake. Okay. One person did. Whatever.

Regardless of real or imagined demand for this information, here are his birthday cakes through the years…


1st Birthday

The first birthday of a first child is special. For the parents. "Holy shit, we survied a whole year of this!"

For the child, it is all about the cake. Baby gets their first sugar high. It gets all over their face. You take photos. Done. 

All we have to do is come up with a cake. 

My husband thinks he is being helpful when he presents me with this "brilliant" idea:

What? Buy a cake for his first birthday? He has got to be kidding. 

He might as well have suggested that we put cockroaches into his sippy cup.

I am required to make the cake from scratch. Otherwise, I am not a good mother.

Besides, only the very best, most purest, non-allergenic ingredients can be put into my precious snowflake's cake. 

It takes some time sourcing all of these ingredients.  

He is not much of an eater and hasn't been introduced to many solids yet. So we have to avoid, like, everything. I'm pretty sure there isn't any actual food in the cake. 

But it looks great. 


An octopus cake! Made using two pans. A very tiny one for the octopus on top. So cute.   

At the party, we pull off the octopus and give it to him.


His first sugar!

He picks it up.

And then…

He tosses the entire thing onto the floor.

He does not injest a single crumb. He screams when we try to put frosting near his mouth. 

Cockroaches would have gone over better.



2nd Birthday

For his 2nd birthday I am completely uninterested in making a cake that he might not even eat. My husband offers his usual "brilliant" suggestion about buying one. But that is a stupid idea.  

So my friend Wendy makes him one. A robot. An orange robot.

The sheer sight of it makes him bubble over with joy. 

He sidles up to the cake table whispering, "Soon, cake" to it. Which sounds like a creepy threat. As in "I'm going to cut you and EAT YOU!"

So we dissect the robot and it is delicious. But he doesn't eat any. He'd rather talk to what is left of it. Which is cute. And slightly sad.   


3rd Birthday

I am due with my 2nd baby within a week. I am huge and tired and miserable. So of course I am going to bake him a cake.

My pregnant belly is so gigantic that I can't reach the counter to stir unless I turn sideways. Which hurts my back. So I have to mix all the ingredients on the floor.

He helps.

We make vanilla cupcakes first and then move onto the chocolate cake batter.

I bought a penguin shaped cake pan to keep things simple. We pop it into the oven. Easy as can be!

After an hour of cooking we check it.

But it isn't done. At all. Like sticking a toothpick in soup.

It is late, I put him to bed. The cake keeps on baking. 

After 2 hours in the oven…

Still liquid goo in the center. But the perimeter of the cake is charred black. It smokes a little.

I have to take it out of the oven before it sets off our fire alarms. 

Now remember, I am like, super pregnant with baby #2. This means that a cake failure means that I am a failure. As a mother. More or less. 


How could I possibly have another baby if I can't even bake a cake for the one I've got? 

My husband tries to derail my train wreck of thought by repeating his "brilliant" idea:


Could he have said anything worse? He is dealing with the situation like a man. Offering solutions and shit. I hate it when he does this. 

Plus, I take it personally. His suggestion confirms that I suck. Obviously.

So I get pissed. 

I'm going to fix this. We are going to eat that penguin. 

The good news is that it is an eggless batter. No raw cake health risks. 

So I trim off the charred black bits. I pour out the uncooked pudding center. And then I aggressively stuff it with cupcakes, using frosting as glue. 

I manage to unmold it in chunks. And I cover the deformed penguin with copious amounts of frosting.

It kinda works.

Not many extra cupcakes left, but that is okay. 

At the party, people say it is good! Impressive, even.

When cut, it looks layered. Like it was intentional. Naturally, I don't reveal the truth. Hey, I'm nine months pregnant. If someone throws a compliment my way I will grab it, say thank you and run before they take it back. 

Proud of myself as the genius cake crafter, I check in on the birthday boy…

He is about to take a bite.

But then he pauses, turns to me and tells me:

That he doesn't really like cake. 

And then he runs off.

Leaving his cake that I slaved, cried and panicked over, completely untouched.



4th Birthday 

There is no way in hell I'm making a cake this year. I'm busy with the baby and the kid doesn't even like cake! No way, not happening.

And it doesn't. He picks pumpkin pie instead. And as a bonus, my husband makes it.

Pure pie bliss. No tears and no stress. 

Plus, he eats it. 



5th Birthday

This brings us to the recent birthday, the one that just happened.

You'd think that after last year we'd have learned that pie = good and cake = bad. I mean, Hyperbole and a Half scientifically proved this fact already. And Adam Carolla ranted about cake vs pie too. Pie always wins. (thanks to Caryn for sharing the Adam Carolla link)  

We try to avoid cake.

We remind him that he "doesn't even like cake" but he ignores us. Peer pressure is a bitch. Other kids have cakes at their birthdays! That is what you do! And so he begs for a pirate ship cake. 

I give in. 

I make one. It is marvelous. A work of art.

It tastes amazing too. Cake crack. Probably because I used a box mix from Trader Joe's. I was warned about the dangerous deliciousity and addictive properties of this particular cake (from The Cake of Angels) but when people tell me not to do something I pretty much get in line to do it.  Jill maintains that she is "not responsible for the purchases of additional boxes or weight gain" but I don't know. I have another box in my pantry (because what if TJs stops carrying it! The horror! Must stockpile!) and it is all her fault.   

I unveil it and await my accolades. 

Instead, he offers a critique.

Points out that there are no pirates.

A "thank you" would have been nice. Sigh.  

Okay, it needs a pirate. Fine. I grab a LEGO guy, tie a red piece of fabric on his head and press a black sticker on one eye.

Just look at how crafty I am in a pinch! He had better love this. 

He doesn't.  Grrrrr. 

He is suffering from some major Appreciation Deficiency and I am suffering from being pissed off. 

I take off the damn patch.

And more whiny complaints leak out. 

Fortunately, the toddler runs into the room…

And diffuses the situation with his Maximum Cuteness superpowers.

We all laugh and carry on with other party stuff.

Later, after the song is sung and candles are blown, we cut the cake.

I hand him a piece. 

He takes a bite of the frosting. 

And another! 

And then hands his plate back with a naked piece of cake on it. He only ate the frosting. Still, an improvement. I guess. 

Later that same night, my husband and I are standing in the kitchen, eating cake leftovers. I tell him that there will be no cake next year. That I'm not making one again. No way.     

He doesn't trust it. Asks me what I'll do if he absolutely has his heart set on a cake again next year. I mean, you can't deny a kid cake for his birthday, right?

But I just don't want to waste all that time and effort.

We eat our cake in silence for a few moments. Thinking.

Suddenly, I announce that I've just come up with a plan for what we'll do if he insists on a cake again.

Why didn't I come up with this brilliant idea sooner?   



Funniest_mom_blog So, I was nominated for the "Funniest Mom Blog" for and the voting ends soonish. Ends this week in fact!

So pretty please (with full nights of sleep on top) vote for me? Or not. Whatever. Just an idea.

No really, please? Here is the place to vote for Crappy Pictures! Thank you!  

This entry was posted in birthdays, crappy pictures, food, holidaze, parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

129 Responses to birthday cakes and brilliant ideas

  1. HeatherL says:

    LOL I hate baking cakes so I always get grandma to do it! I voted for you! How are you not in the lead? You totally need to be, your blog is the best, it always makes me laugh out loud.

  2. Jenn says:

    Sheer awesome.

    Turtle, at the age of 3, is pretty particular about his cake. But I’m with your 5 year old. The frosting is the only part worth eating ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Rebecca says:

    Heeee, my son doesn’t like cake, just the icing. I try evey year to make a cake for my kids. This year my daughters cake was a total disaster the night before, and even the icing wouldnt go right. I managed to glue the cake together with the crappy icing, and cover it with pink sprinkles and everyone thought it was wonderful in the end. I stayed up until 2am crying and working on that stupid cake. I now wonder how often my mom did that for me and my sister.

  4. LOL
    I have to admit – I’m a buyer… One of dd’s favorite things to do is pick out her cupcakes or cake at the store. Now, for family cake we go all out – she can pick ANY cake she sees in the bakery at the grocery store… Now that she’s a teen, though, it’s getting a bit scary how fancy and Expensive the cakes she picks out are.
    Kind of like my dad complaining – he used to let us pick out where we wanted our birthday dinner. Said it was great when we were little and picked McDonalds. Not so much later when we picked places like Red Lobster… lol

  5. Kelli says:

    Costco makes great cakes big enough for a party. Affordable too. Yep, I am in the buy a cake crowd. My mom made fantastic cakes. Cakes I loved and adored. My son only wants Lightening McQueen. I cant do Lightening. So he got balloons on his cake from Costco. He really only saw it for the few seconds he blew out the candles. No stress = happier mom.

    Great blog!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Oh my husband alwasys says the same thing too, lets just buy a cake. For some reason I can’t. I like the annoyed look on his face in the last picture.

  7. Katie says:

    HAHA! My daughter is 4.5 and did not even look at her cake until her 3rd birthday. However, I have bought every year and never looked back LOL.

  8. Boreal says:

    I couldn’t resist sharing my birthday cake failure with you! For my oldest childs first birthday I too INSISTED on making the cake. She is very girly-girl, so I went with Strawberry cake with Pink icing. I went with simple round pans figuring she would destroy it anyways, and my husbands friend comes in the kitchen and starts talking about how awful the cake looks and takes the icing from me so he can FIX IT HIMSELF! I will admit, he did a pretty decent job, but maybe it looked like CRAP because I wasn’t done with it yet! I still got to write her name on it and all she did was rub on the letters and then lick her fingers so she really only enjoyed MY part of the cake anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

    This year we had twins 3 wks before my oldest daughters birthday. I caved. We bought our first cake. It was pretty good. I will admit that I over indulged on the leftovers, but I needed the extra calories for nursing twins! (ok, maybe not, but that’s what I kept telling myself). Ever since my first cake disaster I have been trying to find the time to take one of those cake baking/decorating classes (offered by Michaels Craft store in our area) but now that I have twins and a 4 year old I will probably NEVER FIND THE TIME! Maybe after they’re in high school I will get around to that…and maybe several years later I’ll be the awesome grandmother who makes AMAZING cakes for the grandkids birthdays!

  9. Gab says:

    Ah, yes. The panicked midnight making of desserts.
    One year we hid the Easter candy too well, and when the bunny tried to fill the baskets after bedtime, there was none…
    Of course the next logical step is something homemade and insanely difficult!
    Several hours and chocolate-covered, coconut and jimmie rice-crispie-treat hedgehogs(?!) later, daddy found the treats. I still can’t remember where it all turned up!

    You know there’s a law– Murphy’s Irony?– that when your son is a little bigger he’s going to brag about all the great birthday cakes he’s had over the years.

  10. maggie says:

    I love this, I LOVE your blog, so funny!

  11. KC says:

    So funny! I hate frosting. I would totally eat the cake! Great post. We’re coming up on my daughters 2nd birthday next week and I am fretting over the cake of course, and my husband right away says lets by the cake.

  12. lorain says:

    OMG thats hilarious! If the baby wasnt sleeping i’d lol ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Jen says:

    Coldstone ice cream cake. You can even get half and half if kiddo can’t make up his mind or if you’d like a choice.

    Chocolate ganache frosting (or whip cream), chocolate cake, ice cream, easy serving, no guilt! Fabulous!

  14. Annie says:

    Perfect!! Except at my house, so far I’m 2/2 with one yr olds hitting the gag reflex and throwing up cake. Not a little gag/spit back out, but FULL VOLUME deep in the gut vomit.
    And for kid #1, I slaved hrs over that first cake to make it “healthy”–as in pureeing carrots and raisins as part of the ingredients. None of us could eat it, and except for those barfy bites it met the trashcan.

  15. JB says:

    I’m with your son on this one: I’d much prefer blackberry cobbler than cake on my birthday.

  16. Brittney says:

    I love 1st bday cake… I can’t deny it… I have said already to my mom and husband that I want a healthy cake for him to eat… something with apples or carrots. After all he’s a sweet little baby untainted by added sugar lol. I feel that I am destined to follow your birthday cake path! ๐Ÿ˜›

  17. Tarina says:

    My 2 year old is like this! He will lick the frosting off EVERY cupcake, but refuses to eat the rest. Same for cake!! I love love love ur blog, voted and posted on fb for my friends to do the same!

  18. Amber Dusick says:

    “No stress = happier mom.” Word.

  19. Jen says:

    I will be buying our cake from year one!

  20. Amber Dusick says:

    Oh yes, that is so totally something that would happen in our house. But the hedgehogs sound cute! And you are right, he’ll probably have very fond memories of the cakes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Amber Dusick says:

    Oh no! Projectile cake vomit! LOL

  22. Bria says:

    I baked a cake for my son’s 1st birthday and it was awful. For his second birthday we had donuts (which he did not eat). We’ll see about his 3rd birthday…Maybe my cake baking skills have miraculously improved since the last cake.

    Anyway, thank you for yet another hilarious post. You are awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Amber Dusick says:

    My son’s first cake was carrot cake. ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL But who knows, maybe he’ll love it!

  24. Elise says:

    Awesome. And I voted for you!

  25. Ashley says:

    Story of my life… seriously! I always bake my kids birthday cakes. Last year, my now four year old daughter was really into pirates. I got pirate decorations and made a pirate ship cake. The day of the party – she cried about the pirate stuff and we had to take it all down and she hated the pirate ship cake! The only thing that she thought was decent was the lifesize pirate girl cutout picture we taped to the door. I seriously went in my bedroom and CRIED! I was all excited and ready to make it such a special day… but nooooo! No decorations or cake baking for her this year (she turns 5 next month).

  26. I love this so, so much. The third birthday images made me laugh and cry at the same time. It’s been a couple of years, but one never forgets those feelings!

    I’m off now to thank the friend who linked this masterpiece to me! And thanks to this, I feel less full of rage than I did before. By a huge margin. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Carah says:

    For my son’s first birthday, I made an AWESOME monkey cake. It was truely impressive. I got all kinds of compliments. And he wouldn’t touch it. He just wanted pickles.

    This made me laugh so hard because I thought I was the only one who didn’t get cute pictures of their kid with cake all over their faces.

  28. RL says:

    This part “He is dealing with the situation like a man. Offering solutions and shit. I hate it when he does this.” OMFG, brilliant, woman! You are always so right on it make me spit out my tea.

  29. RL says:

    That should have been “makes” not “make”.

  30. Chris says:

    This might be a primary caregiver thing more than a mom/dad thing. I’ve always made my kids birthday cakes, and they aren’t always grateful. But they’re 6 and 8 now, so I think I can lay off the whole I-want-him-to-have-a-totally-rad-homemade-cake thing.

  31. Perfectly timed. I’m about to begin thinking about making a cake for my little one’s 4th birthday next month…Maybe I’ll just buy one…:)

  32. kate says:

    hahaaa i was SOOO the ‘first birthday cake must be healthy’ type! only then i was still a fan of box mixes so i bought the organic one. those were some tasty cupcakes. and my son only wanted the cake, no frosting. i briefly questioned if he was really mine. and then i decided he was making smart nutritional decisions because i am such a great mom! fast forward a few years and anything chocolate/candy is worth trying and anything veggie is worth shouting ‘i don’t like it! i don’t want to try it!’ and crumpling to the floor in tears. veggies are totally tear worthy, i am SUCH a great mom. and now my aunt makes all b-day cakes since she is all fancy with her cars, guitars, whatever-you-can-think-of-i-can-cake self.

    lol aahh i love you and your crappy pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Tamara says:

    My son also asked for a pirate ship cake for his birthday. I, however, drew a ship in icing on a sheet cake. He saw it and first thing out of his mouth . . . “But, there are no pirates!” So, out comes the icing bag (all we had left was pink) and he got a pink pirate on his ship. It satisfied him. I, however, felt like it wrecked my work of art. Oh well, he was happy and the cake was delicious. Love, Love, Love your blog.

  34. KiwiBunnz says:

    I decided I wanted four blocks with my son’s name spelled out for his 1st birthday. My mum decided I wouldn’t be able to make it (or manage to organise his party) so she took over and did it for me (I was 31! Suppose it is my fault for asking for help!) I was allowed to ice it though. Turned out pretty crap and not what I had imagined. Stupid thing is, when I lived on the other side of the world from my mother for 6 years I actually managed to make some pretty good cakes! Tried to vote for you but the site it down. Will try and remember to do it later, I love your blog!

  35. Monica says:

    The cake is always for the pictures and guests. My sister bought the Princess’ first b-day cake from a reallllly amazing bakery. What one year old has their OWN lemmon cake with white chocolate leaves? Then I started making cakes. Buying them was too expensive and they sucked. Okay maybe we bought a couple… One year on the way to the birthday venue the b-day girl stepped in her cake in the van. It was salvged!
    Now GrandSmother brings them from Costco. They are amazing and CHEAP! $16 for half a sheet? Hells yeah! Sam’s Club is good too.

  36. Abby says:

    How is that other blog ahead of you? [I read her stuff… not that funny… just sayin’.] You are adored and since I will have a 3 month old at my son’s 3rd birthday he’s getting a store bought one. Done. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Jibbertwit says:

    Hmmm. I don’t know what it says about me or my parenting, but I have not once/ever made a cake for the two kids I have. One just turned 4 – thank you HyVee Barbie cake. And the other turns 9 in less than a month..yet another thank you to HyVee for a princess castle cake. I burned shake and bake potatoes once…so I think it’s best if I don’t bake anything.

  38. HaleyStudio says:

    1st cake: store-bought but I didn’t let her eat any. She had watermelon and loved it.

    2nd cake: hand-made lemon/vanilla cupcakes w/mini M&Ms on top (polka dot theme party)

    Off-topic, when I first came to your site today, my 2-1/2 year old said “Read me M word?” (“Mama” in word balloon in header). I’m so proud!

  39. Marie says:

    My poor baby girl’s first birthday wasn’t really about her at all… we were about to move internationally, so rather than have everyone over twice, we put a “Goodbye and oh, yeah, the baby’s turning 1” party together. Lots of grown up food. Some pureed mush for the baby girl. And the cake. Um, I forgot about the cake until the day before. Hooray for Costco! They even put her name on it – and it magically matched the plates/napkins/etc that were leftovers from her (my) friend’s (daughter’s) 1st birthday party. She also bawled instead of eating her cake. So one week later we have a family dinner and cake – a banana muffin cake – she loves bananas. No go. But she loves scones. Next birthday? Scones and clotted cream – everyone’s happy.

  40. Rebecca says:

    I have a five month old.

    I am TERRIFIED of making a cake for his first birthday.

    It keeps me awake at night…already.

  41. Amber Dusick says:

    Listening to it now! Thanks for the link!

  42. Amber Dusick says:

    Buy it, buy it! Or get someone else to make it. Serious.

  43. Amber Dusick says:

    I think it means you are wise!

  44. Amber Dusick says:

    Thank goodness “Mama” was the word!

  45. Kimberly says:

    Three words:
    Edible Cake Images

    Find them on ebay. You can even personalize them! They are a lifesaver for those of us who think we are just as talented as Cake Boss and then realize we’re no where close (personally speaking, of course). (the best part is that YOU still make the cake!!)

  46. Amber Dusick says:

    Just listened. Ha! I’m adding a link in the post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Alyssa E. says:

    Haha! My son’s 1st birthday is this month. We did a smash cake for his pictures. I bought it from Walmart. Chocolate. No healthy organic stuff. Delicious, sugary, fatening chocolate. He demolished it. I just ordered the party cakes today–a frog cupcake cake and an individual smash cake. $15 for the frog and the smash cake is free. My husband wanted me to make it. I work 60 hours a week. I have no time. I’m buying. (Yes, we are this opposite of the stereotypical married couple in pretty much every aspect.)

    LOVE your work!

  48. Victori says:

    Literally cried-laughing at this one…I am doing the exact same thing from your birthday 3 TODAY….I am massively pregnant and overdue, my daughter is 3 today and insisted on helping make a cake, but of course, husband-darling insisted on a ice cream cake :-/ We are not having a party and have NO family in town, nor do we know anyone yet since we just moved here…but we MUST have a cake!! That’s OK, whether it’s good or bad…I will likely eat 75% of it anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Malerie says:

    I use to buy one but I got sick of them spelling my son’s name wrong even though when ordering I would make them write down the correct spelling in large clear letters. Now I make them for all my 3 kids and I love doing it and they love the finished product. They never eat much cake at a party cause they just want to play but they all eat the leftover when people have gone home.

  50. Amber Dusick says:

    Awww, and honestly, the best memories for me are him helping me make the cake. (because now he wants nothing to do with that) Labor vibes for you and yes, totally eat the cake, you need the energy. Or something. ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. Noelle says:

    My husband and I die laughing at your blog! I just signed up on just to vote for you! Keep it coming, you help me laugh at my crazy child rearing situations!

  52. JLaren says:

    We have always made cupcakes, so much easier. I voted for you and you are in the lead again! Woot! I hate to say it but I really do wonder if that other blog that was beating you is cheating. They have very few followers and almost no comments on any of their posts. Where are they getting all those votes? Fingers crossed that you are the ultimate funny mommy champion because you totally deserve it!

  53. Jo says:

    Oh, I was so with you on this one! The picture of you on the floor (crappy or perfectly envisioned), too pregnant to mix it at the table is the most pathos filled thing EVER.

    I too have the cake-guilt! But I’m quite good at cakes, I like making them. See birthday 4 for my son:

    I love that cake.

    BUT – if cake is not your thing, I think it is an ADMIRABLE solution to buy a cool cake from your friend who makes great cakes. There’s a wonderfully talented mom in our school who is a cake maker and lots of people get hers, and it’s always v exciting. Take it from me, it is great to get paid for cake, and unless the kiddies specifically request you make it, it’s a mom cake all the same ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. I am SO far from being creative, artistic, baker-talented, etc. However, between me and my husband we have managed to crank out a bunch of different cakes over the years. We have seven kids (just turned 1 to nearly 14) and have had no repeated cakes. It’s a challenge I have given myself over the years. Initially I did make the cake itself from scratch but over time I decided there are many cases where boxed mixes are not only easier, but better, faster, and cheaper.

    As far as ‘good for you’ cakes go, I’ve never opted for a nutritious cake. That sort of defeats the purpose for me. I love my sweets! That said, for my b-day I prefer Angel Food cakes with strawberries and ice cream or Oreo Mint cookies + chocolate chip mint ice cream + chocolate syrup = Mud Pie. Yum!

    Oh, and I should add that my kids birthdays tend to come in clusters so I can relate to the pending birth + cake making. I have a 12/30, 1/1, 1/24, 2/22, 4/6, 9/30, and 10/3 birthdays in my family.

    HELPFUL CAKE MAKING LINKS for those who do want to bake but don’t feel they have many talents in the decorating department: AND

  55. Jo says:

    PS: I too share in the love of Hyperbole and a Half – of course you know it, makes perfect sense!

  56. Dina says:

    Stick me in the bad mom list. I am too busy with other party prep to do baking. I am on the buy a cake side.

    But to console myself, I buy them ridiculously expensive custom cakes. Stupid I know. The party isn’t even that fancy. I am not really one of those competing with the Jones’ people who throws $300000 parties. I just buy fancy cakes. To assuage my mommy guilt for not having baked them an organic, healthy, additive free, egg, dairy and nut free extravaganza.

    DD ate her first birthday cake, and DS denuded the frosting off of his.

    The sad part is that I love to bake.

  57. Stew says:

    Us men are so simple…..yet SMART ๐Ÿ˜‰

  58. Mindy says:

    Always bought. No mama guilt except for first bday. Gorgeous red velvet cake. Cute birthday hat. Bright Red vomit and diarrhea all over crib 30 minutes later. That’s when we discovered he was allergic to eggs!!!

  59. Hmmm. I am reading this thinking what a crappy mom I am because I haven’t – not once – ever made a cake for either of my kids. You win best effort from a mom ever. Ev. Er.

  60. Sandra says:

    I tried to make one of those topsy-turvy cakes using rice krispies and frosting for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. Somehow, about 2 hours before the party was about to start, it ended up thrown against the kitchen wall.


    I had to call my parents and beg them to buy a cake on their way over. On the day after Thanksgiving, during the worst day EVER to step inside a store.

    They were less than thrilled.

    My son, however, was rendered momentarily speechless when it happened. He even went to get dad to show him. But I just played dumb. What cake? What wall? Oh, there’s rice krispies dripping down the wall over there? Hmmm…that’s interesting.

  61. Irene says:

    I made my son’s first birthday cake. Never again. After his 2nd birthday, and over the intervening months, we’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that he does’t care for cake. Or pie. Or any sugary baked good. Which is fine by me. We’re probably getting store-bought cupcakes for his 3rd birthday. I feel your pain.

  62. jillsmo says:

    Um… I think you left something out here…..

    YOU know what I mean…. *taps foot*

  63. says:

    this sounds SO familiar. now, please do a post on a similar scenario with making the halloween costume. that’s what we’ve got going on over here right now. i’ve been slaving for a week and half with my sewing machine, the whole dining room looks like a sweat shop, and i bet when it comes down to it, he won’t even wear it.

  64. jen says:

    oh yes i remember my first daughter’s first birthday cake. 3 layers, i put real fruit in so it would be “healthy” and top layer of the cake was for her to eat. Real cream cheese instead of icing on her layer with more fruit than cake. She licked some cream cheese and was all done. My second daughter’s first birthday cake? store bought chocolate cake with fudge icing, she ate her slice all up. My first daughter didn’t have chocolate until she was 2, my second daughter was about 9 months.

  65. Tezza says:

    Pre having my own daughter, I was the fantastic creative baking aunt who churned out miraculous cakes covered in swirls of frosting…. I literally made a volcano cake for my dinosaur loving nephew with flames and lava hand crafted from toffee shards (with in-built LED lighting – you get the idea – maybe a tendency to overdo it). So for my own precious daughter’s birthday cake, naturally I went all out and made cupcakes with smarties on them!

    Mind you, this year for her fourth birthday, she decided she wanted a Rapunzel cake (no problem – I bought a Polly Pocket Rapunzel doll to stick on a square cake with smarties on it). Then I realised that her idea of a Rapunzel cake was a “FLOATING in the air castle on a tower” AKA the entire Tangled movie set. 60 hours of icing and cake engineering later… success. There was so much icing that it was totally inedible but that was a small price to pay for her happiness….

  66. LeahM says:

    LMAO! I made that same pirate ship cake for my husband. Spent a small fortune on the Lego pirates and Target only carried the Jack Sparrow and pals collection, so it wasn’t as classic as I would have liked. As you can see, I obsessed.

    And for my daughter? She wanted a Shaun the Sheep cake for her fourth birthday. I slaved over that one. It took two hours just to mold the stupid little sheep out of fondant. And that didn’t count the cake… that I made twice because I thought it tasted too dry the first time around. At least I knew well enough to start it a week in advance. I learned that you can actually freeze cake if you wrap it in cling wrap well enough. I believe I am a lost cause. Let us know how the store bought cake goes for you. Also, are you still going to make cake for the younger one, since he hasn’t rejected it yet?

  67. Francesca says:

    Home-made Easter treats!?! You are AWESOME. Do they not have all-night grocery stores where you live?

  68. Francesca says:

    Ah yes– the “healthy” cake. I made applesauce cake for our first girl when she was one. She was so sick that day that she wouldn’t even look at food. All our birthday photos are totally miserable.

  69. Francesca says:

    My parents made some impressive cakes for us over the years. 4-year-olds get the train cake with individually-carved cars carrying gum-drops and rolling on nilla-wafer wheels over licorice tracks… My brother once got a dragon cake that stood 18 inches high with a hide made of dark green icing half an inch thick.

    Our first year I tried to make a healthy-style cake. It tasted awful, really, but my daughter was too sick to eat any that day anyways. Year 2 and 3 were store-bought cakes, as I recall. Year 4 I was REALLY looking forward to making the train cake, and I was trying to figure out how I would do this when we were coming home from our holiday vacations only a few days before the party, and the train cake requires freezing the pound cake and starting a couple days early to carve the locomotive… But my girl was adamant that she did NOT want a train cake, she wanted a Barbie cake (with the doll in the middle). Turns out the Barbie cake isn’t that hard to make. I used cake mix and canned frosting, since we were pressed for time, but I got the cake to cook in a metal bowl for the skirt, got my frosting tips to work, and it was pretty impressive. I still want to make a train cake, though… Maybe I should do it for my 2-year-old this year, before she’s old enough to object…

  70. Kelly says:

    Two things, I’m so buying a cake for my baby’s first birthday (next month!) And secondly cake > pie. Ick, pie. Bleck.

    Thirdly, yes I know I said two things, whatever, the picture of him throwing his cake overboard made me laugh… must be a stage. My baby is going through that right now, I’m getting faster though, I can almost catch everything before it hits the floor. All except his darn sippy cup!

  71. CathKane says:

    I just spat my coffee out laughing at “soon, cake” Too funny! Finally a blog that makes me feel ‘normal’ as a mum, I have 2 boys age 1 and 3 – I can totally relate to so many of your posts, keep them coming!

  72. Rach says:

    I decided a long time ago that my daughters 1st birthday cake would be made by someone else, unfortunely the girl who I was going to get to make it now owns a cafe and works 7 days a week so now I have to find someone else, but my husband has said for the rest of the birthdays HE wants to make them o_O following in his dads footsteps…. I offered just to buy them lol!!! He said that was the thing he remembers most with his birthdays, that he got to choose what cake he wanted and then watch his dad make them…. The only reason I remember the cakes is cause of photos…
    Although I am planning on doing some cake/cupcake making lessons at some stage through the church… Don’t know how well that will go :S

  73. My kids, too, hate cake, which baffles me. It’s SUGAR, kids. SUGAR! But no.They’d rather eat sugar straight.

  74. Andrea says:

    Loved your b-day cake memories! My hubby appointed himself cake-maker starting with birthday #1. So far he’s made a castle, butterfly, Toodee (from Yo! Gabba Gabba), Share Bear, and Hello Kitty. (gee, can you tell I have a girl?) At first I was a little jealous since everyone gushes over the cake while I do EVERYTHING else, but hey, he wants to help, so OK by me. Oh, and my daughter only just started eating cake on her 4th b-day… just never know when that sweet tooth will kick in : }

  75. Rainyday says:

    Yep, snapshots from my life again. How do you do that?!
    The baking on the floor one really got to me – I ended up on bedrest at 30 weeks prego with #2. #1 and I spent a good chunk of time baking on the kitchen floor. Memories!

  76. allison says:

    Dude – I voted for you even though they made me register and tell them all kinds of shit about myself which I hate, and then I find out that you’d probably have to post about eating babies at this point in order to lose.

    I voted too, even though I ended up having to go to three different schools while I had the stomach flu. I was a good citizen this week. And good luck – not that you should need it, or appear to. ๐Ÿ™‚

  77. Angela says:

    I love you Amber. Somehow you manage to get me rolling on the floor in fits of laughter every time and reading your blog over and over again. The whole house knows when I’m reading your blog. Even when I’m not in a particularly good mood the laughter creeps up on me and I find myself wiping away tears of joy.

  78. Jolene says:

    This is why you need a hubby who makes goodies :). I don’t even have to think about cakes! Unless of course, it’s for him…. And what did he ask for for his birthday? A cake…no one had ever made one for him before. Talk about a guilt trip. So, I made one. And got critiqued, but he was glad I’d made him a cake.

  79. Victori says:

    So..just to update, I re-enacted your exact 3rd birthday cake-disaster. I had a complete hormonal meltdown after I screwed up the cake and husband-dearest had to come to rescue as I consoled myself in the bathroom, hiding my shame from my daughter ๐Ÿ˜› LOL…At least we can laugh at ourselves after….right?

  80. Amber Dusick says:

    Yes! Laughing is good. Very good. ๐Ÿ™‚

  81. vanessa says:

    lol I already know I’m buying a cake for my baby’s 1st birthday next April. It’s really for the best, bad mothering be damned. Let’s just say my baking efforts always turn out like the charred bits of your penguin cake.

  82. Hm, feel like a crappy mom….and I don’t even have children yet. So, yea. Thanks a lot. P.S., you know you aren’t buying a cake next year, right?

  83. Amanda Keats says:

    Hahaha!! My belly is sore from laughing (and I’m reading at work, so getting funny looks). My son turned 2 last week, so (with the next one on the way) I made him 2 cakes, as I did for his first birthday (what’s wrong with me?). I can completely relate! A week of late nights, ingredient substitution, oven maintenance, decoration improvisation…but they looked fantastic, and I think my son eventually even ate 1 piece!

  84. Kiyah says:

    I think ‘make’ works well there too. Gets your point across with a little attitude to boot!

  85. Julie says:

    Hell yes I’m voting for you! There’s no question this is the best friggin’ parenting blog ever.

  86. fuchsia says:

    why not make a pie and “frost” it with whipped cream. way easier than cake. Or make a chocolate wafer cookie and whipped cream cake. maybe he would eat it since it isn’t really a cake.

  87. april b says:

    Ice cream cake. My son hates regular cake and this is a fantastic compromise. All the cool decorations and shapes of a regular cake, but pure deliciousness inside!

  88. Serena Mohun says:

    As a mother of 12, I have more than a little experience with little kid birthdays. Simple will fill the bill (and this does not involve letting the kid choose the cake beyond “chocolate or vanilla”). For the baking challenged there are cake mixes and even store bought frosting, though powdered sugar, butter and milk make an easy frosting. Cupcake papers and some colorful sprinkles and you’re done.

  89. Umma says:

    Why the hell would anyone want to make a cake? Pure ego, really. There are bakeries that actually make awesome cakes for you! Seriously, baking is for perfectionist ego-maniacs…unless you are a baker who gets paid, then you are an artist! I’m not kidding. Man, I hate baking cake of any sort. And I’m not sure why it makes me so angry. Hmm.

  90. Cyn says:

    I bought both my dughter’s Birthday cake, the first one because we just moved in our new place in a new city 3 days before her big day, no freaking way I would back something then. She ate a fair chunk of it.
    The second birthday we had this big party planned, and there was no way I would make a cake for a party of around 15 kids and a few adults, I suck at cake decorating, my oven is in fact the convection mode on my microwave…too small for elaborate plans, so we ordered a Nice Dora the Explorer sheet cake, she loved it when it was in the box, the minute we planted the candles in it and lit them for her to blow she screamed bloddy murder in front of all her guests, she refused to eat the cake until the next day ๐Ÿ™‚

    as much as I love to bake stuff, I’m not going to attempt birthday cakes ever, too much other stuff to plan.

  91. Liz says:

    bahahahahaah this made me laugh so much – especially the part where it didn’t turn out properly and how it made you a bad mother, guilt, how can you have another baby.

    I had similar – except I was making a cheese sauce (at around 8 months preggy with #1) and couldn’t understand why it was all gluggy and not smooth like my mother-in-laws. I had forgotten to add a key ingredient – milk!! I remember bursting into tears to my hubby saying “how are we going to be able to look after a baby when we can’t even make sheese sauce”. Hysterical

  92. Julie says:

    Gosh. Wow. I like baking. I would hate it if I were a perfectionist because whatever I make turns out anything but perfect. But I like choosing the ingredients myself (always sneaking in flax seed and whatnot) and I like getting the kids to help and I like that I can make my own food. Does that make me an ego-maniac??

  93. Kiyah says:

    These last two days have been pretty crappy for me: The kind of crappy that comes from being 9 months pregnant (with those fabulous raging hormones) and a toddler who is increasingly asserting her independence and a husband who gets frustrated by said independence and then acts like a toddler himself (and who, on top of that, is trying to finish his dissertation so anything that is not said dissertation is just a distraction) and a full time job (that is NOT being mom and wife)and two crazy bosses to deal with and never, ever, getting enough sleep. Anyway, after two days of *that* I found *this* post and can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. It was cathartic, so thank you!

  94. Jennifer says:

    You are TOO funny! This blog is the BEST! I just voted for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  95. Genevieve says:

    TOO FUNNY! My son’s 1st cake was a frozen one from Dairy Queen, as my mom said don’t worry about the cake I will take care of it…. She must have forgottten to bake one from scratch…like she did for my brother and I all those years!! And she must have not known it was with ice cream in it, so no need to say Kalel didn’t even want to touch it!! Anyway luckily enough he has been ok with cake since his 2nd birthday!! I voted for you good luck you deserve to win you crack me up everytime I read you , thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  96. Melissa says:

    You freaking rock. Thanks for the laugh. ๐Ÿ™‚

  97. Kimberly says:

    I like to think that I’m a good mom…but no way in hell am I going to drive myself any more nuts than I already am by making a cake! We’ve had wonderful store-bought cakes and my kid is completely fine. (I’ll pay for her therapy if she was traumatized by store-bought cakes!)

  98. Alicia says:

    I bought Sprinkles cupcake mix for my one-year old’s birthday, and they turned out fabulous, so I went half-store bought. I recommend it because it makes you look brilliant without much effort.

    I voted for you and hope you win–you deserve it!

  99. Ac Pac says:

    Seriously had tears from laughter reading this. We’re a food allergy family here…Totally got the bit about asking for “organic, non-dairy shortening” and then being looked at like you’re a freak. The soupy middle/charred & burning edges has happened to me, too! Why??? So funny to know I’m not the only one! And the guilt! I have it, too. I used to not have the option of buying a cake, but then we found a baker who accommodates all of our family’s 7 different food allergies…so I’m really, really tempted to just buy this year, esp after just having our baby…Thank you so much for your blog! You make me and my husband laugh about the then tragic/now hilarious things that happen as parents…

  100. “He is dealing with the situation like a man. Offering solutions and shit. I hate it when he does this.”

    I cry with laughter. You know, I bet our husbands would be bestest of friends. They could tell story after story beginning with “And then I told her she could do XYZ, and she told me to FU.”

    If my husband had a dollar for every time I make things more complicated than they have to be, he’d be rich. But then again, if I had a dollar for every time he said he “absolutely can’t find” something that I found ten seconds later, I’d be Oprah-rich. Ah. Marriage.

  101. JCCyC says:

    You know, you should pay attention to that horrible, man-y, Y-chromosomey “solutions” thing sometimes. There’s good ideas in it every once in a while.

  102. JCCyC says:

    This. Drives. Us. Men. Crazy.


  103. sara says:

    For my son’s first birthday, I made a GIANT cake that looked like our dog (because he just *loved* pup pup at that age…i wonder what happened since then…). We’re talking serious cake effort. We skipped birthday party #2 since we’d *just* moved to a new town and hadn’t met anyone yet, so he just helped me bake and decorate cookies instead. For #3, I had to go all out again. Since it was a cat in the hat party, I had to make a cat’s hat cake (which required learning how to bake at altitude. with a new baby). Everyone ooohed and ahhed. Then took two bites and went to go play. At least the other parents appreciated the cake ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ll see what the 4th birthday brings…

  104. Janette says:

    For my first child’s 1st birthday, I wanted to bake her a cake, for the same reasons as you wanted to bake your son one. I decided to go all out and see if I inherited my mother’s fabulous cake baking skills (she used to make wedding cakes, and cakes of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of birthdays and other special holidays). My parents and my in-laws were both visiting at the same time, since they were just there for our wedding, so we decided to have our daughter’s birthday party a couple of weeks early. Mom even brought out the teddy bear-shaped cake pans (one big one for the guests, and one small one just for her) for me to use. I successfully baked the cakes, stood them up, and got myself mentally prepared for step #2. However, that was where my talents ended. Apparently I did NOT inherit the cake-making gene. When it came to frosting the cake, I of course wanted to do it like my mother used to do it – icing bag, homemade chocolate icing, and various tips to create various icing shapes. The teddy bear had to be frosted in tiny little chocolate star/flower shapes, just like in the photo. Just like my mom used to do. I couldn’t get the stupid flowers to stick to the damned cake! I was getting more and more frustrated, and time was closing in. Eventually, I had a total meltdown when the icing bag burst from me putting pressure on it and a big pile of chocolate teddy bear poop landed on the plate next to the bear’s ass. It was even coiled. Everyone stood around laughing at it but I ran to the bathroom in tears. I was failing as a mother because I couldn’t magically produce a masterpiece, with no previous experience, for my daughter’s first birthday cake!!! Luckily, my mother took over and completed it for me. I still felt like a big fat failure, but at least my daughter got her teddy bear cake.

    Needless to say, for my daughter’s second birthday, we had one made, complete with Disney princesses on top.

  105. Christine says:

    Birthday Pie! Why didn’t I think of that? The kids will love it! Your a genius!

  106. says:

    My friend’s kids don’t like cake either. She buys carrot cake. They eat it by force. Funny thing is, whenever it’s her or her hubby’s birthday, we have ice cream cake and everyone gobbles it up and loves it! So I just don’t understand why the kids don’t get ice cream cake. Seriously. It’s the bomb. Why *force* them to eat a cake they don’t like? And she buys it at the store anyway! Maybe ice cream cake is a good option for your son?? I mean, if you’re going to buy it anwyay…

  107. Talita says:

    Monica, I agree with you that cake is for pictures and guest. For my son’s first birthday party we also bought a cake from this awesome bakery. For him we ordered a cupcake with the same decorations as the adults cake (chocolate monkeys). He ate the tail of the chocolate monkey on his cupcake and then got upset that his hands were dirty and gave up on the rest. Everybody else stuffed their faces with the cake. Now he is 3 and he absolutely LOVES cakes. In his daycare they throw parties for every single kids birthdays, so he eats cake about, oh, once a month at least.

  108. Mercy says:

    Third birthday story is the best.

  109. Nic8910 says:

    I hope I don’t follow in your footsteps, but birthday #1 went the same way for us. I drove 30 mins away (out of state) to get ingredients like coconut flour and grapeseed oil for a gluten free cake for our son who had barely eaten solids. Made 3 different types of cupcakes (two gluten free, one “regular”). Made diary free frosting. Baby eats none of it. Cake is on the floor. Mommy ends up eating way too many gluten free cupcakes.

  110. JaciDoula says:

    This comes at a great time because I, too, will be attempting some sort of pirate themed cake this year. I’m being a bad mom by forcing my two boys (who will be four and two, so yeah, like they’ll even notice) to have a joint birthday party (birthdays are a month apart). Wish me luck!

  111. Amanda says:

    Once again you are a riot!! I love the husband “offering solutions and shit”. Just recently had my 10 year olds bday party two days before giving birth. The pregnant cake is my favorite! I have flash backs of feeling like I’ve ruined my 10yr olds party by being so huge and unable to have the sleepover she wanted.

  112. Rebecca says:

    But buying first birthday cake = epic mothering failure. EPIC.

    I am English – we are crap at baking cakes. Sigh.

  113. says:

    I already have four “fancy” cakes picked out for my son’s first birthday. I didn’t know it puts you in the bad mom category. ๐Ÿ™ I just know I can’t make an adorable two tier cake with gum paste safari animals or a cake that looks like a cheese wheel with cute gum paste mice hopping around it. I’ll bake a simple cake for my husband and I but much prefer talent for the “big stuff”

  114. says:

    I am sad that moms who bought cakes felt they had to explain why because it put them in the “bad mom category” … That’s just ridiculous.


  115. says:

    I can’t believe you had nearly exactly the same experience with birthday cakes as I have! The first year was exactly the same. Next two years very similar. And by the fourth year we gave up on cake. He now has ice cream sundaes on his birthday. He gets to pick the ice cream flavor, and that is awesome enough for him!

  116. Melissa says:

    This is basically me the first couple years, right down to the robot cake, toddler throwing uneaten cake on the ground and slaving away into the night over a crappy cake!

  117. Sara says:

    My two-year old loves cake – we had muffins for breakfast last week and his face lit up as he said, “Birthday cake breakfast! Mommy!” But what I want to share is my family’s pirate ship cake. My brother was 6. My mother always made amazing cakes and this one was incredible, complete with paper sails. She lights the candles, carries it to the table, and right at the moment of “Happy Birtday, dear…” 10 six-year-old boys start shouting “Burn it up! Burn it up!” My mother, meanwhile, is shouting “Blow it out!!!” because the paper sails have caught on fire. We’re talking a two-foot flame. The masts are wooden shish-kabab sticks. The video recording of the event reveals an expletive in the background as the camera turns sideways. Moments later, the picture is righted and you see the cake and the table covered in black ash, and a crowd of grinning little boys all thinking, “This is the best birthday party ever.”

  118. “Now remember, I am like, super pregnant with baby #2. This means that a cake failure means that I am a failure. As a mother. More or less.
    How could I possibly have another baby if I can’t even bake a cake for the one I’ve got?
    My husband tries to derail my train wreck of thought by repeating his “brilliant” idea: buy a cake.
    Could he have said anything worse? He is dealing with the situation like a man. Offering solutions and shit. I hate it when he does this.
    Plus, I take it personally. His suggestion confirms that I suck. Obviously.”

    “…but when people tell me not to do something I pretty much get in line to do it.”

    These sound just like me! I enjoyed your retelling ofyour cake adventures. I’ve recently taken to making birthday cakes for family and now I’m getting requests and they all expect them to be more epic than the last. Unfortunately, my last attempt was a master ball (an item from pokemon) and I just ended up with half a cake and a mess on the floor and counter where the other half fell off!

  119. Georgina Kovacik says:

    I cried laughing with this post, my son is 8 months old and I am already planning on what cake to bake for his 1st birthday, so I loved the stories of the first 5 birthday cakes.

  120. Kate says:

    Oh, that penguin cake! Laughed ’til I cried. When I was pregnant with Ichiban I decided I needed (NEEDED) quiche. It went all wrong & my poor husband walked in the door just after I’d pulled it from the oven in its leaky burned awfulness. “What kind of mother will I be if I can’t even make a quiche?!” He hadn’t really been subjected to the full force of the hormones until then and was totally baffled. “I’ll go get you a quiche, honey!” Waaaaahhhhhh!!!!

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  125. epic says:

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