Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cake 4 Kids

This 17 yr. old girl requested "cheerleader brownies" instead of a cake.  When I googled it..."cheerleader brownies" are "pot brownies."  Hmmm...I'm as drug-free as a person gets.  So I found some cheerleader themed cupcake papers and pics that looked like megaphones to use as decoration.  Three different varieties of brownie, because she didn't specify and "brownie" has a lot of options!  It's hard to pipe lettering on a non-smooth surface.  
The past year, I had a goal of baking once per month for the charity Cake4Kids.  I can't get the link to work. so just go to  While I skipped a couple of months, I did some other charity baking to make it all even out so I feel successful in reaching my goal. Here are some of the results (not necessarily all my favorite success stories, but the photos that I could locate quickest).

Apple cake with real caramel topping.  I free-handed the logo.  

These cupcakes were the only submission that earned me a "thank you" and report back from the social worker.  She said the 7 yr. old boy was thrilled with his requested LEGO cupcakes, carrot cake just like he asked.  

First time doing fondant.  I love it, but don't have the KitchenAid to help me make it on a regular basis.  No, I am not going to try hand-kneading the stickiest mixture on earth (marshmallows and Crisco).  I'd add a nice big eye for the middle "Mike Wyzowski" (sp?) layer if I were to do this cake again.  

top view through the cake box plastic looks cool.  :)  Like a nightmarish sunflower.  :)

An "emergency cake" i.e. the night before delivery was due, the other baker got sick and I accepted the last-minute role to fill-in.  So I wish I'd had time to pick up a soccer form pan from the cake library.  It's harder to free-hand soccer pattern than I first thought.  Pretty much everything about cake decorating is harder than I thought.  

This one was for my visiting teachee's kids, not the usual Cake4kids foster/homeless recipient.  Her twins were turning 2 and I begged her to let me do the cake.  She said, "the only word they know how to say is DOGGIE, so they'd love a cake having something to do with a dog."  And I love how this one turned out.  Very cute!  

This has been a very rewarding hobby. However, it has also make my family eat 10 times more baked goods than we otherwise would have consumed, because I tend to always bake a little extra, or do a "practice cake" if trying a new technique, etc. So I think I'll be taking a bit less cake decorating projects for the year 2015. Maybe try for every-other-month?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

homeschool musings

Christmas cards/letters are not happening this year, mainly because we moved this past September and I'm still reeling. Do we ever have a year when we do NOT move?? We are all still adjusting and truthfully I've been battling some depression/anxiety flare-up. It doesn't seem to matter how many times we move, I'll always feel overwhelmed about having to get new doctors, dentists, shopping places, schools, congregations, friends, favorite parks, libraries, etc. So I've noticed this past move went better for a month or so, because we kept strong ties to Santa Clara. I kept driving an hour each way to take Mr. Lo to school out there, because we'd already paid tuition for the term and loved the school so much. But now that we no longer go back to our old neighborhood on a regular basis, I've started to feel the reality of the move sink in. Ugh.
My kids with two of the "joy school" classmates on my day to teach
Lo Lo did FOUR different schools in 2014. We did a homeschool "joy school" type of co op January through May, followed by Wilson Parent Participation Preschool in the Fall. Also, I did concurrent enrollment in Ocean Grove Charter Homeschool (OGCS) this Fall. He's considered Transitional Kindergarten in this state and could have attended 5 days/week in a regular elementary school TK classroom. Then, after our move, we enrolled him in another parent co op preschool (I'll forego specifics on the name for security reasons, because he is currently attending). I am in a total quandry about what to do for school next year. I need to decide soon... Homeschool is great because we have a lot of support (i.e. funding) through OGCS. And I love that he could move at his own pace, with the benefit of one-on-one instruction. But, lately I've been so overwhelmed with just the basics of life like dishes, laundry and meal prep, I have a hard time picturing how I could manage to direct my son in any type of educational pursuit. Jerry is a lot better at getting our son to be excited about reading/writing/rithmetic. He is young still, I know, but I want him to move along and learn if he's ready--and sometimes it seems that the group momentum in a classroom setting really helps him stay motivated to keep working and learning with joy. He is the most extroverted person I have ever met. So I wonder if I could fulfill his HUGE quota of social need in a homeschool setting. There are not many homeschool co ops in our area where we could hang out with other kids his age.
All my siblings, their spouses, kids and my parents--the whole family in one place!  It will probably be years before that happens again...
Last month we traveled to Boise for my brother's wedding. Which brings me to another benefit of homeschooling--freedom of schedule. I would love to be able to plan trips, doctor appointments, etc. without any consideration for my children missing class. In fact, the trips would often turn into enhancement of their curriculum! It's such a wonderful concept. I love the idea of homeschooling. Just not sure if I'm the capable sort of person who could handle doing it. *sigh* Oh, and one more thought on homeschooling: most of the homeschooled kids I've encountered have been amazing. In a noticeable, shining light sort of way, they stand out from the crowd. I don't have statistics on that sort of subjective observation, but I cannot deny the impression I've received that homeschooling can bring out a child's glorious potential in ways that herd-style public education cannot. I'm a product of public school. I turned out "fine," graduated from college, had only a few years of being bullied/friendless, and mostly loved my teachers and classes. I think my kids would be "fine" in public school. Probably. But they likely would have some special benefits from homeschooling. I hope I can do it. Being prayerful and hopeful.
We visited Chinatown and Lo Lo started speaking Chinese because all the kids there did not understand English.  Behold the power of positive peer pressure...maybe I need to find him another good Chinese bilingual school...