Harmon's Haven

Meet amazing dad Robbie, mother-in-training Jesika, 7 year old best big sister Bree, 5 year old boy in every way Gabe, 3 year old who thinks he's 10 years old who makes us all laugh McKay,
and 9 month old sweetest Quinn Marie...the Harmon Family!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The cake of death

(Ok. When we first got here Robbie told me about the "culture shock chart"...basically that when you get to a new country there is the initial high and excitement, then things start to get hard and you get down for a little bit, but then you get used to things and start to climb up. Well, I thought that once you were going up you were going up for good...I didn't know that it was like a roller coaster! No seriously though, though I took a little plunge down again, I'm heading up for good now :)
So rewind to Bree's birthday weekend, the 23rd of January. Here's how it went. The week of her birthday we made cute invitations and took them to all our friends and neighbors (like six families). I was so excited to throw a fun party and show everyone that even though I can't speak Spanish I can throw a good party! (I know, I know, wrong intentions from the beginning...) Friday night before her birthday I was up super late baking two cakes and making these super cute balloon flowers (Martha Stewart.com) to hang up outside above where the tables were going to be set up. The next morning I went with a friend to the market (my favorite place with rows and rows of fresh fruits and vegetables! Like a farmers market times 20!), then came home to decorate the cakes and get stuff set up. While I was gone my sweet husband hung up the balloon flowers and was setting out the tables and chairs. Gabe was napping and Bree was out playing so I had plenty of time for the cakes. I had done a chocolate cake that I was going to turn out of the 9x13 pan onto tinfoil covered cardboard and put some yummy chocolate frosting on, then I had made some pink cake (per Bree's request) and done heart cut outs that I was going to place in a circle on top of the chocolate cake to look like a flower. So cute. Well, as I started trying to get out the chocolate cake I noticed it was stuck a tad bit on the bottom...no problem, grab another spatula and call for Robbie. He comes in to help and says, "Why don't you just leave it in the pan?" Well, I would, but then it wouldn't be as cute to present while we sing Happy Birthday. (Yet again, wrong intentions!) So he tells me he'll try and get it out and then if it doesn't work I can blame him :) Yes I have the sweetest husband. As you may already have guessed it didn't work so well. The sides and top were pretty crumbly once it was out (because it was so moist of course :), but I thought, no big deal, it will cover with frosting! I start spreading the frosting...and it took the cake right along with it. Awesome. Ok, it's ok. Plan B. I'll make cake balls! Robbie was like, cake balls? What the heck? My friend made these super yummy little cake balls that if I remember correctly were just made from mixing the cake with frosting! So I turn the cake into a big bowl and start to stir... but it doesn't seem like enough frosting. So I add almost another whole entire tub of frosting and continue mixing. Still feeling optimistic. But as I mix I start noticing that it's pretty moist. Um, WAY too moist. I grab some with my hands to roll into balls and... it's a sticky mess that won't even form into balls. At this point Robbie came in and told me that the balloons he had so sweetly put up three hours before the party were now popping and shriviling from the heat. He looked at my "cake" and said, "Do you want me to run ("run" in this case means find someone to take him or get a taxi since we don't have a car) and buy a cake?" BUY a cake?! I don't buy cakes. I make cakes! Forgetting about the ballons I say, "it's ok, I'll just go to Plan C." I turn to the pink hearts and start arranging them on the tinfoil covered cardboard. Ya, it's going to be cute and may still be enough for all the people we invited if we serve it with a lot of icecream. I had put them into the fridge overnight so they would be easier to frost... or so I thought. The sides weren't frosting very well, so I had the great idea of putting lots of frosting on top and then letting it ooze down the sides to cover them. While the sides were oozing I had another great idea to stack three hearts at the center (I know, what was I thinking?!), then put tons of frosting on top so it would ooze all the way down. But did it ooze, no. It plopped right down to the bottom on top of the other hearts. At this point panic set in. I looked at my disaster, then at the clock (11:25), then remembered the balloons, and almost started crying. I hadn't even gotten ready. Bree was a mess from playing outside. Gabe was up and had been outside with Robbie but was needing attention. At that moment a friend from church called. "Jesika, I'm at stopping at the store on the way to the party, do you need anything?" Yes. Please. I need a cake.
She brought a beautiful pink cake with, "Happy Birthday Bree" written on it. Bree loved it. A little miracle... one that I didn't really deserve.
Go ahead and laugh. When I talked to my sister the next day I was bawling and laughing at the same time. Do you ever look back and wonder how you were so dumb? But what is crazy, is that as I was writing about this experience did I come to some realizations about myself. It wasn't about making an awesome cake and cool decorations for my sweet daughter, it was that I was trying to prove something, to impress people... PRIDE! So lame that I haven't seen this until now! Crazy how the Lord always helps you when you ask him. Like when you pray for patience he gives you experiences to learn and practice your patience and then you wonder why you even asked for help :) Well this year my theme is "It's not about me." (Every year I always try and set goals around a bigger goal that I am working towards, kind of a theme for the year.) So it took me until now to realize that Heavenly Father is giving me all these challenging experiences here in Costa Rica to help me see that it really isn't about me!! I've got to get rid of my lame pride and really truly focus on what is most important. I listened to a great BYU devotional talk yesterday by Kim B. Clark called, "Are Ye Stripped of Pride" which led me to want to re-read President Benson's talk "Beware of Pride" today. I have read this talk several times, but SO many things are popping out in new ways. I LOVE that as you have different experiences in life the scriptures are opened anew. I've just got to remember what is most important and keep my priorities straight, and then everything works out :) Since "the birthday party" things have been SO great and I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who guides us and teaches us if we only let him!
But seriously, what was I thinking with that cake!

13 comments:

Bill, Kristin and Will said...

Haha I love you Jesika! Isn't it crazy what good lessons we can learn from frustrating experiences? I'm glad you have such good friends and such a great husband to help you. You're the best!

Cara said...

There's nothing like trying to make a birthday cake to humble you quickly! I have learned that cakes and frosting and I just don't mix. Mitch's mom and sisters do these amazing cakes-- it's like a family tradition for them to make these great theme cakes. My mom did too. I bought Marin's 3rd b-day party cake because the 1st and 2nd didn't turn out so well! Marin's 1st birthday cake was supposed to be this darling white round layer cake with pink frosting flowers. Well when the sides started falling apart as I tried to frost it so bad that I took a huge knife and cut it into a square. There was no frosting on the side. I still have a picture of it. It's hideous. I feel your pain! It looked like that party turned out way fun anyway, despite the balloons and cake!

Hendie Boy said...

Jess,

I'm reading your blog!! I like your story. I dare say, the first step of ridding ourselves of Pride is recognizing it. I love you! You are a wonderful example to me as an older sister!

Heather E. said...

sounds like something I would do. I hate that feeling! At least it wasn't a ward activity.

Lizzy said...

Oh Jes! What a positive lesson you took from your lovely cake experience! Many people would just have a funny story to tell after the fact (like me), but instead you have learned an important gospel principle. Thanks for your example once again.

emily said...

Hey Jesika! Thanks for sharing your story, I really admire you and Robbie having such a big adventure! You guys are amazing!
- Emily Monroe

leslie said...

isn't that the way it always goes...

if there's one thing i've learned from my amazing mother-in-law and doing wedding cakes, it's that you always make the cake the night before and then put it in the freezer. it traps in the moisture and frosting is a breeze and it will thaw in no time!!

Arbon Family said...

Thanks for sharing and teaching me a wonderful lesson!

Lizzy said...

I love my sister! Most of all I love that you are able to laugh even through tears of frustration :) I'm grateful you don't do everything perfectly (like only 99%), even if it is just so you can learn a lesson! :)

Amy and Clark said...

I think you can blame the cake fiasco on cooking in another country. Recipes from home just never turn out quite the same as they do with the American ingredients we're used to! I'm so glad the party turned out okay and that you are so good at reflecting and learning from your life experiences!

Sharbabe said...

jesika you inspire me seriously... i know we don't know each other well but knowing Robbie he sure picked a great person to marry! I love how you share your experiences whether they are good or hard struggles. I find myself wanting to be a better person... better like you... You all shine the light of Christ and its amazing! I hope you all enjoy the time you have there. It will be a great experience to look back on. I am sure Bree loved every minute of her birthday. By the way thanks for the chain link countdown. I am doing this for my daughter who is so anxious about our trip to utah in a couple of weeks and always ask if today is the day! hahaha.... aren't children great?!!!

Jill said...

I will honest. I laughed the whole way through the story...only because I can relate...and it WILL happen again. One thing I look back and remember about those experiences is that our kids really DON'T CARE about too many things. They are thrilled at the gesture whether it's a 2 layer cake, cake balls and best thing yet....TWINKIES!!!!!Love

Kelly said...

Isn't it funny all these things we have to learn as young moms? I've learned to never try a new recipe on company. Who knows how it's going to turn out? But I keep trying to throw parties so one day I can breeze through them with no disasters like our moms seem to do!

And learning that it's not about us is a hard lesson to learn but one I definitely am learning!