Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The first rule of Blog Club

Okay, so I've never seen that movie (or any Brad Pitt movie, for that matter), but it seemed fitting. My personal rule of blogging about events is that I don't blog about things out of order. Like day three of the California trip? It got screwed in a Blogger fiasco and I never reposted it because then the trip report would be OUT of order. (in reviewing to find that link, it looks like day four disappeared, too) That can't happen, right?

Tonight, I'm getting over that. I've got blog fodder here, several days worth. I still need to blog about Sea World, because hey, you need to know about it. We've got some wineandfoodies stuff to do, too, but I'm going to blog about Monday before Saturday. I know, I live such a dangerous life.

I have to say, it was Monday here, but still Sunday in California, but I'll count it in the Monday stuff. I got a call from Bawb at 2:10am. His lovely wife, Maria, gave birth to their son, Caleb, a mere 20 minutes prior. Now that I have a new phone, Donna was kind enough to message me a picture of the handsome child. Good work! If I am allowed, I'll share a picture or two of the spawn of Bawb (so totally joking here, but that is classic Bawb humor, folks)

Monday in our house of insanity means we must prepare for cub scouts. Yay! Tonight's meeting was one of the pack variety. This is where we gather 50 or so hyperactive boys and make them sit for an hour (or more) to listen to announcements, watch skits, get awards and sing a song. This was the first one we'd attended for this pack and I continue to be impressed with how much energy there is from the leadership. More on that later.

Each month, the meetings are themed. This month's theme was "Down on the Farm". For the meeting there was a 'dads and lads' cake bake. This is a scouting thing that is done some time during the year (our old pack did it for Blue and Gold banquet). Basically, dad and son must plan and bake a cake without any female assistance.

For some families that may be a huge undertaking. In our house, it's status quo for the men to be in the kitchen. The rules were pretty simple. Cakes had to follow the 'down on the farm' theme. All components of the cake had to be edible. Finally, they'd be judged on "USDA Approved" (most unique), "Grade A" (best design) and "Udderly Delicious" (most yummy looking). Anyone who knows us knows that we take these types of events seriously. (Hello? Frederick County fair and baked goods?)

Initially, Chef Jr was going to make his strawberry heaven cake but soon rethought the logistics of it and how it would fit the theme. He came up with a "Carrot Cake." Underneath the Carrot exterior lies Alton Brown's recipe for 18 Carrot Cake. Yum. (Not my mom's recipe, but still really delicious) If the votes were for taste, this one would be a contender.
Oh, and the top? Frosting dipped pretzels. The frosting itself was far too soft to pipe onto the tray.

Gameboy was the one we were worried about. His imagination is in that brain of his, but he hides it from everyone. We've had glimpses before, but when assigned a task like this one, he chokes. He'll need prompting from one of us, as he doesn't seem to share any original ideas. This time, though, he came up with an excellent concept all on his own. He wanted to make a pumpkin patch cake.

The idea sounded easy enough to me. Buy those candy corn pumpkins and they could pipe green icing over chocolate frosting. Ed's idea was to include a fence and a scarecrow. Logistics prevailed: a scarecrow probably would have taken longer to make than the cake and the pumpkin patch. No funky pans were needed. Their end result was this:

The top rail of that fence was held in place with chocolate frosting. The one rail askew was done to give it an artistic touch. Getting this cake three miles down the road intact was something we worried about, but this picture was taken AT the church after we arrived, and no repairs were neccessary.

The meeting began, and like I said, it was the first one we attended with this new pack. Ed was confused when the Wolfs went up for their awards: Yellow Neckerchiefs meant we should see Chef Jr. Oops, we've got a Blue sportin' Bear now. The boys were true to form, they'd get restless.

Then an amazing thing would happen: one of the leaders would get up on stage with the cub master and distract the boys back into attention (stomping good time meant everyone stamped their feet, snappin instead of clappin, mosquito slaps, etc). These leaders are what every pack needs. It was quite fun to see what they'd come up with. (I'll have to break down and ask for the words to the 'announcements' song that the boys do-it is way too funny, something about it's a horrible way to die)

The final tally was announced on our popcorn sales. We beat the goal by 45 dollars. I have to thank Jane, Mom and Donna for adding sales this week. We had an extra sheet, asked more people to buy and it helped us to have a dunk tank for the leaders in January and a trip to the Kennedy Space Center for the boys. Yay!

After all the activities and awards, the time came to announce the cake winners. There was an independent judge. She had numbers in front of the cakes-no names. Her choices would not be boys known to her. The third prize USDA approved went to an attractive cake, Grade A's design was a pig in a farm yard and then the drumroll for the first prize. I notice the judge in front of Gameboy's cake and she was picking it up! I nudge Ed to point across the room at the judge bringing his cake up as they announced Gameboy's name as the 1st place winner!

It's a simple award, yes, but hey, he got to see the fruits of his imagination. I don't know if anyone in the pack realizes what a hard thing it is for him to do. He got a huge belt, a la the WWE, a ribbon and a spoon. Part of the event was to be a cake raffle at the end. The boys were all told they could not bring their own cake home.

As the winner, Gameboy got to choose any cake he wanted to bring home from the 40 entries. We saw the look on his face we knew so well: he was overwhelmed, but in a good way. I get out of my chair and go across the room, to find that he picked his cake already. He chose his brother's cake to take home. It's got dye, he knows it's got dye and yet he was insistent that he was bringing THIS cake home.

I asked him if he was sure and his response "I didn't want Chef to be sad that we didn't have his cake." In the space of five minutes, the kid sees the rewards of his imagination AND he shows a rare display of empathy and compassion. I was happy for the win, but PROUD of the reason behind his choice. This just drives home to me why we keep him in scouting-the life lessons that just naturally seem part of this environment.

Fortunately, the cake Chef Jr got to bring home has minimal dyed frosting on the borders, so Gameboy will get to enjoy it. When we got home, he got to sample a portion of Chef's cake that had been left behind without the dye on it.

Most days, we feel like failures as parents because it seems as though what we are saying is ignored by our kids. Some days, we are lucky to see the lessons we teach our children come back to us. When they happen, it give us the opportunity to share them. That really is the first rule of Blog Club (even if they're out of order!)

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