Our littlest boy turned one recently, and instead of slaving over a novelty cake the day before the party as I usually do, I threw some sandwiches, poppers and hat into a bag and we wandered around a war memorial bay walk near our house.
This was big! Birthdays are ALL about the birthday cake around here. We usually begin discussing a child's birthday cake 11 months, 29 days and seven hours in advance, pore over my trusty Woman's Weekly Birthday Cakes for Kids, photocopy and enlarge templates, scour specialty shops for decorations, mix, bake, and spend six hours on the actually assembly on the day before the party. (That may be a slight exaggeration.)
The big kids ran ahead, setting off the sensor-activated recordings about the trials of WWII Diggers on the Kokota Track in Papua New Guinea. We absorbed a bit of history along with the fresh air and sunshine.
I wondered at the tragedy of war, the stamina and sheer guts of those soldiers and appreciated the life we lead.
Then we let the kids loose at the park where they spent the whole time filling their shoes, socks, pockets and ears with sand. Or at least they seemed to have.
It was a good afternoon out. We haven't had one, all together, for a very long time.
I didn't even buy a beautiful cake from our very good local patisseria to assuage my guilt at not making one. Because I didn't feel guilty at choosing some much-needed family fun time over 'mummy-snapping-at-everyone-to-leave-her-alone-in-the-kitchen-time'.
Well, maybe just a twinge.
My husband bought the cake, a chocolate cross-eyed echnidna. It was a supermarket mark-down to $5.99 with a cheery 'still fresh' sticker slapped on the box. When I opened it I saw that the ageing icing had hardened and cracked around the base.
A bigger little twinge.
I popped it onto a cake board, cut up some lolly snakes to approximate ants and scattered them around the cake's snout. Wrote a birthday message to my little boy, with hearts and kisses, and voila! a birthday cake in 60 seconds.
I think I made the right choice.
How about you? Taken any shortcuts recently that you never thought you would?