Six years ago today I gave birth to my very own little superhero, named River. He is fun and funny, thoughtful, curious, observant, insightful, musical, beach loving and life loving. Today we had a party to celebrate him.
I remember taking River home from the hospital and being so enraptured with him (still am). After loving other people's babies all my life since I was a little girl, at age 31 I was thrilled to have a baby of my very own that I didn't have to give back to parents.
River's birth was also the birth of Pete and I as parents. Still so much to learn but I feel so blessed to be parenting with Pete and to have our beautiful boys.
Happy Birthday sweet River.
I had been wanting to start a birthday tradition that went beyond cake and presents. This year the idea came to me to make a birthday 'flag' (see below) I have sewn six hearts on this one, one for each of River's years and I plan to bring it out each birthday and add another heart or a star or some other symbol from that year, a drawing or treasure. And by the time he is a teenager perhaps me and my birthday flag will become embarrassing and I will love that part of the tradition and parenting too.
The cake. This year River requested a spiderman cake. Despite not watching commercial television and being part of a Steiner community from his birth, those 'outside' influences are creeping in. I was very happy to create his dream birthday cake, though it meant breaking the wholefood rules and using wait for it...red food coloring! Beetroot juice colouring would just not give this brilliant red result:
I cut the whites of the eyes out of paper, spun a licorice web and it was done. Simple but effective, yes? Beneath that scarlet red buttercream icing is a dense and decadent chocolate cake that Pete and I tussled over the timing of when it should be removed from the oven. No one likes a dry cake agreed. But my dear Pete, raw cake does not really make for good eating either. I'm happy to say that between us we got the timing right and the cake was fudgy in the centre without being raw.
The recipe comes from a friend's mum who makes the cake each year for her grandson's birthday. It is so simple and a winner every time. This is the recipe as I received it:
1 cup of drinking chocolate
1.5 cups of caster sugar
2 cups self raising flour
1.5 cups milk
125 grams butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat all together.
I amended it because most drinking chocolate has sugar in it, the one I used is sweetened with stevia, so I reduced the sugar to half a cup (I used golden unrefined caster sugar). I added 2 tablespoons of cocoa and I also chopped up 100 grams of dark chocolate and through the chips into the mix. I wanted to make a bigger cake to I added another egg, 1 more cup of flour, took the butter up to 200g and added another half cup of milk. And then yes, mixed it all together. Poured into a greased and lined tin and baked at 180C for around 45 minutes.
We set the guest list at six children, one for each year and it was perfect. They played in the treehouse, played with musical instruments, enjoyed a treasure hunt and pinata, ate home made dips, spinach and ricotta pies, mini beef pies followed by cake and jelly orange quarters, washed down with homemade lemonade. Two hours of excitement and fun with his new school buddies. Part of me felt sad that his 'old' friends weren't there, his kinder buddies whose mums are my closest friends here on the Peninsula. But hey, he's growing up and I have to move with that.
And as the last 'lolly' bag (containing yoghurt frog, carob licorice and honey lollipop) was handed out and River's guests were all waved goodbye, the rain that had held off began to fall and I savoured the day as I washed dishes, picked up balloons and sorted gifts of magic kits, paints and games. Quiet fell on the house. River and Sol settled in to watch a movie and when I had happily restored our surrounds to order I sat down to a sweet moment of my first piece of birthday cake and a cup of tea with Pete feeling completely satisfied with the day. As evening neared River's words, "I never want this day to end" said it all. Blissfully he is six :)