This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Earth Cake Science Project

(Ours looked nothing like this, I just thought it was cute.)

Ponito had to make a science project and he told me about it last weekend. He told me by saying at 5pm on Sunday night, "You have to get a styrofoam ball for a science project - right now." Needless to say, I did not agree that his lack of planning necessitated a crisis for me.

However, we talked about why he needed it. Turns out he has a big science project due about the Earth's core. Cool, but I'm not driving to the craft store on a Sunday night to buy a foam ball. Does it have to be a foam ball? Turns out, no, it didn't.

It suddenly occurs to me that I've been dying for a chance to use my Betty Crocker Bake'n'fill pans ever since I picked them up at a thrift store over a year ago. Doesn't that just look perfect?
Talked to Ponito about it, and he was very enthusiastic about cake, so we were set to go. We started making cake mix and adding food color to the different layers, and I had him show me the assignment to make sure we had all the layers. Ummm?! Ponito? You do realize this project isn't due for two weeks? *sigh*

So we finish the cake parts, freeze them, and I send him to bed (a little late).

Flash forward two weeks. Now I've had time to shop and buy icing (I hate making icing, and I can never keep pre-made icing in the house for long because it disappears (Mostly empty canisters with spoons in them are later found in Bear's room, in case you were wondering).

So at 7pm, Ponito and I start the "easy process" of assembling the cakes.

1st problem. For a round cake there are only 2 layers. The cake shown on the box is not a round cake. It has a round cake inside it. No worries. We had taken that into account and decided to make the "earth's core out of edible playdoh dyed red (hard to see in my photo shopped picture).

2nd problem. No clean mixing bowls! Whose turn is it? Apparently "Not Me's" turn, and "Not Me" is nowhere to be found. Fine, we'll make it without the mixer. So we made peanut butter playdoh, but it took forever to get enough food coloring in it to turn it red, and it took forever to mix by hand. 3 pink fingernails and a pink splotch on the coiunter and I finally got it done. Scooped out room for it in the filling layer of cake, and *Bam!* The Earth now has an inner core (red playdough) and an outer core (orange colored cake).

3rd problem. The filling layer of orange colored cake is supposed to be iced and inserted into the main layer of yellow (barely any dye so it's kind of neutral colored) cake. The filling layer is pretty small so it's a good thing I bought 2 tubs of icing. We generously coat it with yellow frosting and smoosh it into the round main layer (twice because there wasn't enough icing the first time). Now the inner and outer core are surrounded by the lower mantle (yellow frosting) and the mantle (not so yellow cake).

4th problem. (Although not until we tried to cut it). Now the Earth needs a crust. In the picture it's thin and brown. I'm so smart I decide to use the melting chocolate wafers that I've had sitting around forever as the crust. So we melt them and coat the outside of the cake. Perfect and easy. Of course later when we have to cut out a section of the cake so you can see the layers, I realize it's not that easy to cut the now solid layer of chocolate cocooning the cake, but we manage to make it work and the layers of icing hide all the cracks.

5th problem. Next part was easy. Mix blue food coloring into a can of white icing, and spread it on the chocolate covered cake. *Kapow!* Done! One Oceanic Crust, complete. *Oops!* We forgot to get the Continental crust ready. Oh well, shouldn't be hard. I was looking for an excuse to use up a box of egg whites so I we decided to make meringue continents. How hard could it be? First make the meringue. Not too difficult since we have pre-separated egg whites, but Ponito does have to wash a mixing bowl. No way am I mixing meringue by hand! Don't forget it has to be green! Ok add food coloring. Not dark enough. Add more food coloring. More.... more... more.... well... mint green'll just have to do.

6th problem. do we just want green blobs floating in the blue icing? You know, it's really not that hard to make the meringue into shapes. Let's find an image of the earth as seen from the top down, print it out, and using a plastic bag with the corner snipped off, we can just fill in the outlines of the continents. *Oops! I snipped the hole too big. Oh well, not that big a deal right? We want it fairly thick anyway so it won't break too easily or get lost in the icing."

I'm going to be smart and not make the continents on a flat surface and then try to stick it to a round shape. (Thinking ahead for once!). So I get a glass measuring bowl, tape our image to it, then tape some wax paper over that. Ponito tries piping, but it's not that easy so he hands it off to Mom. *Bam!* We've got Continental crust blobs!

Meantime it's 7:30 and the kids are still clamoring for dinner. I'd already decided to make Boboli pizza (fairly quick and easy) and had even bought the stinky fish for Hubby's pizza and spinach and asparagus for mine (plenty of artichoke hearts and pineapple already). So no worries. I'll quickly squirt out the extra meringue into little kiss shapes that the family can eat or something (waste not, want not!), and then I'll make the pizzas.

7th problem. Oh by the way? What do you do with the meringue once it's made? Does it just air dry? Check the recipe. Oh CR*P! It has to bake in a 200 degree oven for over an hour! That means the oven will be full of meringue and we can't make pizza. Ummm... Hubby? I know the kids had their hearts set on pizza, but... I could make mac'n'cheese on the stove, or nuke some leftovers.

*Deafening cheers!* Hubby has decided to spring for "real" pizza from a chain restaurant. He'll even pick it up! VERY happy teenagers.

8th problem. 1+ hours later (bedtime), we pull the meringue out of the oven. It looks fine, but is stuck to the wax paper, and cracks when you take it off. I'm also trying to talk on the phone to a friend about RAD kids who acts out sexually (got to remember to look up the links I promised her), without saying things that 11 year old Ponito doesn't need to hear, and trying to get most of the meringue on the cake. Use white icing for Greenland and Alaska, and... Done!

9th problem. Cut and label the cake. A pain (see problem #4) but we get it done. Decide to give the cut out piece to Ponito's teacher to eat. Also we cut loose all the extra meringue blobs for Ponito to give to his friends. Finally get Ponito to bed. Send him back a second time after he adds one more label he forgot.

Final problem. I was supposed to be spending all evening working on Hubby's resume so he can apply for a job tomorrow. It's 1am and I've done almost nothing. *sigh*


Anonymous said...

"Done almost nothing" that's just BS! You've done more than ANY normal, harried, mother of four could ever pull off. When MDS was in 6th grade I made an important discovery: if it can't be done with posterboard it's too much work and too expensive. I keep black and white poster board on hand and have figured out how to bend and staple it into all sorts of shapes, including a jackal head so MDS could be "Anubis" in the 6th grade "Wax Museum".

Did you know that those styrofoam balls are about $12 each? Your ingenuity and resourcefulness paid for that pizza.

And you made mom of the year AGAIN!

The Accidental Mommy said...


I am so impressed with your earth cake! It is genius! Did you get a grade yet? LOL! Dang, that is just awesome.

My daughter just had a school project to do a family tree. Um, yeah. Basically it was homework for me.

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

I would probably be estatic if my kids came home with a REAL project. You know, something hands on. Great job on the cake! That is really awesome!

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is indeed an amazing feat of imagination and motherhood. But at about problem #2 I started saying "wouldn't it have been easier to drive to the store?"
And I bet Ponito is smart enough that next time he has to do a project he will first think about how to turn it into a cake so that mom can do most of the work : )

marythemom said...

Purple and STS, LOL! I'm with Tara on this one, finally a project I can be creative with! Even though I talked about all the problems, it was still a fun time bonding with my son, and believe me he did a lot of the work! I don't believe in doing a kids' project for them. I still remember the projects my mom did with me when I was a kid (she was unmedicated bipolar so she was REALLY creative). She's the reason I love making costumes too (well, I used to. Until I got tired of the kids refusing to wear them).

Essie - yeah, family tree projects are totally mom projects. How is the kid supposed to do that by themselves?

I've been checking online and bugging Ponito about what grade he got on the earth cake. He thinks I'm annoying. Can you believe the teacher didn't eat the piece of cake we gave her?! Ponito says it's just sitting there. I wonder if he forgot to tell her it wasn't part of his project.


Anonymous said...

Essie, it was when I got an "A" on my oldest son's family tree that I realized I'd already passed 6th grade and didn't need to do it again. From that moment on I backed off and made my kids do their own homework. Yeah, I helped, but I no longer carried them. Brilliant learning moment for this mom/teacher.

Mary, she probably didn't know it was completely edible because of the colors, and as a rule many teachers only pretend to eat the treats that kids bring in, because we know where those hands have been...