One of my earliest childhood memories is from when I was about five years old. Like all early memories, this one is a little fuzzy, but my daddy has told me that it is a real memory and has reminded me about it over the years.
Our very first house was really small and had a set of stairs up to a deck. Beneath the deck was a patch of dirt and it was there that I loved to make mud pies and “cakes.” My dad, would come up the walk from working as a firefighter and would say, “What cha doin?” (Short for What are you doing?) And I would say in my little voice, “I’m baking a cake!”
I remember how I loved to put the muddy batter in my little pretend cake pans and then decorate them. With a sprinkle of sand and a few little rocks and flowers, each creation was a work of art. I think what I really wanted was my dad to see what I had made and tell me what a good job I was doing.
When I was a teenager, my “stay at home” mom went back to work. It was short-lived for her because we really weren’t used to a mom who worked outside of our home. But for me, it was fun. I tried to help out after school and during that time I embraced cooking and making meals for our family. I loved to make all kinds of desserts, pies, bread, and cakes. I especially liked my dad’s approval when he would acknowledge one of my creations.
Nowadays I don’t make many cakes or desserts. With no holidays or parties to attend my baking has gone on hiatus. Plus, I think it is easy to eat too much during a pandemic.
However, my granddaughter loves to bake with me. One of her favorite things to do is watch baking shows together. There is one called “Sugar Rush-Extra Sweet” https://www.netflix.com/title/80201328. This baking show features professional bakers competing for a grand prize and they make amazing sweets and cakes. The other is “Nailed It” https://www.netflix.com/title/80179138. On Nailed It, they feature novice bakers who are trying to replicate a masterpiece with hysterical results. They usually do the opposite of nailing it.
Her love for baking shows has inspired me to give her birthday and Christmas gifts that include utensils, cooking gadgets, and baking supplies. This year I gave her all the things she needs to decorate cakes.
My son turned 36 this week and so last weekend we baked a cake together to celebrate his birthday. After the cake had cooled, my granddaughter and her best friend decorated the cake. With the Seahawks game running in the background, we chose blue and green colors to add color to our vanilla buttercream cake. We had so much fun together, reading the directions, doing the math, and then being patient while they cooled. She has really learned so much from watching her baking shows. I can’t wait for this summer at “Nana Camp” to bake some more.
This week it felt like coming full circle for me. Fifty-seven years later, the little girl that wanted to please her daddy by making mud pies had a chance to help another little girl make her daddy a real cake. She was so proud of what she had made and her daddy (my son) praised her efforts!
It is hitting home this week that time is flying by. Making memories with grandchildren, celebrating family milestones, laughing at parties are all things I’m looking forward to as I approach my next chapter. I have less than 40 working days until that happens.
The next time I talk with my dad in Arizona maybe he’ll ask me, “What cha doin?” and I’ll say, “I’m bakin a cake!”
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.