Aaron's birthday was a month 1/2 back- here's some documentation of the fun. Our friend Kristin Imig is an actual-for-real-get-paid photographer (one of two that we know!). These are some shots she took of the evening at Neptune, our local independent coffee shop.
I know what you are thinking...."Aaron had his birthday party at a coffee shop? Just what has marriage and fatherhood done to him?!!" I know, I know, it seems wrong on so many levels. Really, a coffee shop is the last place you would think we'd go to celebrate his birthday. Before you really panic and think hell is on the way to freezing, let me explain a little bit about Neptune. Dan the owner, in a stroke of brilliance, added beer and wine to his beverage menu. He explained it in simple terms to me- he's already paying the overhead to have the place open, he may as well provide a full range of mood enhancing liquids. We couldn't agree more. This made Neptune a perfect place to have Aaron's party- all ages, beverages for teetotalers, beverages for sinners, no waiting for tables, no uptight patrons looking at your child like they don't belong there....we love Neptune.
Side note...somebody once asked me if I had to give up either coffee or red wine for the rest of my life, which would it be? Oh, I said, I'd have to give up life.
I spent the day baking cakes for the occasion. No telling how many people would come and I wanted to be prepared. For some reason I had gotten in my head that Aaron liked pineapple upside down cake. After an exhausting 3 minutes of research I found what I thought would be the perfect recipe. Lots of butter, lots of brown sugar...sounded great to me. Well, I'll spare you the details, but the cake was a let down. It looked not unlike a mound of steaming cow pie. I went back to recipe research while Aaron cut into the cake, proclaiming he had never had pineapple upside down cake.
Never. Had. It. Ever.
It was all too late, I had all ingredients at hand, so a damned pineapple upside down cake was what he was going to get. Fortunately for all involved, the second try was a success. Who knew you could make a cake in a cast iron skillet?!
When I surveyed the plate-sized one layer cake, it dawned on me that it would only feed two Erbecks (Uncle Lincoln and Aaron) or a family of four. We were expecting more so thought I better get to work making another cake. The kitchen air was dripping with the smell cooked pineapple and caramelized sugar- I simply could not make another pineapple cake and have all of us survive. Surely we'd suffocate from the lack of oxygen.
I scanned the cupboards for ingredients. Flour, sugar, oats, the usual. This was going to be a culinary challenge (particularly so for a girl who would rather be anywhere than the kitchen). More research (hello Google), some creativity, and voila! A semi-original design is born- coconut cake with coffee frosting. Doesn't sound quite right, does it?! I surmised that if I made something with coffee in it, Aaron would surely like it (in general,this works with peanut butter too). Again a cake resembling the by-product of food ingested by a cow, but it was a success. Which simply means that nobody involuntarily spit the first bite back out.
On to the party!
Neptune is only a few blocks away, so we loaded True's stroller with cakes, ice cream, forks, napkins, knives, candles, and whatever else we could throw in without crushing the poor kid- and off we went, a gypsy like caravan of Erbecks.
When Dan saw us come into his establishment, his eyes were wide and he started visibly trembling. I think he wondered what he got himself into by agreeing to let us celebrate there. We unloaded our menagerie of kitchen goods onto one of his tables, stuff cataclysmicly dropping out everywhere, while True promptly began ransacking the neatly stacked shelves of newspapers. Lincoln and Aaron opened beers, I filled a glass with red wine, we sounded a rowdy "CHEERS", clinked our glasses and chugged our libations. Yes! The Erbecks have arrived!!
The guests started trickling in until the place was full of our dearest friends. Greg and a very pregnant Heather, Matt and Jenny, Roberta, Suzanne, Peter and Jan, Clark and Vanessa, John, Heidi and Petra, Tom and Lisa, Konrad and Kristin, Holly, and every single one of the Dahlstrom gang (Andy the partriarch, Hilary the matriarch, Ivy the elder rugrat, Harriet the youngest rugrat, Raymond the boy rugrat).
(Secretly, we aspire to be as cool as the Dahlstroms, but don't tell them that....)
We were doing our best to drink Neptune out of their beer/wine/soda stock, when the closing hour came. We ignored that and continued our celebration, oblivious to the employees staring at us, looking at their watches, looking back to us, shifting from foot to foot. I surveyed the shop and saw a sea of dirty plates and trash strewn from one end of the shop to the other. Cake frosting coated tables and chairs. Yes, I'm sure Dan was regretting his decision.
I didn't want to get banned for life, since I had planned on Neptune becoming my new haven (again people, coffee AND wine)... so we cleaned up and started loading the stroller. You would think we would be traveling home with less.... but we ended up toting a 1/2 case of wine, numerous t-shirts for Aaron (a uncoordinated gift theme), and a Billy Ocean cd.
Side note. I had to explain to Aaron who Billy Ocean is. My formidable years were the mid-80's. I KNOW who Billy Ocean is. And I LOVED that album, which of course I owned on cassette. Yes folks, it is a fact- Aaron is younger than me. Regardless, I still feel like he should have known Billy Ocean, but maybe we're looking at a culture difference here between West Coast and Midwest. Or maybe, and more probable, Aaron was just a whole lot *cooler* than my top-40, mtv, crimped hair havin' self. Reality can be really harsh.
Happy Birthday baby.