It was #1 teenage son's 16th birthday earlier in the week. How can that be possible? Surely it was only a moment ago that he was a podgy baby, throwing up over everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) and now he's a tall, strapping guy choosing his 'A' Levels and smelling always of chlorine. How things change ...
But what do you buy as a birthday gift for a teenager who only ever really wants things that he NEEDS? It's an admirable trait for sure (and one that his younger sister could learn from) but it does make this time of year challenging. Particularly coming so soon after Christmas. And made worse by the fact that #2 teenage son's birthday follows just 4 days after his. Boy, that was some bad planning on our part ...
Me - "Have you any ideas what you might like for your birthday?"
Short break for thinking time.
#1 teenage son - "Well, I did think of something - but now I can't remember what it was ..."
AAAAAaaarrrggghh. And it's much more difficult now that CDs, DVDs and books are not an option. What is a desperate Mum supposed to do?
Dig deep - that's what she's supposed to do. Dig deep for inspiration and opt for 'speed shopping'. Shop under time pressure and somehow the ideas seem to flow better. It works for me.
So what gifts did #1 teenage son receive to celebrate his special day?
- A spinny chair - Obviously. Inspired by a day when the whole family helped my lovely husband at a workshop he was running, and the children 'helped' from the comfort of the office spinny chairs. It's a stylish chair too (not terribly officey) but evidently perhaps a little too comfortable - the risk of falling asleep in it after a long day, I understand, is high. But surely that's what you do when you're 60, not 16.
- A cup for protein shakes on the go - When your swim coach tells you that you need to try to put some weight on, then protein shakes between meals are a good place to start. As an adult, being given the OK to eat more would be heavenly. As a teenager, I imagine it's a bit of a hassle.
- Some Patchi chocolates - our favourite Dubai chocolates; not least because there's always a free sample when you visit the shop.
- Chris Froome's autobiography, 'The Climb' - It's as much about mental stamina and determination as it is about cycling. #1 teenage son has always loved an autobiography, and despite living in a Kindle world I do sometimes succumb to the draw of an old fashioned paperback book.
- 'The World in 2016' by The Economist - "But we haven't had much of 2016 yet". Ha ha. Economic predictions for the year ahead and perfect for starting Economics 'A' Level in September.
- Plus a mystery gift that I only came up with on the day of his birthday - come on Aramex, deliver quickly please.
And then of course there was the cake - a Lemon Layer Cake - to round off his birthday and to accompany the singing and the candles. And it only took one blow to extinguish all 16 of the candles - that'll be swimmers' lungs I guess.
And why is this my current favorite cake ... with or without a birthday to celebrate?
- It's easy - Nothing fancy here. A simple sponge with a fantastic (but SO easy) filling.
- It's quick - I had the whole thing made in less than 1½ hours ... including cooling and decorating.
- It tastes delicious - This is a cake with a lightness of texture and a zesty flavour. Not too lemony as to be, 'CRIKEY', but lemony enough to be fresh and not at all sickly.
- It uses time-saving ingredients - Grab yourself a jar of good lemon curd (I like the Sicilian Lemon Curd from M&S) and that's half of the filling done. The other half is a cream cheese frosting that you'll recognize from these Carrot Cakes. It looks like too much filling for one cake, but trust me on this - after all, we're not going to use any icing, just a dusting of icing sugar.
And I completely didn't expect that taking cakes into school would still be a thing when you're 16, but I was so wrong with that. I guess there are some things that you're never too old for. 24 lemon butterfly cakes later and we're ready to go.
Anyway, I'm off for a spin (and a snooze) now in a spinny chair ... Enjoy!