Monday, May 5, 2014

May madness

May is the month of birthday's for our two kids, and also happens to be the month for celebrating Mother's Day too. This year in particular, we wanted to make-up for the party Sarah didn't really get last year, on account of her brother being expected to arrive any week then.

So we decided to do something really adventurous this year, completely out of the ordinary and hopefully a lot of fun! David got his thinking cap on, his brush cutter out and got to work in the back yard. Soon, little barriers started to emerge involving pallets, stakes and piles of deadwood...


We didn't have to buy anything new for these temporary structures, as we had a lot of stuff laying around. It's amazing what you can hide on five acres. Especially on slopes, where you can always have a good lookout in case you need it...

That's new

There were plenty of footbridges to cross too, for the necessary escapes - as you never know what's lurking in the Australian bush...


And many a fort was built to defend, in case of marauding zombies from the apocalypse - or kids just high on adventure....

Don't let the birdhouse fool you

The day came and went. Madness I tell you...every step of the way! But it was worth it. For the first time, we actually got to use the back yard as a play area, even just for a day. A day where we could pretend to be adventurers, out to get one another with lazer-tag guns...

Click to enlarge

We even had green face-paint for camouflage. Sarah is in the middle, wearing a red headband, and black shirt. Little Peter was the team mascot, but spent most of his time inside, sometimes playing with a little present he got from one of his aunts and family...

Soon to turn one

His birthday is not that far away, and David is vowing to have another round of laser tag, in about nine years time - when Peter may enjoy the experience. Although one of his uncles has joked he may be too old by then, to crawl around on his belly. He literally disappeared into the bush, and couldn't be found, although I'm sure he tagged quite a few unsuspecting participants.

Casualties in the battlefield

The funny part was at the end of the day however, when he decided to charge the faux-wall David built with styro-foam boxes. David didn't tell his brother, they were half-filled with water, so they wouldn't blow away in the wind. In his mad charge to capture the enemies flag, he got a wicked drenching!

Even I had a go with a lazer gun, and didn't realise how engaging the game would be. Just when I thought I found the perfect position to tag someone - I discovered I was being tagged multiple times by an invisible assassin. It's maddening, trying to locate where they're hiding, as you duck for cover. Even more so, when you cannot locate them, but their perfect shots just deactivated your weapon.

The kids went outside many times to play, as it was too engaging to let lie. But I must say, when it was time, we had everyone mesmerized inside with David's birthday cake creation....

Hi Dad!

It's normally my privilege to make the birthday cake, but what good is being a chef, if you don't once make your daughter a profiterole tower! He doesn't look too confident, lighting a candle on top of all that chocolate gnash though. Like his iron will, it withstood the test.

Embarrassment is hearing everyone sing happy birthday

Sarah loved her birthday cake and so did everyone else! By the time we were halfway down eating the tower, kids started arguing who was going to eat the metal cone in the middle, because it was covered in chocolate gnash!

I can't believe her special day has come and gone. So much preparation and work went into just this one day, and right down to the wire in some cases. The profiterole tower was finished not long before guests were due to arrive, and I had a sink load of dishes to get done too. The dishwasher was already full and cycling. But I guess, that was part of the adventure too.

We don't normally do extravagant parties, but I guess with her brothers arrival last year, we realised the day our daughter entered the world, we changed completely as a couple. Her presence broke us from being self interested adult-children, and made us more giving. And seeing how generous she tries to be with her little brother now, well it brought the children out in us again. Only this time to celebrate new milestones with a sense of adventure and unity.

Happy birthday sweet Sarah, thanks for taking us along for the ride.


  1. What a great idea! Brilliant really! I thought at first it was paint ball and wondered how fun that was to clean up and then realized it was much more fun for everybody-laser tag!
    Your land is perfect for it.
    Nice cake too. What is it?

  2. We'd heard about other parents experiences with paintball, and the clean-up, but some relatives told us about laser tag instead. It had a pretty good range too - up to 80 metres, so you could tag someone from a long distance away. We hired 10 guns and it wasn't cheap, but we don't do this kind of thing every year - thankfully.

    The cake is made from profiteroles, which is kind of like mini eclairs. Same choux pastry, just piped with a custard filling inside and then (traditionally) dipped in a chocolate gnash. David drizzled the gnash on afterwards instead, because it made it easier to attach bare profiteroles to the tower.

    There's a special name for this kind of tower (croquembouche) and if you google it then press "images" you'll see some impressive creations. The croquembouche, traditionally has hand spun sugar over the top, but we thought for kids, they'd enjoy the chocolate gnash better. Sarah certainly prefers it. David even went to the trouble of baking some gluten free profiteroles for me, and incorporated them into the tower. He piped them into a slightly different shape than the gluten ones, so we could tell the difference.

    Even relatives who barely touched birthday cakes, kept coming back for seconds and thirds. It was quite the compliment for Dave. :)

  3. Paint ball is said to hurt too so that is why I thought at first that you were very brave to think of it. I am so glad it was so much fun for all of you.
    I will google the croquembouche but like yourself, I am now gluten free (one week on now). Does David have a recipe for the gluten free ones? Or is it easy to find?

  4. Sorry I didn't get to reply yesterday - some things came up. Like a minor accident with my car and I didn't do it. Found out that we weren't insured, even though I thought we were. Long story, will explain later. Needless to say I was busy yesterday, chasing paperwork and contacting other utilities to ensure I was up to date with payments.

    So you're gluten free now - it makes a difference to health, even though its the hardest thing to give up! It's in practically everything. David just substituted our premixed gluten free flour (we make it up ourselves) with the gluten flour. Also I recommended to him, to use less flour, as if you use the same ratio, it ends up baking like a brick.

    Gluten free baking should always contain more moisture, so when its cooked, it doesn't end up tasting dense. I will do some more gluten free baking posts, as there's quite a lot to it. Even when it comes to making our premixed gluten free flour, there's a method to ensure it doesn't end up tasting like gritty sandpaper.

    Anyway, I'll peg gluten free posts for later and ask Dave about the specific recipe. :) We still eat pretty well for gluten free - we still have our delicious treats and that's important for those stress days, lol.

  5. I am glad it was a minor accident!
    I am aiming towards gluten free but working on just wheat alone has made a huge difference to me.
    One of the things that I want to avoid is flour products that are not whole (i.e. white rice flour) and also adding in too many other ingredients such as anthem gum. I can't afford a lot of that kind of thing and I am supposed to be going more or less grain free so I don't want to rely on bread as a staple regardless. But I look forward to your recipe!


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