How We Celebrate Birthdays & My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe

Nothing makes me happier than celebrating the birthdays of the incredible human beings I get to call my family. Nothing. My heart comes alive when I get to plan experiences that say, “We love you, and your life is a gift!”

Recently, we planned a special day to celebrate Theo’s fifth birthday, and I was so excited the night before our big day that I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I ended up getting out of bed and making the cake at 2 AM. I was giddy at the thought of spending all day celebrating my boy.

Theo, like many boys his age, loves trains. He also loves his bike. Mike and I never taught Theo to ride his bike without training wheels. One day, he was at a friend’s house, saw a bike, got on it, and started riding it. It never occurred to him that it only had two wheels.

Theo will ride his bike everywhere. His Uncle Josh is an amazing BMX rider, and has invited him to ride ramps a few times, much to Theo’s delight. But most days, Theo will ride his bike up the sidewalk to the neighbor’s house, or around the path in the park that sits behind our house. Take him to a bike path and this kid will ride for miles. It’s incredible. Theo, is incredible.

To celebrate such a special birthday, Mike and I arranged to spend the day with just him; we’ve thrown a lot of change at him over the past three years and he has been such a trooper. But today was going to be all about him. So we left the other two kids at home and headed to Akron, with our bikes in tow.IMG_2156IMG_2129

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs through the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It has a station in downtown Akron, Ohio that runs right along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. They offer a program where you can “bike aboard.” They will load your bikes up for you, take you to whatever stop you want, and then unload your bikes so you can can back on the towpath. All of this, for $3!IMG_2132IMG_2136IMG_2143IMG_2145IMG_2146

We caught the train at the Akron station, rode for 2o of the best minuets of Theo’s life, got off at a stop that wasn’t too far away, and headed back towards the station on our bikes. The towpath is absolutely gorgeous. We biked on well maintained paths and enjoyed some of the prettiest sights you could possibly see in Ohio. I loved every second of it. I loved being out with Theo. I loved watching him ride ahead of us, his little legs pumping at lightening speed. I loved doing something that I knew was all him.IMG_2147IMG_2148IMG_2150

Unfortunately, there was a little detour on our path that was a real drag (they were doing some maintenance on one of the portions of the towpath). But other than that, it was so fun.

After our train and bike ride, we loaded back up and drove further into downtown Akron to one of our favorite sandwich shops – The Lockview.IMG_2160IMG_2157IMG_2159IMG_2162IMG_2165IMG_2167IMG_2169

The Lockview offers some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever, plus all the things you love to eat whether you are a kid at heart or actually a kid – fries, tator tots, even gold fish :-). If you’ve heard of The Melt, the famous Cleveland sandwich shop, then The Lockview would be comparable with one notable exception: it’s sooooooo much friendlier! Seriously. We’ve been to The Melt on three different occasions and while the food is amazing, I can’t stand eating at a place where the staff acts like you are an inconvenience. The Lockview has friendly servers, a relaxed environment, and prices that allow you to order a second grilled cheese should your heart so desire (not that I’ve ever done that, wink). Ok. Restaurant rant over.

That night, we hosted a little cake and ice cream party on our patio and told Theo he could control the guest list. He loves inviting people over to his home. 🙂

Mike made his famous homemade ice cream and I made my go-to chocolate cake. I asked Theo how he wanted it decorated. He gave me some crazy dinosaur design that we saw on Pinterest and I was like, “how about we stick some dinosaur figurines in this bad boy and call it even?” He wasn’t convinced. I said I’d also crumble up chocolate chips cookies on top and he reluctantly said that sounded “ok.” I went to the Dollar Tree to find small plastic dinosaur figurines for the cake (in the toy isle), but alas, I came up empty handed. So instead, I found some dino stickers, stuck them together with a toothpick in the middle and BLAMO. Done and done.

My cake recipe can be found here.
For the chocolate frosting:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk

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On the actual day of his birtday, Theo said, “I like being five.”

I like Theo being five, too. It’s going to be a good year, I can tell already.

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