Friday, February 26, 2016

A Cake Fit For a Queen

I have so many things I could write about today.

Last night my husband's fifth-grade basketball team ended their season by beating their cross-town rivals 14-12. It was a makeup game, late at night for kids this young, and the lead changed hands again and again. My husband rejoiced in the effort and progress his team showed. I could write all sorts of things about the game and the season, but I'll just add this quote from Tuesday's team banquet, at which my husband awarded one of the boys the season MVP. Another kid said, "I'm going to win that next year." The kid sitting next to him said, "Really? You want to win a bedazzled basketball glued to a plaque?" and the first kid said, "If it says MVP on it, yes, I do." (It's even funnier if you know the kids involved. Funnier, and touching, because the first kid now has BASKETBALL GOALS which, trust me, he didn't have at the start of the year.)

I could write about tomorrow's pony club quiz rally. My daughter's now a senior in high school, and will therefore be competing for her last time. (Most pony clubbers don't stick with quiz rally into high school--at that age, many of them are running the competition stations for the youngest participants--but my daughter and her friend S. have always loved quiz; they planned to try for an international competition until it was postponed away from this summer. I originally let my daughter join pony club at age 5 (pony club age 4) because her brother belonged, and was competing in quiz, and I could either let her compete also or I could haul her to Virginia Beach, where the rally was that year, and back, whining and hanging on my leg the whole time. So I let a child who could read but not yet write participate.  (My son slid out of Megaroom, laughing hysterically. "Guess who had the high score in that room?" he gasped. It was my daughter. Later I got to walk through Megaroom. "How did you know all that?" I asked her. "How did you know 'flannel wraps?'" (I was certain she'd never seen them.) My daughter rolled her eyes. "They were made of flannel," she said. (What barely five-year-old can identify flannel?) Anyhow, a run of fourteen straight quiz rallies is pretty epic too. I'm proud of her.

However, I mostly want to write about my brother-in-law, Mike Ries. Today's his birthday. My sister is a whole bunch younger than me. I was in college when she was born, and I got married straight out of college, so we almost never lived in the same house or even city, certainly not when she could remember it. I moved to Tennessee when she was only ten years old. Lauren met Mike when she was doing a summer internship at a golf resort in Wisconsin, while she was a student at Florida State. I didn't know Mike well before they were married. Now they have two small children, my adorable nephews Louie and Fred. They have a happy, balanced life. They have fun together. They love being parents. They love each other. As I've gotten to know Mike I've come to appreciate what a good man he is--good in all the right ways, good in ways that last. He's also happy to wear striped red-and-white overalls to Wisconsin football games, and redneck shorts at Fourth of July parties here in east Tennessee. He's got a super sense of humor. And that's good, because yesterday my sister texted me a photo of the birthday cake their three-year-old son, Louie, lovingly chose for his daddy. The bakery called my sister to say, "'Happy Birthday Daddy'? On this cake? Are you sure?"

My sister was sure. Louie chose it--shrieking with delight--which is how Louie approaches the world--he said it was the most beautiful cake he'd ever seen--and Lauren went right along with Louie's happiness, and Mike will think it's the Best Cake Ever, and it will be. I hope they all have a very happy day.