Tag Archives: Birthday

The party – not


It all started with the bloody salad.

I asked Joni what she wanted to do for her 16th birthday and she informed me that she’d like a big party. Not just with her friends, but also with mine. My friends are pretty cool, I learned. I had suspected exactly that fact myself, to be honest.

When we totted up the numbers and guestimated how many people would actually attend, we figured between 45 and 50.

Gulp.

I’ve learned since living in Germany, that it’s always best to plan for the higher number of guests. Besides, I freak out about there not being enough to eat at every single event we host. My approach nowadays is to go with the motto ‘more is good’.

Now, cooking for 50 is not the simplest task, so we opted for a barbecue and salad. That also fitted well with Joni’s interpretation of a ‘chilled’ party.

So the perfect plan evolved:

  • Guests to arrive at a time suited to them, but after 3pm
  • Pavilions in the garden to protect from sun/rain
  • Coffee/hot chocolate/cake in the afternoon
  • Salad/BBQ in the early evening
  • Karaoke in the later evening, with dried snacks and leftover cake

What could go wrong?

It started with the bloody salad.

A few days before the party, as I listed down recipes of cous cous salad and mozzarella salad, as I entertained images of luscious salad leaves and dipping cucumber in hummus, the news transmitted: E.coli had broken out in Northern Germany and we shouldn’t trust leaves or tomatoes or cucumbers.

Leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers were in every single recipe I’d listed. All those lovely recipes which could be made on the morning of the party and then just sit in the fridge, awaiting consumption.

I tore up my list and stared at a blank page. I sent out alarm calls on Facebook.

Then the news said, “Stop! Wait!”

“Perhaps it isn’t the fault of the rosy red tomato, the crunchy, crisp cucumber or the satisfying, luscious salad leaves. No. Perhaps the fault is actually that of another raw vegetable. But sorry, we’re at a loss as to which one. Perhaps you should still avoid the lettuce and the cucumber and the tomato. Because we don’t really know and people are dying.”

The panic rose in me slightly.

Should I give my guests a bunch of frozen vegetables?

Should I just pop a multi-vitamin tablet in a little schnapps glass and be done with the whole sorry situation?

For a while, I focused on potato salad. After all, the potatoes would be cooked, wouldn’t they? But to be honest, I felt very nervous. Potato salad is a traditional dish here. And I’ve only ever made it a few times. And never perfectly. Everyone, in these here parts, has an opinion on how the perfect potato salad should taste and what consistency it should have. And my husbands opinion is one of the loudest. I felt very anxious about doing it wrong. Friends encouraged me. But my husband looked a little scared at the prospect and told me, in the nicest possible way,  how it’s “a lot of work” and “so difficult to get right” and that I “don’t have the correct potatoes” (I did fight back – we didn’t have any potatoes, I would have to buy the correct potatoes, naturally). But I ‘got’ his mistrust of my cooking gentle concern. So, I opted out of the potato salad choice.

My anxiety rose as the days went by and then, two days before the party, we attended someone else’s birthday celebration.

My friend had also found herself faced with exactly the same problem and had solved it by offering watermelon and freshly picked strawberries from a local strawberry field.

Aha! I thought. Aha!

A new list started. I decided we could also barbecue vegetables like peppers, courgettes, aubergines and corn.

Now, you may have thought that, considering that I had spent my previous days philosophising about the safety of vegetables, attending parties (we also attended another party earlier that week), doing challenges from my 101 list, as well as the normal stuff like yelling around about homework and taking children to the doctors, that I would have, at this point, felt some blind panic about the state of the house (apparently I have forgotten how to do housework) and the work that I had to do to get my house in order.

But no. Instead of obsessing about the disarray my house was in, what I actually did was focus on the weather. Yes. The weather. Because at the beginning of the week we had heat and glorious sunshine, but the forecast for the end of the week looked decidedly uncertain. The idea of rain was entertained, then a few days later the proposition of a storm was offered.

Pavilions do protect against slight rain, as in, drizzle. But I can tell you, they will be blown away in a storm, offering no protection whatsoever to the windswept guest, sitting at the collapsible table underneath.

And although my living room is a nice size, with furniture and 50 guests the saying ‘sardines in a tin’ came fretfully to mind. Certainly, there would be no space for dancing to accompany the wailing harmonies on the karaoke mike. No. And I have to tell you, my feet can’t stay still when I hear a musical beat (except that lift music – then I just hold my hands over my ears and scream “Please, oh please switch it off!”). Which would therefore mean that Joni’s guests would not only have been squashed, but they would have been bruised and battered, too.

As I previously said, you may have thought I would have been cleaning the house for days on end before the ascendation of so many guests. But actually, I wasn’t. And when I wasn’t staring at blank recipe lists, swearing at Facebook or studying meteorology, I could be found planting things in the garden. I have to tell you that through the 101 challenges, I am starting to really ‘dig’ my garden. Pardon the pun.

My husband, lovely as he is, excused my behaviour. He told me, “There’s no point in cleaning anyway, they’ll,” a finger pointed towards those pesky precious kids, “just mess it up again!”

Anyway, I thought to myself, “We’ll have all of Friday to clean and some of Saturday, too…

… Although we’ll have to put up the pavilions as well, decorate, bake cakes and go to the florist. Joni, herself, has drama rehearsals so can’t really help, and Lori’s off on a school project… But there will still be time to go strawberry picking, shopping for all of the party food and drink, make up the guest room and prepare the veg. My husband has the Friday off . All will be well…”

Looking back I wonder if I was in some dazed, exhausted state, too tired to actually be fazed by the whole thing.

Friday morning arrived and Aden, my adorable son, thoughtfully reminded me that today is the day the classes are presenting their projects. Song, dance and artwork were to be celebrated and he expected us both to be there. Proud parents. He’d given himself the role of security guard in his classroom, so that none of his playmobil figures “would be nicked!”

Of course, I had forgotten, just like I’d forgotten to collect and take the arty objects for the project to school the week before.

Damn my memory!

“Yes, we’ll come. Of course, we’ll be there.”

And we were. And the whole morning was gone. Sunk. Lost. As far as party preparations were concerned.

We ate lunch together. The four of us. The two little ones, my husband and I. And I must admit that I felt somewhat twitchy. The two older girls wouldn’t be home for hours yet and on arrival, the party girl herself would have to go into study mode as she had an exam on the Monday, plus homework to do, no doubt. My two most valuable workers were currently unavailable, but my two demolishers little ones were 100% present and correct.

I perused my list and decided that the first job should be picking strawberries. The small ones could help and after that we could then head on to the florist with the little vases I’d bought in the One-Euro shop. I wanted the florist to prepare a simple centrepiece for each of the three collapsible tables.

I borrowed money from the children, having realised I had none left of my own and we set off with a large white bowl, but without the three small white vases.

The strawberry field looked empty, but ever the optimist, I insisted that we all leave the car and then my son spotted the notice ‘Closed until Saturday’. Apparently the strawberries needed to ripen somewhat.

My heart pounded. Another job for Saturday. OK.

Florist. Not OK. No vases.

So we drove home to my husbands unnecessarily cheery, “You were quick!” and picked up the vases.

It seems to me, that there happens to be a direct correlation between having to be somewhere with a matter of some urgency and something happening, like, for example, getting stuck behind a tractor or in this case me being unable to park my car.

I drove in and out of the space, probably thirty times, stopping for passing traffic and hanging around until ‘waiters’ finally realised I wasn’t relinquishing my space, just practising driving backwards and forwards into it.

Probably, I’m now on one of those ‘women parking’ videos on youtube.

The flowers looked lovely, but I’ll be honest and tell you they’d all withered somewhat by the next day, as, true to form, I’d forgotten to put water in the base of the vases.

My husband had started making a banoffee pie, but I still had to start my baking as I needed a small amount of one specific flour type from the supermarket. Had I been more organised, I could have actually baked the dough a few days in advance, as advised in the recipe.

My husband took a cooking break and we headed off to the supermarket, with a comprehensive list and two tearaways. Then the battle really commenced as we propelled our way around the aisles with not one but two trolleys.

Every two minutes the battle cry could be heard, “No, you’re not having that, we’re buying for the party!!!”

We strove towards enemy lines (in the form of the checkout) and at around that point my mobile rang.

My sweet sixteen year old, was not her usual calm, chilled self, rather she would be better described as near hysterical.

Her younger sister Lori, had called home and decided that she did not want to take two buses to go home, and thought it a great idea to walk. Alone. Through the forest. At 6.30pm.

I told Joni to call her straight back. It turned out she’d forgotten her mobile and used a teacher’s. The teacher, on hearing the news, of course, panicked too, and asked Joni to contact her as soon as Lori had been located.

Meanwhile, I abandoned my husband and the shopping and raced out of the supermarket, which is in fact about 200m from the school.

The little one, who is apparently suffering from some sort of abandonment disorder presently, decreed that her presence would also be required in looking for her elder sister. I raced hobbled to the school, with a four-year-old draped around my leg and of course, missed the unafraid one.

The following few minutes went something like this:

I said “bugger” and “shit” quite a few times and dragged a four-year-old through the various streets around the school. I approached more inhibited children and asked them if they knew/had seen/had any knowledge of the whereabouts of my child. I lost a kilo with the attempted running, weightlifting and the cardio workout the panic initiated. People looked at me like I was rather odd.

Realising I had no chance of catching her up, what with a now crabbit small person glued to me, and my minor detour around the school grounds, I stumbled towards the car, where the family united in throwing all newly purchased goods into the boot at high speed.

We also united in forgetting that we had intended to visit the other neighbouring supermarket, as not all of the items on my comprehensive list had been available.

We finally found the brave one obliviously wandering along the path leading home, having walked through the forest completely alone.

She was unfazed. I ranted somewhat. She suddenly decided she would not do it again.

We pulled up at the house and I remembered: the rest of the shopping…

I decided, what with all the drama, I’d leave it to Saturday.

The man of the house finished his pie, then promptly nodded off, so I sent him off to bed and finally started on my intricate little cakes. It was 8pm.

I read the recipe. And reread it again,  but I could not find the instructions on how to make the dough. I found this a little strange because the measurements were so exact: 227g of flour, for instance. Why would there be no instructions on how to make the dough on such a precise recipe? After the sixth read-through, I abandoned all hope and just threw all of the ingredients into a bowl and attempted to mix. When this approach didn’t work out so well, I got dirty and used my hands.

The consistency however, was still not right so I thought, “What the hell!” and piled in the odd tablespoon of flour. Or two.

Still too difficult to work with, I decided to chill it in the fridge. Finally cold and a bit more stable, I popped little balls of dough into a form, then pressed them out to make the correct shape.

The recipe dictated, I should leave them in the freezer for around ten minutes, to help them keep their shape and stop them rising so much. Joni needed to make space, so she took several food items out of the freezer and we replaced them with the baking trays. “Not to worry!” I informed her, “We’ll pop them right back in shortly.”

I shouldn’t say, “Don’t worry!” It’s like I’m setting myself up for a fall. Because, hours later, I noticed that the silly helpful girl had not replaced a tub of ice cream (I couldn’t even polish off the slushy remains because I’d found myself in the impossible situation of having to test mountains of dough).

The more I tasted, the more I thought, that the pastries just didn’t taste right, so I picked up the recipe and glanced through it again.

And there, plain as the nose on my face, were full and clear instructions on how to make the dough.

So I rammed the little crumbly things into a Tupperware, cleaned the baking trays and started the whole process. All. Over. A-gain.

I:

  • Weighed out each ingredient precisely
  • Drank an espresso
  • Mixed the dough as per the recipe
  • Opened a bottle of coke
  • Glugged down some of the coke
  • Made little balls and pushed them into shape in the form
  • Thought about vodka
  • Took several expensive products out of the freezer
  • Popped the trays into the freezer
  • Staggered around in the vicinity of the espresso machine
  • Popped the trays into the oven
  • Listened for the beep with intermittent slurps and burps
  • Pricked the little doughs and cooked them for a final time
  • Answered the telephone to an uncontacted, frantic teacher
  • Calmed the teacher and apologised
  • Thought of vodka again
  • Took the trays out of the oven and left them to cool, so the pastries would stay intact
  • Sat on the sofa for a little rest
  • Slept for two hours on the sofa
  • Carefully took the little pastries out of the forms
  • Tested the little pastries
  • ‘Accidentally’ broke some of the little pastries, so was forced to eat them to hide the evidence
  • Started cleaning the kitchen where I discovered defrosted, inedible, expensive products
  • Swore
  • A lot
  • Disposed of defrosted, inedible, expensive products

I headed to bed and instructed the alarm clock, then showing 3.10am to wake me at 8am.

I lay there thinking of strawberry fields and shopping and pavilions and how to get away with minimal cleaning.

A voice penetrated my dreams, “Mum, mum, it’s Joni! She feels sick.”

I couldn’t find my legs, let alone move them so I slapped at my husband and said, “Joni feels sick.”

He staggered, a person drunk on sleep, to her room and checked her over and handed her a bowl. Then thudded back into bed. It was 4.15am.

At 4.30 the voice intruded again. “She’s being sick.”

Still, my legs evaded me and I sent the man again.

Slowly, a guilty feeling flowed over me, forcing me awake and I rose and lumbered into the bedroom.

The poor child wretched and filled the bowl. My husband sent me back to bed.

But I couldn’t sleep. I thought of party guests and cake and strawberry fields. Putting up pavilions, and shopping or not?

And I thought of E.coli and sickness and bloody diarrhoea.

And I tossed and I turned and then the clock beeped 8am.

By midday, most of the guests had been contacted and informed about the cancellation. We had problems getting in touch with one as she’d moved house, but we got her eventually. An hour before the party should have started.

Joni did not have E.coli. In fact, the very next morning, after a plate of scrambled egg and a piece of toast, she made a complete and full recovery.

I, eventually, celebrated the fact that I hadn’t picked enough strawberries for 50 people, had made space in the freezer for the barbecue meat, could freeze the little cakes in preparation for the next party and had avoided the housework, once again.

I’m back…


I’m back.

Did you miss me?

And you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve been ticking off challenges… With a vengeance.

Despite the fact that we attended two birthday parties last week and organised one ourselves. But I’m not going to tell you about that in this post. No. It’s so good, it deserves a post all of its very own.

So firstly, I can now add two more films to my ‘watched list’, both starring Angelina Jolie: The Tourist and Salt. I can recommend both. That’s all I’m saying. Just go and watch them.

I also, unexpectedly, found myself trying out a new restaurant with a good friend. An Italian. The starter was delicious, but I did feel a bit concerned about eating tomatoes because of the E. coli outbreak here.

Yep. That’s right. E. coli. And with that in mind, give a thought to the sixteenth birthday party which planned to feed fifty people barbecued meat and salad.

I felt ever-so-slightly-frantic as I tried to think how to substitute tomatoes, cucumber and salad leaves.

News bulletins warned us off such produce. Especially the evil Spanish cucumber.

The supermarkets though, tried to convince us otherwise, with radically reduced cucumbers, in a bid to sway tempt-able customers.

I found myself ramming a half empty trolley around the shop (during my household shopping trip, not my sweet sixteenth shopping trip, but there will be a post about that later, promise) feeling uncertain about what to buy. I left the store with a still half empty trolley because, after all, I’m the one responsible here for what my family consumes and so I decided to play it safe.

But what about our five a day? It’s somewhat lacking. Do olives from a jar count?

Anyway, back to my 101 challenges. Last week I could excitedly cross off two. :-D

The flag counter hit 101 flags. Actually, I didn’t notice (what with party planning/present wrapping/and wringing my hands about tomatoes and cucumbers) but a vigilant reader did and wrote to me with ‘Congratulations’. I have exceptionally nice readers you know…

The second challenge to be ticked: Reini and I took all of the children to Wiblingen Monastery. Very nice. I couldn’t take any pictures as it’s not allowed. But if you’re interested the Wikipedia page is here.

I really liked it there. Well, apart from when the cashier asked if all of our four children really belonged to us, on us asking for a family ticket. She made it much better though, when she crowed to my husband, what a  lucky man he is to have such a young-looking wife, and that I could pass for another daughter.

Technically, that makes him rather unlucky though, because I’m three whole years older than him. (He tries to count it as four, between July and October, but he’s somewhat unconvincing). And if I could pass myself off as another daughter, then isn’t she suggesting, on the other hand, that he hasn’t aged well?!?

We took a tour of the beautiful library which naturally led to two of four children asking plenty of both relevant and completely irrelevant questions.

Actually, we’d decided to coincide our visit with a middle ages market and a knights tournament taking place in the grounds of the monastery. We’d seen the posters, read up on it on the internet and my husband (please note, not I) reread the start times a few minutes before we left the house.

As we arrived, we noticed that there were very few cars there…

It turned out that we were a whole week too early.

Especially good, because during that week, even the month would change. From May to June.

I do blame my husband. I know, I read the posters myself, (but remember party planning/present wrapping/and wringing my hands about tomatoes and cucumbers) however, he proved himself to be the eager one because only a couple of days later he also turned up one week too early at the dentist.

I rest my case.

Apart from that, after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing I’ve added a new challenge to plant veg in the garden. I’m such a non-gardener living in the fantasy world of being an actual gardener.

In other words, I really want things to grow, but am better at killing them instead.

So, after toying with the idea for a while, I decided it would be a top challenge for me. I have a dream of being able to eat something I’ve actually grown.

So excited am I, that I started the challenge right after listing it! I hope in a few short weeks we’ll be able to eat our own tomatoes, salad leaves and cucumber.

And to top all that folks, we have another new challenger again!! Welcome and all the best to:

http://heroblues.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/1011001/

The other 101ers are listed at the side of my page. Check them out and give them your support!

Sweet Sixteen


I suspect that God is crying with happiness.

He is celebrating my daughters sweet sixteenth in his own special way.

He knows that our ‘proper’ partying will be done on Saturday.

And aware of my gardening skills, he’s decided to give the garden a good soaking, to ensure that, on the big day, the grass is a luscious green. To convince the bush that I carefully planted with my friend a few short weeks ago, and forgot to water once or twice since, forgives me for my sins and just slurps up the sogginess.

I’m sure he’ll stop those tears by Saturday. Just. In. Time… To let the ground dry out a little, before the pavilion digs in. Right ahead of the guests arriving for cake and barbecued sausages.

I’m positive his joyful, proud, emotional tears will turn into a beam of sunshiny jubilation.

Happy Birthday Joni. You are my sunshine. 8)

A quick post


Late. I’m late! For a very important update!!

Truly, I’m sorry, that’s two weeks in a row now. I could attempt a promise at being on time next week, but considering that one week today I’m hosting a sixteenth birthday party, which will only be rivalled by the royal wedding in terms of ‘parties of the year’, I’m not promising anything.

OK, OK. It’s a barbecue and some cake. And maybe a little karaoke. But my eldest is turning sixteen!

I am trying to convince myself, when I do catch a glance in the mirror, that I don’t actually look old enough to have mothered a child sixteen years ago.

Luckily for me, I often forget to look in the mirror. I know that because I’ve managed to leave the house with such things as coal on my face, chocolate in my hair and toothpaste on my top.

You’ve forgiven me for being late now, haven’t you?

Good!

This week I’ve been to the gym once and swimming twice. I think that technically means I’ve had a sporty week!

Also, I watched the film Penelope. An odd fantasy/romance. Definitely watchable. I couldn’t quite figure out where it was supposed to be set. At first, I suspected England then I felt confused when Penelope hit the town, as it all looked rather American. The cast also confused me, being from both sides of the water. Though as I said, it’s a fantasy, so I suppose that means anything goes. I guess my teenage girls would enjoy this one.

I have spent a lot of time this week finding the perfect bonding trip for my daughter Lori and I. After much discussion we decided to go a spa. It’s booked and we head off on her birthday on the 12th of June, so two weeks tomorrow!!

And before you start to feel light-headed and confused, she’s not celebrating her sweet sixteenth. She’ll be thirteen. But you would be wrong to assume that in the next two weeks two of my children will celebrate their birthdays. Because actually, three will. In between the birthdays of his two sisters, my son Aden will turn eleven. It’s like Christmas fervour hits us twice a year. Except now we have a four-year-old, who will not be five until November. Them’s the breaks kid. Sorry, I did contemplate her having two birthdays a year, like the queen. But four kids are expensive enough.

Although it doesn’t feel like I’ve actually posted 5 articles this week. Well, six if I include this one. (And I have several others partially written and swimming around in my head).

My flag counter now informs me that 98 flags have visited my site, so I’m now only three away from my target.

Saving the best ’til last: allow me to introduce a new fellow challenger

Mamamash

Yes, we are becoming a cult ;-)

And here are our other members:

The Laughing Housewife
Perfecting Motherhood
A matter of choice

Are we ready yet?


We are off to a birthday party this morning. It’s a bit of a drive so I have categorically stated that I want to leave in one hour.

That’s because at midday, the birthday girl has organised a horse-drawn carriage ride for those who want to take part.

Very exciting.

Sod the children. I really want to be driven around town, with the smell of horse pooh wafting up at me, so I’m up nice and early. Trying to have everyone ready on time.

Preparations are so far under way in the form:

  • Four-year-old Akasha has had all of her finger and toe nails painted, in a rainbow of colours, by her eldest sister Joni, has redressed in her dirty dress from yesterday and scrunched up her sunblock filled hair with a headband. My original plan had been that she should have a shower and fresh clothes. Oh well, at least she’s already on the second of her minimal three breakfasts.
  • Aden is finally in the shower. After some refusal. Including a debate on the fact that he had a shower yesterday. Even though my memory does not serve me young man, your greasy hair is a dead give-away.
  • Lori is up, showered and dressed. And has started making a birthday present, on the day, right before we leave, for the birthday girl.
  • Joni has painted nails as she promised, but has now been sidetracked by a good book. Still at least she did actually have a shower yesterday. And she knows exactly what she wants to wear, to go riding!?!?
  • Reini has decided he’ll cut the grass before we go. Which I would guess is a good hours work. Then he’ll need a shower and to work out which route to take…
  • I’m thinking of all the things we need to pack sunblock (three types), pullovers (just in case), present, cake (fortunately two were baked yesterday, though admittedly the delicious smell got to hubby and I last night, and we started eating one, but it’s the thought that counts, right?), insect repellent, small child’s Easter gift, first aid kit, cleaning up stuff (the parties outside), tissues, wallet, party address…

And I still need to have a quick bath. Prepare the damn present. Redress the dirty one. Decide what to wear. Get the boy back out of the shower…

Don’t forget to take the Ritalin. Not me. The afternoon dose for the boy. Put it my bag.

I think I’ll just have a quick coffee first. I suspect I need some energy.

Reveal All


Sarsm’s Blog has been around for almost a year now. My “Quest for humour in my existence” has been so satisfying that I have decided to march forth and continue, hopefully onwards and upwards.

25.03.2011 is my first blog birthday. It’s exciting. Dramatic. I am thinking of purchasing some prosecco. Just for the hell of it. Feel free to join me in raising a glass. The 25th, is luckily for us, not a school night. Phew!

Before the ‘big day’ though, I thought I’d take a look back over the year.

Inspired by some of my peers and quite honestly surprised (and naturally delighted) by some of the searches that found me, I thought I’d start off by doing ‘a reveal’.

Search terms, relevant and otherwise:

  • http://www.sarsm.wordpress.com (fair enough)
  • sarah papa bear blog (OK)
  • sarsm radio (hmm??)
  • hot six (ah that poem)
  • hot hot six
  • hot hot hot six (popular search, dear people, I suspect also a popular typo)
  • hot six for 17 years (so long?)
  • hot six love
  • hot six family (???)
  • santa came to night
  • gym humor blog (aw shucks)
  • gymslips blogspot
  • my muscle men
  • blog very muscled men (think this visitor may have been rather disappointed)
  • dear somebody
  • “partied out”
  • “e numbers”
  • funny christmas party poems and stories
  • funny christmas poems chick lit
  • professional invitation for discussion (nice!)
  • reason for my existence no children 8O
  • embarrass yourself bladder
  • “running water” pee
  • escalator on trolley prohibited (???)
  • greeting card “misread signs”
  • wake up sleepy head love poems my love
  • funny poem about breakfast (I ate a lot of breakfasts, but did I write about them?)

And it would seem my blog is a source of expertise, medical and otherwise:

  • adhd parenting blogs
  • my adhd son
  • is ritalin a strong medicine?
  • ritalin and parents
  • ritalin hitting head
  • ritalin tics
  • crinkled toes
  • how to embarrass yourself for school (what?)
  • muscle men 2011 :-D
  • autism teachers blog
  • new oven blog cooking
  • ultimate question

And don’t forget on the theme of my expertise:

  • hot six for 17 years

But my favourite poor, misled, searcher requested:

  • making hand torn envelopes blog

I hope my Reveal All post shows that my quest has thrown up some unexpected opportunities for humour in my existence.

Thank you!!

The Perfect Princess Party – Recipe for Success


Twelve happy faces
All lined up in two rows,
At the head of table
A pretty pink and perfect throne.

VIP treatment
Photos galore
Standing on red carpet
Or by the pink curtained door.

Crowned and robed,
All the little guests
Fun and laughter
Are their only quests.

Cake stand
Full of muffins,
Purple fizzy lemonade,
Crown shaped sandwiches
All on the table laid.

Making pretty necklaces,
Passing parcels round,
Swirling, twirling ball gowns
To the swan lake sound.
Narrating sleeping beauty,
Then lying on the floor,
All is still and calm
Peace has returned once more.

Finally,
Birthday cake
Princess form
Best as can be done!
(Still in the making
Would you believe
My three-year old
Came to me
And said,
– “Looks a little shit mum!”

So:

I took my theatrical knife
And drove it through my heart
Staggered a little
And glanced at her -
The desired effect
Achieved.

Apology.

And my three-year old
Survived -
And became four).

The art of manipulation


If you have read some of my other stories, or I am fortunate enough to know you; then you will already know that my youngest child is the three-year old Akasha.

She is, it would be correct to say, an adorable child. However, it is impossible to ignore, that she is an absolute master in the art of manipulation. With just one hand, she has for every one of the five of us, one very own finger for each of us to curl around.

I guess, with three much older siblings, she has much opportunity to learn. Five of us to feed her spongy brain. She is definitely smart and learns fast. But her winning ace has to be her massive brown eyes. One flutter of those eyelashes and I, anyway, fall.

The last few weeks have been mega shopping weeks. One birthday and one party after another, has thus obligated.

Akasha’s first issue, at the present time, is that she is the only one of our four children not to have a birthday, falling in the first two weeks of June. She’s been impatiently awaiting her birthday and therefore princess/pink party for several weeks. On each shopping trip she spots a new potential festive item to add to her list of requirements. No matter how hard I try to explain, she simply cannot comprehend how far away her November birthday actually is.

The nice part for her, is though, that a few people, have given her a small gift too. Always greatly appreciated.

Her second concern at the moment is money. Not only are the other children receiving mountains of cool presents. They also have a sudden influx of money. And they’re either constantly going on about, or actually buying stuff.

Akasha has found the sudden urge to become a purchaser too.

A couple of weeks ago, both Aden and Akasha procured football stickers in a supermarket give-away. In itself this prevailed as a highlight in Akasha’s week. She ‘had long watched’ from the sidelines as Aden, the only boy, received his stickers, (as simultaneously, I obtained the bill) at the checkout. Rendered too girlie, too young, Akasha waited, empty-handed. Jealousy glimmered. And Aden protected his precious treasure. His manly stash.

As Aden tore open his packets and declared which men he “really wanted”, Akasha clasped hers proudly in hand. Delighted by her unexpected windfall. Soon after, Aden discovered the man he particularly needed, had not been acquired. And his eyes started to wander to his little sisters unopened wrappers.

He began to bid.

“Akasha, Akasha! If you have Blah Blah Blah… I’ll swap you… I’ll give you… What do you want? I’ll PAY you!”

The head tipped up.

And the eyes sparkled.

“Okay. Okay, Aden.”

Opening.

“Yes!”

We arrived home. Money and stickers changed hands. I didn’t see it. But I heard of it.

Aden gave Akasha 60 cents for three stickers.

Akasha was ecstatic. Finally she had some cold hard cash.

We continued on throughout the month with our many shopping trips. There are other birthdays too. And a wedding. A school trip to Budapest. Our anniversary. Shoe requirements. And sometimes even food to buy.

Each time we’re in a shop, Akasha sees something that she desires. And wants to buy it. In the past I could always ask, “Do you have any money?” The situation would be immediately resolved. But now the answer is always the same:

“Yes! Aden gave me money!”

I stand in every shop and try to patiently explain that that, 35 Euro toy, can not be paid for with 60 cents. But she doesn’t get it. She, of course, has no sense of the value of money. She is too young to even try to understand. I have no chance.

Sometimes I buy her a little present. She’s always so pleased. I’m then joyful too. I do this for all the kids. Mostly individually. To make them feel special. But it’s just not possible with four kids, to buy them gifts all the time. Far too expensive. To be honest I wouldn’t want to anyway. It’s not necessary. There’s not enough space at home. And I find it better if they can appreciate what they are given. It doesn’t always work, of course. Especially in today’s throw away society. But I think it’s a good guide. All of the no’s make all of the yes’ much more appreciated.

Akasha, now armed with her 60 cents, has, if only in her own mind, the spending power of any millionaire.

And guess what?

It would appear that mummy is rich too. Always with a purse full of money.

This week in a local department store, Akasha announces that she would like that playmobil set. That one, right there. And that I should buy it for her. In return, she would give me the money back at home. From her 60 cents. Quite matter-of-fact.

Again explanations. No way. Your money just will not cover that. She listens. She cocks her head. She tries to follow. Eventually she sadly takes my hand, and lets me trail her to the checkout with my shopping basket full. On the approach she spots chocolates and juice. Can she have that then? No. She looks into my basket of necessary crap. Shampoo. Cards… She catches sight of wrapping paper… Can she at least buy that? Yes, yes… Happy with the compromise. The assistant babbles out some price. And I sign on the dotted line.

We leave hand in hand. Her carrying her gift wrap and me with my cloth bag.

We place all our wares in the car. She secures hers with a seat belt. Everything has to be protected at the moment. Toys. Kindergarten rucksack. Pictures. Even once: a leaf. No matter how late we’re running, she has to put the safety belt on by herself. Every time. Generally that’s why we are running late. She is completely independent and must do everything for herself. Or help with every job I do. No matter how difficult it is.

We drive to the supermarket and its neighbouring shoe shop. Food, and Akasha has outgrown her Kindergarten slippers.

I park. We walk together towards the shops. I look down at my daughter.

I’ve hardly heard the D-word from Akasha before. But then smiling sweetly, with those dangerous, colossal eyes:

“You have to buy me something, Darling mother!”

I can feel myself falling…

We leave the shoe shop sometime later. Akasha carries her own shopping bag. It contains one pair of Kindergarten slippers and one pair of pink and white ‘princess’ sandals…

Partied out


We’re all partied out.
Pooped.
Drained.
The walls know what we’ve been through.
Again.

The neighbours have heard the noise.
The local store has had a run on Lego toys.

A child wakes in the morning
States her tummy aches
‘I ate too much yesterday, Mummy”
But soon heaps breakfast cereal onto her plate.

A Hawaiian Party
Trampoline to spring
Volcano Birthday cake
Pass the coconut around the ring.

And a little boy
Who bounced far too hard
Landed on his recently operated nose,
A guest of ours is marred.

Screams echoed through the garden
Everybody froze.
Only for a moment
On the party goes.

Children in the garden.
Kiddies in the lounge.
Girls hula hooping
Boys trying to burn us down.

Singing Happy Birthday to the sparkler on the cake
Parents of those 19 dears will soon be on their way.
On the horizon, children’s bedtime and a bottle of wine:
Hip Hip Hooray!

Looking at the debris:
Wrappers on the floor,
Kebab sticks harpooned in the once green lawn.
Olives uneaten,
Remnants of cake.
Once empty fruit punch bowl
Now a yellow-brown lake.

Children finally off to bed.
The tidying begun,
We look towards our bottle of wine
Perhaps this time we have won.

Take a seat upon the sofa
Cuddle for a moment or two.
Think of that relaxing stuff, just meant for me and you…
Eyes close for a second
Hold on I’ll be right there
But then I am just sleeping
And dribbling in your hair…

Volcano Birthday Cake