Saturday, 24 March 2012

No wonder you're late. Why, this watch is exactly two days slow.

This post is late. I can't blame my watch though. Or even a strange white rabbit with a big pocket watch. We've all had the current lurgy that's been doing the rounds. In the words of Alice "I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see."
So, I shall now begin at the beginning and go on till I come to the end; then stop.

This month, my eldest turned 5. First of all, I'm wondering where on earth the time has gone?! Wow - my baby is a proper little girl now. I think that in the past 5 years, I have learnt so much more than I could previously have thought possible. This one little person, has taught me so much about life already - she has tested me, exposed me and shown me a whole other side to my personality that I hadn't seen before. And I know that it doesn't stop here :)

Secondly, the party...
So, I love the creative side of parties (I'm still getting the hang of the child-entertaining/control thing that my Mum and Auntie have perfected Yoda-style. Maybe one day they'll pass this child-whisperer gift on to me?). I know that full-on traditional children's parties are a time-limited priviledged experience. My parents took this seriously. I have fond memories of creative cakes, pass-the-parcel and blancmange bunnies in green jelly (that can't just be in my house?). If you ask my brother, he'll tell you that for years he believed that my parents built him a pirate ship for one party. Turns out, a child's imagination is a wonderful thing - my Dad had put a couple of picnic benches together, added a string border & a few Jolly Rodger flags, and we all thought we had the best playspace.
I want to be able to pass this memory making experience on to my children (and I love a creative challenge!) so, when Poppy (my now newly turned 5 year old) took inspiration from " Everything Alice" and a theatre group performing "Alice in Wonderland" at her school, and asked for a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for her birthday, I was a happy bunny (or white rabbit).

Tea Parties (mad, or otherwise) require tea cups. Cue charity shop rummaging and family borrowing. It's amazing what's hiding in my parents' loft!
With cups and saucers, come tea pots...lots! My Father-in-Law had this fab find...
With credit to this lovely blog, an old light fitting became a pink famingo-esque cake stand...

And playing cards make fab decorations!

I wish I'd taken photos of the table, but I got carried away & forgot to take any before the guests arrived. Basically, we had one very long table, with blue table cloths at either end, then white in the middle, marked by looked like Alice's skirt and apron :) On it were the tea cups & saucers, tea-pots, white & red roses, heart sparkles & even a dormouse!

I had lots of fun with the cake(s!). The dress code for the party was "dress for Wonderland, or wear your fanciest hat". Poppy wanted to be the Queen of Hearts (as her dress is longer than Alice's, and it's all about the length and swishiness of your skirt when you're a budding princess 5-year old). So my Sindy doll (circa. 1986ish...I told you my parents' loft was amazing) got a make-over Gok Wan would have been proud of...
Plus some cupcake favours to take home...
Poppy and her pals had a great time. We themed games around the Alice in Wonderland story, "Humpty Dumpty's Egg & Spoon Race", "The Red Queen Says", "Musical Mad Hats" and "Find the Cheshire Cat" to name a few.

And now it's over, memories have been made & I look forward to seeing what sticks out most for her in years to come. With three daughters, I hope there are many more parties to have fun with!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

It's amazing what you can get up to in a bathtub.

Friday night was the first night that I've soaked in the bath since I was in labour with my daughter, Alice.
That sounds bad...sorry, don't get me wrong, I have washed since then! What I meant to say, was that labour with Alice was fabulously quick - I wasn't even convinced that I was in labour until the midwife told me - and I spent that first hour(ish) of labour sitting in my clary sage scented bathtub deciding if this was 'it' or if I really should have worn a looser skirt that day. Whilst sat there, chatting to the Bump (a la the Dr. Gowri Motha "Gentle Birth Method); encouraging her politely to get a shift on in the least painful way (well that's how I translated the book), the Husband popped in to ask what I was doing for dinner (cue primeval birthing growl) and should he therefore order a pizza (non-repeatable answer).
That was November, Alice is 3 1/2 months now. She is (all planning in place, but I'm nervous of tempting the unpredictable) the last of my babies. I have two other daughters, Poppy will be 5 this week and Lila is 2 1/2.

So, back to Friday - a particularly knackering day - and the Husband excelled himself by running me a bath and leaving candles burning, ready for when I had finished getting Alice to bed. And I lay there, and remembered the last time - looking at my large stomach protruding through the still water, dancing occasionally inbetween contractions - I thought about how I had then been so desperate to meet this little person who had been growing inside me for the past 9 months, but was also so apprehensive about what was coming next. I'd given birth twice - once in hospital, once accidentally at home, and now I was attempting a planned homebirth. How my two little girls were already asleep in the next room. How everything was about to change again.
And then I looked at how my stomach lay now - not flat yet, not full as it had been, inbetween. My three children grew there. Wow. A past version of me would have been horrified at the lack of tone in my muscles. I'm not going to lie, that's how I felt - maybe, to some extent, can still feel some days. But there's a lovely quote, and huge apologies to it's writer as I don't know who they are, and it goes...
"The Beauty Love Left Behind.
A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn. One for every time you sucked your thumb, waved hello, closed your eyes and slept in the most perfect darkness. One for every time you had the hiccups. One for every dream you dreamed within me. It isn't very pretty anymore. Some may even think it ugly. That's OK. It was your home. It's where I first grew to love you, where I lay my hand as I dreamed about who you were and who you would be...

Bathtubs are fabulous places. Mine has been a place for washing, labouring, playing, splashing, laughing, loving (ahem), calming, thinking...and it gave birth to this blog.