LadybirdMum: It’s your party and I’ll cry if I want to

A lovely post from our guest blogger, LadybirdMum and it’s all about birthdays! 

‘There are 364 days when you might get un-birthday presents and only one for birthday presents’ – Lewis Carroll

For Zach’s first birthday/naming day last year, we decided to go big for such an important milestone. A hall was hired, decorations and cakes were made, and speeches were written and given. This year, we wanted to keep ‘Two’ more low key, with a small family party at ours; cake, balloons and most excitingly to the birthday boy, lots of ‘PRENNENTS!’

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During his nap the day before the party, I festooned the house with balloons and bunting and upon seeing them, his shrieks of ‘Oh WOW!’ and ‘BLOONS!’ as he wandered from room to room were delightful. Amusingly too, he kept forgetting about the decorations every time we went upstairs, so each time he saw them again he exclaimed in wonder anew, making me feel like The Best Party Planner ever, on the most basic of levels.

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So with the balloons strung and the banners hung, I could no longer delay The Making of The Cake. A cursory Google of ‘easy fun birthday cakes for toddlers’ led me to this chocolate covered treat, which looked like something even I couldn’t mess up. She said.

The night pre-party found me sieving and whisking and swearing, but soon the sponges were made, ready for me to owl them up in the morning. Inexplicably, I left them to cool in the tins. The next morning they were, how shall we say, a little sunken. They were so soft – luckily tasty – but so soft, it was nearly impossible to cover them in chocolate frosting. And it was this that made me cry on the day of my son’s second birthday party. Not the fact it was such a special occasion for us, looking back and thinking how much he’s changed, how happy he makes us.

No, it was the decorating of a chocolate sponge owl that drove me to tears, as I desperately tried to salvage the sponges, thanking Cadbury’s repeatedly for the giant buttons and crumbled Flakes that would hide the sorry spongy mess underneath.

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Anyway, there was no chance to dwell on it, because it was time to swing into hostess mode. I’d like to say I remained calm; welcoming our family whilst breezing from guest to guest offering drinks. Actually, Adam took care of everyone whilst I tried to take care of everything, preparing the food and doing a good impression of Person in a Panic. The correct answer to my mother’s question of ‘Can I help?’ should have been ‘YES PLEASE HELP ME I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO FIRST!’, instead of my very British ‘No I’m fine thank you all is fine I just want you to have a lovely time do you think everyone’s having a lovely time?’

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But as time went on I relaxed (cheers prosecco), and the kids played and we enjoyed just being with our family, gathered for our little boy. He loved it all; opening his presents with gusto and walking his new scooter around, not quite grasping the concept of scooting yet. And when it came to The Cake, my woes were forgotten as I carried it through, Zach’s ‘2’ candle glowing, to hear my mother exclaim ‘Oh look at the penguin cake! Sarah it’s wonderful!’ The pride in her voice made me smile, and if she’d been wearing her glasses, I’m sure she wouldn’t have befuddled her birds. Fortunately it disappeared fast. Not into the bin.

All too soon, it was time to wave everyone goodbye and Zach clambered upstairs to bed, declaring ‘Party gone, party gone.’ But the festivities continued the next day, with an admittedly more ‘for us’ than ‘for him’ free outing to the Sky Garden in London’s Walkie Talkie building planned. The bonus of this for Zach was the combination of his two greatest loves (after Peppa Pig); ‘CHOOS!’ and ‘TOWERS!’ Travelling by train with my toddler nowadays is a hassle when there are endless flights of steps to navigate with him and a buggy, but his total joy at anything ‘Choo-Choo’ related is funny.

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Naturally, at the Sky Garden he was more interested in playing in the gravel beds than my endless fascination with the London skyline, but there’s plenty of time to instil that. He already has an impressive collection of London-themed stuff and points out the red ‘Lumma buses’ with glee. That’s my boy.

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Later on at home, with my parents gone and Adam at work, we spent some time reading ‘How Many Sleeps Till My Birthday?’ by Mark Sperring. With the answer being ‘only one’, it made it even lovelier to read. Just when I was thinking what a perfect weekend it’d been, Adam returned and declared ‘I feel really sick.’

Oh. No.

I sympathised and suddenly realised in alarm that I felt sick too. Being ill was certainly not on my Birthday Weekend To Do list.

After a horrid night, we held it together for more presents with the birthday boy in the morning. The next few days are a blur, but it’s safe to say I was VERY alarmed when one by one my parents and brother’s family went down with the sickness too.

‘THE CAKE!’ I exclaimed to Adam, ‘have I poisoned my whole family with that cursed owl?!’

Luckily not. It was a bug. Phew.

Thus far, the most terrible thing about Twos has been the illness, though he’s had some exceptional tantrums too. And he seems to get livelier by the day. The idea of him crawling, let alone being a full-on mini tornado, once seemed mystifying. I often want to cling onto him and slow down the passing of time. But they say each stage just gets better. And whoever they are, I think they may just be right.

. . . .

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Don’t miss our birthday-themed competition! We’ve got TWO sets of these wonderful birthday books, plus the fantastic ‘Kids’ Birthday Cake Step by Step’, from our friends at DK. To be in with a chance of winning, share your top birthday party tip, or your favourite moment from your little ones’ birthdays as a comment below, or you could tweet us @LadybirdBooks using the hashtag #LadybirdMum.

Enter by 10am Thursday 30th April 2015. Two winners will be selected at random and notified by email (or via DM if entered via Twitter) by 5th April 2015.  Good luck!
Update 30th April 2015: This competition has now closed and the winners have been notified. Thanks so much to everyone who entered and for your great tips and the sweet – and funny – memories you shared.

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