Monday, 18 August 2014

Squib's 3rd Birthday: A toddler tea party!

Howdy folks.

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that Squib's birthday was ages ago but I wanted to share what we did for her party as it went really well and she had such a great time as did all the grown ups and kiddies (I think!)

We were lucky enough to have Granny and Grandad around helping with washing up and serving so I actually managed to enjoy it - I KNOW, I surprised myself there!

So Mumsnet folk said don't serve anything healthy and don't cater for the adults.  I ignored them.  To me it seems a bit rude to have adults there at lunch time and not feed them.  So we made hundreds of sandwiches, scones, sausage rolls and mini meringues and they all went down a treat!

I've included a photo summary and will give details of what we did:

I think 2/3 year olds are better with an unstructured party so we had three main things going on and they could pick and choose.  And Squib got a trampoline for her birthday which provided entertainment too.

Cake stand decorating:
I bought some super thick card and googled a cake stand template and made cupcake stands for the children to decorate with stickers, pens and glitter glue.  This was more popular with some than others but was fun!

Messy play:
This was all done in our new builders' tray.  I made three lots of play dough - chocolate (add cocoa), ginger (add ginger) and vanilla and oat (add vanilla and oats) all made to The Imagination Tree's wonderful no cook recipe.  We had coloured rice in sprinkles pots, rolling pins, silicone cake cases, a piping bag sealed up and filled with shaving foam, candles, foam shapes, plastic knives, doilies, a flour shaker.  It was great!  They had a brilliant time.  Some of them enjoyed making pretend cakes and biscuits and some of them just got stuck in but they all seemed to enjoy it.  We also had a water tray with herbal tea bags, a tea pot and cups, but this was less popular.

Tea room:
I set up a pretend play tea room with real mini biscuits (mini party rings and oreos), a new tea set which was Emma Bridgewater like our one at home, flowers on the table and real water and sugar cubes and aprons to wear.  Squib dived straight in here as soon as she woke up and was very excited!

We did do a pass the parcel at Squib's request but to be honest I don't think the kids really get it at that age!

Cake sandwiches (a special request from Squib!) which were maderia cake bread with fondant ham and cheese and buttercream butter.
Fairy bread - bread buttered and covered with sprinkles
Crudites and dips
Mini meringues
Mini sandwiches
Tea bag biscuits
And the cake was the shape of a tea pot.  Squib was really confused when I brought it out as she didn't realise it was a cake! I bought these hemisphere moulds from Lakeland and made the handle and spout with florists' wire with marshmallows threaded on and then iced.

Party bags:
I made biscuits from salt dough and then stamped the children's names on and coloured the stamping in with a Sharpie.  I then stuck velcro on with UHU so that they could separate and change the fillings.
Then we found some made a cake for a bird (bird seed and a silicone cupcake mould) in The Works and put those in as the main gift.
I think it had some chocolate buttons and a balloon as well.

All the children played happily, and there was plenty to munch.  It was such a good day!  It's making me smile to remember it.  Hope it gives some of you some ideas! :)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Long time no see....change is afoot!

Hello folks,

Sorry it's been a while.  Blogging just isn't a priority at the moment, although I'd like to turn that round again as it doesn't take long and it's been really great to be able to share and document our journey.

So, massive massive change is just a few weeks away.  Squib will start preschool 4 days per week and I'm going back to work.  Admittedly I will only be teaching 6 hours, but that's over 4 days so it will feel like a lot more, especially with parents' meetings, reports and planning.  It's the start of a new era and I'm pretty scared.  I'm mostly scared because I've never worn so many hats before or juggled so many plates.  And it's not like I'm juggling crappy plastic plates, they are all pretty important, delicate ones!  I've been a full time teacher, wife, daughter and friend before, but I've never been a teacher, mummy, wife, daughter and friend and that feels like rather a lot.  I shouldn't moan as I'm lucky enough to be working part time and I'm not moaning!  I'm quite excited to be able to put my professional hat back on and maybe spend a small part of the day without play dough under my finger nails and paint on my clothes.  But I don't think work is going to feel quite the same.

We spent a long time choosing Squib's pre-school and we are really happy with it.  It's small and nurturing and feeds in to her primary school.  I think if I wasn't sending her to pre-school for her own benefit I would be struggling a lot more with leaving her.  I don't feel guilty about it as it's the first, necessary step on her journey into schooling in this country.  We don't want to home school her as she loves other kids and loves routines and rituals....I suspect that once she's got the hang of it she's going to really love pre-school and school.  I hope so anyway.

Squib has grown so much lately, both physically and emotionally.  She's hit above 98th centile for both height and weight and she's just full of strength and vitality.  Whether she's tearing about on her scooter or riding her bike round the kitchen, she's full of mischief and fun.  Every day she makes me laugh and gives me something to feel proud of!  She's recently started doing very theatrical little bows whenever anyone congratulates her which is very funny!  When I look back at photographs from a year ago I just can't believe my eyes.  She oozes a cheeky confidence and at the moment, is just so happy.  She's managing to negotiate relationships with other children which is so wonderful to watch.  I love watching her and her little friends communicating and playing together.

They say pride comes before a fall.  And I am really proud of her, but with all her outrageous scamping she has had more than her fair share of falls so I'm not too worried!  She's always covered in bruises but her paediatrician told us that it's a good thing as it shows she's out there and having fun!

I've been so privileged over the past year and a half.  Its coming up to the date when we formally adopted her.  I think we will go out for dinner and maybe buy some new clothes for Bob the monkey (we adopted him on the same day) as I want Squib to get a sense that these milestones are special to us, that they are meaningful and important, that she is important.

We left Squib with my parents at the weekend so we could go shopping.... we have never done such a thing before!  And she was chipper as anything...perfectly happy to wave us off, and very cheerful to see us again.  Brilliant!  I wasn't even worried!  My mum is an ex-teacher child whisperer type, but even without her special talents, I feel like these attachments we worried about so much and which were so fragile, are now pretty strong.  With the court date anniversary comes the time when Squib will have been with us longer than she was without us, and that's a special thing.  I've been going on about her life like a cake for a long time, about how big the slice was that she was with'll be pretty awesome when we get to the point where our life with Squib becomes the biggest slice!

And when I start to worry about going back to work I just have to zoom out and look at the broader picture of my life.  And that's what blogging does for me...why did I leave it so long?!  I'm so bloody lucky!  I have a wife who loves me, a family who supports me, a fantastic bunch of friends, a lovely home in a wonderful place and a seriously awesome kid!  Ah, the clarity of seeing things like that in black and white is just so refreshing!

I'll try not to leave it so long next time!