It was my daughter's (R) 4th Birthday at the weekend and I had Parents no.2 staying for a few days (my parents divorced when I was a child, both my mum and dad remarried, so I have two sets of parents besides my parents-in-law. Parents no.1 live two doors down and are mum and stepdad. Parents no.2 (dad and stepmum) live a couple of hundred mile away and they visit, or we visit, as and when we can - depends when my dad's home from sea as he works in merchant shipping). They headed back this morning so we've got the house back and I can take some time to recover from the last week.
R had been excitedly looking forward to her birthday for weeks and had been chopping and changing her mind about her birthday cake. Originally she wanted an alien cake (last year she wanted a blue dinosaur), but after a short space of time she entered the girly-fairy-princess stage and decided a fairy toadstool cake was the only way to go. I bake fairly regularly, and make a Christmas Cake every year which is fairly basic in terms of decoration, but I thought I'd give her birthday cake a shot. It took a few days, handful of hours here and there in between 101 other things, and it would have been a lot cheaper to just pay someone else to make it I suspect, but not nearly as much fun! Mind you, after hunching over the kitchen worktop, fiddling around with fondant icing, my lower back was killing me!
It seems it was worth it though - not bad for a first attempt....
Actually - who am I kidding? I thought it was damn near brilliant! No false modesty here, I was so, so chuffed with how it turned out. So chuffed in fact that I could just about ignore the niggling voice of perfectionism in my head telling me that "that bit's wonky" or "the icing has been pulled too thin there so the cake is showing", or "I don't like the smudges/marks/lumps/bumps here - you do know this is nowhere near good enough don't you?". I'm definitely better at ignoring the voice now, compared to when I was 13 and would throw a teenage strop if something I did wasn't exactly, spot-on, perfect.
And what matters most is R adored it, her excitement was catching! The most fearful part was transporting it on my lap in the car (husband drove) to her birthday party on Saturday. The internal voice in my head was screaming "don't brake suddenly!" as I stared maniacally ahead on the watch out for unexpected oil spills, small animals running in front of the car or traffic lights ;)
Parents No.2 arrived on the Saturday morning. Birthday party was held Saturday afternoon (I opted for the vaguely sensible approach of having one of those birthday-party packages at a soft-play centre where they also provided a birthday tea afterwards. There were 14 children and the same number of parents so I doubt our house would have survived the influx otherwise!). R's birthday was actually on Sunday so we had the whole family over after lunch and I did another birthday tea; Parents no1, Parents no.2, In-laws, godfather, great grandmother no.2 (great grandmother no.1 had my handicapped aunt home for the weekend so couldn't come by sadly), uncle & uncles girlfriend, plus husband and myself. Not the whole family but a good chunk of the immediate family. R has 3 godmothers and 2 godfathers, only one lives locally, the rest are scattered between Cardiff, Essex and Glasgow - we're not Christian's, the christening was just carrying on a family tradition in the village church; my mother was Christened their, as were my brother and I. I was also married there (originally it was going to be a registry office wedding but a change of plan for my gran - long story!). We're very lucky in that respect - family wise, that is. I also suspect I'm quite unusual to have divorced parents who are remarried and everyone gets on well (when I walked down the aisle I had my dad on one arm and my stepdad on the other).
While Parents No.2 were staying we had a bed made up of the seat cushions from Lola (our excessively tatty VW monster-Bus - she's a 1986 LT31) in the living room as we don't have a spare bedroom and it always seems a bit mean to ask your guests to sleep on the floor/airbed/sofa; so Parents No.2 had our bed. The makeshift cushion bed was comfy enough but I'm looking forward to our bed tonight.....
......And the calm after the storm........
......My family are wonderful, child-induced birthday chaos is great fun, and it's always a pleasure to to have people to stay but it's nice to breathe deeply in the silence afterwards. Light some incense, listen to some gentle music, and have an early night ;)