Poxy

R had it two weeks ago. G is on day 2 of her 5-day quarantine period. We are Chicken Pox central here. After being exposed to the virus on five separate occasions in their (very nearly) five years we were starting to think they had some strange immunity to it. Not so. Turns out sixth time is the charm for the girls.

R actually didn’t fare too badly with it. She had around 30 spots, large but evenly-spaced around her body. She had a temperature (had to dust off the still-just-about-in-date Calpol that we hadn’t used for months) and was sleepy and off her food for a couple of days but other than that, wasn’t too bad. She was well enough to do art and craft things, puzzles and demanded that Dh do phonics practice with her after lunch because that’s when they did it at school. The main issue was that the girls’ birthday party was on day 5 of her quarantine period, and had to be cancelled. It has been rearranged for early January and both of them were really good about it.

We were rather hoping that, if G were destined to get Chicken Pox, she would get it very soon after her sister. Instead her body decided to wait until the point that we thought she might have escaped it entirely. Yesterday morning she leapt into our bedroom wearing her Cinderella dressing-up dress and bellowed LOOK AT MY RASH DADDY! She is now covered from head to toe in tiny, red, extremely angry-looking spots. She is so itchy that every so often she actually howls in pain (she’s our drama queen but on this occasion I don’t blame her.) We are trying out all of the remedies that were recommended for R and didn’t need: bicarbonate of soda in the bath, calomine lotion and cream. She looks so sad and can’t bear cuddles for very long because they make her itch.

It’s horrible when they’re ill but I’m actually relieved that the girls have finally got Chicken Pox. All of their friends had it when they were much younger, so they are in a minority of children in their year that have had time off school with it. G should be feeling much better by the end of this week and might even go back to school on Friday if her spots have scabbed over (they might mass together and become one massive spot – scary.) She isn’t missing much: all of the Christmas activities at school are taking place next week and she should be absolutely fine for Christmas, the girls’ sleepover at Nanny and Grandad’s between  Christmas and New Year and their belated party in January.

However it’s the girls’ fifth birthday on Wednesday, which is day 4 of G’s quarantine period and means that she’ll be off school on her birthday but R will have to go in. We didn’t have any grand plans for their birthday as it is on a school day and their party was supposed to have already happened, but we have to make sure that R doesn’t feel left out. She’ll make damn sure of it anyway.

4th Birthday Party

Every year, just before the girls’ birthday, I get Party Fear. I fret that no-one will turn up, our car will break down, everyone will be ill and it will just be horrid. It’s utterly ridiculous. You think I would have learnt my lesson by now. Every year I have Party Fear. I’m wrong. I’m always wrong.

R and G had their party today and I can safely say that it was BRILLIANT. Everyone turned up that had RSVPd (apart from one family of four and we got a late RSVP from someone else so it kind-of worked out ok) and there were no dramas on the day.

The venue was perfect – heck, we’ve been there enough for other parties this year so we knew it was a winner –  the children are old enough to chuck themselves around soft play with minimal help* so the parents can chat and everyone goes home fed, watered, tired and happy.

My attempts to induct everyone into The Ways of Twins this year by turning up at each party with a card and present from R and a card and present from G worked and everyone very kindly came along with separate cards and presents from the girls. This hasn’t always been the case…

The girls had a cake each – R had Hello Kitty and G Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – and everyone sang twice, because I’m mean like that. It’s another of my The Ways of Twins things. Everyone’s used to me now.

Once again we are totally bowled over by the generosity of the girls’ friends (and their parents), who gave their time to come to the party and clearly made tremendous efforts to buy incredibly lovely presents. Every present the girls opened (we were going to try and get them to open a couple a day over the next week or so, but once they’d opened a couple they didn’t want to stop) was fantastic and amazingly there were no duplicates, aside from a game that they already had. I have made a note of everything that everyone bought so that I can make thank-you cards…

The really nice thing is that this is only (ONLY!) part 1 of 3 for the girls’ 4th birthday celebrations. Next Sunday we’re all out for a meal with my family and all four of us have the day off next Monday (their actual birthday) so that we can enjoy it as a family.

They’re only going to be 4 once (and this is the only year that Dh can use his Fork ‘Andles jokes, which aren’t getting old AT ALL) and next year they’ll be at school (argh)….

*I chucked myself around it as well. It was GREAT.

Outsourcing

I sort-of hate myself for it, but we have totally outsourced the girls’ upcoming birthday party. They have been to 15(!!) parties since January (I know…) and there was no way that we could repeat the very small, homespun parties the girls have had for their last two birthdays (the thought of fifteen pairs of feet stomping around our house, high on sugar didn’t seem particularly appealing)  so we had to look for an alternative venue.

I narrowed it down to two options:

  1. Hire a church hall, install a bouncy castle, organise party games, let chaos ensue
  2. Book a session at a soft play place

I really fancied option 1 until Dh pointed out that he and I would have to set the hall up, do all the food, make sure everyone (both big and small people) was entertained for two hours and clear up afterwards, all while managing two extremely overexcited pre-schoolers.

So, I begrudgingly booked option 2. We’ve been to three parties there already and it’s a great venue but it just feels so…impersonal. The big plus is that they do everything (food, drink, party bags) for you apart from the cake.

Unlike some (really irritating) places, they allow the grown-ups on the apparatus, including the big wiggly slide. There’s nothing worse (it’s a first world problem, but bear with me) than trying to marshal two small people around a series of obstacles only to abandon them at the top of the slide as you’re not allowed to go down it with them. The girls are actually tall enough to master the obstacles unaided now, but where’s the fun in that? In any case, our parent friends now expect me to make a complete arse of myself as I chuck myself through a revolving tube and they positively embrace the opportunity to point and laugh as they sit on the sidelines drinking coffee. I’m braced for the day that I offer to ‘help’ the girls climb up to the tube slide only for them to look at me disdainfully and tell me to go and sit with the grown-ups. I might actually have a little cry.

I digress. There are only two elements of the party that I can control: the invitations and the cakes. The venue provides blank invitations but I really don’t like the design of them. I decided to put my card-making skills to good use and have just finished the invitations. All 19 of them. All totally unique. Yes, I’m THAT much of a nutbag.

When it comes to the cakes, I may be crackers but I’m not totally insane. I’m a reasonably competent Victoria sponge and chocolate cake-maker but my creations wouldn’t pass muster for a birthday party. Also, we have seen the candles blown out on an amazing array of cakes this year – I think my favourite was the Noah’s Ark with fondant animals – and, frankly, I know that any home-make attempts to better them would result in an entry on the CakeWrecks website*. Instead I’m going to speak to our local bakery about making a Hello Kitty cake for R and a Minnie Mouse cake for G.

*Although they only feature professional cakes.

The invitations are going to be circulated on Monday and I’m already getting my annual party fear. WHAT IF NO-ONE COMES? WHY DID I HAVE DECEMBER CHILDREN? WHAT IF WE SIT THERE WITH TWO CAKES, TWO SAD CHILDREN AND NO PEOPLE? WHY AM I WRITING IN CAPITALS? Argh!

Friday photo 8/4/2011

The first photo was taken last Saturday at (another) 3rd Birthday party:

R on the left and G on the right getting down to the serious business of eating some party food and wearing tiaras

This photo was taken today. The girls have spent most of the day in the garden and had lunch out there too:

G is on the left (looking quite snotty) and R is on the right (smiley)

I think we’re all feeling a bit worn-out after the events of the past week but a warm sunny day makes everything seem better. 🙂