There seems to be a pox upon our family birthdays this year. Mark had pneumonia over Lily's and my birthdays, we were all suffering from norovirus the week of Emma's birthday and the week of Tom and Mark's birthdays we were once again all suffering from a nasty stomach virus. Tom was supposed to be having a couple of friends round for a party tea after school on his birthday, but because of the virus we had to put them off. The poor little boy was so disappointed, even though we promised him a second birthday party when everyone was better.
Because I had been ill the day before his birthday, the little party tea we put together for him was entirely devoid of homemade goodies. For the second time this year I had to give one of my children a bought birthday cake instead of the usual homemade one. My disappointment in this fact was not mirrored by Tom who adored his store-bought caterpillar cake to such an extent that we haven't been allowed to cut it and it is still smiling down at me from a shelf in the kitchen. I've never have a fuss made like that over one of my homemade cakes...humpf!
Stomach viri notwithstanding, Tom ended up really enjoying his birthday. Thankfully nobody was actually ill on the day of his birthday (although my dad started going down with it the next day), so we were able to make it special for him. One of his favourite presents was a little £1.49 rocket balloon pump that caused no end of delight in the Podlings. He also loved his Playmobil pirate ship, though I am very glad my dad was here to put that one together! A good time was had by all in the end and Tom is now looking forward to having his two best friends round for his second birthday party on Friday. We have a duplicate caterpillar cake for this party and he assures me he will let us eat that one as long as we can keep the original. That's one advantage of store bought cakes at least...they are so chock full of preservatives you can keep the things for weeks!
One thing I have learned from the birthdays this year is that it really is okay to keep things simple. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy putting the fancy parties together, but sometimes trying to get everything 'just right' can take away from what the day is really about...celebrating my little ones. My perfectionism is not always my friend! Too often have I spent the birthday afternoon in the kitchen instead of playing with them and their new toys. Tom was over the moon with his store-bought cake, his store-bought decorations and unco-ordinated wrapping paper. Whilst it is okay to give them their special parties with the homemade decorations, homemade goodies and colour co-ordinated everything (and I will always enjoy doing that), it is also okay to sometimes just kick back, buy everything from a shop and just enjoy the wonderful little people in my life! It is about the memories we make together, not the parties I make alone.
Emma got very excited when she saw me putting the food out in the kitchen and immediately climbed up to the table and started demanding cake! She then got distracted by the blanket we were using as a tablecloth and started singing 'Twinkle twinkle little star'!
Tom might be seven, but he still loves the Hungry Caterpillar and was thrilled with his new Portmeirion china Hungry Caterpillar plate, bowl and mug set.
Tom with his much-beloved store-bought caterpillar cake.