Monday, 11 August 2014

A family get together

Last year saw the first family picnic in Kew Gardens- my childhood home.  After a few tumultuous years, it was great to have Nanny and Grandad relax outside with my brother and sisters.  It was just missing a few special people and so, this year, was even more special as it was the first time all the children, partners and grandchildren were together!  Whilst rain and thunder storms changed the picnic to an indoor buffet, there was still plenty of fun with a "Get Grandad" water fight and a wonderful walk up my favourite stretch of the River Thames.  I so miss being by the River.  Let me share some family fun with you!

We have a love/hate relationship with these caricatures.  These were done in my early teen years (I was about fifteen, I guess and none of us girls thought that they were good likenesses.  I do see more likeness as I get older I think.  I just had to have a little pose session by these old pictures! 

 And now for some revenge on Grandad Ed.  Oh, the years of being attacked with hoses and buckets by this man!  So when he was attacked by children who knew no limits, well, we all just had to grab a camera!

 You wouldn't dare!
 Get him Hannah!
 Someone looks happy!
 You see cute, I see ruined socks (and cute, of course!)

 He's getting away...
 No, he isn't.
 Stealth mode.
 Real commitment= swimming costume.

Nanny and Grandad were getting a bit tired so we upped and offed to walk along the river to my favourite little play park under the Kew Bridge.
Myf and Katie got some time alone-  These girls really dote on each other.

 This is why Mummies have great upper body strength!
 Uncle Al is feeling goooood.  Vicki is saying it all with the eyes about this!

 The children have just come back from Narnia, didn't we notice that they had been gone for hours??

 Almost all the cousins- there is always one who just won't join a picture!
 Yup, that's you little Miss! 
 This is, of course, Narnia and Marcus is, of course, Mr Tumnus.  The children found this funny and the adults found it quite disturbing...
 Now she poses!

" The park,The park,The park,The park,The park,The park,The park,The park" (Hannah)

 Ahh, the days when my hips used to fit in the swings-* sigh *
 From relaxed....
 To Super Dad!  Only he can (or would) climb to such heights.

Darn it, no more pic!  Well, it was time to just play and enjoy the sun that did come out to see us for a bit.  After a lovely play, we walked back and just made it back with a little light rain before the down pour came!  Family get togethers in our house can so easily get stuck on the sofa chatting with cups of tea and coffee but the best memories always seem to come when we venture out and end up in a play park.  The children have fun and the adults inevitably end up on the equipment playing along!  Next get together will be my Yarndale sleepover with one of my lovely sisters- Hooray!

Monday, 4 August 2014

DIY Birthday Party

It's always a bit of a trial having a birthday right at the end of term as the end of year sports days, fetes, reports and crazy clearing classrooms take up every spare minute.  So, this year, Katie and I planned a DIY party which only took a couple of hours in the morning (and a few amazon orders before) to organise.  I think it cost about £30 which included the sundae glasses and spoons (they were on special at Sainsburys- bonus!)
The other great thing was that the party pretty much took place entirely at the dining room table meaning minimal mess, fuss and fully engaged little girls!

Step 1: Party bags 
These plain paper bags were only a couple of quid off amazon last year.  Lots of felt tips and stickers from the craft drawer were pulled out as the girls personalised them with colourful designs and names.  This took a lovely amount of time and when the girls were done, they were surprised by a bowl full of goodies to share out equally.  Lots of team helping here to make sure each friend received one of each little item.  These bits only cost £6 as they were cheap selection packs of 8 or 6 from Morrisons.  They included mini pen, one of those pencils with the changeable nibs, note pad, bubbles, water pistol and stickers.  The big surprise was the pack of Loom bands- the big craze- for each bag.  These were from amazon in bulk and cost only £2 for 6 good sized packs.

Step 2: Pizza making
I bought some pre-made pizza bases for about £2 and used the usual cupboard ingredients to prepare pots of toppings.  Little H and I had fun working together to chop and fill the bowls in the morning and stash in the fridge ready.  We had ham, cheese, olives, peppers and pineapple chunks and a small pack of pepperoni slices.  We all cleared the table for the girls to start the next task whilst I was prepping the tea and tidying the kitchen.

Step 3: Loom Bands!
These are the current craze at school and I love how children teach each other these skills, passing them down and down each year so that the playground games continue for generations!  With that in mind, the girls took out their bands and spent half an hour teaching each other new tricks and beginners skills. I was so proud to see all the girls helped little H join in and have a go at the "Big Girl" game.  Perfect calm as I tidied and got the pizzas cooked and on the plates.

Step 4: Birthday tea.
So now the girls got to eat their fantastic pizzas accompanied with cucumber and carrot sticks.  I've found over the years that the food children make themselves always gets eaten without fuss.  Again, each plate was cleared with exclamations of "Best pizza ever!" and " This is SOOOOO GOOOOD!"  I now had little girls telling me how relaxed I must be as they were doing all the work.  Little girls love to feel industrious and the idea that they were "working" just sold the party even more!  Full of pizzas, the girls gasped as out came the big treat.  Ice-cream, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all chopped up with a tub of icecream and Mummy in charge of the squirty cream.  The girls thought they were having such a guilty pleasure whilst I smiled at all the healthy toppings, sticks and fresh fruit!  Each sundae was dressed with a dramatic swirl of cream- Yum!

Step 5: The presents
I'm always surprised when you go to a party and the present is received, placed on a table and not touched again until everyone is gone.  I want to see people's faces when they open their gift- especially if I have spent ages making it!  So, on party day, I always have time for the presents.  This was so cute with each friend giving their gift, seeing it opened and gasped about and having a great big hug of thanks from Katie.  Yes, there were many photos of this time, but I'll just share the final friend shot. 
Katie was then spontaneously birthday carried outside for the final treat.  Daddy had arrived home in time for...
Step 6: Toasted Marshmallows!
Noe of the girls had ever had toasted marshmallows before- can you believe it?  they are now complete addicts and adored the slight danger of toasting these fluffy treats until they almost slid off into the hot coals.  Such treats took us until parents came to drag the girls back home.  The happiest little girl was the last one to leave as she got extra toasting time!  We never even got to the birthday cake!

So, best party ever!  Minimum fuss, time, clear up and noise.  Just lots of happy faces and cuddles all round.  Try a little DIY magic yourself one day- it's so worth it!