Friday 13 September 2013

Sushi birthday cake envy, and mummy failure

When this photo of a sushi birthday cake popped up on my Facebook timeline, I was completely blown away, but also a bit gutted.

My friend made this cake, at her son's request, for his seventh birthday - a seven year old even knowing what sushi is, let alone 'loving it' is an extraordinary thing in itself.

I thought my kids had sophisticated palettes for liking olives and pesto.

Anyway, Lizzie, my sushi caking-making friend, told me it took her six months to think about but, amazingly, only about two hours to make - which included skinning turkish delight bars for tuna, chopping the tops off macaroons for the rice, and cutting a kinder egg in half with a warm knife and filling it with melted chocolate for the soy sauce.  Who would have thought?

Unsurprisingly, birthday boy was very happy, and insisted on eating the cake with the chopsticks!

But for me, seeing this creation has made me feel particularly inferior, because although I have always enjoyed a bit of a cake challenge, for Dolly's last birthday I was feeling a bit lazy, and really let things slip.

Despite Dolly asking for a rabbit cake, I took decisions into my own hands and ordered a personalised ricepaper cake topper of Ben and Holly from eBay.  I convinced myself that she would marvel at seeing her name and age printed above Gaston's head, and the rabbit idea would be forgotten.

But the night before her birthday, I opened up the envelope containing the topper, and was horrified to discover that they had printed the wrong age.  And not only that, but also it was way too big for the cake that I had just got out of the oven.

Despite my best efforts with scissors and icing pens to rectify the situation, the cake looked a mess.  But I clung to the hope that a four-year-old wouldn't notice the cock-ups, or the fact that it wasn't a rabbit, and be thrilled with it.

When Dolly saw the cake, she was literally speechless, and not in a good way.  And I have lived with the guilt ever since.  Every so often she quietly says to me: 'But I just wanted a rabbit cake for my birthday.'

So when I see creations such as this masterpiece, it makes me inch ever closer to feeling like a bit of a failure.

Friday 6 September 2013

The Big Feastival 2013

Last weekend we went to Jamie Oliver's Big Feastival, which was held on Alex James' farm in the Cotswolds.

We take Betty and Dolly to Jamie's Italian quite a lot, and so they knew all about Jamie and his fabulous food (particularly the polenta chips), and were very excited about going to his 'festibal.'

There was a field dedicated to families/kids called Little Dudes Den, and they had craft activities, trampolines, drama workshops, food-making, story-telling, painting, singing, and most importantly, the vintage funfair!

Thanks to my girls, I became very familiar with the Swing Seats and the Big Wheel - and although terrified as we swung around right at the top waiting for people to get on at the bottom, my children giggling at my pathetic-ness, I secretly really enjoyed it.

But my absolute favourite thing had to be the old London Taxi which had been converted into a photo booth.   You had to make yourself look really silly using the big box of dressing up clothes, silly glasses, wigs, masks etc, then jump into the cab, pull some poses while the camera snapped you three times, and then you were presented with the photos immediately!  I might even consider having a 40th party just so that I can hire this taxi!

Jools Oliver had her fabulous Little Bird collection on sale, and in the afternoon they put on a very cute show, where lots of little people modeled the latest collection. And Jools' two eldest daughters Poppy and Daisy presented her with a cake to mark Little Bird's first birthday.

During the day we ate lots of yummy food, including truly delicious meatballs from street food truck The Bowler, and Alex's cheese, we drank Doom Bar, and we listened to music.

The sun shone, we escorted the girls around in a trolley, and we all had a really great time!

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Starting school: the end of an era

We dropped off our youngest daughter Dolly for her first day at primary school this morning.

She was really excited to be going, as was her sister, who is about to start in Year 2.  And yesterday I was also pretty thrilled about the prospect of not having to listen to them wind each other up, squabble, and yell at each other.  Today though, I am an emotional wreck. The mixture of freedom and empty nest syndrome is really disorienting.

Until now I have been able to distract myself by concentrating on practical matters. I tried so hard to make Dolly look presentable for her first day.  Last night, I even had fleeting thoughts about getting the ironing board out.  

Off she proudly tottered, toothpaste splattered all over her sweatshirt, a dress that was far too short (she must have suddenly grown without me noticing) and looking a bit creased.

Laden down with her book bag, PE kit and lunch box, which she insisted on carrying herself, she went and sat herself down on a classroom mat with her name on it.  She was looking at the interactive whiteboard as if to say, well come on then, let’s get on with it.

Tom and I were feeling teary and strange, so we went and treated ourselves to a big fry-up and cappuccino.

On the way home Tom wanted to go to the school to see if Dolly was ok, but I managed to stop him – the teachers would think he was nuts, and Dolly wouldn’t thank him for it.

I have spent the last seven years, since my eldest was born, looking after my babies: cooking, crafting, tidying, laughing, crying, lunching, and dragging them round Sainsburys.

So this really does feel like the end of an era, and if there was ever a time that I felt broody, it is right now…

This post was written for BabyCentre.