Friday, 23 August 2013

GUEST POST - Auntie of five spills the beans!

Auntie of Five....a guide to survival!

Ok, before I get started...just to avoid causing undue offence to my other siblings, I am actually in total an auntie of 8; and stepmother to a dog.  But that just confuses the issue.  Five of them are the collected issue of Mummy of five; which is what this blog is all about.  Confused?  Round here that’s normal J

One of the things which amuses me most about my sister is how everyone who reads this blog believes she is a cool, calm, collected domestic and maternal goddess!  Ok, I admit she regularly achieves the impossible; anyone who has seen Kerrie dressed can testify to that; and quite often manages to pull miracles out of the bag most unexpectedly – like managing to come up with brilliant birthday presents for the kids friends the night before a party when a scuffed, screwed-up invitation gets proudly handed over from inside someone’s lunchbox...but domestic goddess???  You need to know what goes on behind the scenes.

Here are my top tips for survival in the house of Bodil:

1.       Never expect to be able to have a phone conversation with H.  All phone conversations go something like this: “so if you’re coming over on Saturday we could...Kerrie stop climbing on the banister...Chlo, can you get Kerrie down, I’m on the phone...what was I saying, oh yeah we could go down to the Jay you can’t have a biscuit, I’m cooking dinner...hang on Sal I just need to get in the oven...ok we could go down the village and grab a drink in N......Lish, Lucy does not want to wear the tiara...Chloe can you get the knives and forks... James stop crying you can’t have a biscuit, I’m putting the dinner, talk to your Auntie Sal for a minute.”  You get the idea.
2.       Don’t bother calling round for the conversation instead.  Exactly the same happens except you are likely to be expected to feed the baby/strangle one of the kids at the same time!
3.       Be prepared to either dehydrate or make your own brew.  If it was possible to recoup the cost of all the kettles my poor sister has boiled over the years without having the benefit of actually getting to have the brew they were intended to make, she’d be living in Buck House!
4.       Never have the audacity to turn over the TV.  And I mean it!  It doesn’t matter if the room is empty and has been for half an hour.  Turning over the TV means an instant influx of outraged children all shouting ‘I was watching that!’  And if they don’t do it, Daddy will!  Not sure when H last got to watch TV without recording it and playing it back at 3am? I suspect it was somewhere around August 2000!
5.       Do not believe the following statement: ‘Come round after 8pm – the kids will all be in bed’  With five children, even with one of those regular miracles that occur meaning the younger four were all in bed by that point, they won’t stay there.  One of them is guaranteed to either have a tummy ache or a nightmare – that is if they’re not just killing each other as an interesting alternative to actually sleeping, that is.  A rough translation of ‘I had a bad dream’ is as follows: ‘I heard Auntie Sal downstairs so I thought if I came down I’d get to stay down longer and she’ll put me back to bed because mummy will be busy blowing a gasket!’  For a rough translation of ‘I have tummy ache’ and ‘the girls were being mean to me’, please refer to the above!
6.       Be prepared to multitask to extremes.  Five children require a lot of attention, so individual attention is at a premium.  Consequently the second you get in the door, all of them want you for something.  And no, none of those things will wait.  Don’t worry H; we’ll skype at midnight...if Lucy isn’t awake wanting a feed, that is!
7.        If you can't stand the screaming!  Good luck with this last one.  If you can get away with a child hanging off each leg and another one bolting the front door and wrapping themselves around in the door curtain to prevent your leaving, then you're a better man than me!!!                                                                                                                                                                                       **************************
This was a completely unpaid (unless you count the cup of tea that she didn't get to drink!) guest post from my sister, Auntie of five who decided to stop by here and spill the beans on life in the madhouse!  

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Creating a mini Hawaii

Chloe and Elisha were both summer born babies so as a result we get to enjoy celebrating two Birthdays during the middle of the school summer holiday. This has to be planned carefully because so many people go away for a vacation at this time and its no good holding a party when all their friends are away.  Over the years we have tried bringing their parties forward to the start of the summer and we have also stuck to their actual Birthdays.

 This year we decided to hold both parties at home in the garden consecutively on the weekend  which fell between their special days. To keep things simple we decided to stick to the same theme for both parties which meant that we only had to buy one set of decorations. Before you all think I am sounding like a tightwad this meant that we could afford to spend a bit more on setting the scene. Chloe chose Hawaii as her theme and happily for us in practical terms it was easy to convince Elisha to have the same for her party the following day. Time was of the essence with only hours between the two parties if you discount those we would spend asleep.

Chloe decided she wanted to have a miniature version of Hawaii which would be a sort of tongue in cheek arrangement, mini pool, mini beach, fun fizzy cocktails and so on......
We set to work on the basics but as usual we had not banked on my Dad's genius creative vision making things extra special. He decided to build a Hawaiian beach bar in our back garden!

The plaque with Chloe's name on was removable so that it could be swapped with one with Elisha's name on the following day.

The bar under construction. The base was two workbenches with the bar placed on top and a lower shelf (not pictured) which would be hidden behind a table skirt. The doors which already had handy bottle holders  were culled from an old caravan. The green mesh either side of the bar was from old onion bags. I had the task of sewing on the seashells and flowers from leis to decorate it.
With five children vying for my attention jobs like this are not always easy to do without distraction so the night before the party I was to be found in the garden sewing until it was too dark to see properly. I then got up early the next morning to continue long before everyone else even lifted their sleepy little heads from their pillows. Still in my pyjama's with a cardigan over the top to ward off the early morning chill and the obligatory cup of tea, I enjoyed a peaceful hour with only the birds for company.......I admit I did feel like an extra in an Alfred Hitchcock movie they were very, very noisy - that is what you get when you live by the sea!

The finished bar ready for the drinks to be created. We decorated the garden with plastic scene setters to disguise the fencing. The gazebo was in place to provide both shade from the sun and protection from rain given the unpredictability of our Welsh weather. This was decorated with flower garlands and inflatable monkeys and parrots.

To create the mini beach we placed a large blue tarpaulin sheet down on the decking under the gazebo. On top of this we added four bags of play sand, some buckets and spades and fantastic inflatable palm tree.  The blue colour of the tarpaulin resembled the sea around the sand and we used our small paddling pool as the mini pool.

With donations of some bright plastic cocktail glasses from my Mum, lots of leis, a limbo game built by my dad, a chocolate fountain, lots of food, some extra long straws (very funny)  and a brilliant seaside picture painted by my sister for the girls to have their pictures taken behind we were all set to go.

Both the girls had a fantastic time at their parties and we all had lots of creative fun too. If you think my mum got away with it this time you would be mistaken. Both girls requested she make their birthday cakes but they both insisted they be allowed to help her. So their fabulous finished creations are pictured below. For Chloe a replica of our garden as set up for her party and for Elisha lots of chocolate with her name on.

When the parties were both over the kids were able to spend the next few days making the most of the return of the sunshine. I think there is now more sand inside the house than there is left outside. Lucy is happy to stand in it but only when she has shoes on!