Arghhh It’s Birthday Party planning time!

 

 

There is nothing I look forward to more than celebrating the birth of my amazing son.  Showcasing to everyone his remarkable journey from birth up until this present day. Not a day goes past where I don’t think I am the luckiest mummy ever! So why is planning his birthday party so stressful?!

Firstly, my son’s birthday lies smack bang in the middle of all of the hype of Christmas. My son’s birthday is 10 days before the second biggest day of the year! But I wouldn’t have it any other way as Rory shares his birthday with another love of my life, my darling Godson Benjamin. I love the fact that my best friend and I had babies on the same day, all be it 10 years apart!

So planning a birthday party in the festive period is difficult. Venues are booked up in advance for Christmas parties. People are on their work Christmas do’s or away visiting family for their own pre-Christmas celebrations. And lets not forget the unpredictable winter weather that can almost prevent a party from taking place! Rory’s first year of life was traumatic and unsettling but I was determined to have a party to celebrate his first birthday. That was the year it snowed. It snowed a lot! Yes it was magical and all that, but it was a very big inconvenience!

I was also very determined to make my son’s first ever birthday cake. That was a complete disaster and every year since, the supermarket bought birthday cakes have never let me down! My attempt in delivering a beautifully decorated pastel blue number 1 cake, resulted in a pale grey, inedible, slab of steel decorated with chocolate buttons. Never again!

Birthday parties are expensive. I was hoping this year to get away with having his friends over to the house in stages, 3 at a time over a couple of weeks to play a few games and have a party tea. But 1, my house is tiny and 2, Rory wants a party. He deserves to have a party. And a party he shall have.

Last year, Rory started full time school. Friendships were still being made and although there are 30 children in his class I thought it was important to invite them all. By booking a venue in advance I was able to get an incredible offer to accommodate his class. As a parent, I found it difficult last year to see children coming out of Rory’s class with invitations in their hand only for Rory not to have one. I felt hurt for my child not to be included but angry with myself in case my social anxieties since cancer treatment have impacted our social interaction both in and out of school.

Once I get my ‘reality’ hat back on I understand that to be invited, or not invited to a birthday party is a harsh lesson in life for a small child. People have different budgets. Different friends. Some people just prefer a smaller celebration. People can do as they choose.

So over 3 months in advance, I have booked my son’s birthday party. An offer was just about to expire at a venue Rory loves to go to and he is so excited to know that he is having a party. It does make me feel uneasy that Rory can only invite less than half of his class from school but the bottom line comes down to individual financial circumstances. As a single mum, I am proud that I can offer my son a birthday celebration that he wants within my budget. It might be a smaller affair people wise, but the celebration of his birth will be ginormous. And I cannot wait!

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Summer Holiday Camp Finale!

The summer holidays were swiftly coming to an end. My baby would soon be starting Year 1! There was enough time for one last camping trip, just the two of us together.

I wanted somewhere fun and adventurous and after my friend posted pictures of her holiday at an adventure park in Devon, I knew that was where I wanted to take Rory. 3 nights of camping and it just so happened  that on these particular dates, the adventure park admission was free! Brilliant! Thank goodness for this small saving as 2 days before our trip my car broke down and needed costly repairs arghhhh! So after packing and repacking the now safe car, we were more than ready for our holiday.

Driving over the Seven Bridge I had one of those moments where everything was just perfect. My boy and I playing games in the car. So much laughter between us. And the sun was shinning! I couldn’t ask for anything more.

By now, Rory knows that mummy needs to work fast and concentrate on putting the tent up before we do anything else. Its exhausting but very rewarding to see the home that you have built single handedly in its entirety! Its during this period of erecting and stabilising our tent that my son knows he can eat his entire bag of treats in one go! Distracted by my need to provide us with shelter, his bombardment of questions during crucial securing tent moments means my answers inevitably sound like “yes have whatever you like my darling”! So now we have a lovely homely tent but a very hot, sweaty and tired mummy with a wannabe ninja high on skittles! Time to go to the adventure park!

First stop: Driving School! Similar to the one we queued for over an hour in LEGOLAND only to be turned away at the gate (someone didn’t read the age restriction oops). As it was late in the day Rory managed to have 3 consecutive goes and I was so impressed with his driving skills. He definitely takes after me! Then on to the pirate ship, swings, african safari and the water slide. Rory was so excited for this water ride as he got to go on a boat down a steep slide by himself and have his photo taken. I waited nervously for him at the bottom and he came speeding down like a pro. We immediately went to the photo kiosk to buy his memory photo to be told that his was not taken. My poor boy was in floods of tears bless him.

5.30pm and the park rides were closing. Time for dinner and then onto the evening entertainment. This is where I got totally confused and should have done my homework. I didn’t realise the actual park closed at 5.30pm and reopened at 6.30pm. We were both hungry! We went up to the food court and amusement arcade but even they were going to be closed for an hour. Just as we were going to walk back to the campsite we had a totally unexpected torrential downpour of rain. We stayed put in the arcade hoping it would subside. We came out in flip-flops and t-shirts! The rain was not going to stop though. Staff were looking at as strangely as we were the only members of the public left in the ‘closed’ park and we weren’t going anywhere! When you are clock watching, 60 minutes is a vey long time and to top it all, the entertainment area for the evening including the huge soft play and food court, began flooding. Water began pouring in everywhere and all of the electrics were turned off. A mop up operation began and I was just hoping the security team wouldn’t question us for being there etc.!

Finally, a little later than planned, the entertainment area was reopen, Rory could go off to play and I could order us some much needed food. Wherever we go, Rory always makes friends and joins in and I love nothing more than watching this beautiful little soul integrate himself into a variety of environments. But after a few games with the entertainment staff it was time to go back to the tent to make sure it hadn’t been washed away! What an interesting but fun filled day!

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By the early hours of the morning, my tummy pains started to intensify. I had that complete panic knowing I needed the toilet very quickly but didn’t have the time to get Rory from the bedroom and run to the toilet block. I was desperate and had no choice but to relieve the contents of my rectum into a bucket. Yes that’s right, I shat in a bucket in my tent.”Mummy what’s that smell? Is it poo? Oh my goodness I need an oxygen mask”! I replied “I’m so so sorry, mummy’s bottom is like an erupting volcano with gallons of lava pouring out of it”! This is the reality of single parenting.

Poorly in a tent on holiday with a 5 year old is not a good situation to be in so the show has to go on. Fluids replaced. Tent disinfected. Both of us showered. Rectum behaving.

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First stop of a new day: the aqua blasters. Bumper boats that spin around constantly whilst squirting everyone (perfect for those feeling nauseous!).  We got drenched. Rory loved it! Next, the grand prix driving experience. Rory loved it. Followed by the log flume. Rory loved it. I loved it because Rory loved it but I was constantly fighting the urge not to vomit. Luckily there was a brilliant outside show that caught Rory’s attention and we got to sit and catch our breath for a while.

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By mid afternoon, I could no longer do anymore and had to return a disappointed little boy back to the tent. I made a shaded area and set him up with his favourite horrid henry dvd (only for extreme emergencies!) and a few treats so that I could rest. Later that evening I was able to take him to the 2 little playgrounds on the campsite and as I sat on the grass watching him play, I reflected on our life together and how far we have come. Shitty bottom aside, I wouldn’t have missed this little holiday away together for the world! Even when it was bedtime and I apologised to Rory for not doing much that afternoon, he told me that I didn’t need to say sorry because he had the best day watching what he wanted and eating what he wanted! That’s what holidays are all about!

Day 3 and I woke up feeling much better. I managed to cook us the most amazing scrambled eggs and crumpets which set us up for our last day at the adventure park. Rollercoasters, pirate ship (again!), jeep safari, reptile show and much more kept us busy until we got tired and decided to call it a day. We headed back to the campsite and hired a buggy-go-cart thingy for an hour to explore and saw how the other half lived in lodges and medieval tents! After 3 days, my boy was tired. As I cooked dinner outside, he fought to stay awake whist relaxing on our beds. After a quick bite to eat he was out for the count! What a great time we have had.

At 3am the heavy rain and wind started. I lay there thinking would the tent survive the night but it did. Best £50 tent ever!!! Worst job ever is packing away a saturated, muddy tent and driving home soaking wet! The tent is now getting wetter but hopefully cleaner out in our garden, and the car still needs to be emptied but all of that can wait!

What a wonderful way to end the summer holidays. When Rory is older, I hope he can look back on all of these documented adventures and understand I did as much as I could with him. Went to places that I knew he would enjoy. Gave him life experiences. But most of all, we did all of these together. We may have had some unfortunate hiccups along the way, but they wouldn’t be our memorable adventures without them!