Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Baby's Birthday

Blogging's gone a little bit by the wayside recently, as I've been a wee bit busy. Baby had a birthday, which was the cause of much frantic house activity - so much of our stuff was still in boxes (following our recent move) and urgently needed shifting!! 

The birthday brought a moment of harsh reality for me - it really brought home to me the fact that Baby is not a baby any more. 

It's something I've known for a while really - she's been growing so fast; acquiring new vocabulary and developing new skills so quickly, I can barely keep up! The Hub and I keep looking at each other in astonishment as she surprises us with something new that she can say or do. In fact her height (she must take after The Hub) and language skills have fooled many into thinking she is a year older than she actually is! 

This is all very scary for me, especially as it looks like she will be my only baby - I have no intention of having any other and somehow I can't seem to break the habit of calling her 'Baby'. It's a hard habit to break... but I am trying!! However, for the purposes of this blog, she will  always remain 'Baby'.

We marked Baby's birthday in the usual way - with a party. Having moved, we know few children her own age, so decided to invite her cousins (who she loves to bits and calls her best friends, anyway). 

The theme was not exactly original  (as I discovered when I Googled it online) but an obvious choice (given her love of bears) it was a teddy bears' picnic!

If you go down in the woods today...
In fact the lack of originality, on my part, meant that I was able to borrow plenty of great ideas from other mummies, who had (scarily) gone very much to town on the whole thing. I decided I was not under pressure to conform to their standards and contented myself with the  knowledge that Baby would have a great time anyway, and she did.

It all began with a trip to 'Build a Bear' (an exciting event, in and of itself). This was The Hub's job. I think The Hub may not have been totally sold on this idea, but, as I pointed out, it's easier to do now (with just a few cousins) than when she's eight and wants to invite the whole class!! A well-timed 25%  off voucher certainly sweetened the pill.

Meanwhile, my job was to frantically re-tidy the house (it had been all in order in the morning) and set the scene.

First I set up Baby's bears, with their own little tea party.

Then I arranged some bear activities:
  • 'Hunt the Bear' was arranged in the garden - tiny laminated bears were pegged around the garden, signs were set up, and tea lights were set up strategically to light the way (it took place in the dark). Prizes involved chocolate coins for all. Of course, Baby's were dairy free (from Sainsbury's).
  • A table was set with gingerbread bears that Baby and I had made earlier in the week (using a really simple recipe, that I'll post soon). Icing and decorations were left out, so the children could decorate them to their hearts' desire.

  • Baby's easel was set up, with a big bear picture and a scarf, so that blindfolded participants (including adults, and yes, they did join in) could 'Pin the Heart on the Bear'. 
  • We also played 'Musical Bears' (at Baby's request). The children danced with their teddies to the music, until it stopped. After the first round, Baby declared herself the winner. She was much disgusted when the game carried on and refused to participate - as far as she was concerned the game was over!
  • 'Pass the Bear' also worked well. We passed a teddy until the music stopped. Whoever had the bear when the music stopped got a chocolate coin - funny how they all ended up with the same amount (thanks Dad)!!
When it came to food, I set out the picnic 'rug' (a disposable tablecloth) for the children on the floor of our living area, set it with plates and filled it with bowls of food.

The dairy free menu included:
  • Pom Bears (of course) of the dairy free 'Original' variety.
  • Ham sandwiches (made with dairy free bread and spread) cut into Teddy Bear heads (using a cookie cutter). I would have made marmalade sandwiches (a la Paddington) and honey (a la Winnie the Pooh) but a brief of survey of the mummies involved suggested this would be a 'no go' (their kids wouldn't eat it).
  • Cupcakes made with Hale and Hearty's 'Classic Vanilla Sponge Cake' (I ran out of time) were decorated with Betty Crocker 'Buttercream Style' vanilla icing and Flossie Crum's raspberry flavoured icing. They were topped off with Winnie the Pooh characters. 
  • The children's own decorated gingerbread bears.
Baby's  Gingerbread Bear
There was of course plenty of non-bear food, as well, such as grapes, mini tomatoes, bread sticks etc.

Cheese, for the those who could have it, was placed well out of the reach of Baby on the adult's table  (there were aunts, uncles and grandparents to feed too) but offered to the non dairy free children as well.

There were also Mc Cain's Smiles (smiley potato faces) and Sainsbury's own Free From Chicken Nuggets. Which went down well, with both children and adults alike!

I had planned to do dairy free ice cream in teddy bear cones as well, but actually, the children had plenty of food and needed to save room for the inevitable dairy free teddy bear cake!

We all had a great time. Although hard work, it was  such fun and as I had provided all the food, I had no worries about what food was safe (or not) for us to eat and could put safeguards in place. However, I must admit, I was tempted by the pizza, on the adults table! *sigh* If I'd had time, I could perhaps have made some for me, oh well! Another time!!

BTW for those of you who, like me, are gluten free, word is that Dominoes now do a  pizza with a gluten and dairy free base! However, not sure if I really want mine without cheese... What do you think?

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