8 Days 'til Party

I have finally acknowledged I need help. I have enslaved two cute and surprisingly willing little girls to do my bidding. My bidding currently entails making giant crepe paper roses. We now have nine. I have no idea how many we'll try to make, but I think we'll keep going until our (read: their) fingers give out. All of the cootie catchers are printed, but need to be trimmed and pre-folded. In my crepe-paper rose zeal, I have neglected the coffee filter roses, so there are still eleven to make. Onward, cute little slave girls!

Ten Days Left

Ten days until our Un-Birthday Party. Today we tested a chocolate bread recipe. We want to make a chessboard of sandwiches, but we needed brown bread. I figured the kids wouldn't go for pumpernickel, so we needed an option. I found a non-sweet chocolate bread recipe on Tastespotting to provide confirmation it was possible. Then we just used the recipe that comes on the back of the yeast box and added 1/4c cocoa powder. The bread is slightly marbled and not as dark as I would like, but it is a successful trial. Next time we will add more cocoa powder at an earlier stage. Even as it is, though, should be good enough for a recognisable chessboard.

I also uploaded some party planning pictures and received two deliveries - crepe paper for the giant flowers and packs of cards for the gift bags. Sweet!

On US healthcare

From an e-mail to a dear friend, but probably also bloggable:

There is much amusement here at the American hysteria over the very idea of socialised healthcare. Not that all the concerns are rubbish, but many of the arguments are. Best of all is the suggestion that we should be thankful that Professor Stephen Hawking doesn't live in the UK, because someone with his disabilities should surely have been left to die on the NHS. Dear SH felt moved to point out that (a) he does in fact live in the UK, (b) he has lived in the UK all his life, (c) he has received excellent treatment on the NHS throughout his life and (d) he was treated only in April this year at the (NHS) Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge! Healthcare is one of those things that is demanded most by the very young, very old and very poor, three groups that, by and large, don't have massive resources to call upon. It would, to my rather unsocialist brain at least, seem ripe for socialisation to ensure that the money is available to these groups when they need it, just as - say - roads are.

The cynic in me suggests that the real concern among the American right is that the US might find a way to cut its overall healthcare costs (15% of GDP) down to the level of UK healthcare spending (8%). Just how we can cover our entire population for about half as much as it costs the US to cover 80% of its population is left as an exercise for the reader. You may also wish to consider what the US might spend the potential $1trn saving on healthcare on!

Planning an Un-Birthday Party

In a fortnight the girls will be having an un-birthday celebration. It is neither's birthday, but we did very little for their actual birthdays, so an un-birthday party it is. Naturally this lends itself to an Alice in Wonderland theme, so I am indulging every creative whim I have. I appreciate this is pretty boring in a conversation, but I am desperate to talk about it. This morning it hit me: I have a blog! I can talk about my own interests at length. I just need to put it out there.

To start I am making coffee filter roses, which we will paint red. This is why it is important to use coffee filters, because they take watercolour paints beautifully and naturally. The roses should look like they are red rather than just painted red. I am not sure if this harmonizes best with the storyline, but it works for me. I now have six roses made and need fourteen more. Two weeks should be plenty of time as long as I do one a day.

I have a couple other unfinished projects spinning around. One is a cardboard dollhouse which doesn't need, but would benefit from, curtains. Katie made gorgeous windowboxes full of flowers, which lend themselves beautifully to the authentic image of a small house. The guests will sit in the house, arms and legs pouring out of windows and doors and we will take a commemorative photo. Should be very cute if it can hold up to the shenanigans of up to twenty children.

There are still things I need to buy, but I am trying to rely on a "more time than money" philosophy. As such I am printing out Alice-themed cootie catchers. A brilliant friend advised me to fold them and then unfold them so the children can fold their own without its going horribly wrong. Genius, I tell you. Same friend is also baking individual mini tiered cakes for each guest. And jam tarts for the parents. I have some truly amazing friends. Oh, I'm paying her, but still.

I'll update you on progress as I have it.

Updated pictures

Am working on getting loads of photos uploaded to the website. Most are of our recent holiday in Pembrokeshire, which was amazing. We were very lucky to have my sister, Shannon, along with us. She is such a delightful person who finds the fun in any moment. It is a constant source of joy to be around someone like that. Buffy is much the same way, so we had loads of fun.

I was very proud of Katie's progress this summer. She went surfing many times. While she never went deeper than her knees, she did get her face wet many times. This is huge progress! She also made a new friend (a boy!) at Folly Farm. I think this went a long way towards building her confidence in making new friends. As her best friend is changing schools, Katie needs a confidence injection in exactly this area.

It will probably take me a couple of days to get them all up. Thanks for your patience!

Socks!!!

My baby is four. Four years ago today, her beautiful, empowering and energizing birth was over. We had called everyone. We were basking in the glow of our chubby, happy and hungry little girl. She latched on like a natural born champion. She was born in a warm tub at home in just a few hours. It was fantastic. I still feel high when I remember it. I could have climbed a mountain afterwards. Amazing.

Buffy is still a very happy child, still enthusiastic about everything. She opened her presents this morning with sheer glee. She started with the cards. Cards! Buffy was so happy to receive cards! The little fairy picture from her long-distance friend Jana was particularly appreciated. Oh, but there was more! More than cards?! Fantastic! She opened her next presents. Socks! Then MORE socks! She couldn't believe her good fortune. Now, get this: The socks had BOWS on them! SOCKS WITH BOWS!! She hugged them and spun around. Socks with bows!!

Aunty Shannon and I giggled, simultaneously remembering the disappointment of such a practical presents, bows or none. Buffy's wearing a brand new Gymboree outfit from Gramma, complete with SPOTTY SOCKS. If you thought she liked the socks with bows, you wouldn't believe the joy with which she received the spotty socks. She took off all of her clothes immediately to put on the spotty socks. Of course she was already wearing another outfit from Gramma, so everything has now been worn.

Buffy got a present from Aunt Joanie in Virginia, a really cool book on gargoyles. She thought the book was fab, but she was positively over the moon about the candle enclosed in the card. The card itself was worthy of a hug and a little dance, because it has a mermaid on it. A MERMAID CARD! Life is so good!

Our own presents for Buffy have been comparatively modest. A sweet book, Small by Jessica Merserve, which I adore and Buffy is currently reading to Shannon; a dress made from Liberty fabric, and a bag of chocolates. Each gift was received with so much joy and love, I am pleased we didn't do more. Most of all, I'm proud of my positive little sweetie who sees joy in everything.

If you say to Buffy, "Life is good," she answers, "All the time!"

She teaches us so much.

Happy birthday, baby!