Amélie’s Sixth Birthday

It has become somewhat of a tradition that each of the Baguettes has a page dedicated to their birthday each year and despite the number of updates recently I am not going to stop that tradition just yet.  This year is flying by and without so much as a by your leave we find ourselves at the start of Autumn and Amélie’s birthday.  As somewhat given away by the title of this update, Amélie has just completed her sixth trip around the Sun.

This year Amélie’s birthday fell mid-week and with busy school lives it is not the ideal time to celebrate one’s birthday.  With my break in the lead up to the weekend before her birthday it seemed like a good idea that if were we going to do anything for her birthday then we should do it then.  This also meant that Amélie could spin her birthday out for 5 days – and who doesn’t want to do that?

With the girls birthdays a mere three weeks apart it has been known that they get rolled into one celebration, indeed birthday parties tend to be joint affairs.  However, as they are growing older they want a little more self-identity and more independence (although they are both very close) and so it was when we offered them a birthday party.  Éowyn didn’t want to share and indeed would rather have a small gathering with her close friends, while Amélie likes to be everybody’s friends and wanted to invite everyone.  So just a party for Amélie then.  We asked Amélie what she would like to do for her party and with her new love of swimming she asked if she could have a swimming pool party.  Now, personal swimming pools are not very popular in Staines and Bagnall Manor does not have its own pool so we looked to the local leisure centre to host the party.  This was duly booked for the Sunday evening before her birthday.  Invites were sent out with a request that they needed to be accompanied by an adult for pool safety reasons.

With a party booked on the Sunday evening and her birthday not until the following Wednesday you can see how this was going to become an extended birthday celebration.  Then why not extend it another day and so Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz came down on Saturday, staying over and returning before the pool party on the Sunday, really making it a weekend of celebrations.

Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz arrived around lunchtime with Auntie Mary joining them a little later.  As always the Baguettes were overexcited and Amélie doubly so when she saw the presents that Nanny Fran had brought with her.  She was given special permission to open her presents from the Bagnall family and was even more excited when she saw what she had received.  A double buggy from Nanny Fran (Amélie told Nanny Fran that she wanted one when she stayed with her in August) and the beginning of her Sylvanian Families collection (not Slovenian Families as the autocorrect seems to think that she received, that is a completely different kind of collection) – something that was to become a feature of this birthday.

A Saturday evening meal with both Nannies, Bagnall Aunties and close family was a treat in itself for Amélie and was a fantastic end to the first day of Birthday celebrations.  Those celebrations moved up a gear the following day.  The morning was spent with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  The pool party wasn’t until 4pm so there was plenty of time to get ready, making sandwiches and ensuring that all the party bags were evenly filled with sweets, bubbles and the all important Whoopie Cushions.

As we were booking a party for a six year old we were given the small pool, which was perfect for the kiddies but a little too shallow for the adults, 80cm only comes up to my knees.  Most of the party the adults were sitting on the floor of the pool, indeed it was a little safer than trying to swim or kneeling.  This was because the bottom of the pool was rough.  I assume that this is to stop the kids from slipping on a smooth floor.  In theory, that is quite a good idea however, it is not too good on one’s knees if you kneel and it certainly it isn’t very good on your chest and belly when you try swimming under water to pretend to be a shark when playing with the kids.  As you can probably guess I know this from bitter experience and the scrapped skin I received seemed to sting even more as the chlorine reacted with the scratches.

The only downside of the party was it felt a little rushed as we left the pool.  Obviously we had to get dried and dressed before moving into the party room.  We barely had time to eat the food and there was no time for party games, however I don’t think that really mattered as after swimming all the kids (and the adults) were ravenous.  The food was decimated (which was good) and all the birthday cake disappeared (not so good – I didn’t even get a slice).  Nevertheless the party was a success. The feedback that we got was all good, everyone seemed to enjoy the pool party and the party bags and especially the Whoopie Cushions were big hits.  Indeed we feel quite proud that we have introduced a new generation of children to the simple delight that is the Whoopie Cushion.

Amélie’s actual birthday was on the Wednesday so apart from a flying visit from Uncle Michael on Tuesday night there was little birthday celebrations on Monday or Tuesday. To help celebrate her birthday on Wednesday she had two friends from school come over after school for dinner and to play with her ever growing collection of Sylvania Families, after further additions from Uncle Michael as well as her main presents from Mommy and Daddy.  Indeed the collection wasn’t over for this birthday as a late visit from Uncle Steven and Auntie Zoe completed the haul for this birthday.

Amélie thoroughly enjoyed her birthday week and was completely spoilt with the number of presents that she received from everyone so we would like to thank you all for her presents and cards and kind wishes she is a very happy girl.

Happy birthday Amélie

Love Mommy and Daddy


Ezra’s Third Birthday

Yes, it is hardly believable but our little boy has completed three circuits around the sun and we have been a family of five for three years.  Sunday was Ezra’s actual birthday however his birthday celebrations began a few days before that.

As you are all, no doubt, aware Lucinda is a childminder and thus looks after the children that have been entrusted to her care at our home.  Therefore, our children have to share their space and their toys with these children.  There is obviously some trust that is built up between our children and these visitors, especially for the girls who are not necessarily about when Lucinda is looking after these children.  Ezra, on the other hand, has to share his space, and his mommy with these, initial, strangers.  He has acclimatised to this need to share his things and his mommy extremely well and as a bonus counts a number of these children as his friends and, indeed, looks forward to their arrival at Bagnall Manor.

As a consequence when we thought about throwing a party for Ezra for his birthday his only friends that he was interested in inviting were these children and a couple of friends’ children that he knows through our friendships.  With all these children available on the Thursday before his birthday it was an ideal day to through him his first party.  I took the day off work to help Lucinda ready the house for an invasion of little people and party games (and food) were prepared in anticipation.  The party started as soon as school had finished and we had all the traditional party games: pin the tail on the donkey, musical statues, musical bumps and a new one invented by Lucinda: hunt the party bag.  Instead of automatically receiving a party bag after attending the party (something I still don’t really understand) they had been hidden around the house and the children had to hunt them down.

So after filling themselves with party food and adorning themselves with stickers (the consolation prizes for being knocked out of the various games) the three hours were soon over and the house returned to a sense of normality and Ezra’s first party was a success.  Indeed one of the attendees said that it was the best party they had ever been to.  I suppose at that age there is not a lot of competition but still the bar has been set!

Friday saw Ezra back at school before the birthday celebrations commenced once again at the weekend.  A shift swap at work worked in my favour meaning that I was off with my boy for his birthday.

Ezra had more visitors for his birthday weekend (he is a popular boy!) starting on Saturday with his Bagnall relatives.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz came down from West Bromwich joined by Auntie Mary later in the day.  All three Baguettes get over excited by Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and this weekend was no exception.  Indeed Ezra was more excited by seeing his Black Country relatives than any presents or cards that they brought down with them.  Hopefully it will stay like that.

This was all before his actually birthday on Sunday.  As usual Ezra woke up early and went downstairs while the adults dozed in their beds.  He can not just lie in bed, or play in his room if he is awake; he insists on going downstairs.  I suppose his logic is that I am awake, therefore I should be up.

Woken by the birthday boy we all found ourselves downstairs earlier than one would expect on a Sunday morning.  He was very excited, but controlled while opening his presents and it was worth the early morning call to see his eyes light up with delight with each of the presents (although I think he was expecting a Christmas Stocking equivalent with lots of little presents, rather than the big ones he received).  Of the presents that he opened Sunday morning it has to be said that his favourite was the Paw Patrol control tower.  Although he is a typical three-year old boy in the regard that his favourite toys are dinosaurs, pirates and Spiderman, his current favourite TV programme is Paw Patrol and so the Paw Patrol control tower with Chase went straight to the top of the list.

After getting washed and dressed it was time to prepare the food and the house ready for the afternoon’s guests and Ezra’s second party of the week, a gathering of the family around Bagnall Manor.  Unfortunately we had two casualties before the party had begun.  Auntie Liz was suffering from severe stomach cramps, potentially caused by an intolerance to something that she had eaten the night before, however she still hasn’t been able to identify the culprit.  In addition, Éowyn was running a temperature and was also complaining of stomach ache (although not to the severity of her auntie).  Auntie Liz was getting worse and so Nanny Fran decided to take her back to West Bromwich before the journey would have been unbearable.

Ezra’s guests started to arrive around 3pm and once again he was spoilt with more presents, including a new favourite from Adam and Lucy in the shape of Butch, the Tyrannosaurus Rex veteran rancher from the Disney film “The Good Dinosaur“.  A good time was had by all, however Éowyn was gradually getting worse and even the lure of her cousins to play with couldn’t stir her from the settee.  She was running a temperature of 39.5°C and so we dosed her up with Calpol and put her to bed.

It was good to see the family come round for our youngest birthday, although we were a little short on numbers especially with the Bagnall contingent back in West Bromwich but hopefully it will be something that we will do more of this year.  Ezra enjoyed being the centre of attention but it was so tiring for him that at about 18:30, with his guests still here, he asked if he could go to bed because he was tired.  Hopefully he will be able to hone his party animal skills as he gets older.

I will leave you with some photos from his birthday week and the good thing about having two parties in one week is that you can have two birthday cakes!  He does, however, need to work on his candle blowing skills, sorely lacking I’m afraid.  Never mind, happy 3rd birthday son.

Peace and Love


Joint birthday party

Very rarely is there a need for an update between Amélie’s and Éowyn’s birthday, it does happen but there does have to be a good reason.  I think this qualifies.

Éowyn’s and Amélie’s birthday occur at a busy time for birthdays of children we know.  This is in no small part to the fact that we were on an N.C.T. course and as a consequence friends that we met there had children around the same time.  I suppose it is the nature of the beast and as regular readers of this website will recall we often arrange a joint birthday party for the N.C.T. kids.  This update is not about that party, that happened two weekends ago and you can read about it here.  No this update is very Bagnall-orientated.

When we asked Éowyn and Amélie what they would like for their birthdays, apart from the list that Nanny Fran was presented to purchase in America, the thing that they both wanted was a party.  Since we had never really hosted a party for them, we decided that we would grant their wish.

We asked Éowyn and Amélie for a list of friends and we added a few of our own and the list came to more than 40!  To arrange the food and drink for 40 three to six year olds and entertain them was something we did not relish.  Therefore the decision was made to opt for a professional.  A phonecall or two later and Jelly Kelly was booked for 12th October 2014.

We chose the 12th October because it is what is known at IMG as a ‘Dark Weekend’, a weekend without Premier League.  Until this season that meant that I got the weekend off, however with the advent of a new contract, in the shape of the UEFA European Qualifiers even that glimmer of normality in the Bagnall household has gone.  However, with the first kick offs not until 1700 it meant that Sunday morning was the window of opportunity.

Therefore the date was set, the time was set, the entertainer was booked all we needed now was the venue.  This proved more difficult than even securing time off work!  The majority of halls in the vicinity are fully booked on Sunday mornings, usually for after mass coffee mornings.  How very heathen of us to want a children’s party on a Sunday morning rather than going to church.  Nevertheless, after eliminating the closest halls we ended up 3.5 miles down the road at Charlton Village Hall which is managed by the Burge School of Dancing.  It seemed that fate had smiled on us.  The hall was perfect as a venue, a large space for the kids to run around in and a separate kitchen area for preparing all the food.

We had invited over forty kids but as with all these things not everybody replied and not all that replied in the affirmative turn up.  Nevertheless there were 25-30 kids and around a dozen adults.  Maddie, Megan and Finley also turned up to help, which was very good of them.  Lauren would have come too, but she was on a Duke of Edinburgh course – she was actually very upset that she couldn’t come, there is no doubt she made the right decision.

Jelly Kelly was an enormous hit with the kids (and with some of the adults too).  She was worth every penny and kept the kids entertained for the entire party, including during food.  For those of you that are unaware of Jelly Kelly, she is dressed somewhat like a clown but performs magic for the kids.  She starts the party with a few games that get the kids geed up and loosens any barriers that they may have either not knowing each other or general coyness.  You may be forgiven for thinking that this boisterousness would make them all unruly.  No fear.  It was unbelievable how attentive the kids were, you can see from the photos below that they all sat on the floor listening intently and respectively putting their hands up to ask or answer questions.

I will not ruin Jelly Kelly’s act for those of you reading this, it is safe to say, however that it is a classic mix of pantomime and magic.  There are lots of jokes for the kids and more for the the adults that sail way above the kids heads.  There is fun and a little danger (so much so that for public liability insurance purposes there has to be a fire extinguisher to hand and the kids have to sit behind a line a set distance from the finale – that has intrigued you now, has it?).  Regardless of all that the most important aspect of Jelly Kelly’s show was that above all frivolity the birthday girls were the star(s) of the show.

Éowyn revelled in the attention and soaked up the attention, Amélie not as much but perhaps she was a little overwhelmed by it all.  To top it all, the girls had asked for a ‘Frozen’ (the film, not the type) cake.  We had looked on line for a ‘Frozen’ cake big enough to satisfy that amount of children and the prices were more than the rest of the party, so Lucinda went ‘old-school’ and bought a plain cake (not enough time to bake one) and decorated it herself.  As you can see it did not look too shabby and the way that it was demolished by the kids (and adults) it could not have been that bad!

A number of the kids thanked us for inviting us to the party (very polite – well brought up) and said it was the best day ever.  Very nice but I think that they may have been exaggerating a little, but nice to know that they enjoyed themselves.

After cleaning up I had to head into work so I took the remaining party food (mainly sandwiches) for the gannets of MCR.  We had made ham, cheese and jam sandwiches and then there were the eponymous sausage rolls, party sausages and crisps.  Within an hour of getting into work most of the food had gone and the biggest draw was the jam sandwiches, something most of them had not had since they, themselves, were children.

We would like to say a few thank-yous.  Firstly we have to say thank you to everyone for coming and making our girls very happy;  we also have to thank you all for your incredible generosity we were overwhelmed with presents that you bought, we were very touched.  We have to thank Jelly Kelly for entertaining everyone and last but not least to Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz (who drove down from West Bromwich for the party) and Maddie for helping prepare the party and tidying up afterwards.

I leave you with two questions from Amélie:  What is the plural of daddy long legs? And where are the mummy long legs?

Love and Peace