I cannot believe I prattled on about TV and cashmere loo roll last week when there was so much excitement on the horizon - I didn't even mention it which is strange for me. It's lucky really, otherwise you might have been on tenterhooks all weekend so perhaps my subconscious was just putting you first and allowing you a stress free weekend, knowing that I would be having quite the opposite.
So, after the loo roll ran out and the Cava ran dry we set off on Friday morning to K's brother's wedding in sunny Essex. Did I mention K is from Essex? I'm not sure I did. Anyway it is an odd fit as I am not particularly 'Essex'. Actually my father mentioned it in his speech at our wedding - I believe his exact words were, "I'm not quite sure how an English student from Exeter managed to find an Estate Agent from Essex, but here we are'. I shall tell you all about it one day but not now - there is too much other stuff to get said. Anyway, we went off to Essex (I must also mention at this point that this is not the Essex of the popular TV programme, it is the normal, everyday Chelmsford Essex - more fake nails and beer than vajazzles and Champagne) and we headed towards the Premier Inn, Basildon (Rayleigh). Such a salubrious place. It was attached to a Harvester and was on a major roundabout on the main road in to Southend but Bea and G could not believe their luck. They have never stayed in a hotel before so had no comparison point. Unfortunately I have stayed in many and their excitement was not contagious.
The building might not have been particularly beautiful but the staff were rather wonderful as they knew it was Bea's Birthday the following day which endeared me to the place no end. As we got to our room we discovered that they had stuck a 'Birthday Princess' banner to our door and inside were a number of pink and white balloons as decoration. Bea and I were very touched, but we had no time to enjoy the balloons as we had ten minutes to get dressed and out again so that K could arrive at the wedding IN TIME to act as Usher. The importance of him arriving on time had been mentioned an AWFUL lot all day. I was VERY aware that he couldn't be even a minute late and that it was VITAL he got there in good time. It had bought quite a lot of stress to the days events and relations between us were 'tense' at best. Particularly because I missed the turn off for the hotel which meant we actually made it to Southend before we could turn around and head back in the right direction. However I was feeling a little peed off myself as I had by this point in the proceedings already organised all of Bea's birthday presents, party, investigated and booked the hotel, emailed the hotel and then spoken to the manager about doing something special for Bea, worked out the route for us to get to the hotel and then onto the wedding, packed mine and the children's things, got them all dressed and ready, done my hair, make up and painted my nails (both sets) before getting us all in the car and on the road. K had ironed a shirt and suit and spent a lot of time asking me the same questions over and over again about timings. (Actually he had also nipped to Sainsbury's to change my dress for a different size and put air in the flat tyre so I shouldn't be quite so cruel but even with that exertion the division of labour was by no means equal).
Anyway, with a little bit of luck and more careful map reading we managed to get to the Golf and Country club venue five minutes earlier than expected and all was calm for about five minutes. Up until Ted was let loose actually. He made short shrift of the chairs neatly lined up for the ceremony by running through them at speed. He then wanted to leave after I made it clear that that was not acceptable. He actually wanted to leave for many, many hours to come as well. Weddings and Ted do not mix. I have decided that he will not be accompanying us to the Godmother's wedding in January. We only made it through the ceremony thanks to K's cousin lending me her iphone with millions of kids apps on which mercifully kept him happily entertained. I was so relieved that he hadn't done anything too heinous, apart from speak up at the 'does anyone here know of any lawful impediment' bit, that I relaxed far too early. The drinks reception turned out to be far more stressful than I could ever have imagined. After the ceremony we went outside where not only were there people still trying to play a round of golf but there were also 'Ted hazards' everywhere, such as fences with Ted sized holes in them, wide open spaces and a duck pond. There was also intermittent rain which meant we had to move into a smaller room whilst the official photos took place. Ted did not enjoy being confined to such a small area and B and G were slightly perplexed as to why we couldn't just go back and 'enjoy' the hotel. Ted made a valiant attempt to drown when the rain stopped momentarily by running through a hedge so that he could get to the part of the duck pond without fencing. After that I kept him inside with the others and we played with a lift which I also had to go in with them for fear of them becoming trapped and therefore taking the attention away from the bride and groom. Eventually all photos were taken and we got to go and eat. This was the most enjoyable part of the entire day as the food was good and the bride had thoughtfully given each of the children an activity bag to keep them entertained. I relaxed a bit. Then the speeches began and Ted had had enough of being good so I had to remove him from proceedings entirely. By quarter to nine I admitted defeat and took them back to the hotel to leave K to enjoy things without worrying about where Ted had managed to run away to. Even the waitresses knew Ted's name by the time we left as we had been running around yelling his name so much.
Ted's excitement and sugar high remained in place until about quarter to ten when he and his brother and sister finally passed out in our 'comfortable' room and I could run to the car to get Bea's presents in and ready for the morning. There was a particularly stinky drunk man in reception as I passed through which added to the whole experience and I began to regret my decision to leave K at the party. Luckily the man clearly moved on and K eventually arrived home still able to stand which was far better than I'd hoped for. The morning finally arrived after a sleepless night with Ted and actually proved a huge success as Bea loved her presents, the staff sang her Happy Birthday at breakfast and presented her with a cake and a card after she had devoured her coco pops, croissant and cooked breakfast. She most certainly takes after me in that respect. On the way home, we popped in on K's mum who was a little the worse for wear after getting in at 2am. We didn't cut her any slack though and after getting her to make us both a cup of tea, and eventually get the over excited dogs behind a closed door, G had a tantrum before promptly throwing up all over the garden path outside her back door. At that point we thought it might be time to leave. So we did.
The rest of Bea's birthday was more successful as the boys slept the entire journey home and there were more presents waiting for Bea on arrival. Each and every one she opened was deemed to be 'the best' which was a huge relief for me. There is so much pressure over getting their presents right that I am always massively relieved when they are all opened and the children are smiling. It is the closest I will ever get to an annual appraisal of my job. She was particularly pleased with the exorbitantly priced 'Cookie the dog', Baby Born Boy and a large toddler doll from Argos named Rosy. The Baby boy has since been named KJ after the two important males in her life - her father and Justin Beiber. I am already far too fond of both KJ and Rosy. This morning I asked her how they had slept (again) and she looked at me, sighed and said, 'Mum they aren't real'. I wish the children would play their games as well as I do. I got rather excited about changing KJ's nappies - he wees and does a sort of weak poo after you feed him some sloppy porridge mix - it is extremely fun. As I tried to rock him to sleep K and Bea decided things had gone too far and took him out of my arms.
Sunday was the day of the party and I had madly agreed to do a 'pamper party' this year. I hate doing them at home as it means an awful lot of work both before and after but it does at least mean that you can keep the numbers down. Last year we ended up with nearly 40 children by accident. Mercifully we were in a hall with the fabulous magician who was more than able to cope. This year was just eleven girls, three foot spas and a huge pile of tattoos and make up. I had roped in a lot of free help in the shape of another Godmother and her flatmate and my little sister and her best friend. They were amazing. Not only did they dive in and help with the pre-party organisation they also did a great job with the pamper part of the party. An hour in and all eleven girls had enjoyed a pedicure, manicure, face pack (my job - only two girls had allergic reactions and we manged to keep them away from the mirrors, put eczema cream over the red patches and convince them that the feeling of very tight skin was all part of the treatment), tattoo, make up and were proudly sporting a clip in, flashing hair piece. The party games afterwards took on a whole new dimension as the pass the parcel needed me to open each layer for them so that they didn't ruin their nails. The Godmother had been painstakingly sticking jewels on the nails as well as varnish so I was glad they were taking such pride in her handiwork.
Whilst the games were going on the chocolate fountain was being prepared in the kitchen. They are tricky things these sodding fountains. There is a perfect balance of oil and melted chocolate needed to produce a constant flow or 'wall' of chocolate and miserably this was not achieved in time for the party. Although oddly when K returned with the boys as the guests were leaving, he turned it off and then G turned it on again and the perfect wall of chocolate miraculously appeared. Little did we know we needed melted chocolate, oil and G to get it working perfectly. Luckily, none of the eleven girls had any previous experience of chocolate fountains and they were more than happy with the non-solid chocolate falling down the fountain. In fact I got quite shouty when their excitement got out of hand and as they sat down again Bea turned to her friend and said 'My mum is really strict'. It didn't sound like a positive. Still, they all left very happy and there was much talk of it being the best party ever so I was very pleased. And very thankful to the two non-related helpers who had absolutely no reason to give up their Sunday afternoon to come and be bossed around by me and eleven small girls. At one point I turned around and the Godmother's friend had left without saying goodbye as she was late for her flight to Geneva for a business trip. I was gobsmacked. I am clearly far more selfish than I thought as there is no way in hell I would ever 'stop off' at a house in SE23 to paint nails, rub moisturiser into feet and try to get a chocolate fountain to make a 'wall' before I checked in at Heathrow. I cannot thank them enough.
When all guests had left and the children were in bed I started to prepare for my Monday morning WW meeting. I could really have done without it to be honest. I do hate to moan but I am REALLY not enjoying it as much as I thought I might. Admittedly the three hours of work on Monday morning is a darn sight easier than looking after Ted and it is very nice to have some time away from him on a regular basis but if I had had to pay for childcare I would have made £2.20 this week. As luck would have it, Ted's regular carer had put her back out so I had to rope in a friend at the last minute who would not accept payment which improved my profit margin no end, but even then, it isn't enough to make me want to carry on. Miserably I am such a wimp I shall no doubt carry on for several more months before I work up enough courage to tell everyone necessary that I want to give up. I do hate confrontation. And people being disappointed in me. Put the two together and it is very high up on my list of 'worst nightmares'.
Mercifully all the stress and worry is now over. The wedding, birthday and party all went well and I did not collapse with exhaustion after lack of sleep for nights on end so I have been very jolly for the last twenty four hours. But it has all caught up with me now and I have been particularly tetchy this afternoon, particularly with Ted who has gone out of his way to irritate. I have also gone hell for leather in the kitchen and devoured almost everything in sight - including most of the cold pizza from the party (one girl could not believe I was serving cold pizza and asked me to take it back as she only liked it hot - there is no accounting for taste) and quite a lot of leftover chocolate fountain chocolate. I am particularly annoyed at this as the weekend of constant activity and stress meant that I had lost more weight and weighed in on Monday a mere two pounds from my goal weight. It made all the hard work totally worth it. I just need to take Ted to one more wedding and run around after him for six hours and I may well be at my goal weight for the first time in sixteen years. It is tantalisingly close now....
And now after all of this information and excitement I shall bid you good night so that you might rest and so might I. You will be relieved to know that this weekend is devoid of any excitement. Just a WW training day back in Bexleyheath Holiday Inn. Oh how I love hotels. JOY.