We have just reached the end of our party season (actually not quite, mine is still to come, but I don't count mine!). We inconveniently chose to have three of our children in a six week period, so from May to the end of June every weekend it seems has been spent corralling groups of little girls to bowling alleys and cinemas. On top of which this year we have also had the excitement of mil's 85th birthday party.
Mil's birthday was at the start of June, but we couldn't fit in a party till the 21st. Given that at Christmas we were slightly concerned she wouldn't make it past January, the event took on a much bigger significance then it might have done. Spouse nearly drove me demented in the weeks leading up to the big day, so anxious was he for everything to turn out perfectly. I ended up using it as an excuse to clean the house, which retains its sparkly shine over a week later (result), and Spouse, bil and sil went on an epic trip to Macro to buy in provisions. Normally sil and I would have provided puddings but we took an executive decision that as we were catering for 60+ we'd save ourselves the time and effort.
Mil invited pretty much everyone in her address book, so the guest list was for 80, but given their average age was also 80, there were quite a few no shows. However, to our absolute delight, thanks to much help from children and grandchildren, two of mil's cousins and two of her friends were able to make it. So the day before the party saw Spouse and I at Heathrow at 9am to pick up one friend, a sprightly lady of 83, who managed the trip alone and could pass easily for 15 years younger; bil and sil at Gatwick at 3pm to pick up the cousins, plus granddaughter; and mil's school friend was brought to us by her son and his girlfriend. We found them all space in the local Premier Inn, and Saturday evening found us feeding everyone, plus some English cousins from the other side of the family. Sil kindly provided a stew so I didn't have to cook (I quite like providing my house for entertainment and not having to do the catering (-:), and we had a German table in the kitchen and an English table next door in the conservatory (not because we can't mention the war, but because those who only speak their own language end up nodding at the foreigners and it all gets a bit complicated trying to translate). As there were rather a lot of people, Spouse and I found ourselves unable to get round the table so ended up dashing in and out of the back doors to pass plates and food around. Still a good time was had by all, and by the end of the evening all the German I had forgotten was slowly coming back.
The party itself was a great success, barring a collapsing swing seat (which had three elderly people on it at the time, it could only happen to us) and a collapsing guest (rather more alarming. I am going to issue health warnings for our next party). I don't think mil stopped talking all day long, and as ever when she is in the presence of her country folk she gets very confused which language she is speaking and ends up speaking English to Germans and German to the English. We sat in the sunshine all day, and the gazebo that Spouse and bil had erected (with much hilarity from me and sil - every time they put a pole in one place another pinged out from somewhere else) didn't collapse, no small children fell in the pond, and mil was treated to Happy Birthday in English and German. Have to say Germans did it rather better, as we all started at different places.
Party over, Germans stayed on for a bit. So last Monday saw me ferrying them back and forth from hotel to our house, via a quick tour of the area. Spouse had the day off, so I thankfully sent him to no 4's Sport's Day (after nine years you really can have too much of a good thing) and then we all had dinner in the hotel.
On Tuesday after school pick up, I picked all the Germans up and left most of them with mil at our house, while I took my sprightly friend to Heathrow. I managed half an hour sitting in the garden before the school run, then provided Kaffee und Kuchen ( a very German experience if you've ever been there) before bil pitched up to take the cousins back to Gatwick. Mil's schoolfriend then stayed with us for a couple of days while her son toured the UK. I left them together at mil's all day on Wednesday, and told them to come back to ours at 6. When I got in, there was no sign of them. So I rang them up and got no answer. Thinking they might be in mil's garden, I went round to fetch them. Got there, to discover garden and flat empty, and zimmer frames missing. Two 85 year olds had decided to do a bunk. I can't blame them really. It must get very tiresome having your offspring and outlaws fussing over your every move.
Went across to the park, and couldn't see them, which was a little bit worrying. I was just working out how to say to the son, by the way I appear to have lost your mother in German, when I spotted mil at the far end of the park, which is nearer our house, but nowhere near a crossing. Deciding it was going to simply take too long for them with their zimmers to take the safe route and having several hungry children at home, I ended up turning into a traffic cop and standing in the middle of the road halting traffic so they could cross.
Mil's friend eventually went home on Thursday, both of them having talked themselves hoarse. I'd just about got to grips with German by the time she left, but there always seems some point in a conversation where I have no idea what's going on.
Mil had a fantastic time, which was the whole point of the exercise, and we were able to return some of the hospitality we have had on our German visits.
The week ended with no 3's birthday, which was so overshadowed by the big party I hadn't got her presents until Thursday. However, having eventually succumbed to the pressure of a Nintendo DS, I don't think she was too bothered, particularly as we had a cinema trip to Nigh at the Museum 2 followed by a splash in the pool back at ours on Saturday.
Yesterday was Race for Life, and a barbie at friends, where it was very nice not having to do the entertaining.
Am just about partied out. Think I might lie down in a dark room while I recover, so I can have enough energy to survive the onslaught of this week's excitements, which include: no 1 taking part in a school production for the next three nights, a possible trip to the downs on Thursday to watch Status Quo, Nos 2&3 doing a show on Saturday morning at the same time as no 1's grade 2 singing exam, and no 1 doing another show on Saturday night.
The end of term can't come quickly enough...