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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

This is The Cake. Judge for yourselves. Yes, I know, I should really stick to digital publishing. But Eden loved it ;-)

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


I've come back to work for bit of a rest this week, after the half term holiday juggling and the Weekend Of The Sixth Birthday Party. All went off without a hitch, apart from a few banged heads on the bouncy castle, but not without some impressive military-style planning orchestrated by Kath Bower (Eden's best friend's Mum and co-party-planner), as well as a great deal of help from the angelic sister-in-law, Becky (who indulged in much baby-cuddling and toddler entertaining while I was indisposed, despite being a full nine months pregnant and indeed looking very much as if she might deliver the baby any moment now), the ever-helpful (and beautiful and - yes - clearly slightly mad) cuz Melanie (I say mad, cos she's young, free and single and yet willingly spends whole weekends with me and my kids) and the possibly slightly even more insane but very loveable Ed. Oh, and the cake! Well, it looked *vaguely* like a princess castle. At least, Eden and her friends were pretty convinced of this (which was the important thing) and thought it was 'fantastic', though Kath did mumble something about Madonna's tits, and I'm sure someone else made reference to the Millenium Dome at one point.... Still, it resolutely stuck together, the 'turrets' did not slide off the top (due to the engineering skills of Mel, who patented the toothpicks-as-internal-scaffolding concept over the weekend), Eden enjoyed decorating it (flamboyantly) with lots of pink stuff, and it actually tasted really quite nice. The answer lay in the end not in Annabel Karmel (Good. I never liked her anyway) but in customising the one cake recipe I know (the good old chocolate fudge) and adding a dash of inventiveness (swiss roll turrets with ice cream cone spires, covered in lashings of icing). Pix to come soon....

Friday, 26 October 2007

Baking challenge

Just because I like to make life difficult for myself (it's The Guilt, you know) I've promised Eden that we can spend Sunday morning baking a cake for her 6th (gasp!) Birthday party in the afternoon. Of course, the real mistake I made was asking her what kind of cake she'd like. "A pink princess castle cake, with a Barbie princess on the top of it just like the one in The Princess and the Pauper'", she replied. There are clearly downsides to having highly creative, imaginative children, like the fact that they never just answer a question like, "What kind of birthday cake would you like?" with something simple like, "Ooh, a nice chocolate one would be perfect", which would be far more convenient, as chocolate fudge cake is the only thing I know how to bake. Sigh. So I've spent a more than proper amount of time on the Internet this afternoon hunting the perfect princess castle cake recipe. As of 9.33pm this evening I still haven't found one that doesn't assume a great deal more baking and cake-decorating experience than I can ever hope to attain. I am starting to panic, just slightly.My only hope lies in Annabel Karmel, that kitchen-goddess-of-a-mother and setter-of-standards-that-real-life-mums-can-never-hope-to-achieve. Normally, I hate the silly cow, natch. But this weekend, she might just save my bacon with The Complete Party Planner, which, Amazon reliably informs me, features a recipe for failproof princess party cake. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Clog cleanse

I had the most wonderful day yesterday. Noticing that my diary was clear of meetings (minor miracle) I decided to take a day at home to clear an email backlog that was starting to make me blush. I had over 300 emails unread and more than 450 in total in my inbox. After about six or seven hours solid work opening, responding, filing or deleting I had reduced the number to a manageable 32 and was able to breathe at last. The feeling of relief was palpable. A weight was lifted from my shoulders. Seems to me, email clog is the digital equivalent to scum around the bath, dirt in your toe nails or an uncompleted tax return. Cleaning it up, sorting it out, is a boring but necessary task which, once done, imbues you with a sense of satisfaction and liberation that is not really directly proportional to the achievement itself. It's just something that has to be done to prevent that 'out of control' feeling. So liberated was I, that I decided finally to spend a precious half an hour or so getting myself set up on facebook. Everyone's been nagging me about it for ages and the rebel in me resisted joining in with yet another 'craze'. But I have finally succumbed. And I'm already hooked. Especially since I've been able to import my blog onto my profile using Flog. Brilliant.

Monday, 22 October 2007


Eden (six) has recently been asking some awkward questions again about death and dying. Maybe it was a near accident with a speeding car that brought it on; maybe it's just the fact that her older, more streetwise friend, Jasmine, has been feeding her fertile mind with ghoulish stories in the playground (I think the question, "Will I come alive again as an animal after I die?" followed quickly by, "I don't WANT to come back as an animal!!! I LIKE being me!" might have heralded from one such playground conversation). Whatever the cause, and as much as I've thought about it, I really do think that this discussion is one of the toughest any parent faces. It's coming home to moments like these that really puts some perspective on my day. Problems at work evaporate into thin air in an instant. There are just no easy answers, and suddenly, the sense that one is 'managing quite well, all things considered' as a parent, disintegrates. Even if you are religious and believe in an afterlife, this assurance doesn't always work for children. Eden has heard about Heaven but she doesn't like the sound of it. "And before you say anything, Mummy," she announced to me when the subject last came up, "I don't want to go to Heaven, either. I don't LIKE Heaven. I like it here, in our house!!"And I don't think beginning to read Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" tonight was the greatest idea, either. Especially when James's parents are eaten by a marauding rhinoceros in the streets of London on Page One. (Why, oh why, had I forgotten that *quite* memorable detail??!) So, how to make death seem far off and trivial and unfrightening without lying? Answers on a postcard please to Traumatised Mummy.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The wanderer returns

Hello again. Sorry. It's been a while, I know. It's taken a few emails and concerned enquiries along the lines of, "What's happened to babyjuggler? Is she ill?" to spur me to write again. Thing is, I've just been a teensy weensy bit busy. My after work routine has been reduced to: stagger through front door, eat supper with kids, prop eyes open with matchsticks whilst bathing them, reading to them and putting them all to bed, collapse in stupour on sofa and watch some TV, be led by the hand up to bed by my ever-sympathetic husband. Blogging somehow was the last thing on my list of things to do and always slipped gently off the list round about 9pm each evening as I wandered wearily past the computer on my way upstairs to bed.
In my last post I blogged about the planning I was doing for my ex-CEO's leaving bash. The night before last, it all went off, seemingly, without a hitch. Over 350 people turned up, there was a great buzz, the band really rocked, the drinks didn't run out, all the gifts were ready in time, the food was good and, most importantly of all, it seems the main man had a great time. Phew.
Quite a lot of other things have happened since my last post. Firstly, we announced the appointment of our new CEO: Annette Thomas. Annette is a mere snip of a girl at only 42, but she has all the stature and dynamism and creativity and sheer ballsiness that will be required to do the job. She's also a brilliant publisher and, more importantly, she's really nice. Oh, and she has FOUR KIDS. So babyjuggler has a lot to live up to, but really, what better precedent could there be?
Apart from that, Paul and I managed to slip in a romantic weekend away in Paris - sans children (yes! Can you believe it?) - more on that anon; I attended the Frankfurt Book Fair; I celebrated my 36th birthday (quite drunkenly but this time WITHOUT falling over) and I squeezed in some work and a bit of QT with my kids somewhere along the way. So, there you are. Do you forgive me now for the radio silence?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Fire Fighting

Picture this. I'm in a sealed room and the water is rising around me. It's up to my nose now, so I'm straining my head upwards to keep the water from drowning me. That's the dream I had last night. Not too difficult to analyse that one. As a colleague said to me today, "Just keep up the fire fighting".
Fire; water; it's the same difference. At work I'm juggling a quite absurd array of diverse projects and dealing with a lot of other people's stress. Some of the other people's stress seems, quite frankly, meaningless. Meanwhile, at home, Eden has had a tummy bug and been off school; there have been hysterics every evening as we've all sat down for dinner whilst she has plain white toast for the umpteenth time. Nathan started nursery today; he settled in relatively well, but Paul found it quite emotional separating from him for the first time, and called me in tears after he'd dropped him off. Ava is probably the sanest one of all of us. She's popping teeth like there's no tomorrow, though, so she can get pretty noisy.
In amongst the absurd range of projects, I'm organising the small matter of the leaving party for my CEO (I blogged about his departure here). The logistics are quite mind-boggling, with staff being flown in from all over the place to wish him well, coaches to be laid on to bring in people from non-London offices, RSVPs to be logged, entertainment to be booked, decisions to be made about the number of warm / cold / meat / vegetarian canapes to be ordered, catering and cloaks staff hired for the evening, cars arranged for the VIPs, flowers for the reception viewed and approved, PA system hired, etc, etc. On the train to and from work, I'm squeezing in arrangements for my daughter's rather less ambitious sixth birthday party. I just hope I don't get muddled and order the pirates and princesses storyteller for my CEO's bash and have the champagne delivered to the six year olds ;-)