Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MS, Diet and Professor Jelinek

I have been meaning to write about MS diets for a while now, but have dillydallied thinking I need to do some research.  Then I had a flash of clarity... No need to overintellectualize.  I don't need to research because I am writing about my own experience – duh, am I writing a blog or what?  So please keep that in mind as you read on.

Even before I was officially diagnosed with MS, but after my GP had ever so quietly uttered the dreaded two letters - I had read a book about MS.  A good friend who had another friend with MS gave the book to me.  The friend with MS had read the book then unselfishly wanted to pass it on.  I didn't, instead deciding it was highly relevant and that I should keep it for future reference.

That book was "Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis" by Professor George Jelinek MD.  It was published in 2000 - only a few years before I was diagnosed and it utterly and totally became my bible.

Sitting at the desk of my first neurologist, peering over at my notes as he turned his back, I saw it written I had read the book and had a good working knowledge of the disease.  I read the book because when I came home from my GP after he had mentioned MS, I scanned the internet for MS symptoms.  All the funny symptoms I had been experiencing, but didn’t know how to explain all had names.  I hoped and prayed I did not have MS, however deep down I knew MS was what I had.   Knowing about MS prior to being diagnosed helped me feel moderately in control of the big roller coaster ride of what was happening to me.

When I was diagnosed, I was all prepared and psyched-up to start medication - I braced for it.  I assumed I would be put on Interferons or Copolymer 1 (which is now known as Copaxone), both of which were relatively new and experimental.  There certainly was no research on their long-term effects on health.  That day wouldn't eventuate for another seven or so years.  My second neurologist wanted to see how my MS developed before putting me on these drugs... I trusted him, so I didn't insist I start medication.  I am glad I didn't as I had some of the most fruitful and fulfilling seven years of my life without having to inject myself daily and could sometimes forget that I had anything wrong with me at all.  I had no outwardly noticeable relapses or problems that could be linked to MS. 

While on the drug front I agreed to wait, Professor Jelinek made a very good case regarding saturated and unsaturated fats and the immune system.  He collected and collated data from bucket loads of research on the effects of fats in the diets of people with MS, including the research of Professor Swank.  As such I commenced my less than 5g of saturated fat a day diet/lifestyle, as per the diet followed by Professor Jelinek.

I remember eating my last juicy steak at a lovely restaurant.  It was raining outside, but the fire was warm and cosy and I was with my new-ish boyfriend (and future husband).  My steak was big, juicy and medium rare.  I grew up on a farm and ate home grown meat every day during my childhood.  I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to follow my new vegan plus fish diet, as it was so extreme. Surprisingly not eating meat was about the easiest thing I had to give up.  Warm creamy indulgent desserts were the hardest.  It was not an easy path to tread, however it again helped me feel in control of my life, which had been struck by this random, unforseen disease.

Here's a funny little titbit for you about canned tuna.  Professor Jelinek advocated eating oily fish for its omega 3 fat content.  It didn't matter whether the fish was fresh or canned, but for ease of use, especially at lunchtime, canned seemed the obvious choice.  However this posed just one small problem for me.  I abhorred canned fish of any kind.  It all seemed like stinky, mashed up cat food to me.  My husband trained me to eat it... I wasn’t happy about it, but no one I knew had died from ingesting it.  He put a little tuna in my sandwiches, which at first, would make me gag.  Eventually I could manage to scoff tuna patties, smoked salmon and tuna pizza with no issues, which was totally unfathomable pre-MS.  Now I love canned tuna - I can't imagine how I survived without it.

I kept up the strict less than 5g of saturated fat diet for approximately two years.  Sometimes it was a cinch; other times it was hell on earth for me and all those around me.  I had a notebook in which I added up the saturated fat of everything I ate after it had been carefully weighed or measured.  Eating out was incredibly difficult.  Most average restaurants only cater to vegetarians who eat dairy or have no problems eating deep fried food.  I can't even begin to recall how many squabbles my husband and I had over where to eat, the ingredients of dishes and whether it was worth discussing fat content with the server.  I lost a lot of weight, which for me was not a bad side effect!  However my mum thought I was starving myself silly and it didn’t seem to matter how often I explained it to her I could not change her mind. 

I started travelling after I was diagnosed with MS.  On my jaunts I discovered that being vegan plus fish was relatively easy in Canada.  Canadian restaurants seemed to cater to a diverse range of diets and there was an abundance of real vegetarian cafes, stores and restaurants.  There were whole sections in ordinary supermarkets devoted to vegetarian products.  I was also incredibly pleased to learn that hotdog stands in downtown Vancouver sold vegetarian hotdogs.  Clearly I was living in heaven on earth.  However I also discovered that travelling meant being exposed to a huge variety of new and exciting foods.  Sometimes it was very hard to pass up delicious looking foods that would have instantly voided my 5g of saturated fat per day in one mouthful.

My year in China was so much more difficult in so many ways - not least being that I didn't speak Mandarin!  Many Chinese are on the verge of being vegetarian, except for that little bit of meat tucked away under the cabbage.  Dishes like this were classed as vegetarian and our Chinese friends couldn't understand why I wouldn’t eat them, especially when they were so considerately chosen.  It may have been there in minuscule amounts – but it was still there in all its saturated fatty glory.  I also found the constant diet of "wet" food tough sometimes... but western food was hard to come by... so sometimes I just had to eat peanut butter on well-done toast to remember what crunchy was.  Don't get me wrong, authentic Chinese food is utterly amazing – it’s just impossible to record it’s fat content when you don’t really know what you are eating.

Slowly but surely over the years my less than 5g of saturated fat diet has fallen by the way side.  I have found it hard to stay focused on it when there is no in your face, hard evidence of it's ability to reduce relapses.  My neurologist advocates healthy eating, but not necessarily that of vegetarian persuasion.   I still do not eat red meat or chicken, but dairy crept in whilst I was pregnant with my son, mainly cheese, milk in my coffee and delectable desserts too!  My family eats what I do, otherwise I would be cooking at least two different meals every night.  I know it’s not peculiar to a vegetarian diet but my kids don't always love what I eat thus I make them something else.   My husband eats his red meat when he's away on business trips or for lunch at work.

Perhaps the final straw for me and the Professor Jelinek diet came about a year ago.  I was at my neurologist having a check up.  I had my list of questions, as per usual and at the end of those questions I alway ask after Professor Jelinek.  After all my neuro is a MS specialist and Professor Jelinek has MS and is in the medical profession and they both reside in the same city, so surely my neuro would know something about his wellbeing.  But this time my neuro seemed a little annoyed that I had asked after him - he asked me why I wanted to know.  I said something like... because if he is well then in my mind I can be well too.  Well let me tell you what I heard next rocked my world in all the wrong ways.  Professor George Jelinek did not satisfy all the clinical criteria to meet a diagnosis of MS.  Put simply, he does not have MS! 

Can you imagine how I felt?  Cheated, lied to, upset and really, really angry.  I believed in this man and what he was preaching.  I wondered how he could write a book about MS saying, oooooooo I am a doctor with MS - follow me.  How could he know what it was like if he didn't have to wake up every day with MS?

About a year has passed since I was given this news.  I am not angry any more and have ventured to the library to borrow Professor Jelinek’s new book.  I am reading it now.  It is called, "Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis" and was published in 2010.  Professor Jelinek fully owns up to not having any relapses in the ten years since writing his books, but he claims this is due to his diet and lifestyle choices.  He failed to mention not satisfying the clinical criteria of MS.  So maybe his lack of relapses is due to his diet or maybe it is due to a mild version of the disease or maybe it is due to him not actually having the disease.  I’ll leave this for your interpretation.

I do not feel like I am breaking any codes or am being overtly controversial because Professor Jelinek has written about being relapse free himself.  I am critically appraising Professor Jelinek’s assessment and am pointing out that the reason Professor Jelinek has been relapse free may be due to other reasons other than his diet.  Unfortunately some of us may read a book without being critical of it’s content - so I just want to highlight this point.  It's a tough diet/lifestyle and I think it's only fair that one evaluates why the author is relapse free before commencing it.

Although part of me wants to jump up and down and stamp my feet, I am again finding many good reasons to follow Professor Jelineks updated diet from his new book.  He has meta-analysed the fat research and come to the same conclusions as in his first book.  Saturated fat is bad for everyone, but especially for those of us with MS.  He still advocates a vegan plus fish diet for MS-ers.  I have already started to remove dairy from my diet again... it's hard because I love cheese but I keep in mind my responsibility to my family.  If a diet low in saturated fat can minimise the effects of MS… I would be stupid not to get on board because it is something that I can do without medical intervention, expense or side effects (other than weight loss!)

I have not yet finished Professor Jelinek’s new book.  Does it matter if he doesn't have MS?  I don’t know… my opinion and thoughts on the matter change regularly.  I don’t have anything to loose by reading his book, but hopefully I have a lot to gain by following his recommendations.  Fingers crossed.

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Three Weeks of Yoga

A little while ago I bought I yoga voucher for a month of unlimited yoga at a centre that is about twenty minutes from my home.  I was so excited about it, because I used to do a lot of yoga maybe seven or so years ago before I was diagnosed with MS, a little a bit after I was diagnosed with MS, before I travelled, got married, had kids and returned to uni.  I have always wanted to get into it again, but found making time really difficult.  I told my husband that I would commence using the voucher when uni broke for the semester and our daughter was on holidays.

About after a week of uni being over, my husband came home from work and gave me a gentle prod in the right direction... I thought you might go to yoga tonight.  My response was, oh I think it's the beginner’s course tonight and I'm not sure if the voucher is valid for that.  Why don't you make a call and find out.  Ok then.  So it turns out the voucher was valid and the instructor was (now) expecting me!  I quickly got ready and got my sore backed, no core strength body to the studio pronto.

The one thing I remember about my experience of yoga the first time around, was how quickly my neck pain settled and how I could stretch the whole back of my neck on the ground when I was lying prone.  It was pretty impressive because I had terrible neck pain and headaches and had gotten to a place where I thought I would just have to accept that I was a person with a sore neck, whose physio could make feel better for a while... just not permanently.  It really was surprising how quickly I felt benefits from yoga for my whole body and mind.

Even though I was not a beginner in yoga, the beginner’s course is a pretty good place to start for anyone.  The instructor takes things slowly and explains all the postures thoroughly.  But what's even better is that everyone else in the class is likely a novice, so I was not walking into a studio of elastic bands, who could wrap their legs behind their heads, which is really, really unsettling and intimidating.  I know that’s a pretty silly mind set to have... but I am just a little bit competitive.  Anyways, for good measure I still headed to the back of the room where I could gauge everyone else’s abilities against mine... and so no one could watch me stick my bum in the air.

I have done just over three weeks of yoga now - that is about ten sessions.  I definitely feel like I have been doing some form of exercise.  I really believe that my posture has improved and that I have gained some core strength.  My back still hurts in the morning when I wake up, but it is a little less sore during the day.  I bet it would be a hell of a lot better if I could just stop carting my two year old sumo toddler around.  However I do find after a yoga lesson, it is not sore at all - there is much to be said for an hour and a half of complete body stretching.  I feel healthier and as a result that healthiness carries all through my life... not that I ate really badly three weeks ago, but I think I am making healthier food choices now and shoving less into my mouth too.  So maybe yoga is suppressing my horse appetite!  I'm only a couple of kilos away from my pre-baby weight, which means I have lost three kilograms by not even trying.  Yay!

So what do I love about yoga???  I really love the discipline involved in holding the form of the poses even when the burn kicks in or the stretch is tight, some might say that I am a glutton for punishment... but not me.  After a recent class I was thinking about why I was feeling so jubilant.  During and after a really good stretch, which yoga is, where my muscles have burned and extended past where they might usually go, I feel deeply relaxed and pristinely calm.  I guess it's all those lovely endorphins flooding into my blood.  During classes I have noticed my thoughts slow right down to a single stream.  Usually that thought is about the stretch and breathing into that stretch... I'm not even sure if that is even a thought actually, or whether my mind has broken from being totally absorbed in the process of breathing and stretching to notice what I am actually doing.  I have a very, very busy, messy mind and it likes to multi-task, thus it is so refreshing when there is just one stream of communication going on in there.  The only other times my mind slows down to such an extent is if I have done a guided meditation or have had a big night, am tired and probably hungover and then just sit and observe rather than process.

These are some of the things about yoga that I think you need to know if you are a newby to the practice.  I always felt compelled to wear super loose and baggy clothes, but this is not the way to go.  Why, I hear you ask.  Well you are going to spending a fair amount of time with your head down towards your knees and the floor, if you don't believe me google downward dog.  So if your head and chest are down it is highly likely you will flash your post baby flab where your stomach used to be (in my case) and boobies to anyone else in the room who is not concentrating on their pose and is looking around the room.  Also flappy, baggy pants tend to get caught as you step your leg through a pose, causing you to awkwardly loose your balance, which is not at all a graceful, elegant or controlled look.

The yoga instructor will tell you not to eat a large meal right before a class, because digestion requires the blood that your muscles will need for stretching and so there will be a big fight for resources.  If you do eat a big meal you will probably feel sick, bloated and generally yuck - I'm sure we've all been there.  He or she might say don't eat anything within a couple of hours of the class.  I will agree with this, but in the first few classes I attended, half way through my mind started yelling at me - I've had enough of this poxy class - get me out, NOW!  It took couple of slinging matches and slog fests before I worked it out... I hadn't had enough to eat leading up to the class to sustain my blood sugar throughout it’s duration.  So while it would be ridiculous to eat a main meal right before a class, a small snack is not out of the question.

No freshly applied perfume or strong B.O Killer please.  Deodorant and perfume waft through a warm yoga class quickly.  It's ok if you like the perfume, but otherwise it is distracting, gets up your nose and tries to spilt your head in half.  It's a strange phenomenon, but your sense of smell seems to get heightened when your other senses are slowed.  No deodorant seems to go against all well taught and life long practices of hygiene, but it really is unnecessary in cold weather when practicing yoga and in summer, if you are a pongy boy, maybe a shower before a class will help or mild deodorant will suffice.

What else can you expect in a yoga class?  Falling out of poses, due to a lack of balance - I do it all of the time (thanks for that MS), odd poses that seem to just be completely against nature and how the body was designed to move and of course, giggling.  I try not to giggle at anyone else - it's hard sometimes, but I definitely giggle at myself, a lot.  For example last night the instructor was demonstrating a handstand, where the front of his body and face was right up against the wall.  It looked wrong and contrary to any handstands I've ever done up against a wall where my face and body look away from the wall... not that I’ve practiced any handstands for the last twenty years!  There was a collective "what the..." sigh from the room, and my next question, with a giggle was, how do you get down?

Farts!!! It's very likely you will hear farts in a yoga class - probably not from me, but from an older woman or man.  Clearly if you are offended by farts, then yoga may not be the exercise for you.  I try not to laugh... because it would be rude and interrupting to the class but I certainly have a hearty chuckle on the inside.  I'll let you in on a secret... when you are walking from your car to the studio get those farts out because it is really hard not to let rip in some of the more demanding poses.

This is my experience of yoga.  I love it and believe it is good for me (and my MS, husband and children) and probably you too – so get cracking down to your local yoga studio and give it a go!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Earrings for the Five Year Old Wailing Warrior Princess

My husband and I had discussed when our daughter, Chynna would be allowed to get her ears pierced.  It wasn't a big thing, but we decided that when she asked for it to be done, we would take her to the shop and get them done.  It didn’t matter to us if she was six or thirty-six.

The question started appearing last year... she has some friends at school who have their ears pierced and she started to become aware of what I had dangling off my ears.  When we walked by a hairdresser, beauticians or pharmacy we would say, do you want to get your ears pierced today and she would say, uh... no, or I want to do it when Gran is with us (or Dad, depending on who wasn't with us at the time).  So we'd just keep walking... no biggie.

Sometimes Chynna would ask if it hurt to have your ears pierced.  I had my ears done when I was about 10 or 11, so I can't remember what it was like.  I'd take a wild stab (haha) and suggest that it did hurt, but it's not like I have any mental scarring from the ordeal.  But what do you tell a (then) four year old?  I couldn't lie - so I said, I don't remember, but I guess it would "sting".  She would screw up her little face, as she's not particularly tempted by anything that stings - smacks, bees, needles... ears pierced.

There is a lot to be said for getting a baby's ears pierced, when they are only weeks old.  Lets face it... it is probably going to make the baby cry, but they won't remember it for long and well, they are saved any of the anxiety that goes along with the event when they are older.  I also like the idea that a baby doesn't even know it has ears, thus it probably isn't going to spend any huge amount of time purposefully playing with the new foreign objects sticking out from it's ears - thus avoiding the prolonged process of infection.

Not long after Chynna's 5th birthday, we arrived at school to discover that Chynna's best friend's younger sister had her ears pierced.  Special K (as she is known) was around five months at the time.  Chynna's first question was, did Special K cry?  The answer was no, as they put some numbing cream on her ears first.  That was that... she said, mummy I want to get my ears pierced.  I said, oh when, like this afternoon after school, thinking she would say no when Daddy can come.  But to my surprise she agreed.  Which was funny, because her Daddy couldn't have been further away.  He was in the north of WA on a work trip for a couple of days.

After school, I didn't mention anything about ears.  I figured that I'd let the little sausage approach me if she remembered and really wanted her ears done.  I thought if I didn't mention it, then I might just save myself an unnecessary trip to the shops.  Except, she bounded out of class and asked when we were going!

Chynna sat in the chair at the beauticians cautiously, with her eyes wide (not that you can see that in the pic).    I seriously believed she would back out at any moment.  While we were waiting, a girl, a few years old than Chynna had her ears re-pierced.  It was quick and the girl barely blinked and she had no numbing cream.  It was like all the planets and stars of the universe were perfectly aligned for ear piercing.

Chynna chose a little pair of pink flower earrings exactly like Special K's.  Then the very young beautician... yeah what’s with that - young girls puncturing young girls ears?  I did look around for a much more experienced elderly woman to attend to Chynna's ears but there was only more young girls... (whoa there nelly, does that mean... I'm getting old?)  Then the very young beautician applied the numbing cream and told Chynna, not to touch it - good test for the real deal and to come back in half an hour.  We trotted off to Gloria Jeans, for a babyccino and a vanilla soy latte because what else would you do for half an hour?

It's quite surprising how long half an hour can take when your five year old is both eager and anxious about something. We wandered back to the shop.  I really wanted to say, you can back out if you want sweetheart, but didn't.  I was quite sure Chynna would burst into tears and not go through with it; in fact I would have put money on it.  The chances of her being a brave warrior princess were definitely so small in my mind that she didn't need me adding to her anxiety.
While the two beauticians drew dots on Chynna's ears and lined up the piercing guns I wondered what was going through Chynna's mind.  Do five years have self-talk?  Was her mind blank? Was she telling herself it wouldn't hurt or it would hurt?  Nothing on her face gave whatever she was thinking away.  The girls counted – one, two, three and then pressed the triggers.  They made a loud dull clicking noise and an "ouch" escaped from Chynna's mouth, followed by clenched teeth and wide eyes.  Maybe 20 seconds later she took a breath and asked for a mirror.  It was quite amusing in hindsight.

She managed not to tell her Dad on the phone that night and the next that she had her ears pierced.  It took a bit of coaching, but even if she had let it slip, I’m not sure he wouldn’t have believed her anyway.  When he did come home, Chynna forgot she had something important to tell him.  She was just pretty darned excited to have her Dad home.  He noticed, but played along until she remembered.  He was quite surprised and questioned me thoroughly… in case I had held her down or something!!

Six weeks later, with no infections, Chynna was all ready to change her earring for the first time.  Now this is something I do remember.  It was tricky for my Mum to push the sleeper earrings into my ears and it hurt.  Thus I was not looking forward to changing Chynna's earrings.  She desperately wanted it done, but was freaking out at the same time.  When I did get my fingers on her earrings, I couldn't get them undone anyway.  I pulled and pulled and Chynna got more and more upset, so I gave up, suggesting we pay a visit to the young beauticians.

Later that day, the young beautician insisted that all I needed to do was get a good grip and yank the earrings apart.  She offered to do it for me, but Chynna was not at all up for that.  I thought this may have been the end of the earring changing rigmarole... but it was not.  The following morning she asked me to do it again.  This time the brave warrior princess curled up on the couch in a tight ball whenever I got within five meters of her.  Eventually she got up onto a stool and the first earring came out with a big jerk and some wailing (from both of us).  The second earring was trickier and it actually broke off, but at least it was out.  Her ears looked good, clearly the thought of pain had mostly kept fiddling fingers away from her ears.

The brave warrior princess was beside herself at the thought of having to put new earrings in.  It didn't matter how I explained it, ie the hole is already there... she refused to sit still and when she finally did she howled loudly like I was about to cut off her ear.  Eventually we got the new sparkly earrings in and at school she proudly showed them off to whoever would listen. 

It's been a couple of weeks now and the brave warrior princess hasn't asked to have her earrings changed again.  Even after her bestie turned up at school with a cute dangly pair.  Maybe we’ll just start an earring collection for when she can change her own earrings in ten years time instead.

Fifth Birthday Party

I was going to write a chirpy little piece about my daughter’s birthday party which was yonks ago now... but it seems I have inadvertently deleted the pics I took at her party... so it's not so chirpy anymore.  I don't know how I did it, or even when, but I spent a good two hours checking if I could get them back.  However as I am not a computer whiz, the simple answer is no-siree those photos are gone for good!  If anyone has any suggestions on how to get my photos back feel free to leave me a comment.

My daughters 5th birthday party was on the 1st of May.  I spent the entire day before her party, making party food for her self selected 40 friends, some of whom had RSVPed and some of whom had not.  The big thing with five year olds is that their parents tend to stay at the party as well... (I'm sure it wasn't like that when I was five - my mum would have gladly jumped at the chance to be one daughter down for a few hours) so in fact I was actually catering for 80-odd people.  There was a lot of food - loads in fact... better to have more than less I say, luckily for me most of it was eaten, otherwise I would have been eating left over party food for a few days.

I worked right up until the party commencement time, putting the doll in the cake skirt and fancying her up.  Have you ever made a doll skirt cake?  My biggest concern was cutting the hole in the middle of the cake to put the doll in.  I only had a small surface area to work with at the top of the bell shape cake that was to become the skirt.  I had a bit of an audience too you see and my mum said, oh just shove a knife into it, it'll be alright and when I stood there procrastinating she said, do you want me to do it?  Of course I didn’t want her to do it, but I didn't want to spoil the cake either because with only an hour left until the party, I couldn't really whip up another one!!  I selected the longest knife, to the cheers of my across the road neighbours who were now eager to see me destroy the cake (or slit my own wrists!)  I gently inserted the knife into the cake, twirled it around and then used the handle of a wooden spoon to push out the cake.  Then I put ballerina Barbie into her cake skirt and not all together unexpectedly the skirt was too short.  Unless ballerina Barbie was really gangster hip hop Barbie with her whole rear end poking out the top of her skirt, she was going to need some serious icing up.

The meringue icing I used was incredible and easy to make - thanks Dee.  It's so good; I'm going to write the recipe out right now... in case you would like to make your own doll skirt cake, or any other cake for that matter that needs some scrumdiddlyumptious meringue icing.

Scrumdiddlyumptious Meringue Icing
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Place above ingredients in a pot on the stove until dissolved and bubbling.
Beat 2 egg whites until peaks form.
Slowly add in sugar syrup, while continuing to beat.
Add icing sugar if consistency is not to your liking.
It's ready when you have peaks that hold their shape.  Add food colouring as required.

Anyhoo... I iced up Barbie in pretty purple scrumdiddlyumptious meringue icing, as requested by Chynna.  (We also chose a brunette Barbie, because she was most like Chynna).  I added some cake glitter, some pretty icing flowers and some little silver glittery flower shapes, which the cake decorating store assistant said were edible.  In hindsight, the fact that the glittery flower shapes did not dissolve on my tongue and got stuck in my teeth probably indicates they were glittery plastic flower shapes and that (maybe) I misheard the shop assistant or he didn't know what he was talking about!  Either way the cake was a success - one, because it was pretty and two, because by the time we cut it everyone was too full to eat too much cake to care that the little silver glittery flower shapes were not at all edible!

It seems that most of the kids in Chynna's class at school are born around the same time.  We receive a rather large amount of birthday invitations around April every year.  Pretty much we have a party or two every weekend in April and a party once a fortnight in March - so we have been to Fun Station parties, pool parties, had an icecream van come to a party, parties in the park, parties at McDonalds, face painting parties etc etc.  I thought we'd try something different, as I seemed to have acquired an abundance of craft paraphernalia from my husband's nana.  She is craft mad - I am not, unless I can do it somewhere other than my home where I don't have to clean up!  I decided to make an exception and decided we would make party hats with the said craft paraphernalia.  The girls were all for it, the boys not so much.  If you ever decide to make party hats at a five year old party, make sure you have strong, quick drying glue, as five years have no capacity what so ever for delayed gratification of party hat wearing, oh and perhaps limit the use of glitter unless you want it all through your house and garden for the next month!

I also decided the kids would make their own pizzas too.  We brought some mini pizza bases, grated pizza cheese, shredded ham and the other usual toppings that would go on an adult pizza - note the use of “adult”, because only three or so kids were interested in anything other than ham, cheese, onion and tomato sauce!!  Most turned up their noses at pineapple, or even chicken.  It seems that perhaps all five year olds and not just my Chynna are F-U-S-S-Y.  The pizzas were a hit, even if my family of four made and ate pizza for the next few evenings.  Chynna was pleased because even though she is fussy about her toppings, she would gladly eat cheese pizza, with a sprinkling of ham every night.

Ryan took all the kids to the park next to our house.  He played the ogre with all the chocolate and lollies and the kids had to steal it from him.  He's just a big kid at heart, so he didn't mind that he got pounced on.  I had some pics of this... but you'll just have to use your imagination - sorry.

Now some observations for you.  Even if your party guests parents hang around at the party, do not expect that they will keep their child under control.  I'm not sure if these parents think staying at the party is the same as leaving the party as far their child's behaviour is concerned, because some parents had no issue with their kids running through the house, crazily climbing play equipment or furniture and generally being annoying little brats.  Did they expect that the hosts would take control of their children, even though they were still at the party?  I know that if Chynna behaved in a similar fashion at a party and didn't desist when asked we would have left the party and probably have missed the next one for good measure.  We had some family members come along and people we consider friends with kids at the party, who commented on the behaviour... so it's not just my high (haha) standards talking either.  C'mon parents, if your child is at a party and you stay - you are not miraculously absolved of any parenting duties while at the party.

My last observation...was that two years ago, when Chynna turned three we had the Cuddly Animal Farm, visit our home. They had a pony for pony rides, and all the usual cute farm animals for kids to hold and pat.  It was a huge party with ridiculous amounts of children between two and eight running amok on our back block.  I remembered as I was in a mad rush to ice the Barbie cake, that I had said to my husband, after the crazy animal farm party that we weren't doing another party at home for a very, very long time, like until Chynna turned 18 and could help us clean up (yes I know, like that's ever gonna happen).  The year after the crazy animal farm party for Chynna's 4th birthday, we had a party at the Fun Station.  I had to prepare a few party sandwiches, cupcakes and some lolly bags, but generally the kids just played on all the climbing equipment and at the end we all went home with no mess to clean up.  But somewhere between that party and this party - the memory of no parties at home for a very very long time failed to be recalled at the appropriate time!

So I am writing it down.  No more parties at home with large numbers of kids for a very, very long time. 

But then again, who could resist a request from faces like these? 

Chynna, the little cherub (butter wouldn't melt in her mouth) has the red and white dress on.  It's not a great pic of the cake, but all the good ones have disappeared into the abyss known as my computer.  I was just lucky that I gave a copy of this photo to a friend.

No more parties at home with large numbers of kids for a very, very long time... No more parties at home with large numbers of kids for a very, very long time... No more parties at home with large numbers of kids for a very, very long time.... Please holey MS brain remember.