‘Happy Birthday, baby!’

‘Go to sleep, Mummy.’

‘Aren’t you excited?’

‘Sleeep, Mummy.’

Isla crawled into bed between us, then well, went back to sleep.

‘What time is it?’

‘Five o’clock.’

‘Well, shit.  G’night,’ I said.

Two hours later.  Stickers and balloons in bed.

‘What, no penguins?’ Isla asked.  ‘C’mon, guys!’

Her favourite thing of the early morning was a helium balloon that we bought in Inverness (more on that shopping trip later.  Because it was indeed a trip.)

Back to yesterday, or the night before.  We waited for Isla to go to bed before we drank beer and wrapped presents.  OK, I drank.  Neil wrapped.  I prefer gift bags.

‘Do we have to wrap each thing separately?  Isn’t that an American thing?’


Neil was saved by a neighbourish (people in our house!) who came over to helium Isla’s helium balloon.

We were all quite proud of the bright pink three floating around the kitchen.

And like I said it was Isla’s favourite thing yesterday morning.

Here she is hugging it.


Isla + balloon = 6.  Or something.

And then.

I was getting in the car with Isla and her 24 classroom birthday cupcakes.  (Store-bought.  Because printed allergen lists.  And also because I’m just that kinda mother.)


‘Dearest, don’t talk rubbish.  It’s in the kitchen.’

‘LOOK, MUMMY.  The trees.’

And sure enough, Isla’s new giant pink best friend was now above the trees.  Their relationship had been uncomplicated but short-lived.

And Neil bundled out of the house.

‘WHY didn’t you shut the door?  The balloon escaped.’

‘It’s in the kitchen,’ he said

‘LOOK.  It isn’t, though.’

‘Well, shit,’ he said. ‘ I guess the penguin weight didn’t weigh enough.’

Meanwhile, Isla was, well, like a kid who lost her balloon.  On her birthday.

‘PLEASE, get me ‘nother one, Mummy.’

‘I will, baby.  Might not be the same one, but I’ll find one.’

‘Don’t promise her.’

‘Listen, dude.  If I hafta go up and down this island to find our kid a birthday balloon on her birthday, I’ll do it.  I’d go back to Inverness, even.  Buckle up.’

We made the journey to Isla’s class party in bewildered silence.  How had the balloon let itself out of the house?’

We didn’t have to go all the way to Inverness.  We left a gift-shop in town with three weighted helium balloons.  No 3s.  So we bought three.

‘You know I’m gonna blog about this, right?’

‘I’m not gonna come out very well, am I?’

‘We shall see.  But we did find more balloons.’

We locked the new balloons in the living-room while we got ready for Isla’s party at the house.  We had a crew putting together Isla’s gift from all the grandparents, my sister-in-law made the cake from a box that I bought, for nostalgia reasons.

I tried not to eat all the crisps set out for the guests arriving after Isla returned from  nursery.

Isla got a trip to the ball-pit because the house wasn’t ready (No, really.)

Her friends arrived home before us, then we did the BIG REVEAL.  The new balloons were tied to her new house.  But the biggest hit was the door bell that actually works.

We sent Isla’s friends home hopped up on chocolate.  And I found myself eating Monster Munch from three different bags.

We managed to pry Isla away from her new house with the promise of extra chill out  time with her new books.  She went to bed, but not before she washed her new windows, while channelling Mary Tyler Moore.


Please note the effortless sponge-toss from the very happy 3 year-old.  Her three replacement balloons were tied to the roof.

And here is the sappy-yet-all-true Facebook note that I wrote at the end of it all:

Happy birthday to my truest love, my shadow, my tester, my friend, my monkey, my kid. Isla Madelyn, you are a gift. I shall spend my days reflecting all your love and awesome back to you. Thanks to everyone who celebrated Isla’s day with us, however you could. And thanks to Neil for being my pillow and my partner.

P.S.  I realise now I should have added: …and champion balloon-replacement-finder.  Because that’s a thing, too.

Thank you to Skye Walking Balloons and Carole’s Florist & Handmade Gifts  for helping us out of our various balloon-related jams.  You made a three year-old and her frazzled parents very happy!

Isla’s playhouse curtesy of all her grandparents and Cedar Summit.












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