On the 21st of this month it will be two years since my second daughter Alyssa entered this world.
It was a sunny spring afternoon in 2011 when I was just about to jump in the car and leave for work when I got a phone call from my partner Serena, who was shopping in the city centre.
The contractions had started while standing in a queue.
Less than four hours later Alyssa was born in the bedroom of our Portsmouth home on the bed I still sleep in every night.
Then she was a helpless new-born baby.
I’d gaze at her for hours, not only because I was amazed at how perfect and beautiful she was, but also, like all parents do, I would simply stare to check she was breathing by watching her tiny chest moving up and down when she was asleep.
Now nearly two years on I have a little girl who I still stare at in amazement, lost in wonder at how perfect and beautiful she is – even when she has a face full of spaghetti Bolognese at dinner time and is chasing me around the room wanting a kiss.
So, with her second birthday coming up I want to celebrate the occasion and not let it pass unnoticed. But how?
Well, we could go to the local toy shop to buy some birthday presents.
Like most toddlers she loves anything to do with Peppa Pig, so that is an easy option.
A Google search for ‘Peppa Pig merchandise’ gives me 248,000 results, so there is plenty of choice.
But does she really need more toys? The answer to this is a simple ‘no’. She has far too many as it is taking up room we don’t have.
The other option that has been put forward requires a little more time and effort.
Well, if I’m being a bit more realistic, it requires a lot more time and effort.
Yes, send out the invitations, blow up the balloons and order the cake, it’s party time in the Hayden household.
To be honest, inviting a dozen nappy-wearing, toy-throwing toddlers into my clean and tidy house doesn’t fill me with a great amount of excitement.
In fact, I can feel my stress levels rising at the mere thought of it.
But toddlers are at a great age where they can start to enjoy a birthday party with their little friends, so I think I’m going to go with the party idea and I see it more as a challenge rather than a chore.
So decision one is the food. Do we serve organic carrot and celery batons with a sweet potato dip followed by cucumber and hummus sandwiches, or do we just chuck some crisps in a big bowl and put some hot dogs in the microwave?
Hmmmm, what do you think?