Pirates day

I work many hours a day, too many to be precise. The good side of my job though is the long holidays. Every few weeks I get a week (or 3) off. I get to spend it with my boys and I often tend to make it the best time ever. As one of my colleague says, I switch to supermummy mode.

Last week was one of those special weeks, we went places, ate out, did some painting and spent lots of time together. The crown jewel of the week was pirates day.

I spent a day planning it and almost a week preparing it, but it was all worthy. I bought a pair of pirates costumes, some storytelling dice and pirates cupcakes mix. Everything else was prepared by the boys… under strict supervision.

On Tuesday we painted a cardboard shark.

On Wednesday we prepared some golden cardboard coins for our treasure.

On Thursday we painted a treasure chest brown with golden glitter and prepared three pirates telescopes.

On Friday we played!

We built islands with Duplo and looked for treasures. We got tatoos like real pirates. We also told tall tales about adventures on desert islands and far away lands. As any good pirates day should have, we had a sword fight and obviously cupcakes with a (sugar) skull and bones on them. We filled in a mosaic of a parrot and a pirate; we watched the tale of captain Hook; we looked for the hidden treasure chest in the deepest and most obscure parts of the living room and finally… we went for a nap still holding our swords.

What you can achieve with some paint, cardboard and a little creativity is spectacular. If then you add some browsing on Pinterest, only the sky is the limit!

I’m already planning my next themed day…

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What does it all mean?

If you believe that there’s no reason to have a parents-teacher meeting in preschool, you are wrong! The targets set at these events are elaborate and inspiring… An Oxbridge application will soon follow a target such as “recognising shapes in everyday objects”. Doesn’t it???

Don’t get me wrong, it is a pleasure to hear about how B and T are progressing, but I struggle to keep a straight face when I read some of the reports. I am also fluent in teacher’s speak, so I can translate the report into English.

T is very confident = T is a little know-it-all

T is curious about the world around him and often asks adults when he wants help in his learning = T keeps on asking WHY? every three seconds

B is able to focus when playing with jigsaws = B never sits down unless there’s a jigsaw to play with

T is learning to share with others = T only snatches toys from other children, but he doesn’t bite or shove them on the floor anymore

B enjoys sharing his knowledge of Italian with his key person = B is cheeky and speaks whatever language he fancies and his key person struggles to understand him

At the end of an evening like this, I go home with the knowledge that both of my boys are growing up well and have a lot of fun with their friends.

That’s all one can ask for.

May I leave the table, please?

As a parent I always have to choose between convenience and discipline. For example, going on holiday at an All Inclusive resort means going to a restaurant 3 times a day and last year it meant dealing with two very naughty toddlers. My husband suggested the infallible use of a tablet. It does work, but at what price. Surely every meal is a chance to learn how to behave at the table. It’s a chance for mum and dad to give the good example. Or maybe it isn’t…. Maybe every meal becomes a test. Maybe it’s not worthy.

We recently had guests coming to our house for lunch and T’s behaviour at the table was impeccable. He ate all his food and then asked for permission to leave. B on the other hand clearly felt that the pressure to entertain was solely on his shoulders…

Never mind the fact that he refused to eat anything but olives. Never mind him sliding under the table. Never mind when he started chanting like if he was at a football game. The problem actually started when he left the table and started to remove all his clothes! All I can say is that I’m happy we weren’t in a restaurant, as he could have been charged with public indecency.

Half term is coming up, this means spending 24 hours a day with the boys and occasionally eating out… Will I bring a tablet or some crayons? Will I go high tech or old school? But most importantly, will B show his bottom to any other innocent bystanders?

Car wash

Have you ever taken a toddler thorough a car wash? Well, if you have not tried it yet, put down your phone and go right now… If your life is half a busy as mine, I’m sure your car needs a wash anyway!

B loved it from start to finish… The water, the bubbles, the big big brushes! Almost better than a ride on a roller coaster.

T was ok with the water, concerned about the foam wash and terrified of the brushes. On the other hand being the super tidy toddler he is, he was extremely pleased to see the clean car at the end of it.

Can’t wait for the next wash!

Airport security mishap

Flying to Italy for our Christmas break, we had to go through “normal” security as the family lane was closed. When we arrived at the conveyer belt to let our belongings go through the x-ray machine, the security man told us to take a child each and go to two different positions. After I put my bag and coat on the belt, I took my twin and moved towards the metal detector. To be nice I also indicated to the other twin to come along and let daddy place his items on the belt without interruptions.

Once we arrived at the metal detector I explained to the lady there that I was going to go through followed by each child individually. “We have done it many times before” I said. I confidently stepped in the metal detector and out on the other side…

BEEEEEEEEP!!!!!

What?! I turned to the lady and asked politely if I could get the children through before having to go in the body scan machine. She agreed and I got the boys to come to me without any further alarms going off. At this point she asked me if I was travelling alone. I replied: “No, my husband is just putting his bag on the belt, I don’t know what is taking him so long”. She suggested for me to wait.

A second later, a man went through the metal detector and the security woman greeted him with a smile “Here are your children, sir” and half shoved him towards, half pointed at the twins. The man was left with no word. “I am… I actually…” I jumped in quickly: “This is NOT my husband! May I have my children back, please?”

Superhero or sidekick?

When you are a twin, your brother (or sister) is always with you. ALWAYS. He was there when you were born, when you started eating solids and when you couldn’t sleep at night, but most importantly he is here now… When you wake up or go to sleep, eat or go to the toilet, play or watch TV. Whatever you do, your twin is there.

To me this sounds very oppressive and limiting, but if you, like my children, have never known anything different, you have probably grown accustom to this. What you have to ask yourself is “am I going to be the superhero or the sidekick today?”. I’m lucky that both of my children are confident enough to take either role with a smile.

If you have a wingman with you at all times, you can easily manipulate all games and activities offered by your parents or nursery staff alike.

When the ladies at nursery set up 12 little chairs into two neat rows as to resemble a plane, they didn’t know that T and B had a different plan in mind. T was put in front, as the pilot, but that didn’t last long… He went from pilot to train driver in no time. When he shouted to B that they were about to leave the station, B got straight into character and started checking tickets on the train.

The idea of the plane was a good one, but I guess that no one could have predicted the twins hijacking the plane!

Twins on holiday

As I’m planning the Christmas break, I am looking back at the summer holiday to Menorca…

Taking a toddler on holiday means a lot more than not being able to go out after dinner. It means lots of time spent in the pool (and less sunbathing), it brings the occasional fight at meal time, but also a generous amount of laughter and smiles. As everything in life, it has its pros and cons.

Taking twins on holiday, on the other hand, pushes this to a higher level. The amount of laughter is double, but there are also twice as many fights for food. There are longer queues for the shower at the end of the day, but there are double cuddles in the morning. You certainly need double the patience and half the appetite (they will NOT eat their food, but they WILL eat yours). The pictures you will take are priceless and see them queing to jump in the pool to daddy is simply unforgettable.

Is it worthy? Well, it depends on your expectations…

Did you want to relax? No way.

Recharge? Not at all.

Get tanned? Nah.

Make memories which will last a lifetime? Yes, you will.

It will be hard to forget the day with three poos in the swim nappy. Very hard!

Introducing a new dinner time tradition

I have not been writing much recently as I started a new job in September. This new role is amazing and I never liked a job this much before. Unfortunately it has its drawbacks in the long hours I have to put in and the early mornings start.

As I leave the house before 7, I never get to see the kids before I leave. I don’t really know if it has been more difficult for me to adapt or for them. I never cried, as they did asking for mummy every morning, but I did miss them so much.

Ten weeks in, I’m getting used to it and they barely ask for me when they wake up. It has been a transitioning period but it has been worthy. Mummy now comes home with renewed energy and a smile on her face. She’s happy to play, build puzzles and hide in the castle tent. She is not just dragging herself on the couch to watch one more episode of Blaze The Monster Machine. But most importantly she has also found some time to start a new tea time routine…

To encourage two tired toddlers to eat all of their food in the evenings, we came up with a simple but effective idea: if they eat all their food they can ask (politely!) for a surprise.

The surprise is always edible, but not necessarily sweet. It can vary from olives to chocolate to babybel to slices of banana dusted with nesquick. It doesn’t require much time to prepare, but it did require a good level of imagination and creativity. Sometimes I think of idea ahead of time and I get so excited about them, I am eager for them to finish their food. Sometimes they catch me off guard… What shall I come up with now?!?

An alternative bedtime routine

Our usual bedtime routine is very simple. At 7PM  we go upstairs for a bath, then the pyjamas go on, then teeth brushing and finally stories. At around 8 lights are out and the twins start their pyjamas party! There’s a lot of talking, someone will ask for a drink and someone else will want the toilet. After a very very long time, they will finally fall asleep. Usually around 9.

Yesterday we had to disrupt the routine as we were 150 miles away from home and ready for an almost 3 hours journey. 

At 7 as usual we went upstairs, but after brushing some teeth and putting the pyjamas on, we all went back downstairs and the boys played with grandad’s iPad while mummy and daddy loaded the car. By 7.40 we were all in the car with seat belts on and ready to go. The journey has started: 150 miles left. 

After an afternoon of playing in the garden and trampolining, we thought the boys were going to fall asleep in no time… How wrong we were! After 10 minutes of chatting and asking for food, we agreed that it was time to go to sleep and be quiet. The agreement was obviously unilateral as the silence lasted less than a mile. 

As per usual, B asked for something to drink, this time though he poured half of the content all over his pyjamas. Mmh… The next request was right on time. T needed the toilet. A stop by the side of the motorway had to do (no services for miles in East Anglia). Once we were all back in the car, I discussed the need for the boys to go to sleep. They agreed and CLOSED their eyes… The fake snoring and consequential giggling started. Only 100 miles to go. 

T asked for a story, after all I did say it was bedtime. So my husband, a man who barely remembers what he watched on TV the night before, recited by heart an entire Hairy Maclary book… Maybe he had read that one a few too many times! 

“Now it’s time to sleep” I announced at the end of the story. It was 9.10PM. The boys told me they were awake and not very tired. Another 70 miles to go… 

A little time later we arrived at a tunnel. On the other side a grey cloud made the sun disappeared almost instantaneously and the boys started to be scared. “Mummy, it is dark” they cried. “Mummy, there’s a ghost!” They were not going to sleep now, were they? The rain started to pour down and the grey cloud got even darker (and scarier). 

30 miles left in our journey. The rain had stopped (and the ghost had left). We had 2 minutes of constant silence. My husband asked “Are they asleep?”. I didn’t even had to check to know their were still awake. 

20 miles left and finally the eyes are starting to close. We had some hope… a huge police convoy with lights and motorbikes passed by! We simply could not believe it. The boys went wild at the sight of flashing blue lights!

At 9.51PM their beautiful little eyes were finally closed… It took 131 minutes for them to fall asleep, but we won! 

Only 15 miles left…

A letter to the boys…

Dear B and T,

We went to the lake last week and you were… amazing! You may not know this, but mum and dad struggle sometimes to take you out and about as you are a handful. You tend to run away in car parks, refuse food in restaurants and even pee on daddy (do you remember our last visit to the zoo?!?). Last week though, you behaved like perfect little boys. 

First of all, I’m proud to say that none of you peed on daddy or any other member of the family. Said this, you also enjoyed the picnic by the lake and you were extremely patient when all the adults responsible for finding a picnic area got so lost they ended up on a different lake! Obviously the olive bread your auntie brought with her was the reason you were absolutely silent in the back of the car, but still, only a few months ago you would have screamed the car down instead. Mum and daddy love your new attitude towards delay of your lunchtime. 

The weather was warm, the picnic was delicious and the company was excellent, but you were even better. You made every pictures we took a little funnier. You tried your best Italian by asking for “more Bea pane” and you definitely made your nonna very happy when you agreed to look at the camera for 2 seconds.

B, don’t worry about stepping on a plate and throwing food all over the picnic blanket and your mum. Everyone else thought it was funny!  

T, you made me run 100m faster than Hussein Bolt when you asked to go for a poo… when we were really far from a toilet. We made it and that’s all it matter! 
It was nice to see your auntie and uncle and we are happy to hear you calling Fabio with something that resembles his name this time. Pagu didn’t really sound right last Christmas! 

You made it possible for us to really enjoy the time we spent together and we had almost forgotten about the sleepless nights and the smelly nappies. Almost…

It was a perfect day.
Thank you. 

Love, 

Mamma and Daddy