All posts by agnesuk

Is an holiday with toddlers relaxing?

I guess it depends on your definition of relaxing. Going to the seaside last year was definitely NOT relaxing, while going to see my family this Easter was a lot closer to the textbook definition. After 2 weeks in Italy I felt less tired… despite the early morning starts and the long fights between the boys.

It is sad to realise that going to work for 10-12 hours a day is tiring, but not as much as spending all day with the twins. It is not only physically challenging, but psychologically and emotionally draining. Despite the long afternoon nap, it almost feels like there’s no rest bite. There’s always a fight about a toy, someone to take to the toilet or a spilt drink to wipe. Nothing like this happens in my office… except the occasional spilt cup of tea, I guess.

In a day with toddler boys there’s a lot of running, a large amount of screaming and a good dose of fighting. The word NO is essential to keep order and the word SORRY is often used: by the boys to each other, but also by embarrassed parents to strangers…

Sorry my child stepped on your shoes

Sorry my child kicked that bird (at the zoo)

Sorry my child pushed yours down the slide

Sorry…

So how can I consider this holiday relaxing? Well, it’s simple, there’s always someone there to help. When they wake up at dawn, nonna gets there first. When they want to be chased, auntie Co runs to help. When it’s the end of the day and I had enough of T moaning about his big toe hurting… someone else can help with putting them to bed.

Strangely enough this doesn’t happen on an average week night!

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The end of an era

Tomorrow B and T will go to their first “solo” swimming lesson. No more mum and daddy to hold them and make sure their are safe. We will be by the side of the pool, but we won’t be needed in the water anymore.

If you have read the previous post “Just keep swimming”, you already know how important swimming is for our family. We don’t do it to keep fit or so that the boys can become Olympic swimmers, we do it because it’s our family activity. We love the individual time we spend in the water with each twin and the together time when all of us have a shower and get dressed. We love it!

We started when the boys were only 5 months, so it has been over 3 years now… rain or shine we have always been in the pool on a Saturday morning. They have grown so much in this time! I still remember having to give them a bottle of milk after the lesson as they were starving. They still ask for a snack now, but certainly not formula milk! We moved from baby swimsuits to swim nappies to children swimwear. Mostly importantly of all, we never had a poo in the swim nappy! A true miracle.

At the end of their last lesson (only B was present unfortunately), the swim teacher gave B a huge hug. She was sad about them moving on, like a primary school teacher at the end of year 6. I almost cried.

It is amazing how in all these years, we didn’t simply teach them a life skill. We didn’t simply spend time together as a family. Looking back at each kick and dive, it now feels like the boys were learning to swim (almost), while we were learning to be parents… almost.

A short reflection on parenthood

Last week I read a comment on an article from The Guardian. It said: “if you raise your kids sort of ok, they shouldn’t complot to kill you”. Except for the poor choice of words, I took the message at heart. It was referred to a couple of Californian brothers who killed their parents 30 years ago and now have been put in the same prison. Most of the comments sympathized with the brothers saying that they were abused, that’s why they killed their parents. I don’t actually know anything about this story and I don’t want to express an opinion on this, but the comment I quoted before really made me think…

Earlier in the year I was zapping through the hundreds of tv channels available, when the word “twins” caught my eye. I had to stop and investigate. Was it going to be a useful program? Did I even read the correct word? Well, I did and I’m sorry I stopped to watch it. It was a program about twins who became murderers. What a lovely thing to watch!

These two recent episodes made me reflect on my way of parenting. I always strive to be the best mum I can be. I would like my boys to grow as emotionally strong and happy children. To achieve my objective I always think of ways to improve their understanding of the world around them, activities to improve their motor skills, literacy and maths and I expose them to as many different environments as I can. Some days I succeed, some day I barely keep them (and myself) alive.

From now my aim on a good day will be absolutely the same, but on a bad day it will be: don’t give them any reason to complot to murder me!

Mums on Facebook

I will be controversial and I’m sorry about it…

In school this term we talked a lot about internet safety and how people on Facebook often create a different image of themselves. I know about it, you know about it, but it’s a useful thing to teach to 12 year old girls. This sparked a conversation at lunch amongst me and my colleagues and one of them told us how she has an account, but she never posts, only reads what other people are up to.

I thought about all of this later that day. What do I post? Only the good things? Well, I do. But the question is, why wouldn’t I? I do not think anyone believes Facebook is a true representation of someone’s life. Of my life! People who reads my profile are not teenagers, they should be aware that no life is perfect and only made up by amazing pictures and unique moments to share. So, why would I even consider sharing boring or sad stuff? No, I will carry on sharing lovely pictures of B smiling or T being proud about his latest Duplo built.

I will moan about a long night awake with a feverish child. I will also vent about bad traffic, but I won’t share every single time I am tired or low. Why would I? Just to remind you that my life is not perfect? Well, here’s your reminder: I have twins, my life is upside down on the best of days.

When Facebook shows me “memories you shared”, I don’t want to look back at lots of boring entries. I want to see the funny pictures that put a smile on my face! I want to see how young and chubby the boys used to look at 18 months or how cute was the first time they had solid food. I’m sorry if I create a false image of my own life, but those are the memories I want to share. Why wouldn’t I?

All those mums that share lots of pictures of their children and where they have been at the weekend… please carry on, you have just reminded me that I want to go there to. And by the way, I don’t believe for a second that your weekend was as perfect as it looks in the pictures you shared. I know there was a fight for a toy or a smelly poo or a spilt drink all over your favourite carpet. I am a mum… I know!

I parlo due languages

As the vocabulary improves in both languages, the confusion gets exponentially greater… here’s a short collections of examples.

B: “Guarda mummy, I’m a dottore! (Look mummy, I’m a doctor)

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T: “Mamma, I parlo (speak) due”

Me (in Italian): ” Yes, well done. What languages do you speak?”

T: “Inglese and Italian”

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T: “Just the food, mummy”.

Me: “In Italian, please?”

T: “Just the cibo

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Me: “How do pirates speak?”

B hesitantly: “In English?”

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Talking about T’s crow (corvo) soft toy which he just threw off the couch: “mamma guarda, corvo fell in the acqua” (mum look, my crow fell in the water).

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Talking about pizza toppings…

T: “I don’t like funghi (mushroom), I like olive (olives)”.

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B runs to me and says: “Mummy, T hurt me!”

Me (in Italian): “What did YOU do to him?” (Che cosa gli hai fatto?)

B: “I didn’t fatto (done) anything!”

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T commenting on one of B’s mischieves: “I don’t do that, because I’m a bimbo bravo (good boy)”

Many more of these to come… I’m sure!

The day when everything turned white…

We had to wait till March, but we finally had enough snow to build a snowman!

In January we had one day in which it snowed for about 10 minutes and the moment it was over the boys exclaimed with joy “we can build a snowman now, mummy!”. Mummy had to sadly break the news to them that we really needed longer than 10 minutes to have enough snow. So disappointing.

The built up to snow day was great. B would come home from nursery and tell me all about the snow. First it would start in English, then, when I didn’t show enough enthusiasm for his standard, he would translate the occasional word in Italian (for my benefit): “mamma, snow is bianco and it’s cold… freddo, mamma! I touched it!” To add to the hilarity of the situation, he would also list all the places and things with snow on top: “Mummy, I saw snow on your car and on daddy’s car and on the roof and on the tree and…” all in one breath! Impressive!

When the snow finally arrived, the excitement was topped by both mummy and daddy taking two whole days off work. What a treat!

We built a snowman (obviously!) and had a snowballs fight. We also went for a walk and saw all our neighbourhood covered in this lovely and fluffy white powder… So beautiful. Daddy also took them in an icy stream. They were thrilled!

We had two very special days and some lovely time together as a family. We had time to make a pizza, bake cookies, play with trains and even camp out in the living room. We also had some fights over toys, a significant number of tantrums from T and a perforated eardrum for B… but no snow day is perfect, right?!

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…