The wrong swimming class

After a short break from swimming (caused by being in the wrong country every Saturday morning) we went back to it with a renewed enthusiasm and a “new” class…

Not only people think “New year, new me”, but swimming pool management too. From January a new class appeared Ducklings Discovery. Supposedly from 18 to 36 months. My 28 months old boys should have been fine… wrong! The class exercises required all children to touch the bottom of the pool (75cm deep). B, at the vertiginous height of 85cm, could touch but not breathe at the same time!

We joined in anyway and we had fun. B did all of his exercises balancing on my knee and he loved it. Actually T, who at 94cm could touch easily, was less than impressed with the difficulty of the exercises.The class was obviously aimed at preschoolers, not at little toddlers.

The instructor was a little concerned about the new addition to the class and relieved when they didn’t cry… They are not 5 months old babies at their first experience of water, but she treated them as such. I guess I might do the same if a 7 year old randomly joined my GCSE Chemistry class tomorrow morning. She also looked worried about B when she realised they were twins and she even enquired about his health and why he is so small. My husband wanted to reply “we just don’t feed him as much! ” but his serious side had the better of him… fortunately. 

We are back in our usual  class now and very proud to be part of Ducklings 2. We have a lot more things to learn before moving to a higher class permanently. We have to learn to make some bubbles, kick our legs, remember how to use a pool noodle, but most importantly we need to remember to feed B!

The broken ketchup

There are many things I didn’t know about till I became a parent. No, you’re not going to read about lack of sleep or the true meaning of exhaustion. Everyone knows that! But did you know you can “break ketchup”? I didn’t… till I had toddlers.

The boys are really good eaters. As all two years old they are a little fussy about some foods, but I can’t honestly complain. Anyway, as all parents know, there’s always ketchup to help! If they don’t want to eat something, a little bit of it will go a long way. So yesterday my husband put a dollop of ketchup on T’s plate, then he took a piece of meat with a fork and dip it into it… T started to scream like his arm had just been cut off! We starred at him confused. He obviously wasn’t in pain, so what was wrong? “You broke the ketchup!” he yelled, while tears started to roll down his cheeks. 
And that’s how I learned that you can indeed break ketchup. 

Potty training boot camp

The latest parenting ideas from the US is “Potty training boot camp”. 3 days of intense training on how to remove nappies. Basically you don’t leave the house for 3 days and you put your poor child on the toilet/potty a ridiculous number of times each day. Sounds strange? Impossible? A waste of time? 

T, daddy and I are doing it right now! 

Preparation phase

Browsing the Internet you can find long lists of essential items for the training to work, videos on what to do (day by day) and in general a huge quantity of information. My preparation had to be very different as daddy was going to do day one almost entirely by himself!

Not only I prepared plenty of clothes and underpants, laundry detergent and waterproof mats, but I also wrote two lists of possible indoor activities to do. The easy list and the difficult list. In the easy list there were the usual: drawing, duplo, watching TV, etc… In the difficult list there were much harder tasks, such as painting and baking. 

In the build up to day 1 we managed to convince T of how wonderful going to the toilet is, instead of using nappies. We told him that only big boys have underpants so he asked us to see the underpants of the only big boy in the house… That followed a very strange, but hilarious moment for my poor husband.
Day 1 – Nappy off, pants on!

Accidents number: 2

Day 1 was a breeze. Mainly because I was at work! Except for the usual toddler tantrums, he behave really well.

On the morning of day 1 we put some pants on and explained how they need to be kept dry. We reminded him that it is a very important thing to wear underpants and only brave big boys do it. T thought about this and then asked to have a pair of pants for his train as well… Mmh… That was not in any of the videos I watched online!

Day 2 – Adventuring outside the house

Accidents number: 1

We didn’t plan to try our luck outside the house so soon, but after a great first day we felt confident enough to go swimming. Yes, you read that right: we felt confident enough, not him. The thing is that he doesn’t really know what it means to be embarrassed because he peed in his pants in public. He doesn’t have to clean up the mess and he certainly doesn’t realise how expensive his car seat is! The good news is that the car seat was fine, but the cold had the better of his bladder and caused the accident. If you notice a little puddle outside my front door, you now know why. 

Day 3 – Regression

Accidents number: 2

He pooed in his pants… do I have to add anything? 

Christmas holiday review

If my Christmas holidays were a movie it would have had to be a 5 out of 5 stars. It had everything! Drama (the cancelled flight to Italy), surprise  (visiting the English grandparents earlier) and a little sadness (missing my mum’s birthday). It also had some suspense (when the new flight was late and we didn’t know if it was going to be cancelled again) and even a grand finale with a trip to lake Maggiore on the first of January. 

Next year though, I would rather have a boring Christmas with no cancelled flight and avoiding arriving on Christmas Eve at 2AM. That’s cutting it too close for conformt.

The boys are getting the idea of Christmas although it’s still more about the lights and decorations that about the birth of Jesus or the presents giving and receiving. Also this year we focused on the introduction to reindeers. In December we went to a theatre performance called “How do reindeers fly?” which took the boys right into the Christmas spirit. They loved it from start to end. Their little eyes showed so much concentration! 

If there’s one thing we need to work on before next Christmas is the presents. Although the vast majority of presents were really good and enjoyed by the twins. We had too many “opening days”. We opened some on the 22nd with the English grandparents, some on Christmas morning (obviously!), the “socks” on the Epiphany (Italian tradition), but we still have their biggest present to open yet! It is too big to transport so we didn’t take it to either Suffolk or Italy and now we don’t really know when to give it to them… mmh… it’s the middle of January!!!

Possible future careers

A few months ago there was a lovely advert from a well known formula milk that showed toddlers and their future careers. For example a boy drawing on a piece of paper becomes an architect and one climbing on mum’s bed becomes a professional climber. A little unrealistic, I know,  but it made me wonder what could my boys become in the future based on their passions now (limited obviously by drinking “only” cow’s milk and not an expensive formula milk!).

B loves lots and lots of things. He mainly loves animals. He could become a zoo keeper or travel to make documentaries around the world, maybe he could be a vet. He also loves trains, but all 2 years old boys love trains and only a small percentage actually becomes train conductors, so I’m not considering this option just yet. He also likes music. A lot! He is always playing his keyboards or asking daddy to play the guitar. He likes dancing and singing and he’s very much at ease in front of the camera, so maybe he has a future in the performing arts. Maybe a stand up comedian, when I consider how cheeky he can be. Whatever he ends up doing, he will do it with a smile on his face as everything he does now! And whatever he ends up being, it will apparently be better than T…

T has a few interests, but mainly he likes trains. He really likes trains! As said previously, this probably won’t be his chosen career anyway. The other thing he truly enjoys is fiddling with fingernails. If he can reach your hand, he can reach your nails and if he can do that, he will play with them for hours. Watching a movie on the couch used to be a nice chance for a cuddle, now it’s a constant fight to have your own hand back. Going to the supermarket used to be fun, now you can barely touch the trolley and your hand will be taken hostage! According to the advert this will surely lead to T opening his own nails salon. Can you imagine a 6 ft tall man with dark hair and a deep voice greeting you for your monthly nail treatment? I certainly can’t!

Why my children have no chance of learning Italian over English

Everyone knows English is a very easy language to learn. Words are short, sentences are simple… it’s beyond me how Shakespeare could do so much with so little! 

Italian on the other hand is elegant and classy, but it’s certainly not easy. All words are looooong. Most words are complicated. Some words are unpronounceable! Asking my own children to learn something so complicated at such a young age can appear to be more like torture than a privilege. 

Do I really believe that my son will choose to say “rubinetto” instead of “tap”?  Maybe I can ask for”automobile” instead of “car”, but surely I can’t expect a 2 year old to say “scavatrice autocingolata” instead of “digger”! It’s probably considered child abuse anyway.

When they choose an Italian word over the English correspondent I’m always very pleased and full of praises. “Balena” instead of “whale” and “nanna” instead of “sleep” are my personal favourites. Sometimes I wonder how confusing it must been that all colours have different names except for blue, then I remember that all colours are “green” according to B, so… 

I will persist and do my very best to teach them. I’ll be rude and speak Italian to my children even in front of English people. I will correct their bazaar pronunciation of “buio” (dark) till it’s perfect and doesn’t sound like a new Teletubbies character anymore! I will read them book after book and talk to them in Italian, so that one day they will be able to say all those long and convoluted words. For tonight I’ll settle for “Babbo” (Santa). 

Housebound

If you ignore the horribly contagious disease, today has been a great day! B has chickenpox, so him and I stayed at home from nursery and work and spent all day together. Not sure when was the last time I had the chance to spend all day with only one of my boys. 

We had so much fun I almost feel guilty, as I should have been at work. Although obviously he couldn’t have gone to nursery so…

We said goodbye to T and daddy and dived straight into the Duplo box. The box is so big, B can actually fit in it! We built a train, a tunnel, a red train station, a yellow train station and even a green one. We took many passengers on and off. Then poo happened! 

We went for a bath, a long one with fish, penguins, squids, turtles and not one but 4 boats… all for B. No sharing! He was over the moon!

After a quick visit to the doctor, lunch and a nap we went back to a little bit more playing. We made a wristband! We coloured it, cut it and then… put it on a giraffe’s neck. Why not! 

It gets dark very early now, but that’s not a problem if you have light tubes to play with! Look at the smile on this little boy’s face… priceless!

By 5 PM we were ready to slow things down, so B picked up the Ratatouille DVD. He had never saw it before, but he likes “topi”, so he thought it was a good choice… I agreed! 

We didn’t have time to watch it all, but we really enjoyed the first bit and I stop myself from explaining the difference between topi and ratti. I didn’t want to spoil the fun, you see. We definitely have to watch this again and maybe, just maybe, invite T as well. 

At 5.15 grandad arrived. He’s taking over babysitting duties tomorrow so I can go back to work… my day home alone with B was over.

Nanna

“Nanna” means sleep in Italian and it’s the boys favorite word. They don’t like sleeping at night, but they love to “play nanna”. They pretend to sleep and then jump up to surprise you. They close their eyes and snore. They are proper little actors! 

They can play this game anywhere. Obviously in their beds, but also on the couch or in the car and lately even at the dinner table. They just love it. 
Level 2 of the game is forcing you to sleep and then jump on you or scream to wake you up. In my house,  “mamma nanna” doesn’t mean “I’m tired and I want to go to bed”. It means “mummy close your eyes and pretend to sleep”… so I can awake you up by screaming in your ears!

The best part is when they play together and they both shut their eyes really tight, make a loud snoring noise and then jump up super smiley and start to giggle! 

I know this is not the most exciting post you have read so far, but I am writing this blog so that they boys could read it when they are older and wouldn’t want them to miss out on this lovely happy memory, would I?

The unexpected babysitter

As T had chicken pox this week, we had to come up with a plan to keep him out of nursery but not to miss too many working days. In a desperate moment of madness, I suggested my 25 year old brother-in-law, Kieran. Why madness? Well, before this week he had no experience of children or toddlers. He had never even changed a nappy and my plan was to leave him with a sick grumpy toddler. As I said, madness.

He was perfect! The weakness on his babysitting CV was his strength. Because he had no experience of toddlers, he listened to every word I said. We had a schedule, which he followed to the letter; a simple menu, which worked well; and a quick nappy masterclass to prepare him for the inevitable. T didn’t even poo on the first day. What a welcoming child! 

Kieran is not really interesting in jobs in childcare, but I would give him a great reference. He spent 4 solid days playing with trains. Only trains! But he never complained. He made T dance, eat, sleep, play and draw. He made sure he had lunch at the right time and a clean nappy before afternoon nap. In 4 days he only made one mistakes: broke a babybel in half (T went nuts!).

When it was time to say goodbye on Friday night, T said “bye bye” then pointing at Kieran he added “Kieran mine”. I couldn’t have chosen a better baby sitter for the week. I thought chicken pox was going to be a nightmare but I was wrong, someone up there has a masterplan for me and my boys and He always surprise us.

The return of chicken pox

I thought we had ticked the box. I believed we crossed the river never to come back. I thought we had been to battle and come back victorious… but I was wrong. Chicken pox is back and it is taking no prisoners!

Last year both boys had chicken pox. We had one falling ill with it and, as by medical school textbook, the other followed exactly 15 days later. We were lucky it wasn’t too itchy. We didn’t have any major scaring and the main problem was the waking up at night for the cough (apparently a very usual symptom, who knew?!). If you read this blog though, you know we are used to waking up during the night. With or without out highly infectious diseases!

As everybody knows, being a virus, you build an immune system to chicken pox so you can’t get it again. Or at least I thought so… in extremely rare cases, only on a leap year, if you live at a certain latitude and altitude and on a new moon night, your child may get it again!?! Actually there’s a more scientific explanation for it, but I’m not interested. I know it’s all been organised to annoy me and no one is going to change my mind about it!

Now let’s see if B gets it AGAIN as well… keep reading!