Don’t forget the card! 

It seems unbelievable to me, but this is my third Mother’s day already. I don’t remember much from the first one. I don’t even remember if we celebrated to be honest. I was tired, sleep deprived and depressed. No surprise I can’t even picture if we had lunch somewhere or not.

From the second one I recall having to go out on Saturday instead of Sunday, as my husband tried to book a table too late. I tremende breakfast in bed, but also the lack of cards. I was probably very tired (as I’ve been for 3 years now), but after that I don’t remember anymore.

To make sure I had a better day this year, I did what most mums do: I took charge. I booked a table at my favourite pizza restaurant (3 weeks ago!). I made sure my husband knew that “breakfast in bed” was not optional… it was compulsory! And finally I dropped hits about cards. 

As most men, my husband is not great at remembering birthdays and special events. I buy, write and send all the necessary cards throughout the year. Once he actually told me that this is the reason most men get married. 

I believe him. 

Probably it would have been easier to buy my own card, but it would have been extremely sad. So I had to put extra effort in reminding my lovely other half that this event was coming up and a piece of paper was required. I dropped hits in the middle of some conversations, which had frankly no link to the event whatsoever. I bought a card for his mum and made him sign it. I bought cards from the twins to their grandma and great grandma and made him write them too. The preparation was intense and carefully planned. When Thursday evening arrived and it was obvious that no card had been purchased yet, I was tempted to write it on the shopping list… but I didn’t. 

This morning not one, but two cards where waiting for me on the dining room table. It worked! 

Not only I had two cards to open, but I had breakfast in bed, an extra hour sleep and the boys sang me “happy birthday” (clearly there’s still some confusion about this event). On top of this B was extra happy and spent most of the morning reminding me that we were going to have cake. And T counted down the hours till “pizza time”. What a memorable day!

Can’t wait for next year…

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When all you need is a puddle…

Being a two-year-old boy has its negative aspects, such as HAVING to go to sleep in the afternoon, but it has immense rewards. For example, I haven’t found an adult yet who uses a PIRATES FRUITS toothpaste. I haven’t find many amongst my grown up friends who can spend 2 hours a day building train tracks. And that’s everyday! I also haven’t found many people who ask for cake at every meal, including breakfast. But as I said there are many disadvantages in being a toddler and one of those is being refused cake at every meal!

Yesterday mummy had to work, so daddy took the boys to a real farm. Not one of those nice and shiny with fancy animals and lots of rules to follow. They went to a farm with muddy horses, smelly sheeps and a lot of puddles. There was no petting session and no stickers for visitors. It was just a farm. And the boys loved it. When you are two and you are visiting a farm with your daddy and your best mate, you are bound to have a blast! They said hello to the horses, shouted baaaaaa at the sheeps, moved some muck and even jumped up and down in some puddles. What a way to spend your afternoon, uh?! So while mummy was stuck in a room marking controlled assessments, the rest of the family was out and about having fun. Shame we are not all two-years-old anymore! 

The daddy effect

After 3 long weeks without daddy, he had finally reached us on holiday in Italy. The effect on the boys has been astonishing… 

Obviously they took daddy’s return into their lives very well and jumped around, run and screamed when they saw him for the first time. What is surprising though is that now anything is good as long as daddy is there. 

They don’t want to go for a shower? “Daddy is giving you a shower” I reply. They almost killed themselves by running towards the bathroom. 

B didn’t want to eat breakfast this morning, but as soon as daddy offered him a spoonful… aaaaaah… I have never seen him open his mouth so wide before!

This picture was taken today… even eating a breadstick is better if daddy is around!

I’m not stupid, I know it won’t last forever. Probably it will be gone by tomorrow morning, but today was a breeze and if you are a mum of twins you learn to take anything good that comes your way. Even if it means not getting a goodnight kiss for once, as the boys are too happy daddy is back to even notice you have left the room.

Over the top

I waited a while to write this story because I was waiting for a verdict and the FULL investigation to close, but I can now share the full extend of what it might seem like an episode of a TV series, but it’s actually what really happened at the boys’ nursery a while ago.

One day my husband was called into the manager’s office and asked to sit down. “I have something to discussed about B” the nursery manager said. My poor husband was already tired from a long day at work and about to have dinner with the twins without mummy. He really didn’t have time for this, but he kept listening, wondering who had B bitten that day and why it was so important today. To his enormous surprise B hadn’t bitten anyone, but apparently he had been the victim of child mistreatment. Child services were called and a full investigation was taking place. “As his parent we thought you should be aware and for your peace of mind we have suspended the member of staff involved in the incident” concluded the nursery manager. My husband’s jaw dropped inadvertently.

What really happened is that someone woke up B by splashing his face with a couple of drops of water. THAT’S ALL!

I can only imagine how B would have reacted to that and I feel I should have apologised to the staff member… sending an Italian child to an English nursery, what was I thinking?! I bet he screamed the place down!

I personally believe the nursery went a little over the top this time, but child safety do come first and I’m glad my boys are in a super safe environment.

Just keep swimming…

The boys have been attending swimming lessons since they were 5 months old. It’s part of our weekly routine now and we are used to it, but we shouldn’t take it for grant it. There are so many reasons to go swimming with toddlers, I can’t understand why most of my friends stopped.

Where to start… The obvious one, swimming is an essential life skill.

Compared to most activities is not too expensive.

It’s the only “sport” you can do before the age of 1. Better start them young!

It improves gross motor skills and built confidence. The first time B held on to the side wall by himself he looked like he just won the lottery!

And most importantly it tires them out, which implies a longer afternoon nap! Excellent to catch up on your housework or maximise on cuddle time on the couch.

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Despite all these reasons, for us the original idea behind the swimming lessons was very different. We started the lessons in a time in which I was feeling very isolated. I was still on my maternity leave and I was home alone with the boys for hours and hours every day. Despite signing up for a thousand baby and mum courses, I still felt like nobody could relate to what I was going through except for a couple of other twins mums. On top of that, my husband and I only had one type of conversation “at what time does my shift start?”. T was still not sleeping through the night, in fact he was waking up every couple of hours. We were tired, stressed and occasionally desperate. We needed something to do together. Something to do as a family. After all we were starting to believe we made a mistake and we didn’t really want a family anymore. It wasn’t how we pictured it (it never is) and we couldn’t see when or even if we would ever be that nice little family we dreamt of. Swimming came along as a desperate way to force the four of us to do something together every week. And it worked!

We love swimming now and we wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. It gave us a chance to see how our unit of four could work. Although it was only for 30 minutes a week. Those were 30 minutes without nappies, feeding, screaming and moaning. It was a small window into the future.

Now that we reached that future. Now that we are a nice little family. Now that we can finally sleep. Now that our conversations are back to normal… Now I can finally write about this.

And like Dory said in Finding Nemo… just keep swimming!

Chocolate? No, thanks!

When did you first give chocolate to your child? The twins are 20 months old and have never had chocolate. People find it strange or even cruel, but I can’t see why. Although chocolate is lovely and I have it on a daily basis, it does contain exiting substances and trust me when I say that the twins don’t need any help to be hyper!

At nursery they occasionally serve chocolate, so I asked for the boys to have an alternative dessert when chocolate is on the menu. This request was found so unusual from the staff that I had to explain it to the nursery manager to convince them. They even tried to make me believe that the boys seemed upset when everyone has chocolate but them. That may well be the case, but as they had never had chocolate how would they know what they are missing out on? Do vegetarian children feel upset every time someone in their class has a sausage? Do children on a gluten free diet start to cry at the sight of pasta? I hope not!

One of the hardest moments in this battle happened last weekend. We had guests over and we bought 2 cakes, one with strawberries and one with chocolate. I ate only the non chocolate one and gave some to B, who happily ate it and then moved on to another thing to do. On the other hand, my husband decided to eat the chocolate cake, but gave T only bites from the strawberry one. That did not go down well! T was determined to have what daddy was eating and nothing was going to stand in his way… except for mummy! I immediately convinced daddy that he could say no to his son. Even if he was crying. Even if he was using his best version of the this-is-so-unfair look. If you don’t say no to a toddler, when will you start? When they are 5 and they can argue back? When they are teenagers and taller than you? No, this is the time to say no. No to biting your brother. No to climbing on top of the coffee table. No to another episode of Thomas the tank engine. No to chocolate.

Sometimes I think it’s a matter of principle more than dietary requirements, but I still think it’s a very important lesson in parenthood. When daddy said “Sorry T, mummy said no” and then quickly added “and daddy says no too”. I knew I won a small battle, but the war is still long… I know.

Snacking

Once I read somewhere on a twin mums forum that all you need to go out of the house is a beaker of water and a snack. No nappies?! No, now they are old enough to “almost” predict if you are going to need a nappy and they are not potty trained yet to need extra clothes for possible accidents; so all you need is a snack!

The other amazing thing is that any snack will do. Cracker, breadsticks, rice cakes, fruit, yogurt, but even something a little unusual like dry brawn flakes. Every night when they come back from nursery I’m there to greet them and B asks for brawn flakes. He never gets them, as dinner is usually ready, but he tries every night: comes in, walk into the kitchen, smiles and points at the cereal box.

Daddy thought he was Superman when on the way back from the swimming pool on Saturday morning, I finished all of the crackers I brought with me and the twins were screaming for more food. Daddy realised that he had a packet of rice cakes in his pocket from the day before and took it out with the most accomplished smile on his face: “look at me, I saved the day!”. For the rest of the weekend, he managed to bring that up so many times I lost count.

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I have just spent an entire week on my own and “snacking” is what saved my sanity. When you are truly 1 against 2, you are allowed to use all the tricks in the book. Bribing kids with brawn flakes was just the beginning. By the end of the week, both boys were allowed to eat holding their favourite soft toys, Chewy and Mu, a bad habit which I have started to regret already. On the other hand when I took them away we had a proper meltdown including 2 full bowls of soup on the floor, clothes, highchairs and walls. I couldn’t have coped with another change of clothes, so the following meal both boys were holding proudly Chewy and Mu and everything went swimmingly.

Another routinely snack are the crackers of the 9 AM Sunday service. Without those crackers we would have a pair of extremely loud toddlers running around the church. I didn’t even consider bringing food to a mass, till I saw another parent arriving with 3 bread rolls, a few breadsticks and a croissant. And he didn’t have twins! I thought, if that boy can have all of that, mine can eat a couple of crackers without guilt. I still maintain that there’s no food allowed when we cross the church door to go and get the communion. B wasn’t very pleased about it on Sunday, but he reluctantly started to walk with me and T without a cracker in his hand. He looked confused though. I bet he was wondering why all these people were queuing up for food and yet he wasn’t allowed any!

The holiday are definitely over

Somehow we managed to survive week 3 of the after holiday period and I barely noticed the past weeks have gone, but now the holidays are definitely over.

Our morning routine has changed so much after being away in Italy for 2 weeks. The twins had no idea at what time to wake up, so they tried 5.30 one day and 7 the day after. Now we seemed to have reached a good compromise with 6.45AM, which is as late as we can let them sleep, but also as late as we want them to sleep to. You don’t want two screaming hungry little boys when you wake up, you need a minute to compose yourself, another minute to prepare their breakfast and finally a minute to inhale your breakfast (yes, mums of twins don’t eat breakfast, they don’t have time).

At the weekend, we are trying to make them believe that they can wake up later. There’s no extra breakfast if they wake up earlier! Unfortunately it doesn’t work all the time and it may just work for one and not the other. For example last Sunday T woke up at 6.50 and while having breakfast he kept on pointing at B’s highchair as to say “where is he?”. Daddy’s response was simple and to the point “B is still sleeping. He’s good!!”. An understandable although regrettable response!

T soon realised that he was an only child for the time being and it was time to take advantage. In fact he managed to eat most of the breakfast (prepared for both) and some of daddy’s cereal. He loved the extra attention! When B finally woke up, T asked to join him at breakfast for a second round! He wouldn’t want to miss out, would he? Sometimes I don’t really know where they keep all this food…

Another sign that the holidays are over is the mess. If you work part time or you are on holiday, you have the time to clean and keep your house tidy. When you have twins and a full time job… If you have the time to pee it will be a miracle! Tonight for example, I arrived home at 5.45PM to find a half drunk cup of milk on the dining room table and simply realise I never got to finish my breakfast this morning. Oops!

Althought the holidays are over and the house is a mess, I’m not disheartened… I’m a teacher and half term is behind the corner!

War zone

I haven’t written anything for a couple of days because I have been to a nuclear fusion research centre. Interesting,  but definitely not funny. Then I went to work on Friday and I left daddy at home with the twins… The lonely shoe abandoned in the hall should have warned me about what I was going to find in the living room, but I decided to ignore it and open the door anyway. Toys, clothes, nappies (clean and dirty!!), a kindle, 2 bouncy chairs and an empty glass were spread around the room. And there, in the middle of it, the second shoe… on the coffee table! I told myself “If daddy left with only one of the twins wearing shoes is not the end of the world, after all they don’t even walk yet”. Little did I know.

Probably I should have taken a picture, but I started to clean up instead. To be honest, the house used to look like this every evening when I was on maternity leave, the only difference was that I used to tidy up 5 minutes before my husband came home! One of the many things on the floor was a pair of trouser that I put on T this morning. Ingeniously I thought that has it had been such a hot day, my husband must have changed him and make him wear shorts. After all B was already wearing shorts. Then I heard a knock on the door and found a very smiley baby in a car seat: T wasn’t wearing any shoes, but also he wasn’t wearing any trousers either! Apparently daddy took them off to let him play outside in the sunshine, but then forgot to put them back on and he didn’t realise till they arrived at the doctor.

When I left home in the morning, I asked my husband to do two things with the boys: get them weighed at the baby clinic and take B to the doctor in the afternoon. He managed to do all I asked for, but also clean the kitchen, inflate the paddling pool, bought himself some swim shorts for our holidays and play with the boys. As this was only his second time home alone with the twins, I think he deserves a medal. Never mind if T didn’t wear any trousers on the hottest day of the year!