Category Archives: Food

The construction birthday party

It has been over a month since the boys’ birthday party, but only now I have found the time to recap the long months of planning and organising.

My philosophy behind a birthday party is simple:

1) They will get bored of parties by the age of 10 or 11 (not many left!)

2) They are and will be my only children

3) I only have to organise one party per year

4) We can afford it

So let’s go and have a massive party!

This year the theme was CONSTRUCTION. Diggers, dumper trucks, excavators. You name it, we had them. It took me at least 2 weeks to decide on the theme because if it had been down to the boys, they would have had another train party like last year. It has been a challenge to find a theme they would both like. In the end, most 4 year olds like digging and playing with sand, so “construction” was a safe bet.

Every guest was provided with a hard hat to get everyone in the mood. The party table was a road, where the orange paper cups looked like traffic cones. We even had biscuits shaped like excavators and diggers.

Finding games for this theme wasn’t hard. Digging, building and painting were all good starting ideas. I even stole some of my husband’s tools to let the kids loose on some paint… that was fun!

For younger builders (and future civil engineers like T), we had a Duplo corner. It actually proved very popular with people aged 1 to 65!

No party can be a success if the cake is not a true show stopper. As I cannot bake, this is usually the hardest part to plan. Fortunately a “construction cake” is just a destroyed cake with some toy cars on it. A couple of traffic cones candles completed the look.

After all of this work, and I only mentioned the highlights, it was great to see B over the moon with excitement…

On the other hand, it was a little less rewarding to hear T’s comment later that evening: “I had fun, but the train party (last year) was better, mummy!” Well, it sounds like we already have a theme for next year’s party then!

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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?

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

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 remember 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 were 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…

I choose, you choose, we choose

Learning to make your own choice is an important part of growing up. For twins though there is an extra layer of complication: peer pressure. As a parent I find it hard to guide them in the right direction. 

If peer pressure can make you do stupid stuff when you are a teenager, think what it could do when you are 2 years old. It can literally make you stand on a table… like it happened this morning when T suggested to B to climb a table to reach a light switch. If T suggests something, B will go along with it and this may have some comical, but also some dangerous consequences. 

The twins can choose simple stuff independently. Every morning, for example, they choose the colour of their cereal bowls. The colours do change often, so it feels like they are actually making a decision (not repeating a pattern). Sometimes though they would want the same colour and this signal the end of the world as we know it. Cries and screams could be heard from miles. For example, B this morning was adimant that he wanted the yellow bowl which T was using to eat his breakfast. He cried and cried. He screamed to the top of his voice “YELLOW MUMMY! YELLOW MINE!”. He kept on pointing at T’s bowl and screaming. Nothing would calm him down.
Not an offer of chocolate milk. 

Not an offer of a cuddle. 

Not even when I pointed out that he already had a yellow bowl. In fact T had a green bowl all along and B simply didn’t know his colours!

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. 

New words

The world of toddlers is full of magical discoveries, exciting adventures and incomprehensible words. They are so eager to communicate and share!

T, for example, loves trains and that seems to be all he talks about. What I mean by that is that his first word every morning is “choo choo” and his greetings every evening after nursery is still “choo choo”. We are trying to convince him that not everything big that moves goes “choo choo”. No, a bus does not choo and not even a lorry! He lives loves loves loves trains. Then if you put him on a miniature one, he screams and wants to get off straight away, but that’s a topic for another time.

B can’t really say much. Recently he has learned some new animal noises, but words are still a mistery to him. He can say mamma, dada, nonna, door, “denti” (teeth) and fish or his own version of it: “pesch”(the Italian “pesce” and the EnglIsh “fish”). More recently he has learn a couple of vital words: “more” and “Clangers”. Guess what we have been watching a lot lately? Let’s not forget is favourite sound of the week “nee naow”. He enjoys so much pushing around his ambulances and fire trucks! B is actually very expressive and very creative, so he communicates in his own way. If he wants something to eat, for example, he would take your hand and literally drag you to the cupboard. Make sure you pick him up and then point to what he wants. Simple!

My favourite new word is “olo”, it means olive and it’s T fave food by a mile. A little unusual for a toddler but it works. You need him to drink his horribly tasting medicine? Offer him an olive as a reward. You need him to calm down after a toddler tantrum? Here comes the jar of olives. You’ll not be surprised when I will tell you that I buy 1kg jar of olives now! 

T is making enormous progress with words lately. He has learnt to say “come back”. A two-word sentence you need a lot when your twin brother steals your toys on a daily basis! Last month we realised he can sign as well. I knew they could both sign “sleep”, but I didn’t know T signing vocabulary was so extensive. He can say thank you, please, duck, drink and he can obviously choo choo!

Being twins they tend to copy each other a lot, so as soon as T started to sign “thank you” for his drink, B copied him immediately. At the moment it feels like I will need to teach good manners to only one child… and the other will copy! 2 for the price of 1!