Category Archives: Toys

Duplo + twins = better buildings

Out of all of the toys the boys have, Duplo is the most educational and entertaining by a long way. It is also the most expensive, but in my humble opinion it’s worth every penny.

In the past 2 and half years it has been a pleasure to watch them play with the bright coloured bricks and evolve their level of interest. We went from barely putting two bricks together, to building freely their own creations. In between we saw them building enormous towers and putting together very long trains. They learned the names of many animals through play and definitely all the colours. They loved the “special” pieces, but also valued every single brick. Sometimes only the square red one would do!

This summer we went to a different house for a week of holiday and we couldn’t bring lots of toys, so we brought only a big box of Duplo. It was the perfect choice. Every time they opened the box they invented a new game: robots, trains, chillers (only they know what those really are!) and planes.

The play is occasionaly interrupted by a scream. Someone has stolen an irreplaceable piece… time to intervene! So why an ode to Duplo if it still requires adult intervention?

Because it is extra special for twins. That’s why! It is fascinating how Duplo fuels the boys’ creativity, but also their twin bond. If one comes up with an idea, the other tries to better it. The competition brings out the best in them (most of the time) and makes their creations more and more evolved. A singleton wouldn’t have the push to change his first built. He might, of course, do it of his own accord, but he wouldn’t feel the need to make it bigger and better every step of the way. Two siblings close in age wouldn’t have the same starting point. Not at this age. The oldest would have a better fine motor skill, a wider experience in building and a more developed creativity; while the youngest would probably copy (and learn). This is all very different for twins!

So although the snatching of pieces is still a problem, it is definitely outweighed by the time they can spend playing with minimal supervision. And after all, isn’t independent playing every mum’s dream?

Thank you Duplo!


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…

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!!!


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.

Double up!

Does having two identical things of everything really helps? This is a question that I ask myself daily! It certainly doesn’t help my wallet having to buy 2 sets of everything, but if that would mean less fights, I would happily pay the price. 

A few weeks ago we bought a push along tractor for the twins. My husband thought they could share it. Within 4 hours from arrival I was already on Amazon ordering a second identical tractor. Did that help? No.

To be honest, it did help a little bit, and seen the boys on their tractors around the living room is really funny. But after 2 weeks T tried to claim both tractors at once and he hasn’t stopped since. I’m not sure why he believes B is not allowed a tractor, but if T is on one and B sits on the other, T would jump off and go to push him off it. This morning in fact he actually bit poor B!


On the other hand, if you have a drink from an orange sippy cup, your brother won’t really accept a blue one. So having two identical sippy cups is very important, if not essential for twins idration!

Other things though seems to have no importance what so ever. For example forks can have different colours, as long as the food is identical. But if one fork is metal and the other plastic… big trouble!! As a parent I found it very confusing. Cups must have the same colour, but forks don’t? What about plates then?

My twins are so different, I can’t see how they could like the same thing anyway, so I observed them closely. As I suspected they have different taste in toys. One likes Duplo, the other loves trains. One likes cooking, the other prefers watching TV.┬áThe problem is that if you are not doing anything but your brother is, bother him is a great activity… probably the best there is!


Can you make mummy smile?

If you had a bad day at work or you’re simply very tired, a smile from your son or a hug from your daughter are all you need. Sometimes though you need a little bit more to make you smile.

Being able to sit down in front of the TV for about 10 minutes can make or break your day. I often watch TV after the kids are in bed, but watching a pre-dinner show, like I used to do in my previous life, seems very strange and so unusual.

There are things in life which will make you smile no matter how hard your day has been. Watching the boys coping each other at dinner, by bashing a spoon on the tray, is simply hilarious. That made me smile.

If you are a mum of more than one baby still in nappies, an offer on Pampers from your supermarket could really change your day!

The latest cutest thing I’ve seen is T bringing B his teddy when he cries. That made me smile (with pride).

I know it shouldn’t make me smile, but some of the accidents a toddler can get involved in are just too funny not to laugh! Slipping, tripping, crashing or simply falling, but the most spectacular is always the bumping of the head. Sometimes I wonder how humans survive their first few years without wearing an helmet!

My favourite part of the day by far is storytime before going to bed. B and T will fight, hit each other, try to bite and even scratch you. So why is my favourite part of the day? Watching B hugging T before going to sleep is heart melting. That would make anyone smile.

The “toddler” meaning of Christmas

I asked a co-worker, who has a 4 and a 5 year old, when will my boys get interested in Christmas and she told me her kids started to really enjoy Christmas at the age of 3. A day later she came back and said that actually despite the fact that they won’t realise what it is all about, at about 18 months they will understand the “magic”. This made me really observe the twins this weekend…

The twins are 15 months this December, so I didn’t expect them to understand the true meaning of Christmas this year, but what they can join in with? Obviously they will be able to open their presents this year. A true step forward from last year, when they couldn’t even hold their heads up!

I’m also assuming that they won’t get the idea of Santa and, as they can’t talk, they won’t be able to ask for a specific present. So why even buying them a present? I don’t wanna sound evil or something along that line, but any present that you buy for a 15 month old would be more for your enjoyment than anything else. You will undoubtedly enjoy playing with them or watching them play with the toy you bought. So how much should you really spend on a toy that they won’t remember and they might not even like? Well, my answer is “not much”. This year I really didn’t spend much on a present for the boys and I spent more in decorations. Why? Well if you could see B’s face while watching the Christmas lights you will know I was right. No present I can think of will ever paint that expression on a toddler’s face: pure amazement.

I have a lifetime in front of me to spoil them rotten with presents, so this year I won’t do it… but I will take them travelling, make them try new and exciting food, I’ll make them “smell” Christmas, we will spend time with our huge Italian-English family and, with a little luck, show them their first snow. I will show them some Christmas magic.