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!


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). 


“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 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! 

An empty house

Everyone needs a break at some point. My point is usually during the first school term. If you are not a teacher it is difficult to explain, but basically teachers work only a few weeks at the time because they work all the time in those few weeks. It’s not sustainable so God invented half-term. 

If on top of your full time job, you also have twins toddlers you will reduce yourself to a comatose state, your house to a rubbish tip and your fridge/cupboards to a wasteland. My half-term begun by sleeping 20 hours over a 36 hours period. I was exhausted!

The boys and daddy went to stay with the grandparents, so that mummy could recharge her batteries. She could also rebuild the house brick by brick, she could eliminate some interesting leftovers from the fridge and even empty all washing baskets. So a break for mum is not really the same as a holiday or a weekend at the spa, but it feels like the best time ever anyway. There’s no screaming and no waking up at 6AM on a Saturday. There is no eating dinner at 6.00 PM, because 6.03 is too late. The programmes on TV are not animated and there are no trains involved, but most importantly mummy can have a wee by herself!

This time I don’t even feel guilty. Maybe I am wiser or maybe even more exhausted, but I really believe I deserve a break. They are having a great time in the countryside, chasing toads, playing with model trains and riding the loan mower. I have an empty, silence and clean house for a few days, they get spoiled by grandpa and grandma… It’s a win-win situation.

Do I miss the cuddles? Yes. Do I miss the screaming? No. As I said to my husband on the phone, I look at their pictures and I miss them, but I also enjoy the silence in the house. He offered to take a video of them screaming tomorrow. What a generous husband I have!
Another thing I really missed is not having to plan dinner. Whatever is in the fridge/freezer will do. I worked from 3 till 6.30 today and then I adventured towards the kitchen looking for food. No time pressure, no hungry toddler at my feet and I could even use the oven without standing guard to avoid a trip to the burning unit! 

An empty house can really be a blessing… Once a year. 

The unspeakable name

My husband and I are really puzzled and we have been for a few weeks now. Our boys have learned many new words recently and obviously quiet a few names. Names of family members, names of pets and even names of cartoon characters, but they still can’t say T’s name!

It’s not a difficult name. It’s not that we usually call me with a nickname so they are not used to hear it. And it’s not even that it’s terribly uncommon or foreign (like mine!) and people pronunce it differently each time. No, it’s a very common name, in fact more than 20 boys in the school I work for are called like that! And yet it is apparently unpronounceable by the twins.

We tried everything! We simply asked them to repeat after us. Nothing. We tried to ask “who is he?” to B or “who are you?” to T. Nothing! We used pictures of them and point at each child asking for the name. Still nothing! 
The boys now know the difference between Henry and Percy in Thomas the tank engine cartoon. To me they are two indistinguishable green trains. They know many words in two languages. I didn’t speak a second language till the age of 6. And yet they still don’t know both of their names… it’s just puzzling! 

We are not worried they don’t have their own identities like some identical twins do, we are just curious to why T doesn’t use his name and B doesn’t call him either. It’s so strange we reached an unusual conclusion… it’s a game! They know they are driving us crazy and they are having a laugh a minute by carrying this on. IT MUST BE THAT! 

The Dark side of parenthood

Life as a parent is not easy. In fact people will tell you it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. They will also tell you it’s the best thing you’ll do, but it takes time to appreciate it. Sometimes I still wonder when I will appreciate it fully…

A couple of days ago I was talking to my husband about something that happened a few years ago and I said “yeah you know, that was something we used to do before our life stopped”. He knew exactly what I meant, but he corrected me “you mean, paused”. He looked at me as to say: it won’t be like this forever. His reaction made me wonder. Does your life pause or change when you have under 5s? Depending on your point of view you will certainly have a different ride as a parent. If you believe, like us, that your life pauses for 4 or 5 years when you have kids, you’ll probably struggle. You definitely won’t have any more children! Like us. 

I remember my life before children as perfect. Obviously it wasn’t, I’m not stupid, but I am too tired and busy to remember all of the details. I know I had entire phone conversations without a break. I know I used to sleep at night. I also remember distinctly being able to leave a room without hearing anybody screaming. It was a long time ago…

I don’t even remember last time I had breakfast without someone trying to steal it or asking me to change a dirty nappy! 

When your toddler screams for 70 minutes on a 75 minutes journey and then wakes up the other and they screamed together for the rest of the journey… can you really appreciate parenthood? 

Some days are really bad, some others start badly but end up great. What I still struggle with after 2 years is the crying. The long uninterrupted crying. Despite not being newborns, the boys still cry every single day. Twins cry much more than single children as they have more to “complain” about. For example they would cry “in stereo” when they both want mummy to take them upstairs or feed them breakfast. Or one would cry when the other twin steal his favorite toy. And most importantly one would scream when his twin is wearing something he want at all cost. This accumulate to a lot of crying… every… single… day! Some of those days all you need is a break… but do you know the hardest thing about being a parent? There are NO breaks! 

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!