Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

Everyday experiences with twins. The ups, downs and downright unexpected.

Old MacDonald had a farm… May 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 8:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,

pints of milkI wasn’t sure what, if anything, could bring me out of blogging retirement. Don’t get me wrong, I miss writing these little posts but since we moved back to the UK just over a year ago, time has been at something of a premium.

However, something happened on Friday night that I needed to get off my chest, and frankly, what better medium than my long dormant blog.

My husband and I were due to attend his father’s retirement party in the beautiful city of Wells in Somerset. The event had been in the diary since Christmas and we had booked a room at a charming hotel which dates back to the 15th century; making the most of the fact that it would be just the two of us staying, with the 3 offspring safely lodged at my parents house for the night.

The evening didn’t get off to the best start owing to a faux pas by the hotel who mistakenly thought that we’d like to be shoved out the back in a chip-fat fumed, IKEA-furnished, staff-digs type apartment rather than the four-poster bed, with free-standing bath and cathedral-view room we were anticipating.

Add to this disappointment we’d been in the car for over 3 hours, my husband had arrived on a flight from Brazil a mere 10 hours earlier and was understandably jet-lagged, we were running at least half an hour late for the party due to all of the above and you’re probably beginning to realise that it was turning into ‘one of those nights’.

So, we made a hurried change of clothes and headed to the party which was being held in the function room of a local restaurant. The place was heaving when we arrived, literally jam-packed with colleagues, friends and family all wanting to give my father-in-law a suitable send off. It was standing room only and having said a quick hello to my in-laws, I was introduced to an ageing hippy named Michael and left to my own devices to socialize with him.

Without wishing to be mean, I’ll be perfectly honest here and admit I did feel a strong sense of, “Dear God, can I really be bothered to have polite conversations all night with people I will almost certainly never see again.” But, as with most family occasions on this scale, sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.

Michael was wearing a scruffy shirt, cut-off denim shorts and open-toed sandals with no socks. He had not a single hair on his head, but a full Father Christmas-esque beard on his chin. (I later learned that he is often referred to locally as the man with the upside-down face!). To say I was feeling over-dressed would be an understatement.

I politely asked what Michael did for a living and he replied he was a dairy farmer. Some very good friends of mine run a food and agriculture PR company so over the years I’ve gleaned tiny snippets of information about this industry.  Armed with precious little else to rely on, I launched myself into detailed debate over the price of milk and the difficulties surrounding the dairy supply chain.

And yes, the conversation was every bit as dry as you are imagining.

However, Michael seemed thrilled by my interest in his farm and his Friesians, so there we remained, for a good 15 or 20 minutes before my husband appeared to offer me a drink.

And this is where it started to get a little weird..

My husband is not really interested in celebrities or famous people unless they are really properly famous (royalty, prime minister etc.), or they do something that he considers to be hugely worthwhile and/or with demonstrable talent (racing drivers, really clever engineers, Bill Gates..) So when he arrived at my side, took one look at farmer Michael and started enthusing about how great it was to finally meet him, I’ll admit I was a tad confused.

I looked at him quizzically and think I made some comment about the price of a pint of milk and the beast that is Tesco.

By now, Michael the farmer was grinning broadly, and provided the much-needed clue about his identity by divulging that he’d had a very busy day negotiating the set that the Rolling Stones will be playing next month.

In his garden.

A minor event known to the rest of the planet as the Glastonbury Festival.

And yes, I’d spent my one-on-one time with Michael Eavis not talking about how he managed to secure Mr Jagger and his mates, nor what Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, U2 or Beyoncé were like. Or Blur, New Order, Pulp, REM, Amy Winehouse, Radiohead, Kings of Leon, The Chemical Brothers…I could go on.

I spent it talking about… milk.

Rock and roll!

 

Are we half way there yet? July 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 9:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

In celebration of the fact that neither twinsdaddy nor myself are working at the moment; over the past month we’ve taken a number of road trips and generally enjoyed some quality family time. This weekend, that meant a trip to West Sussex for a couple of days at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The plan was to collect the children from school and head straight down, arriving at our oh-so-expensive rented beach house in time to give the troops a slightly later than normal tea, and then pack them off to bed.

As with all things in twinsmummy’s world, those carefully constructed plans didn’t quite work out as I’d imagined. The first stumbling block being we failed to pack the car with the 17 pieces of luggage needed for a 2 night trip away, and therefore weren’t ready to head off directly from the school run.

Bringing the children back to the cottage to finish the packing, we were then further delayed by the need for snacks, drinks, toilet stops and changes of clothes before we could contemplate getting everyone back into the car.

An hour and 20 minutes later than planned, we finally left home, a mere 25 minutes before the children’s usual tea time…

Within 10 miles I’d handed out all the snacks that had been intended to last the entire weekend, and the twins were growing tetchy as their water consumption was limited to 1 sip at a time in a futile bid to prevent the need for a wee break within the first hour of our journey.

The big brother had asked if we were ‘half of the way there yet?’ every 2 miles since we’d left home, and tempers were beginning to be a little frayed.

With trepidation, we agreed to a game of I-Spy.

Twinsmummy opted for something beginning with the letter ‘M’.

“Moses?”, asked the big brother?

“No”

Seriously, I know it’s a Catholic school but what ARE they teaching him?

“Mountain?”, asked twinsdaddy, somewhat optimistically I felt considering we were on the Oxford ring road.

“No”

“Monkey?”

“Milk?”

“Mouse?”

“NO, NO, NO”

5 more minutes of seriously silly guesses and the twins were getting fractious.

“I want a go”, shouted the brunette. “I want a somethingbeginningwith”.

Weary and desperate to keep the peace we patiently explained the rules and she was off.

“I spy with my eye, somethingbeginningwith S”, she announced triumphantly.

“Sun?”

“No”

“Sky?”

“No”

“Star car?” (Mercedes to the rest of us.)

“No”

“Signs?”

“No”

“Seatbelt?”

“No”

“Ok poppet, we give in. What is it?”

Long silence.

“What’s your word?”

More silence.

“What’s the somethingbeginningwith S?”

“I’ve forgotten”, says the brunette.

Groans all round.

“Are we half way there yet?”, asked the big brother…

 

We’re having fun! June 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 12:25 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Last weekend we headed to Devon to stay with the big brother’s very best friend, who used to live next door to us in our pre-Dubai days. The dates had been booked in the diary for some time and on paper, the weekend held great promise. 3 days in Devon, in June, at the end of the half term week. We envisioned sunny weather, lazy evenings in the garden catching up over a jug of Pimms, children happily frolicking in a paddling pool…

How foolish are we?

For those who watched the Jubilee celebrations on television, you’ll know full well that the UK is enjoying something akin to monsoon season. It’s become so bad that the water companies have even lifted their hose pipe bans, something that hasn’t happened in over 2 years in some areas.

However, not ones to be deterred from “having a good time” we pressed on regardless with plans for a day trip to Sidmouth beach. Sensibly kitted out in fleeces, jeans and hoodies, we marched the children along the sea front enjoying the bracing sea air. The little people played happily on the shingle gathering pebbles and driftwood, whilst the adults enjoyed a long overdue natter.

Exhilarated by the sea air it wasn’t long before the conversation turned to food and, being at the seaside, there was only ever one option… fish and chips, out of the paper, sitting on the beach.

After bringing the chip shop to a halt as an embarrassingly indecisive group of 9, “I’ll have sausage” shouted the boys, “or maybe fish?”, “do they have haddock?”; we finally collected our order just as the grey clouds began to gather.

Our friends suggested that maybe we should eat inside rather than braving the beach, but full of the enthusiasm of expats used to non-stop sunshine and rain falling just twice a year; twinsdaddy and I dismissed such a ridiculous suggestion, rallied the troops across the road and down onto the beach.

Even before we had chance to sit down, those lovely grey clouds decided to open, dropping big, fat raindrops on us as we attempted to unwrap the food.

In fairness, the three older children took it pretty much in their stride. The two Devon natives have clearly seen a lot worse, and the big brother revelled in the opportunity to eat like a savage and for once, get away with it!

The twins however, being of an age where every detail is observed and commented on, were utterly perplexed.

“Isn’t it fun eating on the beach”, shouted twinsmummy (volume adjusted upwards to compete with the squall).

“Why are we eating outside mummy?”, asked the blonde, “It’s raining”.

“And it’s cold”, added the brunette, with the hint of a shiver.

“But isn’t it fun?”, twinsmummy continued undeterred. “Isn’t it GREAT to be eating outside?”

“But my food is getting wet”, observed the blonde. The brunette nodded in agreement.

I squirted additional ketchup onto their chips expecting joyous thanks but was met instead by quizzical faces and silence.

“Mmmmm yummy”, I ventured, hopeful that my enthusiasm was contagious.

It wasn’t.

But I’m not one to give up at the first hurdle.

I’ll make hardy British kids out of them yet!

 

 

 

 

Mumette’s Syndrome May 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 12:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There is a much ridiculed syndrome known as Tourette’s, which is most often associated with the seemingly spontaneous outbursts of socially inappropriate comments by sufferers. Over the past few days, I have recognised that I too am suffering from a startlingly similar affliction, and from talking to friends, believe I am not the only mother to be affected.

And what is this new syndrome?

I think the only appropriate name is ‘Mumette’s Syndrome’.

Much like Tourette’s, the exclamations flow from my mouth fast and furiously, as if my mouth and brain are no longer connected.

Driving down the lane from home to school this morning I find myself shouting, “LOOK, SHEEP!” at the children who obligingly coo and squeal at the sight of the spring lambs.

Further down the road we meet a tractor.

“Ooh, BIG RED TRACTOR”

And then when we get to the level crossing.

“WOW – TRAIN. Look at the red lights flashing.”

All of which, you could safely put down to normal, child-friendly conversation of a morning. And it would be, if I were, in fact, in control of these exclamations. But I’m not.

Three days a week I have the luxury of three children in full-time care from 9am to 3pm, which leaves me free to catch up with all the jobs I need to do, but never get around to actually achieving while the small people are in my care.

I often find myself alone in the car, yet still compulsively shouting out my sightings to an absent audience.

“COWS”

Silence.

“LOOK, HORSES”

Silence.

“DAISIES IN THE FIELD!!”

Silence.

“SEE THE BIG BLACK DOG”

Now, as I catch sight of other single adults driving in the opposite direction, I am confident I know what they are muttering…

WOMEN: “Look, it’s another Mumette’s sufferer”.

MEN: “Look, another crazy mother shouting to herself”.

Shall we try to form a support group?

 

 

The Laundry Evolution May 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 11:15 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Photo taken shortly before this woman was whisked away by the men in white coats. There is no way ANYONE can be this chirpy around a washing machine.

In Dubai

Regardless of whether an item of clothing was dirty; if it had seen a body for anything more than 30 seconds, it was whisked off by the amazing Joy to be washed, dried, ironed and hung back in the wardrobe before you could say “Chinese laundry”.

In UK – Week 1

Anything worn for a full day, or anything showing any sign of dirt, is washed, line-dried and ironed by twinsmummy, determined to ‘manage’ her new household competently. Who needs Joy?

In UK – Weeks 2-3

Anything worn for 2 full days, or anything showing more than 2 obvious patches of dirt, is washed and tumble dried by twinsmummy, rapidly learning that ironing is vastly overrated.

In UK – Weeks 4-5

Clothes are worn until they walk themselves to the laundry bag, or they are so stained by mud / food / unidentifiable markings that it is no longer possible to determine the fabric’s original colour.

The washing machine controls are on speed-dial to “fast-coloureds, 40 degrees, quick wash” and twinsmummy is thinking of introducing a home uniform of sack cloths accessorised with bin bags for all household members under the age of 10.

 

 

In Praise of Freezers May 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 12:55 am
Tags: , , , , ,

So, we’re now into week 3 at the ‘new school’ and still the big brother seems to be taking everything in his stride. We’ve had no wobbles, no tears, no “I wish I was back in Dubai” moments; and frankly, the longer this goes on, the more confident I’m becoming that everything really is fine in his little world.

His last class teacher was fabulous, and by her own admission, pushed hard to get results which I’m not about to complain about. One benefit of this has been very clear in the last few weeks as the big brother has enjoyed a smooth transition into his new class where he appears to be comfortably tackling his lessons.

Every afternoon he comes home with a new reading book which is quickly devoured and returned for another. Numeracy homework has yet to need twinsmummy to step in (always a relief), and even the spellings are proving no great challenge. I’m trying not to be smug about all this you understand.

So, the upshot is, I’m not really worrying about anything that goes on during his day. I know he’s made friends as I’ve been introduced to them at pick up time and he has been invited to two birthday parties to date. I also know that the best bit about his new school as far as he’s concerned has nothing to do with the curriculum or his peers, but the rather fabulous school dinners that he now enjoys (there were no school dinners at his school in Dubai, hence the novelty).

Each day, I collect a very cheery little chap, who talks non-stop all the way home about whatever game he’s played at break time, or what the pudding was at lunch time.

I try to pry more information out of him by steering him towards anything new he might have learnt that day, and it is at this point I find out that there is one subject where he’s not as well versed as the rest of his peers.

Twinsmummy: “So, did you learn anything new today?”

Big Brother: “Yes, we were learning all about freezers”

TM: “Freezers? Was that in your science lesson? What exactly did you learn? (admittedly, a little bemused).

BB: “Not FREEZERS mummy, JESUS!! Don’t you know about Jesus?”

TM: Desperately backtracking… “Yes, of course I know about Jesus. What exactly did you learn?”

BB: “We were reading about him going on a donkey. We were copying the story out of a big book”

TM: “Was it the bible?”

BB: With more than a little surprise. “So you do know about Jesus then?”

RE – the one subject that wasn’t covered as thoroughly in the UAE.

 

My Top Ten Reasons for Loving Being ‘Back in Blighty’ April 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 8:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

1) Seeing the twins’ delight in jumping in puddles for the first time. Wellies = our new most favourite things.

2) The all round fabulous-ness of British supermarkets. My food bills this month surely rival Britain’s national debt, but so what, we’re eating well!

3) Rosy cheeks all round. There’s nothing quite like a bit of fresh air, not to mention the Rip Van Winkle effect it has on 3 year olds after an afternoon of outdoor activity.

4) The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2. A great soundtrack to accompany the school run. Which brings me to…

5) The school run. Nursery is 2 minutes door to door, with school a mere 4 minutes further on. And given that there are the same number of pupils in the entire primary school that there were in the Big Brother’s last year group, parking right outside the school gates is a given.

6) Being able to make telephone calls without taking into account the time difference. This morning, that meant a post-breakfast call to my Dad on his birthday and a before-school birthday greeting from each of his 3 grandchildren. I suspect that was more greatly appreciated than the present.

7) No air con. The blonde has suffered from a persistent cough for most of the last 18 months. Miraculously, 1 week in the UK and the cough is no more.

8) The rain. I know the novelty will wear off any minute now, but after almost 4 years in the desert, it’s actually quite nice seeing the heavens open.

9) Rural life. On our way to school we pass a field of cows, a paddock with horses and a hillside covered in spring lambs. We have a new-found fascination with ladybirds and have mastered the art of creating the perfect daisy chain. Mud pies are surely next on our list.

10) Call centre operatives who understand what I’m saying. I’m not going to go for the full ‘rose-tinted’ appraisal and pretend that the grumpy git at Vodafone wanted to help me in the slightest; but he definitely understood what I was asking, and I didn’t have to repeat myself 17 times, which after the daily battles with Etisalat, is definite progress.