Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

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

The art of sharing May 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:30 pm
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It was only a matter of time before it started. The fighting that is. Given we have two children of the same sex and age, it was always inevitable that at some point they would start to fight over clothes, food, toys… in fact anything that one of them had, that the other one wanted.

Up until now there’s been a bit of bickering over the odd rice cake as twin 1 can devour one in less than 10 seconds whilst her sister prefers to savour her snacks. This shouldn’t be an issue, but ever since they’ve become mobile, if the rice cake isn’t safely stashed between twin 2’s jaws, then twin 1 simply swoops in and pinches it. There’s usually sobbing involved but at least it’s easily rectified with a replacement.

This week we’ve established that there is one item that both covet and that there is no practical way of sharing between them. When they tussle over a book, we simply offer another one and eventually, one of them takes the bait. The same goes for toys, and even food. But this week, we’ve reached an impasse.

We only have one toddle truck. A little four-wheeled truck full of wooden bricks that can be pushed around the house with the aim of encouraging walking. It gives them that little bit of stability and confidence to stay upright and of course it delivers that most satisfying of feelings… speed!

Every room on the ground floor of our house has marble floor tiles (quite possibly faux-marble… this is Dubai after all, appearance is everything). And wooden wheels on marble tiles glide gloriously, and silently. In fact the only sound that we hear is the thud of the truck connecting with the walls.

Twin 2 is a relatively careful driver. She slows down as she approaches an obstacle and tries to navigate her way around it. Not always successfully of course but at least the thought is there. Twin 1’s style is a lot less graceful. Walls are approached at speed and after the impact, she simply spins the wheels around and heads off in another direction, oblivious to the shreds of paint and plaster that have fluttered to the floor. She’ll make a great rally driver.

The problem is that only one of them can toddle with the truck at once. And it is this fact that has caused some of the most alarming sounds I’ve ever heard. To hear my daughters mid-struggle, you’d think they were being subjected to some form of torture. The howling, the screaming, the sobbing. There are real tears and head shaking. During one particularly fierce battle, twin 1 lay down in twin 2’s path but even that wasn’t enough to deter her. She simply tried to drive over her sibling. It didn’t go well.

Fortunately, Daddy came to the rescue. My son owns a brilliant construction set. A fabulous kit of wheels, nuts, bolts and various plastic shapes that can be used to create anything from spaceships to castles. Or, as we found out a couple of days ago, a toddle truck.

So now we have two mini ram-raiders in action and my poor son is wondering if he’ll ever get his building set back. It’s tough being the eldest.


The Sort Out May 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 11:13 am
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In three weeks time it will be my son’s 6th birthday party. The venue has been booked, the invitations distributed and the excitement is building.

In preparation for this momentous social occasion, I suggested we have a clear out. Having invited his entire class it is fair to say that the haul of gifts will be fairly substantial. So, in order that he actually appreciates what he owns, we have started sorting through his current toys with a view to sending some of them to the charity shop.

My son takes this all in good spirits as it’s not the first time that we’ve had a purge and besides, he’s fully grasped the concept of ‘out with the old, in with the new’.

While I was having a shower this morning I armed him with a huge IKEA carrier and instructed him to fill it with anything he no longer plays with. When I joined him, he’d managed to place all his toys in a giant heap on the floor and was delighted with the spoils of his actions. “Look Mummy, I LOVE this”, he shrieked as he laid his hands on a Spiderman quad bike that hasn’t been seen in months.

We also managed to find Mr Potato Head’s ears, Lightning McQueen’s remote control and the wings to a Singapore Airlines A380 model.

The “I’m too old for these babyish toys” pile included anything to do with Bob the Builder or Fireman Sam which have been dismissed as “boring” – the ultimate put down from an almost 6-year-old boy. The girls have benefited from a few new toys too which I think is just my son’s way of making sure certain things don’t leave the building. By passing them to his sisters, it not only looks as if he is performing a selfless donation but he can sneakily pinch them back when he thinks I’m not looking.

Having filled the first carrier and agreed that we’ll have another go tomorrow, I thought the whole process had gone remarkably smoothly. We had no tears and tantrums, no prolonged debate over what stays and what goes, in fact the whole experience was pain-free.

As I sat at my laptop reflecting what a good boy he can be, my son came racing into the study armed with a Lego box. “Oh great” he says, “while you’re on the computer, shall we look at which of the new sets I can have for my birthday?”.


The business of flying May 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:42 pm
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I used to really enjoy flying. Particularly if it was business class where the only taxing element was deciding whether to move to wine with the meal, or stick with the champagne.

For about five years we always travelled business. It became second nature that when we arrived at an airport, rather than mixing with the masses, we would spend the time before boarding in the comfort of the plush lounge, enjoying a drink, maybe a few canapés, and depending on the airline, possibly a relaxing neck massage or mini-facial.

And then we had children. In fairness, we continued with the front of plane bookings for some time whilst it was just the three of us. However, when the twins arrived, reality dawned and we accepted that there really was no point. Business class is designed to be a pleasurable experience. There is space to stretch out and relax. There is food devised by Michelin-starred chefs. There is delightful wine. There is (mostly) peace and quiet to be savoured. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the ambience is not conducive to travel with 15 month old twins.

When there was just one baby, we could take it in turns to hold him whilst the other parent enjoyed their meal, had a drink, or visited the bathroom. With two babies, it’s a whole new dynamic. Dynamically chaotic that is.

Meals onboard are now like some sort of Krypton Factor challenge. I can eat any meal using just a fork (steak included!), whilst my other hand holds a baby, steadies the wine glass, dangles a rice cake and adjusts the volume on my son’s headset. My husband simultaneously mirrors my balancing act but as he is left-handed and I’m right-handed, we really have to co-ordinate who sits in which chair early in the flight, else come meal time, we’re both wearing the stroganoff.

When my son was a baby and we made our annual trip back to the UK from Singapore, the stewardesses used to fall over themselves to help out. They’d walk him up and down the plane to give us a break, offer to hold him at opportune moments and whisk bottles off to be washed and sterilised in the galley.

And where are the stewardesses now we have twins and we travel cattle class? Very busy seemingly. If we’re lucky, we get a half-hearted smile accompanied by the painfully familiar question, “Are they twins?”, before they scuttle away to prod the chicken and beef and unscrew another bottle of warm chardonnay.

We are now the family that we used to look at pityingly as we shot through the priority boarding lane en route to a refreshing towel and a glass of chilled fizz as it became someone else’s challenge to make our hand luggage fit in the overhead lockers.

I really miss those lovely, relaxing flights that we enjoyed in LBC (Life Before Children) so I’ve come up with what I think is a really great idea to bring the enjoyment back to our air travel.

It won’t impact on the enjoyment of anyone else in business class.  And as for those in economy, frankly, if they’ve flown before they are completely used to being treated as second-rate citizens whose right is only to endure, not enjoy their flight so they won’t be bothered either.

I’m going to book my husband and I into business class, and stick the children back in economy. Genius.


These are a few of our favourite things May 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:51 pm
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On our little stroll around the neighbourhood this evening, my son and I began talking about our plans for the summer and what we’re most looking forward to.

It’s half term at the end of this week, and from when term resumes next Tuesday, it’s a slippery slope downwards all the way to the summer holidays. School finishes on 30th June so it’s not long before we’ll be sticking his school uniform in the wardrobe for a 10 and a half week break and hopping on a plane bound for Birmingham.

I’d been speaking to his best friend’s Mum on Skype earlier today which had got my son thinking about the great reunion with H. H is his greatest pal in the world. They’ve been friends since they were 2 having bonded over a Bruder tractor and plough. Shortly after they met at a toddler group, H’s parents helpfully bought the house next door to ours and from that moment forwards, the two of them were inseparable.

So, plans for the summer largely revolve around when we’re going to go and stay with H, what we’re going to do while we’re there, and how can we persuade H’s family that a move to Dubai would be in everyone’s best interests.

Anyhow, safe to say, in a Top 10 of favourite things to look forward to this summer, H would be at No. 1.

So, keen to encourage some list writing in the name of handwriting practice, I suggested my son create a Top 10, and it went something like this.

1) Going to stay with H

2) Seeing Freddie (our cat, currently being ‘fostered’ by my parents)

3) Snow (yes, I know it’s unlikely but given the usual pitiful excuse for summer in the UK, it’s not an entirely unreasonable suggestion)

4) Roast Turkey

5) Yoghurts with the fruit at the bottom

6) Grass with cows on

7) Watching Star Wars (…again!)

‘8) Flying (I think he means the flight home. The one day of the year when I have no issue with him watching tv all day!)

9) No air con

10) Drinking Red Eye for breakfast (I blame my father for this one. He lets my son drink Ribena and for reasons best known to themselves, they like to refer to it as ‘a shot of red eye’)

So there you have it, the 10 things that my son craves most in the world. Nice to see his family features so highly in it I thought…


PJs versus Sleepsuits May 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:48 pm
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The twins have a vast selection of sleepwear. Some of it inherited from their older brother; some of it kindly given as gifts by doting grandparents, godparents and friends. Mostly, this sleepwear is in the form of traditional baby sleepsuits. You know, the kind with covered feet and poppers from head to foot? They’re a devil to put on a wriggling child but undoubtedly the cosiest form of sleepwear known to man. I’m happy to admit I’d love them to make them in my size.

Anyway, among the piles of sleepsuits, a pair of traditional pyjamas has crept in. They were a gift from the girls’ godparents and are cute in the extreme (the pyjamas, not the godparents, though they are obviously, very nice people). One pair has a picture of a very well-loved teddy on them, the other, a picture of Lola from Charlie and Lola and a caption explaining how she’s “not ever sleepy, not even at midnight o’clock”.

And here’s the thing; my little observation from this evening. With a sleepsuit on, my girls still look like babies. Albeit quite large babies, but babies nonetheless. With the pyjamas on, my babies turn into little girls. They literally look twice as old.

Don’t ask me how, or why this is but it’s true. And the really bizarre thing is, it made me feel a little sad. My tiny babies are growing up and they really aren’t babies any more. They are little girls. And let’s not forget, they are little girls with attitude. Who needs Lola? I’ve got the blonde and the brunette to contend with.


Animal Rights May 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:58 pm
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My son has been learning at school about the importance of respect for the life of others, and in particular, the lives of animals. For a few days he has been passing on his new-found knowledge in a very earnest fashion to anyone who will listen.

I caught him explaining to the girls earlier today how all creatures have a right to life and that we humans should respect that they have the same rights as us to a peaceful and safe existence. I’m not sure the girls really appreciated what he was saying, but they did watch him intently for a good few seconds before losing focus and heading off to chew on some jigsaw pieces.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is all very admirable. I am delighted to know that his school is trying to provide a rounded education that doesn’t just focus on SATs performance but also embraces broader life skills. However, his new-found enthusiasm for animal rights is proving to be a little contentious.

The thing is, we live in a very hot country. A very hot and dusty country. And where we live is an ideal habitat for all kinds of flying and crawling beasts. And I’m afraid that no matter how keen I am to embrace my son’s new ‘live and let live’ mantra, I’ve got to admit to double standards on this subject.

You see our house is prone to visitations by all kinds of ants, beetles and cockroaches. Things creep under the front door, slide under the back door and pop up through the drains and plug holes. And when they do, the respect flies right out of the window and the ZAP or whatever it’s called, is liberally sprayed around the place until NOTHING is creeping or crawling ANYWHERE. In fact, so enthusiastic am I in my spraying, that I’m surprised I haven’t passed out in a haze of toxic fumes or developed an unfortunate dependency problem.

My son caught me yesterday ‘dealing’ with some ants.

By that I mean I was undertaking a mass slaughter.

“What are you doing Mummy?”, he asked.

“I’m, um, just sorting out the ants”, I said, unconvincingly.

“Are you killing them?”

“Well, um, not really, well, um, sort of”, I mumbled.

“But Mrs C said we’re supposed to show respect to all living things and it’s bad to kill creatures”.

Right, think quickly, think quickly. I need a moral message and more to the point, a get out clause.

“Well, the thing is with respect, it’s got to be two-way and it has to be earned. So, actually, the ants weren’t showing us respect by trying to come into our home uninvited. If they stay outside, I won’t need to kill them.”

Ok I admit, it was tenuous in the extreme, but it seemed to do the trick. Well, at least until my son reports back to his teacher!


Pots of Fun May 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 11:21 am
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It’s reached that time of year where it is hot here. Really hot. Hot in the sense that you actually don’t want to be outside for any length of time, and any family activities outdoors are pretty much out of the question unless it is before 7am.

Given that we’ve got 3 children with a rapidly reached boredom threshold, we now have to think of exciting indoor activities that will keep everyone amused, hopefully burn off some energy, and get us all through the weekend without bloodshed.

During the week it’s not so bad as the girls get a couple of outings to friends houses or a walk around a mall. By the time my son gets home from school, he’s pretty exhausted and has ticked the ‘fresh’ air box during his two breaks in between lessons.

I normally take the twins for a quick stroll around the block in their buggy after tea so that they’ve at least seen the outside world each day, but even that now renders them both pink and sweaty and gasping for the air con by the time we get back to the house after a mere 15 minutes.

Weekends however, we need a plan. This weekend has been a little easier in that yesterday there were two birthday parties to attend which broke up the day nicely. It’s now Saturday, the whole day stretching ahead of us and therefore, a plan is required.

So, we’ve settled on ‘paint a pot’. We are off to the mall to choose a ceramic novelty shape that we can paint and then leave to be glazed and fired for collection at a later date. We’ve decided that this activity will be twin-friendly as it is located in a coffee shop so we can all have a drink and a cake (thumbs up from the toddlers on this count) and when the gruesome twosome become bored, we can wheel them up and down the mall to do some window-shopping.

To burn off energy, we’ll be taking the scooter so that my son can whizz from the car park to the pot-painting emporium and hopefully make it there without knocking down any of the locals (who could be mistaken for giant skittles in their abayas and dishdashas).

This little outing will hopefully consume between 2-3 hours this afternoon so that by the time we get home, it’ll be a quick case of tea, bath and bed for the troops and then a restorative drink for twinsmummy and daddy.

We’ve got 6 more weekends until we fly back to the UK for the summer. At this rate, we’ll have an entire dinner service completed!