Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

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

Normal Service Has Been Resumed August 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 4:57 pm
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So we’re back in the sandpit and just about coming up for air. The journey back was bearable. Obviously none of the children felt the urge to sleep during the first six and a half hours of the flight, but twin 1 and big brother nodded off as we came in to land. Power napping I think it’s called, though the ‘power’ was somewhat lacking when we woke them both up ten minutes later. Both lacked a degree of oomph and were less than impressed at swapping a plane for a bus as we’d landed so far out of Terminal 3, we may as well have flown to Abu Dhabi.

The ‘courtesy’ bus did about 56 laps of the airport before dropping us in Arrivals by which point we’d forgotten we’d been on a plane at all and had no idea where we were. Fortunately, someone at the front of the queue still had their marbles, so we shuffled sheep-like in convoy, hoping that our purpose would become clear shortly. There was the usual ‘grunt, shrug, grunt’ greeting waiting for us at passport control and a complete lack of loan buggies in any of the racks. So far, so predictable.

And then things looked up. As we approached the carousel, our suitcases were already circling for us and when we stepped outside the terminal, our car was ready with air con blasting. When you’ve left Birmingham at midday in torrential rain and 14 degrees, it’s something of a shock to the system to be greeted by 39 degrees at 2am. You’d think we’d be used to it by now, but we still look like virginal tourists, dripping in sweat and diving into the nearest possible air conditioning at every opportunity.

I think the twins have actually completely wiped Dubai from their memories as they’ve spent the last 24 hours looking utterly dazed and confused. They’re happy to see all the toys they’ve forgotten about, and wreak havoc in a whole new home but there is no sign of any familiarity.

Twin 2 has finally decided that walking is in fact a good thing and is confidently tottering from room to room. The open plan spaces help hugely, as do the application of numerous stair gates by Daddy whilst we were gone, which prevent unauthorised adventures into the utility room and up and down the many stairs.

Other than that the only noticeable change is that I have developed the early onset of expat senility. Having spent the best part of two months away from my home, I seem to have completely forgotten where anything lives and how anything works. It took me at least ten minutes last night to locate mugs and teabags and then I had a serious dilemma as I couldn’t remember which water we used for drinks – tap or bottle? It’s at times like these that I seriously wonder if I’m safe to be left in charge of three small children.

I think the same thought may cross their minds from time to time too…

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Dull women have immaculate homes August 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 1:24 pm
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If the saying is true, then I’m fairly sure that there must be a number of dull women living near Stow on the Wold. Today I ventured to the pinnacle of Cotswolds lifestyle chic – Daylesford Organic.

For the uninitiated, it’s a collection of charmingly restored barns devoted to an organic farm shop, restaurant, spa and clothing boutique; owned by the Bamford family of JCB fame.

It’s also a melting pot for all the terribly yah ladies who need somewhere to congregate and discuss the merits of taupe versus cappuccino in their ‘oh so Kelly Hoppen’ interiors.

To say I felt somewhat out-of-place is seriously underplaying the situation. Every female in there was glossy, groomed and immaculate. No one else appeared to be showcasing this morning’s porridge on their shoulders and none of their offspring (Tarquin, Tabitha and Talullah?) were showing any interest in morphing into Jedi Knights.

The barns are as far removed from barns as you can possibly imagine. It’s a little ironic to think that animals ever dared to roam in these outbuildings. It’s all chic decor, perfectly positioned stock and minimalist packaging. Even the milk bottles are glam. Tesco, this is not!

And there is everything you could possibly want to complete your immaculate Cotswolds bolt-hole. From food, to kitchen ware, to candles, clothes and gardening gear. They even sell paint in “Daylesford Brown” so you can recreate your own little Bamford Barn at home.

But the real eye-opener was neither the stock, nor the clientele. It was the prices. This lifestyle living doesn’t come cheap. It’s amazing how natural and neutral could possibly become so expensive. I’m guessing the lovely ladies in Daylesford daren’t cook for fear of getting flour on the flagstones, so for them, a spiced apple cake at a snip under £6.

£6? You can buy an awful lot of flour and apples for £6 in the South Cotswolds where I’m from. Evidently, there is an inclement micro-climate in the North Cotswolds which is having an adverse effect on their food prices.

And forget the food… what about the clothing. There is a separate barn dedicated to the clothing and skin care line. As one might expect, racks of divine cashmere in black, grey and stone. I picked up a beautiful little (and I mean ‘little’) vest top which I was just mentally slotting into my wardrobe when I spotted the price tag. £169. Perhaps not.

So, I guess where I’m getting to is the fact that my Cotswolds home won’t be immaculately Daylesford-esque any time soon. And I will console myself in the hope that I’m neither immaculate, nor dull!

 

I’m sure holidays used to be easier than this August 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 10:05 pm
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This week, the party bus has moved to Stow on the Wold. We are having a few days en famille, before heading back to the sandpit at the weekend. It was supposed to be an excuse for some ‘quality’ time together. A holiday for just the five of us.

Now I’m sure I remember a time when holiday’s involved nice restaurants, great bars and the only consideration of a morning was “pool or beach?”. Days passed leisurely with no thoughts of whether or not the day’s bistro would have baby-change facilities, or if high chairs were freely available. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever seeing any children on the holidays we used to indulge in. We were more discerning than I’d given myself credit for.

Things have definitely changed. This morning, we were woken by the sounds of shouts various coming from the children’s bedroom. We are staying in a beautiful Cotswold stone cottage that was designed and built for a family of munchkins. It is cute and quaint but the novelty of cracking my skull every time I walk upstairs to the one and only toilet in the property, has well and truly worn off.

There are two bedrooms, so the children are all in together. This has worked very well in the past as they seem to amuse each other. However, for reasons best known to the little people, this morning, no one was enjoying anyone’s company.

We thought we’d solved the problem by separating no. 1 son from the twins. He came into our bed and we left the girls to go back to sleep. No. 1 son then proceeded to kick and wriggle for a full hour before we admitted defeat and told him he could go and play downstairs.

Still hopeful of a tiny bit more shut-eye, we tried to ignore the wailing from the girls room but after another 20 minutes, admitted the inevitable and plucked them from their cots. Their mood hadn’t improved much and there was a fair amount of grizzling before milk arrived.

Getting them dressed proved more of a challenge than usual and once clothed, twin 1 decided it would be great fun to start battering her sister with a book. Twin 2 wasn’t amused. Twin 1 swiftly moved from paperback to hardback and before we could say “Maisy Goes to Playschool”, twin 2 had taken a vicious blow to the nose.

The wailing was instantaneous and we were ready for it. What we weren’t prepared for was the sudden rush of blood that followed. The poor girl had a nose bleed and dear God, was it messy. Twin 1 sat in bemused silence as twin 2 sobbed with all her might, which was perfectly understandable, but just served to hasten the flow of blood that by now had spread way beyond her pjs, soaking her father and heading for the lovely pale blue White Company bedding.

Did we leave a deposit when we booked?

I glanced over at the clock. 8.17am. I hope the next 10 hours are a little less fraught.

 

Secrets August 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 10:16 pm
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The brunette and I have a naughty secret. She sleeps very lightly, and most nights when I creep in to kiss her and the blonde goodnight before I turn in, she stirs a little. Sometimes, she opens her eyes briefly but then slips back into sleep without a sound. Other nights, she stands up, surveys the scene, and then snuggles back down into her cot.

However, in the past week or so, we’ve slipped into a dangerous new routine. When I go in to see the pair of them before bed, the brunette is waiting for me. She checks it’s me, then clambers to her feet (not all that easy when you’re enveloped in a sleeping bag) with her arms raised. The message is clear. She wants a cuddle.

So we have a secret cuddle in the dark. I pray her sister won’t wake and see me there, giving her twin an additional and definitely extra-curricular hug.

The brunette loves this little ritual. She puts her head flat on my shoulder and snuggles close and it’s like cuddling a live dolly. She’s quite a dainty little thing and weighs far less than the blonde so I don’t get that dead arm feeling after 45 seconds and a desperate urge to dump her back down. For those few minutes, I actually feel like staying in her room all night.

But then reality dawns and I realise I need to retreat to my room and let her go back to sleep. And this is the strange part. The brunette has always had a tendency to shout whenever I leave the room so this is a tricky moment. Will I be able to get away with settling her back down into her bed and creeping out of the room without a high-decibel revolt?

And the bizarre thing is that so far, every night that we’ve had our secret cuddles, she’s let me pop her back into her cot without so much as a murmur. It’s as if she knows that she’s onto a good thing already and that kicking up a stink wouldn’t be in her best interests.

So I check her sleeping bag is straight, and that Miffy is at hand. And then with a little wave I creep out of their room and touch wood, don’t hear another peep until the morning.

It can’t last long, so for now, I’m just going to enjoy our secret rendezvous.

And not tell the blonde.

 

Life’s simple when you’re six August 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 6:42 pm
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My son has it all figured out. He knows what career path he is going to follow (F1 driver but only if the Jedi Knight thing doesn’t come together). He knows where he’s going to live (close to Mummy but not in the same house, apparently) and as of yesterday, he’s found his life partner. Box ticked. Job done. All sorted.

And the lucky lady in question? The daughter of my parents’ gardener. I have to say he’s done well for himself. The young lady in question is attractive, confident, witty and has a fabulous fashion sense. She helped me dress the blonde and the brunette and they have  never looked so cool.Stripey hooded dresses together with psychedelic striped leggings and contrasting fuchsia socks. She was horribly disappointed there were no matching hair slides, but we found a lone Alice band which was a semi-acceptable substitute.

My son announced after she had left that he had never before met such a nice girl. Not even Talullah in Dubai. Things must be serious.

The path to this life-changing realisation was brief. The couple spent an hour swapping game tactics on their DS’s and then bonded over a ham sandwich and an orange juice.

I’m trying not to be too concerned about the age difference. She will be starting year 4 in September whereas my son will be going into year 2. I do hope it doesn’t become an issue.

Oh to be six again…

 

The Great British Supermarket August 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 11:18 pm
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It’s official. British supermarkets are the best. Obviously I haven’t conducted a thorough or even unbiased study on the subject, but from my experiences on holiday in Europe, and living in the Far East and now the Middle East, it’s beyond doubt; no supermarkets in any of those locations come close to the ones back home.

I think it comes down to the range of products on offer. This afternoon, I popped into Sainsbury’s to pick up some sausages for my son. I just wanted a pack of good quality pork bangers. I struggled to find them. Did I want ones with apple in? Or caramelized onion? Or leek? Or even mustard? Well no, not really. I just wanted good old-fashioned pig in them.

In the end, I settled for finest pork with a hint of sage and nutmeg. From my son’s perspective, they could just have well have contained a hint of Tom & Jerry. He just fancied sausages.

The point is, there is just so much choice. It’s impossible to drop in for a pint of milk and a newspaper without also picking up coronation chicken, lemon tarts and an extra-large bottle of Pimms, just because you can. You can even buy clothes. And saucepans. And garden furniture. It’s amazing.

The downside of this of course is that supermarket shopping seems to have become a national sport for the British. Whatever day or time it is, people congregate in droves to see what’s on offer this week or what’s new. People swarm the aisles in search of those extra Nectar points, or whatever bogus big brother loyalty scheme is currently de rigueur.

Ready meals are no longer restricted to ready-to microwave trays of limp looking lasagne. In Waitrose, you can choose your Italian favourite by region! If you fancy a curry, you can choose Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Indonesian or even Birmingham’s finest. Ok so that last bit was perhaps a fib, but I bet someone somewhere is considering it.

And the greatest revelation about shopping in a British supermarket for the first time in a year?

I was asked if I was over 25 and therefore legally allowed to purchase the bottle of red wine in my basket.

Honestly.

It’s the most amazing complement I’ve ever been paid.

 

An Education August 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 12:06 am
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One of the reasons we’re keen to come back to the UK is so that the children can enjoy a British education. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the schools in Dubai, but since living abroad we seem to have developed a patriotic crush on all things British, and are now dead set on educating the children here.

And no, we’re not talking private education. The arrival of twins put paid to that great plan. With one child it was doable, with two,  a stretch; but with three of them and two in the same year? No chance.

For the past 6 months I’ve been swotting up on which locations offer us the best state schools. Friends have been amused to see my homework on the subject, which consists of an AA road atlas covered in dozens of tiny yellow dot stickers identifying hot spots for free education in Britain.

Once I’d identified a secondary school hotspot, then I was off on a mission to find a complementary primary. It was a time-consuming process.

Yellow dots were joined by spotty dots and then when I felt I’d identified a prime location, it was crowned with that ultimate accolade. A shiny star sticker.

But today I have encountered a problem. An issue that is niggling me and making me doubt all my good work. Could it be that all my extensive research has gone to waste?

The reason for my doubts?

Glen in Harry Ramsden’s.

I’m not sure if he is actually called Glen but I think it suits him. Glen is around 24 years old with spiky, greasy hair. I suppose working in Harry Ramsden’s means a far greater propensity towards grease. All that hot fat and the need to flick back his fringe at regular intervals.

Anyway, I’m going to make an assumption that Glen was schooled in Britain. Yes it is possible that he was outsourced to a Swiss academy of excellence but I’m going to place my money on the fact that his education took place in Swindon.

Yes, I’m sorry. Swindon again. The hell hole with the mini roundabouts for those with a short attention span.

The children, my parents and I were in Swindon for the day, and for reasons that are too painful to go into we ended up in Harry Ramsden’s.

Now you’ll just have to trust me that the words, ‘my mother’, ‘Harry Ramsden’s’ and ‘Swindon’, are not a natural fit. I’m not sure what further explanation I can give except to say that this is the woman who once made me go into a branch of Iceland and ask if they stocked Poussin. I rest my case.

My father and I volunteered to go and place our order whilst my mother watched the troops.  By the time Glen got to us, we were all ready with our request and happily ordered Harry’s finest.

It took a while to assemble all the various elements of our order, but as the trays of food were passed to us, it was obvious we were missing one vital component.

“Could we have some cutlery please?”, asked my father, very politely.

Blank look from Glen.

“Some cutlery please?”, he said again a little louder.

Still nothing registering with Glen.

By now my father was speaking at the same volume that I use when calling my son in from the far end of the garden. And you need to remember, we live damn close to the Dubai Airport flight path.

“SOME CUTLERY?”, he bellowed.

And then it dawned on me. Glen wasn’t deaf. He was stupid.

“Could we have some knives and forks please?”, I asked.

“Sure”, said Glen and duly provided a stash of plastic utensils.

He wasn’t being rude, or unhelpful. He just had no idea what the word ‘cutlery’ meant.

So here’s the concern. Should I really be placing so much faith in the British education system.

It’s a worry.