Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

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

New wheels September 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 8:04 pm
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There is great excitement in our house today. Twinsmummy has a new car!

Now this may not seem like the most exciting news to many, but frankly, after all the trials and tribulations of the past few weeks, twinsmummy was in need of some light relief. And last night it arrived in the shape of a brand new Volvo XC90.

My new car has been the subject of great debate for a few months now. My other half and I have worked in the motor industry for longer than we care to remember, so our choice of car is significant. For years, we have driven whatever the company dictated. This has ranged from the sublime (Bentley Continental GT) to the ridiculous (Rover 200 Diesel IN TURQUOISE).

We haven’t had to buy our own cars, and as such, have become rather used to simply being given brand new vehicles on a semi-regular basis. It’s made us quite spoilt. When I placed my last order for a new company car before we moved to Dubai, I can remember being suitably disgruntled that my chosen paint and hood colour option (convertible, obviously), wasn’t available and I had to take a vehicle from stock.  FROM STOCK? The shame of it.

Fast forward to now and we find ourselves without a second car and an urgent need to buy one. Bearing in mind we are on a ‘frugal’ drive at the moment, the initial options were quite frightening. My husband, keen to make a ‘sensible’ purchase and conserve funds, was championing something bus-like, Japanese, and with all the style of a block of lard.

There is some method in his madness as he works for the company that sells said lard-lookalikes, but still, there are limits to how far I will go to fly the company flag. Not very far as it turns out.

I looked at the bus-alikes. I even sat in one. I just couldn’t get excited about it. In the spirit of frugality, we have down-sized our house, foregone holidays, and taken to flying economy (splutter). But, start driving a bean-can bus? No thank you.

I made the appropriate noises. I said if absolutely necessary to the family coffers, of course I would drive whatever my husband deemed a sensible buy.

He’s not daft.

He tortured me for a few weeks with talk of Mitsubishi’s and Toyota’s.

I in turn retorted that a Range Rover Sport would be just fine thank you very much.

And in the spirit of maintaining happy karma in the household, he went out and bought me a Volvo XC90. I’ve had a thing about them for years after we drove one around New Zealand for three weeks. During this epic trip through forests, up mountains and along beaches, we realised it was the most fabulously built, stylish yet practical vehicle on the planet.

It drives like a car, but I can fit 7 people in it comfortably, without any of them having to adopt complex yoga poses in order to keep their legs attached to their bodies.

It is supremely comfortable and has all the toys I need to make my journeys enjoyable. Ok so it doesn’t have an interior designed by Victoria Beckham, but it is enjoyable to drive which dare I say it, is a fraction more important to me. It’s responsive, tight around bends and woomphy (technical car industry term) when it needs to be. It doesn’t scream “look at me” and it’s not too cool or too showy. It’s a very sensible car.

Dear God, I must be getting old.


Does it have nuts in it? September 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 2:50 pm
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I have a new mantra. “Does it have nuts in it?”.

This week, following two fairly gruelling sessions at the hospital, it has been officially declared. The blonde has a severe allergy to nuts. We’d been playing it down since the peanut butter incident, but we can’t argue with the facts. Or the consequences. The reality is we can’t take the risk of exposing her to any type of nut.

We are now armed with epi-pens, leaflets, videos to watch, websites to visit and lots of advice from people who know other children with allergies. Some of it more helpful than others, it has to be said.

The consultant’s advice was the most frightening, stating that “many families in the same situation take a decision to never eat outside the home”. It took a moment for me to register exactly what he was suggesting. No lunches and barbecues at friends’ houses? No family lunches at Carluccio’s? No cheeky little muffin with a hot chocolate at Caffe Nero? Surely he couldn’t be serious?

He also advised we rid our home of all nuts and any item showing that utterly useless disclaimer, “This product may contain nuts or traces of nuts”. The chances are it doesn’t contain nuts, has never been near a nut, couldn’t identify a nut if one jumped up and cracked its shell over its packaging, but dare we take the risk?

We were told that we need to consider all our holiday plans and inform any hotel or airline of the blonde’s predicament before we travel. We have to brief all close friends and relatives who spend any amount of time with the blonde and the brunette and help them understand the severity of the situation so there can be no chance of an accident.

Perhaps the most tricky is educating big brother without scaring him witless. The last thing I need is any increase in the middle of the night visits as a result of bad dreams about axe-wielding peanuts.

Having had a few days to ponder these adjustments, I was just starting to get used to the idea when we were invited to a friend’s house for our weekly coffee and baby meet. I normally take a few snacks to keep my two quiet, but the blonde has always been of the opinion that other people’s snacks are far more interesting, and invariably without waiting to be offered, she helps herself to anything she can lay her hands on.

My friend had already sussed that mini chocolate croissants were a nut-free naughty that could be offered to small people if required and that all other snacks were to be kept out of reach, as neither of us know whether a whole wheat Cheerio is in fact, a peanut in disguise.

The morning passed without incident, but there were no other toddlers present. What will it be like in a packed party environment, or a play zone with dozens of other children? I’ve always been very relaxed about my children eating anything that is offered to them but that can no longer be the case. Every label must be read. Every offer of any nibble needs to be questioned and the snack vetted for suitability.

Today I stood for 10 minutes to find out if a cinnamon roll had been polluted with any form of nut. It took three people to understand what I was asking, before a fourth volunteered to go and ask the chef. For a brief moment, the idea of never eating outside our home, seemed to make sense.

I do hope she grows out of it.


A not so rare breed September 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:11 pm
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When we moved to Dubai and I was roughly 5 months pregnant with the girls, I did lots of research into the support groups and networks available to Mums of multiples here in the UAE. I was relieved to discover that a group existed in Dubai, and that they met for weekly play sessions and a monthly Mums night out.

That was roughly 21 months ago. Since then, I’ve given birth to my twins and somehow not managed to find one free Sunday morning to join the play sessions, or indeed an available Wednesday night to join the Mums of the group for a well-earned drink or three.

I rarely bother with New Year’s resolutions but have decided I will instead embrace the concept of New School Year’s resolutions from now on. With big brother safely back in school, the girls and I need some structure to our week, and as they are now more mobile and inquisitive, we need some stimulating activities outside of the home. Preferably involving other small people. The novelty of crawling round on the floor, wearing out the knees of every pair of trousers I own, has really worn off.

Drum roll please…. bring on twins club. Or Multiplied UAE, to give it its proper name.

This week, the location for the play session was the mall closest to our house so there really was no excuse. Armed with the double buggy and enough boxes of raisins to deplete the entire Californian harvest, we headed to ‘Cool Time’.

I was hoping to see hoards of similarly frazzled Mummies, all desperately relieved to be having an adult conversation and not having to repeat everything they said, twice. But no. These women looked like they’d all seen the inside of a hairdressing salon this month, were wearing coordinating outfits, and showed no signs of having had a sneaky nip of gin on the way in.

This wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

Where were the shattered wrecks of human beings, deranged from lack of sleep and suffering from repetitive strain injury from all those nappy changes?

Not only did they look normal, they seemed to act normally too. Each and every one of them introduced themselves and their offspring to me,  managed the required swapping of pleasantries (how old are yours? did you deliver in Dubai? do you own a Mountain Buggy Urban?) and tactfully avoided pointing out to me that due to the blonde’s recently acquired cold, I was sporting bogies on both shoulders and in my hair (as I discovered MUCH later).

The other surprising observation was that there are frankly, an awful lot of twins in Dubai. Having spent the past 19 months feeling a little bit special, if only for the fact that I have two and not just one, mucus-loaded offspring in tow; I have to admit to going to twins club and feeling a bit, well, average.

And that just won’t do at all.


We made it September 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 8:07 pm
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Tonight we share a collective family sigh of relief as the first week of the new school year is OVER. Yes, we made it. No hospital visits. No tears and tantrums. And as far as I’m aware, number 1 son is welcome to go back next week.

The fact it’s taken me four whole days to get back to writing my blog since school started, gives you some idea of how logistically challenging the experience has been. I’m sure it was far simpler in my day. Or was it just that my mother was super organised so I was never aware of the behind the scenes organisation?

The first morning was a mixture of excitement and trepidation. My husband and I agreed we’d both do the morning drop off. A united front in the face of a new year, a new teacher and a new classroom. My son was exhausted having been far too excited/nervous to go to sleep at a sensible hour the night before.

We remembered the hard way that no matter how hard we try, 45 minutes is not enough time to get a 6-year-old into his uniform and feed him a bowl of cereal. I have no idea why. I’d packed everything the night before and placed it by the front door in eager preparation. Book bag… check. PE kit… check. Swimming kit…. check. Sun hat… check. New shoes…. check. I have no idea how I’ll do it when all three of them are at school. I think I’ll have to invest in a trailer for all the clobber that’s needed.

Day one passed without a hitch and my son was positively enthusiastic about his new teacher and new subject (French). He demonstrated some of his newly learned phrases and I was relieved to hear they were actually French. You see, last year, my son told us he was learning French and was enjoying it greatly, yet we weren’t able to identify any of the words he repeated to us. A parent’s meeting two weeks into term revealed that Year 1 didn’t actually learn French, they’d started Arabic!

On day two, the keen student had become a little weary of the educational process and was starting to flag. He’d also come home with a list of activities to choose from and for our sins, we’ve chosen football, flute and Lego club. To be clear, that’s three separate after school activities. Not an amalgamation. We discounted Scottish dancing (“that’s for girls”, my son sneered), Orchestra (“I don’t play an instrument”. Fair point), and Cheerleading (unprintable response from Daddy).

He also produced a lengthy list of instructions about what kit and homework is to be produced on each day. It’s going to be like some sort of Mensa memory challenge. Some days PE kit is required to be worn on arrival, yet other days it is to be bagged up and sent in with him. We have library day, dance, football and swimming to remember. And that’s before they even start on the homework. Then there’s the sun hat and the refillable water bottles. Sun cream on especially sunny days (hmmmm, when is it not an especially sunny day in Dubai I ask myself?). And the snack box with food for two snack breaks. One to be extremely healthy, and the other packed full of additives and laced with pork… sorry, lost focus for a moment there.

So at the end of this, the first week of 10 before half term (10!), the question is… “Who is more exhausted?”. The student, or the mummy? I reckon I’m odds on favourite!


The drama continues September 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:59 pm
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I’m noticing a worrying pattern developing. Last weekend was ‘the peanut’ saga, this weekend, ‘the fall’ saga. Please don’t anyone dare mention that these things tend to happen in threes!

The morning started well as we woke to the sound of big brother playing happily with his sisters in their bedroom. There was giggling, shouting and a lot of talk of the Death Star and General Grievous; but the girls have come to know and love their brother’s obsession with all things Star Wars, and seem to play along quite happily.

We listened to them for about 20 minutes, thinking how great it was that we didn’t have to rush in to them as soon as they woke up as big brother is a great distraction. After a while I thought I’d go downstairs and make their milk and put the kettle on, so that we could all enjoy a leisurely weekend drink in bed.

Then came the thud. The sort of thud that you just know is not good. And almost immediately afterwards, a worried sounding 6-year-old voice half-shouting, half-whispering, “Mummy”.

And then the howling.

By this point I’d raced into the nursery to find big brother in the blonde’s cot, and the blonde in a heap on the floor.

It turns out that a bolster pillow was needed in the battle and had been placed, very innocently, in the blonde’s cot. Not one to miss any opportunity for a daring manoeuvre, the blonde had apparently stood on the pillow for leverage, then tried to climb over the top of the cot. Unfortunately for her, there was no pillow on the other side, just a rather long drop to the floor.

Thankfully, we live in the only villa in Dubai that has carpeted floors so the fall could have been an awful lot worse, though at this point, I’m not sure the blonde would have agreed with me.

A quick survey of the scene showed no blood, no apparently broken limbs, but an awful lot of tears. Gallons of the things. And of course when the blonde cries in pain, the brunette cries in sympathy and the result is deafening. I was tempted to join in myself.

A trip to casualty was a must. I’d read a scary article about delayed visible symptoms with head injuries and that was enough to scare the living daylights out of me, and for me to be able to pass on my fear and paranoia to my other half.

We piled into the car and headed to A&E, which fortunately, is less than 5 minutes away.

Luckily for us, 7.42am on a Friday morning, the first day of Eid following a month of Ramadan, is a great time to have an accident or emergency – we were the only ones who’d managed it! The blonde was assessed by a nurse immediately and referred to a pediatrician within minutes.

She was given the all clear and not for the first time, we hugged her that little bit tighter and mentally thanked whichever saint it is that protects reckless toddlers.

We reassured big brother that it really wasn’t his fault and had just been an unfortunate accident, whilst suggesting that perhaps next time, he doesn’t put any of his missiles into the cot.

We reassured the brunette that all was well and that no, she hadn’t been forgotten in all the excitement.

And all of this before 9am.

Can’t say I’m looking forward to next weekend just yet.


Fickle Foodie September 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 2:42 pm
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The blonde has been getting increasingly picky with her food over the past few months and at some points during the summer holidays, I did wonder whether I should just go back to a purely liquid diet, as it’s the only source of nutrition she actually takes any pleasure from. Well, that and fromage frais.

Time after time I’d prepare a perfectly balanced meal that her brother and sister would quietly scoff, whilst the blonde merely looked on with disdain, wondering why her siblings couldn’t see that they were being duped into eating rubbish.

The most frustrating thing, was the fact that her pickiness wasn’t even reliable. Day 1, bolognaise would be devoured. Day 2, it would be hurled across the room. The same was true of fruit. Bananas weren’t even considered for consumption for the first weeks of our trip, but then a chance encounter (when she was starving, having rejected the shepherd’s pie), meant they were very much back on the Blonde-proof menu. Well, I think we managed a fortnight before they were back on the reject pile.

We tried every trick in the book to try to convince her, but once she’s made up her mind she’s not going to eat something, that’s pretty much game over. No amount of face pulling, aeroplane noises and actions with the spoon, or the promise of a lifetime supply of Petits Filous if she’ll only try the fish pie; makes any difference. Stubborn, doesn’t begin to describe it.

My father resorted to hiding vegetables in her yoghurt pot in the hope of silently secreting them into her mouth without her realising. He did relatively well with peas one lunchtime; broccoli however, was swiftly sussed and thrown back at him with more than a hint of disgust for someone she’d previously considered an ally.

Towards the end of the holiday we cracked a new solution which we still rely on today. Whenever a plate of food is presented to either twin, they immediately both check out their sibling’s plate, just to be sure they’re not being short-changed. For reasons only they can understand, the other twin’s plate is always far more enticing, despite the fact that they’re always given exactly the same portions.

We discovered that whilst the blonde would reject her own food, if you offered her a spoon from her sister’s bowl, she would often happily oblige with an open mouth. This works really well until the brunette realises what’s going on and complains (and fair enough), that her meal has suddenly halved. So, welcome to the ridiculous scenario where the blonde eats the brunette’s food, off the brunette’s plate, with the brunette’s spoon, whilst the brunette eats the blonde’s rejected meal.

And the most bizarre thing? We carry out this ridiculous ritual as if it’s the most normal scenario on earth! I’m beginning to think that it’s not them that’s daft, it’s us!


Nuts September 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 11:07 am
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This morning, we’re all feeling a little bleary-eyed as we recover from one of “those nights”. Fellow mummies will know exactly what I’m talking about without any further explanation. Some nights, without warning, the adult contingent are denied quiet time / relaxation / an entire episode of Ashes to Ashes / sleep.

Our little night of horrors went something like this. My husband and I had been out house hunting. Yes, I can’t quite believe it either but needs must. We’ve been in our current house for less than a year, so of course it’s time to move. We had a successful recce of a few villas in the neighbourhood and came home in good spirits to see the troops.

It was tea time so sandwiches and fruit were deployed. The fruit was slung under the table and the sandwiches rejected. They were peanut butter, and according to Annabel Karmel, a godsend in foodstuffs for toddlers. We’d tried it a few weeks ago at my parents house with no issues. Twin 2 had munched happily and Twin 1, I thought, had also eaten some, before slinging the rest around the kitchen.

Last night however, the peanut butter was rejected. Twin 2 peeled her sandwiches apart,then mashed them into the plate before jettisoning them. Twin 1 simply threw hers, but not before she’d sucked out some of the peanut butter. Within seconds, it became clear we had a peanut allergy on our hands.

Thank God, not one of the life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, but still severe enough to make us feel awful for trying to poison our own child. Rash, itching, redness, huge discomfort. The blonde was not impressed.

We tried to take her mind off things and bread and jam worked a treat. She looked awful, but was able to eat and drink so we felt reassured that the moment would pass.

Fast forward a few hours past bath and milk time, and the husband and I decided we should be checking her every 10 minutes, just to be on the safe side. She’d now started coughing, so a long debate on what constitutes ‘wheezing’ followed. Out came the bible of baby illness. This just served to frighten us even more.

We got twin 1 out of bed and inspected her under the light on the landing. She was not amused. Apart from a tickle in her throat, she was settling down to sleep very nicely thanks very much, so could do without the poking and prodding, not to  mention the bright light.

She looked fine. Her skin had calmed down, the redness had reduced and all that was now concerning us, was the cough.

We tried NHS Direct online. Useless. So we rang the pharmacist who suggested giving her an anti-histamine. Having never encountered allergies in any of the children before, we don’t actually own any anti-histamine, so at 9.30pm on a Saturday, we set off to find some.

I’m not sure what time the chemist’s normally shut on a Saturday night here, but I’m fairly certain it’s not 1am. However, as it’s Ramadan at the moment, the Muslim population are conducting their lives by night so to accommodate this, everywhere is open until quite literally, the middle of the night. I never thought I’d be grateful for Ramadan but last night, I have to say, it served us well!

We got home and rushed straight upstairs to administer the syrup, only to be greeted by a very sorry-looking little girl who’d vomited her entire body weight and that of her sister.

All the commotion had woken her sister and brother who both decided to get in on the action. Big brother was fascinated by the situation, and decided he would help by fetching water for the patient. I set about changing the sheets and not for the first time, struggled to find a sheet that would fit, in among the drawer full of identical looking white bedding. I think it’s breeding in there.

Bed changed and blonde washed, we popped her back into bed and left the room. Much howling ensued. After a minute it became clear that the brunette needed changing so back in we went, light on, nappy changed and tried to leave again. More howling.

We spent the next hour up and down the stairs doing regular checks on sick bay, but all this achieved was two very perky girls who clearly realised there was no point in sleeping, as Mummy and Daddy would be back in to wave at them at any moment.

Big brother had decided he was going to turn his light on and read as he definitely wasn’t sleepy and in any case, the blonde might need him.

We abandoned any hope of a quiet glass of wine and half an hour of telly and decided to go to bed. We did one last check of the girls who were dozing and peaceful. All seemed good, until I noticed the dripping sound. It was getting louder, and more frequent.

And the reason for the dripping sound? The air con unit in the nursery was leaking. A lot.


So, today we’re all a little bog-eyed. Not at our best. Below par. And peanut butter is most definitely off the menu.