Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

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

Nigella eat your heart out! October 31, 2010

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Now, I don’t normally add personal photographs to my blog, but for my Halloween cookies, I am going to make an exception.

I spent a great deal of time on Friday and Saturday preparing for the eagerly anticipated Halloween party, and have to say, I feel quite proud of myself.

I like to cook, but I’ve never really grasped the concept of baking. Savoury things I can cope with, but I find cakes and puddings to be a little tricky. There’s a lot of pressure for things to rise, or set, or become golden, and frankly, it’s a lot like hard work!

However, for THE PARTY, I pulled out all the stops and baked (and iced!) biscuits. And that’s not all! With the help of numerous Halloween websites, I created an entire meal of spooky offerings.

The menu was as follows:

Mummified pizzas

Spider jellies

Blood-drenched popcorn

Marshmallow ghosts

Chocolate chip bat cookies

All washed down with Vampire’s blood punch.

I can’t claim I achieved any of the above with the casual ease of Nigella, nor with her wanton looks (much to husband’s disappointment) and top to toe cashmere. Denim and desperation were more the order of the day in my kitchen. Let’s just say I don’t think anyone will be offering me a television series any time soon.

With the party in full swing, my Director of Entertainment did a fabulous job with the games. Apple bobbing went on forever as highly excitable, sugar-fuelled 6-year-olds decided this was the most fun they’d ever had, and insisted on playing round after round.

They then played Spooky Statues, Make a Mummy and the Graveyard game. All of which we’ll be patenting and then I’m going to hire out my husband to provide party entertainment for every Halloween from now on. With a bit of thought, I’m sure we can branch out to cover christenings, weddings, bar mitzvahs and the common or garden birthday party.

I’m actually not entirely sure who had the most fun – my 6-year-old or my 38-year-old.

Even the twins appeared to enjoy themselves. I had thought I’d be dispatching Joy upstairs with them to spend 2 hours safely ensconced in their bedroom until the chaos was over, but no; costumes were worn, mice ears and all. They very much enjoyed the musical games and joined in with enthusiastic dancing in their own unique style.

They even joined the table to sample the party food. The blonde stuffed her face with cobweb shaped crisps whilst the brunette opted for pizza with lashings of grapes and peppers on the side. Given that one of my girls gets at least 6 or 7-a-day, whilst the other barely manages 1 or 2, can I take an average and claim they both get their required daily intake of fruit and veg?

Back to the party. I have to admit to feeling just a tiny bit smug as the proceedings went off without a hitch and all our guests seemed to genuinely have had a great time. Well, apart from the poor child who weed himself, but we’ll gloss over that little incident I think.

So now the party bags have been distributed, the acres of loo rolls have been cleared, and the helium vampire and ghost are starting to look a little flaccid. I know exactly how they’re feeling.

 

 

 

Halloween Party = Trick, or Treat? October 27, 2010

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In a moment of weakness, I told my 6-year-old son he could have a Halloween party. I think I suggested a “small gathering”, but the subtlety of this description I fear was lost on him. He had visions of inviting his entire class along with parents and siblings. I was hoping for a sort of scary play date with dressing up and maybe 2 extra children to feed.

We finally settled on 4 boys and 4 girls who would be honoured with an invitation. Still thinking this was a low-key event, I didn’t worry about it too much until the questions started.

“What games will we play?”

“Will the food be scary?”

“When shall we all sort out our costumes?”

All? Hhhmmmmmm.

It became clear that this wasn’t a low-key event, but a defining moment in my son’s social development. The Mums of the lucky guests have all caught me at school to say how excited their children are about attending ‘the party’. They have also passed comment about how brave I am. I’m regretting it already.

However, I’ve accepted that I must throw myself into this and put on the required show. I’ve spent hours researching scary finger food online. It’s surprising how many websites are devoted to this very subject. And what’s really surprising, is just how gory and grotesque some of the suggestions are. Some of the pictures made me feel quite queasy. There seems to be a choice between either a basic pumpkin/bat/ghost theme, or the stomach-churning severed limbs/brains/bloody internal organs option. I hope it’s obvious that I’ve chosen the former.

We went en masse to the local party shop which is a warehouse emporium of plastic tat and helium. It was an interesting morning. My son was enthralled by the severed heads and bloodied stick-on bite marks which were far too realistic for my liking. I tried to steer him towards the broomsticks and glow-in-the-dark pumpkins, but he was insistent. We compromised on a severed hand whilst simultaneously reassuring the brunette who’d been sobbing hysterically ever since we set foot in the shop.

I’ve appointed my husband as Director of Entertainment which simply means he’s in charge of the games, whilst I’m in charge of the food. Apple bobbing, pin the tail on the ghoul and pass the pumpkin are among my suggestions for innocent, slightly spooky fun. I have skull shaped lollies and chocolate eyeballs as prizes. Blood and guts are most definitely not allowed.

We’ve had a full family try-on of the costumes. My husband looks absolutely bloody terrifying as a Quasimodo ghoul-alike and the blonde is a semi-convincing mini witch. She’s going through a hat phase, so we’re onto a winner there. The brunette would make a wonderful black cat if only she’d keep her tail on and stop tugging at her ears (which incidentally are mice ears as they were out of cat!)

Even our lovely helper Joy can’t escape the dressing up box. She’s been allocated a devil’s trident and bloodied-knife on a headband for the day. Her contract is due for renewal next month so I do hope she doesn’t ask for a transfer.

Let the spooky fun begin…

 

The Purge October 24, 2010

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One thing that came out of our recent move, was the realisation that as a family, we have far too much ‘stuff’. When I read about people giving up all their material belongings and living a simple and pure life, I admit, it definitely doesn’t appeal; but I have to be honest and say we could really do with getting rid of a few dozen boxes from our lives. I doubt we’d even notice they’d gone.

The new house is a relatively spacious villa, with plenty of built-in storage, so there is no reason why a week on from the move, we should still be desperately trying to shove things into cupboards and shut the doors really quickly, to prevent tennis racquets, box files and winter boots from giving us a concussion.

Last night I stumbled on, quite literally, a previously unseen box and asked my other half what it contained as it looked as if it had never been opened.

“A vacuum cleaner”, he answered.

“But we already have a vacuum”, I said, “Where did it come from?”.

He informed me it was a free gift from the electrical store when we bought the appliances for our first villa when we arrived in Dubai. We already had a vacuum but they were insistent that we should have another. So, for the past 2 years, it’s been sitting in its box, unopened, waiting for the day when it will finally be christened.

So, in a villa that has only marble floors where vacuuming is a fairly pointless task, we have one perfectly good vacuum that gets used twice a week to clean the one small rug in the lounge, and another, brand new vacuum in a box.

Add to that the all-singing, all-dancing, allergy beating, dust-mite defying Dyson that we left in the UK, and the Hoover that lived in the garage (for reasons I never fully understood), and it becomes clear we are a 4- vacuumed family. Surely this isn’t necessary?

Let’s face it, I don’t have a secret vacuuming fetish – I can remember plenty of heated discussions over whose turn it was to throw the Dyson around the house in the UK when we didn’t have a cleaner, so why on earth do we need 4 of the damn things? One for each of us maybe? Oh heck, we’ll have to go and buy another! Or maybe not.

So, the brand new vacuum has joined an ever-growing pile of ‘stuff’ that is now being flogged on Dubizzle, the Dubai equivalent of Ebay.

I have taken to my new role of pseudo market trader with great enthusiasm and my sales patter is improving by the day. Most of my prospective customers are looking for a bargain so there is plenty of haggling to be done. Add to that, the fact that English is for most of my customers, a second language; I’ve had to adapt my closing arguments to words of one syllable that can be conveyed by sms. I’m doing a blinding trade.

It’s also worryingly addictive. I’m just concerned that once I run out of ‘stuff’, I may move onto everything else. That pure and simple, non-materialistic life could be ours before we know it.

 

Mayhem October 19, 2010

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Well the good news is that the broadband connection in the new house is up and running. The bad news is it’s become painfully clear over the past few days that I must be seriously crackers to have agreed to yet another house move. My friends have suggested I may have some sort of syndrome, some clinical dependence on moving home. My other half and I have now clocked up a fairly ridiculous 13 moves in 13 years. Too damn right it’s an unlucky number.

This particular move didn’t start well as the packers arrived an hour early. Under normal circumstances this could have been considered a good thing, but my husband had just got off an overnight flight from Japan and was banking on those precious 2 hours of sleep in his own bed before launching into move-day madness.

As the team of slightly smelly Indian men took over our home, we resigned ourselves to a day of disruption and plenty of frantic gesticulation – mostly between my husband and I. The packers just grinned. Constantly.

It was actually fairly farcical. We’d clearly been allocated the B team. Communication was utterly lacking between them and us, and seemingly among themselves too. We’d asked that they prioritize moving the twins’ cots and belongings first, along with lunchtime essentials so we could feed them and put them down for their afternoon nap as usual.

As midday approached, the cots were at the old house, the high chairs at the new house, and no one had any clue where the contents of the fridge had been taken to.

By mid afternoon, with all the garden toys in my son’s room together with my husband’s ties, and Christmas decorations on every surface, I started to lose my sense of humour.

“You did say you’d be finished in a day”, I reminded the supervisor.

Lots of head jiggling and grinning. Not the most reassuring of responses.

And then the helpful comments started. “Madam needs a bigger kitchen” – head jiggle jiggle, grin grin grin.

My husband, beset by jet lag was seen wearily stalking around the house, looking for any empty surface to lie down on. He was out of luck. The surfaces were long gone.

The blonde and the brunette took to the floor to offer entertainment that mostly involved making animal noises and shouting “bum” at anyone that would listen. It later turned out that they were trying to say “tum”, but I think the subtlety was lost on the workers either way.

By 7pm the chaos had spread to every room and spilled out into the garden. The champagne flutes were arranged perfectly in the dining room cabinet, but not one bedroom contained a bed fit to sleep in.

By 9pm I wanted them out. It felt as though unpacking and unwrapping had become an Olympic sport and these guys were going for gold. They found the fondue set, the Easter bunnies and my maternity pyjamas. But could they locate the cutlery or my son’s school uniform? No chance!

We staggered to bed some time after 11pm and the fact that there were no curtains just didn’t seem to matter any more.

The realisation that I’d be doing the school run in either a bikini or a cocktail dress weighed heavily on my mind but as I drifted off to sleep, I vowed once more that we will not be moving house again anytime soon.

Famous last words…

 

Twinsmummy is moving house October 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:06 pm

Normal service will resume once she finds something other than bikinis or cocktail dresses to wear, and when she locates the twins somewhere amongst the chaos…

 

Hand Me Downs October 11, 2010

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I’ve been having a clear out in preparation for our house move on Saturday and discovered that I am guilty of some serious hoarding. There are cupboards full to bursting with cast offs from both big brother and the twins that I can’t bear to part with.

I decided to try to put sentimentality aside, and arrange them into piles. Firstly the nice stuff – in good condition, that can be passed on to friends without embarrassment.

Secondly, the not so nice stuff that was given as gifts. T-shirts with things like, “If you think I’m bad, you should meet my Dad” and such like. Or, the stuff that was worn so much, it has faded / worn through / been irreparably stained by bolognaise. That pile is heading for the charity shop. It’s the thought that counts remember.

And then there’s the third pile of pure nostalgia. The baby gros I can’t get rid of because I can still picture my girls in them, curled up together in a shared Moses basket. Big brother’s tiny Ferrari shirt, optimistically bought by Daddy on one of his many overseas work trips, that took a full year for him to grow into. And the outfit he wore on his first ever trip to the UK – brown and cream striped leggings with matching jumper, hat and gloves. All three of them wore that at some point. I can’t just let it go. It’s practically a family heirloom.

Pile 1 is a reasonable size, pile 2 fairly negligible, but pile 3 is a whopper. So much so that I’ve started justifying keeping practically all big brother’s clothes from the age of 2 upwards, in the misguided belief that the girls will one day wear them.

Now I know deep down that this is never going to happen. For one thing, having twin girls means regular, generous gifts of clothing from doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents. It also means that however much I might have thought that they’d wear the “Fix It” tool covered t-shirt and the cute little shorts with cars all over them, it just won’t ever happen, because the twins are smaller, and well, more girly.

I can just about put the blonde and the brunette in big brother’s old pj’s without feeling remorse. They are all blue and have either trains, cars or trucks on them. From age 2 they’ll be sporting pirates and aeroplanes, and from age 3 there are robots and spaceships. Age 4 is trains and buses.

As if it’s not bad enough that you’ve got a sibling of the same age to contend with, my twins don’t even get their own sleepwear. Do you think they might call social services?

 

Finally… October 6, 2010

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It is official. We are no longer homeless.

Ok, so we were never actually homeless, but for the past few months, we have been in-between houses having sold our last home in the UK, but struggled to complete on the deal for the new place. For the first time in 13 years, we didn’t own our own home and it was a very unsettling feeling.

We’ve always maintained that wherever we are in the world, if we are all together, then that’s home. But the reality is, however much we enjoy our expat perks, we will forever be drawn back to the UK and when we talk about home, it’s not Dubai, but England that we refer to.

I don’t know how long we will stay here in the Middle East and when we will return to the UK, but there is a huge sense of relief that when we do decide to leave the sandpit, we know exactly where we are going back to. I know what our home looks like, where it is situated and which schools the children will attend.

If I’m honest, I’ve also mentally redesigned the kitchen and all the bathrooms, re-decorated every room and am now thinking of curtain options.

We’ve thoroughly tested our new ‘local’ in the village, I’ve checked that Waitrose do deliver to the new address (no, I won’t be shopping in Daylesford!) and we’ve decided where the cat flap needs installing so we can reclaim our lovely moggy Freddie, who has been fostered by my parents since the Arabian Adventure began.

If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it has been that I will NEVER again move house. The road to our dream Cotswold home has been long and painful. We have dealt with lies, greed, dishonesty and selfishness by the bucket load. We had a crooked estate agent and deceitful vendors. Throw into the mix that we’re about 3500 miles away, and you can appreciate that the entire experience was a little testing.

At one point last week, my other half was threatening to board a plane and insert large blunt objects into one chosen individual at our favourite estate agency, Knight Frank-ly Useless. He wasn’t especially complementary about the vendors either, but we were working on the basis that hospitalising them wouldn’t help us to secure the property. It was still incredibly tempting though.

When the call finally came through that legally there was no going back, I’m not sure that either of us fully grasped the situation. We had a bloody large drink each and sat with silly grins on our faces.

If the truth be told, I’m still grinning.