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 Verdict June 20, 2010

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You know what, it really wasn’t that bad. Yes, there were some tears, a few differences of opinion in the judging of musical statues and a hairy moment when we realised that three of our charges had made a break for freedom; but on the whole, the birthday party was a success.

Amusement was provided by one poor party-goer who having lost her invite and muddled up the timings, turned up 10 minutes before the frivolity finished. Children can be immensely cruel.

Then there was the poor boy who was having his own personal wardrobe malfunction in the form of elasticated trousers that had lost their elastic. He spent most of the time leaping around in time to the music, utterly oblivious to the fact that his trousers were in fact lying around his ankles.

There was a minor scuffle when A stole some of B’s chips but this was quickly rectified by the application of another pouch of tomato ketchup and a quick cuddle. We made sure the chip-thief got an especially small slice of birthday cake!

The twins provided the entertainment by helping themselves to a giant bag of crayons which they then proceeded to eat one by one. There’s probably more nutritional value in a Crayola than in the hopelessly chicken-free, chicken nuggets that the older children were eating, so I wasn’t unduly worried.

So that’s it for another year. As we walked away from the wreckage and teams of cleaners swarmed in to deal with the aftermath, the bill that had seemed really quite large just a few minutes before, suddenly represented money well spent.

 

The Birthday Party May 2, 2010

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My son’s birthday falls during the summer holidays which from his point of view displays exceptionally bad planning. Not only are his pals not at school with him on the ‘big day’, but they are generally not even in the same country.

That’s the problem with being an expat in Dubai. As soon as term ends, the trend is for Mummy and the kids to decamp back to the mother country faster than you can say “it’s 45 degrees in the shade and Ramadan starts shortly”.

So, to appease the 5-year-old, we arrange an early birthday celebration in term time so that he can celebrate with his friends and then we have a quieter family affair on his real birthday. If it’s good enough for the Queen…

The tricky decision is always what sort of party to go for. When I was a child, my parents hired the village hall, filled it with balloons and we spent a couple of hours playing traditional party games before stuffing ourselves with jelly and ice cream. It was brilliant.

My Dad championed an absurd game which involved dressing up in a hat, scarf and woolly gloves and then using a knife and fork to scoff as much Cadbury’s Dairy Milk as you could before the music stopped. My parties were renowned for the chocolate game. They were also remembered as being the ones where you went home with a balloon with “I’ve been to see my dentist” printed on it. No prizes for guessing my father’s profession!

It was all so much simpler (read, cheaper) in my day. My son’s generation want a party at Ski Dubai, Sega Republic or Fun City. I should be thankful he’s not at one of the more ‘showy’ schools here in Dubai. I have friends whose children have gone to parties on private yachts, private beaches, or in suites at the uber-expensive Atlantis resort.

On the up side, at least by booking a party at an organised venue, everything is taken care of. There’s no catering to be done, goody bags are provided and there is always an enthusiastic team of Filipina’s ready to take the lead in the party games.

So now I just need to find a venue that provides Stormtroopers and Wookiees.