Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

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

There were two in the bed and the little one said… August 18, 2011

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When we booked our holiday villa, we purposefully chose one with 3 bedrooms so that we’d all get some peace and quiet. We discovered about a year ago that the big brother and the twins should no longer be put in a room together overnight, unless of course, our intention is to keep them up all night talking and prodding each other.

This villa has 2 double bedrooms and a twin bedroom which we thought would be perfect. The big brother could have the luxury of the double bed, whilst the twins shared the twin room (how apt!).

What we hadn’t known, was that the twin bedroom is at the top of the house and the bedroom nearest the master, is another double. We toyed with putting the girls up top, but the thought of them being free to roam was bad enough, without the added danger of a flight of stairs and some not too sturdy banisters. Particularly as no doubt, they’d be making their maneuvers in the middle of the night in the pitch black.

This is the girls’ first time sleeping in anything other than a cot, so they can’t believe their luck at being able to climb in and out of bed whenever they want.

I can’t believe we thought it would be a good idea.

So, the big brother is up in the twin room alone, whilst the girls are sharing a double bed. Heaven help us.

On night one, I spent a good half an hour surrounding the perimeter of the bed with cushions and suitcases to break their (inevitable) falls.

We then positioned the pillows in two distinct areas within the bed. The left side for the brunette, the right side for the blonde.

We explained carefully that this was a ‘big girls bed’ and only ‘big girls’ are allowed to sleep in it. We also tried laying down the rules about staying in bed until morning… how they laughed when we turned out the lights.

For the next two hours they climbed in and out of bed, then came to tell us how they’d just climbed in and out of bed and could we go and tuck them in again please? It quickly became more than a little tiresome.

The novelty was just too great. When they finally dropped off to sleep, it’s safe to say they were utterly exhausted. Instead of lying neatly in their allocated spots, the two ‘big girls’ were happily entwined in each other’s arms, heads touching. It would have made a lovely photo, only we didn’t dare take one for fear of waking them.

We were woken the following morning to a now familiar phrase, “Look Mummy, we got out of the big bed!”.

Oh how I miss the cots.

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Mauritius – Day 1 August 14, 2011

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Well let’s just say the holiday hasn’t started exactly as we might have hoped.

1. The night flight.

Waking the children at 0100 hrs was fine. They weren’t bad-tempered or overly reluctant to get up. It turned out, they thought it was morning, so they then proved highly unwilling to go back to sleep again once on board the plane.

The fact that Emirates insisted on a meal service at 0400 hrs did little to help our cause. I’d love to know of anyone who thinks a Cajun chicken mixed with creamy egg mayonnaise sandwich is appealing at any time of the day or night. I’m just assuming it was a muslim chef who created last night’s menu and was punishing all of us for not observing Ramadan fasting!

2. The rain.

We landed in Mauritius in time for a lovely wet shower, just as we stood outside the terminal building waiting to board our minibus. Soggy feet, damp toddlers and an extremely grumpy sleep-deprived 7-year-old. Just the ticket for a further hour confined in a small space.

3. The tummy bug.

After barely an hour at our villa, twinsdaddy took on a decidedly unfetching shade of yellow before proceeding to spend much of the rest of the day locked in the bathroom. Twinsmummy succumbed 12 hours later.

There were times during the next 24 hours when twinsdaddy and I wished we were back in Dubai with Joy to deal with the troops, as we literally negotiated over who got to use which bathroom. It wasn’t pretty.

This morning (Day 3) we felt brave enough to leave the villa and venture to the supermarket for supplies.

The sun is shining. The sky is blue. Even the children seem brighter.

The holiday (hopefully) starts here.

 

A Twinsmummy Award April 18, 2011

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About a week ago I was celebrating my ‘Versatile Blogger Award’ and now, chuffed to bits with that accolade, I find myself wanting to extend award season to another, and very different, recipient.

Step up….Le Meridien Al Aqah hotel.

Those lovely readers who have tracked our ups and downs for some time, will remember the nut near-misses during our holiday in Zighy Bay last November.

Following a few sharp intakes of breath there, regional getaways weren’t top of our list of fun, nut-free, activities.

However, as a result of over-indulgence in free cocktails at the parents’ ball, twinsdaddy felt it appropriate to bid at the auction for a 2 night stay at Le Meridien Al Aqah in Fujairah.

When questioned later, he explained that as I’d grinned at him from across the table as the auction started, he took this to mean, ‘secure this prize at all costs’, where in actual fact, a more likely message was, ‘I hope the food arrives soon as I’m a little tipsy’.

Convinced I was desperate to holiday in Fujairah, twinsdaddy enthusiastically secured the prize and with just a few weeks to go until the voucher expired, last weekend, we packed our bags and headed for the mountains.

We were more than a little concerned about how a large hotel would cope with the blonde’s allergy. After all, this is a large beach resort with over 200 rooms.

The Reservations staff had reassured us that everything would be fine, but we are now pre-conditioned to assume this means they won’t forcibly feed her peanuts, but any other nuts in any other form, in any of the eateries, is fair game.

How wrong could we be?

From the moment we checked in, we were given VIP status. Every member of staff in the place, and I really mean EVERY member of staff, was on the look out for us. We only had to set foot inside a restaurant before we were surrounded by men in white coats and hats offering to prepare anything that took the blonde’s fancy, in a specially segregated nut-free kitchen. It was remarkable.

We couldn’t find fault. And we’re really quite picky!

So, the inaugural twinsmummy award for ‘knock your socks off, we’re coming here again’ service levels goes to Le Meridien Al Aqah.

Next time we go, we might even relax!

 

Home Sweet Home November 20, 2010

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After a fabulous week in Oman, we’re now back at home in Dubai and life is returning to normal. There were no smoked salmon and marscarpone omelettes this morning, and the fresh mango smoothies also thin on the ground. There was no butler to tend to our every whim and someone has swiped the in-villa dining menu.

I have to admit to missing the sea view when I opened the curtains this morning. We live on a very pleasant suburban street but it’s not a patch on the teal ocean and pristine white sand that greeted us in Zighy Bay.

On the upside, we all woke up in separate bedrooms. Groans from the girls’ room were ignored for at least half an hour, and big brother, delirious to be reunited with his entire Lego collection, played happily until we called him for breakfast.

It’s funny how quickly we all fall back into our normal routine. The girls are chuffed to be back in their own cots and performed their usual squealing and giggling routine as we turned out the light last night. In the past 7 days they have significantly increased their vocabulary so last night we all got proper “bye byes” as we left them, and this morning, “mummy, wow”, which was rather nice. I do hope I continue to hold such excitement for them for at least another 18 years.

We now talk about “shoes”, “socks”, “milk”, “pool” and “sand” (extremely useful when you live next to the desert!). They have also mastered “please” which is great as big brother seems to have temporarily forgotten that the word exists. Maybe they can teach him something after all?

 

 

 

Reality Bites… and it’s nut flavoured! November 13, 2010

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I’m starting to think that I may never achieve a state of total relaxation ever again. We arrived at Zighy Bay yesterday and having been welcomed with freshly squeezed juices, refreshing face towels and an army of helpers to carry our excessive amount of luggage, we headed en masse to our villa.

It all looked so promising. We’d been met by one of the hosts in reception to confirm that yes, they were fully aware of and prepared for the blonde’s unfortunate allergy. We were silently impressed. We hadn’t even uttered the ‘nut’ word on arrival, but instead planned to accost the chefs later in the day to work out what we could and couldn’t order from the menus.

However, as we entered our villa, my other half dropped his bag and lurched at a plate of suspicious looking biscuits that had ‘we contain nuts’ written all over them. They were perched on the coffee table within perfect grabbing distance of a peckish toddler and if it weren’t for his quick thinking, we’d have been arguing over which end of the epi-pen contains the needle mere seconds later.

A fuller inspection of the villa revealed a frightening number of nut polluted snacks. Some more easy to spot than others. There was the chocolate in the minibar with a picture of hazelnuts on the front, and muesli bars in the snack box. One was even named ‘Brazilian Nut Surprise’ and we can only hedge our bets that the surprise isn’t that there are no nuts in it!

Cue utter panic from twinsmummy who had been convinced that this break would be a doddle and that someone else would have done the worrying for us. We had clearly requested that there be no nuts or nut products anywhere in our accommodation but somehow, the message hadn’t registered.

We spent much of the next hour reiterating just how much of a problem this allergy is. I visited the kitchens, I spoke at length with our dedicated host and between us we banished all traces of nut from the villa. It became clear that whilst the information had been taken on board, no one had fully grasped the severity of the situation.

I think that maybe I’d been put in the ‘over-protective Mummy’ category so we spelt it out very slowly and very clearly. If the blonde eats a peanut, or possibly any other type of nut, it is highly likely that her skin will swell, along with her tongue, lips and throat, and that she could find it difficult to continue breathing. We’re not being dramatic, we just need to make sure we can guarantee a safe, nut-free environment for her.

I’ve had more than the occasional lower-lip wobble as I’ve explained this to a whole army of now highly attentive chefs, waiters and waitresses. I don’t want it to be the defining feature of our family, but the past 24 hours have shown that there is no way we can live the way we used to.

With the best will in the world, the only people who can guarantee the blonde’s safety are her nearest and dearest who can be constantly on their guard.

It may not be relaxing, but at least that way, we’ll never need to argue over how to use the epi-pen!

 

Dull women have immaculate homes August 27, 2010

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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

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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.